As I was driving home tonight, the sky was a delicious shade of pink with whisps of white fog billowing as if it were an ice cream sundae with streams of cherry juice running through a huge scoop of vanilla. I absolutely adore living where I do even if we do experience foggy days. I certainly prefer it to the heat other parts of the Bay Area endures. The soft blanket of fog nurtures Creativity in women, men, children, and all varieties of plant life. My garden not only grows, it thrives here on the Coastside. Nature is responsible for the lush green vegetation’s bountiful beauty. I take no credit for it because despite the fact I am a farmer’s daughter, I only posesses an appreciation of gardening – I do not have an affinity for it. It is embarassing to admit, but many a plant has died before it’s time because it was left in my care. I recognize my role is to admire the abundant display of Nature and praise her repeated accomplishments. Also, to lavish words of encouragement and gratitude. My hope is that you too have a quiet garden spot to visit and spend some quality time with yourself while reveling in the bounty of Nature. If not, I urge you to seek one out – you should see what you’re missing!
Today I attended a presentation by Sam Horn, a wonderfully articulate and consummate professional speaker. Sponsored by the N. Calif National Speakers Assn, the program was a bonus for me as a Pro-Track student. Sam’s talk combined pearls of wisdom about the business of speaking with audience participation. The morning was so jam-packed with valuable information, I felt as if I’d attended a weekend “write your intro pitch” boot camp. Everyone in attendance had a chance to get personal feedback from Sam on how to share what we do to anyone at anytime. More importantly, she gave us tips on how to craft those 30-second pockets of opportunity so that our listener not only understands what we do, but has them raising their eyebrows indicating interest and asking for more information.
I certainly came away with my Creative Juices churning. I’m anxious to apply what I’ve learned and ready to tackle new challenges. Armed with a new approach to the way I describe the Creativity workshops and how to make the most of those crucial 30-second encounters.
Yesterday I spent time at a workshop learning about the business of email marketing. There were lots of tips about how often to send out the messages, what was a good format and size, how to include pictures and graphics and how to overcome the ultimate culprit from robbing us of realizing the fruits of our labor. While the workshop organizers were encouraging us to “push send” so that our finished product could be emailed to potential readers, I was trying hard to place a fellow student who looked so familiar to me. I had this sense that I’d spent a great deal of time with her, yet I couldn’t recall her name or our connection. Finally, at the end of the day I couldn’t stand it any longer and approached her with a very uninspired line, “Have we met? You look so familiar but I can’t place you.” To which she replied, “You do too, but I don’t remember your name.” We laughed at the situation, exchanged names and quizzed each other on where we lived and what organizations or circumstances we had in common. Almost simultaneously it clicked. We both have attended the same women’s retreat – a silent retreat for several years. Stepping over the threshold of Santa Sabina, I always feel as if I’m entering another world. From the fountain’s gentle spray in the courtyard, to the serene silence in the chapel and all the blessed spaces in between, Santa Sabina offers salve to our world-weary bodies and calm to our over-stimulated minds and I am eternally grateful. In another life Santa Sabina was a convent where women turned their backs on the outside world to reach inside themselves to find a world of spirituality. Today, we come seeking Santa Sabina’s soul-soothing atmosphere to not only reach inside ourselves, take stock of our lives, reflect, refuel, and emerge refreshed, recharged and renewed.
Taking time for ourselves is not always easy, but it is important. If you only have 15 minutes to sit alone with a cup of your favorite beverage in the back yard to breathe in the summer sunshine, then that is wonderful. With this message, I am planting a seed of creating time for you by attending a weekend at Santa Sabina. You may spend time writing, reading, perhaps sitting and dozing in the sun. Or you may spend your time doing all three! I know I have found my creative spark reignited while on retreat. My dear friend Carolyn Foster facilitates the wonderful weekend retreats I have attended at Santa Sabina. Visit her web site at www.creativechoices.net to find out about the one she has coming up September 18-20. You’ll be glad you carved out the time. I know I savor every moment I’m there!
It is the middle of July and I’m fighting hard to hold on to the lazy days of summer attitude but it is hard when “Christmas in July” ads fill the papers and airwaves, along with the dreaded “back-to-school” inserts and TV ads. So, it is even more important for me (for usbecause I feel certain that I am not alone in this situation) to create time for ourselves in our busy lives. We know what our schedule is like; we created it! Now, before July slips into August and summer disappears entirely, we have to make a plan to savor this elusive and resplendent Summer of 2009. Relive a favorite childhood memory with a picnic on the beach, or feeding the animals at the county fair’s petting zoo. Take a book to the back yard; take your journal to a new coffee shop. Check out Callifornia’s modern day Wild West at a rodeo, or go for a trail ride. Get some culture by seeking out a new art exhibit, museum or play. Whatever your interests, you are the only one who can make it happen. I think I’ll check out the theatre listings and indulge my theatre itch with a ticket to a new play. What will you do?
Last week a visit to my Midwestern roots included stops to reminisce with family and friends – living and deceased. Wandering aroud Sacred Heart Cemetary, where generations of my family are buried, on a beautiful summer day full of sunshine and fresh air I felt a sense of connection. My father’s gravesite is in the shade of a beautiful oak and I envision him napping the way he used to on Sunday afternoons. My grandmother, aunts and cousins are comparing recipies and preparing enoromus feasts along with elaborate handi-crafts with colorful yarns, fabrics, needle and thread. Going out to admire the new buldings my brother built on the family farm filled me with a sense of awe at how he has brought the homestead into the 21st Century while maintining the footprint of the family farm we grew up with. Our father’s old International truck was the first vehicle he parked in the latest multi-purpose building. Still standing is the little Pump House where we’d bring the milk to keep cool until the milk man came by to pick up the milk cans. It was also the half way point on my tractor driving route during hay baling. Ordinarily, I wasn’t needed to drive tractor since I had two brothers more than willing and capable of doing the driving. But everyone is needed for some kind of a job when it comes to getting the hay bales out of the field and into the barn. Stacking the heavy bales on the hay wagon was not something I was tall enough to accomplish. But, I was tall enough to reach the pedals of the Ford tractor and that’s how driving the tractor became my job. The Ford pulled the cable holding the hay rack clamped full of hay bales up into the hay loft in the barn. I backed the Ford from the barn, across the width of the yard, carefully avoiding the Pump House, and stopping just shy of the back door of the house. I never managed to get the hang of the clutch, so it was never a smooth ride. But I didn’t run into the Pump House, nor did I hit the house – although I frightened Mother a few times.