Control is overrated. Musings of a stay at home mom, an aspiring writer, and a spiritual seeker.



A Little A-Twitter This Morning

I was minding my own business today, sitting at a national brand coffee shop drinking my venti® blonde roast, while Zoe attends two hours of day care at the community center across the street.  I thought I’d take a moment to write, because I haven’t been hitting my resolution to do a mini writing exercise every day.  So out onto my screen came a journal entry about how I’m conflicted about my next career move, in a year or two, whenever Zoe goes to school.  I’d paused to check my email (yes, i left the 12 minute timer running and checked my email to see if anything important had come in, feel free to snort milk out of your nose at my wandering focus).   But in my email was this tweet:  What matters is how quickly you do what your soul wants and it immediately resonated (like a deep gonging bell ringing at the top of a medieval church tower).

Did you know that Buddhists don’t believe in the concept of a soul?  They also don’t hold with the concept of ‘I’ either.  But before I chase you away with that discussion – let’s just assume for the sake of continuity, that we can exchange the idea of ‘Buddha Nature’, or what Christians would consider your truest, purest, most compassionate, most God-Like version of yourself, for ‘Soul’.

If it hadn’t before, when you insert that idea instead of soul in the tweet above, does your inner bell gong too?  Mine did, and does, and I stopped writing about possible career moves as far as 2 years in my future, and I looked around me.  I am sitting in a coffee shop, drinking coffee, writing, while my husband is working to support our family, and while my daughter is getting a good dose of peer interaction at a reasonably priced child care provider in the neighborhood.

This hip national brand coffee shop has been recently remodeled and is lit with the gentle glow of no less than 21 pendant lights, 28 spotlights, and 16 can lights.  That is 65 separate lights to create the urban, now, vibe that is conducive to sipping their bitter coffee and conversing with friends and neighbors.  They are also playing, softly, some pleasant, upbeat music that makes me want to dance just a little bit in my seat.  I am here, in this epitome of American luxury, with free time, an American commodity in short supply, and my soul says to open my eyes; to be grateful for the blessings in my life; and to practice being present for the wonderful, the mundane and especially the uncomfortable that may arise today.

So I will practice being open to what comes with equanimity, and to being grateful for everything in my life: the nice things that bring me pleasure, and the uncomfortable things that are just a reminder that life is impermanent, and that I have an opportunity to practice responding to the world however I choose.

So maybe I will go home, feed Zoe lunch, and mop the floors today.  They are beautiful floors, and I love the way they look when they are clean (and good grief, i’ve been putting it off for a long time).  Maybe I’ll tackle putting away the pile of (thankfully) clean laundry piling up in my awesome basket system in the laundry room.  Whatever I do, I think I’ll take the opportunity to do it fully present, so that i don’t miss a minute of this beautiful life of mine.

Reclaiming Worthy

For Christmas this year, my father-in-law gave me a beautiful leather journal. It’s bound in thick black leather with a brown Celtic knot inlaid on the cover. It is classy, heavy in the hand, the pages are thick and blank, and to me it screams that I’m not good enough to write in it. I’m a little sad to admit that, but that’s where my mind when for a moment. This is the second beautiful, intimidating, perfect leather journal I’ve received in my life, and it seems like a good time to contemplate the significance I have placed on these types of items, and my idea of worthiness.



When I graduated from college, my sister, Sherri, gave me airplane tickets to Europe out of Seattle, her hometown. It was the most astoundingly generous gift I’ve ever received, and a testament to the support and friendship she has always offered me. The plan was for me to leave from Seattle, so we could see each other before I left and right when I got back. I was over the moon with excitement and gratitude, and spent months planning my trip and gathering gear. When I left Portland, my best childhood friend, Melinda, gave me a beautiful Italian-made travel journal bound in brown leather with a world map cover secured with leather ties.


It was a luxurious and lovely book. I had seen journals like this over the years, but never dreamed of buying one for my scribbles. I’d already planned to take my current journal with me. It was more utilitarian; spiral bound, ruled, and wrapped in corrugated cardboard. It felt much more appropriate for my prolific and messy journaling.


The travel journal was a thoughtful gift from a friend I’d shared everything with since we were eight years old, and I thanked her profusely. She wouldn’t listen to my objections that it was too pretty to write in, and inscribed it with the instructions to keep track of all of my adventures in it.

So I packed it, along with it’s lesser twin, in my backpack, and set off on a seven-week solo trek through Europe. It was arguably the biggest adventure of my life. I met other travelers in hostels in Amsterdam and I bumped into friendly locals over breakfast in a crowded London cafeteria. I took guided ghost tours in Edinburgh and checked out recorded audio tours in the Louvre. I skipped Barcelona when my bag was stolen in Nice, but I met Kristin in Rome and we travelled together for a week. With so much time to myself, I documented everything in my journal – the cardboard one to which I felt so attuned.

As I wrote this post, I searched my bookshelves for the leather travel journal, but I couldn’t find it on display. I had to think for a minute to remember where I might have stashed it, and from the filing cabinet in our guest bedroom closet, I pulled a yellow ditty bag, packed full of seven weeks worth of maps, train and museum ticket stubs, brochures, business cards, and two travel journals from my European Adventure. The cardboard version is filled, cover-to-cover with my notes, experiences, and a meticulous record of all of my accommodations during the trip. The leather journal is in decent shape, the four corners a little worn from sitting inside the ditty bag for so many years, and eighty percent of the book is still blank. The first entry, dated April 24, 2000:

As my first entry in my new journal I find that I want to write something tremendously important or noteworthy. Just look at this book. It is beautifully hand bound in Italian leather and it came all the way from Firenza to find me. Funny that I should bring it back to Florence with me on my trip to Europe, but I never wrote in it for the entire seven weeks. I believe I was too worried about marring its beautiful finish.

But here I am, writing the days thoughts down without care for penmanship or spelling. All in all, it is my book, my tool, and my weapon. I will be the only one to look at it until I am long past caring who sees it.

There it was in black and cream: I received it as a gift and carried it on my back for thousands of miles, but I never dared write in it for fear of ruining it. And t top it off, it was eighty percent blank, so I hadn’t even drank my own Kool Aid.

I could spend some time analyzing where this idea of my unworthiness came from, but I doubt that naval gazing of that nature will be as helpful as simply changing my mindset. Because I do think it’s part of the human condition to feel not good enough, at least sometimes.   The question to ask ourselves is: who makes that determination? And the next question is: who says we have to take them as an authority? So I’ve eighty-sixed the unworthy critics in my head, and I will continue to work on evicting them whenever they make another unwelcome appearance.

And this is one of the steps I took to assert my own worthiness: After receiving my wonderful Christmas gift this year, I determined I was not going to place it on a pedestal, or myself in a subservient position unto it. I cracked it open the day after Christmas, one lovely blue felt tipped pen in hand, and proceeded to write a tidy little journal entry complete with one word I struck through just to break the spell of perfection over it and claim it as my very own.

Then, it occurred to me that I did not need to be bound to just the written word in this beautiful book. The pages were unlined, so I could doodle and scribble to my heart’s content, and I went a little wild doodling artistically (in my own small way) on a few pages. Then I went really crazy and wrote some new years resolutions down really large, at an angle, with a lot of exclamation marks. From the outside all beauty and presentation, and on the inside, it’s a party too, just my style.

And now it occurs to me that these journals are just pieces of paper on which to write.  They are just a vehicle, and there’s nothing sacred or unholy about any of them. Whether I write on paper bound in leather or in cardboard, it doesn’t make the work any better or any worse.  The words are mine, for what that’s worth, and for me, I’ll do my best to make them matter.


Gratitude 37 Ways

I was really happy to see a gratitude post from a new blog I’m following (shout out to Catherine Ryan at TenThousandHourMama).   I believe in the power of gratitude to change a negative into a positive, and I loved that this exercise was a chain letter invitation from Tales From The MotherLand, who initially invited a group of her blogger friends to share gratitude by doing this exercise at a party. What a powerful way to harness some really uplifting positive energy!  Here are the instructions:

If you’d like to join in, here’s how it works: set a timer for 10 minutes; timing this is critical. Once you start the timer, start your list (the timer doesn’t matter for filling in the instructions, intro, etc). The goal is to write 50 things that made you happy in 2015, or 50 thing that you feel grateful for. The idea is to not think too hard; write what comes to mind in the time allotted. When the timer’s done, stop writing. If you haven’t written 50 things, that’s ok. If you have more than 50 things and still have time, keep writing; you can’t feel too happy or too grateful! When I finished my list, I took a few extra minutes to add links and photos.

To join us for this project: 1) Write your post and publish it (please copy and paste the instructions from this post, into yours) 2) Click on the blue frog at the very bottom of this post. 3) That will take you to another window, where you can past the URL to your post. 4) Follow the prompts, and your post will be added to the Blog Party List. Please note: the InLinkz will expire on January 15, 2015. After that date, no blogs can be added.

This list represents my third attempt to let the gratitude flow from my brain out my fingertips and onto the screen. Strangely, I’ve been in a bit of a funk when it comes to doing this exercise. After trying two different sessions yesterday, I didn’t want to give up on this – this chicka is not going to get pent up about gratitude, that should be super easy to riff on for ten minutes…. So here it is, in it’s third incarnation.

Gratitude 37 Ways:

  1. I’m grateful for the ability and permission to change my mind.
  2. I’m grateful fro my laptop that gives me a beautiful space to create, and a space to goof off, search the web, and see what other people are writing and creating.
  3. I’m grateful fro our Prius, and that it is paid off.
  4. I’m grateful to be debt free.
  5. I’m grateful for being able to rethink my life’s priorities in 2015.
  6. I’m grateful for a patient, supportive, and caring husband.
  7. I’m grateful for a precocious and adorable two-year-old daughter.
  8. I’m grateful my dad survived his heart surgery.
  9. I’m grateful my family takes care of our family.
  10. I’m grateful for my six amazing (impressive), talented, caring, funny, siblings.
  11. I’m grateful for their billion (19) kids.
  12. I’m grateful Zoe and I made a road trip to Utah to see Dad and the fam over the summer.
  13. I’m again grateful for a loving and supportive husband who told me to stay as long as I needed.
  14. I’m grateful to have freedom and space to decide what I want to do every day.
  15. I’m grateful to have worked in a place with such an awesome mission as OHSU for almost 18 years.
  16. I’m grateful that I left my job in good standing.
  17. I’m grateful for my home.
  18. I’m grateful for the neighbors that live on my street.
  19. I’m grateful that there are three other children that live on this block and that Zoe has gotten to grow up with them so far.
  20. I’m grateful that we live near a walking path and that there is a Starbucks a mile and a half up.
  21. I’m grateful for coffee roasters near and far. I love the dark brown brew!
  22. I’m grateful for the sunny summer that Portland had – it was so wonderful to be outside enjoying the beautiful weather.
  23. I’m grateful that we live only 90 minutes from the beach.
  24. I’m grateful Zoe is my little travel buddy.
  25. I’m grateful that Zoe is strong and healthy and smart and beautiful.
  26. I’m grateful that we spent so much time walking this summer.
  27. I’m grateful for all of the luxuries I enjoy that I often take for granted such as:
  28. Running Water
  29. Electricity
  30. In home washer and dryer
  31. A clean home
  32. A covered garage
  33. A safe neighborhood
  34. Good schools for my daughter to attend
  35. Political stability in our country
  36. A democratic nation
  37. The freedom to agree or disagree with my political leaders

And then the timer rang. Perhaps if I’d started with the one or two word answers, I’d have reached fifty items or if I’d attempted it as a race.  But I feel blessed and grateful for everything I listed, and a whole host of things I didn’t get to (like my wonderful girlfriends!! And my health, and my garden, and chocolate… to name a few).  I hope that even if you aren’t able to do this exercise, you’ll spend a moment or two thinking about what you feel gratitude for, and see if it doesn’t leave you feeling better than when you started!

PS. A big thank you to Alene Davis for the last minute Christmas Photo Shoot.  Your photos are beautiful, and you are a wonder woman, thank you!!


Note to self…

Dear Me in 2016,

As you look forward to 2016, I wanted to take some time to reflect on the milestones achieved last year and what challenges you’d like to take on in the coming year.

In 2015, you transitioned from a full time job to become a stay at home mom. Your stress level has shrunk to a nearly undetectable level most weeks, and that is a major accomplishment. Before you quit, you envisioned a developing spiritual life through a deepening meditation practice, but in reality, you meditated once since you quit your job. In 2016, continue your efforts to know thyself with a more formal meditation practice. Be it walking, writing, or sitting meditation, spend some time every day in your own head to learn what makes you tick.

This year has seen it’s share of political upheaval Continue reading “Note to self…”

Welcoming Fall

It’s that time of the year.  The bright warm mornings of summer have been replaced almost instantly with cool crispness in the morning air.  Summer produce has given way to pumpkins and apples.  And green leafy trees are showing vibrant hues of red, orange, and yellow.  I love the change in seasons.  As much as I have enjoyed this spectacular, eventful, and beautiful summer, and I have thoroughly, I am excited to welcome the fall. Continue reading “Welcoming Fall”

Shooting Stars

I have always been enchanted by the night sky, not to use too flowery a word to describe it. I remember star gazing at different points in my life; from the foot well of the rear facing seat of a Buick as my parents moved us from Las Vegas to Portland when I was seven. They started in the middle of the night so they could eat up the miles while five kids slept, or stared out the window at the universe that seemed unchanged even as we transitioned from desert to rain forrest. From state parks on family camping trips, to the rare cloudless evening on the Oregon Coast as a college student, staring up at the stars has always been a refuge, a comfort, and a promise of infinite possibilities. A comfort because no matter how crazy life got, the night sky was always a beautiful reminder of the grandeur of life. It just is, and it is beautiful. A refuge because I could escape any stress by fantasizing – about life on other planets, how far away the characters in Star Wars would have lived, and who I would have been, had I lived there too. And infinite possibility because no matter how big my teenage problems felt, looking at the night sky reminded me that I am just a speck of dust in the grand scheme of things, that nothing in my priveledged life could be as terrible as the problem my mind was fueling, and most important, the stars would carry on, regardless.

The night sky has always offered me some perspective, but it’s easy to lose it through the normal comings and goings of the day. I was thrilled, however, to be reminded of this perspective with some beautiful images and a wonderfully educational blog post from my friend, a talented photographer and architect, Alene Davis. I hope you will enjoy her images and her blog as much as I have.

Alene Davis Photography's Blog

There is something magical about the night sky. If I am lucky enough to find myself far from city lights and can see the millions of visible stars and the amorphous Milky Way, I can’t help but be awed by the universe.

Shooting a dark night sky can be both a mystery and a challenge if you haven’t done it before (and even if you have!). This blog walks you through the process I use.

View original post 2,423 more words

Words to Live By

A month ago, I got a chalkboard cling in a cool shape that (to me) looks awesome on my pantry door.  My idea was to find a new inspiring quote that I could think about every week.  I actually thought I would incorporate the quote, and move onto the next cool thought, but this is the first quote I’ve put up, it’s been up for a few weeks, every time I read it, it reminds me to think before I grouse.  And until I can do that without needing the reminder, I’ll leave the quote where it is.  I think it’s here to stay for a while.

My Love Affair with the Oregon Coast

As a disclaimer – this is not a paid blog.  The opinions expressed are my own, and are not informed by any sort of compensation by any company mentioned.  If I like it, I talk it up. And if it’s horrible, I try to warn you.  So on with the show!

I’m having a love affair with the place that we live: Portland, Oregon. My family moved here from Las Vegas when I was seven, so I feel like it’s my hometown. If you aren’t familiar with the geography in the Northwest, we Continue reading “My Love Affair with the Oregon Coast”

A Bit of Karma, a Bit of Mindlessness

We went to Utah on Thursday night for a family reunion. It was so great to see the family. My parents, two sisters, two brothers, two in-laws, and 172 nieces and nephews. Okay, it was really just fifteen kids, it just seemed like a lot. We hiked, swam, played board games, ate lots, did lots of dishes, stayed up too late, ate too much sugar, and loved every minute of being with each other. We stayed just the right amount of time; I was sad to Continue reading “A Bit of Karma, a Bit of Mindlessness”

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