Archive for December, 2012

Sunrise Sky in the Florida Keys

The sky was this color for a mere 30 seconds. What a treat to capture it with my camera.

For over two decades (my notes start in 1988), I have shunned the traditional New Year’s Resolution in favor of a New Year’s Intention. Each year, I thoughtfully select a topic on which to focus my curiosity, interest, and attention for an entire year. 2012 has been the Year of Courage. When an opportunity arose to become certified as a “Courage Coach,” I signed up. This past year I found myself making brave decisions and discovering an inner courage I hadn’t realized was there.

My focus on courage led me to accept several speaking engagements, create and hold new boundaries, travel alone to my home town for a high school reunion, and most harrowing of all, take part in Karaoke Night at Unity of Kanawha Valley! Now THAT took courage! Best of all, I kept a “courage journal” this year with lots of evidence I can use to reassure myself when my knees get shaky and I want to fearfully retreat under the covers.

For 2013 I’ve considered many topics, but I keep coming back to “Appreciation,” which seems to imply something a bit deeper than gratitude (my 1998 focus). Webster says that “appreciation often connotes a sufficient understanding to enjoy or admire a thing’s excellence.” Appreciation involves “sensitive awareness and recognition of value.” Synonyms for appreciate include “treasure,” “cherish,” and “value.” There is also the idea of “increased value,” which reminds me of one of my favorite Wayne Dyer quotes: “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

What would change in my life if I were to APPRECIATE the ordinary details? Could the mundane minutiae I take for granted be transformed and cherished? I think there’s possibility here. Even as I think about the concept of “sensitive awareness,” I feel a bubble of eager anticipation rising in my heart, something between planning for a vacation at the beach and opening an elegantly wrapped gift. It feels special, heart warming, and life affirming.

I hope you’ll join me in choosing your own New Year’s Intention. I know several who have already set an intention to make 2013 The Best Year of Their Lives. If that sounds good to you, send an email to bestyear4u@hotmail.com and ask to be added to the mailing list. My appreciation to Alan Yoke for taking this on. Alan, I understand your deep level of commitment, and I acknowledge the work you’ve put into creating this support system. I promise to drop in regularly on teleconference group meetings to lend my support.

Happy New Year!

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Fun Presents


A quick blog in praise of “fun presents.” My new friend Amy presented me with a handmade  dish rag and a piece of material wrapped together with a string that was threaded through two seashells. On one of the shells she had written, “Wise” and on the other “Barbie.” Both are now hanging on my family Christmas tree.

The material has a pattern with cute, colorful owls.


Wise Barbie was too wise to use the dish rag! She did, however, put the material to good use as a laughter generator.

Wise-LuchWise (cooperative) grandpuppy!!

I’m thinking that piece of owl-patterned material could keep me busy for a week or two, finding creative ways to entertain myself. I just love the fun of unexpected presents that are also fodder for blogging. Thanks, Amy!

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Acrylic painting of tree

Acrylic by Barbie Dallmann

I’ve been married a long, long, LONG time. This year will be our 37th Christmas since we met. Frankly, I ran out of good gift ideas several years ago. I’ll admit, Dannie’s not that hard to buy for. He’s happy with anything that displays the Nebraska Cornhuskers logo. So, what am I complaining about? I suppose I’m just bored. Cornhusker duct tape was the best I could do last year. Ugh! I just couldn’t go through it again. When you add in Dannie’s complaining about how hard I am to shop for, I suppose the time was ripe for change.

The idea began brewing about six weeks ago. It started as a whimsical fantasy. I turned it over in my imagination and giggled a little. When I began wondering if he would go for it, a smile started. Finally, as I seriously considered whether it could actually work, I broke out in a mischievous grin. I tentatively suggested that I might have a remedy for our annual gift-buying angst. He took the bait, and so here’s what’s up this year. Each of us is buying our own gift. Unoriginal, you say? What if I told you there were rules to this game? (Okay, if you know me well, that’s no surprise!)

Rule #1 – You must buy something you would NEVER buy for yourself.

Rule #2 – You must buy something that you dearly WISH the other person would be thoughtful enough to get for you.

Rule #3 – You must buy the gift with your own personal money.

Rule #4 – You must wrap the gift in a way you would appreciate and enjoy receiving.

Rule #5 – When we open the gifts on Christmas, the other person gets TOTAL credit for buying the gift. Each will express all the gratitude of his or her heart for the PERFECT gift … one you would never buy for yourself, one wrapped to perfection, and one you had always wished for. Gushing thanks is encouraged.

That’s it. Five simple rules to bring a little variety and challenge into our holiday this year.

So far, I’ve learned one very important thing. He has been right all along … I am REALLY hard to shop for!

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Photo showing various books on my bookshelf

My bookshelf

This morning I made a list of six books I remember reading. I remember the experience of reading them, not necessarily the details of the books. I remember where I was, who I was, and what was going on in my life while I was reading those books.

I remembered reading Love Story by Erich Segal. It was the first book I ever read cover to cover in one sitting. I was nestled in a purple beanbag chair in my family’s living room. It was a hot day in the summer before my junior year of high school. Mom and Dad were at work. I was completely alone. The house was deafeningly quiet, and for the first time in my life I became so absorbed in a book that I lost track of time and space. The experience opened new possibilities for my reading life.

I remembered, too, reading Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, by Dr. Susan Jeffers. It was early January of 1989; my son was two years old. During those early years of motherhood, it seemed impossible to find long stretches of uninterrupted time for reading. So, on several consecutive Thursday evenings, my husband took over, and I went out alone to a nice restaurant. I asked to be seated away from other people and told the waiter I was planning to be there for a while. Sitting sideways with my legs up on the booth and my back against the wall, I ate slowly, nibbled my way through dessert, and lingered over several cups of decaf coffee. Week after week I returned, luxuriating in the quiet corner of the restaurant until I finally finished that book.

I also remember the book I read on January 15, 2005. I missed a connecting flight and found myself stuck in Detroit’s airport for an entire day. It was bone-chillingly cold outdoors, below zero most of the day. But the sun was shining brightly and I found a gate that was closed for remodeling. I plopped down in a generous patch of sunlight and pulled out a book my friend Jean G. had given me a few days before: The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitchel Albom.

I finished the book in its entirety just before boarding my flight to Lincoln, Nebraska. I made it to the hospital by evening and had a nice, long chat with Dad. I left when visiting hours were over, and he died unexpectedly a short time later. How could I not remember reading that book?

Sometimes we read books that change our lives. Sometimes our lives are changing and the books we are reading are part of the landscape that give substance to our memories. Can you think of six books that you remember the experience of reading? Comment here or send me an e-mail. I’d love to share a memory with you.

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