Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Let It Snow!

I'm thrilled to be getting such lovely response to my guest post at Christine Kane's blog and I will have more time later to respond to everyone who has been so kind to post their comments. Right now I just wanted to show another window into my wonderful life. We were baking and G looked at the bag of flour and said, "Can I make it snow, Mommy?" Since it doesn't look like we will have a White Christmas otherwise...I decided the joy he created would be worth a little extra clean up.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Guest Post on Christine Kane's Blog!

I've long admired Christine Kane and benefited so much from the wisdom contained in her writing. I'm thrilled to announce that she published a post I wrote to her blog. Last year I accepted her challenge to choose a word to inspire me through the year. In October she asked her readers to write about their experiences and said she would post them to her blog in December. And here it is.

If you are coming here from Christine's blog: Welcome! I am honored that you are here.

In celebration I thought it would be fun to host a giveaway. Last year a friend sent me 2 dvds from the Abraham-Hicks Art of Allowing series: Relationships and Cocreation and Money and Manifestation. I thought they were great and I hope they will help others create the lives they want. I'd also like to donate 2 Proyecto Laguna calendars (see previous post).

If you'd like to be entered in the giveaway, let me know in the comments section of this post. I'll do a random drawing in a couple of days and then let you know. Thanks again for coming to my blog!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Holiday Cheer

Hello Merry Friends! My brother will be arriving from NYC any moment so I just wanted to write a quick note and post pics from the rockin' time we had 'round the Christmas tree last Friday night. I hope everyone has a very happy holiday and I will share more news as time permits.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


I am loving the holiday season this year. I realized about a month ago that I wanted to be very intentional about how I spent my time over the holidays. I decided I will do less of what I don't enjoy, like shopping, and joined with my family to give donations to Heifer International in each other's honor in lieu of gifts. Dh will get the gift he asks for every year: a homemade be-all-end-all fruitcake. And I am giving my friends the pear jam I made in September or some other homemade treats. I am doing more things I love like hosting gatherings, cooking and baking, listening to Christmas music, reading Christmas-themed stories and watching Christmas movies.

Last weekend was full of the holiday cheer I'm seeking this year. On Saturday our family went to the local farmer's market and got a beautiful tree and wreath. And a friend had set up an arts and crafts station and kindly engaged G in making a holiday card - complete with paint, stamps, stickers and bows! Needless to say, his intended recipient for the card, his grammy, was delighted with it. We decorated the tree with ornaments my grandmother made for me over 30 years ago. They are extraordinarily beautiful - hand sewn and embroidered - mostly characters from children's books like The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland and A Christmas Carol - and I cherish them. Here's one of them - the cowardly lion who wanted courage. Perfect, isn't it?

On Sunday morning G came downstairs and found the Christmas children's books I laid on the coffee table after he went to sleep the night before. He was so excited to read them and especially loved Olivia helps with Christmas.

There is a part where Olivia helps to make Christmas cookies and he looked up at me and said, "I want to make cookies!" As good fortune would have it I had made a big batch of sugar cookie dough the night before for my Cookies and Cocktails party later that day and so everything was ready for him to help roll and cut the cookies.

After we baked them he told me that it was time to put out chocolate milk and cookies because Santa Claus would be coming very soon. As I prepared the snack G hid under a side table. After I left the cookies and milk by the fireplace I heard some scurrying and then captured our little Santa on film:

He was, of course, so delighted to eat the fruit of his labor and proudly told his grammy later that day, "I made them myself!" I think I'm enjoying myself and then I get to see his delight and I'm just blown away by the fact that another layer of happiness is added to my joy.

Later that same day I had the Cookies and Cocktails party with my mom and another dear friend. This is something new I thought I'd like to do this year and something I'll look forward to doing again, but I will poll earlier for other dates that will work for more of my friends. Still - splitting a large pitcher of Winter White Sangria between just 3 people (when its intended for 8) is definitely a tradition worth repeating.

I used to LOVE to watch Christmas movies every year - everything from A Charlie Brown Christmas to It's a Wonderful Life - but it has been almost a decade since I last watched many of them. So this year I made a plan to watch at least one every weekend. Two weeks ago I watched Christmas in Connecticut with my mom. Neither one of us had ever seen it and it was very sweet. Last weekend I watched Miracle on 34th Street - another one I had never seen - and it is so wonderful. I can't believe I'd never seen it and am so glad I finally did - it will definitely be at the top of the queue next year! I'm saving my absolute favorites for the week to come and will have to watch one every couple of days to keep up: The Bishop's Wife, A Christmas Carol (the George C. Scott and Muppet Show versions), and I'll save the best for last: It's a Wonderful Life.

I created a playlist of over 100 Christmas songs and have them playing on a continuous shuffle all day long. The shuffle is random but I am quite certain that Winnona's O Come, O Come Emmanuel plays more than any other song and I am quite certain it is my favorite. I find that the chorus of "Rejoice! Rejoice!" is in my mind all the time. And that is a lovely thing. I have decided "rejoice" will be my word-of-the-year for 2009.

Rejoice is an amazing word. It means to "feel great joy" and "be glad" and "take delight" and "celebrate in some event" and "cause joy to". I am looking forward to discovering all of these nuances over the next year.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Please Help Proyecto Laguna

A friend asked me to help with a fund raising project for an organization that provides support to many school children in Nicaragua. Buy a beautiful 2009 calendar for $20 (tax deductible!) and 100% of it (all services were donated) goes to the children.

I love the fact that *all* the money will go to the children! I'm a big fan of Heifer International (they provide farm animals to families all over the world), but after I get the catalogs week after week (and I've told them they don't need to and I will still support them!) I think, "Geez, I wish more money was going to the families and not so much to marketing!"

Here's what Proyecto Laguna has accomplished since its inception in January 2007:
-501 (c) non-profit status
-Provided school supplies two times a year to over 800 students
-Provided over 200 school uniforms
-Provided 50 teachers with classroom supplies
-Provided basic medical care to over 900 students
-Connected the schools with the American Nicaraguan Foundation to receive furniture and school supplies twice per year...

And the list goes on and on! You can read more at, but if you'd like to help in an easy and satisfying way, just let me know you'd like a calendar, get me the $20, and I'll happily pay for the postage to send you the calendar and the form for the tax exemption.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The 90 Second Rule

I wrote a little about Jill Bolte Taylor's book My Stroke of Insight in a previous post and I continue to talk about it with anyone who will listen. The part that most excites me currently is what she calls the "90 Second Rule".

Usually when one feels an emotion, whether it's joy or sorrow, it is because the limbic system has been triggered by the sensory systems. The feeling seems automatic - you see someone abusing a child and you feel angry, you hear a child laugh and you feel happy - and often it is. But the time it takes for your limbic system to be triggered, for the chemicals (what we feel as emotions) to be released and dissolved in your blood stream takes 90 seconds.

That means if you are feeling good or bad (because we have a lot of names for our feelings, but there are really only those two) for longer than a minute and a half it is because you have chosen to feel that way. In physiological terms, you are continuing to hook into your neurocircuitry rather than be in the present moment.

I love knowing this so much because finally I feel like I have the last piece of the puzzle I've been trying to put together since I read the (for me) life-changing books Loving What Is and A New Earth. They both clearly articulate that all events are neutral but it is our story about the events that create our happiness or our suffering.

For me this made theoretical sense but it was sometimes hard to put into practice. Especially when things don't always seem neutral - like in the case of abuse. Last week, I went in to an exam room to see a patient and her child was climbing on the stool and tearing up the paper on the exam table and the woman was yelling at her son to stop and grabbed him roughly and the child started to cry. The mom yelled at him some more.

At first I was upset - for 90 seconds - and then I could see that both the mom and son were having a hard time. And in that moment I felt empathy for the mom and smiled at her and said, "I know you both have been waiting a long time to see me and I'm sorry for the wait. I think it's especially hard for kids to wait without anything else to do. Can he get up on this chair and stand next to me while I check on the baby? He can hold the measuring tape and the doppler." This worked well and we had a great visit.

Of course, I find it most challenging to apply the 90 second rule in relation to the people closest to me, like my husband. Just last night I was tired from being up all night the previous night on call. I asked dh if he had done something I had asked him to do and he hadn't. I was annoyed and in a bit of a stink for more than 90 seconds. Fortunately after a few turns around my negative neural loop I became aware that I could stop feeling bad.

I knew in that moment that I couldn't stop feeling bad and think of the problem with my husband so I put my attention on my son who was very happy and excited about a little trip we were about to take. I decided to put my focus on my son and got us in the car. After just a few minutes in the car, chatting with ds and listening to fun kid music, I felt much better and even saw a solution to the problem with my husband that I had not seen before. When we got back I felt great and was able to tell dh I was sorry for my fit of peak and we quickly resolved the problem.

Not only is Jill Bolte Taylor brilliant, she also has a great sense of humor. She says that she whole-heartedly believes that 99.999 percent of the cells in our brains want us to be happy. But a tiny portion of our cells do not have our best interest at heart. She calls them the "Itty Bitty Shitty Committee". These are the cells that are very good at giving us lots of reasons why we are right to be angry, resentful and less-than-generous.

And just like parents and children who have been cooped up in a small exam room for too long, you can feel some empathy for those confused cells, take them in hand and give them something else to do. You become very good at re-directing and focusing on what is going well. I think of it as a discipline, like learning a foreign language and exercising, and it becomes easier and more automatic with practice.

It is so fantastic to know that I have the ability to choose a positive feeling. I can always choose to tell a different story. I can always bring my thoughts back to the present moment where all of my power is. And now I feel like I have all the tools I need to do just that.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Our 5th Annual Alternative Thanksgiving Party

It's that time of year when our non-belly button family gathers to get a start on all the holiday fun. It has been a year since I've gotten to spend time with some of these friends and although I don't like that fact, I understand it given our busy schedules. I'm just grateful we have *at least* one time each year when we will celebrate our wonderful community with great friends, food and music.

I think the most striking and satisfying aspect of this party is seeing how much the kids are growing and thriving. These next two were just tiny babes-in-arms last year - now look how actively they are engaging with the outside world - amazing!

And, of course, a highlight every year is the music. First, in order not to disturb conversation, our musician friends moved into our study.

But that room just could not hold all of our amazingly talented friends and they moved outside to our porch.

And although it was quite chilly, they did not complain. The young gentleman without the pants, however, did and so the revelry moved back inside. By that time everyone really wanted to hear that beautiful music.

One of the other great surprises and pleasures of this party was that it was the first year D joined the music jam with his guitar and voice - even breaking out into a solo of one of my favorites (one he has been singing to me for 15 years) - 'Women and Men'.

And he was a hit!

And here we have a very sweet young gentleman who is a natural on the piano - we're expecting great things from him at future parties!

And here I am with his proud mama!

So many wonderful friends!

Of all the friendships I am perhaps happiest to catalog the one between G and O. O is G's oldest and dearest friend and we have quite a lovely collection of photos of the two together You can look back at last year's party and see how much they've grown. And as you saw from an earlier picture in this post, G discarded his pants pretty early in the festivities and it wasn't much later that he gave up on all formality. I gently tried to encourage him to put them on by saying, "You know, O might not want to see your penis." O, very obligingly, chimed right in, "Oh, I don't mind seeing his penis. It's fine with me." Now one of our male friends is trying to follow his lead and lobby for what he's calling "Pantless Fridays".