Saturday, May 23, 2015

Finally Friday Week 16: Every Day Magic

Simple moment of drinking tea with Yoon
“I do believe in an everyday sort of magic -- the inexplicable connectedness we sometimes experience with places, people, works of art and the like; the eerie appropriateness of moments of synchronicity; the whispered voice, the hidden presence, when we think we're alone.”—Charles de Lint

Magic. I find it all around these days. This weekend I'm finding it in very simple things. It's a holiday weekend and I could feel the energy in the city on Friday. Everyone was packing, shopping, and getting ready to hightail it out of here to enjoy the weekend far from the stresses of the city. I thought about going away too, but somehow the weekend snuck up on me and I honestly didn't have the energy to make a plan. It's nice, sometimes, how the city becomes deserted on a long weekend. Normally crowded city streets become free and clear. It feels like Yoon and I have the entire city to ourselves.

One of the reasons I didn't feel the need to get out of town is due to the fact that I teach only three days a week, so I actually have a long weekend every weekend. There was nothing extremely special about having one extra day.

I've felt like really sinking into where I am recently. When I can witness the magic of life everyday in very simple things, I feel completely full. I don't live for weekends. I try and live everyday. In fact, I have found magic in living fully every single day. Even on my drives to work, I am able to witness the changing of the trees, flowers, and life all around.

This morning, Yoon and I went on a huge walk through Carkeek park. We did a loop through the forest and along Puget Sound. We might as well have been on one of the San Juan Islands. It felt so remote, yet we were 10 minutes from our house. We stopped by a stream with smooth stones and tall cedar trees and we took in the fragrant smell of flowers and babbling sounds of the brook below us. I felt a complete peace there.

When we got home, we relaxed and drank tea.

 Then we went to the $4 movie theater down the street and saw the Argentinian film Wild Tales. It was an intense movie! When we got back to the house, Yoon took out frozen salmon steaks from the freezer and sliced sweet potatoes and barbecued them all on the grill. I heated up a stuffed Shitake mushroom and leftover dumplings and a leak pancake from a Taiwanese restaurant. We ate all of this out in the front garden along with plum wine and Hawaiian music.

It was so relaxing and made me appreciate the very simple things in life.

Now I'm here writing this blog post on Saturday evening.

Do you often experience everyday magic. What are the simple things you find magic in?

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Finally Friday Week 15: What is Intuitive Writing?

Intuitive Writing class at Kalani on The Big Island of Hawaii
"We are more connected than we think. Our innermost, private thoughts that flow out through the intuitive writing process are not strange or weird, or unfit to share. Instead, they are often universal thoughts, feelings, emotions, concerns and even ideas."—Katherine Jenkins

 Since I am currently teaching an intuitive writing class to a group, I thought I'd try it out here. Usually I use pen and paper when I practice intuitive writing, but you can also type. There seems to be more connection to the page and the words and the innermost thoughts when there is direct contact to pen and paper, so this is an experiment. There are no rules in intuitive writing. It's stream of conscious writing. You get to let loose on the page and that can be very freeing. The other part about intuitive writing is that once you start you can't stop. It does not mean that you have to write very fast, but just continue to keep your hand (or in this case hands) moving. If you stop, you will think, ponder, critique, rewrite, throw away, cross out, worry, fret, give up, do something else, pat yourself on the back and a number of other things. You will move out of the STREAM of consciousness and start heading in other directions. Now you are not practicing intuitive writing.

Much of my writing, even book writing, has come from intuitive writing. At least that is where I started. I allowed myself to just write. From there things started to take shape or I gave my writing shape. It starts with an idea and flows from there.

There are no rules of grammar, punctuation or spelling in intuitive writing. You can write in another language, symbols or pictures. You can repeat words. You can doodle or scribble or write blah, blah blah. You will find that even when you think there is nothing to write, something indeed will come out—something you least expected.

Often I give my students a prompt and we go from there. When I say, "Times up!" they are usually not ready to stop. They are in the flow. I let them finish up what they are writing. Most of the time these writers are unsure of what they have just written. I then open the space for sharing. We now put words to this writing we have created. This can be scary because we are creating from a very deep place. It can be scary to share what we have written. We may feel it is too raw, unpolished, obscene, vulnerable, bad, incomprehensible, rubbish or simply too personal to share. I never make anyone share if they don't want to, but often everyone does. There's a bonding that happens with every single group. If one person is writing about standing on the edge of a cliff, I often find that others have written about this too with slightly different words to express this scene or these emotions. What happens then is that we realize we are often more connected than we think—that our innermost, private thoughts that flow out through the intuitive writing process are not strange or weird, or unfit to share, they are often universal thoughts, feelings, emotions, concerns and even ideas. They come from a place of connectedness and there is a great feeling that comes with being connected on a deeper level.

I am merely the guide in these classes. I provide and create the space for intuitive writing to happen, but it's the group that writes and creates. I am also one of the people in the group who is creating and sharing.

I feel fortunate to have taught these classes as an artist-in-residence at Kalani on the Big Island of Hawaii and at Edmonds Community College as part of their Arts Now program. Currently I teach these classes from my home. I feel this is the best space to teach these classes as it feels nurturing to be in a home around a table with comfy chairs, cups of teas, journals and pens.

When I hear the clicking of pens on paper, it brings me joy. How many times have you sat in a circle of people in silence and practiced writing without thinking? How many times have you let go of where your writing should go (or where you should go for that matter) and just let the words fall out on the page.

I just did that here. I just practiced intuitive writing for this blog post! How about that?

Have you ever practiced intuitive writing? Choose a prompt and set a timer for 10 minutes and just write. I promise you that you'll discover amazing things if you do this for just 10 minutes a day!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Finally Friday Week 14: Celebrating Motherhood In All Its Forms

"We are born of love; Love is our mother."— Rumi

Today is Mother's Day and it also happens to be my 12th anniversary. It's rare for my wedding anniversary and Mother's Day to fall on the same day, but this year it happened.

This year I wanted to spend time with my mother and celebrate an important day with my husband. Luckily, I was able to do both.

My mother wanted to go to Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island on Saturday for the afternoon, so we met her there and enjoyed a short time together. Afterwards, my husband and I spent a wonderful 12th anniversary together. We rented a beach bungalow across the bridge from Bainbridge in Suquamish. We brought crabs and wine and ate out on the gorgeous deck watching sailboats go by. Eagles soared above our heads and an otter took a nap on a floating dock in the distance.

Since my anniversary fell on Mother's Day this year, I began to ponder this day a bit more. I am so thankful that my mother is here in Washington State and I get to see her more often than I used to when I lived overseas for about 10 years.

As I scrolled through my Facebook updates when I got home, I found that the vast majority of them were about how people spent this special day devoted to mothers. There were brunches, breakfasts in bed, trips to gardens, homemade cards, hand-bought cards, poems, flowers, photos, etc. I even put a photo of my mother and me at Bloedel Reserve up on my page.

While mothers were brunching and opening handmade cards, I was snuggling with my husband in our beach bungalow. He got up later and turned on some romantic French music and made me the most delicious breakfast. I never get tired of our time together and every year, in fact, I find more reasons to celebrate life, not just on our anniversary!

Was it a coincidence that I got married almost on Mother's Day?

Truthfully, I was in South Korea for my wedding and Mother's Day isn't really celebrated. In fact, it's combined with Father's Day and is called Parent's Day and it's celebrated on May 8th. I find this an interesting cultural difference. In South Korea, raising children is often done by many people. My husband was raised by his grandparents and lived with them until he left the nest. It's not an individual effort, it's a group effort. In South Korea, if a woman gets on a bus with two or three children, it is not unusual for a complete stranger to stand up and take one of the children by the hand until the mother is ready to get off the bus. They say, "It takes a village," and I observed this in Korea.

My husband and I never really talked about having children. Lots of people said, "Oh, just wait. You will want to have a few of your own as you get older." But that feeling never really came for either of us. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely adore children and I think they enjoy their time with me too. I am a great babysitter, a pretty fun aunt to my nephews and get a kick out of my best friend's twins, but I never felt the need to make my own children. I felt like there were so many lovely children out there already—so many I could share in loving. My husband makes cute noises and funny faces at every baby he sees, just about. He never hesitates to engage in conversation with a kid. I love this about him.

 So I started to think of motherhood and maternity on a larger plane. What is a mother? On the physical plane, most would agree that it is a person who has kids. Or some may even argue that is is a person who has a pet dog, cat, bird or lizard. My stepmom did not have kids of her own, but she is a pretty good mom to a very sweet bird who she loves dearly (and that bird has had a seriously long life!) and she is a wonderful stepmom.

On a spiritual plane, I feel as if I have been a mother for countless lives. In fact, I get glimpses of this in my dreams. I wonder if there was a maternal connection to my husband in a past life. Maybe we were all once mothers in one form or another. The instinct is there to nurture. We can nurture ourselves just as gently as we would nurture a newborn. We can also nurture the planet and all forms of life that exist on it. By doing this, I believe we connect to all life on a very deep level. It's here where we are not separate—it's here where we are all children of mother earth doing our own share.

Today I celebrate motherhood in all its forms—whether you are a parent to a beautiful child, dog, cat or bird. I celebrate you today for the nurturing you offer. Whether it is tending to a garden, taking care of and elderly parent, making the planet a better place to live, offering your gifts to this world through writing, speaking, art or in any other way. And this day may also hold a lot of grief for you too. Maybe you have lost your mother, sister or child. Maybe it conjures up memories you'd just as soon forget. Maybe the day is bittersweet.

Whether you celebrated or grieved or reminisced today, this day is also for you. For every moment you have nurtured, cared, loved, offered your gifts, or tended to anyone or anything, I celebrate YOU!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Finally Friday Week 13: A Letter from a Secret Admirer

"We never know who we may touch or inspire when we do something deeply from our own hearts."—Katherine Jenkins

I've been posting on this blog since 2008. For two years, I posted every single day. I wrote 365 Lessons in 2010 and 365 Inspirations in 2013. I write here because I have something to say and share. I put my fingers to the keys and words come out. This feels so natural to me. It's a lot like breathing. I never know what will come out on the page. There are times when I wonder if anyone is reading this blog. There have been many times I've felt like that. But I keep writing, writing, writing. I write for the sake of writing. I write to connect and share.

Over the years I've met so many people through this blog. People in other countries, even. I went on book tour and met some of those people. I met a fellow blogger while she was on the road for an Off-Broadway play. She was Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz and she gifted Yoon and I with comp tickets as she breezed through Washington State. I later saw her while I was on book tour in New York City. One blogger friend in Arizona put us up for the night in her lovely home and even knitted us scarves. Another blogger friend from NYC came with her husband to Washington State and we spent a lovely week together.

I've received lots of letters, emails, etc. over the years. Two of my Aussie blogger friends even had dreams about Yoon and I coming to visit, so now I feel like I have to make it to Australia one way or another.

But nothing prepared me for the letter I received this morning. It made everything I've done on this blog  so worth it. It made me want to keep writing and sharing for as long as I'm on the planet. It made me realize that even when we think no one is out there and no one is reading, there is so much happening that we can't even see.

For the longest time I wondered why my book was first translated in Croatia.  Why Croatia? What ties did I have to this country? Was it just a fluke? What about Korea, India or Japan? These were countries I'd written about in my book. My book has also been translated to complex Chinese and is available in Taiwan, Macau and Hong Kong and will be translated into simplified Chinese and be available in all of Mainland China soon, but these are Asian countries and it made sense for it to be translated by these countries. How did Croatia even hear about it? I was certainly intrigued.

Well, everything was made clear this morning. Here is part of the letter I received that explains it:

 Dear Katherine,

I finally found the courage to get in touch with you... although I wanted that for a few years now. I have something to tell you and that is more important than my insecurity (more about that later :-).

So, to start from the beginning, I purchased your book when it first came out, after I read your blog. I ordered it from a UK bookstore. The book was one of the best, most honest, sincere, warm and wise books I have read in my life so I suggested it to one of the publishing houses I work for. I'm a translator. 

After some deliberation they got back to me with the good news! They decided to buy rights for your book and, of course, told me I would translate it! I was very, very happy!

And yes, I really feel you are my old friend because I have followed you for years now. And you know, when you are translating books, you inevitably connect to the spirit of the author and you can feel what he or she felt. And it was really beautiful to connect with your spirit. I enjoyed it immensely. And that is why I can't wait for your new book! 

Hugs and Greetings from Croatia,

This letter touched my heart so deeply. I immediately went to the Croatian edition of my book and found that Alexsandra did in fact translate my book. She has been a blog fan here for years. I remembered her from a few comments and emails she sent to me, but I had no idea she was from Croatia and that she worked for a publishing house and that she was the one who requested that it be translated. I immediately wrote her back today. I now feel I must visit her and Croatia. I'd love to do a book event there. I have read up on the country since my book has been translated there and it is an absolutely gorgeous place. I would be so fortunate and lucky to have a chance to visit Croatia and Aleksandra.

The lesson I learned from this is that we never know who we may touch or inspire when we do something deeply from our own hearts. Thank you Aleksandra. From my heart to yours, thank you.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Finally Friday Week 12: Seeing the Silver Lining

My husband Yoon at the summit of Haleakala, Maui
"I'm choosing to see the silver lining. Every single moment and life event we are faced with has one, even if it doesn't seem like it."—Katherine Jenkins
 Lately, after a long period of smooth sailing, some storms and waves have been on the horizon. They have not only affected me, but those around me as well.

I wonder how and why these things come and how they have become so predominant lately. In the midst of a crisis or bad news, it's hard to see the silver lining, but what I've discovered is that life goes on.

Today, on a walk through the beautiful woods near our house, I asked my husband what he thought about the recent string of events—an earthquake, a fire in a friend's home, my own ruptured right eardrum. These things happened fast and out of the blue. One day I was walking along with a friend and the next day I could not hear. It seemed like things were exploding all around, in one way or another.

"It's nothing personal," my husband said, "Things come and go, are born and die, it has nothing to do with anyone or anything. Just the world balancing itself out."

We walked along for a while in silence. The new green leaves on the trees were so vibrant. The leafy branches seemed to almost reach out and touch us. They were pulsing with new life. Birds fluttered around us. Life was happening all around, but right below the vibrant green, swept close to the roots of these new shoots, were brown leaves from last year. They were barely noticeable and blended into the background.

I felt my own life pulse through my veins. I felt my feet in my shoes and the sun on my face. I felt my legs move on their own—strong and steady. I also felt the static of my right ear that weeks before could hear distinct birdcalls from distant paths in the forest. If I strained a bit, I could still hear those sounds. They were not so distinct, but they were there.

"Not all is lost," I told myself, "Look at all this beauty!" And in that moment I feel gratitude for all that I could see. My husband reached out to massage my neck. The warmth of his hands on my skin made me also feel gratitude for having him in my life.

Our lives may not be perfect, but this moment is just fine as it is. "This moment, this moment, this moment," became my mantra as I walked through the forest.

Recent events have caused me to stop, slow down and witness life. I feel humbled by all that is around me. Things I see everyday have become miraculous. I often wonder if life explodes or shakes or erupts to get us to sit up and notice its still there—to make us realize how amazing it is.

I've been blessed with silver linings these days. How lucky I am to get to experience this life.

Do you often see the silver lining in unfortunate situations or events?

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Finally Friday Week 11: My Sixth Sense

"You lose one sense and others become stronger."—Katherine Jenkins 

I believe this to be a fact because I have witnessed it. Due to a ruptured right eardrum, I've lost some hearing in my right ear and may eventually need surgery because the hole is apparently too large to heal on its own. I'm living with a static sound in my right ear and loss of hearing. I try not to focus on it. I try to just go about my day.

People who see me can't really notice a difference. They speak to me just the same and I respond, but I am straining to hear them sometimes and even staining to get a sense of the outer volume of my own  voice, which is magnified inside my head. They don't notice this and can't see or feel the difference, but I feel it. It's with me every moment and I'm slowly learning to accept it.

It's caused me to go inward. It feels, actually, like all my senses want me to go inward a bit more. I prefer silence to crowds and a walk in nature to a walk in a busy park. Loud pitched noises, like kids screaming and low rumbles, like a truck roaring by, completely throw me off. Forget shopping malls—the sounds echo all over in my head and I need to get out. Oddly, movie theaters are okay—anywhere where the sound is somewhat contained is okay.

Writing in my office is peaceful. Writing anywhere puts me at ease. I am sitting here in my office at 5:30pm on Saturday. The late afternoon sun is casting a bright light on all the tulips and bluebells in my yard. That is what I see from my office window.

I can also hear the hissing sound in my right ear. It's like a blank spot or static on a TV. I'd like to adjust the station and make it clear again. I have faith that I will regain full sound in that ear and when that happens this white noise will disappear. I have a hunch that this will happen.

Other senses have recently become heightened. My sense of smell is very keen. I have always had a very strong intuition and even teach intuitive writing classes, but losing my hearing has caused this sense—I call it my sixth sense—to become very strong. I move slower now. I hear the birds outside right now with my left ear, and my right ear is straining to hear the sound as well. I can feel my left ear making up for what my right ear can no longer do. It's as if my brain is recalibrating everything. It's as if I am becoming a new human.

Here's what the dictionary says about sixth sense:

Sixth Sense
n. noun
1. A power of perception seemingly independent of the five senses; keen intuition.

When we lose a sense that connects us to the outside world, or a sense becomes somewhat compromised, others kick in and help out.

 All of our five senses—sight, sound, taste, touch and smell—come from the outside world and filter through our physical body, but intuition operates on its own, independent of the outside world. It's that gut feeling or hunch we have about something. It sometimes causes you to do things that you can't explain or that may not make sense at the time. It doesn't "make sense" because you are not using your senses to arrive at your answer. You are using something very different.

Some of the most important decisions I've made in my life have been on gut feelings or hunches I've had. The "gut feeling" or even "heart feeling" I had about my husband defied any form of rationale. He was a monk at the time in South Korea. This did not "make sense," but my intuition told me it was right and I followed it. In fact, I'm still following my intuition and it's never, ever lead me astray. The only time I've been lead astray is when I do something that doesn't feel right or when I'm pushing for something to happen or change and it's not the time for things to happen or change. 

Humans are very impatient. We want answers now. When we push for things and push for our ideas, we lose access to our intuition. Intuition is effortless. It happens in the now. It does not push or seek or strive, it just is. So much of what we are searching for in our lives is right in front of us. It's in every single moment we encounter in every situation we are faced with, whether that situation is what we call good or bad. 

And boy, do we want the good...all the time. We are pleasure seekers by nature and constantly seek it out. We want to have a five-star day everyday. We dream of a sunny day in paradise on a beach with a palm tree and a fruity drink with an umbrella in our hand. We can almost see, taste, touch, hear and smell that day. We try and make it happen exactly as we imagine it and then it rains or a flight is delayed or we lose our camera or our wedding ring while swimming and then we are disappointed because things didn't go "as planned," but even those experiences have something rich to offer us. When we let go of wanting, we allow the world to come dance with us. It's not only about me now, it's about the interplay of everyone and everything.

We've forgotten an important element to this entire puzzle. We've forgotten that we are not in control of what happens. While we can go out and plan and push and strive and scheme for all of our dreams, there may be something else in our cards AND we may not like the cards we are dealt and immediately request another hand. We may say, "Wait, I don't really like these cards, can I get another hand."

But the cards right in front of you are the only ones you've got and they hold the key to all the mysteries of this amazing life. My sixth sense tells me that those cards are right on and they aren't necessarily cards I would have chosen for myself if it were all up to me. And, oddly, that is the greatest blessing. It isn't all up to me. There are millions of factors, and people and events and timing and the aligning of the stars and planets and maybe even past lives that go into where I am right here and now—maybe God had a hand in it or my karma or even the Universe. Who knows? And that is the mystery of this life and the reason why things don't need to make sense all the time. So when my sixth sense comes calling, I sit upright and listen, take notes and follow it.

When I lost my hearing, a friend immediately texted me and said, "Your sixth sense is strong and will make up for any loss of sense." She also recently wrote to me, "And you also see the silver lining." 

Yes, I think this is true.

Is your sixth sense strong? Do you usually see the silver lining in situations?

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Finally Friday Week 10: A Room of One's Own

My writing room before it got simplified.
"Our house is not a fancy place, but it holds our hearts and so many memories."—Katherine Jenkins

Well, I'm here finally....on Sunday! Time certainly flew this weekend. Last week I missed a whole week of classes at the college where I teach due to a very bad ear infection and perforated ear. I'm still getting over that and can't hear completely in my right ear. I guess these things take awhile to get over, but I'm certain I will get over it completely.

It's very strange not to hear out of an ear. Since one ear is blocked to the outside world, it's forced me to go inward a bit. I've started meditating more and cleaned up my office and made it into a little sanctuary of peace.

I used to not like coming in my office. It was stacked with books, papers, bags, clothes, etc. I did my work at the dining room table. Now that it's clean in here, I'm finding it a nice place to rest, write, work, meditate, etc.

It's a fresh clean slate in here. Anything could happen. The stale energy is gone and I feel a sense of ease. I'm reminded that much of my very first book was created in this room. I want to bring that creative energy back.

I like the room to be simple, not cluttered—just a desk in the corner, a chair, a rug, lamp, a computer. What more does one need. I work much better in clean, clear spaces. I feel the mind does not get stuck.

It's a bit like traveling the wide open road. So many places to go. A room for writing and meditating should be like that.

From my window, I can see our backyard which is in desperate need to be mowed, but my husband's allergies have prevented him from doing so. Behind the overgrown patch of grass, red tulips, clusters of blue bells and a sprinkle of dandelion's create their own bouquet in the yard. It's a wild bouquet—one that has not been tamed by a gardener's hand. I see the apple blossoms blooming on the tree and ivy is running up the trunks of the old oaks. The Japanese maple has got fresh green leaves. If I squint my eyes, it's a beautiful scene. Everything blooming and growing wild and mad. However, when I un-squint them, I see there's a lot of work that could be done.

The window in my office brings in so much light. I recall many days, between writing chapters of my book, when I'd get stuck on a section, just drinking my tea and staring out that window waiting for that spark of genius to take over—the moment when I became un-stuck.

Yoon and I have been here in this little house since February 2006—a little over 9 years. That's astonishing! Before we lived here we were constantly on the go and moving around. Before we landed here, I'd never lived any place for more than two years after I left home. But this house in Seattle has been quite convenient. It's close to everything and it's just big enough for the two of us. We still travel quite a bit, but this house has become our base—sort of by default, but it has served us well.

I have been getting the itch to change—to pack everything up and head out on the wide-open road. I'd like to live in other places. I'd like to have that feeling again where I'm not tied to any place. Time is passing and I'm still here. Here in this little house.

Yet, this house hasn't held me back in the least. I've been able to travel all over the world and always come back to its welcoming, yet wild, garden, warm my body near the fireplace, rest with a good book on the sofa, watch all the different flowers come to bloom like our pink camellia tree, the cherry blossom Yoon planted five years ago,  and the Japanese maples that greet us at our fence door along with the purple clematis. Oh, and the irises and tulips, daffodils and sweet roses!

It's not a fancy place, but one that holds our hearts and so many memories.

Do you have a room of your own? How long have you been in your house?

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Finally Friday Week 9: The Good Side of Pain

Humans are all like tiny cells in a body. When one part is diseased, a whole network of good cells reach out to help. Eventually the body either dies with all the good love around it, or it is healed and restored to balance.—Katherine Jenkins

Pain. How do you feel when you see that word? I decided to look it up in the dictionary and I found this:

1. Punishment
2. Usually localized physical suffering associated with bodily disorder
3. Acute emotional distress or suffering: grief

And its origin is Middle English, from Anglo-French peine, from Latin poena, from Greek poine, all meaning payment or penalty. In Sanskrit its cayate he meaning revenges.

Does that mean we all have to pay our dues in this world?

I have no idea. But I paid mine over Easter weekend. Actually, it all started last Wednesday. I got a very bad earache. On Thursday the pain was so severe, that I went to a walk-in clinic with my husband. They gave me antibiotics and drops, but they did not help and the pain kept escalating. By Saturday, I was experiencing the most intense pain I have ever felt in my life. That is not an exaggeration. I have never experienced giving physical birth, but one woman who went through acute ear pain explained that having a serious ear infection/ruptured eardrum was worse than the pain she felt giving birth to her three children.

On Saturday, my husband took me to ER. The doctor said I had damaged and possibly ruptured my right eardrum, but there was something else going on. I'd have to wait until Monday to see an Ear, Nose, Throat doctor.

What? Monday? Monday?

He gave me Percocet, anti-nausea medication and told me not to use the antibiotics I was on, but to replace it with antibiotic drops.

First of all, I don't like pain meds, so I tried to endure without them until I felt so much pain that I was shaking...yes, shaking all over. I did not sleep, I did not eat, I just sat there and felt the pain. I actually went into the pain eventually and started to observe it. I observed the shaking, I observed throbbing, I observed knives stabbing into my ear very deeply. I breathed through my nose and every now and then a pause would come...a place beyond the pain, even though it was still there. I was in it...going through it...feeling it, as agonizing as it was. I was feeling it.

I could do nothing. It was a beautiful weekend—one that was meant to be spent with family and friends. I felt I was in a time warp.

Finally, after utter exhaustion and not feeling sure I could survive another night, I took the pain meds and at least got some rest, as groggy and strange as that rest was.

On Monday, I begged the Ear, Nose, Throat doctor to see me. The receptionist said, "Sorry, no appointments are available until Tuesday evening." This is where I started to beg. I begged her. I said, "Oh please, can you just squeeze me in for 10 minutes on Monday morning. I was just in ER and referred here." She said, "Just a moment." She came back to the phone and said, "Okay, come at 11:30AM, the doctor will see you then."

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!

The doctor was a calm Indian man. He knew what he was doing. He looked in my ear and said. "Oh, you've been on the wrong meds. You have Otomycosis (fungal infection inside the ear). You need different drops."

He then spent part of his lunch break suctioning out my ear. It was terrible, but it stopped the pain. I no longer have to take anything for pain. I wanted to kiss him. I still have a blocked right ear, tinnitus and a possible eardrum rupture, but no more serious pain.

What did I learn from this experience?

Well, we all want to have a good time. We want life to be pleasurable and fun, but pain will come to all of us and sometimes when least expected. I learned that I can get THROUGH pain and even experience its edges.

Pain makes us vulnerable and makes us feel what it means to actually be living. There's some power in that. It makes us feel gratitude for all the people in our lives and for all the experiences we have had. We realize that people want to reach out and help us. They want to use any way possible to alleviate the suffering. I believe it's because they have also felt pain and know what it is like.

There's something in all of us that is shared. Perhaps we are greater than this one small body. We are part of a bigger body of life and when one small part is suffering, an entire network of humans (and sometimes animals and other life forms) reach out to try and maintain the balance again.

Humans are all like tiny cells in a body. When one part is diseased, a whole network of good cells reach out to help. Eventually the body either dies with all the good love around it, or it is healed and restored to balance.

Perhaps, then, love is key. Love for ourselves and others. Maybe it's love that actually heals?

I am tremendously grateful for my husband. Wow, what an amazing, strong, balanced "little cell" to have right by my side. He surely helped in my recovery. I'm thankful to all the people who offered help, love, support, comfort. I grateful for the doctor who took his lunch break to help me. I'm grateful to my colleagues who scrambled together to find a sub for my classes this week and told me not to worry. All these "little cells" working together to maintain the balance of the larger body of life.

I'm still healing, but can finally move about. I will remember this time as a powerful experience and a reminder to be a "good cell."

Have you ever experienced tremendous pain? What did you learn from it?

Monday, March 30, 2015

Finally Friday Week 8: Coming Out of Retreat

"I never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude."—Henry David Thoreau

Going off on a solo writing retreat is one thing. Coming out of it is quite another. I arrived to my family's lake house last Saturday afternoon, unloaded my stuff, opened the shades and then just sat there in complete silence staring out at the lake.

It takes some time to decompress. It takes time to let go of all things that push and pull me in the city. So many things to do.

Sitting there in silence, I felt a bit uncomfortable at first. What had I committed myself to? Is this what I really wanted to do? The silence was deafening at times. My ears strained to hear anything.

I heard the hum of the refrigerator.

I stepped outside on the deck and heard the hoo hoo of an owl in the distance. I looked up and saw an eagle. Pine tree branches swayed in the light breeze. 

I made myself a little dinner—stir fried kale and mushrooms with a fried egg on top and then went out on the deck to eat it. Out to the left, I spotted the neighbors paddle boat and took it out alone on the lake. I hummed to myself and sat there alone in the middle of the lake until the sun went down. Ducks flew disturbing the glass surface of the lake. I sat there all alone and quiet. I heard frogs.

The week went by much the same, but then I got absorbed in book writing. I would wake up, eat, take a walk and then write for 8-10 hours per day. I was completely absorbed in my next book. I sometimes became so absorbed that I forgot what day or time it was, forgot to eat lunch or dinner, forgot there was a world out there. 

On about day 5, I started to get a bit of cabin fever. Too many long days of writing. Was I going mad? Was this what happened to the best of writers?

I was supposed to pick up my husband from the ferry dock. He was coming out for a night. He'd be coming in on the 11:30pm ferry and I left at 6:30pm—a bit too early. Obviously, I was ready to get out. 

Grocery shopping was an adventure. I walked down every single aisle just staring at all the goods. But even after shopping and getting gas, I still had three hours to kill. I called my husband and he suggested I wait at Anthony's on the pier. So, I took myself out to dinner. It was really nice.

Near the end of the week, writerly friends came out to the lake, making my transition back to the civilization a bit smoother. I was so grateful to have time to really WRITE. I didn't check Facebook or waste time. I got right to writing. It felt good knowing that that was my only job out there for several days.

Now I'm back in the city and moving as slow as I did at the lake. I'm slow to clean, to shop, to get to this blog. 

But here I am. It's good to be back, actually. It was good to pare things down to only the essentials. I think life can often get muddled with things that aren't important. I'm trying to keep those things that are important close to me and let go of the rest.

Have you ever been on a retreat. How did you feel coming out of it?

Friday, March 20, 2015

Finally Friday Week 7: Retreating from the World

I feel most at home in silence.—Katherine Jenkins

I'm gearing up to head off on a writing retreat. I took a walk and ate lunch with a good friend today, changed the wiper blades on my car, bought groceries and now I'm slowly packing.

I'm heading off on a week-long writing retreat to my family's lake cabin. My goal is to work on my next book without any distractions. No wifi, Facebook, traffic, crowds and the fast pace of city life.

I am looking forward to getting into a slow rhythm again. I look forward to walks, cooking and of course WRITING. My next book has been neglected and put aside in the corner of my office and every time I walk in there it seems to scream for my attention.

Well, it will finally get my attention.


As much as my life is surrounded by people, I am wondering if, in fact, I'm an introvert. I crave long stretches of writing in silence and love to go on meditation retreats where I'm silent for 10 or more days. I feel most at home in silence. I can feel myself there and I'm able to tune into deeper callings within me. Without the silence, I could not navigate my way through this world. I look to nature, dreams and meditations for direction. In fact, I depend on them.

Retreat, according to the dictionary, means:

1. the act of moving back or withdrawing from the world.
2. a secluded place where one can rest or relax

Life seems to move at such a pace these days, especially in the city. It's good to go on a retreat and rejuvenate the body, mind and soul and tune into those inner impulses that are hard to hear with all the commotion that we are faced with on a day to day basis.

Do you ever go on retreats? What is your experience on retreats?

Friday, March 13, 2015

Finally Friday Week 6: Fear of Organized ______________.

"When we unplug from intuition and spontaneity, our body, mind, spirit go on autopilot. We start to look outside ourselves for all of our cues, even if these cues no longer represent who we feel we are. We start to move in the same circles and patterns, comparing ourselves with others and never looking deeper to find our true paths."—Katherine Jenkins

I can't believe I got here on Friday! Amazing. Usually I'm so excited that Friday is here that I'm busy doing this or that and have no time to post. Today I seem to have ample time. It's one of those lazy, slow moving Fridays. I did get out and walk around Greenlake and here I am writing this blog post, so it's not a completely unproductive day.

Lately I have been thinking about the term "team player." I don't think I'm a team player at all. In fact, the word "organization" or "organized" anything (organized religion, organized team sports, organized dinner engagements, organized group tours, organized work parties, organized charity events, organized labor) makes me want to run for the hills.

I'm not afraid of the word organized by itself. In fact, I strive to be organized, but it's not one of my strong suits. I have an aversion to "organized ______________."

So I decided to look up the word organized in the dictionary and here's what I found:

1. Functioning in an orderly way or according to a plan.

2. Affiliated in an organization, especially a union.

3. Having the ability to plan and accomplish things in an orderly fashion.

Number three seems okay, but number 1 and 2 sort of make me cringe.

I think it's the rebel in me. It's very strong. My intuition is definitely my strongest suit. I'm often spontaneous and like to have much of my schedule "unplanned" in order for the spontaneous to have space to move. I rely on my intuition about 85%-95% of the time. It has NEVER let me down.

Having things too planned or "organized" is the antithesis of spontaneity, but I do believe that organization and planning do have their place. If we didn't have them, we'd never get anything done. However, if they become the rulers of our lives, we've just squashed intuition and spontaneity...completely. When we unplug from intuition and spontaneity, our body, mind, spirit go on autopilot. We start to look outside ourselves for all of our cues, even if these cues no longer represent who we feel we are. We start to move in the same circles and patterns, comparing ourselves with others and never looking deeper to find our true paths.

Large organizations, groups, religions, etc. scare me. Have you ever seen a zombie movie. I think there was one out recently with Nicole Kidman called The Invasion or something like that. Everyone starts speaking the same, moving the same, talking about the same things, mimicking each other.

Workers of companies and businesses do this. They start talking in acronyms that no one outside the company understands. Religions do this too. In order to understand the acronyms, lingo, literature, you need to be initiated into the group or "programmed." It happens very subtly. Soon you find yourself speaking, dressing, behaving in a certain way. For a while, it can feel good to be "part of the team," but I'm positive this is what most often leads to mid-life crises.

To be truthful, I could use a little more organization in my life. Not the kind that makes me move like a robot and blankly stare into the distance, but the kind that clears space and puts things in that spontaneity and intuition have space to move around.

I hope that spontaneity and intuition are always the rulers of my life and organization and planning are the servants. When it's the other way around, that's when jobs, life, family and even spirit or one's faith become tedious, at least for me.

Do organization and planning rule your life or do you allow intuition and spontaneity to lead you?

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Finally Friday Week 5: Life is Not Roses All the Time

"When I am able to include myself as a part of all life, I'm vast and infinite. I'm the rose that is dying and the one that is blooming at the same time."—Katherine Jenkins

I'm a pretty optimistic person. I usually see the silver lining in most situations. I don't believe that "life is hard," I believe life is life and we get to decide how we choose to view it and live it.

But sometimes you get knocked down, strung out, lost, confused, used and maybe even abused.

Maybe a family member dies, a lover leaves, a friend takes advantage of you, you lose your job, house, car, grounding, are down and out, down for the count, out of commission, out of business, lost, in a funk, stuck, spinning your wheels...

You get the idea.

Nothing really dire, in the scheme of things, happened to me. I did lose a cousin unexpectedly in November. One minute she was bursting with life, making plans with her friends, going to football games and zumba classes and the next moment she was gone. Well, it did make me stop and ponder. It made me think about life and how short it is and how we just don't really know how much time we have left. It made me want to love more and embrace the moment more.

I've also felt disappointed in a friend very recently, but I am now looking at that and wondering what in me allowed me to be disappointed. After all, can anyone make us disappointed, angry or even sad? If we are all reflections of one another, what in me made me feel this way. Obviously I felt hurt by something, but it's my choice how I react and what I do about it.

Usually I try to take the high road. I give the person the benefit of the doubt. I send healing energy and love and move on.

This time I feel sort of stuck in a funk about it. I felt like I needed to address the situation. Life is not roses all the time, right?

So sometimes I just allow myself to feel what I'm feeling. Not change it. Just feel it.

I woke up feeling a little sick to my stomach and had a headache too, but it is one of the most beautiful days outside in the Pacific Northwest. A day to go down in the books! The full moon was glorious last night and I met with good friends over good food.

I'm feeling better. I got really quiet this morning and early afternoon. I meditated a bit. I allowed myself to do nothing and to just be. I felt every unpleasant sensation wash over me, and  I'm coming around now.

Warm camomile honey tea has helped. My husband massaged my head, shoulders and neck and made me some hot chicken soup. I had a banana and lots of water. I'm feeling better. We are housesitting right now and I think cats can sense when you are feeling down. One of the cats plopped down on my stomach and its warm body against mine was very soothing.

I think all of these little things have helped.

Now I'm feeling good enough to actually take a meditative walk outside while the sun is still out and there is still daylight. I obviously feel good enough to show up on this blog and write this post, which was actually meant for Friday, but I've been having trouble getting here on Fridays :)

I know you can relate. I know all of us have had bad days. We all go through different things in life. Sometimes we think that what we are going through is more difficult than what the next person is going through. Sometimes it's easy to get stuck in a 'woe is me' frame of mind about life.

But then I'm reminded of the life that is all around me: the beautiful sun, cherry blossoms, flowering bushes, fish in the pond, the two cats on the sofa, the hummingbirds and chickadees outside flittering about. Life is changing and moving constantly. Things wither and die and new life blossoms. Life is vibrating all around us and in us. I, the personality part of me, is so small with all my thoughts, emotions, pains, inconveniences, etc., but when I am able to include myself as a part of all life, I'm vast and infinite. I'm the rose that is dying and the one that is blooming at the same time.

Have you recently felt unpleasant about anything? What did you do to see the situation in a new light?

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Finally Friday Week Four: I Am Alive

The Bird Totem on Puget Sound
Okay...It's Sunday! I'm having trouble getting here on Fridays, but it will happen. When Friday comes, I'm out experiencing life because.....well, I am alive!

I think it's easy to forget.

It's easy to get wrapped up in this drama or that drama. Thinking can take such a great hold on the mind that it's easy to forget that life is happening right now.

For the past three or four days, life has been pulsating and vibrating in me. It has been so blissful, rapturous even, that it has often felt overwhelming or hard to contain at times. I was afraid, for a few split seconds, that it would swing the other way and my thoughts would take me down a deep dark path, but it hasn't happened.

I know life has it's ups and downs, but if I stay here in the present and fully experience life as if it is happening to me for the very first time, I experience something indescribable. In fact, words don't often do it justice, but I'm here to write, so I'll do my best. This poem spontaneously came to be right now:

Totem of Life

Do you ever look at the ocean? Really see it.
Do you see the waves, the deep blue, the vastness of it,
A lone boat in the distance at dusk with just a flickering light.
You feel you are on that boat.
You can feel the solitude and peacefulness of the moment.
The boat reflecting back at you,
And you, a lone person on a cliff staring out at the sea,
Are also sharing a moment with that boat and its sailor.

And then, did you see that hummingbird?
The one that hovered above your head,
It's tiny green body full of life,
pulsating with it,
flittering, fluttering from flower to flower,
Did you see it?

And the smell of those flowers....
Of lilies and lilacs.
The sun beating down on your head
Warming your entire body from head to toe,
You tingle with this sensation.

And then the sun going down,
Crimson and orange and pink—
Darker and darker.
The Bird Totem next to you comes alive too.
The outline of it,
Like a person, almost, watching the sunset with you.
A totem of life, of many lives culminating.
All of life's secrets, prophesies, legends and myths
Become known in that moment.

I didn't expect I'd write a poem today, but it came out that way for some reason. It's these pieces of life woven together. I am witnessing more, feeling more. Who knows how long it will last. I seem to have this curiosity with life these days. When I walk to class, I see the cherry blossoms looking at me like one thousand eyes penetrating my being. The purple crocuses hidden under a bush cry out for attention. I can't rush to class and miss them. All around is this beauty reminding me that I am alive. When I enter this space of now, I understand everything at once.

What have you witnessed about life lately? 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Finally Friday Week Three: Nevermind the "How," I'm Going to Uluru, Australia

Uluru (Ayer's Rock) Australia
"From my experience, the "how" likes to stay hidden. It doesn't show itself until you are fully committed to what you are doing.  Once it knows you are serious, it starts to work in your favor in ways you aren't even able to fathom."—Katherine Jenkins

Well, I guess I was so excited that it was "Finally Friday" that I forgot to post. So now it's Saturday already. So much has happened since I last wrote here.

I took a leap last Wednesday. I leapt off that cliff that I'd been teetering on the edge of (see previous post). I turned around and faced that pride of lions and the Tsunami wave dissipated. It wasn't anything too extraordinary, but it was big enough.

I decided to follow my heart and take the leap, even though I spent a great deal of time dangling on that edge.

The leap was a decision to go to Australia for book research in August. I'm writing a series of fiction books based on the Earth Chakra system and I have visited all of the chakras/vortices in Book One except Uluru, otherwise known as Ayer's Rock, in Australia. This is chakra three and it is pertinent to my first book in the series.

I thought about researching the area via computer and then writing about it, but that just didn't feel quite right. I know that I need to physically be in all these places in order for the story to come alive. I need to breathe life into the words and that's not going to happen unless I am there experiencing the land itself. The narrative has come through me while I'm there.

So last Wednesday I announced via Facebook that I'm going. I was excited to find out that many of my Australian blogger friends/authors are thinking about making the trek out there with me and now it has turned into a pilgrimage of sorts.

My heart was in the right place when I took the leap.

Now I feel like the universe is realigning itself to support this decision. It's saying, "Okay stars, planets and galaxies, this is what she's decided to do, like it or not, so let's get on it!"

It doesn't mean I have it all worked out yet. One of my hesitations was finances. Flying from WA State to Australia is a costly affair. It's around $1500.....and then you've got to have funds once you get there. All the "ands," "sos," and "buts" came in trying to convince me that it's all a bad idea and I should just forget about it. Because really,

 How are you going to do that?

It's all about the "how," isn't it? And sometimes family and friends jump on the AND-SO-BUT BOAT too, and you start to second guess yourself. Now you are in your head listening to all the "voices" telling you to forget it, and you've forgotten everything about your HEART!

From my experience, the "how" likes to stay hidden. It doesn't show itself until you are fully committed to what you are doing.  Once it knows you are serious, it starts to work in your favor in ways you aren't even able to fathom.

It's not just the "how" that gets down to do too.

Ever since I made that announcement, I've been filled with so much positive energy. There's energy around this adventure. I'm excited to meet my Australian Blogger friends and it looks like it's going to turn into a pilgrimage and/or retreat. I bought a Lonely Planet Australia guidebook and a book on sacred sites around the world, I've contacted two Uluru guide companies in Australia to see if they can swing a group deal for me and the group that plans to come along, I've looked into airline tickets and places to stay. I've worked on some fundraising's full-steam ahead, friends.

And there are signs too. Right after I made this decision, Yoon and I went for a walk at a park in Washington State and somehow ended up in the Australian kidding....

Australian garden in The Seattle Arboreteum
 A section of the top of the park was dedicated to Australia and they had eucalyptus trees and shrubs and flowers all from Down Under. All that was missing was a kangaroo and a koala!

Have you ever listened to your heart and taken a leap without knowing the "how"? What did you do?

Friday, February 13, 2015

Finally Friday Week Two: Using Intuition to Change Your Life

Crocuses blooming at Greenlake
"You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you'll discover will be wonderful. What you'll discover is yourself."—Alan Alda

I've been experimenting with intuition for a long time now...perhaps since I was born (ha!). Seriously, though, I can remember when I was a baby lying on my stomach on a blanket in the backyard in the summer. I felt the sun beat down on my bare skin as I pressed my palms into the grass to lift myself up into a mini pushup. I then took fists full of grass, testing out my grip. I remember the sensation of the green grass between my fingers, the coolness of it on a warm day, like silk on the skin. I remember thinking, "I've been here before."

Perhaps we are purest when we are that age—before conditioning sets in and we forget who we really are. We are always taking note of our surroundings and trying to fit in, adjust, follow the status quo, do what's right. Then, it takes our whole lives to remember who we were at that tender age when everything was fresh and new, when we were open vessels absorbing information.

 I now find that I have a set of beliefs, patterns and habits, but are they mine or have they just become mine and who am I anyway? As I get older, I find that I'm unraveling myself to get to the essence of my being. It's not the ego I'm after. It's not the personality either. It's the frequency or vibration. It's the place where I feel most "in tune" that I seek. I'm looking for that place of harmony. I'm getting closer.

Nature always brings me back to harmony and my essence. It reminds me that I'm part of a bigger picture and I can let go of the parameters of my human form and become part of all that I taste, touch, hear, smell and see. Anytime I start to feel contracted, I seek nature. It's my refuge. I become a child again in nature and I start to see things as if for the first time. I could stare at a leaf for several minutes. A chickadee singing its tune makes me want to sing back. Here in the Pacific Northwest, spring is upon us and it's February 13 (Friday the 13th to be exact). I like to pay a visit to the rhododendrons and check on the progress of the crocuses and daffodils (they are blooming in places right now). Even the cherry blossoms are making an appearance!

Cherry Blossoms at Carkeek Park

Rhododendrons at Llandover Woods

I find new things and discoveries every time I walk. Life is changing, pulsating, vibrating all the time. We are different every moment, so how can we really say who we are? We are free to be whomever we want to be at any given moment.

I've been teaching a 5-week Intuitive Writing Class and yesterday was our last event for this session. I'm starting up a new Intuitive Writing class on February 19th. I use Penney Peirce's book The Intuitive Way in my classes. It has wonderful prompts and exercises to help one return to that place beyond the critic. That place that is free, like a child. That's where I believe our true self really lies and where I find my best writing lies. Penney just so happened to be here in Seattle for the Women of Wisdom Conference during our last class, so we all went together for the opening night. She gave a talk on The Power of Personal Vibration. It really resonated with me and I think the my class enjoyed it too! Penney wrote a guest post for my blog on January 1, 2012 here.

A quote I can relate to at the Women of Wisdom Conference

Members of my Intuitive Writing Class at the Women of Wisdom Conference

I've had dreams recently of teetering on the edge of a cliff, just barely escaping the jaws of a pride of lions, and being faced with a giant tsunami wave right before my eyes. All of these dreams seem to represent current fears I'm dealing with. Working with my intuition more deeply these days has shaken my old self up. I'm in the process of creating a new identity that is more in line with my own vibration. Change is not always an easy process. We are creatures of habit and comfort. But I know from my own experience that if I gently push myself past my comfort zone, through that mysterious doorway, an entire world awaits. If I'm really in tune with myself, I won't get eaten by lions or fall off a cliff. If I am pursuing something I'm truly passionate about, the "how" will work itself out and the uncomfortableness will lead to tremendous growth. I'm getting closer. Each conscious step I take is a step closer to the essence, harmony and light that I seek. 

Have you used your intuition lately to make any decisions about your life?