Thursday, December 30, 2010

WRAP November Road Trip!

My friend Jean and I just drove into Vermont from Ohio on our way to a "WRAP Wellness Retreat" in New Hampshire. WRAP is Wellness Recovery Action Plan. We are both Advanced Level Facilitators looking forward to a great week of all kinds of workshops and getting to know people in that "family" kind of way that happens when you are all together for wonderful purposes!

As Jean and I drove through the magnificent fall foliage, the lighting was masterful -- sometimes sunny, rarely cloudy, but a master lighting technician couldn't have done a more amazing job! Jean has a similar appreciation for nature that I do, so it was fun for us to point, say "look", or even "LOOK!!!", and then discuss the wonders we had just witnessed. The sky was performance art -- an ever changing glorious backdrop for all the beautiful trees we passed.

Luckily, we had a chance to get on some "blue highways" as we came through New York and entered Vermont. All right, I am going to tell you this -- we sang "Amazing Grace" as we crossed the state line into Vermont -- we had joked about doing it and then we just couldn't help ourselves. We had looked forward to this trip for so long that it seemed the right way to arrive in my beloved state of Vermont! As if our trip, couldn't have been any better -- right before us, around a little bend, was a glorious rainbow arching right over the road! It was wide and bright, with well-defined colors!

We spent a fun afternoon and early evening in my favorite town (second only to my home town of Akron, of course) -- the incredible Brattleboro! There's my favorite store -- Beadniks, where we made colorful bracelets. I found a great purple corduroy winter coat in the thrift store for $8.00 and Jean found some treasures there and hither and yon. We shared a delicious meal at Fire Works, and off to Dalem's Chalet to rest up before a fun week of WRAP and wellness!

I feel so blessed, I am almost embarrassed, but I live in gratitude that I am able to have these grand adventures. I believe that this week will better equip me to coordinate my own life and also in the way I facilitate, and interact with others. So I will turn that gratitude into action.

To the upstairs Rainbow Maker -- Wow and wowee! Thanks for the welcome!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

100 Good Things to Save the Day

Today, when I knew that I had a tough day ahead of me, I started a list of 100 good things very early in the morning. It included the beautiful morning light coming in the windows, my lucky charm bracelet, snickerdoodles (a wonderful breakfast food!), pharmacists who are so generous with their time and knowledge, my new red suede journal . . . I got to #29 before I had to jump into my day. It was fun during the day to look for other things that would have gone on the list if I had my pen and journal handy. Even though the day had challenges, it was surrounded by an intentional hunt for good things and I am sure that if they had been written down, I might have topped 200! It made me happy to know that I had a purpose for the day, and it was a cheerful mission, indeed! Hooray for 100 good things, even if they didn't all get written down!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Ten Fun Things

I was talking to my friend Kathy yesterday and we were both in a Monday morning funk for various reasons. We know each other well, and in our brief conversation were able to lift each other's spirits quite a bit. But we had to cut the call short before we had a chance to really defunk ourselves completely, so I suggested that she do 10 fun things before the end of the day and report back to me. I of course figured out that the assignment would be beneficial for me, too! Here are some of the things from our funster reports.


1) I ate a Hostess Twinkie--for the first time in decades!
2) Enjoyed a very romantic comment my husband made (an extraordinarily lovely remark)
3) Stopped at a little park near home for a few minutes, just to look at clouds
4) Went for a walk (whoops! that WAS planned ahead) AND brought home a single red leaf, which I pressed.
5) Picked a couple tiny marigolds that are growing through the cracks in our carport
6) Stopped for a few minutes to listen to crickets


1) Got origami metallic paper to play with for framing
2) Tasted cheese samples at West Point Market slowly
3) Tried blueberry juice cocktail
4) Wrote in my journal for 2 pages of funky writing, then did the TURNAROUND list! hooray!
5) Talked to my dear friend Terry from Oklahoma
6) Made a collage with a Zentangle (see featuring torn and cut up origami metallic paper - what fun!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Little Triumphs

This morning as I was waiting for my pants to come out of the dryer, I started tidying up the laundry room. I folded my daughter Maribeth's precious quilt from her childhood. We found it together and brought it home when she was about four or five years old. Maribeth got in bed right away and said, "Mom, let me pull the quilt up over me so it can make me beautiful!" I was stunned when she said that because Maribeth was an amazingly, magnificently, and splendidly beautiful child without any embellishments at all. I must admit, though, that the quilt was, and is, gorgeous -- mainly pastel fabric in geometric designs, a keepsake to treasure!

As I was wiping down the washer and dryer, cleaning out the stationary tub, and removing the cobwebs from the corners, I felt so happy to be participating in the rejuvenation of a room in our beloved home. It was a "little triumph" for me and a great way to begin the day. I started thinking of other small triumphs that have popped up in my life recently.

I recently reconnected with my precious rolltop desk that was left to me by my Mother. I dusted every nook and cranny and moved things around -- took some things off the top, added a couple of things. This is where I write in my journal now and I love sitting there and being surrounded by my "God jar" (where I put concerns, hope and dreams on little strips of paper), my Mary Engelbreit page-a-day calendar, amethyst formation, Kewpie doll, pens, and other sentimental odds and ends.

One of my friends at church has had a fantastic garden in plots right next to my Dad's gardens this summer. I watched in awe as her wondrous sunflowers started blooming in profusion. I even took lots of pictures. Imagine my delight when Laura told me she was going on vacation and I could pick as many as I wanted! I was in sunflower heaven as I gathered amazing sunflowers of all kinds to make two bouquets -- one to welcome my friend Sharron home from her trip to see her brother, and one for our living room. This really was a "big triumph" for me because I used to grow sunflowers in my yard, but for some reason, never cut them and brought them into the house!

We all have little and big triumphs in our lives. It is fun to recognize them as they are happening. Sometimes, we don't even realize how important some events are until they are in historical context! Have you had any triumphs lately?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Clothes - Thrifty and Happy

Last night I had a bit of extra time and wandered into a local thrift store -- what a treasure trove of delights! I went straight to the men's department to look for Hawaiian shirts. I would rather buy a Hawaiian shirt that has mysterious memories integrated into it, than a new one any day. My first find was a blue cotton shirt with palm trees all over it. But wait, it gets even better -- those palm trees have shadows of palm trees on them! The palm tree is one of my favorite trees ever! I know that when I am in a part of the country that has palm trees, I am going to have a really great time! My second find, which I am wearing right now, was a bright and friendly plaid shirt with a label that reads, "Escape the Ordinary". Then I found a navy Hawaiian shirt that has hot pink flowers all over -- irresistible. My last discovery was a beautiful green and tan flowered Hawaiian shirt in cotton that fit just perfectly. Off to the pants section for a pair of khaki pants and a pair of light blue pants -- both in brand names I already have in my closet and for which I paid full price. The total bill for my extravagant shopping spree? $11.68 -- Hooray!

I have always loved shopping in thrift stores. Of course, I donate to them, too. In these days of "green" thinking, it makes sense to recycle our clothes. I value my own clothes more and more as the years go by for the memories that they hold. I don't even mind paying a high price for something I know I will wear many times. I figure a price per wear factor. If I pay $50.00 for something and wear it 100 times, then it only costs me 50¢ per wear. But if I pay $20.00 for something and only wear it twice, then it costs $10.00 per wear. So, on occasion, I do love to have a little fun at a Chico's or a Coldwater Creek, but generally I laugh in the face of fashion -- which is another way of saying I haven't a clue! If I am ever in style, if only with an accessory, it is just an accident!

I saw a neighbor at a concert once, and she said, "I am wearing my friends!" Then she showed me different items of clothing and jewelry that belonged to her friends or were given to her by them so they could be "present" for the experience of Arlo Guthrie in concert. I wear different clothing and items that remind me of people I love -- a necklace from my sister Barbara, a ring of my mother's always and then supplement with other sentimental items frequently. I have a shawl that belonged to my sister, and whenever I wear it, I feel comfort and loving memories.

Whether we find our clothes in a thrift store or in a high end fashion boutique, they make a statement about who we are. I guess that people must be confused when they look at me, if they try to figure out who I am by my clothes, though! I mix my clothes -- old, new, thrift, bargain, sale, high end -- my goal is comfort and fun whenever possible. I have a dear friend who might be the very best dresser I know. She is a thrift store wizard! When I see her, I have to pause to check out whatever outfit she might have put together for that day. She doesn't just get ordinary clothes at thrift stores -- she mixes, matches, accessorizes, and discovers unusual uses for her fashion finds. Her artistic inclinations shine in the way she dresses. She is performance art in action!

I read an article a long time ago that said if you are thinking something nice about someone, you might as well say it, so I love to compliment people on their clothes. Sometimes they even give me interesting stories in response. The most miraculous thing that happened to me was when I was working at Borders Books and Music at the cash register. I complimented a man on his shirt and he complimented me on my Hawaiian shirt. I told him that I sort of collected them. He told me that he went to Hawaii on a regular basis and kept buying Hawaiian shirts that he never wore and would I like them? I tried to turn him down, but two hours later, he turned up with a huge bag stuffed with Hawaiian shirts! Wow and wowee! You can bet I think of him every time I wear one of them.

I end in gratitude for every piece of clothing I have ever been privileged to wear - from the clothes I wore home from the hospital when I was a baby to the thrift store outfit I am happily wearing today!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Coca Cola Insights

Last night around 11:30 p.m., when I was getting some white tea with mango out of the closet, a can of Coca Cola fell dramatically to the floor and exploded in one hundred million different directions! I was so astonished, that I helplessly watched in horror as the fizzy explosion covered the floor; closet; trash container; chair; my shoes, jeans, shirt, glasses, face, and hair -- just to name a few locations! I, of course, tracked Coca Cola footprints around more of the kitchen before I realized that my shoes were goners too! I had to disrobe in the kitchen, hoping my neighbors had gone to bed, then upstairs for some jammies, then down to the basement for the mop and bucket. Suffice it to say that cleaning up was not a simple job! Just when I thought I was done, more stickiness would appear -- under something, on something-- everywhere. I never knew that 12 oz. could stretch that far! That could be one way to advertise it! "Coke explodes further and faster than 7-Up any day!"

During all this midnight cleaning adventure, I am thinking that there must be some message here, some wisdom that I can take from this late night explosion of soda pop. (Don't mind me, I am usually looking for meaning -- sometimes it's there, sometimes not!) Of course! It's obvious! I should quit drinking Coke, now and forever more! It's not the healthiest beverage ever invented. It is fun to have a nice cold glass on a hot day. Since I don't drink coffee, every once in a while I sneak a Coca Cola into my life. When I was a little girl, my Mom used to take me to the grocery store with her and I got to get a bottle of Coca Cola out of the pop machine first thing. That would last me throughout the entire store. Dare I tell you that my precious bottle of Coke cost 6 cents? (Aha, you caught me, I am in my older youth!) So you can imagine that even though I don't drink Coke very often, the idea of never ever ever drinking it again would be very sad for me. But wait! It took me a while to get to it -- that's not the lesson I figured out!!!!

As I was cleaning the kitchen floor and surrounding areas, the smell of the floor cleaner reminded me of how much I really do love to have a really clean white plastic trash can; and I like a friendly, happy kitchen floor that is an inviting place for my grandsons to play; and I love having friends over to visit and being proud of our home. I do find a lot of satisfaction in cleaning and organizing. I get so caught up with all the "importance" of my outside activities, that I often come home tired and just seeking respite, or I stay up late working at home. As I was wielding that mop and bucket, I found I was not particularly annoyed to have to be doing such a weird clean-up when I was so tired -- once I got into it, I felt happy to love up that trash can, mop that floor, clean up my shoes, etc. I notice that when I am doing housecleaning, or have done it, I feel more grounded. I was doing dishes the other night and understood what monks say about when you get used to doing mindful thinking, even doing the dishes is an act of supreme mindfulness. I was so happy to realize that I had noticed the feel of the water, the sight of the bubbles, the movement of cleaning the dishes and finished with calm satisfaction, sparkling dishes, and a clean sink! Does it get better than that?

So if you ever think of it, please remind me how much I love housecleaning -- it truly is a neglected wellness strategy for me, Here's hoping I can figure out ways to get in good and happy rhythm with it. Now that's I've publicly stated my intentions, I guess I better head on down that hopeful highway!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Ode to the Moon

Last night I was in downtown Chicago with Matthew Federici, the new Executive Director of the Copeland Center, who is kind of one of my "bosses". I do facilitator trainings and an occasional presentation for the Copeland Center and we are both attending the National Association of Peer Specialists Conference. He is very passionate about WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) and so am I, so we have that automatic great connection that helps people feel comfortable with each other even before they meet in person. And then I spotted his boldly striped blue and and gray socks and knew that we would be friends for life! Sometimes it is important identifying factors like fun striped socks that make me know that I am with the right person at the right time!

Anyway, I told you all that so you would know who I was with when I spotted the glorious full moon in Chicago. Now I know that the same amazing full moon was working it's glorious magic in many other places, but believe me -- the moon in Chicago last night was a breathtaking sight. Every time I see the full moon, I am newly amazed. It never loses it's moonspell over me. I am utterly more alive when I see a full moon. Matthew and I went to Millenium Park and saw the full moon dazzling us over the lake. Later as we were seated at an outdoor restaurant, the moon placed itself right between two open umbrellas, as if to contribute to our outdoor dining decor.

It is a joke in our family that I will probably never be arrested for a DUI (driving under the influence), but I might be arrested for a DUM (driving under the influence of the moon)! When the full moon is out in all it's glory, I really should not be allowed to drive at night. I see it peeking out from the trees, tantalizing me, and I keep looking, as I drive, to see when it will pop out again. I remember the time I was driving down our main thoroughfare and the moon was right in front of me. I don't know how this happened, but it was enormous -- like out of a science fiction movie! I will never forget that night! I felt like I was driving right into the moon!

When I spot a morning full moon, a light white circular wafer in the sky, it's always a lovely surprise. One time a friend took me to watch the moonrise! I had never heard of that, but we went to a local park, and there were lots of other people gathered, all chatting and friendly, until the time of the moonrise. Then it was very still as we all waited reverently for the moon to show itself over the trees. What a triumphant evening of fun, appreciation, and celebration! It was also another indication of how we can have enormous amounts of enjoyment for no money at all!

Thank you to the moon! You never fail to impress me with your glory! Your crescents are great, the half moon is promising, three-quarters moon gets me in the mood -- but when you pull out all the stops and show yourself in your entirety -- all I can say is WOW and WOWEEEEEE!!

Monday, August 23, 2010

I Have To or I Get To

Somewhere along the line I heard that instead of thinking, "I have to do this, or I have do that," we can think or say, "I get to do this or I get to do that!" It's a much more enthusiastic approach to living. Even on a day where there are things we don't really look forward to doing, it really is a privilege that we get to do them at all. The year I spent volunteering in a nursing home home in my younger youth influenced me greatly in many ways. Sometimes on a day when I feel that I am overburdened or have a bad attitude, I remember that there are people who would love to have my errands and chores to do. They would love to be able to drive a car and do tasks and job related responsibilities.

I am trying to remember to think, or even say out loud, in the mornings -- "Today I get to . . ." and really enumerate some of the highlights of my day. For example, today I get to set up a book table at a conference in the Chicago area; meet lots of new people, tell them about Mary Ellen's new book - WRAP Plus which I love; meet Matthew Federici, the new Executive Director of the Copeland Center for the first time and have dinner with him -- WOW! -- What a lucky day I have ahead of me!

There are other days when I have said, "Today I get to clean the bathroom and make it sparkling since my dear friends are coming over; pick up my prescriptions; work on my project for work, and so on . . ." It doesn't really matter what you have lined up for your day, what matters is that you know that living it out is a "get to" and not a "have to" -- hooray!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Lists Make Me Happy

Haven't gotten the hang of posting regularly here, as you can tell! I was reading where someone had written about "agonizing 'to do' lists" and I was thinking about how my lists are my salvation. When I am feeling out of sorts, disorganized, and even slightly hopeless -- I know I will start to get back on track once I get a list made. I like to color code my lists, or make several for different topics, and I very rarely date them so I don't feel that day's end pressure. Oh how I love to cross things out on my lists! My sister Barbara used to write things on her list she had already done, just so she could have the joy of crossing things out immediately!

Sometimes if I am feeling way too serious about what I have to get done, I draw my lists with colored markers on cardstock -- dry cleaners, dress; grocery store, fruits; hair appointment, head -- and so forth. It's fun to do and then I put it out the night before and have a good laugh in the morning.

I also find that if I am writing in my journal and a list just spontaneously starts to happen, I have struck gold! That list is a call to action for me and enumerates my next steps, often things that were not in my conscious mind.

So lists are never agonizing to me -- it's when I don't make them that I feel agonized!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Welcome to Me and to You!

This is my first blog and I am so happy to be here! There's not much for you to read yet, but I am hoping that will change soon. My friend Crystal from helped me set this up very patiently. I decided on the name - " Celebrate Possibilities" because I want to write about all kinds of things, especially relaxation, fun, and creativity.