Monday, December 2, 2013


As I continue to get older, I seem to have this insatiable desire to learn new things.  In my profession, I need 40 continuing education units every two years to renew my counseling licenses.  Since I have zero for 2013, I will be active in the new year learning ways to improve my counseling skills.  This past year has been filled with taking blogging and art workshops online.  No grades or credits involved.  What fun it has been!  I cannot recommend enough for everyone to discover their own interests and pursue them.  If you can do this, I promise you will feel better mentally, emotionally, and even physically.  Any degree of feeling better is healthier, right?

Not everyone is interested in pursuing artsy things, so I'm going to list some ideas to think about pursuing in the days ahead.  Since I am interested in so much, I am learning to prioritize for focusing purposes. I consider myself "a Jack of all trades and master of none," so my desire is to hone in on what to master.  This is an idea list which I'm sure falls short of all there is to be interested in.  I just want to jumpstart for you some thoughts of what your own interests are.

~ blogs, books, magazine articles, poems, reviews, letters, journaling, etc.  

Animals ~ pets, fostering, volunteering, reading about, etc.  
Birds & Insects ~ feeding, watching, etc.
Photography ~ fine art, nature, animals, birds, journalism, portraits, babies, cameras, etc.
Children ~ playing with, learning from, taking care of, advocating for, etc.
Parenting ~ taking classes, participating in groups, reading about, etc.
Reading ~ books, magazines, blogs, Internet, reading to children, seniors, etc.  
Mentoring/Mentors ~ teaching, learning, influencing, being influenced, etc.
Environment ~ land, ocean, forest, air, etc.
Sports ~ watching, participating in, etc.
Spirituality ~ reading about, sharing with others, being still, going deeper, listening, retreats, etc.
Community Involvement ~ participating in, improving, sharing, etc.
Films & Film Making ~ watching, sharing, reviewing, etc.
Technology ~ computers, software, reading about, taking classes, understanding, etc.
Music ~ listening to different types, singing, playing instruments, attending concerts, etc.  
Nature ~ being in, experiencing, noticing, etc.
Humor ~ developing sense of humor, comedy, writing about, awareness in others, etc.
Teaching ~ passing on information, giving out, tutoring, volunteering, etc.
Giving ~ listening, watching, reading about needs, anonymous, gifts, etc.
Politics ~ running for office, getting to know & understand issues, voting, etc.
Walking/Running/Exercising ~ discipline, good health, classes, etc.
Meditating/Praying ~ asking, thanking, listening, awareness, alone time, sharing, etc.
Causes/Advocacy ~ diseases, health, children, women, hunger, etc.
Traveling ~ road trips, alone, sharing, seeing beauty, having fun, visiting, learning, camping, etc.
Culture ~ different types, languages, respecting, traditions, getting to know people, etc.
Archeology ~ history, digging, traveling, etc.
Psychology ~ study of human
nature,disorders,personalities,counseling, etc.
Business ~ marketing, developing, management, selling, etc.
Building ~ construction, estimating, tools, architecture, etc.
Astronomy ~ space, stars, planets, telescopes, travel, etc.
Science ~ brain, biology, functioning, diseases, medicine, etc.
Nutrition ~ vitamins, minerals, needs, supplements, improved health, etc.
Care Giving ~ seniors, children, animals, Hospice, etc.
Finances ~ budgeting, taxes, accounting, etc.
Friendships/Relationships ~ dynamics, sharing, communication, choices, etc.
Social Media ~ Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc.  
Inventing ~ thinking, realizing what is needed/wanted, creating, patents, etc.
Television Industry ~ producing, writing, acting, watching, etc.
Entertainment ~ favorite celebrities, game playing, magic shows, circuses, concerts, etc.
Self Improvement ~ reading, going to counseling, awareness, practicing, changing, etc.
Gardening/Horticulture ~ landscaping, plants, water projects, etc.
Helping ~ meeting needs of family, friends, neighbors, and/or anonymously, fire fighting, police, etc.
Cars/Boats/Trains/Airplanes ~ various types, shows, riding in, racing, piloting, models, etc.
Jewelry ~ making, selling, etc.
Religion ~ reading about, respecting, sharing, workshops, churches, temples, etc.
Real Estate ~ looking at, developing, selling, etc.
Gemology ~ stones, rocks, digging for, looking at, workshops, etc.
Crafting ~ creating new things with different objects, taking workshops, etc.
Painting, Drawing, Collaging, Mixed Media ~ reading, watching videos, practicing, taking classes, art journaling, etc.
Research ~ on the computer, libraries, different subjects, finding statistics, etc.
Health ~ medicine, medical, science, reading, nutritional counseling, etc.
Sewing, Knitting, Crocheting, Embroidering ~ quilting, patterns, etc.
Cooking, Baking ~ reading cookbooks, online recipes and instructions, watching TV shows, practicing, eating, restaurants, etc.
Paper Making ~ kits, greeting cards, book making, designing, etc.
Organizing ~ order, helping, containers, etc.
Games ~ board games, puzzles, videos, etc.

Many of you know what your interests are, so I want to encourage you to never stop developing and growing in those areas.  And for those that are unsure of what those are, be inspired to have fun, try different things, and pay attention to how fast your heart beats when something excites you.  


Tuesday, November 5, 2013


I would like to introduce my little gypsy girl, "For the love of art." Last Saturday I took a workshop taught by Suzi Blu at Paper Tales, a scrapbooking store, in San Diego.  After posting my girl on Facebook, a friend asked if she was going to have a horse.  Not this time.  Gypsy girl has a horse, but she is out of the saddle today.  One has to spend some time out of the saddle in order to keep from getting sore.  

This brings me to the topic I keep pondering ~ the tension between being social and spending time alone.  With my growing new love for mixed media, I am realizing that I need "down time" or time out of the saddle. Gypsy girl represents the evolution of a cowgirl as I am still learning how to draw heads,faces, and bodies.  As much as I love Suzi Blu's girls, I want to create ones that model who I am.  To practice this kind of creativity, I need time to think, and to play on paper.  But there is a side of my personality that longs to be social, to be included in those special events that bring us together.  This week in particular I've been feeling the tension between these two opposites that reside inside of who I am. 

Spending time alone is nothing new to me.  Growing up, I played paper dolls for hours under my family's dining room table.  One day, my mother said, "You need to get out and be with people," so I crawled out from under the table, and did just that, went out and made friends.  The tension between alone and social time began a long, long time ago.  

I am realizing that to have the pull of the melancholy vs. the sanguine in my personality is how God created me.  The challenge is to find and keep the balance between the two.  The "how" to apply this balance is simple, yet difficult to practice.  It is knowing when to say "yes," and when to say, "no."  And practice is what I am doing at this later stage of life. I may not always get it right, but that's okay.  Most of the time I seem to be getting it right, and I'm sure as heck not sore from being in the saddle too long.  

Monday, September 30, 2013

A Blank Canvas

Recently, I committed to donate a painting to Paris in a Cup, a darling tea shop and restaurant in Orange, California, for it's cancer fund raiser.  First of all, I'm still not confident in the fact that anyone would want to purchase a painting from me.  And, second, I had no idea what to paint.  These were dilemmas for this "late bloomer" artist. Cheryl Turner, the owner of Paris in a Cup, is a cancer survivor that has become a friend, and I wanted to support her.  I was excited to buy my 11 x 14 canvas, but had no idea what to put on it.

As I stared at my blank canvas, I thought it was such an excellent metaphor for life.  Every day, every month, every new year we are given a blank canvas of time.  We can stare at it for awhile or we can start throwing all the paint on it we can. Danny Kaye,  a now deceased singer/entertainer, said, "Life is a great big canvas, and you should throw all the paint you can on it."

So, that's what I did.  I began playing with my paint, paper, and pens on the canvas, and threw everything on it that seemed to fit.  Yes, my canvas is full.  Maybe too full for some, and not full enough for others, but it's my canvas, my choices, and that has to be alright.  And my concern that no one will want to buy my canvas? Well, I know someone that would buy it.  Me!!!  

On my mixed media piece of art is a quote by Vincent Van Gogh that says, "What is done in love is done well."  I'd like to paint my days(canvases) with love, so that I can live well.  What is on the canvas of your day today? Is it colored with love?  I want to encourage us all to not live in fear of what others will think of our choices, but to be brave enough to play with the colors of our lives, and to love the best that we can.  

Monday, September 2, 2013

Try, Try, and Try Again

Diane Nyad accomplished her dream today.  After four unsuccessful attempts to swim from Cuba to Florida, she tried one last time, and made it.  Here are her words:

"I am willing to put myself through anything, temporary pain or   discomfort means nothing to me as long as I can see that the experience will take me to a new level. I am interested in the unknown, and the only path to the unknown is through breaking barriers, an often painful process." 

I can relate to chasing a dream, and not succeeding the first time. After going to graduate school, working 3,000 hours as an intern, I failed the oral exam for Marriage & Family Therapy licensure for the state of California.  Feeling a bit cocky after passing the written exam, I did not go into the oral prepared enough.  After receiving my rejection letter and sobbing, I decided it was time for a makeover mentally, emotionally, and even physically.  I found new coaches and practiced vignette after vignette for months.  I bought a suit and decided to wear my hair pulled back in order to look more professional.  Alas, I went back to the site of my first failure and proceeded to try again.  Even though I sounded like a sheep when I said my name, "Naaaaannnnnnccy Peeeeeveeeeey" into a tape recorder, I could hear (in my mind) my coaches saying, "Get it together, Nancy."  At least six weeks later, the letter arrived again with good news that I had passed.  No, I didn't have to take the oral five times, but it still took everything inside to try again.  It was such a blessing to succeed, because the state decided to not administer the oral exam again.  

Knowing for years that I had to face that oral exam filled me with fear. I was able to keep that fear in the back of my mind as long as I kept moving toward the goal.  Once it was time to meet that fear head on, I was filled with anxiety.  Voices in my head said, "What if you don't pass?  You will feel like such a failure," and those negative voices chatted on. In my second attempt, I had to work hard to quiet those voices, and instead used the mantra, "Get it together, Nancy.  You can do this."  I would imagine Diana Nyad had to battle lots of voices of condemnation after those four other attempts to swim from Cuba to Florida. Her test was not only mental endurance, but one of tremendous physical endurance with certain factors outside of her control. Still, she decided one more time to try again.  At 64 years old, Diana has succeeded.  

Whatever you are going through, whether a dream, a goal, or something unexpectedly traumatic, remember Diana Nyad's three messages.

1.  We should never, ever give up.
2.  You are never too old to chase your dream.
3.  It looks like a solitary sport, but it's a team. 

Life isn't meant to be lived in solitude.  Sometimes we need to be carried along the way, and that's more than okay.  

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.