Seeing Through Enchantment

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Recently I watched a couple of episodes of the Netflix series, Grace and Frankie. Frankie, played by Lily Tomlin, makes me laugh, partly because she reminds me…of me! She dresses in a distinctly boho style, meditates, smudges her home with sage, and most of the time she chooses to see the best in people and situations. Frankie, like me, practices seeing through enchantment.

Seeing Through Enchantment

Correcting My Vision

Frankie’s friend and housemate, Grace, portrayed by Jane Fonda, is both charmed and exasperated by Frankie and her optimistic, eccentric views of the world.

I get that often too! My positive outlook baffles some. Others are inspired or encouraged by the way I choose to experience life. And some…well some find it all annoying.

That’s okay. I live the way I want to live, and I am well past the point of worrying about what others think.

This wasn’t always true, however. I spent most of my life living in fear…of the world, of what others think, of what the future held. As a result the world appeared dark and ominous, full of unpredictable events and fearful occurrences.

I needed to correct my vision.

As a child I received a diagnosis of nearsightedness, with astigmatism. Bringing my eyesight back to 20/20 required corrective lenses. As an adult, approaching my middle years, I realized I need to correct my vision yet again. This correction required an inner adjustment.

Seeing Through Enchantment


Seeing Through Enchantment

As my inner work banished fear and brought light and joy into my heart and soul, an amazing thing happened. My outer world shifted to match my inner one. Figuratively, energetically, I put on spectacles shaded not just with a rosy tint, but with enchantment.

Enchantment allows me to see life with greater clarity and in brilliant details that color everything within sight. It invites me into a world of unknown mysteries, free from shrouds of fear and darkness.

Seeing through enchantment reveals the presence of the Divine and a way of life that is ruled by trust and playfulness rather than reason. I see through enchantment most clearly, most brilliantly, when I am in nature, or listening to music, spending time alone or in the company of children.

Enchanted Forest Coloring Book, by Johanna Basford. Click photo to order.

Enchanted Forest

Thinking about writing this post, I considered options for graphics. As usually happens, I received a mental image of what I wanted for the title meme: a pair of glasses, through which the world appears bright, colorful and magical. I knew I could Google and find an image that would work. Or…I could create my own graphic.

I chose to create my own work of art, using one of my coloring books and various colored pencils. The first coloring book I saw, as I walked into my creative studio, was Johanna Basford’s Enchanted Forest. 

How perfect is that?

I drew a pair of Harry Potter style glasses in the middle of a page depicting an enchanted castle. For most of the picture, I kept the colors soft and muted, symbolizing life as I once knew it. Within the lenses of the glasses, the colors are bright, vivid and layered, symbolizing seeing through enchantment.

That’s an accurate portrayal of how I see life, with my vision corrected. The world is beautifully brilliant and alive with color and textures and layers of meaning. I’m quite pleased with the finished page, colored with a mix of Crayola and Prismacolor pencils.

Enchantment’s Invitation

Enchantment has much more to teach me about life and my journey. Hence, the invitation this year to remain wide open and explore the deeper mysteries of the world, leaving the rational part of my brain behind. There are different perceptions to discover and unexplored paths to trek down, new sights to see and fresh insights to gather.

French poet Paul Eluad wrote:

“There is another world, but it is in this one.”

Oh yes, it is there, this other world, hidden in plain sight. One only needs the eyes to see it. Let me just put on my enchanted glasses.

Seeing Through Enchantment

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Why We Love to Make Lists: 10 Reasons

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I admit it. I love to make lists, and have done so most of my life. Perhaps because I’m focusing on organization and decluttering, thanks to Marie Kondo, creating lists has increased the last few days.

Not everyone loves to make lists, however, there are very good reasons to adopt the practice, and not just for bringing order to chaos or boosting the memory.

I’ve jotted down…made a list…of 10 reasons why we love to make lists.

Why We Love to Make Lists: 10 Reasons

Helps us Remember Things

From making a grocery list to writing down what we need to pack for a trip, creating lists helps us to remember what we need to do. And while that’s important enough, list making then frees up the brain to focus on other things. Don’t you hate lying awake at night, thinking about you need to do, or worrying that you will forget something? That’s part of the brain’s job…to keep bringing our attention to what needs to be one. When a list is made, the brain can move on to something else, freeing up energy and reducing fretfulness.

Helps Us to Be Better Prepared

Connected to helping us remember, making a list prepares us for what comes next. It organizes thoughts and allows us to see what we need to do, to prepare for an event. So we might make a list called “Things I need when I bring my puppy home” or “How to create an herb garden”. This is part of creating order out of chaos. A simple list gives us a step by step plan, so nothing important is left out.

We Join the Ranks of Highly Successful People

We love to make lists because ultimately, we know doing so boosts our success rate. A study at Dominican University, in California, found that we are 33% more likely to achieve our goals and tasks if we write them down. And further, we join historical list makers such as Alfred Einstein, Ben Franklin, Thomas Edison and Ronald Reagan. They all relied on their lists and notes. Take a peek at one of Thomas Edison’s lists, from 1888.

Why We Love to Make Lists: 10 Reason

Allows a Larger Task to Be Broken into Smaller Tasks

Making a big, vague goal, such as “Travel”, can be overwhelming. Instead, making a list breaks it down into manageable tasks. Travel becomes:

  • Set date for trip to Scotland
  • Meet with travel agent
  • Check passport
  • Buy new carryon luggage
  • Create itinerary
  • Buy a new raincoat

Step by step, a list takes us to the big goal of travel.

Keeps Us Focused and on Task

One of the things I love most about a list is that it helps me to focus. Without a written out lists of tasks, we are too easily distracted. Productivity takes a dive as well. With a list, even if an unforeseen distraction pulls us away, we can quickly and easily get back on task.

Crossing Off Tasks Creates a Sense of Satisfaction

Have you ever added a task to your to do list, right before or even right after you do it, just so you can cross it off? I have! We do that because crossing items off the list gives us an instant sense of satisfaction and gratification. I love being rewarded with that tiny thrill…and it motivates me to keep moving down the list.

A word of caution: don’t add too many tasks to a list. We only include what we have the time and resources to accomplish in a day. Otherwise, we create dissatisfaction for ourselves, unnecessarily so.

Is it bad if we don’t finish everything on the list? No. We just add it to another list…or determine if it wasn’t really a priority.

Why We Love to Make Lists: 10 Reasons

Helps Us Make Decisions

We can use pro/con lists when we have a tough decision to make. Making two columns and writing in the pros for the situation and the cons allows us to see the bigger picture and aids in the decision making process.

We also use lists when trying to decide on things like baby names, homes to buy, and things we really want to do while we are journeying through life. I prefer the term “Life List” over “Bucket List”, however they are the same thing, and having one helps us to realize what is important to accomplish with the time we have here.

Expands Our Thinking

Writing down an idea or a goal can be a launching pad that leads to bigger ideas and goals.

Paula Rizzo, author of Listful Thinking: Using Lists to be More Productive, Highly Succesful and Less Stressed, says,

“Start with only one goal and work it out on paper. Sketch out how you could actually achieve it, if money and time were not important factors.”

For example, if the goal is to meet better people to do business with this year, brainstorm ideas of places to meet them or people who could serve as a connection. Writing down a list sets things in motion. What we put out there, in the universe, comes back to us, often in unexpected and amazing ways.

Promotes Creativity

Creative thinking is improved when we make lists. Energy seems to flow from our brains to paper or computer screen, through our fingers, unleashing ideas. I use lists for creating blog posts and coming up with fresh ideas and new experiences to try. When I did my Year of Firsts, I spent the month of December jotting down a massive list of things I had never done, that I could experience for the first time. That list became a great resource when I felt stuck or out of ideas. Writing out a list of 10 Recipes to Try or 10 Poetry Ideas always generates more creativity.

Below is a photo of my list, for creating this blog post!

Why We Love to Make Lists: 10 Reasons

Encourages Gratitude

Among lists to make, a gratitude list is my favorite. The simple yet profound practice of writing down daily gratitudes allows me to see the good in my day and feel again a sense of thankfulness. This list can be created at the end of the day, or in the morning, as a record of the day before. Use a gratitude journal, one that sparks joy or brings a smile, and list five or more things from the day that you are grateful for. In my experience, expressing gratitude raises awareness and brings more into life to be grateful for.

The Power of Making Lists

Psychologist and author, Dr. David Cohen, gives these reasons for our love of to do lists:

  • they reduce anxiety about the chaos of life
  • lists provide structure and a plan that we can stick to
  • they are proof that we have achieved something that day, that week or that month

I agree. My love of making lists stems from a desire for order in my life and from the satisfaction I get when I cross tasks off the list. That feels wonderful to me. And lists are versatile, limited only by our imaginations and desires. Several years ago, I began adding Ta Das to my lists as well, creative expressions of what I accomplished in a day.

Do you create lists? What is your favorite type of list to make?

Why We Love to Make Lists: 10 Reasons

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Tidying Up & Sparking Joy

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Tidying up to spark joy makes perfect sense, to anyone who is familiar with Marie Kondo. She authored the best selling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up. Marie helps people declutter their homes and their lives, through the simple yet profound art of tidying up.

Netflix showcases the KonMari techniques in their new exclusive series, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.

I binge watched season one over the weekend.

Tidying Up and Sparking Joy

Tidying Up with Marie Kondo

Netflix summarizes the show with these words:

“In a series of inspiring home makeovers, world renowned tidying expert Marie Kondo helps clients clear out the clutter…and choose joy.”

Marie loves a mess! This petite woman, who possesses an enchanting child-like sense of joy and wonder, enjoys helping people let go of the stuff that clutters up their homes. Show her a room piled with shoes, books, papers and knickknacks, and she claps her hands with delight.

In each of the eight episodes, Marie guides clients through the exact same process that results in less stuff…and happier people. She begins with sorting through clothes, touching every single sock, shirt or pair of jeans, then moves through books, papers, miscellaneous items and finally, sentimental pieces.

As they sort through belongings, the key to releasing the excess requires holding each item, to see if it sparks joy. To make the process easier, Marie starts with an item that the owner feels strong happiness and joy for. If the person does not feel joy, the item is thanked, sincerely, and then placed into a give away or a throw away pile. The pieces that spark joy remain, and a specific place is created for it, enforcing the proverbial saying,

“A place for everything, and everything in its place.”

Tidying Up and Sparking Joy

Sparking Joy

Marie understands something that I’ve come to understand as well. Everything is energy. And different items vibrate at different frequencies. Love and joy vibrate at the high end, frequency wise, while fear and hate dwell at the lower range. She also recognizes that clutter clogs up energy, while clearing space frees that energy to flow.

Most people are affected by that heavy, stagnant energy that clutter fosters, whether they realize it or not. An untidy room, clogged with stuff, doesn’t feel good. In episode after episode, that truth uncovers people living under stress, or feeling defeated and irritable, because of the excess in their homes. That clutter affects their lives, so much so that they consider Marie a blessing when she shows up with her boxes and cheerful advice.

It makes sense, then, that choosing to surround themselves with items that spark joy creates happier people who feel less stress. They also feel like they’ve taken back control over their own lives. Many struggled as they sorted through piles…and piles…and piles…of possessions. Some cried. Couples argued. Ultimately, they found their way through all the emotions connected with the stuff that cluttered and weighed down their lives…and let go.

The show is a fascinating peek into hearts and emotions, not an “oh my what a mess” judgment party. Tidying Up with Marie Kondo inspired me.

Tidying Up and Sparking Joy

Tidying Up and Sparking Joy in My Sock Drawer

I read Marie’s book several years ago, and sorted through items in my home at that time. The thing is, tidying is an ongoing process. Once a year, typically around Christmas, I sort through clothes and books and papers and miscellaneous items, and declutter. I can now see the many benefits of keeping my home tidy on a daily basis.

Inspired, desiring to spark joy, I pulled out my sock drawer, pictured above.

Marie suggests folding the clothes that are kept in drawers or on shelves. Smooth them, then fold to make a square or rectangle shape that can stand up in drawers or in boxes on shelves. Marie loves sorting items into small boxes. Note to self: pick up more boxes and bins.

My socks are a jumbled mess in the drawer, which is so full I can barely close it. I know better than to wad socks up like that, into a ball. And yet, there they are.

Tidying Up and Sparking Joy

Folding Socks the KonMari Way

I dumped the socks onto the bed and separated all of them. Single socks without a match, holey socks and those that did not spark joy, went into the trash bin. The rest I smoothed and paired together, and then folded over, once or twice, depending on the length of the sock.

The folded socks went back into the drawer, standing up in neat rows. It only takes a few moments to fold socks this way. And what a difference, in the drawer.

Did my socks spark joy? Yes. I appreciate the comfy ankle socks that I wear in the summer, with sneakers. The fun plaid socks and the Harry Potter socks, purchased in London, England, spark great joy and a sense of playfulness. I even felt joy over the grungy heavier socks that I wear when I garden. These are destined for the trash bin soon, however they are perfect for wearing while I work outside. With them, it doesn’t matter that my gardening shoes get full of dirt!

Tidying Up and Sparking Joy

Tidying Up My Home

Satisfied with a neatly organized sock drawer, my intention is to continue tidying, until I’ve moved through all five categories, and through all the rooms of my house. While I’m not clapping my hands, like Marie, over messy drawers and closets, I feel excited about keeping the high level energy flowing through my home.

I get it. I really do. I’m sensitive to energy and a cluttered room, a cluttered home, doesn’t feel good to me and doesn’t create a supportive environment. Rather than waiting until I can’t stand the “ugh” feeling any longer, I’m motivated to tidy up now, and experience that magic. Tidying up and sparking joy? Oh yes. I’m in.

Tidying Up and Sparking Joy

Pick up a copy of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up or read my brief book review.

And, check out these storage boxes and cubes, to help with organizing small items.

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How to Choose a Song for the Year

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I choose a song for each new year, just as I do a word and symbol. Together the three create a theme for the upcoming months that guides and inspires my journey. There’s plenty of info online about selecting a word or a symbol and not much about choosing a song. I’m remedying that!

For years I’ve jumped into January with enthusiasm, a fresh theme and a word, symbol and song to accompany me. This year my word is Enchantment while the symbol for 2019 is the queen chess piece. Putting them together, I am moving through this year as the Queen of Enchantment, using my voice, my words, my heart to create the reality around me.

I’ve not shared my song yet, because I had not received it. That changed a few days ago.

How to Choose a Song for the Year

Finding Your Song

Why choose a song for the year? Music resonates with us deeply, at a soul level, whether it’s classical, rock, jazz or techno. We can let go and move to music, surrendering to its enchantment.

“Where words fail, music speaks.” Hans Christian Andersen

Music stirs us and it does have the power to speak, oft times burrowing beneath the chatter and clatter of life. Have you ever been focused on something else…and suddenly a song begins to play that pierces through your awareness? Tears come to your eyes, or a smile to your mouth, and joy floods your heart. That’s being moved by music.

Choosing a song, along with a word and a symbol, gives us a connection with the mystery and the magic of the universe, with the Divine. It serves as another reminder of who we are and who we are becoming as we journey.

How to Choose a Song

There are several ways to choose a song that inspires for the year.

  1. Make a list of favorite songs. Personally, I feel it’s best to stay open to something fresh and new. However, looking at your list of favorite songs, what draws you to them? Do they have a common theme? Common artist? Is there a particular style that impacts you?
  2. With that info, use Spotify, YouTube or Pandora to look for similar music. Often these sites will recommend music based on what you listen to and like, by hitting a heart button. Your new song just might appear on a recommended list. Listen to recommendations…and see how you respond.
  3. This is my favorite way to select a song for the year. I let it come to me. Stay open, stay aware, and ASK for a song. Ask out loud, write the words in your journal, during prayer or meditation, ask. Then release the request and listen. One of my songs came to me during the movie Frozen. Remember “Let it Go”? I had never heard the song before seeing the film. I left the theater knowing Let it Go was my song for the year. It fit in perfectly with the word and symbol I’d been given.

And that is how you know you’ve found the right song…or it has found you. It resonates with your soul. It feels right. You can’t stop thinking about the song or humming the tune.

How to Choose a Song for the Year

My Song for 2019

I found my song unexpectedly several days ago, as I drove to an appointment. When I’m alone in the car, I have music playing. One of my favorite things to do is to hit the shuffle button on my iPhone music app…and let songs pop up at random.

A song began to play, from the soundtrack Enchanted. The 2007 film Enchanted is a favorite of mine, an interesting twist on the traditional fairytale. Princess Giselle begins the movie as an animated character who becomes real when she is banished to New York City. The playful movie pokes a bit of fun at the classic fairytale, however it has deeper messages throughout the story that resonate with me.

Suddenly I realized what I was listening to….Enchanted…ENCHANTED! That was an aha moment that drew my attention. Surely my song for the year, with Enchantment as my word, was on the Enchanted Soundtrack.

I listened later to the entire soundtrack, and found my song.

How to Choose a Song for the Year

Ever, Ever After

The song Ever, Ever After, performed by Carrie Underwood, snagged me as I listened. I replayed the song, over and over, listening with my heart wide open. The whole song is wonderful, with lyrics that made me smile repeatedly. The words that resonated with me were these:

“Start a new fashion, wear your heart on your sleeve/Sometimes you reach what’s real just by making believe/Unafraid, unashamed, there is joy to be claimed in this world/You even might wind up being glad to be you.”

I knew this was my song for 2019. My heartrate sped up, tears filled my eyes, and energy near my heart shifted. I felt it, my amazing heart that I can wear on my sleeve without fear, without trying to protect it. This song is about believing in an ever after and not getting in my own way. It’s about being who I am and letting myself “be enchanted”. How perfect. The song meshes beautifully with my word and symbol.  I’ve already played Ever, Ever After many times.

I’d love to hear from you. Choose a song, a word, and a symbol for 2019, and share them with me. I’ll be enchanted, I’m sure.

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Movie Review: The Wife

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It’s award season, for the film industry, a fact that brings me great joy. And the movie The Wife is definitely a contender in the Best Actress category for the upcoming Oscars. In what could be foreshadowing, Glenn Close recently won a Golden Globe for the meaty role.

After listening to her moving acceptance speech during the Globes, I jotted the film down on my “must watch” list. Just a few days later, I noticed The Wife posted on Bookhouse Cinema’s Facebook page, as an upcoming release. I so love this indie theater in Joplin! My mother and I caught an evening showing last night, after a delicious vegan dinner served in the Bookhouse Cinema pub.

Movie Review The Wife

The Wife Cast

This drama stars Glenn Close, Jonathan Pryce, Max Irons, Annie Starke, Christian Slater, Harry Lloyd and Alix Wilton Regan. Directed by Bjorn Runge, The Wife is based on the novel of the same name, by Meg Wolitzer. The film carries an R rating, for language and some sexual content, and has a run time of 1 hour and 40 minutes.

Movie Review The Wife

Glenn Close and her daughter, Annie Starke, who plays the younger Joan in the film.

Behind Every Great Man there is a Greater Woman

The movie’s tagline captures the essence of this intriguing and very watchable movie. Joan Castleman (Close) and Joe Castleman (Pryce) have been married for 40 years. Their grown children, David (Irons) and Susannah (Regan) live nearby. Susannah is pregnant with the first grandchild in the family, while David is finding his voice as a writer.

The Castlemans seem to complement each other well. Joe is outgoing and social, while Joan lives more privately, calling herself shy. A brilliant writer, with a long list of best selling and well received novels, Joe shines, while Joan, the steadfast and quiet presence in his life, encourages him.

Joe receives the prestigious Nobel Prize for literature, necessitating a trip to Stockholm to receive the honor. Joan and David accompany Joe. David appears to be struggling in life, as he seeks his father’s approval for the short story he labors over.

On board the international flight, the Castlemans are boldly approached by Nathaniel Bone (Slater), who desperately wants to write Joe’s biography. Annoyed Joe rebuffs him and refuses to give permission for such a project. The soother, as always, Joan sends Nathaniel back to his seat on the plane, and chides Joe for being rude.

In Stockholm, a whirlwind schedule keeps Joe busy with photographers, interviewers and rehearsals for the ceremony. Joan is free to attend events with her husband, or strike out on her own. She meets Nathaniel for a drink, and quickly learns that the would be biographer questions aspects of Joe’s life. Joan quells the young writer with a look, and a strong verbal warning.

Movie Review The Wife


As the movie progresses, the story unfolds in a series of current time events and the past, captured in flashbacks. Young Joan (Starke) is a student at Smith College, in 1958. She grows increasingly enamored with her college professor, Joe Castleman (Lloyd). Joan is a talented writer and the professor pushes her to go deeper with her characters. He sees great potential in Joan’s stories.

And yet, back in the present time, in Stockholm, Joe introduces his wife as a non-writer. He basks in the attention well wishers bestow on him, and flirts with the beautiful photographer assigned to him. Joan grows increasingly silent and constrained, with occasional flashes of compassion for the people around her.

In the 1960s Joan continues to improve her writing skills. She is discouraged, however, when she meets a female author, who tells Joan not to become a writer. When Joan questions her, the older woman explains that men rule the publishing world, and no one reads books written by women.

Looking at the present time, through the lenses of the past, Joan appears less serene and more repressed, less content and more resigned. As Joe prepares to receive his award, and recognition for his achievements, Joan seems to near a breaking point, where her carefully ordered world might spin out of her control.

Movie Review The Wife

Young Castlemans

Movie Review The Wife

Older Castlemans

My Thoughts About The Wife

This is a brilliant movie that captivated me right away. I don’t want to give out spoilers. However, I can discuss themes, and The Wife has many.

Major themes include family roles, and the dynamics of a relationship where one person appears to overshadow the other. Often there can be an element present, of taking the supporting partner for granted. Another theme explored is the relationship between father and son, and mother and son. David longs for his father’s approval and wants the early writing success that Joe garnered. Joan encourages her son. Joe pushes him, much as he did Joan when she was younger.

Other themes include finding a voice, and losing one…repression of true desires…and living not out of one’s gifts but in a state of holding space, which begins to fracture the soul. Joe and Joan made decisions early in their lives that affected their mature years. They responded very differently to the growing strain between them and in their own hearts. Joe sought distractions and Joan….well Joan deeply repressed what she most wanted.

Oscar Contender

Glenn Close delivers a phenomenal performance in the complex role of Joan Castleman. I literally held my breath often, watching her. As a woman who learned to bury her emotions, and step back so her husband could occupy the limelight, she is riveting. The carefully composed, blank face, devoid of emotion, belies the turmoil roiling just beneath the surface. Several times I thought she’d crack, allowing repressed feelings to spew and devastate all in her path. And yet, back under iron control she’d go. Ultimately…who she really is can no longer be contained.

It is a scene worth watching. And, this is a role worth rewarding. Watch for Glenn Close to pick up a Best Actress Academy Award nomination next week, for her work in The Wife. I fully expect her to take the Oscar home.

Movie Review The Wife

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Giving Away 3 Small Gifts

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I saved an Instagram post, around Christmas time, that strongly appealed to me. From my IG friend Transformation by Design, the post talked about how healing the act of giving can be, for both the recipient and the giver. These instructions were offered:

“Bring to mind 3 small gifts you are willing to give away. They may be material, symbolic or acts of kindness. Wrap them gently with your breath. Bring them with you into your day. Give them away by day’s end.”

I was enchanted by those words. And today, I accepted the give away challenge.

Giving Away 3 Small Gifts

Choosing 3 Small Gifts

I do some of my best thinking in the shower. As I considered what gifts to carry into my day this morning, the three gifts that came to mind were these: Gratitude, Kindness and Joy.

My desire was to offer these gifts to three people, during the course of my day. The number 3 is considered the number of perfection or completion. Think of “beginning, middle, end” or “heaven, earth, water” or “body, soul, spirit”. There is a sense of completion in those terms. Three seemed like the perfect number of small gifts to give away.

While in the shower, this is what I did. I talked to the Divine, first asking what gifts to give. Having that question answered…gratitude, kindness and joy…I simply asked for guidance in giving to the people that I was supposed to. Breathing in deeply and then slowly releasing my breath, which is symbolic of life and spirit, I “wrapped” each gift.

Cupping my hands, I held them beneath the spray of water in the shower. There is power associated with moving water, whether it flows from a shower head or roars in a mighty waterfall. I imagined that force, that energy, moving through the gifts cupped in my hands, and asked that what I offered would be blessed. For me moving water also symbolizes being in the flow, of life and of Divine guidance. This is how I choose to live. I trusted the flow would take me precisely where I needed to go.

And then I released it all…and got ready for the day, confident I’d know what to offer, to whom.

Giving Away 3 Small Gifts

Gift 1: Gratitude

I had an event to attend at noon. My granddaughter Aubrey is in fourth grade. At her school they host a “Lunch with a Loved One” event and she invited me to attend.

I frequently eat lunch with my grandchildren, at their respective schools. It allows for one-on-one time. Whenever I visit Aubrey’s school, I take along a treat for the principal. This man is wonderful with the kids, engaging with each grade throughout lunchtime every day. He encourages discussion, plays interactive games with the kids and leads them in sing-a-longs. I appreciate Dr. Barlow and I show that by taking him a chocolate chip cookie when I visit.

Because Aubrey is my third grandchild to attend this school, I’ve taken Dr. Barlow quite a few cookies. He recently laughed, patted his tummy, and said his doctor was going to take issue with my gifts. Actually, having eliminated sugar from my diet, I’ve considered whether cookies were a good offering.

As I prepared to leave the house, an idea nudged my consciousness. Instead of cookies, what if I gave Dr. Barlow Cara Cara oranges? These sweet oranges are my favorite. The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. Not only would I be presenting this gracious man with a gift of gratitude, I’d be offering a gift of health as well.

As always, the principal was in the cafeteria with the kids and their family members, wearing a headset and directing the event. I loved the look on his face when I handed him three Cara Cara oranges and thanked him for all he does, for my granddaughter as a student in his school, and for all the children. We had a short but meaningful chat.

I am grateful for Dr. Barlow.

Giving Away 3 Small Gifts

Gift 2: Kindness

While waiting for Aubrey to arrive in the cafeteria, I spied Mrs. Mayfield, a counselor at the school. She caught my attention because my granddaughter speaks so highly of her.

Aubrey’s observation of this woman is that Mrs. Mayfield possesses a great deal of kindness, a quality that is very important to my 10 year old granddaughter. I have wanted to speak to the counselor and today I was given that opportunity.

What do you give a kind person? Kindness in return. When I shared Aubrey’s words with Mrs. Mayfield, she was deeply touched. She said she appreciated knowing that she is considered kind. This was another brief conversation but it too was meaningful. I got to offer kindness and appreciation to this sweet woman and encourage her. Mostly I wanted her to know that her actions and words are seen and that what she offers makes a difference in the lives of children.

I am grateful for Mrs. Mayfield and her acts of kindness.

Giving Away 3 Small Gifts

Gift 3: Joy

I didn’t know, when I left the house, that I’d offer all three gifts at the same event. My son and daughter-in-law worked today. However, my son, who is a police sergeant, hoped to be able to stop by and join us for lunch. As I entered the drive through at Chick-Fil-A, to pick up Aubrey’s selected lunch, I texted my son to see if I could pick up a meal for him as well. To my delight, he agreed to lunch from Chick-Fil-A, sure that he would be able to attend. I was happy to treat my son and granddaughter.

This was an amazing event. Fourth graders joined 168 family members, breaking a record for number of attendees for the Lunch with a Loved One event. What a cheerful chatter filled the cafeteria as kids, parents and grandparents sat together in groups, sharing lunches from a variety of local restaurants.

It was a joy to attend, and be there for Aubrey, and it was a joy to provide the meals. Aubrey didn’t eat her dessert and passed on the joy, giving the cookie to her teacher. I loved that 30 minute lunch, chatting with Nate and Aubrey and getting to know some of the people sitting around us. It was a festive time.

I am grateful for the Lunch with a Loved One and for the time spent with my son and granddaughter.

Giving Away 3 Small Gifts

Giving Away 3 Small Gifts

What I discovered, giving away three small, simple gifts, was that I received as well.

Giving gratitude, gratitude was expressed back to me.

When I gave kindness, kindness was offered in return.

And joy came back to me multiplied, when I offered joy to others.

On the original Instagram post Transformation by Design wrote,

“We trust the magic of giving to do the healing where it is needed.”

I felt guided today, in offering exactly where I most needed to offer. Giving is a transformative action that has immediate returns, energetically. I benefitted and I look forward to another opportunity to bring into my day, three small gifts to give away.

Giving Away 3 Small Gifts

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Welcome to Marwen: The True Story Behind the Film

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The film Welcome to Marwen caught my attention, with the first preview that I saw. It looked artsy and creative. However, the clincher for me was the fact that the movie is based on a true story. These movies, grounded in reality, always intrigue me.

Because of its based-on-a-true-story status, this post is more than a movie review. Join me in exploring the truth behind the film, Welcome to Marwen.

Welcome to Marwen

Welcome to Marwen Cast

This biographical drama/fantasy stars Steve Carell, Leslie Zemeckis, Merritt Weaver, Gwendoline Christie, Stefanie von Pfetten, Janelle Monae, Eiza Gonzalez and Leslie Mann. Directed by Robert Zemeckis, Welcome to Marwen carries a PG-13 rating, for language, violence and adult situations, and has a run time of 1 hour and 56 minutes.

Welcome to Marwen Film Summary

Viciously beaten because he is different, and left for dead, Mark Hogancamp (Carell) miraculously survives and slowly recovers. He discovers that the attack left him with no memories of his previous life. Back at home, he creates a world in 1:6 scale, populated with 12 inch dolls. In the made up village of Marwen, Mark works through his trauma with the help of an alter-ego action figure, Captain Hoagie, and the dolls of Marwen, all based on kind women he knows in the real world.

Having lost his ability to draw, due to his injuries, Mark learns to capture Marwen through photography. As the court date approaches, when he will have to face his five attackers, Mark needs Marwen and its inhabitants to help him find courage and strength.

Welcome to Marwen

The True Story Behind Marwen

Mark Hogancamp, a former Navy man, was attacked on April 8, 2000, by five young men who waited for him outside a bar. Witnesses reported that Mark had too much to drink, and while chatting with the men, revealed a secret. He occasionally enjoyed wearing women’s shoes. Mark appreciated women, and felt attracted to them. He found that wearing high heels made him feel connected to that amazing feminine energy.

The men taunted him and called him a wide range of derogatory names. And then waited for him to emerge from the bar. Their horrendous actions were determined to be a hate crime and they were arrested. As recounted in the film, Mark nearly died, having been kicked repeatedly in the head by all five men. He was in a coma for nine days, and suffered brain damage that robbed him of his memories when he awoke.

After 40 days in the hospital, and a year in physical therapy, Mark learned to walk, talk and feed himself again. A man with artistic abilities before the attack, afterward he could not sketch. However, he owned an old Pentax camera and discovered he possessed an eye for photography. Completely adrift, in a hostile world, Mark created a tiny alternate reality of his own, crafted from scraps of plywood and repurposed materials. Marwencol emerged, named after himself and two women he had crushes on, Wendy and Collette. Wendy is portrayed in the movie, both as the woman and a doll in Marwen. Collette becomes Nicol in the film, his new neighbor who moves in across the street. By the end of the movie, the name of the village changes to Marwencol, just like the actual tiny town.

Welcome to Marwen

Women Rule the World

Mark populates Marwencol with 12 inch Barbie and Glamour dolls, and WWII action figures. He creates elaborate stories involving an American fighter pilot, Captain Hoagie, who is rescued and cared for by the all female population in Marwencol. The village is frequently attacked by fictional Nazis. In the movie, these “tormentors” will not stay dead. Representing his attackers, they return again and again, to terrorize him. Mark shares that he built an army of women to protect him because they have never attacked him. He says,

“Women rule the world. We’re just here to keep them company.”

The women in his life, after the attack, expressed kindness to him, helped him, kept him sane. In his village of Marwencol, he captured scenes and vignettes with his camera daily, and slowly worked his way through the trauma. Mark admits that in Marwencol, those five men have been killed over and over. In reality, the five were convicted of their crime. Only three did any jail time.

Welcome to Marwen; The True Story Behind the Film

Healing in Marwencol

Although Mark created Marwencol as a way to heal, and never intended to share it, people began to notice the growing small scale village in the yard. Three years after its creation, a neighbor named David Naugle saw him walking along the road, pulling a scale model military jeep and photographing it. Naugle, who was a photographer himself, asked if Mark had any photos to share. When he saw Mark’s work, he was amazed and sent the photos to a New York art magazine, Esopus. The publication ran a spread, and art shows followed. A 2011 documentary called Marwencol captured Mark’s life and his unique art therapy. That documentary became the spark that led to the current filmIn 2015, a book was released, titled Welcome to Marwencol, containing 600 of Mark’s photos.

In the movie, David isn’t portrayed. However, Mark’s work does get noticed locally and a gallery show opens, featuring his work. Part of Mark’s healing process includes feeling safe enough to leave his home, and Marwen, and appear in person at the gallery shows.

Welcome to Marwen: The True Story Behind the Film

My Thoughts on Welcome to Marwen

I deeply appreciate this film. While Mark sets up scenes with his figures, and captures them with a camera, we get to see the dolls “come to life” in the movie. The CGI is great, turning Steve Carell and the ladies into dolls that resemble them and yet, look like, move like Barbies and action figures.

It is heart breaking to me, the intolerance people have for those who are different. Who gets to say who is different, anyway? Why are we so quick to judge another and then take matters further and punish him or her, for being unique? The film and the true story are about a man’s search for healing, on so many levels. His memories may have disappeared, as a protective measure. However, his art surfaced when he needed a way to work through trauma. I love that. I love that he found his way back into life, through his creativity.

How is Mark doing today? He’s been positively impacted by people who have cared enough to tell his story, through the documentary, book and now the film. He gets out more, attends gallery shows, sometimes wearing heels. He says,

“Things have gotten better, they have gotten as good as they’re going to get. Except my imagination. That keeps expanding.”

Beautiful, Mark. I think you are amazing.

Welcome to Marwen The True Story Behind the FilmThe real Mark Hogancamp. Photo by Tim Knox


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Small Enchantments

Small enchantments are those things that bring us joy or make us smile or inspire a surge of creativity. As a small child, my attention was constantly caught by small enchantments. The puddle of water called to me. Crawling beneath the bush in the backyard, into the hollow space between the trunk and the canopy of leaves, encouraged me to daydream. Ladybugs, crickets and spiders all enchanted me with their intricate designs.

The world was magical to me, and as a result, ever full of mysteries and wonders to explore. I’ve never outgrown that sense of enchantment.

Recently I came across a marvelous quote by author and marketing specialist, Guy Kawasaki. His words reminded me that the greatest enchantments are often found in the smallest and simplest of treasures.

“Let yourself be enchanted in small ways.”     Guy Kawasaki

Small Enchantments

Let Yourself Be Enchanted

Enchantment is a feeling of pleasure or delight, the state of being under a magical spell. To be enchanted by someone, or something, is to be charmed. There are big events, places and encounters that definitely qualify as enchanting. Those impact us in unmistakable ways. Seeing the Sistine Chapel, in the Vatican wowed me, as did walking along the Grand Canal in Venice. I won’t forget those experiences.

Equally enchanting to me, however, were the simple plant based meals that I enjoyed while in Italy and exploring the narrow winding streets through  the villages. Allowing myself to be enchanted in small ways reconnects me to my childhood and deepens the mysterious wonder found in life’s tiniest treasures.

Allowing ourselves to be enchanted means opening to possibilities, slowing down and seeing with child-like eyes. I took my children for walks in the neighborhood, when they were toddlers. We never made it very far from home. Every twig, rock, leaf or squirrel fascinated them, requiring frequent stops to check out each amazing find. That’s the kind of enchantment that awaits us, if we have the eyes to see.

Small Enchantments

Small Enchantments

Small Enchantments

The small, simple things from my childhood still attract me. My backyard garden exists because colorful flowers, sprawling plants, tasseled grasses and fragrant herbs enchant me. Water, whether it is bubbling in a fountain or still within a small container, ignites my imagination.

I appreciate small, intimate spaces and candlelight, crackling fires and cups of hot tea. Wholesome, simply prepared food enchants me as does the beauty of a leaf lying in the snow or a double rainbow arching across the sky. Nature abounds with enchantments from butterflies flitting from flower to flower to the solitary tree that stands tall in a meadow. The spider weaves her magic, ensnaring me, and the narrow opening into a cave fires my curiosity about what lives within.

Small Enchantments

Small Enchantments

The Key to Wonder

Enchantment is a key. Being enchanted, as Guy suggests, in small ways, is taking that key in hand and opening doors to bigger vistas and larger enchantments. When we connect with the wonder found everywhere in the world, and our sense of “Oh Wow…”, we notice more things to be enchanted by. We can’t help it.

Have you ever noticed that when you buy a new car, you suddenly see that make of vehicle everywhere? Before purchasing a silver Toyota Camry, I never spotted them. Now, I see them everywhere. They didn’t suddenly appear. My awareness of them shifted.

When I notice the little enchanting things in my life, and feel joy because of them, I begin to see more and more small enchantments. I feel wonder. I’m inspired. My creativity ramps up. I sense how beautiful and mysterious life is. The connection I have with the Divine deepens.

This is where I dwell currently. I live in enchantment. The small amazements  open my eyes and my heart so that I can receive even more enchanting wonders. I love that openness and the delight I find in life and in the world.

What small enchantments are right there, in your life, waiting for you to notice them? Trust me, they are there and they will continue to show up. What tiny treasures make you smile and bring you joy? And even more importantly, what shifts and breaks apart in the heart and what opens up in the soul? That’s where enchantment works its greatest magic.

Small Enchantments



Enchanted Birthday

Today is my birthday, the 61st anniversary of my birth. Perhaps because it occurs so close to the beginning of the year, my birthday is always an opportunity to reflect. I think on personal accomplishments and areas of growth, and also evaluate how far I traveled on the journey since my last birthday. I’m prone to casting forward as well, dreaming of what may become reality and setting wild intentions free to go before me.

Join me in the highlights of an enchanted birthday.

Enchanted Birthday

Happy Birthday to Me

This day has been full of greetings, texts, messages and social media posts…and included a cup of hot tea with a friend. I’m grateful for each message and I’m thankful for the senders. I know how busy the days are, for everyone. For people to take a few moments to send a Happy Birthday wish warms my heart. It is my custom to take a few moments in return, and personally thank each person. I send out waves of joyful energy, with the thank yous.

Enchanted BirthdayThis clever birthday greeting, from my friend Grace, incorporated my symbol for 2019, the Queen chess piece.

Enchanted BirthdayThe perfect shirt for today, made by MiliLou Styles, features the Queen chess piece and the words, “Queen of My Kingdom”.

Enchanted Birthday

In keeping with my theme for the year, Enchantment, I was very mindful today of the magical qualities in life. Singer Mark Donnelly says,

“The enchanted day is only enchanted if we ourselves believe that anything is possible.”

I believe! Anything IS possible, especially on birthdays, right? I appreciate my friend, Garen, who met me for a birthday tea this morning. He is an amazing listener who encouraged me to dream out loud during our time together, and weave magic. Possibilities are what we talked about and that chat fueled my energy this afternoon as I worked on writing and upgrading my blogs. Momentum is building in that area of my life and I am enjoying the surge of activity and the foundation I am building for future projects.

Enchanted BirthdayGreg surprised me with birthday candles in a Veggie Roll from Han, the Sushi Man!

Aging Versus Growing Older

While I’ve been re-reading The Re-enchantment of Everyday Life, by Thomas Moore, Greg has been reading through another of his books, Ageless Soul. This book is next on my reading list.

A quote that Greg shared recently seems appropriate for today:

“Aging is an activity. It is something you do, not something that happens. When you age…active verb…you are proactive. If you really age, you become a better person. If you simply grow old, passively, you get worse. Chances are, you will be unhappy as you continue the fruitless fight against time.”

Moore goes on to say that aging makes us more of a person, more who we are supposed to be. The soul gets to peek out more and more, as life unfolds and we journey along. if we allow experiences to make us richer, more interesting.

I love the idea of aging, as proactive, rather than resisting the process and becoming old. Aging is beautiful. It is the soul growing and expanding and gathering wisdom. Young people can have aged souls. And adults may not have aged much at all, appearing to be stuck in immaturity. The difference is allowing life lessons to teach us and move us to a higher plane.

I am aging. My soul continues to expand and gather wisdom. On this day, my Enchanted Birthday, my desire is to keep learning and growing and keep trying new experiences. Another birthday, another milestone in aging, helps me to decide what’s important to focus on right now…and what can be let go. There are so many good things in my life to focus on and enjoy.

Happy Enchanted Birthday, Happy Aging, to me.

Enchanted Birthday

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Enchanted Gold – 76th Golden Globe Awards

It’s enchanted gold time this evening, as the 76th Golden Globe Awards are presented. While some are excited about football playoffs and super bowls, for me January launches the award season for films and television. The Golden Globes foreshadow what’s to come during the Academy Awards, presented next month. However, the Globes are more than a preview. They are unique in that they honor television as well as movies, and they expand the number of categories, which means more winners tonight.

Join me for a recap of an enchanted evening indeed.

Enchanted Gold 76th Golden Globe Awards

Golden Globe Hosts

Tonight’s hosts of this three hour party are Sandra Oh and Andy Samberg. Oh  currently stars in the BBC America drama series, “Killing Eve”. And Samberg is the star of NBC’s comedy “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”.

For a full list of nominees and winners, check out Golden Globes.  As I have the last couple of years, I’m watching the Globes with my laptop perched, literally, on my lap, blogging as the show unfolds. I feel official. Best of all, I will be ready to post, shortly after the program finishes. Read on for my favorite highlights from the show.

Enchanted Gold 76th Golden Globe Awards


This was the first hosting stint for Oh and Samberg. The snappy duo set the tone for a fun-filled evening by opening with humor and some light roasting of audience members such as Spike Lee, Bradley Cooper and Amy Adams, and hilarious intros to nominated films and television shows.

On a serious note, Oh and Samberg pointed out how diverse the nominations were this year and how powerfully change is rippling through the film and television industry. Sandra Oh teared up as she spoke…and so did I.

Enchanted Gold 76th Golden Globe Awards

Golden Globe Highlights

Animated Film – Spiderman Into the Spiderverse

TV Series, Drama  – The Americans

TV Series, Comedy – The Kaminsky Method

Carol Burnett Award – “Funny, gracious and kind…the incomparable Carol Burnett.” She’s ruled comedy for 60 years, creating an amazing legacy. Her first love, as a child, was film. Later, she appreciated how the stars in movies and on television could make people laugh…or cry. What a bright and inspirational light Carol has cast into the world in her lifetime and mine.

Cecil B. DeMille Award – “Brings passion and brilliance to every moment…Jeff Bridges.” Such an impressive body of work this actor has, from appearing in Sea Hunt, as a young boy, with his father Lloyd, to recent films such as Hell or High Water. He looks at life through the filter of movies, and he desires to make a difference. Jeff is, truly, The Dude.

Original Score – First Man

Foreign Language Film – Roma, from Mexico

Original Song – Shallow, from A Star is Born

Screenplay – Green Book

Enchanted Gold 76th Golden Globe Awards

The Best of Categories

Actor, Musical/Comedy – Christian Bale, Vice

Actress, Musical/Comedy – Olivia Colman, The Favourite

Actor, Drama – Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody

Actress, Drama – Glenn Close, The Wife

Director – Alfonso Cuaron, Roma

Movie, Musical/Comedy – Green Book

Movie, Drama – Bohemian Rhapsody

Enchanted Gold 76th Golden Globe Awards

My Closing Thoughts About the Golden Globes

I love watching this award show. There were surprise wins, as there always are. I was beyond thrilled to see Rami Malek pick up the Best Actor Golden Globe for Bohemian Rhapsody… really for Freddie Mercury…and ecstatic that the film won Best Drama.

And there were touching, moving moments. Dick Van Dyke introduced the film Mary Poppins Returns. Glenn Close gave a tearful acceptance speech after winning for her role in The Wife.

By the end of the Golden Globes I had a list of “must watch” movies and tv series. Tonight I wrote down titles such as:

  • The Favourite
  • A Very English Scandal
  • First Man
  • Green Book
  • If Beale Street Could Talk
  • Roma
  • Mary Poppins Returns
  • The Wife

The main reason I watch, however, is to cheer on and enjoy seeing people who love what they do, and do what they love. Whatever one chooses to do in life, inspiration and encouragement can be soaked up, watching these men and women shine. I know many people do not like acceptance speeches. For me their emotional stories are testaments, of how they got from where they were…to where they are.

I am inspired to be who I am and pursue that which brings me joy, as I observe others following their passions. It’s equivalent to being handed a huge permission slip. I’m grateful. And I’m mindful of offering the same to others, as I do what I love, and love what I do.

Congratulations to tonight’s Golden Globe winners!

Enchanted Gold 76th Golden Globe Awards