Name That Tune? No, Name That House!

on the way 2

Last weekend, I was able to steal away for a couple of days with a couple of friends and we spent a weekend reconnecting and relaxing in and around the quaint and charming little town of Carmel. We don’t, for one nano second, not ever ever take for granted the beauty of the California coastline and though we lost count, my friend J must have uttered, “Wow!’ about a bajillion times.

While driving from point A to B, we passed through the intersection where beautiful meets gorgeous.


Then, we started noticing that all of the stunning homes along 17 Mile Drive have all been named. The first one that caught my attention is the Butterfly house and its beautiful and conscious California drought resistant awesome landscaping.

butterfly house

Wilder Butterfly

CA scape

Beautiful and requires no lawn mower!

From there, we wandered and meandered and found these humble (ahem!) abodes with fun and creative names.

best nest

Best Nest

beside the point

Beside the Point

scenic dugout

Scenic Dugout (I could handle watching a ball game or two from inside that dugout!)


song of the sea2

Song of the Sea

There were many more homes with affectionate nick names such as Point of View and Sea Haze. I found myself completely enjoying the creativity and personality of each and also thinking about the possibilities of what it would be like if we all named our homes? First of all, it would just be fun, would make evening walks quite different, but wouldn’t it also add another dimension of community among us?  What would you name your home if you could – or maybe you already have? It got me thinking about what I might name the home where I live now and the name JuJu came to me because it’s just got great energy and a bright cheery feel to it. But, I also know I will just keep thinking about this. By now, you know how my brain works, right?

Then we passed by this ‘little’ stunner and found her curiously lacking an identity like her neighbors to the left and right.

Name that house

Name that house

So, I leave you with a Cheers and a Challenge:

…a cheers to time away, renewal and spending time with friends who make all the difference in our lives; and

…a challenge to take some ownership for the naming rights of our nameless abode.  What would you name her? And look, there is even a blank slate above the windows above the garage, just waiting to be inscribed!




Hamster Wheels and Chocolates


Sometimes, we get so tired, we just have to laugh.  Here in academic land, as the semester progresses, things seem to move faster and faster and faster. And faster.  Around March, it started to feel like someone hit high-speed on the ol’ hamster wheel, and didn’t let go!

Tomorrow, the spring semester ends and we celebrate the success and achievement of our students who graduate and leap the chasm from college to career. We hope; it’s not always a linear path with the uncertainties and challenges our grads face these days.

While preparing for the ceremony tomorrow, my colleague in the office and I were getting a little punchy and to my mind came the image and hilarity of the old I Love Lucy episode where she and Ethel are madly and furiously trying to work the line at the chocolate factory; and with their apparent success, the supervisor just says, speed it up. Yep, we can relate!

Now, can we please have some chocolate?!



Bat Cracking Crystal Clarity

When I was much younger, I sought out the insight and guidance of a counselor/therapist to help me sort out a significant relationship that had crashed down all around me, taking me with it. I was in the throes of picking myself up off the ground, trying to decide if I believed the sky was blue because people told me it was, or if I truly knew that. The betrayal and disappointment of the crumbled relationship left me feeling the expected sad, heartbroken and angry mixed up emotions; but I also felt so disoriented and unsure. My foundation felt as if it had been rocked and it took me quite a time to inside out and right side up myself.

In this process, I remember distinctly, in one of the sessions; we talked about about choice. About connection. About trusting self. The therapist waxed eloquent about many things; she was really good.  That conversation is mostly, now, simply an essence in my mind these many years later. But what I can still hear, crystal clear, is a statement she made. I can hear her to this day, with the clarity of clinking wine glasses or a bat and ball connecting on a grand slam. She simply said that we must look for and choose people to surround us who ‘inspirit us’ and to selectively limit those who ‘disinspirit us’; then we talked for awhile about what this meant and how to recognize it going forward.  To seek out those who breathe life into us, and to be cognizant of those who leave us feeling deflated.

I return to that idea, that template if you will, often. It’s one of those moments that rang so true for me, made sense on such a foundational level; it was a pivot point in the right-siding-up process for me.  In crisis, is also an opportunity to begin to see things in new ways.

Like many good life lessons we collect along the way; it stayed with me but I will be honest and tell you that it was and is not always top of mind; we lose perspective. We get distracted. We get lazy; complacent. With healing, comes too the risk of receding from the active state of intentional growth. It’s hard work. Life delivers so many lessons to us; it seems fair to say that they can sometimes feel like a rolodex, spinning from one to the next.

At a point in my life where I feel drawn to think carefully, choose as wisely as I can - to be intentional in all things – I once again find myself bumping up against this way of thinking.

The life-rolodex has spun me back to the letter I…intentional, inspirit.

Flash forward some twenty years and over a recent lunch with a treasured friend who also happens to be a gifted therapist; and while deep in conversation about marriages, friendships, partnerships, relationships – all of the people we bring into our lives – she eloquently rolls off her tongue the idea, this truth, that when any relationship requires us to be small, remain small or somehow get small in order to sustain the relationship, to keep it alive – we have to ask ourselves if it is worth it. Is it right?

I made her stop. Say it again, and then again, so I could write it down. There was that ringing clarity again.

I also see now that if we have to be small, we cannot feel inspirited by another – for implicit in the idea of being inspirited is a sense of expansion, taking in oxygen and feeling filled with life and joy.

No, the two are contrary to each other.

But, to be intentional about who we invite into our lives, as friends, business partners, lovers, spouses, friends, requires that we identify and know what we need to feel inspirited. And, that we also have the capacity, yes, to be inspiriting to others?  I read the other day that

Over time, as we grow, we have to remember that we gradually learn to be less focused on personality and to identify more closely with essence, the true nature of ourselves and others.   – Wisdom of the Enneagram

In my never ending and seemingly bottomless-pit quest for understanding, peace and direction, I found myself nodding and finding some resonance in a comment on a blog where the person shared that after much hurt and consternation when things in her life were just not going right, with time and careful discernment it came clear to her that she wanted someone –  companions – friends –  people in her life – who feel like a warm sunny summer morning.

someone who feels like a warm sunny summer morning.


The way I see it, that’s a great way to frame it!   The feeling of those words echoed a true and clear resonance.  They remind me, in their own way, of choosing a word to guide our year. Allowing essence to guide our connections.

Click. Clink. Crack.

The words leaped off the page and into me and answered questions I didn’t quite realize I had already begun asking myself.  And connected themselves readily to these ideas of inspirit and taking up the space of who we really are. Not shaving off corners and bits here and there.

If we are really paying attention to the quiet still parts of ourselves – not always easy to do – perhaps we can learn to better recognize those who inspirit us, those who make room for us no matter our ‘size’  and who feel like a warm sunny summer morning.

Or maybe for some of us it is a clear spring day?  Or a crisp autumn afternoon? Or a cozy fireside seat on a brisk blustery evening? For each of us the essence will be unique; what’s important is finding out what it is.


Perspective. Well Played.

The question is not what you look at,

but what you see

 -Henry David Thoreau


what is it

What Is It?


The other day I talked about perspective, and how sometimes we need to let things unfold and be open to seeing things in new ways.

Then, the very next day, this came across my view. Perhaps I was being tested?

Look at the image above. What do you see?

Are you sure?


Believe it or not, but this is a woman.


In full body paint.


Look again.

Her left leg is pointing down like a tail.

Her right knee is drawn up.

Her right arm is braced on the stump. Her other arm is folded over her head.

The bird’s eye is in the center of her forehead.

The longer you look, the easier it is to see her.  She’s sitting on the wood stump.


Now, where did the bird go?



Happily Simple or Simply Happier


“Every increased possession loads us with new weariness.” -John Ruskin

There are people, we all know them and we call them “they’ and it is they who say that less is more. I think they know what’s going on, really going on.  They seem to know quite a lot, they do.

I had been noticing, and pondering, this new sort of reality I have found myself in, when Lori from DonnaandDiablo shared this quote awhile back. It caught my attention and I loved how it resonated with thoughts that have been bumping around in my mind, and my notebook, and my conversations, over this last year or so.

Those little moments where little light-bulbs pop to life and I hear my mind say, ‘hmmmm…’

Change, with it’s multifaceted ways and ever-reaching tentacles of both joy and grief, peace and anxiety, comes with much turbulence.

Thankfully, change can also bring clarity and focus.

This change in my life included an actual move to a new location and initially in any move, the primary focus is simple: find the underwear and the toothbrush, and everything else follows in time.  I’ve learned, after many moves, that knowing for certain where those two items are located in the piles, can make the rest of the chaos a little more bearable. So, in this settling in period, as one might call it, this period of transition, some things have become more clear to me once I found my spiritual underwear, so to speak.

Or at least slightly more in focus. fog As I have found my way in this new space I now call home, I realize that without even realizing it, less truly is more. Or is it that there is more to be said about having less? Possessions, that is. Because I truly think that I have more now than before. [I am thinking that Dr. Suess would probably like this post, and that just makes me, well, happy].

I have noticed that…

…where, in my previous location, it seemed I never had enough kitchen cabinet storage, and I had overflowed to a re-purposed cabinet in the garage, I now have honest-to-goodness extra space. Like, empty cupboards in the kitchen. Seriously!

…where I used to be constantly running out of space on my DVR, ever agonizing which un-watched recording could get deleted without ever being viewed, my new DVR has exactly seven programs waiting for me. And of those seven, two I am saving for the kiddo. 

…that I often was consumed by the next purchase, desperate in my attempt to acquire, to fill so as to avoid the void;  and that now I shop with intention for what is truly needed and appreciated. Time spent in good company far outweighs things, ten to one. So does saving for a rainy day. Or a sunny trip.

…where before I went after the fancy kitchen remodel, I find more peace in a nearly one hundred year old house that leans a little but has more good juju than a box of juju beans.

And, I have noticed that while once full of secrets I was too fearful of sharing, I now understand how the truth really can be freeing. 

I will be honest, and say that sometimes I look around and see all the people with all the stuff. And I wonder, am I missing something? Am I fooling myself?  Will I change my mind at some point (other than the fleeting moments when I walk through the Nordstrom shoe department of course) ?  We are programmed to want more, bigger, better; it feels foreign to go against this grain.


I had a conversation the other day – one of those proverbial conversation that goes like this:  ‘what would you grab if your house caught on fire and you only had a few minutes’ ?  

For my companion, there was much angst and indecision. I could hear him taking inventory in his mind and feeling the pressure of the imagined decision.  For me, I realized that my answer was so much easier than his. My list was short and clear. Things are just that, things. When we lean into change, we have to make choices. When we lean into change, we invite clarity into our lives.

It occurred to me in the days since that conversation, that the possessions, all the stuff, can take up so much precious space;  and that isn’t it possible that the more space I make for me, the less I need to fill up that space?

What about you?


Pieces | Brain Painting


When I wrote Pieces of Grace, it took me months to finish that post. Beyond that, it took me nearly 15 years to find my way through a circuitous maze of understanding that my spiritual path would ultimately lead me to a place of beginning rather than a destination.  A place of acceptance. Acceptance that it is something I must assemble.  Over time.  Even though I don’t yet have all the pieces of the puzzle laid out before me on the quintessential card table of life.  That it’s not going to happen in an instant. And that it’s not a matter of leaving one house and walking in the doors of another.

Instead, as I wrote in that post:

“I have lightheartedly – over the last few years – referred to this questioning, this seeking and these feelings of being a spiritual misfit, as belonging to the church of human kindness.  I have come to see the importance of making intentional choices to live kindly and to have that as a guiding principal.  I find that I look in so many places for guidance, signposts and honestly, just honest to goodness resonance. A sense of place.”

Experiencing my friend’s Bat Mitzvah taught me to pay attention. The pieces? They show up when they will.

So, I read and listen. I pay attention. I remain open to finding pieces that fit. Everywhere I go, I am attuned. I know it when I hear, or sense, a sort of click within me. Outwardly, I kind of tilt my head to the side, like a quizzical puppy, and let my shoulders and chest rise and then fall, and I utter a, ‘hmh?!”.

In those moments, I know I have stumbled upon a piece, a piece that clicks in somehow. And so begins a new part of our time here together: Pieces.


During a recent read, an article titled:  Peeling Back the Mask: Reconnect with your Authentic Self, on a site I follow religiously (pun totally intended there, c’mon! :) ) I came across this and heard myself go, “hmh?!”…

” ‘We are our thoughts‘ isn’t just Eastern voodoo wisdom. The word ‘brainwashing’ has a negative connotation, so let’s call it brain painting. Painting your mind with things you love is a surefire way to become a happy you. This is nothing more than surrounding yourself with people, books, subjects and thoughts that make you smile. Be selective and consistent with what you allow in.

crayons soul


I realized the resonance I found in this; this is part of the process, this is how it happens for me.  The article caught my attention with its words “reconnect with your authentic self” – and then drew me so that I would find one of the pieces.

For me, the way I see it, I have to be looking, looking for the guideposts along the way. They are there.

What do you paint your brain with?





Give A Little, Get A Lot



This is the Church of Human Kindness.

Thanks JT Weaver for sharing this today. Look around – notice the kindness…
And maybe we can be the one to be seen being kind…

(p.s. it appears the video does not load here ?? so please hop over to JT Weaver’s blog to view – and tell him thanks for sharing with all of us!)


Originally posted on J T Weaver:

Sometimes we go through life without seeing those little acts of kindness that happen all around us.  Then, without warning we start to notice, we start to see, and we start to understand.  These small events then begin to affect us in ways that make us better people, better neighbors, and better parents.  This is growth.  This is maturity.  This is living.

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