Monthly Archives: August 2014

MUYL Blog Challenge Day 5: My Futurized List

Yesterday when I was thinking about my response to yesterdays prompt I considered writing a “futurized” post where I mention all my years accomplishments that I was grateful for. Well that post took more than two days to write and was already way too long as it was so I decided not to include that part.

Then when I saw that today’s post was asking us to write about what’s on our bucket list or what’s on your vision board, I thought wow …my idea for a futurized post would actually would actually address this question in an fun and interesting way. So let’s give that a whirl and see what happens.

My Entry for August 2015:

It’s been a life changing year. Lots of growth. Lots of stretching and expanding what I thought I was capable of. I really stepped up and finally made several of my life long dreams happen this year. I have so much to be grateful for and even more to look forward to.

1. I’m grateful for the numerous fans who have enjoyed and benefited from reading my book Gratitude’s Journey, which was published last fall. I get several letters a day from my readers all across the world mentioning how much the book has inspired them.

Gratitudes Journey

2. I’m grateful that I finally figured out video. I’ve learned enough of the tech side to be able to make video do what I want it to do. I love this art form. It’s become a new avenue for expression for me and an invaluable part of my business. The online courses I’ve created using video have been very well received.

3. I’m grateful I’ve found ways to take my business on the road. I’ve figured out what works and doesn’t work. One of my favorite things to do is to travel with my friends and family (and occasionally alone). I got to do this several times this year. I got to broaden my horizons and see the world. I took lots of photographs wherever I went. I got to enjoy new experiences and my business didn’t miss a beat. In fact, I got to share these aweventures with my flourishing community. This travel filled my creative well, kept me inspired, and gifted me with a plentiful supply of fresh new ideas. That’s a lot to be grateful for.

working and traveling

4. I’m grateful I got to be creative every day. I’m even more grateful that I am paid handsomely for doing so. Some of my art was licensed commercially. I significantly expanded my portfolio. Oh and I illustrated several books including Tales From the Abbey. I love seeing these books in full color.

thriving artist

5. I’m grateful I got to spend several days with other wild “and little bit quirky” women on a retreat several times this past year. My favorite was the artist retreat in Tuscany. I’m grateful I decided to take an extra week and spent some time in Holland. Next year I have plans to do a retreat in Italy.

6. I’m grateful that we finally made it to Alaska. I loved the inland passage cruise. And of course His favorite part was the guided fishing trip. Bunnie loved showing us around her old stomping grounds. I look lots of photos, the fishing did NOT disappoint, and the scenery…breathless. It was a dream come true for sure.

7. I’m grateful I got to spend some quality time with my parents and two sisters in Hawaii. I got some great video of our time together.

8. I’m grateful I got to see a sneak peek at the new Gratitude gift line of inspirational products which will be out this fall. I’m delighted with how well they turned out. It’s so fun to see the prototypes finally come to life.

9. I’m grateful for my VIP clients. What a lovely, inspiring, creative, group of women. It’s been a privilege to watch them bring their creative dreams to life. I’m excited about the collaborative project that we will be jointly launching in the coming months. What a joy to know we will be touching even more lives and inspiring them to step more fully into their Great Full Life.

client 3

10. I’m grateful for all the media attention Gratitude has received. People everywhere have fallen in love with Gratitude and are spreading her message far and wide. This notoriety is allowing us to have more of an impact in the world. We’ve contributed several thousand dollars to worthy causes and projects. I’m in discussion about doing a Gratitude live action/animated movie. I am excited (and a little nervous) about my upcoming TED talk. But not nearly as nervous as I used to be …I’ve had a lot of practice this year speaking in front of a crowd.

Now it’s your turn. I encourage you to give this a try. Write your own futurized list for August 2015. What are you feeling grateful for having accomplished during the previous year? Let us know in the comments below.

MUYL Blog Challenge Day 8: Giving my Ideas a Chance to Grown Up

We were asked to write about our favorite day job, our least favorite day job, or a funny story about working.

Let’s Start With the Funny Stuff

I could tell you about the time I got a very nasty case of poison while shooting a video for my blog. I was miserable for over a week. You can see that video here  (its the last video on the page :#4).   But I am not sure how funny that story actually was. It sure wasn’t funny at the time. So scrap that idea.

Or I could share about the time I sat right down in the muck to illustrate a point for one of my videos. Now that one was pretty funny even at the time.  It can be found here…it’s the video in the middle:#3.  But video says it all, there isn’t really a lot more to share about that story. Sooooo…..\

Right Brain Business Plan Vision Board
My Right Brain Business Plan Vision Board

Giving My Ideas a Chance to Grow Up

Here’s what I will share with your today.

It’s been so long since I’ve had a day job, almost 40 years, so there is not a lot for me to say about my favorite or least favorite day job. My memory is dim on that subject other than to say this; I learned early I wasn’t exactly cut out for holding down a job where I worked for someone else for a paltry paycheck, which didn’t cover rent, let alone groceries. That was with a college degree. I was living in Hawaii at the time and the cost of living was high.

The most important reason for wanting to work for myself wasn’t about:

Wanting to be my own boss. Being my own boss has been the most challenging part. Regrettably the schools don’t teach us entrepreneurial skills. And I certainly didn’t get that training from home.


Wanting to have more flexibility, more ease with fitting in my work around the demands family life. Haha! It’s still a juggling act…maybe easier …maybe not…depending on what business I choose to pursue and the strategies I come up with to make my life easier.


Wanting the potential for a whole lot more money. Money helps. It’s even necessary when your are wanting to grow a business of your own, even with a boot-strap-my-way business plan (which is generally the way I’ve had to do things). I love money. Don’t get me wrong. It’s just not the main reason I do what I do.

Perhaps if these three reasons had been a higher priority for me I would have had earlier success with/in my business attempts.

Here’s my reason:

What I realized back in those early day jobs is that I needed to create something of my own, not spend my valuable time growing someone else’s dream or vision. I needed to give my own ideas a chance to grow up, a chance to make a difference or have an impact in someone’s world. My inner creative felt stifled in a J.O.B. She needed more space to express herself.

It’s been an aweventure and the journey continues….

MUYL Blog Challenge Day 7: Making a Difference

Today we were asked to write about either our favorite cause or if we didn’t fancy writing about that the other suggestion was to write about how the world would look if we were in charge of things. First it is my belief we are more in charge of the way our world looks than we sometimes think we are, but that is a topic I will save for another day.

I haven’t narrowed my interests down to one favorite cause. I feel passionate about a number of things.

Making the Outdoors Accessible

My husband is an avid fly fisherman. He owns the company Wasatch Custom Angling. Even before he bought this company in 2010 they had a history of working with both:

Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc.™, an organization dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military service personnel and disabled veterans through fly fishing and associated activities including education and outings

Casting for Recovery, an organization dedicated to supporting women in the aftermath of a breast cancer diagnosis.
He has continued to work with both of these organizations, even expanding the company’s involvement.

He also has a guide service formerly called Solutions & Mentoring Adventure Coaching where he combined an outdoor experience (most often fly fishing) sprinkled with a bit of coaching for his clients.outdoor assessibility for the disabled

Recently, inspired by the work he has already been doing with Project Healing Waters and Casting for Recovery, his own struggles as a disabled vet, and numerous other prompts from the universe he has slowly begun to shift the focus of his guide service to make the outdoor experience more accessible to the disabled. He has had a customized drift boat made. It looks like one of those old WWll landing crafts where the front drops down for vehicle off loading. His boat has a drop down front so a wheel chair can be easily rolled on and off board. He also has several all terrain wheel chairs and adaptive fishing equipment. He has been raising money for further equipment, especially an wheel chair accessible van.

So yeah I think this is a great endeavor. Fishing may not be my passion, but nature is and am thrilled to know more people will be able to enjoy and experience it because of his efforts. I’m proud of him and like to toot his horn.

Protecting the Environment

Gratitude Picking Up Litter

Being that I have a passion for nature I have concerns for our environment. I am the daughter of a retired forester who at 84 years young is still very involved in conservation issues. I am sure his concern for the environment has rubbed off on me. I offer my support where I can and do my part by recycling, upcycling, composting. And there is more I could do.

Re-Imagine Education

If I had a magic wand

But if I had the power to whip out my wand and change the world and could only address one of the many issues facing us today…I would revamp education.  I think if we had more enlightened and broader opportunities for education this would go a long way toward helping us address many of our other challenges. I am not sure of the answers or solutions. But I do believe we currently have an out of date, out of step education system. A system, which was designed to supply a competent workforce during the industrial age.

Today’s economics are vastly different. Teaching the basic academics may still be important, but more important is to teach how to learn and how to creatively solve problems.

Imagine how different the world would be if we actually taught (or just created environments conducive to learning/exploring) innovation, entrepreneurism, yoga (or tai chi or chi gong) and meditation, nutrition, non violent communication, the creative arts, conservation and ____.

Imagine a environment where intuition, gratitude, and service were encouraged. Where collaboration was encouraged, not that a bit of competition can’t be fun too, but let’s create an environment where competition is taken less seriously.

Maybe I am a dreamer, but I think how we educate, especially our youth influences the future in profound ways.

I’d like to have some influence on changing education. I’m keeping my eyes, ears and heart open for ways in which I am particularly suited to help make a difference.

MUYL Blog Challenge: The influence of a Good Children’s Book


The prompt for today asks us to write about our favorite book and tell why it is our favorite. Or the other option is to write about a book we’ve written and explain why you might find it interesting.

I was amazed!! Last evening when I read the prompts for today I actually had a favorite book pop into mind. This is not an easy thing since I own (and have read) a lot of books that I absolutely love.

I could write a top ten favorite cookbooks, a top ten favorite creative books, a top ten favorite spiritual books, top ten favorite self help, top ten favorite biographies or memoirs. You get the idea. I will not belabor the point. I may even do this if there’s interest. Quite some time ago, I created a resource page where I talk about some of my favorites…you’ll find that here.

The title that immediately popped into my head is a book that is out of print. Although Amazon does have a few copies if you are interested. I was tempted to pick up one of these copies myself, because I don’t actually have a copy of the original book. My mom does. It’s a book that her Grandfather gave her for Christmas in 1938….everyone called him Pa.

Gabby Gaffer 1

Oh that’s right bet your wondering what the title is. It’s Gabby Gaffer by May Justus. It’s a children’s book with delightful illustrations and a folksy charm. One of the things that makes this book special is adults love reading it and get as much out of it as kids do. They may even get more from reading it. It’s kind of like Winnie the Pooh and the Velveteen Rabbit that way (a couple other of my all-time favorite books..yeah I love children’s books..guess I just have never grown up). When it came time to read these to my own children they were the kind of books that were even more fun and/or poignant to read as an adult than as a kid. I understood so much more and got the more subtle “adult” messages woven into these stories. More than once I would chuckled over the antics of Pooh bear and his friends. It was fun seeing our own all too familiar foibles mirrored in these characters. If we couldn’t see ourselves in the character then we certainly knew someone who acted just like that.

Back to Gabby Gaffer and why it’s a favorite. The book itself is such a delight. I could read and reread it and often do. It teaches without teaching (or preaching or being in your face with the message for that matter).

As a kid, when the furnace went on the blitz (and it often did in that old forest service house), I have fond memories of my two sisters, my brother and I crawling under the bed covers with Mom while she occupied us by reading Gabby Gaffer and other books all day. It was her way of keeping us all warm, cozy, happy, and content. I think she loved having an excuse…to tuck us all in and indulge in her favorite pastime reading books.Gabby Gaffer 2

Then for Christmas ’85, I opened a package from my youngest sister. She had loving taken the original copy of the book and had the book copied in black and white. I believe she used a copy machine. She hand bound the book and covered it with a beautiful print fabric. Then she went back and hand colored each of the pages to resemble the original version of the book. This was before Amazon and the internet. She did attempt to find used copies for each of us, but came up empty handed. So this was her way of keeping the joy of this book (and the memories) alive. Obviously I was deeply touched by her thoughtfulness. I cried tears of joy when I received this gift.Gabby Gaffer 3

Here’s a little snippet from Gabby Gaffer to give you a bit of the flavor of this wonderful book.

“When Gabby Gaffer wasn’t working for somebody or playing with somebody in Unlucky Village, he was walking in the forest by himself. Folks said he went there to throw away his troubles, but if he took any troubles there to throw away, they must have been somebody else’s. for Gabby Gaffer never seemed to claim any for himself.

Everybody said he was the luckiest chap that ever came to the village, and there were those who watched carefully to see if his luck wouldn’t change by and by, but they got small reward to pay them for their patience. Most of the people in the village had sense enough to see that not only was Gabby Gaffer a most unusually lucky chap, but he brought good luck to many other people as well.’

What I didn’t realized until last night was just how much influence this book has had on the writing of my current book Gratitude’s Journey. I’ve incorporated a number of the things I love about Gabby Gaffer in my own book. One similarity is my book is partly a story that teaches without directly teaching. It is the kind of book that children will enjoy and treasure, but it is really intended for the adult reader who is longing to connect with their inner kid. That has been one of the challenges with writing and designing my book. It could be easily be misunderstood. I know there’s a way to solve this…I just haven’t found it yet. Intermingled with the story ….there are also opportunities for the reader to explore their own inner and outer journey through the practice of art journaling aweventures. This book will charm you, inspire you, and give you nine guiding principles that will enrich your life.

MUYL Blog Challenge Day 4: I Have a Lot to Be Grateful For

For the Magic Up Your Life 30 Day Blog Challenge Amethyst asked, “What are you grateful for? Tell us the Top 10 things that make your heart sing, just make one of them something you did, okay?”

a lot to be grateful for
I’ve just celebrated 60 years young in June of this year so I have a lot to be grateful for. My only hesitation/challenge with answering this question is the “top 10” part. I’m not going to even try to figure out what my “top 10” all time favorite things would be. I have a lot that makes my heart sing. Yesterday my list would be different than the one I’d write today. So trying to nail it down to the top ten feels too arbitrary for me. My plan is to simply share ten random things I’m grateful for in this moment. In no particular order of importance….

Note: I actually ended up writing this over a period of several days…so that more accurately makes this: “in several moments spaced out over several days.” I had half of it written on Monday, then set it aside so I could drive up to Portland. I thought briefly about just posting what I had finished as a part 1 and then post part 2 later), but I didn’t want to feel rushed. Posting this on Monday still would have require several steps to get it to the place where I could comfortably push publish (things like proof it, move it from the word doc., find or create an image, etc) So here it is in its entirety only two days “late”…ten things I’m grateful for.

1. I’m grateful for Gratitude – One of my spiritual practices is to be grateful about everything in my life…to find a way to let my heart sing about everything life has to offer me. Even those “I want to pull my hair out or crawl in a hole and die” challenging things. Especially those things.

That practice is a work in progress. Most of the time I eventually get there these days. I’ll often let myself have a half day pity party, but my good friend Gratitude doesn’t let me wallow for days on end anymore. She reminds me to give myself a quick surgery-free face lift. It helps to ask myself, “Am I willing to let gratitude in?” When I forget Gratitude reminds me everything looks brighter when we are walking in/with Gratitude. So Gratitude helps me dig for “gold” and invariably we find it. If I were to pick one thing this would be it. This simple practice and my growing friendship with Gratitude has saved me from having to live under the dark clouds of depression. I’m grateful I found Gratitude …Gratitude makes my heart sing.

2. I’m grateful for being a self taught Photoshop wizard. Okay maybe not a wizard. I know there are probably more streamlined tricks which would make me faster at using this digital darkroom, but I’ve learned to make it do what I need it to do and then some. It’s helping me create delightful images for my book (and website) in a style I’ve rarely, if ever seen before. All in full color too. Imagine that! Photoshop has brought the color photo lab into my living room. (I guess I appreciate this even more cause I remember how it was having a black and white photo lab taking up space in the bathroom). Having tackled this bit of technology it’s given this certifiable non-techy type the confidence to teach herself other bits of technology…like word press.

3. I’m grateful for my camera and my eyes. They make a great team. There is something about having a camera in my hand. Looking through that lens can bring things into focus, give me a different perspective and have me notice things I might otherwise miss. The real joy happens when I find a way to reveal and connect with the soul of my subject.

4. I’m grateful for my family (both immediate and extended). Today I am feeling especially appreciative that they support and encourage my creative efforts and dreams. They inspire me. They believe in me. They champion me. Not every creativepreneur has this kind of unconditional support. I am very fortunate indeed.

5. I’m grateful for my treasure trove of books and love of learning. I’m running out of shelf space again. Several years ago, I found new homes for more than half of my books. I haven’t counted how many I still have (it would take too long). A quick rough estimate is somewhere around 2500 books. And no that isn’t an exaggeration. If anything I may have underestimated. Kindles are convenient …I do love the portability and easy accessibility, but there is something about holding a real live book in your hands and turning the pages. Clearly I inherited this passion (obsession) with books from my mom…thanks mom for teaching me what a wonderful friend a book can be.

6. I’m grateful for my sketchbooks and journals. They’re a meaningful and sacred place to pour my heart and soul. A place to express, experiment, and explore. A place to be unselfconsciously me. They are partly a sacred document, proof that I walked this way; partly a laboratory for my imagination; partly simply a fun way to express myself.

7. I’m grateful for my two passports. The first passport, my external hard drive, on the surface it’s pretty nondescript, humble and unassuming. It’s small, not much bigger than a deck of cards, but it holds a wealth of information, virtually all of my creative life. It has made my life so much easier. When my website vanished…I still had all my images safely tucked away on this portable device. This pint-sized “file cabinet’ has made it possible for me to continue to be creative while away from home…we do a lot of traveling these days. Which leads me to my other passport. The one that allows me to travel…to see the world and broaden my horizons. Travel which enriches and inspires my creative life.

8. I’m grateful for my creative studio. For so many years my studio was either the kitchen table or a desk top shared in common with the household. I made it work, but not having a place to leave stuff out did crimp my style just a little. After the kids left home my hubby agreed to let me turn the former living/dining room into my studio. So the main floor of our home is my creative space. We turned our upstairs bedroom suite/attic space into our personal living quarters. Oh the joys of having space to spread out and make a mess.

9. I’m grateful I am healthy, happy, and 60. That is a significant accomplishment since much of my life I’ve lived under a cloud of depression (oops..guess I mentioned this “cloud of depression” in #1..oh well it feels worth repeating). This wasn’t the soul sucking kind …this was more mild, subtle and sneaky. The kind that just wears you down and takes the fun out of life. The kind where you can pretend you’re not depressed or not know your depressed…cause it’s your normal.

Today I live the life I want to live instead of the one I think I should live. I worry less what other people think …which gives me the freedom to live life on my way. I used to try to tame my wild side and live by the rules (yeah my inner free-spirited, rule-breaker would sneak out and find a way to express herself…would find a way to test the waters when I was younger), but for the most part I felt like I needed to follow the rules. I worried A LOT. Today I’ve chosen some fairly unconventional rules for my life. And my skies are brighter than they have ever been in my life. Sixty years young is something I celebrate every day.

10. I’m grateful for you! reader, my online friends & cohorts, my fellow artists and writing colleagues, my coaches and mentors, my ever expanding global community. I grateful for the sharing and learning that happens within this community. I’m am grateful for this wonderful world of connection made possible by technology, a true life Indra’s net I am grateful we have the ability to find people with common interests and people with opposing views.

On the one hand this ability to connect with (and get to know people) we would not otherwise connect with has the power to help us see our humanity anew; that our separateness is an illusion. To be more accepting and understanding of our differences, hopefully even celebrate these differences. Used well it could help us solve the challenges facing us today. On the other hand…used poorly it can desensitize us, isolate us, create a culture of disconnection and lack of intimacy with each other where forget how to have real time conversations with each other. In spite of these potential traps I’m grateful for the opportunities it has afforded all of us.

Life is good!

gratitude talks to a butterfly
Bonus gratitude: I’m grateful to finally know and trust, deep down in my heart of hearts that the Universe is on my side. All is well. And so it is…

MUYL Day 3: Coming Out of the Food Pantry Closet

Coming Out of the Pantry ClosetOMGeez! This is day 3 of the Magic Up Your Life Blog Challenge and wouldn’t you know the writing prompts ask us to write about food. The most challenging part about writing to the first prompt: “tell us about your favorite food or recipe,” would be deciding which favorite food or recipe to share with you. I have a lot of a favorites and I can be very indecisive at times, so answering this first one wouldn’t be a slam dunk. I am a better than average cook which means I have a lot of scrumptious recipes I could share. I’m very tempted to go with the first prompt and call it good. It would definitely be quicker and easier route.

But I did sign up for a challenge. So the second prompt which asks, “How does eating fit into your life?” is the one I’m feeling called to answer.

I have a dirty little secret with regard to food. I’m guilty. I consider myself on a spiritual path and I don’t eat clean, vegan, or vegetarian. Some days I have some food shame about this. Especially when it comes to admitting this “lack of alignment” for all the world to see in social media circles such as this. It’s time to put it all on the table and come out of the food pantry closet.

I have a lot of vegetarian in my DNA. My great grandfather …everyone called him Pa, was vegetarian before it was “enlightened” to be so. My beloved brother who crossed the rainbow bridge in 1999 was vegetarian and one of my two sisters has been vegetarian nearly all her adult life. It wouldn’t surprise me if there were a few more vegetarian leaves on my family tree which I don’t know about.

So I highly respect this choice. I’ve even given it consideration from time to time. But I’m more of a meat on the side kind of girl. I love my veggies, but I would miss my smidgeon of meat, not to mention a good chunk of sharp cheddar cheese if I chose the vegan route. I can see validity in doing the vegetarian thing cause it has less impact on the environment. But doing it for spiritual reasons I find more tenuous and confusing. I’m of the opinion that plants have souls every bit as much as animals do. I’ve communed more than once with a stately old growth “Grandmother” Douglas fir and no one can tell me that tree doesn’t have a soul every bit as vital as me and the animals of the forest…so why not a pieces of lettuce? I’m more aligned with the Native American way….mindfully acknowledge, give thanks, and honor the soul of everything I consume.

Oh and there would another more practical reason…choosing vegetarian would add a several layers of complication to my cooking and eating life. I already find it complicated enough. Depending on the day of the year I can be quite the hedonist where food is concerned or I can have hardly any appetite for food and not want to be bothered with having to think too much about it.

It’s a good thing I married a guy who always has a good appetite or I would often forget to eat, especially when I am immersed in my creative work. Oh and when it gets hot…like it’s been this summer in Oregon forget it…my appetite really plummets. It’s a challenge to find something that appeals to me.

Then there are times when food is a true passion. I especially love the creative side of food. When this passion grabs hold of me my diehard foodie comes out to play. It’s a sensual experience. I love experimenting, love the planning, love trying new things. It can be truly satisfying. I’ve probably even have a couple of cookbooks up my sleeve…I may eventually publish one or two…who knows. For now I have bits and pieces of several possible recipe books sitting here in a file on my hard drive.

When the kids were young and at home we would always sit down at the family table for our meal. Since they left home we’ve become much more casual about this.

When it is just me at home I’m happy to just graze through my day rather than sit down for an actual meal. A few almonds and piece of fruit here, a knob of cauliflower there, fresh vine ripened tomatoes …yummm, a slice of really sharp cheddar on a couple whole grain crackers and I’m in heaven.

I do try to choose healthier choices…but I have a few vices, which I’m just not ready to give up. I haven’t kicked sugar, don’t eat as much as the average American…but I do have a sweet tooth. I don’t have a crazy, out-of-control sweet tooth so most of the time I’m happy to allow myself to indulge. I can make a bag of good chocolate last me for weeks. My biggest vice (okay addiction) is I like my soda pop…I am just not ready to give that up…I’ve tried to replace it with other beverages…but just haven’t found something that satisfies and quenches like a nice cold pop.

Recently, I was in the middle of making a big pot of chili for a potluck dinner and saw a half bottle of cola that had gone flat sitting on the counter. So I threw it into the pot along with some cocoa powder…and yummy. Just enough sweetness to tame the acidity of the tomato. It was gobbled up.

Yummy Potluck Cola Chili

Yummy Potluck Cola Chili
11/2 lbs. lean ground beef (ground turkey or meat substitute I        believe would work just as well)

1/2 large sweet onion finely chopped

1/2 lb miniature red, yellow, & orange bell peppers sliced in rings

2 14.5 oz cans of diced tomatoes

1 4 oz. can of diced green chilies (optional)

3 6 oz. cans of tomato paste

10 oz. flat cola (a 12 oz can would be fine…maybe even as much as full 20 oz. bottle)

4 15 oz. cans of dark kidney beans rinsed

I use a combination of the following spices and I don’t usually measure them…but they are approximately like this.

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. ground oregano

2 tsp. ground cumin

1-2 Tbsp chili powder (we prefer it on the milder side)

1 tsp. ground black pepper….yes I am generous with the black pepper …it gives it a lovely kick…which without being too spicy hot.

2 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tsp. sea salt

1 tsp. sugar (optional since this chili has cola in it..but if you like to mellow the acidity of the tomato a little sometimes a little additional sugar helps…taste it before adding it)

  1. Saute and brown the meat, onions, and peppers in a large skillet. Drain and rinse off any fat that has accumulated. Return to the pan.
  2. Add and mix in the diced tomatoes, green chilies.
  3. Add the garlic, oregano, cumin, chili powder, black pepper, cocoa, salt, and sugar. Let the spices mingle and the sugar caramelize slightly for about one minute on medium low heat.
  4. Add and stir in the tomato paste and cola. If you prefer more “gravy” then add some additional water or even tomato juice or tomato sauce, until you have the soupy consistency your prefer. My guy prefers a thick chili without a lot of “gravy.” So I will add a about 6 to 12 oz. of liquid.
  5. Serve this right from the pan (I love my cast iron pans partly for this reason..they look great as serving dishes) or if you taking it to a potluck or planning to eat it later pour the chili into crock pot. Simmer on low for up to 4 hours. Add the kidney beans about 30 minutes before your plan to eat.
  6. As usual this is even better the next day so if you want leftovers take out a bit and put it aside before serving or you might not have leftovers. It disappears rather quickly in a hungry crowd.


MUYL Day 2: And the Journey Continues…

and the journey contnuesI woke up this morning with the best of intentions, to write my blog post for the challenge first thing in the morning. I even read the challenge the evening before so I could be thinking about it as I drifted off to slept. And even more important, I wouldn’t have to check my email to find the new prompt for the day (having to check email can be an all too easy temptation). I was pleased as punch with myself …I thought this was so clever of me.

Then I woke up. Sat down eager and ready to begin writing. Opened up a word doc and sat there….and sat …and sat….my fingers not moving on the keyboard…

Maybe I should go recheck how that prompt was worded. It might help to copy and paste it into my word doc. Yep I did this. And while I was there in my inbox… Uh huh! Yeah! All righty! Can you see my sheepish grin?

This email distraction led me to check the Facebook group just on the off chance reading a few other responses would be just the jump start I needed.

I started to compose a comment, but thankfully my inner voice had something to say about that, “No you can do that need to get back to writing you post.”

But first I felt the urge to check my other email…maybe someone left a comment on my post from yesterday. They did. I felt both encouraged and excited by several lovely comments. You’d would think this would help me get going on my post for this morning.
Not exactly. I got up and fetched a drink of water. Now that I was at the sink I was conveniently greeted with a pile of dishes, which I decided I should quickly wash up.

While doing these dishes I finally admit to myself that I am in that all too familiar dance with resistance once again. So I ask myself, ” So what’s going on?”

I continued to explored this line of inquiry while making breakfast, which began to give me a small glimpse into what was going on.

From experience I knew going for a walk would be the most helpful thing I could right now. There is something about the rhythm of walking which helps me get to the bottom of stuff.

Here’s what I discovered while out walking this morning. There is a part of me that prefers not to talk/write about spiritual stuff. That isn’t quite an accurate statement. I talk and write about spiritual stuff all the time. Just ask some of my friends who think of me as the weird friend who talks about woo, woo stuff too much. I’m definitely on a spiritual path myself. My discomfort comes up when I’m asked to explicitly and formally talk about what I believe about spirituality. And go figure…silly me…I signed up for this. It shouldn’t be surprising we would be writing on few spiritual topics during the next 30 days.

Yes, I know I could have chosen another topic to write about today. There were a couple of small problems with that. For one I would have had to figured out another topic to write about. And two..and more importantly, I revoked Ms. Resistance’s driving privileges quite some time ago. I am quite committed and determined to keep my hands on the steering wheel. Now you have the background story. Let me finally get to the prompts.

Here’s my current understanding of spirituality. Warning wandering ramblings ahead. Yes, I will likely contradict myself. I think this is the nature of spirituality. It’s ripe with paradox. It’s a miraculous mystery. I’m learning to not let these contradictions confound me. I’ve slowly been learning to hold it all more lightly.

I’m learning to be more okay with not knowing. More comfortable and trusting in a place of uncertainty. I try to spend more time in beginners mind.

For me spirit is a very fluid thing, which makes it difficult to pin down. I know it…I’ve had very intimate life changing profound experiences with it. Try to put words to these experiences and more often than not I am at a total loss.

For me spirituality seems to be mostly a wordless thing. I most often find spirit in the spaces between the words. In my creative work, when I’m in the zone, tapped into flow, it will seem like it isn’t me, but spirit speaking and co-creating with me.

I don’t use one word to describe the idea of God. I am comfortable using many terms for this mystery. So depending on my mood or circumstance I’ve been known to describe this Essence as God, Goddess, Source, The Universe, the Great Spirit, Mother, Father, Grandmother. Buddha mind, Inner wisdom, and so on. I think of it as energy and consciousness. I think of it as the Oneness, which embraces the Many. At times I find it helpful to personify this Essence or think of as an animal guide.

This morning when I went for that walk I found spirit in a weed patch of dandelions, in a quiet morning breeze, in a child’s raucous laughter, in my own shadow stretched out across the pavement, in the opening of my heart to learn something new about myself and my own spiritual journey and the gratitude I have for this precious gift called life.

And this journey continues…..

MUYL Blog Challenge Day 1: Dealing With Challenge by Participating in This Blog Challenge

Gratitude and Company
     Gratitude & Jan, Keeping Each Other Company

This is day one of the Magic Up Your Life Blog Challenge.  When I signed up for this challenge I had a decent looking blog/website.  Since I had recently recommitted to blogging more consistently after a rather long dry spell I felt signing up for this would help support me in following through on that new commitment.  And I also hoped to connect with other spiritual badass and magic making bloggers.  It felt like this challenge came at just the perfect time and spirit was moving to support my renewed commitment.

A few days after signing up Mr. Beloved accidentally deleted my site. No I didn’t kill him.  Twenty seven years is too much of an investment.  In the time we’ve been together I’ve known him to do a few stupid things like this (God knows I’ve done my fair share of stupid things too), but I also know he does so much more right and has a heart of gold.  Perspective is everything.  I knew he already felt terrible, and when you’re willing to look deeper there is always a blessing to unfold in such challenges. So honey…I love you and this site is going to be beautiful again…and have some other capabilities it didn’t have before.

I had hoped to have my blog more or less restored by the time this challenge started…at the very least I hoped to have it looking and performing better than it is at the moment.  I considered giving myself a free pass to not do the challenge.  It may even make more sense to just focus on getting the blog all straightened out…right?  It would definitely be easier and more in my comfort zone to fix things behind the scenes and then worry about getting back to blogging later.  That would be my typical MO.  But the other reason I wanted to do this challenge was to push myself to show up and be willing to be more visible. That doesn’t happen behind closed doors.

So I’m flinging the doors wide open and inviting you to follow along as I figure out where and how to go from here. You get to see the before and the after. People love before and after stories right? The before is this:

  1. managed to salvage the written content only (huge blessing this part was not lost)
  2. the links no longer work
  3. all my beautiful images have vanished and need to be replaced (thankfully most if not all of these are saved on an external hard drive and restore-able)
  4. navigation is a mess
  5. sign up box is no more…need to replace this pronto
  6. other bits and pieces missing …like my free downloads.
  7. Ugly Fugly!!!

I’ve been a little stuck (okay a lot stuck) with finding the right theme.  I loved  how it used to look.  I always got a lot of compliment about the site’s appearance. Ideally I’d like my site to look and feel basically the way it did before, but more responsive, load faster (I’m an artist…and so the way it showcases images is vital).  Oh geez! I’ll not bore you with the long list. I’ll simply say it needs to be easily customizable. I’m having some trouble envisioning how to adapt my old look into a new format.  Specifically I have some images of Gratitude and me I want to incorporate in a way that makes sense.  Previously these images were used in my sliding door navigation.

Oh and for our new visitors Gratitude and I are in the middle of writing a book called Gratitude’s Journey together. She came to my rescue five years ago, during the second week of my ARTbundance™ Certification Training program, when I was stumped with how to proceed with an ARTsignment™, which I need to complete for certification.  In fact the seeds for the book we are presently working on first began in a  more humble form as that ARTsignment™.  So over the last five years Gratitude has become a dependable friend, creative muse, and business partner.  She’s taught me a lot about what it means to live a Great Full Life.  We invite you to join us as we continue our journey to living a meaningful life every day.