Tuesday, November 30, 2010


The deeper the self-realization
of a man, the more he influences
the whole universe by his subtle
spiritual vibrations.

~Paramhansa Yogananda
Autobiography of a Yogi

I do not wish to do; I wish to be.  I do not wish to instruct, I wish to radiate.  It is only be teaching myself first, by offering and accepting myself what I wish to give, that I may have any hope of truly connecting with any other being.

(For those concerned, please know I realize the pronoun in this quote.  Take it as he/his.  Take it as she/hers.  Take it as You/your.  Ultimately, words are vehicles for the message - do not be concerned about make of the car; be concerned whether it can take you to your destination.  Even then, train yourself to be grateful for the car but not reliant upon it - we should be strong enough to walk.)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Our Weekend

I truly hope everyone had a beautiful weekend, whatever and with whomever you celebrated.

My brother, hubby and I did end up running the 4.5 mile Drumstick Dash on Thanksgiving morning.  It was raining, but around 50 degrees really not too bad!  And though my time was nearly 15 seconds / mile slower than last year (and I'm slightly peeved about that), how can I complain when a race ends with free food, free Starbucks, and is followed by an afternoon of family togetherness?

Truly a blessed Thanksgiving.

(I don't have the camera with which photos were taken, so those will get posted later.)

Friday night we went to the town square for the lighting ceremony.  We toured local shops, indulged in hot chocolate, heard glorious music, and counted down with Santa to illuminate the town.  (Bloomington definitely has the most beautiful courthouse/square area of any town I've seen.)
Inside the courthouse

On Saturday, family joined us for our new tradition - choosing our own Christmas Tree at Twin H Farms.  It is an exciting day...driving around, walking through so many trees looking for the one.

And food (popcorn) and cider and hot chocolate waiting for us at the end.   Mmmm.
 On the hunt for the perfect tree 

 My niece - isn't she just adorable?!

 My brother tying their tree onto his car

Our boy enjoying his hot chocolate.  Yum.

Amidst all of this, you might have noticed the posts getting a bit "deeper" and a bit less frequent.  I am honoring the change that life is taking me into right now....part of that means more time in private journals, less time online.  (Most likely temporary)

Ah, but for now...I am off to a dentist appointment.  That is enough for me to ponder.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday

It is 9:22 a.m.

I am doing everything I can to keep myself away from ads, promotions, deals, and even friends & family who are pushing to shop today.  (My mom is talking with my kids in the background about what they want for Christmas.  *sigh*)

It isn't that I think buying is bad...heck, it supports our economy.  I could even shop small businesses today and help friends & strangers who are doing exactly what I want to do - make a living through passion.

But today - Black Friday - there is a pervasive energy of grasping.  Clinging.  Wanting.  More.  Different.  New.  I am horribly sensitive to this energy.

I love going to the hobby store or book store and - maybe twice a year - the clothing stores.  I like local, small stores and big chains...all offering things that make my life comfortable and beautiful.  Allow me to repeat - I don't think buying is bad.  But mindless shopping?  Out of control desire?  The justification that appears to buy something when I didn't even know I needed or wanted it before?  THAT tears me apart.

As I type this, I hold a printed out coupon to Borders in my lap.  Part of me says, "it's a book!  Buy a book on how to avoid clinging, a Buddhist book or book on the Yoga Sutras....".  Yeah.  Note the irony.

I want to post something today about the 4.5 mile race yesterday.  About the chaos that was a beautiful Thanksgiving.  About how I'm looking forward to our outing where we get hot chocolate and dance around a farm of trees to pick the one that will sacrifice itself to be the shining center of our home for the next month.

But I look down at the Borders coupon.  In it, I see a mirror reflecting my true self.  And I am reminded once again.

Black Friday: The yearly reminder of how far I must go to overcome grasping.  

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Contemplate THIS.

I've been deep in contemplation this last week or so.  I don't know if it is the colder weather that has driven my body (and my mind) inside or just another turn of the cycle.  It is bringing a blissful awareness to my days, my steps.  It also means, however, that some "action steps" are being re-evaluated...and thus, on hold.

I then get stressed.  I want to keep thinking, being - but my habitual way of existence is to move, be productive, do more more more.  Guilt arises, I let it go.  And so the wheel turns.  

Instead of bringing you in to this chaotic carnival that is my mind, 
I thought I'd have some fun with portraying 
the juxtaposition (ooh, big word!) in a different way.

This is how I enjoy living my life....contemplate and then laugh at it all.  Repeat.

Something like this.

(*All jokes from  All images copyright Lisa Wilson)

Sometimes life seems like a dream, especially when I look down and see that I forgot to put on my pants.

If you're a cowboy and you're dragging a guy behind your horse, I bet it would really make you mad if you looked back and the guy was reading a magazine.

Children need encouragement. If a kid gets an answer right, tell him it was a lucky guess. That way he develops a good, lucky feeling.

If we could just get everyone to close their eyes and visualize world peace for an hour, imagine how serene and quiet it would be until the looting started.

If you ever reach total enlightenment while you're drinking a beer, I bet it makes beer shoot out your nose.

As we move into holiday times where it can be tempting to move, move, move, try to spend a bit of time just contemplating.  And remember....

If you ever drop your keys into a river of molten lava, let 'em go, because man, they're gone.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thought Control

My weekend.  In 3 scenes.

Scene 1.  Ice cream store with the kiddos.  My intention was just to surprise them - I'm not hungry nor do I need the calories (we're ordering pizza that night for heavens sake).  I've ordered their orange sherbet and blackberry cups and borrowed Windex to clean up my drool from the glass separating me from the chocolate-chip cookie dough.  The clerk asks, "anything more"?

Scene 2.  Big fight with hubby right before bed.  A book on Buddhist wisdom (including compassion) lays on my lap.  He just turned off his light and thrown the covers over himself.  I'm doing everything I can to control my breath, think positive thoughts....but I'm still fuming.  The perfect words for a scathing response just came to mind.

Scene 3.  Last big run before the race on Thanksgiving.  Beautiful temps, level ground, but wind straight out of Oz.  (Ya know, that carried Dorothy off to the yellow brick road?)  No one will know (or care) if I cut my run short.  I've already stopped to walk a few times and thus blown my whole time goal.  A perfect turn-around spot (far short of the 4 miles I set out to run) is right ahead.

Whatever response(s) I choose will have consequences.  
That is karma in action.  

My fascination is not on the "right" or "wrong" choice, but how in control (or on auto-pilot) I feel in each situation.  

Those big decisions - like whether to start a new job or quit your current one, which diet to choose, which house to live in, how many kids (if any) to have - are of course important.

But decisions for each of those stem from the same thought process used to decide whether to order ice cream, yell at hubby, and run 4 miles.  Every single decision has consequences.

How aware I am of those consequences and the thought / action processes that creates them 
determines how much say I have in how my life unfolds.

We can always fight the wind, 
wearing ourselves out needlessly by feigning power,
allow the wind to carry us 
as we bump into tree after tree lamenting how unfair life is, 

or stick out our wings and fly with this power that is life.

The wind will still blow regardless of our choice.

(By the way, I did run 4 miles.  I didn't order any ice cream.  And I didn't share my retort with hubby. But I did have a few bites of my daughter's blackberry cup.  And I do have some zingers up my sleeve for the next argument.  Yeah, sometimes even I punch into the wind.)


Friday, November 19, 2010

My Coloring Book

The alarm.

Damn alarm.

I wake and roll and stretch
and before me
is the page I am to color that day.

my lines of thought - clearly drawn in a daunting black ink -
creating fascinating dancing unicorns
or ugly piles of crap
or ongoing lists of things to do
or creative swirly-ma-thing-a-jigs.

And some days
I kiss the lines with red wax
following every curve
staying delicately
within the lines

Other days
Blues and violets and oranges and pinks become a
soupy rainbow
and line becomes color becomes line

But the best days?

The ones in which
I begin
with a blank page

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

On Sale: Todo's!

Do you ever watch HGTV?  (I think it was on that channel).

There was (is?) a show about people who had horrendously cluttered homes.  A team came in, held a garage sale of all of their stuff, and designed a new room to show them how nice it was to live in a clutter-free space. (Yeah, I know....if I had a team to help me it would be a lot easier to get this mess cleaned up.)

As part of this, the owners had to take all of their schtuff out to the front lawn and sort it into piles on tarps: Keep, Sell, or Trash.  Needless to say they needed some prodding so that everything didn't end up on the keep pile.  After some tears and some interesting fights-for-television, the owners then sold their previously prized-possessions for moola for decorating their new room.

I used to love shows like this.  As t.v. time has faded more and more, these shows are the first to go.

And, as you may have picked up on, I've been sick the past few days.  Being physically sick necessitates a lot of sitting.  A lot of slowing down.

I am proud to say, however, that I have not turned on HGTV once during my tissue-surrounded down-time.

In my case, slowing down means not as many activities but just as much (if not more) thinking.  And those impressions created by the shows on HGTV stick with me.

It is as if I'm being required to move all of my mental crap out of my house and onto the front lawn.  As my health returns, I have to decide which activities on my to-do list (big and small....ain't nothing being left in the closet...) I want to keep, which I want to sell off to someone else, and which should have been thrown out years ago.

In truth, I have this opportunity every day - to decide what stays, what goes.  So do you.  But we get so caught up in the next thing "to-do", that next phone call or email or thing that really needs to be done that we don't consciously make time to decide.  We let our habitual responses make our decisions for us.  And the clutter piles up until we can't even enter our own minds without TODO stuff falling on us from shelf above.

Last night I set out with the intention to paint something light blue and brown, something frilly.  I was just in that mood.  But as the paints started blending on the page, I was taken in a new direction.  I let it happen.  And here is what came of it:

(I knew that toothpaste tube cap would come in handy...note the circles on the outside!)

As I make the decisions of what activities to ease back into, I feel trapped in some senses.  Not by anyone else, but by my own sense of obligation.  I am not afraid of moving forward. I am afraid of not moving.  And that keeps me doing things out of a sense of "should".  Trying to release myself from that and yet not get stuck in a holding pattern with a confused look on my face is the challenge I face right now.

I've had nearly 3 days to contemplate all of this.  There's a lot to it.  I'm sure much of it will come out through this blog and in the upcoming newsletter.

But it isn't all about me.  

I share this with you because regardless of what health you may be in right now, I guarantee you've got some crap piled up in your closet.  You have some chains that have that door padlocked.

I figure I've got so much of my stuff out on the lawn right now that I'd offer a bit of space for you as well.  Feel free to drop off some of your todo's.  Trust me, you don't need them.

We'll throw them in the garage sale.  Grab a glass of lemonade while you are here, and let's smile together as that which is no longer serving us moves on to one who actually needs it.

And one of these days, maybe we'll tackle all of that crap in the garage.

One day at a time.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Awareness Painting

That painting I gave you a sneak peak of before?  Here's the final version.

(Acrylics & mixed-media on canvas board)

No deep thoughts today...I'm indulging in human frailty and overcoming a sore throat and fatigue.  No worries...I feel blessed to be able to stay at home and take care of it!

May you indulge in awareness today.
(Hopefully while in good health) 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Adornment Photos

In my last newsletter I had discussed the idea of adornment and challenged subscribers to find one thing they could choose that day to adorn themselves - something that made them feel alive.  I was so pleased with the result (and hope the participants were as well!) - and even received a few photos from some awesomely adorned lovelies!

With their permission, I'll share them here:

Tracy and her fabulous feet (I so want a pair of those toe socks!):

Andrea donned her gorgeous pearls (doesn't she look stunning with her blue hair & pearls?!)

Thanks Tracy & Andrea for the awesome photos & your adornments - you two inspire me!...and thanks to all those who emailed me how they participated!

Inspired?  Wanna try your own - just for today?  Share your "one thing" with which you will adorn yourself today that will make you feel alive.

(Mine?  A new soap scent...sandalwood.  I need something that will stick with me throughout the day as I'm feeling a bit of the ickies coming on...oh no!)

I may be back later today with more, but for share what adorns you!

And don't forget to sign up for The Fine don't want to miss out on all of the future fun!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Losing It

The blue screen of death.

It is something you never want to see on a computer monitor.  And yet, last night, there she was.  Icily staring back at me from the laptop screen.

The kids had been innocently playing on  I was reading in the other room when I started hearing funny noises (from the computer, not the kids).  I went in and saw, "Physical Memory Dump Beginning, 10%, 20%, 30%...Physical Memory Dump Completed."

You can only imagine the funny noises that started emerging from my mouth.

I put the kids to bed (it was bed time, not punishment) as visions of countless hours of repair danced through my head.  Phone calls, emails, ....what had I lost?  Oh my goodness - that file that was open!  I forgot to save it!

And so on.

When I went in to kiss my son goodnight, he asked me to lay with him.  I kept thinking of the screen and whether I should attempt to press F9 or F11 and if praying might appease the laptop gods or maybe I should off a sacrifical DVD......when my son took my ear.  (That's his thing.)

And I was that ear and nothing else.

I felt the soft bristles of his close-cut hair on my cheek and heard his sniffly breathing as he tried to sneak his thumb into his mouth.  I let myself just sink into his well-worn mattress.

How deceptively easy this is to do.  How hard it seems, no matter how much we intellectually crave it, to be with the fleeting beauty of the now.

Even now, I wonder if you are reading this with a thought train chugging in the background, "so what happened to the laptop?  were the computer gods satisfied with the sacrifice?".

I almost lost so much that was irretrievable last night.  It came without warning and would have passed without alarms.  Yet, years from now, when I started wanting would be gone forever.

Time dump completed.

I'm sure you will be relieved to know - last night, I was able to save everything I needed.

(p.s. ok, so while I want to leave on such a beautiful note, I know I'll get a few emails asking about the laptop.  'cause I have caring friends like that.  I love that about you.  

The laptop was recovered.  And the kids will not be using it again.)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Choose Your Own Experience

I had it this morning.  One of those ah-hah moments in which I can literally hear the light being clicked on.

A question that's been asked by others and probably by myself at some point.  Probably somewhere in this blog.  (I have the type of memory where I've not only forgotten where I've put my keys; I've forgotten where I put the car.) I will ask myself again and again and I challenge you to ask as well:

How do I want to experience life?

All of these things I keep promoting - to myself and to you - don't mean diddly squat if you don't care about your experience of life.  The right-here, right-now experience.

Yoga can awaken your body and mind and bring delicious harmony with your movements & thoughts.

Down Dog.

Creative exploration gets the soulful juices flowing.  Paints and water-soluble pencils should come with a label:  WARNING: May cause deep realizations, harmony with life, and, in rare cases, ability to hear angels sing.

More of this one later...

Running, reading, chatting, chai....they all provide the potential for mind-blowing experiences.

But if you don't care about your experience 
of this thing called "living", 
there really isn't any point in practicing them.  

In my reality, we are here to experience life.

To let the divine play in human form.  To dip our fingers in mooshy paint (the non-toxic kinds), dip our toes in the tepid ocean water, and dip our tongues in gooey melted chocolate.

To have a mindful awareness as we go through out days that supersedes the beautiful religious practices that occur only in designated buildings.

To explore the touch of a soapy dish and hear the harmony between a child's laugh and the song of the bird.

To feel the gut-punches of pain without succumbing to them and the giddy tummy-tickles of joy without clinging to them.

To live the questions instead of just pondering them over a good conversation then shuffling off to work the next day to make the next dollar.

To play.  To experience.

It is the belief from which I build all of my posts, my newsletter, my workshops (yep, 3/4 way through one!)...It is a belief I hope you hold as well: That our experiences matter.  If you are content with sleepwalking, I wish you well and that there are no walls or staircases in your way...but will let you know our journey probably wasn't meant to travel together.

If, however, you want to delve into the richness and vital juiciness of our moments?  Ah, kindred soul, let's talk....

I have photos to share from some of my lovely newsletter subscribers who played with their experience of adorning themselves...coming tomorrow with some more goodness.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Wisdom of Running, Art, and Yoga

There is so much I have learned since assuming the practices of running, creative exploration,and yoga.  Below are just a few of the shared wisdom tid-bits.

Meditate.  Mental Chatter makes or breaks your experience & success rate.

If I think too much about what I'm doing, I will fail.  It happens over and over.  Positive mental feedback, "you can do this!", and thought-reminders (breathe) are excellent.  But they only go so far.  When I've put successive layers on the painting, when I'm 3/4 of the way up the hill, when I'm nearing Savasana - if I keep thinking about how I don't want to mess it up, how I want to walk, or how I want a grilled cheese sandwich....I'll quit.  Learning to control my thoughts - or at the very least, be aware of them - is crucial to my continued pursuit of any soul-fulfilling endeavors.  Meditation is vital to doing this.

Don't over-think.  If you think of something else to do, you'll do it.

If I wake up in the morning and convince myself that I have too much to do besides running, you better believe I'm not slipping on my shoes and stepping into the cold dark air.  If I have more productive things to do (as if laundry were more productive), the art gets shoved aside.  If I think I need cardio more than yoga (my yoga practice is more awarness-based - not sweat-based), the mat stays rolled up.

I am an intelligent woman who can find just as many excuses as I can reasons.  All of that thinking about whether or not I should or even can do something is still a layer over the deeper passion inside.

Once I commit to something - on the outside and the inside - it isn't a matter of whether or not I should or can do it.  I do it because I can't NOT do it.

Embrace all sources of energy. Empower yourself and acknowledge others. 

I went for a run yesterday morning along a highway then back into a neighborhood.  Half the run I was facing cars and drivers and the awareness that each and every one of them could be thinking something different about me.  For the other half of the run, I was facing birds and mailboxes and a few goats who seemed confused as to why I was running if nothing was chasing me.

There is definitely a different energy, a different feeling, I get when running amidst other people (traffic or in a race) versus running completely on my own.  The same goes if I'm taking a yoga class versus practicing in my living room or painting outdoors at Brown County versus my basement.

Embrace the energy others can provide but learn also to find your own.  Both have their benefits.

It cannot be me against them.  It has to just be me.

Remember all of those people I faced yesterday while running?  My thoughts wavered between, "Well they aren't out running so screw 'em if they think I look odd or am running too slow" and "I'm sure they are jealous that I'm out and they aren't - don't worry lovely drivers, you can do it!".  Eventually, it came down to, "If they are a runner, they get it.  If they aren't, they don't."

We all must run for ourselves.  We must paint for ourselves.  We must find our own pose.  If you are trying to be better than someone else or afraid you are worse, you act based off of the assumption that you are somehow different from "them".  Someone may make different choices than you, but at the base of it all, we are all a hodgepodge of unified, seemingly chaotic diversity.

In other words, we are all one.  Don't fight against yourself.

You can still sign up for The Fine Print!  This week's edition holds stories of non-conformity and glitter...and a challenge.  Indulge in the randomness.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Do. Be. (And Sign Up...)

 I was sitting upstairs yesterday, looking out the window.  To the casual observer (that being my husband. and my son. and my daughter.), I was doing nothing - and therefore, available for playtime and responding to questions.

In my reality, however, I was deep in the midst of exploring my thoughts and a form of meditative breathing.  (Yeah, I could have moved.  I was just too lazy to leave the couch.)

It did make me question, though - how can I explain to them why I'm unavailable?  (Not that I need to.  I've perfected "the look".  But in fairness to them and myself, I decided to reflect on the answer.)

In order of difficulty, from "fairly easy" to "nearly impossible", I find these things a challenge:

     1) To Try
     2) To Do
     3) To Be

In our society, the first two are highly rewarded.  "Try, try again", right?  Ah, and to do....and set a goal and reach it?  Isn't that what we train kids for in school and reward people for in jobs?

I was a total nerd in school.

That's me, on the last day of high school, still concerned about impressing others.

I learned how to do homework and tests and essays juuuust right.  That training got me a scholarship. Then a degree.  And jobs with accolades.  I did what I learned to do - then did more.

But to be??

To know myself well enough that "trying" and "doing" are guided by my being?  It is a challenge I accepted many years ago yet with which I still struggle.  Ironic, as "being" should be the simplest form of existence.

All of us must DO to exist.  "Doing" is not "bad".  We must eat, earn money or some form of shared energy, contribute to society, ...and if we are lucky and have the resources, we Do more - create art, take vacations, go shopping, watch t.v., etc.

But what we have forgotten is that 
all of us must BE 
in order to live.

In order to be, you must be aware of who you are.

Even if it means staring out the window every now and then.


DON'T FORGET: Sign up for The Fine Print (because you WANT to).  As a bonus, if you sign up by this Sunday, November 7th, you will also be entered to win a signed copy of Chris Guillebeau's new book, The Art of Non-Conformity.

Sign Up HERE

Also: I am going to be a contributor for Mindy's new class, THIS Moment!  Mindy runs the fabulous site, WishStudio, with oodles of great guests & regular contributors.  I am honored to be contributing to her class.

You can still get the early-bird discount if you sign up for her class today!  (Class begins November 15th)  Learn more and register HERE (


Go. Do. Be.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Why So Serious?

A lovely had shared this video on Twitter yesterday.  A new video by Pink, the song "Raise Your Glass" is nothing if not provocative.

And that, among other reasons, is why I love it.  I cannot get it out of my head.

It makes you think or shows you where you choose not to.

Watch it and let me know what gets you going.

And baby, why so serious?! *wink*

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

LifeUnity Voter's Edition

If you are reading this for advice or my opinions for whom you should are going to be disappointed.

I won't be delving into any political arguments. (Yet.)

I did want to share an interesting observation I had after staring at one of the numerous political junk-mail advertisements during breakfast.  I couldn't help it - it was on the top of the mail pile with a few bits of cereal-milk dropped delicately on the top.  (Our daughter's fault.  Or mine.  Eh, I'll blame it on her.)

I just kept looking at this picture:

(FYI, the baby's head in the woman's arm is actually fine - the doll-head effect is due to my camera on my phone.)  Getting beyond the too-perfect family with the too-perfect smiles and too-perfect clothes (giving them the benefit of the doubt and assuming they are just awesome that way), did you notice the feet?  At first I took it like anyone else would - they are all just taking a happy little stroll.

Look closer.  They are all stepping on the same foot, back left foot propped nicely behind them.

When you are aware of this, the photo almost takes on an amusing posed-quality.  (At least for me.)  I can hear the photographer saying, "OK, balance, take the other foot back and put your toes down, now balance...baaaaallaaaannceeee...."

It bothered me.  For whatever reason, it brought to mind a recent article I had read on models and how all of the pictures are severely retouched.  How we hold ourselves to impossible beauty standards.  How the media likes to set and/or reinforce those standards.

I won't get into the details of my feelings on this, but if we are "faking" the reality of beauty is this photo not faking the reality of politicians...and politics...and the guiding laws, issues, and moral decisions that we are supposed to be living by?

It may be a jump, but not a far one.

Once we start removing the humanity of an individual - trying to make them something they are not - we start imposing false standards.  Everyone else is then expected to meet those standards or, at the very least, be striving towards them.

I don't know about you, but I don't want to vote for someone just because they can balance on one foot and have an attractive family.

When did we lose the celebration of that which makes us human, alive, vulnerable, and therefore, beautiful?  No wonder politics is so confusing to many of my generation.  We like to see issues being examined, conversations being had, change happening alongside the flow of time.  Instead, we have set standards for our politicians that they now dutifully follow - to be beyond humanity, flaws - to be able to balance a life that isn't meant to stay in balance.

For those in the US who are blessed to have the opportunity to have a voice, please vote today.  We are fortunate to have a say.  Remember that.

If this gets you even a little bothered, remember the power you have as an individual...not only through voting, but in living your life in the manner that makes you feel alive.

No false standards allowed.

I am only one, but I am one.  
I cannot do everything, but I can do something.  
And I will not let what I cannot do 
interfere with what I can do.  
~Edward Everett Hale

I expect to pass through life but once.  
If therefore, there be any kindness 
I can show, or any good thing I can do
 to any fellow being, let me do it now,
 and not defer or neglect it, 
as I shall not pass this way again.  
~William Penn