Monthly Archives: September 2014

A Beginner’s Guide To Dating Yourself ~ A List Of Ten Things

The only person that has been with me, no matter what, at every twist and turn, the only person who knows absolutely everything about me, who will never turn away and I know for a fact will be with me to the bitter end, is, of course, me.

The irony of this point is the person we often take the most for granted is ourselves. because we will always be there. That should change and here’s how:

1. Eat your favorite food. Maybe not every day, maybe not in front of anyone else, but do yourself a favor and give yourself a treat, even if it’s Chick-O-Sticks and Coke Zero. Perhaps because it’s Chick-O-Sticks and Coke Zero.
2. Take yourself to a movie. Just you. No feeling awkward. You’ll be surprised how much you have in common with yourself.
3. Buy yourself a present. Doesn’t need to be expensive. Doesn’t need to be fancy. Just something you’ve wanted and put off, because it was only for you, after all.
4. Sit outside or somewhere you can see nature in all her glory and just sit with yourself. No deep thoughts necessary. Just be with yourself for fifteen minutes or more. Admit it, you like you.
5. Make food decisions based on what will make you feel well. Order that salad because you know when you walk out of the restaurant you’ll feel good and healthy and well.
6. Schedule time for a bit of extra rest. No apologies, no self-flagellation. You deserve a break. And…
7. Get your heart pumping. Go for a bike ride or a nature walk or a stroll through the mall. Move your body and feel it’s majesty and be grateful for you.
bubble-camping-tent-640x5338. Take a bit of time an do something you love. Catch a fish, draw a picture, surf the internet for the best bubble tent in the world. Ooh, and then buy a bubble tent. Or at least rent one. How cool would you make yourself feel then?
9. When you look in the mirror, every time look for things you love about you; kind eyes, genuine smile, cutest dimples ever. Look for all of the things that are lovable. They are countless. I promise.
10. Talk pretty to yourself. Say nice things. Praise you. Remember you are created to be majestic and brilliant and tell yourself that you are. Because you are. And it’s time you started acting like it.

Like it, share it, comment about how awesome you are and tweet. Tweet like a super star.

Did You Ever Think To Celebrate This?

There are times I believe I’ve been writing this blog, these posts for my entire life. To write is as much a part of my being as is putting paint to paper or chocolate to mouth. It’s a need, not a want.

For as long as it feels I’ve been writing here with you to keep me company, it simultaneously feels new and remains challenging.

I’ve recently begun reviewing and cataloging some of my posts for business purposes. Of some of them I am quite proud and others, well, they make me cringe in embarrassment. I hope you didn’t stop by that day. If you did, don’t judge.

Even as I try to move past my historic awkwardness, I am also pleased with the growth I’ve achieved over time. I look over the landscape of the past few years and I realize that quite unbeknownst to me, I was learning things.

Our day-to-day lives can feel quite monotonous from time to time. We do many of the same things, drive the same routes and make similar choices at similar crossroads. But do we?

I am the same person I was two years ago. I have the same sense of humor and but for a few new wrinkles on the surface, I look very much the same as I did then.

That said, we are told we never leave a situation as quite the same person we were when we went in.

And I have a blog to prove it.celebrate your life

I am a huge advocate of taking the road less traveled. Whether that means taking a different route to work, or quitting a job and going to different work, change is a magical paintbrush, changing the hues of our lives. But even when we keep our lives in similar order from day to day, change happens.

Like they say, it’s the only constant.

Because those changes are incremental for the most part, it’s often difficult to see them and feel them and rejoice in them if we’re not looking for them.

Perhaps you don’t keep a blog or a journal or careful note of the day to day changes you make in your life. No matter. They’re there, I promise, and just as I take pleasure in seeing the changes I’ve made via this electronic journal, you should too.

Let’s celebrate the passing of seasons and the changes and the wrinkles and the lessons we’ve learned. They’re the only real-estate we get to keep with us forever, they’re the only thing of value we have.

Love yourself and the journey and for heaven’s sake, throw a party for yourself. You deserve it. And cake. Your favorite kind.

Like, share, comment, tweet and put on the party hat. It brings out the mischievousness in your eyes.

God Is In The Chimney ~ Michelle Church

The other night my close friend Melissa invited us over to watch the return of the swifts to the chimney at Chapman Elementary School in NW Portland. It’s nothing short of a grand spectacle to observe nature in her elegant display of tradition and grandeur.

The giant chimney where these birds stop on their yearly migration is no longer used in its traditional role. Shored up by cables – and who knows what else, it’s sole, remaining purpose is to house the migrating, avian visitors.

The Chapman neighborhood is overrun by gawking Portlanders for the two-week stay. Surely this is nothing short of irritating to the neighborhood, but for those of us visiting, it is a stunning affair. Humbling. Awe-inspiring.portland swifts

You don’t need to visit Portland, Oregon to experience these things. You don’t even need to leave your home, truth be told.

This world, I choose to believe, is a creation of magnificence. Nature stands at its head, her displays magnificent at every angle. From the tiniest of creatures to titanic, natural cathedrals, it was made to nurture, teach and regenerate. Each new iteration a thing of brilliance.

Perhaps the most amazing of the Universe’s designs is that of humanity.

I’ve certainly seen humankind in her baseness, but it is also true that I’ve looked into the eyes of God by simply peering into the eyes of our fellow beings. To touch the hand of another traveler, to see unfettered joy and sincere gratitude, these are the money shots. It’s where the heart is. It’s where we connect and it’s where we are the very best of what it means to be human.

As we watched the birds circling and engaging in the ancient traditions of their species, my friend Lisa commented that to see such an exhibition is to see the wonders of God, and I had to agree.

And further still, to watch the ebb and flow of life in those who surround us, the birth of a baby, the death of a loved one, the disappointments inherent in day to day living, this too is a grand display of God and nature, humanity and of life. We just have to watch for it.

It’s everywhere. It’s in chimneys and mountaintops. It’s in shanties and mansions.

It is life and it is sacred. It is you.

Like, share, comment, tweet, you know, like the swifts, but you don’t need to go in a chimney to do it.

Do You Dance With The Demon Worry?

Demon-of-Worry-225x300Worry is a peculiar sort of demon. I think we employ him sometimes to feel busy, maybe even productive. This idea is seductive for sure, but true? I don’t think so.

The other night I lay in bed, mentally gnawing on perceived troubles looming before loved ones. My brain deftly circled the issues even after I commanded it to stop. Brains can be so unruly sometimes.

I once spoke to a counselor who recommended we set aside a specific time every day for worrying. This was many years ago and I have to admit having tried it and having failed at it as well.

Enchanting as worry might be, worry never was productivity. Especially when we apply it to the lives of others. I cannot control what I cannot control and as it turns out there are just a few things we can control. Neither of which is other people.

My friend Hugh, who is exceptionally smart and who occasionally stops by my humble blog, tells me those two things are our reactions and our thoughts.

Easy as this sounds, it’s no small feat. While we might be able to control those, we spend our time endlessly investing energy elsewhere; trying to control our children, our environment and outcome. How are we supposed to control our thoughts and reactions when we are so preoccupied pushing unmovable boulders up the steepest of mountains?

I lay in bed suffering over things I cannot control for a lot longer than I would have hoped. Even knowing worry is a waste of creative energy, it took some time to eradicate the insufferable worry demon in my head.

Worry is not love. It is not productive. Worry isn’t helpful and it doesn’t feed our souls. While it is seductive, it isn’t fulfilling. It is a waste of time and a destroyer of sleep. Regardless of the company we keep with it, worry has never been, nor will it ever be your friend. Just because we’re comfortable with something doesn’t mean we should keep it around.

I was finally able to divest myself of my demon company. It is my hope that the next time he comes to visit I’ll know better how to get him to leave.

Of all the thoughts there are to think, all the futures we can create in our minds, the demon worry will never be the guide to help us into the future we desire.

Like, share, comment about your own dance with the devil in the pale moonlight and tweet like the bird of paradise.

Selfish & Not Sorry

Today you will find me in the great outdoors, paintbrush in hand, bundled up for the chilly weather. I suspect I am in a good mood as you look in on me, completely immersed in the painting I have first created in my mind and the one that will actually come to fruition.

I love my Fridays. I love the anxiety of putting paint to paper and the challenge of managing the weather over which I have no control.

What I love best about these days is that they are a choice to feed my soul. I take them like ripe fruit and I enjoy every sweet, juicy drop of them. And I don’t apologize and I have no regrets.

It’s entirely fair if this doesn’t sound like your cup of tea. My taste in activities, art and people may not appeal to you.
I get that. My tastes are not yours, nor are yours mine. We agree to disagree just fine, thank you very much.


What we should agree upon is that everyone needs that ripe, juicy fruit, sun-warm and nourishing. Whether or not we agree on what kind is irrelevant. All I ask of you is that you find what you love and you partake of it. Regularly, and with gusto.

Gusto: Delight, pleasure, enthusiasm. Enjoyment.

We each need more of that in our lives. And roughage. We all need more roughage, or so I’ve been told.

Like, share, comment, tweet and you do you. All day. Every day.

Confessions Of A College Dropout

At the end of my freshman year of college I ran out of money. I would like to say that I ran out because it’s expensive to get an education, but the truth is I have no idea if I frittered the money away or not. Mine is not the soul of an accountant.

Check out this amazing artist
Check out this amazing artist

What I know for sure is that after two full semesters and a spring term, I left the esteemed university that had so kindly admitted me and I never returned to complete my formal education. And this has vexed me for many years.

Historically I would attend events, parties and galas dressed in my finest and donning the private attitude that I was not worthy. This is simultaneously history and it is boring.

What is interesting is education. Not only that which is acquired in hallowed halls, but perhaps even more so, that which is found in the day to day living and heartfelt inquiry that goes along with it.

I would never tell you that I have an esteemed education, but I wouldn’t falsely claim that I don’t have an education at all. Armed with nothing more than my interest in the world and an affinity for topics from a wide range, I have quite a few things in my bag of tools, which accompany me through life.

I definitely have an education. I am definitely worthy. And so are you.

Education is a living, breathing part of life. It needn’t be limited in any way by the schools we attend. Well, if you’re going to be a brain surgeon you should definitely go traditional on that one.

Even more important than the idea that we are constantly educating ourselves, the importance of knowing that we don’t know is even more valuable.

A recent conversation with a trusted friend went something like this.

Me: “I think it means something to him that it doesn’t necessarily mean.”
Her: “Perhaps it doesn’t mean what you think it means.”

Damn! She got me again!

What something means, some situation or outcome, is entirely up for interpretation. There may be as many meanings as there are interpreters.

The moment I start believing all the answers are answered according to the interpretations of Michelle, is the moment I’ve stopped being curious. That is the moment I’ve truly dropped out of school and retarded my growth and my future.

Someday, for many reasons, I think it would be cool to get a college degree. For the time being, I’ll stick to the School of Life, have you looked at the class list? It’s endless.

There are so many things I can’t wait to learn and so many things I don’t even know that I don’t know.

Like, share, comment, tweet and we should totally start a sorority. Who’s with me?

Ten Things To Do With A Broken Heart

A broken heart is not something to fervently avoid throughout our lives. It can certainly be said that most of us would avoid pain if at all possible, but a broken heart is so much more valuable than being pain free. It is a lovely thing to own, once you have one. And those of us who do, know we wouldn’t trade them for all the easy days of eternity.

  1. It seems the confines of a broken heart are so much smaller than that of the airy, fragmented one. With the broken heart, love is broader and deeper.
  2. Along with a shattered heart one discovers x-ray vision into other’s pain. It is a gift and a burden to see what is in the hearts of others.
  3. If you can see it, you can help it and a broken heart is best used to mend the hearts of others.
  4. The shards that remain to us can be used as a compass to change the directions that broken heartneed to be changed and walk a path not seen before.
  5. The ego is an enemy to the best of lives and nothing can cure ego quite as thoroughly as a broken heart.
  6. In the most desperate moments, something lovely happens and we see the world not through the filter of desires, but in the existing joys that sometimes elude us in our own self importance. The dew on the grass becomes an oasis to a suffering spirit.
  7. A broken heart inspires us to forgive where forgiveness has been denied. It is a catalyst to fill life’s most challenging demands.
  8. Something about the desperate state of broken-ness makes us brave. We take risks, brilliant risks when we feel we’ve lost in the biggest way we could have.
  9. Just as we have new eyes with a broken heart, we often have a kinder voice and gentler ways. The heart that truly breaks desires no one else to suffer in such a dramatic way.
  10. To have your heart break is to feel the arm of God around you, the love of those who stayed and feel the sunshine sent just to warm your soul. It is a blessing, even when it doesn’t feel like it.

Like, share, comment, tweet and know this:

All you who sleep tonight
Far from the ones you love,
No hand to left or right
And emptiness above –

Know that you aren’t alone
The whole world shares your tears,
Some for two nights or one,
And some for all their years.

Vikram Seth

Fulfilling Our Most Desperate Needs

selfloveI am not ashamed to admit that for much of my marriage to the esteemed Mr Dreamboat, I have been a bit needy from time to time. Don’t judge.

When I was younger I had no idea what precipitated these seasons of desperate need, but as I’ve grown older the pattern has established itself.

I wouldn’t say I am in “the autumn of my years”, but I’m no dewy eyed child either. I’ve been around the block a few times, I’ve been around the “needy” block a few more than that, and this is what I have to say about that.

Where it was a mystery to at least myself, if not Mr Dreamboat as well, as to why I needed so much reassurance, today I think I might have a bit of it figured out.

The figuring out part is easy once you’ve found yourself in a safe place. It’s the safe place that can sometimes be elusive.

“Tell me three things you love about me,” I would pleasantly demand. This would happen often enough that I could often coax even my teens to do the same thing for me.

“Tell me three reasons I am the best mother in the world,” would often get the reply, especially from Max, “You’re pretty and nice and funny.”

Though his response was less than improvised, especially after the 27th time, it was enough for me. I felt supported and loved, even if it was simply that he was willing to play along.

There were times Mr D was called on multiple times a day to reassure me in this manner. You can see more clearly why he approaches sainthood in my eyes now can’t you?

These days, at least this season I am a bit less demanding. It is not because I’ve reached the desirable state of complete autonomy and self actualization, but that I’ve figured out the pattern and I think it goes something like this:

I feel insecure about a situation or circumstance and I need reassurance that I am equal to the task or to the scrutiny. This is where I’ve changed the game from when I was younger. I then tell Mr Dreamboat, my children or even my dogs three things I love about them.

See how I turned that around there?

Despite Mr Dreamboat’s valiant efforts, despite the fact that I have exceptionally kind children, their accolades could never fully reassure me that I was indeed lovable, capable and worthy.

Looking inward is a bitch that way. Self involvement never was, nor will it ever be happiness.

It is only when we look outward and see the divinity in those around us that we can truly feel it in our own lives.

Maybe that’s the path to self-actualization. I’ll let you know if I ever get there.

Like, share, comment, tweet and tell yourself three things you love about you!

A Terrible Pain In The Bathroom

The plight of we, poor humans is definitely one of struggle and of pain. We arrive in this

Could life please look like this?
Could life please look like this?

world in a dramatic and challenging entrance and we hit the ground running, no user’s manual, no guide to perfection.

I myself have been prone to believe in fairy tales and perfection, only to be faced with a flawed world and less than pristine outcomes. Consider, if you will, the plight of the bathroom.

This last week I took on the challenge of painting my youngest son’s bathroom. It is the only bathroom in the house with a bathtub and so on the occasion that I want/need a bath, I will trespass in what could be a troublingly dirty room.

Oddly, my youngest son’s bathroom is usually fairly tidy, even if the toilet paper rolls don’t quite make it onto the spool. Hey, he’s 16. He can still be taught.

The problem is not a messy room. The problem, or at least the symptom, was peeling paint.

I say was because I gathered my homesteading courage and began the rare but always rewarding venture into home improvement. Did I say “always rewarding”? Not necessarily.

Imagine this live, with green mold poofing out...
Imagine this live, with green mold poofing out…

Behind some very peel-y paint, one might, and probably will, find mold. A wall of shame, a microbial paradise, a contractor’s payday.

And as I watched the paint, and then the wallboard peel away on what was to be a little paint job to spruce up the Young Family digs, it occurred to me that it is the usual course of things that when we try to make them better, at first we make them worse.

On Saturday morning I began the day with a room with peeling paint and when I went to bed I had a torn apart wall and visions of airborne, green menace. No charming, little curtains were hung. Just a big, ugly hole in the wall and an appointment with a trusted contractor.

Life is struggle and pain. Often what looks easy and tidy and right, turns into challenge and confusion and pain.

I have faith though. It had to be done, that bathroom. Sometimes to make ourselves whole we have to tear ourselves apart in order to put things right again.

It’s the way of life and lessons. It’s the way of bathrooms and mold. There’s nothing to it -but to do it.

Like, share, comment, tweet and start your own project. But know before you dig in, it’s gonna get messy.

Spiritual Class ~ Michelle Church

I’ve spent a lot of years in teaching positions in my church. I’ve taught all different ages for different periods of time. I’ve even spent the lion’s share of a school year getting up at five a.m. to teach a bunch of 16 year olds. Pretty sure I get to go to heaven for that alone… just kidding… but seriously.

There were times I spent teaching where I felt less informed when I was done than when I began. There were classes, not many, but a few, when I cried a little afterward either from stress or from frustration. But there were other, better times as well.

My favorite classes where those where I wasn’t the smartest person in the room, but the role I played was of the adept moderator, curating people’s thoughts and experiences into a cohesive story. When I was fortunate enough to be a participant in those classes, I walked away on a cloud and told myself I was born to be a teacher. Funny how ego can interrupt anything good that happens.

monksI haven’t taught formally much in the last few years. Perhaps it is only with this break that I can see more clearly that I was not the admirable and pithy teacher I imagined. I was simply fortunate enough to participate in truth.

I am unconvinced that there is one truth so much as truth. My reality is no less nor more valid than yours. Perhaps that is why it’s so important that we commune together to find truth in general. We are all blind, groping about and trying to put a name to the unknowable.

I’m not sure It can be named. I’m not sure It can be known, but perhaps together we can understand great truths when we share our observations.

Sipping from the cup of truth can certainly be done alone, but drinking liberally from the ocean of brilliance, the collective consciousness, the Universal Truth, that can only happen together.

For better or for worse, we need each other. Alone, at best, we have two eyes and one way of seeing the world, but when we set aside judgment and bias we can perhaps and for once see the world as It is rather than as we are.

Now that’s class.

Like, share, comment, tweet and meet me in the hall at church. That’s where the best classes usually are.