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Saturday, November 3, 2018

Thanksgiving and the Art of Conversation




Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks for the rich harvest bestowed upon a family, the blessing of an abundance of food in preparation for the cold months of winter.

Today's Thanksgiving gatherings are still about an abundance of food and getting together with family and friends, with a few modern traditions such as playing touch football, watching the Macy Thanksgiving Day Parade followed by watching a college or pro-football game, if you are at my household! Everyone works up quite an appetite and awaits patiently for the call to eat…

As I prepare for our Thanksgiving gathering, I am reminded that the times we spend at the table are as much about sharing in the delight of good food, as sharing in the delight of good company and the rich cross-generational discussions to be had among relatives and friends.



The meal often lasts much longer than the food on our plates, as we spend time talking and listening to one another, sharing our thoughts and opinions on various topics. And although we would not agree on some subjects, we would continue in the tradition of respectfully agreeing to disagree. One of the greatest gifts I enjoy from this time of year is the cross-generational sharing of wisdom and knowledge.

This year, relish the different viewpoints more than ever. Slow down, engage in a conversation and learn something new.

And, always, always give thanks for the bounty set before you every day.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING! 



Tuesday, October 16, 2018

In the mail...






And, just as soon as I had written about writing a note, in came some notes to my mailbox!

I always remember looking forward to the mailman stopping at our mailbox in the summertime. My mum would send me running down the driveway to "check the mail" at about 3:30pm. We'd have catalogs and magazines, a letter from a friend (and the occasional bill)! It was always so nice to slow down in the afternoon with all of this new information. Before the internet, it was the newspaper in the morning, the mail in the afternoon and the 6:30pm news in the evening that kept us connected.

Some people say it's a dying art, but I like to think otherwise. We may be writing less letters, but what an impact they have when they are received! The reciprocity of staying in touch and the intention of sharing with each word written is a very special act of friendship.

Thank you, my dear friends, for all of your notes. I love hearing from you!




Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Thinking of You...


As we come to the close of another season of long summer days, I always feel a tug at my heart, thinking about family and friends I may  not have connected with over these action-packed months.…I'll make a phone call in between family chores and leave a voicemail to share some updates.  I realized I wanted to do more than just leave an electronic voicemail, text or email. I wanted to send a note with actual handwritten words to say hello and just let them know I was thinking of them.


Receiving handwritten thoughts is always a treat for me…and I hope it is for you….

So as we close out the summer days, may I encourage you to take out your pen and ink a note to a family member or friend to share your thoughts and to let them know you are thinking about them during these long and crazy days. Share a hello and a thought of comfort as we welcome in the new season. There's nothing more cheerful than an unexpected letter in the mail from someone dear to you. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Subject: You


“The act of naming the world, in ways uniquely your own, 
is one way to spark the creative energy 
that lives inside each human being.”  
- Rebecca McClanahan

I came across this quote in a magazine this week. It felt so relevant following my last post about being comfortable in one’s own skin. Spend some time alone. Learn to like yourself. Enjoy doing things with yourself. Make time for just yourself. You will see that a great fire burns within – the fire of imagination and creativity. We keep so busy being accountable that we forget to circle back and look within. Children have it but we spend a lifetime dulling that fire. What if we made room for it again? For possibility? For creativity?


Sunday, September 2, 2018

Comfortable in Your Own Skin




Recently while I was having lunch with a friend of mine, I realized just how rich our conversation was thanks to a technology-free atmosphere.  A couple of hours of unfiltered and trusted sharing made me think about what it means to be comfortable in one’s own skin.

As we talked about our different experiences with open hearts, a sense of humility and peace washed over me. Within each of us is an inner well of strength that gives us the courage to go forward with the unspoken certainty that tomorrow will shine a brighter light of hope.

Our inner well of peace is always full, ready to refresh our souls at any time of need and yet how little we turn to it, choosing, instead, to turn outward for answers to some of life’s challenges.  Why?

With this question in my head, I knew it was time for me to go to one of my favorite places to think. I started on a walk through the garden and found an area that was in need of a little trimming and weeding. With shovel and shears, I began to work away.  The garden is my place to harness that inner well.  The garden allows me to refresh my soul, contemplate my thoughts, and clear my mind as I dig and prune in preparation for another burst of growth. 

The different seasons of the garden teach me how to continually prepare my heart to walk with humility and understanding that there is something greater than me. The more I understand this gift of grace, the more I am able to grow comfortable in my own skin and be at peace. The strength of a humble heart allows me to flourish like a bountiful garden through the seasons of life. And maybe, it is this gift from above is what fills our wells effortlessly and endlessly.

Recipe for Life
Fill your well with a dash of quiet time, much love and daily nurturing to refresh your soul.
Tap your inner well often, it is your greatest source of strength.



Sunday, August 12, 2018

Cut Back in order to Grow

In order to make way for a new season of growth, a gardener will prune regularly. 



Eighteen years ago, I brought a tiny vine clipping from Northern California to my garden. I planted the vine next to a trellis to see if it would take hold. For eighteen years, I've watched the vine climb and spread -- but no grapes. I'd prune and it would extend further and further every year until it completely encompassed the trellis. This year, after all of that waiting, pruning and growth, we finally got grapes! Bunches and bunches of grapes! It is perhaps one of the most exciting moments of persistence and growth I have experienced.

In life, we too must clear away, declutter, give away, and simplify in order to make room for new growth. The act of pruning always benefits us.

If you want change, welcome it. Make room for change in your life.





Wednesday, August 1, 2018

What Does Growing Mean?



The garden in summer reminds me just how much we focus on growing in our own lives, growing in age, growing in knowledge, growing in our careers, growing our talents, growing our relationships, growing our dreams, growing our families …I can go on and on. We put so much emphasis on growth yet rarely do we talk about how to prepare for and maintain growth in our lives.

Like a garden, our lives grow through seasons. We, too, experience bursts of energy and growth along with other seasons that are slow and almost dormant. In periods of growth, we must remember the role of the gardener and prune the excess and old limbs to make way for new growth, opportunities and thoughts. A strong, rooted foundation withstands unexpected weather or challenges that may come our way as we are growing.
During the seasons of growth in my life, I am often reminded of the biblical parables and historic references to sowing seeds.  When one’s life is rooted, an abundance of joy is present throughout the journey.

How are you growing your life today? Are you stretching and straining with too much noise and busyness? Are you giving yourself time to rest and to ‘just be’ for a season? Are you pruning out the unnecessary old ways to provide for a strong foundation and a next season of growth, while allowing the deep roots of your foundation to be maintained to your beliefs?

Take time to reflect upon the season of life you are growing into now.




Sunday, July 15, 2018

Remember to smile!




Because of your smile, you make life more beautiful. 
One smile causes another smile. 
Share your smile with the world. 

SMILE! 

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Just smile





The simple things in life (even though we sometimes think they seem childlike) are really what get us through our day.

This past week, I have had many conversations about ways to build new business models, engage staff, develop secrets of success, balance full schedules and where to cut back the electronic overflow in order to find time to breathe. Yes, just breathe for a moment….

The simple words of one colleague really captured my thoughts. This simple life lesson is her daily foundation. When asked how she maintains her positive outlook, no matter how busy or challenging the day may be, her response is something she learned early on in life: smile. 

Smiling does truly brighten the day and make everything seem better.

A smile is contagious like sharing the gift of joy. To some it may sound childish, yet it really does bring out sunshine no matter what we may be facing.

Smile more! Brighten your day and share the joy with others.


Smile

Music by Charles Chaplin, 
Lyrics by John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons

Smile, though your heart is aching

Smile, even though it’s breaking

When there are clouds in the sky
you’ll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You’ll see the sun come shining through
for you

Light up your face with gladness

Hide every trace of sadness

Although a tear may be ever so near
That’s the time you must keep on trying
Smile what’s the use of crying
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile
If you’ll just
Smile



© Copyright 1954 by Bourne Co. Copyright Renewed 
All Rights Reserved International Copyright Secured



Monday, June 11, 2018

Be free!





On this Flag Day, the red and white stripes fluttering and snapping playfully in the breeze are a great reminder of the freedom and liberty of our great nation.

Take note...then make room for some freedom and sharing with others!

June is the perfect time to break away and be free.  Plan a trip this summer. Do something different. And, if you are the scheduling type, make like crazy and block ONE day that is completely unscheduled.

Remember your childhood joy of looking forward to summer, to that grand expanse of unlimited hours full of unknown possibilities to do whatever you pleased? As adults, that type of extended freedom is hard to come by, so seize a day, here and there, invite a friend and have some fun.




Monday, June 4, 2018

Encouraging Handmade this Summer



In our technology-focused world, I find I am mesmerized by the art of craft. I am in awe of the maker -- those who have been able to shift their focus away from technology as primary. Making things is nothing new. But finding the desire to do so is something we humans are sadly losing touch with.  

This summer I'd like to encourage you to make technology secondary, if not for a whole day, then just for a few hours. During these longer hours, put your screens in another room and challenge yourself to work with your hands.  

Why? Because so much of our creativity and creative thinking comes from working with our hands.  

Draw, cook, write, paint, sew. Take some things out of your "art bag." Fall into a zone. Give your brain the opportunity for a new focus. No machine can take away the curiosity and ingenuity of the human. Working through our senses creatively is something we do best.  

And, as you are humming along, you will find that you have entered another zone. Maybe you even lose track of time. (The ultimate!) When you go back to your screen, it will feel like you've hit your own refresh button. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Happy Memorial Day!






Happy Memorial Day 

Please take a moment to celebrate 
the liberty and freedoms
of our great nation.

Let's give thanks to our military and public safety heroes
 
for their honor and courage in defending our democracy. 
And, let's take a moment to thank their families.

Warmest wishes to all,

Ssusan  

Friday, May 11, 2018

'We First' creates a better community



Last month was spent traveling overseas. In amongst all of the sights, I was surprised by the number of billboards and advertisements for "ME." Every ad seems to be taken at selfie length these days. And then, everyone around me was taking a selfie -- with, of course, a notable landmark.
"Look at me now," we all seem to be saying,  rather than, "Look at this!"
On this trip, I was struck by just how much we are resembling each other, culturally. Selfies seem to be all that matter-- across the globe. But are we collectively celebrating individuality?

Instead of saying 'me first' let's all try 'we first.' WE is the mirror image of ME. Think about what you are seeing and sharing.  Is it the best reflection of who you are? Remember we are put on this earth to collectively love one another. "WE FIRST." 


Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Merry Month of May


To all of my women friends and colleagues,  


Have a merry month of May!


Mothers, sisters and daughters -- you are gifted treasures


Celebrate this gifted season of womanhood. 




Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Joy is contagious!





I was reading a story about two moms and their children hiking through an old garden. As they climbed through the overgrown paths in the early morning mist, they tried to keep their eager children close. A child’s voice yelled as they came towards the end of the path, "Look! There's a stream. And look at that tree!” As the children rushed ahead to get a closer look, the early morning sunlight was breaking through the thick branches of the tree, making it appear even more grand. Its deeply etched roots and thick storied bark let them all know that this was not an ordinary tree. This tree had lived through many seasons of life yet still stood strong.  With pure joy, some of the children rested under its majestic limbs while others started climbing to seek new horizons.  It was indeed a 'treasure tree.' 

We often forget during our busy days to look up and see the simple pleasures and joyous discoveries around us.  On a recent late afternoon walk, I ran into my friend Paul.  We had not seen each other in a while so we began to share about our lives and our families.  During our conversation, I told Paul that I was working on a piece about the simplicity of joy, and about finding joy in all things. “How easy it is for us to forget or get lost in all the noise and distractions around us!” said Paul.  “We should just stop for a moment and observe the many joyous gifts around us. I mean, just look at this sunset!” We paused and took in the unique colors of the sunset, its wispy blues and rusty yellows, and contemplated the fact that each night is a different painting made expressly for our joy.

So often we take these gifts for granted. Slow down and allow the childlike discoveries of our surroundings to fill our hearts with joy. The more we allow joy to be part of our daily lives, the more joy is contagious. Pass on the gift of joy to others!




Friday, April 13, 2018

April Showers Bring May Flowers




Take time during the rains of April to rinse off the past. 
Prepare to welcome in the rebirth of spring and new blooms of ideas.  
Be free. Open new creative paths for yourself.

Take a cooking class
Sign up for a hike
Go to a museum
Take an art class
Volunteer in your community

Set up a quiet break to sketch out your dreams, plant new ideas then make way for growth in the new season!



Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Start Your Life of Creative Adventure!



It is always interesting to read about entrepreneurs and what leads them to pursue their talents and create their own inspirational businesses. I love reading about growing one's passion and talent into a business...or simply turning a hobby or activity that you enjoy into something to share with others. It is so satisfying to share what works for you with others. After all, this is our only life of creative adventure. You have permission! 

In the process of discovering one’s own talents or interests, many of us begin with a list of things we enjoy doing. Often our list of goals and things we like to do are launched and relaunched at the beginning of each year in the form of new year’s resolutions.  I especially like to create to-do lists for projects for home and work that sometimes become a “thinking list” of new ideas and thoughts. 

Yet often during the process of list making, we create a box of restrictions around ourselves in the shape of boundaries, perfections and expectations.  This can take away from the freedom of trying something new, trusting our hearts to explore a dream or even taking the risk of creating something that could blossom into something of beauty.  We often stop ourselves from choosing to live our dreams before we even try a step forward.  As one entrepreneur shared with me, “If you have a good idea don’t wait, just jump in and begin to swim and discover your talents!” Another successful business mentor told me,  “If you follow your heartfelt dreams, everything will grow in your “own” life….and your “own” journey.”

I know there is so much “other” in our everyday: things we must do, responsibilities, and our own self-imposed expectations.  Make  time to open up your box and explore with freedom. Develop your talents and interests and see where the journey will take you.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Welcome Spring!




As we welcome in the Spring season, enjoy new beginnings and appreciate your surroundings!
Have a wonderful and peaceful holiday weekend.
Keep following your heart and living your dreams!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

How to Be a Green Leaf



Longer days are an invitation to get outside. All those new buds make me brim with anticipation and excitement for more growth ahead.

Practice being a green leaf by taking part in nature. Get outside -- whether you live in the city, by the coast or in the country, take a walk outside. Make it longer than usual or try a new route just to heighten your senses. Even better, invite a friend.

Marvel at the beauty of nature -- its cycles and the evolving color palette throughout the day and throughout this month.

This is a great time to plant some seeds and watch them grow! Spring is in the air, green leaf! Opportunities are there for the taking!




Thursday, March 1, 2018

Be A Green Leaf in Drought


There are so many joys I find in gardening: the discovery of life in a new blossom, the first burst of rose buds in the spring, and that grand tree, dormant for winter, finally stretches and releases fresh green leaves. The doves coo in the quiet dawn mornings as the butterflies practice the choreography of the season.

I often write about gardening because it teaches me so much about life.  Most of all, it has taught me to slow down the day and avoid list-making in order to truly take in the moments that nature created for us to enjoy.

Because of my love for gardening,  I have become fascinated with garden stories and metaphors.  Many refer to the garden for cultural significance while others look to the garden for spiritual understanding.

During a recent trip to Asia, I became fascinated with the green leaf. Its design was on clothing, jewelry and notebooks. It was everywhere— an icon of new life, good luck and good health.  

When I returned home, I came across a book, Green Leaf in Drought by Isobel Kuhn, a true story about the lives of missionaries who traveled in the most eastern part of China during the early 1950s. It documented their lives and the many trials they faced trying to be "green leaves" during many seasons of drought, loss and sadness.  The story of their lives touched my heart.

We all go through droughts such as loss, uncertainty and sadness during the seasons of life and yet, through these challenging times, there is always hope for newness.


How To Be a Green Leaf in Drought

- Find a time in your day to refill yourself with something you enjoy.
- Play some music, sketch, take a walk, read, putter in the garden, try a new recipe or set some time aside to just sit, be still and breathe.
- Once you refill the soil of your soul, you will discover the newness of life that gives you strength to continue to shine. You will have the strength to continue to grow through all seasons. You are a green leaf.
- Plant a seed of encouragement to help others who may be going through a drought.