Gratitude is the sign of noble souls ~ Aesop


Wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving ~ Kahlil Gabran


Joy delights in joy ~ William Shakespeare


Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy New Year!

My aunt sent this to me and I had to share it -- sometimes you just have to wipe away the old drab ways of looking at life to see the glistening potential just under the surface waiting to be discovered:)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Read previous post first

Victory! video

Pippin v The Bed

I love that no matter how many times my dog Pippin has made the jump from the floor to the bed -- he still worries that he can't do it every single time and has to be encouraged and coxed until finally he makes the leap again. It makes me feel better about myself and all of the times I seem to go back to the starting block on things I thought I had conquered. Life is about overcoming setbacks -- and Pippin does it every day:) video

Saturday, December 10, 2011

No room at the Inn

(I posted this blog a few years ago, but in rediscovering, I thought it was still worth sharing at this time of year:)

I was thinking today that for the most wonderful time of the year, Christmas sure is freaking stressful. And I wondered why we couldn't all just go back to when times were simple and Christmas meant peace on earth and good will towards men. But then it hit me: even the first Christmas was ushered in in the midst of mind-numbing stress. Miles away from home, uncomfortably pregnant, and with no transportation but a donkey? A DONKEY?? And then you arrive only to discover either the hubby forgot to book reservations (and on a holiday!) or else someone bribed the night clerk to take your room and now you've got nowhere to sleep. That's gotta top the charts when it comes to stress. And just when it seems things couldn't possibly get any more insane -- you go into labor. Far from home, no place to stay, no hospital -- just a barn with dirty freaking floors and a bunch of smelly hay. No mom to hold your hand, no doctor to tell you it'll be alright -- just you and your husband, who ain't even you baby's daddy, and a bunch of furry animals, in the dark.

I can only imagine how she felt. If ever there were a time to freak out, to curse the heavens, to why me, to have a complete nervous break down -- this would be it. 

But then...

But then -- a baby. And he's healthy. And you realize so are you. You made it through. And everything's going to be okay. And suddenly you're a family, and there's more love in your heart than you ever thought possible. In that moment that's all there is -- the stress has given way to the joy of family. To love. And you're at peace. Peace, joy, love, Christmas.



So if even MARY had to endure the stress of the season, maybe I can too. Especially knowing that in the end, everything's going to be alright. And maybe a little straw in the hair, a little sleepless nights, a little road rage -- maybe all of it's worth it because somehow it all points the way to Love...

Friday, December 9, 2011

A special vision

I am thankful for my imagination and ability to picture things so clearly in my mind. There are times when it can make life hard (worry is harder to shake when you can see scary things in your mind) but there are times when it can make life very beautiful and the pictures turn to visions. I remember the first time I was made aware that I could close my eyes and still see things -- in second grade, my teacher had us all lie down on the floor as for a nap, but instead of sleeping, she taught us how to relax with mind pictures. With her calming voice, she guided us onto a green grassy hill under a blue sky filled with puffy white animal shaped clouds and a bright happy sun. I'm sure it's easy to tell what a revelation it was to me that I can still picture that scene when I close my eyes some three decades later!

Anyway, today I was blessed with a particularly wonderful experience while I was getting my (dreaded) acupuncture done. Normally, it is very hard for me to relax and I feel quite claustrophobic waiting the required thirty minutes lying still with the needles in place. I usually listen to my beloved Taize chants (look into it if you've never heard of it) and today while I was listening to the soaring soprano voices, a very clear picture came to my mind that brought me great peace. I was sitting in a small wooden boat in some pretty tumultuous and foreboding waves, watching the gorgeous billowing storm clouds move away with cracks of orange sunlight streaming through, when I noticed the water all around grow very still. I was looking overboard at the beauty of the glassy water when I turned back and saw that Jesus was in the boat behind me the whole time and I hadn't even realized it. What I remember most was focusing on his open arms and how it felt to melt into them -- strong and comforting. I can't quite do it justice, but it was very moving. And I remember thinking about the story of the woman in the bible who had been tortured by what is called "an issue of blood" sickness for twelve long years, and she thought if she could only touch the hem of Jesus' garment, she would be healed. She did, and she was. And in my vision, I just kept thinking, all she had was a hem to hold and here I am wholly wrapped in his cloak as if they were a mother hen's wings around her chick. Well, I can tell you, my head and neck weren't the only things to experience healing today...my heart needed that hug very badly, and I am so grateful for it.

The cheesier the better

I can't believe I'm admitting this, but I am a Hallmark Channel Christmas movie junkie! They are sappy and predictable and completely unbelievable -- and they make me happy every time:) I love all the old TV stars that I've missed seeing on my screen and the decorations and Santas and the overblown need-a-kleenex magic of it all. God bless us every one!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Joy to the World!

I'm thankful for our first Christmas in our little home -- it feels like the world's most perfect Christmas cottage with all of the lights and decoration. I love it:)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Tis the Season

I'm thankful for a cute little house and a big old fence to put Christmas lights all over! It looks so festive and pretty and happy all lit up that I sat outside in the garden for fifteen minutes on a chilly November night just taking in the beauty of it all:) Joy to the world, let Christmastime begin!

Monday, November 21, 2011

SWING!

Isn't it amazing how silliness can set you free? I was walking past a park filled with children and their watchful parents today, and I saw an empty swing. I wanted to swing, but I didn't have any kids with me -- what would everyone think, I wondered? Well, they probably thought I was nuts -- but they also probably could see that I was very happy, because in a very uncharacteristic spontaneous moment, I decided I didn't care what they thought, and I hopped on that swing. With my feet in the air and the wind in my hair, I didn't just feel like a kid -- I was a kid. And there's an indescribably free feeling that comes with the absolute unselfconsciousness of being a kid. The more people stared at the strange full grown woman swinging with abandon, the more I just pointed my toes up to the sun and flew. It was great fun, and as an added bonus, it was a pretty good workout too:)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Woody

We put a garden shed just under our bathroom window and I have had such fun watching the woodpeckers standing just inches away on the other side of the glass hiding maple seed in between the shed's roof shingles, storing them up for winter, I suppose. Their vibrant red heads are so gorgeous and I can't help but laugh when I see them hopping around looking so much like good old Woody Woodpecker himself. I wonder what Ryan thinks about all the time I've been spending in the bathroom -- and what in the heck all the laughter is about:)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

There when I need her...

I'm grateful that when I need her to be, my mom is still my mommy:)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Bulb-a-palooza

Ryan and I planted 75 bulbs in our yard today!! Tulips and hyacinths and daffodils and lilies and alliums Oh My!! I'm so excited to see them all blooming next spring and I hope they are happily tucked in for their long winter's nap:)

Thank God for needles

I'm thankful for the courage to finally follow through on getting acupuncture...it has already made a remarkable difference in one day and it makes me so hopeful for a migraine free future! I can't wait to leap like a calf released from the stalls!!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Jack


I love that every time I carve a pumpkin for Halloween I feel like a kid again. I've been dealing with some migraines that have made me pretty grumpy for a couple of weeks, and I almost said bah humbug to the whole Halloween thing -- but then tonight, I realized that I'm just not a bah humbug type person, I'm a celebrate when given the chance kind of person -- so I did. He's a simple guy, but that Jack sure makes me smile with his big glowing smile:) And it brings me such joy to think of all of the awesome Halloweens I had as a kid -- Mom and Dad were so great about getting into the spirit and making sure we always carved pumpkins (we each got our own!) as a family. There was a lot of laughter around the kitchen table covered in newspaper and pumpkin guts as we drew silly faces on our pumpkins and Dad carved them for us (until we grew old enough to handle the knife ourselves, which was a great moment of pride.) I even remember one year when we made a whole body to go with the pumpkin head, stuffing Dad's old clothes with newspaper. Trick or treating was always fun, and I delighted in dressing up -- but for me, the best times were with all of us covered in sticky orange strings of goop letting our creativity shine as brightly as the candles we placed in our finished works of gourd art.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Happy calves

This video makes me smile...reminds me of a scripture that I love: "But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings and you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall!" Malachi 4:2

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Big Chill


What could be more fun that getting a brand new cherry red Big Chill retro refrigerator? Getting it for half price on Craig's list! Oh how that bright pop of color in the brightens my day. I never knew I could get such joy from a kitchen appliance:) We still have many renovations to complete before our kitchen will look like my dream kitchen in the photo -- but we're one big step closer, and I'm thankful for that!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

ChooChoo!!

Genevieve Gorder is an absolute genius!! The ideas she has for our caboose makeover are out of this world and something I could never have thought up in a million years! I can't wait to see the finished masterpiece! I'm so thankful for creative people and the beauty they add to the world. And I love surprises -- she's like a pretty Santa Claus for grown ups:)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Little red caboose

Our caboose is getting renovated this week! Hooray!! I'm SO EXCITED to see what it's going to look like all restored!!! I'll post pictures when it's done! Thank you DEAR GENEVIEVE!!!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Yum.


I had a wonderful memory this week of my favorite drink when I was a kid -- Wildwood Cream Soda. We could only get it at my grandparent's house in northern Indiana, which made it a very special treat. The version I remember has been long discontinued, but the flavor lives on in my happy thoughts:) I found a website that is a can museum (ah, the internet) and it has pictures of favorite discontinued drinks. How do people think of these things?? I don't know, but I'm glad they do -- it was fun to see this beautiful can again:

Great Book

I am grateful for the awesome experience of bonding with my nephew over a book recently...what joy it was to be able to talk about our favorite scenes and characters and to laugh over a shared good experience. The book is from a series called THE PENDERWICKS by Jeanne Birdsall. It's a great old-fashioned story, the kind that makes you smile like Anne of Green Gables and Mary Lennox used to, but somehow feels fresh and alive and not stale or stuffy. I'm thankful there's someone out there today writing simple and true stories like this! There isn't an ounce of David Letterman to be found in it... (Oliver Stone once told me that the problem with writers today is that they all have too much David Letterman in their souls:)
And to add to the joy -- I had the great fortune to meet her recently, and was quite happy to find her a kindred spirit!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Let there be LIGHT!

After 6 days of no electricity (thank you, Irene) I am sooo grateful to have power again. Especially lights -- the cold glow of an LED lantern just isn't the same as a bright happy lamp. Thank you, Thomas Edison! Thank you, Alessandro Volta, for discovering electricity in the first place! And thank you, Michael Faraday, for inventing the generator so that we could keep our sump pump going and our basement flood free!
And most of all thank God for keeping us safe and sound through a pretty scary experience. I'm glad it's over!!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Good Dog



I'm thankful for the sweet dog named Ollie, who was a good friend to me and to the people I love most. I'm so glad he chose me so many years ago...





Saturday, August 6, 2011

Eat your veggies

Oh how thankful I am for the fresh vegetables of summer -- I love the farmers market and the herbs growing in my own side yard! We made three new recipes this week that were incredibly awesome. Grilled artichokes with champagne vinaigrette and potato zucchini pancakes with mascarpone were both for recipes I got off the food network website, made up by the lovely Giada. Then I made a vegetarian rich and creamy carbonara that was out of this world. How blessed we are to have such taste sensations made available to us -- what a joy a delicious home made meal can be!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sit.

A few nights ago on Jeopardy, the final question was "Which of Jesus' miracles was the only one to appear in all four gospels?" I was appalled that as a person pretty confident of my Biblical knowledge and jeopardy prowess -- I answered wrong. And then, I had a good laugh tonight when I listened to today's sermon online from my old church. What was it about? You guessed it -- the only miracle to appear in all four Gospels -- The Miracle of the Loaves and Fish. It's where Jesus takes 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish and turns it into enough food not only to feed 5000 people (perhaps more if they were only counting the men) but also, in an extravagant show of provision, there was enough left over to fill 12 baskets.

The sermon was good -- but I felt like there was more to the story for me. I figured the story must be pretty darn important if it shows up in all 4 accounts of Jesus' life -- so I decided to read them all in succession. I highly recommend it. There are many things to stand out -- lessons about how God can take the little we bring to the table and turn it into more than enough, and about how Jesus called his disciples to feed the people, and when they freaked out that it couldn't be done, he patiently showed them how and about how important compassion is to God. But for some reason, the things that stood out to me most tonight is that in each story, all of which vary a little from gospel to gospel (as all eyewitness accounts do) -- the one thing that is exactly the same every time is that before Jesus blesses and multiplies the bread -- HE ASKS THE CROWD TO SIT.

It seems like an innocuous thing -- so, what's the big deal about Jesus asking a bunch of people to sit in the grass? Well, the big deal to me was what it says about God and how he provides for us. Often, when we're worried about not having enough, about money and finances -- we start running around like chickens with our heads cut off. We work ourselves into a tizzy about what we should do, looking in every direction, beating out tiresome paths this way and that until we are weary and worn out and at the point of fainting. But here Jesus says, SIT. RELAX. LOOK AT WHAT I'M ABOUT TO DO FOR YOU UP HERE. And then he holds up the bread, and because we are sitting calmly, as peaceful as a person sitting in the grass, we can see the miracle as it happens -- we can watch the provisions as they are passed down to us. Jesus didn't tell the crowd to forage, to run around scrapping or begging. He asked them to sit. To trust. To get into a position of being able to surrender and receive.

Obviously, this doesn't mean to sit in a literal lazy way, waiting on the couch for a check to fall in our laps. I think it means, for me at least -- to settle down, to relax into the place where God has put me, right here, right now -- trusting and expectant that if I sit here doing my job, God will do his. I will be fed. And it will be more than enough.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Peachy Keen!


There's not many summer pleasures as glorious as a perfect peach fresh off the tree!


Traveling woman

I've been woefully behind in my online joy writing...I've found myself sliding back into writing in my old fashioned paper joy journal:) I am grateful the severe weather cleared last week just in time for my first flight in a while. I laugh at how like those rag tag disciples I am -- so easily terrified and so quick to forget to trust -- I am thankful that God doesn't need me to be some perfect pillar of faith before he'll calm the wind and the waves. I'm also grateful I made it through a very stressful and busy week and I'm happy to be home! Even though I had only been gone a week, I was delighted all over again at how lovely my little nest is and it was beyond wonderful to be reunited with my pups and cats and hubby. Hooray for homecomings!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Good advice

I love this translation of a part of Romans 12 that I was reading today from the J.B. Phillips Bible (written in England in 1958 with input from Phillips' close friend, and one of my favorite authors, C.S. Lewis):

"When trials come endure them patiently; steadfastly maintain the habit of prayer... And as for those who try to make your life a misery, bless them. Bless and don't curse. Share the happiness of those who are happy and the sorrow of those who are sad. Live in harmony with each other. Don't become snobbish, but take a real interest in ordinary people. Don't become set in your own opinions. Don't pay back a bad turn by a bad turn, to anyone. As far as your responsibility goes, live at peace with everyone... Don't allow yourself to be overpowered by evil. Take the offensive -- overpower evil with good!"

Great advice on how to live a life of joy:) I love the part about not being snobbish and taking an interest in ordinary people...such an interesting way to put it. Overpower evil with good! Yes yes!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Stop, look - and then smell the roses

A bee stung me today while I was smelling my roses...I don't think he realized that I'm the one who planted them for him. Ah well, it made me very very thankful that I am not allergic to bees -- I like not having to be afraid of them. It does hurt, though, so I'll keep a better look out for them next time I smell my glorious purple amethyst!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Simple things

I had a migraine yesterday that lasted into today, but this afternoon I painted my toenails a bright happy orange, and I may be crazy, but it made me feel better:)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

These are the days to remember

The fourth of July was a sheer delight with our time at the beach, just watching the loons duck and bob in the water and walking to the very end of the stone jetty in the water. Eating ice cream and dangling our feet over the river and then walking along the bridge at just the right moment to witness the fiery sunset, tailor made for such a celebratory night, and then we were treated to an impromptu fireworks display over the river -- seemingly just for us. Even as we got home, in the dark of the night, the fireflies were putting on an enchanting fireworks display of their own. And to top it all off, we played a hilarious game of Apples to Apples that was truly inspired, the more ridiculous it got, the more we laughed ourselves silly.

Beautiful girls

What a blessing it was to see my sister positively glowing with accomplishment at her awards ceremony last Friday. I am so inspired by her determination and will, and also by her genuine care and kindness -- her honest to goodness southern hospitality is a beautiful thing to behold.
I am grateful that I got to spend some time with my mom, showing off my little nest to her and sharing a train ride into New York city where we shared a mutual delight for the city and it's spectacular sights...what a wonderful thing it was to see her beaming with wonder at it all as we shared a horse carriage through Central Park. She is so lovely inside and out and Erin and I are lucky to have been influenced by her example in our lives!

Monday, July 4, 2011

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!!!

I'm thankful that I was born in a country where freedom is a cherished right. I am constantly amazed that our forefathers were bold and brave enough to believe that they could just start a whole new country, and I am grateful for all of the people who have sacrificed over the centuries to gain and protect our independence. Also, I have to thank whoever had the idea to celebrate with fireworks -- I love them:) HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA!!!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Consider it pure joy...

Last night I was reading an article about a creative hero of mine, the writer/director/producer J.J. Abrams. I have always admired his work -- but now I admire him for who he is behind the work. This is the passage in the article that has created a paradigm shift in me:

"Abrams has been able to survive the rigors of marathon writing and production schedules, while also packing school lunches and tucking his children into bed...by keeping things fun in a process of constant discovery. "Most of us are just trying not to die, but J.J. flourishes because it's always fun for him.'"

Fun?? Pressure and problems and writer's block can be FUN?? As I was noodling this incredibly foreign and unnatural sounding idea, a scripture popped in my head. I remembered it from James 1:2 as going something like: Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face troubles of many kinds. That's a paraphrase, and I'll share some of my favorite translations of this scripture in a moment, but first I just have to say how convicted I felt about the article and then what I remembered of a scripture that I have obviously known for a very long time -- but have somehow forgotten, and worse -- completely ignored. When I face troubles and problems (especially in my work, but also with my health and in relationships) I have never found it fun or considered them joy! I have raged, freaked out, cussed, cried, melted under the pressure and even quit at times -- but I don't think I've ever thought of it as fun. And yet here's this guy in Hollywood living the scripture that I was supposed to know so well. That's when something changed in me -- what if I could live that way too?? Oh how I want to!

And so this morning, I went to my J.B. Phillips translation of the bible and read James 1:2-5:
"When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives, do not resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realise they have come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let this process go on until that endurance is fully developed, and you will find you have become men of mature character and the right sort of independence." (Of course the terms "men" and "man" here is used in the human sense, not gender specific.)

Now, just as I was beginning to wonder how in the world I can take on such a monumental task of not resenting troubles, but treating them as friends, I saw that the scripture goes on with some advice on just that:
"And if, in the process, any of you does not know how to meet any particular problem, he has only to ask God -- who gives generously to all men without making them feel foolish or guilty -- and he may be quite sure that the necessary wisdom will be given him."

WOW! What hope that gives me -- and what joy too. it almost makes me giggle at the thought -- I can have fun with problems. We all can! Here is the scripture in a few other translations...each one of them filling out the full picture to me of what is really being said:

The New Living Translation: "Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing."

The Message: "Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. If you don't know what you're doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You'll get his help, and won't be condescended to when you ask for it."

And finally, the one that popped in my head, the NIV translation: " Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you."

And so, with God's help, I am going to embark on a new journey -- to stop resenting, being afraid of, getting angry at and resisting challenges, trials, troubles and problems -- and instead try to be welcoming, seeing them as a gift, a joy...and yes, even fun -- knowing that they will help to make me the best version of myself. It is a challenge, to be sure...but I'm starting to believe, it might just be a joy too:)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Say Ah!

Laser dentistry ROCKS! I don't have to have a mortal fear of the dentist anymore! I just had 2 fillings without a shot or horrible Novocain or PAIN! Amazing. Of course it felt a little like being waterboarded with all the cold water they use to cool the laser...but it was so easy that I actually relaxed and uncrossed my feet and arms for the first time ever in a dental chair. Yay:) I am grateful for all of the medical advances we get to benefit from in our age, and for the talented and sympathetic doctors that I have been blessed to find.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Wonderful week

So much to be grateful for in the last week. My 2 year anniversary! And my hubby's birthday! A wonderful week indeed. We enjoyed the sun and the beach and and the country's oldest rose garden -- with 15,000 roses -- spectacular. I am thankful beyond words for my husband and for our marriage...truly an answer to so many prayers for so long. After having been through so much, I will never take what we have together for granted, and I am thankful for the blessing of the awareness of how special it is. And to think this is just the beginning -- what joy:)

Friday, May 27, 2011

De-lovely night

Last night we got to go see a friend of mine give a brilliant performance in the hilarious and feel good Broadway musical called ANYTHING GOES that is filled with some of the most AMAZING songs ever written! I mean, I Get a Kick Out of You, You're the Top, Anything Goes and It's De-lovely all in the same musical...crazy! I was having neck and head pain all day, but as it turns out, laughter really is the best medicine, because by the time the show was over I was feeling sooo much better:) Good enough to wander around the Big Apple afterwards and to enjoy a perfect spring night. It was also a joy to walk through a nearly empty Grand Central Station before taking the last train home...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Queen of Daytime

I'm thankful for The Oprah Show and for Oprah the woman. I know she may be easy to make fun of, but she really did usher in an age of openness in our society, and has inspired so much good. I'm thankful that she encouraged people to read and to give of their time and resources and to take responsibility for their own lives. She certainly helped to encourage me during some trying times -- and also just provided some awesome entertainment from the interviews with stars that I love, to all those crazy give aways. I think millions of people are more conscious and aware, more grateful and giving, and more well dressed because of her;) Good bye, Oprah. Thank you.

Friday, May 20, 2011

I'm thankful that the rain has stopped and my baby flowers have survived the onslaught. I'm thankful for the glorious breeze through the open windows and the peaceful sound of the fountain below. And while it's not as romantic as breezes and fountains, I am thankful for plumbers -- I don't think people realize what big trouble we'd be in without them. Also, I'm glad mosquitoes don't like me as much as they did when I was a kid...I guess I've soured with age;)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Shhh

I'm grateful for no TV Tuesdays in our house...it is a welcome interruption in our noisy, sensory overloaded lives. We literally sat and listened to the rain fall tonight and it was as beautiful as a string quartet playing outside our window. Sustained quiet ushers a different kind of peace into my life, and I love it.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A few days worth of gratitude

I'm thankful my hubby is finally home and I'm thankful that we finished planting the most beautiful garden in the world today...complete with a tiny birdbath and a pretty bench to sit and take in all the lovely things that are growing:)
I was thinking today how, when I was a little kid, I always wanted a house that had a lamppost out front just like my Nana and Papa's house -- and now I do, and that makes me happy.
I'm thankful for air conditioning and for windows that open and I think we have the prettiest weed-iest lawn in the world. Seriously -- there's at least 35 different kinds of wildflowers and weeds out there instead of lawn. It looks like a wild meadow instead of a golf course and I love it. I'm grateful for inspiring stories that build me up when I'm feeling down, like the documentary OVER 90 AND LOVING IT and also like ABC's Extreme Home Makeover.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Light and fire

I am thankful for candles...their dancing light is a delight to contemplate while meditating and praying. Tonight, I had a candle lit and two more were reflected in the window behind it...and then a third very faint refection came into view as it got darker, creating the image of four flickering flames -- and it made me think of the remarkable story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the Bible. They were thrown into a fiery furnace for their faith -- but the fire didn't burn them, and when the King who threw them in there looked in, he saw a 4th figure -- God. I love the image of God standing with us in the flames, and the reminder that while the fire might get hot and uncomfortable and scary, it can not consume us.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother Goose

I have been missing my geese friends for a couple of weeks, but lo and behold, they showed up today in the backyard: Mother Goose, Father Goose...and introducing BABY GOOSE! She's the little puff of fluff to the right of her parents. Not a great picture, but it sure was fun to watch the family waddling around outside my window this morning...just like a fairy tale:)


Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mr. Farmer

My austere neighbor, a WWII vet (who in his 80's and battling cancer, can still haul and chop firewood from the felled trees on our property) told me a story today about the day fifty years ago, when he first drove up to view the property with his wife. They had to stop halfway up the driveway to allow a family of ducks with six chicks to cross and in that instant he knew that he was home, before he even saw the house -- and the look on his face confirmed what I have always known, that time is relative and there is no such thing as age.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Happy Birthday Audrey:)

I'm thankful for the glowing example of the lovely Audrey Hepburn and the inspiration she has been in my life. I had the great fortune to meet Gregory Peck once and when I asked him about Audrey, he told me, "She was everything you'd hope she was - and more." What a wonderful thing to live your life in such a way that people could say that about you. Here's one of her many quotes that I love:

I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles.
Audrey Hepburn

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Fresh herbs


We planted an herb garden today and there was just something glorious about all of the savory smells mixed with the earthy smells of the rich dirt and the wildflowers blooming nearby. I also planted 3 kinds of lettuce. I can't wait to find new recipes to cook with all of the fresh new tastes growing outside! I don't think I've ever cooked with tarragon. Very exciting:)

Friday, April 29, 2011

My week in gratitude

Wow, I don't know where this week has gone! I am thankful for the hilarious sight of lumbering Alfie chasing a lumbering bumble bee, for the peonies getting taller every day, for the new sandwich Ryan and I made up -- hummus and vinaigrette on whole wheat with orange pepper, cucumbers, tomato and feta cheese with olives on the side -- yum, I am thankful for the beautiful and uplifting spectacle of the Royal Wedding, for the hope and joy of it all and the lovely songs and sermon as well as the gorgeous dress, I'm thankful for the equally charming spectacle of the goldfinches and chickadees swooping in to feed at the feeder outside my window, I'm thankful that i found a little money in an envelope that I had forgotten I hid so that I can buy a new spring dress, and I'm thankful that the DVD's I ordered of Audrey Hepburn's Gardens of the World has come in so that I can watch it tonight while I recover from a migraine. So much to be grateful for -- and I must add that I am grateful that my family is all healthy and safe!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The man with the red shoes

I'm thankful that I finally got to see Garrison Keillor (and his famous red shoes and socks) in a live taping of Prairie Home Companion last night. What a masterful storyteller and entertainer! The show was created the same year that I was, which may be why it speaks to me so. All of those years of hearing it on the radio in the car when I was a kid, wishing that we were listening to Madonna instead -- and now I search it out voluntarily. It just sounds like home:)

An awesome poem for Easter day

HOLY SONNETS: DEATH, BE NOT PROUD

By John Donne


Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.

Friday, April 22, 2011

So much for keeping the dogs off the bed:)

Finished

After 3 months of pulling up floors and sanding and punching holes in walls and filling holes in walls and painting and painting some more -- I'm thankful we finished renovating our bathroom today! What an awesome feeling it is to do hard work and see the results...so gratifying. I'm sure it'll look just like a regular little bathroom to anyone who comes over, but to me it's GORGEOUS! A little beach haven with soothing sandy walls and cool blue tiles and white washed wood floors. Hooray!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Thanks, Lisa!

I love getting unexpected packages in the mail! And today's was extra special, not only because it came from my childhood best friend Lisa (I love that I recognized her writing from all those years growing up where we sent actual letters to one another), but also because it was homemade. A homemade bar of lotion -- not only a thoughtful gift, but nourishing and pampering as well:) I have never even heard of a bar of lotion before, but it worked beautifully when I rubbed it in my hands to warm it up -- and it was only 3 ingredients! Amazing how the simplest things can bring the most joy.
She sells them on etsy (an awesome website with all kinds of homemade things for sale), in case you want to try one...or send one to someone out of the blue to make their day like she did mine:)
http://www.etsy.com/listing/70548570/lotion-bar-for-sensitive-skin-3oz-see?ref=em

Bells


can you smell the bells
small symphony of fragrance
singing in the wind

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tuscan Bean soup for the soul

I'm thankful that my hubby made me homemade soup tonight...it was comforting and yummy and exactly what I needed:)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Heaven on a plate

Today, after three days of craving a slice of lemon meringue pie, Ryan and I found a diner and I ate a slice the size of my head. I am thankful for two things: first, that it tasted like pure joy dancing on my tongue -- and second, I am thankful for the tummy ache I've had all night because I will not be making a habit of eating pie slices the size of my head:)

If only I could catch it in a bottle...

Yesterday my heart leapt at the sight of PINK LIGHTENING outside my open door -- I happened to look out at exactly the time that the bolt struck -- a bright shock of pink lit up the night sky and everything glowed a glorious rose color. Absolute MAGIC. I can't stop thinking about it and how badly I want to see it again. I never knew such a thing existed before! I actually went online to make sure I wasn't seeing things -- and yes, it's rare, but real! Something to so with atmospheric conditions and the mist and particles in the air. All I know is that it was truly awe-inspiring, and I'm grateful I had the chance to see it:)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

I love a parade

Today was palm Sunday and the church I went to (in the middle of town) had a tradition that just made me happy to be a part of -- there was an actual BAGPIPER outside the church, and to begin the service, everyone was given a palm to wave and we followed the bagpiper down the street and around the block in a processional. I felt both a bit embarrassed and somewhat dorky, but also also special walking along the street on a breezy and beautiful morning as the cars drove past watching the spectacle -- I felt like I was in a miniature parade. It's fun to step outside your comfort zone every now and then, and somehow it felt good to step outside the box of the church itself to take to the streets and claim my faith for all the Sunday morning shoppers to see. It felt awesome to be part of a small community where something like that was possible. Plus the bagpiper was just pretty darn cool:)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Watching the world wake up

It's a pretty spectacular thing going through an honest to goodness spring season after 13 years. California is sort of a perpetual spring, with many lovely plants in bloom year round...but there is something extra special and invigorated about watching the daily progression of life bursting forth after a long winter in the east. It brings me such joy to notice each new centimeter of green pushing through the barren branches while the colorful cardinals and blue jays partake in the feeders Ryan has hung for my bird watching entertainment. And it is entertainment -- with all the bobbing and swooping and hoping and posturing -- and the Robins constantly chasing each other, on foot, no less, across the new grass. The laughing daffodils are also a true delight. What a blessing it is to watch the whole world wake up.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Come on get happy...

I stumbled upon a new channel that makes me sooo happy -- it's called antennae TV, channel 120 for me. Anyway, there's episodes of Gidget (adorable!) and The Flying Nun (also adorable!), and The Monkeys (hilarious!) and The Partridge Family (even more hilarious!). They put me in such a good mood. I watched an episode of The Partridge Family last night that filmed at King's Island in Cincinnati - and it brought back so many memories of when I was a kid. It was a smaller park back when they filmed, but I still recognized all my favorite rides and the big wanna be Eiffel Tower. So nice to see such simple, sweet storylines -- and Sally Field is just the greatest:)

Friday, April 8, 2011

SOUL SURFER!

I'm thankful and joyful that SOUL SURFER, a movie that I helped to write -- OPENS TODAY! In theaters across the country! It's every writer's dream to have an honest to goodness audience see their writing come to life. And as I have told many of my family and friends, while my name is not on the screen (because of some arbitrary WGA rules), my heart is up there for everyone to see. I hope that it blesses everyone who sees it and helps them to feel a little more courageous and inspired just for watching it. I'm humbled and grateful to all of my family and friends who have been so supportive, and I nearly cried today when I learned that my nearly 87 year old grandmother got to see my words up on the silver screen.
I also found it a cool little piece of trivia that it was on this day in 1820 that the Venus de Milo was discovered...the same day that SOUL SURFER opens, a movie in which the Venus de Milo actually plays an important part in one of my favorite scenes:)
Writing on the project was difficult, and at times even painful, but it has all worked out for the best, just like Romans 8:28 promised it would. And I am grateful to have been a part of something that has turned out to be very special...

Thursday, April 7, 2011

It's working!

I've only been doing yoga for three weeks now and I was so excited that in that short amount of time, I was able to do a full plank today instead of using my knees as support. Sounds like a small thing, but felt very big to me. I'm thankful to be getting stronger and healthier and I can't wait until I can do a headstand;)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Home at last:)

I'm thankful my hubby is finally coming home tonight! Yippee!!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Avian Royalty

I saw a Giant Blue Heron in my pond yesterday and it absolutely took my breath away for the regal way it walked: deliberate and purposeful, not at all hurried -- and also for the sheer beauty of it's blue and white plumes and the jagged feather bib it wore. Graceful, tall, and yet, demure -- it was the Princess Di of the avian world.

New Light

I'm thankful for the J.B. Phillips Bible translation...it's so wonderful to get a fresh take on verses I've read so many times...helps to understand the feeling beneath the words and to see the stories in a new light. It's like adding watermelon to a salad -- wakes up the senses and helps you pay attention again to something that you love but that you might have started taking for granted.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Early Bird Special

I love that at exactly 4:20pm every day the geese come waddling out of the pond for dinner on the back lawn:)

Milk and honey

I am thankful that I finally understand the term "land of milk and honey"...it always sounded gross to me and I could never quite understand why they were used to describe the promised land -- until I had my first taste of Greek honey yogurt today with its subtle sweetness over just the right amount of tang and the texture of a whipped cloud -- well, there was no mistaking the taste of heaven:)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The pond at night

The next door neighbors had a pond when I was growing up, and I always thought there was nothing more peaceful than the sounds of a pond at night, with the lullabies of frogs set to the music of the strings as played by the crickets. Tonight, when I let the dogs out before bed, I heard the sweet symphony again in my own backyard...and it felt even more like home than ever:)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Blessed

I am grateful and humbled when I had two friends I hadn't heard from in some time just write me today out of the blue to say that God had put me on their hearts and they were praying for me. What perfect timing -- it's not always easy living in a new place without friends, and it's a nice reminder that there is no time or distance in the spirit, as my mom always says. Especially now with Facetime -- how awesome it was today to get to see my mom's beautiful face when I needed her. It feels good to be lifted up, especially after some rough health stuff this week and it just makes me feel so loved and hopeful...and blessed.

On a separate note, I'm thankful for my Dad who helped talk me through having to remove my first tick from my dog -- quite a harrowing experience for one so squeamish as me! But I did it, and once again I am feeling like something of a frontier woman:)

What a blessing it is to have a parents and friends who are always there when I need them!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Reborn maple tree


Reborn maple tree
blushing red buds sway above
warming the ice blue

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Nice line

I was reading a poem today by Henry Vaughan called The Morning-Watch and I read a line that I loved, "Prayer is the world in tune..."
I'm thankful for poetry and for new ways to say things and see things, because when I hear and see things anew, I forget to take them for granted, and that's a good thing.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Great poem

I emailed a picture of my snowy yard to my brother the other day and he replied "Winter doesn't go down without a fight" -- I told him it was a great line for a poem and he took it as a challenge -- I LOVE what he came up with and I had to share it:)

Winter doesn't go down without a fight
swaggering with his jagged icicles
jutting from gutters as switchblades
and belching black ice

Spring seems the sucker's bet
a puckish graffiti artist
tagging lilies and lilacs
infuriating the frost

so the gloves come off once more
but punctured by twigs and stems
the old man is already bleeding
(it's the way of earth-bound things)
and from the stinging clear drops
the flowers find their life.

I mean spring as a graffiti artist -- how great is that?? Just makes me happy to think about as I watch the color popping up al around. Well done, Andy!!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Hallelujah

I am grateful to God beyond words for how far I've come in my health in the last few months. To have stared into the depths of darkness and pain, from debilitation migraines, to panic attacks and neck pain...and to have emerged into longer brighter stretches of sunshine between the stormy days, is a miracle. I was holding onto hope with all of my might (or with all of my weakness, actually) following a little spider-silk of light that I could perceive...and now I can finally see the rising dawn, I can feel the warmth of love and healing in my head and body -- the only word that can contain my gratitude is: hallelujah, which is both a shout for joy and a word of thanks, the perfect word for this blog:) It is fitting that it was most often found in the psalms, uttered by David who had himself known deep sorrow and despair, which made him all the more exuberant in times of health and prosperity. I do believe the light shines brightest out of the dark...the moon rise the other night was especially poignant to me for its symbolism. Hooray for good times and hooray for all of you who have stood by me through the difficult times. To have a community of fellow joy seekers and hope holders has been a balm for my soul. Thank you.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Learning to breathe

I'm thankful that after months of thinking about it and wanting to do it and talking about it, I finally started yoga lessons. I am very excited about taking time to learn to breathe and take care of my body and about becoming stronger and stronger. I am in a considerable amount of pain, as my muscles are very sore at me about waking them from their comfortable apathy -- but I know that pain leads to growth, and that is always a good thing:)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Moondance


(This picture was not photoshopped or changed in any way...this was the spectacular golden full moon as it rose tonight in all of its glory!)

Half a cat;)

Just an update on Gatsby/Chubbles the two-timing cat...since he is no longer getting fed by TWO (or more) families, he's losing weight and feeling great! If he had some old jeans to hold up, you'd see he's half the size he used to be...but since he refuses to wear pants, here's a picture to show you how good he looks...


Friday, March 18, 2011

Help with allergies

I got an air purifier because I've developed an allergy to cats...I guess Amelie is just trying to help out..:)






Thursday, March 17, 2011

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Go Rocky Go!

I'm thankful for our sump pump chugging away, keeping our little house nice and dry. I'm naming it Rocky, because it is taking a beating, but it just keeps going and doesn't give up -- GO ROCKY!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Whispers of spring



I love these brave little lantern-like buds pushing up through the earth still soggy with melting snow. I am amazed at how delicate they are...and yet so strong. Sturdy enough to take on the great adventure of life even in the midst of cold and inhospitable circumstances...how they inspire me. "Rise up," they whisper, "and have faith, the spring is on its way..."

Monday, March 14, 2011

Good things

I'm thankful for my mom on her birthday, the real life Wonder Woman, and my inspiration.
Also, I'm thankful for the strength and courage of someone I love every much and for talented doctors and the gift of prayers and that she is on the blessed road to recovery.
And I am grateful to be in my OWN BED tonight as I write this after more than three weeks away. Boy does it feel good. Goodnight:)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Dancing dolphins

Is there anything more joyful than watching dolphins frolicking amidst the waves?? They are spellbinding creatures and I am thankful they exist. It gave me chills today when they came close enough to the shore that I could hear them breathing...ironically, I found myself holding my breath so I could hear it better! Amazing. Also, it is always a joy to find a reason to use the word "frolicking" :)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

How to use the phone

This entry from the writer's almanac today made me laugh..."that is all!"


It was on this day in 1876 that Alexander Graham Bell made the first successful telephone call. Bell's first successful telephone used a liquid transmitter: a diaphragm that caused a needle to vibrate in water, similar to the way sound waves vibrate in air. He spoke to his assistant, electrical designer Thomas Watson, who was in the next room. He said, "Mr. Watson — come here — I want to see you." Later that day, he wrote an excited letter to his father. He wrote, "The day is coming when telegraph wires will be laid on to houses just like water and gas — and friends converse with each other without leaving home."

"Hello" is, of course, the standard greeting when most English-speaking people answer the phone, but this was not Bell's preferred greeting, and it was some time before the protocol was sorted out. In The First Telephone Book, author Ammon Shea tells us that Bell favored "Ahoy!" and stubbornly used it for the rest of his life. His competitor Thomas Edison, on the other hand, preferred "Hello." Shea posits that "hello" caught on in part due to the "How To" section in early phone books, which recommended "a hearty 'hulloa'" as a proper greeting. The phone book's recommended sign-off — "That is all!" — never took root

Wrong sign

I was driving down the highway, on a bright sunny day -- not a cloud in the sky -- when I saw a bright orange flashing sign that said "FLOODED." I started wondering if it was left over from the rain last week, and somebody just forgot to take it down -- or if it was put up early in anticipation of some phantom rain in the future. And as I was pondering, I started laughing, thinking of all the unnecessary "FLOODED" signs that are up in my life -- left over from past disasters, or put there to remind me that there could be future rain. All the while, I'm completely missing the beautiful blue skies directly over me and the safe dry roads right underneath me. I was thankful for that wayward sign and it's poignant reminder of how ridiculous it is to dwell in the past and worry about the future when the present moment is looking pretty darn good. It's time to take down that wrong sign on the road...and it's definitely time to take down the distracting and equally as erroneous signs in my own life. The sky is not falling -- it's right where it's supposed to be, and for that, I am grateful.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

E.T. the crossing guard


I got yelled at by a guard for taking this outside Dreamworks studio (Steven Spielberg's company) but it was worth it because it makes me laugh! Enjoy:)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Lady Luck

It's been a pretty big week for me at work, and I'm still waiting to hear what will happen with my new project -- so it was a lovely thing when I was at the park yesterday and a Ladybug landed in my hair. It was even sweeter when five minutes later she landed there again. Twice anointed by lady luck, what joy! :)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Prayer Tree

I'm thankful for a marvelous sweet little blessing of a book called THE PRAYER TREE by Leunig. It's filled with lovely moments of gratitude and simple prayers, sometimes silly, sometimes solemn and it makes me very happy to read it. Get it if you can!
One example:
God bless our contradictions, those parts of us which seem out of character. Let us be boldly and gladly out of character. Let us be creatures of paradox and variety: creatures of contrast; light and shade: creatures of faith. God be our constant. Let us step out of character into the unknown, to struggle and love and do what we will. Amen

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

That's my brother!

I am bursting with joy and pride after getting to hear my brother for an entire hour being interviewed on the classical music station and having his cello pieces played. The music was brilliant and it was so moving to hear the inspiration behind each piece. His answers to the interview questions were all so thoughtful -- plus it was just plain wonderful to hear his voice all the way across the country as if he were sitting right next to me. I'm so thankful for the opportunity he was given to share his talent and look forward to all of the beautiful music to come from him!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A good day for a hike

I'm thankful today for a gorgeous hike with my hubby...I may have complained along the way, but when we got to the top, the amazingly beautiful view of the snowcapped mountains in the distance was worth it all. Of course, I wasn't exactly thrilled when I realized I had to go all the way back...but at least it was mostly downhill. There's nothing like hiking in LA after a good rain...the sky is clear and the birds are chirping and there's actually green covering the hills. And it's always a treat to get to see my beloved Griffith Observatory -- it was especially fun to see it from a new angle.

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Oscars

It never matters to me who the hosts are -- for me it's always been about the joy of seeing a dream realized, when the winner takes the stage and grasps their trophy for the first time and then gushes out some enthusiastic or eloquent or ineloquent or touching speech. My heart just swells at the possibility and I can't help but imagine my own Oscar moment some day. I love the pomp and circumstance, love the beautiful dresses in our mostly sweatpants wearing world...sure it's pretentious at times and often boring...but it's a beacon of the power of dreams, and that's why I love it. Plus Kirk Douglas was freaking hilarious.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

LA freezes over

Snow! In LA! Pretty cool to be here for it. Ryan made a tiny snowman and I caught little hail pellets in my hand. The sky was a gorgeous swirl of light and dark, cloud and sun -- it was a wild day and I was thankful I got to witness it.

Friday, February 25, 2011

A good night

The sound of the steady rain outside, a fire in the hearth, pizza in my belly and love in my heart.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A nice boost

I'm thankful for two great meetings in the last two days that were a much needed confidence booster...it feels good to get the mojo back:) I'm thankful that my family and friends have been there for me, bolstering and encouraging me, and for everyone who lets me know they believe in me -- it means more than I could ever sufficiently express. Like Moses's brother Aaron holding him up when he felt like he couldn't stand anymore...it is a beautiful thing to be held up and supported with love. I am blessed beyond measure.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Hot air balloons for the spirit

I'm thankful to be reunited with my hubby after a week apart (that felt like much much longer). Seeing his face at the bottom of the escalator at the end of a long flight lifted my spirit and made my heart dance a jig -- I nearly knocked down the entire row of people in front of me just so I could get to him quicker. Luckily I didn't...don't think I'd want to take my chances with airport security!

Also, I am thankful for my sister's lovely blog...the way she strings together words is so effortless and such a joy to read, even when she's dealing with something bittersweet, it's always more sweet than bitter.

And lastly, Lisa and I were talking about good lighthearted movies today (movies I call my "rainy day" movies, that always make me feel better when I watch them) and so I figured I'd post some of them here...I'm thankful for how often they have lightened my mood!

Overboard, Funny Face, Goonies, When Harry Met Sally, Can't Buy Me Love, License to Drive, Dirty Dancing, Legally Blonde, While You Were Sleeping, the first 3 Indiana Jones movies, French Kiss, The Sound of Music, Back to the Future, So I Married An Axe Murderer, Parent Trap, Father of the Bride, Houseguest (with Sinbad ha!), Roman Holiday, All of Me, Roxanne, Little Manhattan, Bridget Jones Diary, Weather Girl, Tootsie, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Home Alone, Planes Trains & Automobiles, and A Fish Called Wanda.

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