On this last day of January, my mom, sister Linda, and I completed our vision boards for 2017. This project has become a fun shared event that we look forward to each yeat. As we flip through magazines, searching for images and words that represent our journeys, we chat and laugh and discuss life.
I have created vision boards for years, hanging them in my studio for inspiration. Over the years they have become less and less goal oriented, and more and more a visual snapshot of where I am in my journey. My theme for the year is represented, along with my symbol, and oft times a song or quote that carries deep significance for me.
Linda’s board is on the left, above. Her word for 2017 is FREEDOM. She selected images and words that reflect her desire for greater health and encourage her toward a personal project she is creating.
My mom’s word is GRACE. She included words and pics that remind her to eat better and embrace happiness, kindness and magnificence.
Their boards, and mine, have images representing an upcoming trip to Ireland, Scotland, and England that we will enjoy together, along with my other sister Debbie and my niece Ashley. Much of our conversation this evening centered around that anticipated trip.
My board is hanging in my creative studio tonight. This is perhaps the most simple board I have ever created, and I love that. My board emphasizes my healing journey and my desires to make life a little more tender and art a little more robust. Creativity is represented, along with gardening and writing. Travel dominates the top of my board with images of Italy, Scotland, Ireland and England.
I am excited to see how this year unfolds. I am full of inspiration.
I am so grateful for my traveling companions, all of them. I appreciate my mom and sister and their willingness to dream and create and cast visions with me. We are not meant to travel alone. We are made to journey together and help each other along the way. And if we can laugh along the way, that’s even better.
I asked my usual morning question, How shall we play today?, as I was brushing my teeth. Immediately, another question arose within me. How can I make life a little more tender? That seemed to be the question that was foremost in my heart today. Making life a little more tender is foundational to my journey this year. During this time, when I barely look at social media sites because of all of the fear expressed there, and the anger, and the name calling, what can I do to share love and peace, compassion and tenderness?
I found the answer in my journey today.
It is easy for me to offer compassion, making life a little more tender, to people who are similar to me. And I don’t mean that they look like me. I mean they have similar beliefs and comparable views about the world. We are naturally drawn to one another and journey together companionably.
I showed property to a new client today, someone I met for the first time over the weekend. We liked each other the moment we said hello. She is warm, friendly, and authentic. We chat like old friends, as we walk through houses together. She has an adorable little girl who makes me laugh and holds my hand and invites me to go to lunch at McDonalds.
I observe that as I work diligently to make sure this family finds the right house, and has the smoothest transaction possible, I am feeling very compassionate toward them and sympathetic about their life situations and the challenges they are facing. By offering from my deep heart, I am making their lives a little more tender. And it is effortless to do so.
Then, there is another client. We have worked together previously. Is it a coincidence that she showed up in my life again, on a day when I asked How can I make life a little more tender?
In great contrast to my earlier client, this woman has a belief system that is very different from mine. She annoys me. She loves to express her own opinions, totally unaware that I may perceive life differently. While she is happy to be working together again, I am not. I observe myself closing down, becoming guarded, predicting her future actions based on past behaviors. I consider not accepting her invitation to work together.
How can I make life a little more tender?
I observe that I shift, a fraction. My heart does not close. I keep communication open between us. I listen, really listen, to her. There is pain in her, just beneath the bravado. And loss. And the tiniest bit of new hope.
Can I journey with her, and make life a little more tender?
I shared my thoughts with Greg this afternoon, as I delved into the tender places within my heart. He offered profound wisdom. He suggested that perhaps, just perhaps, I could let go of the story I was creating about my client.
Ah. The truth of that statement resonated deeply. Who would I be, with my client, if I let go of my stories about her? If I saw her with fresh eyes? If I, who am in a different place in my journey, offered tenderness and compassion to the person she is now? Not the woman I have known before. Not the woman my mind wants to create stories about. The woman she is now, further along in her own journey, becoming who she is.
Who would I be, to her, if I let go of my stories about who she is, and how she is supposed to be? I would be compassion. I would be kindness. I would be making her life, and mine, a little more tender.
I am grateful for the answer I was given, to my sincere question. I am grateful that the Divine responds and moves to meet me where I am, inviting me to go further and deeper.
How can I make life a little more tender?
I make life a little more tender by offering compassion and empathy and love and joy and peace from a heart that is open and overflowing. I make life a little more tender by accepting what is unfolding, for therein lies an invitation to grow, and by living from compassion, empathy, love, joy and peace.
I asked a question. I know the answer now. I was asked a question in return. And I have an answer. Yes. Yes, I will walk with my client and make her life a little more tender.
Sundays are typically a soul care day for me, a time to relax and recharge, to indulge my inner artist, or do nothing at all. This bright and beautiful Sunday was a travel day, as I drove to the Kansas City area to visit with family and pick up Greg for the return to Joplin.
Rather than write about one event or develop one line of thinking, this Sunday Funday is best represented through a series of snapshots.
I didn’t practice Italian phrases in the car today as I drove. With the movie La La Land fresh in my mind, I looped through my iPhone’s downloaded copy of the movie soundtrack, over and over. I have context for the songs now, and hearing them stirred my heart as I remembered scenes from the movie.
Greg’s cousin Tim and his cousin’s wife, Lisa, have a wonderful theater room in their beautiful new home. What a treat for me! My comfy seat reclined and there were soft blankets to snuggle under.
We started the movie Sully, and finished it after dining out. Based on real life events, this film covers the aftermath of the emergency water landing of an American aircraft, piloted by Captain Chesley Sullenberger (Sully). I liked that rather than focusing just on the crash, the movie centered around the investigation that followed and Sully’s struggle to reconcile what happened with the self doubt he experienced about his life saving decisions.
Our group dined at Q39, one of the best BBQ restaurants in the KC area. I enjoyed their delicious veggie burger, minus the bun, with a side of white bean cassoulet. I tried a small bite of Greg’s sliced brisket, which is legendary at Q39. It was tender, and tasted good, however, after seven months without meat, I decided I haven’t been missing a thing!
Fun family group included cousin Pam, cousin Tim, Tim’s wife Lisa, Lisa’s mom Anne, cousin Mallorie and her boyfriend Dan, me and Greg. These are precious people!
And then there was this amusing sight on the drive back to Joplin. We spied this truck in a convenience store parking lot that appeared to have a canine driver.
It wasn’t a typical Sunday, but it was a fun one, a Sunday Funday. And having a different kind of day, full of travel and family connections and fun, can be just as restorative as a day of relaxation.
There is an old proverb that says, “A Sunday well spent brings a week of content.” Which means, I’m going to have an awesome week!
I had not heard of this movie, prior to the Golden Globes award show. La La Land picked up many Globes, garnering much praise and capturing my interest. The clip presented during the show revealed that La La Land was a musical, a rare occurrence among today’s films. Even better. I love musicals.
I was interested enough in the movie to check my local theater to see if it was playing. It was not. With a December release date, I assumed that being unfamiliar with the movie, if it had played in Joplin, I simply missed it.
When the Academy Awards nominations were announced last Tuesday, La La Land topped the list with 14 nominations. The movie came back into my awareness, very much so, and supplied this year’s theme song for me, Audition, The Fools Who Dream. Read that blog post HERE.
My desire to see La La Land increased, causing me to check movie listings again. It still was not showing in Joplin. Ah well. I knew I would catch it when it released on DVD, especially since I watch all best picture nominated films after the Oscars.
I had the music from the movie at least. I have listened to Audition and the rest of the soundtrack numerous times.
This morning, I asked the Divine, as I do every morning, How shall we play today? In the middle of a busy day, I suddenly received the answer…watch La La Land. My immediate thought was that I couldn’t, it wasn’t playing in Joplin. Check the movie listings, was the response. That nudge came several times…check the movie listings…before I paused in my tasks to pull up my movie app and check my local theater’s show times.
Down near the bottom of the list I found it, La La Land. I gasped out loud! Why, I don’t know. This is the way life flows for me. This is how the ongoing conversation with the Divine unfolds, day by day. I was excited! I couldn’t make the 3:40 showing, but I was in the theater at 7:00 this evening, with a baggie of apple slices, open to what I would receive.
La La Land stars Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, JK Simmons and John Legend. This musical drama was directed, and written by, Damien Chazelle. The film has a PG-13 rating, for very brief adult language, and has a run time of 2 hours and 7 minutes.
La La Land is the story of a jazz pianist, Sebastian (Gosling), and an aspiring actress Mia (Stone). Both struggle to make a living while in pursuit of their dreams. Seb is passionate about keeping classical jazz alive by opening a night club. Mia has been captivated by acting since childhood, and moved to Los Angeles to pursue her dream.
When Seb and Mia meet, both have already discovered that making their dreams reality isn’t easy. Mia has one disappointing audition after another. Seb compromises what he believes about music by playing to uninterested diners in restaurants and in second rate gigs, just to survive.
Drawn together by their shared desire to be the people they feel created to be, Seb and Mia discover the joys and challenges of encouraging each other, while pursuing their individual passions.
This film is so much more than a musical. In fact, it is more a movie about music and acting, about creativity, that features musical numbers. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are phenomenal, with endearing chemistry between them and sincere, heart touching performances.
Neither are exceptional singers, and I loved that. It gives a soulfulness to the film, a heart to the story. They come across as normal people who occasionally break into song. The dance numbers are amazing, and beautifully choreographed. And I was extremely impressed when I read that Ryan actually played the piano in all of his scenes. He practiced two hours a day, six days a week, to learn all the musical pieces. That’s dedication to his art.
La La Land is not a typical musical in many ways. The singing and dancing enhance a movie that is for all who have dreams. Whether there is hope still that the dream will come true, or despair that it is too late, whether compromise seems the only way to keep passion alive or fierce stubbornness creates blindness to other possibilities, La La Land inspires, and touches a raw, tender place in the heart.
Watch La La Land, whispered the Divine. It goes beyond simply watching an extraordinary movie. This invitation is about my own heart and being who I am. Two hours after the credits rolled in the theater, I still have tears in my eyes. I am okay with that. I want to linger in this place for a while, and see what thoughts and emotions rise to the surface.
If you have a dream, or have ever had one and gave up on it, if fear stops you cold, or regret haunts you, go see La La Land. And then let’s get together, and talk about it.
I made great use of an extended time in the car today. Rather than listening to music on shuffle on my iPhone, I was repeating phrases such as Come si chiama? and A più tardi! in my best Italian accent. Truthfully, my accent couldn’t even be called fair, but I had so much fun trying out new words!
There is a reason I began playing with the Italian language today. My grandson Dayan and I are flying to Italy on May 24. We have booked our trip and suddenly, a long held dream is just a few months away from becoming reality. We are both beyond excited.
And although I know we will encounter many Italians who speak English, I want to at least be able to say a few phrases in the beautiful language of Italy. To do so is part of the experience, part of the fun.
I have a great little Italian phrase book with an accompanying CD. I popped the CD into my car’s player as I drove home from Kansas City. In moments a kind sounding man was guiding me through common words and phrases in Italian. I had four years of Spanish, way back in high school. I immediately recognized similarities between the two romance languages.
Single words, such as yes and hello, and short phrases, such as good morning, were easy to repeat in the pause that my friendly instructor provided. However, longer phrases left me stumbling around, uttering something unintelligible that sounded suspiciously like Klingon. I cracked myself up more than once.
And really, that’s what I want as I learn, fun and laughter.
At home, I felt inspired to look up apps on my phone. As I ate dinner, I downloaded several that teach Italian in a fun way, offering instruction in a game format.
Because, while I am serious about learning Italian, I am exploring, I am having a great time, I am playing. During this year of creativity, of making life more tender and art more robust, the invitation has been to play.
Rather than taking life too lightly, I am playing as a way of learning, and growing, and becoming. As a child, play was how I learned new skills. Pretending to own a store taught me how to merchandise, handle customers and make change, all valuable skills when I later worked in retail.
I had fun playing with the apps, and being a first born, I cheered over You are correct messages, that encouraged me to keep going. What a great and painless way to learn something new.
I am looking forward to spending time with Dayan next week. Taking the idea of play further, we will create more fun ways to learn about Italy and the language. For very soon we will be saying buon giorno – good morning in another country!
Inspiration led me to explore in an area I’ve been thinking about, but had not yet taken action in. A few weeks ago, an idea sparked, creating interest in developing a line of clothing especially geared toward women in their middle years.
There is a great deal of freedom that comes to women in their 50s and 60s. Often we’ve raised a family, and successfully helped them to establish lives of their own. We have grandchildren to dote on. Yet we are far from settling into sedentary lives. At this wonderful stage in the journey, we have the time to pursue our own interests again, the curiosity to develop our desire to travel and see new places, and the patience and ability to learn exciting new skills.
I am in this age group, and I am experiencing all of these marvelous things. As a woman in my 50s, I’ve learned what I like and don’t like, fashion wise. And most importantly, I’ve learned that the person I dress to please…is me. I am envisioning clothing that is fun, playful without looking like I’ve shopped in the junior department, made from ultra comfortable and flattering materials, and is sensual more than sexy. I want to feel beautiful and feminine and at ease wearing these clothes.
At the library, I found two books to increase my knowledge about fashion basics. Online I located fashion design templates, intending to print out blank copies so that I could sketch my concepts on the female form.
I left the office without doing that, and I currently don’t have a printer at home. Since one of the library books is subtitled A Guide to Sketching Stylish Fashions, I got the distinct impression that perhaps forgetting to print out templates was not an accident. It would seem I was being guided to create my own templates.
I have learned to not back down from a challenge. I’ve also learned to trust what is unfolding, and that if I am inspired to create something, I must possess the ability to carry the idea out.
Grabbing my sketch book, I began with simple freehand figures, composed primarily of circles, ovals and rectangles. The more I sketched, the more fun I had, and the figures became more fluid. I believe with a bit more practice, I will be able to ink in my drawings, creating my own templates to copy.
This year is about being tender, and artistic. It is an invitation to offer compassion and love, to others and to myself, and to play as I discover new areas and new levels of creativity.
Joseph Chilton Pearce wrote, “To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.”
I so agree. And I must lose my fear of not doing something perfectly. As I create, as I play, as I focus on making robust art, I am learning and growing and getting better at what I am doing. Inspiration may challenge me with an idea or project, but it will never tease me with something that is impossible for me to accomplish.
I am excited to see where this newest adventure leads.
I celebrated this Scottish holiday for the first time last year. Scotland’s National Poet, Robert Burns, was born on January 25, 1759. Burns Night recognizes Rabbie’s birthday, and his poetic contributions to the world, through a traditional dinner, whiskey and the reciting of his poems.
A typical Burns Night Dinner starts with a potato, leek and haddock soup, and ends with shortbread and other sweets. Whether a four course meal or a simple supper, at the core is haggis, served with neeps and tatties.
Last year, I simply drank a cup of hot Scottish tea and read Burns’ poetry. I was determined to serve haggis, neeps and tatties this year. With the change in my diet to plant based, I researched vegan options. To my delight, I found an easy to prepare vegan haggis recipe, posted by Mike Lewis.
I enjoyed creating my first haggis tonight. I had bagpipes playing on my iPod as I worked. The dish was easy to prepare and smelled wonderful as it baked. After popping the haggis into the oven, I prepared neeps and tatties. Neeps, otherwise known as rutabagas here in the US, were another first for me. I’ve never eaten a rutabaga before. As per a recipe I found online, I peeled and cut up the rutabaga and boiled in water, along with one large cut up carrot. After draining the liquid, I added sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper, and mashed the neeps.
Tatties are simply cooked potatoes. I prepared Yukon Gold potatoes, cutting them up and boiling in water. I added sea salt and pepper after draining. Keeping to my plant based diet, I didn’t add milk or butter.
After preparing my plate, I read Burns’ Address to a Haggis, which begins:
Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o the puddin’-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye worthy o’ a grace
As lang’s my arm.
The line about haggis being the great chieftain o the puddin’ race makes me smile!
This was a good supper! The neeps and tatties were excellent. And the haggis? I sampled haggis when I visited Scotland in 2014. This didn’t taste like that haggis. But the vegan haggis-like dish was savory and very delicious. I will prepare it again, and not wait until the next Burns Night.
I sipped Scottish Thistle tea as I read several more poems by Robert Burns. As an American with deep Scottish roots, participating in this beloved holiday makes me feel closer to my heritage, while creating an ache that is only eased by a visit to bonnie Scotland.
Writing from his heart and soul, Burns was considered a people’s poet because he was most at home with the common folk, the farmers and inn keepers, pretty girls and rowdy lads, beggars and bawdy countrymen. I consider him my poet as well.
Along with a theme and symbol for each new year, I normally have a song as well. But not this year. A song had not shown up for 2017, and that was okay. I don’t ever want to force something to happen. I’ve learned to trust and allow what is to be to flow to me, making itself known by way of synchronicities and repetition.
And, I have an amazing quote this year. Perhaps Alan Rickman’s words took the place of a song. I’ve continued to stay open, and unattached to any particular outcome concerning a song for 2017.
The Academy Awards nominations were announced this morning. I love this yearly award show, and enjoyed scanning through the list of nominees. The musical La La Land captured the most nominations, tying a record. As I looked through the Best Song list, I was curious about the song from La La Land, Audition (The Fools Who Dream).
I listened to the song, again and again, on YouTube. There are a couple of other nudges that I get from the Divine, when I am supposed to pay attention. These taps on the shoulder include an increased heart rate and tears filling my eyes.
As the song repeated, sung with great feeling by Emma Stone, my heart rate quickened, and tears slowly filled my eyes. This. This song… Was this my song, for 2017?
Audition (The Fools Who Dream)
My aunt used to live in Paris.
I remember, she used to come home and tell us these stories about being abroad and I remember she told us that she jumped into the river once, barefoot.
Leapt, without looking
And tumbled into the Seine
The water was freezing
She spent a month sneezing
But said she would do it again Here’s to the ones who dream
Foolish as they may seem
Here’s to the hearts that ache
Here’s to the mess we make
She captured a feeling
Sky with no ceiling
The sunset inside a frame She lived in her liquor
And died with a flicker
I’ll always remember the flame Here’s to the ones who dream
Foolish as they may seem
Here’s to the hearts that ache
Here’s to the mess we make
She told me:
“A bit of madness is key
To give us new colors to see
Who knows where it will lead us?
And that’s why they need us”
So bring on the rebels
The ripples from pebbles
The painters, and poets, and plays
And here’s to the fools who dream
Crazy as they may seem
Here’s to the hearts that break
Here’s to the mess we make
I trace it all back to then
Her, and the snow, and the Seine
Smiling through it
She said she’d do it again.
I haven’t seen La La Land yet, but I already love this song. I’ve listened to it several more times today and it stirs my heart each time. I would have liked the aunt that Emma sings about. She reminds me of Greg’s Aunt Pearl, who traveled the world, well into her 80s, returning home with souvenirs for us all and marvelous stories to tell. And it makes me think of my mom, who has a creative, gypsy soul, and loves traveling as well.
She has passed that desire on to me.
This song is about dreaming, and creating, and seeing the world with new colors. It’s about living life to the fullest and being daring and having no regrets. I can relate to the aunt that the song is about. I want to be the aunt, the fool who dreams, and celebrate the glorious messes that I make. Who knows, indeed, where it will lead me?
Audition (The Fools Who Dream) might win an Oscar for Best Song of the Year. Whether it captures the award or not, it has captured my heart and my imagination. It is my Song of the Year.
Hoping to complete my 2017 Vision Board this week, I’ve browsed through a few magazines looking for a very specific pic. My symbol for 2017, my image to represent Inspiration, is the lightbulb. I can find lots of lightbulb photos online, through Google search. However, I’ve come up empty searching for a photo to cut out.
In the past, if I couldn’t locate the correct photos, I have saved online images and printed them out in color. These work well and let me fill in the areas where cut outs were lacking. Today, as I was considering giving up on the hunt for a lightbulb pic in a magazine, an idea popped into my head.
What if, instead of printing out a lightbulb picture from the internet, I created my own? As I considered that possibility, the idea quickly grew and captured my full interest. I own a set of Staedtler Watercolor pencils. I’ve colored with them often, without using water. It was time to move past my slight trepidation about using them as they are intended to be used.
There is something so inspiring about a blank piece of paper.
I sketched a simple lightbulb, incorporating this year’s word into the design. Satisfied with the drawing, I inked it.
The pencils work by dipping the tip of the lead into water, and then coloring, or laying on, color.
This was a fun little project that has inspired me to create several other drawings for my Vision Board. The watercolor pencils were easy to use. I learned more about applying the color as I worked.
Creating my own pics for my vision board lends a very personal feel to the board. I enjoy finding and cutting out pics. However, this artistic endeavor takes the process to a deeper level. What I love most is that the inspired idea popped into my head, very much like a lightbulb turning on. The project couldn’t have been more perfect for me, and my journey.
I have been intrigued by the cleverness of virtual reality since the holodeck was introduced on the tv show Star Trek: The Next Generation. The holodeck aboard the Enterprise was imaginary. I knew that, in spite of occasional lapses when the line between fiction and reality blurred for me. However, my imagination caught fire thinking about how amazing it would be to step into an alternate reality and immerse myself in it.
Today, thanks to great-nephews Ethan and Kaleb, I got to experience my first virtual reality excursion. Both boys own VR headsets that work with an iPhone app to create virtual worlds and situations.
My mom was eager to try out a headset as well. I love that she is so adventurous! We watched Kaleb demonstrate the headset as Ethan explained what we needed to do.
Mom was relatively sedate and calm as she rode a virtual roller coaster, which was encouraging to me! The boys switched programs, and dropped her into a scarier world, making me laugh as I watched Mom and Kaleb battle creepy opponents.
One word explains these faces…ZOMBIES!
My sister Debbie takes a turn
And then it was my turn. My first VR experience was clicking along on a roller cosster. How fun! It was very cool to be able to turn my head and see the landscape around me, and to realize my virtual body was upside down as we rolled through 360 degree loops.
It was all imaginary, but my physical body reacted with dizziness at the perception that I was upside down and banking on sharp turns. I loved it!
The zombies were a bit more intense. I only briefly visited that virtual world, just long enough to turn my head and see a zombie lurching toward me. Thanks to Kaleb’s instructions, I was able to dispatch it with a well aimed arrow. Whew!
I appreciate the boys teaching two silver haired ladies how to navigate virtually. I didn’t know, back when Star Trek featured their holodeck as the ultimate fantasy playground, that virtual reality would become reality in my lifetime. It fires my imagination still to think about what is possible in this area, and what fantastic experiences lie ahead.
It is exciting to think I may yet step into a holodeck, where the line between fiction and reality doesn’t just blur, it disappears. As Captain Jean Luc Picard, of the Starship Enterprise, would say, “Make it so!”