Silencing the Voice of Doubt

I have a great appreciation and fondness for artist Vincent van Gogh. When I’ve seen the question that asks, If you could spend time with a historical person, who would you choose? Vincent tops my list. This misunderstood artistic genius created an amazing body of work in a little more than ten years, with most of his art completed in the last two years of his life.

Vincent’s work includes 2,100 pieces of art, 860 of those oil paintings. His style of painting was bold, colorful, and expressive, and became the foundation of modern art. And yet…in his short lifetime his genius went unrecognized, and he did not receive fame or financial gain while he lived. He was considered, by many, to be a madman. Vincent described himself as one in which “madness and creativity converged”.

Silencing the Voice of Doubt

I not only love Vincent’s art, I love the way he viewed the world and life. Films such as the incredible animated film, Loving Vincent, and even the Doctor Who episode, Vincent and the Doctor, pierce my heart with their beauty and poignancy. I am drawn to Vincent’s words as well and tonight’s blog post is inspired by this artist.

Silencing the Voice of Doubt

Vincent believed in creating and living his dream. If any artist had to learn to overcome self doubt, it was this man. Although his brother Theo supported him and encouraged him, no one else believed in Vincent or appreciated his unique views of reality that he transformed into art. Vincent struggled with depression and poor health, however, he knew what he wanted to accomplish, artistically, and lack of recognition and support didn’t stop him from creating. I’ve thought about his words from the quote above and the deep truth contained within them. We must believe in our abilities to do the things we dream about doing, and silence the voices of doubt, from without and especially from within.

Vincent…this is for you.

If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint’, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.

If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot sing’, then by all means sing and that voice will be silenced.

If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot write’ then by all means write and that voice will be silenced.

If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot act’ then by all means act and that voice will be silenced.

If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot cook’ then by all means cook and that voice will be silenced.

If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot create’ then by all means create and that voice will be silence.

If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot dance’ then by all means dance and that voice will be silenced.

If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot travel’ then by all means travel and that voice will be silenced.

If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot do THAT’ then by all means do THAT and that voice will be silenced.

It is up to me, and up to you, to silence the voice that says ‘you cannot’. Others may cheer me on, and I am grateful for them, but ultimately I am the one who silences doubt by taking action, by doing the very thing that fear soaked doubt hisses is impossible or not for me.

Vincent had excellent words also about the process of moving from doubt to living in dreams that are coming true. He said, “Great things are done by a series of small things that are brought together.” Nowadays we call that baby steps…doing what we can…action steps. So far ahead of his time, was he, and so able to see in a bigger, magical way.

I’d love to give Vincent a hug and then sit quietly out of the way and watch him create. Instead, I’ll say “thank you, Vincent”, and slay doubt with my actions.

Silencing the Voice of Doubt

Movie Review: The Meg

I admit, I’ve seen all the Jaws movies, and most of the other films featuring those terrors of the sea. My grandkids even got me to watch the Sharknado movies recently, that are more humorous, in an eye rolling kind of way, than scary. Not being a frequent swimmer in any of the world’s vast oceans perhaps eliminates any sense of fear I might have about sharks. (This line of reasoning doesn’t hold true, however, for my younger daughter, Adriel. For years, after seeing the original Jaws movie as a young child, she was afraid sharks might show up in the bathtub…and forget getting her into any large body of water!)

When The Meg opened last week, my mom, sister Linda and my elder daughter Elissa met at the theater to watch this latest shark on the attack flick.

Movie Review The Meg

The Meg stars Jason Statham, Bingbing Li, Rainn Wilson, Cliff Curtis, Winston Chao, Shuya Sophia Cai, Robert Taylor, Òlafur Darri Òlafsson, Jessica McNamee and Masi Oka. This action horror film, directed by Jon Turteltaub, is based upon the novel Meg, written by Steve Alten. The Meg carries a PG-13 rating, for action/peril, bloody images and some language, and has a run time of 1 hour and 53 minutes.

On a mission in the Mariana Trench, in the Pacific Ocean, a submersible discovers a deeper section beneath a cloud of hydrogen sulfide that has formed a thermocline. In this never before explored place in the sea, scientists Lori (McNamee), Toshi (Oka) and The Wall (Olafsson) are excitedly reporting to the Mana One, a nearby underwater research facility, when the unexpected happens. A large unidentified animal strikes the sub, disabling it.

On Mana One, billionaire financier Jack Morris (Rainn), Dr. Zhang (Chao) and his daughter Suyin (Li) are supervising the dive with their team. Knowing rescue is dangerous and nearly impossible, and unsure about the cause of the mishap, they send for expert diver Jonas Taylor (Statham), whose ex-wife Lori is trapped aboard the damaged sub. Jonas has retired from diving, after an incident five years before in which a rescue dive went awry due to an attack from a giant sea creature. An associate, Dr. Heller (Taylor), dismissed Jonas’ story, citing pressure-induced psychosis. Dr. Heller is now a team member aboard Mana One, and he opposes bringing Jonas in.

Movie Review The Meg

He is overridden and Mac (Curtis), another team member at the underwater facility, fetches Jonas from Thailand. Back at the lab, Suyin decides to attempt a rescue on her own. Her small sub successfully sinks beneath the thermocline however it too is attacked, first by a huge squid, and then by a massive shark. Jonas shows up in time to distract the shark so that Suyin can return to the surface. While attempting a rescue of the scientists aboard the damaged sub, the shark strikes again. Toshi sacrifices himself, staying behind in the battered sub and blowing it up so that the others can return to the lab.

Back at the facility, as the team analyzes the data, Suyin’s young daughter, Meiying (Cai) sees the shark outside the lab when it strikes a glass wall. The team discovers that the monster sized creature is a megalodon, a prehistoric shark thought to be long extinct. Similar to a great white shark, the meg can grow to a length of 75 feet and has a huge jaw span. When the rescue sub rose back through the thermocline, a temporary trench was formed, allowing the meg to pass through.

Movie Review The Meg

The most fearsome and powerful predator the world has ever known is now free to roam the ocean, and she is hungry. No ship, no beach, no swimmer in the water, is safe. It’s up to Jonas, Suyin, and the Mana One team to warn the world, and find a way to stop a monster.

As far as shark movies go, this one was well done. I always research a film, after I’ve seen it, and megalodons did indeed exist at one time, which is a terrifying thought! The movie accurately portrays the size and ferocity of these ancient sea creatures.

Of course there are heroics, pockets of humor, a smattering of romance and the obligatory gory scenes of toothy shark attacks, which are all the right pieces that fit together to make up a shark movie. However, it was packaged as a fun and intriguing movie to watch, with jump worthy moments and some truly tense action sequences.

And that’s why we go to see shark movies, unless your name is Adriel, bless her heart…to be a little scared, and much relieved when it’s all over, and to ponder the wisdom of ever swimming in the deep blue sea again! I’m glad at the moment that I’m land locked.

Movie Review The Meg

Healthy Kids’ Lunches for Back to School

It is hard to fathom that the summer has flown by so fast. All of my grandchildren are headed back to school, from the college-aged grandson who has already returned to the university, to the four younger grandkids who range from 4th to 7th grades.

As I thought about them today and chatted with several of the kids, I decided to dedicate tonight’s blog post to school lunches. The four younger kids take their lunches to school most of the time. I understand why. I join my grandchildren for lunches throughout the school year and I’ve seen what’s offered for lunch. I also see how much food gets dumped into the trash cans.

Healthy eating has become near and dear to my heart. I’d love to see healthier, more colorful foods and more fruit and veggie options offered to growing, active kids. Even if the children in your family are not plant based, here are some great suggestions for upping the nutritional value in school lunches, that children will eat and enjoy.

Healthy Kids’ Lunches for Back to School

1. Apple slices, no sugar/low sugar nut butter, celery sticks, seedless red grapes.

2. Hummus, gluten free crackers, fresh strawberries and blueberries.

3. Gluten free pasta with black olives, carrots sticks, and strawberries (from Fork & Beans)

Healthy Kids’ Lunches for Back to School

Healthy Kids Lunches for Back to School

4. Silly face wraps – hummus and fresh veggies in a gluten free wrap. (from Fork & Beans)

5. Fresh fruit salad – mix of bananas, grapes, and orange slices – on lettuce bed, gluten free crackers, 3 ingredient chocolate cookie. (See recipe HERE)

6. Mixed fruit, plant power bar, celery sticks with nut butter and raisins, veggie sticks with hummus. (22 Days Nutrition)

Healthy Kids Lunches for Back to School

Healthy Kids Lunches for Back to School

7. Hummus, celery & carrot sticks, tangerine & dried blueberries, nut butter & banana roll ups, dark chocolate chips sweetened with stevia. (from Veggies Don’t Bite)

8. Sprouts, apple sliced, dates, gluten free crackers

9. Meal in a bowl – this can combine rice or quinoa with favorite veggies – red grapes.

Healthy Kids Lunches for Back to School This veggie bowl contains fresh greens, chickpeas and cooked sweet potato chunks.

You don’t have to pack totally plant based meals for the kids, every school day. However, try including favorite fruits, cups of unsweetened applesauce, dried fruit, or nuts in place of sugary treats, as a start. And you might just be surprised at how adaptable kids are. Get them involved in coming up with lunch ideas and helping to create and pack their lunch boxes.

My grandkids and the other grands in my extended family are observant and curious about my plant based diet. They ask questions. They try new things. They are open to eating more fruits and veggies and a couple of them gravitate naturally toward a plant based diet.

The benefits of eating more fresh whole foods will extend far beyond these kids’ school days. Better health, as young adults and beyond, begins now.

Healthy Kids Lunches for Back to School

Imagining What’s Possible

After a day spent on the phone or staring at a screen, I knew by tea time that I needed a creative activity this evening. I felt that drawing and/or coloring was just what my mind, body and soul needed to unwind, and recharge.

And, I knew what image I wanted to capture.

Imagining What’s Possible

Every time I walked into my studio today, I paused to look at my white board and read the words I’ve written there.

Queen of my own Kingdom…or pawn in someone else’s?

I spent some time this afternoon working on the foundation of the Kingdom I am building, and the desire I felt, every time I stood before the board, confirms to me that this is my destiny. I am willing to do the work. I am willing to learn and grow, to see my dreams become reality.

It is good to have reminders of who I am and where I am heading. I am so excited about next year’s word and symbol, that I chose to create an art piece that captures this part of my journey, this space I inhabit between the dreaming and the coming true.

Imagining What’s Possible

I sketched out the pawn chess piece standing before an enchanted mirror that holds within it the reflection of the queen chess piece. In the game of chess, if a pawn traverses the board and reaches the other side, it can be promoted to any of the other pieces of the same color, except the king. The queen, with her ability to move in all directions, is a powerful choice.

I like the symbolism in that, considering my journey. As I move across the chess board of life, I am becoming queen, transitioning symbolically, to this next role.

Imagining What’s Possible

Imagining What’s Possible

I used Prismacolor pencils to color in my sketch and popped the completed art piece into a frame I had on hand. This work of art tells a story, my story. And it reminds me, like the words on my board, that the choice is mine. The invitation is to become. Doing the inner and outer work necessary is my way of accepting, of saying yes.

This framed art is resting on my bedside table, and it will remain there as this year ticks by. There are still stories to tell…and work to be done…before 2019 arrives. I’m not trying to rush through this year, but oh how my heart is expanding with the joy that I feel as I contemplate what is to come.

To create a life you love, the first step is imaging what’s possible.

The last thing I will look at before turning off my lamp, and the first thing I will look at when I awake each morning, is this visual reminder of the next part of my journey. I am imaging what is possible.

Imagining What’s Possible

Movie Review: The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society

My daughter Elissa recommended this 2018 British film, distributed in the US by Netflix. I had the opportunity to watch it late last night, thinking I’d start the movie and finish it later in the week. I never found a place to hit the pause button, which is a good sign of an excellent film. I watched the whole movie.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society stars Lily James, Jessica Brown Finlay, Tom Courtenay, Michiel Huisman, Katherine Parkinson, Matthew Goode, Glen Powell, Penelope Wilton, Kit Connor and Florence Keen. The historical drama, directed by Mike Newell, is based on the novel by the same name written by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. The movie carries a TV-14 rating, for mature themes, and has a run time of 2 hours and 4 minutes.

In the aftermath of WWII, people in England are picking up the shattered pieces of their lives, and attempting to cobble together a new existence. One such person is a young writer, Juliet Ashton (James), who lost her parents during the war. Juliet has found some success as an author, writing under the pen name Izzy Bickerstaff. Her long time friend, and publisher, Sidney Stark (Goode), arranges a contract for her to write a story for the London Times Literary Supplement and a modest book tour, promoting her last book.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Juliet does book readings, attends events, and meets an American member of the Armed Forces, Mark Reynolds (Powell). They begin a whirlwind romance as Juliet ponders what piece to write for the Times. Life is at last going well, and yet Juliet feels restless and unsettled. Her interest and curiosity are captured when she receives a letter from Dawsey Adams (Huisman), who lives on the island of Guernsey, in the English Channel.

Dawsey explains in his letter that he is a member of a literary society that meets every Friday evening. He had come into possession of one of Juliet’s books, and wondered if she could secure another book for him, written by Charles Lamb. Intrigued, Juliet agrees to send the book, in exchange for the story behind the book club’s unusual name, The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

In correspondence between them, Dawsey tells Juliet the story. While the island was under occupation in 1941 by German soldiers, Dawsey and his friends and neighbors, Eben Ramsey (Courtenay) Elizabeth McKenna (Finlay) Isola Pribby (Parkinson) and Amelia Maugery (Wilton) discover that perhaps the worst of the hardships endured by the islanders is the isolation and fear that they live in. The friends gather together one night, secretly, to share a meal, and homemade gin, and conversation.

Walking home after the restorative evening, they are stopped and questioned by soldiers. To avoid arrest, Elizabeth says that the group had just left a book club meeting. When asked the name of the club, she and Eben make up the name…The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society. An inebriated Eben contributed the potato peel pie part.

Suspicious, the Germans send a representative to attend the book club, which must now become a reality. The group meets, and it is allowed to continue. The friends discover that they enjoy reading books and gathering together to share thoughts and ideas. Five years later, the society still exists.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Juliet is so enchanted by Dawsey’s story that she travels to Guernsey to attend a Friday night meeting of the literary society, with the intention of writing about the formation of the club for her Times piece. Mark proposes to Juliet before she goes. She accepts his proposal and promises to return after a long weekend. However, once she arrives in Guernsey, Juliet discovers there is more to the story.

The people of Guernsey have been deeply impacted by the war as well. They have experienced loss. Juliet meets Eben’s charming young grandson, Eli (Connor), who has joined the society, and Dawsey and Elizabeth’s four year old daughter, Kit (Keen). Elizabeth, however, has vanished, and none of the society members want to talk about what happened. They also don’t want Juliet to write and share their story.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

As Juliet’s stay lengthens into a week, she works to uncover the deeper stories and mysteries within the society story. She forms connections with each of the club members. They begin to feel like family members to Juliet, rather than strangers, and Guernsey begins to feel like home.

This was a beautiful and charming film that relies heavily on story development and heart felt performances by an excellent cast. I loved the literary connections, and the lively discussions among the society members. And the island life depicted in the film was captivating. I would like to visit the island of Guernsey as a result of watching this movie.

Most of all, I appreciated the connections formed among Juliet and her new found friends. She later writes that she felt she had always known them, and always would. I too like when I meet someone and it feels like we are already old friends. On an individual level, each of the characters grow as well, healing old hurts, releasing the past, and uncovering strengths, and that growth deepens the bonds that form between them.

If you have Netflix, and a free evening, check out this warm and delightful movie. I think you will be glad that you did.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Creating Space

Imagine a closet, with clothes hanging neatly in it. Periodically, more clothes are added…sometimes weekly, sometimes monthly. As more and more shirts and pants and jackets and dresses are hung in the closet, joining the outfits already there, space becomes limited. Eventually, there is no room for even one more item. The closet is so tightly packed that it’s impossible to tell what’s in there or to easily remove anything to wear.

Creating Space

Today’s Sunday Short was inspired by a snippet of a meme I saw. There’s more to it than I’m sharing today, however the part that impacted me was this:

Make space for the next version of you…

Like the closet described above, our lives, our inner and outer lives, can get so packed with “stuff”, physically, mentally, emotionally and energetically, that we reach a point where we just can’t add or do one more thing. When that happens, our growth becomes limited, stifled, halted. There’s no space for us to expand who we are.

Here is a short, and by no means complete, list of ways to make space, so the next versions of our beautiful selves can appear.

Declutter physical space

If it hasn’t been used, worn, read, looked at, or enjoyed in the last 6 – 12 months, get rid of it. The tried and true method of creating three piles…keep, toss, give away/sale…works. Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying, suggests holding each item to see if it brings you joy. If it does, keep it and create a place for it. If it doesn’t, let it go. Clutter clogs up energy, and clogged energy affects us. When I start to avoid my creative studio, because I’ve allowed mail, or documents, or books to pile up, that’s my signal to clear the space, literally, so I can create in there again. Cleared space allows me to breathe and move freely.

Declutter emotional, mental and energetic space

This is just as important as clearing a room or the house. Our minds and souls get filled with regrets from the past, losses, wrongs done to us and by us, and people who walked with us for a time and no longer do. Our thoughts return to those memories and we fret over them, even though there’s nothing we can do to change them. This is inner work, but so necessary to free us up to grow. Let go of those things that are constraining you. Let go of all of it. Pray. Meditate. Cut energetic cords. Write. Draw. Allow the cleansing and healing of past wounds. Do whatever works for you to uncover and them move that old, old energy through the heart and out. Then turn around and stop looking into the past. There’s no growth possible when our attention is constantly focused behind us.

Experience new things

This is one of my favorite ways to create space. It’s easy to get stuck in the ruts of old beliefs, habits and patterns, limited ways of thinking, and feeling comfortable. Nothing has opened up my life like trying new things has. It doesn’t have to be daily, but at least once a week, do something you’ve never done before, or do something in a fresh way, visit new places, eat different foods, learn a skill or hobby you’ve always been interested. Life loves a body in motion, and as we open to new experiences, more opportunities will appear, to experience, and we grow to meet them and inhabit them.

The beautiful thing is, as we create space around us and within us, expansion is inevitable. Our lives shift. Change occurs. We grow. And suddenly we realize, we are not the same person we were a year ago, nor do we want to return to being who we once were. We don’t “fit” into that space anymore.

We have become the next version of ourselves, and it is marvelous. With great excitement we journey on, knowing the next version of ourselves is on its way.

Create Space

A Cupful of Love

After my grandfather passed away in 2007 family members gathered at his home to sort through memories and belongings and keepsakes. My grandmother had preceded her husband in death, 17 years before. As my mother and aunt set aside the items they wanted to keep, they allowed my sisters and me to claim some small mementos for ourselves.

I knew what I wanted, and rummaged through kitchen cupboards to find it. Lost among bowls and mismatched glasses and countless plastic containers, I found what I was searching for. The old aluminum measuring cup was a bit scratched and dented and had not been used in many years. That did not matter to me. No one else wanted it and my family allowed me to claim it. I was thrilled.

A Cupful of Love

My grandfather, Pop, taught me about gardening. My Grandma Mildred taught me two things…how to crochet and how to bake. I have such fond memories of standing on a chair in her homey kitchen, an apron wrapped around me, watching carefully as Grandma prepared a cake from scratch or whipped up a cream pie or stirred together a batch of gooey chocolate chip cookies.

When I was young, I was given the important job of measuring out ingredients such as sugar, flour and Crisco shortening. Grandma would plunk down that metal cup and her big old aluminum shifter and I would get to work. It was so satisfying to measure out the ingredients and magical to my young and curious self, to see flour and sugar and eggs and shortening combine and become something more, something beyond what they could be alone.

A Cupful of Love

Those times spent with my grandmother in her kitchen created a lifelong desire to cook and be creative with food. Grandma Mildred was patient with me, answering my questions and not minding if a bit of eggshell got mixed in with the cookie dough. She laughed often, told stories about being on the farm and taught me that a good cook cleans up her mess after the fun is done.

That measuring cup become more to me that a kitchen tool. I loved to drink out of it, although being aluminum, that probably wasn’t the best of ideas! I liked how cold the outside of the cup got when I filled it with chunks of ice. It made a great container to eat chocolate chips out of, mix flour and water in to make paste for craft projects, and to hold a stash of sharpened pencils ready for my young artist’s hands.

The cup came to represent my grandmother and my childhood. It represented love. I am grateful to have it.

A Cupful of Love

I’ve owned the measuring cup for 11 years now, and I have not really known what to do with it, beyond storing it in my own kitchen cupboard. Because it is made from aluminum, I do not use it to measure out ingredients. And at this stage in my journey, I no longer use refined sugar or white flour or shortening in my cooking.

However, this past week I discovered another use for the priceless cup. Earlier this year I located and purchased a children’s book, in two different versions, that was significant to me when I was a toddler. You can read about A Penny for Candy HERE. In honor of the book, I’ve been collecting pennies that I find on the ground. In the story, the children use their found pennies to buy candy. I figured when I had collected enough pennies I’d purchase a lottery ticket. I’m not actually very good at finding money on the ground, primarily because I rarely look down as I walk. So my stash is small, but growing.

I’ve wondered what to use to hold my penny collection. Now I know. The measuring cup is the perfect receptacle for the coins. I estimate it can easily hold 100 pennies, which would add up to a dollar. And there’s a triple connection to my grandmother. She owned the cup. I have wonderful loving memories of laughing and cooking in her kitchen when I look at the cup. And, the story goes, when you find a penny on the ground, it is a “penny from heaven” placed there by a loved one who has passed away.

I think about the cup as a pennies from heaven holder, and my perspective shifts. Beyond picking up coins to save for a lottery ticket, this has now become a new game to play, between my grandmother and me. I found a penny today and I loved the sound it made as I dropped it into the metal cup. I suspect I’ll find more pennies now and when the cup is full, I’ll ask my grandmother what she wants to do with them. I can hear her amused chuckle already.

A Cupful of Love

Mirror Mirror on the Wall

One of the best allies to have, in the world, is someone who mirrors back to us our best qualities. For me it is encouraging when another person mirrors creativity, expansiveness and playfulness to me, as these are qualities I express when I am living fully as myself.

Mirror Mirror on the Wall

In her excellent workbook, It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again, Julia Cameron calls these dear people believing mirrors because they help us see the best in ourselves, help us believe in ourselves, and help us to silence fears, doubts, perfectionism, and countless other negative beliefs that can seriously limit or block our authentic self from shining.

I have wonderful believing mirrors in my life, friends and family members who support and encourage my journey. I’m grateful for each one. It is my desire to be a believing mirror for others and cheer them on as well by reflecting back to them their true natures.

Mirror Mirror on the Wall

What about when we are alone, however, and look in the mirror? What story do we tell ourselves then?

Thinking about believing mirrors brought to mind the magical one featured in the well known fairy tale, Snow White. I felt the stirrings of something deeper when I recalled that the Queen in the story stood daily before that enchanted mirror and recited:

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?

The Queen was focused on physical appearances, not living from a whole and creative heart. Fear of not being enough drove the Queen to question the mirror everyday and although it was not a believing mirror, it was honest.

My Queen you are the fairest in the land.

But the day came when the mirror informed the Queen that another, Snow White, was “a thousands times more beautiful” than she was. I’ve always speculated that perhaps that mirror could, after all, see beyond outer beauty, to make such a dramatic declaration. We know how that story ends. Inner beauty won over surface beauty.

Mirror Mirror on the Wall

We get the moral of the story in Snow White…and yet, what do we see when we look in the mirror? And more importantly, what do we think and believe?

I’ve been turning that question over in my mind all day, and in response, created my own words to recite into the mirror.

Mirror mirror on the wall, when I look at you, you can’t show all.

You can’t hear my laugh, or see my heart, watch me journey or create great art.

You reflect my face but that is all you see. The only one who can reveal the deeper truth…is me.

Those words shift my perspective and remind me of what is true, and what true beauty is. May I be a believing mirror for the people in my life. And may you find within yourself your own truth about who you are, really, and recite it when it’s just you alone with that mirror on the wall.

Mirror, mirror on the wall…

Mirror Mirror on the Wall

Jump for Joy

I spent time yesterday with three of my grandchildren. We ended up at one of their favorite hangouts, Soar Trampoline Park in Webb City. With special pricing on Wednesdays and the start of school next week signaling the end of summer break, the place was packed with jumpers.

My granddaughter tried, without success, to get me to join in on the fun. After healing from 20 years of chronic sciatica, my legs feel great! And…I am cautious about doing anything that would injure them or cause pain. I chose to engage in one of my favorite activities while the kids jumped…people watching.

Jump for Joy

As I observed kids and youth and adults bouncing on the trampolines, I realized I was seeing living examples of character qualities that people display as they journey through life. Once that idea entered my head, people watching became an intriguing game.

There was…

The Fearful One – It was easy to spot the jumpers who were visiting a trampoline park for the first time. Their bodies were stiff and tense. One small boy kept his legs straight and his arms at his sides, as he barely bounced on the trampoline, his wide eyes fastened on his mom for reassurance. He was afraid to relax and really enter into the flow of what was happening around him.

The Wish-I-Was-Invisible One – This self conscious jumper hung out on the fringes, watching others having fun, wanting to join in, but reluctant in case others noticed him and perhaps ridiculed him. It was safer to remain in the corner and hope no one looked his way.

The I’m-Learning One – This girl was obviously not a seasoned jumper, but she was so willing to learn. She tried. She failed to complete a somersault or do a handstand. She tried again. Her focused concentration was evident and I was concerned she would bite the lip she was chewing on as she practiced what she was learning.

The I’ve-Got-This One – These were the jumpers with experience on the trampolines. They flipped, forward and backwards, cartwheeled down the long line of trampolines and leapt impossibly high into the air and then somersaulted back down. My grandkids fall into this category. They are relaxed, unafraid to try something new and so at ease that they don’t notice whether anyone is watching them or not.

Jump for Joy

The Risk Taking One – Every crowd has one, the person who pushes the envelope, breaks the rules, and lives on the rush of adrenaline. My grandsons cross over occasionally into this category. Yesterday I watched a tall young man reveling in the role of risk taker. He played just beyond the rules. He bounced, literally, off of the walls and the platforms and the poles. The wide grin on his sweaty face revealed how much he enjoyed his revved up jumping and wiping out in a spectacular fall didn’t slow him down one bit.

The Poor-Me One – This small boy was at a disadvantage in the crowded indoor park, and he knew it. He cried if someone bounced on his trampoline. He wanted to have fun but just couldn’t let go of his insistence that people had to recognize his unhappiness. He displayed anger and frustration and ultimately refused to play with others, placing himself on the bench.

The Competitive One – This was the young lady who wanted to be noticed…and applauded and considered the best. Everything was a competition and when her friends grew tired of playing “who’s the best at…” and went off to have their own fun, this girl attempted to make new friends who would compete against her. Winning was everything.

The Mean One – This kid wasn’t playful, he was deliberately unkind. He was small but compensated by stirring up trouble, challenging other kids, fouling up other jumpers and calling kids names. This behavior wasn’t allowed, once staff became aware of his antics, and a parent was pulled aside and talked to. The child was removed, by his weary looking parent, for a time out…and he wasn’t happy about it.

The Joyful One – When I wasn’t watching my own grandchildren jump and play, I looked for this little girl. She was about six years old, with a long braid down her back. She wasn’t an experienced jumper. I only ever saw her leap up into the air and back down again. But oh how joyful she was. When she jumped she flung her arms and legs out with glee, in all directions. Over and over again she bounded upward, laughing, throwing her head back with total surrender to the moment. She was not self conscious. There were no comparisons or competitions or fears. There was just joy and I smiled every time I caught sight of her.

I’ve journeyed long enough to have inhabited most of the qualities I saw on display yesterday. I am grateful that we are never stuck in any place, longer than we want to be. We grow as we go, and slip in and out of various roles until at last our hearts resonate with the rightness of who we are, who we have become. Even then, circumstances or hurts can cause us to wear a different persona for a while, primarily as a form of protection. But once we know who we are, it is much easier to return to that state of being.

Had I agreed to play on the trampolines, my fear of getting hurt most likely would have tilted me into wishing I was invisible so no one would notice me while I tested out my legs. I hope I would have quickly transitioned into one who surrendered to the fun and the experience and the moment.

I am determined now to try. I want to jump…jump for joy.

Jump for Joy

International Cat Day

Today is one of those unique holidays that I could not pass up. I don’t quite qualify as a crazy cat lady, since I only have three felines, however these sweet fur babies bring amusement and joy into my life. Rilynn, Angel and Shy Boy have no idea that today celebrations them. They behave as if every day is Cat Day!

International Cat Day

International Cat Day was created in 2002 by the International Fund for Animal Welfare. It is always celebrated on August 8.

In case you don’t already know how amazing cats are, here are 10 interesting facts about felines:

1. Cats can drink sea water. Their kidneys can filter out the salt and use the water to hydrate their bodies. However, cats do not have a sweet tooth and cannot taste anything sweet. That doesn’t mean they won’t eat something sweet. I had a cat who loved powdered sugar donuts.

2. There are 88 million pet cats in the US, making them the most popular pet in the country. There are around 500 million domestic cats in the world.

3. A female cat is called a “molly” and they are mostly right handed. Male cats are called “toms” and favor the left paw.

4. Cats’ entire natural vocal range is not audible to human beings, and they tend to evolve their voice to communicate their feelings to us within our hearing range. They can make over 100 different sounds, which is 10 times more than dogs. My cat Angel is the most vocal of my three cats and has a wide range of sounds that she makes.

International Cat DayAngel is the most social cat of my three. She visits all the neighbors.

International Cat Day

5. A cat named Stubbs was the mayor of Talkeetna, Alaska, for 15 years. Another cat also ran for the position in a Mexico city in 2013.

6. Cats can jump up to five times their own height in a single bound and run at speeds of over 30 miles an hour.

7. A cat rubs against people to mark out its territory with scent glands around its face and it also licks itself to get a person’s scent off.

8. The world’s oldest cat was found  in a 9,500-year-old grave on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus . It is said that when a pet cat died in Egypt, family members would mourn by shaving off their eyebrows. Also, smuggling a cat out of ancient Egypt was punishable by death.

International Cat DayShy Boy often sleeps in a praying pose. He is a worrier.

International Cat Day

9. A posh kitty named Blackie became the wealthiest cat ever in May 1988 when its owner, Ben Rea, a millionaire antiques dealer in the UK, left the feline $12.5 million. That’s pretty good luck for a black cat.

10. Kittens tend to sleep a lot because their bodies release growth hormones only when they are asleep. By the time an average cat is 9 years old, it would have been awake for about three years of its life.

My rescue cats, siblings from the same litter who were born in the wild, have very distinctive personalities.

The black and white male, Shy Boy, is the largest of the trio and also the most timid. He is afraid of loud noises, strangers, ceiling fans in motion and the trash truck that goes by every Thursday. He has very specific habits and routines that he follows and he can be very needy. Shy Boy enjoys sitting on my lap and being cuddled.

Angel is the female with the gorgeous gray coat. She is extremely vocal and communicates by answering questions with a trilling sound. She asks questions too. The neighbors enjoy Angel’s visits and inquire about her if they don’t see her for a couple of days. She enjoys curling up on a lap as well and loves soft blankets.

International Cat DayRilynn loves to be outside and in the garden.

Rilynn is the smallest of the siblings, and the bravest and most fierce. This black and white kitty, who looks like she dipped her chin and nose into an ink pot, loves the garden and enjoys exploring. She is curious and stubborn and while she likes attention, she is the least likely to curl up on a lap. Rilynn takes it upon herself to patrol the borders of the yard and woe to any strange cat who tries to enter.

These cats came into my life five years ago as a wild litter who had not had human contact. I brought them into my house with the intention of taming them and then finding them good homes. They had other intentions and here with me they have stayed. This is their home, and I’m okay with that. I love these cats.

Happy International Cat Day Rilynn, Angel and Shy Boy. I’m glad you chose me to be your human.

International Cat Day