Nikhedonia is a great old word I found while thumbing through one of Jick's word books.
Nikhedonia is the joy or pleasure derived from anticipating and imagining good fortune or future success.
Nikhedonia is from Nike, the Greek goddess of victory plus the Greek word, hedone, which means pleasure
My Creativity Coach, Jill Allison Bryan, has inspired me yet again. She has created an easy, fun and inviting opportunity to connect with this year's summertime before it zizzes by. Jill's new creation is entitled Create the Summer of your Dreams Kit.
Without Jill’s Create the Summer of Your Dreams, I would not have taken the time to pause and remember the happy memories of the sights, smells, tastes, feelings and sounds of summers past. What a great gift of encouragement to celebrate summers past and present.
Now that Jill has helped me remember the joys and playfulness of summer, I feel re-energized to create this year's summer of my dreams and make new memories by:
* Taking a train ride to have lunch with a friend
* Motoring through the Cotswolds English countryside with my niece
* Enjoying a 4th of July Breakfast Picnic with my husband. (Can you believe the luck of four eggs and SIX egg yolks? Must mean extra good luck for the rest of the year!)
* Taking photographs of my grand nephew and niece in the grass and summer trees
* And so much more!
Thank you, Jill, for your inspiring Create the Summer of Your Dreams Kit and its playful, no pressure prompts and activities.
I encourage you to check out Jill's Create the Summer of Your Dreams Kit at
Don't be surprised if you find your feet moving and your heart singing "Summertime, summertime, sum, sum, summertime!"
I am sitting in Santa Fe with my morning cup of Irish Breakfast Tea. This morning I am sitting in our living room starting to do my morning pages of writing as encouraged by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way and Natalie Goldberg in Writing Down the Bones.
I would like to write beside a fire in the kiva fireplace while I do my morning pages so I just started a fire. Actually, I just lit the fire starter. Time will tell about the fire.
Julia Cameron and Natalie Goldberg are both authors who have migrated to New Mexico and its open spaces to continue their writing and teaching. I recently read an article written about them in the New Mexico Magazine. They are friends rather than competitors. I like that a lot. I believe they can be supportive of each other because they both seem to “get it”.
Lighting fires is not something I am very good at because I have not had much experience with fire. I’m not sure if it matters if I watch the fire closely or light the fire starter and put it out of my mind.
Do thoughts and wishes, attention and concentration make any difference in creating a fire? “A watched pot never boils.” Does that also mean “a watched fire starter never burns”? How about a wish? “A watched wish never happens?”
I will add a little of the small pieces of wood and bark left in the bottom of the wood basket to the fire.
I have read, suggested, even given Gregg Fraley’s book, Jack’s Notebook, to family, friends and even a few people professionally. I think there are some solid ideas about Creative Problem Solving and creativity in this book. Yet, I still seem reluctant to commit to thinking about what I would like to do, creatively, with my life. I guess I am thinking about it some or I wouldn’t be suggesting the book to other people.
I will add a tall sliver of wood as the flame is beginning to catch on.
I am also re-reading Marney Makridakis’ book, Creating Time. I am making little inroads into choosing to sculpt my time rather than just ignore my choices and keep zizzing mindlessly through my day.
I now have a fire started!
Maybe the little ideas of kindling I am having as I continue reading and learning about creativity can help me direct myself toward where I would want to go.
There is no need to try to burn the whole rick of wood all at once.
Part of the enjoyment of a fire is watching each piece of wood burn to see how the flame from each log join together to create the elemental dance of fire.
Just like fire starting, creativity is not a competition or a mission judged by success or failure. It is the process of building with small thoughts and ideas on the ashes and embers of past experiences. Sometimes a little fire starter helps as well.
I also am learning that both fire and creativity require fuel to continue to burn.
What a joy to see what happens next with the dancing flames of creativity.
What are your favorite fuels for keeping the flame of creativity burning?
In addition to my random thoughts this morning, I would also love to share more photos of our recent trip to Italy. These are from Genoa and Venice. Ciao for now.
Some time ago, a sweet friend gave me a carved wooden box as a gift. The only instructions were to write down what I truly wished for on a piece of paper, fold the paper into a tiny package, and place it in the box then wait for my wish to come true.
I have struggled to know what to write down on that paper as my true wish so the box has remained empty. I have puzzled over this not knowing my true wish off and on for several months.
I have heard myself thinking, “Be careful what you wish for. It just might come true.” Hmmmm. My wishing has been on pause.
Recently, I decided that I would write down “I wish I knew what I would truly wish for” and place it in the box.
While enjoying my morning cup of tea in my beach room and watching snowflakes fall gently to the ground I began to think again about my wish. I began to wonder if maybe I already have what I truly wish for.
I am healthy.
I am happy.
I am loved.
I am strong.
I am alive.
I am so lucky.
I am oh, so very grateful.
If I let my thoughts drift, I can become fearful that my truest wish might be short lived because “Nothing stays the same. All things change.” My thoughts can become filled with “What if something happens to someone I love?” and so many other unbridled, anxiety-provoking “What If” thoughts.
This is supposed to be “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” and yet there are so many people and situations I am concerned about. Is it selfish for me to be wishing only for myself?
This “Wishing” is tougher than I expected it would be. No wonder my wish box has remained empty for so long.
I don’t yet have a handle on wishing but as I relax and breath back into the present moment, I remember that it is okay for me to be healthy, happy, loved, strong and alive. It is good for me to celebrate with gratitude the blessings in my life.
I hope to come up with a clearer idea of what my true creative dream is. Until then, I think I will leave that little piece of paper in my wooden wish box that says, “I wish I knew what I truly wish for” and see what happens next.
What do you truly wish for?
And now on a lighter, brighter note, here are some more photos of our recent adventure.
Photos of the Tuscany area of Italy.
Photos from Eze, France
Photos of Monte Carlo, Monaco
I often wonder what in the world my dreams are trying to tell me. Ever since returning from our travels through Italy and several adjacent countries, my dreams have been filled with experiences of traveling by boat, canoe, train, plane, and helicopter. There have been some wonderfully adventuresome dreams and some others that have been more confusing than enlightening. I have also found it more difficult to become interested in things that I usually find curious or engaging. It is as if my brain is so full of its current sensory overload that there is not room for me to absorb much more right now.
It is beginning to dawn on me that my brain is still trying to process what I saw, did, ate and learned while traveling. I think, in part, my dreams are encouraging me to consciously allow myself to digest and empty out what is still swirling around from the stimulation of traveling.
Because photography is an enjoyable resource for me to explore and express what’s bouncing around in my head, perhaps processing and sharing my trip photos will be a positive and hopefully fun thing to do.
To surprise my husband, each December I enjoy putting together a calendar for the upcoming year that contains photographs that hold special meaning for us. To help me savor and treasure our recent journey, I have decided to use photographs of the various countries we visited, food we ate and adventures we had in our 2014 Calendar.
It is not like I don't have lots and lots of other things to be doing this time of year. However, by sharing these photos with you, I hope to also share the process of "emptying out" as a window into increasing our productivity and enriching our creativity.
Photos from Croatia
Photos from Montenegro
Photos from Malta
Okay. That is good enough for today. I look forward to sharing some more photos in the near future. Hope you enjoy them.
Greetings to you from somewhere off of the coast of Sicily, Italy. Circumnavigating Italy for 10 days, my husband and I are on a cruise ship sailing from Venice to Rome. Today we had arranged for a tour of Taormina, Sicily and then a lunch at a private villa where the photographic views are said to be magnificent.
I will admit that I was at first more than a little cranky with Mother Nature when the seas became too rough for us to go ashore. We had arisen at 6a.m., showered, dressed for the day and eaten breakfast before the 8:15a.m. departure time. As there was “liquid sunshine on Sicily today and tendering to port might endanger your lives”, the captain announced today would be another day at sea. Disappointedly we returned to our room and quickly fell asleep for an early morning nap.
After awakening from my nap, I decided to let go of my expectations and begin the day again by “going with the flow”.
I actually enjoy days at sea with nothing scheduled. I just did not have today scheduled in my mind to be a do-nothing day.
The ship quickly put together an emergency revised schedule of activities on the ship for today including a Popcorn Viewing of The Lone Ranger. I guess I am not the only one wondering what to do with myself today.
Now, as I sit in our cabin, and begin to settle into my revised day, I am starting to relax and breathe. I have turned on Vivaldi classical guitar music I brought along “just in case”. I am sitting and looking out into the dancing waves of the ocean with my feet propped up in a chair. I guess I will pull back the curtains further to see what more I can see as the world slips by.
In his Italian/English accent the captain just announced to the ship that as we are passing through the Straits of Massina, “the current and a wind it is strong enough a that the ship may a be leaning a little a to the a side a so a please a be a somewhere you can a have a rail for your a hand or even a better, please a take a seat a.”
My husband just awoke from his early morning nap. As he reviewed the list of revised activities on the ship for the day, he exclaimed, ”This is Tuesday, not Wednesday!” He seemed relieved and a little delighted to have awakened to more time at sea than he thought we had.
We are now sitting on our balcony with orange juice and tomato juice (each with just a touch of Vodka). I am not sure the captain meant for us to take a seat in the chairs on our balcony, but protected from the wind by our balcony walls, it really is very pleasant sitting here listening to the sounds of the rolling Tyrrhenian Sea and looking out into it’s deep blue water.
Upon boarding the ship, it seemed to have taken a jake-break to help shift out of the activation gear into the relaxation gear we had planned for tour cruise.
Today, we both seem to have shifted gears into the relaxation mode on very short notice.
I am excited to have extra time today to look through some of the photographs I have taken so far on our trip. I would love to share some of them with you.
First, here are a few photos from Rome.
Now a few from Venice if the Internet aboard the ship will hold on a little longer.
I will stop for now as the Internet is becoming weaker.
Thank you for letting me share our trip with you.
More to come soon I hope about our visit to Croatia, Montenegro, Malta, Monte Carlo and more of Italy.
I had planned to go to a week-long conference this week in Santa Fe on Creativity and Madness. It is a conference I have had an interest in attending for several years. However, when it came right down to spending hundreds of dollars to sit in a conference room every day for a week rather than rest, relax and enjoy Santa Fe, well I guess I gave myself permission to change my mind. Instead, I chose to follow the Turquoise Trail.
What a delightful time my husband and I have had shopping, viewing museum exhibits, eating and walking all around Santa Fe with our eyes open for all things turquoise. I began to wonder where the word "Turquoise" originated and why is there all this turquoise in New Mexico.
According to the "all-knowing" Wikipedia, use of the turquoise stone in ceremonies is ancient. The actual word "Turquoise" dates to the 16th century and is derived from an Old French word for "Turkish" because the mineral is reported to have been first brougt to Europe from Turkey. The people of Turkey used the color to decorate many of their buildings especially by using turquoise ceramic glazed tiles.
One of the oldest turquoise mines in North America, the Cerrilos mine near Santa Fe, has been mined by Native Americans for almost 2000 years! According to Indians.org, "Legend has it that the Native American Indians danced and rejoiced when the rains came. Their tears of joy mixed with the rain and seeped into Mother Earth to become SkyStone Turquoise. Turquoise, the 'fallen sky stone' hidden in Mother Earth, has been valued by Native American cultures for its beauty and reputed spiritual and life-giving qualities for over 7000 years. Turquoise represents stone of sky, stone of water, stone of blessings, good fortune, protection, good health and long life. To the Native Americans, turquoise is life. There are turquoise stones medicine men keep in their sacred bundles because they possess powers of healing. Turquoise is know for its positive healing energy, an aid in mental functions, communications and expression and as a protector." Ancient Native American Indians such as the Anasazi believed Turquoise was powerful enough to scare away demons. This carries through today with the belief that doors or window frames painted with the color turquoise will protect those inside from demons.
We enjoyed looking for turquoise in the exhibits at the International Folk Art Museum. One of the exhibits included a variety of kites from Japan. The gift shop was also filled with unusual treasures.
Once we started seeing turquoise, we noticed it in some unusual places.
Of all things, after taking the dogs on our morning walk we returned to notice that there is turquoise on our front door! I hadn't even noticed that before. It began to dawn on me that we were seeing more and more turquoise because we were more aware of turquoise. It has been there all along.
This is a photograph of a bumper sticker we might not have seen if we weren't looking for turquoise. It reads, "God Bless the Whole World. No Exceptions."
If by looking for turquoise, I see more turquoise, I wonder what would happen if I begin to be more aware of other people's acts of kindness and courage and gratitude? I am sure these acts are already there. I would hope that by looking for them, I will see more of these acts of kindness and courage and gratitude. I will start looking for them and celebrate them with a deeper awareness and appreciation.
I am glad you could join me on this journey along the Turquoise Trail. I hope the color turquoise has a new and richer meaning for you. It certainly does for me.
We recently had an amazing opportunity to open our lives to the universe by opening our home to visiting Tibetan Buddhist Monks.
As I mentioned in my previous blog entry, I would love to share some of the photographs I had the chance to take during their visit.
The first night of the monks' visit, one of our neighbors arranged for a Kiowa Medicine Man to offer a blessing to each of the monks. The monks responded with blessings of their own for those gathered. Following the blessings, we all enjoyed a pot-luck dinner and plenty of laughter.
The Opening Ceremony was the start to the four day process of the meticulous work on the Sand Mandala of Wisdom. I can still hear the amazing tones of the monks' multiphonic chanting and their mesmorizing and unusual sounding instruments.
Watching the monks working on the sand mandala progress was a brilliant lesson in patience and mindfulness.
The monks shared their prayer and meditation with us during their performance of Lama Chopa Puga.
We each enjoyed the monks staying with us and blessing us with their kindness and gentleness.
The Closing Ceremony for the Sand Mandala of Wisdom included the sweeping of the sands of the completed mandala into the center of the table. This is to represent the impermanance of life. Each person in attendance was given a small bag of the sand as a personal blessing.
The monks then carried the remaining sand to the river where they released it into the water to bless the environment. Actually, it was so windy when the sand was released that most of the sand blew back toward the audience, blessing each one standing there in addition to blessing the environment.
Thank you for allowing me to share these images with you. What a wonderful celebration of life, love, peace and joy these monks bring with them. If you ever have a chance to see them, I so encourage you to do so. If you do, your life will probably never be the same again. I know our lives have changed... and for the better.... for opening our hearts up to the universe.
A few weeks ago, my husband and I had the opportunity to open our lives to the universe by becoming a Bed and Breakfast for five days. Thanks goes to my husband for agreeing to go along with yet another of my “bright” ideas.
It just so happened that a lovely lady in our neighborhood was hosting eleven Tibetan Buddhist monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery to come to our city through a cultural grant. The grant was to create a sand mandala and to perform lectures and ceremonies connected with the mandala. Our neighbor asked if anyone was interested in providing beds and breakfast for some of the visiting monks.
Are you kidding me? Of course I would love to have the chance to do that, though I didn’t have a clue how things would go. I eventually figured out the bed situation but what does one serve six Tibetan Buddhist monks for breakfast?
I finally decided on the yummy oatmeal recipe that my cousin, Kathy, had shared with me a few months ago (made with milk and prepared in the microwave). I also found some Naan bread at Whole Foods I could warm and on which they could spread butter or peanut butter. Fruit, of course, would be good so I filled a large bowl with various whole fruit.
I had been informed that they drink “lots of black tea” with butter, salt and yak milk. I don't think I know anyone with a yak and even if I did, I'm not so sure I would want to milk it. I compromised and would offer them cream.
I was more than a little nervous the first morning. However, the monks provided a sense of calm, mindfulness and joy as they entered the kitchen. The kitchen became filled with the sounds of their deep and resonating chanting prayer followed by a brief silence. As they each mindfully selected their breakfast foods, their attitude of “It Is Enough” was pervasive. They declined oatmeal if it was not already prepared because the food already prepared was “enough”. They selected a few slices of banana rather than select an entire banana from the fruit bowl. Each monk would select one or two slices of apple as biting into a whole apple seemed unthinkable.
Surrounding the dining room table, they mindfully began to eat. When one of them (the drummer) stepped on the Butler’s Button the architect had installed in the floor under the table, the fun began. As the buzz from the weight of the monk’s foot on the button continued, my husband told the monk that spoke the most English, “You will need to ask him to lift his foot. He is summoning the servant.” As they all began to understand what was happening, laughter rippled around the table. These were laughs that arose from deep within each of us at the absurd thought of a Buddhist monk summoning a servant. Each morning I began looking forward to spending some time connecting, laughing and sharing with the monks. After breakfast was finished, two or three of them washed the dishes and helped put away any food that had not been eaten. The kitchen sparkled when they were finished.
They spent a few minutes each morning learning about items we have in our home that were unfamiliar to them. These artists were most interested in the various patterns and designs on the Native American baskets we have collected. They were also fascinated by the cactus collection in our garden room.
After an opening ceremony which included their multiphonic chanting and playing of instruments, the Sand Mandala of Wisdom was started.
The mandala was started by a monk dropping a chalk line on a black table. White lines were then placed using rulers and other instruments of measurement as guides for the creation of the mandala. monks worked for four days placing beautifully colored grains of sand in an amazing three-dimensional design of the mandala. The focus, mindfulness and patience with which each grain of sand was placed was inspiring.
Shortly after the sand mandala had been created, the closing ceremony began. It included more chanting and music followed by the ceremonial sweeping of the grains of sand into the center of the table. This is a symbolic representation of the impermanence of life. Half of the sand was then placed in little baggies and given to each person attending the closing ceremony. This was followed by a trip to the river where the remaining sand was released into the river to bless the environment. (There was such a strong south wind, most of the sand blew back onto the bank, blessing those attending as well as the environment.)
The fifth morning, after saying our blessings and good-byes to each other, the monks gathered their duffle bags and walked away. Our sweet dog, Bella, sat on the front walkway and watched them walk down the driveway, out of the gate and along the street until they went out of sight. She doesn't make friends easily but had made new friends with the monks.
After their leaving, the house was so quiet, almost as if they had never been there. However, there was still the sense of their gentleness, laughter and sense of other-worldliness that remained. It was as if their presence had helped open the universe in my mind.
How is it that they have nothing and yet they have enough? There are people like us who provide for the simple needs of these monks yet what they give in return is truly remarkable.
If you are interested in knowing more about these monks, please look at their website (yes, even monks have websites these days!) www.mysticalartsoftibet.org
I have so many photographs I would love to share but this entry is already longer than any I have ever done. I will put together a separate blog entry to specifically include more of these photos.
Thank you for your patience in reading this and in allowing me the chance to share this experience with you.