Mojo Monday ~ Being Present

“Each today, well-lived, makes yesterday a dream of happiness and each tomorrow a vision of hope. Look, therefore, to this one day, for it and it alone is life.” ~ Sanskrit poem

Excerpt from the novel Things I Want My Daughters to Know by Elizabeth Noble

“I don’t want to die. I’m not ready. I’m not finished. You’re not finished. Nothing is over. I don’t want to die.

It’s like the world is suddenly all new and wondrous and exciting again. Like I’ve been wearing blinkers, or something, all these years. Never lay back and watched clouds changing shapes. Or raindrops hit leaves. Or saw just how perfectly smooth a baby’s skin is. Never really listened to children laughing or choirs sing or how beautiful an oboe sounds.

All at once, the world—the same one I used to view with indifference—is the most perfect, fascinating, amazing place that I cannot bear to leave.

And you, my girls. I don’t want to leave you. I haven’t finished. I haven’t told you often enough how much I love you and how amazing you are. I haven’t helped you enough. Confronted you enough. Listened to you enough. SEEN you enough.

Every minute you already had that I wasn’t with you feels like a waste, a missed opportunity. I should have home schooled you. I should never have left you with a babysitter because I thought I’d scream if I didn’t have an hour without you. Why did I ever think that, anyway?

I sound like a crazy person, I know. I just never knew I didn’t have that long. I never heard the tick-tock.

If we all knew—if there was some fortune cookie you could open and find out what your allotted time was—would we all live entirely different lives? Would we waste less time? ‘Carpe” the ‘diem’ more. Really?

I daresay I’d still have felt like I was going to strangle you if I didn’t get away for an hour. I wouldn’t have home schooled you. (God knows you wouldn’t have a maths qualification between you if I had’ve done.)

But I’d have played in the playground more. Swung, climbed, hung. Instead of hogging the bench and reading the paper.

Could I have loved you better? Maybe. If that’s true, then I’m sorry. Could I have loved you more? I don’t think it’s possible.”

If there was some fortune cookie you could open and find out what your allotted time was—would you live your life differently?

Would you create a “Bucket List?” If yes, what would be on it?

“If, before going to bed every night, you will tear a page from the calendar, and remark, ‘there goes another day of my life, never to return,’ you will become time conscious.” ~ A. B. Zu Tavern

Mojo Monday ~ Blessing

A blessing, (also used to refer to bestowing of such) is the infusion of something with holiness, divine will, or one’s hope or approval.

Here is a beautiful blessing I heard for the first time this weekend.
Pueblo Blessing
Hold on to what is good
Even if it is a handful of earth
Hold on to what you believe
Even if it is a tree that stands by itself
Hold on to what you must do
Even if it is a long way from here
Hold on to life
Even if it is easier to let go
Hold on to my hand
Even if I have gone away from you
Blessings appear in many different forms and exist in most, if not all, cultures.
Here is a beautiful Irish Blessing.
Lastly here is an artistic depiction of a blessing by Visionary Artist Willow Arlenea.
 The artist’s description of the painting: “An elder woman is blessing a young woman during a coming-of-age ritual. While bathing in the cleansing springs words of advise and support are offered to her. The elder woman channels cosmic energy from the source through her bowl of flower petals. This energy spirals around the maiden, protecting and supporting her through this transition.”
Write a blessing for something or someone in your life and share it here.
Perhaps you already have a favorite blessing and you would like to share it.
How do you feel you have been blessed?

Mojo Monday ~ Love

Love may well be one of the most written about, most discussed, most sung about, most pursued experiences of all time.
Take a moment to consider what the Beatles thought about love in this video:
Or consider what Engelbert Humperdinck has to say about love in the song Love Is A Many Splendored Thing:
Even the Bible provides a very detailed description of love:

How do you define Love?
Have you experienced one or more love stories in your life?
Do you have a favorite quote about love? What about a love poem?
Have you every written a love letter?
Have you read any good books about love?

Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

There is an author named Gary Chapman who has written a number of books about love. A few of the titles are: The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate, The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts and The Five Love Languages of Children.

Gary Chapman worked as a marriage counselor for more than 30 years and during the course of his work he identified five love languages: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch.

Whether or not you are in a relationship or are a parent it can be interesting to explore and discover your own love language. Do words of affirmation from a friend or loved one make you feel loved? Perhaps someone spending time with you is how you prefer him or her to show their love. It could be that flowers or a thoughtful gift mean a lot or someone doing a kind act and helping you with something touches your heart. You could also be a person who needs hugs and kisses to know that someone loves you. Quite often most people are a combination of two, three or more. Learning the love language of those around you can be very helpful in understanding what others need in order to feel loved.

I leave you with two final thoughts.

One is a beautiful quote by Shiloh Sophia McCloud and it graces many of her works of art and publications ~ “May love be at the center of all our choices.”

And the last is my belief that there is something greater than us all in this world. There is some spirit, magic, energy, what have you, that connects us, that links us, it is that Red Thread that is woven through the Universe, it is that which links us to one another, and when we are connecting to that higher place of consciousness, permeating throughout that magical woven web of spirit, is LOVE.

Remember always that…

Mojo Monday ~ Art

All art requires courage. ~Anne Tucker

Art is defined as:
1. Human effort to imitate, supplement, alter, or counteract the work of nature.
a. The conscious production or arrangement of sounds, colors, forms, movements, or other elements in a manner that affects the sense of beauty, specifically the production of the beautiful in a graphic or plastic medium.
b. The study of these activities.
c. The product of these activities; human works of beauty considered as a group.
3. High quality of conception or execution, as found in works of beauty; aesthetic value.
4. A field or category of art, such as music, ballet, or literature.
5. A nonscientific branch of learning; one of the liberal arts.

Art can be viewed very subjectively.  Al Capp, an American cartoonist and humorist, had this to say about one type of art “Abstract art is a product of the untalented, sold by the unprincipled to the utterly bewildered.”  That is really just his opinion though, as there are many who would say they love abstract art.

This past year an amazing traveling art show called the Art of the Brick by Nathan Sawaya came to town. 

Nathan creates all of his art using little plastic legos.  The same lego toys that children have been playing with for years.  Some of his creations are three-dimensional and life-size.  Others are more flat, such is the case for the portraits he creates.

I can appreciate many forms of art and I thoroughly enjoyed and was amazed at Nathan Saway’s creations. Yet there is some other element that makes art touch one on a deeper level and leads the admirer to really connect with a painting or sculpture or perhaps even piece of music.
I experienced the “WOW” factor when I walked into Shiloh McCloud’s gallery The Wisdom House in Mendocino. It is the only word that could come out of my mouth for several minutes. There was an immediate draw to her paintings.
Do you connect with a certain artist, type of art or medium?

Is there something in particular that has touched upon the “WOW” factor for you?Besides Shiloh’s art there are a couple other women artists who work touches me on a deeper level. I would like to share a couple of samples of their art.

Queen of Hearts by Melissa Harris
Love who you want.

Dress how you choose.
Eat what you like.
Give your mind a rest and
Let your heart be your guide.

Anything Is Possible by Melissa Harris
Stream of Compassion by Mara Friedman

Open Heart by Mara Friedman
I will be gentle with myself
I will love myself
I am a child of the universe
Being born each moment
To visit Nathan Saway’s web site click here.
To visit Melissa Harris’ web site click here.
To visit Mara Friedman’s web site click here.

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up. ~Pablo Picasso

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. ~Scott Adams

Mojo Monday ~ Family

“The family. We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another’s desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together.” ~Erma Bombeck
If I ever write a book about my family it will be called either The Brady Bunch Gone Bad or Cracks In My Rose-Colored Glasses.

When my parents married, my dad already had three children and my mom already had two. When they married they had two six-year-olds, one five-year-old and two four-year-olds. I came along in 1969, quite by accident, when the youngest were seven years old.

I idolized my older pack of siblings even though I survived numerous hazardous experiences while in their “care”, such as being fed a poisonous concoction of mushroom and various plants from the yard in my playpen (I had my stomach pumped at the hospital), being served Boones Strawberry Hill (screw-cap) liquor at the ripe age of 4-years-old (so much that I vomited), being dragged along on wild car rides with non-licensed under-age drivers or at the age of ten being part of a rip-roaring, multi-person, fist fight at an outdoor wedding.

For a good portion of my life I really did wear rose-colored glasses and only focused on the good stuff.  While that was a rather positive and nice place to reside it wasn’t completely honest or real.  When I became a mom myself four years ago, suddenly I found myself looking at things with new eyes, and in essence, I began to develop cracks in my rose-colored glasses. I met with two different therapists for about two years and during that time I experienced some powerful self-exploration and contemplation of my childhood and my life. I also began to process some deep residual anger that had been stuffed for many years. 
Today, when I think about the possibility of someone serving my little 4-year-old twin daughters some cheap Strawberry Boones liquor the mama bear in me still begins to growl a bit.  I would never want my daughters to experience some of the things I did when I was just a little girl and I know that those early experiences have molded some of my protective ways, and possibly over-protective ways, into my very being. 
Yet I have been finding my way back to having a sense of humor about my childhood, my family and some of the truly crazy and even horrendous things I have experienced in my lifetime.  Being able to look at one’s life experiences as adventures, perhaps even grand adventures in some cases, or as great material for stories or a wild memoir, allows one to make peace with the past. 
If you were going to write a book about your family what would it be titled?  Do you have a close family?  Do you come from a large or small family?  Any significant memories or stories?  Have you read any good books about families? 

A family memoir I really enjoyed reading and would recommend is called The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.

Here is a short video of Jeannette talking about the book and her mom.

Mojo Monday ~ Friendship

“friends: us. always. travels. stories told and a few kind lies. lots of laughter and a little chocolate. secrets shared and tears shed. kindness with time in between. dreams and awakenings. long roads, healing and quiet comforts. wicked mischief and wanton hilarity. time and always us: friends. always.” ~ Mary Anne Radmacher

“A woman needs close friends who she can turn to every day (and night) of her life. It may not be the same person each day because, like our lives, friendships are dynamic. But I hope that your best friends—even if the list is serial—offer you the unique sense of intimacy, trust, and reciprocity that will allow you to feel loved, understood, needed, supported, challenges, and inspired.

Yes, these relationships are complicated, some even bordering on mysterious, and creating them and making the meaningful ones stick takes some work. But they are as essential to our happiness and well-being as are nutritious food, clean water, and fresh air. Female friendships have their ups and down–and most of them don’t last forever–but we are very fortunate when best friends are a constant in our lives.” Excerpt from Best Friends Forever: Surviving A Breakup with Your Best Friend by Irene S. Levine, PhD

I drove six hours north on Friday to meet with an old friend in Florence, Oregon. She drove six hours south from where she lives in Washington state. We spent two nights in a comfy cabin and had approximately 24 waking hours to talk and catch each other up on our lives and what is happening in our respective families and children, she has an 8-year-old son and a 3 1/2 year old daughter and I have 4-year-old twin daughters.

We have been friends since 1993 when we met in Aix-en-Provence, France. I was studying French as part of a University exchange program. Already fluent in Spanish, she was independently studying at the same institute to improve her French, as she was working for a British publisher there in France. We were in the same class and became friends. I had come with a large posse of Californian college students. She was there essentially on her own and while she originally came from Texas she had already lived in Mexico and Spain. I immediately admired her independence and her gift in speaking languages.

When I decided to extend my stay in France past the standard one-year commitment I had to find a new apartment and roommate and my friend Karin was also seeking a new place as she was staying on in France too. We became roommates and spent another half year living in France together. We witnessed one another’s falling in love, her with an Italian and myself with a Moroccan. She was incredibly supportive when my Moroccan fiance died in a car accident and I tried to be supportive when she and her Italian parted ways.

Our life journeys continued in other parts of the world. I returned to California and she moving to Baltimore, Maryland. She came to California to visit me and then entered an MBA program in Italy where she met her husband who is Colombian. She moved with him to Argentina and then to Miami after they married in 1999. I flew to visit them in Florida when she was pregnant with her first child. They moved to Tennessee and then eventually to the state of Washington. Both of us being on the west coast now has made it easier for us to see one another once a year these past three years.

This past weekend we talked about our friendship and reminded each other what we admire about one another. We are the same and yet different. We have shared international experiences and a love of travel. We have both dated foreign men. We are both now married and have had children. We have both had our struggles with adjusting to being a mommy and have supported each other with our understanding and supportive words and nods of knowing. We also share certain social values, views on parenting and life in general that continue to fill out the nuances of our friendship. We also always remember one another’s birthday.

What are your thoughts on friendship? Do you have a best friend or a close group of friends? Have you ever experienced the painful loss of a friendship? Do you have any tips on keeping a long-term friendship alive and well?

Here are some interesting books that touch upon women’s friendships and relationships:

The 7 Aspects of Sisterhood by Debra J. Gawrych

Sacred Circles: A Guide to Creating Your Own Women’s Spirituality Group by Robin Deen Carnes and Sally Craig

Queen of Your Own Life: The Grown-Up Woman’s Guide to Claiming Happiness and Getting the Life You Deserve by Kathy Kinney and Cindy Ratzlaff

Best Friends Forever: Surviving A Breakup with Your Best Friend by Irene S. Levine, PhD

Lastly here is a poem by Rev. Melissa M. Bowers

Praise to the Women on My Journey

To the women on my journey

Who showed me the ways to go and ways not to go,

Whose strength and compassion held up a torch of light
  And beckoned me to follow,

Whose weakness and ignorance darkened the path and
  Encouraged me to turn another way,

To the women on my journey

Who showed me how to live and how not to live,

Whose grace, success and gratitude lifted me…

To the women on my journey

Who showed me what I am and what I am not,

Whose love, encouragement and confidence held me
  Tenderly and nudged me gently

Whose judgment, disappointment and lack of faith called
  Me to deeper levels of commitment and resolve.

To the women on my journey who taught me love by
  Means of both darkness and light,

To these women I say bless you and thank you from the
depths of my heart, for I have been healed and set free
through your joy and through your sacrifice.

Mojo Monday ~ Literature

 “Books are carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill. They are engines of change, windows on the world, lighthouses erected in the sea of time.” ~ Barbara W. Tuchman

I am a lover of books. My love affair started when I was a very small child. Trips to the library thrilled me. Immersing oneself in other worlds, seeing new perspectives through either a writers’ or a characters’ point of view and learning about the real world or even an imaginary universe is, I believe, one of the most valuable educations anyone can attain. Introducing a child to the wonder of books is one of the greatest gifts you can give to her.
Some people love novels. Others are drawn to non-fiction. Some readers love particular genres like science fiction or even self-help.
Do you have a favorite genre? What about a favorite book or books? Is there one on your shelf that you will never part with or that you have given as gifts to family and friends?
Here is a short list of books based on categories that I have enjoyed.
Relationships: If the Buddha Married: Creating Enduring Relationships on a Spiritual Path by Charlotte Kasl, PhD
Creativity: What We Ache For: Creativity and the Unfolding of Your Soul by Oriah Mountain Dreamer and The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
Parenting: Buddhism for Mothers: A Calm Approach to Caring for Yourself and Your Children and Becoming A mindful Parent: Buddhism for Mothers of Young Children both by Sarah Napthali
Health and Wellness: Quantum Wellness: A Practical and Spiritual Guide to Health and Happiness by Kathy Freston and A Woman’s Book of Strength: An Empowering Guide to Total Mind/Body Fitness by Karen Andes
Personality: Strength Finder 2.o by Tom Rath
Wisdom of our elders: Grandmothers Counsel the World by Carol Schaefer
Spirituality: The Red Book: A Deliciously Unorthodox Approach to Igniting Your Divine Spark by Sera Beak
Self-Love: When I Loved Myself Enough by Kim McMillen
“When I loved myself enough I quit wishing my life looked some other way and began to see that as it is, my life serves my evolution.”

“When I loved myself enough I no longer needed things or people to make me feel safe.”

“When I loved myself enough I began to feel a divine presence in me and hear its guidance. I am learning to trust this and live from it.”

Mojo Monday: Freedom

“Every human has four endowments ~ self awareness, consciousness, independent will and creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom…The power to choose, to respond, to change.” ~Stephen R. Covey

Freedom: 1 : the quality or state of being free: as a : the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action b : liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another

An incredibly historical speech about Freedom was made by Martin Luther King Jr. at the 1963 March on Washington DC.  It was his I Have A Dream speech.


Nelson Mandela said that during the twenty-six years he spent in a South African prison that “I thought continually of the day when I would walk free.” Yet his embrace of the Ubuntu philosophy gave him a great perspective, “It was during those long and lonely years that my hunger for the freedom of my own people became a hunger for the freedom of all people, white and black.  I knew as well as I knew anything that the oppressor must be liberated just as surely as the oppressed.  A man who takes away another man’s freedom is a prisoner of hatred, he is locked behind the bard of prejudice and narrow-mindedness.

I am not truly free if I am taking away someone else’s freedom, just as surely as I am not free when my freedom is taken from me.  The oppressed and the oppressor alike are robbed of their humanity.  When I walked out of prison, that was my mission, to liberate the oppressed and the oppressor both…For to be free is not merely to case off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”
Victor Frankel, a Viennese psychiatrist, who was imprisoned in Auschwitz during WWII, made this observation about the essence of freedom: “We who lived in concentration camps can remember those who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread….They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a person but one thing: the last of human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances — to choose one’s own way.”

What are your thoughts on Freedom? 
What does Freedom mean to you?

If you want to contemplate the meaning of Freedom even more, one place to start is a web site called The Campaign to Liberate Freedom.

Mojo Monday: Let’s Play!

“We do not stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing!” ~ Benjamin Franklin

Do you remember when your days as a kid revolved around riding your bike, building forts, making playdough creations, coloring, creating storylines about Barbie and Ken as they cruised through your backyard in the pink corvette? Speaking of Ken check out this fun short video of Ken, who stars in the new Toy Story 3 movie.

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Play is fun! But play is also a whole lot more. Humans have played since earliest times, and philosophers and scholars have thought about it for centuries. More than 2,000 years ago, Plato suggested: “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.”

Play is essential for learning and human development. Play:

Sharpens our minds

Helps us grow

Keeps us healthy

Boosts our creativity

When children play, they learn to:

Solve problems

Make decisions

Express themselves and communicate with others

Recognize boundaries

Children who play do better in school and become more successful adults.

When we don’t play, we are:

Less creative and productive

More sedentary, more easily fatigued

More likely to encounter social problems and emotional stress

Play also helps us understand history and culture. The way we play shows:

Who we are

What we value

How we regard others

Change over time

Future possibilities

Play can play a role in bringing people together and even be a tool to creating peace. There is an inspiring organization called Ultimate Peace that builds bridges of friendship and understanding for youth from different social and cultural backgrounds around the world. They focus on fun and education using the exhilarating and character building sport of Ultimate Frisbee as their tool. They are raising money for Ultimate Camps in the Middle East that bring together Israeli and Palestinian youth. Here in the USA they are currently partnering with an organization called Emerald City Ultimate in Seattle, WA, in order to provide 15 free Ultimate Frisbee clinics for underserved youth, within the U.S.A., who do not have the opportunity to learn or play the game.

At the 2008 Serious Play conference, designer Tim Brown talks about the powerful relationship between creative thinking and play. Right at the beginning he comments how adults can be self-conscious about creating and can be inhibited in expressing ideas and sharing their creations. In contrast he states that most children will happily share their art and their ideas.

A pioneer in research on play, Dr. Stuart Brown says humor, games, roughhousing, flirtation and fantasy are more than just fun. Plenty of play in childhood makes for happy, smart adults — and keeping it up can make us smarter at any age. Here is his fascinating and at times serious talk he gave at TED on how play is much more than fun.

What did you love to play as a kid? Do you have special memories of favorite toys? How do you play now as an adult?

Mojo Monday: Manifesto

Manifesto ~ a written statement declaring publicly the intentions, motives, or views of its issuer.

At the Cosmic Cowgirl Bountiful Conference in October 2008 Sark presented a writing workshop on the second day. One of the activities she facilitated was to create our own Writer’s Manifesto. Sark shared with us one she had created and that appeared in her book Juicy Pens, Thirsty Paper: Gifting the World with Your Words and Stories, and Creating the Time and Energy to Actually Do It.

Here is the Writer’s Manifesto I created that day at the conference.

Several months later I created a second manifesto for myself called my Artist Manifesto while I was facilitating a playshop for some women friends and family. I suggested that each woman create a manifesto that spoke to her specific vision or dream which might be a Therapist manifesto, an Entrepreneur Manifesto or a Mama Manifesto.

The possibilities are endless as to what you want to declare and what intention you wish to focus on at this time in your life. What type of Manifesto would you create? Share with me the topic and if you feel inspired please write it all out and share it in a comment. If you decide to get colorful and add paint and perhaps even some glitter, take a photo and post it on your blog or web site and then share a link in the comment section.