This makes great sense to me. I have, on occasion, used the voice memo feature on my iPhone to capture sudden creative bursts, though the follow through on said bursts often eludes me. Thank you, Syd, for sharing your process (I love purple too😉.

Syd Swing

Recently I wrote on the virtues of writing things down, but as someone who is easily distracted, sometimes written notes just aren’t enough.

The Problem

My thoughts happen like fireworks. They appear quickly; epicenters of light branching off into associated ideas, problems, and possibilities. Each is unique, but because they occur quickly and in varying bursts, they begin to blend together and become almost indistinguishable.

When I attempt to write ideas down, it may begin with the original spark, but necessarily includes the surrounding associations. Each association is often its own “firework” as well, surrounded by further associations. As I try to work though an idea, it easily becomes convoluted as the original idea becomes hidden behind ongoing fireworks.

I write down an idea. I write down another idea, and another. I get lost.

The Solution

Voice notes.

I explain my idea to myself, out loud. I repeat it aloud until the…

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Receive the Blessing, Be the Blessing


Sometimes, the greatest gifts we can give ourselves are free, yet come with such a ‘perceived’ cost.

While this isn’t the actual red-winged blackbird I saw as I was leaving Boyd’s Big Tree Preserve this morning, it just felt right to lead this post with an image of this majestic messenger, even if I wasn’t the one to capture it.

When I was abruptly awoken before sunrise this morning to the terrified cries of two boys who experienced seemingly simultaneous nightmares, I did my best to drag my still-depleted butt out of bed to soothe them.  Soon after they forgot about the frightful way in which they (and I) awoke, the teasing, testing, pushing and trying that set the tone of yesterday reared its ugly head in full-force for another round.  “UGH,” I thought.  “I can’t take another day of this.”

Quickly, I made an attempt to offer some alternative solutions to pushing each other’s buttons while watching Tanked (which, by the way, is an awesomely-inspirational fantastically-funny show).  I took my coffee out on the deck and gave the boys the opportunity to join me in some sandbox play.  OK, really, I told them they had to play outside.  I told them this because I was irritated and I wanted to be outside.  I wanted to be outside because outside soothes my nerves and calms my soul.  I wanted that to happen for them too.  Predictably, that was not the case.

After a few more minutes of me being resentful and crabby about their apparent disregard for my emotional needs, I had a moment of clarity.  “I am going for a long, LONG walk,” I exclaimed as my husband swooped in to grab the baton and find his own way of diverting the attention of the whining brothers.

Before I could allow myself the luxury (notice the perceived cost) of taking myself to the woods, I sorted the laundry (to somehow prove I was worthy of such a trip).  As I did, I noticed myself becoming irritated with my husband who, at this point just wanted to hug me and show his support.  I, however, had somehow slipped into an unseen hole of old wounded-ness that left me feeling like he was judging my need to ‘flee.’  This, he quickly recognized, validated for what it was, and helped me to move on from.  (Thank you, Garth!)

I could go on and on and, yes, ON, about wonder I experienced during my brief but blessed time in the trees; the black-throated blue warbler, the indigo bunting, the dog named Dharma that kept taking my walking stick, etc.  And while each encounter possessed a magical quality all its own, it was upon leaving on the note of Sarah McLachlan’s cover of Blackbird that the fullness of each encounter became clear to me.

Driving slowly down the gravel road, I gave a silent prayer of thanks to Mother Nature for creating such a space for me to come and receive her blessing.  Indeed, throughout my walk in the woods, I kept hearing over and over “receive the blessing.”  And so I did, and in many different spots along the way I stopped, broke trail, sat in the creek, to receive…the…blessing.

Approaching the second to last birdhouse, all of which had been occupied by the various blue-in-hue birds on the way to the forest, I noticed a blackbird perched.  How lovely, that he should accompany the tune I was singing.  I knew it would be a red-wing, just knew it would.  And then, as it took flight, and I saw it’s gorgeous wings against the backdrop of a clear blue sky boasting a visible half-moon, I waved and said “I knew that was you!”

The red-winged blackbird has always held for me such a strong mother energy, and deep connection to Mother Nature.  Since it was all-things-mothering I was contemplating and receiving on my trip, it seemed a beautiful conclusion to my time there.  I am so grateful for the blessing the mother (divine/earth/nature/human) offers so selflessly, expecting nothing in return, save that the blessing lives as you, and is shared, as your life, with others, and in kind.

The Antidote to Overwhelm


As I entered my quiet, empty home this morning after delivering the kids to their destination for the day, an eerie sense of overwhelm greeted me fully in the belly.

Here I was, at home, alone, with the prospect of one and a half uninterrupted hours to … to … what, exactly am I to be doing with this time? There are lots of things I’d like to do, many notes on inspired projects I’d like to begin, unfinished projects I’d like to complete, organizing my ideas into neat, accessible notebooks in Evernote, do Tai Chi, have tea, clean the house, etc. We all have the never-ending-list of things-to-do. What makes it even more challenging is the notion that “I’VE ONLY GOT AN HOUR AND A HALF TO GET IT ALL DONE!”

The tension between my shoulder blades tightened as I sat at my computer and started to get ‘sucked in’ to activities that aren’t even on my oh-so-important to-do list. That’s when I heard “Is this how you wish to spend your time?”

Well, gee…now that you mention it, no…it isn’t.

So, I took a moment to get clear on what I was feeling in my body, because clearly, I needed to pay attention to what was going on. I got up, walked around, and decided to give myself a fresh start by lighting some incense and doing the Core Star exercise. After which, I naturally began Qi Gong breathing followed by some Tai Chi practice with Dr. Lam’s Tai Chi for Beginners.

Aware of the time frame, yet no longer suffocated by its imagined constraints, I took just a few moments to sit in the silence I always long for and appreciate its presence. While I sat, I heard “the antidote to overwhelm,” and had to laugh at the irony of what was playing across my mind’s eye.

I could see myself in many cartoon-like balloons, all ‘caught up’ in the various things I wanted to achieve, while my Higher Self sat observing. Just observing. Accompanying the vision was the simple awareness that I alone choose, in each moment, which part I play.

We all have our own blend of talents and gifts to share with the world, but it does not need to be overwhelming or burdensome to do so. Often, I find myself in between a state of extreme gratitude for the joyful, inspired ideas I have and an overwhelmed sense of “I can never do it all.”

  • For every ten ideas I have, only one may ever come into full bloom.
  • None will ever be given life outside of my mind if I do not act.
  • “Rational action” born of the mind yields less fruit.
  • Focused, clear intention bears the sweetest fruit (and often with a lot less time and hassle than the mind thought).

The way I get to focused and clear intention is to:






I only need to know the next step to act upon. No need for overwhelm.

What do you do?

Make it Great with What’s on Hand


Naan Pizza

Making the most of what we have on hand is a guiding principle that can assist us in many areas of life.  Lately, I have been using this concept in relation to the  meals I make for myself and my family.  I am finding that limiting my creations to what’s on hand has given a boost to my culinary adventures and given me reason to explore some new territory with the foods I choose to combine.

Upon returning home from my belated Mother’s Day herb shopping, I arranged each tender new plant in their appropriate container and came inside for lunch.  Sure, there were a few ready-to-eat leftovers available, as well as some quick-serve fare like microwave meals and canned goods. But I also knew there was that lonely half of a piece of Naan leftover from yesterday’s curry (3 days past sell by date and already heated once.)

Hmmm….what would pair well with this, I thought as I began my search in the refrigerator.  I also discovered 1/4 of a slightly over-ripe tomato and immediately pictured the two ingredients blending together with my newly acquired fresh herbs and some other tasty ingredients for a quick & healthy pizza.

Naan Pizza

Naan – (3 day-old leftover, previously baked)

Olive oil –  (about 1 Tbsp)

Fresh herbs – (I used basil, tarragon & rosemary)

Sea salt – (just a pinch)

Garlic – (1 clove, sliced thinly)

Tomato – (1/4 large, thinly sliced)

Broccoli – (I used the tender tiny “trees” near the center of one nice-sized stalk)

Red pepper ( ¼ large red pepper) – mine was slightly wrinkly on outside…still OK inside

Kalamata Olives – about 5 (pitted, sliced in half)

Parmesan Cheese (small chunks)

Mozzarella Cheese (about 1/4 cup)


Olive oil, herbs, sea salt and garlic and spread onto Naan

Layer Tomato

Layer Broccoli, Red Peppers and Kalamata Olives

Another Layer of Tomato

Parmesan Chunks

Mozzarella Cheese


425° 10 min or until cheese melts


1/2 an apple, raisins, pecans

I enjoyed my tasty creation over a ‘virtual’ lunch date with a friend.  Life is GOOD!!!

Tree Trimming Triumphs Over Video Games…Today

This afternoon, the boys and I were enjoying the pleasant weather out back before Liam got to play Little Big Planet.  At first, it was a pretty typical time, with Liam on the swing and Connor on the slide.  After a bit, Connor decided to trim some of the excess growth at the base of the crab apple tree beside the deck and soon was requesting the small trimming tool I keep just inside the door.

Connor was having a great time trimming (and cutting the tiny crab apples into pieces).  He also took great pains to trim the individual leaves from the branches before chopping them off, to make it a little easier to manage. Of course, Liam wanted a piece of the fun, so he took up the kid scissors for some trimming of his own.

Both boys were engrossed in their task for far longer than I could have hoped they might be able to work on a joint project (with sharp objects), without fussing and fighting.  Soon, it was past time for Liam to play his game (we had agreed on a start time of 4:00 pm).  I told him he could go on in to start his game, but he said “no, it’s OK – Connor can have his turn first – I am not done with my work just yet.”  But neither was Connor, and so, both boys continued on with their careful clippings for another few  minutes before agreeing (with no resistance) to picking up the branches and leaves to place in the yard waste can.

As they were cooperatively cleaning up and willingly relinquished their cutting tools, I realized that I could not have coordinated this effort if my goal had been to get the boys to trim the trees.  It was such a joy to just watch them plan out their adventure, lending a helping hand as needed.

When they finally got their game time, both were in such a happy mood and gave not a single problem when it was time to transition from game time to bath time.

Moments like this with the boys are a real joy.  Watching and interacting with them ~ being fully present with them – is such a gift!

The Hunter and the Hunted

Today Connor, Liam and I had the opportunity to visit the Dickinson College Planetarium, courtesy of  a Londonderry School Parent.  The boys were very excited to see the stars on the dome and they waited, somewhat patiently, through the short film narrated by Morgan Freeman about the birth of the universe.

The first two constellations that were illuminated for the class were Orion and Taurus, which elicited a “hey, that’s me!” from Connor.  He is a bull by birth, to be sure, yet he also bears an uncommon middle name ~ Orion.  When he was born, Connor had already been selected as his name, but a middle name proved to be more elusive…until he made his arrival.  I really cannot say what made me choose Orion, but I knew one thing for sure…it was not O’Ryan in the Irish sense.

Many times since his name day I have wondered about the significance of the Hunter and the Hunted, drawing parallels to his inquisitive quest to discover why he is here and his (sometimes) vehement claim that he never wanted to come in the first place.

Perhaps I will never gain a full appreciation for his unique name and the sign under which he was born, but one thing is for certain ~ I see within him the same dogged desire to know Who He Is that has beckoned me throughout my years.  As his mother, I pledge fealty to his quest and look forward to an age of discovery together.

Seeing with New Eyes

ImageThis morning, I rose extra early to pick up my mother and accompany her to an eye surgery appointment. She was having a cataract (clouds the vision) removed and a new omnifocal (corrects both near and far vision) inserted.  So, you might say, my mom is getting an upgrade in the way she sees things ~ a fresh perspective.

This got me to thinking about how we view the moments of our life ~ a reminder that there is always the opportunity to upgrade the way we are perceiving life. 

After the surgery, my happily doped-up mother and I left the center with the promise to return and entertain the nursing staff again next month for the second eye.  We headed to Dunkin’ Donuts for a much needed coffee kick and upon our arrival, discovered that mom’s glasses were not among her belongings returned after the procedure.  After the excitement of somewhat nervously watching my youthful mom teeter around the wet floor at DD in her stiletto spiked boots (wears ’em almost everywhere!), we safely returned to the car and headed back to the surgery center to retrieve her spectacles.

We were just discussing my grandma, her mother, and the nice visit we had yesterday for mother’s day.  I saw a car that looked a lot like hers as I pulled into the parking lot of the center.  Then I saw the infamous license plate and realized it WAS her!  We pulled up alongside her and had a brief chat – she was so happy to see that her ‘little girl’ made it out of surgery OK and reported that she had a positive check up at her physician visit as well.

She proceeded to tell my mom that the card she gave her meant a great deal and that she often wishes she could go back in time to when her kids were little (my mom is the last of three children still living).  I could see the wistful look in her eyes and feel the gravity in her heart at this statement ~ it was particularly poignant to me, as it is that very sentiment that fuels me with my own children now.

Grandma can’t go back in time, and we all know that she was doing the best she could under some very trying circumstances as a widowed single mom of three in the 1950’s.  Truly, she’s a source of strength and inspiration to me to this day and I love her for all she is.

Being a mother – a parent (love those daddy’s too!) is a very demanding job.  And sometimes, it is really hard to let go, let be, and just PLAY with our kids.  Just be attentive.  Just listen.  Just watch.  Just be.  Remembering the look on my grandma’s face as she made her wish will likely serve as another reminder during those times when it’s easy to say “not now, I’ve got to (fill in the blank)…”

Thank You, Mom & Grandma…for all that you are!