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

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Shine Little Glowworm

When I was twelve years old, I was frustrated because I couldn't quite grasp the difference between "Happiness" and "Joy". How could someone feel joy in their heart at the same time that they were feeling sad or sick? Didn't you have to be happy in order to be a joyful person? So I thought a a lot about it (I know...I was an odd child) and then a realization came to me that has stuck with me ever since. Happiness is like the weather, ever changing, from one day to the next. Sometimes it's sunny, sometimes it's cloudy or even stormy. But is like the climate. The climate of a place is constant, the fixed trait of a certain location. If the climate is temperate, it may get cold or rain, but you can be sure that the sun will come out again.

So I think that's why I started this blog -- to cultivate a climate of joy. It's not a call to stick our heads in the sand or turn a blind eye to the storms and pain in the world, but instead, to develop a bedrock to dig into when the waves and wind become so strong it's hard to keep your head above water. I want joy to be the constant underneath the turmoil of changing circumstances and the roller coaster ride of emotions that I encounter in my life. It is a choice, not an easy one, but a worthy one, to decide each and every day to focus on what is good, what brings joy, what I can be thankful for. Even if it's just one thing. One tiny little glowworm's worth of light in a vast cave of darkness. Because even a little light is still light, and if you string a bunch of tiny lights together, the beads of brightness become a glimmering curtain of light so that even the blackest cave becomes a thing of beauty. I've seen it happen on the Planet Earth series, so I know it's possible.

Thank you for all being a part of building that curtain of lights with me...bit by bit. Every time I read one of your entries, I feel like I am glowing a little brighter:)

It makes me think of my favorite poem by Emily Bronte, one that I quote to myself many times when words of my own fail:
"No coward soul is mine,
no trembler in the world's storm-troubled sphere;
I see Heaven's glories shine,
and faith shines equal, arming me from fear."

I hate going to the gym...

...but am extremely grateful that my wonderful girlfriend has the tenacity to make me go anyway. Also, googly googly. Ah, that's better.

Googly Googly

Cole and I watched this very strange and beautiful film last night called THE FALL. It had some of the most stunning images I've ever seen...straight from a technicolor dream. But mostly I was captivated by the little girl who stars with Lee Pace (from Pushing Daisies), she had this incredible non-scripted performance and all of her giggles, tears and expressions were so real and innocent. And when she was scared, an old man told her to say "googly googly googly goo!" to banish the bad thoughts. So I think I'll try that this week if I'm stressed or sad or worried, I'll simply say my googlies and remember that it's not so bad. And I wish for everyone to have wonderful weeks and to say googly too.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

After the Rain

When the sun comes out again,
the bare sycamore branches
are cloaked in tiny worlds,
each a perfect sphere reflecting the sun -
rainbows in liquid form.
Crystal balls telling of the past
cling tight and then succumb to gravity
making the earth new again.
The largest drops become
private drinking fountains
for hummingbirds,
while the bigger birds call
ollie ollie oxen free -
time to come out from hiding
time to resume the business of living.
And as the giant continents
shift in the sky,
fallen tree blossoms litter the ground
like New Years day in Times Square.
A grumpy squirrel jumps from limb to limb
making it rain just on him, like in a cartoon,
and he looks more like a drowned rat
than any wet cat I've ever seen.
I notice the moss on a roof two streets away
and think of Elton John and Your Song,
finally understanding the lyric that I used to think was:
"Sat on the roof and kicked off to Mars"
but the a-frame of this house is too steep
for siting or kicking or blasting off.
And as the world's loudest child
who lives behind my building
stomps through puddles
in uncharacteristically silent awe,
I notice that my headache is gone -
Just like the rain.


Well, I'm a little late...but I haven't gone to bed yet, so for me it's still technically Friday night. I'm thankful for the things that make life sweeter... for nights with good friends that last until 2 am and for Krispy Kreme for making the best donut ever. So good in fact, that I dreamed about them last night, dreamed I was a Krispy Kreme professional taster and I woke up so happy that I had to drive 25 minutes today just to get a box:) I'm thankful for Cyndi Lauper's anthem "Girl's Just Wanna Have Fun" and how my feet involuntarily begin to dance every time I hear it. And now, after a very long and fun-filled night, I am thankful that I get to go to bed and sleep in as late as I want tomorrow. Krispy Kreme dreams, here I come!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Girls Nights

I'm grateful for girls' nights! Girls' nights in, girls' nights out, gotta have 'em once in awhile to keep me sane. Whether it's a karaoke night, a tearful sharing session, watching the Bachelor or just downing a bottle of wine and catching up...I love my girlfriends. You ground me, you uplift me, you remind me that things WILL be okay. And the best gift of all -- you make me laugh. Thank you!

Thursday, February 25, 2010


For some reason, red-headed children always make me smile. Maybe it's something to do with the stubborn defiance of their genes, putting up a fight despite their recessive qualities and refusing to go quietly. Or maybe they just make me smile because they're so darn cute. From Opie to Pippi-longstalkings and Anne of Green Gables, I just can't help but equate red hair with spunk. And I like spunk.
It just so happens that I saw TWO carrot tops today. Completely unrelated which makes it even more fun. A double-header;) One was a little girl in my neighborhood. I was walking home when out popped her curly red ringlets as she bounded out of a mini van, wearing a pink backpack. Her little brother and mother followed her out of the car and up towards the house -- but she was the only one who turned and said hi to me when I walked past. Her smile was contagious and I found I was still grinning by the end of the block despite the tug of war I was playing with both my dogs as they pulled like they were trying to win the Iditarod.
The other kid I saw today was a boy, jogging after school in Pasadena with his fellow students, all in their standard-issue gym uniforms. The rest of his classmates looked like a single miserable mass, huffing and puffing down the sidewalk...but not this red-headed kid running out in front of the pack, he stood out. With every street sign he would run past, he would jump up and hit it, then land with a smile, some sort of small little victory in his mind. And I thought it was pretty neat how he made a game out of he managed to find the joy in the mundane. Quite resourceful. Like Anne making friends with her "looking glass" self when there were no real friends to be made.
Anyway, I guess I'm thankful for red-heads and the reminder they are to me that the odds can be beaten, in a harsh world where nature is doing all it can to weed them out, they prevail, the little trouble-makers. And I hope I never lose my inner trouble-maker:)
Today I am grateful for dreams -- dreams that guide and remind.

Yesterday was a busy day! Then my plans for the evening fell through and I found myself with a free evening. So what did I do? I turned on the TV and buzzed through Sunday's Olympics (I know, I am way behind the curve). Then I watched a movie -- Separate Tables -- about the crazy and tender ways we isolated humans try to connect with one another. Then I read voraciously a couple of New Yorkers that have been sitting around. I mean, I ravaged those New Yorkers, devoured them with hardly a chew, pushed way past my bedtime, till I could hardly keep my eyes open, and fell asleep. Sometime in the wee hours I woke, quietly, but with enough conscious awareness to recognize Depression's furtive paw resting on my chest. I went back to sleep and had this dream:

I am in a restaurant or hotel, with different rooms. It is filled with people. I am trying to avoid some people, so I go from one room into the other, and there is my dream guy, Mr. Tall Dark and Handsome. He swoops me in his arms and we have a long, romantic kiss -- and then he helps me hide in a burlap bag on the floor.

What?!? I am lying in a burlap bag on the floor, and this is where my Romantic lead, my animus, has taken me? What the hell...!

OK, so after some thought, and reflection, this is what I learned. Yesterday, there were a whole bunch of tender little feelings that were sprouting up all over the place. Sad feelings, difficult feelings, not just that expansive contentment I have been reveling in lately. I have been sitting with clients struggling with difficulties -- and they become my difficulties. Another client has fallen in love -- and that stirs envy. A potential client still has not made an appointment -- that stirs up disappointment. The terrific client load I had last week is less this week, and that stirs up fear and anxiety. So all this little feelings were chasing me around all day, like a swarm of locusts, and instead of letting them have their say, giving them their space, I retreated into the matrix, wrapped myself up in my media cocoon, battened down the hatches, determined to keep them at bay. Mr. Romance is my drug of choice, fantasy arousing all sorts of longings, inadequacies, fears and just plan, well, fantasy. It's my crack, my heroin. I run off on these little fantastical journeys -- Burt Lancaster has me in his arms, and is he accusing me or seducing me, I'm not sure -- and I think, Oh, that's living, that's life, not this little paltry thing that I have. And all the while, the life that I do have is shut out in the cold, locked out of my heart with all those tender little feelings.

So today, after looking at this dream, writing about it, reflecting on it, I sat quietly, and opened my heart like Rumi's Guest House ("This being human is a guest house, every morning a new arrival") and beckoned, "Come in, Fear, Anxiety, I will soothe you. Don't worry, Envy, I won't shut you out. Disappointment, Sadness -- you have been my stalwart companions, I won't turn my back on you! Loneliness, come in, I will be your friend."

bad movies and popcorn

Last night, instead of my normal Wednesday night chick flick with my friend Nicole, I cuddled up to my husband on the couch and watched the Transformer sequel. What was the plot? I have no idea. Something to do with stopping the bad guys from destroying the sun. I had a hard time distinguishing the good guys from the bad guys, the cheesiness was palpable, and the bass was a thousand times louder than the actors' voices, so the windows were shaking but I couldn't make out the words being pushed through Megan Fox's luscious lips.
But for 2 hours we sat, computers turned off and lights out, together under an over-sized blanket with a bowl full of stove-popped popcorn between us, delighting in the complete lack of thought necessary to enjoy the free-for-all destruction on screen.
It's been a long time since my mind has been quiet and I could just enjoy being. Thanks Transformers :)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Puppy Power

My friend Ashley brought her brand new baby pug over today, and well, there's not a much more joyous sight than a tiny puppy with little puppy ears and a little puppy tail bounding through a new yard for a first time. A little fearless explorer unafraid of anything, running so fast that when he stopped, he actually rolled head over heels. Nipping at the big dogs as if he weren't a little pipsqueak, as if he weren't less than a fifth of their size. Uninhibited, ready to take on the world. Oh to have the energy of a pint-sized pug! And I'm thankful that after days of beating my head against my computer, stuck on my script and feeling utterly uninspired, all it took was watching that little puppy try to slay my slipper like a dragon and I finished my script within hours. If I win an Oscar, I'm thanking Oscar the pug:)

fish with eyes

Last night, I was putting my son to bed and I closed the book he was reading and he asked me if I "saved" it. He meant did I keep his place, but he loves video games so much he transfers the terms to other things which cracks me up. He also sometimes refers to real people as "characters," not in the usual sense of a funny acting person but in the sense of a character in a book or movie. I was also reading my daughter a book about penguins, which she loves. She said she would like to visit Antarctica and build a house there, but that she would bring her own food because she didn't want to eat fish "with eyes" like penguins do. Their perspective on things constantly makes me smile and think, and brings me joy.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

All You Need Is

I only have two minutes to post in time for today, so I will keep it short and sweet: I'm thankful for love in all of it's healing and strengthening and empowering and mystifying and and glorifying and life-giving and joy-filling and happy-making forms:)


I just watched, with utter awe, the Canadian figure skater twirl and spin gracefully through the air. She may not have had any more speed or skills than the other skaters, but she has a strength of spirit and character that I cannot imagine: her mother just died two days ago out of the blue...and the fact that this beautiful girl was able to muster the courage to get out on that ice and skate for herself, for her mother...there just aren't words. I was moved beyond belief.

"To live, to err, to fall, to triumph, to recreate life out of life.." --james joyce

On "Flower Power"

The joyful podium-standers of Vancouver have nothing on my pride and
tears of joy at y'all's recognition and moving tributes. Kara, thank
you for your awesome stirs many fond memories, despite the
thorns. Most people recognize the rose as a symbol of love, but I think
few see it as a symbol of hope, and by extension - faith. I am thankful
that you have made the connection. I am truly blessed among dads...And
what could give a dad more joy?! ;-)XO
Yesterday I was grateful for wonderful clients, today I am grateful for a day without clients so I can attend to my life. What a glorious balance!
Today I stood in the cool morning air and hung up my laundry. I felt the freshness of the morning on my cheeks and my arms as I reached up to fasten the clothespins. The sun cast shadows through a giants bird of paradise, dappling the light. I could hear my little fountain gurgling away; a bird sang; the dog next door barked at me. What a blissful moment! And I owe it all to my clothesline and wash day.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Get Back on that Sled

I was feeling pretty sorry for myself today, when I read this inspiring article about a U.S. bobsledder who has had more than his share of obstacles and keeps on going despite all the odds. It's nice to get a little perspective now and then, so I thought I'd share...

Oh the possiblities...

I am in love with hope and possibilities. In this brief moment in time, while I finish up the 3rd edit of my book and prepare for the daunting prospect of finding an agent, I can revel in all that can be of these 90,000 words that I strung together. Before the no-thank-yous and outright rejections, I have this perfect moment in time where the possibilities are endless. What do I hope for? A contract, a sale, and a paycheck. What do I want most? For a single reader to hold back tears for a perfectly happy ending. Lucky for me, that is a success that I can already claim, so everything else is just icing on the cake :)

PS - I am grateful that my pup is healthy after all :) Gees, girl, don't scare me like that!

Conservancy of the Soul

For a Kentucky girl in Los Angeles, the city can be a pretty suffocating place. And not just because of the air quality in the valley, but because of all the NOISE. There's leaf blowers and mowers and construction all around and a highway not far from my condo and a delightful flight pattern from a nearby airport directly over my roof. And sometimes when I wave at the planes that jet overhead, taking people away from here, I wish I could get away with them. So I am grateful for the Santa Monica Mountain Conservancy...for the person who had the foresight to know that people can't live on concrete alone. So they set aside a place close to my house called Fryman Canyon, a mountain in the middle of the city, where no one could build on or drive on or incessantly use their leaf blowers on. It's the place where I can go to breath air that's a little cleaner and reacquaint myself with old friends like trees and rocks and deer. But the best part about it is that somehow (save the few poor souls who bring their bluetooths along for the hike) it is miraculously quiet. Instead of the flight path of Southwest, I can hear the flight path of hummingbirds as they dart from flower to flower and make recognisance missions to discover if I am friend or foe. I smile and they seem to know.
And being up there got me thinking that in many ways, I am like an overcrowded city myself. Cluttered with so much noise from the population of worry and anxiety that live within. And I need to have the foresight that the builders of this city had, to set aside a place within myself that is away from the noise and concrete...a place within that is silent and still, where I can notice the smallest breeze, the quietest thoughts. A conservancy of the soul, if you will. Someplace protected from the noise and pollution of the world, a place where I let myself truly be vulnerable and unafraid. No clutter, no six story condo buildings or overcrowded coffee shops, no cars or trucks or planes -- just a small circle of self that is nature at it's best, me at my best. The mountain is there...I just need to visit it more often:)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Being Sick Isn't All Bad

I thought I'd miraculously made it through flu season without so much as a sniffle, when voila I woke up yesterday with a sore throat and those telltale aches. Soon it was fever and runny nose and I was positively...sick. Bummer. But Cole brought me OJ and chicken soup and I got to watch the Olympics and well, having a sick day just isn't all that bad. And it reminds me of how grateful I am for health, which I normally take for granted. So...I hope I recover soon but in the meantime, can I please have a green popsicle? :)

Hooray for taste buds!

I'm thankful that somewhere along the way, our ancestors discovered that food could be more than just bland could have heart and soul and even a sense of of art for just a moment in time. Not for posterity or history -- but for the now. The only art that involves all the senses: the sound of the sizzle, the feel of the creamy smooth mousse in your mouth, the savory smell wafting up from the plate, they beauty of all the colors of nature splashed across a plate...and of course, the taste, the glorious taste.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

I am grateful for the SUN!! Hallelujah, we went for a boat ride, did yard work, washed the cars, and grilled out dinner. Does it get any better than this :)

Rainy night

I am very sleepy right now, and I am very thankful for a nice warm bed to fall into:) I'm thankful that after a day when I feel pretty icky, I get to come home to someone who always makes it all better. I'm thankful for a lovely evening with people I love and I'm very grateful that not a character in a Fellini film. I love hearing the rain outside making everything fresh and new and alive again...

Friday, February 19, 2010

A million Questions

There's a little girl, she's probably about 3 years old, who lives with her mother in an apartment below us. I often hear her little voice echoing across the courtyard, singing the ABC's or her own made-up version of a radio song. But mostly I hear her asking her mother a million questions: "Why are we going to the store?" "What is this bug?" "How come I have to eat this sandwich?" It makes me smile every time, such a boisterous little bundle of curiosity. And she reminds me that asking questions is a good thing...wanting to know about the world and how it works and what your part is in it. Because I think if we just accept things -- in our own lives or in the world -- we stop growing. We stop caring. So even though we don't have all the answers, we should keep asking the questions.

Happy Friday!

Ode to Maggie

My big, black, bullying baby girl.
My sweet girl, who sits on my feet, buries her nose into my side, and wallows against me like I am her favorite blankey.
My stubborn adolescent dog, who pretends she is deaf when I am hollering for her to stop running, digs holes in my garden, prefers parfume de la dead fish, and has a sweet tooth for goose poop.
Poor little sweetheart is sick today, and after a visit to the vet, I leave clinging to my girl's neck. She should be okay, but I am anxious for positive results on Monday, as I am very grateful for my little Maggie and the joy that she brings to my life.
I am grateful for...Wisdom. Wisdom of God, Wisdom of Buddha, Wisdom of the Ages, Wisdom of Life.

I am currently taking a class in Contentment in Everyday Life. Contentment! When I was in high school, contentment was a dirty word. The last thing I wanted was contentment -- give me excitement, challenge, high drama! Contentment was giving in and giving up, accepting the status quo, compromising and settling for less. Years later, after enduring some of life's storms, contentment is a place of peace, a still point in the restless world where I can stop and see clearly all the blessings life has brought me. Resting in contentment is akin to resting in God's grace. I experience that warmth and calm rolling out in waves from my heart, warming me to the tips of my fingers and toes, and imbuing my world with a timeless glow. This moment, it whispers, this is the moment of living.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Just Breathe

I thought about having my entries each day be sponsored by a letter, like they used to do on Sesame Street, you know, "Today is brought to you by the letter P!" As I bit into the juiciest pear of all time tonight, I couldn't help but be thankful for my favorite fruit. I also am quite partial to pickles and pie, although not together, and the Pinkberry frozen yogurt down the street. But then, as I was watching the Olympics tonight, tears in my eyes because the athlete's and their stories of triumph are just so freaking awesome, I couldn't help but feel a surge of gratitude for the gift of inspiration. And so, it seems, my alphabet theme is ruined:)

I am amazed at how another human's story, someone I've never met before and probably never will, can move me so deeply. How I can feel that somehow a win for them is a win for me? And for millions of other people? Just one little disk of precious metal acting as a shield for an entire nation...a shield against the worries, the unemployment, the winter blues, the uncertainty of it all. I'm thankful for how contagious hope can be. That inspiration can spread like a virus...literally. The Latin word for inspiration means "to breathe into." And as physical breath gives physical life, so too, it seems, spiritual breath (inspiration) can breathe life into our spirits. Yes, the Olympics are like a giant oxygen tank, a much needed shot in the lungs of a country. And that's pretty cool. But even more inspiring than a perfect slalom is the every day inspiration I receive from my friends and family -- each kind word or hilarious story, every loving gesture is CPR for my soul. So thanks for inspiring me, and for helping me to truly live.

Oh, and also I'm thankful for the existence of the platypus. Because they make me laugh. And ponies and peaches and porcupines. And the letter P.
Today, I am grateful for clients who have the faith to share their lives with me.

Gold medals

I was talking to my mom earlier today, and she said a bunch of people at work have told her that I remind them of skiier Lindsey Vonn, and I said "Haha, I wish I was an Olympic gold medalist" and she replied, "You ARE a gold medalist to me". And although it was a cheesy mom-ish thing to say, it totally made me smile. I'm so grateful to have such loving and supportive people in my life. Every day I wake up and feel lucky and blessed for Cole, Ryan and LA family. You are my rocks. xo


what makes me happy: mom, myself and toys -j.m.-

sweet sugar

roses are red
violets are blue
sugar is sweet
and so are you


Happy Place

Yesterday, little was accomplished. Head pounding, stomach unsettled, I was ill-rested and alone as usual.
And then he came home. He laid me on the couch and wrapped me tightly in his arms. I listened to his breathing and the steady thump of his heartbeat. And all was well.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Dancing Dust

Ash Wednesday. The day when many people go to church in the middle of the day in the middle of the week to a service that, quite honestly, has always extremely bummed me out. I mean there was a certain cache to it as a little kid, getting out of school for an hour, coming back with ashes smeared on my forehead. A proud beacon proclaiming to the world that I was good because I knew I was bad. But as I grew older, the ashes seemed morbid to me -- really, who wants a reminder that they are going to die, that life is short and they've probably messed up what little time they have. Actually, it kind of pissed me off -- isn't the whole God thing about Life? About Forgiveness? What's with wallowing around in the depressing stuff? 

And yet -- somehow I always find myself going to church. On ash wednesday. And so, the last time I went, I wore a bright orange polka dot shirt and a baby blue sweater as an act of rebellion. No sackcloth and black for me. I prepared myself for somberness -- but found something entirely different. As I walked through the heavy arched door, my eyes lowered in proper (if feigned) humility, I discovered words had been written on the floor. Written in a whisper of black ash...

"Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return." 

I steeled myself for the usual surge of doom, but for some reason, it didn't come. And that's when something wholly unexpected happened. I started to laugh. Yes, laugh. It started as a tickle somewhere deep inside and worked its way up to my throat as I worked my way down the aisle. I knelt at the pew, my shoulders shaking now. Trembling with, what was it? Joy? On Ash Wednesday?? What kind of a Christian am I...?

The kind who was given an amazing gift.

A glimpse of the miracle of it all. 

What glory, what magic, what wonder that dust should be raised up in such a way! What sheer beautiful absurdity that dust should walk and talk and wear Jimmy Choo shoes. If dust could be formed into fingers and hearts and eyes that can speak as well as see, is not ANYTHING possible?? I wanted to dance to show that dust can dance too. How??? The human body has 90% chemically in common with dirt for heaven's sake! And yet, here I sit, typing a blog. Breathing, feeling, loving...

And it made me think of an incident with Pippin, my youngest pup, that happened only a few days earlier. I have a steam shower in my bedroom bathroom, if not THE reason I bought my place, at least one of them. I love the swirl of the steam, making me disappear in the glass box of my shower, love drawing on the foggy doors -- some people sing in the shower, I doodle. Okay, I sing too, but that's not important. What's important is, I love the steam. Anyway, as I stepped out of the shower on this particular morning, Pippin was sitting on the mat, toy in his mouth, patiently waiting for me to play. But suddenly, he dropped the plastic toy and began to back out of the room a look on his face I had never seen before...a look of pure fear. The hair on his back stood up and he began to bark, barking for his life it seemed as the steam billowed towards him in in a hazy white cloud. Steam. Just steam -- I tried to reassure him, but he ran from the room. He couldn't understand it, so he feared it.

 Oh how much time do I spend, how many days, how many sleepless nights barking at steam? Being afraid of the ashes. Afraid I have sinned too much and believed too little. Thinking the cloud is going to kill me when really its just going to relax me and clear my nasal passages. I faced the fear that day -- the ashes, the reminder of death, the way being reminded makes me feel -- and I let the steam of it all pass over me for what it was, a bunch of hot air. And I found to my amazement that on the other side of fear was joy -- exuberance even. The amazing truth that life is a mystery...a beautiful, wonder-filled phenomenon. Is not anything possible? :)

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