Thursday, July 31, 2014

Is Vulnerability A Good Thing?

       Why is vulnerability the center of meaningful human experiences?
         In my opinion it can reveal a pathway to openness and "other awareness". But that happens only if a choice is made to turn outward.

       What does vulnerability feel like?
       It feels as if time slows down during vulnerability. Futurizing is impossible. Things feel out of control. Self-conciousness creeps up and takes a front row seat. This uncomfortable awareness of reality can highjack a positive outcome.

What do you do with vulnerability?
   I'd like to get control over the feeling. But, since that is impossible the best thing to do is to submit to the free fall and turn outwards toward others. When I concentrate on others the feeling becomes encased in positiveness.

When do you feel most vulnerability?
    When I risk doing something new or I become a novice again. I feel vulnerability when something happens that was unforeseen or unplanned. I feel it when I ask for, or receive criticism. I even feel it when I receive praise. I feel it when I go somewhere alone.

How would you you define vulnerability in terms of what it is not?
  It is not secure. It is not a guarantee of happiness. It cannot be controlled. It is not bestowed upon a certain kind of person. It is not devastating. It is not a feeling to be avoided at all costs. More thoughts on this subject.

Like inconsequential seeds, vulnerability packs a power house of growth and development.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Back To Daring Greatly

   I'm back. I took Brene's class on The Gifts of Imperfection and I learned, but now I'm back to the big mama book. I found a friend to read with, I have the book as an audible file, and I'm starting a section in my journal for Daring Greatly.

                                                                      Teddy Roosevelt
“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better.  The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”
    Here are some preliminary questions. I answered them 18 months ago and now I'm seeing with clearer eyes.

1- I define vulnerability as a state of being; open, able to risk embarrassment, genuine, slow to be defensive about my story, and more ready to listen and learn. 

2- I thought in the past that vulnerability meant being in a weak position. Now I see the expansiveness of it. By that I mean the opposite of contracting to keep yourself out of a exposed place. Pulling in to protect myself is giving up the freedom to feel the spectrum of emotions. I was so devastated to realize that "we can't selectively numb emotion. Numb the dark and you numb the light." Pow! I feel that right between the eyes.

3- My family story mirrored the war stories of countless others. We felt fear and scarcity many generations back. Behind the good memories, shadows of poverty and shame leak through. Getting more was a theme I felt from my parents. More education, more money, more security, these ideas were deeply implanted in my head.

4- I saw my father save 60% of his weekly income to keep us safe. I saw my mother go to great lengths to make us look presentable. They felt vulnerable coming from a war-torn country and starting over in their 40's with a new language. However, this model wasn't all negative. They showed great courage to come to America.
    I have a legacy of courage. For that I am grateful. I have witnessed fear and disconnection but at the same time I have witnessed overcoming that fear for the greater goal of connection to a stronger family and even more important, a stronger tie to God.

Friday, July 25, 2014

My Five Senses

      I feel inspired to write about my appreciation for my five senses. I cannot begin to give justice to the amazing blessing these physical senses provide. My thoughts turned here when I was reading Susan Branch's book "A Fine Romance". Her ability to write brought me to England to see, hear, touch smell, and taste the countywide.

    The artist's eye sees differently. Light is differentiated from dark by tiny degrees. Lines are interspersed between open spaces. Colors come through the eyes and change feelings and attitudes.

   My eyes look wider now. I stop for visual drama and try to feel the display that nature provides. What I see can heal me from inward preoccupation.

My hearing is challenged by the music I listen to and play on the piano. Just lately I've been listening to the voices in Variation No.22 of Bach's Goldberg Suite. I am touched by the reverence in the harmony notes as they carry the melody to a new sacred place.
Touching natural plants, rocks, and shells made my hands feel like they can play the piano keys with more gentleness.

     There is such variety of textures in nature. The smooth things are examples of living under pressure and change. They once started rough and jagged. But water, light and wind have worked on them to change their very essence. I take solace in that process.

I learned a lot from my little friend Marlee. She touched everything in and out of the water. With inquisitive hands she processed the new and old.

    Not to forget smell. I have renewed my love of essential oils. There are some oils that smell of healing. They were given to me shortly after hospital visits. Their aroma are just as etched in my mind and any picture or word.

    I have not forgotten taste. I struggle with becoming more refined in my tastes. I wish I could learn to eat more slowly. I shall do more to heighten that sense. This physical body is such a blessing.

Thursday, July 24, 2014


        I came to Lisa Jo Bakers's Five Minute Friday very recently. She has been bringing writers together for a very long time. When we give ourselves to something that is good and a blessing to others there comes a time for it to end. I recently ended a decade of Music and Movement for Children. I loved the toddlers who blessed me with honesty, enthusiasm, and often unabashed love. I thought I would play with them until I physically could not.

           But, last fall as I tried to plan the next semester I felt a huge weight come over me. I was done. Not exhausted but ready to call it quits. My partner felt the same, thank goodness. I was worried that I would disappoint her. We made many families happy and they made us feel warm and cherished. There is a time and season to all things under heaven.

I write on Fridays with a large group who inspire me. Only five minutes and without much thought to perfection. I write, prompted by one word that sends my thoughts to the keyboard and hopefully makes sense.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

I-Phone Photography

  I just started another online class from Big Picture Classes. This one is entitled Phone Photography Project 2. When I purchased my I-Phone 5 I did so mainly for the camera. I always take it with me and it is terrific for the shots I do. What I wanted from this class is  more instruction on the features. The first thing I did is turn on the grid under settings/camera. This helped me align my pictures better.

                                                       (The Golden Hour at the ferry dock)

Tips for Capturing the Light
Think of light in multiple ways: as a way to illuminate your subject, a way to set the mood or tone of a photograph, or as the primary subject of the photograph.
Including white space in a photograph can create a stronger sense of light in a scene.
Seeking natural light will always result in a stronger photograph with the iPhone, but apps that allow for exposure and brightness control (such as PicTapGo, VSCO Cam, Afterlight, and others) are excellent tools to improve photos taken indoors or in less-than-ideal lighting conditions.
The Golden Hour isn’t just for high-end dSLR users—the iPhone camera is very sensitive to variations in light, and can be utilized for capturing stunning, warm images.
Move around the light! When you observe where the light is coming from and how your subject is affected by different angles of light, you’ll start to gain a sense of which angle will make the best photograph.
When facing your camera into the light to capture a beautifully lit scene, sometimes a slight adjustment in the angle can make all the difference between having a harsh sun spot and a beautifully gradual area of increasing light or a sunflare. Try tipping the camera away from you or toward you by just a sliver of an angle to gauge the difference this makes!

                                                     ( S. and M. at the Athletic Club)

The iPhone 5 and newer offer a burst mode that captures ten images per second: press and hold the shutter release button (or hold down the volume up button on the side) to take a series of photos. This creates a folder of images in your camera roll. Flip through them and select the ones you want to keep.
Burst mode isn’t available on older phones, but try this trick: hold down the shutter button and release at the moment the action happens!
One trick when shooting action shots is to focus on the area where you expect the action to move:

                                                        ( The Point Robinson Light House)

In photography, lines lead the eye and bring focus to your composition. The three types of lines that I usually look for are horizontal, vertical, and diagonal. Horizontal lines can bring a feeling of peace and calmness to a photo. They move left to right, across the frame. Horizontal lines can often be found in nature...think a landscape of a green field and the blue sky above, or the ocean and the shoreline. They can also be found in things like a park bench, steps in a stadium, or the slats of a window blind. Vertical lines move up and down inside the frame. They convey a feeling of strength and power. Think tall trees, a skyscraper, or a flagpole. Diagonal lines go across the frame. For instance, they could go from the bottom left to the top right. They can denote action or motion as they guide the eye. Think telephone wires, fences, or bridges. Once you start looking for lines when you take photographs with your phone, you’ll see them everywhere!

                                                 (Flora around the Athletic Club)

                                            The world is an amazing techno color show.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

More July Joy

        July, for me, is a month to ponder and write about joy. There are many reasons to feel joy. What I write are just ideas that stir inside and seem to ring true. Joy may come from understanding. When knowledge becomes wisdom sometimes a sweet understanding begins deep within the heart. It most certainly comes from the Holy Ghost.  I call that joy. It softens, calms, and brings a solace that is like nourishment to a hungry soul. Notice how these scriptures, divided into categories of reasons for joy, all seem to be about coming to an eternal understanding.

            Joy at the promise with being with Heavenly Father

Psalms 16:11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

             Joy at Repentance

Psalms 51:6 Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
Isaiah 51:3 For the Lord shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.

Jeremiah 33:11 The voice of joy, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the voice of them that shall say, Praise the Lord of hosts: for the Lord is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: and of them that shall bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord. For I will cause to return the captivity of the land, as at the first, saith the Lord.

         Joy at Drawing on the Atonement

Isaiah 12:2 Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.  Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.

Isaiah 61:3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.

Doctrine and Covenants 128:19 Now, what do we hear in the gospel which we have received? A voice of gladness! A voice of mercy from heaven; and a voice of truth out of the earth; glad tidings for the dead; a voice of gladness for the living and the dead; glad tidings of great joy. How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those that bring glad tidings of good things, and that say unto Zion: Behold, thy God reigneth! As the dews of Carmel, so shall the knowledge of God descend upon them!

Doctrine and Covenants 128:23 Let the mountains shout for joy, and all ye valleys cry aloud; and all ye seas and dry lands tell the wonders of your Eternal King! And ye rivers, and brooks, and rills, flow down with gladness. Let the woods and all the trees of the field praise the Lord; and ye solid rocks weep for joy! And let the sun, moon, and the morning stars sing together, and let all the sons of God shout for joy! And let the eternal creations declare his name forever and ever! And again I say, how glorious is the voice we hear from heaven, proclaiming in our ears, glory, and salvation, and honor, and immortality, and eternal life; kingdoms, principalities, and powers!

                  Joy From testifying

Jeremiah 15:16 Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts.

                 Joy at knowing Jesus has come

Luke 1:14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.

     I do believe receiving joy may come from being ready and open. The voices giving words to the above scriptures were seeking, knocking and expecting answers. Joy may be the outcome of a believer's desire. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014


             This dive into art wasn't sudden. Every decade I pulled out my pencils and sketchbook and started the process of making images. Drawing was the least expensive, so I felt safe messing around with the desire but little confidence that I had a goal. I believe in the past I sought after approval more than growth. So, the desire gave way to other less time intensive pursuits.

      But, when I turned sixty I was serious. I took a class and invested in canvas, paint, and ephemera. Then the learning curve started. My first paintings had elements of other artist's work. I was copying but that was a beginning.

     I found results in my artwork that have nothing to do with end process. Detail work never attracted me but I found myself doing small, tedious work and liking the calm that comes.

            Words play a big part in my art. The marriage of ideas and images is most inspiring to me. I find nuances of big concepts in an image and a simple word can bring the whole story together.

        Last week my friend Rebecca asked if she could photograph me in a work setting for a class project. I found her presence reassuring as she asked questions about my paintings. Her photographs blew me away. She captured the fun I have when I go upstairs to play.

The latest paintings have a new look. They draw me closer to what I feel is still deep inside. I"ll be excited to see what will emerge in six more months.

          I think this art thing is a keeper. No day has gone by that I have not thought about what I what to paint. Very few days have passed without an hour or two in the studio.
     I owe I debt of gratitude to:
  1. My Dad who showed me how art kept a person mentally healthy.
  2. My husband who keeps listening.
  3. Brené Brown who offered a art journal class which changed my life.
  4. Kelly Rae Roberts whose class gave me a foundation and a community to share within.

                             Truly there is joy in my life and I hope it translates on canvas.

Friday, July 11, 2014

I Belong

    Recently Benjamin and Hannah joined our family. The novelty of twins has and may never wear off as far as I'm concerned. I find great joy in visiting and noting the changes in their faces and bodies. I've been thinking of rights when it comes to belonging. I'm sure the twins will exert their rights to be first, to be better, to be loved most, as all children do. But many adults cannot grow out of that stage of demanding rights.

When it comes to family life, perhaps demanding rights is not the most productive point of view. Of more importance is taking responsibility of being part of a family. Taking responsibility brings connection which is what most of us truly want. Demanding rights sets us apart.

I write on Fridays with a large group who inspire me. Only five minutes and without much thought to perfection. I write, prompted by one word that sends my thoughts to the keyboard and hopefully makes sense.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Love The Place I Live

  I live on a crazy beautiful island in the Puget Sound. The clear mornings can make my heart stop with the color show over the water.

     Another act in the show of clear mornings might be the chance to see this majestic volcano in the distance. The word "clear" is important to my descriptions because, truth be told, it is often cloudy. On those days theses wonders of earth and sky are hidden behind a fuzzy blanket of gray.

   Our rural setting brings creatures right to my front door. This summer I have twins coming around. They look so sweet and innocent but they are after my rose and fuchsia bushes. I get so frustrated with these beasties.

    We are an artist community. Right on the US Bank building artist William Forrester painted the history of our island. Depicted are our first settlers who landed on our shores, then the farmers who civilized the forests, and also those that founded the first US Bank.

    Not to be forgotten are the many musicians, who are always present at community gatherings, who are lined up in the painting like music notes on a staff. I love this mural. It encourages me to express myself as an artist and as a musician.

     Sunsets are equal to the sunrise, especially when coming home on a ferry after a long day on the mainland. We came here as an experiment, twenty five years ago. I might be ready to claim this rock in the middle of the sea, my home.

Thursday, July 3, 2014


    I am sitting on the couch as Thursday becomes Friday with a cold. My body is signaling me that two nights without decent sleep cannot be maintained. The night often brings quick shallow breathing as I allow my mind to run pell mell through the scenarios of trouble and trial. There are many concerns on my plate but ironically I have very little ability to change them. I can support, buoy up, and cheer on the ones I love but I cannot take away the burdens they carry.

    Tonight I plan on having a long exhale after two many gulps of care. This picture reminds me that even amidst the debris the world has ability to be beautiful and strong. I'm small in he larger scheme of things and being small allows me the right to inhale and exhale the goodness that is so much bigger than me.

I write on Fridays with a large group who inspire me. Only five minutes and without much thought to perfection. I write, prompted by one word that sends my thoughts to the keyboard and hopefully makes sense.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

July Is For Joy

         Have you ever laughingly thought that Lehi must have excluded women in the following scripture because he knew they worried too much to have real joy?
   2 Nephi 2:25 "Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy."
         Joke aside, women may be even more able to embrace joy. In the past I sometimes tried to save joy for later when my current worry was resolved. I have recently learned that joy can't be saved in a "good feelings" bank account. When it comes the road opens and a fork appears. This way, let the feeling flood me, engulf me, and witness the gift like water from a deep well. The other way, block it, deny it, and hope it is there when you feel more worthy.

     What is Lehi saying right before this message about joy? 
     2 Nephi 2:21 "And the days of the children of men were prolonged, according to the will of God, that they might repent while in the flesh;"
     What does repentance have to do with joy? There is nothing that brings the Holy Ghost faster than repentance. When a child of God chooses to act and desires repentance, swoosh....divine help appears. There is an opportunity to feel the amazing love of God in the repentance process. I observed that when my son invited his girl friend to take the missionary lessons in our home. Each week the joy quotient rose in our family. I felt electrified, uplifted, and full of joy as she steadily came to the choice to be baptized.
     Now, what does Lehi say after the scripture about joy?
    2 Nephi 2:26 "And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given."
  There is no other way to have a fullness of joy. It is rooted, planted, and firmly embedded in our Savior Jesus Christ. He is the good news. His testifies of joy himself.
  3 Nephi 17:20 "And they arose from the earth, and he said unto them: Blessed are ye because of your faith. And now behold, my joy is full."
   I think His joy was full because these souls were choosing Him. They wanted alignment with his mission to bring them back to Heavenly Father. They were choosing at-one-ment. 
Truly the fullness of joy will come when we are in the presence of our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ again. Nevertheless, I have benefited from some small down payments that the Father has given me. These feelings are deep within my heart. Often I am compelled to tell whoever is close by that I am so happy. I can't seem to engineer these feelings so I know they are from a divine source. They don't seem to be connected to lack of adversity. In the middle of a trying, difficult scenario, I have been sent this joy. It is however my choice to receive. Just like a football player reaching, stretching, and running toward the ball, I find that the joy is cherished so much more when I am willing to receive. May we spend some time this July thinking on the choices we make that help us receive joy.