Every month I chronicle those everyday things that give me comfort or offer a place of reflection or joy. Here are my everyday delights for August:

1. This Journal 

I’ve collected various journals most of my life. The blank page is where I find refuge, whether it is to jot down a few thoughts or make a list of things to do.  The message, “Don’t Wait” keeps repeating in my head like a mantra. When I discovered this notebook at a local bookstore, I felt an urgency to add it to my collection. There are other notebooks, featuring other mottos, like “Live Inspired” or “Take Epic Chances.”

 

2. Eternity by Calvin Klein

I recently read the book, The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro, which captures the journey of two women who discover the powerful thread of perfume throughout their lives. I thought about how different perfumes defined various periods in my life. Smells carry importance. They thrust you into reminiscing about places, people and events. Eternity by Calvin Klein is one of my favorite fragrances.

3.  This quote 

I adore quotes. I’ve filled many pages of journals with some of my favorite words. In my office, I keep this one quote prominently displayed so that I can view it every time I enter or exit my office. It is a humbling reminder of time’s passage. Your universe may change in tangible ways, but that does not prevent the rest of the world from moving forward.

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4.  This old photograph

Technology allows us to extend our hands into memories that we’ve tucked away. This past week I scanned through some of my older pictures on my iPhone and ran across this snapshot of my little girl. I love that smile and her playful side. Something about three is so magical and fun.

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What are some of your August favorites? I’d love to hear from you. 

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Lost really has two disparate meanings. Losing things is about the familiar falling away, getting lost is about the unfamiliar appearing. There are objects and people that disappear from your sight or knowledge or possession; you lose a bracelet, a friend, the key. You still know where you are. Everything is familiar except that there is one item less, one missing element. Or you get lost, in which case the world has become larger than your knowledge of it. Either way, there is a loss of control. Imagine yourself streaming through time shedding gloves, umbrellas, wrenches, books, friends, homes, names. This is what the view looks like if you take a rear-facing seat on the train. Looking forward you constantly acquire moments of arrival, moments of realization, moments of discovery. The wind blows your hair back and you are greeted by what you have never seen before. The material falls away in onrushing experience. It peels off like skin from a molting snake. Of course to forget the past is to lose the sense of loss that is also memory of an absent richness and a set of clues to navigate the present by; the art is not one of forgetting but letting go. And when everything else is gone, you can be rich in loss. – Rebecca Solnit

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On a recent vacation to Vancouver, my family and I decided to climb Grouse Grinder, which is dubbed as Mother Nature’s largest stair master, numbering 2,830 steps. The steps spiraled up and the space between each stair required some interesting maneuvering. Midway through the hike, my legs started losing their focus. As I climbed each step, the trees shaded the path ahead. Although I could see what appeared directly in front of me, the path beyond a cluster of steps remained a mystery.

The obvious metaphor glared in my face. Everything about climbing these steps screamed one phrase: “It is all about the process.” I’ve heard these words so many times in different contexts, but artists often gravitate toward this sentence because it helps them deal with the struggle in shaping their work. I am not fond of this statement, but know the strength in believing in the certainty of muddling through the process even though there are no guarantees of success.

As I moved ahead with a deliberate pace, my daughter and husband forged several steps ahead. I did not want to rush to keep up with them because I couldn’t compete with their longer legs and athleticism. I preferred to do it alone at my pace on my own terms without paying attention or comparing how much faster others were moving around me. This forced me to literally step into the present. I paid attention to my breath, moved my body and attempted to still my thoughts so that my focus centered on the step in front of me. Because the incline of the stairs curved  steep and each step carried the potential of slipping, the desire to give up became a real possibility. At one juncture of the climb, I sat down, sighed and gathered my thoughts amid all of the jagged rocks, tall trees and dirt. I still couldn’t see what kind of path fell ahead and looking behind me, the ground I just climbed became shaded too. All that existed was what was contained in that present moment.

The truth? It felt uncomfortable. Sinking into the now felt strange and new to me, only because I spend a large part of my time either glued to the past or galloping toward some question in the future. It is a disconcerting to live this way because there is no benefit in trying to think about what can’t be changed in the past or attempting to look into that imaginary magic eight ball to predict what may happen in the future.  I realize how counterproductive my own thoughts lends to this constantly jockeying back and forth from one distracted thought to the next. This is a truth about my own personality that I am trying to change, but I suspect I default back to what I know because actually inhaling the present might lead to a place I might not be ready to embrace.

In the very instant, sitting in the middle of everything, I felt the magic of inhaling the present knowing that is the only moment that I have firmly in my grasp. Seconds that occurred before or ones that happen in the future fall away when you realize the absolute urgency to live in the vessel of the present moment.

When I rounded the final set of steps to the top, one epiphany hit me.

I must trust what I cannot see.

 

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I Will Never Forget This Advice

August 22, 2014

“I am Wally.” He introduced himself with an ease, even though he had never met any of us before. “It’s just me.” He said this to no one in particular. I intersected with him almost thirteen years ago while traveling on a bus through Europe. My husband and I were exploring the French countryside and we sat near Wally during our travels. He periodically looked at his watch and brushed his hair behind his ears. One time I caught him staring at […]

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We Cover Up Who We Are

August 20, 2014

We waste so much energy trying to cover up who we are when beneath every attitude is the want to be loved, and beneath every anger is a wound to be healed and beneath every sadness is the fear that there will not be enough time. When we hesitate in being direct, we unknowingly slip something on, some added layer of protection that keeps us from feeling the world, and often that thin covering is the beginning of a loneliness […]

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On Robin Williams, Asking for Help and How Culture Plays a Role

August 17, 2014

I did what most do when a beloved celebrity passes away. Since I heard about Robin Williams’s passing, I’ve watched moments that encapsulate his time machine. From his early acting days, I caught a clip of one of my favorite characters, Fonzie, interacting with Mork, the beloved alien that Mr. Williams played with such intensity and authenticity. I laughed again, remembering my childhood and recalling how much I loved these two shows, Happy Days and Mork and Mindy. Watching this clip, […]

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Recognizing the Beauty of the Earth

August 15, 2014

“When we contemplate the whole globe as one great dewdrop, striped and dotted with continents and islands, flying through space with other stars all singing and shining together as one, the whole universe appears as an infinite storm of beauty.” – John Muir For the past week, my family travelled through various parts of the Pacific Northwest. I witnessed an array of emotions, but one pervading theme threaded my experiences: the overwhelming beauty and the magic of the earth. When […]

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You Must Learn One Thing

August 13, 2014

You must learn one thing: the world was made to be free in. Give up all the other worlds except the one to which you belong. Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet confinement of your aloneness to learn anything or anyone that does not bring you alive is too small for you.  ― David Whyte Image: ‘The Web that is Us” by Evan Leeson via Flickr

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Another Beginning Becomes Another Last

August 11, 2014

August 11. First day of third grade. The sound of the alarm clock felt abrupt, almost as if it wasn’t meant to disturb the silence of the morning. I looked up at the ceiling, deliberately delaying the start of this day. A few seconds later, my daughter runs into the room and says,”Get up, Momma. It is the first day of school. We need to get ready.” I smiled, thinking how time always puts me in my place. Only a […]

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What Are the Sweetest Things in Life?

August 6, 2014

  “The best things are nearest: breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of God just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life’s plain common work as it comes certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things of life.” — Robert Louis Stevenson Image: “Dancing in the…dark” by Yannis via Flickr.

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What are You Reading Lately?

August 3, 2014

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.” – Stephen King  Last week I visited Powell’s Books in Portland. Walking through the multiple levels and various genres, I took a deep breath as I eyed rows and rows of books, realizing that each piece of writing could make itself at home with someone. People perused aisles of different rooms that featured specialized genres. I added a few more books to my already growing pile. Here is what I am reading right now: The Unlikely […]

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Everyday Delights – A Belated July Edition

August 1, 2014

Every month I chronicle those everyday things that give me comfort or offer a place of reflection or joy. Here are my everyday delights for July: 1. Butterflies - I live in a city that houses the largest butterfly atrium in the United States. My daughter and I visited this wonderland and captured several colorful winged creatures on our excursion. As I witnessed my daughter’s excitement, I also felt nostalgic of my own childhood . I remembered that I designed a butterfly […]

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All Things Exist Within You

July 31, 2014

“All things in this creation exist within you, and all things in you exist in creation; there is no border between you and the closest things, and there is no distance between you and the farthest things, and all things, from the lowest to the loftiest, from the smallest to the greatest, are within you as equal things.”- Kahlil Gibran Image: “Orchid” by Joe Penniston via Flickr

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Beyond the Changing Seasons

July 30, 2014

On Saturday as I pulled into my driveway, I saw a glimmer of lightning behind the mountains. I dismissed the notion of rain because even when the clouds look bloated in the desert, a downpour is not guaranteed. The summer months are anointed as the monsoon season, but after living in the Southwest for five years, this seems more like a myth. There is a single type of weather that permeates most days in the desert: the sun is steady, […]

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A Sorta Fairytale

July 28, 2014

I became twenty again on Friday night. For just a moment.  Standing in the audience at the Tori Amos concert, I hummed the lyrics of some of my favorite songs like “Never Was a Cornflake Girl” and a “A Sorta Fairytale.” A mixed crowd filled the seats of the small auditorium. There were hipsters with heavy blue eye shadow and funky boots, older couples who probably first witnessed Tori in their twenties as I did and even some children that were […]

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What Happens When I Stop Doing This

July 25, 2014

For the last month, I’ve not laced up my tennis shoes to go outside for a run. It is summertime in the desert and that means even at 5:00 a.m., the sun is already making plans for its red carpet arrival. When I wake in the morning, I surmise that it is too hot and fall back asleep.  As I write this, I think, this is an excuse. I could get up earlier or brave the sun for a brief […]

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There Are No Perfect Endings

July 23, 2014

“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.”  – Gilda Radner Image: “Purple Flower”  by Michael via Flickr.

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Right Now

July 20, 2014

I did this same meme last year and I thought it might be fun to revisit it again. Here is what is happening in my world right now. What I Am Listening To: I am listening to Tori Amos’s new album, Unrepentant Geraldines. I’ve listened to her music since college and have attended several of her concerts. She performs with a spirit that is hard to describe. Other songs playing in the background are Maps by Maroon 5, Roar by […]

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Moments, Not Months

July 18, 2014

The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough~Rabindranath Tagore We are fortunate to live in a city that houses the world’s largest butterfly museum. This past weekend my daughter and I decided to venture into this butterfly wonderland. As a little girl, I chased butterflies in our neighborhood. I remember begging my father to get a net to capture these treasures. I never successfully trapped these beauties, but this glimpse of my past flickered as I walked […]

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The Power in These Four Agreements

July 16, 2014

I read the Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz many years ago. These are the tenets of his philosophy. I refer back to these often because his wisdom is timeless. 1. Be Impeccable With Your Word Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love. 2. Don’t Take Anything Personally Nothing others do is because […]

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Escaping the Safety of Routine

July 16, 2014

The summer months not only mean a slower, more deliberate pace for many, but a time when families make plans to take one special trip or enjoy several mini-vacations at various destinations. There’s discussion about whether their time should be spent barefooted on the beach or perusing aquariums or museums in major cities. Some might decide to take a road trip far away from reminders of work, school or home. One common denominator is present among all these plans—the goal […]

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Things That We Learn

July 15, 2014

I loved reading this article by Nick Crocker on Medium titled, Thirty Things I’ve Learned.  I urge you to click on the link and check out his insights. Some of his lessons resonated in my marrow and I could not resist writing about those insights that impacted me the most. His first lesson, “remember you will die,” is important to consider. At first glance it appears morbid to think that way, but I believe living your moments knowing that it could be your […]

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Five Life and Writing Lessons From Elizabeth Gilbert

July 10, 2014

On Monday evening, I attended a reading and Q & A session by author, Elizabeth Gilbert.  She is a fantastic speaker, who infuses humor, intellect and insight in what she articulates. Days after listening to her, the impact of her words lingered in my head. Although some of her advise centered on pursuing the arts, her wisdom carries power for the everyday. Here is what I learned: 1. DO NOT FOLLOW YOUR PASSION EVERYDAY. FOLLOW YOUR CURIOSITY.   Elizabeth bluntly […]

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The Undercurrent of Love

July 9, 2014

A mind that has come to the stillness of wisdom shall know being, shall know what it is to love. Love is neither personal nor impersonal. Love is love, not to be defined or described by the mind as exclusive or inclusive. Love is its own eternity; it is the real, the supreme, the immeasurable. – Aldous Huxley Image: “Purple Flower” by Yuri Levchenko via Flickr.

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Eight and a Half

July 9, 2014

Today my daughter turns eight and a half. I hesitated writing this piece because a part of me wants to deny that she is inching closer to double digits. She will likely be my only child and I mourn all of her milestones because they are her firsts, but my lasts. Perhaps my need to hold on shows up in ways I am only now recognizing. Her mahogany crib sits in the corner of our garage, along with the mattress, […]

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Paying Homage To The Ordinary

July 8, 2014

This past Sunday evening, I watched my daughter raise her arm and swing her tennis racket, hoping her energy landed in the right place. The breezy air made the yellow ball look like a meteor streaking across the sky. I felt a little coolness as the wind rearranged my hair. It was an out-of-character moment for the desert summer. As she continued to play, I interchanged my focus between my phone and journal. My 5-year-journal sat in my lap. When I encounter some […]

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Enjoy

July 4, 2014

  The yellow chair is a reminder. The state of your life maybe imperfect or on some days may not feel like enough. But isn’t that how it is for all of us? Holidays should not be the only day we set aside to celebrate, spend time with friends or sigh at the wonder of fireworks. The yellow chair is always there. That single bright spot. It can be whatever gives you that flicker of joy. A hug in the middle of the […]

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Falling Apart & Coming Together

July 2, 2014

  “We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.” ~ Pema Chodron   * I am very pleased to announce that […]

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Best Friend For Life

June 29, 2014

My daughter loves writing notes. Sometimes when she is upset, she will write a handwritten note and slip it underneath my office door. Always, always, she writes, “Please write me back.” I do, of course, even if the note comes during the busiest part of my day. We’ve always emphasized the importance of writing as way  to express emotions, especially since her default is to cry when she is upset. I know one day this kind of communication may wane. She […]

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Don’t Let This Happen

June 25, 2014

What if you wake up some day, and you’re 65, or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when […]

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Everyday Delights – June Edition

June 23, 2014

Every month I chronicle those everyday things that give me comfort or offer a place of reflection or joy. Here are my everyday delights for June: 1. This coffee mug: I love playing Words with Friends and when I saw this coffee mug, it made me smile. I added this particular mug to my coffee cup collection and enjoy drinking my favorite brew while playing, of course, Words with Friends.     2. Summer Delight: Gelato from Talenti: Run to your nearby grocery store […]

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Some Questions & Answers

June 20, 2014

My friend Cecilia asked that I answer these questions in this meme. Please make some time to head over to her space, Only You. She writes honestly about anxiety, vulnerability and offers insightful book reviews. When her pieces appear in my feed, I know that Cecilia will write with authenticity. That’s what I appreciate about her writing. After reading her words, I feel less alone. Thanks, Cecilia for your candor. 1. Which author’s voice is most compelling to you? This is […]

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A Little Bit Of Good

June 18, 2014

Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world. Desmond Tutu

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Six Parenting Lessons From A Father Dying In Hospice

June 16, 2014

I helped my father die in home hospice. The oncologist said those words, the ones that are repeated in hospital rooms, in the middle of alleys, and in the back of ambulances, “There is nothing more we can do.” With those seven words, I began participating in his limbo. He split his time like a firefly. He vacillated between embracing small flickers of life and languishing on the path of lifelessness. His body withered in the middle of my childhood […]

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This Girl Misses Her Father

June 13, 2014

  Revisiting old memories unearths feelings you are not always ready to confront. On a recent trip home to Texas, I uncovered some old albums that featured snapshots of my father. In this particular picture, I am two months old, on my belly, huddled next to my father. When I looked at the photograph, I smiled, chuckling at the full head of hair on both of us. When I lift my head up to take a second glance, I noticed the grins […]

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