Saturday Digest April 30, 2011

“It’s okay. Even when a heart’s broken”... she gently touches it’s raw edge, “His love’s  still around me everywhere. And maybe the love get’s in easier here where it’s tore?”
To continue reading, please gently click here.

Linger a little at the Collage-A-Day website. I especially like “When the World Stops Spinning

What a wonderful idea~ A Self-Love Cleanse. Love your inner mean girl.

See what webpages used to look like at The Wayback Machine. Type in an address to see webpages archived all the way back to 1996.

Adorable puppy pictures~linger just a minute and gently click here





Thank you, Lord
for the unexpected,
good things
that happen
to us

What Do You See in the Tea Leaves?

tea quote

Day 9 Tact: t=truth

“Tact is about choosing our thoughts and words carefully” ~ Amanda,
Be Gentle, Be Love

Mark Twain explained, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” Raised by three generatons of Southern mothers, I had received lots of education and example on the finer virtues of tact.

“Write down all the things you could have said to them-“them” being whoever you wish it to be. Get it all out.”

Holy bok choy, Batman, did I ever! Propriety stifled, I aimed black marker at thick paper and fired furiously. I did not stop to censor or censure. Soon, really soon, the paper’s white space held sharp-lettered torrents.

“When you’re done, read it over.”

Really? Read it? Really? Aren’t I supposed to crumple up the paper and throw it over my shoulder like a dutiful, tact-filled continental soldier? Or burn it so that from the ashes a tactfully healed phoenix could rise?

“Let yourself feel the anger, the hurt, the pain. Grab some paint and pain over the words with love. Paint over the words one at a time with care and compassion.”

I approached the paper and the dark words clinically at first, amazed I knew how to even spell what tact kept unexpressed. I revisited and reexperienced, amazed that what I once pronounced “healed” still brought tears.

But what color paint should I grab? Using the same color of darkness in greater quantity to blot out dark words seemed disingenuous: a controlled burn in a life of controlled, stiff smiles framing tactful responses. And, a controlled burn still burns.

I chose pink. Pink signified the best color for care and compassion.  With as much love as I could intention, I mingled the pink paint over the black words. I whispered the word “love” painting each letter of the word “love” over the menacing words of pain. But the words stubbornly refused erasing. They remained, echoing in outline. And worse, visibly bled through, in reverse order, on the back of the paper.

What color paint covers pain?

Maybe the pain bleeding through the pink front remained unrested in me. The pain persisted through the paint. Pain and Paint: contained the same letters. Except for one tiny letter “t”

“t” for truth

(Speak the truth in love, helen.   What do you know to be true?)
Truth was, these very same words, now directed at another, I had also said to myself. Over time, the words, withheld in tactful abeyance I internalized and began to believe. Truth was, I had not been tactful to myself.

My paintbrush greeted, then nourished the page with deep green. Verdant green truth cuddled with loving, compassionate pink.  A bandage, reminiscent of stained glass, emerged as healing green truth met pink strokes of love and Spirit~ Mother dressed the wound.

House Rules

in this home

Day 8~ Initiative: A Synonym for Trial-and-Error


InitiativeDay 8 Prompt: What steps did you take in order to get where you are today, be it in your personal or business life?

Back in 1998, Bill Clinton was president, the Denver Bronchos won the Super Bowl, Titanic was the #1 movieAnd I was trying to learn to code a webpage. Back then, in the “Gee-Whiz” days before web-editors, facebook, myspace, or the blogoshere, webpages were coded in html. I spent SO much time trying to learn html. When well-meaning people would ask if I had a boyfriend, I would smile and answer, “yes. His initials are h.t.m.l.”
Other folks, mostly programmer-men, were already in the html coding field and snapping up all the webpage real estate. If I took the Initiative, it would be worth it.
My daughter was 9 years-old. After carpooling, homework, baking endless “healthy snacks”, she would go to bed and I would rendezvous with the html coding book. The book lay across my lap and I attempted to replicate what I saw in the book’s code.

Life between the brackets is dry and barren.
Trial-and-Error became more than a whim for me. Trail-and-Error became my entire mantra.
During 1998, there was no “Tech support”. There were ICQ and IRC chat rooms, murky galaxies of computer nerds, suspicious of any female life form who dared to invade techno-manland. Still, I thought, “this is America! Built on initiative and enterprise! Surely there will be kind-hearted help available.”
My entreaties were met with RTFM. As in, “Read the ___ Manual”.  And the letter “F” did not mean “family”
My friend SmartMary became the Thelma to my programming Louise and slowly, with trial-and-error our website emerged from brackets to domain. When it hit 4 million hits years later, I was glad for our combined Initiative and the atta-girl support we gave each other. We launched a business that funded our kids’ braces, middle-school trips, cars, high school graduation, college tuition, and a few fun trips for us along the way.  And Mary found the one programmer who did not speak in tacky acronyms and they married.
Key Initiative Steps for us: We did not waste time over-analyzing. Since we kept our day jobs, all work was done at night. Such a schedule fueled our resolve to not waste time thinking about what might go wrong or worrying about effects of what we were doing. We also told no one so we did not have an audience. Our mission statement provided for our eventual obsolescence. We thought in six years everyone would be tech-savvy and would no longer need our website resources. That was an incorrect forecast, as the business continues to provide income. (Predictions are often misguided and it is best not to let them poison initiative.)
Amanda’s quote from Robert Bresson is so true… “Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen.”
 And, I might gently add, “never take the RTFMers too seriously.”
Bravo to the Initiative of everyone in our Be Gently, Be Love class, the wonderful blogs and the beautiful art created through your Initiative.  (Tried to get as many as possible in the Wordle cloud below)

A Word From My Sponsor

Matthew 28 6

May the Easter story never fail to give me goosebumps…Chris Shea

Saturday Digest April 23 Because of Grace

I was looking at the words ‘light’ and ‘darkness’ in the Bible and in every passage I read that ‘light’ is associated with knowledge of God and His truth whereas ‘darkness’ is where God is not and denotes a lack of the knowledge of God. To read more, gently click here

At any given moment you have the power to say: this is not how the story is going to end. To see this sign gently click here

I have learned the hard way that the more I try to help God, the more stuff starts piling on. In other words, I cannot do what God wants to do. Some situations in life are far beyond our ability to fix. A problem we see that needs our intervention, may be God’s cocoon of struggle to strengthen… To read more, gently click here

Studies show that you tend to base your self-esteem on what you think the most important person in our life thinks about you. So I recommend you make Jesus Christ the most important person in your life because he will always tell you the truth. The only solid foundation for self-worth is to realize how much you matter to God. When you see yourself the way God sees you, it will transform you. To read more, gently click here

Steven Toepfer of Kent State University, Salem, had students in six courses write letters of gratitude to people who had positively influenced their lives. Over a six-week period, the students wrote one letter every two weeks. After each letter, the students completed a survey to gauge their moods, satisfaction with life and feelings of gratitude and happiness. The result, Toepfer said, was dramatic. “The more thank-you letters they wrote, the better they felt.”

Good Friday

Grateful for Grace

Day 7 Beauty~~Be Gentle Be Love~~

Been trying to write about Beauty all week for Be Gentle Be Love. This week has been a wreck for me. I thought it was because of tax day, or an abrupt upset, or a searing devotional reminder, or  the finale of Parenthood. But the tears did not stop at the conclusion of these events. The tears kept coming. I was in panic.

When I was 10-years-old, my dad, who was also my tennis coach gave me an ultimatum in the form of this question:

Do you want to be pretty or do you want to win?

  At age 10 this choice was pretty simple. Pretty was synonymous with beauty and beauty was Elizabeth Taylor and Lena Horne. Couldn’t touch that.

Winning was tangible, fun, and a way to get free tennis stuff from tennis shops.

The concept of beauty–as something to do–has remained this way for me.

When I search outward I always find beauty. When I focus my reflection outside myself, it is there: in nature, in my neighborhood, in little kindness, in gratitude, in the faces of compassion. I always find it with humbling wonder.

When I focus on my ego’s reflection, the detours beckon.

When I look at the body that donuts have built, I detour to self-criticism.

Then there is the self-loathing detour of “The Gray Hairs”. There it is. In print. I can no longer operate in the delusion that they are errant dried bits of cream cheese frosting or misguided mayo or chaotic powdered sugar. I must be thankful for them before I decide what to do with them and reroute the detour of self-loathing they bring.

When I objectify myself, a detour of comparison threatens. I believed him when he said I was beautiful. Then, I was left with confusing questions when he and his words became part of “what was”.

And what about the beauty he saw? Was that part of the “what was”? Do his sweet nothings mean I am nothing sweet?

Perhaps there are better questions to ask. Perhaps there are Better Answers.

But God.

But God sees beauty differently. God sees beauty in me.
There it is. In print. And just like my gray hair, I cannot operate in the delusion that expressions of beauty from one supersede expressions of beauty from The One.  

As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride,
so will your God rejoice over you. ~Isaiah 62:5

The LORD your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing.” ~Zephaniah 3:17

The King is enthralled by your beauty. ~Psalm 45:11

Do I have the courage, the faith, to trust God or what was?

Been trying to write about Beauty all week for Be Gentle Be Love.
This week has been a wreck for me. The tears kept coming. I was in panic.

And my trusted friend reminded me.
“It is Passion Week”, he said.
The last holiday in my “what was” was Easter of last year.
Maybe last Easter was the last holiday before your diagnosis.
Or before your loss. Or before your pain.
In the time of “what was.”

His Sacrifice Still Is.

There is beauty in His sacrifice. You may say you do not understand it and to that I reply, “good for you!” Because if understanding distances you from the Beauty of Passion Week and His unselfishness and in any way allows you to maintain controlled manageability, I would not want that for you.

When it comes to beauty, to whose voice do you listen?

Day 2: Wonder

This is the first time I have colored with Readers balanced on my nose.

It almost did not happen. When I read through the Wonder assignment in the Be Gentle Be Love class and came to the suggestion to color with crayons, I “saw” the picture snapshot of the wonder-filled walks Ruby and I take. I saw the wonder of walking the same street for 13 years, three with Ruby, and finding something new and enticing every single time. I saw the pinecones, gray sky suddenly cold air after startling heat. I saw what I wanted to draw but then getting the picture from my head to my fingers to the paper took longer than expected. I saw in O’Keefe clarity. I drew in Linus actuality.

I could not color at work. So I took off and headed home for an early lunch (if you happen to work with me and by some miracle you find this blog post, and read the last few words, then, um, no, I didn’t). This is the first 8-5 job I have had in about thirty years. Leaving early from work, even after these past two years of 8-5 regimen, still feels similar to an illicit snow day!

Arriving home, I walked with laser-focused attention to my clutter art desk and retrieved my sketch pad.

wondercollageTo my astonishment, I also had a 24-pack of unopened Crayola crayons. A slight twinge crept up to my throat when I realized they were left-over from a time when I was called “Mops” by the grandkids who visited their grandpa “Pops”, that period of time now relegated to “what was”. I paused only long enough to wish the memory well and release the energy of that dream’s potential. And another second longer to envision “this or something better” for the future.

I marveled that in a home as haphazardly stocked as mine, that there was an unopened box of new crayons. I inhabit a house where toilet paper is iffy but agave nectar is plentiful; where restocking toothpaste is forgotten but four kinds of olive oil prevail. My left-brained daughter advises a list, “always go with a list” she advises. And I dutifully comply, except that even though neat penmanship instructs “buy milk” I often return with pomegranate/blueberry cider and fiesta-print napkins.

My Wonder assignment completion was thwarted by a medical time-out taken for a broken nail on account of the broom not returning itself properly the cement cinder block, which fell in the garage narrowly missing the treadmill, freezer, and bicycle sculptured to resemble a “workout gym/spa” ala HGTV. The broom was needed to sweep the nettled mess of new spring grass, twigs, and assorted muck escaping inside to our tile kitchen floor, which I saw in full natural glory when I sat to complete the Wonder Assignment.

I stopped by the computer and checked email while filing the aforementioned nail. I also place an online order for Sundance because I still harbor the delusion that this will endear me to Robert Redford. While checking Facebook, the weather, and the actual date of Memorial Day this year, it dawned on me that I was procrastinating on completing the Wonder Assignment. Was I procrastinating on Wonder?

It was almost time to return to the office. And no Wonder was created. The crayons waited like passengers ready to board Art Express airlines. Paper almost seemed to shuffle nervously in anticipation.

But I had to go.
I scribbled something of a replication of the image anchored in my head.
But I rushed. Because I was “on to the next” as had been so frequently my life pattern.

walking with ruby
Walking With Ruby

A poem I read this morning trotted through my harried mind~~ (emphasis mine)

If your life doesn’t often make you feel
like a cauldron of swirling light
If you are not often enough a woman standing above a mysterious fire,
lifting her head to the sky
You are doing too much, and listening too little.
Read poems. Walk in the woods. Make slow art.

And so the wonder of my teacher Amanda’s inviting introspection is the realization that I have hoisted layers of effort and busyness to smother the fire, the mysterious fire ignited by wonder, and time, and attending.

I wonder, Do you also quench the fire of your wonder-filled self?
Do you throw layers of frantic busyness on embers of light-ness?
Is it time to make slow art in your life?


Odds are Zero

there is no moment ever that does not either hold an opportunity or a lesson that God is offering

Quote Lee Jampolksy, Picture David Johnson, design by helen

A Word From My Sponsor

Matthew 17 4

picture David Arms

Day 6: Love With a Free Printable and Sendable

“Today, be aware & revel in the power of love.”

love Angel girl

“Take notice of all the expressions of love that you come in contact with.”

“Be it ones that you receive or that you give.”

“Even ones that are exchanged between strangers, tap into those as well.”

“Be a billboard of love today.”
Here is the Printable/Sendable Part and a way for you to be a billboard of love to
any and all.  Feel free to print/send the picture below to your love tribe.
There is a little blank provided for your embellishment.
i am loved with caption

Click here for the pdf file and other renderings

The Quotes above are from Amanda in the Be Gentle, Be Love class.
The pictures are from my collection as is this thought below:

There is a love that transcends and nurtures.
It is not found in vows made or

broken nor in sentiments uttered or rescinded.
Cling tenaciously to this love.

Day 5 Kindness: Be Gentle Be Love

 “You are in a toxic friendship: Niceness, you say their behavior is okay & let them off the hook time & time again. Kindness, you tell them they need to change their ways & offer your help to do so.”  ~Amanda, Teacher, Be Gentle, Be Kind course

Amanda teaches me that there are differences between Niceness and Kindness that nudge passed semantics. I have noticed them this week. From the corner of my dad’s hospital room I have paid more attention. Niceness is Mary, the nurse’s aide who brings his food tray with a smile. Kindness is Mary’s action to remember to place the tray angled to the right because of dad’s sluggish left side, gently placing all the utensils within his reach. Napkin too, although Southern regimentation dictates its left-most position

Niceness is Adam, who arrives quickly to rotate him, calling him “Sir.” Kindness is Tony, the technician assigned to complete the barium swallow test, but who stays, noticing the length of time that Dad has been in this same position. Tony calls Adam, and together, with Adam, gently instructing Adam in the best way, Tony stays to readjust my dad, adding range-of-motion exercises to let sluggish muscles know that Tony won’t let them lapse to atrophy on his watch.

Even though it is not in his “job description,” Tony stays. He lingers, positively, confidently. With dignity.

And so does Kindness. Niceness arrives and that is good. Kindness lingers and that is better.

If Niceness places a period after action, Kindness inserts the ellipses that continues and extends.

Big Yellow Sun

Course Invitation to Create: Use the Printable Kindness Sun in your printable pack or draw/paint a circle in the middle of your page & write the word Kindness inside. Make lines coming out of the circle like a sun. Start with however many lines you wish. On each of those lines write down an act of kindness that you will perform.

As I look at the sun, maybe it is just my insistence on using the printer toner until the very end, but I think I see something. The sun rays grow lighter as they extend. The rays are strongest at the center, then dissipate as they extend. We lose control of what can happen next, but what happens next will be better than good.

From this corner of the hospital, with dad resting, breathing deeply now, this seems to symbolize that as our kindness leaves our center, we lose.

We lose control of it. It blends with other moments, other paths, other lives.
And in a swirl of Sprit, it extends.

Is this what pixie dust is?

Always A Flower

Flower in glass
Quote by Oliver Wendell Holmes, picture layout by helen

Listening as Spiritual Hospitality


Henri Nowen is the author of  Life of The Beloved

A Poem~Because You Are

Because You Are by Heidi Haller

Right where I am is where I should be.
In the center of Your will,
the perfect place to rest and dream,
When I need to go forth You will tell me.
Your timing flawless, I will respond.
The path is not marked but I don’t worry,
soon Your way will be known.

I marvel.
There’s no explanation
or evidence of Your existence.
I know simply because You
are as constant as the sun.
All the glory goes to You.
Sustaining me, shaping me, guarding me.
You, who gives me direction.

Blessed are we who know You.
May our many voices be pleasing to You.
May the many become all and the all become one.

A Word From My Sponsor

Romans 5:2

Saturday Digest April 9 Because of Grace

Must See Movie! Finding Joy Movie: Gently Click Here to View

A Challenge: Is it possible to choose healing and to choose to heal with love?                                                   You will know after you gently click here

Free Printable I-Like-You card from Amanda at Kind Over Matter. Does anyone else think it is just awe-inspiring that during a season marked by Lent and what we are giving up, Amanda creates and gives away
Thanks, Amanda!

This hope we have as an anchor of the soul….a security. Have you ever tried to define your hope? Marsha has and she writes clearly about her experience here

Quote for Day 2: “Wonder is the beginning of wisdom” – Look with wonder at elegant beauty in black and white, please gently click here

Right here – in this moment – we don’t have the whole view. We can only guess that this Thing – that Very Terrible Thing – is the worst thing for us. We don’t have all the information, the knowledge and the goodness of being able to look back on it… to see it was right for us, and the best thing. Please read more

SSSHHHHH Stop and Be Still. Then watch this stillness video, please gently click here

%d bloggers like this: