This project's goal is to give each family member and myself just 10 minutes of unconditional positive regard every day. All attention is focused on the other person for those 10 minutes and only positive comments or thoughts are allowed. Just 10 minutes often becomes much more. Try it and see. You'll find the Just 10 guidelines on the right side of this blog.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

We Are the Earth

A recent sunset in Vancouver, WA

Symbiosis is my word for today.

Here's how defines it:


  [sim-bee-oh-sis, -bahy-]  Show IPA
noun, plural -ses [-seez]  Show IPA.
Biology .
the living together of two dissimilar organisms, as inmutualism, commensalism, amensalism, or parasitism.
(formerly) mutualism def. 1 .
Psychiatry a relationship between two people in which each person is dependent upon and receives reinforcement,whether beneficial or detrimental, from the other.
Psychoanalysis the relationship between an infant and itsmother in which the infant is dependent on the mother bothphysically and emotionally.
any interdependent or mutually beneficial relationshipbetween two persons, groups, etc.

Lately, I've been possessed by an interesting idea: 

                              The earth is in turmoil because it's inhabitants are.  

Yes, I know it sounds a bit crazy but bear with me.  Hasn't the United States experienced wild and unusual weather this year?   Record heat for some, record rains for others, a huge hurricane, deadly tornadoes, floods.

Don't forget the East Coast earthquake, an rare event.   That's just for the US and we've yet to factor in the turmoil and unrest that leads to war, military conflictand revolution all around the world.  Libya and Egypt have risen up and deposed long-time leaders.  Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia are not happy places.

Recently, in London, unhappy youth with little hope for employment and a better future, rioted in protest of government budget cuts.  Pictures captured a world on fire, a furious earthly hell.

A restless earth reflects a restless people.  Peace, satisfaction, achievement, success, prosperity are words we don't hear enough.  So many lives don't reflect these qualities. Neither does our planet.  A planet, we continue to abuse.  As the rain forests continue to disappear from the face of our earth, we have yet to grasp the truth.   

 Killing the planet, its resources and each other will only bring about more death and destruction.   

We tumble through space and time, lost souls desperately seeking comfort.  Few know where to find it.

Maybe, the earth isn't alive but you'll have to prove otherwise to me.   The Earth is troubled and I know its people are.  Instead of dividing, conquering, looting and pillaging, maybe we could try working together for everyone's mutual benefit.  What a revolutionary idea.  It is not mine alone. 

Today, all I ask, is that you:

* Think harmonious thoughts.  
* Try to work well especially with the difficult people.  
* Learn to listen to what others are saying.   
* Know where you end and where others begin   
* Focus on the positive things we hold in common.  

In doing so, we could create a different world, a more peaceful and more productive one.  

Monday, August 29, 2011


Fact:  David Hoadley of Falls Church, Virginia, has chased storms since 1956 and have devoted most of his adult life to cataloging them on film and video.  He covered 20,000 miles and waited eight years before he saw his first tornado.  Guiness World Records 2001.

This guy is the poster boy for perseverance.  He got me thinking about success.

For many of us, the old standard of success was measured by a good career, great salary, fancy car and the size of one's home.  Maybe our current economic crisis is a blessing in disguise.  It forces those of us who have been thrust into economic hardship to redefine success.

Standing on the shoulders of giants and inspired by the wisdom of many others who have walked before me, I've created a list of the elements of success.

Please,note: money, career, car and home are not mentioned anywhere.

Elements of Success

1.)  Look for opportunity everywhere, especially in adversity.

2.)  Focus on goals that are specific and measurable.  Work hard to reach them.

3.)  Always be kind, cooperative and enthusiastic especially when you don't feel like it.

4.)  Deal with the facts not what you imagine them to be.

5.)  Surround yourself with positive people.

6.)  Time is our most valuable asset.  Use it well but never forget that most things take
       time,  especially personal growth.  BE PATIENT.

7.)  Be prepared.  Practice. Learn something new every day.  Improve your skills.
      Work on your weaknesses.  Success is hard work.

8.) Never forget that success is built on top of countless failures.
     When you fail, get back up and try again, harder and smarter the next time.
     Keep going.

9.)  Remember that there is a Power beyond you that is much greater than yours.  Always align yourself with It.  

It's a new week and a new world.  Go out and tame it!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sunday Drive

Keeping to the Soothing Sunday Theme, we went for a mini-Sunday drive.  It wasn't like the drives of my childhood when gasoline cost less than $.60 a gallon.  We'd drive for hours and explore countless little towns and parks.  Today's drive was very different.   As much as I enjoyed the beautiful scenery and the late summer weather, I was all too aware that I was burning precious money right along with fossil fuels.

Sometimes, I miss my ignorance.

Ignorant no longer, we drove less than an extra five miles.  We took in as much scenery as we could.  We pointed at houses we wished we had and agreed that we'd like to live in the country but still be very close to a larger city.  Our dreams are so much more expansive than our lives.  In our dreams, we have options.  Anything is possible.  Nurturing the capacity to dream is very important.  So is working toward them.

Our mini-drive ended quickly.  On the way home we made up crazy get-rich-quick ideas. Maybe one of them might pay off and we can afford a beautiful place in a country.

Today's List of Ideas

1.)  A rock that has painted on it the words "of ages".

(It appeals to the older Christian crowd. "Rock of Ages"  Yes, I can hear the collective sigh!  Hey, if the Clapper, the Bullet and Pet Rocks can sell why not this?  Especially, if advertised on Sunday Morning during with all the preacher shows.)

2.)  An small electric, thrift-store lamp with a card that reads,

"Comes with Invisible Genie.  Rub and Wish."

3.)  A slightly-used, live Christmas elf in a cage with 6 interchangeable outfits.
(Picture not actual size.  Accessories sold separately.)  This idea was my daughters.  She giggled all the way home after coming up with it.

(I didn't say they were good ideas did I?)

4.)  One slightly-used squirrel.

5.)  Invisible House Fairy.  It/her/him bestows blessing on whomever possesses it/her/him.    This one is my personal favorites.   I blamed a lot of things on an invisible House Fairy when the kids were small.  I also gave the House Fairy the job of watching over the kids.  It/He/She was very dual purpose and more like the very flawed gods and goddesses of Greek Mythology.
 My Invisible House Fairy comes complete with invisible condo and invisible interchangeable wardrobe.  (We've very fond of interchangeable wardrobes today.)
Other Invisible House Fairy action figures sold separately.

We squeezed a lot of fun out of a mini-Sunday drive despite my guilt over burning up precious resources.

On the way, home both children spontaneously said, "I love you, Mom."

Those words are priceless.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Free Planner

I love Planners!  Crystal Wilkerson has put together a great one.  Go to her site to get the free down load.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Vision's High Noon

Recently, I was given a homework assignment by an art coach.  I was to write to my higher self and ask her help with "Vision".  I've tried to complete this assignment but all I have to show for it is a pile of crumpled paper. 

Most of the time, I have to work at harnessing a flood of words.  Not today.

"Vision" was the word that jumped out from a list of nine.  Don't ask me why.  Apparently my higher self is supposed to know but she's not talking.    I think she's afraid.  I know I am.  I'm afraid of almost everything.  It's one of my secrets.  I guess the "cat's out of the bag" now.

Fear and I are very old companions.  Fear often gets in my way.  Over the years, I've learned to ignore this fear, at least some of the time.  Fear has me making excuses, aiming low, apologizing for imposing.  Fear kills "Vision" faster than any thing I know.

The higher self whispers, "Vision is afraid of being slain by Fear.  It has to hide, especially from you."

Great!  More inscrutable, mysterious talk.

As much as I'd like to forget this whole topic, the truth is Vision is afraid.  I'm afraid of Vision, of Fear but most of all, I'm afraid of envisioning something, working toward it, wanting it only to have it taken from me.

How rational is that?

I'm confusing "Vision" with a destination.  Vision is really the guide for the journey.  I'm using fear and uncertainty as an excuse.  I'm grieving imagined losses before anything is lost.

So, like Gary Cooper in High Noon. . . (a movie I love by the way!)

I face Vision alone on a dusty street in an old western town.  The sun burns overhead.  Fear walks beside me with its hand on my pistol.  The music builds.  It reaches a crescendo and I draw my gun.  Instead of bullets, my gun shoots Vision into the unknown, into the darkness and the light.  No enemy awaits me.  The greatest enemy has always been the one that lies within, the one that tries to deny Vision or to stifle it.

Vision longs for expression.  It longs for peace, for stage coach rides, for Sunday picnics, and for late night stargazing.  Vision is what breathes life into a tired body and mind.  It infuses the air I breathe, if only I'll let it.  Vision isn't a burden.  It isn't something grand that must be lived up to or else.  Vision is a guide, a raison d'etre.  It tells me I've been missing out.

So, I walk this dusty street again at high noon.  Instead of Vision, I take aim at Fear.  It's time to put Fear in the grave.  Once deep in the ground, I'll dance over the soft mound of earth covering the resting place of Fear.  Arm and arm, Vision and I will walk into the sunset.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Beyond Me

Creating a World that Works for All by Sharif Adbullah.  It's the book I'm currently reading.  I've come to dread Topical Tuesday because I'm not finding many things in current events that inspire hope.  In so many ways these are dark times.  This is precisely why it has become necessary to focus on the positive.

Achieving a "new world order" isn't going to be easy.  Individuals will need to commit to the task and do the hard world necessary to get us there but I can't think of many things more worthwhile.

Abdullah begins the book with this quote:

A human being is part of a whole, called by us "universe," a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest--a kind of delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. ---- Albert Einstein
The next time you're feeling alone, isolated, insignificant, remember this quote.  Read some Jung, Einstein, Buddha or the Bible.  The best parts of any religion share much in common.  Abdullah compares some of the wisest words:

What is hateful to you, do not do to others --- Rabbi Hillel

Do not hurt others with that which hurts yourself. -- Buddha

Do unto others whatever you would have then do unto you. -- Jesus

None of you is a believer until you love for your neighbor what you love for yourself. -- Muhammad

So the next time you see yourself in a mirror or glimpse your reflection in a window really look at what you see.  Look deeply, very deeply.  Through your image you can see the world. 


When Most Needed

Morose.  It's how my Miscellaneous Monday started.  I felt sorry for myself.   The day was an uphill battle.  I pasted on a happy face but wasn't feeling remotely satisfied much less happy.

Yet, at days end, someones words touched my life in a way I'd never expected.  This person's life, their words were pure gift.  They came when I most needed to hear them . .  . words of comfort, of love, of God and one's place in the universe.

Tuesday suddenly looks a lot brighter.   

Once while still living in Chula Vista, I went to my favorite thrift store with several dollars in my wallet.  I wanted to buy something "new" but had a very limited budget.  Suddenly, a woman, a perfect little stranger spotted me from across a clothing rack and smiled.  It was no ordinary smile.  When she looked at me I felt as if she could see right through me.  It wasn't an unpleasant feeling but certainly an unusual one.  She came over to where I was standing, gently put her hand on my arm and looking into my eyes, she said, "Do you know how much God loves you?"

I smiled back but I didn't really know what to say.  Not many strangers have eyes that look through you, much less smile and say things like, "Do you know how much God loves you?"

I'm not sure what I said.  Hopefully, I said thank you.  She wandered away and left me standing.  Within several seconds, I collected some of my wits and looked for her.  I wanted to ask her, "What made her say that to me?" 
She hadn't spoken to others in the crowded thrift store.  I looked for her but she was gone.  She wasn't on the sidewalk outside or in the parking lot.  She had vanished.

I believe she was flesh and blood but there is a part of me that would accept the fact that she might have been something more.    I've never forgotten this encounter.  It was at a time in life when I desperately needed to be reminded of God's love.  A tiny gray-haired woman came into my life for only a few seconds but she gave me the message I most needed to hear.  I've never forgotten her.  She touched my life in a profound way.

Many years have passed since then.  No one has come up to me in a store and said anything like that in all the years since.   Tonight, I was again touched by a profound encounter. 

Those who know me best, know I'm not comfortable talking about God or religion or even what I believe about those two topics.  I'm a lousy witness.    I'm uncomfortable with public displays of belief.  Liturgical dance  makes me cringe, hearing others speaking in tongues makes me squirm.  I associate a lot of God-talk with mental instability.   The neighbor who talks about God so freely irritates me.  I try to smile politely.  He doesn't seem very grounded in reality.  His doctrine makes me uncomfortable.  It isn't very inclusive.  It attributes much to God that is really religion talking.   Religion and God are two very different things and may not share much in common.

Religion, God, belief, are all subjects that can spark emotion and conflict.  Look at how long the Israelis and Palestinians have been fighting.  I tremble when I think of venturing into this hot bed of conversation.

And, yet. . . God's love touched my life tonight.  Plainly.  Simply.  You can almost see the lightening bolt scar on my soul. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Betrayal of Hope

On this Soothing Sunday, I struggle with the increasingly limited choices life offers.  Optimism fails me.   Hope fails me.    I know this is a temporary condition.  I've been to this bleak beach many times.  It is not a welcome site on a beautiful summer day. 

I want to feel hopeful, energetic, strong.  I don't feel any of those things. 

Instead of fighting this morass of negativity, I'm simply going to let it be.  I'll let it wash over me like an angry tide and watch it roll back into the ocean.  Tomorrow will be a better day.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Keeping it Weird

We are all a little weird and life's a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.

Author Unknown


It this isn't mutual weirdness, I don't know what is. 
I present to you, Mr. and Mrs. Weird.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Looking Good

Thinking Thursday

Thinking without action means nothing.  Lately, I've been teetering on the edge of a new life.  I can envision the person I want to be but somehow I'm not making any progress.  My internal "tipping point" seems captured in a tomorrow I'm never quite able to reach.  Needless to say, I'm not a bit happy with myself.  I'm hoping to harness this discontent and use it to fuel some action.

At first, I wanted to share a list of goals and specific action plans.  Sharing them didn't feel quite right.  It seems to circle back into the "all-talk-little-or-no-action" problem.

Lately, I've had to really sit down with the part of me that fails to take action and find out what is going on.  I haven't liked what I discovered.  Despite all the talk and bravada part of me is still convinced it's "not worthy" of good things.

Rational me knows exactly why I feel this way.  It has done a good job of trying to convince me that I left these feelings of unworthiness behind but they haven't been easily banished.  They've remained just below my awareness.  They've been hurting me.

To make it worse, lately, I've seen how these feelings are setting a poor example for my children who are of an extremely aware and observant age.  They watch both parents very closely, looking for signs of weakness.  It is age appropriate.  It is to be expected.  The problem is I'm not ready to settle for feeling unworthy.  I don't like how it influences my daily life or how it limits my opportunities.  I don't want to model these feelings and the self-sabotaging behaviors that result from these feelings.

Lately, this "granola girl" has decided to become a Mary Kay consultant.  I know it may sound rather like a strange choice.  You may think of Texas, big hair and pink cadillacs.  It's really much more.  I've discovered that despite how I usually appear I actually like looking feminine and dressing up.  I'm actually interested in how to apply eye shadow not because it's expected but how much better I feel about myself, if I take a little time to pay attention to my appearance.  Sadly, I've also discovered that for years, I have felt very unattractive.  I do not like how I look or how much I weigh and I don't think I ever have.  Even years ago, at a young 98 lbs, I hated how I looked.    It's not about the makeup, it's about how I feel when I start to care about how I look.

This has been a difficult admission.  The hardest part was admitting it to myself.  I've used weight, feeling unattractive, feeling different, feeling special and feeling unworthy as a barrier between myself and others, between myself and the person I could become.

Banishing feelings of unworthiness or shame in one's appearance isn't easy, especially when one has carried them around so long.  I have grown very tired of them especially now that I can see them for what they are.  Excuses.  I have been so determined to believe in my lack of worth, intellect, power, and attractiveness that I've framed most of my experiences in life to prove that I was right.  I've allowed myself to become an overweight, plain, underachiever who secretly longs for so much more from life but is afraid to reach for it.  Enough.  I'm reaching. . . I'm reaching because I really am worth it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Incendiary Device

Wordy Wednesday.

The word for the day is incendiary.  Here's what says:


[in-sen-dee-er-ee] Show IPA adjective, noun, plural -ar·ies.
used or adapted for setting property on fire: incendiary bombs.
of or pertaining to the criminal setting on fire of property.
tending to arouse strife, sedition, etc.; inflammatory: incendiary speeches.
tending to inflame the senses: an incendiary extravaganza of music and dance.
Last night, my son asked if this word describes a weapon or device that causes a fire.  I said, "Yes, it does."
This morning, I became such a device.
We've tried to working with an agency (NACA, approved by HUD) to negotiate with our mortgage holder.  The last communication with this agency has had us calling the evil entity also known as the bank.    I made a phone appointment to talk with this third-party agency.  I was the 15th caller on hold when the computer called me.  I waited for 40 minutes.  Finally, I reached a live person.  Well, I think she was alive.  I'm really not sure.  Here are a few examples of some of the things I said to her.
"I don't think you understand what I'm telling you."
"I'm going to explain this as clearly as I can.  I want you to listen without interrupting."
"I need you to let me finish what I'm saying."
"I can't send you what I don't have.  There is nothing more to send.  Look at your computer.  Look at the pages of what you have received.  What else is there that you need?
"Ok, I just want a yes or no answer.  I need a clear answer from you so I know what is expected."
"I'm getting really frustrated.  I get the feeling you don't have a clue as to what you are doing?"
"You seem to be contradicting yourself.  I need to know exactly what is missing and what you think you need."
You'd think I was talking to the bank.  (I think the word "bank" should be treated like the word, "Voldemort."  Good people every where can just call it "the-ones-who-can't-be named.") 
So much for hoping that this agency would be helpful.  
Lesson:  Always listen to what is said.  It really does matter even if you can't do anything.  You can always listen and be respectful. 
In the last several weeks, the tension has been building in my personal incendiary reservoir. 
When I went to the customer service desk to report a problem at Fred Meyers a couple of weeks ago, the manager's first comment to me was "Why did it take so long for you to report this?"
Starting with this sentence was not a good strategy.  Fire started to burn within me.
When I complained about the incompetence of the young cashier she said,
"You have to understand, he just came out of training.  They have to learn some how."
To which I replied,  "I understand being new.  What I'm upset about is that as a customer, I suffer the penalty of the cashier's lack of training.  Why do I have to absorb the cost? Isn't that Fred Meyer's responsibility?  Aren't you responsible for his training?"
Her eyes burned a hole in the middle of my chest.  She didn't like me and I did not like her.
"Well," she said.  "There is nothing I can do for you now.  You should have said something right then." 
Apparently, she was very eager to tell me what I should have done and should be doing.  There was way too much shoulding going on for me to feel good about our interaction.
Lesson:  Never put the someone on the defensive before you've heard their story. 
The following week, I needed something from JoAnns.  Fabric.  Fabric that must be cut.   There were no numbers sticking out of the "Take-a-Number" machine."  There were also no other customers waiting.  Three clerks walked by the cutting counter.  I tried to mention to the first one that there were no numbers in the machine.  She didn't hear me.  I tried to talk to the second clerk who passed by.  No response.  What was happening?  I wasn't invisible when I walked into the store.  Was I now?  Not one of them said, "Some one will be right with you."  That would have been really nice.  Now, I was afraid I was invisible and it didn't feel good but the worst was yet to come.
Finally, the only cloth cutter in the store was available.  No smile but a scowl greeted me.  I was afraid to smile at her.  What if I was going to be eaten?  I cautiously mentioned that there were no numbers in the "Take-a-Number machine.  She snapped at me like a crazed alligator.
I wanted to say,  "I must have missed the lesson on how to fix the "Take-a-number machine" but I was afraid she would lunge over the counter with her sharp pair of cloth scissors.
Obviously, speaking up wasn't going very well for me.  That didn't stop me from letting the "Sandwich Artist" at Subway know they'd mixed up the sandwiches.  I was ok with what I ended up with but was worried that the woman behind me might not be.   Unfortunately, I didn't really notice until the "Artist" had finished my sandwich and I was a bit timid about letting them know. 
I leaned over the counter and said very quietly,  "I'm so sorry I didn't notice this sooner.  The sandwiches got mixed up.  I'm ok what was made for me but I'm concerned that the other customer may be in for a surprise."
Immediately, the young lady behind the counter apologized.  "Can we make you a new sandwich?"
"No",  I said I'm really fine.  I just feel bad that I didn't notice earlier."
"Oh, no" she said. 
"It's entirely our fault.  Please let me give you chips and a drink on the house."
I really enjoyed my sandwich with chips and a drink.
I'm avoiding Fred Meyer and JoAnns.  They don't deserve any of my hard-won money.  But Subway. . Subway will see me again.
Lesson:  Sometimes being kind and considerate generates more goodwill than profit but that goodwill will come back to you as a very sound investment
For my peace of mind and sanity, I'm going to focus on how nice one young lady in Subway was.  Tomorrow, I'm going to find ways to "pay it forward."   Instead of staying incendiary, I'm banking on the kinder, gentler approach.  No fire to fight fire for me.  It's too easy to get burned.  Instead, I'm going to be cool and soothing.  We could all use more interactions like that. 
How wonderful it would be if we all woke up tomorrow morning and gave this a try.