Deep thought Friday … Is your compass in tune?


“We are taught you must blame your father, your sisters, your brothers, the school, the teachers – but never blame yourself. It’s never your fault. But it’s always your fault, because if you wanted to change you’re the one who has got to change.”

― Katharine Hepburn

An old friend posted this on Facebook today and I had to share it because it is spot-on.

So many times in the world we find excuses and others to blame, when it is in our power to make a decision to change just about anything in our lives.  We are the ones steering our own ship, deciding how to take the waves – head-on or at an angle, with a course, or without.

We decide how to allow others to treat us. If we let ourselves get taken advantage of or treated like we don’t deserve, it’s because we need to look inside and figure out how to set boundaries. And better understand our self-worth.

We decide whether to allow circumstances to affect us in a negative way, or to use them to help spur our emotional our growth and move us forward.

We decide what excuses will impede our goals.  When we say we’re too busy or “it just won’t work,” we are making a choice.

We decide how that guy in traffic who cut us off will make us feel.  Or how someone who was dishonest, who hurt our feelings, or who was even downright creepy, will make us feel. We have a choice … to carry that around with us or throw it overboard.

Compassion and self-awareness are points on our compass.  And sometimes it takes a painful event or two in life to help us establish these bearings.

One thing is for certain, stepping out of ourselves and looking in objectively is the only way to chart our true course.

Here’s to another inspiring bad-ass of a woman who said it right.

Out of the Blue …

swirlMade it out of the blue and the brown … not a drop of brown or blue paint can be found on this latest funky painting.

As far as being out of the blue … ever have ideas come to you out of the blue?

My best ideas for writing usually come to me in the shower.  And therein lies the problem, as I am usually far away from my computer or notepad and clearly soaking wet. And then there’s something about stepping over that shower threshold after a shower that sometimes wipes my memory bank clean.

I decided to turn to my trusty Amazon in search of a solution — or of the discovery that a solution didn’t exist and my goldmine of an invention (a waterproof notepad) awaited.  Not surprisingly, I  found a nifty waterproof notepad and pencil set which sticks onto the shower wall so that I can capture ideas before they are lost. It’s absolutely genius.  I love it.

Where to you get your best ideas?  Any tricks for remembering them later?aquanote

Tell me your secrets.

peptoI’ve been blocked with my writing for the last week, so I’m trying something different today. Also, since my parents are coming this week to stay with my kids while we are away, a few of these things have been on my mind as I assess the areas of my house that might frighten outsiders.

Below are some random household and life challenges for which I would love any ideas or secret tips. How do you:


1. Keep your medicine cabinet looking somewhat organized? (Mine is actually pretty organized by type but still looks like a nightmare.)

2. Clean and store vegetable and fruit and keep them visible enough to remember to eat them before they go bad? (Do you clean them before you put in fridge or clean as you eat them?)

3. Maintain a neat and orderly physical desktop while not forgetting about papers requiring action? (I am a stacker but the visual chaos unnerves me at the same time.  There has to be a happy medium.)

4. Keep the incoming mail/ junky area in your kitchen organized?

5. Remember to take your eco-friendly fabric grocery bags with you into the store?  I’ve tried keeping in the car, on hooks inside my laundry room door where I can see them, all to no avail.  Every time I get to the register I could have had a V8  and realize that I forgot my bags once again (as the checker and bagger shoot me looks of disdain and the plastic bags begin to rustle).bag

6. Unblock your writing (when you’re not feeling inspired and you’re worried you’ve forgotten how to write)?

7. Drink more water?  (I’m surprised I function with as little H2O as I consume).

8. Exercise regularly with no excuses?  (I go through bouts of great routine exercise but then when I fall off the rails, why is it so hard to get back at it?  Need ideas.)

9. Make yourself write on a regular basis? (The public challenges I proclaim (like the 100 day gratitude experiment) have worked for me.  But how many challenges can one really do?)

10. Find easy recipes.  Anyone have a website or app they love?

Georgia on My Mind…

“I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing that I wanted to do.”
“I have already settled it for myself, so flattery and criticism go down the same drain and I am quite free.”

― Quotes by Georgia O’Keeffe


Oh how I would have loved to have met Georgia O’Keeffe.  From what I’ve learned about her over the years, she was an inspiring bad-ass of a woman.

And now some of her works are being installed in Denver for an exhibition coming at the end of this month.  I am giddy.

desertokeeffeskyscraperOne of the greatest American artists of the 20th century and the very first female American Modernist painter, O’Keeffe didn’t play by any established rules.  She made her own.  Gotta love that.

skullShe was born in Wisconsin in 1887 and knew and told others that she wanted to  be an artist by the eighth grade. (And now that I too am obsessed with Downton Alley, I’m picturing O’Keeffe starting her career during that period since the dates are close. This makes her even more inspiring to me.)

I had the great pleasure of seeing the largest collection of her work in the world years ago at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe.  I remember one painting so huge – an entire wall – of rich, vivid clouds that it literally took my breath away. (She said she painted her skies and clouds so large so the world would see them the way she did.)

A college friend gave me a print of her Music in Pink and Blue (top painting in post) which was proudly displayed in every college house where I lived.

O’Keeffe created her own style of art, blending abstraction and realism, along with cropping techniques she saw in photos, to create iconic paintings of the American artistic landscape. Her huge-scale abstract flowers, her bold 1920s New York City skylines, and her intoxicating perspectives of the deserts, bones and skies of New Mexico… are simply unmistakable.
What’s your favorite O’Keeffe painting?
PS: if you ever want to give a wonderful and unique gift to a child, the book  “My Name is Georgia” by Jeanette Winter is a wonderful illustrated book about being daring enough to pave your own path.

How to Recognize a Close Encounter of the Personal Kind.

space invader

You know who I’m talking about.

Those people who get so close to you that you almost feel their breath on your neck as you stand in line at the grocery store, post office or drug store.  Anywhere there is a line with people who think that you’re too slow and they’re more important,  or who were seriously raised by parents who did not teach them about respecting the personal space of others.

This often takes place as I am paying and I want to offer them a piece of gum out of my purse since they can see inside it so well.

A grown man in the next line over at the store yesterday was so up in this lady’s business and being such a spaz about it that I could feel the energy in the next lane over. (This photo does not do the situation justice and I was trying to be discreet.)  I wanted to ask him if he had to use the restroom or something since he seemed in such a hurry.

Often these space invaders have one hand on their hip, their arms crossed or even their legs crossed like this guy.  And some sighs and heavy breathing might take place. Sometimes body odor.

Naively, I always think that making some dramatic eye contact with a semi-sneer will make it clear to them that they are invading my space and they need to back off.

Or sometimes I think that if I just hold my ground and not move a single inch until I’m good and ready, they’ll get the message.

I’ve even tried slightly backing up to throw them off, to no avail.

I always want to say something like “You seem like you’re in a hurry since you’re up so close and personal with me right now, want to go ahead of me?  Or do you just want to get to know me better?”  Or “You seem like you need a hug … is that why you’re getting so close?”   But I worry that I would start something that I’m physically unable to carry through.

Any attempts I make to help space invaders realize that they are bucking  this social norm are futile.  I’m baffled.  Or maybe I’m delusional to think that I can really change another human being’s behavior? ( Logically I know this to be the answer but I still love to analyze it.)

How do you handle Close Encounters of the Personal Kind?  Any tips?

Silent in the company of sisters.


At weekly yoga class.

Two sisters, there each week.

Next to each other, happy and harmonious.

Could be twins, alike but different enough.

One comment starts the chatter all around the room,

How lucky they are to have a sister nearby to enjoy.

I nodded silently as I agreed,

Tamping pangs of envy down deep.

Then one by one … the others lamented over their sisters faraway,

Poor them.

I had a choice,

Bring down the entire room with “Bummer, mine died.”

And freak everyone the hell out,

Or keep quiet.

I chose the latter.

Act first, think later. Story of my life in 5 examples.


Photo from, a really cool site I just discovered.

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Act first. Think later.  Story of my life. Luckily it’s working relatively well for me so far. My dad does it too, and even admits it, so I come by it honestly.

This ‘creative leap’  idea is how I justify it.  Similarly, I enjoy any quote about procrastination being a good thing.

Here are some examples of how this is the story of my life:

1. Hanging pictures –  Not sure if I’ve ever used a ruler or tape measure when hanging things on any walls – and I have a LOT on my walls.  This makes many people CRAZY.  (And I love it.)

2. Painting –  When I have gone to those places where you paint as a group while you have a cocktail, and everyone paints the same stroke with the same color in the same order, I go for the wine and pretend like I’m following directions or like I’m just confused. The conformists in these groups whose paintings look exactly like the teacher’s painting in the end always look at my painting with sheer disdain and disbelief. Once someone told me that my painting of wildflowers might indicate that I need therapy.  (Which tells me that it’s good.)

3. Trimming  – As in my bangs, or anything I’m cutting for that matter.  Again, I don’t measure or think it out too much when cutting ribbon, fabric, dog hair, my hair, etc. This has not ended well on several occasions. (Starting at age five when I gave my doll and I a haircut at the same time using my dullest kindergarten scissors.  Also in college when I used to make my own wrap skirts – my room mates are still laughing.)

4. Giving my opinion – How boring and untrue would I be if I edited my opinion before I spoke of it?  Besides, it would take far too long and I would get distracted by the time I thought it through and then I’d forget my point.  I’ve gotten in trouble with this one.  (Fortunately those who love me can handle it.)

5. A plethora of injuries, bruises and cuts at all times – Whether I’m carrying sixteen things down the stairs to save time, or teetering on the edge of a chair because I don’t want to take the time to find a ladder, or using a knife that is dull.  You get the idea.  (Luckily I still have all my digits.)

Do you ever act first and think later?

VanGogh: Looking at Mental Illness through the Works of a Master.

“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” VanGogh

It is better to be high-spirited even though one makes more mistakes, than to be narrow-minded and all too prudent. ” VanGogh

van al

I’ve always admired the works of VanGogh.  And perhaps because of my fascination with mental health (and society’s aversion to discussing it), I must admit that I looked forward to learning more of this great artist’s highly speculated background at the museum exhibit that MacGyver and I attended a couple of weeks ago.

Our museum headphones were our guide as we carefully threaded our way through the crowds and learned about this fascinating, yet troubled, artist.

A pastor’s son from Holland, Van Gogh didn’t start painting until he was 27 years old.  This was after stints as a book store clerk, an art salesman and even a preacher. He died at 37.   He sold one painting while he was alive.

After being dismissed for being overzealous as a preacher, VanGogh set out on a quest, seeking the meaning of life while painting as a way to merge his spirituality with his love for nature, art and literature. Much of what is known about him is from thoughtful letters to his brother throughout the years.

During his ten short years of his painting, he spent time in Belgium, Paris, Southern France and then in northwestern suburbs of Paris. He largely taught himself to paint through art instruction books and observing the techniques of other artists.  During each of these phases, his art took on the characteristics of what he was learning and experiencing as he battled bouts of mental illness.

My favorite paintings are from the time before his death in the northwestern suburbs of Paris, when his intense emotions gave way to his use of vivid colors and dramatic brushstrokes, and he painted nearly a painting a day for 70 days before his death.  His letters explained in revealing detail how these paintings explained the loneliness he felt and the comfort which the countryside provided for him.

Before that in Southern France (where he committed himself to a mental facility after an intense altercation with Gaughin, a leading French Post-Impressionist artist who he looked up to) and then during his final days, VanGogh painted dozens of wheat fields, which are some of my favorite VanGogh paintings.  He was drawn to them because of his spiritual connection to nature and because he saw the fields as metaphors for humanity’s cycles of life through growth and vulnerability.

I’ve tried to mimic his work in my painting shown here which resembles his “wheat field under cloudy sky” painting and incorporates a farmhouse which he also enjoyed painting.

VanGogh’s letters reveal that he was an eloquent writer with extreme intelligence, perspective and sensitivity, along with thoughts much deeper and more reflective than any of the seemingly sane around him.  I must wonder how he would do in our modern world today.  Would he be diagnosed, treated and blend better in society?  Or would that have stifled his creativity and suppressed his talent?

When I have a terrible need of – shall I say the word – religion. Then I go out and paint the stars.VanGogh

What VanGogh painting stands out most in your mind?

vangogh_cafe1888Self-Portrait-in-Front-of-the-EaselVan Gogh Farmhouse in a WheatfieldVincent-van-Gogh-Starry-Night

Vincent Van Gogh - Wheat Field under Clouded Sky

10 signs that a cell phone intervention may be necessary.


If you know anyone exhibiting any of the following signs on a regular basis, a cell phone intervention may be necessary. I know these may seem like obvious ways to coexist with other humans in a civil fashion, but each day I come to the sad realization that these things are not obvious to everyone.

Please proceed with an open mind.  Here we go:

1. Constantly checking your phone and texting while you are out with friends or at an event is as bad as checking your watch repeatedly or yawning. If your kids or babysitter REALLY need you, I doubt they are going to text. Otherwise you’re sending the message that you have better things to be doing with your time or that you’re as bored as a blind man in a strip club.

2. Enabling the loud clicking keyboard sound effects (or any keyboard sound effects) on your phone is the equivalent of clipping your toenails in public. No one needs to hear it. Besides, most of us can type these days, so there’s really no need to call special attention to it. (If this is confusing, check out the settings on your phone.)

3. Answering your phone in a restaurant. For God’s sake, excuse yourself from the table or use your inside voice until you can get outside. Or heaven forbid, let the call go to voice mail and call them back. If it’s urgent (and pause for a moment… and think about what is truly urgent), then they’re most likely going to call more than once.  Unless you’ve let your party know that you’re expecting a really important call or it really is URGENT, it’s actually insulting.

4. This one is obvious and I mentioned it in another post a few days ago. If you can’t stop yourself from looking at your phone while you are driving, put it in the back seat or trunk, or better yet, keep some duct tape handy and tape it to your back until you arrive. It will make all of us — who are sharing the road with you –breathe a little easier.

5. Talking at full volume on your phone in a shared space where some might be trying to take a breather (coffee shop, hair salon, shops, EVEN BATHROOMS, PEOPLE). We realize that you are uber important and you’ve got to get that remodeling done before the big party. But seriously, we don’t need to hear every word of your conversation at full volume. Besides, it ruins the free head and neck massage that my stylist provides once every few months for me at the salon because I can’t stop thinking about flicking you on the forehead.

6. Your crazy ass loud ring tone. I know sometimes it’s hard to hear from a distance, but when you’re in a restaurant or shared quiet space, setting to vibrate is the polite thing to do.  And if you forget – which happens to all of us sometimes – at least At least PRETEND like you are trying to answer it quickly.

7. Wearing your Bluetooth earpiece/earbud while you having an in-person conversation or at a restaurant. I don’t even think I need to explain this. No one is important enough for this to be necessary while you’re enjoying a meal or conversation with someone. Not only does it look ridiculous, but I’m pretty sure you’d be able to feel the phone vibrate if you are sitting in a booth. (And again, if it’s urgent, they’re probably going to give it a ring more than once.)

8. Repeated followup texts with question marks because you’re impatient and we haven’t responded to your text according to your expectations (which are completely subjective).  Some of us don’t have our phones in hand at all times, thank God. And sometimes, people have a lot on their plate. If it’s important or you’re really concerned, pick up the phone and use your voice. Otherwise it’s the equivalent of repeatedly honking in traffic.

9. Re-sending the same generic texts often to lots of different people in succession. Sorry, but sometimes it’s way obvious that you are just killing time in a waiting room.

10. Sending texts to large groups of people who don’t know each other. Don’t be surprised if we don’t take the time to respond to these texts if we have no idea who else is on the group text. It doesn’t take that much longer to send the same text a couple of times. Besides, your husband’s aunt’s stepbrother’s niece doesn’t really want to know what 867-5309 thinks.

Thanks for taking the time to read.  We all break these common courtesy guidelines once in a while, including myself.  But I sigh  just imagining how much more of a civil society we could have if we were all just a teeny bit more self aware.

Now, go make that urgent call.

PS: Who recognized that phone number in #10?

Oh, and Jenny, I’ve got your number.