Thursday, February 28, 2013

365 Inspirations—59: Slow Down

"Slow down and enjoy life. It's not only the scenery you miss by going too fast--you also miss the sense of where you are going and why."—Eddie Cantor

 It's the end of the quarter crunch at the college. We need to get the students ready for tests, grade the tests, do paperwork, input grades, etc. It always feels like I'll never get it done, but then suddenly it's all over and I'm on break.

Usually I go home between my two classes. I have a split shift and feel I need to go home and rest before my night class, but tonight I decided to stay at school. I went out to an early dinner with a colleague at a nearby restaurant. It was totally unplanned, but we were both hungry when we ran into each other in the teacher's room.

It was nice to slow down and catch up with her. It was completely an impromptu meeting. After our dinner date, I was going to go home, but there wasn't enough time so I stayed at the college.

I made all my copies for the final, got a snack at the coffee stand, graded a stack of papers, and now I'm taking a little rest.

I'm happy I stayed at school today and got some things done. It saved me gas and now I feel a bit more relaxed.

Lately I've been a last minute person. I wait and wait and then find I'm over my head with things to do. I'm trying to change that habit and slow down a bit, even during this crunch time at school. If I can somehow slow down during the busiest time of the quarter, then that's saying something!

Off I go to eat my veggies and close my eyes and nap for a little bit. It feels so nice to slow down and actually be ahead on things I need to do for once!

Do you ever feel like you are racing from one thing to the next? Do you ever take time to slow down even when you are extremely busy?

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

365 Inspirations—58: My Students

A little blurry, but here are my students from last summer!
"A good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination, and instill a love of learning."— Brad Henry 

Recently I've been thinking that I'd like to change my job. Not seriously. I'm just toying with the idea. I've been teaching ESL for so long and sometimes I wonder if it even suits me. It's a job I started doing years ago when I was traveling. I taught English in Mexico, Japan and Korea. I didn't start teaching English because I was crazy about the English language. I did it because that's what people often fall into when they live overseas.

Over time, I got a knack for teaching, but I'm still not crazy about teaching English itself. I think the best part of teaching for me is the connection and interactions with the students. That's what I get the most  from. I figure, if it's not fun for me, it probably isn't fun for them either, so I've had to find inventive ways of teaching grammar, etc.

We usually have a party at the end with food from all over the world!
I don't pretend to be an expert at the English language and know that if you review my blog you'll probably find some mistakes. That's what happens when you write every single day. Besides, blogging is a little more free flow and conversational, I feel. I could not write anything if I were worried about making mistakes.

I think that's what I try to pass on to my students. I let them know that it's okay to make mistakes and the best way to learn is to just dive in. I want it to be fun for them and I also want them to learn something new. I think they really appreciate this and it makes for a very comfortable learning environment.

When they think something's hard, I tell them, "No it isn't. It's a piece of cake!"
While I love the connections and the mutual learning that takes place, I still ponder doing other things. I think about writing full-time or getting a degree in psychology or something like that. Lately, I've been going through a sort of mid-life crisis, I guess. I'm only 43, so maybe it's a little premature.

We only have a few weeks left in the quarter. I've been trying to wrap things up and, as much as I enjoy my students, I've been looking forward to the end.

While making my rounds today and checking to see if students were on the right page and following along with the assignment, a Russian student said, "Kathy, will you teach the same time and level next quarter?" I told her, "No, sorry, my schedule changes all the time. I'll be teaching something different."

 She looked very sad and then she said, "You are the best teacher I've ever had and I really want my husband to study in your class next quarter. You explain things so clearly and I've really learned so much in your class."

So each time I think of running away from my job and throwing myself into an entirely different mode of life, a student like this woman comes along and throws a monkey wrench in my plans.

I don't know what it is, but I must be doing something right. While the English language may not be my ultimate passion in life, connecting and communicating with people is. It's the same reason I wrote my memoir and why I keep writing here on this blog.

So for now, I will keep on connecting and communicating in any way I can. I'm grateful for all of my students. I learn so much from them too. It's a mutual exchange and I'm lucky to have been in touch with hundreds of students from dozens of countries.

The entire world has been in my classroom. I feel lucky for that.

Do you ever think of switching careers? Are you living your passion? Are there parts of you job that you don't really like?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

365 Inspirations—57: Inspiration is Always There

"Inspiration doesn't come to you, YOU are IT."—Katherine Jenkins

This a post from my 365 Lessons (Lesson 131) I wrote in 2010, which I am planning to turn into a book! It's almost 11:05pm and I've had a long day and nothing inspiring is coming, but I am inspired by these words that I wrote long ago...they are words I need to hear right now! 

I've heard people say, "I'm waiting for inspiration to come to me." or "I'm waiting to be hit with inspiration." You may be waiting a lifetime. Inspire means to breathe in. You don't wait to breathe in, you just do it. Inspiration can also mean to be "in spirit." For each person that will mean a different thing. For me, it means tuning in to the divine within. Or, more simply, "tuning in." Inspiration is always there. The space within you is always there. But it is clouded by thoughts, emotions, and activities. Because the human mind is so cluttered with thoughts, it's very hard to see the inspiration.

So much of life is about "doing" and very little of life is about "being." There is an emphasis in Western culture to do. You can't forget the Nike ads which said, "Just do it." While I do believe action is also part of being, alot of the "do it" that gets us stuck happens in our thoughts. We have "to do" lists and those lists are LONG. Sometimes too long and humanly impossible. We have plans, we want this and that and need to go here or there.

Inspiration is hard to see if the our vessel is full...full of information, full of plans, full of worries, full of ideas, full of ________.

When you empty your vessel, when you start to let go of all those things that are clouding the clarity or emptiness or spirit that exists in you, you will start to feel inspiration again. If you keep your vessel or your inner space clear, you will find that inspiration is always there and it doesn't come from you specifically.

When you are empty, inspiration is able to move through you. Many writers talk about how they have no idea where the words came from. They just sat down and let go and this is what came out. The very act of "trying" to write something inspiring doesn't work. Inspiration comes from space within. If there is no space within you, if you are tired, stressed, overworked and underpaid, unhappy, worried or sick, it will be very hard for you to see the inspiration that is always there.

Keep your vessel clear, leave an empty space within you, clear your calendar, keep a regular walking schedule, pray, do yoga or practice meditation. Find a way to create space for yourself everyday and you will find, if you practice keeping yourself clear, that inspiration is always there. Inspiration doesn't come to you, YOU are IT. Don't try to look for it, just let go, clear a space and "be."

Do you feel inspired daily or is it difficult to find anything to be inspired about?

Monday, February 25, 2013

365 Inspirations—56: Home

“If I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn't there, I never really lost it to begin with.”— L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

I'm home and it's 10:28pm. I just finished teaching my night class and I'm going to get this post in just shy of a new day! I'm late. 

What am I inspired by today besides the full moon and lots of stars in the city sky? I'm inspired by home.

It's the place that's always here for me when I get done from work. It's the place where my husband also comes home to after his long day teaching yoga classes.

It's my retreat, refuge, sanctuary and habitat. It's where I cook, eat, sleep, ponder, dream, write books, do art, have conversations with my husband about life, occasionally entertain friends, take a bath and garden in the spring.

Our house was recently remodeled by one of my husband's yoga students. We live in a 1940s Seattle bungalow. Our house has old world charm and lots of the original characteristics from that time period, but we've modernized it a bit.

It needed an update and hadn't had a real one in its entire life span. Now it is much cozier.

Someday I'll show before and after pictures! 

On days that I feel like running away to the Southwest, I try to remember how lucky I am to live in a great city with lots of culture and nature! The city is full of towering Evergreen trees and lot of wonderful hiking trails and views of Puget Sound and the Olympic and Cascade Mountains, but it also has amazing restaurants, coffee shops, movie theaters, you name it! I love this about Seattle.

But really, home is what you make of it no matter where you live. I think my husband and I have made it as cozy and peaceful as we can.

So today my inspiration is home. I'm so happy I get to come back here. Now off I go to sink into the bathtub.

Do you like where you live? Are you happy with your home?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

365 Inspirations—55: No Plans

“It's a funny thing, how much time we spend planning our lives. We so convince ourselves of what we want to do, that sometimes we don't see what we're meant to do.” —Susan Gregg Gilmore

It's Sunday and I have no plans, really.

On Saturday, we had friends over for dinner and we went shopping and cooked a meal together. Normally when friends come over, I try to have the dinner ready, but they wanted to be part of the process and it worked out great! I also learned a new way to prepare steaks and now I've got plans for my Crock Pot.

Today is Sunday and I have no plans or commitments, but I do have a very long list of things to do. I purposely left Sunday free. I am one of those people who needs lots of free gaps in my schedule where I may or may not attack my to-do list. I just want to have the option.

I know people who schedule things down to the last hour of their weekend. I could never do that. I think we all need unstructured time to just relax and see what pops up.

I feel particularly tired today because last night from 2:30-3:30AM, a helicopter circled the neighborhood where I live in Seattle. It was so loud it felt like they were going to land in my backyard. I still don't know what it was all about.

Needless to say, I was exhausted today from not being able to sleep. I spent most of the afternoon at home and just recently went and ran a few errands.

Tonight I'm actually going to try and attack a few things on my "to-do" list, but I  also hope to read and relax.

We'll see what happens!

Do you like to plan your weekend out or do you like to have unstructured time on the weekend?

Saturday, February 23, 2013

365 Inspirations—54: Flying Kites and Contemplations

"See where your own energy wants to go, not where you think it should go. Do something because it feels right, not because it makes sense. Follow the spiritual impulse."—Mary Hayes-Grieco

Yesterday afternoon, Yoon and I planned to go out for an early dinner, but realized there wasn't enough time to make it before his yoga class. I ended up doing a U-turn and dropping him off at the yoga studio.

I didn't go home. For some reason my car headed in the direction of the beach. It was out of my control.

The morning started out with rain and the afternoon ended with high winds and bright sun. Washington State is a moody one. It changes its mind every hour or so. Lately I've been like that too.

I feel I'm in a kind of limbo. Can't really explain. Sometimes I feel I want to get in my car and drive to Arizona—to the red rocks and blue sky—and just write for three months.

Writing has been calling my name, but teaching has taken over my life. I love teaching and meeting with my students, but this distinct voice is calling me to retreat and write again and it's getting harder to ignore it.

I parked my car by the woods and walked on the mossy South Rim trail through the trees. I didn't have proper shoes for walking nor did I have the right jacket. The wind whipped at my face and neck. I felt a chill through my whole body.

The trail opened up to Puget Sound—a raging white-capped sea. The sun was high and there were a few white clouds, but the sky in the distance looked black and ominous.

I sat on a log in the sand and watched a father and daughter laugh together as their octopus kite soared and dipped, riding the wild currents of the wind.

The young girl shouted, "Oh no!" each time the kite took a nose dive, coming close to taking out a few beach strollers and she giggled with glee when she was able to keep the kite up for extended periods.

"Good job! That's it!," her father encouraged.

I sat there staring at the silhouettes of these two, as the sun began to set behind them. Their laughter was carried off with the wind.

I didn't know what to do. All I could do was sit and watch and when my hands finally became numb, I turned and headed for my car and drove home.

Do you ever feel called to make a change or do something new? Do you act on it, or do you just continue on like before?

Friday, February 22, 2013

365 Inspirations—53: Nowhere Boy (John Lennon)

“There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance."—John Lennon

John Lennon has always been an inspiration to me, but I did not know his early life story and how he got started in music. His early life was a tumultuous one and you can easily see how it inspired much of his music.

Young Lennon was raised by his aunt Mimi and his uncle George. His father left the family when John was only four years old. His mother was not prepared to take care of John on her own, so he was raised by his aunt and uncle.

While he was growing up, he learned, through a cousin, that his mother lived in the same neighborhood. She had remarried and had two daughters. When he showed up unexpectedly at her doorstep, his mother welcomed him and they spent a beautiful time getting to know each other. However, he was still troubled by the fact that his parents had abandoned him. He later learned that his mother had had an affair and a daughter while still married to Lennon's father.

The young John Lennon obviously and rightly had much angst over his early childhood situation, but finally came to the conclusion that "there's no point hating someone you love."

When he was kicked out of high school, his mother took him in and taught him how to play the banjo. She was an influence on his early interest in music and was there for many of his early musical performances.

Just as he was getting to know his mother for the first time, she was hit by a car and died.

By this time, John had formed a band and threw himself completely into his music and became a legend.

I was touched by this movie. It was a good Friday afternoon video rental. It made me realize how our lives are often shaped by our very early experiences. Interestingly, we often don't really know the early life stories of many well-known artists.

Often we just see the success of certain people and don't realize what they went through to get to where they are now. John Lennon will always be remembered for his music and his lyrics. He touched millions of people, but he also had to live through quite a bit of pain in his life.

I highly recommend Nowhere Boy. It was an excellent rental. My husband loves to browse the library for good movie rentals and always comes home with a nice little stack of movies. It's one of his greatest joys.

Do you like to watch movies at home? Have you seen any good ones lately?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

365 Inspirations—52: New Blog Discovery

“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”—Kahlil Gibran

 I will admit that I don't always have time to read all the blogs I want to read. There are so many inspiring blogs and people out there and I'm happy to have met you all in the blogosphere.

Today is a very busy day for me. I have a split shift at the college and need to go back in about an hour to teach my last class.

When I got home, I posted comments left on my last post and, in that process, discovered a new blog. Whenever someone new stops by here, I try to make a point of visiting them as well. I only had time to read one or two posts and the two I read on this person's blog touched my heart.

I think that's what it's all about really. We don't need to change the entire world, but if we can do a few things to make the world a better place for a few people and ourselves, I think that is so important.

The blog I discovered today is called Blue O'Connell's Musical Adventures  and the two posts I read were called "An Unexpected Gift" and "Man's Best Friend". They were simple, short posts, but they were so heartfelt. Blue is a Music Practitioner and plays music in nursing homes and for the intellectually disabled. Her blog is very simple and she has just a handful of followers. It would make my day if you'd all pay her a visit.

She talks about how we often don't know what a difference we are making in other people's lives. We may feel like we are making no difference at all and that what we do is unimportant. The truth is, every little thing we do is so important and can have such a tremendous impact.

I teach English as a Second Language. I have over 100 students from over 30 countries in my classes.  My students are all immigrants and refugees and I know they need English so desperately in order to make a life in a new place.

I often don't think about the impact I might make on a student until they let me know. Sometimes a student will do this by preparing a dish from their country or making a gift by hand. It's always such a surprise to receive these gestures of appreciation and I often feel like it's too much.

I'm reminded, through Blue's blog, that part of the process of giving is also being able to receive.

Each one of us, in our daily activities and gestures, can make a difference in other people's lives. We are all in this together. What we each do is so important.

*Special Note: Blue is giving away a copy of her CD "Choose the Sky" to those who visit her blog and leave a comment. I visited her website at and learned that she is profoundly deaf and had to have cochlear implant surgery. This makes her beautiful, sweet song and voice even more inspiring. Here's the song "Choose the Sky" on YouTube:

Have you read any new blog posts or blogs that have touched you or made you feel grateful or appreciative? Has any kind gesture touched you today?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

365 Inspirations—51: Free Book, Letter and Gift Giveaway

"Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love."—Lao Tzu 

I'm feeling rather generous today. I don't know what that's all about. Many of you have commented here that you've already read my book. Some of you have left comments and those mean so much to me. I've decided to give a free book away today along with a personal letter and gift. I don't know what the gift will be yet.

If you've already read my book, Lessons from the Monk I Married, it's a wonderful gift to giveaway to friends or family, so don't pass up entering in on this.

Recently I've received THREE books in the mail from two different authors. It is such a wonderful feeling to receive signed books, letters or gifts in the mail. So much is online these days, that we don't take time to send things by post anymore. That makes it all the more exciting to receive a gift or package in the mail!

I guess I've recently been the recipient of so much generosity, I feel I'd like to also offer something to my readers here.

If you are interested in this giveaway, please just leave a comment in the comment section mentioning that you'd like to be part of the giveaway and please join my blog community on either Facebook, Blogger or Networked Blogs, or all three!

Also, since I'm doing 365 days of Inspirations for 2013, I'd love it if you would let me know of an inspiration—a person, place or thing—that you'd be interested in reading about on this blog.

I often do guest posts and interviews, so if you'd like to do an exchange with me or know someone I might interview for my inspirations, I'd love to hear about it.

Oh! and I'd love it if you'd share my free giveaway on your blog too as there may be some other people who might want to join in. I will randomly pick a name from the comment section of this blog on March 15, 2013. That person will receive these gifts from me. Thanks for reading and being here and now a few questions for YOU!

Special note: Kirsty is the winner of my giveaway! You can read about it here.

What do you find inspiring? What person, place or thing is inspiring to you?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

365 Inspirations—50: Early Spring Flowers

“If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.”Buddha

We are having a very mild winter in Washington State. It's been in the 40s and 50s. We usually have somewhat mild winters, but this one is particularly mild. Today was a bright sunny day and it feels like spring outside. My husband and I decided to walk around Greenlake, which is about a three-mile walk. We do it often.

We have a huge Camellia tree in our front yard by our front door. It was planted long ago. I think it was the tradition back in the 40s and 50s in the Seattle area to plant certain kinds of trees and bushes when houses were built. Ours is a 1940s bungalow.

The Camellia tree was probably just a shrub when it was planted, but it's huge now. We don't normally start seeing blooms until very late in February or the first week in March, but I found that one little bud decided it was time to open. It made me happy.

We have a beautiful Buddha statue that sits under the tree. It's a nice greeting every time we come home from somewhere.

I noticed, on our walk around Greenlake, that other flowers like Daffodils and Crocuses have made their appearances, but aren't quite ready to bloom.

I think I'm ready for spring, even though we didn't really have much of a winter. I would have liked to have seen a little more snow on the lower levels, but I'll take the spring flowers!

Have you noticed any spring flowers coming up where you live? 

Monday, February 18, 2013

365 Inspirations—49: Cleaning House

"I'm not going to vacuum until Sears makes one you can ride on." —Roseanne Barr

Cleaning house is not my favorite thing to think about doing, but it feels so good after it's all done.

I feel the need to clean house today. Don't know what that is all about. I mostly feel like I need to get organized. A friend came over today for lunch and I enjoyed cooking for her. We had a nice conversation and meal. I cleaned the house on the surface, but want to attack some closets and my office.

Sometimes I feel like I can't think clearly until things are somewhat organized. Today is one of those days.

I'm going to start with the bedroom closet and then move to my office and get that organized. It's Presidents Day, so I don't have to work, but I have lots to do before the week starts up again.

I'm feeling the need to tend to things that I've been avoiding for some time—namely the state of my house. On the surface it looks fine, but dig deeper and you'll find it's really in a state of disarray, much like my mind today.

So off I go to tidy my little house and hopefully sweep up the cobwebs of my mind.

Do you often feel that cleaning or organizing your house helps your state of mind? 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

365 Inspirations—48: Bargain Hunting

"Thrifting is a scavenger hunt, where you can hope and dream about the Ultimate Bargain, but have to expect not to find it. Half the fun is in the looking..."—Dustin Wax

Last night, Yoon and I watched Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris. I think he's now seen it three times. He loves it. He rented it from the library and after our French dinner at Cafe de Paris in Edmonds, we watched it at home.

My favorite lines in the movie are when Hemingway asks Gil, "Have you ever hunted?" To which he shrugs his shoulders, laughs and says, "Only for bargains."

I will admit it. I love bargain hunting.  I always feel victorious when I find something of very high quality for a fraction of the cost. My husband is more of a "grab it and go" kind of shopper. I, on the other hand, like to meander.

After yoga class today, my husband and I got a bite to eat and then we headed off in separate directions. There are many thrift stores and discount stores near our house in Seattle. I don't shop often, but when I do, I really take my time.

Today I stopped in Marshalls and found two beautiful tea cups and some round green placemats. I must be thinking of spring because I wanted to look at everything "green". I also bought French hand soap ( I don't know what it is about France theses days, but everything is pointing us to France) and all natural Cedarwood soap.

We have a Grocery Outlet near our house. I normally shop at the local, organic supermarkets near our house, but every now and then I pop in to see what they have at Grocery Outlet. I found some organic apples, chicken, bananas and mandarin oranges. I also bought a few other staples.

Usually I don't have time to bargain hunt with my schedule, but it's the weekend. I also have Monday off. I don't think I'll hit the Presidents Day sales. Too many people. Sometimes I can also find sales online and can avoid the shopping crowds. I definitely don't like crowds when it comes to shopping.

Are you a bargain hunter? Are you a "grab it and go" kind of shopper or do you like to meander?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

365 Inspirations—47: Breakfast

"I went to a restaurant that serves 'breakfast at any time'. So I ordered French Toast during the Renaissance."—Steven Wright

Yes, breakfast is an inspiration to me because it is the ONE meal my husband and I always sit down for together. We are both teachers and we have evening classes, so we can't always sit down for lunch or dinner.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day according to many experts. It's what we start with and can determine how the rest of the day will go.

I will admit that I'm not one to spring out of bed to make breakfast. My husband is the first one to get up, so usually he makes breakfast.

He often grinds coffee, slices fresh fruit, cooks sausages or bacon and scrambles a few eggs. Sometimes we have fresh baked banana bread I have made in advance. We often have fresh juice and I have tea instead of coffee.

This isn't a special breakfast for the weekend—it's how we eat every morning!

My husband also likes to turn on the classical music while he is cooking and sometimes meanders up the street to the newspaper dispenser on the corner and buys a paper.

We read the paper, eat slowly, chat about our lives and plans for the day. That's how we start each morning!

Do you eat breakfast every morning? Do you take time to sit down with family or are you usually on the run?

Friday, February 15, 2013

365 Inspirations—46: Connecting and Sharing Space with Other Bloggers and Writers

“Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”—Buddha

Several posts ago, I wrote a post about a book I really like that my husband picked up at the library. It's called The Art of Uncertainty by Dennis Merritt Jones. Well, the author himself ended up reading the post I wrote about his book and he sent my husband and me our very own signed copy of his book along with The Art of Being: 101 Ways to Practice Purpose in Your Life (also signed).

Both of these books arrived yesterday (Valentine's Day!). I know how special it is to receive a signed copy of a book. I don't have many, but I cherish the ones I have.

Here's what the signed message reads in one of the books we received today from Dennis:

To Katherine and Yoon,

Thank you for "being" who you came here to be! You make a difference.

Dennis Merritt Jones

Reading that message tonight was special because I really felt the energy behind those words. I'm excited to dive into this book tonight. Perhaps I'll give you my synopsis on the book after I finish it.  For now, it is such a gift to have these two books sitting on my dining room table.

Keeping this blog has put me in touch with so many authors and bloggers. Many have written guests posts here (See 31 Writers, 31 Lessons).

I think that has been the best part about blogging. I realize how connected we all are. It's all about sharing space with one another and offering the gifts we have. It's also about honoring the gifts others have. It's an exchange. This exchange is the reason I continue to write and read!

Has writing, blogging or reading blogs connected you to people you wouldn't have met otherwise? Have you ever shared your space with other writers/bloggers in the form of guest posts or in other ways? 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

365 Inspirations—45: A Letter to my Husband on Valentine's Day

On our Wedding Day in Korea, May 10, 2003
Dear Yoon,

Valentine's Day is just another day, right? Still, as busy as we both are, I want to take some time to tell you how much you mean to me.

I haven't always been the easiest person to be married to and have gone through my share of ups and downs. Lately, I've been more down than up.

For almost eighteen years, we've always found our way back to each other, even when things seemed shaky or like they might break apart.

It hasn't been an easy road for us. You're from the East, I'm from the West. You were a monk when I met you, I was a crazy American girl with wanderlust traveling around trying to find what the meaning of life was.

You left everything to be with me. You left the monastery, your country—pretty much everything. When you arrived at my apartment door in Korea, all you had was a tiny backpack and the clothes on your back.

You had never known a life outside the monastery, yet in that very first year of living with me, you had set up a yoga business in my living room. I came back from Christmas with family in New York City to find a bunch of people in stretch pants on yoga mats saying, "Ommmm..."

You had a knack for teaching yoga and had lots of training in the monastery and in India. You brought so much experience with you.

I can't forget the day you said, "I found a building!" I had no idea how we would pay for a building or a sign or everything else that came with forming a yoga school in Korea, but you believed it would happen and it DID! Again and again and again....

Fast forward to 2013, and you are the owner and teacher at a beautiful yoga studio near Seattle and have led retreats all over the place! You are my BIGGEST inspiration.

Because of your belief that things would work out, you have encouraged me to fulfill many of my own dreams (i.e. blogging, book writing, etc.).

I know it wasn't easy to hang up your robe and decide to walk a very different path with me. I know it took so much courage. And here you are, still walking by my side, through the thick and thin.

Thank you for being by my side. Thank you for believing in me and loving me even when things seem difficult or hard. Thank you for your gift of teaching yoga. You have inspired and helped so many people, including me.

I love you so much and I am so happy you are still with me after all these years!

Your wife,

*To my readers:
I hope you will take the time to tell the people in your life how much you love them. It is so easy to take the people closest to us for granted.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

365 Inspirations—44: A Cup of Ginger Honey Tea

"When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on."—Franklin Roosevelt

I'll be honest, last night I contemplated pulling the plug on my inspirations. Now that sentence has a double meaning, doesn't it? I've never been a quitter. Never.

I always find a way to complete or finish something I have committed myself to doing.

I remember the time I ran a half marathon in college. Half of the marathon was on the Washington Coast. The scenery was breathtaking, but it was very similar and there were times I felt like I was running in place with no end in sight. I'd look down at the sparkling sand and out at the ocean again and eventually I just fell into a rhythm. I was not the person running, I was part of all that I was seeing. When I took myself out of it, I actually finished the race happily.

When I wrote 365 lessons in 2010, I hit many walls. Blogging every single day is no easy task, but the people who came to my blog were so encouraging and I loved writing the posts. I made many friends during that year and met many of those bloggers in person. It was one of the best years of my life because so many unexpected things happened that year.  While blogging every single day and teaching English, I also received agent representation, got a book deal and wrote a book!

If you ask me how I did that, I'll say, "I do not know!" In fact, there were honestly times when I truly felt the blog wrote itself. There were also times, after completing a chapter on my book, I'd sit there at the end wondering, "Did I just write all of that?" I was so absorbed in the process, that I became the process.

Recently I've gone back to full-time teaching. I love both writing and teaching, but felt last night the strain of not having enough time to do both. I came home at 10:00pm after teaching 6 hours at the college. When I opened the door, I staggered to the sofa and lay down, unable to move.

My husband said, cheerfully, "Can I make you something to eat?" He has always been my biggest cheerleader and the person who knows what to say at just the right time. I opted out of the food and chose to sink into a bubbly bath instead.

Before disappearing into my Calgon-take-me-away bath, I said to my husband, half-jokingly, "Will you write my blog post?" (He has actually been a guest writer on my blog in the past.) He laughed and said, "Take a rest tonight, you can write it tomorrow morning and everything will seem fresh again."

I slipped off my clothes and sank into the bathtub. Suddenly my husband popped in and set down a hot cup of fresh ginger and honey tea with a squeeze of lime on the side of the bathtub. I actually felt like crying when I tasted it. It was exactly what I needed at that moment.

So this cup of tea that was lovingly prepared by my husband has inspired me to keep going. Plus, I really do get so much out of writing these posts and the interaction with you all! Thanks for being here.

Have you ever felt like giving up on something, but somehow found the courage or energy to carry on? What inspired you to continue or keep going?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

365 Inspirations—43: A Predestined Meeting with a Bicycling Buddhist Monk

"If the time is right, we will meet the people we are supposed to meet."—Seong Yoon Lee 

Okay folks, this is a repost from the fall, but in case you missed it, this was one of the most remarkable days of my life, so please read on! 

Was it Sedona's powerful vortex energy that led us to this chance meeting of two Korean monks? Well, one is a monk and the other one is a former monk and my husband. Several months ago I received an e-mail from someone who had read a review of my book, Lessons from the Monk I Married,  in Shambhala Sun and contacted me about writing a book about a Korean Buddhist monk named Daeung Sunim who is bicycling across the Americas in what is called "Journey of Spirit." He started in Vancouver, Canada and is heading down to the tip of South America. He doesn't speak much English and is depending mostly on the generosity of others to see this trip through to the end. While the story sounded intriguing, I didn't feel I had enough connection to the story to write a book about it. However, I did mention to the person who contacted me that I'd write a blog post about this monk's story. That was weeks ago and I still had it in the back of my mind that I would write something, but never found the time.

Last weekend, my husband was leading a small yoga retreat in Sedona, AZ. He wanted to take some of his students to the vortex locations in Sedona and practice yoga and meditate there. What is a vortex?  Apparently, a vortex is the funnel shape that is created by whirling fluid or energy. Hurricanes and tornadoes are well known vortexes, but there are also vortexes of energy under the earth. In Sedona, there are four main energy vortexes where magnetism has been measured to be the strongest. Even Juniper trees near these vortexes take on a strange twisted shape and appear to have responded in a physical way to the energy at these sites. This is a photo of a twisted juniper tree at Cathedral Rock Vortex and there is a view of Bell Rock Vortex in the background.

We practiced yoga and meditated at two of these vortexes. I definitely felt a flow of very subtle energy while hiking on these rocks and practicing yoga. I also felt grounded, connected, happy and at ease. Before hiking up onto Cathedral Rock, we made our own human yoga vortex down below. The view was tremendous from the top of Cathedral Rock. It absolutely took our breaths away. We didn't want to come down from the top and stayed up there for quite some time. Below is a picture of my husband and me on top of Cathedral Rock.

We ended our day with so much energy. I felt so happy and fortunate to have this experience and it was my birthday weekend too, which made it all the more special for me. The next day, with all the energy we were still feeling, we decided to go to the Grand Canyon. My husband and one member of our retreat had never been there, so we set out on a two and a half hour journey from Sedona to the Grand Canyon. 

In the car, I started to tell a few of the retreat members about the Buddhist monk who was bicycling across the Americas. I mentioned how I thought he was probably in the Grand Canyon area too because I had seen information about that on his Facebook Fanpage. Less than an hour later, we were making the turn onto the freeway that would take us to the Grand Canyon and I spotted a man on a bicycle. He was covered from head to toe, including his face, in order to protect himself from the wind and sun. I drove past him and then just put on my brakes. 

"That's him!" I shouted. 

I could not physically see if it was him, but I felt it. I felt it at the very core of my being that this was the monk who was riding his bicycle across the Americas. I pulled the car over to the side of the road and told my husband to tell him, in Korean, how I knew who he was. The monk was just astonished to see us and to be speaking Korean to a former monk brother. We hugged and smiled and talked. There was a great energy exchange between us all. The monk seemed relieved to see us. I don't know if he had had a particularly long and lonely stretch of highway before he met us, but he seemed so happy to see us. He took a picture and then we all took pictures. We gave him an apple, orange and some trail bars and wished him the best of luck on his travels and we left him to make his "journey of spirit" on his own. I was smiling all the way to the Grand Canyon. I could not believe I had met this gentle soul who I had heard so much about. Who knows if it had anything to do with the vortexes or the energy of the place? What I do know for sure is that this was not a meaningless coincidence. My husband is quoted in my book as saying, "If the time is right, we will meet the people we are supposed to meet." I couldn't agree more.

Have you ever had an experience that felt predestined? Did you ever run into someone or have an unexpected experience that seemed to alter the course of your life?

Monday, February 11, 2013

365 Inspirations—42: Collaging with my Husband

This is my husband Yoon's collage
"The creation of an art collage from the soul is an inner journey that allows your soul to speak to you. Your soul's voice can be heard through the images, feelings and insights that surface..."—Kathleen Carrillo
Okay, I know. Collaging is probably not the norm for a "date night" with your significant other, but that's how my husband and I spent Saturday night and we were in bliss and completely content.

I got out all the art supplies, made a couple cups of Market Spice Tea, sliced up a Minneola (Have you had one? It's a cross between a tangerine and an orange—delish!), put on the smooth jazz station and got down to business!

Thankfully, my husband was happy and excited to join me in a night of collaging. Both of us LOVE talking about our dreams together and we love the creative process. I feel lucky to have a husband I can share my ideas and thoughts with. 

Collaging uses the right side of the brain. It's a completely free-flow kind of activity and easy to do. All you need are a bunch of magazines, some glue, colored paper, stickers, colored pencils, and any other art supplies. I learned from my best friend Lena, who is an art therapist, that drawing a circle with a plate on the paper is a way to focus the collaging project, but you can also just collage freely on the entire paper.

Both my husband and I chose to draw a circle with a plate. Then we got busy and quiet cutting out words and pictures that sparked our interests. I found a bunch of puffy stickers I must have bought a while ago with all kinds of travel images on them and used them in my collage.

After we finished, we spent time looking at each others collages. I realized that my husband and I are more alike in our interests than I thought. We both put images of travel, yoga, retreats and money (having money is helpful for doing the other things ^_^) on our collages.

The collage I created on Saturday night!
I have been doing collages for years and have led collage activities at yoga retreats with my husband. They are always one of the most inspiring activities we do at retreats.

I'm always amazed to find that things I've collaged about years ago have actually come true in my life. Through collaging, I often feel like I've found a portal into the unconsciousness. I see things in my collages that are reflections of things that have happened and things that are yet to be. They are all like "vision boards" for me. Doing them is so freeing.

When we are children, we actively and freeing participate in the creative process through art and play. I think this is very important for adults too!

Do you like to do art? Have you ever done collaging before? 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

365 Inspirations—41: 56 Up (The Movie)

"Life is what happens while you are waiting for something else."—Albert Camus

Today was the first week of the newest installment of the "7 Up" movies! Have you seen any of these? It's a British film and the creators of the documentary have been following the lives of a handful of people in England since they were all 7 years old. They are now 56!!!

It's very fascinating to hear what these children wanted to do when they grew up and what they are actually doing now. Every seven years, the film crew meets again with this group of people and they get a recap of their lives.

It so interesting how much our early childhood and family situations shape who we become. Our beliefs about ourselves are set very early on in life and if we want to break out of some of the negative attributes about ourselves, we have to work extremely hard at it.

All the people in the movie have gone various directions in their lives. Most of them married, most of them had children, some got divorced, some remarried, some travelled, most held jobs and many actually did the jobs they said they wanted to do as a young child.

I highly recommend this movie. It is such an interesting look at "a life". Even though it is just snippets of a life, it makes you think and reevaluate your own life and the things you are doing.

You realize, from the movie, that time goes by so fast and before you know it, you are 56!!!

It makes me think that I'd like to create a list right now with my husband of things I still want to do.

I'd like to travel a bit more and focus more on writing!

Do you have a bucket list? Are there things you still want to do in your life that you haven't? What are those things?

Saturday, February 9, 2013

365 Inspirations—40: Cooking for Friends

"I like the creativity of planning a party, or cooking and taking care of people, creating a memorable meal or event."—Martina McBride

 I love getting creative in the kitchen. It's my laboratory where I try all kinds of new things. Today my writing group was scheduled to come over to my house at 6pm. I planned on preparing a main dish and a dessert and they were going to bring sides. I wanted to see how creative I could get without going to the grocery store.

Sometimes it's fun to see what you can create with what you have on hand. I think everyone appreciates it if you can create something special from nothing.

I looked in the fridge and found that I had some Italian sausages on hand and lots of veggies. I also had lentils and chicken broth. I stir fried the Italian sausage with cabbage, carrots, onions and kale in coconut oil. While it was cooking, I added in a dash of cayenne and a tablespoon both of curry powder and cumin. At the same time, I boiled the brown lentils in a big pot.

I then poured chicken broth and a few cups of water into my Crockpot and added in the stir fried ingredients. I rinsed the lentils in a strainer and added those too. I let everything simmer on low for a few hours to let the flavors mingle.

I wanted to create a delicious sugar-free, grain-free Valentine-themed dessert. I found that I had little oven-proof baking cups in the cupboard. I decided to make little chocolate cakes (grain and sugar free) with heart strawberries.

Here's my recipe:

3/4 cup of almond flour
1/2 cup-3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
3 eggs
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix the wet ingredients together with a beater. Sift the dry ingredients together and slowly add to the wet ingredients. Pour into oven-proof baking cups. Cook at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or so.

Cut strawberries in half. Cut a small triangle out of the top of each half to make a heart and place on cooled cake. I had these cute little wax heart candles in my closet and added those for extra flair.

My writing friends showed up and really loved the soup and the little cakes which we ate with Market Spice tea (Seattle's Pike Place Market tea) and Chai Spice tea.

They brought broccoli, green salad and bean salad side dishes for the meal and they also brought cheese, crackers and wine.

The food and company were great and we did prompt writing using Osho Zen cards. Each card has a beautiful picture on it and a word and we used these to start our free writing. It was good way to start the writing process without thinking too much about it. Afterwards, we shared our writing. We are also working on a collaborative book together, but focused more on prompt writing this time.

I've been meeting with my little writing group (just three of us) for three or so years now and we always have a good time together and enjoy the creative process. I so enjoy cooking and having them over for our meetings. Next time we'll meet at another member's house.

Do you sometimes have friends over? Do you like cooking for company?

Friday, February 8, 2013

365 Inspirations—39: Bright Sun and Puffy, White Clouds

"Bows and flows of angel hair and ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere, I've looked at clouds that way."—Joni Mitchell 

I think no one appreciates the SUN as much as a Seattleite. Basically because this time of year we don't see it much. When it does decided to show its face, the first thing I want to do is get on my walking shoes and head outside.

I have a split teaching shift today and only have a short time between classes. While in my afternoon class, I could see the bright sun from the classroom window and it was beckoning me to come outside.

As soon as I finished my class, I got in my car and headed straight for Greenlake Park. Well, actually I hit PCC, the local grocery store, on the way to the park because I hadn't had any lunch.

I sat in my car and had some fruit and a chicken salad. The sun was beaming into the window of my car and I felt so happy and warm inside while I ate my late lunch.

I then switched shoes in the Greenlake parking lot and pulled on a jacket, hat and gloves and headed out into the sun. It wasn't a completely clear day. It was one of those "puffy, white cloud" kinds of days. You know the ones—crystal blue skies, white clouds that look like different animals and shapes if you stare at them long enough, and bright sun.

I sat on a bench and let the sun hit my face as walkers, skaters and bicyclists passed by. I looked up at the clouds and swore I saw one that looked like a heart. I thought, Wow, look at that! A heart-shaped cloud. Just in time for Valentine's Day!

I'm now back at home and the sun is about to set. I'm heading back to the college for round two. I'm so happy I was able to get out and about today.

Have you spent time in the sunshine lately? Do you ever stop and look at the clouds and see shapes?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

365 Inspirations—38: The Unknown (The Art of Uncertainty by Dennis Merritt Jones)

"Those stuck in the no-zone are held there in part by their habit energy and have not a clue of the unforetold opportunities that lie ahead in the mystery of that which is yet to be."—Dennis Merritt Jones

We are creatures of habit and tend to do the same things over and over again. Sometimes we don't even realize it. Why? Because it's safe and comfortable. Nothing wrong with that.

But if we never stretch out of the box of "what we already know," we don't grow.

Moving into the unknown is scary, but I believe even in our comfort zone, we cannot predict what will happen in the next moment, so why not make the unknown our new comfort zone.

I'm reading a book called The Art of Uncertainty: How to Live in the Mystery of Life and Love It  by Dennis Merritt Jones. I've gotten so much from this book. It made me realize that from very early on in our childhood we start to believe certain things about ourselves based on how we grew up and on our surroundings. Often we accept certain things about ourselves based on our history and never challenge these ideas or opinions.

Things like I've always been overweight, I'm not so smart or I'm not good at math are just some examples of beliefs we have about ourselves. Many people accept these labels or ideas about themselves and instead of challenging them, just keep reinforcing that these are true.

The mystery of life says that we can be and do anything we want. Do you believe it?

It takes so much courage to believe this and to step out into the vast, unchartered unknown and to create something new for ourselves.

Merritt takes the "comfort zone" a bit further claiming that much of society lives in what is called "the no-zone".

He says, "Those stuck in the no-zone are held there in part by their habit energy and have not a clue of the unforetold opportunities that lie ahead in the mystery of that which is yet to be."

He continues, "To transcend the no-zone-layer requires being fully awake and connected to life in the moment, thriving each new day, knowing who you are, and knowing that what you do with who you are matters to you and the world."

He also says that to transcend the no-zone requires three things: clarifying your intentions, getting your bearings and taking action.

It's easy to take our lives for granted and just expect everything to be as we expect it to be day after day. Superficially, it appears that we know what is going on. The truth is, things are changing every single second.

Our lives are unknown. This is the truth. Rather than being afraid of this, I'd like to embrace it and make the unknown my new comfort zone. I want to live in the mystery of life and love it just as the book's title reads. Every single day is a blessing and I can't wait to see what is around the corner! I want to try new things and stretch out of my box. How about you?

Are you afraid of the unknown? Do you believe you can do and be anything you want to do and be?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

365 Inspirations—37: Break Time

"Free time keeps me going. It's just something that has always been part of my life."—Gus Van Sant

This will be a short post because today is my heavy teaching day and I only have about an hour to write this post, lesson plan and drive myself back to school for the next half of my day which goes until 9:40pm!

No matter how busy I am, it is helpful for me to write these posts because it helps me to focus on the good in my day and to see that very simple things can be inspirational.

Today my break time at home before my next teaching stint has proven to be inspirational. I've had a bit of time to think about the direction I want to go in my life and to check up on e-mails. I haven't had a chance to talk to my mother in a while. She's a snowbird and just went down south for the rest of the winter and finally made it to her destination. I was glad we were able to chat via e-mail.

On my breaks, I gravitate towards writing and blogging, two of my favorite passions! If I have a longer break I get a walk in or practice yoga. I also love researching new and different things on the web and reading other people's blogs. 

No matter how busy I am, I find it crucial to have down time or break time. I try to carve this time out in my day. It's a time when nothing is really planned. It's a time to dream, ponder, read, write and take a walk in nature. Without this time, I would not be able to keep up with my busy schedule. I need this time.

I am grateful for my short, free time today and grateful for this break.

What do you like to do during a break or unplanned free time? What do you gravitate towards when you find you have a bit of free time?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

365 Inspirations—36: Keys Locked in My Car

"Mistakes are portals of discovery."—James Joyce

I know what you are thinking. You're thinking, Can locking your keys in the car be an inspiration? Well, last night that little incident was my inspiration because it taught me a few things. I finished my class at the college at 9:40pm. It was a good class, but afterwards,  I just wanted to get in my car and head home. Sometimes, after I finish teaching a large class, I'm wound up from the energy and need to "come down" and change the music on the "track," if you know what I mean.

I stopped off at my favorite grocery store and decided to buy myself a Kombucha and some fresh fruit. I called my husband to see if he bought eggs since we were out. He did because he's good that way. I was happy to have my own time and wandered around looking at this and that. I was slowly winding down as I meandered through the aisles. The grocery store I  go to is HUGE and full of all sorts of organic and international foods. They have EVERYTHING! I love it. It smells so wholesome in there and everything looks so fresh.

I made my way to check out with some grapefruit, bananas, oranges and a healthy drink in my basket. I purchased everything and then headed for my car. I felt around for my keys and realized I didn't have them. I went back into the store and inquired about them. No one had seen them.

I called my husband, but was pretty calm. I just said, "I think I locked my keys in my car. Can you come get me. I'm not sure what else I can do." He said, "Okay, I'll be right there."

I knew the situation wasn't good as I only have one key to my car and I haven't renewed my AAA membership, so roadside service wasn't an option. I didn't want to leave my car in the parking lot all night with the keys in it. After all, I had recently had my car broken into.

Just then I felt this calm wash over me. I know it sounds strange, but I knew that somehow it would work out. I walked over to my car again knowing that the keys were inside and just stood there in silence for a moment. Then I walked behind my car to the back left door. For some odd reason, I had left that one particular door unlocked! I opened it, climbed into my car and found my keys in the front seat.

I called my husband and told him he didn't need to come. Right away I knew why this happened and what I needed to learn from it because this is what I felt before I found my keys:

1. I heard the words, "Slow down. Pay attention!" I knew I needed to heed these words right away. This was my lesson.

2. The second thing I knew for sure was that this was just a warning. I knew things would work out. I had no idea how it would happen, but I felt I'd drive home that evening.

As soon as I came back to myself and the present moment, I knew what I had to do. Most of the time, I do things from the inside out, but teaching ESL is a very extroverted job. I occasionally get lost in thought after class. This particular night, I still felt the class whirling around in my head on my drive home.

The situation of  having my keys locked in my car reminded me that it's important to SLOW DOWN and take the time to transition from one thing to the next. It was also an opportunity to handle the situation one moment at a time, rather than in a state of confusion or panic. As soon as I did this, everything worked out just fine.

I'm happy for that little incident today. It was my inspiration, believe it or not!

Have you ever had something unfortunate or unexpected happen that turned out to be a lesson or a blessing in disguise?

Monday, February 4, 2013

365 Inspirations—35: French Food

"After one taste of French food ... I was hooked. I'd never eaten like that before, I didn't know such food existed. The wonderful attention paid to each detail of the meal was incredible to me..."—Julia Child

 Okay, I don't know much about France or French Food, but I feel this is a place I have to visit. Particularly Paris. My agent recently informed me that my book accompanied my foreign agent in London to Paris. She was headed there for a book event and planned to talk to some editors and publishing houses about selling the foreign rights of Lessons from the Monk I Married to France. Croatian and Complex Chinese foreign rights have already been sold, so I can expect to see my book in both Croatian and Chinese, but French would be nice to add to the mix.

So on Saturday, in honor of my book making it to France, my husband and I did something we normally don't do. We splurged and went out for a 3-course lunch at a phenomenal French restaurant located in the infamous Pike Place Market in Seattle. It was completely spontaneous. I actually had to break my Paleo diet rules for this one because there was no possible way I was not going to eat what they were serving.

The host said, "Bonjour Madame!" and lead my husband and I upstairs to a table with a view of Puget Sound and the ferry boats coming and going from the pier. It was so romantic. We both started with the French Onion Soup! Délicieux!

Then my husband had the beef cheek with potatoes and the tastiest gravy and green beans. It was cooked to perfection. I had the Penn Cove steamed mussels. Everything was so good!

Finally, they brought us out creme brulee and two cappaccinos for dessert and we stared out at the water in bliss.  The creme brulee was so delicious I wanted to lick the bowl. I hadn't had sweets for over a month and it felt good to treat myself. I know it was just a one-time spur-of-the-moment thing and I think it's good to be spontaneous sometimes.

All I could think about after our fantastic meal is that I need to go to France. Perhaps I will get an opportunity to go there on international book tour!

Have you ever had French food or been to France? Have you done anything spontaneous recently?

Sunday, February 3, 2013

365 Inspirations—34: ART

 Distraction by Karin Davie, 1965
"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced."—Vicent Van Gogh

 I love art. I love sculptures, paintings, mixed media, jewelry—just about anything really! Art makes my heart sing and sometimes I really FEEL something. I love making art, but I'm sort of self conscious about this. I think I'd like to make more art, particularly paintings or mixed media on canvas.

It's the first weekend of the month and I got free admission today to the Seattle Art Museum because holders of a Bank of America credit card get into museums for free on the first weekend of every month.

My husband and I drove to downtown Seattle and hiked up the hill to the SAM (Seattle Art Museum). We were excited to see some new exhibitions. There was an exhibition on gold throughout history and another installment from a very gifted modern Japanese artist named Yayoi Kusama. You can read more about that artist here:

I love wandering through the paintings and sculptures. You can really get a sense of the times through art that was created in a particular time period. I love the vividness and aliveness of the older painters and I love their ability to capture a moment and make it seem so real, but I'm actually more drawn to modern art because of the freedom of expression in these paintings. Here's a painting I fell in love with by Raqib Shaw from India. I love the story it tells, mixed media and the vibrant colors. It is sort of an aquatic fantasy in which the subjects must face all kinds of obstacles. It's called Garden of Earthly Delights.

I am attracted to color in a painting and life. It can be abstract, but I want to feel a sense of "aliveness" when I see it. I've only ever attempted to paint ONE painting in my life. I did it suddenly after my best friend lent me art supplies. I did it in my kitchen from paint and mixed media and it took me about an hour to do. I call it Clear Fall Day. When I finished it I hung it on my living room wall and my husband came home and said, "I like it!" It is now in our guest bedroom.

And my favorite painting of all, which I purchased after a trip to Sedona, AZ, is this painting of an Agave Plant. We have it over our fire place and when it's rainy outside, it reminds me of my time in the desert.

Do you like art? Do you have any art in your home? Do you like to visit art galleries?

Saturday, February 2, 2013

365 Inspirations—33: One Family and the Love of a Maple Tree (Greenlake, Seattle)

“For me, it’s more than just saving a tree. It’s inspirational that a little boy saw  something that he didn’t like in the world and stood up for it. And it actually worked.”—Kim Butler

Seattle people LOVE trees! We are the Evergreen State and we are very proud of our towering trees. People fight to have trees remain in place and would rather have the trees over anything else. For months now, I've been walking around Greenlake Park in Seattle and have spotted a huge Maple tree trunk elaborately decorated with fresh flowers daily! Someone obviously loved this tree and was saddened by its loss from the park. I have wondered for months now who has been doing this.

For a few weeks now, there have only been the remains of dead flowers on the tree trunk. I felt saddened to see this and thought the person decorating the tree trunk must have given up.

However, today, while I walked around Greenlake with my husband, I was thrilled to see that the trunk was decorated once again with an array of bright flowers! It made me smile. Several people stopped to view the flowers and I also noticed happiness on their faces.

So I decided to Google "decorated tree trunk at Greenlake" and of course I found the news story from the Greenlake Komo News website and most of this information here is from that story.

It all started with one family, the Butlers, in 2002. Taylor, the boy, was only 5 when he spotted a sign that mentioned the tree would be cut down. The young boy was so sad that this tree would be removed that he posted signs on the tree urging people to save it. He left blank pieces of paper in order to gather signatures and support for the tree.

The family's passion for the tree extended the tree's life by 10 years, but eventually it was cut down because it had split and was a threat to the community.

To honor the tree, the Butlers have been placing fresh flowers on the trunk for many months, but they decided that they'd like a more permanent way to memorialize the tree.

The kids, Emma and Taylor, along with their mother, created a fundraiser to raise money for a park bench that will be placed near the tree trunk. Many people have supported this fundraiser and they have raised over $1,200 for the bench.

I never expected that a little boy and a love for a tree could spark such a crusade to save it. It just goes to show that it doesn't matter how young or old you are, we can all make a difference.

Here's their Facebook page for their Maple Tree Bench Project

Have you ever stood up for a cause you believe in? Are you also a lover of trees?