Violet celebrated her 4th birthday this week. Walking on tiptoe in her floor length pink princess gown, she introduced adult guests to her tiny friends with precision and ease.
It’s our last time to chalk the driveway before she moves to Portland. Giggling sweetly, she asks me to draw bicycles and an ocean. She selects shades of blue and grey, then carefully explains to her little sister Lulu how the world works, “Only sometimes the sky is blue…”
Chalk in hand, we bend over the cement. Lulu can’t color inside the lines yet, and part of me hopes she never learns that restriction. Maybe she won’t; her parents are exceptional at coloring outside the lines. Daddy takes talent and creativity to a new level and Mommy just stepped away from a traditional job to run in new directions.
Only a few months ago Violet didn’t like the ocean or sand. Soon she’ll arrive in Portland in time for the Sand in the City annual sand castle event, sponsored in part by her mother’s new employer. Sending Violet’s family love as they move to their new home closer to a different ocean!
Sunshine envelops the longest day of the year. Here, at the farthest western edge of the Eastern Time zone, our day is bright and dusk is long. The hour tops, and time stands still.
As we collectively wish to rush forward, Summer starts by hitting the pause button. Spring’s last bright breath is a moment of meditation; collecting mindful energy required to produce the bountiful blessings of the season to come.
One needn’t have a special Valentine, to be one. Find a way to share love with everyone you meet, leaving behind a trail of hearts as you go.
In the words of Maya Angelou, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Chinese New Year brings us eye to eye with the Green Wooden Horse and the high-stepping energy of good fortune. Don’t expect him to stand still long; travel and noble victory are happily promised in the months ahead.
In 2013, Snake was quietly planning for this journey. Saddle up! Now is the time to embody strength, speed, perseverance, and the willingness to bend to direction. This year Horse, long revered for safe transportation, will get you where you want to go at full-gallop.
The past year lines up behind me as a long, colorful row of doors. Some I walked through and others were never touched. A few were slammed, and locked.
In 2014, I’m implementing an open door policy. I won’t force myself to enter if it feels better to simply peek, but I’d like to open a new door each week. It’s a formula to deliver all the richness a broad set of experiences can provide.
Happy New Year!
“I love the silent hour of night, for blissful dreams may then arise, revealing to my charmed sight what may not bless my waking eyes.” – Anne Brontë
The sweet cat I rescued and nursed back to health has called my house home for a year. Homeless for many months, she drank from puddles and relied on neighbors to offer food. We all knew her owner, who refused to reply to inquiries.
Now healthy, happy and heavier, she rarely ventures from my garden. She never jumps on tables or counter. The furniture is intact; she only claws her scratching pad. A perfect cat.
The Tortoise breed has unique coloring and a chatty vocabulary. Mine is a mottled mix of brown and black; the tips of her toes are cardboard brown with a patch of pure white over her heart. In retrospect I see that as a sign; caring for her heart has helped mine.
In 1998, Denver Moore and Ron Hall’s worlds collided when Ron’s wife dreamed of a homeless man who would change their lives and community. Initially reluctant, the ex-con and wealthy rancher forged an unlikely friendship that led to raising over $70 million for homeless shelters nationwide. Their story is told in New York Times best-seller Same Kind of Different as Me.
I met Ron after he spoke at National Philanthropy Day®, an event recognizing generous contributors. Ron described his own transformation as he realized that looking at Denver, he saw himself in the same mirror. Both were afraid, one of giving and one of receiving.
Nearly a third of annual giving occurs between now and the end of the year. (Blackbaud Charitable Giving Report) Consider sharing your resources of time, talent and finances. Don’t turn away because you feel you can’t give enough. As Denver says, “Nobody can help everybody, but everybody can help somebody.”
I have been asking people what they’ve learned along the way in life:
Esther told me the #1 life lesson is to be honest, but her husband Martin doesn’t agree. The service manager at my car dealership learned he earns increased loyalty by sending customers to a low-cost shop when the required fix isn’t technically demanding. Paula came out of unscheduled surgery to discover she has a congenital heart defect; she has learned to appreciate breathing.
We each see the world from where we are. If we look around at all, others may seem to have all the answers. But your best answers are your own. Instead of asking others, ask yourself. Look within for wisdom. You’ve got this.
If you visit Muirfield Village Golf Club for the annual Memorial Tournament – or for this weekend’s President’s Cup – come prepared for rain.
Today a 10% forecast of precipitation resulted in 100% buckets of water, requiring the tallest galoshes and multiple delays in play.
Regular attendees expect this. Umbrellas in tow, they shrug off curious glances on a bright and sunny day, knowing the ghost of Chief Leatherlips, who is buried on the tournament grounds, could orchestrate his curse of a rain delay at any time.
This afternoon, I stopped by Ell Farm for raw honey. Cincinnati’s surrounding hills trap pollen and mold, and locals suggest this sweet treat will help keep transplants to the city from developing allergies.
Mrs. Ell was at the counter. Realizing I’m friends with her daughter, she suggested I go over to the house and say hello. I didn’t want to impose, but she insisted.
Hesitantly walking through the organic orchard, I was welcomed by my friend’s young son and an invitation to pick apples! Tart, sweet and crisp, we tasted them right off the tree, juice running down our chins and glinting in the sunshine.
Accept all offers of hospitality for the potential joy they may bring.
At last night’s Cincinnati mayoral debate, I met City Council Member Wendell Young. We chatted briefly, and he turned to join guests filing into the auditorium.
Suddenly remembering my blog challenge, I quickly asked if he had a life lesson to share with me. Smiling, and with a slight question in his voice, he replied “Don’t jump out of a perfectly good airplane, if you have a choice?!”
As he told me that parachutes weren’t his favorite part of a stint in the US Air Force, I considered the thrill and adrenaline rush of a free fall isn’t necessary if you can be happy with what you have.
Annually, The Nesting Place blog author challenges readers to post to their own blogs about a single theme during the month of October. Last year 1200 bloggers participated and I was one of them, creating and posting a daily drawing.
This year I will post Life Lesson stories – approaching people I don’t know to ask what their greatest lesson in life has been. I’m interested to discover whom I’ll meet and what I uncover.
Life Lessons: Sufficiency Hospitality Be Prepared Lesson Learned
Alaska is a magical place in the summer. Backroads’ hiking and cycling adventures immersed me in pristine wildflowers, glaciers and salmon jumping upstream. I prepared my body for the challenge by pedaling at the gym; I broke in new hiking boots walking around town. But nothing prepared my spirit for the heart stopping views.
Landing in rustic paradise, my pupils opened wide to drink in the beauty and the ever-present sun. From Palmer to Sitka to Homer and the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska is an extremely enormous outdoor church.
Interconnected life thrives, supported by a circular cycle of perfection outside the reach of man’s hand. The energy here is palpable. A few days in, I notice everything seems to slightly move. Even the mountains dance, keeping company with rivers and waterfalls, and trees and grasses as they grow.
Labor Day closes the door on summer and I tuck in early, while it’s still light out. As I shut my eyes, I can almost see a moose lumbering across the road. And in my imagination, I fall asleep under Alaska’s midnight sun.
Mom and I paid another visit to Violet and her sister. The girls were lively, and became even more so when I joined them jumping on the sofa. Our mothers frowned at that.
Stretching upward Violet whispered to me softly, “Can we draw with chalk?!” I ask, What should we draw? “The ocean!” Why? “Going to a beach.” Do you like the beach? “No.” Why not? With a scrunched face and tight lips she snips, “Sand.”
I describe buckets and sand castles. But she looks me straight in the eye and says, “Make a boat.” Pressing on the chalk, I consider that sand has a bad rap. It’s scratchy in bathing suits, makes the car a mess and is the medium of choice when drawing a line of ultimatum. So I drew an ocean, sun, boat, fish and palm tree. No sand.
Satisfied, Violet pretends to get in the water. Precious and precocious, it won’t be long until she is riding the waves, turning sand into castles and lemons into lemonade.
July gifts us with the coldest evening on record as The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Cincinnati summer Project Yoga session ends.
After completing stretching and balancing poses, we all sit on our mats and breath deeply. Focusing on the breath directs attention and promotes relaxation, providing the kids a simple and accessible tool to reduce anxiety. We select a place to go in our imagination, then relax on our mats and have a peaceful rest.
The kids say their “Yoga Nap” is the part of class they like best. I watch the most fidgety child roll up in his mat like a yoga burrito and finally become still. I breathe deeply myself, knowing I’m making a difference.
I’ve never been, but now etched upon my sight
Your streets, sidewalks, and smiling faces
Meeting you for the Yoga Festival, I am home.
Mountains stretch upward on an inhale;
Tadasana walls of granite and sandstone
Here, beauty and backpacks merge
In a haze of sweat, summoned by the climb.
Blessed by the view from the top, we are all one
Love of what the eye can see and the heart can feel
Draws us home to a place we had never been
Cracked at the first stroke, recast twice, then hidden during the 1777 British occupation of Philadelphia, the Liberty Bell endures as a symbol of the possibilities a very big dream can bring.
Rung for the last time in 1846 on George Washington’s birthday, the bell was placed on display in Independence Hall in 1852. Today it is housed in the Liberty Bell Pavilion, opened for the 1976 bicentennial, and is freely visible to all, 24 hours a day.
She didn’t ask me for help. Gas tanks between us, I watched as she opened her car doors and then the trunk. Reaching for her phone, as the pump continued to click, she left a message, “Forgot purse.” Realization hit and she sprinted to cancel the flow of gas.
I’ve been in her shoes. Well dressed and on the way to the office for a 12-hour day before logging a few more at home. Producing good results, yet only a step ahead of the story now unfolding in front of me.
With empathy, I paid for my gas and for hers. It wasn’t much. But her gratitude was enormous and the gesture fueled us both.
The mandala, a Sanskrit word meaning circular, has its origins in Buddhism and can be seen in cultures across the world. Used as a contemplative tool for centuries, multiple studies now show drawing a circular shape reduces anxiety.
Unplanned, my pen meandering without purpose, lines and squiggles became patterns and finally form a cohesive whole. My stress neutralized, my brain relaxed and my choices became clearer as I created a world within a circle.
I asked my Mom if she donned white shoes for Memorial Day. She replied with a sigh, “Growing up, you just knew the rule. But no one is burdened anymore by this law of dressing.“ Then she admitted to padding out of the house in white leather flats – two weeks ago! Speechless.
I remember shopping for white sandals as a little girl with my grandmother, then squirming until the end of May when I could finally free them from my closet. Today fashion mavericks break the rule, and icon Coco Chanel wore white year round.
Maybe it hearkens back to those trips with Grandma, but I enjoy the anticipation and pleasure crisp bright white brings after waiting. So today, I slip on white sandals. And wherever you are Grandma, I hope you’re rocking a pair of white pumps with a St. John knit suit. Happy Memorial Day!
School’s out for the summer! Another session teaching yoga in the Boys & Girls Club K-6 after-school program has come to an end. We’ve played games, practiced poses and learned to slow down by focusing on our breath, harnessing attention to help stress melt away.
This is Tree Pose.
In January, all eyes scanned the room, comparing. Today the kids realize it is their unique beauty and effort that counts. Each tree in a forest is different, just as each child is specially unique. By releasing their grip on an artificial idea of perfection, each child’s branches can reach for the skies.
Early each May, the City of Cincinnati shines as a series of small towns strung together along the Flying Pig Marathon race route. Full, half, or relay, encompassing every color, shape and size, runners for a lifetime or for the day pace themselves to complete the hilly course.
A 5-star event for its panoramic views and energetic community support, all are buoyed by the encouragement of tens of thousands of neighbors who wake early and gather along the route to chap and cheer, wave signs, ring bells and shout encouragement.
Inspiring and uplifting to witness, the people of Cincinnati are the true wings that lift these runners. Each year, this day in May everyone is a winner. Wake up early, and come as you are, to witness a magic combination that allows us all, both on and off the road, to fly.
Violet and I go way back. Within days of her own birth, she joined my birthday celebration and was the hit of the party. Tonight, as her mommy and daddy prepared dinner, Violet and I went outside to play. She placed sidewalk chalk in front of me saying, “You draw.” “Violet, you draw!” She refused, “No. You are the drawer.”
Clearly in charge, Violet has vision. Flowers, then ‘sunshine,’ then an airplane. I ask why we need a plane. Placing her hands on her hips with an incredulous look, she tells me firmly, “We… have… planes.“ So I set about recreating a flight coming into Lunken Airport, near her hillside home.
At one point she appears to lose focus and walks away to play with her toys. I ask if we are done? She calls out, “Toys help drawing!” Like all good Art Directors, Violet understands the creative value of redirecting attention. She trusts others to do work she oversees and she gives decisive direction; “No. I don’t like it” or “Make more of those.”
But what makes Violet great is enthusiastically sharing her ideas so the finished result really shines. Before declaring the job complete, she handed me a tool I’d never seen before and showed me how to blend chalk. Then, stepping back, she flashed me a happy 3-year-old’s smile, lighting up the twilight as dinner was served.
Few moments in life compare to the joy of witnessing two truly happy people marry.
Longtime friendship fueled affection, and today, surrounded and supported by love, a young man and woman wed by the sea, underneath the interlinked branches of hundred-year-old oak trees.
I read Robert Lewis Stevenson’s Wedding Prayer, giving thanks for blessings and uniting hearts present with those far away. Like the massive oaks overhead that shaded us, may this union provide them shelter and strength. May their love grow and weave deep roots, providing stability and nourishment for generations to come.
The weatherman may say “cold,” but my mind is pulling up visions of tulips and sunshine as I mentally will the earth to warm. This morning, March 20th brings the Northern hemisphere equal light and night – a gift that will continue to give as the days grow longer through June.
The transition to Spring brings a time of hope. Plant your mental seeds of good thoughts today and watch them grow…
Daylight savings time begins and sunshine softens the earth as polished cars arrive at The Country Club. Local friends and family gather to shower a bride with gifts. Shared stories of childhood memories are laced with warmth and love, faces beaming with happiness for her happiness.
After lunch, the bride’s best friends join her before a mountain of gifts. As each is unwrapped, Elizabeth details the generosity and Martha reengineers bows into a bouquet – bright bits of the bounty bestowed.
A surprise appearance from the groom is met with applause and a starry-eyed gaze from the bride; the blush in her cheeks rising with the corners of her smile. New beginnings are celebrated as birds chirp beneath a clear blue sky, feathering their nest for the life ahead.
Lately I’ve spent a fair bit of time driving south of the Mason Dixon line. The trek leads me along the mighty Ohio River through the most impoverished counties in Ohio and five of the poorest states in the USA: Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.
In the rural South, county, not town denotes location of residence. The nearest grocery is fifteen minutes away on lonely road at 55 mph. The horizon is flat, landmarks are churches, and the industry is agriculture, military and marine.
Waiting for a lunch of boiled shrimp, I tell the folks beside me I’m here to help a family member who is ill. They reply with, “Ya’ll enjoy your tour of duty.” Later, I stop roadside to gather up a handful of raw cotton left behind when the field was picked; the crop trucked to a Japanese owned milI. I don’t know if the men sitting on the bridge are fishing or resting, or have given up.
It is easy to look at the economic scale and compare, longing for more. But everything is relative. And here, I am “the 1%.” I see that I have all I need, and more.
Chinese astrologists provided their interpretation of the Year of the Snake, and I have my own:
“Snakes are adaptive to land and lake, active day and night, and consume mammal, insect, fish or fowl. Utilized wisely, Snake’s flexible energy promises all things are possible in 2013.
One eye visible, one hidden; Snake smiles silently. Encouraging flexibility and thoughtful reflection, he bends back upon himself to gain insight. This newfound wisdom guides right action taken today, yielding great accomplishment at year-end.”
Happy Chinese New Year!
Two people I care for just had quadruple bypass surgery.
One younger, one older. Neither suspected life’s pause button would interrupt their routine. Now both cling to a stuffed pillow when they cough – an aid to hold the chest together as it heals.
The heart stops for hours during the procedure. Pumps circulate life-giving blood and drain fluids the body produces to fight surgery’s assaults. Yet within a day most patients sit up; the next they are walking. This miracle is performed in the US over half a million times annually, from rural hospitals to major medical centers.
Lifestyle changes are your first defense against heart disease. A great time to take the first step is now. The American Heart Association lists heart health risks here, and Walgreens is offering you or someone you care about FREE blood pressure tests all month long.
The snow is falling gently on the hill in front of me
Softly quiet, it is beautiful in this park where I like to be.
From somewhere children’s laughter makes me smile and feel so free, that
I sketch into the earth an angel to watch over me.
January’s unusual warmth and sunshine prompted me to open closet doors and get a head start on Spring-cleaning.
Clothing has long been my creative palate. Colorful blouses and skirts are my brushes, allowing me to paint pretty pictures that travel with me throughout my day. Artists clean their brushes after every project, and my closet was overdue. Worn items were discarded, outsized garments are slated for donation to Dress For Success, and the sun set with a smile on the open space I’ve created.
With every item now visible and organized, I’ve multiplied the prospects for my creativity exponentially, and also provided professional apparel for women transitioning to the workforce. Less really is more.
After an evening of celebration and a day of rest, the new year begins.
The first steps on January’s path, carefully placed, point in the direction where your road this year will end. Click here for some sound advice from psychology professor, John Norcross, on getting to your destination.
Across cultures, from Hanukkah and Advent to St. Lucia Day, candles are lit as winter’s darkness descends.
Here at Turner Farm, a solstice bonfire illuminates the longest night. Crossing an irregular diameter of nearly 50 feet, it is a brilliant amalgam of branches and underbrush, whole felled trees, loosened shingles and rotted fence posts burning simultaneously to extinguish our accumulated trash and celebrate the return of light.
Words on paper describing what we no longer need are tossed into the flames, destroyed instantaneously and magnificently. Prayers are placed in the fire as well; hopes for the New Year rising in the smoke to the place where heaven and earth meet.
On this Christmas Eve, a night of eager expectation, I send you bright holiday greetings. For as certain as the outcome of fuel to flame, the darkness will end and the light will come again.
This growing season, my Meyer Lemon tree produced 11 lemons which is a windfall of abundance after last year’s harvest of one small fruit. Bright yellow, they hang heavy and ripe, encouraging my culinary creativity and spurring a dinner party.
The adage “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” is a way of life for me literally and figuratively. I choose the glass-half-full, expecting the best from whatever situation I find myself in. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic report that a positive perspective provides many benefits. And it makes me happy, even when life’s lemons surround me.
Traffic crawled to a stop for a few days in Oakley, as thousands patiently waited in line to drop off cardboard boxes stuffed with Thanksgiving dinner essentials for distribution to 70 inner-city churches and charities.
This high-energy annual event is an explosion of giving. A colorful maze of orange cones, horns honking, boom boxes blaring music, carloads of smiling faces, police directing traffic, and volunteers wearing turkey costumes and waving signs.
The air is filed with gratitude and heart-swelling generosity, as an estimated 50,000 regional holiday dinners were donated. Many share and all are blessed, those who give and those who receive.
On Wednesday evenings at Embers, specially priced sushi overshadows the high-quality American style menu and becomes the star of the standing-room-only bar.
Rice barrels embracing fresh fish and colorful vegetables, accompanied by wasabi and gari (pickled ginger) are comfort food to me. Sushi is visibly delightful; its simplistic presentation calming.
Soon this treat will also be available at a beautifully restored space in Over The Rhine at Kaze. Located on 14th and Vine, chef/co-owner Hideki Harada will draw upon his training in Osaka to serve sushi and Japanese and Asian-inspired dishes. I can’t wait! Until then, enjoy iSPYCINCY’s great summary here.
In Ohio, we’ve had our fill of political speeches and commercials, and of closed roads and secret service barricades. Post-election silence is just around the bend. Regardless of your choice – vote.
The first year women were allowed to vote in the USA my grandmother cast her ballot. Never forgetting a vote is a privilege not a right; Grandma took her children with her to vote. Years later, my Mom took her little girls behind the curtain of the election booth. My sister has done the same with her children. Less than 100 years ago, none of this could have happened.
Your voice matters. Vote!
Today’s drawing is of a bee, the lively symbol of BzzAgent. I recently visited the Cincinnati Hive (office), where I learned first hand how the company has formalized participation in word-of-mouth marketing. Anyone can sign up to be an Agent, and will receive products to review and to share with their social network.
It’s social marketing genius. Marketers gain valued shopper data and advocacy from consumers they may not otherwise reach. BuzzAgents influence – and their friends, families and colleagues enjoy experiencing new products from global brands, and knowing their voices are heard. It’s a win-win. I’m in!
31 days ago, I committed to participate in The Nester’s annual 31 day challenge by posting a drawing on my blog every day in October. I completed 25. What did I learn?
Plan ahead; don’t wait until you’re in pajamas at 11pm to think about what to draw that day. No second guesses, keep the pen moving; do not erase. A month ago I said I can’t draw, but it appears I can. Communication doesn’t require perfection. Be your real self; authenticity is your super-power.
That last bit is paraphrased from Dan Reynolds, super-cool creative guy at Landor. A recent chat with Dan encouraged me, pen in hand, to continue my drawing experiment with the people who come by my blog to check it out.
Drawing #25 created on Doodle Buddy for iPad by Pinger, Inc
Around-the-clock election coverage transformed into storm coverage, as Sandy hit the northeast coast today. Many people now don’t have what they need.
I am grateful everything in my world tonight is where it was yesterday. Heat and electricity on. Groceries a short drive away. Remember everyday gratitude. The ordinary becomes precious once it is removed.
Drawing #24 created with MyPaint Free by MyMedia
Temperatures dipped low enough today to have me heading to Moksha Yoga, a favorite hot yoga spot. Ellen Bradley’s Cincinnati studio kicks it up a notch with both heat and humidity, relaxing the body and providing a comfortable cocoon in the depth of a cold winter.
Ellen’s class at noon today was tough. Just as my thoughts began to run in circles around my perceived failure, I heard her voice, “Breathe in and allow more space in your mind… breathe out and allow more space in your body.” Wise words. And a relaxing reminder our breath is always there to provide us with that choice.
Drawing #23 created on Doodle Buddy for iPad by Pinger, Inc
The phone rang.
“I’ve got a bone to pick with you…”
“You didn’t show up at the Halloween party.”
Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, all about celebrating creativity, not the dead. But my friend Tom – who is a cancer survivor and the subject of today’s drawing – was correct. I didn’t go to the party. I thought I had some good excuses but he cleverly shot down each one.
As All Hallow’s Eve approaches, Tom’s call was a reminder that Halloween isn’t about costumes and ghouls. It’s about living spirits and gatherings that connect us with friends.
Drawing #22 created with Chalk
It’s Halloween week and time to carve a pumpkin!
This traditional activity was originally an Irish custom, tied to the legend of Stingy Jack. Finding himself unwelcome in both heaven and hell, Stingy Jack roamed the earth at night with only the light from a hot coal to guide his way.
Two hundred years ago my Irish ancestors carved and illuminated turnips and beets to ward away his spirit.
Today I set a pumpkin outside my door, welcoming an Irish friend to Sunday dinner.
Drawing #21 created with MyPaint Free by MyMedia
The Girl Scouts of Western Ohio‘s management team planned a wellness day for their staff last week, and I was invited to teach a yoga class.
While Scout leaders participate in activities with the girls, there is an army of staff working behind the scenes in an office all day, to make the scouting experience happen. My class outlined a series of stretches, easily done at a desk, to help increase circulation, flexibility, and reduce stress at the office.
This Yoga Journal article outlines a quick mid-day stretch to lift your energy.
Drawing #20 created with Draw
A friend was unable to attend dinner and the ballet and asked if I would take her place. She said it was a nice group of people I’d be joining…
Opening night of Alice (in wonderland), accompanied by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, was exceptional. Magically creative, colorful and whimsical, punctuated frequently by audience applause; I’m so glad I agreed to attend.
In the story, Alice shrinks very small and grows very tall. As the night progressed I felt myself growing taller and taller, filled by my happiness. Thank you to my new friends for such a nice evening!
Drawing #19 created on Doodle Buddy for iPad by Pinger, Inc
Today’s drawing-of-the-day is of a champagne reception for Seamus Heaney, Nobel Prize winning Irish poet and honored guest of theMercantile Library’s 25th Niehoff Lecture.
After dinner, a poetry reading. Mr. Heaney’s words, already powerful on the page, became all the more beautiful and poignant transformed by his voice.
Created with MyPaint Free by MyMedia