Thursday, May 7, 2015

Everyday Magic

Everyday magic, common divinity, and ordinary amazements are hiding in plain sight. When I see or feel them surrounding me, staring down from the sky, growing up from the ground, or rushing right through me, I realize I have a choice every moment of every day. I can clear the clouds and cobwebs away, I can calm my clamoring, clanging ego, and I can choose to surrender to my inherent role as servant to humanity and conduit of love. Rather than rushing through the day, perpetually focused on the next moment, I can surrender to now. I can create a bit of space inside and outside, smile, and notice all of the everyday magic of each and every moment. Only then can I be truly useful to those around me.

Not everyone can see this common magic, even though it’s readily available through the portals of science, curiosity, nature, and simple observation-just to name a few. At times, I feel like a diplomat that can go between the two realms: One that’s bubbling and overflowing with dazzling, living amazements and one that’s sterile and boring with sharp edges. I can transport to this land of endless wonders through trapdoors such as walks and bike rides outdoors, mindful breathing, music, and conscious yet effortless transformation.
Everything is changing and transforming constantly. No situation or relationship will stay the same for very long. Even though I find myself wanting everything to happen faster than it naturally is inclined, I lovingly long for contented patience. When I find myself tensely rushing and pushing, seeing others and their actions as obstacles to my progress, I can remember to ease up, to ease off, and to create some space. This relaxing space allows me to smile and notice that everyday magic again, and the moment is suddenly transformed. My agitator is now teaching me a priceless lesson about practicing patience and opening up to a different timeline than my own. These moments encourage me to never stop learning-if I’m smart enough to notice them.

"I am a great admirer of mystery and magic. Look at this life - all mystery and magic.
~Harry Houdini

Friday, November 14, 2014

Listening for the Quieter Sounds

As an exuberant extrovert, I find listening to be a huge challenge at times. I get so caught up in my own thoughts, energy, and forward momentum that the more subtle details of my immediate environment tend to blur and recede. Sadly, having been smart enough to marry a gentle, genius of an introvert, those details can include his words and wants at times. I recently read Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain in an effort to better understand and relate to my loving partner, and the insight I gained reinforced what part of me knew all along: the very things that make him more quiet, thoughtful, and sensitive than me are some of the core reasons I knew from the start that he was my perfect, lifelong match.

He has taught me to pause. Pausing is important-and totally against my ingrained nature. But if I remember to pause, it changes everything. Pausing before speaking is always advantageous, especially when I remember to consider if what I am about to say is kind, necessary, and true. The hardest time to pause-but also the most vital time-is when I am prompted to speak by a strong emotional impulse, especially by anger. When this pause happens (about 33% of the time currently), I remember that I am not my anger, and that I can and should still be kind when expressing myself in that heated moment. He has somehow taught me to stop rushing forward to what's next. Instead (with prompting), I can be still, quiet, and appreciative of all the splendor around me right now-without feeling like I'm missing out on what's around the next bend.

As a teacher in the making, considering the needs and differences of my introverted students will make a huge difference in how I reach all the children in my future classes. Just realizing that not all of the kids I'm bound to encounter will or should be like me will make me a more mindful educator, able to include and reach all of the students in my classroom. Some will prefer deep conversations to small talk, some will rather work alone than in groups, and some will prefer to dive deeply into one subject rather than integrating several on a surface level. Each of my future students will bring their own unique strengths, which are tied directly to their personality differences. It's important I remember to foster and nurture these differences, giving even the quietest of the bunch a chance to be really heard. Although, I'm the teacher in the making, I'm truly grateful that my quiet husband is teaching me to be a better listener.  

“Love is essential, gregariousness is optional.”
~Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Looking at Learning

I sincerely love learning. Having been born a curious individual, I have always enjoyed experiencing new ideas, places, and situations as actively as possible. I loved to experiment and explore endlessly as a child. I had to climb to the top of every tree and know every inch of our immense yard-until that seemed too manageable, and then I realized how much world there was left to be explored. I could say the same about every aspect of my learning. At first, gobbling up all the Nancy Drew books I found in a dusty old box was enough to satisfy my early love of words, but soon, no book was safe from my curiosity.

Being a tactile learner who loves to read has served me awesomely for these last 33 years. Usually, I acquaint myself with an idea through text then have enough confidence in its details to simply dive in and try it. The true challenge has always been where to direct my curiosity next. My interest seems to span all subjects, and those that I suspect hold no value for me tend to surprise me once I'm forced to learn them in class. Honestly, if I won the lottery tomorrow, I would take different classes at different colleges all over the world (sculpting in Italy, a culinary course in Spain, surfing in Australia, etc), and never worry about assembling a known degree. Luckily, the local library and the immense internet both allow me to explore for free for now!

As an avid adult learner now, I am starting to suspect that the subject matter may be secondary to my joy of learning. As I have matured, I now see the interconnected nature of everything, so essentially, every subject has relevance. Each book or article or documentary I devour has unknown insight into my previous learning, or could steer my future learning course in a whole new, unknown direction. It's not just the information that draws and drives me to more learning, it's the fact that it passes through my own unique perspective and experience that makes the process so personal. A commitment to lifelong learning is not a choice for me; it's more of a compulsion that keeps enhancing my quality of life. If I have anything of value to teach this generation's children, it's the value of following, trusting, and cherishing that endless curiosity.  

There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning. ~Jiddu Krishnamurti

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Entertainment Review: The Indigo Girls with the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra

Some of the best shows I have been privileged to attend were totally free, and I can now add another to that lucky list. My Dear won tickets on the radio to the Indigo Girls performing with the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, and I can only guess that it was because we were fated to be there. My lovely, late Aunt Kathy gave me my first Indigo Girls album on cassette when I was 12 or 13. It was their self-titled album, and it included fantastic songs like Closer to Fine and the heartbreaking Kid Fears. That tape was played to exhaustion, and even as I've found other important albums along the way, it will always remain a pivotal part of my emotional education.

The Indigo Girls, with their intimate subject matter and imaginative arrangements already have an overly emotive quality, and to have that enhanced and supported by the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra couldn't have been more fitting. They tend to sing about romance, world issues, equality, mindfulness, and pain,and the warmth of their harmonies seems to lovingly hug the lyrics. Being backed by a 'band' comprised of so many strings and horns and percussive thunder really just amplified and emphasized the natural power that is already present in the music. The rendition they did of Galileo seemed especially fitting in all of its epic awesomeness (video here).

The crowd was very mixed, which I loved. Die-hard Indigo Girls fans found themselves seated next to curious season orchestra ticket holders. From the very first song, you could hear loads of audience singing and loving cat calls during quieter moments, which made the immensity of the Civic Coliseum seem much more intimate-even from our seats in the balcony. The mood stayed light, relaxed, and fun, even as the songs took a heavier turn. Overall, it was the perfect mix of newly released songs and their classic favorites, uniting young & old, fresh & familiar, and the casual & classy for one unforgettable evening in Knoxville.

"We're better off for all that we let in
." ~The Indigo Girls

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Magic Music Machine

The thud of the drum unlocks the machine

As it swiftly syncs up with my beating heart.

The whirling begins slowly, deliberately,

But it will quickly build momentum

Small smiles start growing for miles

Both onstage and off

Both inside and out.

Colors brighten, angles sharpen,

Yet all lines blur & disappear as the moment melts together.

I'll become a cog while you are the gear

Using our voices, rhythms, and vibrations for power

And as we steadily pick up speed and space,

I become certain this machine can fly.

Never sure if the music made the machine, or the machine the music

We must just play on!

Brace & steady now---

This whirling is coming back 'round to punch you right in the heart!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Found Beauty

During the last 33 years, I've learned that I can transform situations & circumstances completely based on where I focus. Truly, all I'm doing is noticing the inherent good that's constantly staring right back at me and keeping it at the front of my attention. Like when we went to New Orleans during Thanksgiving 2012 and were stuck in traffic on the bridge into the city: right behind us, this endless flock of black birds started swooping up from under the enormous bridge, swirling around the massive towers in perfect formation, and then landed way up on the heavy cables above.

I remember Dane was pretty irritated at the time-mainly because I steered us the wrong way when finding the bridge, and we ended up by the ferry. But if we hadn't crossed the bridge when we did, if we hadn't been delayed with such perfect timing, we would have missed the bird show! And this spectacle was definitely worth it. Once I noticed it had begun, the birds just kept coming: from under the bridge, to whoosh around and around, and finally rest high above our craning necks. Bird after bird emerged from under the bridge like magic, as if the fish were leaping out of the Mississippi River just ready to soar!

I watched the birds as long as I could see them as we inched across the bridge with all the other evening commuters, and I never saw the end of the bird show; in fact, I like to think that's it's still going.  At moments, it seemed like no one but Dane and I even noticed the natural feat, but I bet they did, and I bet it changed the entire quality of that moment. Magic is waiting beneath the thinnest membrane of mundane. It's waiting to offer us all hope and renewed curiosity and gratitude. This magical, 'found' beauty is waiting to transform everything, so make sure to pay attention!

Live quietly in the moment and see the beauty of all before you. The future will take care of itself.

~Paramahansa Yogananda

Sunday, December 29, 2013


What makes a house a home? When does it transform from a place where things are kept, food is cooked, sleep is had, and showers are taken into a personal sanctuary? When I look around our little house, it's the collected personal artifacts we have displayed that make it our home: the beach wedding corner in the bedroom, lil Sabastian on the TV, the leg lamp Dave gave us last year, and a hodgepodge of framed pictures from my dad. All of these things and so many more have memories attached, which serve as emotional residue that coats and covers this house in love, thus turning it into our home.

Whether we have 2000 square feet to fill or only 100, the place Dane and I call home will have distinctive features: musical instruments, lots of color, playfulness in all forms, and a feeling of welcome and comfort. I fantasize equally about having a farmhouse full of band-mates & goats as well as paring down to nothing but what we can fit in an airstream. Both lives are appealing, and both places would definitely feel like home.

My dream home has a space to workout, dance, or stretch & meditate, a garden, a work room or shed for messy projects, a deep claw foot bathtub, a kitchen big enough for cooking together, and music & games played in every room. Cleaning our little house today, I'm grateful for all the space and comforts we have. I have faith that the abundance of the universe combined with a smiling passion for hard work will always provide exactly what we need. That certainty ensures that the peace of home is always with me, no matter where I be.