Life Lessons from a Pecan Tree

“We must be willing to let go of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”  ~ Joseph Cambell

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(My favorite view in the back yard)

There are pecan trees all over our land at the new house.  They aren’t native to this area, apparently, but were planted long ago and have since spread across these woods.  Witnessing the life cycles of plants that I am no longer familiar with is exciting.  Each day we go for a hike and observe what is changing around us - listening to the stories of the plants and this land.

Right after we first arrived here, the pecan tree branches were heavy with bright green husks with newly formed pecans growing inside.  A few weeks later, pecan husks started falling from the sky, landing on the soft earth with a thud.  I could barely contain my excitement.  I ran to look under the trees and unopened husks were lying all over the ground.  “What a waste!” I cried.  Perfectly good pecan babies were lying all over the ground, never to see their full potential.  I pondered this performance for weeks, wondering why it should be so and wishing those husks had stayed on a little longer.  Shortly thereafter, perfectly formed pecans started falling from the branches without the husks, a feast ready to be cured and eaten.

I learned this past weekend that when the weather turns cool and fall is upon us, the pecan tree in all her wisdom drops the husks that don’t seem viable – some worm or weevil has eaten the inside of the nut, and therefore not a good candidate for a future tree.  Instead of wasting her energy to ripen that nut, she drops the bad ones, and focuses her energy on the remaining good nuts – nourishing them to rain abundance when perfectly ripe.  

Two months in to (what feels like) a new home and a new town, I see the bright, unopened husks of many dreams lying around me on the ground.  I find myself unsure of why I am here, or where the path leads me.  Back in Colorado, I had creative dreams.  Big dreams.  I allowed the universal creative energy to flow through me and worked to make these dreams a reality through sheer grit and determination.  Here, I just don’t know.  Not all of the same dreams feel right.  In slow motion these dreams have released their grasp on my branches, and fallen to the ground with a solid thud.  The spark is gone.  I look around and wonder what is next?  Which one of the whispers left clinging will come to fruition? 

I’m in a place of in-between.  We risked so much, left it all behind to start a new adventure, and I find myself here, having trusted in this divine plan lifting my hands and saying, “now what?”.  I’m opening the channels, waiting for the inspiration, and trusting that it will come, while allowing myself to mourn the loss of what no longer feels right.

Who knows?  Just as the fallen husks of the pecan tree will break down and over time be absorbed by the roots of the tree, perhaps my fallen dreams will be resorbed by my roots and one day come to fruition in a new way, tinged by the experiences of a new land.  Until that day, I will trust in the path, even if I don't know the destination.                 

Have I Loved You Enough?

In a few weeks we embark on a new journey as a family.  One that will take us from this home we have created together over the last 10 years to a new resting place.  The place where we venture is one that is as familiar to me as the bones in my body.  The land of my birth, the home where my dad was brought home as a wee babe.  1600 miles away from the life I've built over the last 13 years.  

There is much joy to be found in the decision to leave.  We are slowing down as a family.  We are leaving the safety of what we know to take a chance at living a life more full of the things that really matter - family, nature, art, love.  However, while there is much happiness about our decision, leaving brings a deep sadness.  The sadness has come in waves, and started with packing up this house we've called home for the last ten years.  Over these last few weeks of packing, I find myself sitting on the floor of various rooms, choked with emotion, asking, "Have I loved you enough?"

Have I thanked the living room for the space to meditate, write and dream each morning?  Always a faithful friend, waiting for me in the pre-dawn hours.  Have I loved you enough?

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Have I kissed the counters in our kitchen?  Thanked them for the space they gave me to experiment with using food as medicine.  I've cooked countless meals in this space, nourishing our bodies through sickness and health.  Did I ever truly realize how lucky I was while I was doing it?  Have I loved you enough?


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Have I touched the dining room walls and whispered gratitude for holding us while we gathered to share laughter, nourishment, and conversation? Have I loved you enough?

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Have I fully embraced the studio for providing a solid foundation from which I could experiment and grow as an artist? For giving me the space to uncover my passion and share it with the world.  For holding my son as he spent hours each day discovering his own love for art.  Have I loved you enough?  

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Have I cherished our bedroom for being a silent retreat from this frenetic, busy world?  Who with out fail supported us as we rested our bodies and minds.  Have I loved you enough?       

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Have I given enough thanks for my son's bedroom - where I have spent countless hours watching him sleep, growing from a tiny baby into the child he is today?  Where every night the walls faithfully held us as I read him books, sang him songs, and rocked him to sleep?  Where passing time was tracked with marks on the wall that proudly displayed how much he's grown.  Have I loved you enough?

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Have I gotten down on my knees and praised the walls of the downstairs bedroom - the floor that held me while I gave birth to our child.  The room that shielded us from the world as our babe was ushered into this world?  Have I loved you enough?
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Have I thanked the patio for holding me while I watched the sun rise, over and over again, to light the trees and land?  Where we spent our summers eating meals outside and watching kids run around the yard.  Have I loved you enough?

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Have I expressed my heart's gratitude for the outdoor space?  Where I worked the earth with my hands, learning about life in the process.  Where my love and I sat outside on many a night gazing at the stars and whispering our dreams. Where we got married in the grass underneath a blue moon? Have I loved you enough?

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Have I?

I find myself, now that I know I'm leaving, trying to absorb every second, relish and love the present moment with every tick of the clock. I find myself asking, "Why didn't I do this before?  Why did it take me so long to start loving this house?"  I wasted so much time wishing that I were in a different place, instead of loving what was here in front of me.  I can take forward from this experience the resolve to love the next place we land from day one of setting foot in the door.  To remember it's not the physical house that makes us happy - it's a space to hold us while we love and live.  

 

What is an Intuitive Painting Circle: Part 3 (PAINT!)

This is part 3 of a 4 part series on What is an Intuitive Painting Circle.  To read more about my painting circles, visit part 1 and part 2.  For information on the next upcoming circle, visit HERE.

Today I want to talk about PAINT!  I am frequently asked what makes painting intuitive?  How is an intuitive painting circle different than a regular painting class.  I thought I would share with you something I wrote to read to women that come to my painting circles.  This will give you an idea of what it means to me.

What is Intuitive Painting?

You are creative. Every being is creative, whether they realize it or not. Oftentimes we forget our inherent creativeness as we live in this world. As children we all create – wild and free. We decide we want to draw a person and we draw a person, never judging what comes out. That person might have one arm that is long, one is short and maybe we draw three eyes. But we are PROUD of what we just made. Creating is free, joyful, and uninhibited.

Often, as we grow up, teachers or parents or society begin to tell us a story about ourselves that make us forget.   They tell us our art isn’t good enough, or that the person we drew doesn’t really look like a person, or that our art won’t be liked by others. We begin to believe these stories. We believe what others tell us about being creative and expressing creativity. Then, if we even try to create at all, our art becomes about expressing what others expect of us. If others expect our person to look like a person, we begin to expect that of ourselves. We stop listening to the deep whispers of our creative muse and try to use our left-brain to calculatingly wrestle a person out of our pen or paintbrush. Maybe we can draw a person well enough to meet other’s expectations. Maybe we don’t. Maybe, at some point, we stop trying. Meanwhile, our muse lies neglected at the core of our being, parched from lack of flow of expression.

With intuitive painting, we allow the flow of our muse from the core of our being without judgment. We show up with the intention to listen to her unflinchingly. To hear what she says and express it through whatever means she deems necessary. We show up to feel the flow of ourselves, the expression of our soul into the world. We are all unique. Each soul in this world is individual and unique. What you paint and what comes from the depths of you will not look like anyone else. This space, this time that we set aside to do this work, we make the promise to ourselves and to our muse to SHOW UP. We show up, we listen, and we paint what we hear. That’s our job.

In an intuitive painting circle, I will not show you what to paint. I will not tell you how to paint a prettier flower, or how to draw a person. I won’t show you how to blend colors. I WILL provide you with the space and tools to experiment with listening and to express what you hear. And I will provide you with all the love and support in my heart as you open yourself in such a vulnerable way. And I will see you, as you are, and fully accept what I see there as the beautiful, unique creature you are.

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This work can be challenging at times. It will not always be sunshine, daisies and rainbows. It will not always be beautiful. The depths of our beings are comprised with light and dark places. Sometimes the darkness needs to be felt and released. Expressing this darkness through paint heals our souls. Expressing our light brings us a deep, comforting joy. They are both necessary to the evolution of our being.

My wish for you, dear sister, is that you join me on this journey of awakening. Join me as we awaken the muse within that is strong, confident, and wants to be heard. As we listen to our hearts we learn to hold each other in deep compassion as we process the depths of ourselves. You are unique. You are beautiful. You are creative.

What is an Intuitive Painting Circle Pt. 2 (Inviting the Sacred)

This is part 2 of a 4 part series on What is An Intuitive Painting Circle?  You can read Part 1 HERE.  To sign up for the next intuitive painting circle, visit HERE.  

The flick of a lighter brings flame to the leaves in my shell, illuminating my face with a glowing warmth.  The flames grow, then die back to a smolder.  Sweet smoke curls around my head and fills my lungs.  I take feathers and fan the smoke towards my heart, welcoming the cleanse.  I methodically move the smoke around my body, brushing away negative tendrils of energy, purifying my body and space.  As I move, a stillness of mind settles over me.  I close my eyes and offer up thanks.  Gratitude for all the pieces of my life.  I've entered into the sacred space of ceremony.  

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Sometimes, that's the extent of my ceremony.  Other days it's much more elaborate.  This part of my intuitive painting circles seems the hardest to define as there are as many ways to invite sacred into the space of a circle as there are people who sit in circle.  However brief or involved the ceremony, Spirit comes just the same.  The below is by no means an exhaustive list - just a few of the things I regularly do to invite the sacred into the space.

Altar: Setting the space

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The first thing I use to create the space is an altar.  An altar is created by laying down fabric and placing objects of importance on top of the fabric.  Altars can be as simple or extensive as you like.  A rock, feather, and candle put together with intention can create an altar.  Typically, my altars for circle have a few things in common.

1) 4 directions - I incorporate N, S, E, W into the setup.  There is a candle for each direction and something placed there to signify the direction and element.  East is air so I place feathers.  South is fire and you will find candles there.  West is water and I use some type of vessel to hold or signify water.  North is earth and will be represented by rocks, sticks, or flowers.  

2) Sacred objects - each person who sits in circle is invited to bring something to add to the altar.  Usually, this will follow the theme of the evening.  The purpose of the ritual or ceremony is an intention set before we gather.  The items placed on the altar are completely individual.  These items not only contribute to the energy of the space, but they absorb the energy of the ritual or ceremony and are then taken home with whomever brought them.

Cleansing & Offerings

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There are many different types of herbs and saps that can be burned during a ceremony.  My favorites are copal, sage, and sweetgrass.  Copal is lit as an offering because it is pleasing to the Gods.  Sage is burned to cleanse the energy of the individuals sitting in ceremony.  This is called smudging.  A bundle of sage or sage leaves in an abalone shell are burnt to create a cleansing smoke.  Each person is then smudged with the smoke.  Smudging feathers are used to move the smoke around the space or a person's body.  When sitting in ceremony, we cleanse our bodies with the smoke to purify the energy we bring to the space.  A braid of Sweetgrass is burned in a similar fashion to sage as a blessing to the person being smudged.       

Calling Spirits

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When initiating a ceremony, spirits are called to join the space.  This can be any multitude of things.  Gods, Goddesses, Ancestors, Guides, or even the energy of people whom we find inspiring.  Often, the spirits we call fit in with the theme of the evening.  When you call on the spirit of someone to join the space there is a palpable shift.  You feel supported and wrapped in their energy.  At the end of the ceremony, you thank them for joining the circle and release them.    

Finding Your Own Voice

I am a big believer that we all are unique and therefore each have our own unique way of connecting to spirit.  I was never a fan of rules tied to my faith, which is probably why regular church never felt like a good fit for me.  Over the years, I've tried many ways to find connection.  Pieces of my ceremonies are tied to native american, pagan, Wiccan, Hindu, and even Christian rituals, however these ceremonies are my own, ever-changing blend.  When I see something that resonates with me, it will often get incorporated into the next ceremony.  

What ceremonies and rituals speak to you?  What is your favorite way to connect to spirit?  I'd love to hear.  

I’m in a magazine, y’all!

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I'm excited to announce that I am featured in the June issue of the indie online magazine, The Phoenix Soul.  Click HERE to get your copy of the June issue, Tenacity.  In this issue I have a conversation with The Phoenix Soul creator, Amanda Fall, and we discuss how intuitive painting has changed me, why I feel becoming more authentic is important, how to balance tenacity with letting go, and much more.  Amanda has the gift of asking tough, important questions that make you think.  This Truth Tribe interview was so much fun... I sure hope you will check it out!  

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Radical Trust

This was first published in a letter to the subscribers of my online book club.  To learn more about upcoming book clubs, click HERE

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“the” neighborhood

As I sit to write this week, the words “radical trust” keep popping into my head.  We close on our house in 21 days.  21 days and we leave this house that has been our home for the last 9 years.  The first house my husband and I bought together.  The place where my son was born (literally, in the downstairs bedroom).  The home where we excitedly tracked his growth on the wall every six months.   The dwelling where two artists were born – one at age thirty and the other at age two.  The place where I learned how to be a wife and a mom, all while learning to listen to myself and dream of life beyond these things.  So many firsts were had here:  I painted my first canvas on our dining room table.  Many years later these walls could tell many stories about my art – the process of learning, losing faith, trusting, releasing, awakening.  I planted my first garden here.  I worked the earth with my hands and planted seeds that nourished our bodies.  I learned a lot about love.  What it takes to make a marriage work between two attracted opposites.  A lot of laughter, owning our shit, and giving each other space to grow in the ways we were meant to grow.  We have poured so much love into each other and the world from within the walls of this house.        

However, amidst all of this living, there has always been something missing for us here.  A longing for a community that we can relate to and connect with.  I set the intention at the beginning of the year for more connection in my life, and boy has it flooded in.  It has manifested in more ways than I asked for and has become somewhat of a theme or formula for happiness lately.  We’ve been researching for months, and finally this weekend, we found “the” neighborhood.  The one with wide, tree-lined streets.  Old bungalow houses with lilac trees and lavender bushes.  Streets full of thirty-somethings and their families.  A safe place for kids to roam and play.  We can see ourselves here in the summer, soaking up the sun’s rays in our yard, meeting neighbors.  Walking the streets in the fall as the canopy of trees over the road turns a vibrant yellow.  Relishing the early morning quiet of snow-packed streets.  And perhaps, most importantly, we see ourselves connecting with the community here.  

At times, we have wondered if we are crazy to leave this house where we have birthed so many dreams.  But as a family, there is an awakening brewing.  A time for growth.  It’s time to let go of this physical space, let go of the familiar, and make room for the “next”.  Trust that by making room, Spirit will fill it with the right “next”.  We will cherish our memories, love this house for what it has brought to us, and gear up for our next adventure.

Kindred, what can you let go of to make room for your next?

New Painted Goddess Dates!

Wow, that was FAST!  The June session of The Painted Goddess filled up within a week!  I am so, so grateful to all of you for your support.  Thank you!

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I wanted to share that I have added a July date that is now available for all of you local Colorado Springs folks.  Want to learn more about what The Painted Goddess is?  Read HERE.  {Online friends – don’t feel left out… an offering will be coming your way soon.}

Saturday, July 25, 2015 from 5-9 PM

Where: Movement Arts Community Studio 525 E. Fountain Blvd. # 150, Colorado Springs, CO 80903

We will share food potluck-style at 5 PM, and then ceremony starts at 6.

Cost: $35 (includes all art supplies) 




If you feel called to join in an evening of community + sacred ceremony + art, you are more than welcome, sister.  See you there.

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What is an Intuitive Painting Circle? Pt. 1

This is part 1 of a 4 part series that will answer the question "What is an intuitive painting circle".  Join my upcoming painting circle here.

If you have been around me for more than 5 minutes lately, you have heard me mention the words "intuitive painting circle". To me, it’s crystal clear what that means. I realize not everyone may know… so over the next few weeks, I am going to do a series of posts to uncover the mystery. We will pull back the veil around gathering women in circle and dipping our fingers in paint: what it is, why it is important, and what you will get from participating.

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When thinking about how to describe this process… I keep coming back to yes, even though it IS a painting circle, it’s really not about the paint. It’s not just a painting class. It is first and foremost about the circle, and that’s what we will talk about today. Gathering in circle brings together a group of women to create community, to foster connection to Spirit, and to provide women an opportunity to uncover their own truth and be witnessed stepping into their truth by their peers.

Why a circle?

Why gather in a circle vs. classroom style with a teacher at the head of the class?

There is no hierarchy in a circle. All are equal; all have an equal part to contribute to what is learned in the circle. There is not one teacher. We are all each other’s teachers. I am the teacher. You are the teacher. The circle is the teacher. The guide or host creates the space and holds an energetic container for the circle to form. But the real magic of gathering in this way comes from the people who fill the space – each bringing their own unique perspectives and experiences and views of the world. We all learn from each other as we value each individual’s contribution.

Council Sharing

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In circle we participate in something called Council Sharing, based on Native American culture. Each person gathering in circle is given the opportunity to speak her truth. We each take turns holding the talking bowl and answering a question posed to the circle. This is an opportunity to show up, be vulnerable, and speak our authentic truth. The person holding the bowl has the full attention of her tribe. How often is it that in this culture we are given center stage to explore and find and express our truth? Oftentimes, especially as mothers, we are constantly interrupted by others who want to talk over us. This is the chance for us to explore voicing our deepest truths.

I want to know
if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix
it.

~ Oriah Mountain Dreamer

As listeners in circle, we practice active listening. Listening without judgment or agenda. Listening without formulating what we are going to say next. Listening without trying to damper what is coming out of the other person. If someone speaking starts to cry, we let them cry because that is what needs to be expressed. As a listener this practice is particularly potent in seeing another layer of depth to your fellow humans. It creates compassion, not only for the others you gather with in circle, but for the broader community as this practice helps you see that everyone you meet has so many layers you know nothing about.        

Uncovering the root of your truth

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Uncovering your truth can sometimes take some digging and background work. That’s why as a pre-work to the gathering, journal questions are provided to help you explore what the week’s theme means to you and how you feel about the topic. My favorite method for uncovering subconscious emotions is stream of conscious journaling. This method takes some practice, but is very effective. Basically, you write the journal question and then just write any and all thoughts that come into your head. Even if it seems like your thoughts are rambling or aren’t relevant, get them down. You don’t censor what wants to come out in this process. What I find is that through this process of getting past the censor, you can get to the heart of your truth. You can always go back after the fact and streamline your thoughts, but just letting everything lose is a powerful way to get out your feelings and uncover the root of your truth.

Interested in hearing more?  I will share more next week about intuitive painting circles.  Tell me, have you sat in circle before?  What did you find most powerful about the experience?

New Offering! The Painted Goddess

The Painted Goddess Circle

Are you feeling the call for more connection in your life? Do you long for a deeper understanding of your authentic self? Are you yearning for a forum where you can practice expressing your truths while being seen and held by your tribe? Do you want to explore tapping in to the primal flow of creativity that runs through each of us? Yes? Then join us, sister, for The Painted Goddess Circle, an evening of community, awakening, and paint-covered hands.

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Through a blend of sacred ceremony and intuitive painting, we will practice connecting to spirit, recognizing and listening our intuition, and expressing our inherent creativity. We will embark on the journey of consciousness: awakening to our lives resulting in a deeper understanding of ourselves, how we relate to the world, and how we can affect change in our lives. This work is vitally important. We are torchbearers of the sacred feminine – the work we do in circle not only effects us individually, but our families, friends, community, and future generations.

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Is this style of gathering for you?

This gathering is spiritual, but it is not associated with any specific religion. We gather in circle with the understanding that we are all unique in how we connect to Spirit. The experience is best entered with an open mind and heart. You do not need any experience with painting to join in on the fun. We are all inherently creative and can learn to tap into this part of ourselves and express it freely!

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Details

Are you ready to join in circle, goddess?

When: June 20, 2015 @ 5 PM

We will share food potluck-style at 5 PM, and then ceremony starts at 6.

Registration closes on June 19th.  Space is limited, so sign up soon to reserve your spot!

Where: Movement Arts Community Studio 525 E. Fountain Blvd. # 150, Colorado Springs, CO 80903

Cost: $35 (includes all art supplies) 

Click below to sign up!




Can You Manufacture Happiness?

"Do one thing everyday that scares you." ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

What causes happiness?  For most of my life, I used to think happiness was caused by what happened to me.  Day to day my happiness was held hostage by the whims of external people, places, and scenarios.  I was tossed around on the high seas of other people's expectations and experiences.  I didn't believe in the power to create my own life.  Something shifted about 10 years ago.  I started to wake up to the fact that I had control over how I lived my life in the small moments, how I reacted to situations, which all ultimately led to how happy I was day-to-day.  Lately, I've started to question whether I can further elevate my level of happiness on any given day.

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(warning: nerd alert ahead... I used to work in a job where data analysis was my thing!)

Inspired by Gretchen Rubin, I made a list of actions I could take on any given day that make me feel good and happy.  There were some that were givens - things already deeply ingrained into my daily routines that I know are critical to my daily happiness: sleeping 8 hours, meditation, morning pages, creative time.  Some were a stretch: eat vegetables with every meal, eat vegetables for snacks, limit Facebook to 15 mins/day.  Ok, so some were a BIG stretch.  I decided that I would try my best to do each one every day for a month and rate the day on a scale of 1-10 as to my happiness for the day and see what impact these actions had on my happiness.  Could I, in essence, manufacture my own happiness by doing all the things I know make me feel good?   

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I thought that if I were to be at 100% for a day - every action with a check mark in the box - then naturally that should be a stellar day, right?  Not so much.  Even if I did every single item on my list, my day rating maxed out at a 7.  I wanted to know:  What elevates the every day?  What takes a solid 7 day and shifts it to an 8 or a 9?  After a few months of tracking, I think I have the answer (for me).

  • Being brave  
  • Seeking connection

 The days that I rated as an 8 or above had these things in common.  For example, the time I made a call about my art even though I was nervous and my voice was shaking, when I went to a poetry reading with my love (very different for us on so many levels), when I held my first intuitive painting circle, and the time I started two book clubs with local and online women, most of whom I didn't know that well.  This type of action makes me feel alive in the best of ways.  There was no pushing, no forcing, no trying too hard to make things happen for any of these.  They were all opportunities where a message from the universe struck me as significant and I decided to take a leap.  I said "yes" even though I had fear, doubt, and worry.  When we say "yes" in moments like these we choose to seize the day, and that leads to happiness.

Of course my next thought was.... if being brave and seeking connection is all it takes for me, do I need to do anything else?  Should I throw the rest of my habits to the wind?  Eating vegetables?  Sleep 8 hours?  Floss my teeth?  Nah, who needs 'em?  Not so fast.  Even though these aren't habits that contribute to a high level of happiness, they do provide an important foundation for feeling good.  If my body doesn't feel vibrant from being nourished properly, I won't have the energy to take the big leaps.  My plan?  I am holding steady with my habits that provide an important baseline while also seeking those opportunities to which I can shout "yes" to brave action and radical connection.        

Tell me, when are you happiest?  What gives your days a thrill?