think about (something) carefully
OR... think about, give thought to, consider, reflect on, mull over, contemplate, study, meditate on, muse on, deliberate about, cogitate on, dwell on, speculate about, weigh up, turn over in one's mind...
My first pondering...
Have you ever had this idea that hounded you and would not let you forget it? This inspired and nagging thought that keeps showing up – “This is a great idea – you need to get it going!”.
Well that is how the Heartland Wellbeing Institute came into creation.
For years I have been on my own spiritual journey to discover who I am, why I am here and how can I serve. Seems as I get older, the living to work model was not working for me. I wanted to live, and work, doing things that I enjoy, using the gifts that are part of my DNA, feeling (and knowing) that I make a difference and being true to my soul.
I have been fortunate for the last 10 years to be able to work as a consultant. This gave me the time and resources to explore, experience and try new opportunities and still pay the bills. I have had many GREAT teachers along the way. Some I have had the privilege of working with in person; others through their written word have inspired and guided me.
Along with a handful of amazing colleagues and friends who share my vision, here we are. It is my hope and intention to bring opportunities and experiences to those that are on their journey. To create space, share resources and support the ongoing search for balance, healthy living, and a community of like-minded people to share the experience.
This is just the beginning… hope you will come along for the ride... it is going to be AMAZING!
The last couple months I have contemplated mindfulness. Jon Kabat-Zinn definition is “Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally, - in the service of self-understanding and wisdom.”
That is a lot to take in and think about. So how do I do this? What type of practice can I integrate into my life to truly make a difference?
So I intentionally try to stay in the moment and when those ‘old tapes’ started to play about ‘oh, no not again’ or ‘I do not have time for this’ or ‘why me’… I stop. Literally – and use a strategy with the acronym S.T.O.P that I learned at a Chopra Center workshop. It stands for:
S – Stop what you are doing – literally stop!
T – Take a few deep breaths until you feel relaxed
O – Observe what is going on and how your body is reacting
P – Proceed with awareness and compassion
This came in handy the other day when I was trying to finish a major report and needed to take my Mom to an appointment. As I got to Mom’s, I was moving her recycle bin out and I see this small, big eyed baby opossum looking up at me from the basement window sill. Those old tapes began to kick in – ‘you have got to be kidding’- and then abruptly stopped. I became present. This small creature was scared and trapped.
So I used S.T.O.P… knowing I had to take action and figure out a way to safely free him. Didn’t see Mom opossum anywhere and hoped that he did not get hurt when he fell. Found a board and some tree limbs which I hoped he could use as a ramp to escape. Talking to the opossum the whole time, I put the materials down next to him and then my Mom and I left for her appointment. The next couple hours I kept praying that he find his way out and back home. When we returned – he was gone and I did not see him anywhere around the house. Thank God!
What I realized is that those old tapes take up a lot of time and energy. This time instead of them playing the ‘you have to be kidding’ recording – I became present and made the decision to act. There really was not a lot thinking, debating – just solutions.
So give it a try – remember S.T.O.P and see if it helps you be present and mindful.
For January 2019, been pondering what I should write about in my Ponderings. 2018 was an interesting year, and it is the past and I like to be future focused. Yet, being future focused is not the intention that I want either. I want to be in the moment, live in the moment, focus on the here and now – that whole mindfulness thing. Whether it is an amazing meal that I make time for between meetings or a short walk with my dog Buddy – I want to be more mindful. Listen to the trees sway in the wind, watch the snow fall and be amazed at the diversity of birds that come to my suet feeder.
One of my intentions is to listen to those heartfelt nudges that I so often get. It is these gentle nudges that suggest going for a short walk, signing up for a retreat, making healthy food choices, being gentle on the earth and compassionate to others – and myself. These gentle nudges are part of my inner wisdom and guidance that will lead me to what is for my highest good, even when it doesn’t seem like it to my human perception.
So as you begin 2019, take the time to sit and listen. Do you have those gentle nudges? What are they saying to you? Listen – they are full of the wisdom of the ages…
Yesterday as I was working on ‘work’, I had Brene’ Brown’s TED talks streaming on my computer. Have you listened to them? The first one is on the Power of Vulnerability (35 million views) and the second on Listening to Shame (9 million views). If the titles make you a little uncomfortable – I believe that is the point. Vulnerability and Shame are part of our lives from the time we took our first steps. Taking those first steps as a baby - that was vulnerable. What if we failed? Oh wait, we did! Unless you were an amazing baby – your first steps you fell, you failed, fell again, failed again, fell again, failed again… and then one day – you were off and running!
I enjoy listening to these TED talks, especially when I am about to undertake a new project or make a major (or minor) transition in my life. Brene’ reminds me that I am human. She says that vulnerability is courage. That vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change. And she communicates these messages based on research with wisdom, humor and vulnerability=courage! She connects vulnerability to whole-hearted living, and how many of us would like more of that?
Vulnerability is defined as “uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure.”
Dr. Brené Brown says that “vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, creativity, innovation and change.”
Take the time to listen to one of these TED talks – they are 20 minutes long. Reflect on what is going on in your life. Is there an area that you feel vulnerable? Remember that vulnerability is courage – so take that next step. You may fail at first, but keep trying and before long you will be off and running!
I have always been in awe of pine trees – really all kinds of evergreens. The diversity is amazing. Some are short, others are tall, the simple yet complexity of the pine cones, the texture of the needles and, of course, and the wonderful smells. I cannot help but think of being in the woods and spending time with nature when I encounter even one pine tree.
The first part of July I spent time at the Iowa Arboretum by Madrid. It is a short and wonderful drive from Des Moines that offers time to get away and just ‘be’ with nature. As I strolled through the trees, taking LOTS of photos and enjoying the smells, sights and texture of these amazing trees, I wondered what the back story was about pine trees.
What I learned is that many pine tree species are native to North America. From the tall majestic ponderosa pine (which reminds me of my Colorado mountain days) to the white pines like the two trees in the yard right next door. Plus did you know that the bristlecone pine can live up to 4000 years?!
I have always felt this connection to pine trees. Perhaps it is in my past – Native American people look at the pine tree as a symbol of wisdom and longevity and some tribes regard them as sacred. I also discovered that pine needles are often used to weave baskets – check out a short video on the resource page on my website.
Next time you go for even a short walk – notice the pine – or any kind of evergreen. Notice the cones, feel the needles and enjoy the fragrance. What good memories does it bring up for you? Does it remind you of time in the woods, time with family, or perhaps a real Christmas tree?
I have started a new practice of taking an ‘Awe Walk’ at least once a week. I read about it in a magazine called Breathe – The Well-being Special that has a focus on wellness, kindness, mindfulness and inspiration. It spoke of awe as a sense of wonder… something that is often beyond human understanding. I liked the definition and I liked the concept – so this new practice began.
My walks are always on my own street. I walk intentionally and keep my senses on alert for sights, smells, sounds and things to touch. Spring has been an especially rewarding time of experiences. It began by watching the trees and plants go from stark branches to buds to full on green and lush seemingly overnight. The wonderful fragrance of the lilac bushes and my own crabapple tree as the tiny buds gave way to blooms full of crisp smells. The sounds – oh my - all kinds of birds arriving and bringing their own voice to the symphony going on in the neighborhood was amazing. And then for me, being such a textile person, I had to feel the buds, the leaves, and the flowers at each step of the process.
Tonight my walk focused on the dandelions in several yards on my street. It brought back memories of picking ‘bouquets’ for my Mom and Grandma Kate who both graciously accepted my ‘gifts’ with thanks and a hug. Or my childhood friends and I would pick the white puffs and see how far they would fly. Years later of course I would be told that these are not flowers but weeds! That many people go to great lengths to not have one yellow flower or white puff in their yard. Now it is the bee debate about how good of a source of nutrition these yellow flowers are for the visiting bees and birds returning. Personally I like them, it reminds me of good childhood memories and if it helps the bees that is an added bonus.
But this is an Awe Walk, not a logical or analytical conversation to be going on in my head. So just like when I sit to meditate, I let go of these thoughts and return to my senses and intention of this walk. To be on the alert for sights, smells, sounds and things to touch.
Try an Awe Walk yourself. The practice is simple and can be done anywhere – and everywhere! All you need is a little time, to remember to slow down, use your senses and turn off the phone – disconnect with all digital devices. See what you experience and how it may change with time. Learn how to be.
For spring, my Mom and best friend set a date go take a class at a green house and create a spring flower planter. It was planned as a relaxing time to spend together and welcome spring. Then the snow storm hit and my Mom was concerned so she decided to stay home. Me, I was so tired of winter that I was going even if I had to get a dog sled team to get me there. My best friend, as always, said let’s give it a go.
We made it along with other winter tired people and learned that our planter could include bulbs such as daffodils and hyacinth and a plethora of varieties of pansies and other spring flowers. And so the decisions began… my logical left side of the brain was organizing what color scheme I should use. What would look best next my brick home, on our front deck and with the other plants that I would have – but had not even given a thought to as it was still very much winter.
Then the creative right side of my brain started a rebellion. Pick what you love – what makes you happy – what will bring you joy! I have been doing a lot of reading about the brain for work, especially about the developing brain in children and youth. How what you experience over and over creates the strongest connections and will become the ‘go to’ in many situations that are presented to you. And a great fact is that science now knows that we can ‘re-wire’ our brain at any age. Truly changing how you do things and experience them can make new connections that can become your ‘go to’.
So this day, I listened to my right side of the brain. I picked orange, yellow, purple and multi-color pansies. I added a few daffodils and a wonderful purple hyacinth. Because I love these colors – they make me happy and bring me joy. So I quit planning and starting planting… it was fun, freeing and wonderful. They are still blooming and a great reminder that sometimes my left brain (analytic and reasoning) brain needs to take the lead and other times my right brain (creative and intuitive) needs to be given the reins.
Which side of your brain usually has the lead? Notice how you are making the decisions and choices in your life today. If you want to change things up – make a conscious choice and see what happens!
The theme music from A Charlie Brown’s Christmas is playing as I begin to write. One of my favorite holiday shows since I was a kid. As an adult, I have a new appreciation of the show and the messages that it shares. Have you ever listened to the words of Christmas Time is Here? The part that stands out for me the most this year…
“Christmas time is here
Families drawing near
Oh that we could always see
Such spirit in the year”
There is a spirit about the holidays. Not the commercialism (decorations out before Halloween – REALLY), not the presents, not the chaos of getting from place to place and making sure that you don’t forget anything. It is wishing people a Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays. It is the lights, garlands and wreaths that decorate the outside of homes. It is the family traditions that the older generations still remember fondly and the next generations will, hopefully, come to appreciate. It is time spent with those we love, our family. And we get to decide who is in our family – whether they are related or not. People that we care about and care about us – that is family.
It is also a time to remember those that are no longer with us. So often these emotions are at the forefront as I get older. On Christmas Eve, I sat in church with my husband and some family friends. The church is filled with candle light, music and the Christmas spirit – it is absolutely beautiful. Throughout the service, the songs remind of us of those no longer here and the tears begin. We miss them. And there is comfort in being together. We know that those we love are here in our memories and the stories that we share. They are never really gone.
That is what I think of with the song Christmas Time is Here as I write.
What comes to you? Are there other holiday songs that bring special memories for you?
Families drawing near… Such spirit in the year…
May 2018 be filled with joy, love, peace and family – your unique family.
If you want to see the video of Christmas Time is Here – watch it here - https://youtu.be/GPG3zSgm_Qo
Sometimes I let the busyness of life win. I let my stress and my calendar fill to overflowing. That is when I get tunnel focused – what just happened (past) or what I need to be preparing for (future) and I completely miss the now (present)!
We all probably have heard or read about what the ‘experts’ say about this – live in the moment, the power of now, be present, be mindful, etc. I KNOW what it says. I have read LOTS of articles and books and watched numerous TED talks. Yet, I still find this to be such a challenging thing to do. I know it is important and know how to do it – but the practice often eludes me. What is even more amazing to me, when I stop long enough to think about it, I know it works!
One day as I was rushing from one meeting to another, I caught a glimpse of something in the sky. It was a flock of white pelicans flying overhead. Now, you may be thinking, white pelicans in Iowa - was I losing it?! Actually no, white pelicans migrate through central Iowa each spring and fall. They are AMAZING in flight. As they turn in circles – the brown on their wings makes them almost ‘disappear’ and ‘reappear’ as they fly. See the link here - pelicans in flight.
This particular day, I decided to pull over and watch this flock of white pelicans as they journeyed overhead. It was no more than five minutes and they were out of my sight. Five minutes – that is .003 of the 1440 minutes in a day – less than 1/3 of 1%. My last dog – Dusty – had it right. When we went for walks, if geese were flying over, she promptly sit down and refused to move until the flock of geese were out of sight. At first I was irritated at her, we had a schedule and we needed to keep moving. But then I joined in her. To this day, when geese fly over I stop and smile; remembering the important lesson that that beautiful little dog taught me.
So if you relate, think of how you can be more intentional of being present, mindful, aware of now – which ever phrase works for you. Take the time and watch the geese – or white pelicans - fly over…
May is coming to a close and it is Memorial Day Weekend.
Growing up, this weekend has always been about family. Every year we gather peonies and iris from the garden and visit the cemeteries. As we move from grave to grave, I think of these people who are my family. Some I knew and have fond memories of, others were gone before I existed.
I am grateful for my family roots. I often think of the sacrifice, suffering and strength that these family members experienced. Both my parents grew up during the great depression, lost their mothers early in life and were raised in single father households of six children. I have heard the stories and wonder if it had been me, would I have been up to the responsibility.
After the cemeteries, we meet up for a cook-out at my parent’s home (where I grew up and my Mom grew up). It is a day of remembering loved ones, favorite memories and of times past. We share stories, sometimes the same ones over and over again (who can relate to that?). It is still my favorite part of the day; we now share these stories with the next generation.
Spend a little time this weekend and think of those who came before. What qualities do have that you can trace back? I believe that I have the love and compassion of my grandmothers – who I never knew. I believe that I have the strength and commitment to family of my grandfathers - who kept their children together. And from my parents, I learned the ability to stretch my wings and fly – always knowing that I have a safe, soft place to land at home. Peace to all.
SPRING is in full bloom here in Iowa.
As I was updating the Heartland Wellbeing Institute website today,
I suggested that people take a walk and notice what is happening in nature.
So, I did the same… walked around my own yard.
Amazing what was happening right outside my door! These are what I discovered.
Some violets are growing in a crack in the cement.
I never noticed before that the leaves look like hearts…
The aspen tree leaves are filling out.
The sound of the breeze blowing through these leaves
always takes me to the mountains of Colorado…
The bleeding heart bush has cascading hearts of all sizes.
So delicate and yet can see them across the yard amid a sea of green…
The crabapple tree went from
small pink buds to full white blooms in a day!
This friendly bee is doing its part to make sure spring is on track…
Take a walk outside your front door… explore all the amazing natural miracles that fill this planet earth that we get to co-exist with. Then take a few minutes to consider the blessings in your life and share with family and friends.
January 1, 2017
New Year's Ponderings
It is time to welcome 2017 and bid farewell to 2016. Throughout the year, many people spend time reflecting on the past and contemplating what the future might have instore. I spend time regularly reflecting and contemplating. So as 2017 begins, I wanted to offer a few things for you to ponder.
Make this a special experience. Block out some time just for you. Go to your favorite place. Bring paper and writing/drawing instruments, a yummy drink and whatever you need to make the space feel special (i.e. light a candle, use essential oils, comfy blanket, etc.).
Decide which reflections and contemplations you want to ponder on. Or come up with things that are important to you to focus on. Write them on the paper and answer in words or drawings – whatever nurtures your being. Do not try to do too much at one time. Give yourself the time, space and silence that you need.
Then pick one or two things that you want to focus on and make a plan. Enlist a friend or family member to share the joy. Remember to put your energy into what YOU can do – not what you wish someone else would do.
If you want ideas to support your overall wellbeing - check back on Heartland Wellbeing Institute website later this month. In partnership with some amazing Central Iowa places, I am creating some experiences through workshops and retreats. Plus I am going to highlight opportunities you might be interested in and online resources to support wellbeing.
May 2017 be filled with love, laughter, joy and peace.
What do I want? What makes me happy? That is how I start my days now. I ask these two simple, yet profound questions. It started in August while on a day retreat. I was feeling overwhelmed. There was so much that I felt I needed to do, so many directions that it could take me. So, as I usually do, I asked for guidance. While walking a labyrinth, these two questions came to me.
So now each morning I brew a cup of tea or have some warm water with lemon, sit where I can see the world waking up, have pen and paper ready and ask - What do I want? Then I listen for what my soul ‘wants’ today. It is amazing at the swift response most days. One day it was ‘world peace’ – wow I thought that is a big want. One day it was ‘to finish a report’ – doable and something to check off the to-do list. One day it was ‘date night with my husband’ – a quick text and later that day we were sitting in our favorite restaurant. I jot down whatever comes to me.
Then on to the second question – What makes me happy? Again, most days an ‘answer’ comes to me swiftly. One day it was ‘go for a walk with the dogs’ – easy, get the leases and let’s go. One day it was ‘take some pictures of the flower blooming in front yard’ – easy, get the camera and be creative. One day it was ‘establish a retreat center’ – another wow – and I know it would make me and many others happy – so it is ‘on the list’.
Then one day it was ‘warm chocolate chip cookies’ – needed to go to the store – but again doable. As I sit looking at the words – warm chocolate chip cookies – I was transported back in time. I remembered when I was a little girl in the kitchen with my Grandma Katie making cookies. I could see her smiling face, smell the cookies baking and remember the laughter that we shared. Sometimes what we want and what makes us happy are tangible and other times are so much more.
So give it a try, it only takes a few minutes to ask the questions. What do I want? What makes me happy? Be open and listen to what your soul has to share. Your inner wisdom has been waiting for you to ask.
The Iowa State Fair ended for another year Sunday. It is one of the oldest state fairs – beginning in 1854 – any many buildings were built before World War I. Several books and magazines name it as one of the top things to do in our country during the summer.
Why do I go, because I love the Iowa State Fair. It is part of my DNA, especially from my Mom’s family. Her roots go back to the family farm in Missouri and going to the fair daily, if possible, when they moved to Des Moines. Mom and her siblings walked six miles – literally - so that they had money to spend on food instead of taking the trolley. My Mom’s brother worked at the fair for 33 years. It was my uncle that continued my love of the fair, letting me tag along daily during the fair. Early morning and late nights for 10 days every August – I loved it.
Now that I am older, I don’t have the need to see every horse, every cow, every exhibit… but I still need my yearly fix. So I spend at least a couple days at the fair. Check out livestock, go to the free concerts, visit the cultural building, see what is ‘new’ in the world, and graze my way through the various foods available. And of course, people watch.
Life Lessons from the 2016 Iowa State Fair:
Mark it on your calendar – August 10-20, 2017. Come and explore what makes Iowa, and the Midwest, GREAT.
July was an interesting month with many lessons and reminders. Things were not going smoothly at work and at times I turned them into painful experiences (emphasis – I turned). At one point, it became clear that it was a time to remember that synchronicity is alive and well – when I take the time to observe and reflect.
An example is that when I began writing this month pondering – I felt called to go to Cheryl Richardson’s website. She has been a favorite author for years and wrote many books including my favorite – The Unmistakable Touch of Grace. On her website there is a place that simply states “Click here for a Touch of Grace’. When you click on this icon, you are taken to another screen with “twinkling stars” to click on to receive a message. The message is one of her beautiful Touch of Grace cards with a word on one side and a message on the other.
So I picked a 'star' - clicked and my Grace Card came up as:
Release: Let go. When we release our attachment to the outcome, we allow the power of grace to work its magic.
Wow, this synchronicity stuff really works when you pay attention! Then later in the week, someone else read a passage about letting go of outcomes, trusting divine timing, having faith… the message came up over and over again in the next couple weeks.
My prayer practice for many years has been to ask that things happen for my own, or whoever I am praying for, highest good. Letting divine intervention and grace to do what it does best. Often what happens truly is more that I could have every created – or even imagined. Sometimes I need a challenging (aka painful) reminder to be mindful of this important lesson and keep things in perspective.
Monday was quite a day. It was the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year and heralds in the long, relaxing days of summer. It was also a full moon and the combination of Summer Solstice and full moon happens every 70 years or so. So, it was really quite a special day.
There are so many events that come and go in our daily life. Some are important, others not so much, some relevant, others not so much. How often we do not take the time to reflect on everyday experiences, what brings us joy or what meaning they may have. It is times like this that I remind myself to be intentional and mindful of the events – and moments – that are part of this life. I have a choice on how I want to spend my time.
So take five minutes today and make a list of what makes you happy. What makes a smile immediately cross your face or just thinking of it makes you laugh out loud? What are these simple things that bring you joy? Like a new flower in bloom, robins splashing in the bird bath, or the smile of a loved one.
What brings a smile, or flat out laughter, to you? Make time for it today.