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.

 

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.

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.

 

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.

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.

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 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!

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.