:: WHY WE BE ::

Boo to false, self-imposed limits, we say. These champion oracles want to live enthusiastically. Follow our trip through projects that challenge, frustrate, and/or scare us. In the end (which is really the middle) we want to live like big bright free and authentically awesome people.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

COFFEE Community Update #3

Hello COFFEE drinkers.

How about a quick update?

The good people of COFFEE are taking a short break to close 2010 and welcome 2011.

January 3, 2011, we'll be back and likely with a little extra froth. Wendy J just kicked her project in the fanny (i.e., she DID IT!), thereby upping the bar.

We'll also be back with a slightly altered schedule--integrating a few days of SILENCIO! in the middle and at the end of each round for a little catch-up space.

So… tool around a bit now. Catch up on what you've missed. And then come back January 3, for a new year of doing things that are scary.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Move on, Sister. Move the fudge on. (Wendy)

I have officially succumbed to peer pressure. Holly mentioned the power of “putting things out there”, and its tendency to motivate words into action, and I have to concur. Whether by our own volition/conscience, or via a kindred soul’s intervention, “putting it out there” is powerful stuff. In this particular case, I couldn’t put my Call Bill project out there for the world to know, let ya'll flood my ears with kind and encouraging words - then stuff all that in my pockets and move on selfishly without a little action. So.


The Bill.

And it truly was thanks to you COFFEE chicks (and my fear of looking like a weenie) that I did it. If it weren’t for those factors, it would, most certainly, have remained a smudged artifact on my white board of shameful procrastination for the next decade.

So, being that this here’s my last post of 2010, I said to to myself “Lady, you need to kick this Call Bill project in the ever-lovin’ fanny. This thing does NOT need to drag into 2011. If you don’t get rid of the green beans on your plate, you’re never gonna have room for the meatballs.” So that’s what I did.

I dialed.
He answered.

(Have I also mentioned that I am sooooo not a phone person? Seriously, I border of phone-phobic). Not only did he answer (to my surprise), but the anticipated awkward “hello?” was replaced with “WendyJ!”, like we’d just talked last week. Let me remind you that it’s been approximately three years of SILENCIO! (Holla Warden P!). But the call was so… natural that it was almost unnatural. It was like “so, what’s new”… oh I don’t know, in the past three years??? So, even tho my bronchitis resulted in my very first words sounding like a demented swamp toad, our conversation recovered and progressed amicably and, was really no different than it had ever been. Oh, I could dissect tones and word choices and perceived excitement levels to gauge our friendship’s current standing, but I would never dream of ruining a good thing with overanalysis… [bittah, bittah sarcasm]. No but seriously, I am choosing not to go that route.

It was a short conversation because he was in the middle of moving. In fact, the conversation only lasted 2 minutes and 43 seconds, ending with the promise that he’d call me back in 15 minutes.

He didn’t call me back. Which actually doesn’t bother me because in the end, it’s really not about whether someone likes you back as much as you like them, (which is a pretty superficial conclusion to draw anyway considering the amount of factors that can be involved in any given transaction), it’s about being authentic to yourself.

I’ve realized lately that friendships based on reciprocal liking, while human nature and all... can often compromise how you really feel and you can lose touch with yourself quickly that way. You have to just love someone as much as you do, and if they don’t return the favor, don’t stop. I mean, don't be a stalker or anything, but don't stop feeling the way you feel out of retaliation or imitation, because that's childish and often misguided.

And you know, that feels good. I am relieved with myself that I made the effort to reach out. That’s all I can really do. I would love it if he calls back, but if not, I can go to bed knowing that I did something. Noble? Badge-worthy? No. But it resolved a small ache in my soul, and that’s pretty invaluable.

Aaaaamen! Now let’s move the fudge on from the Call Bill project and everyone have a beautiful and peaceful Christmas, safe travels and delicious fudge.

2011 is gonna be OUR year!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

COFFEE Project Post Five: Recipe for Regress (Tawni)

I realized I was due to post this morning, as I was drifting off to sleep last night.

“Wait… today was the 22nd?! Oh crap!” I exclaimed to myself.

I’m really bad at keeping track of the date. I have three organizers, and calendars in every room of the house, and I still forget. It’s a real problem.

I even bought a gigantically geeky men’s watch specifically for the day of the week and month feature, but I forget to wear it. Ha.

So I suddenly realized it was my turn to post. But then I decided that I would just write this late-morning and post it in the early afternoon, no big deal. There is no deadline other than some time today. We’re all casual like that. It’s cool. Right?

Right. Except that I have an eerie internal alarm clock I can set to any time I want just by visualizing when I want to get up. I say eerie because it has repeatedly spooked people who live with me throughout my life. I don’t think it’s creepy; it’s just how I am. Some people are good at math, and I’m good at waking up.

But it can backfire. Like if I’m lying in bed, trying to go to sleep, but thinking about how I could get up early and write, but no, that’s silly, just go to sleep, Freebird, you can still write tomorrow after a good night of sleep, no need to be extreme and wake up at 3 in the morning to meet a self-imposed writing deadline. I know you have shopping to do, and many pies to bake tomorrow, but you’ll still find time to write something. Just go to sleep, girl! Don’t wake me up early to write, please, oh, please, stupid internal alarm clock! It’s not that big of a deal if I don’t post a blog first thing in the morning! It’s not! IT’S NOT.


And the next thing I knew, it was 2:45 a.m. and my eyes popped open. The Body is ready to wake up, because that’s what you wanted… right, Tawni? whispered my stupid brain. (That last sentence would be said in a “2001: A Space Odyssey” Hal the computer voice, by the way.)

Noooooooooooooo! Let me off this spaceship!

(This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it.)

(Just what do you think you're doing, Dave, er… Tawni?)

I made myself stay in bed, tossing and turning until 4, and then gave up. You win, crazy brain. I’m up, damn it. I’m going to have a strung-out, exhausted, headache-filled, burning-eyed, up-since-2:45-in-the-freaking-morning kind of day, but I’m up.

(And I have hyphens! Weeeee!)

But hey, I’m writing, so there’s that.

And I’m awake and drinking coffee during my favorite time of day: the silent hours of pre-dawn. So peaceful.


I came off my last post feeling motivated and ready to unleash some serious creative force on the planet. Reading about the efforts of my fellow COFFEE Write Club members and documenting my own goals really pushed me in a positive direction. I got my focus back.

We have also had many unseasonably warm days lately (meaning in the 50s, don’t get too excited), and that seemed to pull me out of the winter funk I’d slipped into, however temporarily.

I wrote a few quick pieces for the no-editing picture-prompted blog I started.

Many evenings I played guitar and sang my little heart out in my bathroom, the only place I don’t wake up the sleeping child, a.k.a. My Toilet Songs. (It’s not very dignified, having to perch on the closed lid of the porcelain throne while you sing, but the acoustics are surprisingly choral in the shower area. And the sink counter makes a good place to set a guitar tuner and a beer. Bright side!)

I was sitting down at the computer and writing a little every day. The self-expression felt cathartic and good.

And then my son got sick. He had a fever of 103 degrees F and the croup-tastic barking baby seal cough that all parents know and dread. He ended up missing his last week of school before Christmas break, which also happened to be one of the most fun weeks of the whole year.

I felt so bad for him. He missed the Christmas program he’d been rehearsing his songs for since November. He was supposed to be one of the three kings, so they had to scramble to find a replacement kid to wear the gimpy costume I made him. (I pinned together a Snuggie for his kingly robe, and made his crown out of foam and glitter. He looked like the king of the Dollar Store, but I am not spending $40 on a child’s king costume.) He missed the book exchange, the class party, stockings full of treats from his teacher; all the good stuff. Instead, he got a rotation of acetaminophen, ibuprofen, Zicam, Mucinex, steroids, and albuterol nebulizer treatments. Poor kid.

The king of the Dollar Store can list 6 reasons why his mom is a cheap woman, starting with his Snuggie robe and handmade crown.

I know that these children will get sick, and illness is just a part of life - building immunities, and all of that happy horseshit - but man, does it ever break your heart, and jack up the life routine.

Instead of time to write, it was time to snuggle and take care of my sick little buddy all week, so I don’t have too much more progress to report. Except that he’s doing better, and will most likely be healthy enough to enjoy Christmas this year. He got H1N1, and I got shingles all over the left side of my face and head for Christmas last year, so some good health all up in here will be greatly appreciated.


After I mentioned winning recipe contest money in my last writing entry, a few lovely ladies asked me to share, so I think I’m going to post one here. (That's right... I just jumped from shingles to food. Be repulsed impressed.) Cooking is creative, right? I feel like cooking is totally a part of the Creative Collective we have going on here (just check out Amy’s delicious creations!), so I will end with that.

I got $100 for creating this recipe. The required ingredient was corn, and the theme was grilling, so I used grilled chicken. I wouldn’t normally use corn, and would probably replace it with red peppers. I would also add onions and mushrooms, but there was a ten ingredient limit. I think that if you pulled out the chicken and added more vegetables, this would be a great no-meat dish. Fake sausage crumbles and scrambled eggs would make it a vegetarian-friendly breakfast dish as well.

(Can I just say that fresh cilantro makes me ridiculously happy? I love the way it smells. My husband brought a bunch home from the store for me before I created this dish, and I think I liked getting a cilantro bouquet even more than getting flowers. And I really like getting flowers.)

Corny Chicken and Black Bean Quesadilla Squares


12 sheets phyllo dough, thawed
8 tablespoons butter, melted
7 oz. (half can) corn
2 chicken pieces, grilled and shredded (about 1 cup)
7 oz. (half can) black beans
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
½ onion, finely diced
1 cup finely shredded cheddar
Salsa or sour cream for garnish


Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Brush large cookie sheet with melted butter. Place one sheet of phyllo dough on sheet and brush with melted butter. Repeat layering for a total of 6 phyllo sheets. In a large bowl, mix together corn, shredded chicken, beans, cilantro and onion. Spread mixture over top of 6 layered phyllo sheets. Sprinkle cheddar cheese evenly over mixture. Place one sheet of phyllo dough over mixture and cheese, and brush sheet with melted butter. Repeat layering for a total of 6 phyllo sheets. Bake phyllo quesadilla 7-10 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer phyllo quesadilla to large cutting board. Cut into square pieces and serve with salsa or sour cream garnish.

Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Boxing Day, and Happy New Year to everybody. Enjoy your holidays!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Winter Solstice, more Owls and Serendipity! (Holly)

Here is what I believe.  I believe that the Artist’s Way is helping to clear out a bunch of gunk that has been accumulating in my brain for a long time.  I believe that that is what opened my eyes to being able to see the Owl speaking to me.  Turns out that there are animal spirit guides for all of us if we’re willing to listen.  I’ve had them before, though didn’t know it at the time.  Because the Owl has made such a dramatic entrance into my life, and I happen to be in a phase of inquiry, I decided to listen this time.  Well, I didn’t really decide.  I think I had no choice.  So, I’ve been doing a little research.  What I’ve been learning is literally sending chills down my spine. 

Owl sees and knows the truth. Its ability to navigate through the darkest night and bring back nourishment for itself and others is the foundation of this essence. When you have lost your way, owl essence will guide you back to your proper path and wisdom.

This post is going up on December 21.  Winter solstice. The longest, darkest night of the year. And, my birthday.  Navigate through the darkest night and bring back nourishment, eh? Well….the parallels are just too blatant to ignore.  The whole intent of me doing the Artist’s Way course is to search for wisdom and a new path.  And, of course, I chose to begin this journey after HY2010, one of the darkest yet.  Even though the dark year was over and HY2011 began in October, the lessons from HY2010 were/are not necessarily clear to me. The Owl is here to guide me.

I’ve always seen it as critical to understand exactly what was going on.  I don’t care if it’s good or bad. I want to know the truth.  I want to live in reality. What’s the point of living a lie? I’ve been “accused” of being an optimist many times. I would argue that I’m a realist.  It just so happens that I like reality.  Yes, I have a capability of seeing and knowing the truth….if I have all of the pieces at my disposal. I can usually sense when I don’t have all of the pieces….and will feel off kilter right away.  This can be off-putting for those that are keeping the pieces from me.  One lesson I think I have learned is to trust my instincts about there being pieces to the story missing and then make a decision whether I want to pursue the truth or let it be.  The other person is keeping the piece that I don’t know from me for a reason.  I either need to accept that or walk away. After giving them ample opportunity to share, of course.

Death and rebirth, releasing that which has outlived its benefit and usefulness in your life. Clearing a home or land of negative energy. Starting over in a new life or releasing the ties that kept you bound to the old one.

Whoa….kinda creepy, right? I’m feeling another blatant slap upside the head here.  This settles it.  My next project, above all is else, is a massive cleanse of the house.  I need to pretend that I’m moving to Australia for three years and can only keep what I’ll absolutely need when I get back, cuz I’m going to have the smallest storage space possible. 
Releasing the ties that bind me to the old one, huh.  I get the message.  I know the message.  Implement the message? Hmmmm…. I suppose there are several ties that bind.  There could also be several interpretations of “release”.  Figurative and literal.  I think this is definitely an area that I need to think more about.  Maybe ask my Owls for more guidance on what exact ties are binding me and exactly how to release them. 

The Owl provides a vital function in keeping bird, rodent and insect populations in check; too many of any species is detrimental to the balance of all. So it is with other things in our own lives, for if we have too many possessions, too many projects, too much of anything, it limits and restricts our ability to move freely through the different areas of our lives and the result is stagnation which leads to the death of joy, happiness and abundance. Owl medicine then becomes crucial in helping us to clear out that which is no longer needed or wanted. What may seem like a death to us in the giving up of something may be for another the birth and manifestation of a dream.

Excuse me? Did somebody say balance???? Aaarrggghhhh! Creepy creepy baby!  I have to admit though, I hadn’t thought about balance in quite this way.  Yes, as you all know, I’ve been thinking of cleansing the house of things that have worn out their welcome, but I had not thought about the crap in my house resulting in stagnation leading to the death of joy, happiness, and abundance.  Too many projects?? Yes, I can identify with this too.  For years, I was trying to do way too much by myself.  There really wasn’t much I could do about it….for awhile. However, the good thing that happened in HY2010 was that the program that I manage for the state has become fully staffed.  Consequently, I can, and have been able to take projects off of my professional plate.

We find that as we begin to move through the process of what we truly want, clearing the old to make way for the new birth of the Self that is close at hand, we find that other obstacles, limitations, fears and anxieties also begin to "die" in our lives. They no longer have the hooks to remain attached to our energy fields and without our support, they must die.

Sounds like motivation to me, friends.  The last 10 days have been full of rapid river movement in my psyche.  I’ve done the morning pages about 90%, read my chapters which are amazing, and sucked asshat at my artist dates.  But, darlings, the Universe has been speaking….Here are some examples:

a)      Holly’s mom: “Holly, what do you want for your bday and xmas?”
Holly: “Oh, well…hmmm…I saw these wall hangings in my therapist’s office at the Oncology Center…I’ll send you the link. They look cool and have great little phrases amazingly perfect for my life…I’ll send you the link”.
One day later a birthday package arrives with an ornament with said artist. The message? CREATE (Tell it). The dear friend that sent me this ornament has no idea I’m doing this project or certainly not that I liked this artist!!

b)      I dropped my blackberry in the toilet. The day and the place that I dropped it were significant too.  I don’t have my contacts backed up.  A sign? I think so. Especially, when corresponding with my car getting stuck that same day for three days last week.  The message? Slow down and cleanse sista….
c)      And, yes…the Owls are still with me. I think they will be for the rest of my journey.

So, my friends, on this longest night of the year, cuddle up and take a breather.  Slow it down.  Remember how precious life is…remember the people you love…remember to tell them and to spend time with them. Embrace.  And, know…..that tomorrow, the nights get shorter and the days get longer. They always do.    

Saturday, December 18, 2010

endeavorous adventures in cooking. (Amy)

I decided not to do a whole bunch of updates on my progress from last week's goals. Mainly because I ate stuff in mass quantities that would make Jackie Warner (and all those personal trainer guys from Biggest Loser as well as all other health nuts, worldwide) recoil from me in horror. And I have no intentions of eating healthy much next week either. And I'm not sure if I'll work out or not. And I've decided I'm okay with that, that I will own it, and set my sights on 2011 and a time of year when nothing fancy or big is happening to off-track me (I'm so easily off-trackable).

Also, I've been on the news blogs at lunch time this week. I've tried to stick to the Living and Entertainment pages,
but it's hard for me not to engage my schadenfreude and have a look-see at what Tiny Tim's evil twins (the ones born with misshapen hearts, who all grew up into Scrooge, Part 2) have to say about people down on their luck. (I hope for their sakes the ghosts of Marley and all the Christmases get to them before it's too late.)

So that's that.

Now! On to funner stuff!

Let's talk cooking, sh
all we?

1-I'm not
good at it. Example: once, I had a bridal shower/bachelorette party at my house wherein garlic buns were brought in from a restaurant. These buns came via a large pizza cardboard box, and needed to be warmed up before consumption. So, naturally, I turned my gas oven up to 350 degrees (because I think 350 is such a nice, round number, don't you? And it just feels like a good warming up food number, yes?) (I now know it's actually a good number to cook, say, salmonella-prone poultry at). And I popped those garlic buns right into my oven. In their nice large, cardboard box.

Fortunately, people who understand things like chemistry and physics and laws of nature were in attendance at this shindig. These people all sniffed the air and went, "W
hat's burning?!" And when one of them saw smoke coming out of my oven, that nice person promptly informed me cardboard is not a smart thing to put into an oven, and certainly not at 350 degrees which is the temperature you cook a chicken at. They let me know ovens are hot places, and other than the rare parchment paper product created expressly for use in hot places, most paper products of any thickness generally like to burn and will occasionally cause major home disasters. And so thank goodness there was an amateur fire marshall at that party, huh!

2-Also, I once put a pot of water on the s
tove to hard boil some eggs. Ten hours later, I sniffed the air and said to myself: "What's burning?!" That's how I found out that if you leave a pot of boiling water unattended, eventually the water all boils away and then your pot begins to cook itself alive. And then you have to place this pot (after cooling, of course, and while studiously avoiding your husband's many "You are crazy. You are SOOOOO crazy!" looks for several hours) into the garbage.

3-I love watching cooking shows. I like to watch how they cut stuff up. All kinds of stuff! Just chop chop chop chop, voila! Superbly cut little pieces of onions, nicely diced tomatoes, cute little cubes of cucumber. It's magic.

I also like to watch them mix all the ingredients together. They're always so very organized, and everything's in these sweet little Crate N Barrel type container
s, all ready to go. If they need 2 teaspoons of salt, they have it--right here in this super cute itsy bitsy little glass bowl someone got ready for them during pre-production time. And then they throw in some paprika in another pre-prepared cute little bowl, and some oregano, and some garlic powder, and some chives. All in cute cute CUTE little bowls.

Then they put their concoction into a really swank oven, cut to a commercial, and voila! When you come back 2 minutes, 2 seconds later? Dinner's served! And so fancy. They always cut stuff up just right and present it so nicely.

And their kitchen is still gleaming! How do t
hey do it! How do they do it. I would like a producer from Paula Deen or Rachel Ray to come to my house every night and set up my kitchen for our daily dinner production. And then clean it all up. That would be what I will spend $50 million of my $900 million powerball lottery winnings on. (I don't play the lottery.)

4-Despite my proclivity towards burning down houses while boiling water....and cardboard, I can cook. IF I have a recipe in front of me. Here's th
e thing, though: for my cooking endeavor to turn out semi-edible? The recipe itself has to be semi-edible. I always know I got a good recipe when Melissa eats everything on her plate. (Once, I made this whole wheat pasta/spinach/parmesan cheese/pine nuts/olives heart healthy recipe from a magazine. She took one look at it, poked it a little, and went, "Ewwwww! Mommy! No LIKE it. No LIKE it. No EAT it.") (But if I put a candy cane on this kid's plate for dinner, she'd have that thing devoured in 3.2 seconds and would immediately inquire about seconds.)

Now Charles, (I was calling him C here, but then realized in Patresa's comment area last time I accidentally wrote his whole name, which made me stop and think. And what I thought was: eh, what the heck)
Charles can COOK. Like, he can take a really (really, really) baaaad recipe, look at it, and go: "Oh, I know what this needs. It needs some of THIS, some of THAT, and a little pinch of paprika. There! Good to go!" And you swear you're eating something Emeril Lagassi himself cooked up for you personally.

I think people who can do that are magic, too. (This comment would also be directed at YOU, Tawni, Ms. I-Win-Creative-Cooking-Contests.)

5-I actually enjoy looking up recipes. I like to loo
k for the healthiest and cheapest stuff I can find, in recipe form I think looks semi-edible. And then, if I haven't had a really long and poopy day at work, and I don't have a headache and/or my head cold is bearable, I actually enjoy the process of cooking. I like getting all the stuff out and ready to go (minus the teeny fancy bowls, sadly). I like all the chopping (without the flare or the magical results, sadly). And I like throwing it all together, and then tasting the results.

Some times this goes well, and I have to give myself a little pat on the back and say, "Amy! Look at you, Ms. Kitchen Bad Ass! You can COOK, girlfriend!" And other times this does not go well, and I have to wonder about the taste buds of whoever
decided mixing THOSE particular ingredients was a good idea, and I have to wonder about where my head was at when I looked at that recipe and thought: "Yeah! Mixing those particular ingredients is a good idea!"

6-For this entry, I actually meant to cook one meal each night this past week, photograph it, and then display each meal here
for scrutiny.

....Except Wednesday nasty weather came through AND I ended up going out for an impromptu holiday gathering with my most favorite co-workers....so I brought home take-out Mexican instead (%$#%$%#) (that was Jackie Warner grumbling in a frowny voice). ....And Thursday
I had a head cold and just threw some spaghetti in a pot and then tossed a jar of marinara sauce on it (#@$!%$#@!) (that was Jackie grumbling and gnashing her teeth at the same time). And tonight I made turkey burger sliders which were actually not bad....but I served them with tater tots AND my head cold forgot to take a picture of them (%$^&%$##) (that was my head cold, who's simply not fun to hang out OR cook with).

So I threw in some pictures from several
weeks ago, when I thought we were going to go on a 4 days off/3 days on meatless adventure as a family (it's become more like a once in a while meatless adventure...though we don't do red meat anymore). Several of these came about because I was researching and cooking up a whole bunch of vegetarian entrees for Charles and Melissa to poke at and go "No LIKE it, Mommy. No EAT it."

Here they are (I have the recipes to s
ome still--if you want to try any out at home for yourself, I will post them in the comment section):

I actually forget what this dish was called. It was some type of whole wheat pasta with a whole bunch of cut up vegetables (I think I used tomatoes, zucchini, and squash). And then I was supposed to add lemon juice + dill sauce. I looked at 5 different grocery stores for this mysterious "dill sauce" and never found it. So I think there was a separate recipe for "dill sauce," but the recipe maker forgot to clue recipe readers in on how to make that. I put low fat alfredo sauce in it instead. It was fairly edible, and we ate it a few more times. (But minus the oil + pesto bread. SOMEbody who will not be named but has a beginning initial of a first name that rhymes with "bee" refuses to eat basil. Now, when I see basil-ful recipes, I bypass.) (I bet Mario Batalli never has this issue.)

This was one of my more successful vegetarian endeavors. Cheesy mac-n-cheese with fake burger crumbles. It was pretty good, an
d Melissa agreed with me by gobbling it up. But it was just too much cheese, and I'm trying to cut down on the cheese (theoretically) (and not in any kind of fully committed way until 2010 is over.)

This was a spinach quiche I made several weeks ago. Also not bad. Tips about cooking things with the term "quiche" in them: (1) put pie pan on a cookie sheet prior to entry into boiling oven, as goopy eggs will try to spill everywhere and much cursing will ensue while one attempts to avoid major skin burnage, and (2) buy a really (I stress REALLY) deep pie pan, as goopy eggs will try to spill everywhere and much cursing will ensue while one attempts not to spill goopy eggs everywhere while avoiding major skin burnage.

I made this little ditty Monday night. It's called Lemony Broccoli Pasta with Chicken . I liked it, Charles liked it, and Melissa ate everything but the broccoli. I give this a 1.5 out of 2 thumbs up for that (if somebody ever gives me a recipe with broccoli in it that she does eat, I will give that recipe a 4.0 out of 2 thumbs up AND I will include them in my last will and testament).

Friday, December 17, 2010

Teacher-itis (Stephany)

As of this morning, we officially have 3.5 days until Christmas break. As a teacher, I can’t tell you what a big deal this is. Most people think that it’s just the kids that get buggy at the end of a semester, as they look forward to Santa’s arrival and no school and no teachers and no books and no dirty looks and all that… well, the folks who think it’s just the kids are absolutely, completely, totally, and in all ways WRONG. The kids are buggy, of course, but we adults get pretty buggy, too, when it gets close to a vacation! Apathetic students, end of semester grades and deadlines, general holiday stress, and this nasty cold weather conspire to create an atmosphere of chaos and, well, BUGGINESS, and presents itself in so many as the condition called Teacher-itis.

[Speaking of chaos, in my last post I dared to fly the bird at the week I’d had. “BIG mistake. BIG. HUGE.” (That was my homage to Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. I love that movie.) Why do I tempt the Fates, challenge the status quo, complain and moan, and in general set myself up to teach myself that things usually can get worse??? Why, oh why, do I do this? Well, I suppose I am a little like Tangy T but not as smart as Wendy, and I’m a BULLHEADED asshat. I sure am. After my last post, I mean RANT, I made a real mess of some very important and delicate things. I will spare you the gory and unnecessary details. (You’re welcome.) I made a couple bad choices. I procrastinated on a project that I really, REALLY needed to nail. I drove five hours one way to watch my daughter’s cheerleading team compete, only to have a fender-bender and get a ticket for said wreck, ONE BLOCK from the convention center, missed her performance, and then drove five hours back home. I lost two students’ book reports – yep, LOST THEM, and then I had to fess up and ask them to forgive me and to do another (albeit modified) book report. I wracked up a late fee at the video store, dang it! Basically, I topped the week that I claimed deserved the BIRD. Wah, wah, wah… okay, crying about it doesn’t help. Maybe a couple bottles of wine will do the trick… Hmmmm…. Might be worth a shot! Who’s in???]

If you aren’t a teacher, you may be rolling your eyes right now, thinking (quite sarcastically, I’m sure) “poor woman… gets holidays and summers off, only works from 8-3 every day… POOR THING.” If you are a teacher, you know just how much I’d like to punch the crap out of anyone who’s thinking that. A for instance: I was at one of the kids’ activities this week and made the comment that there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. An oh-so-wise woman (sarcasm intended) looked me right in the eye and basically called me a whiner, “Don’t you teach? You get off everyday at 3. Maybe you need a lesson in time management.” Now, she may have been trying to be positive and remind me how good I have it. (I do know I have a pretty doggone good gig, by the way.) Maybe she was trying to break up my pity party. Maybe she was. I wasn’t thinking in those terms in the instant that came out of her mouth, though, and it took everything in me NOT to set her straight (meaning punch the crap out of her). If you are a teacher, you know that your work day begins WAY before the bell rings in the morning and usually ends sometime after your own kids are in bed. If you are a teacher, you know that grading (especially as a high school English teacher) NEVER ends, and you know that your mind never really shuts off in terms of coming up with ideas, assignments, projects, and strategies to improve your teaching and help your students learn more. (If, however, you know how to shut this off, I’d really like to have that installed as an option! I never want to totally shut it off, though, because I find that some of what works best for me and is best for my students comes at the most inopportune or random times. Every now and then, though, it might be nice to shut it off for just a bit…) We work 50+ hours a week all school year long, and THAT’s why we get our summers and breaks off!

ANYWAY, the end of a semester is one of those times when I (and every other teacher) want an Easy Button, for sure. It’s a time of last-minute scrambling so kids can get their grades up, test writing and grading, essay grading, catching up, planning for next semester, and just wrapping everything up. It’s an exciting time, too, because there is the prospect of starting fresh in just a few weeks, but it’s still a few weeks away and I’m thankful for that. All of that adds up to Teacher-itis, for which there is no cure but time and the pulling up of the big-girl panties, shaking off the funk, and just DEALING with it with a smile and an appreciation of the fact that we’re half-way to SUMMER break!

To that end, I’m going to modify my goals for the time between now and my next post. I sure hope that’s allowed. If not, I’ll take my punishment, and I ain't skeered a'you, Warden P! J
My goals for the next post, then, are as follows:

1. Get the work DONE. Grade & enter. Plan. Move on.
2. Be home when I’m at home. By this, I mean that I need to be PRESENT at home, especially with the kids. Reserve work & “me stuff” for when they’re occupied or in bed. This is a gift I want to give my sweet babies all-year round, and it has to start sometime. Now’s as good a time as any, I’d say.
3. Relax. Enjoy the break. Choose carefully how to spend the precious few days we have away from school. If it isn’t going to be fun or be beneficial in the long run, skip it. Some things just need to be done, but I want to keep the activity to a meaningful minimum. (Oh, I like that… a MEANINGFUL MINIMUM. Yes.)
4. Reflect. Forgive. Count blessings. Embrace. The holidays are a great time to take pause and really reflect on the year that’s passed… It’s going to be especially important for me this year to reflect, forgive myself, remember all the blessings, and allow myself to move forward and embrace the blank slate that 2011 is.

After writing and re-reading these, the teacher in me just has to come out for a moment. (Humblest apologies.) I would like for you to focus on goals 3 and 4 for just a moment. Your assignment, then, is as follows: In 1-2 detailed paragraphs, and keeping in mind that there are no right or wrong answers this time, explain to me how these goals might apply in your own life. Are they or are they not in line with your year-end goals? How?
I’ll kick this Teacher-itis, I’m sure of it. And I’ll do it in time to enjoy the holidays: my kids, my family, the amazing food, and the time away from work. COFFEE chicks and anyone else reading this, I wish you the same: that you can kick your own “– itis” and that you are able to truly ENJOY yourself, however it is and whatever it is that you celebrate! I wish you laughter – at yourself and others! I wish you peace – in your own heart & mind, with your past & your present, and with those around you! I wish you time – for solitude & reflection and with those you love the most! Basically, I wish you the COFFEE-est Christmas ever!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Letter to Me: Yesteryear-ish Younger Self (Tanya)

This post will be short because I am writing it after I got home from a long day of day and night job, and my brain is half working best case scenario (when tired, I also have a bigger flair for the drama). I will do my best to get something remotely comprehensible posted.....so here-it-goes.

Okay, so I saw this book the other day that completely stopped me in my tracks (shopping for toothpaste or something... yes this was at HyVee Grocery Store but they really do have some cool books). The book I'm referencing is called What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self by Ellen Spragins. I thumbed through it quickly to get the basic jest, and I did enough "speed reading" to know I like it. One of the seventeen AMAZING women featured in the book (if I counted correctly) is Olympia Dukakis, and in her featured letter she wrote some great things such as "a fine mess you've gotten yourself into this time" as well as "everyone gets kicked down the stairs." So I thought, hey, I will write myself a letter, sort of along these lines. Sureo, I've been kicked down some serious stairs or more accurately tripped down most of those stairs.......

Dear Tanner May, T-Bop, Tangy, TC,

You are one stubborn lady, and one day you will drive these stubborn bones of yours in ways you never imagined possible. Your Grandma Juanita didn't call you "bullheaded" for nothin'! Although you may find yourself plowing through packs of Marlboro Lights for more years than you should, ruminating on the trials of the mini-world you've been exposed to, be prepared that stuff will keep happening to make you ball up in a chair wanting to go idle until life's muck passes through, but you won't. You will find that if you keep putting one foot in front of the other or at least doing a tiny shuffle-along, you will not be just fine but rather really cool-fine. You will learn over and over that your dear father "Papa Cecil" is right when he says "some people that'd bother, but not us...right?!" You will actually start thinking this naturally and immediately when those victimy things happens and smile inherently at odd moments when any reasonable realist person would be beckoning the troops or pursuing an appeal. The coolest part is that you will learn to want to get over yourself, but, and this is a notable but, you will struggle with this. Oh will there be some sorry feelings and firey moments, and you'll learn hard lessons like Karma really is a bitch. Lucky for you, you have amazing pals. These pals will stick with you for the long haul marathon no matter what your performance, so be good to them, always remember your pallies. And Young Person, my inner pal, you will learn along the way that you are so un-awesomely imperfect and irregular that you can't imagine or ask for life any other way. Your mistakes will be mountains, but you will try harder each time to be better than the last, make fewer intentional mistakes and turn all the mountains into nothing less than groovy hills. Some of your mountains, well, you may always regret; keep moving forward, keep shuffling no matter. Keep moving, always listen to your heart, listen to the pulse of your guts, and life really will quiet the muck.

Rock on, and high five a lot of people along the way. This is what you are born to do.

Much love,

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What a tool. v-log #2 (Patresa)

I haven't done much the past 10 days (anything I did, I basically pulled out here at the end); but I don't feel too bad about it. I'm not going to shoot any middle fingers. I haven't even been swearing too much. I just decided I needed to "rest."

Here is V-log #2. You may need to turn the sound up or put in headphones, because I was practically whispering. Chris was in the next room, and I feared his ridicule. Really, talking to your laptop is not normal behavior.

Guitar practice time = 4 hours or so. A guesstimation (I've been very unstructured.).

Narrative evidence of progress: I didn't swear very much, and I made helpful observations (see below).

New Song Development: Yes! Today, as a matter of fact. I scratched out the beginnings of The Messenger, and you can see it in the v-log.

Cover Song Development: No. 

Helpful Observations: My frustrations are less about a skill deficit and more about feeling like I have no flow. I rely on this flow for nearly every area of my life. It kind of feels like channeling spirits, and it helps me feel peaceful about tasks. 

When I try too hard, things don't happen. Or they do, but they're clumsy and untrue. Sometimes I sit down to write, and I realize I'm trying too hard to compose. It's not coming easily; it's not enjoyable; and I misrepresent the things in my head. When I feel this happening, I stop and follow these steps:

1. open a new, fresh, blank document
2. inhale, exhale
3. then, depending on my mood I say one of 2 things:
            a. What do you want to say, dear? (Question directed to self.)
            b. What would you like me to say? (Question directed to God, Guides, and The Universe.)
4. write simply and directly.

I can't think of a single time this didn't work. I even do it at work when I'm writing things like quarterly summaries and Quality Assurance plans. "What do you want to say, dear?" Maybe I got that from The Artist's Way; I don't remember. But I do believe that there is universal "material," and that when we are  clear and open, we become vessels for whatever material/product/message needs to be shared. (Which is also why I think that there is really no excuse for arrogance when it comes to art and expression--or ever, actually. You like my words? You like my painting? You like my song? You like what I'm doing here? Cool. It's not really me, though. Kind of like when people compliment me on my name. Awesome. I love it, too. I'll tell my parents.) In this respect, we're all tools.

So, this happens when I write. I can channel.

I can do it with how I interact with people, too. When my mind isn't quiet, and I know that I'm being called on for something important--handling conflict, being supportive, offering solutions--I will stop and take a moment (in my head) and say, "Who do you need me to be right now?" And then, my brain clears. (The problem is that I don't always think to do this. I need to remember more.)

I hope this doesn't make me sound crazy.

Anyway, the point is that I rely a lot on this natural, channeling flow, and with the guitar... it ain't happenin'. When I started this last round, I realized I was trying too hard, so I stopped. Put the guitar away. And focused on something else to reconnect with my flow. I pulled out a canvas and some oil paints and played.

What's nice about painting (for me), is that I genuinely don't care what I produce. It is one of very few things in my life where I truly have not a single expectation for myself. Seriously! (Sometimes I say things like that, and in the back of my head, I am thinking something totally contradictory. But in this case…nope. All of my parts are in agreement.) I am not a painter. I do not aspire to excellence. No piece of my identity is wrapped into what comes out on the canvas. So I play. I like color. I like the smell of paint. I like experimenting with brushes. When I fudge a line, I just shrug and say, "Huh. I guess I'll go that way, then." It's like a road trip with no map, no destination, no annoying passengers, and no schedule. I don't swear when I paint, because I don't get frustrated. For someone like me, who spends 95% of her day spring-loaded and hiding from her imperfections… this is a powerful reprieve. (Writing this has just clarified that I need to paint more often.)

So… Goals...

COFFEE is taking a break and then altering the posting schedule a bit. We'll be breaking Dec. 25-Jan 2. Starting January 3, we'll each post every 2 weeks (with a few little breaks in the middle and at the end of a round). So… 

Goals for the next 19 days:

1. Create a more complete version of The Messenger (see v-log).

2. Figure out at least the verse for No One is to Blame. (Will this to-do item ever go away?)

3. Make a list of all the positive things to be gained from this experience. (I forgot to do this.)

4. 10 hours of practice.

5. Attend an open mic. Note: I did not say PLAY at an open mic. I said "attend." I should start scouting these things to see how they work. Like a shark circling a wounded pelican. I'm the shark. The nameless audience is the wounded pelican. Watch out.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Make a plan, Stan (Wendy)

I’ve been asking myself why I can’t seem to focus lately. And I’m so tired of the question – it’s become overly dramatic, like in a Nancy Kerrigan “Whyyyyy???” kind of way.

I mean, seriously, I decided to write this post this morning. Then, as I opened a new Word doc, I suddenly decided that I needed to update my Christmas list… then before I had written anything down on my Christmas list, realized that I was in the middle of my daily to-do list, then my sister called, then I decided to get a snack….on and on the wheels spin.

Can I just TELL you how many half-written to-do lists I have sitting around?
Seriously. How exactly do you focus and get things done when you can’t even focus long enough to finish your to-do list? Reminds me of the time I tried to read a book on speed reading. It started taking me so long to read the stinkin’ book that I eventually abandoned it altogether. How’s that for irony?

I just have to be ACTIVELY interested in something in order to complete it in a timely fashion.

So that’s where I’m at. With everything. Unless I have a client or another person to please, I have a really hard time focusing. And right now, most of the stuff on my list is for the sake of my own business/life, so I’m just lost. Lost in an echoey sea of wish-wash.

Now, usually this is the point in the problem-solving thought-process where I stop and go get a cup of peppermint tea, then find something else to do.

But reading all of you sassy COFFEE chicks’ posts, I have noticed that you all generally don’t stop with your thorough assessment of the problem. You employ a tactic I like to call “a plan”. But a plan requires a vision. And this is generally where my brain fogs over and all I see are visions of naps and snuggly blankets and steamy mugs of a creamy cup o’ soup. This time, though, I’m barreling on, thanks to ya’ll’s inspiration.

So here’s my plan. I’m going to spend time every day this week meditating on a vision for my life. Where, specifically, do I want to go next? How am I going to get there? What does the ‘getting there’ part look like, exactly? Have I finally gotten new highlights?

Seriously, this is going to be a real challenge for me. Focusing and silencing for, well, any solid amount of time.

My husband built a meditation/prayer bench in our front yard that would be perfect for this exercise, but seeing that it’s a balmy 16 degrees out and only an asshat would weather that kind of frozen calamity, I will find a comfy, private location where I will sit and think for 10 minutes per day.

Yes! A tangible plan!

Wish me luck, COFFEE Chick-a-doodles, and thanks for the direction – I needed it!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

COFFEE Project Post Four: Always Look Eye (Tawni)

I am hoping the brave Sensei Miyagi meaning behind my blog title will give me back some of my fighting spirit.

Because really, I must confess: I’ve been in a funk. A slump. A slacker-black tar pit from which the woolly mammoth of my motivation cannot escape. (Prehistoric theme this time? SCORE.)

“Rub some dirt in it and get back in the game, Freebird!” I had to bark at myself this week.

(I call myself “Freebird” when I’m mad at me. My nickname evolved from sarcastic band mates changing my last name from “Freeland” to this by jokingly taunting, “Way to go, Freebird,” if I botched a guitar note or something. Yep. Comedians, every one of them.)

Around Thanksgiving, I went to Arizona for most of a week to visit my dear family, which was really incredible. I didn’t even bother trying to keep track of my writing progress, for I knew there would be none. I was completely out of my routine (and state), with a very active four-year-old boy in tow, so it was impossible to plan time alone to write. Plus, I wanted to hang out with my family and stuff. I miss them.

I returned home with good intentions, desperately trying to ignore the paved road to hell, and proceeded to have a week of physical therapy, doctor appointments and nightmarish trips to the DMV where I was temporarily confused for a woman in Oklahoma who has a name oddly similar to my own unique name and an identical birth date. (I know, right? Another story.)

Rambling paragraph of more lame excuses short, I only wrote one day of the two I’d promised when I got back to town. Since I had nothing more to report here, I didn’t even post my regularly scheduled COFFEE blog. And yes, the irony of failing to write a blog about my goal of trying to make more time to write occurred to me.

I don’t know if it’s the way the bitterly cold weather makes me want to lie under my electric blanket and eat carbs until March, or if I’m just depressed, but I have been not feeling it with a capital NUH-UH lately.

I do this every winter, and no amount of children’s gummy vitamin D supplements munched along with my son seems to prevent it. I don’t do cold well. It makes me feel tense and tired. And then I’m whiny and annoying to be around. It’s a living.

When I reached the low point in my de-motivated haze of late during which my husband started quoting inspirational songs from the movie Karate Kid, I knew I had to do something. Because my husband dramatically singing at me, “You're the best around... nothing's gonna ever keep you down!” always calls for drastic measures. (And earmuffs.)

Before he had a chance to smack me over the head with his Club of Enthusiasm and drag me back to the cave to write, I started my no-editing blog, Literary Lampshade.

(I’m really trying to work the dinosaur days metaphors in here. Are you noticing?)

I know I said I was going to wait until January, but I decided I needed a kick in the ass right now. I also needed more writing motivation besides the word “BOOK” in a bold 72 point font, perched heavily upon my insecure shoulders like a prehistoric monkey.

(Okay, that one was a bit forced. I’ll workshop it.)

(How about “perched heavily upon my insecure shoulders like a terrible lizard”? Is that better?)


I gave myself permission to use word or photo prompts for my little creative writing lessons in stream-of-consciousness, but so far, it’s the photos that have been inspiring me, so I think I’m going to make that the official theme. See Photo/Write About It.

Here are the rules:

1. Find an image that makes me think, or stimulates my brain in any direction, and post it on the blog.

2. Write down whatever thoughts pop into my mind while I look at that picture; no guidelines, and no restrictions. Any length, anything it makes me feel, or any story I want to make up about it is fine. (The second rule of Write Club is that there are no rules.)

3. Do not obsess over grammar, style, repetition, or do any editing beyond basic readability issues.

(For example: if I use a word a lot throughout, I am not allowed to sit and ponder new words to use instead, or change sentences and paragraphs around. But if a word gets the red wiggly spell-check underline, I am allowed to fix it. Because spelling is important.)

4. Do not worry that whatever I’ve written looks like a thirteen-year-old girl posted her diary online, or worse; like thirteen-year-old ME posted her diary online. I don’t care, I don’t care, I don’t care… okay, I do care, but I will stop caring… because the point to this exercise is to force me to get over my self-consciousness and writing inhibition.

So bring on the public humiliation! BRING IT, Inner Chicken-Sloth! Show me what you’ve got! I am not going to be afraid anymore. To put it like my Karate Kid-quoting husband: “Fear does not exist in this dojo!

I wrote a few of these quick picture-prompted pieces this week, and I must say; I truly enjoyed the process. I especially liked perusing gorgeous random photos, because as I’ve told you before; I’m very visually stimulated, like men and that Tyrannosaurus rex in Jurassic Park. (Prehistoric callback!) When an image hit me the right way, I actually had a great time writing a fictional scenario around it.

I think that in addition to helping me get over my fear of Putting It Out There, the no-edit blog is going to be really good writing practice for me as well. I am also hoping it will train me to tap into my creativity faster. I gave myself a twenty minute time limit each time, and noticed that when I knew there would be no editing allowed, I took my time and chose my words more carefully than usual, which seems like a good thing. Definitely a success.

Another positive thing that came from last week was that because of my weird experience at the DMV, the main character of my book will find out she has a twin sister during confusion at the DMV. I’m going to use that weird experience. I’m excited about taking the story in a new direction.

The other little victory I experienced since my last COFFEE Project writing was the acquisition of my very first laptop computer.

I have wanted a laptop for years, but it has never been in the budget. There have been so many moments when I’ve sat watching my son play in the yard, and felt like writing. I’ve always imagined it would be helpful to have a way to write outside of the office.

This fortuitous gift from the heavens happened because I saved money that I received for my birthday in October, and $400 I won in cooking/recipe contests (I like to creatively cook). I also have a husband who vigorously researched laptops on Consumer Reports, and then took advantage of a screaming post-Thanksgiving online deal. I still can’t believe I have a laptop of my own. I get all giggly inside whenever I use it.

Now, when my son is riding his bike on the sidewalk in front of our house, instead of sitting in a chair writing things in my head that I vow to remember but never do, I can immediately save them. I am so very grateful for my new laptop, and think it is definitely going to facilitate more writing from me.

Actually, I know it will facilitate more writing because it already has. The best thing about it is that when I’m feeling winter-whiny, I can crank my heated blanket up, crawl into my bed, and write in toasty goodness. I wrote on it a few afternoons this week, with a cup of Earl Grey on the bedside table, and feeling in my toes. And it was good.

So that’s my latest progress update. Before I end this, I want to thank my fellow COFFEE Project ladies for inspiring me this week; and especially for making me feel less alone. Seriously. What an amazing group of women we have writing here. Reading about the your accomplishments makes me cheer inside for you, ladies, and reading that you’ve also experienced setbacks lately makes me feel like it’s okay to be human. You’re all like a big hug for my inner drill sergeant, and I appreciate your thoughtful words so much.

Here are some pictures taken by my new laptop as I sat outside in the cold garage, watching my son ride his bike on the sidewalk:

Feeling joyful about my new laptop.

Feeling grateful for my new laptop.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Too bad I can't get Charlie to blog (Becky)

I have nothing to say today, except that I think you should all see how cute my Charlie dog is. So here are a couple of pics:

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Serendipitous OWLS?? (Holly)

I have finally completed my COFFEE profile.  If you've all been wondering who the hell this Holly chic is, you may now click my goofy blond wigged picture and find out a little bit about me, what's been going down in HY2010, and why I'm doing this project in HY2011. You'll also find out what kind of beer I like to drink.

A Poem by Rumi:
The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell.
Don't go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don't go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
      Where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don't go back to sleep.

Now on to the task at hand:

My Morning Pages Notebook
Morning Pages:  My love affair with the morning pages continues.  I have not missed a day since my last blog entry. The book this week talks about the morning pages helping to sort out the difference between our real feelings and our "official" feelings. Since the pages are to be stream of conscienceness, they tend to be very honest...and those "creeping" feelings will generally show up on the page.  As well as extreme emotions.  They are great for processing things, life.  "Over any considerable period of time, the mp's perform spiritual chiropractic.  They realign our values.  If we are to the left or the right of our personal truth, the pages will point out the need for a course adjustment. We will become aware of the drift and correct it-if only to hush the pages up."   I love this quote from the book and think that it really summarizes why I'm doing this course and writing these pages. Yes...I'm in the cauldron, yes, there's been a lot that has occurred in the last year that necessitates a good hard look at the next chapter of my life and how I want to live it. The pages help create clarity which is conducive to change.

Artist's Date:  I continue to suck rocks at the artist's date. Last week I used two shopping experiences as a cop-out for the artist's date.  I went to Trader Joe's for the first time last Friday night.  I was by myself. P said if I bought an exotic fruit or vegetable, that I had never bought before, AND THEN COOKED SOMETHING WITH IT, that could count. Well, I bought persimmons, but have done squat with them.  I also went in to the European Flavors grocery store and bought 6 different types of herring for the Christmas party on Sunday.  YUMMY!! While there I had a fabulous conversation with the owner on how most silly Iowans aren't into fish and what they're missing out on.  She then described the deliciousness of some sturgeon they just got in.  I will be serving it at the Boxing Day gathering. There's still time for an Artist Date this week.....

Chapter Musings:  I'm on Chapter 4 now- "Recovering a Sense of Integrity".  A lot of the chapter is about the power of the morning pages, which I've covered. But, there is much more in this chapter that spoke to me.  
1) The power of solitude.  Until we experience the FREEDOM of solitude, we cannot connect authentically.  Solitude v. Loneliness.  Is it a glass half empty/full issue?  It seems to be a theme that I've been encountering a lot at this point in my life.  I've been talking to several other people about loneliness too.  Pema Chodron writes a lot about loneliness in "When things Fall Apart".  A couple months ago, I experienced loneliness like I never had before.  This month, I truly am looking forward the Freedom of Solitude and connecting with my authentic self, and hence, my creativity.  It seems to be a theme with several COFFEE chics.  Multi-tasking is overrated.  Too much on plate=bad news and mixed up wires in Holly's head.
2) Search and Discard- Julia talks about the changes that are most likely occurring as a result of doing this course and the corresponding impulse to throw out old shit that has lost its purpose.  By so doing we make room for new possibilities.  I really think this might be my next project, women.  It will be gut-wrenchingly hard and painful, but uber therapeutic and practical all at the same time.   I will have a truly clean slate to work on the creation of quantities of cool shit.
3)  Dreams-Julia talks about an energy shift that is probably occurring at this point in the course and that I'll start remembering my dreams better.  I am very excited about this.  I actually really started remembering my dreams again about a year ago.  They are part of the reason why I felt like creating-it's how I wrote my second song, the Flood.  Last night I dreamed I was snow skiing.  Dream dictionary says, that dreaming about skiing can indicate "pushing yourself and putting your mental and/or physical ability to the test. You are your own fiercest competitor." Sweet. I don't think there's a song in there, but it certainly rings true for me.

Basic Principles: #2 is There is an underlying, in-dwelling creative force infusing all of life-including ourselves.  Well, I sure as hell hope so.  I'm kind-of banking on this principal to justify all the time I'm spending trying to find mine!!

Rules of the Road: #1 is Show up at the page. Use the page to rest, to dream, to try.  Word up, Julia! Best advice yet, and I really did cover it in the "morning pages" section.

Curmudgeons:  These little dudes haven't been as noisy this week.  Really my thoughts have been going something like this.....okay....fine....maybe there is a little creativity in there worth sharing and getting out.  Take care of the quantity, the universe or god will take care of the quality.  Well, jollyho, what exactly are you going to be doing? Writing? Photography? Writing what? Travel writing? Genealogical biography writing? Random short stories? Songs? Who the hell would sing them? How?  Now, having said that, I think I'm doing okay with just relaxing into the process and having faith that any future projects, and how to narrow them down and prioritize them, will come to me in due time.

Random:  Okay....there's something going on with me and Owls.  Not quite sure what it is yet.  They're everywhere and trying to tell me something. My morning pages notebook is an owl, I'm teaching a comprehensive sex ed class to middle schoolers called OWL (our whole lives), Benjamin's favorite book is a Dora book about La Lechuza (the Owl), and there were OWL statues staring at me when shopping at Homemakers last weekend.  No seriously, they were. Gently-but staring just the same.  Just when I forgot about the Owl, another one (or was it the same one?) would find me again.  So, I wrote about the OWLS in my morning pages. That very day, my friend was telling me about someone she met over the weekend.  I was certain that I needed to meet him too.  She said she tried to look him up on facebook, but he just had a picture of.....an OWL as his profile pic! The next day, two OWLS came into my house...
one via post (West Elm-a white ceramic OWL)

and one as a hostess/christmas gift-an OWL Ornament. 

Today...I bought another Owl from Target to go with my pine cone hedgehog. That has a funny story too.

It is not over with the Owls.  The Owls are trying to tell me something.  I will keep my eyes and ears open and let you know if I find anything else out.

Life after death:  I know it seems like a pipe dream, but this week I can't help thinking about balance.  Having a full, genuine and authentic life with an attempt at creating an environment conducive to achieving balance.  The next thing that comes to mind, to achieve this, is a calendar.  Oh, and a prayer board and mandalas! Let's have a COFFEE party and make prayer boards and mandalas. I'll bring the incense.  What will you bring?