The J Word


I like to think I am a flexible centered soul.  Sometimes it is just not true.  My ego trips me up now and then.  It is so silly.  I know better. 
You see, I might be goofy and go with the flow and not really competitive, but in my head when it comes to exercise I am a tough as hell warrior.  I am still the college girl who would run to the rec to work out and then jog home for fun…the girl who ran at noon in the middle of summer in Houston to test the limits of heat stroke I guess, ran two half marathons, loves hot yoga, blah blah blah.  Right?
Only, here’s the thing…I have become practical (sort of).  I must save my joints for years of fun.  I need to use the time available well.  Accountability is better with a buddy.  I never push myself at home like I do in a class.  So, when I saw a friend post that she worked out close by early in the morning, I asked about it.  She said it was great.  I could fit it in every single day.  There was only one problem…it wasn’t cool…or even tough enough.  Lean in.  (She whispers…jazzercise).  Man!  Can I even do it?  Will Richard Simmons be there?  Maybe I could if no one saw me…(ego).  But I went.  I was seen.  I was tagged on Facebook.  Well hell.  I had to get over it.  Guess why?  It is totally great.  One hour…cardio, strength and stretching all taken care of.  It wore me out.  They make me laugh.  They even sent me a postcard!  I’m not getting a bumper sticker or clothing from the official line, but as soon as I stop coughing, I can’t wait to get back to class.  I might even tag myself on Facebook.  Turns out I was wrong.  I love it when that happens and something is a happy surprise.
I do rock.  So do you (that’s what I heard).

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Wear YOUR Words

I have had a lot of fun making cuffs.

I like to think of positive messages to send out into the world.

Sometimes silly messages work too.

I am not great about being inspired to create what someone asks me to make.

It just hasn’t worked that way.

Then I dug into thinking through what I wanted 2014 to be.

THEN I started thinking about how people are identifying the word that is just right for them to focus on this year.

For some reason, it struck me differently – the purposefully creating someone else’s chosen word for the year. 

I decided that instead of them choosing from what was already created, I could make just the word they are after.

I am pretty excited about this.

I’m off to post my January order special on my Darma Z Facebook page.

Wish me well!


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Snuggled In

I have great expectations for 2014, but that doesn’t mean I need to race through each day like a madwoman. That madwoman racing has led me in strange directions I have come to realize.
I journaled.
I shoveled.
I cooked.
I snuck out to visit a friend before it got really cold.
I tried to keep wrestling to a minimum.
We sat by the fire.
A snow day to follow didn’t make me want to cry at the end of winter break.
This is a good sign.
It was a good day.
Here are key pieces worthy of your time:
– Pioneer Woman’s burgundy mushrooms are so amazing (especially if you like crusty bread)
– roast in a wine sauce slow and low at 200 for most of the day covered is melt in your mouth amazing. I am waiting for a piece of meat to prove me wrong but it hasn’t happened yet.
– the five ingredient flourless chocolate cake was a great idea and SO easy!
LIke, THIS easy: melt 2 sticks butter, add 1/4 C cocoa or dark chocolate and stir it in, add 1/2 t baking pdr, 1C sugar (I might try honey next time), and 6 eggs. Bake at 325 for 40 minutes. I dusted it with powdered sugar and it was simply divine.

A great day doesn’t have to be about moving mountains.
Good thing.

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2014, You Will Be My October


I have a really good feeling about this year.  I do.

It isn’t my typical rose colored glasses silver lining state of being either.  It is a practice of writing and noticing and looking back to see the power of purposeful living.  2013 ended in such a powerful way for me.  It became very clear that my only true barrier is knowing exactly what I want.  What I REALLY want…deepest desires and the reason I am here sort of wants – not distracting sparkles or fleeting fancies.  To gain insight, I knew I would need to process in a purposeful way.  I was also thinking of a goal not met in 2013.  I have been much better about setting aside time to create.  This is good.  It can also be quite isolating.  Sometimes I don’t mind.  I realize that isn’t necessarily a good thing – when I don’t mind.  I am a connecting people person.  It fills me up just like creating does, so I wanted to combine the two, or at least make sure I was working on both.  I know so very many amazing people that bring me such joy each time I see them.  I want to be better about honoring that.  I decided that I could take care of both by opening my doors here on New Year’s Day for a few friends who I have talked with about creative time together.  We could make vision boards on the first day of this amazing new year and set our intentions.  If you have made vision boards, you might be smiling at my simplistic approach.  This is new to me.  Mama told me that New Year’s Day isn’t a good day for a gathering necessarily.  I told her it couldn’t be helped.  It HAD to be the first day of this year.  I needed to begin with focus.  I felt the power of my focus in October.  It is my favorite month for so many reasons.  I decided I was going to squeeze every bit of joy I could out of each day of October in a specific sort of way.  It felt different than my general gratitude.  It was more of a “what did I really enjoy today?  Was it a good day?”  Each day I found that my answer was yes.  At the end of the month it was beautiful to look back at these collection of days housed on my favorite calendar page and see what my focus and attention can do.  November is typically for gratitude, but I do this every day all year long, so I chose to go literally deeper and strengthen my core with a 30 day abs challenge.  It was wonderful!  This followed with a December fitness challenge and thoughts of expecting less of myself amidst the busy – to give grace and keep my list small.  It worked.  I also, over these months was really noticing my thought patterns and trying to catch myself and question when negativity or fear would surface.  That worked too.  I knew that I could not wait to have an entire YEAR of this and for that reason I really wanted to begin at the  beginning.  I also am just fine on my own, so I knew that even if no one could come, I would have this gift of a day.  I didn’t realize what a gift it would be, or how extensive the process is and how I would still really welcome it.  How I am now really welcoming it.

The kids went with their dad at lunch on New Year’s and were going to stay over.  For the first time ever I had ALL day to do as I wish.  I ended up playing with my macro lense for my camera on my phone at the loveliest little greenhouse tucked into a nearby garden.  My friend introduced it to me and we really enjoyed ourselves.  It was just the creative springboard to prepare me to come and sit at the table with my ideas.  I read about vision boards and found that some complete them and put them away after the intentions are set, while others leave them out to appreciate.  I realized I wasn’t ready for the board itself until I did some writing.  I needed to write about 2013.  I thought it had been a great year.  When I started writing, I realized that there were actually 4 months of serious stress followed by 3 months of hope with worry and wondering, and THEN the last 4 months was what felt quite powerful with purposeful change.  Looking back helped.  Then I wrote about all I wanted from 2014.  I wrote about what an ideal day looks like.  Only then did the visuals for my vision board begin to take shape.  I haven’t created it yet.  It is definitely in progress. 

In the midst of this I saw many posts about choosing a word for the year.  I didn’t know about that…I can be pretty fickle.  Things change, you know?  Then, I read a post by Kelly Rae Roberts and she said her word was trust.  As I read her rationale, it made sense to me.  If I were to choose just one word, it would be trust.  I need to trust myself, others, timing, and that all really will be well.  Trust doesn’t come easily for me.  I’m working on that one…all year long it seems.  Other words and phrases will come as well.  I might need to wear them, paint them, doodle them.  That works.  I also need to hear them.  I am approaching 2014 as my October in a similar fashion to my recipe or project research.  I do a lot of reading from many sources and sit with it for a bit and synthesize and then not really follow any one person’s directions, but proceed with my own spin on it.  I am working through Brave Girl’s Club’s Soul Comfort online class.  I love their classes.  I am going to check out Donald Miller’s free week of coaching online this week connected to his Storylines.  It sounded interesting.  I am also reading Patti Digh’s life is a verb.  My other sources will be random and those right conversations at the right time that happen so often I laugh right out loud.  It is as if my attention is overtly commanded.  I comply and nod in appreciation.

I am eager to embrace all that this year will bring.

It just keeps getting better.

It does.


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The Greatest Gift in the History of Ever


I was so excited this year that we raced home ahead of ice and snow to arrive safely for Christmas at Mom and Dad’s.  I know we would survive if weather or sickness kept us in KC, but I’m sure glad we made it.  I heard someone I work with tell our students that sometimes you just need to go home and remember who you are.  It fills you back up and readies you for all that is to come.  Things have been changing at such a pace that I am a bit weary.  I’m not complaining, mind you…I know life is change and it just keeps getting better and all that, but I was in need of a refill from home.  I love big…I always have.  I like to be helpful and complimentary and sometimes that overwhelms people, so then I try to edit and filter and dial down my nurturing.  Honestly?  It feels like wearing something that is too tight at times.
This Christmas I was reminded of just exactly who I am and where I am from and how I am meant to be.  We were almost done opening gifts and my daddy appeared before me with a bag and an envelope and told me to read the letter first.  Ladies and gentlemen, my daddy can write and it is always straight from his heart and it is sure to make me cry.  I’m not much for surprises and he knows this.  He is ornery…like me I guess.  I read a story about my sweet Maxee Mae (my first black pug who isn’t here anymore) and her taste for Dala Horses…specifically a Dala Horse that my dad carved.  He hadn’t given me a carving yet so he said Maxee chose my carving for me.  See?  Ornery! 
Don’t you know that I opened the box to find that carving that had been SHREDDED TO SPLINTERS completely (mostly) restored as you can see in the photo above.  He used more than one bottle of glue, tweezers, needles, and surely more than one prayer through trial and error to actually fit it all back together again.  I believe he can do it.  My daddy can do anything…anything at all.  This amazing restoration, his time, his words…it is all amazing.  It isn’t even the greatest gift.  Here it is…when his baby girl is a bit out of sorts with growing and changing, he knows just the thing to remind her of this parachute of big love that she is never without, that nothing is impossible, and that who I am and where I am from is big and powerful love that is not meant to be filtered…not a bit.  The world needs more actually.
And, a little residual gift was that, for the first time in my life, I did that pretty cry where tears just silently slide down your cheeks as you smile…like in the movies.  
Just like that.
Love wins.
It just does.

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I Want to Hold Your Hand


Sometimes I get creatively stuck on repeat.  It isn’t always a bad thing.  I love each creative process.  Often I also enjoy photography of the process and the product which sometimes I like better than the product itself.  Sometimes there are just pictures that pester to be taken.  It doesn’t always work out.  Once in awhile my subjects don’t cooperate.  I have been pretty lucky when it comes to my hand pictures.  I have quite a collection scattered about.  I need to gather them up. 
If eyes are the window to our soul, then I wonder if our hands are the doorway that can communicate when words fail.  From the very beginning…it is such a cool thing when a wee one grasps your finger…sure and strong.  And then at the end?  Well, one picture I treasure is of a pretty amazing man and I was lucky to know.  There was strength in the photo as he held my hand and told me that he loved me not long before he peacefully moved on from this physical world. 
So many moments in between too…in joy, sadness, guiding, wandering, pausing, balancing, playing, greeting, parting, soothing…so so soothing. 
So many people…varying degrees of knowing.
Connecting…even if just for a moment.
I really like that.
Don’t you?

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I think it is pretty interesting to hear my kids talk about fame and popularity.  Odd…what people are drawn to, don’t you think?
I didn’t have posters of people I didn’t know that I was crazy about growing up.  I wasn’t anyone’s screaming fan.  My brushes with well known people were interesting.  Diana Ross was about 4 feet from me at one of my first concerts.  She was this tiny little powerhouse and I was totally overwhelmed.  A few years later Sammy Hagar high fived my right hand when he was with Van Halen and I was right up front.  It would have been awesome all around if I hadn’t shortly after felt a foreign warm sensation down my leg.  I’m sure no one heard me yelling about the nasty so and so that just did that.  Seriously??  Years later again, I was waiting to return from a conference in Florida (teachers used to get to travel…crazy, huh?).  We were at the airport and saw this adorable friendly couple board ahead of everyone.  That handsome fella looked so familiar and yet I just couldn’t place him.  Later, I saw a magazine cover and realized it had been Usher.  🙂  My son told me he met John Scena (did I spell his name right?) at 7 eleven last year but he forgot about it.  His dad verified this story.  I love that he forgot about it.
Here is the thing…the things that make me giddy are sort of silly maybe.  Intellect and living with a connected greater purpose is just so appealing.  Here are the things that have sort of taken my breath away:
“Lee Minh Wah has accepted your friend request.”
“Jonathan Kozol has accepted your friend request”
I got to hug Jen Hatmaker and give her a bracelet I made for her.
A basketball player I didn’t even know took the time to message back with kind words about my son and anxiety.
Hearing Dr. Maya Angelou speak was amazing…I felt her words all the way to the tips of my toes.
Good memories.

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Crazy Little Thing Called Love


Sometimes it just takes a string of interesting chain reactions to cause me to pause and wonder just how off we are around here…in a good way this time…I think.
We love big and loud and maybe overwhelming sometimes.  Pretty awesome.  I saw this clearly the other morning.  BB was up early, so he got to tell Grandma good morning.  She innocently told him to give his brother and sister a big kiss from Grandma and Grandpa.  He said he would.  (Cue the foreshadowing music)
He is often the first kid awake.  He doesn’t want me to do anything awesome or brilliant without him I guess.  Sometimes he will wake up his brother and sister for me.  This morning threw them for a loop.  It seems he stood outside his sister’s door telling her he had something for her and no he couldn’t just slide it under the door.  You can imagine her shock when she opened the door to find a great big smooch on the cheek coming at her.  This is not a typical morning greeting between them.  Ha ha!  Next he is up in the kitchen chasing his brother around the table with a big pucker dead set on delivering these big kisses from G & G.  They were sort of freaked out.  I was laughing and not of much assistance.
We wandered through the rest of our routine and got to our morning thing we do.  Each day before we leave we say (usually while all in the same room):
Thank you for our blessings
Let it be a great day
Let us remember who we are
Where we are from
How we are meant to shine
And let’s help someone else shine too.
We love this.
So positive and encouraging, right?
Yeah…only…just wait.
I drop CNN off at her bus stop.  As she gets out, BB gazes lovingly at his sister with a telling twinkle in his eyes.
“Have a horrible day!” he proclaims cheerfully.  Did you ever??  I mean really!
Now she is all smiles, so I assume she didn’t hear him.  She turns on her own million watt smile and says, “you too!!!” And gives him the peace sign.
Oh my hell!
What happened to all the living love and whatnot??

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In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning


Hot tea.
Morning pages.
Twinkling lights.
Smooth jazz Christmas.
Creative journal.

For all the noise in my head and around me all through my days, they each start in such a lovely tranquil way.
I could linger here for hours…
Emptying my thoughts, capturing quotes and doodles, making my lists.
In an ideal world, this is where I workout too but that falls in sometime later. 
It was always interesting to me that when I thought of my perfect day, it didn’t usually involve anything not available to me now.
Oh sure…a beach is nice, but not essential always.
A lap of someone who adores me for me feet to rest in will be nice, but that is not something to be impatient about or you just might end up with the wrong lap.
I have added breakfasts that please me, but after that it gets a bit sketchy.  For someone who is pretty abstract random, I sure do find comfort in my routines in and out of each day.  I see that my soul is most content when I have that to rely on. 
I might work on my end of day and build back toward the middle.
I suppose my sleeping children might want to have something to say about that.  If I get this living well thing right, then perhaps they can work on their routines that feed their soul.
Can you imagine it???
I just told them last night that we are all going to start training for a 5k together.  They did not freak out…not even about matching when we run!
I think I’m wearing em down…or maybe they just love me enough to indulge their silly mama who sends them back to bed in her sacred we small hours.
Either way, it is well and so am I.
Be well.
Take care and nourish that beautiful soul of yours.

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I get lost sometimes…
In a book
In my closet
In a project
In my worries
you know what I mean?
If I’m not paying attention, time can just slip right by. This is why I make a lot of lists…and schedules…and goals. September was sort of a blur, so I was very intentional about October. It is my favorite month of the year. It is so colorful and pretty and magical somehow. I decided I was going to love every single day of October for all it was worth. I did. At the end of the month I was pretty excited because it went well…really well my friends! November was a bit of a puzzle. For many, it is the grateful month…but I do that all year every day, so that wouldn’t be unusual. Then a friend posted a 30 day abs challenge. Aha! In the month that ends with a feast, I was going to focus on getting strong again! YESSSS!!! I took one look at that calendar and went to the end and wondered about my decision. I can’t possibly do all that! But, I did! I did it one day at a time and by day 15 I felt stronger. Somewhere near the end my daughter put her hand on my abs and said, “whoa, your muscles are hard!” Short back story here: all three of my children were born with 6 packs. I am not kidding. Really. When BB was 4, a friend was over and said, “look at that 6 pack!” He smiled and said, “they are mine.” Before this is all said and done, my abs just might match my kiddos! I wasn’t sure what would be next for December. The November challenge really helped me focus on health in general. Most all of my vices are gone. It feels good…really good. The December challenge posted was the little black dress challenge – more of a total body situation. I am on day 13 and it is going well so far. I have added Zumba once a week which is so fun! I toss hot yoga in when it works with the schedule. That feels dreamy!
My challenge, it seems, is that I need to focus on what really brings me joy and structure that for myself, or I just get lost noticing the minutia of each day. I have so many books that I would like to read. I started trying to read a chapter a day from two of them to create forward motion there as well. It feels a bit silly because I hate rules and have tos but I am learning that I need some of that to have what I desire within each day.
So there it is…I am all about challenges around here.
I guess it is a logical follow up to grateful.
If I realize all I’ve got, I better damn well find a way to leave it all on the field.
Look out:)

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