Saturday, February 27, 2010

The sanctuary of music

2-27-10 traveling brain
I enjoyed 24 hours on the train. Great views, time to relax, listen to music... and nap. Added bonus.... SUN!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Wandering and wondering

2-26-10 traveling brain

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Seeking a shift in brain waves

2-25-10 frozen brain
I am still struggling to find my inner peace today…. My personal weather is still gloomy. I came to KC on Saturday, arriving to the most beautiful brown grass, sunny skies and temperatures around 36 degrees…. This seemed like Heaven to me! But within an hour of my arrival, the snow began to fall here.

Oh yes, it was a gorgeous snow, huge wet flakes, falling from the sky… spring-like snow which melts on ground contact… but into the evening the snow starting piling up and covered my beautiful brown grass. Temperatures which should average 45 degrees in KC this time of year, were as cold as Iowa.

My gloom continues as I think about how Bin Laden really pulled one over on us. The air planes were painful *bee stings. But our reaction, instead of swatting at the insect (Afghanistan in 2002)…. Was instead to spend our whole pay check on calling Orkin to spray over at an "evil" house across town (Iraq, if you can‘t follow my analogy)…. Because someone convinced us that was where the beehive was located.

Now, all our money is spent, along with the tax cut money early in GW’s first term. The theory of that move, I’ll never understand. Give more money to the rich, so they can be more generous to the poor?…Oh are they trying that “trickle down thing again!?”…. Oh ya,.... and so they can create more jobs for the poor…. Well I wonder where all those jobs were in 2000 to 2009? Hows that working for you Sarah? Funny I never heard how successful THAT was!

I apologize for my mood….. Which I hope and pray will be put to rest when I board a train this evening, heading for the SW. I hope my dandelion-weeds will soon turn to golden flowers! I won’t allow myself to blog again until my brain shifts!....

Until then.....

*footnote: I realize if you lost a loved-one on 9-11, my analogy seems heartless, to equate 9-11 with a bee sting. Lost of life is always painful, no matter the cause. I read 36,000 people in the US die of seasonal flu per year.... So I'm referring more to the numbers lost in my analogy. Sorry...I'm really NOT trying to be like Ann Coulter here.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The power of observation

2-24-10 a clear brain
The artist in me likes this post at Synch-ro-ni-zing so much I wanted to share it.

Thanks to fellow blogger Ruth..

My art teacher always says that she is not teaching me to paint, but rather she is teaching me to SEE.

Life is amazing and beautiful if you look with childlike eyes.
The child sees a pretty flower for Mother.... what do you see?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

About Lent

2-23-10 rambling brain
Traditional Lent has been thought as a time to repent and prepare for Easter. Often something is “given up” for Lent, like meat or chocolate. My church seems to not focus on giving up, but rather “adding to” during this time of preparation. Adding more prayer, being more focused on God in our lives…. Doing for others.

I’ve decide my Lenten preparation will revolve around Being in the world, but not of the world.

This is a tall order spoken of in the Bible, and encouraged and practiced by many of the world religions.

I believe this basically means not to worry about present day conditions of the world and to not worry about who is in power. After all Jesus, came at a time of Roman rule, and he did not say.... take up arms and fight the government. Instead, he teaches us to look for our security and happiness in the "Kingdom of God".

So I believe I will need to find some moderation when reading the news daily and listening to every doom and gloom commentary out there…. I don’t want to be ignorant of world events…. Yet, I don’t want to get caught up in the worry of it all. There has to be a balance, and my focus needs to be relying on God’s love, grace and peace.

I don’t understand when the Tea Party people want fewer taxes and less government intrusion on our lives, yet they are the ones who want to control personal choices such as marriage and child bearing.

Often they speak of “going back to the beliefs of the Founding Fathers” (and than can't even name who they are)…. Assuming that these beliefs were all Christian based…. Well how about the practice of slavery, women were voiceless and powerless, and native American’s were killed or discarded all in the name of progress and profits. That doesn’t sound like the Christianity I know.

I’ve been reading a book by Jim Wallis called “Rediscovering Values, on Wall Street, Main Street, and Your Street” . I can recommend this book.

Wallis warns us that we can’t go back to normal, since normal is what got us into the economic crisis in the first place. People worship the free market and this has become our nation’s False Idol.

He writes about how caring for the poor is not just a moral duty, but critical for the common good… it makes economic sense. I wonder why “common good” scares people into thinking “socialism”…. Like it’s evil?... Jesus talks about helping all people, and teaches about the principle of abundance, of having enough if we all share.

It’s so easy to be confused and broken when I separate myself from kindness, love, and forgiveness: the basic elements in the "Kingdom of God". Lent is a time to focus my attention back to these.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Thawing in the USA?

2-22-10 hopeful brain
Sure things aren't perfect for everyone, and there is suffering, but I do believe actions taken have helped keep our country from a major depression crisis for now.

Some people wanted to do nothing.... just let the whole system fail.... the less government the better. But why would our country commit suicide like that?


We are not out of the woods yet.... but we can not address the huge deficit until we are stable.

Some say we can't afford to pay for Health Care.... I believe we cannot afford NOT to act on Health Care. Health Care is part of the drain on US companies, and a reason to move jobs overseas where this cost is not directly paid for my an employer.

For example, As people loose jobs, the number of people with employee health care declines, then the pool of people and money declines, the insurance companies have to raise rates since the risk pool is smaller.

Another example, As insurance prices increase, people like my husband who have a choice in which insurance company to be carried by, seek out more inexpensive coverage.... again shrinking the pool of people and money for MY insurance company... thus my rates keep going up more and more.

AND when people get sick who don't have any coverage, someone ends up paying for it in the long run.... you and I do, by higher insurance rates. We all pay for everyone else already now, wouldn't it be better to have a more uniform and transparent system in place?

I just don't understand the concept of "free markets" when it comes to people's health.... but then there is a lot of things I don't understand about the world we live in......

.... sorry just rambling today.....

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Too much snow

2-20-10 abundance brain

We are blessed with so much snow, we just don't know what to do with it all! We have now hit the record here in Des Moines of 5th the most snow in a season. I think we might even take over the #4 spot soon.
Pictures for my Oregon cousins.... enjoy!

Note these pictures don't include the snow we had on Friday. More is predicted for Sunday.....I'm not sure where to put it all! The good news it that I'm planning my see, there was a reason I shaved my legs this week!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Wedding art gift

2-19-10 creative brain

The Wedding Art Gift has arrived safely to its intended destination, and was graciously accepted, so now I can tell you....the rest of the story.

Bronze bodies, sun, sand, blue water, salt air, palm trees, and LOVE were my inspiration for this piece of artwork.

The background includes the words "love & peace" and "Shelby & Mike"

Back story:
My co-worker friend, Renee had a break from the Iowa cold & snow in January…. her daughter, Shelby, was married on a tropical island, January 23rd. We were invited, but had to decline since a luxurious vacation in the tropics was not in our 2010 budget…. You know- two mortgages to cover now. It would have been a perfect time to be away on vacation, since this was the week we had our ice storm.

But after viewing the many photos from this trip, I felt as if I had been there, and I was inspired to create some personal art for the newlyweds, Shelby and Mike.

If you like viewing wedding pictures, check out Renee's blog from here.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Spring has arrived!

2-18-10 refreshed brain

There has been a shift in conditions here in Iowa and it probably had nothing to do the taking down the snowman decorations or the zen approach to "embracing the snow"….. You see, the change has not been so much in the weather, but the change has been in ME. The “spring in my step” has finally returned!

This last week I went for a much needed acupuncture appointment, attended Lenten service at church, trimmed my own bangs (not recommended, see picture below), AND I also shaved my legs (first time since November).

Greg was correct when he told me to “create and carry my own weather with me”…. it’s all about your attitude. I know that of course, but it is often easier said than done.

A week with several sunshine days has also helped, in spite of the cold temperatures.

OOOPS! Maybe a little too much off the bangs!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lollipop Man

2-17-10 silly brain

My friend Ann is an admitted “news junkie”…. Her favorite news person is Anderson Cooper. Ann talks about needing her “AC fix” each evening. She thinks he is very good- looking guy, (and who could argue)…. Ann has a BIG crush on AC, although she knows perfectly well that she (not being a he) is not Anderson’s type. … but a girl can dream can’t she?

Ann’s two biggest loves probably are AC and the TV show “Amazing Race”… I’m guessing here, that Ann’s biggest fantasy wish then would be to be a contestant on Amazing Race and have AC has her partner. Ann loves traveling and to do it with AC would be a dream come true.

So, I will help grant part of her fantasy wish. I created Anderson Cooper on a stick for her to take along on her upcoming 3 week Europe study trip through Drake University.

Ann can even keep AC on a stick to accompany her to the Iowa State Fair this summer, since many a delicious delicacies are offered “on a stick” at the State fair.

AC and I have matching blue eyes!.... boy do I need a hair cut!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A new snow theory

2-16-10 warmed by love brain

My neighbors Carolyn and Steve were on board to test my snowman theory. They had removed their outdoor snowman display on Friday and replaced it with a valentine beach-girl wind sock along with the palm tree lights.

Greg and I both had successful trips this weekend. Greg enjoyed the car show, and meeting up with his long time friend Tom. I enjoyed a visit with my parents and my friend Ann tagging along with me. I was beginning to believe that our snowman decoration removal theory was starting to work, since I experienced mostly sunshine up in my hometown on Saturday afternoon and Sunday. However, when I returned back to DM, I found out DM actually got 4 inches of fresh snow when I was gone.

Oh well, I was happy to miss that and happy that I got a short break from looking at these same 4 walls of the DM house. Of course Monday was a return to MORE snow flying in Des Moines, with bitterly cold winds causing snow drifting. More shoveling for me Monday morning as Greg and I prepared to go to our tax appointment.

Neighbor Steve walked by and had the nerve to say, "Isn't the snow beautiful"... or something positive like that.... I came close to dumping a shovel full of snow on his head when I stopped and took a breath and looked around.... he was right... the snow IS beautiful. And in that instant my new snow theory was formed. "Stop Fighting It" and Embrace the Snow".... it's a type of "zen theory" I guess.

The only way to survive this winter now is by laughing every time it snows... welcoming the snow, and rooting for us to break more historic snow fall records.... making it now a "snow game" of sorts.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Judy Says....

2-15-10 post valentines brain


Reported bill board sign someone paid good money for in Wyoming?

My question back..... WHY?

PS: Happy President's Day

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Traveling for LOVE

2-13-10 Determined to travel brain

As was the case last year, Greg is heading off to the Chicago Car Show this weekend. He loves cars! However, he did come through DM, so I had last night with him and will also see him Sunday night…. Looks like the weather will cooperate for his travel plans…. What will I be doing??

My hopes are to take off soon and travel two hours north to spend a quick 24 hours with my parents. My friend Ann has agreed to come along. Of course SNOW is predicted again Saturday afternoon, but we hope be there by lunch time. Ann will be driving her van, so the Mini Cooper can stay safely in the garage. (Greg is driving the Prius)

I am so looking forward to getting out of this house, even if only for 24 hours. I am going stir crazy here with the continual snow, which seems to fall every other day.

Happy Valentines Day to all!

(new experimental art work done last week, mildly successful?)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Friendship and fun

2-12-10 giggling brain The only thing keeping me sane this winter, when I'm here in Des Moines alone and Greg is in Kansas City.... is time with my girlfriends.

Wednesday night neighbor Deb invited me over for dinner. She made panini sandwiches, I brought the salad and Carolyn brought the wine and chocolates(Sue was absent due to her schedule).
This dinner was all good enough to lift my spirits... but the addition of Wii Dance with the laughter and exercise which ensued... was just the medicine I needed to get me through this week.

Video was taken of our first attempt of the evening. We did improve as the night went on! Wii Dance has mats which you step on and you are scored on how well you follow the arrows guide steps on the TV screen. Click on the "play" arrow below.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

My snowman theory

2-11-10 experimental brain

I received this map via email yesterday.

It’s funny, but only because it is so true. We have been getting snow every few days, often followed by sub-freezing temperatures.

Everyone is totally sick of this winter weather here in Iowa. We are at our wits end… what can we do?

I have a theory: work with me here people!

In every house I’ve been in this winter, I have been greeted with snowmen decorations. I myself decorated my fireplace mantel in December, knowing I could leave this through January.

I am proposing that we all take down our snowmen decorations NOW!
A shift like this could cause a shift in the energy of us all, and this in turn could effect the partials in the atmosphere, and shift the jet stream?

I think it is worth a try, don’t you? I took down my decorations last night and I’m encouraging you too, to do the same….. And then pass the word around!!

It’s time to invite spring into our lives!

Lent begins next week.... maybe it's time to start dreaming of bunnies and Easter eggs?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Art surprises

2-10-10 creative brain
MORE snow this week…..AND I am snow bound once again...Not much to do in the evenings, so great chance to spend time playing with my paints.

Recently I’ve been working on several projects as surprises for some special people. Art is such a unique gift to give to others, since it can be created to be very personal. That’s one of my favorite things about creating art.

Here is sneak peak of one, which I hope will get mailed off to the recipients this weekend. Full story to come next week.

Also here is a simple “doodle” I did last week for my friend Ann. She likes to refer to us as “Peas and Carrots”…. I have been informed that I am the “peas”.

I suppose this comes from Forrest Gump, since Ann is an avid movie buff. My hope is that she will hang it in her kitchen.... once I get it framed.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

One people

2-9-10 grooving to the music brain

My new current favorite song... I'm posting for all my PEACE Sisters

Monday, February 8, 2010

The rippling effect of love

2-8-10 serendipity brain
Last week I had dinner with my “Peace Sisters", neighbor friends Carolyn and Sue. We were celebrating Carolyn’s 5th Anniversary of being cancer free. Sue and I brought her wine, and Carolyn showed us all her saved “get well cards” which she had been affectionately re-reading .

January 2005 Carolyn was diagnosed with breast cancer, due to her discovery of something which felt abnormal during her monthly self breast exam.... this, after having a normal mammogram just 3 months prior. So believe me, Carolyn is a strong advocate for self breast exams. Luckily her cancer was an early stage.

After her surgery in February 2005, I and some neighbor gals had a plan to welcome her home. We had cut out pink paper ribbons, and I spent an evening stringing them together. Then with the help of Sue’s daughter Paige, 10 years old at that time, we hung them around Carolyn’s house.

(Notice: no snow on the ground that year!)

We thought it looked pretty cool, and Carolyn was moved to tears when she and husband Steve arrived home. However, the real impact of our decorating came later that day.

A lady driving by, a total stranger, upon seeing all the pink ribbons and understanding first hand their symbolism, was moved to stop and knock on Carolyn’s front door. Turns out this gal, named Penny, also had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and both her and Carolyn had gone through similar surgeries.

From that day on, Carolyn and Penny became great friends and have created a strong support system together, due to this shared experience of breast cancer. I find this ribbon story very inspiring- by illustrating the rippling effect of love…. that with one small gesture of friendship on the part of some neighborhood women, the gift of friendship and love was passed on to another person. Our ribbons had brought Penny into Carolyn’s life…..and Carolyn’s into Penny’s life. A blessing for all!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Snowing cats and dogs.... AND squirrels

2-5-10 nutty brain
This morning I have a herd of squirrels in my back yard enjoying the sunflower seeds I put out. (or is it a gaggle, flock, horde, crowd or a mass of squirrels? ….Well there was a bunch of them anyway. I counted 9 at one time. My usual is a family of four.

Yes, I can report it is actively snowing again today. They say we are only expected to get 1-3 inches THIS time. But we’ll see….

We have officially broken a record here in Iowa earlier this week. Old record was 54 straight days of at least 4 inches of snow on the ground back in 1961-62. This year we are on day 57 of at least 5 inches of snow on the ground…. And no sign of melting anytime soon.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Neck to neck...

2-4-10 healthy brain

Something else to “worry” about…. Neck Size!

I heard a news story last night about how neck size can indicate the risk for heart disease. The larger size, the more risk. The average neck size for women was 13.5 inches and 18 inches for men.

Of course I rushed upstairs to find my tape measure.....

The research team speculated that a fat neck may be a "crude measure" of upper body fat - which has been associated with heart risks. They are finding that health depended not on how fat a person was, but where their fat was located. (Good! Most of my fat is in the rear)

My neck measured 12.5 inches, and although my neck is starting to sag, I guess I have to appreciate how "healthy" it is.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Live and learn

2-3-10 humiliation brain
Saturday in KC, Greg and I had lunch with my college roommate Teresa and I had to eat a serving of crow. Teresa was kind and didn’t bring up the sore subject, but I did. I was wrong and I like to admit to it when I’m wrong.

I was a John Edwards supporter… need I say more?

I was even motivated to do neighborhood canvassing for him and hosted an Edwards worker in our guest room for the month of Dec/Jan leading up to the Iowa Caucus. That was the one bright spot in my snowballing-discouraged spirit. Heather, the Edwards’ worker, was a wonderful young women, smart, funny, an inspiring. I will hold onto that good memory. In a short period of time, she became like family, and her mother even flew out and joined us for Christmas dinner. Her mother was one cool lady too.

Looking at this picture puts a smile on my face and does comfort me.

Teresa and her husband, my most conservative friends, had warned me back at that time, that Edwards was a “pretty-boy” fraud. Boy, I just didn’t see it. I liked what he was saying and I really believed in his strong family bond.

I don’t mind the affair so much; everyone makes mistakes, but I HATE the LYING. I’m totally fed up with the LYING that seems all too common place these days.

Relationships are based on honestly. If you can’t be honest with yourself, and be honest with others, you will have dysfunctional relationships.

I’m happy to say that Greg and I both had learned this lesson prior to meeting each other. Each of us had experienced being hurt by betrayal, and we both had done our own share of stupid things to hurt others. So luckily when we met, we both understood and believed in the importance of honesty.

Well enough said, time to move on…. With one more layer of my naive innocence pealed away…. I’m still a bit raw, but I’ll heal….. HOW? I have to forgive John Edwards.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Short and Sweet

1-2-10 brevity brain
Several years ago I heard a story on NPR about “the Six Word Story”, and I always remember the example they gave of a Six Word Story written by Ernest Hemingway… he wrote “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

Wow, what a talent to be able to convey in one short sentence, a whole story, just the bare bones, so eloquently brief, yet full, and lacking nothing…. And the interesting part is that us, the reader, will use our imagination to put the flesh on the bare bones of this story. Each reader then will come up with their own unique story from these six words.

I was reminded of this Six Word Story again this weekend from an article in the KC Star Newspaper. They asked readers to submit their own Six Word Story, some are Six Word memoirs, or autobiographical.

Some of my favorites were:
“Life’s funny secret: some assembly required." Scott Murphy of KC
“Unemployed, almost broke… happier than ever.” Tamra R. Batt
“Life is all about Plan B” Lisa Engelken
“Found job finding other people jobs” Mary Scherzer
“Kids are grown, NOW we’re friends” Laurie Burgess
“Born, Lived, Loved, Bored, Wrote this” Stephe Sprouse
“Married my best friend, lucky me." Douglas Wylie

Back when I first heard about this on NPR, I too attempted to write a story, my story, with only six words. It is a challenge…. But mine goes like this:
“Although broken, forgiveness made her whole.”

It is so short, sweet, and true…. Plus less chance to misspell something!

Recently I discovered an interesting blog which posts a picture weekly, and asks the readers to make a Six Word Caption for the picture. Thought I’d tell you about it and you could challenge yourself as I like to do weekly. It’s part of my mental exercises!

You’ll find this on the right panel of my blog- called : Six-Word Caption (or click on this link)