Monthly Archives: July 2014

Coming Out Of The Closet & Turning On The Lights

It’s funny that we get scared about what others might think of us. I mean, I know we’re created as social beings. We are human and humans were created that way. But humans are fallible and flawed. Somewhere along the way we started pretending we’re better than that. Better than human. How’s that going for us?

Regardless of how desperately we hope the world sees us in perfection and glory, we each know at the end of the day we fall short in some way or another. If we are gauging our worthiness on nonsensical standards, we suffer. Suffer greatly. Most of us will never be ready for our magazine close up, Mr. DeMille.

The way it works is magazines are not alive. They are inert objects created for admiration. They are static and lifeless. They are surreal.

This is a picture of the island in my kitchen:photo (23)

Last night as we cleaned the kitchen, I looked at it and realized for what must have been the millionth time, that we are not “magazine ready” at the Young Family Ranch & Zombie Apocalypse Retreat. There are apples for smoothies and papers belonging to who knows whom and lemons a few days past their prime. And it isn’t pretty but it is real. While I most certainly could spend some time perfecting it, I have other fish to fry. Not literally. That would add smelly to my unsightly.

My kitchen, in its imperfection and flaws, is a living monument to the life that I love so much. Why would I regret it?

Which brings me to the coveted magazine ready life we silly humans so desperately desire, so passionately yearn for and so woefully lament as we realize day in and day out that more often than not, we usually don’t meet the bar. Too high. Too lifeless.

What others might think of us is none of our business, so let’s turn on the lights in our lives. No more dark rooms. Let us illuminate who we are and how we live and join hands with the other brave souls who pat us on the back and welcome us to a beautiful land of imperfection and authenticity.

The truth is, those who would think less of us for imperfect kitchen counters, we wouldn’t want to hang out with them anyway.

There are closets each of us live in. Facades we put on for the sake of propriety and whether or not we want to admit it, they each exact a cost on us. There is always a price to be paid and almost without exception, it’s an expensive one.

Me, I want you to like me and think well of me to boot. But at this point in my life I find it far too fulfilling to simply be an imperfect me. I’m good at being me and trying to be you or even the idea you have of me, just wears me out, makes me sad, darkens the room day by day.

Let’s you and I start a revolution. Let’s turn on the lights, come out of our closets, hug one another, imperfections and all and have a whole lot more fun than we ever could before.

Like, share, comment, tweet and power up, baby. It’s gonna be a beautiful day.

What Artists & Mud Pies Teach Us About Life

During the four years I have studied art, I’ve had just one art teacher. Susan Spears has two degrees in art, she taught art in a private school for many years and is the fearless leader of a group of some dozen painters. We travel all over the northwest for ten months of the year, painting out of doors and drawing insides museums and businesses during the rainy months.

I sometimes wonder if I should expand my horizons and seek out other worthy teachers. I suppose that I will at some point broaden my artistic influences, but I am certain I have not yet been exposed to everything Susan can teach me. I admire her art as much as I admire her skills, patience and inspiration as a teacher. I am blessed to know her.

One of the things Susan teaches is perhaps a fundamental art principle. I had never heard the theory before I began studying with her, and it struck me not only as good information, but a profound truth.

In every painting, no matter the skill of the brush stroke, the brilliance or depth of the colors, there is a portion of the painting that must, if it is to be truly appealing, be a place for the eye to rest.

As soon as Susan spoke the words, I knew they were true not just for those who audaciously call themselves artists, but for every one of us. We can fill our lives with the most brilliant colors and hours dedicated to service and seeking knowledge, but every one of us needs a space, a time, a portion of the artistic creation of our lives wherein we can simply rest.

No matter the quality of the ingredients or the purity of the intentions, there is a necessary space that, if we are ever to achieve excellence in any area of our lives, must be set aside for rest, for reflection, for communion with, and connection to the Universe.

Share, like, tweet, comment and then, turn off the electronics and make mud pies. I think mud pies have medicinal qualities. Don’t you?

mud pie

Miscellaneous Sweepings From An Unusual Mind ~ A List Of Ten

  1. The little moments are the most valuable. Like splashes of magnificence only captured when you’re fully invested in the moment. No electronics allowed.
  2. For every airbrushed super model, a point of self esteem leaves the universe. Forever. This has been scientifically proven.
  3. What happens at YaYa's house, stays at YaYa's house.
    What happens at YaYa’s house, stays at YaYa’s house.

    Dirt is good for the soul, starting at a very young age. That’s right, rub it all over yourself and hose yourself down outside.

  4. The best form of meditation is sleeping. Everyone should meditate for at least 8 hours daily.
  5. The sooner we can let go of perfectionism, the sooner we can relax. There should be a word for people willing to embrace “good enough”. Oh, I know, it’s called happy.
  6. The human mind is somehow wired to fill in missing information with something negative. We should get over that.
  7. Life is too short not to buy children balloons every time they ask for one.
  8. Words are powerful. I don’t know of anyone who shouldn’t use them more carefully. Especially me.
  9. Kindness is a worthy religion to belong to.
  10. Cinnamon rolls. You should definitely have a cinnamon roll today. I’ve been craving them lately. Make of this what you will, but please, for me, have a cinnamon roll.

Like, share, tweet, comment and turn the lights out when you go, I’ve already swept up for you.

This Bit Of Zombie Wisdom Might Just Save Your Life

Even I think my interest in zombies is kind of weird. I’ve yet to figure out what pop culture is doing with everything from zombie blockbusters, to zombie novels, to “Pat The Zombie” a play on the classic children’s book, “Pat The Bunny”. A book I happen to own. I’m not proud, just honest.

photo (21)So it was, when the other night Mr Dreamboat and I found ourselves home for a quiet evening we took the opportunity to watch World War Z. We snatched it like it was cotton candy at the circus, and it was delicious. But not sticky, cuz it was only a movie…

While I most certainly enjoyed my zombie movie, it was a line in the movie that remains with me. I’ll set it up for you:

Brad Pitt tries to explain to a family who has sheltered him that it’s time to move on. He tells them he’s been in dangerous situations before and knows from experience that, “Movement is life.”

And I said, “Amen.”

I was recently named Managing Editor of I am over the moon excited. It is a dream job for me and working with Michelle Patterson, the founder, is a piece of heaven. It’s a job that feels custom made for me. Naturally, I wonder how I got so lucky and I realize, it’s not rocket science, it’s zombie science. Movement is life.

I have been “moving” for most of my life, but in particular for the past 4 or 5 years. It’s been a matter of age, a matter of circumstance, but really, it was nothing more than a realization. I realized I wasn’t happy living my life on the scale I was living it, and I realized all I had to do to change it, was start moving.

If you’re not inclined toward the zombie genre, which I cannot fathom, think, Dory from Finding Nemo. Her wisdom came in the voice of Ellen DeGeneres, “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.”

Life can seem completely overwhelming. The idea of making a change of direction can seem impossible with the day to day survival efforts we each make. But what if we were living in a zombie movie? Certainly we’d be more inspired to move, and it would be the simple movements, the daily choices to shift and move and grow and change things up that would keep us alive. And it’s the same without the zombies. Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…

Like, share, tweet, comment and check out the new page on my site. Boom! That just happened!

Michelle Church ~ The Human Animal

What DOES the fox say?
What DOES the fox say?

We humans are a funny sort of animal. While I’m no scientist, I know of no other species that works so hard to attain, become, persevere, achieve and often takes neither time nor effort to simply be. Simply enjoy. Simply have joy.

I admit up front that I am a major player in this ill advised game of never enough, always on the prowl for the bigger accomplishment the thinner waistline and even the higher level of spirituality. I am only human. Just like you.

However, some of my views have changed. It used to be that I looked at spirituality in a very linear sort of way. Kind of a direct line to heaven sort of system. I believed if I walked a particular path in a very distinct way and checked specific boxes, then! I would be spiritual.

I whole-heartedly admit I was not the girl in my high school seminary class (it is exactly what it sounds like) who was defined as “the spiritual one”. By my own estimation I was not that girl but I’m sure a rudimentary poll of my classmates would get you the same information.

Even later in life when I actually had achieved certain levels of liturgical “success” some people were confounded over it. “You?” a not so well-meaning friend asked me. At least I knew where she stood.

But I’m not so sure I realized where I, myself was standing.

Back then I retained my youthful notion of what a “spiritual” person looked like and how they behaved. While there is nothing wrong with studiously pouring over the scriptures and meeting specific requirements, being able to quote sacred text is not the end of the journey, though we humans might want to define things that way. You know, just so we can have clear lines drawn. Simplify things.

Today, I would no sooner suggest I be given a position of authority in church any more than I would have years ago. But I will admit that I now see myself as the “spiritual girl”.

My definition goes far beyond the finite description my friends and I held in high school. The difference is, I am now willing to simply “be” where I am. I understand that “becoming” is the destination, and I am so much happier to simply be human, to be a spiritual being having a human experience and to embrace the imperfections inherent in a very funny sort of animal.

Like, share, breathe, comment, tweet and be well. Exactly as you are today, my spiritual friend.

Not Just For Hippies & Monks Anymore

It used to be reserved for monks and hippies. Back in the 70’s you’d expect to do it in a commune and never, ever eat an animal. The problem with that was that most people like to eat animals. I’m not saying that’s good or bad. I’m just saying most people like food that used to walk around before it sat tidily on your plate.

But the perception of meditation, at least, has changed. Finally it’s being recognized by scientists as a mind-altering practice that enables you to think more clearly, feel more deeply and focus more effectively. It’s like a drug, only with no bad side effects.

I fancy myself a bit of a hippie. Well, that’s not entirely true. My children have branded me a hippie from time to time when I served them things like “Raw-vegan tacos”, which, I was informed, were not tacos at all and if my children were the litigious type I could have been sued for using bate and switch tactics to lure them to the family dinner table.

Not only have I dabbled in vegetarianism, even veganism, but I am a regular meditator.

Having grown up in a religious environment, I was often encouraged toward “prayer and meditation”, but somehow it never looked to me like “meditation”. It looked like prayer and I never went with the meditation part.

But now it’s not only religious leaders exhorting us to meditate, it’s scientists. Funny how spirituality often leads the way and science has to catch up.

The benefits one gains from mediation are varied and non-linear. A day of meditation does a bit of good, but a regular practice can bring benefits like peace of mind as well as the ability to think clearly in stressful situations. There is something magical and exciting about it. And scientific. We can’t forget that part.

One of the barriers to becoming regular in the practice is the idea of what meditation should be. I know I’ve sat more times than I’d like to admit, with my brain doing what felt like a free for all as I tried, in vain, to reign it in. To find a few breaths of peace, only to come to the end of my time feeling not like I’d tamed the monkey in my brain, only that I met her face to face.

But even those frustrating sessions bear fruits that cannot be imagined.

Don’t take my word for it. We live in the age of information and you can Google the hell out of the topic. But don’t just get the information, USE it. It’s not just for hippies and monks anymore. It’s for me and for you and for everyone who wants to change the world. Unleash your superpower. Tap in to your inner hippie. And afterward you can still it a steak. That’s the kind of world we live in. That’s exactly how blessed we are.

Like it. Share it. Tweet, comment and take a few minutes to tap in to your Zen.


I May Or May Not Have Hit The Woman At The Grocery Store…

Yesterday I suffered a public breakdown. I am neither proud nor contrite about it. As my daughter once reminded me after bad behavior caught on tape, “Mom, what’s done is done. There’s no reason to get upset about it now.”

But let me explain.

I’ve shared with you that I am basically insane when it comes to food. I’ve worked for so many years to achieve the ideal shape, and in that work, I’ve done my research. I could educate you on calories in – calories out, I could talk at length about Atkins, Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers and a host of other gimmicks and diets. Most recently I have begun educating myself in regard to the Paleo Diet, which I have successfully adhered to for nearly 4 weeks.

During that time my dedication has been inspiring. I am a model cavewoman and so I eat grass fed beef and happy, barnyard strolling chickens. I avoid too much fruit, abstain from every type of dairy and keep the nuts and seeds to a reasonable minimum. Veggies, veggies, veggies. That’s what this cavegirl eats. I’m sure you stand in awe.

And for my hard work? For the dedication of daily Paleo approved exercise and a ton of refreshing and cleansing water? I have lost a total of ONE, yes, ONE pound. Maybe if I weighed myself in kilograms it would seem more impressive.

Nevertheless, I persevere.

While I won’t give up, I will seek further enlightenment. Back to the Keeper Of All Information I went. Google, take me away!

In doing so, I discovered YET ANOTHER stumbling block. By all accounts, it appears I am “histamine intolerant.” Have you ever heard of this? I had not. But now I have. And sorry I am about it. Now I can be even crazier about food than ever before.

This brings us to a very hungry Michelle at three in the afternoon with nothing but a very light breakfast after a busy day. I walked into the greatest grocery store on the planet, New Seasons. I was hungry and nearly in tears as I looked around and realized that pretty much the only available food that fits in this new, horrifyingly limited diet plan, is mixed greens. I like mixed greens, but I still feel ever so slightly like crying. Crying for substance, for sustenance and for comfort. Have you ever cried over lunch?

I walked back out of the store. I called Mr Dreamboat. “Talk me off the ledge, honey,” I begged as I explained my prevailing anxiety attack.

Mr Dreamboat is quite literally my dreamboat. No exaggerating here. “Have a cheeseburger!” he suggested, and I wanted to hug him through the phone.

With renewed strength I bravely walked into Organic Land, I found the biggest bowl I could and began to fill it with delicious and colorful vegetables, but no night shades, that would be too easy.

At this point I was nearly out of energy/sanity, not yet in tears, I took my bowl and asked the woman behind the counter to “wok” me up, please.

If my bowl mated with her bowl, these would be their progeny.
If my bowl mated with her bowl, these would be their progeny.

“That’s the wrong bowl, ma’am,” uuuuuummmmmm…. She brought me the right bowl. It was black to my bowl’s white and much, much smaller.

“Okay,” I said, “I want all of those vegetables and that bowl is too small.” She stood there looking at me as if I was to remove the vegetables from my white, giant bowl into the small, black one. “That’s a salad bowl,” she explained, as if my vegetables would now fit into the smaller bowl because of this truth.

In Crazy Land, it occurred to me I could climb across that counter and smack her. Smack her hard with a small black bowl and make her so sorry. So very, very sorry.

I did not. What I said was something like, “Ma’am, I am very hungry. I don’t know if you want me to put my vegetables into that little black bowl or what, but I need some food. I need this food. Are you willing to cook it or not?”

Perhaps those weren’t my exact words, but it was something like that. Either way, I believe she saw the crazy in my eyes, the urgency in my words and without another admonition about bowl colors or sizes, she wok-ed up my food, even if she did whisper a little to the other woman behind the counter.

I will get my head around this new information, these new guidelines. I am certain that in a very short time I will see this as an answer to the problem instead of just another problem, but until then, I’ll make sure I’m eating on a regular basis. Next time The Bowl Hitler might not walk away so lucky.

Like, share, comment and tweet. I mean it. Do it. I won’t be held accountable for my actions if you don’t.

Parenting Is Like Having A Sucky Superpower ~ A List Of Ten Things

The other night at a family dinner we were discussing the dynamics of parenting. “You see,” I explained to my mostly grown children, “in parenting you really don’t have any control at all. You only have influence and the most powerful influence is love.”

My youngest son, Chase, doesn’t say that much at these meals. He is introspective and thoughtful. When he does speak up, it’s worth listening to. “Parenting sounds like a really sucky superpower,” he observed. Out of the mouths of babes…

I’ve listed “Parenting Truths” before, but we each experience them from one end or the other, so why not discuss a few more?

  1. It’s clever enough to repeat, Parenting is like a really sucky super power. This should be the cover of “So, You Want To Raise A Child”. It’s that true. It’s that painful.
  2. All of the best laid plans are great. You make those plans. Enjoy those plans. Put your heart and soul into those plans, but please, for the sake of all that is good and holy in your life do not get attached to those plans. Parenting is like making chocolate chip cookies. You put in your very best ingredients and open up the oven to find a pumpkin pie. Pumpkin pie is AWESOME. Unless you were set on chocolate chip cookies. Focus on the sweetness. It is there even if it’s not what you expected.
  3. Parenting is not for sissies and narcissists. Sadly, sissies and narcissists usually do not know this, or even that they are sissies and narcissists.
  4. Parenting is worthy and wonderful, but comes in a lowly second place to grandparent-ing, which I propose should be called glam-parenting because it is awesome. Yes, awesome.
  5. Parenting in today’s world is a pioneer’s effort. The landscape is completely different and the rules are nebulous and hard to distinguish. I’m finishing up my round of high intensity parenting with the youngest being 15 years old. Best of luck to the rest of you just beginning this gig. It’s new terrain out there. Be sure and pack snacks. It’s going to be a wild ride.
  6. This was painted on the wall of our family room for many years.
    This was painted on the wall of our family room for many years.

    Never ever, ever, ever judge yourself by a magazine or that one mom who does everything perfectly with ten kids. Her strengths are not your strengths and vice versa. You be you and try to do a better job at it every day.

  7. As much as you love your dogs/cats/hamsters/teacup pigs, they are not actually your children. Don’t shoot me, I’m only the messenger.
  8. Parenting books can give you ideas, but no one else is parenting your kids. No one knows them like you do, no one will ever love them as much or desire their success the way you desire it. Use parenting books, sure. But it’s like cooking. Sometimes the recipe is just a nice suggestion, you’ve got better plans of your own.
  9. It is not possible to give up. You don’t give up on parenting. Sure, from time to time give in. Okay, as time goes on the you change up the rules, but we don’t give up. Ever.
  10. Your parents screwed you up, you, inevitably, are going to screw your kids up. It is my contention that children should pay for their own college, but therapy? That’s absolutely your obligation.

Like it, tweet it, pin it and comment about it. You know you want to. Then go get yourself some pumpkin pie. You deserve it!

I Am Busy ~ Maya Angelou Always Says It Best

I have been under the gun since returning home from The Great Escape. It’s always that way with vacations isn’t it? You get back to the bills and the laundry and the email and the meetings and for the first few days they seem to weigh a little heavier than normal until you adjust the burden to that comfortable place.

michelle pattersonYesterday morning on Michelle At Play radio show on I had a wildly fabulous interview with Michelle Patterson from California Women’s Conference and Before I introduced her I read a poem, as I always do at the beginning of my show.

Because Michelle is an advocate for women, for support and for collaboration, I chose a poem fitting her role.

Today, because I am busy and because no matter how hard I try, I will never have the voice of Maya Angelou, I nod to her, and to yesterday’s show and to Michelle Patterson and to you, whoever you are:

Phenomenal Woman

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman

Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
maya angelouIt’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.


The Price & Pleasure Of Your Hard Work

Yesterday afternoon the man-child and I spent more time than I’d originally thought necessary, packing, cleaning and closing up The Great Escape. What was originally a Fourth of July trip to the coast morphed into nearly 3 weeks of sun and sand. That didn’t suck. But there was the detritus left behind.

Over the course of those weeks we had adult children rotate through the house. We had a delightful and unexpected visit with friends from California and even Max spent several nights in Lincoln City. A vacation is a thing of beauty but an unexpectedly extended vacation is nothing short of delicious.

And then it comes to the end. And there’s clean-up to be done.

Yesterday, there was cleaning and packing and closing down the house. That’s a part of the

The Great Escape at it's cleanest.
The Great Escape at it’s cleanest.

deal too. It doesn’t matter how rich you are or how much leisure time you’re allotted when the party’s over, it’s over. Someone has to vacuum up the confetti. And yesterday it was me. Well, technically it was Chase.

It is not uncommon to have a house cleaner come in and clean up after us. But $125 seems like a lot of money to have someone else clean my toilets, and Chase was asking about his birthday present (he has expensive tastes, just let me say that) and it just didn’t sit right to me to pay for someone else to clean up my mess.

After almost 4 hours we were on our way. And what I felt besides a little hot and sweaty, was a feeling of accomplishment. I did a job I am proud of. It felt like a working meditation. It felt good to my soul.

It is sometimes hard to find peace and simple happiness in a very complicated world. A delicious vacation can be just the ticket. Time with family and friends will do the trick. And sometimes it takes some cleaning supplies and a mop.

It’s all good. It’s all valuable.

Like it, share, comment and tweet the hell out of it. And then go clean your bedroom like a good girl.