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I know it’s been a while since I’ve added anything. I’m working on a special project that I’ll let you know about by the middle of January.
For now I’d like to focus on gifts and goals.
I have some pet peeves that I like to grumble about and realize that pops my mood away from the gratitude of how I like to feel about my awesome life. So for this month, I’m going to make a goal of how I can gift my community with small things that matter to us as a whole.
For example: I always put my shopping cart in a carroll (in fact I park right next to one to make it easy for me). That way I don’t cause door dings by leaving them out in the lot for someone else to deal with it. Even though I whine in my mind about bringing a cart back up to the store because they don’t have a carroll, I do it anyway. After all, I was able-bodied enough to walk into the store, around it, so it only makes sense that I work those glutes some more.
Those things I’m not always conscious such as picking up litter nis something that I can put on my action plan. I have disposable gloves and garbage bags in my trunk. Ten minutes a couple of times a month allows me to anonymously help out and it’s free.
Consideration: What one thing can you do this month and next?
Greetings again from the land of the southeast coast of New Zealand’s South Island. This spectacular beach houses the majestic and yet familiar Moeraki Boulders. These spherical rocks rest on the beach enjoying the South Pacific Ocean spray, sun and tourist who poses with, sits on or hugs them.
They are estimated to be about 15 million years old and are a concretion of calcite and animal remains. They were birthed in the water, found their way to the top of a cliff and then landed on the beach. Their roundness is a result of equal and proportionate growth of their concretion.
There were many more that had existed, some ended up with individuals, another made its way (through human means) to Australia. Some were blown up, hauled away to museums and a few are marred with carvings.
These boulders are now a protected exhibit. Seeing them up close was a wonderful experience. To touch and know that they are planet made is a reminder of the power of nature to create and amaze. These giant pearls (as they’ve been called) look like a broken necklace left as a reminder that life is as it is.
Arriving at this location was Day 7 of traveling in a commercial 12 passenger van, with luggage and good humor. We all marveled at the perfection of the earth in its ongoing creation of yesterday and today. A few people peppered the beach with the occasional verbal appreciation of such grandeur. This was partly due to the robust winds that swept around the sand and rock, but the inherent need to experience this phenomenon through silent regard, rather than hearty chatter.
I love earthly reminders that I am part of a whole and to continually be blessed with admiration and reverence for the creations of life is a gift.
Consideration: What or where have you experienced some earthly creation that was intriguing or life shifting?
My last full day in Brisbane, Australia (October 17), we were blessed with a visit from these darling creatures. As I mentioned on Monday, the Koala is a marsupial, not a bear and they can only be found in Eastern and Southeastern Australia. There were two wee ones and were getting ready to be placed back into the wild. We were asked not to touch them as they were making their transition from cuddled cutie to savvy mammal of the forest.
I believe the next animal is a wallaby only because those who lived there called it that. They are similar to the Kangaroo, but are smaller and their legs are more compact. They run (hop) wild like deer do in the Midwest. This little one was hopping around so much they put her in a little sack to calm her down. At the retreat house where I was staying three to four hopped around in the back yard. I ogled like a true tourist. What I found humorous, while traveling in New Zealand there were deer farms along the way. These were pointed out by the natives. My interest was at the level of their looking at wallabies – ho hum.
The possum in my opinion is endearing at a young age, but not something that I’d long for as a pet. In reality, baby anything is cute – as I would suppose a baby Tasmanian devil would be. I didn’t see any of those even though they reside in Australia. Again, they are adorable in Australia, not welcomed in New Zealand due to their ravaging of the flora and fauna.
What a joy to see native animals, especially when they don’t live in the United States. It’s wonderful to be able to see them up close enough to touch yet observe how they are among all of us gawkers.
Consideration: What have animals given to you in your life?
At the South Tip of the South Island of New Zealand
I just got back from a glorious international trip to Australia and New Zealand. Australia was for a volunteer business effort while New Zealand was my vacation. I traveled extensively around the beautiful southern half of the South Island.
Even this Everyday Goddess got the gift of adventure along with several friends, one of which who lives in Christchurch. She and her husband created a robust and intriguing itinerary of multiple sights and experiences of the friendly folks who live down under. Throughout the month of November, I will share my adventures, but for today I want to make note of the general things I observed and experienced.
First and foremost – New Zealanders are super friendly and helpful. These caring folks welcomed all of us travelers with genuine gusto and sincere kindness from coffee shops, restaurants, retail and museums along the way.
October is their spring and their trees and flowers were in full bloom. I saw several large botanical gardens with a wide array of color and flowers. It was delicious in sight and scent walking through them when walking in the early mornings.
These are some of the everyday delights I got to experience:
- When turning on the water to take a shower, be aware that the hot is to the right and the cold is the handle or direction to the left
- It was fun being a passenger on the left side of the front seat
- It caused some time for pause when riding on the opposite side of the street than America, then taking a left turn into the left lane
- As a courtesy, my parents taught me when walking down the street in a group to move into a single file to the right. Yes, it took me a bit, but I did learn that the courtesy guideline exists, but of course, we are to move to the left
- Their ‘yield’ signs say ‘give way’
- Possum are endearing in Australia, yet virulent pests in New Zealand
- Where I visited was the same latitude direction to the south that Minneapolis is to the north – 45o
- Wallabies (they look like miniature kangaroos) run wild like deer do in Minnesota
- Koala (they aren’t bears) only live in southeastern and eastern Australia
- Some people raise camels
- October is their early spring
- A disposable ink pen can be purchased in the US for 10 cents. In New Zealand, the basic price is around five dollars
Consideration: In your travels, what cool thing was different?
It seems that many of us long for a retreat but never give it to ourselves in spite of the dire need. Yet I’ve heard so many people, men and women, exclaim the wondrous rejuvenation they received from a short weekend away immersing themselves in silence, prayer, writing, pondering or just hanging.
What keeps us from replenishing our spiritual essence? The busies? The endless task list, crying children, reports, the weather? It’s us. If we are waiting for our lives to give us permission, it just won’t happen. This takes action and planning on our part.
Choose a full day or weekend (Friday night to Sunday afternoon) when looking at your calendar. Then plan for it, whether it be saving money, taking a vacation day and getting tasks and errands done prior to going away. Barter with your friends for babysitting, house sitting or pet care. Pack your bags and go and don’t look back.
Some of the side effects due include some or all of the following: peace, optimism, balanced spirit, less caring about stupid stuff, a better perspective and hope. Be careful, this has been known to incite changes in people’s lives that could also include feeling empowered to get out of a mismatched job and find a new one, come home and have great sex with your partner or your kids’ personalities were replaced with a more kind and grateful nature.
Here are some things to consider. Some cost money, some could be free. Clear the calendar and jump into the unexplored and come out happy.
Places to consider:
• Retreat Centers/Hermitages:
• Bed and Breakfast
• Stay over at a friend’s house when they are away
• Your house. Unplug all technology devices.
• Writing Retreat
• Yoga Retreat
• Meditation Retreat
• Craft weekend
• Cabin – in the woods, in the mountains, overlooking a lake
Do you have Community Education classes in your area? What a fun way to learn something new for not a lot of money and time commitment. With a friend, I’ve taken a Hula Hoop class. Not only that, it was taught by a 78 year old woman who had it all going on.
If your town is too small, create a day for creative expression. Have everyone gather at a Craft retreat center, where you can spread out, cook, eat, create and have a great time. The places I list below are just a few that you can find in the Minnesota/Wisconsin area. If you want to make it for part of a day, choose someone’s house who can accommodate whatever you choose to do.
Many of my friends have skills that they can teach, from knitting to fixing things around the house. Try a writing workshop, sewing center, tiling someone’s bathroom or brainstorm and come up with your own theme or project.
Have a contest and scour the Internet finding cool businesses that offer classes. I’ve taken mosaic tiling, beading, knitting, ceramic painting, pastels and collage. I have friends who’ve made books, glass making, stained glass and have ventured out into dog sledding and visiting polar bears. Ask your co-workers, friends and friends of friends – what’s cool to do for cheap.
Consideration: What new thing would you like to try? Can you find when/where and let me know when you are going to go.
Resources: (Twin Cities, MN + Midwest)
Activity Retreat Centers
Avon’s Lakeside Craft Retreat
White’s Wildwood Retreat
Country Garden Retreat Center
Maple Ridge Retreat Center
Community Education options
To me art is a personal creative expression by a person or people using a multitude of mediums.
Julia Cameron talks about the ‘Artist Dates’ in her book “The Artist’s Way”. The purpose is for us to go out by ourselves and just go and experience art and fun. No purchase is requested other than if you need an entry fee. This is a deposit into our spiritual and creative selves that is to be replenished on a regular basis.
There are so many awesome and wild and wonderful things to explore! I went to a Museum of Funeral History with my brother in Houston, Texas. In another part of Texas with another brother I went to a Cowboy Poetry event. Both were intriguing, the latter was fun and delightful. With my sisters I went to the Glass Museum in Tacoma Washington.
I’ve been to Art galleries, some to just view the art displayed there and some to honor the artist. It isn’t always a high class event that allures the highly sophisticated. I’m more comfortable with those who love exploring the arts.
I have a friend, whose daughter is a lovely artist and she has created exquisite creations all throughout grade school and high school. Another friend (who is a visual artist) has bold colors in her home and painted light switch plates that she did her herself. It was pure delight looking at her art and the collections of other artists.
I have paintings, prints and photographic art in my home, along with 3-D soft sculpture of a Medicine Woman and Wolf Goddess. I enjoy going to rock shops and feeling the swirling force of chakra energy. I’ve participated in events and classes that had me doing ceramic painting, clay forming, pastel drawing and body sculpting. I recently took a class creating a mosaic tile piece and have it hanging in my home office.
For the body design, I participated in a weekend that honored our female form. We slathered on the Vaseline and put plaster gauze on our torsos, let it dry and then decorated it. It was both fun and momentous all at the same time.
I’ve worked with beads, weaving, knitting and crocheting, decoupaging, sewing, drawing, painting and sketching. I could not and don’t have the desire to earn my living as a visual artist because I don’t have the talent nor wish to do so. More times than not, I’m fine with exploring and making art that will be displayed in my home – maybe in a drawer for my eyes only.
I’ve enjoyed delectable bead art and swooned over paintings that captured my heart. While I don’t own all that I’d like, viewing another’s creation releases a fragrance of joy and splendor. It increases my optimism and hope for a new view on my life. With that gift of wonder, I then replenish the world with happiness.
Consideration: What one cool thing have you done to honor your inner creative self? What is one thing you’d love to explore?
We’ve spent some time discussing what we want from our friends. For our last blog for the month of September, I want to focus on what kinds of friends we are.
What types of things do we value? It usually comes out in our actions. I value one on one time with my friends, so I will offer that. Other friends I’ve had and have enjoy giving gifts. Chances are, they appreciate a surprise treasure now and then, which could be a theatre ticket, bouquet of flowers or the perfect card or quote. Others, when I’m aware of them, prefer doing things for them, such as helping them clean out their closet or garage.
I offer listening. It’s important to me when someone gives me their undivided attention on a delicate situation, so I provide the same. Deeply interested in my friends’ well-being is a critical aspect to my life and building community. I like being a good cheerleader and love to hear about the adventures of those I care about. I will encourage new pathways to careers or interests. I’ll say yahoo, when someone is working hard to let go of being the volunteer of the century and it’s time to open up the space for someone new to fill.
I’ve changed over the years – yippee! People who only want to complain about their sorry situation in life, and have no intention of changing are people that I release with love. It is important to me to fill my precious time with friends who fill me up. It is vitally important that I have enough nourishment in my friend savings account to lavish them with love, silliness and a whole lot of laughter.
Consideration: Ask one friend – what is one thing they value about you and to give an example. If you feel brave, ask them if there is something you can do more or less of that will heighten your bond.
Friends helped mold me into the person I am today. Good or bad, loving or critical; they impacted and continue to do so as I navigate this time I have on earth. While I intellectually grasp the nature that we are flawed individuals, I’m sometimes caught up short when I screw up or my friends do.
If they make a mistake I can sometimes shrug it off quickly because it wasn’t a big deal to me. Other times a shortness of breath asks for a pause and consideration of what my next steps might be. I know that I’m not unique in this understanding of how life is messy and complicated made more so by our friends.
There are times that I need to evaluate if my expectations of how I want my friends to be are in alignment with who they really are. For some things, it’s an easy yes, other times I see that huge mismatch when I’m shocked by their behavior and they have no issue with what they just did or said.
I’ve noticed that we are mirrors of each other. If I judge someone harshly on a behavior, chances are there is a huge similarity and it is my responsibility to take the time and discern what part repels me and why. The behavior may not be exactly the same, but there is an intertwining thread.
I’ve judged former friends for having matchy matchy clothing, furniture or household décor. My connection is that I coveted that and either couldn’t afford it at the time, didn’t know how to make that happen or feel that I could ever have it in my life. Therefore it was much easier to sling side comments.
Exasperation swarmed me when my buddies couldn’t make a decision. After all, how hard is it to determine what you are going to eat for the 50 millionth time of going to the same drive-through restaurant? While I decided before hand and felt smug because I made best use of time for all parties, there were plenty of other times that I felt too paralyzed to make a decision because I was riddled with extreme people pleasing, hence a decision was beyond my grasp.
Now when something a friend does rubs me the wrong way, I give myself a time out to cool off and consider the situation in a more holistic manner. It is crucial that I ask these questions, prior to firing off a smart retort.
• How important is it?
• Why am I bugged?
• Does my friend intend harm?
• Do I react or think and act?
Assessing my answers buys me some good time and possibly the prevention of causing harm to someone else. By giving space and understanding, a good dose of compassion; a safe landing is possible. Coming through many years of experience and many friends, I’m still surprised by how often I’m wrong when I judge others. While I believe I have the truth, I need to stand down, ask the questions and sit with the answers even though it can be excruciatingly painful.
What I’ve learned on forgiving my friends is that I am better able to accept their forgiveness and release just a titch more of being so judgmental. The growth I’ve seen in my character as a result of facing my own imperfection brings out my compassion. And with that there is no room for sentencing.
Consideration: Is there a niggling judgement that keeps doing a drive-by in your heart and mind in relation to a friend? (For your eyes only) Write a letter to them telling them how you feel. See if that breaks that kink free and you are able to loosen that hold and become more forgiving of your friends and also yourself.
Forgiveness – by Iyanla Vanzant