Monday, January 31, 2011


How hard it is to hide the sparks of nature!
-William Shakespeare, Cymbeline 3.3

The Shakespeare Theater Company's production of Cymbeline was great.
This past weekend a friend had an extra and free ticket.
What a way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

photo here

Sunday, January 30, 2011

meet fiona & pennie

you know when you were a kid and wanted a pet?
i wanted a fish.
instead, my sister got two pet rats.
needless to say, i was not happy with that arrangement
and i never did get a fish.

so, this weekend, i finally fulfilled my wish and got a fish.
in fact, i got two fishies.
it was all i could do not to skip out of the store back to my car.

meet fiona and pennie.
fiona is the red female betta on the left.
pennie is the silver purple-pink female on the right.

normally, two bettas cannot live in the same bowl, 
but the woman who helped me said that 
sometimes two females can live in the same bowel quite peacefully.

so, we introduced them to each other in the store. they sized each other up. 
fiona is definitely more aggressive than pennie.
pennie pushed fiona away from her and 
 swam to opposite side of the container
and they basically ignored each other.

today though it seems like they are becoming friends.
they spend a little time swimming near each other,
but mainly fiona stays near the top 
and pennie on the bottom. 
they do switch places from time to time.

it's really cool having them here,
and i enjoy watching them swim about.
seven-year old me is really quite pleased and 
almost thirty-seven-year old me is too. :)

ya gotta have faith

If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. -Matthew 17:20

...yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words. Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me. -Alma 32:27-28

I was reading this devotional address on faith. It helped me remember my aspects of my own faith, and in whom my faith is placed. 

Friday, January 28, 2011

on my ipod - katie melua

Lately at work I've had to do a ton of formatting and proofreading of some very dry technical documents. I get really bored as I do it, so in order to keep focused and avoid wandering all the place, I've started listening to my iPod a lot.

This week, I'm really liking Katie Melua's album "Piece By Piece" and listened to it several times this week.  She has a new album out now, that I can't wait to get some time to really listen to.

I really like "Nine Million Bicycles". It has a rolling quality, that makes me feel as though I'm pedaling on a bike along with her.

I also like "Thank You Stars."  This invokes memories of sleeping out in the front yard with my little brothers and looking up at the stars as they talked about who God is and what makes the stars shine.  Good times.

Enjoy the songs and happy Friday!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

shoveling snow

there is a deep satisfaction in shoveling snow, 
in clearing the path and 
piling the mess along the way
to let it melt when it may
and not worrying about it anymore. 

it's a good way to start the day.

happy snow day dc!

what a prayer feels like

I love this.  When I read it, I said, "Yes, yes, yes!" I have felt this often in my prayers. For me, a prayer sometimes feels like pulling a silk down duvet over me and burrowing in safe and warm. It's a good feeling.

"Would it be all right--I mean, would you mind if I prayed for her?"
Although I did not want his assistance--had not asked for his assistance--this one time, I was willing to put aside how I felt about God, because Claire could use all the help she could get.  Almost imperceptibly, I nodded.
Beside me, Father Michael's voice began to move over the hills and valleys of the simplest prayers:  "Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."
Before I realized what I was doing, my own mouth had started to form the words, a muscle memory. And to my surprise, instead of feeling false or forced, it made me relieved, as if I had just passed the baton to someone else.
"Give us this day our daily bread and lead us not into temptation. Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive others who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil."
It felt like putting on flannel pajamas on a snowy night; like turning on your blinker for the exit you know will take you home.
I looked at Father Michael, and together we said, "Amen."
Jodi Picoult, Change of Heart. New York: Atria, 2008, p. 256

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

my sister

 today is my sister's day.      she's the birthday girl!
(and no, you can't keep being the birthday girl until june)

i never thought i would see the day when she dressed up as a princess.
and this picture just says it all, screaming kid and all. . .

she's just as crazy as her boys.

always on the run!

her boys love her sooooo much.
i love the occasional phone calls for night-night-prayers
and the invitations to come for a sleep-over on the tramp
from her boys.
i'm so there next summer for a few days.

i love my sis. we get have to fun adventures every so often.

she's my best friend.
and lately, she has been my rock,
helping to me to sift through how i feel,
reminding me of what is truly most important,
helping me to keep my eye on the prize
to always feel loved.
thank you.

she's amazing, beautiful, strong, my sister.
i love you becky-doodles.
happy, happy birthday.

Monday, January 24, 2011

arms wide open

I was so struck by this conversation about the Power of Living Vulnerably. It brought the following images to mind:

Outside the box is an uncertainty about the path ahead. It's just a little scary to put one foot in front of the other and move forward into that moment of darkness before seeing the light again. At first it's all black, but after a bit there's a soft glow illuminating the hand in front of your face as you gingerly move forward feeling for and protecting yourself from any obstacles ahead. Soon your hand drops down to the side and swings back and forth with arms as you begin to move confidently forward into the light, forward on the path.

Sometimes the path is a wide expanse, a yellow brick road paving the way to Oz, and the walk is easy, comfortable and enjoyable. Sure, "There are lions and tigers and bears, oh my!" but it's okay. There is room for dancing and singing on this road. Room for adventure. Room to throw your arms open wide, toss your head back and twirl for no reason whatsoever. Room to skip freely, propelling yourself forward, feet barely touching the ground for the joy of it. Arms open wide to invite in the joy, the love, the light, the living.

Other times it's a narrow precipice with a sharp drop off both sides into endlessness. There is no dancing here, no room to move freely. Instead your feet move gingerly forward, feeling for a toe hold. Your arms long to be clutched protectively around your heart, but instead are held out as an aid to help you keep balance. In the next instant your arms are flailing wildly as you struggle to say upright and keep the balance. The light seems so dim, it barely illuminates what's there and you simply can't keep your hand in front of your face, you're so busy fighting to keep balance. And with your arms open wide you feel more vulnerable than ever, unwittingly inviting in the hope, the strength, the struggle, and the peace, the balance.

Sometimes you fall barely catching yourself with one finger, scrambling to get back on that path, desperate to find sure footing, chest heaving and burning at the effort of getting up again.

Other times you fall with a satisfying splat right into the middle of the patch of green grasses and bright flowers in the middle of of the path. Resting for a moment under trees of coolness and light. Enjoying the beauty that is there in that place where you stop to rest.

Oh, the life you have on that path. The unexpected corners. The breathtaking views at the top. A sunrise-new beginning. A sunset-closing out. The rockiness, the jumble, the upside-down-ness of the path. It's just part of the journey. And that path you're on is your own no matter how wide or narrow the way. And the best part, you are never alone on that path.

Especially when you fall, arms flailing wildly, outstretched, hoping for something, someone to stop the fall, and He does. He enters into your open arms, and sometimes almost imperceptibly wraps his own arms around you, calming the fall, enveloping your heart. He waits patiently until you can feel him and know He was always there. The One who caught you by the finger and lifted you back up. The One who cushions the blow and sometimes even takes it. He is the one always there with you, recognized or not.

So here's what I realized about the power of living vulnerably for me: Living with my arms wide open, opening myself up means that I am open to God directing my life and showing me the path. Being vulnerable means being humble. Being imperfect. Not knowing the answers. Not being able to see the end. Falling in love again with no guarantees. And really are there ever any guarantees where love is concerned? Living vulnerably is about taking risks in life and love, and having faith that broken hearts are healed, God will always make up the difference, and love is always worth the risk.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

whole hearted

I love this presentation. My friend ED shared this on her lovely blog. It's a beautifully honest conversation about living wholeheartedly and accepting who we truly are, and how essential vulnerability is in our quest to do so.

"I know that vulnerability is the core of shame and fear, and our struggle for worthiness, but it appears that it's also the birthplace of  joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love."

Now go and live vulnerably.

Friday, January 21, 2011

warm fuzzies

yep, it's a bunch of baby warm fuzzies.
don'tcha just love the color?

happy friday.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

wisdom and tomatoes

Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; 
wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

as a kid, i would not eat tomatoes.
i would not eat them sam, i am.
hated the texture, acidity, flavor, sliminess, everything
about tomatoes.

then while living in chile, as a missionary for the lds church,
i discovered the wonder of the flavor that is a vine ripened, sun warmed tomato.
ladies and gents, i had a tomato-gasm
(and yes you read that right.)
seriously good tomatoes are grown in chile.

chileans also eat a lot of bread and it's sooooo good. bakeries on every corner.
so with fresh from the bakery, warm bread waiting on the counter for the perfect mate,
take a fresh tomato from the feria, slice it up, add a little salt.
on special occasions add a little diced onion, cilantro and olive oil 
for the perfect ensalada a la chilena.

take your tomato concoction and spoon it onto fresh baked bread
and eat it. enjoy it. let the flavors invade your mouth.
mmmmmmm, heaven. 

and i've been searching the world over, okay just washington, dc, to find good tomatoes.
eastern market has one family farm that sells seriously good tomatoes of all sorts.
sorry, can't remember the farm name at the moment, 
but the young guy who sells the tomatoes always throws in an extra whenever i smile at him.

they're the closest i've found to what i remember them tasting like in chile.
now if i could just find a bakery that makes pan asada.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

find your happy place

written several days ago:

Today I am happy. There is a deep, peaceful river of happiness running through me. The river is calm, but fast running, with swirling eddies along its banks where lush green dips sun drenched fronds into cooling water to find refreshment. A cozy warmth has settled over me and I find myself being where I can stay calm and revel in the happiness.

I was thinking later of an experience from my teens in the high Grand Tetons of Idaho at the end of a week long camping trip where I participated in lots of character and team building challenges. On the last day we were each to go off on our own for an hour or two on a solo experience. I took with me my scriptures, a journal, a jacket, snacks and water all in my backpack.  I walked up the trail for about 10-15 minutes until I couldn't hear human sounds, and all was quiet.

I found a small meadow with bright green soft grass, yellow mountain daisies and a handful of boulders tossed haphazardly around. I picked a spot, spread out my jacket and settled on my stomach to write for a few minutes. The sun warm on my back and legs. The sound of a breeze rustling leaves and grasses in the background. The occasional bird call. Greenness, so bright, it seemed to reflect onto the white pages of my journal. I wrote quickly and just fell into the serenity of being alone.

I woke up, but didn't open my eyes. There was warmth all throughout me, and a sort of bubble-like feeling of safety about me. My eyes still closed, with bright light filtering through my eyelids, I became aware of a presence. Another being was there with me, and knew I was being watched. I felt safe, so I just stayed still until I was ready, and then opened my eyes.

I had fallen asleep with my chin resting on my crossed hands and with my journal and pen underneath them both. My eyes at first were overwhelmed by the light, readjusted quickly and focused on what was in view. A brown, pointy-eared and alert coyote, or maybe even a wolf, lay in front of me his chin resting on his crossed paws. His eyes were bright and blue, alert and seemed not show any surprise at finding this strange creature in his territory. In mind I said, surprised, "Well, hello there Mr. Coyote."

He lay there looking back at me, and I at him, both of us motionless, for several long moments stretching endlessly out on that brilliant meadow. The only movement was one of his ears pointing slightly forward. I scarcely dared breath, in awe of and totally aware of the fragility of what was happening. Finally, he blinked, then yawned, raising his head a bit and his tongue curling up into his mouth before his teeth came back together. He then shook his head and his whole body, standing as he did so, like a dog shaking off water, with sunlight catching his fur and painting it golden.

I sat up and watched as he silently, blithely moved away to the tree line and he slipped into the shadows. I stayed silent a moment longer, and then laughed in release, incredulous at what had just happened. I stayed there thinking, wrote a little more, drank some water, cleared my head and again reveled in the silence.

This is my happy place; well, one of a few happy places. And some days this is where I chose to go. Where do you choose to go?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Tonight I went to my friend's studio and sang. I am so blessed to have ML in my life and her generosity of allowing to me to come and sing once a week at her in home music studio blesses me each week.

It was a good night to be singing. Everything fell into place. I just let go and let it all come out. My body relaxed in all the right ways, and while I need to work on breath control, my voice just soared. I felt divine as I sang and practiced the piece I am singing this weekend for a church event.

Be still, my soul; thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.

Not only was it so great to feel relieved of all the stresses I had been feeling, but to internalize the beautiful message I was singing was wonderful as well. My God doth undertake to guide my future as he has my past... Okay, message received, God. Thanks for the reminder. You'd think I could remember that I had done this just the other day. It's amazing how often I have to be reminded of this and how often I think I have to be in control. I'm learning that every day I have to let go and let Him do his thing.


from the run yesterday...

it was way too cold to run.
but it felt sooo good to be outside.

to quote an old choir director, "it's cheaper than paying a therapist."

Saturday, January 15, 2011

be still

be still

and know
that i am god.
psalm 46:10

he's saying,
"stop worrying.
stop trying to figure this out.
oh, just stop little one.
i have this.
it's already figured out.
i know how it's going end.
be still
and you will know."

you will know.

Friday, January 14, 2011

how firm a foundation

Lately, I can't stop listening to this. . .

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

In the car with the volume blasting and singing at full voice over and over on the way to work in the mornings. As I sing, the foundation seems a little surer, firmer, more there. Oh, the power of good music.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

this life, right now

Everywhere I turn recently it seems someone I know is affected by cancer. A woman back home passed away leaving behind a husband and two children after a brief battle with cancer. A co-worker is battling breast cancer. Two more co-workers recently lost their mothers to lung cancer. And today the husband of a woman with whom I work was diagnosed with cancer, and chemotherapy will only be used to prolong his life, not treat the cancer.

At times I have to shake myself, and remind myself that the ignorant bliss in which I just caught myself isn't always how it is. Even after losing a brother over seven years ago, I don't always remember just how fragile life is and that every moment must be counted, savored, stored up. I find it hard to believe sometimes just how easily I can forget and take it all for granted.

Life doesn't wait around for me to catch up. And the moments to savor, count and store up are right now. The heartache, excitement, laughter, disappointment, love, hate, sorrow, joy and tears all must be counted up to capture the beauty of this life I get to live right now. It's all beautiful and magical. Even with the heartache I feel now for all the people I know who are struggling with loss or the thoughts of loss, I wouldn't change any of it. Bitter and sweet, it all adds up to a life worth living.

My thoughts and prayers go out to all who are facing the challenges caused by cancer and other illnesses, and up to God for a cure.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

through my heart's eyes

I can't stop thinking about this.  I truly do want to open the eyes of my longings.  All this brings to mind another scene that I can't stop thinking about.  In Eat, Pray, Love, Liz is talking with Khetut, the Balinese medicine man, for the first time when he tells her to see with her heart.  This rang so true within, that I literally felt myself sit up straight, finally paying attention to what my heart was trying to tell me.

I immediately had this image in my mind, and after several weeks of carrying it with me and envisioning what  life would look like through my heart's eyes, I painted it.

I'm just trying to open the eyes of my longings and learn the direction I want my life to have.  I am a great thinker.  Often I can stay in my head, thinking and trying to figure things out.  More often than I want, my head gets in the way of my heart and my thinking can hold me back. I'm learning that my head is much more fearful than my heart, which is an interesting thought. I guess my head wants to protect my heart. It's been hard for me to maintain a good balance of heart and mind, but I am learning.

A couple of weeks ago, I met with a dear friend who has the gift of helping others see themselves as God sees them.  As we talked, the connection of living the life I envisioned for myself with God's help was strengthened. Since then, as I have truly tried to let God in more fully to open the eyes of my heart and learn how to see my life and self through God's eyes, I feel more at peace and happier. I'm hopeful that I can learn how to balance all this better within myself, because I like the difference it's already making in me. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

winterthur in the snow

there's nothing like a good snow storm to cleanse the soul.

snow seems to expand the quiet and muffle the world.

it creates beauty.

enhances a feeling of expanding loneliness.
this just makes me take a big deep breath and sigh.

beauty everywhere.

walking through the woods during a snowstorm was fun this weekend.
winterthur is beautiful all year round.

yep, winter in delaware is beautiful.
and it puts me in mind of england.

a little snow here, please

seriously, we need a little snow 'round these here parts.
snowmen are just waiting to be built.
and then maimed. hee, hee

longwood gardens

In the midst of a snowstorm, if you ever need a good place to explore and think, 
then may I suggest Longwood Gardens. The Yuletide Season is especially beautiful.
And in the middle of snowy, dark and cold January this...

...was a much needed feast for the senses.