Safety + Risk = A Well Seasoned Life

“A ship is safe in harbor. But that’s not what ships are for.” William G. T. Shedd

In dry dock, a ship is refurbished, updated, and repaired. Rust is blasted away, or rotting wood cut out and replaced with fresh strong panels. Several coats of marine grade paint are applied, another step in helping the boat remain seaworthy. Supplies are replenished. Safety gear checked. All these things are vital to the purpose of the ship. But, they are not what the ship is about. Screenshot 2014-09-18 22.04.05

What is a ship’s purpose? To sail out into the world to fulfill it’s mission. There are times when you need to pull into dry dock, make some adjustments. Revisit the navigation charts after strong winds have pulled you off course. Fix the damage done by vicious storms, or anchor in the bay just because you want a new coat of paint and a rest. The theme is the same. These things are important, but they are not what you are about. You are about fulfilling your purpose.

“A ship is safe in harbor. But that’s not what ships are for.” William G. T. Shedd

Harbors are safe. Free of demands, free of risk. Once we leave the harbor, the waters are unpredictable. We might be tempted to stay safely anchored firmly to the dock. Do you really want to be chained to an anchor? Risk and change are a way of life. Just try standing still in the rapidly moving stream of life. It is ultimately much more dangerous than swimming toward a more promising future.

A few thoughts on pushing fear aside to move toward change (risk).

– Stock your tool kit. What do you need to begin? Number 1 is a good support structure. Thinking you can or have to do everything yourself will make the risk overwhelming.

– Develop a positive attitude about yourself. You have already survived many ups and downs in your life, right? You’re smart. You’re adaptable. You’re good at facing challenges. Engrave this on your mirror.

– Embrace the process. Remain open to the knowledge that it won’t all be smooth sailing. Flexibility in your expectations is your watch word.

Be willing to let difficult moments, failures and perceived failures be your teacher. Can you do that? Can you untie the ropes and venture out? What do you need to pack to make your boat seaworthy so you can take the plunge? Spice, variety and adventure make for a well seasoned life.

Bon Voyage,Screenshot 2014-09-22 10.15.48



Composing a songtrack for summer

Top of the Park 2014

Summertime in Ann Arbor –  enjoying fabulous music, the tunes and the beat make it impossible to sit still. The fearless dancers step up front, swing and jig, becoming one with the music. I hope you’re enjoying the straw hat joy of the season!
“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent”
― Victor Hugo

Cutting Through the Fog

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One Monday morning, I was sitting at my desk. No work getting done. Clicking through the e-mail, letting myself get distracted. Chasing ideas, going down rabbit holes, opening up click-throughs that are a waste of time. 10:30, still no work done.

I spent a moment asking myself, “What is going on here?” I soon realized that the residue of a taxing weekend was getting in the way of productivity.

Our family had been carrying the heavy burden of caring for loved ones who are frequently in the hospital Critical Care unit. Days and nights spent in waiting rooms and sleeping in vinyl chairs next to hospital beds. Then limping back home to pick up the pieces of work and routine.

One thing I work with my clients around is self-care and balance. This particular Monday morning, I realized in a flash, that I hadn’t attended to my own balance, and that was why I had no energy to focus on work. I pulled out an exercise that I use with my clients and share in workshops, to re-frame and re-focus. If you ever have the “Walking Through Fog” experience, and would like to try this turn around technique, Get it HERE >>Focusing Exercises

A Poem for Your Pocket

Anything Can Happen
by Seamus Heaney


Anything can happen. You know how Jupiter

Will mostly wait for clouds to gather head

Before he hurls the lightening? Well, just now

He galloped his thunder cart and his horses

Across a clear blue sky. It shook the earth

And the clogged underearth, the River Styx,

The winding streams, the Atlantic shore itself.

Anything can happen, the tallest towers

Be overturned, those in high places daunted,

Those overlooked regarded. Stropped-beak Fortune

Swoops, making the air gasp, tearing the crest off one,

Setting it down bleeding on the next.

Ground gives. The heaven’s weight

Lifts up off Atlas like a kettle-lid.

Capstones shift, nothing resettles right.

Telluric ash and fire-spores boil away.

“Anything Can Happen” from District and Circle by Seamus Heaney. Copyright © 2006 by Seamus Heaney. Used by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved.

Is that Maple tree I see, really tipped with red?

Here it comes. Switching gears to autumn. Different rhythms. Different schedules. Even different food! (I feel a big pot of soup coming on) Do you feel it too?

Switching gears for me always means questions and making new decisions. Trying new things. Taking on new responsibilities. Shall I sign up for a new class? Or try Tai Chi? Board meetings, planning and launching new programs. I teach at a small private college, so fall means a new set of students. Summer means laid back, road trips up north, family reunions, family weddings.  (I even enjoyed a high school reunion this year!)

Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 4.54.13 PMOur Family Reunion 2013

At times I can feel overwhelmed by all the busy activity of fall. I start to agitate against it and feel my equilibrium slip. Does this happen to you? In my younger days I wouldn’t recognize this slippage in time, and a cranky barb would kink up my outlook. I would begin to see only tasks, and responsibilities. Joy wouldn’t be on my ‘to do’ list.

Now, as the air gets that ‘fall’ cast to it, I pay attention. New schedules and opportunities are exciting. And If overwhelm is showing up, I make sure I add ‘fun’ to the mix. How do you handle switching gears?

On the way to making Chicken Tagine

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I had been searching the markets for a jar of Preserved Lemon, one of the ingredients in Moroccan Chicken Tagine. Unable to locate any, I remembered the Jerusalem Market, and ran in. I scanned the shelves quickly, couldn’t locate any, and was about to dash out. The proprietor, a gentleman in white with a big smile, asked what I was looking for. When I told him, he shook his head, and said it came from Egypt, and he hadn’t been able to get anything from Egypt in a couple of years because of the troubles there. “Are you using it for cooking?” He walked over to a shelf and took down a plastic container. “Dried, Preserved Lemons.” He popped off the top, and let me look and smell. Yes, they smelled like the juicy jar of preserved lemons that I used in this recipe. Their aroma was salty, sharp and tart. “I’ll try them.” Now I was interested in this shop. 

“My shelves are really bare because of the end of Ramadan, I am so sorry. But I do have something I want to share with you.” He walked over to a display of fruit. Long elegant strands with tiny gold oblong fruit attached along its length, I had never seen anything like this before. “Have you ever had fresh dates? I only get them 3 weeks out of the year. Try one?” I agreed. He snapped one off and handed it to me. The flavor with the first bite was not special, but within moments, the sweet date flavor shone through, and it was wonderful!

This was turning out to be a wonderful little grocery store, tucked away behind a busy street. “I’ll take the lemons, and I want to look around for a moment.” Two kinds of lentils, some cumin and cardamom tea went into my basket. And I had to buy some of those special dates. As I went to the counter, the owner chatted some more. A woman working there, threw some candy into my bag. “You come in hungry, you leave full”, she said.

As I walked to my car, I felt a buoyancy that their friendly generosity imparted. Did I get what I came in for? Not exactly. But I got so much more.


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I love listening to the radio while I am cooking, cleaning, eating, driving …… but today, listening to “Fresh Air” with Terri Gross, I had to stop, sit down and REALLY listen. Barbara Streisand, talking about her life and career. Captivating in its entirety, there was something she said early on in the interview that made it personal. Talking about her newest album, entitled, “Release Me” of previously unreleased material.  “I’ve had these things for a long, long time — a collection of these unreleased songs — These were songs that I did basically in very few takes, a lot of them one take, because we ran out of time by the end of a session. … (in the old days I did my albums in )  basically three days.  We didn’t have any way to fix things, and there were flaws in some of these things, but I thought, ‘Let’s put this out. —- it’s OK to expose whatever flaws I might have thought were there. I kind of enjoy things now that I don’t think are perfect.”


Of course, we don’t want to put sloppy work out there. But there is beauty in letting go enough to set our little boat free, to grace the waters of the world, to bring pleasure or value to others. Don’t hold back because you or your work isn’t “Perfect”. We’re not Barbra Streisand. Of course not. But you do have gifts to give. Go ahead, give them, flaws and all. The world will be listening.

Permission Granted

I recently read a blog post by Dr. Brene Brown about her interview with Oprah Winfrey. “I was scared/scared!” she admitted. Sweaty, shaky, nervous kind of scared. Then she did a beautiful thing, she wrote herself a permission slip and tucked it into her pocket. It said, “I give you permission to be excited and goofy and uncool. Just show up and be seen.”

Where are you scared on the way to your good life? Write yourself a permission slip and tuck it into your pocket, tape it to your bathroom mirror, stick it to the console of your car. Give yourself permission to  ‘……….’ Mine reads today, “I give you permission to try something new and to be open to see where it goes. Then celebrate in the (f)act of trying.” I am making a commitment to myself to let go of the results.

Here is the evidence. Sometimes my blog entries fly and you say, “Thanks for that!” Sometimes they fall flat, (you show me mercy, and I say ‘thanks for that!’) Win or lose, there is always some value to the act.

Don’t hide or stay small. Write your permission slip now.

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What “Could” You Do?

“I believe that ‘should’ is one of the most damaging words in the English language. Every time we use ‘should’ we are in effect saying ‘wrong’. Either we are wrong, or we’re going to be wrong, or we were wrong. I don’t think we need more wrongs in our life. We need to have more freedom of choice. I would like to remove the word ‘should’ and replace it with ‘could’. Could gives us a choice, and we are never wrong.” (Louise Hay, from “Heal Your Life”)

Is your self talk filled with ‘shoulds”?