Friday, October 2, 2015

stitching together our stories

So I have to tell the story of The Quilt.  

Some of you know about it from my Instagram and Facebook posts. I also share some of its story in my offering for the upcoming Inner Alchemy Circle: Earth Coven that begins October 18.  

Like the actual quilt itself, its story is complex and somewhat scattered. Or maybe that is just me. Early on I realized that it isn't the quilt that is crazy, but me for attempting it. But that is perhaps a strength of mine as well. For I have learned it is best to dive right in when the inspiration strikes. Too much research and planning can overwhelm me or dull the motivation. As a yoga teacher once shared: planning is priceless; plans are useless. There is preparation, but nothing beats beginning and learning as you go, facing and solving the challenges as they arise.

Or in my case, making it up as I go along.

You see, I've never really made a quilt before. Okay, I did buy a hunk of fabric already pieced together - vintage Bali batiks - and I added the batting and backing, quilting it using a simple yarn tie technique. It is an over-sized lap quilt and it gave me false confidence.

So a few things to keep in mind as I tell this tale which turned into my own Moby Dick/Ahab adventure. Number one:   I am not a sewer. I cannot cut straight nor can I sew straight. I swear my sewing machine needs an alignment. It (or I) veer off to the left ever-so-slightly until I run up against the edge of the seam. 

What inspired me to make a quilt - a memory quilt I am calling it - is I inherited a box of quilt squares my mother cut out over 40 years ago. I hounded her for a quilt and one summer she decided she would tackle it. She cut out hundreds - probably over 200! - squares, all perfectly even and exact. She had fabrics with coordinating solids all cut out and organized and she even began to hand-stitch! the squares into triangles which she was going to stuff with filling. I think her plan was one she hatched herself and I believe what eventually stalled her was realizing her made-up technique would not work.

look at those tiny stitches!

So the quilt was put away and never mentioned. Oh, I would bring it up and she would flash me a stern look that implied If you want this bloody quilt, then you can make it! I realize now what thwarted my mother was her perfectionism. Which is why I have learned that perfectionism kills off more creativity than any lack of skill or talent.

In other words: better imperfectly realized and manifested than perfect only in my imagination. 

A few years ago I made a story scarf with the sewing/repurposing Queen Maya Donenfeld.  I cut up a few of Cowgirl's baby dresses for that project (I would have wept but I was too busy trying to cut straight!) and I loved having the sweet prints that reminded me of our early days transformed into this personal keepsake. I still had some fabric left and decided it would be fun to use it in a quilt for Cowgirl, along with the fabric that my mother had cut out for my never-realized quilt.

Last winter I began stitching scraps of fabric together. I wasn't sure what I was doing, but quickly discovered it was soothing to spend time matching pieces together, figuring out what to place where, adding or building up strips and blocks of patch-worked pieces and then matching those chunks of patchwork with other sections to create bigger and bigger chunks. 

I had about a quarter of the top done when I put it away. This is something new I've learned about myself after reading the book Refuse To Choose: I am a scanner (although I dislike that label and prefer multipassionate creative instead) which means what may appear to others as a constant and compulsive jumping from project to project, beginning but never completing; is instead is seeking my own "reward" for starting a project or process and when I've gotten that, I  move on. In the book Sher likens it to a bee who goes into a flower to get the nectar and once that happens, moves on. I enjoy the process of figuring things out - I love jigsaw puzzles! - and sharpening my skills and learning new techniques or processes is enjoyable for me. I like to see things coming together. But once that happens, I am less engaged and am ready for something new.

Unconsciously I've somehow figured out how to push through the less engaging stage and complete projects. I mean, I am aware of the boredom and drudgery but somehow I make myself finish. Well, not somehow; I give myself deadlines like Cowgirl's birthday and usually I don't allow much time for goofing off so I have to stick with it

In three weeks time, I had to complete the top of the quilt (the fun, rewarding activity for my multipassionate creative self) and then tackle the backing and quilting (18 rows of tedious yarn ties) at which point I began to think about Moby Dick and began to refer to the project  - in my thoughts only - as that fucking quilt

But I also began to realize how the quilt was piecing together all of our stories - my mother's, mine, and my daughter's. I was using the sewing machine that my father had given my mother after my birthday (which makes us twins I suppose) and I was using fabrics that I remembered she had used to make dresses for herself and for me, along with the quilt squares she had already cut out. 

Whereas my mother's squares represented her - neat, tidy, precise,  patient, loving - mine represent me - colorful, playful, a little chaotic and haphazard but with attention to the details, to the inner stories within the fabric. The quilt embodies what I've come to realize is my motivation within everything I do and what I seek to offer: cherished creative.  

I surprised Cowgirl with her quilt - there were still 4 rows of ties to add - and right away she asked me about the different fabrics, pointing to one's she remembered and asking about new ones. I see stitched together all of our stories, three lives brought together, repurposed and reimagined. Improbable and impossible coming togethers which did happen. The quilt I wanted when I was ten, I now have made for my newly minted eleven year-old daughter. 

And so we continue to add to our story which will eventually be stitched to another generation's.


Friday, September 25, 2015


Today my girl turned eleven.

Eleven?!  How did this happen?!

I got up early this morning so I could steam dumplings for her breakfast. Yeah, I know. This is how I roll. The Husband groans at my celebrating antics.  He is the eldest of four, his mother having all her babies before she was thirty. Birthdays are not a big deal for him whereas I, on the other hand, was like an only child my brother being 9 years older than me. The Husband says my mother spoiled me and I used to get defensive about it, but now I say if showering someone with love and attention is to spoil, then spoil away!

So while Cowgirl is at school, I've been hiding her birthday presents around the house. She requested a scavenger hunt for her gifts and as I am still working on completing one, I am grateful for the extra few hours. Later in the day, I went to write up the clues when I drew a complete blank on where I hid her big gift! I mean for a good five minutes I could not remember where I stashed the-one-gift-she-really-really-really wanted!

It was both hilarious and horrible. A menopausal mommy moment of utter terror and angst.

So I walked around the house, retracing my mental dialogue (yes, I could remember the spots I chose not to use ... inside the grandfather clock ... in a desk drawer ...) until finally I stumbled upon it!

I got to take a break to go buy her a sub sandwich for lunch and then bring it to her at school. I love sitting with her classmates in the lunchroom and seeing her in her element. She sits with the boys and one new friend peppered me with questions. "Are you both from China?" I explained I was born in New Jersey and isn't that equally exotic? He then deemed it "cool" that Cowgirl got to live in China first.  

It is hard to remember those years waiting for Cowgirl, wondering about the child living in China who would one day be my daughter. Eleven years ago I stood outside under a full harvest moon and offered up my prayer for a healthy child. At that time, I had no idea we would be adopting. 

Eleven years ago, just two days before that same full moon, Cowgirl was born. In China the eight full moon of the lunar year - our Harvest Moon -  is known as the MId-Autumn Moon Festival or 中秋節 Zhong Qiu Jie. It is the second most important holiday and traditionally a time for family reunions and celebrations. It is said that under the full moon, we are reunited with all of our loved ones as the moon shines down upon us all.

In our family we talk about the Moon Goddess, 嫦娥  Chang-e, who brought us together as a family.  I tell Cowgirl that she was the one reaching out to me under that full moon all those years ago. As we celebrate her 11th birthday, this year we will celebrate the Moon festival just a few days later. We have moon cakes - 月饼 yue bing - which we've already tucked into. Cowgirl and I like the red bean or lotus paste ones; the traditional cakes have a hard boiled egg inside which we don't like; the Husband shuns them all!  

We combine these traditions from her birth country with new traditions of our own. This morning she chose to wear her Chinese Camp tee shirt. It could have easily been her beloved Kansas Jayhawk tee. She doesn't like cake, so I bake her a birthday pie. This year she wants a strawberry refrigerator pie.  She has also requested steak for her birthday dinner. Last year, it was sushi. That is how she rolls ...

So yes, I will spoil her on this, Her Day which actually is not all that different from other days. With the exception of me getting up early for the dumplings. 

I wouldn't have it any other way. For she has given me so much more than I could have ever imagined 11 years ago under that full moon. She is my reminder to leave open ended the manner in which I want my prayers answered. Why put limits upon what the Universe can conjure up? 

Eleven ... I still cannot reconcile how this little girl ...

turned into this no-longer-so-little girl?

 Thankfully, she is keeping me young-ish ... at least in body, if not mind!

Friday, September 18, 2015

horse play (and finally, friday!)

I can only laugh at myself and wonder at the crazy choices I sometimes make. To borrow a favorite german expression: I have a bird (in my head) [meaning, there is enough room in my head for a bird to fly around]

In a little over a week, I head for Bali. I know ... no whining here ... but lots of preparations to tend to and the packing! oh my god, the packing! (I have a little problem with making wardrobe decisions ... and book and journal and iPod decisions ....)

Then there is Cowgirl's birthday which is one week from today and not to put pressure on myself, but somehow I've decided I will make her a quilt ... even though I cannot sew or cut straight and I have never really made a quilt before and I have been making it up as I go along. I discovered long ago that it is better to have a dream imperfectly realized but manifested than to have it perfect but ever a dream.

I still have the backing and batting to tackle. May require copious cups of coffee or chocolate before I am done.

Meanwhile, I somehow ended up with a trunk full of saddles requiring repairs. Problem is, the nearest tack shop that will tackle these antiques is a 40 minute drive over to Iowa. So in a rainstorm, I headed off this morning (and thereby gave up precious quilt-making or Bail-packing time!

But saddles are a priority now. Beau has a buddy ... his name is Buck. 

Buck is a beautiful Dun - you can see a bit of the dorsal stripe 

We spent a glorious afternoon wandering around the pastures, fending off grasshoppers, acclimating behinds to worn saddles ...

And getting to know the many barnyard denizens ...

It was a family day and that is what it is really all about, isn't it? Time together making memories.

There is much to tend to, but I try to keep priorities straight.  Slowing down, being present for each other, honoring connection and honoring what we both love.

So maybe packing won't be so difficult? Pencils, pens, watercolors, sketch journal, bathing suit and sandals. Check check and check! 

On my must-do list before flying off to Bali is completing my Earth Alchemy card and written post to be sent off to Mindy Tsonas. I am honored and excited to contributing to her upcoming session Inner Alchemy: Earth Coven. Take a look at the amazing roster of presenters ... including my Bali-guide and inspiration in all things sewing (and crazy-making) Em Falconbridge. 

I am excited for this session as I all about finding myself some grounding guidance. And this deck will be very special for me as I am committing to sketching and painting all of my cards. 

Isn't there something about a frog in the hand being worth more than two in a pond?


Friday, September 11, 2015

tiny magic ... and tears ...

For the second year in a row, I've put out a hummingbird feeder in our garden. While the bird books say that the ruby-throated is a seasonal visitor, I was skeptical. I mean, the winds alone would blast the little fellows clear across the state! Never mind the vast stretches of fields and prairie that would seem inhospitable for these tiny creatures.

So I am continually amazed when I look out my back door and spy a hummingbird flitting about the feeder. There had been one female coming to feed although sightings were sparse. A couple of times I've almost put the feeder away, certain no other birds would be visiting. But then I mix up a new batch of sugar water and hang it out, just in case

Yesterday I was pretty certain it was well-past the hummingbird season.  The tomatoes are surrendering the last of their fruit and the mint plants are looking rather leggy; summer is making her exit. I was hunting about the thicket of dying vines, reaching for a lone tomato buried deep within when something buzzed by me. I looked up and discovered I was in the middle of two hummingbirds engaged in territorial battle over my feeder!  

I believe they must be fueling up for their journey south as my feeder has been hopping with hummingbird action for the past 24-hours. This morning there is a chill in the air, a preview of Autumn, and the normally shy birds have stayed on the feeder even when I have wandered outside for a closer look. 

This display of hummingbird magic has done much to revive my own flagging spirits. I am not a hot weather person, so I find the lingering heat draining. I am very much aware of a kind of closure coming to this, my year of mourning for my mother.  The number of days when I can think back to a year ago and remember her with me, those days are dwindling to a hand full. A year ago she wasn't sleeping and could not find any relief to her exhaustion.  

A year ago, I had no idea goodbye would be coming so soon.

Today, I am aware of the impending departure of the hummingbirds. I have been captivated by their antics this morning. One female sits off to the side, on the garden fence, waiting to ambush any intruders. At least three have stormed the feeder and she attacks. This final feeding frenzy feels like a last gift of the season. 

This past year I feel I have felt quiet and even more intensely and inwardly focused than is my norm.  Much is happening beyond the space of words and action. I believe I have been re-rooting myself. Or acclimating my roots to new soil, to a world where my mother's physical being is absent. It has been lonely work, but I never really feel alone. Days like today, the hummingbird wings give lift to my spirits. Yesterday, I worked with the horses and felt their earthiness anchor my soul to this patch of prairie that is my home. 

This morning I learned another sweet being slipped over the fence to that other realm. I actually uttered out loud "oh no!" and sobbed when I read that Stevie, a resident of Apifera Farm, had died. 

I had read about Stevie on Katherine's blog, sketched him numerous times in the online class Capturing The Essence, and I finally got to meet him - twice! - on the farm. 

After my tears had abated, I admit to being grumpy and downright fed up. I mean, Death has been claiming far too many bright lights in my world this past year.  But then I could hear my mother laughing over me weeping for two old goats. Just as the hummingbirds so magically flew into my world, so too have the beings that I have loved best. Without having to do much of anything - just by being here and yes, having a little sweetness or sugar water at the ready helps - love comes in. It flies, it hobbles, it slides up beside me to nuzzle my sleeve or lick my palm. It comes when I am relaxed and open. It comes when I stop searching for it.

And just as quickly, it moves on. But if I have learned anything, it is that loves always returns. Just in new and unexpected forms. 

 I cannot hold onto those whom I love indefinitely. To grasp or grab, to demand or tantrum shatters the magic and sends love scrambling for cover. 

our new love, Beau

But I can be held by love. I can dwell in love which is to say, I choose to keep my heart  open, welcoming all the seasons of loving, knowing that the soil of my soul is enriched through the process of love welcomed and love released. 

Friday, September 4, 2015

what grounds me ...

This was on my mind all weekend ... What grounds me? And How do I ground myself? How can I recover inner stability and calm even when it feels like wave after wave repeatedly knocks me over? 

I was thinking how the knocking over maybe isn't what wears me out; it is the repeated getting back up, getting back on track. Or ... here is a big shift in perspective ... what if I'm not being knocked over so much as I fall down when I see a wave coming at me? Could I instead root myself, be calm, be still and let the wave wash over me?

Hmm ...

The gift of a lifetime of practice is that without thinking much, I gravitate towards those things that bring me back to center. There is effort involved, there is a conscious decision "I need to steady myself" but the action, the gesture arise out of habit. I think of these gestures like roll starting a car ... they get me going in the direction I want to go. This past week it has been through painting. I can make things so complicated, so I know to start small, stay simple. A 6 by 6 inch board ... look around, what catches my eye? What captures my heart?  Oh yeah ... these faces ...


Abbie (angel guide for this Wild Heart)

I sit at my kitchen island and while the water is boiling for pasta, I reach for my journal and draw what is before me (which is the bounty of my garden):

Working in the garden is naturally grounding, as is standing in front of the kitchen sink peeling and chopping tomato after tomato for sauces and freezing and making vats of gazpacho soup with more gifts - red and green peppers, jalapenos and cucumbers - from this summer's garden. We've had quite a bumper crop and while I am relieved to see the end in sight, I know too soon I will miss the flavor and the ease of wandering outside to grab the ingrediants for our dinner.

Then there is my new routine which is flavoring my drinking water with a sprig of mint or lemon balm (from the garden, of course!) and a drop of wild orange essential oil. 

(my new favorite essential oils are dōTERRA brand; I have a membership which includes a website where one can learn more about the products and buy oils without signing up. if you are interested in opening up a wholesale account, email me and we can chat.)

The Husband jokes about the positive prana (life force energy) in a glass, but I can feel the shift in my attitude and in my energy. I also add a drop of cedarwood essential oil to my face lotion or apply a drop to my heart center and the warm, woody fragrance brings immediate comfort and grounding to me. The smell reminds me of summers spent at my uncle's house and the cedar chest where my aunt kept all of their treasures. A favorite afternoon activity would be sitting on the bed, examining the quilts, the old dresses and scarves lovingly tucked away in the chest. 

Taking time to step back and examine my place in this vast web of family, friendships, and the circuitous wanderings that have brought me to this point, this moment in my life ... this is how quell the vertigo that is symptomatic of life-out-of-balance. 

Out of alignment for me means overly fixating upon myself as separate, as alone. Realigning requires a shift in perspective as I open myself up to that which holds me - holds all of life - in a field of vast and pure potentiality and infinite possibility.

Our family on our nine year "anniversary"

It's love, baby. Love steadies and holds me. Love is my reset button. Even when the waves rise high above me if I tether myself to Love, I will never be washed away.  I can get frustrated by my constant forgetting of this simple truth OR I can delight in the continual rediscovery of Love's immense power to soothe, to protect, to heal and to grow. 

Truly, the wise proclaim that love is the only path, love is the only God, and love is the only scripture. Impress this verse upon your memory and chant it constantly if you want to realize your dreams of growth. Love is the wish-fulfilling stone. Only love can bring unity and remove the separation between all living things. Only love purifies the body and mind. Love is not far away. Love is as close as your heart. You can find it living there without walking a single step. Love is my only path. I am, in fact, a pilgrim on the path of love.
- Swami Kripalu (from Sayings of Swami Kripalu, edited by Richard Faulds)

Friday, August 28, 2015

choosing kindness

I was having one of those mornings.

Truth be told, I've been having a week or more of such mornings.

Part of it is readjusting to waking with an alarm. There is just no way any of us in this family will wake up in time for school without setting the clock radio alarm and somehow, that onerous duty falls upon me. Which means not only do I have to pry myself out of bed, but then I have the joy of waking up two other grumpy and ungrateful non-morning people. All before I brew the coffee.  Yeah, good times.

Factor in the fact that I am currently menopausal hormonally challenged. What that means is I tend to wake up around 4 am needing to pee (sorry, if that is TMI) and then I realize what really woke me was a hot flush. I call these power surges flushes as they aren't as extreme as what other women have described to me. And I hope by speaking nicely about them, they will be nice to me.

Not yet anyway. 

So now I have to cool off (ah, a dab of peppermint oil on the back of my neck works wonders!) but am fairly alert now (due to activity of getting out of bed, peeing, finding peppermint oil) so then I lay in bed and watch the rabid squirrels tear up the stuffing that is my mind.

The only thing that helps is to wander downstairs, turn on the living room lamp and read for awhile. I wake the dog up doing this, but he is the only one pleasant about waking up (probably because he averages 22 hours of sleep a day but none-the-less he is always pleasant about keeping me company). 

So I had been up at 4 a.m. reading and was feeling all manner of crusty edgy by breakfast time. Oh, and another important detail: that previous evening Cowgirl came home from playing with the neighborhood kids, slumped over the kitchen island and wailed. She had been hit in the face by a ball. It was a "soft" ball she explained, BUT the Rule was no throwing it into people's faces AND even though it was soft, it bumped her glasses which - she pointed out in case I wasn't understanding the severity of the injury - are not soft

But more than her physical injury, it was the fact that the injuring party "didn't care" and merely shrugged her shoulders when Cowgirl explained that IT HURT. (Poor Cowgirl is ever frustrated by the fact that most people do not mind the rules and notions of fairness that she champions.) Now, what my mother never told me was that when you parent, you have the added option of re-living all your childhood woes and traumas through the lens of your child. It is an option not to, but like waving a biscuit in front of a dog, I cannot help but take a wee nibble. (Which is progress over snatching, gulping, consuming without batting an eye.

So I struggle in these situations with separating my own fears and experiences from those of my daughter's. And while I have learned the wisdom of listening, acknowledging, and holding space for whatever my girl is going through, my impulse is still to find some finger-hold of hope for forward movement. I want to help her feel empowered to make choices other than giving up.

Too often I confuse doing nothing with giving up. Slowly I am figuring out that resting in the moment - waiting, relaxing, "doing nothing" - is actually the best way to allow solutions, answers or options to present themselves. The emotions of the moment make everything cloudy and confused. It is best to attend to the feelings and allow time to work its magic.

Okay, so back to my morning. I was still ruminating up the previous evening, frustrated by my inability to find the right words (read: Wise Words HA!) to support my girl and yes, swallowing all kinds of bitterness and anger at the offender (her only crime being an aggressive and competitive nature) along with sadness over what I perceive to be a decline in kindness brought about by what feels like an increase in hostility and aggression in our world.

Then my doorbell rang. As I neared my front door, I realized  that the two shadowy figures on the other side were Jehovah's Witnesses. Too late to retreat, I opened the door and prepared myself for the attack. Two women stood there smiling, the older one with her Bible at the ready, a copy of their newsletter (my Good News I sarcastically thought) extended towards me.  I honestly heard little of what was said, I was busy in my head constructing my blistering rebuttal for whatever hokum they might offer me. But I caught myself.

Okay, I cried. And I'm not sure why? But I suspect it had to do with the earnestness with which they addressed me, their clean and formal clothes, their plain and scrubbed faces, the way they looked at me right in my eyes. They seemed so proper and from another era, as if coming out to talk to me was deserving of their best (pressed and pleated) dress. As if I was deserving of this attention and care. And I was immediately brought up by the ugliness in my knee-jerk reaction to them, my desire to put them in their place, my intention to show my intellectual and spiritual sophistication and yes, to squash theirs.

I blathered something about having a hard day and apologized for my distractedness. As I reached for their newsletter, the older of the two gently took hold of my wrist and told me she was sorry for my day. They both looked genuinely concerned for me, and that unsettled me even more. I hastily thanked them and retreated behind my front door. 

"Good grief," I thought, "I've really lost it!" But here's what I realized: I could choose to be right, or I could choose to be kind. And I could choose to accept kindness even if it isn't in a form that I had wanted nor expected. I wasn't going to change their spiritual beliefs and they weren't going to change mine. But I could accept the energy behind the offering of scripture and interpretation; I could accept the care and kindness. 

This epiphany lead to another crumb of insight. When Cowgirl came home that afternoon, I told her about my visitors and I told her about choosing kindness over needing to be right. As gracefully as a waddling goose, I immediately brought up the previous evening's events and how we always have the option to align ourselves with kindness but then to extend to ourselves. Sometimes self-kindness is knowing when to walk away, when to acknowledge we cannot fix, alter or amend a situation.

But we can ask for support. And so then we talked about turning over our frustrations, turning over our not-knowing-what-to-do to God and ask that she help us to see and accept a solution when it is ready or when we are ready for it. Until that time, we can continue to seek out and support kindness beginning with ourselves. 

I recently heard author Caroline Myss explain Every thought is a prayer.  

I'm awake now.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

wisdom in a tin ...

I often need to remind myself to lighten up. My tendency to be close in to my life (perhaps a product of my slight near-sightedness?) has me often overlooking the bigger picture. Usually when I am ranting and raving about something (hmm ... and I wonder where Cowgirl gets her knee-jerk reactions? Her  It's not so good for me! cry as a toddler a favorite family expression now), I am brought back to earth by an unexpected flash of humor, absurdity, beauty or love reinforcing the truth that
Life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about.
-Oscar Wilde 

My position being that life is best lived rather than obsessively analyzed, considered, plotted and planned. 

Getting out of my own way is a good operating principle for me. Being aware that each moment offers me a choice, I can consider "What action will contribute to happiness? Joy? Not just within myself, but for those around me? I've been reading and working with the ideas presented in Deepak Chopra's The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga. A friend shared this book with me and now we text each other to support a daily practice on one of the principles or "laws."  

Today's focus is on the Seven Law, the law of Dharma:

"... every sentient being has a purpose in life. You have unique abilities and your own way of expressing them. There are needs in this world for which your specific talents are ideally suited, and when the world's needs are matched with the creative expression of your talents, your purpose - your dharma - is realized.

To be in dharma, your life force must flow effortlessly without interference."

To be in flow with life is to choose happiness and to extent it to others. Here is how we practiced being in flow, honoring the Law of Giving and Receiving (Law #2), and my favorite, The Law of Least Effort (#4):

Nature is held together by the energy of love, and least effort is expended when your actions are motivated by love. When your soul is your internal reference point, you can harness the power of love and use the energy creatively for healing, transformation, and evolution.
- The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga

 And for making dragons:


When I sent my obsessive inner task-master and deep-thinker on a vacation cruise, I am able to see clearly the easy choices right before me that bring me back into flow, into a field of happiness, joy, and a celebration of love.

This weekend I am working on a gift for my niece who just headed off to college. What kind of a care package would offers real support and nourishment for this threshold stage of her life? 

I am calling it "Wisdom in a Tin" and selecting the quotes to write upon the enclosed cards is a gift for both my niece and myself.

Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.
- Oscar Wilde

Happiness, purpose, aligning myself with the flow of life ... this is the practice. It is about choice and remembering and staying open and present. Honoring the fullness and wholeness of being alive. 

Giving thanks, extending and receiving love.