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Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Joyous Holiday Wishes

Warmest Holiday and New Year's Wishes to All!
Take Time To Enjoy the Gifted Moments

This holiday, engage with others and your surroundings…without the distraction of electronic noise. Our use of electronic devices is having a dramatic impact on our social interaction, how we think and how we respond to one another. If you will be part of a cross-generational gathering, consider putting out a tray for phone collection as family and friends enter.  And, when you are with your guests, listen and be compassionate.
Everyone will learn from each other.
Enjoy the celebration and these special moments!
With heartfelt thoughts to all,

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Thanksgiving: An Invitation to Share A Selfless Act of Kindness

I challenge us all to take time to share a selfless act of kindness with others. Recently, a conversation with a good family friend of mine, David,  who is the chef and owner of an acclaimed sustainable family style Italian restaurant in our greater community, shared with me that he was opening the doors of his restaurant again this year to help feed the homeless on Thanksgiving. This act continues a family tradition that he and his mother started when he was a young man.
This year, he will be feeding the homeless community in the front of the restaurant and has gathered a group of volunteers to help prepare boxes of food for 15,000 families in Guatemala. How thankful and blessed he was to have the opportunity to help others, not only in his own community, but those in need from afar.
As we continued talking, I asked, "What about publicity?" "No, no," he said. "This is not why I have expanded our family Thanksgiving tradition. I really don't want any publicity. I really am doing this to help others."
When our conversation ended, I hung up the phone and quietly thought for a moment. How wonderful it was to hear how this act of heartfelt selfishness would touch the lives of others.  My friend was doing it, opening the doors of his restaurant to family, friends and those in need to celebrate the true essence of the Thanksgiving Season -- with no expectation in return.
His story is an inspiration and a reminder to me that there is always something we can do to be selfless this holiday season.
In the months ahead, I challenge us all to slow down and embrace the act of selflessness.
With heartfelt thoughts to all,

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Do Something Different Today

Open your heart to Creativity this month!
As we welcome the Autumn Season, the cool weather offers a needed break from the summer heat and I find myself soul-searching for something different to do. I need to do something to change my daily routine --  to spice it up!

Try to create a new adventure in your day-to-day routine this month.  Whether it's finding time to draw or paint, cook, sew or write in your journal, find a way. Maybe you'll go out of your way to try a new restaurant or pop-int o a coffee shop or a bookshop and browse. Or maybe you carve out a few hours for yourself to just be -- take a stroll, read, just enjoy an afternoon with no structure so that you can tap into your creativity 100%!  You'll feel recharged! 

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Let Go and Be Open to Abundance

I often think of the harvesting of grapes to make wine. So many rows of grapes on the vine; so many imperfect grapes discarded to make way for the juiciest fruit. Make room for your potential and know that gaining is a process; abundance is a process. Some days we move forward, and some days we don’t feel like we are moving at all. Know that the momentum is always there.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Time to Reflect

There I was, on a recent trip to Europe, standing in front of a Rembrandt. As I was looking through my photos later that night, this image caught my eye because of the reflection created by the thick layer of glass protecting the painting.

I originally took the photo because I was so taken with the artist's perspective and the subject matter: an older wise man patiently sitting in reflection by an open window. What struck me about the photo later was how it seemed to merge timelines. It was past, present and future all at once. In the other faces, I was seeing who I was, who I am, who I will be. In essence, time -- fleeting time.  I began by appreciating one perspective, and then I began to see so many more.  This is the value of reflection.

Taking the time for reflection in one's daily life allows for the opportunity to pause and sort through observations amidst the chaos and consider multiple interpretations in an effort to create meaning. This deciphering or "meaning" is a form of learning which then goes on to inform ways in which we act, think and live today and in the future, in all types of settings.

Reflection is the gateway between memories and dreams. 
Be still. Think. Take time to reflect.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Independence Your Way!

As the 4th of July approaches, please remember to  take a moment to give thanks to our military and public safety heroes through time for their honor and courage in defending our freedoms and democracy.Celebrate your independence with a little color and creativity. Just look where a little creative thinking got us in 1776! Get outside, draw, paint, cook....Celebrate your freedom. On that note, here's a new spin I took on a Ratatouille recipe! Happy Red, White and Blue!

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Kick off your summer with courage!

It’s time to kick off summer!
Last week, I was sitting on the beach at midday when a young family set up a few feet away from me. They dropped their bags, laid out their towels and ran off together to be in the ocean. Obviously, they were not from here. Within seconds, the seagulls arrived. They started to feverishly peck at the backpacks and bags. All of a sudden,  slices from a loaf of bread were being tossed into the air! I couldn’t let them go any further.  I jumped up and shooed the seagulls as best I could, then I briskly walked down to the ocean and signaled to the group of five, waving my arms and shouting for them to come out of the water. They were extremely confused…until they looked behind me at the flock swarming over their belongings!
The seagulls were on their way to destroying their lunch – and their kick-off to summer. I couldn’t let it happen! The family planned for this and had the courage and the good fortune to be at the beach that day. All I could think about was that if it were me, I’d want someone to do the same. We had a good laugh (once the seagulls cleared) and I was so glad I had the courage to do what I did. A wonderful exchange followed.

The moral of the story? Explore courage this summer. Have the courage to do something you wouldn’t normally do. You don’t need to book an expensive trip to the other side of the planet–-start in your own backyard. This summer, give yourself a project at home, begin new plantings in a corner of your backyard, visit your local library and join a book club, partake in a community event like a beach clean up or 5k run/walk. Meet one new person a month. And, always, always remember to do a good deed.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Merry month of May!

Take an Appreciation Day! 

May this month be a special time of celebration
for all our mothers, sisters and friends.

You are all treasured gifts.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Let Your Imagination Grow

Early one morning this week, I arose to the sight of a prism of colors, reflected on a wall in my line of sight. It was a most magnificent way to be stirred! I had to figure out the source of this most beautiful display of light. I creeped out of bed and went to check for reflections, and sure enough, the light was bouncing off the mirror, from outside. I pulled back the curtains and cracked open the french doors just enough to see it - a boundless double rainbow -- and first thing in the morning!
This could mean nothing but a day full of good luck. I realized just how boundless my imagination was with this auspicious sighting. I doubled back for my phone, knowing that I had to catch it and share not only it's proof, but its message.
Rainbows always rest between rain and sun, they are a fine slice -- a happy place.
Now that I knew it was going to be a good day, I started to think of all of things I would be sure to do to make it an exceptional day. My imagination and creativity were peeked.

Why don't we give ourselves the same permission for optimism every day, regardless of an early-morning rainbow?

Friday, March 1, 2019

Tapping Your Creativity to Shift Imperfection to Perfection

I brought out my ink and pen quill, then carefully selected a piece of paper from my favorite collection gathered during my travels overseas. I was inspired by the winter-washed days: the lack of light and color often give me a sense of inner peace and stillness. It was time to get lost in a creative journey. 

As my first stroke navigated its way over the grooves of the texture paper, I could hear my college art professor, Arthur Hall Smith. “Once we start our composition journey, we must learn that even if we make a mistake with a line, a cross-hatch, or, heaven forbid, a blotch of ink should fall from our pen on what we believe to be our next master piece, work this imperfection in to perfection.” 

Little did I know that Professor Smith’s  “rules” of art would be with me through all facets of my career. I realize now more than ever that Arthur was teaching all of us how to develop solutions using our creative minds. He showed us that we could create anything with a blank canvas if we were willing to explore our imaginations fearlessly with no boundaries.   

As the natural soft light of the day became more dim, I knew it was time to put my quill down. I gazed at my piece thus far and thought about where my imagination would take me tomorrow.   After a few moments of quiet stillness, I turned to a few sections of the newspaper that I had set aside before beginning my art project.  

I turned to the weekend food section of the paper for inspiration for tonight’s dinner. Thumbing through the pages I came across an article entitled, “Cook Between the Lines" by Andrea Nguyen. The title of article caught my eye after finishing an afternoon of drawing many lines.  Then I saw the subtitle, “Recipe books without photos make kitchen time more about pleasure and process than perfection.” Indeed.

As I read through the article, I found myself agreeing with the author about how a cookbook without pictures takes you on a greater journey to trust your “gut,” as she described. To risk and explore the actual written cooking instructions called your own creative instincts into play. What will it look like? How will I plate it? I began to “think out” the flavors, textures and colors. Cooking without someone’s visual influence was cooking it “my way.”  

I am one of those people who love to read through cookbooks cuddled up with a cup of hot tea! I often search through second hand or library bookstores to find some old cookbooks to take home just so I can read through recipes from different regions around the world and imagine the different spices and styles of the places I had never been. 

While most of my collection of cookbooks is filled with beautiful illustrations and photos, I made a point of reaching for one of my oldest cookbooks without illustrations to inspire me tonight. It’s akin to creating something only I can see on my blank canvas.

With a permanent smile, I gave thanks for Arthur’s words encouragement that came to mind tonight. He inspired so many of us to rely on our own creative instincts in the face of imperfection. 

Whether you are drawing, painting, writing or cooking, take the time to explore the essence of your senses and imagination. Create perfections from the imperfections - they will define your life’s journey. 

Monday, February 11, 2019

A Valentine Wish

Valentine's Day often conjures couples and cupids, romance and roses -- and rightly so! 
Do stop to tell your "one and only" just how much they mean to you. Also remember that love is joy and that giving is as great as receiving! Surprise a friend and stop by! Remind your friends and family members just how much you love having them in your life.

Happy Valentine's Day to All! 

Friday, February 1, 2019

Do you still dream?

A couple of my dearest friends presented me with some books to enjoy during the holiday break.  Like many at this time of year, it took me some time before I was able to sit down and be present with the books— a pause in life that I deeply cherish.

As I began reading the first book, while enjoy my morning cup of tea, I could hear the voice of the author as if she were talking to me, as if she knew just how much I needed to hear these words.

The first chapter spoke to me boldly about discovering your dreams, offering ways to welcome your dreams into your thoughts and allowing them to become alive.  I immediately thought of a book I penned years ago entitled Remembering Who You are Rediscovering Your Heart

Many of you have heard me share my mantra to “follow you heart and live your dreams.” When I say these words out loud to myself, I find my thoughts wondering through the many wonderful dreams and gifts I have experienced throughout my life. 

Our life journey is so very unpredictable and often a great adventure if we allow it to be. Why put our dreams on the sidelines?

I prepared my second cup of tea.  The author continued with a challenge for the reader: “Pen your dreams (big or small). Look at them; read them; believe in them.” 

I reached for my favorite journal and pen. My list became pages, I started to feel a relief and a sense of freedom.  Releasing my thoughts and dreams on paper was taking the first step to make them come true. I found myself sketching ways to pursue my dreams. There were doors opening and I became lost in creative moments, time giving way to my imagination. I was stretching my creative heart. It felt good to believe in a pathway of joyous experiences and to not allow the day-to-day distractions of life sidetrack these dreams.

I encourage you (as the author encouraged me) to give yourself permission to write down your dreams. Keep them close by and revisit them often. Add to your list. Do not be afraid to write down the big dreams next to the little dreams. Take the first gets easier and easier with each step you take.  

It’s time to truly rediscover your heart and live your dreams. Dreams are our gifts from the Heavenly One to encourage us to live in joy throughout our life’s journey.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

January: A Month for Reflection

Generally, the school of thought is to squeeze some annual reflection time in between the holidays and the new year for a few resolutions in the New Year. I'd hope that many of you are going to slow down and take stock of your year during the entire month of January. Take these 31 days to reflect on the past year and really think about what you want to achieve in 2019 -- personally and professionally. Don't rush at the end of December to come up with a set of resolutions that feel a little flimsy and are easy to walk away from.

May the words of poet Mary Oliver be your mantra his year: 

"What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"

This January, go back and take a look at each month of 2018 and remind yourself about what happened in each month. Take stock of what you did and how you felt through the highs and lows and jot them down. Now think about the 11 months of blank canvas ahead. What would be your greatest personal satisfaction for the year? Who are the friends you haven't seen in a while that you want to make sure to see this year? Are you making a plan to gather with friends on a regular basis? Are you taking time for your loved ones? In what ways will you do this, this year? What one new skill do you want to learn this year? Are you factoring in your health to your 2019 plan?

Put these thoughts on paper. Now the list is official. Tape it to an inside cabinet, post it to the fridge or to the back of the door. Don't run away from your goals.  Make it a year full of constant joys! 

Monday, January 7, 2019

Reflections for the New Year

With the arrival of the new year, I find a quiet place and embrace some time to just be. The act of simply sitting for a moment of time, in a space of quiet, opens the door to one’s soul for a journey of reflection.

I inhale. I exhale. I take in this moment of life. I reflect upon the sun, the clouds, the bright blue sky and the light of the full moon rising in the distance on this cold winter’s eve.   I reflect upon recent conversations and interactions with colleagues, family and friends. I reflect upon the year gone by.
What a delight it is, I am reminded, to “just sit and be” with a loved one or friend and share in an open and trusted free-flowing conversation with no intent or agenda.

Why haven’t I done this more often?

We fill our schedules so full with daily activities and external noise that our conversations are often filled with “outputting” information shared through texting and other forms of social media as opposed to interactive conversations with one another.  I find myself facing this dilemma of our modern, fast-paced world: say as much as you can in the shortest amount of time. We are all on a hamster wheel of non-stop movement, activities, electronic noise and distractions. 

My friends and I question if we have lost the “art of conversation.” For many centuries the gift of interactive conversation was a treasure for our human spirit. We used to look forward to the time to sit around a kitchen table to share our thoughts while we would break bread—with no boundaries and no time commitments. Where has the time gone?

As we reflect upon the year that has come to a close, find time to welcome in the new season with warm thoughts of new dreams and intentions to be more present for yourself and for others. I would like to encourage all of us to take time to slow down, breathe in and exhale. Silence is time for one’s soul and spirit to reflect.

Then re-engage in the art of conversation with those around you, free of distraction. Turn everything off so you, too, can enjoy the power of sharing and learning from one another.  You never know what you will discover about yourself and those around you if you are willing to reflect, share and listen.  The more you practice breathing this year, the more you will discover ease, peace and comfort in your daily life.