Friday, December 31, 2010

This Year

Pouring rain, thunder and lightening, a week ago snow and freezing temps, an interesting way to say goodbye to 2010. As every year in the past, 2010 has had its ups and downs.........just part of living, some years more ups, some years more downs.

This year has been a year of discovery for me, a year of reclamation if you will. I have regained
focus and vision of what I want, and who I am, sounds simple, but for me and I think for most,
big steps.

This year, my first real vacation in almost seven was wonderful! Telluride Colorado in July, good friends, surrounded by indescribable beauty, that trip triggered changes that are still taking place.

This year, my job evolved into exactly what I had hoped for.......those vision boards I talk about, work. People have come into my life this year who have found places in my heart and I believe just by meeting them I am a better person.

This year, more music gigs, my guitar playing has improved, more focus. There is renewed interest in my jewelry and art . I have sold quite a few pieces of my jewelry, totally unexpected.

This year, I finally lost those extra pounds, and made peace with my hair. ( those are biggies, trust me)

This year, I started this blog........kicking and screaming, I admit.........and from the bottom of my heart thanks to all of you who take the time to read it.

This year, the now, the present, the breath, the stillness, became more important to me than ever before.

This year, in a few short hours will be gone, a part of the past, just memories.......... my heart is full of joy, gratitude and love, may you all live the lives you were born to live, lives that touch,
lives that are full, and this coming year............may you laugh out loud every day!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Better Off

Take a couple of days off, those words were spoken to me by my doctor and very good friend last week.
He knows me well, and he knows that occasionally I have to be shown the way. The past eight
weeks I had battled the same old stuff, and so there had been involvement with several rounds of antibiotics and a couple of meet and greets with steroids. I know my body all too well, and even with all the meds I knew down in my heart I needed some down time.

I did not teach today, nor am I teaching tomorrow.......and yes my energy is better tonight, my spirit feels lighter, I did the right thing, I needed the rest. I am not 100 percent, but I know I will be in a few more days.

I will be a better teacher Monday, my body will be stronger, my head in the right place. Isn't it amazing what just a couple of days of different makes???? Sometimes the teacher has to be taught.

The downside, I feel that I let my students down........they count on me to be there, but they will understand. I walked this morning, actually I have walked every morning this week and it feels good......still a little winded, but getting stronger every day.

The yoga has made me so aware of my body, that it seems every weakness or strength screams
at me...........I can't tell you how good it feels to feel healthy tonight. I am glad, I did not want to end this year or start the new one sick.

Tomorrow I will make my What Do I Want list.......have any of you made yours yet? If you haven't, take five minutes, sit, breathe and think about what You want......then write
it down. Once a week, look at your list, update if you need too.......I promise your life will change. Thanks for all your good energy and love!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


I wear an old Tibetan prayer coin almost daily........I touch it often, reminding myself to keep compassion in my life. The Mantra of Great Compassion, OM MANI PADME HUNG, loosely
translates to "the jewel in the lotus".........happiness in the heart.

We search so hard for happiness, it seemed today that each person who came to my class was possessed, grasping for happiness. Incredible drama seemed to be the norm, and there was great difficulty in going inward for most who came to class.......It was two of the most exhausting classes that I have taught in a long time. Yes, I wore my coin today, and I touched it many times repeating the Mantra of Great Compassion and praying that I teach each class with wisdom.

When there is pain, there is little belief that happiness lives in your heart......and when you begin to understand that you can't control everything around you, the drama just builds. I persevered, encouraging lots of breath work, moving through asanas that open the heart, speaking softly, encouraging everyone to look believe if only for a moment that happiness was in their hearts, waiting for them to accept it.

Slowly, the drama subsided, the breath became slow and even, tears faded, pain stopped.
Once again, I was reminded of how powerful compassion is, how powerful the breath can be, and how the asanas can calm, and how truly magical savasana/relaxation can be. When the classes
were over, my own energy was pretty much depleted, but for those who came to class in turmoil, they left in peace. It was a good day.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I Am What I Am

A friend use to tell me that I was the female Popeye the Sailor.......not that I had muscles or that I was like a cartoon, he referred to the phrase that Popeye aways said "I am what I am".
My friend has said that to me so many times, you are what you are.

I have always thought that was a great compliment.........and it really is how I have tried to live my live for a very long time. Through the years, friends, family and strangers have all at one time or another thought that I was strange or weird......most of the time, no big deal.

Now, I am(HaHa) trying to get past the I am........ to really break down and let go of the labels and expectations that I have carried with me for so long, and truly be I am what I am. Letting go of labels is hard.......because our labels are how we see ourselves, how we expect ourselves to behave and live.

I am what I without being defined scares the hell out of me.......that's my struggle these days. To live, without expectations, without judgments, to get up every day and let life
flow like a river, to just be......I am what I am.

I read something about mortality, that if you consider how long the universe has been around,
how long the earth has been here and then think about the average life expectancy of humans, you understand how fragile the human body is, and how incredible the spirit is. I am what I am... not what I do, what I wear, what I look like, where I live........I am what I am.

Monday, December 27, 2010

After Christmas

I like the aftermath of Christmas............ Last week, I decorated the tree, did my shopping, painted and mailed cards.......then Christmas Eve and Christmas day, non-stop visiting. Last night I was exhausted, while every one else I know is taking down their tree and decorations because they can't stand to look at them anymore(most being up since Thanksgiving or before) I sat on my sofa and enjoyed the tree and the decorations on the mantle. I won't take anything down until after New Year's Day, I will spend this week enjoying the beauty of the tree, looking at the cards we got, and thinking about everyone that we spent time with the past few days. I love the after Christmas glow.
The snow we had this past weekend just made it all even better.

I can take the time this week to light the candles, eat a piece of peppermint bark and look at all my Christmas cookbooks. I know it's crazy, but this is when I truly feel the Christmas spirit. ........this week between Christmas and New Years'. My paternal grandparents, Mamie and Johnny always acknowledged the twelve old days and maybe that is where this after Christmas bliss comes from. I am fascinated by Boxing Day as well. I tend not to get back to life as usual until after January first........this week is my time for reflection, gratitude and enjoying the winter season.

Sitting in front of the Christmas tree, drinking my morning coffee was one of the most peaceful moments today. The stockings are still hung on the fireplace, the bouquets of cedar and pine overflow in my mom's old green vases, Mamie's old table cloth covers the kitchen table. In that stillness this morning, I felt the presence of Christmas past.......that certainty of love that spans generations and gives hope to future Christmases.

For me, this is Christmas.........not the gifts or the craziness of trying to go to everybody's house in twenty four hours......... this after Christmas stillness, it is the best part of the holiday season.
The slowdown, remembering to breathe, getting out in the cold fresh air,knowing that a brand new year is just around the corner, full of opportunities and possibilities.
So tonight, I will sit in the glow of after Christmas, the soft twinkle of the lights on the tree,
the familiar decorations, and I will bask in the holiday spirit and let this season of love finally wrap its arms around me.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Be Happy

A friend recommended a book a couple of weeks ago and Amazon quickly sent it to my door.
It is Happy Yoga by Steve Ross and yes it is all about yoga, and so much more. My friend has been to Steve's class in LA and she swears that on her "when I win the lottery" list, she is going to take me to La for a class! So, let's send Jennifer some good energy as she buys those lottery tickets, ok?

There is a quote from Voltaire in the book"wherever my travels lead, paradise is where I am."
The first chapter of the book can't get happy, you can only be happy. I have taught and did my best to live this philosophy for years.......I was thrilled to read Steve's writings and thoughts on the subject........Happiness.

I teach people every day whose quest for happiness has almost killed them. If only a drug or alcohol or person could make us happy! We don't accept that happiness and peace are simple concepts that are obtainable by everyone. We want to complicate and control, in reality make them unobtainable.

Voltaire's it that difficult to understand that there is beauty and happiness no matter where you are, people imprisoned have found peace and happiness, while those who live in paradise are miserable. It's like traveling to a foreign country, surrounded by exotics and complaining the whole time because nothing was like home, the food, the people, the transportation, the religion,etc. When we travel, we eat as the locals, spend time with them as much as possible, enjoy the difference and see the paradise that is right in front of us.

That belief that you can "get" the fastest car, the biggest house, the perfect mate, the perfect job, the best body, the most expensive clothes, the perfect yoga choose happy, not buy it. The obsession of I will be happy when........I have this drink, take this pill, sleep with this guy, achieve this is so scary that some of us go to our graves waiting
to get happy!

I read a wonderful theory about love many years ago, can't remember where I read it or the exact words, but it went something like this............Love is how the other person makes you feel about your self. I think when we surround ourselves with as many people as possible that reflect our love back to us, that is true love. The poem Desiderata , it talks about avoiding those who vex the spirit..........we may have to work or associate with them sometime, but for god's sake, don't live with them! To me, love is believing in someone's dream as much as you do your own.

So this be happy, is it really that simple??????? Why don't you try it..........choose happy. We all have problems, life can be quite difficult, and very unfair, but wallowing in misery, seeing only the darkness day after day it traps you like a sticky paper fly trap. For sixty seconds, decide to be happy, fake a smile, fake a laugh.........just be happy for one minute. At least once a day,
laugh out loud, giggle whenever possible, smile at someone old( and not just the cute female or male passing by, though that's ok too) smile at a child, and then breathe. When you're stuck in traffic, smile for just a moment, when you stand in line at the super store, take a breath and smile, life changes that quickly.

Look at paradise where you are, I knew a family who lived in total poverty and they were happy, I have known those who have everything and could not be happy. Happiness is what we have right now, not something that we'll "get" someday. I try to laugh out loud every day, it feels good and makes everything a little better. When my mom passed away, my siblings and I sat at her kitchen table after the funeral and laughed through our tears as each of us remembered funny stories about our mom. There were moments of happy, even in grief.

The New Year is coming up, choose to be happy......choose to see paradise no matter where you are. The moments will come when you see and feel nothing but darkness, but you can turn the light on, you can be happy.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Watch Less

For many years I never wore a watch, and it never seemed to be a big deal. I don't remember being chronically late or missing appointments and I am not really sure when I began to wear a watch daily. I think that when I started teaching yoga (there was a time I was teaching four and five classes per day, five days a week) that is when the watch grew to my wrist.

The past few weeks I am wearing my watch less........on my off days I try to never strap that baby on. It really seems to keep my life less stressful, not to be so mindful of the passing of time.
I think I am getting more done, and it is easier to stay focused. Even this week as the Christmas crunch latched on to my back, the panic that I have felt in years past didn't hit. I admit I had my moments, but they were just that moments, not hours and days of beating myself up because I was not on schedule.

At first not wearing a watch, I felt rather naked. I would go to the grocery store or do errands and as I left the house my bare wrist seemed rather obscene...........but I am missing that timepiece less and less. We live in a time obsessed world, but it is so nice just a day or two a week to not be so worried about what time is it. To live a little freer, less shackled if you will
to the passing of the minutes and hours, seems to give me more time.

I truly had meant the past couple of nights to write about the holidays, but last night and tonight
the spirit moved me in a different path. Maybe it's the steroids racing through my brain and body, the hunger that I refuse to give in to, or all the big fat fluffy snowflakes that fell on Alabama today, but time seems to have stood still for moments and it felt as though I was looking at the world from another place.

My body says it is tired, my dog Blackie Bear lies at my feet snoring, I suppose it must be bed time. No watch has been on wrist today! and guess what , not wearing one tomorrow either.........and I dare you all to leave your watch at home one day this week and just see how
strange, yet freeing it feels.......ok for all you hard core keepers of the time, just go a few hours with out that face of numbers looking at you all day. Blackie's snoring is distracting now,
so Good night, Sweet dreams.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Waiting For You

One of my favorite Joseph Campbell quotes"we must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned,
so as to have the life that is waiting for us." Tonight is Christmas Eve and I had planned(haha) to write something about Christmas, but I kept thinking about this quote, so down the rabbit hole I go. I have been writing in my daily planner for several months at least once a week, what do I want........... not what I have planned, but what do I want.

It is quite exhilarating and a little scary to actually write down what you want.......not goals, not plans.......but what do I want. You begin to know and learn about yourself, when you give yourself freedom to voice your wants. Writing down my wants has helped me to focus, to pin point if you will what I finally want in life. If you let yourself be honest with your wants, you go inward and you are reintroduced (at least I was) to a person I left behind some time ago.

It has been a struggle, to address my wants.........I am a good southern girl, everybody's needs and wants always came before mine. But I am learning........and I am beginning to feel and be the woman I should have always been. Listing wants on paper, the motion and feel of the pen as it flows across the page is freeing, when you actually see those wants listed, you voice them, and put the energy out there, in your heart you know life is about to change.

I urge all of you who read this blog, to try this for a while in your own lives......some of you may already do so, but for those of you who don't, take a leap of faith. Years ago, I worked as a teacher's helper in a kindergarten class, the teacher I worked with was the best! One of the things that she taught me, when you are learning, use as many of your senses as you can.......I think that writing pen to paper is a great example of that. The rhythm of the pen, the movement of the hand, the feel of the paper, seeing the words cross the page, all reinforce
What Do I Want.

Give yourself a Christmas present of a lifetime, during the next twenty four hours...........write down, What Do I Want and relive your wildest dreams. Maybe at some point you wanted to write French poetry, or climb a mountain or write a novel..........dare to think it, dare to see it on paper! Your will see yourself differently, and soon others will too. Go ahead, once a week, write it down.......find the life that is waiting for you.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Itch That Needs to Be Scratched

A good friend who lives on the west coast sent an e-mail today, full of good wishes for the holidays, cheer for the New Year..........but he also included a link to a new song that he had written.
It was hauntingly beautiful and by the end I was singing along. Where he lives is cold and snowy these days, but his song felt like summer......and though it is windy and cold here tonight, hearing his song made me feel the warmth of the summer sun.

We met in L.A a few years ago at a songwriter's workshop, and he and Rick and I became friends.
Our music really meshed too, voices, guitars, it was magic........but distance and obligations have kept us from getting together again. That is a shame, because when the magic happens you want it to go on. Now, I am thinking come spring, maybe the three of us can visit and write.

Co-writing songs is a strange intimacy........ you bear your soul in the strangest of the ways and hope that magic happens. I love co-writing songs, each writer brings something different to the table.......and it can be ordinary pot luck or it can be a delightful feast! Every writer that we have ever written songs with was wonderfully creative, and the songs...........from the ordinary to number one in Europe. But each song was a gift, from each writer, a piece of their heart, a bit of their soul, stirred not shaken, sometimes a dash of tears, usually laughter and there you have it..... a song.

It's been a while since we have co-written, and I am getting the itch, the fever if you will. The doc suggested today that I take a few days off work next week.......maybe the muse will visit
and a song will manifest......there's a lot in my heart that wants to come out, that need for creative intimacy is strong.......and if the stars and the planets are aligned who knows what might happen.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Eye Transformation

I am always looking into people's faces.......I did it as a kid. I cannot walk down a street and not look into someone's eyes. The eyes don't lie. Because of my work, I see eyes that are empty and sad almost daily. I see eyes with no hope, that have given up on hope. Some nights, I dream of nothing but eyes.......peering into darkness. I see eyes that show fear, eyes that show hate, and eyes that have no life left in them at all.

But then there are those flashes, when the tiniest ray of hope flickers and you see the light begin to shine in those eyes. I see eyes sparkle and dance with laughter for the first time in ages.
I see eyes that begin to soften, and the hate and the anger and fear seem to fade. As lives change and hope becomes possible, faces that seemed way too old and hard, soften and the years roll away.

There are days when I think, I have nothing left to give........that the well of compassion within me has gone dry. And then I see someone smile, burst into laughter for the first time since I have met them, and the well fills up again. Some days I go to work sick, go there empty and within the first ten minutes, someone walks through my door, gives me a hug and I know I can go on..........that there is more than enough love in my heart for everyone who comes through my door.

Many days we talk about love, about hope, about possibilities, how learning to be still changes
everything about us. Some have ran all their lives, finding stillness and peace was not in their
DNA, or so they thought. That moment when they experience stillness, experience peace for the first time.........the light in their eyes is the most beautiful I have ever seen.

I love to watch my nephew Jordan's eyes......when he comes through my door they sparkle,
with the most amazing joy and love! I try to always let love shine in my eyes, because I know if it is shining in my eyes people I meet will see it. No one has ever told me they were loved too much.

Not sure how I went down this path tonight, I think someone told me as I was leaving today that I looked tired..........tired is ok,it just dims the sparkle for a little while. A good night's sleep, and I'll be good as new tomorrow.
Good night, Sweet dreams.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Everything and More

It was a good day, it was a difficult day. We spent the morning with our great nephew Jordan
finding his first "Charlie Brown" Christmas tree.......which means we walked through the woods down past the barn until he found a little pine worthy of the title. This Charlie Brown tradition started with his mom, Samantha who is now twenty. When she was two or three, we went out and found her very own personal tree in the woods. I had decorations that I had made when I was a kid, she made decorations, and the tree stood proudly on our back deck. We did that for years, but to be honest I thought she had forgotten about it. Then over the weekend, she called and told me how much she had loved her Charlie Brown tree, could we do the same thing with Jordan.
I had saved those decorations from years ago, and I added a couple of angels that belonged to my mom. Tonight, Jordan's very own Charlie Brown tree is shinning on his back deck.

Then, I spent the afternoon with Doogie Howser, well not the real one. My pulmonary doc that I had seen for nineteen years retired a few months ago and my new one looks to be about twenty.
So, I am back on antibiotics and steroids........which means I cannot pig out during the holidays.
Steroids means no sleep, a raging appetite and energy to spare........well my house will be clean for Christmas.

Tonight I think I have painted my final Christmas card. This last batch gets mailed tomorrow.
I still have gifts to wrap, and a couple more to buy......cookies to bake. I have listened to Tori Amos' Christmas cd most of the day, LOVE it! and I have listened to Sting also and a cd called December which we bought years ago.

It was cloudy last night, we kept getting up to watch the eclipse, but it wasn't to be.
A blanket of clouds covered our skies and all we saw was the reddish glow. I so wanted to see it.
I think it is time to stop rambling and try to sleep tonight.
Good night, sweet dreams.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Silver Glow

I can't help myself, and yes I know that every other blogger in blog world is writing about the same thing tonight, but we should, it is a once in a life time event.
Full moon, winter solstice, full lunar eclipse......... I taught four yoga classes today and we did moon salutations in each class....... how could we not with all the lunar activity tonight?????

You all know how I love full moons, and then we add the solstice and's like birthday,
Christmas, New Years all rolled into one. When I left the building at work tonight, I looked through the branches of the bare trees, there was the moon bright and shinning with a big circle around it and a few clouds beginning to drift across it. The moon followed me all the way home.
Coming down the mountain, the whole world had a silver glow and I cried because of the beauty of it all. These are the moments we have to hold on to, these are the moments that we have to file in our memory, because they truly will never happen again in our life time.

I keep hearing that the clouds are moving in and we will miss the eclipse, but our clocks are set, and spirits are high, we expect to see this eclipse tonight.

As always, each time there is a full moon, it gladdens my heart, because it shines on all of us.
So no matter where you are as you read this blog tonight, the full moon bathes your world in its soft silvery glow. On this cold winter's night, with the energy that is flowing through the universe, I hope the moon shines on you and yours, that this shift of activity brings abundance
and great joy and peace to all of you........know as I watch the eclipse tonight I send love from my heart to yours..............Peace.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Silence of Winter

Tonight I wait for the silence of winter. For me, that means snow. I love everything turns into a black and white post card, how clean the air smells, and mostly the silence here in the woods as the snow falls.

We only get a couple of snows a year in Alabama, and that is if the snow gods smile on us.
Snow is not in the forecast, but I crave it tonight. I crave those falling flakes like a junkie craves
their next fix. When life gets hectic, and chaos seems to rule, as it does this time of year, I pray for snow........ for big fat fluffy flakes, as big as quarters.

Snow seems to be the perfect baptism for the sin of stress......just a simple walk through the woods
listening to the silence and I am born again. Looking at bare trees, grey skies, feeling the wind blow against my face, I feel alive......... Sticking out my tongue, catching the flakes, and I am at peace.

We had beautiful flurries last weekend, it doesn't even have to stick to make me happy!
Many years ago, Rick and I had a gig in Mobile one cold January weekend. It snowed all the way, just these incredible swirls of flakes blowing across the Interstate. No accumulations that weekend, but a five hour drive in blowing was pretty being captured
in a snow globe and someone kept shaking it.

I love moments of silence, even when it doesn't a matter of fact, I have to have them. When things get so crazy, that I can't find the stillness, the silence.......I start to lose it.
I think we all need the silence of winter, for you it may not be falling snow, maybe it is sitting in front of a fireplace, or a solitude read, or just a drive alone......... silence is gold and silver for the soul, the wealth of the spirit........may we all be blessed with those moments this week.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Come Back Baby Jesus

I know that I have a strange title tonight, but bear with me. A few years ago, my nephew James and his wife Andrea had plans for an adult night out, the week before Christmas. They had two children at the time(now three) Stone who was around three, and Breeze who was almost a year old. It was a long night........not because they were bad kids, but Rick and I (never having children of our own) were not use to caring for such small children.

We started with food, they ate.......apples, oranges, bananas, grapes, eggs, pizza, chips, and we made Christmas cookies. We watched Christmas videos, The Grinch, Charlie Brown's Christmas,
and Emmit Otter's Jug Band Christmas. This all took place in the first hour, during the second
hour, we got out the guitars and sang songs, the kids had wooden spoons and pots and pans, so we had percussion. We were starting to panic, the kids were looking bored and Breeze was down to her last diaper.

The next hour, the kids were in the great room looking at the presents under the tree and admiring the nativity scene that my mom had bought us years ago. I soon realized that it was time for Breezie's last diaper. As I fastened the last one on her, the tape broke.............I know,
I would never win Mom of the Year Award......but we live twelve miles from any kind of store....
and yes I shamefully admit I duck taped her diaper!

By now, we are thinking James and Andrea have been kidnapped by Aliens and we are going to rear these kids........and they will be so warped. Rick and I convene in the kitchen going over our
emergency plan..........we hear Breeze's sweet little girl voice saying "come back Baby Jesus, come
back Baby Jesus". Now, we don't have a clue what has taken place in the thirty seconds we were in the kitchen, but as we rush back to the living room..........both kids are on their hands and knees sweeping their wooden spoons (remember the drums) under the sofa. They had taken
Baby Jesus out of the manger and somehow he was now under the sofa. All we could do was laugh.

It wasn't long after that, their parents picked them up. But "come back Baby Jesus" has become
one of my favorite Christmas stories. Tonight Rick and I watched Stone, Breeze, their younger sister Daisy and their dad James, perform in the Nutcracker. Their dad, was Mother
Ginger and it was quite a spectacle. But it will never compare to the night we looked for Baby Jesus under our sofa.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Things Change

Things change........ seems that phrase rings truer than ever. Lots of triggers for those changes,
some good some not so good. Rick and I did an open house the Sunday before Christmas for many many years. I cooked more food than you could imagine, decorated, cleaned and crammed as many friends as possible into our cottage. A couple of years ago, ...........not sure what exactly happened, but we stopped having our open house. I miss it. ..........what I miss most, seeing our friends. I know, things change. People's lives change, they take on new friends, go in different directions. Just because I know it happens, doesn't mean I like it. But I also know that all good things must come to an end.

I hope that the folks who came to those open houses have fond memories......of laughter, great food, good music and holiday spirit. I have never been one for big huge gatherings. When people come to visit, I want to enjoy their company, not just greet them when they arrive and not speak to them again until they are walking out the door. The nice thing about living in a 1200 square foot cottage, you couldn't have a large crowd, if you got twenty five people in the great room, wow!

Some of those friends who came, have passed on........and I will never forget them. The year our friend John met the woman he would marry, he was so excited to introduce her to us, that he showed up at our door that Sunday morning around eleven with his soon to be bride(the festivities were to start around two) So John and Linda helped us fix food and get ready for the rest of our friends. Linda was so embarrassed, but as she helped me in the kitchen, we got to know each other and laughed ourselves silly about John's excitement. She knew then she was a lucky woman to be loved by a man so excited to show her off to his friends. Their marriage only lasted a few years, John's life was taken way too soon by cancer.

One of our friends left the party one year not feeling well. Later that night, she was rushed to the hospital with a heart attack. The next year, she laughed and told everyone not to drink the eggnog, it was lethal.

At many of the celebrations, we gave away puppies. We always had "Watson Reds". Don't ask me why, but for some reason, for many years, right around Christmas, we had litters of red
puppies. Maybe those puppy door prizes kept some from coming back!

This is the weekend we would normally have had our open house. We had talked about calling some old friends and asking them to drop by, but I have been under the weather this week and my body has come to a screeching halt. Tonight, I am hoping for enough energy to do Christmas shopping tomorrow.

I sit here tonight, and think about those great times. Of course, I also have memories of absolute panic....... of not having enough food, of no one showing up, of the house not being clean enough,
silly stuff really, thank goodness some things change.

But some things don't change, any of the nieces and nephews that want to come, will be here Tuesday to bake Christmas cookies, Swedish spice, the only recipe we have ever used. There will be hot spiced cider and the house will smell like Christmas. My cards are painted, and the first batch goes in the mail tomorrow. And my nephew Jordan will get his first Charlie Brown
Christmas tree! We started that tradition with his mom, Samantha.........we would walk out in the woods, find the saddest little pine tree we could find, and then she decorated it any way
she wanted. I have all her old decorations( she is twenty now) and Jordan will have to make some new ones.

Things change........and it is hard. But the good thing........the circle of life goes on.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sweet Dreams

Very Late night........very long day...........but a good day.
Will tell the story tomorrow night.
Good night Sweet dreaSms

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Crossing of Paths

I can count on one hand the number of people that I have met, that our crossing of paths changed my life. I can add another name to that short list tonight.
I spent the afternoon with Claude Anshin Thomas and his assistant, KenShin. Claude wrote a book, At Hell's Gate( a soldier's journey from war to peace). A friend had suggested a few months ago that I read the book, he had read it, and had communicated with Claude. I ordered the book, read it and sent Claude an e-mail explaining my yoga classes/involvement with Post Traumatic Stress.
He answered my e-mail, offering his help, his services, anything that he could do.

Today Claude shared his story with those classes. This book is truth and compassion, and I know it took great courage to write. I read passages from it to my classes all the time. Each time I read his words, I am amazed by his journey, his story. But meeting him face to face, sensing the peacefulness and calm that surrounds him, hearing him speak. I watched faces today as the group heard his words, some were skeptical, others "got it", and I saw the transformation in their eyes.

Claude teaches "that everyone has their Vietnam" and he offers ways to find healing and guidance on mindfulness, how compassion can change our lives. I sat in the presence of some one remarkable today, forever grateful that our paths crossed, knowing in my heart my life has changed because of meeting him.

My song tonight is one of joy and gratitude. Kindness and blessings to you all.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Crud Attack

Some god-awful crud has attacked me! It started its sneak attack a couple of days ago, and today
it has taken me hostage! Breathing and talking are rather difficult, and I think that sometime last night a mac truck actually ran over me. The sofa has been my best friend today.

So, send some healing energy my way. Tomorrow, I will be meeting with Claude Thomas, my mindful meditation teacher hero. I will be there no matter what. The tea kettle has been on overdrive today, so has the Nettie pot. This too shall pass.

Good night, Sweet dreams.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Mindful Transformation

Teaching mindfulness to people that are hurting, is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. When lives are in turmoil, bodies are racked with pain, and nothing is going right, talking about mindfulness can sound like Martian. But, that is the time when our minds and souls crave it most.

Today, I started a class with the basics of mindfulness........we began with just breathing......hearing the breath, the feel of the breath, mindfulness of any movement in the body as you just sit and breathe. Then we took the mindfulness to sounds around us, beginning with the sound of the breath, moving to the soft sound of the music, any sounds in the room, then listening for sounds outside the room.

Next we took mindfulness to our bodies, being aware of pain, discomfort, any sensation good or bad. How it felt to sit on the yoga mat, the weight of the body, alignment of the body, awareness of the person sitting to our left and to our right.

Then we began to notice out thoughts, were some recurring, did we latch on to some and refuse to let go..... or were there hundreds of thoughts rushing through the brain like cars during rush hour on the freeway.

And finally I began to point out, that all those things we were mindful of at the beginning of class...... well, those were all part of our past longer reality, no longer the present.

Watching their faces change as we progressed through this class was quite incredible. The group came in, loud, agitated, and stressed........within ten minutes, they were serene and peaceful.
This is the miracle of mindfulness. It is so easy to allow others and our surroundings to take us to a place where stress, fear and worry engulf us. But when we become mindful, of our breath,
of our bodies, of sounds, of surroundings, we allow ourselves to live in the present, in the moment and life changes dramatically.

So with holiday stress building to a crescendo, take a few moments for mindfulness. Start with breath, breathing slow, noticing the sound and feel of every breath you take. Become aware of the body, of movement, sensation, tightness, stress anything, pain, discomfort. If you are eating
taste your food, chew it.........sip your water, notice how the mouth and throat feel more comfortable. Listen to the sounds around you, some maybe jangling, but others may be very soothing, such as your breath, or the wind or music. Notice your thoughts, are you reinforcing negative thoughts and feelings, re hatching the past, bring your thoughts to where you are, the colors, smells, letting your thoughts just flow through your mind. Now smile, two or three minutes of mindfulness, will calm and energize and help you make it through this holiday season.
Stuck in traffic, breathe, sing out loud! This too shall pass......... let this season be one of mindful
transformation, not worry and aggravation.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Polar Express

The Polar Express came south today. It was an exhilarating twenty eight degrees with snow flurries! and twenty mile per hour wind gusts!

Rick and I went to the tree farm to get our Christmas tree, perfect day for it.
Cold, snowy, got to hang out with their reindeer and I sat in Santa's sleigh.
(see photo) I guess after writing about my favorite Christmas tree a few days ago, it set the mood for some sort of cedar tree. The tree sits in the living room as I write this blog, and the whole house smells so good. It is not decorated but that is ok.
I have also painted Christmas cards today. The kitchen table is full, there are cards everywhere...and many more to go.

The dogs are loving the snow and the cold. Blackie Bear, ( the big lab/chow mix) has just spent the day with the wind blowing in his face and snow flakes sticking to his fur. Every once in awhile he looked at me, like why can't we have this weather all the time????? The other dogs go out for about five minutes and then rush for the doggie door and the warm house.

When I was in the shop at the tree farm today looking at all their Christmas decorations, the owner said "wow, you are really dressed for the cold" I laughed and told her that I dressed for a life that I didn't live.......meaning I love cold weather clothing, I buy it and get to wear it for maybe a couple of weeks a year. You know, I keep seeing that cabin out in Colorado or on the coast of Maine......or that Christmas I have planned in Prague.

The cold won't last long. Weather rumor has it, that by Thursday it will be sixty degrees.
Dylan knew what he was singing about, "a change in the weather, is bound to be extreme."
So, I cherished every snow flake that fell today......some were big, fat and fluffy, others were tiny little things that were just blown around by the wind. I know most of the folks who live here have complained about the cold, but for me it was a wonderful gift.....that made my cheeks rosy and my eyes twinkle.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


Ok, I have to confess........It is December 11 and I have done none, not any Christmas shopping.
No tree, no cards.........I know there are some of you who are thinking what is her problem?
First the shopping........usually the shopping is almost done by now, or at least there is a good start.That is because until this year, I had done ninety percent of my shopping on line, but Rick wants to keep it local this year, and ........I haven't been to the mall. I love shopping on line, I can always find really unique stuff, I hate going to the mall. (sigh.............) at least my friend Woni has a wonderful book store, so I can do some shopping there. My girlfriend Kaye also has some incredible things in her online store, (which for me is local) so maybe between the two of them
the shopping will not be so painful.

The tree, we are going to the tree farm tomorrow. There should be a decorated Christmas tree in the house by tomorrow night,.........or at least an extra tree in the house.

Cards, well I painted the model tonight, and tomorrow morning or sometime tomorrow the card painting frenzy will begin. If any of you want a hand painted card, send snail mail address tomorrow or forever hold your peace.

I know you must be thinking, this woman is Scrooge's mistress ! I promise, I love Christmas.
But I grew up in a house where Christmas did not create a spending frenzy or decorating
nightmare. We put a tree up, usually the week before Christmas, sent Christmas cards that week and usually did shopping a couple of weeks before Christmas. We hung a wreath, sometimes we did outdoor lights, hung stockings, and displayed all the Christmas cards we got around the doors and windows of the living room. Each of us got one or maybe two presents.

But we cooked........holidays at our house, we'd put Christmas records on the stereo and turn the kitchen into command center. One of my girlfriends told me last week, that the Christmas she helped my mom and me make chocolate covered cherries was one of her best memories.
She said she never knew a kitchen could hold that much love. Funny she said those particular words, because I am a firm believer that if food is not cooked with love, no matter the skills or
kitchen appliances or ingredients, it will not be its best.

Most years I have painted or made jewelry for almost everyone, but my time has been rather crunched the past few months. But, I do work best under pressure, we'll see what takes place in the next thirteen days.

So my cooking plans, biscotti (several kinds) Swedish spice cookies, maybe an Irish raisin cake,
a big fat ham, a smoked turkey breast, a couple of pots of home made soups, some home made bread, ginger bread and always hot apple cider and eggnog and oh yes, home made salsa and chips. Lots of hot tea and frothy coffee drinks. And yes, butter and sugar will be used with wild abandon!
It is cold and rainy tonight, and the wind is howling.......perfect weather for creating the Christmas spirit. I can feel the inspiration as I sit here and tap these keys!
A cup of hot tea awaits.........Good Night, Sweet Dreams.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Favorite Christmas Tree

This is the weekend to look for a Christmas tree. We always get the living trees, you know, those you plant after Christmas. Through the years we have bought some exquisite trees, hemlock, white pine, cypress........and they have turned our yard into a forest. But my most favorite Christmas tree........the last Christmas that we celebrated with my dad, he helped me with the tree. Rick was working nights and it just seemed we were running out of time, and still no tree.

I was at my mom and dad's helping to decorate their tree, when daddy told me he had the perfect Christmas tree for us. We walked out in their yard, and over in the corner stood this beautiful
lacy cedar tree, complete with tiny cones. At first he told me we would just cut it down, but then I convinced him to lets dig it up, so it would be in my yard for years to come. It was the first and only cedar that we ever had as a Christmas tree......and my dad was so happy that he had given the tree to us.

That year as I decorated that sweet clean smelling tree, I had no clue it would be my dad's last Christmas with us. He was so excited about providing the tree that he even bought new decorations for me to use........ropes of shimmery red and gold beads.

That was twenty years ago, and my dad passed away in January, a few short weeks after Christmas. Today what was a small five or six foot tree is now at least thirty feet tall.......a home for birds and squirrels. Every day when I see that tree I think of my dad, he loved Christmas and loved giving funny silly gifts. I still have the last Christmas present he gave me........he had been a plumber and coal miner and that year, he gave me a doll size bathroom commode, when you opened the lid, water squirted in your face. He howled with laughter when I opened it on Christmas day.

When I decorate our tree this weekend, those strands of red and gold beads will be hanging on it, reminding me of my most favorite Christmas tree. ......and that last gift, tied with a bow, sitting in the bathroom window.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Winter Sunset

As I was cooking dinner tonight, I looked out the kitchen window to the most incredible sunset.
The bare trees were just black outlines against a sky that was shaded from tangerine to gold to crimson. Those warm shades of color seemed to start at the horizon and fade at tree top level into dusky shades of purples and indigo. A crescent moon had just started to shimmer and one lonely star was shinning in the distance. The whole scene seemed other worldly. The beauty of it all took my breath away and all I could do was stand there and gaze out the window. Time really did stand still, and there was nothing but the of winter's best gifts.......sunsets.

I have experienced some pretty fabulous sunrises, but sunsets........there's my weakness.
My favorite sunsets are in the fall and winter, the colors just seem more vivid, more alive. Most days when I am driving from work, I see sunsets that make my heart stop. A good part of the drive home takes place on a mountain plateau and as I began my descent, usually the sun is setting.

Those sunsets are gifts........of rare peaceful beauty. Many times, deer are at the edge of the road and they too appear to be mesmerized by the show of color they see. Sometimes, at the
creek and lakes I see the outline of a crane, poised, ready for flight bathed in those sunset colors.

Each time I am privy to such a show of color, I want to possess it......well at least something that vivid and rich in pigment. When it's cold, as it has been for the past few days, I think of cashmere sweaters in crimson and deep me, when the day comes that I find
one in those colors, it's coming home with me, no matter the cost!

I hope that all of you see a sunset that beautiful this week, that the vibrancy of the colors, the contrast of the landscape is a gift that you will cherish.........I think those colors are Mother Nature's peace offering when the winter winds howl and the cold bites at your nose.
By the way, a lunar eclipse and meteor showers are on their way in a few days, grab a blanket,
watch the sunset and then catch the rest of the show!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Blogging Transformation

Some nights when I write this blog, the words flow so fast that it's as though they are streaming through my fingertips.......I can't type fast enough. Then there nights like tonight, I have thought of a dozen things to write about, but nothing flowed. I know that words cannot be forced, that they have to movement, flow and if it is not energy, no life in the passage.

On nights like tonight, I think about why I write. All my life, people have talked to me, told me their personal stories, I am a good listener. But as good a listener as I am, it can be quite difficult for me to tell someone my story........though it is easy to write my thoughts. Often I tell my yoga students to write, to journal their thoughts and feelings. This blog is not a personal journal, but it does allow me a certain freedom with my thoughts and words.

Rick had written about writing letters(Rick is my husband) in his blog. Honestly, I have not written letters in a long time. But, I use to write letters often. I loved writing letters, I bought beautiful stationary, sealing wax, special pens. I started writing letters when I was ten or eleven years old. I miss writing letters, I miss getting letters. There really was something extraordinary about letters. I think maybe some of Rick's followers are correct, blogs have become the pen pals if you will of this century.

Because of writing this blog, and following other blogs, I have made friends that I would never have met otherwise. I am fascinated by the quality of writing, the vastness of knowledge, the humor and kindness that you all express through your blogs. It is a small world, yet an isolated we sit at our computers and people around the world that we will probably never meet or maybe never see again, but the connection has been made.

I wish I had more time to read more blogs and follow more blogs. When and if, I ever retire,
maybe that is what I will do, spend my days following blogs. There are worst ways to spend your day. Rick has been writing his blog for five years, I hope to make it to one.
Thanks for reading, thanks for your comments, this blogging transformation is never boring.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Providing Information

This blog is called Transformation Information, today I spent most of the day providing information to Jordan, my two year old great nephew. We walked down to the barn this morning and I spent about an hour giving him information on wasp nests, old coke bottles, changing of the seasons, why it was ok that the barn was not heated and the tractor would not catch a cold.
That was just in the barn.

We walked out in the woods and he identified deer tracks( not sure who taught him that) and then I provided information about why the deer could walk through blackberry briers and not get scratched, and how the deer could find their way home, and why they love to eat apples and corn.

Then we had a long discussion about the chickens laying eggs, where the eggs came from and why it was important to wash the eggs and your hands after gathering the eggs.

Next on to the bird feeders, suet and fresh water for birds and squirrels........there is an old log that he pours bird seed on and a young squirrel visits and eats the seed while Jordan is pouring it on the log. It's amazing, they are inches away from each other and neither are afraid. Jordan decided today that suet was just too messy and that from now on filling the suet baskets was my job.

During his bath, I had to provide information about soap, how the bubbles formed, why it taste
so bad, and how the bar got smaller and smaller each time he took a now, my wealth of information was just about bankrupt. But, he also knows if I don't know the answer to something, we look it up.......on the computer, in a book, or newspaper, we try to always find the answer.

As exhausting as his visits are, he keeps me on my toes. All those questions, and he is full of them, and they just keep on coming and coming and coming.
Every day Jordan spends with me, I experience transformation.........I see the world through his eyes......I remember what it's like to meander down a path, to pick up leaves and be amazed by their colors, to hear the wind and run for no reason at all, just because it's fun.
We finger paint almost every time he visits, and I see the vividness of colors, and I remember my mom teaching me to draw. There is transformation in living for a little while each day like a child, looking at the world around you fresh, with eyes wide open, curious about everything you encounter.

So on the days that Jordan spends with me, I provide information for him, and he provides transformation for me. I think those are days well spent.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Starry Night

One of my most favorite paintings is Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh. Tonight, the sky over head must look like the sky that inspired Starry Night. The sky looks like deep rich velvet strewn with tiny sparkling bits of crystal. You know some nights the stars look flat against the sky, but tonight there is dimension and depth to their brilliance.

It is very cold tonight, already in the low thirties. There is stillness, that kind of stillness that comes with freezing cold. When you stand out in the cold and look at the stars , time seems to stand still. You can hear the rustle of fallen brown leaves as a dog or maybe a deer walks through the garden.

I wish we had a skylight.......over the bed, so I could look at the sky tonight before I go to sleep.
I feel the cold and gaze up at those stars, and I believe in possibilities. There is something at least for me, about seeing the stars that gives me hope. A cold night sky filled with stars makes me believe in magic, that anything is possible. I see all those stars and I just have to think that surely someone out there is looking up at their stars and thinking ........there has to be more, there has to be someone else somewhere.

I wonder when Vincent van Gogh painted Starry Night if he knew how magnificent his painting really was, did he know in his heart that it would become one of the most loved paintings in the world, that generations would look at that painting in awe and wonder.

I think to create something so beautiful like a painting or a song, that stands the test of time,
that gives so much pleasure to so many, that is a true gift to humanity. I can't help but think,
did van Gogh ever think about his work lasting all these years, that millions would know his name and his talents.

Starry Night, it says it all, such a simple name for a painting that is known all over the world.
And tonight, I have my own personal Starry Night............cold, still, dark with millions of stars
shimmering down on not only me, but all of you.
Starry Night, Sweet Dreams.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Christmas Wish

As difficult as yesterday was, today has been that good. I had Christmas lunch today with my siblings and Rick and I, along with Steve Norris, George Scherer, and Dan Farmer(with his bass player, Mark) played a benefit for two siblings with Fanconi Anemia this afternoon at the Regions
Baseball Park in Hoover.

It is always difficult to see someone ill, but seeing small children sick...........that's the hardest. Both of these kids, a six year old and a four year old are facing bone marrow transplants. You could look in their faces and see disease, but they were having the time of their lives this evening.
As soon as I walked through the door this evening, Stella, the four year old walked directly to me, and gave me a hug.
She had never seen me before.........yet it was though she had known me forever. A little later, her two year old cousin, Bella came over, climbed up in my lap and almost fell asleep. Her mom was freaking. Rick swears I am some sort of alien, that everywhere we go, the old, the afflicted, the young and animals flock to me. It even freaks me out sometimes.

After the show tonight, as we were tearing down the sound equipment, Stella came back to me,
another big hug and told me how glad she was to see me again. Maybe she knows someone who looks like me.

I looked at their young parents tonight, they look like kids themselves. I cannot imagine what their lives must be like, with two sick children. Life is cruel when a family has one sick child,
it just seems unbearable to have two. So tonight, send this young family, love and prayers if you will. Sadly, I think they have some dark moments yet to come..........but tonight, there was laughter, there were hugs and great music and hope. I am so humbled to have been a part of this, to have met this family and been blessed with Stella's hugs. My Christmas wish........Stella and her brother live long, happy, healthy lives.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

So It Goes

It has been a day of obstacles, of roundabouts and dead ends. Nothing I have done or said has gone the way it it goes. Tonight, if there were indeed a magic carpet, I would take the ride.

The monkey that dances in my head, has not only been drunk, but cruel and laughing. It seems he has been screeching all day, I only hope he passes out tonight.

Tomorrow is indeed another day, thank god. So, the best I can figure, planetary alignments,
weather changes, and maybe something in the water have all contributed to this backwards
day.......... it is what it is.

Good night, Sweet dreams.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Lace Curtains

When we were in Ireland, we stayed at B&Bs every night. Some were really nice and others were just tiny rooms with a bed. But the one thing they had in common........lace curtains. Not polyester lace, but thick heavy cotton lace, the kind your grandmother might have had. I love that look of lace hanging over windows, airy yet private. The window here in our office, and our guest room have those thick heavy lace panels.

Every night as I sit in front of the computer I look at the beauty of this woven lace. It transports me back to Ireland. In the mornings as I sit and check my e-mail, I see the sun rise through that lace. Our house is not frilly, neither is it chrome and leather, my friend who is a decorator calls it French country. I call it old hippie. Lots of books, plants, and guitars, and I hope a warm welcome, just a small cottage that loves company. When one of my friends from Dallas visited awhile back, he looked around and said it was just as he imagined it would be.

These lace curtains might seem rather quaint or old fashioned, but to me they are a beautiful reminder of Ireland.......of the good times, the music, our friends there. You know what is interesting, I had them long before we ever went to Ireland. The trip to Ireland just affirmed
my love for them.

The desk that my pc sits on, my younger brother Ricky bought for me when I was in high school.
There was an antique store near our house and I went by there every day and looked at this desk. It is quite simple, but that is what I loved most about it. The grain of the wood, the simple lines, it is perfect sitting in front of the window with the lace curtain.

I think I fell in love with a certain type of lace when I was a child. My grandmother Mamie,
tatted( made lace) out of heavy cotton thread. I actually have her tatting shuttle and the last piece of lace she made. It looks like my lace curtains, not frilly and prissy, but everlasting, substantial.

In the eighties, a friend made me a dress out of her mom's old lace table cloth. It looks much like my window lace. It doesn't look bridal, but rather tough and sexy, the kind you'd wear with leather jeans(which I have done in the past) Maybe that is part of the allure, this lace that is heavy and thick. It's lace so there is a fragile quality, but because of the thickness, there is a toughness too.

So there you have my love affair with lace, and if you ever come to visit please say something nice about my lace curtains.
Good night, Sweet dreams.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


I love my hairstylist, Donna. She has been cutting my hair for many years. I have to admit that through the years there have been times that I have strayed, I have cheated on her, but I always go back and she welcomes me with open arms. She is better than a therapist. When my time is crunched, she is master of the quickie and when I need a couple of hours of undivided attention she is right there .

Today, time was crunchy, I had made the appointment for just a cut, but when I sat down in her chair and started telling her what I had been doing for the past couple of months and what was to come for the next few weeks, she shook her head and said "time for a quickie". She absolutely refused to let me leave with just a haircut, so she did her magic and I was blonde sparkle Jilda again. She does great rock and roll hair! When she finished, I looked in the mirror and said
OMG, you took ten years off! She laughed and I told her she could put plastic surgeons out of business.

When Rick saw me, his first words were "wow, you look like a rock star." Probably men reading this blog tonight are thinking what the hell is she talking about. But I think most of the women out there know.........a good hair cut makes momma real happy! It is amazing how something as simple as a haircut can make you feel. Ask any woman, a bad hair day is like gaining ten pounds overnight, it just knocks the wind right out of you.

So here I sit tonight, in my pjs in front of the computer with great hair. For all of you, I hope there is a Donna in your life and that you never have a bad hair day !

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Power of Touch

I am a hugger......... I have always believed in the power of touch. I think there is magic when you hug, when you hold someone's hand, when you touch someone's shoulder. The magic is the connection of one human with another. I am not talking the touch of lust(though that can be a good thing too), but the touch of kindness of letting someone know you care.

I hear people say I love you alot, but these days I think we all need human contact more than we need to hear words. Touch is healing, touch is comforting, a hug can make someone's day.
When we were at the beach a few days ago, I saw couples strolling on the beach holding hands, it melted my heart. These were not teenagers, these were couples with some years on them who understood the power of touch.

When is the last time you saw anyone strolling holding hands? For the most part we are all walking as fast as we can go, going nowhere. I love airports, you can see some fantastic hugs there.......sad ones, because someone is leaving and joyous ones because someone arrived. There is usually some hand holding too.

I see people everyday that I want to hug......small children, the sick and the elderly. At work,
anytime someone wants a hug, they know I have one to share. Think about when you are sad or sick, how good it feels when someone hugs you. When there is something to celebrate, hugs just add to the festivities.

Sometimes it doesn't even take a hug, just a hand on a shoulder, a pat on the back can change your day. We all forget the energy that we possess, how powerful the touch of the hand can be.
Healing has taken place through the laying on of hands. Think about petting your dog or cat, just stroking their fur makes them and you feel better.

I know that there are many who shrivel and shrink away from touch, and that is their loss. But I can assure you, life is better with the power of touch . Pain eases, fears are calmed, sadness is softened with the human touch.

So first we start by looking at each other, then maybe a hand shake, we can do this.........we can slowly ease into this power of touch........then after a handshake, maybe a hand on the shoulder
and then finally a gentle hug.........there is power in touch, there is energy in touch, lives can be changed with just a touch.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Weather Fascination

It seems to always be tornado season in Alabama. I was sleeping so soundly this morning, when I heard Rick's very calm/danger voice tell me to get up, that we were under a tornado warning.
That is how the day started. It has rained all day, and as the rain fell the temperature has dropped, maybe some ice tonight. The storms passed over, there were a few tree limbs down, a little hail, but nothing serious.

Tornadoes are just a way of life here. In the spring they can become quite violent, spreading death and destruction along their paths. You'd think that fall and winter would quell their formation, but it doesn't. I can remember tornadoes in every month but January and I bet if I really looked back in weather history we have had January tornadoes.

I have been fascinated with weather my whole life. When I was maybe five or six, my dad's parents, Mamie and Johnny were always forecasting the weather. In the fall, Papa Johnny and I would be walking through the pea fields, he would look around and predict the winter would be fierce. He'd look at the size and thickness of the shells of nuts, spider webs, cloud formation,
wind, color of the sunset/sunrise,the habits of the creatures that lived around him and usually his prediction was right on the money. Mamie was the same way, we would walk through her flowers, herbs, she would sniff a plant, watch a butterfly, sift dirt through her fingers, look at the sky, and start talking about the weather.

Rick says that I am better than the local weather guys at predicting our weather, my brother Ricky is the same way. Most of mine and my brother's conversations at some point go straight to the weather, between the two of us we can out forecast The Weather Channel!

Maybe it is the Irish in us, I read some time ago, that during WWII no matter how fluent the Irish became in German or other languages, they gave themselves away because they always talked about the weather. Maybe we could work for the Farmer's Almanac!

For me, today has been a wonderful day. Rain all day long, wind blowing, bring it on!
Did I mention that I love snow! In times of drought, I have been known to do a rain dance or two, but I will do a snow dance at the drop of a hat! It doesn't even have to stick.........let those flakes start falling and I act like a three year old. I can make snow ice cream with the best of them.

I suppose my fascination with weather is why I have never longed to live on an island paradise.
I love change, especially in weather. Oh sure, blues skies and sunshine most of the time sounds good in theory, but I have to have the change..........the wind, the thunder, lightening, rain, cold
snow, heat. A change in the weather, my kind of change.

Monday, November 29, 2010


Our expectations about life can be sad, amusing and downright perplexing. Joyce Carol Oates said,
"for nothing is ever what you expect it will be, nor is it quite like anything else." We tend to build
our hopes, dreams, our world if you will on expectations and then we are devastated when it all turns out not quite how we expected it to.

Letting go of expectations is as hard a task as letting go of judgement. Parents expect their children to become/achieve what they didn't, lovers expect romance to last forever, we expect a doctor to cure us, a teacher to teach us,we expect those we love to never disappoint.

Letting go is not giving up hope or dreams, but letting go is giving ourselves freedom. Letting go of expectations allows the freedom to embrace what is taking place right now in our lives. For instance, say you go to a restaurant with nothing but steak on your mind, they're out of steak but they have the finest lobster in the world, are you going to dwell on the fact that they have no steak, and miss out on the lobster or are you going to relish the lobster?

Allowing yourself the freedom to be in the moment is an incredible luxury but also a necessity for a life that is peaceful, powerful and rich. When we let our expectations rob us of life's experiences, rob us of spontaneous joy and adventure, we have cheated ourselves. When we meet someone for the very first time, and all we see in them is what we expected.........then we may have lost out on a good friend, a lifetime partner, a wonderful teacher. Think of the times that you met someone, say a banker or computer programmer the conversation was probably kind but maybe you were thinking "they're exactly what I expected", what if when you were introduced, you were told they were artists, or world travelers, would you expect more?

When you get up in the morning and expect to have a bad day, do you? If you travel someplace new do you expect people to be kind or rude? Do you let your expectations rule your life?
Just one time tomorrow, tell your self to let go of expectations..........just go to work and do your job moment by moment, go shopping and experience all the sounds, colors and smells,
sit down and eat, and actually taste your food. Don't expect good or bad, just be there in the moment and experience what is taking place, without expectations.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Don't you think we love to complicate things? We say that we want a simple life, that we yearn
for the simple pleasures, yet when push comes to shove, we want it all. There is a wonderful quote from Miles Davis "I always listen for what I can leave out." As a songwriter when I hear a song,
I listen to the melody, I listen to the words, and try to figure out what the song is about, where it is going. There are lots of complicated, intricate songs that have been written..........and not to take anything away from the sheer poetry and incredible melodies that have been written, but when I hear a simple beautiful song that says everything in a few simple words with a haunting melody I am awestruck. Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You" says every thing about love and heartbreak you would ever want to say, with a beautiful melody in about forty words.

I love simple clothing. I buy very basic pieces that I wear forever. I add a piece of antique jewelry or a great belt or scarf and I feel as though I am ready for anyplace. I love to "shop" my closet.

Bells and whistles seem to be a such a big part of our lives. Cars have everything from some woman giving you directions ( why does my husband listen to her and not me?) and I swear there is an app for anything you need to know on you phone. We're all like little kids, if it's the newest and the flashiest we want it!

My favorite meal is simple........roast chicken( a little rosemary, sage, salt and pepper), a little pasta with chopped fresh tomatoes, basil, salt, pepper and grated cheese, a simple green salad with oil and vinegar dressing, crusty bread and olive oil for dipping, life is good!

I watched Eat, Pray and Love tonight. She traveled the world with one bag........I remember when I read the book, it seemed the more simple her life became, the happier she was. Can any of us go anywhere anymore with just one bag?

I think we would all probably be a little happier, if every day we"listened for what we could leave out." My great nephew Jordan proves this to me daily, his favorite toy.......... a box big enough to hide in, his favorite thing to do, run out side, his favorite food, mac and cheese. His clothing has to be soft, warm and comfy, Give him a bottle of bubbles and he thinks he is rich.

The holidays are upon us and I think for so many of us the stress comes, because we throw simple out the door. More lights, more decorations, more food, more presents, more places to go and things to do, maybe this is the year to try simple.

Simple is not the easiest. Writing a great song with very few words is not easy, a beautiful tailored jacket is difficult to make, the perfect roast chicken takes some skill, but I think simple is something that we can work towards. I know that when it seems your life is complicated and you're busy and going at the speed of light, everyone around thinks wow, what a life, but every
once in awhile, let's applaud the person who doesn't do it all. The person who understands that sometimes simple is pure perfection.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


The past couple of days I have been quite out of sorts.......there are things to be done, calls to be made, notes to be sent and I have just come to a grinding halt. Just for grins I checked my bio-rhythms today, they were all at the bottom or on their way wonder I have been in a tailspin!

We have all been on the down side and it is an interesting place to be. The past few days Rick has asked over and over, are you ok? I am not sad, or depressed, just depleted. The fact is, life goes on whether you are on the upswing or the down and these are the days I figure you just have to put your big girl panties on and press forward. Man! I hate having to wear those big girl panties!!!!!

In the morning I will get out my trusty day planner, sit down with my coffee and map out the week. At least when there is a plan, I feel that I have accomplished something. We do have band practice tomorrow evening, but there will be a little r and r in the morning. It really is that one day at a time mentality that gets you through........and knowing that this too shall pass.

It is these days, these are the ones when you want to run away and join the circus or in my case......... run away with a rock band for a couple of months, if I had the energy. Even the dogs are curious about my current state, Blackie Bear will not let me out of his sight, Astro(weighs 100 pounds) keeps trying to sit in my lap, Charlie and Buddy and Taylor are all giving me extra attention.
They get worried when I leave for any amount of time, they know who feeds them!

Once I thought that bio-rhythm charts were" interesting," but through the years I have checked mine and they are usually right on target. It is good to see that mine will begin their upswing in
a few days. In the meantime, I am doing what some of you have suggested, getting a little more rest, slowing down, etc. So do yourselves a favor, if you have never checked out your bio-rhythms just google and follow the directions for some of the free readings. Let me know if your ups and downs are on schedule.

Friday, November 26, 2010


Tonight is tapping keys night.........the holiday just drained all emotion and thoughts from me.
I am running on empty. I took off work today, there was nothing in me to is just one of those times when I have hit the wall. I think a stack of magazines, a cold rainy day, and lots of hot tea and cookies might take care of things.

This too shall pass. My muse has left the building, tonight maybe even the universe.
Good night, Sweet dreams.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Way Back Home

It seems for the past five years I have been trying to find my way back home every Thanksgiving.
Maybe home is not the correct word, I think past is more like it. Thanksgiving was a biggie for my family........we are all cooks, my dad cooked, my mom, my brothers, sisters and myself and not only were we all good cooks, we love to eat. Since my mom passed away five years ago this month, the last of our family traditions has faded away.

And honestly making new traditions, just doesn't seem worth the effort. The past couple of years Rick and I have served food at community gatherings. It is very rewarding, but the food is never as good as it was at my mom and dad's. My siblings all have families of their own, children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and they are creating their own traditions and rightly so.

I have written about change in the past, I understand all too well that change is a part of life.
I teach and try my best to live in the moment every day........but days like today, I would trade this moment for the past in a heartbeat. But I suppose that is why we have memories.
Life goes on, change takes place every day and the only way to live a life of peaceful stillness is staying in the moment. Sometimes this realization can be a bitter pill to swallow.

I have spent many thoughts today on gratitude, it is the only thing that has kept me from bursting into tears at inappropriate moments. I have an incredible life, it is magical and full of joy and my feet never touch the floor in the mornings before I whisper my prayer of gratitude.
But with loss there is grief, and even in times of great celebrations there come moments when loss shines like a beacon in the darkness. This life has taught me, it is all experience, and the good and the bad are so entwined that they are actually one.

So I have to acknowledge the twinge of sadness, of missing a home that no longer exists except in my heart. I am most grateful for my past today, the experience of it all is the reason I am who I am. So on this Thanksgiving Day.......I am thankful for the home that is always in my heart, and a past that has made me who I am.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Saga Continues

When I was maybe seven or eight, my younger brother Ricky(who was six or so)and I thought that we were getting a pet turkey for Thanksgiving. (you know like the little ducks and bunnies at Easter)
Our dad was a plumber at the time, and quite often his jobs involved barter. We were the first family in our neighborhood to have a tv because he did some work for a family who owned an appliance store.

It was a few days before Thanksgiving, he did some work for a poultry farmer and in exchange for the high quality plumbing work my dad did, we got a live turkey! On Tuesday evening after daddy got home from work, he and momma and Ricky and I got in the car and drove out in the country to the turkey farm. We picked out this really BIG Tom turkey, put him in a coop in the trunk of our car and took him home. Daddy took the coop with Tom(who was making a lot of strange noises) down in our basement. Ricky and I went down to give him some water and try to make friends with him, but Tom Turkey was not happy, he was big and scary and we decided to leave him alone.

The next evening my mom announced that it was time to get the turkey ready for Thanksgiving.
Now, at one time we had raised chickens and my mom had shown all of us how to prepare a chicken that you did not buy at the grocery store. I followed her down to the basement,
so did my brother Ricky.........we watched as she wrestled that twenty-five pound turkey out of the coop, he was pecking her and scratching, and momma was not happy. We stood and watched
(ok, for those of you who never lived on a farm, you might want to go,la lalala lala la here) Momma grabbed Tom by the neck and proceeded to wring his neck, ok she was attempting to wring that turkey's neck like she did a chicken, but it was not going as planned. Tom's neck grew
longer and longer and longer, and soon she was swinging that turkey around her head like some sort of bizarre toy. Tom continued to make weird noises as his neck grew longer, momma began to say words that she had told us to Never say! Ricky and I just stood and watched, as momma swung that turkey round and round, his neck just growing longer. Turkey feathers were flying.

Momma grew weary, so she asked my brother to get the ax, by this time she was dragging Tom
behind her and they both disappeared out back. In a little while, she walked through the door with a huge plucked bird in a big enamel pot and walked up the stairs to the kitchen.

I don't remember eating turkey that Thanksgiving, not sure if any of us did, for several years after that we had roast chicken for Thanksgiving. I will never forget the sight of my momma swinging that turkey round and round, it would have made a great SNL skit, don't you think?
Tomorrow night my final Thanksgiving entry.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Wild Thanksgiving

So as promised, my Thanksgiving stories continue.........when Rick and I married we discussed how we would spend holidays. We knew that Christmas would be a three ring circus but Thanksgiving didn't seem to be a problem. His mom had told me that she really never cooked much on Thanksgiving because all the men folk hunted.

Most Thanksgivings we ate lunch with my folks and then later in the afternoon would go by to visit Rick's family. Maybe our third or fourth Thanksgiving together, as we entered his mom's house
I smelled something really good on the stove. Rick's dad greeted us at the door, all smiles, it was obvious he was excited about something. As we walked through the back door, I said something about how good the kitchen smelled. Rick's dad grinned even more. He told me that he had something really special cooking on the stove and he could not wait for me to try it.
I told him that if it tasted as good as it smelled, I'd be in heaven.

I walked over to the stove, there was a large covered pot and this delicious aroma was rising
from it. Rick's dad walked over, took the lid off the pot and with these large tongs pulled what looked like a giant skinned rat out of the liquid. He was so proud, he was telling me about the sweet potatoes and special seasonings that he had used.........I finally got the words out,"what is it?" He laughed and said "why opossum of course".

Now my mom had always taught me whenever I was visiting someone's home, I was to eat whatever was put on my plate...........I just couldn't , just could not eat, could not even bring myself to taste Thanksgiving opossum. It smelled great, but when I saw it, when I knew what it was.........what can I say, I just wussed out . The only opossums I had ever seen were road kill and I knew my mom would never expect me to eat road kill!

Thankfully, Rick's mom had cooked turkey and that is what most of us ate that afternoon. Rick's dad never let me forget about passing on his Thanksgiving opossum, but you know that is one experience I have never regretted. Another Thanksgiving memory coming your way tomorrow night.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Two Dinners

So the theme of Thanksgiving continues...........a few years ago, new neighbors moved in down the road from us. It was obvious that they were poor, very poor. There was an elderly mother,
three sons and a daughter. They moved in their single wide trailer in early fall, Thanksgiving week came, and I became worried that they might not have food. On Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I went to the grocery store and bought a turkey and all the trimmings for them, thinking that I would deliver the food that afternoon so they could cook it on Thanksgiving Day.

Now other neighbors had begun to make rumblings about this family.......they were dirty, they didn't work, etc. But the neighbor nearest to them had told me their story. None of them could read or write, none of them knew how to use a phone. The mom and older brother were both ill.
The father was dead.

I drove up in the driveway, knocked on the door and told the youngest son that I had groceries for them. ........that they could cook their Thanksgiving dinner. He looked at me, and shook his head, at first I thought that they didn't want the food, but finally what he was saying made sense. They had never had a turkey, his mother didn't know how to cook it.

I took a deep breath, and told him not to worry that I would cook their meal and bring it to them the next day. So on Thanksgiving morning, I cooked two of everything, including two turkeys.
They lived down the road from us for five or six years, every Thanksgiving, every Christmas
I cooked two meals, one for us, one for them.

I learned a lot from these neighbors. I learned that we have people in this country who are invisible, who because of the cards that life has dealt them, we walk by them and turn our heads.
They were dirty, because they could not afford running water. They fell through the cracks of the system and were lost. They had nothing, but you could hear them laugh daily.

It was interesting, this family........while they lived in our neighborhood, we had several storms.
After one storm, there were limbs and trees down everywhere on our property. The boys came over and helped Rick clear every bit of the debris. One of the boys died helping a motorist who was broken down on the side of the road. As he helped them with their car, a passing car struck
him and killed him.

As the years passed the elder son who was ill died, and then the mother died. The son and daughter who were left, moved away. As far as worldly goods, this family had nothing.
But they were always there to lend a helping hand, and any time they were helped, their gratitude was amazing.

I think about them every Thanksgiving and Christmas, the lessons I learned from them.
I was just as guilty as any of the other neighbors when they moved in, passing judgement on them.........but my life was changed by knowing them, I was humbled by knowing them. I am grateful that my life was touched by them.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thanksgiving All Week

It is Thanksgiving week....... I like Thanksgiving. It is all about food and fellowship and gratitude.
It is not about shopping, gifts, lights, decorations, and family/personal meltdowns. Thanksgiving does not max your credit cards out, drive you to drink because you can't find what ever "it" of the moment is and force you to spend time with people you only see one day a year.

Thanksgiving is all the food you can force down your throat. It is a walk after lunch, a football game, a nap. It is a time to think about and acknowledge gratitude. It is a time of service to your community, thankfulness for what you have, great and small. Thanksgiving, if we look at history, is a time to set aside our differences, and break bread with each other in peace.

Thanksgiving is a time to remember.......our friends, our loved ones, and all that we have. It is not the time to fret about about what we did not buy or could not buy. I have decided to share Thanksgiving memories with you all this week. Some are funny, some are poignant.

We ate Thanksgiving lunch with my sister and her family today. She likes to cook it the Sunday before Thanksgiving so her kids can spend time with their in-laws. I cooked the bird.
It was a good day, low key, full of food and laughter and good natured ribbing about the Alabama/Auburn game coming up this week. Half of us are Alabama fans(Roll Tide) and half are Auburn.

Memories to come the rest of the week...........maybe even a few recipes.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


It has been an event-full day. This morning, well a little before lunch, my friend Edie Hand did an event at the local Toyota dealership for her "You Paved The Way" foundation which benefits special needs kids. We had lunch with Edie, her husband Mark and all the gang at Scott Crump

Leaving Edie's event, we drove to Sumiton to our friend Woni's bookstore/coffee house for a book signing by an area author, Ramey Channell. While at Woni's Bookshelf, we also got to visit with our friend Dale Short who is doing a writer's workshop at Woni's every Saturday morning for the next few weeks.

Then tonight, Rick, our friend Fred and I went to Berkley Bob's Coffee House in Cullman to hear a jam band, Bimini Road. A "trip" down memory road without the mushrooms. HaHa!

It has been a fun day. And yes, I am a little tired, but a good tired. Tomorrow we do Thanksgiving lunch with my sister and her family............and for those of you who live in the Birmingham area, tomorrow afternoon at 4:00pm on the local CBS affiliate, there is a Thanksgiving special airing with Edie Hand filmed in Nashville and I have a cameo scene with
Andy Griggs . It was filmed last February and I went up to do hair and make-up with no thoughts of being on the show, but ended up in a short little comedy skit. The show is actually airing all over the U.S. and several other countries through the end of the month. Everywhere from Bowling Green, Kentucky to the UK and Australia.

Since I have to cook the turkey for lunch tomorrow, it is time to get some sleep, it will be an early morning.
Good night, Sweet dreams.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Travel Bug

What is it about the autumn that makes me want to travel? I know that for most, the urge to hit the road is strongest in the summer.......for me, I become a slug when the heat hits. I don't want to go anywhere unless it is twenty degrees cooler in July or August. But when the calendar page turns to October, bags are packed and I am ready to go.

And for some reason, the autumn travel bug that bites hardest........Europe, UK.......I am thinking Ireland for Thanksgiving, London and Paris for the first couple of weeks in December and Prague for Christmas. New Years? some remote tiny village, could be in France, maybe Italy or Spain.
I have never been one for loud, crowded parties on New Years' Eve, for me a quiet intimate dinner is my favorite way to start the New Year. As for Christmas in Prague, that has been on my list for a long time.....all those incredible buildings, cold and snowy.

Of course, I would go back to Ireland anytime. Late November just seems as good a time as any to go, the music is always good, the food comforting and earthy. I think Paris and London would be perfect places to shop for Christmas gifts, funky little markets and antique shops.

There are no exotic places on the agenda for this fall and winter, but I am a dreamer.....always have been, always will be. I think travel bugs look for dreamers, our flesh must be downright tasty! The bites aren't fatal, lord knows I have been bitten many times........but they do leave a little melancholy wistfulness.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Some days are emotional roller coasters............ especially in yoga class. People come to class with lots of different expectations. Some come, depressed looking for an uplifting experience, others need physical release,for some it is escape.

Yoga, I believe truly does give you what you need for that particular moment that you are in class.
Some days I have students that are so stressed and emotionally drained, it hurts to look at them....but after a few minutes in class, the transformation begins. The eyes start to look peaceful, the facial muscles relax, the shoulders drop, the mouth softens and the breath changes. Some of them truly look like different people by the end of class.

Some days tears flow unabashedly and other days giggles are uncontrollable. I have students that arrive in class terrified to relax, scared to let their guard down for a second. I have seen it happen so many times, especially in Savasana(relaxation) they lie down stiff as boards, and in a few minutes, the shoulders drop down, the breath slows, every muscle in their body softens and they surrender to the exquisite peacefulness and stillness that awareness of the breath brings.

I have experienced those moments myself.......when my mother was ill, I attended a yoga class.
As I came into child's pose(how fitting) the tears begin to flow and for the first time since she had been diagnosed with dementia I came to terms with her illness and our relationship. Powerful stuff........there have been times when I have been ill, and I could barely breathe, but as I lay on the sofa and concentrated on my breath, I felt stronger, ready to reclaim my health.

Today, I had students who were beaten down, in tears when they came to class. We did partner yoga, and lots of heart-opening Savasana, I wrapped them in blankets and gave them neck rolls, by the time class was over, there was joy on their faces. Life comes at us all hard and fast. I know very few who take the time for stillness, who go inward and allow the peacefulness we all search for to come into their hearts. I am constantly telling students, take
five minutes every morning to sit in stillness and do nothing but breathe, it will change your life.
It doesn't take an hour of yoga, ten minutes will make a difference...........two or three poses, a few minutes of breathing and sitting still, I promise it works.

It seems the world is full of anger, full of hate. For all the religious talk we constantly hear, all those words about morals and values, we hear so little about caring and love. We hear lots about judgement, but little about acceptance. For me, when I teach yoga, I am given the opportunity to let someone know, for just a little while, they are in a place where there is no judgement.
For just a little while, they are in place where there is peace and stillness, love and caring. For just a little while, you can giggle or cry, and feel alive.

Peace. Stillness.