Friday, December 31, 2010

Sufficient – All that I need and much of what I want.

Pronunciation: \suh-fish-uh nt\
Function: adjective
Etymology: Latin sufficiens, supplying the needs of
Date: 1359
1. adequate for the purpose; enough:
2. Logic . (of a condition) such that its existence leads to the occurrence of a given event or the existence of a given thing.
3. Archaic . competent.

In reviewing the year, it is clear I was given what was sufficient to make it through each day. Some days that was a warm bed, pillows to drown the sobs and time to mourn. It was the patience and empathy of friends.

Other days it was work and all that encompasses. There were times of laughter, of discovery, of adventure, of personal inventory. Evenings and weekends filled with good company, good food, comforting and enlightening Al Anon meetings, books and music and crafts. There trips to Eugene and to Los Angeles. There were sunsets and snows and rain ~ barbecues and wine and playing with Marty the pug.

There were lessons about mindfulness, powerlessness, change by letting go, prayer, meditation, and meeting God in the moment. There were arguments with the committee in my head and arguments with committees in the school district. There was grief and celebration, brokenness and healing, falling and getting up (literally and spiritually). There was and is the gift of hope.

David’s sponsor used to say, when David was feeling particularly happy – “This too shall pass.” It still unsettles me, even though it is true. Today’s joy and serenity will be challenged in the year to come. Life on life’s terms means meeting the day, whatever it brings. However, I carry hope and faith with me, knowing that I will be given what is sufficient to meet each day.

Blessings to all of you of a peace that passes all understanding.

What Worked for Me Today
Doing my relaxation Yoga last night which translated into a great night’s sleep. Eating mindfully. Enjoying the sun and cold. Packing away Christmas!

Zombies – yep! Episode 5 of “Bite Me” was posted on You Tube last night!
Note: Not suitable for kids.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Gratitude Part II - Family: Healthy perspective on a year of growth, change, humor, grief and self discovery

Pronunciation: \fam-uh-lee \
Function: noun
Etymology: Latin familia a household, servants of the house
Date: 1400
(Abbreviated list of definitions from
1. a. a basic social unit consisting of parents and their children, considered as a group, whether dwelling together or not
b. a social unit consisting of one or more adults together with the children they care for
8. the staff, or body of assistants, of an official
9. a group of related things or people
10. a group of people who are generally not blood relations but who share common attitudes, interests, or goals and, frequently, live together

Part 2 – I Am Not Alone

Experience, Strength & Hope
In all 12 Step programs, members are encouraged to share their experience, strength and hope illustrated by how the program works in their lives. I have shared at a number of meetings, that Al-Anon has not made my life better, it has made me better at my life. I am grateful for my fellow travelers. I am grateful that no matter where I walk into a meeting, I am welcomed. I have been accepted with no judgement, no rush to change me, no advice. Hard to imagine - but it is a tenant of the program – we do not give advice. However, there is much to be learned by listening to another’s experience, strength and hope.

We Shall Do More With Less
Willamina School District
This family is dynamic and ever changing. I am grateful for those who have stepped beside me to help me professionally and personally. I am grateful for the students who face challenges and still join in, still show up, still find laughter. I am thankful that I can be a part of something that has value and meaning.

Call Your Mother
The people whom Kate and Jared and Jacob are… brings me joy. My life is immeasurably richer because of them. They are a blessing.

“Better is a neighbor who is near than a brother far away.“ Proverbs 27:10
The generosity and patience, kindness and laughter, comfort and solace I have been privileged to experience from my friends is humbling. I am grateful for these people, especially when my craziness has been met with shared vulnerability. I can’t imagine this past year without these people.

What Worked for Me Today
Reading “Women, Food and God” by Geneen Roth at the McMinnville Library. I also picked up a great garden book for $1.00 from the “Friends of the Library” sale rack. It is located next to the elevator in the Mac Library lobby. Hard backs are $1.00 and paperbacks are 50 cents.

Oregon Al Anon and Alateen

McMinnville Public Library

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Gratitude: Healthy perspective on a year of growth, change, humor, grief and self discovery

Pronunciation: \ græt ɪˌtud \
Function: adjective
Etymology: Medieval Latin: gratitudo "thankfulness,"
Date: 1400-50
the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful

An Al-Anon friend said to me recently, that his measure of growth was that his life today was marked with gratitude and service. I have much to be thankful for as I look back… and forward. Some things may seem trivial, but each in its own way contributed to this year.

Part I – Technological Distractions
The No Brainer List of Technology that I Used to “Unplug” My Brain.

Internet Based Distractions
You Tube
Yes, I am grateful for YouTube. From silly cat videos, to news, to sketch comedy to old music videos, YouTube has kept me current (in the pop culture venue) and provided hours of entertainment.

My favorites this year:
Comments on news irreverently served.
Zombies in LA – a YouTube mini series – what more is there to say.
Black Box TV – Think “Outer Limits” or “Twilight Zone.”
Simon’s Cat – If you are a cat person these illustrated stories are delightful.

Web Sties
Logic game with new age music.
News – gossip – columnists.

I was able to catch up on Dexter, The Tudors, United States of Tara, Nurse Jackie, True Blood, In Treatment, the last season of LOST, streaming Eureka and the 1960’s classic Dark Shadows.

Other Things
Coming home and turning on Keith Olberman and Rachel Maddow keeps me in my “liberal media” loop. AMC’s walking dead gave me another Zombie Fix

IPod Touch
I SO enjoy this device. I can check my email, log into my banking account, post to Facebook, buy books through Amazon Kindle, read or listen to FREE books through CCRLS (Chemeketa Cooperative Regional Library Service). Then there are the Aps. My favorites include Zombie Farm, Angry Birds, Soduko, Rag Doll Launcher, Doodle God,

What Worked for Me Today
Making a 30-60-90 day plan (Nod to sexephil Philip DeFranco for this idea and 12 step program “4th Step” inventory suggestions).

Lunch with a colleague and window shopping down 3rd Street in McMinnville.

See the above links.
Tomorrow – Being grateful for the people in my life.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Obdurate – Difficult changes in perception, understanding and corporate culture

Pronunciation: \ ob-doo-rit -\
Function: adjective
Etymology: Latin: to harden
Date: 1400-50
1. unmoved by persuasion, pity, or tender feelings; stubborn; unyielding.
2. stubbornly resistant to moral influence; persistently impenitent

Currently, I am reading two books. One is fiction by Anne Perry, a favorite author of mine. It is set in the Byzantine Empire and places the characters within the larger conflict between the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches. Each clings with violent intent to its beliefs. There is little room to quote the text “for gentleness and the humility to learn, to crush the appetite for exclusivity and to tolerate the different.”

The second book is a frank discussion of the perceptions of Christians by non Christians and the “good news about the end of Christian America.” The author, Gabe Lyons, speaks of Christians of in all variances seeking to “be a a force for restoration in a broken world” ~ wanting the label “Christan to mean something good, intelligent, authentic, true and beautiful.”

The intertwining of history with fiction, the present with the past, as I read these two books speaks to my own journey, personally, spiritually and professionally. Growth is often brought upon us through trial, sadness, grief or illness. Why is that so? What is it about us as humans or in a broader sense our corporate structures that require pain (or litigation) to move from self interest (which is often destructive) to health and justice?

We are a stubborn lot, well at least I am. I repeat what I have done before, no longer expecting different results (expecting different results being the definition of insanity). I repeat it KNOWING the results will be the same. What is the level after insanity?

I also see the workplace doing the same. We face budget cuts and looming insecurity, yet corporately we turn to the same dogged solutions we enacted during the last crisis. Where is the creativity? The willingness to at least listen to persuasion?
My prayers are simpler these days. I have stopped praying answers. I have turned to asking for guidance. A twelve step prayer is simple “knowledge of your will and the power to carry it out.” Yet, I feel guilty. Raised in a church culture that not only preached but required praying for specifics, I at times feel as though I am not “doing my part.” On the other hand, I tremble at the idea that I might know God’s will for anyone’s life.

My concerns for work are as complex. There are rules and traditions and a hierarchy not much different than any church. Contemplating different approaches rocks the norm.

To change a couple of words of Anne Perry “Maybe an [institution] can only take us so far, provide a framework in which we can climb far enough to see just how much father there is to go, and that the journey is infinitely worth it.”

What Worked for Me Today
Moving – when I wanted to hide. Reading beyond the text thanks to my IPod Touch (thank you Jared) with Kindle books backed up by Google, Wikipedia and the New Oxford American Dictionary.

Shopping Local at Third Street Books in McMinnville – This is a great place to pick up a title or two (especially when they actually get it off the shelf and hand it to you while you walk around). I have found the most interesting books here; ones I may not have encountered otherwise.

The Next Christians: How a New Generation is Restoring Faith
, by Gabe Lyons

The Sheen on the Silk
by Anne Perry

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Lacuna - Blessed Even in the Missing Parts

Pronunciation: \lə-ˈkü-nə, -ˈkyü-\
Function: noun
Etymology: Latin, pool, pit, gap
Date: 1652
1 : a blank space or a missing part : GAP ; also : DEFICIENCY 1
2 : a small cavity, pit, or discontinuity in an anatomical structure

A quiet day filled with productivity. I took the day to do paperwork from the job. Yet, I interspersed it with last of the vegetables from the garden, time out in the warm sun and pauses just to think (not to mention a blog or two). There are obvious missing parts in my life. My reactions to the tension and stress of the past two weeks has led several people to ask if I am doing ok.

Reading the “Persist” blog might indicate that I am not. I cringe a little at my own vulnerability. It’s that cycle of fear and insecurity. What hasn’t been so obvious to my colleagues, family and friends is how the kindness has been a balm. The darkness or stress is calmed by the caring. Sometimes it’s simply a tag on a bag saying “Stabenator.” It might be a piece of homemade Bundt cake. A gift of “Porn for Women” (not what you think!!! ) A walk, a call, a laugh or even a shared tear or two all fill the blank spaces.

C.S. Lewis talks about being vulnerable.

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless--it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.

I stumble quite often on this path of discovery. My feelings are at times raw, my reactions not tempered by thought. However, I am blessed. In the midst of it all, I am blessed.

What Worked for Me Today
Work - getting the piles unpiled

Take a Drive to Pacific City and enjoy breakfast at the "Grateful Bread." This has long been my getaway place. A friend of my recommends the ginger pancakes!

Also, loved the Mercantile! I was able to find a child's diary, complete with lock and key! You will find it right down from The Grateful Bread.

Persist - Getting Up After the Wave

per-sist, -zist
Function: verb

: to go on resolutely or stubbornly in spite of opposition, importunity, or warning
2obsolete : to remain unchanged or fixed in a specified character, condition, or position
3: to be insistent in the repetition or pressing of an utterance (as a question or an opinion)
4: to continue to exist especially past a usual, expected, or normal time

Date: 1530 - 40
Etimology: from the Latin persistere, to stand firm permanently,

In her book “The year of Magical Thinking” Joan Didion talks about appearances – the “cool customer” as she describes it. When her husband died unexpectedly she did all the things a widow should do, including authorizing an autopsy, arranging for the service, notifying the relatives, his work, and packing up his clothes. She packed everything but his shoes, because in her head she envisioned a world where he would simply come back. He would need his shoes.

She also quite succinctly described the difference in thinking between losing her parents, both living near or past 90, and the waves of grief which made daily tasks impossible after the loss of her husband.

In Oregon, I might call them sneaker waves. Walking along a beach on a brilliant day observing the laughter of children and the antics of unleashed dogs. Out of nowhere a wave rushes farther and faster than any other. Though you try to run, it is more powerful and it knocks you off your feet and you fall. You try to right yourself and you find yourself pushed against the rocks. That is the grief when the loss is sudden or out of order (child before parent, the young, and the one closest to you). The stealth of this kind of grief is jarring. Those waves come weeks and months later. You think, “I thought I was better. I thought I was over this.”

This journey is so foreign to me, and yet I wonder why. I have lost many people in my life but this is somehow fundamentally different. I know that feeling it, awful as it is, is better than covering it. I know that being able to be honest in an Al-Anon meeting brings comfort. There are days where grief does not visit. Oh, but when it does, my eyes burn, my head hurts, my breath catches and time seems to stand still as if to torture me.

I am tired, but there is much work to be done. There is chaos elsewhere that must be dealt with, other than the chaos in my mind and in my heart.

What Worked for Me Today
Writing, getting out, cutting the last of the roses and creating a huge bouquet in the living room. Oh, and a salt encrusted dark chocolate caramel from Honest Chocolates

Oregon Coast Sneaker Wave Video:
Honest Chocolates Great hand made chocolates on 3rd street in McMinnville

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Pinch and the Serenity Prayer

Function: verb; noun; adjective

Date: 1250–1300

Etymology: from O.N.Fr. *pinchier, variant of O.Fr. pincier, possibly from V.L. *punctiare "to pierce" (from L. punctum "point"), and *piccare "to pierce." Meaning "to steal" is from 1650s. Sense of "to be stingy" is recorded from early 14c. Noun meaning "critical juncture" (as in baseball pinch hitter, attested from 1912) is from late 15c.; older than the literal sense of "act of pinching" (1590s).

Depending on the source, pinch can have as many as 30 distinct definitions. The following is a significantly, and prejudicially, edited list.
: (a)to constrict or squeeze painfully; (b) to cramp within narrow bounds or quarters; (c) to affect with sharp discomfort or distress; (d) to diminish to nothing; (e) to stint on or be frugal or economical with expenditures; (f) substitute

A couple of weeks ago, I read a comment that said “when life begins to pinch, it is time for change.” At that time it made me laugh, because I had a literal lesson on this exact concept. I had worn a pair of shoes to work – a pair that I had comfortably worn dozens of times before. There was a rubbing or pinching on one toe, which I chose to ignore. By the time I arrived home I had created a rather large (for a toe) raw spot. It was so painful, that I couldn't wear closed toed shoes for several days afterward. With this in mind, I was ready to write a prosaic blog about metaphorical pinching in my life and the changes I now was ready to make.

Things change. Life is no longer pinching, it’s downright painful. However, I am having cognitive dissonance created completely by fear. The Serenity Prayer, as modified by many 12-step programs including Al-Anon, states “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”

I know the unsaid “inserts” to the prayer: things I cannot change – everyone else; things I can change – me.

So, the question today is sort of “what would Ghandi do?” What actions can I change – my own actions – that may affect the world for the greater good? OK so maybe not the world, but my workplace, my family, my home. Life has gone beyond pinching and it some ways it is approaching intolerable. Where are my boundaries? And what risks am I willing to take?

What Worked for Me Today
Sitting quietly on the couch reading and napping. No tv or radio or music, just the sound of the rain.

Two books are bringing clarity to my own experience. The first I have just finished.
Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction
by David Sheff is familiar at times, heart wrenching and yet holds the key to why so many of us find relief in Al-Anon. When we are the family or friends of the addict and/or alcoholic, we too become sick. When we share our stories, we gain strength.

The second book I have just begun. It will be a slow read, one I am not sure I am ready for.

The Year of Magical Thinking
by Joan Didion chronicles her life after the death of her husband.

Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it. We anticipate (we know) that someone close to us could die, but we do not look beyond the few days or weeks that immediately follow such an imagined death.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Euphoria: Afraid to trust “the happy”


pronunctiation: \yü-ˈfȯr-ē-ə\
Function: noun
Date: 1751
Etymology: New Latin, from Greek, from euphoros healthy, from eu- + pherein to bear
: a feeling of well-being or elation

This was a very good day. In teaching, it is incredibly rewarding when you see a student engage in the process and apply what she has learned. It is a gift, when a smile spreads across his face as he realizes he “got it”. That happened today and it felt great!

Another gift walked in the door. A high school student aide, who worked with me several years ago came in to check in. He gave me a hug, introduced his fiancé, and talked about all the positive things happening in his life. That, forgive the Martha Stewart reference, is a “good thing.”

Afterschool in the libary I had a conversation about zombies and imortals with a student. We shared what books we were reading, and talked about the best way to dispatch the undead. It was so much fun.

Today, I witnessed teachers doing what good teachers do. I saw accommodations and clarity, humor and learning (not just teaching).

On a personal note, David’s daughter is expecting and she called to share the news. My own daughter has invited me to Thanksgiving dinner and wants to pay for the plane ticket.

In this moment – for today – I need to stay present. There is that voice nagging in the back that says “it won’t last – it’s not real – this happy you feel.” It may not last. And certainly, like pain, happiness will ebb and flow. However, I choose to say no to the fear and yes to happy. It was a very good day.

What Worked for Me Today
Again - getting up just a bit early to meditate and pray.
Eating breakfast - what a concept!

Written for young adults - I am reading the "Mortal Instruments" series by Cassandra Clare. (Thank you Shannon Mode, Willamina Elementary Librarian, for the recommendation.)

My young friend recommends the "Pendragon" series by D. J. MacHale.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Iterative - Sometimes the definition of insanity

Pronuciation: \ˈi-tə-ˌrā-tiv, -rə-\
Function: adjecdtive
Date: 15th century
1. Characterized by or involving repetition, recurrence, reiteration, or repetitiousness.
2. Grammar Frequentative.

Albert Einstein once said "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results". It is interesting that 12-step programs have adopted this definition as well.

In a Daily Meditations book, the following passage resonated with me, not because I am in pain today, but because in the past I have chosen to stay in pain. Choosing something different was too fearful.

“Pain, repeatedly experienced, indicates a need for self-assessment…Honest self-appraisal may call for change in attitude, change in behavior or change in direction…Most of us willingly wallow in our pain awhile, not because we like it, but because its familiarity offers security.”

Some posit that change is inevitable. I wonder. If we do not accept change when it comes, or do not seek it when things are awry, we just may find ourselves “wallowing” in our current situation. Pain is the familiar companion.

On NPR there was an interesting story about two men whose sight was restored late in life. Because these men had no visual references, things like buildings or the faces of family members made no sense to them. Their brains had to be retrained to understand the visual images. One man embraced the incredible changes, the other did not. Change came to both of these men. One fought it, and died miserable. The other defined his life through change and expanded his quality of life.

Today, I can say without hesitation, that the changes I have chosen in the past two years ,or in the case of David’s death, forced myself to feel, have brought me to a place where there can be happiness.

Yet, there are still things that make me uncomfortable – uneasy. It is time for a change in attitude, behavior and/or direction once again.

What Worked for Me Today
Following my bedtime routine last night: Hot decaf green tea and Yoga Relaxation.
Reading and Meditating (no ohhhmmmsss) this morning.

Massage & Yoga
I believe I have shared this before. However, it bears repeating. If you are near to McMinnville, please check out:

Seylah is both my massage therapist and my yoga instructor. I use her CD prior to going to bed. She has my highest recommendation.

Treating Blindness Takes More Than Meets the Eye

Daily Meditations
"Each Day A New Beginning" Harper/Hazelden publishers

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Utterance - Been Here Before

Pronuciation: /ˈʌtərəns/
Function: noun
Etymology: from Middle French outrance, from outrer to go beyond
Date: 1450
1. an act of uttering; vocal expression.
2. manner of speaking; power of speaking: His very utterance was spellbinding.
3. something uttered; a word or words uttered; a cry, animal's call, or the like.

archaic : the last extremity : bitter end

Scroll back to March 26, 2010 for the genesis and reasons for the blog along with my start and stop efforts at writing. Three months from my last post, I begin again.

In most religious walks, there are precepts against careless talk. You find these warnings in Hebrew Scripture, the New Testament, the Quran and Buddhist sayings. Governments adopt the same - such as warning people of careless talk in World War II, lest our men be in danger. "Loose Lips Sink Ships!"

We have seen how careless talk inflames hatred and misunderstanding on global scales. This week alone, the world focused on the words of a man in Florida who threatened to burn Qurans (I personally have a hard time giving him the title pastor). Presidents and Generals pleaded with him. His threats were carried round the world.

That's the global nature of utterances - but this blog is particularly personal. It has been a week in which asking questions has gotten me into trouble. I have been there before. However, given that I was trying to be circumspect, professional and extremely judicious in my choice of words and timing I was truly taken aback.

What responsibility does the "hearer" have to the "questioner"? If there is a concern, shouldn't clarification questions follow? Understanding one another blends art and skill. Seeking to understand and to be understood is at times a difficult, but essential, process.

It is a struggle I have even here. How do I frame debate and discussion? How do I present a case so that it is clearly understood, but not careless or gossipy?

Whether personal or professional, the art of conversation conversation, continues to be fraught with pitfalls. However, for this importunate and loquacious woman, it is still a great deal of fun.

What Worked for Me Today
Early Morning Workout - yes I have succumb to those who preach that exercise DOES ACTUALLY directly affect my mood in a positive way.

Breakfast with a Friend - that whole "talking" thing.

Funny Animals on You Tube brought me to a page by "Janhuh." Check out his music.

Join the Snail Mail Brigade
A number of my friends and I are going "old school" and committing to hand writing a letter, note or card each week and sending it "Snail Mail." Wouldn't you like to receive a note? Start with sending one of your own.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Palimpsest - Depth of Layers

Pronunciation: \ˈpa-ləm(p)-ˌsest, pə-ˈlim(p)-\
Function: noun
Etymology: Latin palimpsestus, from Greek palimpsēstos scraped again, from palin + psēn to rub, scrape; akin to Sanskrit psāti, babhasti he chews
Date: 1825
1 : writing material (as a parchment or tablet) used one or more times after earlier writing has been erased
2 : something having usually diverse layers or aspects apparent beneath the surface

For me, there is an inherent fascination about the way people think. It is one of the reasons I ask so many questions. I am constantly searching for the layers underneath.

A simple example stems from the fact that my friend David was colorblind. When I first found this out I was constantly pointing to things and asking what color he saw. I would ask him if he could tell the difference in shades. He was patient with me, but now that I think back, it must have been maddening. However, I desperately wanted to know how he literally saw the world.

Another example is my conversations with a relatively new friend who has been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder as well as being bi-polar. Asking questions about his reality, his perceptions, and his beliefs without judgment has been fascinating. I have had opportunity to do this prior to his new medication regime and after. It has been instructive and thought provoking, and admittedly at times frustrating.

On a broader plane, I am news junky with a heavy emphasis on politics. Having been a public relations and political campaign developer, I have never lost the taste for the process. Campaigns are like Broadway shows. You rehearse, pour in money, advertise, and hope that an audience shows up. You may open in a small venue first and wait for the reviews. However, it is all preparation for that opening night on Broadway. Do you wake to rave reviews or close the doors before the next performance? Politics is theatre and I find it extremely amusing and at times maddening.

On a smaller scale, contract negotiations can be seen as an elaborate fencing bout with rules and referees. Each side parries and makes points. Someone keeps score and there is seldom if ever a tie. The interplay, the posturing, the game is practically codified before the first session begins.

David once used this blog’s topic word to describe me: palimpsest. It’s a theme that seems to be reoccurring lately. I will have to think on that to distill the lesson.

What Worked for Me Today
30 minutes of interval training on the elliptical machine – then weight lifting. (Going for the buns of aluminum!)

If you are of a faith that reads the Bible, a great place to visit for reflection is Sacred Space. It is hosted by Irish Jesuits and presents prayers, a Bible passage, and suggestions for reflection.

I have also found the daily reflections from Hazelden (the rehab folk) very helpful. These are daily readings sent to your email. Though some selections are directed at the AA folks, many are simply reflections to provoke thought many could find helpful. You can wander around various meditations or sign up for daily emails.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Hypnagogic - Simple Gifts

\ˌhip-nə-ˈgä-jik, -ˈgō-\
Function: adjective
Etymology: French hypnagogique, from Greek hypn- + -agōgos leading, inducing, from agein to lead —
Date: 1886
: of, relating to, or occurring in the period of drowsiness immediately preceding sleep

Sleep. I have used it to avoid conflict, silence the never-ending ruminations, isolate, or simply give in to the inordinate weight of sadness that wears upon a body.

Or I have struggled to fall asleep. I have tried to displace the thoughts with music, NPR audio books and relaxation technique... They all work, at first. Then I would wake every couple of hours to try again.

So, it is with great pleasure and mild surprise that I realized today that I have sleeping. I have been falling asleep relatively quickly and staying asleep. This is a gift. A simple pure gift. I like going to bed sleepy. I still have quiet speaker tapes playing on the IPod, but I seldom last but a few minutes. There are still times when I wake thinking, as if I never went to sleep. However, I sleep. I sleep more nights than I don’t.

What Worked for Me Today
Dinner out with friends. Testing each other with trivia. Laughter and good-natured self-deprecation on everyone’s part.

For some internet fun, or a way to make a quick poster or card visit

Paste in any text (Declaration of Independence – Shakespeare Poem – Even my blog). Hit go and watch the words turn into a “word cloud.”

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Esemplastic - Some Things are Elusive

Pronunciation: \ˌe-ˌsem-ˈplas-tik, -səm-\
Function: adjective
Etymology: Greek es hen into one + English plastic
Date: 1817
: shaping or having the power to shape disparate things into a unified whole

We are more than the sum of our parts. This is true as individuals, as workers, as friends, as churches, volunteer organizations or as families. I have always found strength in people. I am inspired by small children overcoming much to learn, to grow, to love. I am energized by those individuals who go beyond their job descriptions and give of themselves, their time, their money and their hearts. I am humbled and grateful for my own children whose kindness and generosity is effortless and without condition.

There is a sense of collective sadness in so many things today. There is little that is truly unified, either professionally or personally. There are so many voices and yet so little understanding. I spoke with someone today, sharing that it is very difficult for me since losing the one person who truly understood me. I have lost the person whom I could “black board” my ideas, my experiences, my feelings, my frustrations, my joys - all the little ups and downs that make up a day. There was trust and confidentiality and a great deal of patience and flexibility. We weren’t afraid to acknowledge our failures because there was no judgment.

I have learned that this is rare. However, I am so thankful that I often told him of his importance to me before he died. I continue to be comforted by remembering the times he told me of my value.

Today, it is difficult when people view me by my seemingly disparate parts rather than my unified whole. It is painful to be misunderstood. Yet, it is not crippling, not as it used to be. It’s unfortunate, but it doesn’t cloud my vision for myself, for my work, for my future. I am not without hope. For I continue to learn that perhaps, David was right.

What Worked for Me Today
Dinner alone in the park, next to the stream, under the tall trees.

Having read the excellent book “Blue Like Jazz” by Donald Miller, I am reading his book “Through Painted Deserts.” Will let you know if it is as good.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Descry - Opening My Eyes to the Lessons

Pronunciation: \di-ˈskrī\
Function: transitive verb
Inflected Form(s): de•scried; de•scry•ing
Etymology: Middle English descrien to proclaim, reveal, from Anglo-French *descrier, alteration of Old French decrier —
Date: 14th century
1 a : to catch sight of
2 obsolete : to make known

The weekend is hard to describe. It contained moments of laughter and new acquaintances. Tranquil times watching birds and taking naps. I also experienced times of sadness and conflict. I realize this is not unusual, nor should it be unexpected. However, it does make it difficult navigate on an emotional plane.

So looking at my two fundamental issues – fear and insecurity – I have to process these experiences through that lens. What reactions came from fear and/or insecurity? What growth came from walking forward through the fear or insecurity? In “practicing the present” what lessons need to be learned; what things are there to be grateful for?

My gratitude list is long and varied. It includes those birds, gardening, chatting with a local artist at the Saturday while visiting “my painting.” I am grateful for sleep, for my children, for good books, for walking away from the 19” flat screen TV on sale at WalMart.

My lessons include practicing composure under pressure, reassessing my openness and trust, affirming my faith, setting boundaries, and like a child who needs constant reteaching … believing that it is not just OK to take care of myself, but necessary for health and productivity.

What Worked for Me This Weekend
Laughing at myself

If you haven’t visited the Saturday Market in McMinnville, it’s worth the trip. Off of 5th street in the granary district, you will find food, art, music and a pleasant way to start your day. If you want to see “my painting” stop by the enclosed art gallery inside the market and look at the rust, yellow and burnt sienna clouds.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Hiatus - Back from the Break

Pronunciation: \hī-ˈā-təs\
Function: noun
Etymology: Latin, from hiare to yawn — more at YAWN
Date: 1563
1 a: a break in or as if in a material object b: a gap or passage in an anatomical part or organ
2 a: an interruption in time or continuity: a period when something is suspended or interrupted b: the occurrence of two vowel sounds without pause or intervening consonantal sound

In giving in to the stressors of work and personal issues, I stopped taking care of myself. I continued to work, answer phone calls, and respond to family and friends. However, I stopped writing. I isolated myself from my greater support network and closed ranks even in my own home. Going to bed early, rising even earlier I tripped the coping skills of the past – work, gossip, sleep, comfort food, and caffeine.

Even as I have verbalized that this summer I am going to be selfish, I cringe. It is not that a single person has argued the necessity of taking this time to care for myself. I realize I color even the presentation. A connoisseur of words, I could easily phrase it as “focusing on my goals,” “channeling my energy into revitalizing my heart, body and soul,” or something as simple as “enjoying the time off.” However, like stopping to write, taking a break to walk around the block, saying I “deserve” anything makes me literally shake my head no – doing so even as I write this.

Knowledge simply isn’t enough. If it were, I would be thin, wealthy, in great shape, have all of my paper work in order, and be a perfect person. I would write every day, exercise, drink my eight glasses of water, meditate, and pray. I would stop and breathe through the inevitable stress, let go of what I cannot change and smile a great deal more.

Is it discipline? Is it stress? Checking the research based stress rating scales I am in the over 300 category. It’s not pretty. Is it simply being human? I have been told not to be so hard on myself. Yet it may be as simple as an Alanon’s observation. “Go to meetings. Read stuff. Talk to people.”

Hiatus over. Let the writing continue!

What Worked For Me Today

Hugs from friends. Prayer with friends. A glass of wine and a chocolate truffle. (OK, so not ready to let go of all the old coping skills.)

The Holmes and Rahe stress scale is a list of 43 stressful life events that can contribute to illness.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Memento – What to Keep?

Pronunciation: \mə-ˈmen-(ˌ)tō, ÷mō-\
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural me•men•tos or me•men•toes
Etymology: Middle English, from Latin, remember, imperative of meminisse to remember; akin to Latin ment-, mens mind
Date: 1580
: something that serves to warn or remind

This year has brought much change. Part of the change lies in literally sorting out the past – boxes of it. What causes some of us to hold on to things and others to seem to have no need to surround themselves with the little oddities the rest of us collect? Usually, you can easily tell by looking at someone’s refrigerator. No magnets, notices, notes, or artwork? Or a collection of the important and mundane.

What do I do with someone else’s mementos? My mother kept six or seven pairs of my childhood shoes. Red leather sandals and stiff white high tops along with tiny little Mary-Jane’s and beaded moccasins. Envelopes with snippets of my once sun yellow blond hair. And why do we keep teeth? I have my children’s baby teeth and now I am faced with a jar of my own. There are pictures of unknown people and broken costume jewelry carefully wrapped in Kleenex.

There were notes written inside lid of my mother’s makeup box. “You Know Something” in my father’s hand. Small code words meaning “I love you.” Cards she had given to him signed "You Know Who" - cards that were obviously left behind.

What will my own children find when the time comes? Small onesies that they wore when infants and baby books with hair clippings taped in the back. A teddy bear, a black bat doll, a stethascope, a candle shade imprinted with the sererenity prayer. Rubber stamps and half-finished quilts along with boxes of books. Finely crochetted doilies from my grandmother, pictures of my mother along with drumsticks and artwork from my father. Baskets and boxes and glass bowls. Will they be able to identify the jewelry that reminds me of love vs. the jewelry that speaks of fashion? Will they understand the code words they find written on notes or in letters?

I am sorting through the past in order to move with the rhythm of the present.

What Worked For Me Today
Throwing away the things that can not be fixed and have no emotional or financial value. Washing and mending the things that can.

Current Books on My Bed
"The Epidemic - a Global History of Aids" by Jonathan Engel
"A Kiss of Shadows" - by Laurell K. Hamilton
"Soduko" - presented by Will Shortz

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Alembic - Tired - So My Perspective May Be Off

Pronunciation: \ə-ˈlem-bik\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French & Medieval Latin; Middle French alambic & Medieval Latin alembicum, from Arabic al-anbīq, from al the + anbīq still, from Late Greek ambik-, ambix alembic, from Greek, cap of a still
Date: 14th century
1 : an apparatus used in distillation
2 : something that refines or transmutes as if by distillation

There are many aspects of perception. Obviously there are our senses. It would seem that those would be objective and consistent between people. However, all you have to do is ask ten people if they like brussel sprouts. Conceivably they have the same flavor, but the perception of taste is different. Ask a detective about witness interviews. Each person’s view will be different.

Our perception is also colored by our own past experiences and our current state of mind. Judgments I might make when I am well rested, full, content and free of stress could very well be different after a sleepless night, a headache, or with deadlines pressing.

The moon in the sky on a drive into work is the same moon I saw a few weeks ago. Granted, today it is a cresent shaped and before it was full. Today however it triggered a memory and my emotional reaction was of sadness rather than peace.

It gives me pause. What is the person in the car in front of me experiencing when they go “too slow.” What is their past experience? What about the colleague at work or the child? Are they tired? Are they happy?

If I am to “take at easy” on myself – give myself time to grieve – how do I balance that with the expectations of my job or my friends or my family or my volunteer work? How do I balance other people’s need to feel with my expectations and need for their performance?

What Worked For Me Today
Recognizing I Need Rest and I Need to Say No

Great Book that David’s sponsor shared with both of us is “12 Steps for a Recovering Pharisee.” It’s written from a Christian faith perspective and uses the words “sin, prayer, God” a great deal.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Disparate - Out of Sorts

Pronunciation: \ˈdis-p(ə-)rət, di-ˈsper-ət, -ˈspa-rət\
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English desparat, from Latin disparatus, past participle of disparare to separate, from dis- + parare to prepare — more at PARE
Date: 15th century
1 : containing or made up of fundamentally different and often incongruous elements
2 : markedly distinct in quality or character

For as long as I can remember in my adult life, I have had several internal battles between opposing desires and/or opposing characteristics. This can, and often, not only confuses me, but the people in my life. I am never sure how to strike the balance or find the symmetry between the two.

I am by all accounts, my own and others, a strong individual. I like being perceived as someone who can handle things in a crisis – a person who can solve problems – champion causes. I don’t go so far as to “tilt at windmills,” but I don’t have a problem taking a stand. That is, of course, in almost every area except personal relationships. Here I shrink from conflict. My old mantra of “peace at any cost” paralyzed me emotionally. The challenge is to learn to speak truth – with strength and clarity for myself – and with compassion and understanding for others.

That leads to my other see saw of desires. On one had I want to be appreciated for my strength, my assistance, my insight (go ahead and snicker at the old wise woman). Yet, I want someone to take care of me. Not someone to rescue me, but to listen. Not to be told everything will be ok, but to acknowledge the pain and allow the tears. It sounds so simple, but is difficult to find, and so very difficult to hold on to.

What Worked For Me Today
Facing a Fear and Tillamook Mudslide Ice Cream

Another way to shut the brain off is to read. When reading seems too much work, try downloading free audio books from the library. The Chemeketa Cooperative Regional Library has books that will play on your IPod or MP3 player. (They have also added an Adobe Book Reader option for some titles.) Both require you to download the player (Adobe for print and Overdrive Media for audio). The books will “disappear” from your computer in 7 days. However, if you transfer the audio files to your IPod or MP3 player you can have them forever. All you need is a current library card and an email address.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Cudgel - Today's Right Thing

Function: transitive verb
Inflected Form(s): cudgeled or cudgelled; cudgel•ing or cudgel•ling\ˈkəj-liŋ, ˈkə-jə-\
Date: 1596
: to beat with or as if with a cudgel
— cudgel one's brains : to think hard (as for a solution to a problem)

I have been waking with a headache nearly every morning for the past two weeks. The glass of wine, the lack of sleep, not drinking enough water or perhaps allergies I have never had, have been the reasons I have chosen. Though they all may contribute, it is more likely simply that my body is shouting, “help!”

There are dreams to contend with. Last night they were tapes replaying emotional events from the past. There are issues to face in the daylight as well.

In Al anon, as in every twelve-step program, there are slogans that seem overly simple. However, there is wisdom and experience behind every one. The two that I cling to this week are “Do the next right thing,” and “Leave the results to your higher power.” I don’t necessarily want to do the first and I have a very hard time practicing the second.

Today, (One day at a time) the next right thing is flip my mattress, do the laundry, and let myself have fun with the children that are coming over to dye Easter eggs. Monday’s “right thing” will be different, but I don’t have to think about that today. Time to give the brain a rest.

What Worked for Me Today
Reading Al anon Daily Readers and Excedrin

There are 12 step programs for everything. First step is the hardest “I am powerless over (insert noun) and my life has become unmanageable.”

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Languor - What Would Eeyore Do?

Pronunciation: \ˈlaŋ-gər also -ər\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French langur, from Latin languor, from languēre
Date: 14th century
1 : weakness or weariness of body or mind
2 : listless indolence or inertia

In Twelve Step programs, the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” In looking for changes within systems and policies, I sought input, counsel, and attempted to frame the discussion in positive terms. However, communication is a tricky thing. Truth is not as popular as one might think.

A couple of old character flaws raise their heads at these times. I feel defeated and insecure. I have taken a risk and fear is mocking me. I don’t believe I will be understood and my intentions will be questioned. I hear the committee in my head shouting, “You will fail!” “People will be angry!” “The battle is not worth the risk!”

Yet I can laugh, using a “hack” suggested by Ron Hale-Evans in “Mind Performance Hacks.” He suggests looking at a problem from a variety of perspectives. Sounds trite. However, his method has you ask, “What would Bugs Bunny do?” “What would Scarlett O’Hara do?” “What would Lucille Ball do?” “What would Gandalf do?” “What would your mother do?” You can insert any character, hero, or inspiration you wish, just work out the scenario with the characteristics of your chosen person.

I’m leaning toward “What would Eeyore do?” I face uncertain outcomes tomorrow. I may have done an “insane” thing in trying to improve the monolith that is my workplace. Or, perhaps, just maybe, I am rehearsing a future that won’t occur.

What Worked For Me Today
A gracious, laughter-filled night of discussion, sharing, though provoking ideas and sense of being loved and cared for by two incredible women.

Eeyore: Donkey character from Winnie the Pooh books by English author A. A. Milne
Eeyore quotes:

“This writing business. Pencils and what-not. Over-rated, if you ask me. Silly stuff. Nothing in it.”

"It's snowing still," said Eeyore gloomily.
"So it is."
"And freezing."
"Is it?"
"Yes," said Eeyore. "However," he said, brightening up a little, "we haven't had an earthquake lately."

“No Give and Take. No Exchange of Thought. It gets you nowhere, particularly if the other person's tail is only just in sight for the second half of the conversation.”

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Cacophony - Looking For Solutions

Pronunciation: \-nē\
Function: noun
Date: circa 1656
: harsh or discordant sound 2; specifically : harshness in the sound of words or phrases

Over the past few weeks, there have been many discussions within my professional circle about the need for change. Some very good ideas out there have percolated up. Those looking for solutions are asking, “How do you change systems or procedures that are no longer effective? How do you foster a climate of collegial support so that positive systems and procedures are followed with fidelity?”

Unfortunately, lately the question has boiled down to “how does anything happen if all we do is talk?”

There are many things that can be improved, but none really by complaining. I read an article on the Huffington Post by Richard Bishop that asked some basic questions. “What do you hope to get by complaining? How does complaining make things different? What would have to be true for the complaints to go away? What would I have to risk in order to get what I wanted, for the complaining to go away? What step could you take no matter how small?”

That’s my challenge tonight. Bishop states “Complaints are signs of something preferred but not being risked.” What am I willing to risk? Am I willing to stand up if I am the only one taking a risk? What answers do I give to others wanting change but fearing risk? Only questions tonight – no answers. Advice anyone?

Editing the post - This question is central to personal change as it is to professional change. What am I willing to risk?

What Worked for Me Today
Seeking the advice of other professionals.

“Are You Complaining Your Way Through Life” by Russell Bishop

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Dolor - Fear of Forgetting

Pronunciation: \ˈdō-lər also ˈdä-\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English dolour, from Anglo-French, from Latin dolor pain, grief, from dolēre to feel pain, grieve
Date: 14th century
: mental suffering or anguish

David and I had gone to a Misty River concert in Eugene two summers ago. Recently I found a number of their CDs at Incahoots and purchased one – knowing full well that it would bring bittersweet memories and emotions. I have listened and cried with the CD a number of times.

Today, while driving to work and practicing my mindfulness I was careful to observe the lightening of the sky from black to cobalt to a pale cerulean. As the songs played I let the emotions rise and fall. Then suddenly a fear gripped me. Not that I would not be able to go on. Not that I would never find another friend who could know me as well. No, it was the fear that I would stop feeling.

How intricate our emotions become. One day I cry to heaven that I no longer want to feel pain. Today I panic when I think I may be losing it. I am compartmentalized enough in my own head, that I could step away and give myself all the reasons for both of these feelings. I understand the process. I simply wasn’t prepared. And isn’t that another lesson?

All the rehearsals and scenes I create have never really materialized in the future in the exact way I plot them. What an incredible waste of energy. Today I let myself cry. Today I acknowledged that some days I won’t hurt. Neither is bad and both are right where I need to be.

What Worked For Me Today
Talking with a friend and allowing myself to feel all the emotions. “Going with the rhythm of the present.”

Incahoots, McMinnville, OR

Misty River

Go to Amazon to listen to a couple of my favorites:

Time Goes By
A Prayer for Like Any Other
Star of the Country Down

Monday, March 29, 2010

Essence - Challenging the Disease of Perception

Pronunciation: \ˈe-sən(t)s\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English essencia, from Latin essentia, from esse to be
Date: 14th century
1 a : the permanent as contrasted with the accidental element of being b : the individual, real, or ultimate nature of a thing especially as opposed to its existence c : the properties or attributes by means of which something can be placed in its proper class or identified as being what it is
2 : something that exists :
3 a (1) : a volatile substance or constituent (2) : a constituent or derivative possessing the special qualities
4 : one that possesses or exhibits a quality in abundance as if in concentrated form
5 : the most significant element, quality, or aspect of a thing or person

Today at work, we discussed what is essential. Many things are not essential. However, I often find it difficult to distinguish between the unnecessary and the important. It makes it easy to complain or feel sorry for myself.

So what is essential? Most of us have our physical needs met. However, I do not have to travel to find those who do not have food or adequate shelter.

According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (see Minutia below) once physical needs are met, we act to gain safety. This includes health, employment, and physical safety. Again, I am taken aback that I personally know people who do not have these basic safety needs met.

It is no wonder then, that if these first two levels of basic needs are not met, that the third level (love and belonging) either doesn’t exist or is severely affected. Of course, it would affect our friendships, our families, and our ability to be emotionally intimate.

If this level is met, we move to esteem. To be accepted and valued by others allows for self-esteem. They are two sides to the same coin.

Finally, with both the respect of others and self-respect we can move to self-actualization. That “psych” word translates into acceptance, creativity, humor, morality, seeking to understand.

OK, so there is psychology 101. What does that have to do with grief, or life, or getting through a workday? It is easy for me to succumb to the “disease of perspective.” I loose sight of how fortunate I am and for how much there is to be grateful. It quiets me and fosters compassion. How do I know what needs are being met for any particular individual? How do I meet my own needs?

What Worked For Me Today
Staying busy, looking for the essential, letting go of the non essential

Maslow’s Basic Introduction's_hierarchy_of_needs

According to this article, people do not attain their needs because of “hindrances.” Maslow thought that education could be one of those hindrances. This article lists 10 things educators should teach or provide.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Obstreperous - I Don't Want To

Pronunciation: \əb-ˈstre-p(ə-)rəs, äb-\
Function: adjective
Etymology: Latin obstreperus, from obstrepere to clamor against, from ob- against + strepere to make a noise
Date: circa 1600
1 : marked by unruly or aggressive noisiness
2 : stubbornly resistant to control

When I walked the labyrinth the other day, I arrived at the middle and said aloud “I don’t wanna!” I said those words in that child-like way several times. Then I laughed. I didn’t want to feel anymore, didn’t want to do the expected, the adult things that need to be done. I didn’t want to be alone or do it on my own. “I don’t wanna!”

However, when we do not listen to those nudges, when we turn away from the lessons, the assignments get tougher until we do listen. Christiane Northrup (see Minutia below) writes, “I was in limbo, aching for what was and for what might have been. Intellectually, I knew this was a growth phase, a kind of labor pain that would yield wonderful things if I could just allow myself to go through it. (It helped to know that I didn’t really have a choice.) Rather than smooth it over and find mind-numbing ways to spare myself the anguish, I let myself feel it. I was lonely, disappointed, heartbroken, and scared.” (Bold my emphasis.)

Last night I went to listen to live music at the cornerstone. An evening of guitar and piano, husky vocals, up tempo pieces and ballads. It was what was supposed to go under “what worked for me today.” It didn’t go as I had planned.

I enjoyed the music and the energy of the crowd. In spite of that, it brought back memories that stirred grief and sadness. As I drove home, I cried, “I hate grief. I DON’T WANT TO!” I wanted to be done with it. At the same time, I feared being done. Would it mean the lessening of feelings? Would it mean forgetting? I am not ready. I am not done with grief and it is not done with me.

I have been too hard on myself. I get up. I shower. I eat. I talk with people. I go places. I go to work. I continue to do what it necessary. However, not feeling has gotten me into trouble before. The lesson is one I know, but obviously need to review. Speak the truth to myself. Feel even if it is hard. Be in the moment. Practice acceptance.

What Worked for Me Today
Crying, Quiet and Working the Steps

"The Wisdom of Menopause" by Christiane Northrup, M.D. is part "woo woo" and part science. She speaks from her personal experience, her medical practice and her spiritual (in broadest terms) side. However, she has some suprisingly uplifting and thought provoking ideas. If you are in your mid fourties to fifties, it might be a good book to skim through.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Quiescent - Stopping the Chatter in My Head

Pronunciation: \-sənt\
Function: adjective
Etymology: Latin quiescent-, quiescens, present participle of quiescere to become quiet, rest, from quies
Date: 1605
1 : marked by inactivity or repose : tranquilly at rest
2 : causing no trouble or symptoms

In Alanon and other 12-Step programs you will often hear about the “committee” in someone’s head. (My brain can be a dangerous place – just ask a few of my colleges.) I can debate with the committee – creating entire scenarios in which I fully feel every emotion. At times, I rehash the past, but much more often I rehearse the future – FULL ON conversations. First, I’ll say this, then he/she will say that, then I say this and he/she will say that. This can go on ad infinitum (or more apropos ad nauseam).

This running amok of thoughts robs me of the present. It also robs me of energy during the day and sleep at night. In addition to writing, another tool I am using on this journey is mindfulness. You can find advice on “living in the moment,” “don’t worry about tomorrow,” “one day – one hour – one minute at a time” in all philosophies, religions and do it yourself psychology books. Funning thing… it works – especially for momentary stress relief.

Here’s what I have been practicing. I try to be “fully present” with all my senses. What do I hear right now? I can hear the birds chirping outside, the click of the keyboard, the tick of the clock and the distant sound of cars on the highway. What can I see (ok I have to stop typing)? The flowers in the vase. I notice the curl of the petals, the varied colors of green, the knobby stems. What do I smell? Baking potatoes (well that’s what’s in the oven). What do I feel? I am sitting on my jacket and it’s making the seat uneven. My feet are cold and I have a slight headache. Taste… the coffee I had a hour or so ago.

In the time it took me to notice all these things… the grief is quieted – the “shoulds” disappear. For a few moments – maybe even minutes there is peace.

What Worked for Me Today
Yoga Lullaby by Seylah Broderick
Seylah is both my massage therapist and the Yoga instructor who directs “Restorative Yoga” - or as I am wont to call it “Yoga for Old and Broken People.” She has a wonderful CD that relaxes and calms. It’s great in preparation for sleep. Her website is

A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook by Bob Stahl and Elisha Goldstein

I found out about this workbook on the blog below. I haven’t had the money to purchase it, but the first chapter is available for preview on Amazon. Check it out. Once I purchase the workbook, I’ll update you past “mindful teeth brushing and raisin eating.”

Friday, March 26, 2010

Incongruous - the two KAS

Pronunciation: \(ˌ)in-ˈkäŋ-grə-wəs\
Function: adjective
Etymology: Late Latin incongruus, from Latin in- + congruus congruous
Date: 1611
: lacking congruity: as a : not harmonious : incompatible b : not conforming : disagreeing c : inconsistent within itself

I realized today, as I sat at the Wildwood Café, that I have many things I want to do. That may not sound unusual. After all, most of us have lengthy to do lists and informal bucket lists. However, for me it was a profound moment.

I have been living in the inertia caused by grief. I have to force myself to get up, to get out, to go to work. There are two “kas” living in my head. One cries and sleeps and hugs a silly Ugly Doll Bat. The other one kindly but firmly says “Get Up. Go Somewhere.”

Today, while obeying firm kas, I realized that I needed to write. Writing is a tool that has worked for me for as long as I can remember. I have my very first diary from age 9. I have loads of bad poetry, prayers, journals and the first chapter of a book. Writing is what I do - what I have always done. Today, it is what I need to do to take a step in healing.

What Worked For Me Today
Walking the Labyrinth – If you live in or close to McMinnville, consider visiting the labyrinth off Baker. It provides a quiet place for meditation and stress relief. I have a fairly traditional belief system, so I walk the path inward giving up everything I can think of to my higher power. I argue, debate, cry, admit, let go on the path to the center. Then I sit in the center of the labyrinth and practice being in the moment (an upcoming post). On the way out I verbalize my gratitude list for that moment. I say the Serenity Prayer. The first time you may feel foolish, but you may be surprised at how it helps.

Mind Performance Hacks by Ron Hale – Evans
This deserves an entire post. It is fascinating reading. To quote the back of the book “Mind Performance Hacks provides real-life tips and tools for overclocking your brain and becoming a better thinker.” Tips include mnemonic tricks to remember information, hacks to perform complex math tasks in your head, brainstorming methods, and communication and decision making tools.