Friday, December 15, 2017

Different

Always Do Your Best. Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret. 

Don Miguel Ruiz

My husband tells the story of when he was taking a philosophy class in college and the awful truth first hit him. Descartes did not think like him, at all.
If we all think differently and see the world differently how can we possibly understand each other?


  Always assume others are doing their best. What? Can that possibly be true? If that statement is hard to believe of others then we probably don't believe it of ourselves. But, think of the freedom this idea brings to our relationships. If I believe I am doing my best and I believe you are too, then I will be at peace with my actions and be more at peace with yours. 

Do you need a good book this holiday season? Take a peek at my new novel Rubato, a musical mystery involving a dead piano teacher. Yikes, I'm a piano teacher. No, this is not a biography.


 



I have been writing with the Five Minute Friday group for more than three years and I really enjoy the talented writers who share themselves each week.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Nurturing Monday- A Ritual To Remember My Word


I'm a big believer in the way ritual can put us in connection with our spirituality. 
Sue Monk Kidd

In 2015 I wrapped up my black plastic word 'ribbistrate' in beautiful paper and returned it to my friend Jenni who made up the word and introduced me to it in a meeting of women. 
 Combining the word ribbies, which is baseball slang for a batted in run, and monstare, which means to show we get the meaning. It is  unparalleled joy. It can be for yourself or seeing the achievement of someone else.
In 2016 my word 'mindfulness' retired as my focus word but it stayed very much front and center as a way of being. 




This year 'nurture' is retiring with honors because the reminder to nurture has changed my view of what I can do. I thought is might be a call to serve others but it has also worked to give me permission to enjoy a beautiful sunrise, to pursue a goal for the sake of learning, and to take stock of what I nurtured subconsciously, perhaps to my detriment.



To say goodbye to my word I will move the painting from above the mantle to a new location. There is already a canvas waiting for paint, to hold next year's word. I'm waiting for mail from Colleen Attara to see how next year's word looks in red. Someone asked about buying the painting with the word 'nurture' but I'm not ready to let it go. It will be in a less dominant place but still influence my actions.




              What year end rituals do you have? Do you think about them before the holidays or just as the old year slips away?







To go to the overview of My Year of Nurturing click  here.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Only

              The word 'only' is so exclusive


   If I accept only this or that into my life I, by definition, exclude the other choices I might encounter. If it is a matter of choosing good and bad, only choosing good is a positive thing. If it is a matter of choosing good or better, then things get more difficult. Add in choosing only the best, then many, many things will be excluded.



     I don't know for sure where I'm going with this but here is an example. I am a very visual person. I decided one day to organize my books by color or color harmony. That process of choosing, let's say, only warm colors for a shelf made me exclude many books that were similar in subject and even the same author was shelved differently. Visually the whole bookshelf was very satisfying to look at. Only, it was hard to find a book because as yet I hadn't memorized the color of every book's spine. Did I abandon my exclusive shelving idea? No, I did not. The visual appeal, for me,was better than the shelving by author or subject. Paul admonished us to choose the better way, which he later explained was the way Christ loved. His charity for others was only based on pure love. I am here on earth to learn to choose. How I organize my life should reflect my best choices. How I shelve my thoughts should attract more good thoughts which should ultimately turn me outward to others, more than inward to my own self.  


"If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things."

 


I have been writing with the Five Minute Friday group for more than three years and I really enjoy the talented writers who share themselves each week.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Nurturing Monday- Giving Myself A Look At The Facts

                             Just Give Me The Facts, Ma'm

With lights everywhere reflecting in windows and mirrors at Christmas time my thoughts move to reflecting back on my journey with the word 'nurture'. Today in this post I give you the facts.

  • Nurture is an active word that invites connection.
  • I nurture everyday in some way or another whether I am aware of not
  • I turned my word around to explore the negative side. There are things I nurture which are not positive
  • When I observed how I nurture I often discounted the action because it was easy
  • To nurture a relationship, eye contact and time alone count 80% more than any other way of giving







  • Nurturing good practices brings peace and contentment
  • In April, I nurtured reality, or accepting things as they are, which proved to be challenging
  • In March I nurtured the skill of giving a heartfelt apology. That changed my habit of saying, "I am so sorry, but......
  • In November I nurtured the "wilderness" of doing scary things. I joined in with other writers and wrote everyday to try to write my first novel. I wrote 25,000 words and 19 chapters. Want to take a peek?

These are facts about how I have learned to use the word in 2017. 







To go to the overview of My Year of Nurturing click  here.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Near

                         Christmas Is Near


        Yesterday I took an unexpected trip to Target. The nearness of certain events caught my attention. My favorite celebration of the birth of my Savior invites me to bring more light into my life and the life of others.
  



   And then there is special birth coming of my 19th grandchild, a boy who has been desired for nine years. His two siblings asked for a brother or sister, with hope, countless times. It seemed like it was not to be. But, unexpectedly he made his presence known and he is due just before Christmas. The box of diapers and sweet pastel rompers sitting on my table make me feel a wee bit giddy. I'm so  grateful for births and new hope in a better tomorrow.


 







I have been writing with the Five Minute Friday group for more than three years and I really enjoy the talented writers who share themselves each week.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Nurturing Monday- The Gift That Lies Beneath The Surface

"If you have a good inner life, you don't get lonely. I've got a good imagination. I don't miss romance." 

Diana Rigg


This Nurturing Monday brings me to a new gratitude for the life within that is available to all who seek it. On the surface, the winds may be howling, creating turbulent movement that leaves us unsteady, but underneath our inner life can glow, beckoning us to return.


My life inside is made up of practices. I repeat them daily. There is prayer and meditation, in fact I came up with six habits that bring me happiness. Three of them fill my inner life. 



Pray, Study, and Create all furnish my cozy, inside nook. So how does my one little word fit in? Choosing one little word each year provides a focus and intention to use that word to move my inner life forward. When it is active and glowing that private life can grow up into my outward, public life. Turning outward toward others and serving is easier. Choosing self care of exercise and nutrition is easier. There are lulls, of, course. Some days I want to play hooky. All in all, my word nurture gently reminds me to return to practices that heal and rejuvenate. 






To go to the overview of My Year of Nurturing click  here.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Familiar


People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar. 
Thich Nhat Hanh


I walked by a tree recently and looked up to see the barren branches. A familiar lonely feeling weaseled into my chest. 
Feeling lonely in the winter comes as if scheduled on my to do list. This is what rises in winter. 




But, these two leaves caught my eye and I saw the message clearly.
Holding on is sometimes a sacred battle. Holding on to hope and joy, and love can seem naive as familiar despair creeps in. Just because it's familiar doesn't mean it is real.




                                    





I have been writing with the Five Minute Friday group for more than three years and I really enjoy the talented writers who share themselves each week.



Monday, November 20, 2017

Nurturing Monday- Thankful For My Imagination

Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere. 
Albert Einstein

This morning I moved my writing corner from the couch to the kitchen table. I moved a lamp and flower pot within view so a could create a certain coziness. You see, the couch was giving me lower back pain. This is day 20 of NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, and I am still firmly committed to writing everyday. 
When I opened my e-mails today I found a pep talk by a NaNoWriMo author. "In the middle of the month you might hit quicksand," he wrote. "You will be tempted to quit because your plot line is stuck. But if you quit, your story will call to you and it will plead for you to finish. Keep going."



My characters do call to me to finish their story. I am so thankful that I have a tiny bit more imagination to keep them moving forward. Today they will meet a professor of music performance form Budapest who might turn out to be the killer or might give them the information to direct their investigation elsewhere. Who writes a murder mystery? Can't say I have any first hand knowledge but I do love Deborah Crombie and Jacqueline Winspear. Their detectives are my inspiration. If I can find as much excitement in my own novel as I do in theirs, I will be over the moon.
As the end of the year approaches I am thinking of the word 'enough' as my 2018 word but lately I'm inclined to embrace the word 'more'.




To go to the overview of My Year of Nurturing click  here.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Excuse

Pride invites you to excuse yourself from doing the right thing.

While reading the scriptures this morning I came upon some passages explaining why a truly blessed people fell into contention and strife. Their lack of unity split them into factions and classes.


Pride invites you to set yourself apart. It allows you to excuse your actions. The story that pride promotes is that you are entitled to feel better than your neighbor. Pride creates false intimacy with others as it invites them into your story. I know about pride. It blinds. A clue that pride is rising up comes when I can't truly see others, when my story is running in my head  24/7. 
   I need to excuse myself from writing so passionately. The scriptures pricked my conscience.



                                      





 I have been writing with the Five Minute Friday group for more than three years and I really enjoy the talented writers who share themselves each week. 

Monday, November 13, 2017

Nurturing Monday- Loving Writing

The treasure I've discovered is a deeper love for writing.

Almost two weeks ago I made a quick decision to join National Novel Writing Month. A novel is a huge jump in my usual writing pursuits. I write for my blog but to try to write 50,000 words in one month is mind blowing. 
Fortunately, I have this One Little Word that is guiding me this year. The word is 'nurture'. Why not nurture this skill and jump in the deep?





When I reached 10,000 words, NaNoWriMo sent me an e-mail. You see, I log my words everyday on their internet site. The statement that somewhere in my words I've discovered treasure rang true. The treasure is the power of nurturing my intentions and following through. Even if my novel stinks, I will be pleased with the process of getting up each morning to write more about my own little world. 
    The main characters in my novel are two detectives who investigate the death of a piano teacher. Oh, you want to know more. Okay, just a peek.............Click here for a preview.








To go to the overview of My Year of Nurturing click  here.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Silence

After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music. 
Aldous Huxley



In music silence is called a rest. Rests are counted just like notes and there are symbols for rests with the same value as notes. So, silence is equal to sound in importance. 




     I forget that principle in the comings and goings of life. I fill the awkward silence in conversation with mutterings, I turn on music to cover the silence in my house, and disregard the silence I hear in prayer instead of asking, "Why aren't you answering?" I've asked it before and the answer was silence. But it was laced with love and reassurance. 
  "Be still and know that I am God."







 I have been writing with the Five Minute Friday group for more than three years and I really enjoy the talented writers who share themselves each week.   

Monday, November 6, 2017

Nurturing Monday- Thankful for My Word Of The Year

Some words expect us to chase them while others sit benevolently waiting to serve.

Choosing the word 'nurture' this year has really blessed my life. I am thankful for having a word that served me so well. It sub-divides easily into subjects. Right in January I made a list of things I wanted to nurture. Since it is a verb it opens up to action. 


 I am on the lookout for another word that will offer ways to grow and change. I was first attracted to OLW because it seemed like a fun activity. I liked joining Ali Edwards group of fellow 'worders". But, I found my words in years past to be elusive. I literally found myself trying to change to fit my word. So here is my dilemma. What word will serve me in 2018? What word will allow me to grow and naturally fi into my present life? I am on the lookout. 






To go to the overview of My Year of Nurturing click  here.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Need

      What do I need at this stage of my life?


I don't need fame, I don't need to change the world, I don't need to be popular, and I don't need influence. 
I do need connection.
I can deal with aging, less physical prowess if I have people I love around me and if I have a rich inner life.
By inner life I mean positive thoughts.
These would come from God, from good books, from music, and from telling stories.


I should mention that I need to help others and let them help me. I was assuming you might see that in the word connection but I don't want to leave out that very important aspect of service. Service revolves around my family, my students, my friends and my community.
  Oh, and before I forget, I need to just accept some things the way they are, period.






 I have been writing with the Five Minute Friday group for more than three years and I really enjoy the talented writers who share themselves each week.   

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

You Belong Nowhere, You Belong Everywhere

You do not need to negotiate your belonging with the world.


In these 31 Days of October I am unpacking my learning from the book, Braving The Wilderness, by Brené Brown. She has been a favorite author for years. In this new publication she manages to build a sidewalk and curb in the wilderness where we can bravely tread.

My husband came up with the words, "she manages to build a sidewalk and curb in the wilderness". He is talking about the writing of Brené Brown, and he is spot on. The sidewalk she builds comes from vocabulary that defines but also encapsulates our common experiences. The curb along the sidewalk encourages us to fully travel wide but describes boundaries that make for a more civil journey.





     My seven year old granddaughter made the picture above for my birthday. I belong in my cute little house with children at my door. The easel hints at my creative life to which I aspire. The piano is my workspace and my solace. She gets me.


“Stop walking through the world looking for confirmation that you don’t belong. You will always find it because you’ve made that your mission. Stop scouring people’s faces for evidence that you’re not enough. You will always find it because you’ve made that your goal. True belonging and self-worth are not goods; we don’t negotiate their value with the world. The truth about who we are lives in our hearts. Our call to courage is to protect our wild heart against constant evaluation, especially our own. No one belongs here more than you.” —

I will continue writing my Nurturing Mondays and will be joining Five Minute Friday writers, as well.

Thanks for reading along.

If you want to go back and read click here. Two years ago I wrote for 31 days about Brené's other book Rising Strong. Read those posts here.




Monday, October 30, 2017

What Have I Learned?

Reading is one step, remembering another, but doing, moving with and through a book is another step altogether.

In these 31 Days of October I am unpacking my learning from the book, Braving The Wilderness, by Brené Brown. She has been a favorite author for years. In this new publication she manages to build a sidewalk and curb in the wilderness where we can bravely tread.


I am down to the last of writing everyday in October. Outside of the fact that my computer died mid month and I was using my husband's machine, which has quirks, this was a terrific experience. Some mornings I was writing at 4:00am and other days the day almost escaped me. Thank-you if you followed along. I believe I met my goal which was to unpack the book, Braving The Wilderness, and glean what was meant for me.






Brené Brown was calling me to recognize where I belonged and to bravely walk into the wilderness. The wilderness was a metaphor which could be a political arena, a work environment, family life, a marriage, a church community, facing medical issues, or getting older. Anywhere we are vulnerable and unsure of "our place" can be a wilderness. 

There were four directives for engaging in the wilderness.


  1. People Are Hard To Hate Close Up. Move In.
  2. Speak Truth To Bullshit. Be Civil.
  3. Hold Hands. With Srangers.
  4. Strong Back. Soft Front. Wild Heart
I tried to cover these in my posts and apply them to my own experience. I recommend you read the book yourself. My ramblings are not the same as reading it. Brené has a gift in naming life experiences and explaining how they can sustain us or bring us to an impasse. 

Because of this book I am seeing my wilderness as more an adventure than a punishment. I am more aware of people who "do" their wilderness with grace and kindness. As always in her books, I see the teachings of Jesus Christ demonstrated in a modern setting. She never says his name but he is the consummate wilderness trekker.

One more post tomorrow and if you want to go back and read click here. Two years ago I wrote for 31 days about Brené's other book Rising Strong. Read those posts here.





Sunday, October 29, 2017

Wilderness Story II

"The resilience that comes from the scrutiny the wilderness and that"stronger sense of when we're not being true to what we think is right" is the mark a wild heart."


In these 31 Days of October I am unpacking my learning from the book, Braving The Wilderness, by Brené Brown. She has been a favorite author for years. In this new publication she manages to build a sidewalk and curb in the wilderness where we can bravely tread.

Four years ago, my friend Sharon started dialysis, three days a week, for the rest of her life. During an emergency visit to the hospital, it was discovered that her kidneys were working at two percent capacity. It was there that she had her first dialysis treatment and she was scared to go through the procedure. I asked her if she had come to peace with the truth that she would have this treatment forever onward. She laughed and said that she still fights the idea. That fleeting hope of one day her kidneys fully functioning is still there.


What I see in Sharon is a strong back, a soft front, and a wild heart. All attributes that serve her well in the wilderness of dealing with her health. The dialysis center tries to have a positive, pleasant atmosphere. She started out feeling scared and vulnerable but now I see her being outgoing and happy to do this four hour process of cleaning her blood. There are two cups of blood outside of her body going through purification at one time. 

     I see Sharon greeting technicians by name and commenting on how they are doing. They greet her back with affection that comes from frequent contact in a vulnerable place. She feels that she belongs there because of the warmth of the employees. Many are Filipino and call her "mam". 
   When asked who her favorite technician is she answered that they were all nice. The best technicians know what they are doing. Sharon has swallow veins and when they put the (size 14-15 knitting needle size) needle in her body she demands that they know how to do it correctly. The consequence of doing things ineffectively is that she bleeds. A treatment which inadvertently causes bleeding leaves her weak and unwell.

   Sharon's strong back helps her advocate for herself clearly, her soft front allows her to give love and receive affection, and her wild heart gives her a sense of true belonging and self-worth. You are the wilderness, Sharon.



Click here to go back to my table of contents to see the other posts  


                          

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Wilderness Story

 Sometimes The Wilderness Is Just A New Place Where You Feel Uncomfortable




In these 31 Days of October I am unpacking my learning from the book, Braving The Wilderness, by Brené Brown. She has been a favorite author for years. In this new publication she manages to build a sidewalk and curb in the wilderness where we can bravely tread.



Amy appeared at my door one day to ask me to participate in a new group forming in our community. She needed musicians to help with bringing music participation to individuals coping with dementia, Alzheimers disease, and Parkinson's disease. She explained how playing an instrument affects the brain. I was intrigued and agreed to come see how things worked. I might have said no, considering my busy schedule, but I wanted to check out the idea of creating a band of amateur musicians. The organization Music Mends Minds had a very interesting website.

I learned that when dealing with memory loss music reaches past memory to a deeper place



            

The sensory experience of music binds with memory in the brain and makes it more powerful. 



Here are some things expressed by those who are suffering from memory loss and their caregivers.


You need to be around people
Playing music together offers a sense of freedom
Having something to do that is valuable and important
Cognition improves when playing music with others
Playing music lowers depression
Playing music raises energy
Playing an instrument requires muscle memory in the brain and is not impacted by dementia. Music is like another language.






At first as I involved myself with this group I had to deal with my own sadness. I met with people who I had known before their decline into memory loss. It was hard for me to "look loss in the face". Really, the weeks of holding back was about my own unwillingness to see my mortality. At some point I felt the impression to look at how I could contribute better. I started observing more and pulling away less. I saw how some people waited, while others chatted and did business. The idea came to me to play music at the piano, right away. I also observed the impact of rhythm and suggested a play along with simple instruments. That provided more of the idea of being in a band. In our group, very few really played an instrument. Everyone liked playing along with something that made sound. We are young still and I am eager to see how we progress. I hope I can help create moments of rest and relaxation for anxious minds. These words by a caregiver resonated with me.





"What radiates on the faces of the band and the audience is a sense of this moment of contentment that has nothing to do with suffering and all about the rewards of taking the risk to show up. They've paid their dues and now have a free lifetime membership to the sanctuary of the heart." 





Click here to go back to my table of contents to see the other posts  







Friday, October 27, 2017

Overcoming The Fear Of Not Belonging

In these 31 Days of October I am unpacking my learning from the book, Braving The Wilderness, by Brené Brown. She has been a favorite author for years. In this new publication she manages to build a sidewalk and curb in the wilderness where we can bravely tread.


How can we overcome the fear of not belonging? There is always someone wiser, more creative, smarter, more spiritual. Belonging is not acheived by being better than everyone else. That notion requires outside validation. Someone would have to agree that you are wiser and mre creative. Perhaps belonging comes when you increase the space around you. By that I mean, widen the circle of desire to understand. 




Where are your eyes? Jesus admonished to have our eyes single to the glory of God. His glory encompasses a huge and vast space. Looking for His glory will bring understanding. Your neighbor is in His glory. The stranger at the street light is in His glory.  Your estranged daughter is in His glory and his glory is bathing her with light so you can understand and see her. Everything and everyone belongs in His glory. Be not afraid, you belong.

Click here to go back to my table of contents to see the other posts