Monday, August 19, 2013

Widen Your Circle

Kelly Rae Roberts posted a lovely quote this morning by Albert Einstein:
Our task must be to free widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and it's beauty.
It seems the older I get, the more I appreciate nature, and all of it's glory.  Animals can be therapeutic.  They can fill needs that we didn't even know we had.  I recently read an endearing book called, A Street Cat Named Bob, by James Bowen.  James was in the process of recovering from drug use when he met Bob.  After adopting each other, James found something to care for, something to get healthy for, and so he wanted to make sure he stayed clean.  Having Bob was to him like having a child. Theirs is what I'd call a divine relationship. 

Last week while on my way to one of my favorite craft's stores, I pulled into a parking lot and noticed a scruffy looking man with the most breathtakingly beautiful parrot on his shoulders.  Since I happened to have my camera, I asked if I could take pictures of his bird.  He seemed over joyed, and began to talk about and share his pet, Giovani (female), with me.  I commented on how he and his bird seemed so close, and he said, "You don't know the half of it." I introduced myself, and he told me his name is Ken.  Ken said I could share the pictures of them on Facebook, and seemed delighted that I'd want to.  He told me the police were after him for having his bird in the park without a leash, and that's why he was in the parking lot. Although that struck me a bit strange, my heart was touched by compassion for these two, and it confirmed for me once again the healing power of God's creatures.  

One doesn't have to own an animal to love animals.  There are all kinds of volunteer opportunities to spend time with them, and to care for them. Besides the numerous benefits, one of the greatest is how they can teach us to be unselfish as James Bowen learned. A great example is Bernie Berlin.  Her posts are worth taking the time to read. 

Let's all continue to widen our circles of compassion.  And as we do that, our ability to see the beauty around us will increase.   

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Gentle Reprimands

This cowgirl has been scattered more than usual lately.  There are so many things I want to accomplish, yet the energy level with the heat has been low.  It's frustrating.  So, those things have become a crowd in my head all vying for first place.

This past Friday as I was leaving my art group meeting, I picked up my cell phone, left a message for a friend, and hung up.  Driving straight but needing to make a left turn, I noticed a median between the lanes going forward and the one for the left turn. I quickly pulled over to the left lane. Suddenly, I heard tweeting sounds and saw a flashing light in my rear view mirror.  The policeman on his motorcycle noticed I had used my cell, because he was in the median and said I almost hit him. I deserved that ticket for cell phone use, because it represented how distracted my mind was at the time. 

The next day I drove an hour north to meet a friend for lunch. We had an enjoyable lunch, then decided to walk through the mall.  We sat down on a circular planter to visit a little while longer before heading back to our cars to leave.  I could see that the traffic was already bumper to bumper on the freeway,so I figured the drive home would be slow.  It was stop and go all the way home.  A normal one hour drive took two.  As I wearily headed to my front door, I put my hand in my purse and didn't feel my wallet.  Before panicking, I looked in my car.  A black wallet blends in with the floor of my car and my purse.  No luck.  My first thought was to call the restaurant, but glanced over to my home phone and saw that I had a call from the mall security.  Security called to say that a woman that worked at a jewelry store had picked up my wallet and brought it to lost and found.  Not a card or penny was missing.  Sunday morning I drove up early to beat the traffic and picked up my wallet. All I could be was grateful for an honest woman, and to God, especially for taking care of me.  Now I have a typed list of every card in my wallet and numbers to call if they are lost or stolen.  

The message from last weekend was, stay focused in the moment, not thinking about the future or the past. Writing down all those thoughts traveling through my head, getting earphones that fit or a bluetooth, and buying a bright red wallet will help too. 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Keep Going

What About Bob? is one of my favorite movies.  Bob (Bill Murray)  and Dr. Leo Marvin (Richard Dreyfuss)play an extremely needy, obsessive-compulsive patient and psychiatrist. One day after leaving Dr. Marvin's office, Dr. Marvin gets on the elevator with Bob, and Bob begs for some wisdom from Dr. Marvin.  Dr. Marvin had just written a book called Baby Steps, so he shared those two words with Bob, "Baby steps, Bob." So Bob gets off the elevator repeating those two words over and over.  

This is basically how my life has gone, in baby steps.  When I tend to procrastinate, I tell myself, "Keep going." When I have not succeeded at something, I say, "Keep going."  Yes, it doesn't matter how far, just keep moving forward in tiny increments if that's the best I can do.  

I think those two words, "Keep going," apply to anything we are going through.  For instance, I believe grief as a part of life is inevitable. When it seems I can't go on due to a particular heartache and/or disappointment, I just keep going.  Sometimes it takes the greatest effort to even get up in the morning, but isn't that moving?  Often I've needed help, and faith, friends, medication, and my increasing passion for mixed-media art are tremendous resources that keep me going.  I strongly encourage anyone that reads this to find your inner and outer resources. Look for them. Search for them.  You will discover them.  In the meantime, let's just keep moving forward even if it is at a snail's pace.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Since I am in a blogging e-class and group, I need to blog a little about blogging.  It is such an interesting process.  The main question is,"What do I have to say?"  "Is there anything to share that will be the least bit interesting to anyone including myself?"  As a photographer, I believe there is so much more to see in life, in the day to day, yet I still struggle to really "see."

Yesterday while having breakfast outside in downtown Encinitas with a friend, three separate women came up to me, and were concerned about my purse getting wet from water seeping out of a large planter nearby. Three!  All were looking out for me in the sense that purses cost money, and they didn't want me to have to lose my purse due to the water.  This isn't a big life changing incident, yet I thought about it the rest of the day ~ three people cared enough about my purse to let me know they did.  By the time the third one came over, all I could do was think how kind these three were.  By the way, my purse didn't get wet.  It just looked like it was in the line of water seepage.  

Kindness is such a precious commodity.  I made a little sign out of scrabble letters that sits by my kitchen sink that says, "Be kind." Years ago a friend shared that being kind was what she and her husband held sacred in their marriage.  No matter what happened in their lives as a couple, they wanted to remember to treat each other with kindness.

I don't want to become so preoccupied with my life that I miss "seeing" the kindness of strangers like yesterday.  Each one is a reminder of something I've come to value above most everything, kindness.  How can I show kindness to those around me?  How can I speak in a way that affirms without breaking down someone?  Today, tomorrow, and always I want to be in a kindness state of mind.  

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Evolution of a Cowgirl

As a Critical Incident Counselor, I go into companies that have been robbed, experienced an unexpected death, or a downsizing. I love what I do, because I get to meet people at vulnerable times when there isn't pretense, just raw emotion.  The people I meet teach me so much, and my life is richer because of this real life education.  

Out of my heart to encourage others, I believe the cowgirl was born inside of me.  It feels as though that seed has been geminating for years, and now it's time for her to come forth out of the dark soil into the day light.  For a very long time, I have chosen to move toward my fears in order to learn, grow, and become stronger.  It is by far not easy, yet I still persevere.  That's what cowgirls do! 

Today, looking back at some of my first cowgirls, I am humbled.  They look pretty pitiful for the most part.  I didn't even put whites in their eyes, and instead left them skin tone.  Some faces looked like little ET's (Extraterrestrials).  For anyone on the receiving end of an inspiration card from Jessica Brogan's swap, I apologize for the way these cowgirls looked. 

Just as I am changing, so is my cowgirl.  There is more clarity in her face, the whites are in her eyes, and she appears gentle, yet strong. She has gotten braver in her evolution.  We can all have an inner "cowgirl" or "cowboy" if we surrender to the changes life brings.  This is what is happening to my cowgirls on paper, and to me.  Yeeehaaaaa!!!    

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Small, Yet Strong

A friend in the hospital needed cheering up, so I wanted to give her some encouragement to help her get through what she is going through.  This 3" x 3" mini canvas took about six hours to create.  I kept drawing/painting on her face, but was not satisfied with how she looked. Finally, I made a new face on a separate piece of paper, and glued it onto the canvas. With tips from Christy Tomlinson's online workshop, Behind the Art,  I came up with another brave cowgirl.  She may be small, but she is full of empowerment!

Whatever you are going through, I wish you a mustard seed of faith to build on.  Just because it's small doesn't mean it isn't strong.  Be brave and have hope as a new week begins. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Hairballs, Skunks, & Yawns

Last night as I was getting ready to climb into bed, I noticed something very wrong on one of my decorative pillows - a hairball! Yes, my beloved cat, Oliver, left me a present.  

This morning a friend that was to come by my house to clean had an incident before leaving her home - a baby skunk in her garage.  When my friend entered my house, so did the pungent aroma of skunk.  Bless her heart, she touched nothing, yet the smell quickly permeated my downstairs and me.  She left, cleaned up, and came back this afternoon free of skunk.  

Last week I sat next to a young male employee at Verizon Wireless while he helped lower my bill.  He yawned a number of times. Finally, I said, "I must be really interesting."  He said, "I'm just tired."  Today I went back to Verizon Wireless for more help with my phone, and saw a different young man.  He preceded to yawn and yawn.  I had to say, "I must be so mesmerizing," and shared with him about last week's experience.  He said, "I have to work a lot." Ha-Ha!  I'm sure being tired was the reason these two separate people almost fell asleep while helping me.  Is it true, "There are no coincidences?"   

These are the kind of incidents that trigger my sense of humor. They trigger another thing though that I call "dying to self."  To me that means, I feel humbled, and realize that I'm not too hot. Being humbled is actually the very place I want to be.  Years ago, in my Webster's Dictionary, I read a quote by the poet, John Donne, "Humiliation is the beginning of sanctification."  Yes, this was in the definition of "humiliation." Whoa, Cowgirls and Cowboys!!!  As much as it hurts to feel humiliated some times more than others, I have learned that it is a very positive thing for my internal growth.  There is a deepening of my spirituality, and a sense of becoming a little more like my God. For this kind of maturity, I definitely know there are no coincidences.  

(Photographer unknown)