About Brightly Shine

There exists within all of us a spark of the Light which makes our world beautiful. I've found that paying attention to all the little sparks adds up to a brighter life. Let that light shine.

Valentine Bulbs

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Daffodils symbolize hope.

Emerging from the ground before harsh winter ends, their bulbs provide all nutrients required for successful growth.  Reaching innately toward the warmth of the sun until trumpet-shaped blooms emerge, they hark of good things to come.

Like true love, daffodils are bright and sturdy,.  They flourish seemingly effortlessly with little more than sunshine and water, reminding us to keep a positive mindset in all situations and all seasons of love.

This Valentine’s Day, plant a bulb of love in your heart to bloom in spring.

 

Happy Chinese New Year, Fine Swine

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Today welcomes the Chinese Year of the Earth Pig.

Pig is considered a symbol of prosperity and good fortune. Celebrations unfold across the world in anticipation of a new year that will be footnoted by the best characteristics of these gentle animals.

Companionable, clean and intelligent as a 3 year old child, pigs live together in harmony, often sleeping cuddled up snout-to-snout.

Having no sweat glands, they actually never “sweat like a pig.”  Let that be a sign to anticipate a year of cool ease, as Pig roots out happiness for you to share in joyful close companionship with friends and family.

Happy New Year.  May All Your Dreams Come True.

The Sheep Sees

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Today ushers in the Green Sheep for Chinese Lunar New Year, which is marked by the New Moon and thought to support wishes.

Everyone’s seen white sheep and black sheep, gray sheep and brown.  But where can a green sheep be found?   Authors Mem Fox and Judy Horacek’s children’s book Where Is The Green Sheep? outlines a delightful journey to answer that question.  The story eventually locates the animal sleeping in a bed of green grass.

In my imagination, I believe he is making wishes and dreaming of a happy year.

A Cleansing Wind

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I am enchanted by playful things;

a grown-up who relishes swings.

Kicking back and forth as I lift toward the sky

The wind tickles my cheeks.  I begin to fly.

Delight and laughter fill my heart

Gratitude explodes for all I am blessed to be a part.

I watch over the river as it gently flows

All thoughts I don’t need softly decompose.

Teach With Your Heart

IMG_1007To embark on a new opportunity, I will no longer teach the Boys & Girls Club yoga program I designed to help empower children

I begin training my replacements today.

Few yoga instructors want to teach children. Of those who are willing, many cannot. Captivating attention of 30 children in the confines of a school gym is a cacophony,  released in all directions.

My student’s lives are marked by poverty and hunger, violence and uncertainty.  Harsh realities have made them far tougher than me; manners and protocol are not part of their vocabulary.  Many have learning, behavioral or executive function issues.

Before the children would listen to me, they had to trust me.  To succeed, I teach with my heart.  It is the only way to lead.  Even the littlest heart knows this truth.  The heart sees.  

I ask for input and for agreement.  I look into their eyes.  I explain they may participate or nap, provided it is on their mat, where it is safe and appropriate to let go and express oneself fully.  Within this micro-framework of the mat,  I encourage mental control via lively stories to spark imagination.  I teach self esteem by inviting them to step forward and teach beside me.  I allow them to discover internal self regulation through constant reminders to return to the breath.  

Together, we stand strong as a mountain, wiggle and hiss as snakes in the grass, extend arms to balance like a tree, and reach for the brightest and most beautiful star in the sky to place inside our body.  We each describe our Star, then relax on the mat to breathe.

I tell them I am leaving to reach for a Star.  Suddenly, arms, hands, faces, elbows and hugs surround me.  They don’t want a new teacher.  It’s not the same.

You can’t teach love.

 

Bye bye, Violet

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Today is my last time to chalk the driveway with Violet, before she moves away.

Giggling sweetly, she selects blue and grey.  She asks me to draw bicycles and an ocean, while carefully explaining to her little sister Lulu how the world works; “Only sometimes the sky is blue…”

Neither child can color inside the lines yet.  Part of me hopes they never learns this restriction and perhaps she won’t;  heir parents are exceptional at coloring outside the lines.  Daddy takes talent and creativity to an extreme level, and Mommy just stepped away from a traditional CPG job to run with Nike in new directions.

Just a few months ago Violet didn’t like the ocean or sand, but she’s now old enough to hapilly move to Portland in time for their annual Sand in the City sand castle event, sponsored in part by her mother’s new employer.

I am sending this special family love as they depart to live near a real – not chalk – ocean!

Time Stands Still

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Sunshine envelops the longest day of the year.

Here at the far western edge of the Eastern Time Zone, our day is bright and dusk is long coming.  The hour tops, and for a brief bright moment, time stands still.

Spring’s last bright breath is a moment of purposeful meditation, collecting the mindful energy required to produce bountiful blessings for us all within the season to come.

We collectively and habitually wish to rush forward.  Take a moment to allow Summer to start,  by hitting the pause button.

 

New Year, New Horse

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Saddle up!

Chinese New Year brings us eye to eye with the Green Wooden Horse and its high-stepping energy of good fortune.

In 2013, the year of the Snake was quietly planning for this journey.  Now is the time to embody strength, speed, perseverance and willingness to bend to the bridle’s direction.

Travel and noble victory are happily promised in the months ahead.  This year Horse, long revered for transportation, will get you where you want to go at full-gallop.

Open Door Policy

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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 shut and one was locked.

In 2014, I am 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 certain to deliver all the richness a broad set of experiences can provide.

Happy New Year!

Perfect Cat

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The sweet “Tortie” I rescued and nursed back to health has lived with me a year.

Abandoned and stray, she drank from puddles and wandered the woods. We all knew her owner, who refused to reply to inquiries.  Now healthy and happy, she rarely ventures from the garden of her new home, nor does she jump upon or claw furniture.  A perfect cat.

The Tortoise breed displays a mottled mix of brown and black coloring.  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.

Everybody Can Help Somebody

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Denver Moore and Ron Hall’s worlds collided in 1998.

I met Ron when he spoke at National Philanthropy Day®, an event recognizing generous contributors.  His story is told in the New York Times best-seller Same Kind of Different as Me.

This wealthy rancher, and an ex-con, forged an unlikely friendship which led to raising over $70 million for homeless shelters nationwide.

One night, Ron’s wife dreamed a homeless man would change their lives.  Searching the streets, they found Denver, and offered to help, launching a mutual journey of transformation. Ron realized when he looked at Denver, he saw himself in the same mirror.

Both were afraid. One of giving, one of receiving.

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.”

Lesson Learned

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I’ve been asking random strangers what they have  learned along the way in life.

  • At the grocery store, Esther told me the #1 life lesson is to be honest, but her husband Martin doesn’t agree.
  • Ben, a car service manager, shared he’s increased loyalty by sending customers to a low-cost shop when the required fix isn’t technically demanding, but his manager doesn’t agree.
  • Paula, waiting in line for a table, told me she came out of unscheduled surgery to discover she has a congenital heart defect. She has learned to appreciate breathing, but her husband would prefer not knowing.

We each see the world from where we are.

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.

Life Lessons: Be Prepared

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Always come prepared for rain.

If you visit Muirfield Village Golf Club for the annual Memorial Tournament, bring an umbrella.  Today’s no-precipitation forecast resulted in 100% drenching buckets of water, requiring galoshes and multiple delays in play.

Regular attendees expect this.  Umbrellas in tow, they shrug off curious glances on a bright and sunny day.  They’ve witnessed the Legend of Chief Leatherlips, buried on the tournament grounds and said to invoke downpours, who will orchestrate his curse of a rain delay at ant time.

Life Lesson: Hospitality

get-attachment.aspx_2This afternoon, I stopped by Ell Farm for raw honey.

Cincinnati’s surrounding hills trap pollen and mold, and locals suggest this sweet treat keeps transplants to the city from developing allergies.

Mrs. Ell was at the counter.  Realizing I know her daughter, she suggested I cut through the fields to my friend’s home and say hello.  I didn’t want to impose.  She insisted.

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 giggled as we tasted them right off the tree, juice running down our chins which glinted in the sunshine.

Lesson: Accept all offers of hospitality for the potential joy they may bring.

Life Lesson: Sufficiency

Cincinnati Councilman Wendell Young

I met City Council Member Wendell Young at last night’s Cincinnati mayoral debate.

Remembering my blog challenge, I quickly asked if he had a life lesson to share with me.  Smiling and with hesitation in his voice, he replied “Don’t jump out of a perfectly good airplane, if you have a choice?!

I laughed as he explained how parachutes weren’t his favorite part of a stint in the US Air Force.  It’s generally better to stay in the plane.

Lesson: The thrill of a free fall isn’t necessary if you are already happy where you are and where you are going.

Life Lessons: Bright Stories

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Annually, The Nesting Place blog challenges readers to post to their own blogs about a single theme during the entire month of October.   Last year 1200 bloggers participated and I was one of them – choosing to create and post a daily drawing.

For this year’s challenge I will post Life Lessons.  I will approach people I don’t know and ask what their greatest lesson has been.   I’m interested to discover whom I’ll meet and what I uncover.

Life Lessons:    Sufficiency         Hospitality           Be Prepared          Lesson Learned

Putting The Sun To Sleep

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Alaska is a magical place in the summer.

 Backroads’ hiking and cycling adventure immersed me in pristine wildflowers, glaciers and salmon jumping upstream.   I prepared my body for the challenge by cycling at the gym and broke in 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 of the ever present sun.  From Sitka to Homer and the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska’s beauty is a reflection of God’s extremely enormous outdoor cathedral.

Here, interconnected life thrives, supported by a circular cycle of perfection outside the reach of man’s hand.  The energy is palpable. A few days in, I notice everything seems to slightly move. Even the mountains dance, keeping company with rushing rivers and sparkling waterfalls, trees and grasses as they grow.

Tonight, as Labor Day closes the door on summer and I tuck-in early while, as in Alaska, it is still light out.  Shutting my eyes, I can almost see a moose lumbering across the road.

In my imagination, I am back.

And I fall asleep under the midnight sun.

Grain Of Sand

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Mom was in town, so we paid a visit to Violet and her sister.

The girls were lively and became even more so when I joined them jumping on the sofa.  Both Violet’s and my mother frowned at that.

Stretching upward Violet whispered to me softly, “Can we draw with chalk?!”  I ask, What should we draw? “The ocean!”  Why?  “Um…going to beach.”   Do you like the beach? “No.”  Why not?   With a scrunched face and tight lips she snips, “Sand.”  I describe sand castles as she looks me straight in the eye and says, “Draw a boat.”

Pressing on the chalk, I consider that sand does have 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 draw an ocean and sun, boat, fish and palm tree.   No sand.

Satisfied, Violet pretends to swim in the chalk water.

Precious and precocious, it won’t be long until she grows up and is riding the waves, turning sand into castles and lemons into lemonade.

Yoga Burrito

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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 sit on our mats and breathe deeply. Focusing on the breath directs attention and promotes relaxation, providing the kids a simple and accessible tool to reduce anxiety.

The kids say their “Yoga Nap” is the part of class they like best.  I them to select a place to go in their imaginations, then guide them to relax and have a peaceful rest.  As I watch, the most fidgety child rolls up in his mat like a yoga burrito until, within its embrace, he finally becomes still.  What makes each of us feel safe is very personal.

I breathe deeply myself, knowing I’m making a difference.

Telluride Tadasana

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Telluride, hello!

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, I watch beauty and backpacks merge

In a haze of sweat summoned by the climb.

 

Blessed by the view from the top, we are one.

Love of what the eye can see and the heart can feel

Draws us home, to a place we’d never been.

Namaste.

Let Freedom Ring

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Liberty.  Possibility.

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, freely visible to all, 24 hours a day.

Fuel Bill

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She didn’t ask me for help.

Gas tanks between us, I watch as she opens each car doors and then the trunk. Reaching for her phone, the pump continues to click, and I overhear, “forgot purse.”

Realization hit and she sprinted to cancel the flow of gas.

With empathy, I realized the situation as well and paid for my gas and for hers.  It wasn’t much.  But her gratitude was enormous and the gesture fueled us both.

Mandala Monday (Part 2)

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(Click here for Part 1)

As a cognitive and behavioral therapy tool, Carl Jung believed mandalas provided a link to the Collective Unconscious, and access to a patient’s spirit.

Why did he surmise this?  On some level, we are all the same; symbols and colors are nearly universally understood.  United by human experience, we share a similar unconscious understanding of the world, most readily evidenced by archetypical legends and fairy tales which echo global themes.

Art therapists use these archetypes when evaluating mandalas for clues to a patient’s past and present, although some detractors question the validity.

Regardless of clues that may or may not exist within my scribbled circle, the suspension of my thoughts during its creation lead gently to a peaceful meditation, for which I am greatful.

Mandala Monday

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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.

My pen meanders without purpose, until lines and squiggles bcomee patterns, finally forming a cohesive whole.  I am surprised to realize my stress has neutralized, my brain relaxed, and my choices became clearer, as I created a world within a circle.

White Shoes Rule

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My mother and I were discussing waiting to don white shoes until Memorial Day. “Growing up, you just knew the rule.  But no one is burdened any longer by this law of dressing.“  She then admitted to leaving the house in white flats two weeks ago! Speechless.

As young girl who attended finishing school, I shopped for white sandals with my grandmother each spring, then squirmed until the end of May when I was finally allowed to free them from my closet.

Today fashion mavericks regularly break the white shoe rule.  Icon Coco Chanel wore white year round.

Perhaps it hearkens back to those trips with Grandma, but I enjoy the anticipation and pleasure crisp white brings after a winter of waiting.  So today, I slip my toes in white shoes.  Wherever you are Grandma, I hope you’re rocking a pair of white pumps with a St. John knit suit.

Happy Memorial Day!

The Forest For The Trees

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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 the breath to help real world childhood stress melt away.

This is Tree Pose.  At the beginning of the year all eyes scanned the room comparing… wobbling.  Fast forward to today, when the kids have learned that tapping into their unique beauty is the strength that will lift up their branches and steady them through any storm.

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 naturally reaches for the sky.

This Little Piggy Flies

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Early each May, the City of Cincinnati shines as a series of neighborhoods strung together along the Flying Pig Marathon race route.

Inspiring and uplifting to witness, the people of Cincinnati are the true wings that lift these runners.  Annually, one day in May everyone is a winner.

Full, half, or relay, and encompassing every color, shape and size, runners for a lifetime and for only a day pace themselves to complete the hilly course.  A 5-star event for its panoramic views and energetic community support, participants are buoyed by the encouragement of tens of thousands of neighbors who wake at dawn and gather along the route to cheer, wave signs, ring bells and shout encouragement.

So wake up early, stroll to the end of your street with coffee in hand, and witness a magic combination that allows us all collectively – both on and off the road, to fly.

Art Director

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Violet and I go way back.

Just one day after her own birth, she joined my birthday celebration and was the hit of the party.

Tonight, her mommy and daddy prepared dinner as Violet and I went outside to play.  She placed sidewalk chalk in front of me saying, “You draw.”  I replied with encouragement, “Violet, you draw!”  She refused. “No. You are the drawer.”

Clearly in charge, Violet has vision.

She asked for flowers. Then ‘sunshine,’ and an airplane.   “Why do 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 an aircratft on its landing pattern into FBO Lunken Airport, near her hillside home.

At one point she appears to lose focus and walks away to play with her toys.  I ask “Are we are done?”  She calls back to me loudly, “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 gives decisive direction. “No. I don’t like it”  and “Make more of those,” all the while enthusiastically sharing her ideas so the finished result really shines.

Then, stepping back, she flashed a happy 3-year-old smile, just as dinner was served.

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Wedding Prayer

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Few moments compare to the joy of witnessing two truly happy people marry.

Longtime friendship fueled affection, until 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 God’s blessings and uniting hearts present with those far away.

Like the massive oaks which shaded us, may this union provide these two souls shelter and strength.  May their love grow and weave deep roots, providing stability and nourishment for generations to come.

I love you both,

Becky

Pulling Up Spring

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There is frost on the ground, but I refuse to don a coat.

The weatherman may say “cold,” but my mind is pulling up visions of tulips as I will warmth into the earth.

This morning, March 20th brings to the Northern hemisphere equal light and night, a gift that will continue as the days grow longer through June.

The transition to Spring brings a renewal of hope, so plant in your mind fertile seeds of good thoughts today, and watch them grow.

Picture Perfect Friendship

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Polished cars arrive at The Country Club as friends and family gather to shower a bride with gifts.

Shared stories of childhood memories are laced with warmth and love. Faces beam with happiness for her happiness.

The bride’s best friends join her before a mountain of gifts. As each is unwrapped, Elizabeth details each generosity and Martha reengineers bows into a bouquet, bright bits from 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 rises with the corners of her smile as birds chirp beneath a clear blue sky, each feathering their nest for the life ahead.

The Road South

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Lately, I’ve spent more time driving south of the Mason Dixon line.

My trek follows the mighty Ohio River, traversing the most impoverished counties in Ohio and five of the poorest states in the USA:  Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee and North and South Carolina.

In the rural South, county, rather than town, denotes location of residence. The nearest grocery is 15 minutes away on lonely roads at 50 mph. The horizon is flat. Churches are beckoning landmarks ensuring one has turned the right way, and pressing the reset button on Sunday.

Industry is predominantly military and agriculture. The roadside is strewn with light puffs of raw cotton, left behind from a field recently picked. But the crop is no longer processed locally, it is trucked to a Japanese owned milI.

It is easy to want more. But everything is relative. Here, I am the 1%.

I see I already have all I need, and more.

The Snake Smiles

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Chinese astrologists provide their interpretation of the Year of the Snake, and I have my own:

Snakes are adaptive to land and lake, active night and day, and consume mammal, insect, fish or fowl. Utilized wisely, snake’s flexibility promises all things are possible in 2013.

With one eye visible and one hidden, snake smiles, encouraging thoughtful reflection as he bends back upon himself to gain insight.  That wisdom will guide right action taken today, yielding great accomplishment at year-end.

Happy Chinese New Year!

Heart Health

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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.

A 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.

Less Is More

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January’s unusual warmth and sunshine prompted me to get a head start on Spring cleaning.

Clothing has long been my creative palate, colorful 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.

I spent the afternoon surrounded by piles of textiles.  The sun now sets with a smile on the open space I’ve created.  Everything is visible and organized.  Worn items will be discarded and many garments are slated for donation to Dress For Success, providing professional apparel for women transitioning to the workforce.

Less really is more.

 

Light Up The Dark

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Across cultures, from Hanukkah to Advent to St Lucia Day, candles are lit as winter’s darkness descends.

Here at Turner Farm, a solstice bonfire illuminates the longest night.  A diameter of nearly 50 feet, it is a brilliant amalgam of branches, underbrush, whole felled trees, loosened shingles and rotted fence posts, all burning simultaneously to extinguish our accumulated trash and celebrate the return of light.

Words written 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 rise in the smoke to the place where heaven and earth meet.

On this Christmas Eve, a night of eager expectation, prayers are answered in bright holiday greetings. As certain as the outcome of placing fuel to flame, the darkness will end and the light will come again.

Life’s Lemons

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This growing season, my Meyer Lemon tree produced 11 lemons, a windfall of abundance after last year’s harvest of one small fruit.

Bright yellow, they hang heavy and ripe, encouraging 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.

Regardless, it makes me happy, even when life’s lemons surround me.

An Explosion Of Giving

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Traffic crawls to a stop for a few days at Crossroads Church in Oakley, as thousands patiently wait in line to drop off cardboard boxes stuffed with Thanksgiving dinner items, for distribution to 70 inner-city charities and churches.

This high-energy annual event is an explosion of giving.  A colorful maze of orange cones, happilly honking horns, blaring music, carloads of smiling faces, police directing traffic, and volunteers wearing turkey costumes as they wave hand painted signs expressing gratitude.

The air is filed with heart-swelling generosity, as frozen turkeys are transferred to refrigerated semi-trucks and dry goods stored.

An estimated 50,000 regional holiday dinners were donated.

Many share and all are blessed.  Those who give, and those who receive.

Embers Sushi Sailing South to OTR

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20121109-104058.jpgWednesday evenings at Embers, specially priced sushi overshadows a high-quality American style menu, to become the star of the standing-room-only bar.

Sushi is visibly delightful. Rice barrels embracing fresh fish and colorful vegetables, wasabi and gari, are comfort food to me.

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.

Your Vote Is A Privilege

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In Ohio, we’ve had our fill of political speeches and commercials, of closed roads and secret service barricades.  Thankfully, 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 young daughter with her to vote.  Years later, my Mom’s girls joined her in the election booth, and my sister has done the same.

Less than 100 years ago, none of this could have happened.

Your voice matters.  Vote!

BzzAgent Gets Another Bee

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Today’s drawing is of the lively bee who is a symbol of BzzAgent.

I recently visited the Cincinnati Hive, where I learned first hand how the company has formalized participation in word-of-mouth marketing.  Anyone who signs up to be an Agent, will receive free products to review and to share with their social network.

Marketers gain valued shopper data and advocacy from consumers they may not otherwise reach.

BuzzAgents gain influence – and their friends, families and colleagues enjoy experiencing new products from global brands, knowing if they share feedback their voices are heard.

It’s a win-win!

25 Drawings In 31 Days

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31 days ago, I committed to participate in a 31-day challenge to post a drawing every day in October.  I completed 25.  What did I learn?

Plan ahead; don’t wait until you’re in pajamas at 11:00 pm to decide 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 doe not require perfection.  Be your real self; authenticity is your super-power.

That last bit is paraphrased from Dan Reynolds, super-cool creative guy and friend at Landor.  A recent chat with Dan encouraged me, pen in hand, to continue on with my very personal drawing experiment, regardless of who may see it.

Drawing #25 created on Doodle Buddy for iPad by Pinger, Inc

Everyday Gratitude

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Around-the-clock election coverage merged into storm coverage, as Sandy hit the northeast coast today.

Many people now do not have what they need.

I am grateful everything in my world tonight is where it was yesterday.  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

Seasonal Return to Moksha Yoga

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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.

The noon class was tough.  Just as my thoughts began to run in circles around my perceived failure, I heard, “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 what we need.

Drawing #23 created on Doodle Buddy for iPad by Pinger, Inc

A Bone To Pick

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The phone rang.

“Hello?”  “I’ve got a bone to pick with you.”  “What?!”  You didn’t show up at annual Halloween party.”

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, celebrating creativity. Tom, a cancer survivor and the subject of today’s drawing, was correct.  I did not go to the party. I had some good excuses and he cleverly shot down each one.

As All Hallow’s Eve approaches, Tom’s call was a reminder Halloween isn’t about costumes and ghouls. It’s about living spirits and the gatherings which bring us together with friends.

Drawing #22 created with Chalk

“Stingy Jack” O’Lantern

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It’s time to carve a pumpkin!

Originally an Irish custom tied to the legend of Stingy Jack, who found himself unwelcome in both heaven and hell. Stingy 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

Girl Scout Chair Yoga

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Girl Scout leaders work directly with the girls, while an army of staff work behind the scenes to make the scouting experience happen.  The Girl Scouts of Western Ohio management team host an annual wellness day to acknowledge these unsung heros.

I was invited to teach a chair yoga class. A series of stretches easily done at a desk 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

 

 

 

Alice (in wonderland)

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Unable to attend dinner and the ballet, a friend asked me to take her place.

She said it was a nice group of people I’d be joining…

Opening night of Alice (in wonderland), with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra was creative and whimsical, punctuated frequently by audience applause.  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. I’m so glad I agreed to go.   Thanks to my new acquaintances for a lovely evening!

 

Drawing #19 created on Doodle Buddy for iPad by Pinger, Inc

Seamus Heaney Speaks

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I had a wee bit of a chat with Seamus.

My drawing-of-the-day is of a black tie champagne reception for Seamus Heaney, Nobel Prize winning Irish poet, and honored guest of the Mercantile Library’s 25th Niehoff Lecture.

He was thoughtful and considered his words as we spoke, and the slow pace was somehow comforting.   After a formal dinner, the poetry reading.   Mr. Heaney’s words, already powerful on the page, became even more beautiful and poignant transformed by his voice.

 

Created with MyPaint Free by MyMedia

MARA-Marvelous

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I attended a lacy event for charity tonight.

Friends Arlene and Monika recently launched a new business with their lovely lingerie designs front and center.  The “MARA” line has been profitable since inception.  Female guests made their selections in Knickers Hyde Park’s dressing rooms as gentlemen chatted over MARA-tinis at the boutique’s makeshift bar.

Today’s drawing is of MARA’s first, and still most popular, soft and stretchy bralette set.

Drawing #17 created with Eastern Drawing Free by JinHee Park

Clarity

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My mother likes to drive fast. Very fast.

She also holds four degrees, is MENSA smart,  curious and adventurous.  Being adventurous and in a hurry, requires sharp eyesight.  To ensure she clocks in at 100% on the highway, Mom gets kudos for seeing past her fear and having her cataracts removed today!

 

Drawing #16 created with MyPaint Free by MyMedia

Sunday Support

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Weekends wind down quickly.,

I begin Sunday in shoes, and welcome uplifting words and fellowship.  My afternoon hours are equally precious, in bare toes, with a few special friends who join my yoga practice class.  Their attendance allows me to develop teaching skills.

I cannot express my depth of gratitude for their support!

 

Drawing #15 created on Doodle Buddy for iPad by Pinger, Inc

Starry Night

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The sky is bright where I live.

Illumination is essential for the functionality of a city and can provide a certain kind of beauty, but the stars are obscured from me.  On treasured occasions when I find myself distanced from civilization, I look upward toward the dark and mysterious beauty which is always there, but not always visible to me.

 

Drawing #14 created with FingerPaint Glow Coloring and Doodle Drawing Free

Red River Rappelling

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My friends Bob and Jeff were my wilderness training guides this weekend.

Organized, focused and skilled, they arranged a road trip to Red River Gorge and carefully outlined every step to ensure safety, before we literally stepped off a cliff.  Our beautiful time together in the woods is subject matter for drawing #13 of my 31-day drawing challenge.

Not muscled, I was afraid. But as we often learn in life, success results when we allow the rope to support us.

Created on Doodle Buddy for iPad by Pinger, Inc

 

 

Yoga Cat

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The still-unnamed kitty I rescued seems happy to live in my home.

I did not want a pet.  But she needed a home.  This seemed an appropriate right action.  Imitating the the most fundamental of yoga poses, Downward Dog, she seems to have perfected “downward cat.”  Perhaps that is a sign.

Drawing #12 created on Doodle Buddy for iPad by Pinger, Inc

Shipwreck Fashion Show

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Annually,  I model at University of Cincinnati’s DAAP School of Design RetroFittings, a fashion show benefiting St. Vincent de Paul.

Limited to a $10 budget,  DAAP students purchase items at any St. Vincent de Paul thrift store to create an outfit.   I have worn everything from men’s suiting to a tennis Barbie costume.   This year I wore two outfits and one of them is the subject of drawing #11.

As you can see, DAAP has no limits on creativity.  I was literally dressed as a shipwreck.

 

Created on Doodle Buddy for iPad by Pinger, Inc

 

Washington Park Fountains

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I attended the opening gala for The Classical Music Walk of Fame at Cincinnati’s new Washington Park today.

Park visitors may make the fountains dance to music of their choice via an interactive onsite display or remotely via http:/www.classicalwof.org   This beautiful water feature, located just across from Music Hall, is the subject of drawing #10.

Created on Doodle Buddy for iPad by Pinger, Inc

Window Dressing

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Interior designers suggest making simple updates with the changing seasons to dress up a home.  I enjoy this new burst of color and can say the concept works.

Today’s drawing illustrates the new curtains my guest bedroom is now sporting.  Check out more tips at The Nester’s blog, where I got the idea to do my 31 day “drawing” challenge.

Drawing #9 created with Doodle Buddy for iPad by Pinger, Inc

Serpentine Wall

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David left us for Heaven.

He put up an ornery fight.  I was honored to be among his caregivers, and am grateful to staff at Ohio State’s James Cancer Center for their expertise and compassion.

Today’s drawing is of Cincinnati’s Purple People Bridge and the Serpentine Wall, the location of a beautiful memorial service hosted by my beloved friend’s family, at the narrowest expanse of the great Ohio river.

Happiest behind the Captain’s wheel, he was impeccably certain, even when he was wrong.  From Bertram to Ferretti, David taught me to steer clear of rough water,  dance on the bow,  laugh as we ran aground, leave the past behind and live life joyfully with the wind blowing through my hair.

I will remember him always.

Drawing #8 created with MyPaint Free by MyMedia

 

First Fire of the Season

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I’ve noticed yoga is teaching me to sit still.

Occasionally I wish I were sitting someplace else.  In my imagination, I see myself by a fire as it warms smiling faces with sandy shoes, toasting soft marshmallows to pure golden perfection.

Today’s drawing illustrates that I look forward to enjoying the real thing soon.

Drawing #7 created with MyPaint Free by MyMedia

Butternut Squash Soup

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Fall is in the air!

Crisp winds,  dark skies and dry leaves have me reaching for ingredients to make a comforting soup.

Sauté 2 large yellow onions + 1 garlic clove + 2 pounds cubed butternut squash on low heat in 2 heaping Tablespoons of coconut oil until onions are caramelized. De-glaze with 4 cups chicken stock. Add 1/2 cup shredded potato + 2 cups shredded carrots + 2 large zucchini cubed + 2 cups yellow “cherry” tomatoes, halved. Bring to a boil, turn down immediately to simmer for 30 minutes or until squash is cooked. Puree soup with an immersion blender.  Add small finger of fresh ginger root, grated + 3 T sweet Madras Curry Powder. Continue to simmer until cooked.  Stir in ½ Teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg.  While soup cooks, sauté 1/2 cup walnuts in 1 T butter + 1 T sugar until heated through. Garnish soup with warm walnuts, a dot of pesto and pomegranate seeds.   Serves 4.    Freezes well.

Drawing #6 created with MyPaint Free by MyMedia

Adopt a cat

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Weeks ago, a cat appeared in my garden.

Small, very sweet and well behaved, she continued to visit even though I was not feeding her.   The day she arrived with a bleeding wound on her leg, I took her to the vet, nursed her back to health, and fell in love.

The still unnamed kitty is drawing #5 of my 31 day drawing challenge.

Created with MyPaint Free by MyMedia

Tennis Anyone?

I was invited to play tennis today,

Then someone canceled. Then we were on.  Then we weren’t!  Finally we were on, which is the subject for drawing #3 of my commitment to draw every day for one month.

I loved playing on summer’s soft clay courts under the setting sun of a blue Fall sky.  Surrounded by the brilliant colors of changing leaves, I  considered I could have spared myself the back and forth planning, and its accompanying uncertainty.  I could have said “Let’s play sometime next week” and gone for a walk in the park.

But I would have missed the joy of honoring a commitment to my sporting friends – and a drop shot that won a set!

 

Created with MyPaint Free by MyMedia

Here Comes The Sun

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The sun rises each morning, and so do I.

Although, the two don’t always coincide.  Today began for me with Sun Salutations, a series of yoga poses called Surya Namaskara, meant to wake the body with gentle breath and movement.   Loosening joints, stretching and strengthening; this little morning dance is a wonderful wake up call.

And, keeping my commitment to do 31 drawings in 31 days, it is also the topic of drawing #2.

Created with MyPaint Free by MyMedia

31 Drawings in 31 Days

I can’t draw.   But today I will draw for the next 31 days.

My month of digital “artwork” is due to a challenge from The Nester, a blogger who suggests her readers do the impossible; create one post per day for the entire month of October.

My posts may look a childish, but I teach children who love the little doodles I create for them on my phone.  They see the intention in art – not the flaws.  A child’s tree, my tree, a Rembrandt tree; all are a tree.  If only adults could view the world so simply!  I seek only to capture the essence of what I view.  I hope you’ll come along on this month-long challenge with me!

Created with FingerPaint Glow Coloring and Doodle Drawing Free, by Venturesoft LLC

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Summer Yoga Program

This summer, I was blessed to teach K-6 children yoga in the Cincinnati Boys & Girls Club program.

Day 1, only a few hands went up 1 when I asked what yoga was.

Kids wiggled, paying little attention to direction.  But within weeks of having fun together while learning to stretch and calm down by focusing on breathing, they became more coordinated and responsive, enjoying each class’ unique themes and games.

The weeks have progressively filled me with joy.

What a thrill to witness their little smiles!  Boys & Girls Club staff report children have asked parents to let them stay after school on Yoga Day!  And I overheard one little boy said to another, “I was going to punch my little brother last night, but I took a deep yoga breath instead.”

This YogaJournal article outlines benefits yoga provides children.

Independence Day

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On July 4th, I view fireworks with the two most important people in the world to me.

Today, Americans unite in celebrating our greatest gift, freedom.  In this country, I am free to cross thousands of miles without borders. Personal safety from an enemy is not a primary concern. But am I really free?  I do not always say what I think. Sometimes I edit my words, skimping on my truth, guessing, “What do others need or value more, which I may give them?”   By holding in, we don’t reveal what means the most. We do not allow our true self freedom.

On Independence Day,  I consider how I may better embrace all aspects of the freedom those who are honored today earned for me.

Tennis Yoga

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I’m certain yoga helps my tennis.

After more than a year away from the game, I am playing better than when I practiced regularly!  During a difficult match, I noticed how often I stop breathing. I began focusing on a steady breath and my muscles relaxed.  I was able to play better.

I recalled yoga legend, my teacher Lilias Folan  reminding me to align with my “witness self,” the part that observes everything with detachment and compassion.

As in yoga, tonight’s tennis became about observing my breath.  And about hitting an exceptionally high number of great shots!  I stepped into that coveted Zone.  There, a “bad” shot didn’t upset me; rather I observed it was just a placement of my body which yielded a result.

The results were marvelous.  We won.

 

A New Twist

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I walk very fast, and don’t sit still for long.

One year on April Fool’s day, a colleague collected packaging material to build a speed bump in the hall immediately outside my P&G office.  Clear communication I might consider slowing down!

For a decade, my life has been constant movement between offices across continents. Always onward.  Work came first. Exercise consisted of running through airports. Seriously.  One day I realized I actually cut through crowds in the airport faster with a joyful smile on my face, shoulders back, and a calm certainty I would make the flight.

That was the day I did my first yoga pose; I just didn’t realize it yet.   Unknowingly, I discovered a transcendent ability to achieve my desired outcome by simultaneously harnessing ease, joy and will.  It was magic.

Hundreds of thousands of air miles later, I tried yoga, and wondered how this stuff could possibly transform life and limb?  My biggest challenge was to remember to breathe; I was constantly holding my breath.

I stuck with it and yoga taught me to breathe on my mat.  Slowly, I’m learning to breathe in life. And after a particularly deep breath, I dove into yoga teacher training.

Ready for a new twist.