Friday, December 30, 2011

What's that book really about?

One of my favorite ways to write is to begin with a quote, prompt or random thought then pick up my composition notebook (aka journal), a Bic pen (when my fountain pen isn't available) and see what pops out as I let the words flow. In the wisdom of Flannery O'Connor "I write to discover what I know." Today's adventure began with a request from a friend who said, Tell me about your book.

As I Lay Pondering is basically my memoir broken down into daily loosely-disguised entries. It includes my most fantastic journeys right alongside the simplest moments. It encompasses tales of joy, sorrow, adventure, loss, dream fulfillment, pain, fear, love, laughter... Life. It covers psychology, theology, mythology, sociology and a few other 'ologies, I'm sure. I've been told it is educational, inspirational and at times just plain funny.

I began writing it before I knew it would be a book. It has been my lifeline (& one of my greatest challenges). It is something I couldn't NOT do and now I hope it will be something of value for others. Even though it's my story, I believe it is everyone's story. Who hasn't been lonely or lost... dreamed of grand adventure and dreams come true... cried, laughed, loved and longed to be still?

It's a book you can pick up at any time and likely find something relevant, if only a line or two. It includes ponderings from many of my greatest teachers... Buddah, the Bible, Tao te Ching, Anne Lamott, Thomas Merton, Martha Beck, friends, family, strangers, my beloved pets and more. I've loved writing it and can't wait to hold the completed product in my hands... I hope you'll feel the same way.

As I Lay Pondering: daily invitations to live a transformed life by Kayce S. Hughlett. Available here.

KSH @ Contemplating Ruby Beach 12.30.11

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

It's not too late...

... to begin 2012 with a pondering companion. Imagine waking up on January 1 with a delightful guide to help start your year in presence. Pre-orders are open for As I Lay Pondering: daily invitations to live a transformed life.

Here's what others are saying...

"One of Kayce Stevens Hughlett’s many fine gifts is pondering, that is, reflecting on the depth and meaning of the moments of life. She offers us a treasure in her new book of daily meditations. They are full of wisdom and invitations for practice and your own ponderings. Just reading each one I find myself breathing more deeply and feeling space open up around me. Following her suggestions, my perspective begins to shift. Buy this book and immerse yourself in a year of grace.”-- Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, AbbeyoftheArts, author of: The Artist’s Rule: Nurturing Your Creative Soul with Monastic Wisdom

"This is a book unlike any other.

I was lucky enough to get a peek at some of the ponderings and wonderings and both content and style are exquisite, unabashedly riveting and exuberantly rich with philosophical, existential, metaphysical and theosophical inquiries, introspections, blueprint-of-life-approximations and gloriously rich, tender and funny personal insights." -- Pedro Baez,
(L)attitudes: A Life Coaching Alternative Life, Health, Creativity and Cultural Identity Coach

"Kayce arranges her musings into a year-long journey that not only deepens as it flows but also surprises – drawing this reader into an experience of freshness that spills over into the rest of life. And that’s a gift for which I am very grateful." Betsy Pearson, Like A River, Author and Martha Beck Life Coach

Click here to reserve your copy now and receive an ebook beginning January 1.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Twas the Month before Publishing or...

... all I want for Christmas is my brand new book.

Twas the month before publishing and all through my head
visions of marketing filled me with dread.
The edits were flowing and input with care,
in hopes that my Pondering soon would be here.

The entries were nestled all snug in their months,
while thoughts of last details induced great goose bumps.
With pre-release launched and orders begun,
my brain marched steadily at a low-grade run.

When others exclaimed, “You’ve finished the book!”
My heart skipped a beat and I froze with a look...
It’s nearing the end, but details, my dear—
There’s much to be done before it is here.

With layouts and chapters, so lovely and thick,
I wavered a moment—this must be a trick.
More rapid than turtles, this dream true has come,
And I whistled, and shouted, “I can’t wait to be done!”

Now January, February, March through September,
Onward October, November and December!
To the top of the print line! To the edge of my risk!
Write away! Sell away! Celebrate this!!!

With love and blessings to you and yours during this holiday season!!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Announcing my latest creation...

As I Lay Pondering:
daily invitations to live a transformed life

Through personal story, poetic prose and tales of epic adventure, As I Lay Pondering captures the essence of being fully present to the inimitable experience of daily life. Sometimes in concrete terms and other moments with a dreamlike quality, this book of 365 daily entries invites us into parallel worlds where we come to believe anything is possible. Through luxurious text and engaging daily activities, the reader will experience a universe where heart speaks truth and presence conquers the hubbub of mere existence.

AVAILABLE EARLY 2012 - Order your personal copy today for just $19.95 and receive a PDF ebook with complete entries for the month of January. Enjoy this invitation to begin the new year Pondering.

PDF's will be emailed no later than December 31, 2011 and books will be shipped upon printing - estimated 1/31/12. FREE SHIPPING on orders over $60.

Author's Note:

To pause and ponder is to consider something—anything—deeply, often through meditation and always with the possibility of bringing greater meaning. Years in the making, As I Lay Pondering began as a venue for my own personal healing. What was birthed through a series of journal entries has morphed into this daybook of poetry, prose and personal musings with universal appeal.

My love of writing began in the midst of a particularly life-draining period of time. At that point in my journey, I had two choices. One—to let the current events swallow me whole and conceal my internal spark forever, or Two—to find my authentic voice by beginning to write. Writing chose me. Yes, you read that correctly. Writing chose me.

As I Lay Pondering is a culmination of this journey-to-date. I was compelled to write this book to honor the life-changing moments I have witnessed, and to acknowledge the internal spark I believe each of us carries. My hope is that the words shared in this thinking person's daybook will provide essential kindling to ignite the flame of your life. May you know the joy of following your own spark. May you be present to the life you have in order to experience the one you desire. May you pause and ponder—thoughtfully and often.

I am so excited to share this with you!

Thoughtfully yours,


Monday, December 19, 2011


i keep trying to convince myself that this time of year isn't hard and by acknowledging and understanding that it is a challenge, things might get a little easier. easier? no. different? probably. more transparent? definitely.

i am uninspired by christmas - by giving - by shopping or thinking of things to be inspired by. i am inspired by twinkling lights in the dark of night. by solitary walks. by offbeat christmas songs. i am inspired by those with the vulnerability to state their grief over the loss of loved ones and dashed dreams. i am inspired by the quirky characters who find rest and joy only at this time of year. in this moment, i am uninspired by my life which so many find inspiring. i have two children that make me scream, WTF? my husband adores me and he's out of town. i meant to bake this year - to decorate - to fill my house with holiday soirees. it has not happened and will not, because i am uninspired.

please know i am not depressed or in need of medical attention. i am a member of the human race who finds this time of year confusing. it is confusing and empty in lots of regards. "they" say it should be joyous and filled with light. it is the darkest time of year—literally. the question of "will your family be all together for the holiday?" brought tears to my eyes this morning, because we will not. a book i've dreamed of for years is nearing the final stages. it is my current delight and it is harder than hell to many details. my urge for perfection rises to the top... and it is my saving grace. i can quietly sit for hours and edit comments... incorporating words and shaping them into the song of my own making. i am grateful for those simple moments.

i wish i were full of good cheer today. i'd like to say the cards and packages are in the mail, the cookies are baked and the presents wrapped... maybe later... perhaps i'll be inspired next year.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Faith in the Night

But darkness holds it all:
the shape and the flame,
the animal and myself,
how it holds them,
all powers, all sight –

and it is possible: its great strength
is breaking into my body.

I have faith in the night.

(excerpted from You Darkness, Rainer Maria Rilke translated by David Whyte)

I have faith in the night – the place where dreams meet and manifest. The flowing stream of wisdom, love and consciousness that drifts within and without me. Writing verse and and protest...dreams and daring—all within the night.

I have faith that my book, As I Lay Pondering*, is happening—one step at a time. It sometimes moves at a snail’s sluggish pace and other stages burst forward with leaps of bravado and boldness.

I have faith in my life – that it is happening just as it should – could – would – is. Yes, just as it is.

*more details coming soon!!!!

Monday, December 12, 2011

For too many days...

For too many days I have not written of what stirs my soul. I have not confessed to the simple pleasures that make up my days. Things like… The soft fur of my golden cat as he greets me with his purring ballet. Sweet whispers and the tender touch of my beloved. Crisp winter air on my skin as daylight meets dark. Luminaries surrounding the lake. Laughter of friends mixed with the jingle of Christmas bells and off-key carols. Twinkling lights amidst the smell of freshly cut evergreen. Gastronomical delights like chicken and waffles turned into art and fat luscious noodles from Tommy’s kitchen. My daughter sleeping safely in her bed. The joy of my sister as she creates her art. Magic and mystery. Music. Dance. Delight.

For too many days now I have not written of what darkens my heart. Frigid rain that persists and chills me to the core. An empty space beside me. Silent friendships and those gone stale. My child in a cold stone cell. Unanswered messages. Aimless thoughts. Hunger and starvation. Loneliness and longing.

For too many days now I haven’t written of Hope, the candle that leads my way – not like birthday flames on a resplendent cake, but rather the single shimmer in the darkest night. Hope in the midst of sorrow. Hope that stirs the pot of joy buried deep within my belly. Hope that gets me out of bed on the gloomiest days, and Hope that leads me like a floodlight on stage when I follow my true passion.

For too many days I have not written of this season that stirs my soul in a multitude of ways. This season of darkness. This season of Hope. In this glorious season may we each reach for peace within and goodwill toward all. May our souls be stirred with delight alongside the acknowledgement of darkness. May we come to know that Hope abides in all who choose to truly live.

For too many days I have not How might you respond?

photo © KSH - Santa Fe Tree

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Dilemma: Is authenticity book suicide?

I ponder. I play. I muse. I write to discover what I know.

It’s always been a whole lot easier to write about life unedited in the privacy of my journal than put it out for all the world to see (and scrutinize). It’s considerably easier to let my pen flow unabashedly and discover what surprises, delights or terrifies me on the safe lines of my composition notebook than to share it in a public forum. Somewhere along the way, however (probably in said journal), the idea of a blog and ultimately a book began to emerge. Since then I’ve often battled the tricky space between writing to discover what I know and writing what I think, you, the reader might want to hear.

It’s a crazy balance, because when I get caught up in You, I lose Me. The wild thing is that experience has shown what my faithful readers seem to love most is the unedited, messy, transparent and authentic Me. The pieces that have landed home most often are not the carefully crafted, publisher-worthy submissions, but rather the scrawled and messy gems straight from my morning pages. So, what's a girl to do?

The performance pressure is mounting, since I’m in the final (sort of) publishing stages of my book (working title: Ponderings) and the promotion has begun (kind of.) My social self says that everything – every word, comma, spelling error, hairstyle, breakfast menu, social agenda, perfect turn of a phrase and more – is a commentary (pro or con) on this book. Please say it ain’t so…

If true, this poses quite the dilemma, because at this point I absolutely cannot stop myself from writing and this blog has always been the raw version of greater things to come. My inner being still yearns to toss these unedited, heart-inspired missiles out into the stratosphere to see where they may land. As I was journaling this morning, I remembered the lifeline and savior that writing has been for me. Putting my words onto paper and out into the world is the essential breath for living my authentic life.

Some will say that continuing to write in this way is book suicide. So be it. Others may say it’s brilliant and that’s why they’ll buy my published words. Fabulous. Bottom line, I will continue to do things my way which is the only way I know how to do it. As far as I can tell, it’s working for ME.

I ponder. I play. I muse. I write to discover what I know.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Tag the Tagline aka Help a Sister Out

As you may or may not be aware, I am nearing the final stages for my new book which is a compilation of 365 daily reflections in the spirit of this blog. I'm so excited I can hardly stand it! Today, I am conducting a very brief survey to help refine the title and tagline for the book. Your input would be greatly welcomed.

As you select your choices, please focus on what Title and Tagline would encourage YOU to buy this book!

Here is a link to the survey - which will take no more than 7 minutes to complete. Thank you!!!

Monday, November 28, 2011

40 Days of Kindness, Gratitude & Simple Acknowledgments

“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter every day epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.” Sarah Ban Breathnach

Today is my beautiful friend, Mindy Stern Meiering’s, 40th birthday. I had the pleasure of spending a fabulous week with her this past summer where each day was filled with epiphanies, awe and transcendent moments. Last week Mindy made a request on Facebook that in honor of her big day, we do something kind for ourselves or someone else. That’s the special kind of person Mindy is, so I wanted to do something exceptional on her behalf.

Taking myself for a refreshing sunrise walk was a good start on a Monday morning, but I wanted to do something more lasting in honor of this delightful woman. So, while out wandering and pondering, I landed upon the idea of a gift of 40 Days of Kindness, Gratitude & Simple Acknowledgments. Care to join me?

For the next 40 days, I am committing to sending at least one random note of kindness to someone in my life. My hope is to do this the “old-fashioned way” via US postage when at all possible. I have a beautiful new “Blessings” diary that someone gifted me on my birthday and I will use it each day to record who, how and what I sent. My hunch is that there will be additional ponderings to record as an added benefit of this endeavor.

Since we have just celebrated the holiday of Thanksgiving here in the United States and are entering the season of Advent and Giving, I would like to invite you to join me in 40 Days of Kindness, Gratitude & Simple Acknowledgments – your way. Wouldn’t it be great to celebrate because we want to and not because we feel we should? Think about the ways you can acknowledge the people who have helped shape how you experience life and the world. How would you like to be honored? What does expressing gratitude look like for you? Sharing your gifts of photography or poetry? A quick Facebook "hello"? An "I've been thinking of you..." note? Random acts of kindness? Prayer or intention setting? The possibilities are only limited by your imagination, so start pondering and share what you come up with here and with others!

Stay tuned for my journey over the next 40 days and I look forward to hearing about yours, too. Spread the word. It could change the world!!


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

SoulCollage® et Moi

This week I had the privilege of being featured in Anne Marie Bennett's newsletter, Soul Treasures. Learn more about her wonderful, Kaleidosoul program, here.... And read more about me below:

Feminine World

I am the pain of the world, covered with blue scarves & white.
I am the beauty of the world, bare-shouldered with upswept hair.
I am the fire of the world, burning with desire and hope.
I am the joy of the world, reaching toward the heavens.

I am the beauty of the world, bare-shouldered with upswept hair.
I am the luscious berry, bursting with flavor.
I am the joy of the world, reaching toward the heavens.
I am the soul of the world, centered through pain, beauty, touch and taste.

I am the luscious berry.
I am the fire of the world.
I am the soul of the world.
I am the pain of the world, covered with blue scarves & white.

© Kayce Stevens Hughlett

Soul Friends

The Voice of a Different Kindred Spirit Each Week

Kindred Spirits MemberKayce Stevens Hughlett
Seattle, WA

I attended my first official SoulCollage® workshop in December, 2007 although I was hooked by the process about a year earlier while attending a workshop called "Awakening the Creative Spirit." We did a larger mandala-type collage and then used it for several activities including a poetry writing exercise. In this exercise, we were invited to take phrases from a previous journaling process about the mandala and insert the words "I am" before the phrases. I can still feel the sense of wonder and connection as I spoke the words "I am." This became the poem that you see, above, and was my first recalled experience with "I am." It was incredibly powerful in its impact on my life - how I see myself and how I connect with the entire universe.

There happened to be a SoulCollage® facilitator (Maggie Yowell) in the workshop with me and she began to woo me toward the official process. Once I began making cards, I couldn't stop and in September, 2009 I went through Facilitator Training.

There are so many things I love about SoulCollage®. First and foremost is the simplicity. It is art and creativity in its most basic form. Growing up in an environment that didn't promote artistic endeavors, I quickly came to believe I wasn't creative or meant to do "art." My skills training basically ended with learning the color wheel and then being told I would be better served learning "practical" things like homemaking and accounting.

SoulCollage® allows me to step into my inner artist without judgment. I can get lost in the process and not worry about wasting resources or having a large messy project that didn't turn out like I imagined. My cards have become friends who I can call on at anytime. I make a practice of doing a reading at the beginning of the year as well as other times of transition. In my studio, I have a jeweled mobile where I can hang prints of my cards as daily reminders. Images have such a powerful voice and connect at a core level with a mere glimpse. My SoulCollage® cards have given me the freedom to trust my inner guidance and offer an experience of deep knowing in a simple and quick way.

SoulCollage® also keeps me grounded in my creativity. It has become the stepping stone toward other life endeavors. Writing is my favorite artistic medium and Julia Cameron's Morning Pages have been the cornerstone of writing for me. Often when I am feeling stuck or don't have a particular direction for my journaling, I will draw a random SoulCollage® card. The cards offer a limitless amount of wisdom and encouragement for every situation. They have taught me that I, too, am an artist which is an amazing gift in my life.

Through SoulCollage® I have the opportunity to introduce others to their own creativity and deepened personal awareness. It is a bridge builder within (as we come to know more about ourselves) and without (by connecting to others and the world in more meaningful ways.)

My message of wisdom to other SoulCollagers is to be open and trust the process. It sounds simplistic, but it's so true. Whenever I begin to believe I've learned everything there is about a card or aspect of myself, my cards will prove me wrong. When I'm open and willing to be surprised, magical things happen!

One humorous thing I've noticed about myself is that the process is inherently with me. I am a committed walker and stroll through my neighborhood on a daily basis. I'm reminded of an example where I saw a cat sitting in a window one day as I passed by. I began to speak from the cat, beginning with I Am One Who... By the time I finished my walk, I had lots of new awareness from "conversing" with the window cat. My hope is that I'm not speaking out loud when I have these little conversations with flowers, leaves, peeling paint and the like. Oh well...

When it comes to making cards, it feels like I've had a different process for creating each one. Some are super-detailed and have developed over several hours while others come together within minutes. I am a true believer of letting the images find me. When I gather images for workshops I try to be mindful of how and where the pictures may be used by others. Occasionally an image will grab me and I tuck it in my personal folder. Some have stayed there for months before being used and sometimes, I return them back to the community if they no longer speak to me.

This past summer I was preparing for a writers' workshop and we were asked to bring images. I gathered a few and took them with me, but ended up not doing the session where they were to be used. Later when I returned home, I completed a milestone piece of writing and those images popped into my mind. Quickly, I dug them out of my folder and realized they were the perfect collection to make a celebratory card.

I hope you'll visit me on my website, Diamonds in the Soul and blog, Diamonds in the Sky with Lucy

Here are two cards I want to share with you:

These cards were born one April while facilitating workshops on the Fool. Joy has become a signature word for me. In fact my business tagline is "I help high-functioning, under-living people recover and nourish personal joy in life." I spent a significant portion of my life trapped in serious endeavors that didn't really fit with my innate personality. Rediscovering play and joy have been essential to my personal, spiritual and physical growth, so these cards are very dear to me. Whenever I begin to take myself too seriously, I can look to them as glorious reminders that life is worth loving and I have wings of laughter to carry me through even the most challenging situations.

Council Suit

I am the one who is light as a feather.
I am the one who floats on air - light, airy, pink.
Carried by balloons - colorful & delightful.
I am the one who makes peace with who I am by turning old expectations upside down.
I feel the breeze behind me, above me, below me, around me.
Look, do you see me? I am not foolish.

What I have to give you is peace, joy, rest in knowing who you are.
You're only as old as you think you are.
Question: What age would you be if you didn't know how old you are?
Answer: It doesn't matter!!! Remember that - that's what I want you to remember.

It doesn't matter if you have wrinkles or saggy arms or skin as fresh as a new born baby. Be yourself. Lighten up. Don't stop when you hear the voice of the stopper.
Just go. Let go! Play, laugh, love. Be free as a bird. Blossom.

Foolish Me
Committee Suit

I am the one who laughs and plays and drums and dances and blooms. I am the one who doesn't hide behind conventional wisdom. I am the one who says, "Go," not "Stop." There are lots of ways, as long as you're moving in the direction of your heart. Stop holding onto what "others" think. Play. Release. Let go. Drum and dance. Stop stopping You!!

Play. Bloom. You won't be foolish. God's wisdom is not what the world thinks it is. We all want to play, but we get stuck. Stuck in the paradigms we think are true. We think spirituality has to look stale and safe. We've taken the fun out of worship. We've put churches inside buildings rather than out in the fresh air on the cliffs and near the water. We've forgotten how to take off our shoes and run through the grass. We hear our mothers saying, "Don't get dirty. Finish your work before you go out to play." Guess what? The work is never done.

I want to feel everything around me. To feel the wind in my hair. The breeze on my skin. The sun kissing my beauty. Be free. Dance like the feather. Let your hands fly with your own rhythm. Laugh like there is no tomorrow. Eat what you want & what makes you happy. Nourishment is all you need and laughter is the best nourishment of all. Stop hiding. Bloom, friend, bloom. Reach toward freedom.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

And the winner is...

Drum roll, please, because it's time to announce the fabulous winners of my Pondering: 30 in 30 Contest. A special thank you to everyone who participated by submitting inspiration and reading and commenting on the posts. And the winners are...
  • First prize: One hour of coaching with yours truly is awarded to the author/creator, "I'm here! Now what?"
  • Second prize: Six original note cards by fabulous photographer Bill Hughlett goes to an amazing photographer in her own right, Christa G. Woohoo!!
  • Third prize: Autographed first edition copy of Grace Unbound - a collection of musing and photos by Kayce & Bill Hughlett is proudly given to inspirational muse, Corby K.
Hey winners, congratulations!! It's up to you now to send me your contact info so I can deliver your winnings. Feel free to contact me via e-mail, FaceBook, or blog comment. Thanks again!!!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Bonjour. Buenos dias. Welcome Home.

As an exploring sojourner, I have traveled far and now return home. Along the way, I tamed dragons, met enchanting people, crossed moats and mountains, dipped my toes in a foreign sea, traversed mazes of language and maps, dined on exquisite foods and wine and was greeted by exotic beings and many mortal creatures. I have stepped into worlds of fantasy and been mesmerized and moved by simplicity and silence. My way has wound through limitless alleyways. My feet have blistered and burned. I have sipped champagne, nibbled on market food, been toasted by locals and returned a tasteless Parisian meal. I have strolled along the Seine and hiked the hills of Park Guell.

My body as been cramped into a coach compartment seat, as well as wrapped beneath a cozy first class blanket. I have stayed in a mystery/murder worthy inn in the French countryside and a chichi boutique bastion in the midst of Paris. My body rocked and rolled in a train sleeper while crossing borders through the night. My passport has acquired new stamps and at least three languages have been exquisitely mangled by moi.

And yesterday I shared another birthday with our countries landmark date of tragedy on US soil – 9/11. As I enter a new year, I acknowledge my life is rich and full; tender and tempestuous; miraculous and mundane. There is no magic spell and no destination other than NOW. Every twinkling deserves acknowledgement.

Some of my favorite moments on this recent journey were the most simple. Napping on a Sunday afternoon with the street noise of the El Borne district (Barcelona) drifting through my consciousness while the Mediterranean breeze tickled my sore and weary feet. Being surprised by a 13th Century Gothic church that pulled me into a pew and held me there with music and mystery. The chaos of a world market filled with delights that both lured and repulsed me. Slipping into a hole-in-the-wall restaurant where we were served one of the best meals of our trip and ultimately celebrated by our hosts. Chatting with a whacky, over-the-top, bold, brash & charming French taxi driver. Risking my faulty language skills (and potentially my dignity) to perform earnest pantomime in order to find the most enchanting restaurant in the French village of Vienne.

In truth, many of the greatest moments came out of risk. Walking into a church even though we weren’t sure it was open to the public. Asking questions in French while realizing I probably couldn’t keep up with a fluent answer. Miraculously finding my language when someone was rude to me and letting her know, “Je comprende” (I understand.) Stepping into the darkened café and making new friends. Pointing on the map and saying, “Let’s stop here.” Following my heart into each new day. Committing to do the same with this new year.

If you're so inclined, I invite you to stay tuned for more detailed descriptions of the adventures we claimed while traveling through France and Spain.

Coming soon... THE WINNERS of the 30/30 Contest!!!

Diamonds in the Soul - helping high-functioning, under-living people recover and nourish personal delight & joy in life.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Pondering... 30 in 30 - Day 30

Woohoo! I made it. I'm now pondering the wisdom of planning a 30 day challenge with two significant trips sandwiched in the midst. Thank goodness for automatic posts. Unfortunately, my computer is unable to randomly draw the names of contest winners and announce them in my absence. So... with sincere gratitude for your participation and heartfelt apologies for the delay, the winners will be announced upon return from my journey mid-September. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Pondering... 30 in 30 - Day 29

"Why is it when you try to pass that guy in front steps on the gas?" -- Burma Shave

I tried to ponder about Burma Shave... I really did. I even looked up Burma to see if that would inspire me. It's a republic in southeast Asia. How and why would an aftershave be named after that? Perhaps a little more pondering is in order, but frankly my dear, I don't give a hoot. I'm pushing pondering here and that's no fun for anyone. Methinks it's time to declare this enough. Sometimes pondering prefers to pass...

Post inspired (or not) by Sunrise Sister.

Diamonds in the Soul - helping high-functioning, under-living people recover and nourish personal delight & joy in life.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Pondering... 30 in 30 - Day 28

"To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasant sensations in the world. You are surrounded by adventure. You have no idea of what is in store for you, but you will, if you are wise and know the art of travel, let yourself go on the stream of the unknown and accept whatever comes in the spirit in which the gods may offer it." -- Freya Stark

Diamonds in the Soul - helping high-functioning, under-living people recover and nourish personal delight & joy in life.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Pondering... 30 in 30 - Day 27

"Plan to be surprised." Dan in Real Life

Diamonds in the Soul - helping high-functioning, under-living people recover and nourish personal delight & joy in life.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Pondering... 30 in 30 - Day 26


When do you know enough is enough? It’s a colossal dilemma for most Westerners. We set ridiculously high standards according to an elusive “they” who rattles around inside our heads. It’s a gigantic setup for failure, because “they” are never satisfied and continually remind us there are additional things to do, further places to visit, and masses of people to feed, clothe and save. Reaching for enough is overwhelming when listening to the unrelenting chatter. I know if I wait until everything is done in order to declare myself gratified, I’m setting myself up for an arduous and dissatisfying journey.

Stepping back I ponder how to choose satisfaction over discontent and abundance over scarcity. What will be enough today? For me, enough arrives at the precise moment I personally and individually declare it so. Enough doesn’t cater to others. Anything becomes enough when I affirm it and believe it, if only for a moment. For example, consuming food isn’t about cleaning my plate and overeating because “they” told me that’s what I should do. Rather, it’s about nourishing my body until I am physically satisfied – no more or less. In yoga class, the teacher tells us the hard part is over once we’ve showed up. I get to choose whether or not I agree. Witnessing the end of the original Rocky movie, it’s hard to determine who officially won, because each fighter had his own standard for winning. When we try to complete or compete with someone else’s conditions of enough, it’s nearly impossible to achieve triumph.

When do I know enough is enough – for me? Designing standards comes from subjective thought just like any other, so why not set ones I can achieve and appreciate? I could stop mid-sentence and declare this piece enough, or I could set a goal of 500 pages for the day and feel dissatisfied every minute because it’s impossible to achieve. Personally, success feels much better than failure and tends to be infinitely more motivating. In the example here, my balance probably lies somewhere between mid-sentence and a tome, but the point is I get to choose my own enough.

Dedicated to Kanesha - I finally declared this post "enough"!

Diamonds in the Soul - helping high-functioning, under-living people recover and nourish personal delight & joy in life.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Pondering... 30 in 30 - Day 25

Words of kindness. We often forget to share them. We discount how far reaching or significant they may be. Words that lay unspoken like an infant’s sock dropped on a neighborhood sidewalk. Abandoned. Never to be paired with their match. Earlier this day someone took a moment to consider my sock. A friend from the remote past (one I still envision at 18 even though she’s well past the half century mark) offered me the profound gift of her simple yet generous words. Why today? Why not?

A smile, a word, a nod, a note can change another’s day or life. With little effort on our part we can offer the encouragement or reinforcement another may need. I would never have known this woman read my words unless she told me. How do people know we care if we don’t speak out? Forget the “they should know,” because chances are they don’t. We’ve become a world of wanna be mind readers and last time I checked, it wasn’t particularly effective. There’s no way I could have known where my words had reached without this friend declaring our connection.

When was the last time you offered a generous word for "no good reason"? Is there someone whose name you think is cool? Tell them. Do you think his phrase was perfect or her tenacity and brilliance admirable? Offer it up. Even brilliant people have doubts. Remember: a smile, a word, a nod, a note can change another’s day or life. Why not begin today?

Corby... this one's for you with gratitude!!

Diamonds in the Soul - helping high-functioning, under-living people recover and nourish personal delight & joy in life.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Pondering... 30 in 30 - Day 24

"In human life as in the rest of nature, change accumulates slowly and almost invisibly until it is made manifest in the sudden form of fledging out or thawing or leaf-fall." -- William Bridges

Just as summer has finally arrived in the Pacific Northwest and will now begin to shift toward autumn, change has been progressively accumulating at diamonds in the soul. In January, I announced my words for the year: refine and expand. Not knowing where they would lead (but nonetheless knowing them to be essential), I continued the ongoing journey of transformation by listening deeply to my personal calling.

As a young woman, I was steered toward a "practical and stable" career in accounting and away from my curiosity in psychology and sociology. I played by other people's rules, proceeded the best I could with limited self-awareness, and continually set aside the place deep in my heart that knew my life was meant for more than numbers and schedules.

At a time when my peers were "calling it good" and beginning to look toward retirement, I chose to pursue a fresh career and garnered my masters in counseling psychology. For the past several years my desire has been met (and continues to be) walking alongside others as they move toward their most authentic lives. In the spirit of refining and expanding, I have spent the past nine months immersed in further study of this passion and expertise. It has involved difficult choices, exciting risks and lots of hard work. It has been a wonderful time of fledging out and stepping more fully into my heart's desire.

The pull has been to gently shift my focus away from intensive psychotherapy (with it's roots in acutely understanding the past), and move toward more life coaching, writing and experience facilitation. For me, these disciplines incorporate our essential understanding of where we've been, bring focus to our current experience and allow personal dreams to begin manifesting now. My practice continues to incorporate spirituality, creativity, a profound respect for self-care and the understanding of human growth and development. My hope is to connect with others like myself who desire to discover and live life to their personal fullest. I hope you will consider joining me and stepping closer to your dreams today!

Diamonds in the Soul - helping high-functioning, under-living people recover and nourish personal delight & joy in life.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Pondering... 30 in 30 - Day 23

Dragonfly Wisdom

Dragonfly. Damselfly. You swoop into my world unannounced. Subtle. Natural. Compelling. Dancing across the silken pond, offering me respite from my restless perch. Witnessing you in your natural habitat, it's easy to dismiss your powerful medicine. Still, you persist on your quest as you serendipitously meet me in the gem store. One tiny bead buried in the midst of thousands, you place yourself within my hand and heart - a talisman of our magical first meeting. Still, I am slow and don't consciously take notice until finally while I repose upon my landlocked deck, you spontaneously arrive and perform your splendid show in my barren yard.

You come in threes and fours until I can ignore you no more. Showing up brilliantly alive, in a bead, a word, a wing. You draw me in and tell me I can fly. It's time to spread my wings and share your light. The rainbow of colors - clear, dark, iridescent, solid and clear. Reflections deep and pure.

Oh, sweet dragonfly - subtle and not so shy. Thank you for your persistent wisdom. Is it just me who takes so long to recognize and hear what lies right along my path?

Today's Ponder inspired by Helice B. "Animal Totems." Thanks, Helice!!

Diamonds in the Soul - helping high-functioning, under-living people recover and nourish personal delight & joy in life.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Pondering... 30 in 30 - Day 22

As I let go of expectations, I am able to do everything "perfectly" in order to learn exactly what I need to learn today. -- KSH

Diamonds in the Soul - helping high-functioning, under-living people recover and nourish personal delight & joy in life.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Pondering... 30 in 30 - Day 21

The Listener

Here I sit on my lava throne - balanced and true. A pointed edge tweaks my right buttock as the shadow of my hand follows me across the page. Tendrils of freshly washed hair, curl and mix with dark and light. Turquoise blue caresses my body and my skin glows with the exuberance of fresh air and sunshine. My soul has been wrapped too long in the cocoon of winter gray. The element of air beckons to be acknowledged. Earth and stone cradle my body. The heat of sun warms my skin as hungry eyes feast on the gift of water. Lily pads and water bugs dance lightly across the surface reminding me of play and rest. Waterfalls feed the pond offering the gift of movement that wards off stagnation similar to that of air within a home closed up too long.

A statue mirrors my body from across the lawn. She, too, is an artist. Her form forever captured in bronze patina. Here we sit together - woman of flesh and bone - muse immobile and bronze. We both glisten in the golden light and tune our ears toward heaven. My name today is gratitude. She has been dubbed, "The Listener".

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Pondering... 30 in 30 - Day 20

Table of Truth

If I simply told my truth without caring if it's been told before or wondering whether it were special enough or too dark to reveal, I would write it all. The words would flow uncensored as I cherished and exposed the beauty, the broken, and the unseemly. I would offer both heartbreak and joy. I would not hold back nor would I overtly embellish. The prose would be raw, revealing and revelational. My truth would weave this brilliantly unique tapestry that is only me.

I would not compare or judge and wonder if every mother were critical or if other offspring had experienced tragedy. I would reveal my own ugliness without apology and my beauty and pain without permission. I would share the whole journey. I would speak of becoming an enraged woman who screeched into the face of a child. I would become the little child, muted with the crook of a finger and silenced by a commanding nod. I would write of mythical experiences and struggles with spirituality. I would acknowledge my deep faith and abolish the voice of tyranny. All tales would have their place. Each thread of color and strand of reality would be welcomed at the table of my truth.

Diamonds in the Soul - helping high-functioning, under-living people recover and nourish personal delight & joy in life.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Pondering... 30 in 30 - Day 19


I simply adore how often roadblocks can lead to the most fantastic adventures. Arriving in Taos a day early for a writing retreat, my friend and I dropped our new acquaintance, Patience, off at the Pueblo outside of town. Patience is a warm and delightful woman who is mother earth embodied. With flowing hair of spun silver and eyes the color of an ocean, she resonates with a peace that is grounded and pure. She is filled with wisdom and openly shares, but does not force or press her opinions. She is a woman who offers grace and invites it in return. Thus our predestined roadblock was one that would not willingly be ignored in service to this precious soul.

It was nearing the appointed time to retrieve Patience from the Pueblo where she'd been wandering for hours in the blazing desert sun. Departing the cafe, we were appalled to learn that the road toward our friend was closed for the afternoon to celebrate a fiesta. Tenacious and indefatigable women (but nonetheless in unfamiliar territory), we began to weave our way through backroads, hoping to find a way north. Happening upon a local officer, we were told Patience would simply have to wait. My guess is the officer swiftly and accurately read our eyes as he realized this was an unacceptable answer. Within moments our patron, the officer, had imbued us with a super secret escape route map for the city. What ensued was a wonderful adventure through backroads and vistas we never would have seen without the imposing roadblock. Dear Patience, of course, lived up to her name and was grateful to have friends who would not be deterred by a little bump in the road.

So, how do you perceive roadblocks in the road of your life? Do you turn away, give up, push through or find delight in the adventure? Today, I invite you to ponder this.

Diamonds in the Soul - helping high-functioning, under-living people recover and nourish personal delight & joy in life.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Pondering... 30 in 30 - Day 18

Traveling Muse

Often when I am at home, my golden fluffy cat serves as my creative muse. With luscious silken fur and confident humming purr, he offers me serenity and calm. When I leave my home for days at a time, I imagine tucking him in my carry-on bag and inviting his grounding presence to journey with me.

While visiting Taos one year on retreat, I was stunned as I walked down a gravel road one evening and Aslan met me on the lane. While the land in this environ is famous for it's magical qualities, I was nonetheless taken aback to see my little king strolling in the twilight. How in the world had my golden muse come to be here? The similarity was uncanny although the sparkle in this kitty's eye could not match my golden boy's brilliance. Stopping in my tracks, I took a deep breath and shook my head clear as I realized it was merely a feline twin... Or was it? Perhaps we need only invite our muses to come along wherever we go.

Diamonds in the Soul - helping high-functioning, under-living people recover and nourish personal delight & joy in life.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Pondering... 30 in 30 - Day 17

Kingdom Come

Nestling into my throne of stone, I settle back and allow the earth to hold me. "Can you open and close the gate of heaven without clinging to earth?" the Tao te Ching whispers in my ear. Here I rest, planted in an oasis where heaven meets earth. My self-proclaimed mermaid chair carved out of ebony rock graciously embraces my dreamlike form. Scottish trees wave and rise in the midst of this high desert plateau. Dragonflies chase and tease across the cerulean-blue pond. They swoop and veer dangerously near the large-mouth bass that lurks beneath. If not planted in this solid seat, I, too, would magically arise and join the dragonflies in their dance. Or swim through the depths waving my mermaid tail. Painted on the same canvas, butterfly wings and buzzing bees beckon me to follow their lead. Be. Be still. Be beautiful. Be me.

Do I cling to this earth or am I opening the gates of heaven here in my repose? Are clinging and earthbound one in the same? Cannot the gates of heaven be seen through a dragonfly's wing? Is the bass' wide mouth a gateway, too? Is it possible to be on this earth and NOT be in heaven at the same time? Nestling into my majestic throne, I gratefully embrace this kingdom that has come.

Diamonds in the Soul - helping high-functioning, under-living people recover and nourish
personal delight & joy in life.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Pondering... 30 in 30 - Day 16

What are the boundaries of self-indulgence? Are personal actions overly indulgent if they inspire others to live more fully? What is your criteria for taking care of self, going on retreat, saying no to stifling obligations, or yes to life-giving opportunities? What inspires you? Consider the movies, books, or stories that tug at your heart or bring tears to your eyes. Do you long to be the bold singer on stage or a cloistered monk living in Tibet? Can you see yourself as a renowned chef or perhaps the lead cyclist on the Tour de France? Might you consider that these tugs of heart could lead you to your best life?

What does it mean to inspire or be inspired? Are you pursuing your wildest dreams or do you vicariously live through the lives' of others? From where does your inspiration come? One of my favorite songs begins with the words, "if I were brave." Ponder this: What would you do today if you were brave? Imagine what inspires you in others and then consider how you might choose to find it in yourself. And once you do... be sure to pass it along.

Diamonds in the Soul - helping high-functioning, under-living people recover and nourish
personal delight & joy in life.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Pondering... 30 in 30 - Day 15

Happiness feels a lot like sorrow.

In the depth of our being, that place where our truest selves unite and intersect, where we experience feelings most deeply, happiness and sorrow reside together. The place of weeping for joy and laughing while our hearts are broken. Yes, happiness feels a lot like sorrow. Open-hearted. Feeling feelings. Not holding back or shying down. Sorrow seeps into the crevasses of the heart and happiness does too.

I remember a time when I felt like my world was imploding beyond repair. Drained and exhausted after a night’s painful vigilance, I lay spent in my bed unable to move from the sheer depth of sorrow. My house was empty except for the presence of my normally wandering cat, Larry. In his own vigilant way, Larry sensed my desperate need as he stayed by my side, consistently and willingly offering me glimpses of happiness with his fur and purr. Feeling his gentle touch, there came an instant when I couldn’t deny that I felt cared for and thus happiness arose for the briefest second.

Happiness and sorrow demand both tenderness and strength. To be happy when the world is falling apart takes courage untold. To weep in awe at the magnitude of life’s minutiae (like a cat’s purr) takes willingness from within. Happiness feels a lot like sorrow. Uncontainable. Overflowing. Tears. Laughter. Filled emotion. They blend and turn and tumble together like fresh clothes spinning in a dryer, everything with its distinct shade of color and loss. Full, felt emotions. Clean, not dirty. Clear and unclouded. They cartwheel and blend together. Happiness feels a lot like sorrow.

Today's ponder prompted by Amie D.

Diamonds in the Soul - helping high-functioning, under-living people recover and nourish personal delight & joy in life.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Pondering... 30 in 30 - Day 14

Trust for the day

What would it be like to invite trust into my day? To pose the question? To ponder what it means to trust and then to offer myself a response? Because I trust myself and the story that wants to carry me, today I will choose to live freely, without hindrance. I will be still when silence calls and when thoughts and details threaten with their hectic pace. I will be bold in paying attention and asking for what I need. I will not live in the shadow of others' expectations. I commit this day to feeling and believing what is true for me. I will remember the moments that make no sense to anyone else - like the encounter with the skywalker or my father coming to visit with a touch and a tear.

I will let sorrow, joy and difficult discourse flow from and through me. When I begin to think too much or perform for others, I will pause and breathe. I will come back to my center - the place where I am balanced, enlivened and focused on what simply is. When life gets to be too much and the chaos creeps in, that is the place I will trust it is time to pause and reclaim my day.

Diamonds in the Soul - helping high-functioning, under-living people recover and nourish personal delight & joy in life.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Pondering... 30 in 30 - Day 13


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Diamonds in the Soul - helping high-functioning, under-living people uncover & maintain personal delight & joy in life.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Pondering... 30 in 30 - Day 12

Generous Ants

There is an inspired line from a Billy Collins poem that speaks of devoted ants following him home from the woods one occasion. Sitting down with my own pen and paper, I began to ponder what had followed me home this day. It was a morning rife with unremarkable markedness. A glorious hike in the crisp morning air. Two stealth skunks crossing my path - their odorous aroma transmuting into flora. A sparkling sprinkler catching me delightfully by surprise. Engaging in the practice of getting lost and being found. Amazement and awe at the summer colors bursting and blooming. The ineffable beauty of compatriots surrounding me.

A stream of images continued with ramshackle headstones adorned in garish flowers - surreal and everlasting. Simple rocks formed into crosses, nearly invisible yet ever so present by the side of my path. A scar unveiled. Winged magpie. Parade of cooing rooftop pigeons. An unidentified flock swooping across the cotton-sprinkled azure sky.

While walking today heaven surrounded me through my senses, then followed me home like a trail of generous ants marching across the page.

Prizes for you... Inspiration for me... Check it out!!!

Diamonds in the Soul - helping high-functioning, under-living people uncover & maintain personal delight & joy in life.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Pondering... 30 in 30 - Day 11

"Why are bathtubs the best places to ponder -- with AND without water?!" - today's ponder prompt from betsy p.

Awaking in the middle of the night in a rustic retreat center, I toss and turn in the bed that is temporarily mine. My sleeping roommate snoozes less than four feet away and I quickly scan the room for non-disruptive midnight options. Turning the light on seems offensive and it's too dark and cold to venture outside. Stealthily I gather my pillows and reach for my notepad as I make my way toward the sole other room in our modest abode - the bathroom.

Immersing myself in the ceramic tub devoid of water, a single drip escapes the faucet and startles me further awake as it lands on my bare toe. Feather-like pillows cushion my body and act as amniotic fluid in this man-made womb. Eventually my nighttime restlessness begins to lessen as I mold myself to the curved fixture designed specifically for holding the human form. (While showers have their own special kind of magic with their resemblance to rain pouring from the sky, there's nothing quite as nurturing as a tub.)

In my nighttime cradle, I've found the perfect incubator for idea nurturing and dream making. I'm reminded of another friend who loves to sit in the bathtub for hours on end - without water. Her inspiration helped me discover these abodes as the near perfect pondering place. Instant mood setting is available in a moment's notice with customized climate control. You can fill it up with hot water or cold; to the brim or ankle deep; with bubbles and aromatherapy or crystal clear; and perhaps most important and least considered, you can order it dry and have your own holding place within seconds. Add some pillows, a candle or two and if you're lucky a window with a view. Voila, an instant cozy spot to bring on the percolating, gestating, resting and waiting, hatching ideas, dreaming, scheming, breathing, being, and, of course, bathing. All hours of the day, there’s a custom cradle not so far away.

Prizes for you... Inspiration for me... Check it out!!!

Diamonds in the Soul - helping high-functioning, under-living people uncover & maintain personal delight & joy in life.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Pondering... 30 in 30 - Day 10

What lies below us? And what is above? - Christa G.

When I was a little girl, I envisioned splendid images of God and his kingdom in the sky. I believed that if I squinted through my eyelashes and pretended I wasn’t looking that I could catch a glimpse of him floating by on a cloud, surrounded by white-winged angels. I would lie for hours in the fresh summer grass, staring up into the sky until I could feel the slow turning of the earth beneath me. In my child’s mind, I never quite caught that vivid peek of God, but as an adult I realize those were the moments a Higher Power was most fully present to me. In that dreamlike state where waking and sleep merge, when vision blurs and yet becomes crystal clear. The place of being held by the earth, gazing longingly into the sky and being completely content for timeless hours.

Without nearly as much conviction as believing I could catch God through the window of my eyelashes was the notion that somewhere beneath my feet lay a fiery pit tended by a man with red horns, pitched fork and tail. I also imagined that if I dug a hole through the center of the earth, I would end up in China. Much more time was spent fantasizing about the delight and joy of ending up in a faraway little girl’s backyard than worrying about falling into a fiery pit. How could the same earth, soil and grass that cradled my cloud-watching self, also cover such a nasty place in the midst of the earth? I preferred to think of the magical tunnel that connected me to my foreign soul mate.

As an adult, my heart returns to cloud watching and earth pondering. What does lie below? My heart believes it offers a place to be grounded and held. We can be cradled and nurtured in love or we can be captive to fear with worries about what waits to pull us down. And above? Both adult and child know that is the space filled with infinite possibility. The dreamlike state where waking and sleep merge, when vision blurs and yet becomes crystal clear. The place where the most lovely of all things are made manifest.

photo © h3images

Prizes for you... Inspiration for me... Check it out!!!

Diamonds in the Soul - helping high-functioning, under-living people uncover & maintain personal delight & joy in life.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Pondering... 30 in 30 - Day 9

Old Brain

There is a voice inside our heads that, believe it or not, usually wants to help. It comes from the places of old and is reptilian in nature. Karen Armstrong simply calls it “old brain.” Martha Beck names it our “lizard.” It also goes by such pseudonyms as the inner critic, devil on your shoulder, or possibly your mother. It is the voice that keeps us in check and goes back to primordial times when all we needed was to be safe, fed and procreate. Since there are no saber-toothed tigers stalking us today, our brain has a tendency to make stuff up that emulates danger.

Since it is an old brain, it is both sophisticated and naive in a very primitive way. My inner critic says things like Who do you think you are? No one will read this drivel! Stop while you’re ahead, fool. It doesn’t sound very helpful, does it? I want to shout back and name call, too, in a display of my own unevolved self. Experience, however, demonstrates that what we resist persists. Fighting, pushing, ignoring and shouting back – all feel like resistance to me. Perhaps a new tactic is in order. Pause. Breathe. Listen a little more closely.

Hey, Lizard, what do you really want? Like a sultry teenager or a petulant child, she pouts and whines and calls me more names. By engaging in the name-calling, the drama escalates and no one wins, so I choose to listen a little more deeply. What she really wants is to simply keep me safe. By convincing me to back off from my goals which entail taking risk, she thinks she’s performing her job successfully. Counterintuitive to my basic instincts to battle her, I’ve noticed responding with laughter, kindness, humility and confidence is much more effective in quieting down this petulant child.

What do you really want? Could there be something helpful beneath all that brain noise? Probing a little deeper, I understand my lizard also wants to be heard – just like me. Hmmm. Perhaps a compassionate bent is the best choice, even though placing my fingers in my ears and screaming, “I can’t hear you” can be quite appealing. Petulance or compassion – which will I choose today?

Today's ponder is inspired by Laura S. Her prompt: How does our inner critic serve us, and how do we best relieve her of her duties?

photo © h3images

Prizes for you... Inspiration for me... Check it out!!!

Diamonds in the Soul - helping high-functioning, under-living people uncover & maintain personal delight & joy in life.