Tuesday, April 30, 2013

365 Inspirations—120: An Awesome Blog

“You say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one...” —John Lennon

The best part about blogging is finding awesome blogs and bloggers. I have met so many people from this online community of bloggers/blog readers/writers! Meeting and sharing with people is the best part of it all.

Not sure how I found Keith Wynn's Musings of an Unapologetic Dreamer, but he's definitely got some interesting musings going on! We blog on similar topics as I'm a bit of a dreamer myself.

What I like about his blog is that he makes you stop whatever you are doing and step back and look at the larger picture of life. I think that is so important and something we don't often do.

Keith recently posted this quote on his blog:

"If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got."

I think sometimes we expect something to magically change in our lives, but it won't if we don't do anything about it.

So no complaining...get to work ^_^!

 I thank Keith for this quote. It's something to live by.

Now go over and check out his blog and leave a comment,

(but make sure you tell him I sent you..he, he!)

Do you know of any other great blogs or bloggers I'm missing out on? Please let me know your favorites!

Monday, April 29, 2013

365 Inspirations—119: Sleep

"Sleep is the best meditation."—Dalai Lama

Last night the bright moon woke me up. It filled my entire bedroom with light and I couldn't sleep very well. My mind was overflowing with ideas while I was soaking in the moonlight!

Tonight, after teaching a long stretch of classes, I'm pooped.

Time to get a bite to eat, take a bath and settle into bed with a great book. Sleep is my inspiration today. The idea of laying horizontal after being on my feet all evening teaching sounds oh, so lovely.

I made it through Monday! I enjoyed the day, but now it is time to rest.

Do you get enough sleep? How many hours do you sleep per night?

Sunday, April 28, 2013

365 Inspirations—118: Go For It!

"I don't tend to question things that much. If it feels right, I go for it."— Sarah McLachlan 

For the past 5 hours, I've been filling out an application form and updating my resume for that "birth of an idea" that you all are probably still wondering about. From my collage yestersday, you all know it includes Hawaii and entails whales, swimming, fruit and, well, Machu Picchu, a yoga trip my husband will lead in September, is thrown into the picture too! For some reason I also included an astronaut, Spiderman and the moon in my collage...well, sky's the limit (and maybe sky is not even the limit!)

I know it's not all making sense yet, but it will!

I had quizzes to grade, the house to clean and lesson plans to create (not to mention blog posts I've promised to several people that I haven't had a chance to write yet), but I felt a strong pull to get the ball rolling on something that has been on my mind for quite some time! I'm going for it!

I will tell you more about my "project" as the pieces start to come together.

In the meantime, I needed some juice to keep my momentum up and was happy to receive this very kind comment on my book review page today. I'm delighted that this "anonymous" person took the time to tell me these words because they made my day! Here they are:

"I want to thank you for the beautiful book you have written. I just so happened to stumble upon it at my local library, and what a joy it has been to hear your journey and the truths you discovered along the way. Thank you for writing this book and being such an inspiration for so many. As a fiercely independent lady who is learning that sometimes it is okay to let go and trust that life will truly work itself out, your words could not have come in to my life at a better time. Thank you for sharing your wisdom!"

And today I found out that Lessons from the Monk I Married made Top Travel Literature Titles of 2012 as reviewed by Lonely Planet Travel Guides!

 Here's the link to that: http://thinkworth.com/top-travel-literature-titles-of-2012/

 So I'm feeling ready to step out there again. I'm feeling ready to write another book. It's bubbling up....it wants to come out! I don't know everything yet. I'm stepping out into the unknown, but I really can't wait!

 Have you ever just said to yourself, "Go for it!" and stepped out of your comfort zone into the unknown?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

365 Inspirations—117: Dreams Taking Shape

"Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition."—Steve Jobs

Sometimes it's hard to see a full picture of what our dreams are telling us. Yesterday, I got a full snapshot of what the picture looked like. All the pieces formed an overall theme and I knew what I wanted to do.

 I do collages often and they are another creative way of using the right brain to get ideas out of the head and onto paper. My friend who is an art therapist got me hooked on creating collages and I've always been amazed at how many of the things I've created on paper have actually come true in real life.

What I love about collaging is that there are no set rules. We can work with all kinds of materials, different textures and colors to bring what is inside to life.

A really good friend who was in the South Pacific for two years in the Peace Corps came over and we collaged together. She joined a collaging party at our house a couple of years ago and had such a great time, she requested to do it again.

We spread out all the materials on my dining room table and without further adieu, we got to work.

So for all of you who are wondering what this "birth of an idea" (Inspiration 116) is all about, my collage this evening sheds some light on the themes that are coming to me. I believe that we all intuitively know what we are meant to do, but often times the picture we get presents a challenge. I believe all of the challenges come from our own minds.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I'm going to lay some foundations down under my pictures. I'm ready for this change!

Do you ever collage or participate in creative activities in order to get a view of what you are called to do?

Friday, April 26, 2013

365 Inspirations—116: The Birth of an Idea

"First comes thought; then organization of that thought, into ideas and plans; then transformation of those plans into reality. The beginning, as you will observe, is in your imagination."—Napoleon Hill

Have you ever gotten a very clear picture of something you will do? I don't know if it's the full moon in Scorpio or what, but all these little pieces of information kept coming to me over the last few months about my next venture and they all came together this morning.

The idea was so strong that I was shaking, literally shaking, like a volcano! I told my husband and he said, "It's a REALLY great idea."

I think it's more than just an idea.

I feel like I was looking through a blurry telescope and once I adjusted the focus, all the pieces formed a very clear picture.

That's what happened this morning.

So now that I see clearly what I want to do, I need to lay down some foundations and get to work. I won't keep you all hanging for too long, but don't want to spill the beans until this is really underway.

I'm not going to let this one slip away. Too many things pointing me in this direction! I'm very excited!

Have you recently had any new ideas that you have followed through with?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

365 Inspirations—115: Realigning with my Purpose

Signing books at my book launch at Yoon's Yoga Bliss last April, 2012
"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined."— Henry David Thoreau

It's easy to fall off the wagon every now and then. By Wednesday, my room looks like a tornado hit it! Clothes and things are everywhere.

I have the day off on Thursday, so I tidy up on that day. I even washed the sheets and did a couple loads of laundry today. I'm back on the wagon.

The weather was so nice out. It was up in the 70s and people were in bathing suits at Greenlake Park in Seattle. I really couldn't believe it.

Even though I was very busy this week, somehow I managed to walk around Greenlake, about a 3-mile walk, every single day! And today I even went to yoga class.

I've been reevaluating my priorities lately and I'm shifting things around to match the things that are really important to me. Life is too short to not do what makes me really happy.

While I've really enjoyed teaching ESL, I feel that I want to focus on my writing a bit more. I'm also doing many retreats and events with my husband. In the summer, I plan to reduce my teaching hours in order to spend more time working on my next book. I'm also leading a yoga/writing retreat at The Yoga Lodge on Whidbey Island in August with my husband. It's filling up and there aren't many spaces left!

I might go into hermit mode the last two weeks in June so that I can hunker down at my family's cabin on a lake and get some book writing underway. I'm very excited about my upcoming solo writing retreat. I have a feeling some wonderful things are going to come from my time there.

I will, however, keep the blog posts going because it is very helpful to write everyday, even when there is nothing too earth shattering to report. Part of my practice as a writer is to write no matter what is happening.

Do ever feel the need to shift directions? Is what you are doing now in line with your dreams?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

365 Inspirations—114: The End

"One always has to know when a stage comes to an end. If we insist on staying longer than the necessary time, we lose the happiness and the meaning of the other stages we have to go through."—Paulo Coelho

I made it to the end of the week. It's only Wednesday, but that's my last teaching day until Monday. I teach a full schedule Monday to Wednesday. Not only is it the end of the week, but it's pay day tomorrow!

How am I celebrating? I stopped by the grocery store and picked up a Kombucha (Gingerberry) and Saya Snow Pea Crisps and went straight home to type up this post. I put my hands on the keyboard and nothing was coming to me except the words THE END.

There's more meaning in those words than meets the eye. It's not the end of a life I'm speaking of, but perhaps the end of a chapter in my life. I've been getting signs that something is going to change.

I don't fear endings so much, because they also signal the start of something fresh and NEW. I think we  humans are so afraid of endings. We want to hold on to things until the bitter end, even if those things aren't serving us anymore.

For now, I'll take the end of the week. Off I go to sip my Kombucha and eat some Snow Pea Crisps in celebration of THE END of another day, another week (my week anyway) and another BLOG POST!

Are you afraid of endings? What endings have you experienced recently?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

365 Inspirations—113: Reflections

Bird's reflection in Greenlake
"I realized that everything I saw was somehow a reflection of my own life—where I have been, where I am and where I will go. All I had to do was tune into what was happening in this moment and all the answers were there."—Katherine Jenkins

Unlike yesterday, I slept in this morning. My husband is often up first, but he slept in a little longer too. It suddenly dawned on me that today is his morning off from teaching yoga. So we went back to our usual pattern and had a leisurely breakfast and then went for a walk together around Greenlake.

While I enjoy walking alone, I also enjoy walking with my husband around the lake. We have such great conversations and sometimes I'm able to see things more clearly with his added perspective.

He often says or reflects back to me the things I've been missing.

I get caught up in the same thinking patterns, but I'm learning to break them or, at least, see them.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I'm reading The Intuitive Way by Penney Peirce and practicing tuning in to my intuition everyday. Since starting this new way of being, I'm picking up on very subtle signs and symbols in my day to day life.

While caught up in a habitual thought pattern, I was suddenly stopped in my tracks by this giant bird or duck perched on a low tree branch over the water. He seemed to be staring down at his reflection in glassy water and through my iPhone it looked like there were two of them.

Reflections became the theme and I realized that everything I saw was somehow a reflection of my own life—where I have been, where I am and where I will go. All I had to do was tune into what was happening in this moment and all the answers were there. I may not fully understand the signs or symbols in my life, but at least I am aware of them and that's all that is important for now.

Further along the path. I glanced off towards the water's edge and saw, sitting clearly in the grass, a dollar. It was just sitting there clear as day. My husband said, "Well, go get it." I hesitated because it didn't belong to me, but there wasn't anyone around that it could have belonged to and it would probably just wash away.

I then realized that money is meant to flow. It doesn't belong to any of us. It symbolized, for me, the abundance of life that is already there for the taking. It is meant to flow and if we are open to it, it will come to our lives. I gave the dollar to my husband and he used it for bus money to go downtown and get movies and books from the public library.

We had a nice lunch at one of our favorite sushi restaurants after our walk. While paying for the meal, I saw yet another dollar on the wall of the sushi restaurant. I asked the waitress why it was there.

"It's the first dollar we received since we've been in business," she said.

I guess it's lucky to keep those things, but I'm going to let it all flow....

Monday, April 22, 2013

365 Inspirations—112: Breaking Patterns and Feeling What's Right

Observatory at Mauna Kea
"The sky is closer than I've ever seen it, ready to spill its secrets."—Peter Fish

I'm a night teacher, so I tend to get up a little later than most people. I usually eat breakfast with my husband at 8:00AM or so. We have a nice, leisurely breakfast together. It's my favorite part of the day. While most people are rushing out the door and barely have time for a bite to eat, my husband is often humming in the kitchen to a song on the radio while cooking up eggs or slicing fruit and making coffee.

Sometimes I'm the breakfast person, but he usually wanders into the kitchen before I do in the morning, so he becomes the breakfast person.

Not today.

Something happened today.

I woke up at 7:00AM wide awake. I quietly got dressed and told my husband I was heading out for a walk around Greenlake, Seattle's equivalent of Central Park, and that he was welcome to come with me.

He said, "No, that's okay. You go ahead. I've got class at 9:45AM." I never miss breakfast with my husband, but the lake, sun and water were calling me quite loudly and I was listening.

I got to the lake and a huge smile spread across my face when I saw a gaggle of Canadian geese and their babies. It was so precious and something I rarely see.

At Greenlake in Seattle this morning

I walked at a brisk pace and found myself humming "Home" by Mumford and Sons. Before long, I burst into song, and didn't even seem to recognize how loud I was. I sang this:

"Hold on, to me as we go
As we roll down this unfamiliar road
And although this wave is stringing us along
Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going to make this place your home

Settle down, it'll all be clear
Don't pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found

Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going to make this place your home..."

This was my theme song while walking and it made so much sense to me at this time in my life when nothing is making sense. I'm starting to break patterns. I'm just doing what feels right.

I looked down on the path in front of me and could have sworn I saw a Hawaiian lei just waiting for me to put it on. It turned out to be a cherry blossom branch. Were my eyes playing tricks on me?

When I got home, I flipped through my new Sunset Magazine for May and right before putting it down I flipped to the back page which has a picture of millions of stars and all the telescopes at the observatory on top of Mauna Kea, on the big island of Hawaii.

Peter Fish, the author of the story, said, "The sky is closer than I've ever seen it, ready to spill its secrets."

I'm listening....I'm REALLY listening and feeling this time. I am ready to discover those secrets!

Have you recently done something you don't usually do because it felt right?

Sunday, April 21, 2013

365 Inspirations—111: Awakening Intuition

"The intellect has little to do on the road to discovery. There comes a leap in consciousness, call it intuition or what you will, and the solution comes to you, and you don't know how or why."—Albert Einstein

I'm doing a self course in awakening my intuition. To be honest, I'm a highly intuitive person, but I am trapped in a body and mind that has been trained not to trust or follow this side of myself completely. I'm now realizing that there is no other way I can live. Following my intuition is my path. All other paths are not the ones I'm supposed to be on!

I know this at a very deep level, yet I fear the outcome of following my intuition completely. There's a sense of security (It may very well be a false sense of security) I get from following a comfortable, known path, even though I am quite sure that path doesn't suit me anymore.

So I'm back and retraining my mind. I'm reading Penney Peirce's book The Intuitive Way. I'm reading it step by step. I'm scribbling in the margins, I'm underlining things and I'm really listening and paying attention to what I'm reading. I need to absorb this information and live it completely. This is what I know and feel.

Penney asks in her book "Could it be that just beyond the Information Age in the Intuitive Age?"

She goes on to say

"Intuition, I'm convinced, is where the other 90 percent of our brainpower lies. Through intuition, we get the big picture, the simultaneous understanding that puts us and all the facts in our proper relationship to something beyond us."

I've been feeling so many gut instincts, deep in the core of my being,  to follow a new path, but I'm hesitating to do so. Much of it is fear related to security and comfort. Also, there are some financial things to consider. I believe I'm moving in the right direction and am still applying my rational, linear mind and not completely abandoning reason.

I think that is a good balance.

But truth be told, for too long I've ignored signs to do something new and eventually, I believe, if you ignore your gut instincts, they will keep resurfacing in some form or another until you have no other choice but to pay attention to what this intuition of yours is saying.

And this time I'm listening. Really I AM!

Do you always follow your intuition or gut instincts? Are you doing what you want to do?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

365 Inspirtations—110: Spending Time With Family

"The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other's life."~Richard Bach 

I'm at our family lake house with my family. It's so nice to be out in nature here. It's such a wonderful retreat from the city and I don't come out here enough. In June, I'm going on a solo writing retreat to this place. I need uninterrupted time to work on my next book.

We left Seattle at around 7:30pm on Friday, after my husband's last yoga class. We drove downtown to the ferry terminal and learned that we just missed the 7:55 ferry. We watched it leave the dock and head out into the foggy, dark night. The next ferry wouldn't leave until 9pm. Not to fret. We had snacks and good books to read, so we headed into the terminal and plopped ourselves down.

Before long, the next ferry had arrived and we were out on open waters. It was so quiet on that night ferry and I was reading a very good book called The Intuitive Way, by Penney Peirce. It's my workbook for the next year as I delve deeper into operating completely from a place of intuition, which has always been the best place for me to operate from. Everything great in my life has come from listening to my inner callings and bringing those to life.

It was a mystical evening aboard the ship out on the foggy sea. My husband wandered off to get a coffee. It was an hour from Seattle to Bremerton where we would dock and then drive another 40 minutes or so out to the lake.

When we finally arrived, we wandered into the main cabin and I was so happy to see all my family there on the sofa chatting. They got up and gave us hugs. My nephews were already asleep. We chatted for a good half an hour about our lives and funny traveling stories and then Yoon and I wandered over to our little cabin and had a very sound sleep.

The next morning, we had breakfast at the main house and then we all took a walk around the lake together.

 Even my nephews were good sports on the walk. I'm happy to be out here with everyone. It's been a very long time and we don't get together enough. We will all meet again for lunch in a bit and celebrate my sister's birthday!

Do you get together with family often? How do you spend the time together?

Friday, April 19, 2013

365 Inspirations—109: Oblivion, The Movie

"But what is all this fear of and opposition to Oblivion? What is the matter with the soft Darkness, the Dreamless Sleep?"—James Thurber

Today my husband and I went to see Oblivion with Tom Cruise, which was Mission Impossible-esque.  It's 2077 and Jack Harper (played by Tom Cruise) is the last drone repairman on earth, or so he thinks. The earth was destroyed by aliens and the drones exist to protect humans, or so we think. Jack lives in a space-age house above the clouds with a swimming pool. After his mission is accomplished, he will go with his wife to a space station and live out the rest of his days in paradise.

But that's not what happens. I don't want to spoil the story. I don't normally like these kinds of movies, but I liked the scenes and themes in the movie about consciousness. No matter how technologically advanced we become, nothing can replace human love and emotion and these themes were touched on.

Lately I've been wondering about all the technology we use and I've wondered whether we've gotten out of control or are headed towards oblivion ourselves. There's so much tuning out that I see around me and very little tuning in. People aren't really where they are. They are texting or Face Timing or checking their emails or fiddling with their apps. This is what has become of us in the world. I still can't get used to someone walking around Greenlake, a serene lake in the midst of Seattle, talking to the air. It throws me off every time.

I keep this blog everyday, but try to keep my online time to a minimum. When I walk I walk, when I blog I blog, when I cook I cook and when I drive I drive. I try to be where I am and I try not to multi-task.

Who know really where we will be in our future. I'd like to believe that we will keep trying to find a harmony between technology and nature for our own good and for the continuation of the species!

Did you see this movie? Do you think technology has gotten out of control?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

365 Inspirations—108: The Magic Number

I made it to 108 inspirations! It's that magic number again. Today I spent quality time with my husband, took a walk and went to yoga, all the while thinking of the fact that I made it to this day again. Here's the blog post I wrote back in 2010 on day 108 of my 365 Lessons! 

108 days of blogging have arrived. This number is a very important one to me. It is a very auspicious number in many religions and traditions and, to me, it symbolizes both devotion and balance.

Elizabeth Gilbert, who wrote Eat, Pray, Love, organized her book with 108 tales or stories. Here's what she had to say in her Introduction about the significance of that number:

The traditional japa mala is strung with 108 beads. Amid the more esoteric circles of Eastern philosophers, the number 108 is held to be most auspicious, a perfect three digit multiple of three, it's components adding up to nine, which is three threes. And three, of course, is the number representing supreme balance, as anyone who has ever studied either the Holy Trinity or a simple bar stool can plainly see.

So today's lesson is about staying devoted to a plan by keeping your balance. It is easy to come up with an idea. We are all full of GREAT ideas of what we want to do and how we are going to do it. But when it comes time to put those ideas into action, we lose our balance or fall off track sooner than we anticipated. Often times it just seems too difficult or the road seems too long.

Having complete devotion in something you are doing means following through even in the difficult times. If you are raising children, you are a devoted person. When things get difficult, you can't just say, "Oh, I changed my mind, I don't want to raise a kid after all." I suppose this has happened, but most people are in it for the long haul.

Being devoted to someone or something means you are in it for the long haul. Now I know that circumstances change and sometimes it is not in our best interest to stay with something if it is not serving us anymore. If we've tried and tried and tried and what we are doing is causing us more misery than joy, then it's most likely time to reevaluate the situation and set up a new plan of action.

On the other hand, if you give up because the road starts to get a bit bumpy, you have lost your devotion or maybe you were never really that devoted to the plan to begin with.

On January 1st, I devoted myself to this blog and 365 lessons. So far so good. I've been through some bumps in the road, hit writers block, maneuvered around some sharp turns, but I'm still truckin' along. I love it!

One thing that helps me keep going is balance. I try to balance writing with yoga, meditation and walking. Sometimes we are so close to what we are doing that all we can see is chaos and confusion.

When I get stuck there, I find it helpful to to step off the path for a minute and get a broader perspective. If you are spinning your wheels around and around in the same circle you need to take a break from it for awhile.

Go down to the beach and take a long walk on the seashore, catch a movie, meditate, do yoga, meet a friend for coffee, and get out of your head for awhile.

Keeping a balance has been the key for me. With balance, I can keep going. With balance I am focused on one step at a time. With one step at a time, I will stay on the course I set out for. I don't need to wonder how it will happen. All I have to do is keep my balance, stay devoted to what I set out to do and keep walking, one step at a time.

Are there any numbers, dates, or times that have special meaning for you?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

365 Inspirations—107: Contentment and Harmony

"When you are discontent, you always want more, more, more. Your desire can never be satisfied. But when you practice contentment, you can say to yourself, 'Oh yes—I already have everything that I really need.'"—Dalai Lama

I have this old, faded, lime-green waffle shirt my sister gave me one birthday or Christmas a looong time ago. It's long-sleeved and it's my comfort shirt. I usually wear it when I'm lounging around or I wear it to bed. I probably should throw it away because it's definitely seen better days, but I don't think I can.

On the front it says:

Harmony & Contentment

Every time I wear it, I somehow magically feel those things.

It makes me relax and I start to feel content with the things in my life that are, in fact, harmonious.

I think it's easy to forget simple things in life like a smile, a kind e-mail or blog comment, a colleague who tells you that she likes your haircut or a warm, comforting hug from a friend or loved one.

I received all of these today and they made me feel content and happy.

They may not have been earth-shattering or newsworthy things, but they were important to me.

Sometimes I get so busy with my schedule and the things going on in my life, that I don't stop to ponder these really simple, precious things that bring such peace to my life. I want to honor these things more. I want to celebrate the very simple things. There's so much gratitude to be found in what we already have.

I'm grateful for this old shirt that I slipped over my head this evening after a long day and a hot bath. It reminded me how important these two words are. Being content and feeling harmony for 'what is,' instead of what I'm lacking, is truly a gift.

Do you have a favorite item of clothing that brings you comfort?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

365 Inspiration—106: Stars

"If the stars should appear but one night every thousand years how man would marvel and stare."—Ralph Waldo Emerson

I got out of my class tonight and looked up at the clear sky and saw a crescent moon and quite a number of stars. I live in the city, so it's not always so easy to see the stars.

Whatever is going on in my evening, looking up at the stars or moon always brings me back to the greater picture. Things that I might be worried about or stressed about suddenly seem so small in comparison to the endless stars and space that are overhead.

Looking at them for a few minutes makes me forget what I was thinking, wondering or worrying about in the first place.

It's easy to get caught up in the details of our day and forget how really small those details are in the greater scheme of things.

The stars were my inspiration this evening. They made me realize how small we all really are, but how vast we are if you include us in all that space!

This made me happy today and it set me free.

Did you see the crescent moon this evening? Did you see the stars?

Monday, April 15, 2013

365 Inspirations—105: And the Winner is........

"Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing."—Theodore Roosevelt

Okay, I'm a little late in all my promises, I know! It's something I plan to work on this year. I tend to over commit, but I DO usually meet all my commitments, just not always in the timeframe I've allowed myself!

Back in February, I promised a free copy of my book Lessons from the Monk I Married, a personal letter and a gift to a person who followed and left a comment in the comment section of my blog. That person also had to let me know about someone who inspires them. Here's the original post.

Well, I received a number of comments and inspirations! I finally put all the names in a hat and chose KIRSTY, who has a number of blogs on her blogger profile, to be the recipient of my book, letter and gift. Kirsty left this comment:

Thank you for your generous offer. I'm definitley interested to read your book.

Who is my inspiration? My daughter actually. Just a few minutes with her and I've got a huge smile planted on my face. She brings the inner child out in me and is abundant in her love and free with her emotions. She's been the one to open up my heart and help me be fun, loving and free.


I will be contacting her directly to find out how to send her these gifts.

And now a question for you:

Have you ever won anything in your life? What was it? 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

365 Inspirations—104: Just Write

"I just write what I wanted to write. I write what amuses me. It's totally for myself. I never in my wildest dreams expected this popularity."—J.K. Rowling

I've been thinking lately that I'm too busy to keep this blog, but then I remind myself that writing everyday is one of my goals. Also, writing about inspirations everyday helps me see that there are, in fact, wonderful things in my life. That my life, as it is, is just right.

Right for now.

Just right.

And all I really need to do each day is "just write".

It doesn't need to be a masterpiece. It can just be a simple thought, idea or observation.

Today the things that seemed "just right" were these:

  • Lying in the sun with my husband
  • Having lunch, coffee and a walk with a friend who has just returned from several years overseas
  • Taking a walk with another friend who is about to get married and have a baby
  • The sun, the sun, the sun
  • Blossoms everywhere
  • The smell of fresh cut grass
  • The comfort of home and silence
  • Writing in my office, writing room, sanctuary
I think it's easy to forget all the wonderful things that are right in front of me and how easy it really is to just write. You don't need to think too much about it or try to shape it. 

Just put your hands on the keyboard or pick up a pen....

and write....

Saturday, April 13, 2013

365 Inspirations—103: Community

“Everybody is a story. When I was a child, people sat around kitchen tables and told their stories. We don't do that so much anymore. Sitting around the table telling stories is not just a way of passing time. It is the way the wisdom gets passed along. The stuff that helps us to live a life worth remembering.”—Rachel Naomi Remen 

The weekend has been FULL of community. I have met so many people and gone to events where I saw people face to face. It's been interesting. So much of my life is online these days with my daily blog and keeping up with e-mails, etc. It's been nice to meet, talk to and feel people in person.

On Thursday, I met my writing group, on Friday morning I met a friend for a walk and lunch, on Friday night I met another writer friend and teacher and Saturday (today) I went to a bridal shower AND met with about 10 friends from my husband's yoga community at our house.

I usually don't meet many people on the weekend, so this was a lot of interaction. I will say that perhaps we need MORE face to face communication because I think it makes a difference in the quality of our lives!
Me with my friend Chaya, a bride and mother to be!

Maybe not a whole weekend of it, but at least a little bit on a regular basis. I don't think online communication can ever substitute for person to person communication. I think I want more of that in my life.

I want to return to a simple life that is free from technology. Do you think that's possible?

I sometimes entertain the idea of living in a community of like-minded friends and sharing our passions, cooking, meals, ideas, etc. Everyone would have their own space, but we could come together whenever we wanted to and if we needed to be alone, that would be fine too.

Anyway, whatever happens, it was good to connect with people today in person.

I'm going to now rest.

Do you meet with a community regularly? Do you often meet friends and or group members face to face?

Friday, April 12, 2013

365 Inspirations—102: Fresh Cut Flowers from the Yard

"There are always flowers for those who want to see them."—Henri Matisse

Our back yard is full of pink and red tulips and daffodils. It's that time of year again. Long ago, someone planted a bunch of tulip bulbs and it's like Holland in our backyard!

Today I had planned to meet a friend for a walk and lunch at my house after.

I contemplated buying a bouquet of flowers and then thought That's ridiculous, look at how many flowers there are in your backyard. You can easily make your own arrangement.

So that's what I did. I got out my scissors and cut these beauties! It makes such a difference in my mood to have fresh flowers in the house. Of course, my husband is allergic to pollen and usually can't tolerate any flowers, but he seems to be better this year!

After my friend and I came back from our walk, we noticed that the tulips had completely opened up. They seemed to be practically talking to us!

They are still beautiful even when they are opened.

Do you like to cut fresh flowers from your yard or garden and put them in your house? 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

365 Inspirations—101: Change

flower in crater on Big Island of Hawaii
“When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back. A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether or not to accept our destiny.”—Paulo Coelho 

Change is my inspiration tonight. I'm going through some changes. There are a lot of unknowns and I don't know where this path will lead. I'm feeling called to write a few books. One of the books I plan to write has come to me in a dream and my husband even dreamed about something related to my dream last night.

I want to follow these intuitive impulses. I want to embrace change, even though it is scary to do so. It's not the safe route and usually not the easiest route that brings us the most growth.

I'm ready for this change and I'm ready to embrace these unknowns in my life. I'm ready to hear these callings and I'm open to new ideas.

I'm sorry I can't elaborate more on this change specifically. I just know it is there. I don't know how long I will continue to post here, but I'm here now.

Is change causing your life to go in a different and/or new direction? Are you embracing those changes in your life?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

365 Inspirations—100: One Hundred Tins of Tea on the Wall

"The lights are much brighter there
You can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares and go
Downtown, things'll be great when you're
Downtown, no finer place for sure, 
Downtown, everything's waiting for you."—Petula Clark

I made it to post 100. As soon as I finished my class at 9:40pm, I headed STRAIGHT for the BRIGHT LIGHTS of the grocery store to celebrate. I needed a transition from 5 solid hours of teaching. Good thing Central Market is opened until 11pm!

To treat myself for making it this far, I allowed myself to choose a few of my favorite items for my little celebration. Not only is my class over, but my week of teaching is over. I teach a full load on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and have Thursday and Friday off.

I headed over to the refrigerated drink section and picked out a D.T. Dave's Kombucha. Have you ever had Kombucha? I think I could make an entire post on Kombucha and its health benefits. It's live, fermented tea and has loads of naturally occurring probiotics and antioxidants. My friends who live out in the countryside make it. Fermented anything is so good for digestion. The Kombucha I drink tastes great too. My favorite is Cosmic Cranberry. It contains organic, raw Kombucha tea and pure, unsweetened cranberry juice. It's not sour, because natural sugars form during the fermentation process. I LOVE it. Makes me feel so GREAT!

I also picked up a few Amy's Samosa wraps for later and a few sushi rolls. I love Futomaki and Inari sushi. I lived in Japan for two years, so, needless to say, Japanese cuisine is one of my favorites. I couldn't help myself, I also bought some 72% dark chocolate. What's a celebration without a little dessert?

I browsed through the health and body section of the grocery store. Let me tell you, this isn't really your typical grocery store, it's a LIFESTYLE. They have meditation cushions, incense, soaps, shampoos, vitamins, candles, essential oils, bubble bath—you name it!

Finally, as I headed towards the check-out line, I paused in the tea section. This isn't any ordinary grocery store tea section either. This store has 100 tins of tea on the wall (or more). And since I'm on post 100, I thought the title was fitting! Not only do they have teas, but they have all kinds of gadgets to make the very best pot of tea.

Since our home is full of tea, I passed on buying any. It's amazing what one trip to the BRIGHT LIGHTS of our local grocery store can do for me. Just walking in there makes me feel rejuvenated. 

I had my little celebratory snack and now I'm going to go read a book and sink into the bathtub!

Do you have a favorite store or shop that you love to go to?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

365 Inspirations—99: Volunteers

Do you volunteer for anything or have you ever been a volunteer? Today I'm grateful and inspired by my volunteers. I'm an ESL teacher with over 100 students this quarter. I don't know how I could do it without the people who so graciously volunteer their time in my classes.

One class typically has 35 plus students in it. That's a lot to handle for one teacher, but the volunteer program at my college is very well organized and the coordinator always asks me if I need volunteers in my classes.

Long ago, I didn't think I needed them and thought I could do everything myself. These days, I am realizing that I could use some help because my classes are so big.

It feels good to help people who need it, so I know the volunteers get something from it too. I know I certainly do.

Last week I had a skills lab class with 40 students and only one other assistant. We needed more help and weren't able to get to everyone in class.

Today, I had a volunteer in my regular class who agreed to stay on for an extra 30 minutes for my lab class. Even that extra 30 minutes made such a difference.

Sometimes I think we feel we don't want to help because there's not much we can do or that the short amount of time we have to do something for someone else won't make a difference.

I believe that ever minute makes a difference. Just the intention of wanting to help another person can make a difference.

Have you ever been a volunteer or have you ever helped anyone out who needed it?

Monday, April 8, 2013

365 Inspirations—98: The Earth

"It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small."— Neil Armstrong

I saw this video today via a friend's Facebook page. It put so many things into perspective for me. We are all so small and fragile.

We are all in this together. Loving, working together and sharing is really what it is all about. Here's the video link...


Please check it out!

What makes you see the bigger picture of life? Do you often get caught up in details or are you a big picture person?

Sunday, April 7, 2013

365 Inspirations—97: A Day of Getting Organized

“Out of clutter, find simplicity."—Albert Einstein

 I had quite a few events this weekend and am behind a bit in getting organized, paying bills, prepping for class and doing blog posts for guests whose stories will appear here.

There were a few people who wanted to meet today, but I seriously needed a day to just straighten the piles of stuff that were in my office. I had no idea what pile the bills were under. It took me a long time just to do that.

So I've paid the bills and now my office is somewhat organized. At least is was better than what it looked like before ( It looked like the aftermath of a hurricane!).

I tend to put things off and try to overextend. I want to meet everyone and do everything, but I am slowly learning that less is really more and I'm going to work on that this year.

I want to get rid of the sheer volume of paper in my house. I'm an ESL teacher and writer, so this is tricky.

I'm finding I need more space to myself. For the vacation I have between spring and summer quarters, I plan to go on an extended solo writing retreat to my family's lake house. I really have missed uninterrupted time to myself for writing, meditating and just being.

I'm so looking forward to that time.

Right now I am doing my best with the time I have to put things in order. Tomorrow is another long day and I didn't get blog posts arranged for several people who will appear on this blog.

Well, I still have 298 days left in the year, so I'll get it done!

Are you an organized person? Do you tend to put things off?

Saturday, April 6, 2013

365 Inspirations—96: The Gift of Life

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

 I've known Lena (she goes by Helena now, but I still call her Lena) since elementary school. We have known each other for over 30 years! Instead of growing apart as the years have past, we have grown together.

We've shared a lifetime of experiences. We've traveled in China, Mongolia, Japan and Korea together. She was in my wedding in South Korea. We've shared all of our secrets and even though we may be doing different things with our lives, we always support each other and encourage each other to live a full life and follow our dreams.

Today we had a small gathering of friends at my house to celebrate the fact that she is going to have a baby.

But this was no ordinary baby shower.

My best friend is having a baby for a friend who cannot. She is a surrogate mother. It wasn't easy for me at first to understand this beautiful and selfless gift she is giving to a family who longs for a child but is unable to do so on their own.

She is giving the gift of life and I don't know many people who would do that for a friend. In fact, I don't know anyone.

So even though my initial reaction might have been surprise and shock and a need to protect my dear friend, seeing and understanding more about what she is doing makes me so proud of her.

She is doing this because she has gotten so much from her beautiful twins and wants her friend to be able to experience that joy too!

Today we offered blessings to the child. I wrote a poem and shared a few quotes. We offered beads for a necklace, lit candles, danced and created art together. Everyone brought a dish and we shared a meal together.

I feel very proud and honored to be a friend of Lena's. I was happy to have this small, intimate gathering of friends at my house. I know this baby is already blessed because my dear friend is carrying him.

She is also a precious light and gift in my life.

Helena and I at my book launch party one year ago.

Do you have best friend who you share things with? What inspires you about your friend?

Friday, April 5, 2013

365 Inspirations—95: Cooking for a Party I'm Hosting

"We labor to make a house a home, then every time we're expecting visitors, we rush to turn it back into a house."—Robert Brault

Today was an extremely busy day. A friend I hadn't seen in a long time suddenly appeared at my front door this morning, so we had tea together and chatted. I also met a friend for lunch!

I went to the grocery store to get ready for a party I'm hosting for a friend tomorrow. I meant to clean the house today, but got sidetracked and gardened instead.

It felt good to get my hands dirty and dig up weeds and tidy up the garden. I tried to mow the lawn with the push mower, but my husband came home and did a more thorough job with the lawn mower. We have this huge camellia tree in our front yard and it's dropping bright pink petals everywhere. They are so beautiful that I didn't really want to rake them up, but they were starting to form a huge pile at our front door.

After hanging out in the yard for quite some time, I finally ventured into the kitchen and began cooking. I made a spicy lentil and sausage soup, two quiches, a fruit salad and I sliced veggies for a veggie and dip tray. While I was cooking, I also cleaned out the fridge.

Needless to say, I'm now pooped, but haven't really cleaned yet for the event. People are coming over at 12:00pm tomorrow, so I guess I'd better get up a little earlier than I usually do and get to work ^_^!

I like having people over because it gives me a reason to clean my yard and house, otherwise I tend to get lazy about it and put it off. Hosting a dinner or party is a great way to get things in order!

Do you ever have a party at your house or people over for dinner? Do you think it helps you to get organized?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

365 Inspirations—94: A Day Alone

"Language... has created the word 'loneliness' to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word 'solitude' to express the glory of being alone."—Paul Tillic

I spent the day alone. It was good for me. I feel I'm going to need more days like today. I needed a day to have the option of doing absolutely nothing.

I did that until mid-morning and then I went out and bought party supplies for a friend's party I'm hosting at my house on Saturday. I also bought food.

I didn't hurry with these tasks. I took my own sweet time. Now I'm back home and resting. My husband will be home from his yoga class soon. He also spent the day on his own in downtown Seattle at the library and a few other places.

Even though I love spending time with my husband, I think it's good for couples to have time apart. It helps, sometimes, to be in silence and hear what is happening inside.

I'm teaching a full load Monday-Wednesday, but this quarter I have Thursday-Sunday off. Those three days I'm working are pretty packed and my schedule is quite tight, but it's worth it to have a chunk of time off to pursue my writing again. Not just blog writing, but book writing!

I'm working on a second book. I'll let you all know more about it later. I plan to run off on a few solo writing retreats in June and September....but for now I'm going to read a book and go to sleep.

Have a good Thursday everyone...

Do you like spending time alone?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

365 Inspirations—93: Celebrating a Milestone

Event at Edmond's Bookstore in WA
"At the end of a life, it's not the safe and comfortable things we've done that we'll remember. It's the times we risked everything to follow our hearts or make a change for the better."—Katherine Jenkins

One year ago today my book was born. I'm celebrating that today because it was a very important milestone in my life. I had to face all my fears to do it. I had to cut through all the red tape of people who told me it couldn't be done. 

In 2010, I was blogging 365 Lessons while simultaneously writing my memoir, Lessons from the Monk I Married. During that year, with the support of encouraging people I met through my blog and other places, I was able to face many fears. Keeping a blog helped me keep going with my dreams.

How do you do something you really want to do? How do you face all your fears and move forward?

Sign for my book event on window of Well Read Bookstore in New Jersey

In my case, the book wouldn't let me be. It came to me in my meditations, dreams, daily life. It wouldn't let me ignore it. 

It seemed to have a mind of its own. It wanted to be born.

I had editors, publishers, friends and family tell me it wouldn't work. Some people told me it was a crazy pipe dream.

Book Reading at Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle
Signing books at Powell's Bookstore in Oregon

Of course that only propelled me to keep going. It only added more fuel to the small fire that was burning inside of me.

At one point, an editor said to me, "Only 5% of all books written get traditionally published and you are an unknown author."

I didn't say, "Oh shoot, never mind then," and go back to my safe and comfortable life. I didn't put my tail between my legs and run away, I didn't even blink an eye.

I looked at her unflinchingly and said, "I have a feeling I'm going to one of the 5%."

I don't know where this force came from, all I know is that there was no turning back. I was going to go all the way with this. I felt it in the core of my being. This story, my story, would be read by many people. My hope was that the people who read my book would also be able to go forth with their own dreams and have the courage to follow their own hearts.

I'm happy to announce that, a year later, the book has been read and has received great reviews nationally and internationally and will soon be translated into Croatian and Chinese for starters!

Book event at Book Passage in Marin County, CA. 

But riight now, a year later, I don't feel as strong as I did then. I'm not sure where that fire went, but I know it's not completely gone. The coals are still burning and I'm bound to feel those flames again.

I'm celebrating today because I want to remember how all of this felt. It felt like a dream, but it was very real.

This is not something unique that happened to me, it can happen for each one of us. It's not an easy road to one's heart. You have to sometimes step on thorns, whack through jungle bushes and trees and often times you can't even see where you are going. It's scary and so easy to fall back into what might be comfortable and known, even though we know it isn't our true path.

But if you keep putting one foot in front of the other in the direction your heart is telling you to go and you don't look back, you will arrive. Stay focused. 

Also, if you do reach a milestone on your path, celebrate it! Remember what got you there and remember that you can always rekindle that fire.

Are you taking steps towards what your heart is telling you? Have you given yourself space to hear what your heart has to say?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

365 Inspirations—92: A Really HUGE Magnolia Flower

"Learn to...be what you are, and learn to resign with a good grace all that you are not."—Henri Frederic Amiel

Even if I've had a bad day, I can always find something that made me smile or stop and pause or see things in a different light. To be quite honest, today was a hard day.

 I think the world presents us with exactly what we need to see and experience. 

Today it was a really HUGE Magnolia flower in the Washington State Arboretum that made me stop. The flowers are all in full bloom and my husband and I drove straight to the park shortly after we woke up. When I saw this flower, I just sat there in awe staring at it.

It was speaking to me. It was telling me to make a statement and live my dreams. It was telling me to speak up and hang on (all the other flowers had already fallen from the tree). 

It was larger than life and it made a statement by simply being there. 

Lately I've felt I may not be on the right path. I can't really explain. I've been ignoring something I need to do. I haven't been listening completely to my heart. I haven't been completely myself.

Perhaps I'm just tired, but I think it's really more than that.

I feel like I want to run away.....and I want to simply "be".

Like this flower that was high up in the tree.....speaking directly to me.

Good night friends...

Oh, and one more thing....a QUESTION for you........

Have you ever felt like you need to change something in your life? Did you listen to that feeling and did you follow through with it?

Monday, April 1, 2013

365 Inspirations—91: THREE MONTHS of Daily Blogging!

Photo of Mt. Rainier in WA on way to Las Vegas. 
"You just have to keep on doing what you do. It's the lesson I get from my husband; he just says, Keep going. Start by starting."—Meryl Streep

I've been blogging every single day for one-fourth of a year! I made it to April 1st, and it's not a joke! I really did it.

I'm inspired by the fact that I kept it going for THREE solid months—91 posts this year!

I'm taking things step by step...but so far I'm still here.

I just started a new quarter at school and it was a really long evening. I taught for 5 hours straight (from 4:50-9:40PM). I felt a bit delirious when I got home, but here I am, an hour before the clock strikes midnight, writing a post!

I'm going to go celebrate now by taking a bath, eating a few choclate-covered macadamias, and reading a book.

I'm wiped out!

More soon from the land of blogging!

Have you ever done anything for 90 days straight or THREE whole months? (not including the regular brushing your teeth and going to the bathroom)