Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Have yourself a Merry Christmas!

This year I haven't let the holidays overrun my life. I've been shopping since the Saturday after Thanksgiving, which is early for me. I shopped on Small Business Saturday, but I avoided Black Friday. Seriously, that scene isn't worth it. I've also been wrapping presents already, which is a first for me. Usually, I'm in a frenzy trying to wrap everything up the night before. I've also sent out some Christmas cards. I just have a few left to send that will arrive after the holiday. Even so, I feel like I've kept the stress level low.

And good thing, too, because when it rains it pours. It isn't snowing here after all. Anyway, my back windshield wiper hasn't been working, so the car was taken in. That needs a new motor, and my car needed new brakes. More expenses I wasn't expecting. Also, today, I had a slight fender bender in Aspen, so the expenses continue to mount. Thank goodness I've been spacing out my holiday stuff or this stress may have thrown me over the edge.

But this year it didn't, but I realize that things happen whether you like it or not. And yes, expenses happen in threes like everything else. The key is to take it one day at a time. The best part is that as I gathered addresses I heard from lots of people via text, email, and phone. It means so much. Last Saturday was the Gair Family Christmas of 40 people.
This weekend is a much smaller celebration with family. And lots of celebrating with friends, too. Overall, a really good month, despite the mishaps. I hope you and yours have a wonderful holiday season and a joyous new year. Welcome 2012.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

National Novel Writing Month

November is not just a time to be thankful and eat until you burst. It's also National Novel Writing Month.The whole idea is to write 50,000 words in the month of November. So my friend Ruth and I are working on writing our own respective novels. I admit that my goal doesn't go as high as 50,000 words, because I do have to work as well, but the act of making writing a regular part of my schedule is what I want to accomplish. According to my Google search making something a habit takes 21 to 30 days. So if I can make writing an automatic activity then I might be able to form a habit, which will then prospectively lead to me actually writing 50,000 words over time. Wish me luck!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Falling Leaves and Pumpkins

I don't know about you, but I love October. It's all about leaves quaking in the wind, and then eventually falling to the ground. It's also about pumpkin carving or painting, which is an activity that I try to do each year. This year my nephews are close, so I'll get them involved, too. But in the past I've done it without any kids. Back in New York we used to celebrate with a party called fall festival. It might be time to bring it back in the Roaring Fork Valley. To me fall is also about renewal. I guess it's the 'back to school mentality'. Honestly, I think it's better than those pesky New Year's resolutions. Also, football is back, and I have to admit that it's fun to have football on the weekend agenda. This year I can watch my nephew play. He got his first touchdown this year yesterday as well as a new nickname from the announcer, "Sledgehammer". Enjoy the autumn, and Rocky Mountain let us have a long fall....

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Giving and Receiving

“I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.” —Maya Angelou
I have been thinking about this quote, and I wanted to share it. Giving back is something that has been part of my life for a long time. I don't remember the first time I volunteered, but I know that each that I've made the effort to give back and do something for people it gives much more back to me. I had the opportunity to start a Youth Leaders Council and the premise is that kids learn about leadership and complete service projects in the community to give back. I feel like the more you give the more you want to give. It's a natural progression. Thanks to everyone who gives their money and their time. It means so much. And as the quote above says, it could offer you a spiritual benefit as well.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Stories that Connect Us

Since the beginning of time stories have connected us. The cave men and women drew pictures telling a story on cave walls. Sharing stories orally came next and it continues today. What prompted me to write about this topic was that I led a QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) Suicide Prevention training yesterday, and as each individual in the room shared stories you could almost see them connecting as they recognized similiarities, commenalities, and a belief in making a difference.

Sometimes in our world of technology where you can connect in so many ways: text, email, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, instant messaging, and even when necessary the old-fashioned phone call it doesn't always seem necessary to meet with others face-to-face. The reality is that without a face-to-face meeting so many things can be lost in translation. What's interesting about leading a training is that each and every training is different, and this is because of the people in the room participating. It is amazing to watch people really listen, talk, and support each other.

I just took a webinar on Twitter yesterday, and I feel like I understand it a little better. It does have some power to affect change and potentially offer a vehicle to fundraise for an issue that you're passionate about, but I would contend it doesn't offer the same connection or magic of a room full of people. Each of our new technologies has a purpose and a time and a place. I used to be able to get away with paying $5 for 200 text messages, but now I had to upgrade to unlimited text messages, as my number of texts have steadily increased. It seems that most people would rather text, unlike me who's old-fashioned and prefers to speak on the phone. I am accepting this new change.

Even so sometimes a text or an email isn't always the most effective way to communicate. Sometimes you need to be in the same room with a group of people who create an energy by listening to each other's stories and thoughts. I appreciate everyone who shared stories last night. Face-to-face reminds us of our connection to each other. And that's something we need more of in our communities, nation, and world. It happened after 9/11, and it's time we find small ways to connect.

For more information about QPR Trainings go to http://www.qprinstitute.com/or contact me.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Attitude and Belief in Yourself

So I've been thinking a lot about attitude, and I just heard Lenny Kravitz sing, "You've got to believe in yourself." Admit it you're now singing along with me to this song.

I've been working on eating better and exercising, and this process is making my attitude take a nose dive. It's not that I haven't seen any results, but the main result that I am seeking, which is weight loss, is so elusive. My clothes fit better, I've toned up, and I'm stronger. Despite these successes my attitude to keep it up is wavering.

I have hypothyroidism, and boy it's a valid issue, but even so I can't use that as an excuse to give up. My friend told me yesterday that I looked great. I admit my jeans now fit so much better, which feels good.

So I'm trying a new app recommended by my cousin it's called MyFitness Pal. It's great to track your food and physical activity. Having this information is an eye-opener. I've also started a lunchtime boot camp class on Tuesdays with a friend. And I may sign up for another one, too on Thursdays. I need to move from working out three to four times a week to working out four to six times a week.

So I am going to seek more support going forward. I'm back to feeling better again, and I'm accepting the fact that I may have to work even harder than others. My attitude has to be that this is about my health and my life. Plus, I want to be in good shape before ski season so I can really rip it down the mountain. Let's not talk about snow, yet, though.

I guess it's like Lenny says, "You've got to believe in yourself." That's why I'm finally taking care of myself...it's not about the end, but the journey. And please remind me of this when I'm working out with my personal trainer tonight. I might need some encouragement.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Story of Your Life

Most of you know that I read a lot. Usually, I have three or more books going at the same time. Right now, I've got two. I'm trying to focus. Anyway, I just finished a book that was so good that I want to tell you all about it.

The book is called, "How I Learned to Live a Better Story: A Million Miles in a Thousand Years". This memoir offers insights on how you can change your story if the one you're living isn't the one you want to be living.

Stories connect us together. Since the beginning, stories weave the fabric of our lives, and they resonate with us on a deeper level than statistics, which tell us something, but they don't activate our emotions or remind us of our humanity.

This book will make you ponder whether the story you're living is the one that you want to live. It made me stop and reflect on where I'm at and where I'm headed. I'm fairly reflective as it is, but even so I get caught up in the busyness that is our modern day life. Heck, I just joined Hootsuite so I can manage all my social networking sites in one place. Just one problem I'm not sure how to use it.

That modern world is one topic that the author Donald Miller explores as well. The marketing machine and the quest for more hasn't actually made people happier. Maybe it offers a momentary happiness, but then it goes away. Getting back to basics to a simpler life is known to do more to foster contentment.

Last year was such a difficult year for me, and now I am reclaiming who I am and truly identifying what it is that makes me happy and brings me joy. It isn't more stuff. It's enjoying the experience of life and finding meaning. Read the book and let me know what you think!

Monday, August 29, 2011

First Day of School

Today my nephews Luke and Adam started their first day of school in a new school. My nephew Adam was a bit nervous, and he asked, "Who will I sit by at lunch?" Such an insightful question from a seven-year-old. I told him to talk to someone who's nice in his class and ask if he could sit by him or her at lunch. (I hope that worked!)

The truth is that we all struggle sometimes with who to sit by. I did explain to Luke and Adam that each place I've lived has introduced me to some amazing people who have brought so much to my life. Even though moving is difficult it brings new experiences, new perspectives, and new friends.

These people in our lives are part of our history. It doesn't mean that you can easily stay in touch with everyone other than catching up on Facebook, but it does mean that once there's a connection, at some level you are always connected. Really we are all connected in this tangled web of humanity.

This weekend I found out that it was time to say goodbye to an old friend from high school. Seeing the outpouring of love for his sister and family it makes you realize that we all are in this together.

So when you meet someone new invite them to sit by you. They might be that new friend you are destined to meet. And they might need a friend more than you know.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Run don't walk to see "The Help"

Get out your tissues, because this movie will make you cry. I read the book a long time ago before it even became a sensation, and I kept telling other people to read it, too. A lot of times when a book is made into a movie I'm disappointed, but this time I really felt like they got it right.

"The Help" delivers, and it gives you a glimpse of what it was like to live in the South, during a period when separate but equal was touted and believed by many.

What makes this movie and the book so memorable and touching is that in both the book and the movie the characters are fleshed out and they come to life with color, sass, and fullness. You also feel like you are experiencing the good, the bad, and the beautiful moments right along beside them.

To be honest there wasn't a dry eye in the house. I even suspect that the guy who was dragged there by his girlfriend shed some tears, but I'm sure there was just something in his eye.

I saw the movie with my mom, which made it more special. She had read the book, too, and we both were excited and nervous to see it. We both were afraid the movie wouldn't strike the same chord as the book, but it turned out that both versions delivered.

The main theme of the movie was courage, which is something we all need a little more of in ourselves and in this world. May we all have courage when it's needed. Be couragous and be bold!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Birthday Daze

Since I have a tradition of celebrating my birthday for at least a week or sometimes longer it tends to get a bit out of hand. So fun! This year was no exception. I celebrated before my birthday and during my birthday as well as after my birthday with friends and family.

This year it was decided to visit Los Angeles for the birthday weekend. The idea was to celebrate in style...and find a spot by the beach and a pool. We did it all. There's really nothing better than a girls' trip. It reminds you how much girl's rule.

Then you get home and realize that you've overindulged in food and drink, and that it's time to take care of yourself. Also, not a good idea to schedule a doctor's visit the week after the festivities. So I'm cutting out sugar (mostly), watching what I'm eating and logging it in MyFitnessPal, and getting back to exercise. Wish me luck!

Oh and I'm getting a new scale as for the first time ever I weighed four pounds less at the doctor's office. Now that's a birthday present.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Life's a beach!

Sometimes it's hard to just enjoy each day as it comes. This is especially true when you're anticipating an exciting trip. I'm headed to Cali to meet Ruth and Mary Beth for my birthday extravaganza. It is said that a lot of what makes a trip so great is the anticipation. Looking forward to vacations, fun events, or visitors is part of the fun.

That being said there are opportunities for greatness each day or at least moments to savor. For example, yesterday two grants (complicated ones at that) were turned in on time and they really were well done. If I say so myself. That was such a nice accomplishment! Then I had the evening to get laundry finished before my trip. My friend Lo stopped by so we had a glass of wine. Then I watched "Blind Side" for the second time, and it made me teary. Overall, a good day for a Monday.

Today, I am playing catchup to dig myself out after the grants. So that feels good. And tonight my friend Carrie is taking me out for an early birthday dinner. I always say you should have a birthday month! We're going to hop around some galleries, and then grab drinks and dinner. Today is going to be so fun. I dressed up!

So what does tomorrow hold? Well I'm attending a yoga breathing workshop in the morning, and who knows what else. See each day is good. Life's a beach, and it truly will be this weekend when I'm at the beach soaking up the sun.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Where is my chocolate?

This might seem like a silly question, but I need a boost, and a piece or of dark chocolate would do nicely. If my friend Mary Beth was around I'd be in great shape, as she's known to have emergency chocolate on hand. Unfortunately, I don't have any chocolate. Sure I could go to the store around the corner and down the street, but I've already been there today to pick up healthy breakfast items.

Instead I'm going to complain about needing chocolate. I actually blame the folks that made this crazy grant application that I'm writing. Overload. And did I mention that I'm writing two grants for two different nonprofits? The plan was to space out the grants so I wouldn't be overloaded, but guess what that didn't work.

So all I want is some chocolate. I could be really bad and get a yummy chocolate goody from a shop across the way. That's what I'll do. It better be open! Wish me luck!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Il Dolce Far Niente

Summertime is my favorite time of year especially in Colorado when the weather is well in a word, amazing. You can't help feeling good because the sun is shining, and everyone is in such a good mood.

The only challenge is everyone is just so busy. As we're all trying to squeeze in as much as possible in the summer it becomes overwhelming. This summer I'm planning much less, as I like to have some flexibility in my schedule. Honestly, I used to be so overscheduled that I never had free time. I'm just not willing to do that anymore.

Without freetime you can't possibly be creative or just see where the day will take you. (I know a lot of kids who are completely overscheduled...parents need to stop it). Part of this lesson was learned in Australia where people are just so much more relaxed. Americans often feel that the more they do the better.

I say that we should enjoy the summer and sometimes make it a point not to plan anything. To just enjoy. The italians say, "Il Dolce Far Niente," which means the sweetness of doing nothing. Sounds good to me. Anyone, want to take a trip to Italy?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

I am thankful for my friends

Here are today's quotes about friends:

"A true friend is someone who thinks you are a good egg even though he knows that you are slightly cracked."
-Bernard Meltzer

"Life is partly what we make it, and partly what it is made by the friends we choose."
-Tennessee Williams

"Friends are those rare people who ask how we are and then wait to hear the answer."

Friends make the world go round. Take the time today to tell a friend how much they make your life better.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Any book lovers out there?

Well one thing I've found out is that moving is difficult and blogging seems to fall by the wayside. Well now that I'm somewhat moved in...I still have some boxes to sort through so I'm back to writing in my blog.

Speaking of which I've got too many books. Yes, I have a book problem. I put my myself on a book diet so that I only buy one book at a time, which helps. And now I am downloading books on my Kindle, which doesn't take up space. My mom and I trade Kindle's so at least I can share a book as well.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't read. Quite to the contrary. It's just that when you move heavy books around you realize that maybe it isn't the best idea to keep buying so many. If I would have ended up in a small apartment like the many that I saw, I would definitely be in trouble.

And keep in mind I trade my books in for other books so I'm definitely conscious of making sure my books are read more than once. I'm a believer in books making the rounds. I also pass books on to friends, and I even send book lists of great reads to others. I may have to start trading my books in for cash at least until I can get through the stacks of books that I already own. I need to read through my library before getting more.

I keep my favorites, and I have collections such as a collection of books on writing. I also have books signed by authors such as Frank McCourt, Madelaine Albright, Yogi Berra, and more.

Obviously, I enjoy books. Recently, I joined a book club. It had been awhile since I had been in one, and it gives you a chance to discuss a book with others and enjoy some good company.

Right now I'm reading, "Unbroken," which is a creative nonfiction account of an extraordinary man's life. I highly recommend it. (And I borrowed the book so it goes back to the original owner). Want to borrow a book? It's yours for the asking!

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Pursuit of Mindfulness

For some reason after a long weekend four days of work just seems well endless. It's some sort of a mind trick. When you're back on Tuesday you just can't believe that you are back at your desk being asked to gasp, work. Sometimes life just isn't fair.

Then you get to Friday, and you're so excited for the weekend to begin. At least now I'm not as obsessed with getting to the weekend. Don't get me wrong I love my weekends, but now I'm trying to embrace each day and the moments from each one. That doesn't mean I don't grumble about Monday or need extra coffee, but I just realized that I needed to find ways to make Monday and Tuesday enjoyable, too.

Living in the present is a process. It's about mindfulness and about truly spending time with another person instead of focusing on that endless to-do-list. And let's be honest that to-do-list has a lot of unimportant stuff on it. Right now I'm working on vision board and goals for the upcoming year. No, I'm not really late on resolutions instead I'm just taking the time to refocus so that I spend my time on what matters instead of what comes up.

If you've never done a vision board, I highly recommend it. It's a visual representation of what you want in your life. You just take a poster board or a large piece of cardstock paper of some kind, and you use words, art, photos, magazine images, and whatever speaks to you to create your vision board. It's amazing what happens when you put it on paper. Taking the time to do this offers you clarity and understanding of what you value and what is important to you. Now that's time well-spent.

Enjoy the weekend and the week!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

What are your summer travel plans?

Well I just got back from San Diego. I've been there more than a few times, as I have family there. I decided to visit over Memorial Weekend, as my friend Mary Beth moved there less than a month ago. It's definitely a cool place to live. You can choose from various beaches. Just remember to wear sunscreen other than the spray kind, as that doesn't always offer coverage. Since my skin hasn't seen the light due to a long winter and spring in Colorado I ended up with a sunburn.

Good thing we had other things planned besides the beach. We went on a winery tour in Temeculah. Nothing like wine to cure a sunburn! We also hiked the Torrey Pines Reserve, which offered excellent views of the sea. Of course, we enjoyed some great food and fun. Thursday we had dinner with Christina at a cool Italian place downtown. I also had breakfast with my cousins, Rob and Jen, at Margarita's, which is a restaurant near Ocean Beach. Overall, it was a wonderful trip.

There's something about getting away that makes you appreciate life. Even as you try to get back in the groove you can think back on your fun experience. The first day back to work is an adjustment, but then you settle back in to your regular life. It's a toss-up on whether a long trip or a long weekend is better. Both versions offer a respite from the ordinary. My next trip will be for my birthday. To where? Still deciding!
Where are you heading this summer?

Friday, May 20, 2011

A Touching Story

The truth is that I've become an NPR junkie. I listen to it each day as I'm driving to work. On Fridays, NPR features "StoryCorps," which is basically a story told by two family members or friends about a particular meaningful part of one person's life. I've heard a father interviewed by his daughter about growing up in the depression. I've heard a story about a nun who made a difference in the lives of others, but also has a great love for baseball.

Today's story was especially touching to me. It made me cry. Stories are what connect us to each other. A story tells so much more than numbers, statistics, or straight facts. For me hearing a story like this makes all the bad news we constantly hear much more bearable. I hope that we don't forget to tell the stories that show love, demonstrate compassion and express our humanity. The story is called, "Forgiving Her Son's Killer: 'Not An Easy Thing'. I hope you enjoy it.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What song brings you back?

It seems that music can heal the brain. I didn't get to see the movie that illustrates this idea, "The Music Never Stopped," but it's on my list for Netflix. The movie is based on "the last hippie" case study by Oliver Sachs, neurologist and writer, whose brain research was the basis for the movie, "Awakenings".

Basically, the premise is that music heals. A beign brain tumor has left Gabriel Sawyer without most of his memory and he's prevented from forming new long-term memories. He's stuck in the past. It's music from his youth, especially the Grateful Dead, which brings him back. This gives new meaning to Deadheads.

Music is such a great way to improve your mood. I am once again trying to learn guitar, and it's a fun challenge. I didn't forget everything from my first rounds of lessons, but even so I feel like I need hand holding to figure out the technique. My playing never sounds as good as the instructor's. Even so I love it because it makes me access a different part of my brain as I learn how to play. And someday maybe people will actually want to hear me play my own songs.

Speaking of songs I love the fact you can instantly download songs. Remember when we had to buy CDs. That is so old school. Music has power and it forms the soundtracks of our lives. Who doesn't have a song that brings them back to a certain time. The song Hey Ya! will forever be linked with good times with my friend Carrie and Aspen when I lived in the Roaring Fork Valley the first time.

What song brings you back?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Finding a home

Well I'm in search of an apartment. In a city where there are more apartments to chose from it might be easier...but it's more of a challenge here in the Roaring Fork Valley. I thought I had found the apartment in Basalt, but alas it went to someone who had a three-day jump on me. I was bummed.

I'm going to see another apartment today. So cross your fingers. I enjoy seeing apartments so it's been cool to see what's out there, but I'm getting weary from the process. It's interesting to see what's available at what price. The truth is that you get what you pay for...without a doubt.

So if you know of a good place in the area, let me know. That way I can spend my evening hours enjoying the spring weather instead of apartment hunting! That being said I took last night off and went on a hike with my friend Jenny instead. It was great!

Are you getting outside?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Quote of the Day

“Our lives, along with the weather and happiness, will forever be up and down and sideways and all over the place. That’s how life and the weather are, and that is as good as it gets. How do I know that? Simple. It is all I've got. If the future does not exist and the past is gone, then this must be as good as it gets, because there is, right now, nothing else. And even if you don't believe the truth of that statement, living each moment as if now is absolutely as good as it gets will have you celebrating your life every day. It’s not a bad way to live.”

--Robert White

Monday, May 9, 2011

Happy Mother's Day to all

Well I think spring/summer is here. At least it felt like summer on the Front Range. We went to Byers to celebrate Mother's Day on Saturday with the Gair family. My grandma loved having everyone there. She's been a mom for 67 years. Pretty amazing!

My mom has been one for almost 38 years. I'm not that old, but my brother is turning 38 this year. We went to lunch and then to the Denver Botanical Gardens. The flowers were beautiful, but they made me sneeze. Overall it was a great weekend to celebrate mothers.

Thank you to my mom and all mothers. You deserve flowers every day!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Blog updates for you

Well I got one answer about how to handle plateaus. Read my friend Ruth's blog at www.insightfulish.com where she gives her take on this particular question. I thought her insights were spot on. (That is a phrase that Australians use a lot, and I think Americans should use it more often, too.)

I also wanted to update you on my eye area injury. Today one of my coworkers saw it and said she couldn't even see it. I've still got a slightly red mark, but it is amazing to see the change in a week. I'm also a great believer in Mederma, which is a scar reducing cream. I'm not normally one to recommend a pharmacuetical, but this one deserves a shout out. It is made from onion skins and it truly does it's job. So next time you need to prevent a scar, run don't walk to pick up this cream.

My next update is that my trainer sent me a workout that I am responsible for doing on my own at least one other night per week. I'm planning to do my workout assignment tonight. I need to work out after enjoying last night's closing day celebration at Aspen Highlands a little too much. Last ski run of the season was good. The snow wasn't great, but I couldn't help smiling as I went down the hill for the last time of the 2010-2011 season. It was good, and now on to spring, which is taking its time getting here. I mean I want to wear open-toe shoes. Is that so much to ask?

Friday, April 22, 2011

How do you stay motivated when you hit a plateau?

Well last night I worked out with a personal trainer for the first time. This is my first time actually working out with a trainer, and it was great to have someone else directing me to workout for an hour. (No slacking off is allowed). If only I could work out with a trainer five days a week. No really just this weekly meeting sets a tone for the rest of the week's activities.

Last week my personal trainer asked me to keep a food journal. It wasn't my best week with two birthdays and my friend Ruth in town. I had more cake and wine than I normally do. But even so writing your food choices down makes you think about what you are eating and why. You have to look at both your food choices and your level of activity.

For me, I am consistent in that I do exercise each week, but it varies how much, I average about two to four times per week. I would like to get to five to six times per week. The reason is that with two to three times per week I just maintain. Since I'm trying to lose weight I know I need to up the activity levels. (And continue to focus on what I'm eating).

I started this health focus in January, and I've done well, albeit the process has been slow. Now I'm trying to speed it up by working with a trainer, varying my workouts, getting outside, and paying better attention to my food choices.

Writing down what you eat and what exercise you complete does make a difference. Then you can see on paper how the week went. You can then gauge your results with that formula and adjust accordingly. I actually know a lot about health and fitness, but applying it is another thing. Also, you have to figure out what works for you.

Sometimes I wish there was a quick fix. (Obviously, I'm not the only one or the weight-loss industry wouldn't be making billions). But I know that a quick fix isn't the answer, and it has to be a lifestyle change. Now if only I can get a personal chef.

I would love to hear how you get past the plateau and stay motivated. We can help each other.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

What does gas cost in your area?

My friend James posted a picture of the gas price he paid ($4.199) at a pump in California yesterday and it prompted a lot of comments. It got me thinking about the cost of gasoline.

Yesterday I paid $3.79 for gas, and that was at one of the cheapest places in the Roaring Fork Valley. It could be worse as you see what it's costing in California. In the European Union the average gas price runs about $8.70, so we do have less to complain about than the Europeans.

But even so knowing that in 2007, oil and gas companies made $1,601,524 in millions. ExxonMobil alone made $404,552 in millions. Meanwhile the gas stations only made a few cents per gallon. And consumer spending is up, but guess why, it's due to increasing gas costs. Does this seem unfair to anyone else? There must be a more equitable way.

All I know is that while oil and gas companies get richer, average Americans are losing money. I can take responsibility and limit my gas usage, but it shouldn't just be up to personal responsibility. Somehow the oil and gas companies should bear some of the brunt of increasing prices, too. That's my two cents. These prices affect the quality of life of Americans.

What are gas prices in your area?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Music of Our Lives

I don't know about you, but my life has a soundtrack. It's often changing, but we all have those favorite songs, those songs that bring us back to a moment in time, and those songs that define an era in our lives.

Music brings people together. I love it when I see someone jamming along to a song in their car. (Probably, because that's usually me). I also love it when you're at a concert, and you can feel the energy in the room as you listen to someone playing live. I will never forget being in Central Park hearing Billy Joel sing, "New York State of Mind," not long after 9/11.

Tonight I'm going to start to take guitar lessons again. I've taken them before. I took them in New York right after I bought my first guitar. My friend Amy and I visited a lot of music stores to find our guitars. It was a quest.

Then I took lessons in Glenwood for awhile. Now I'm starting up again so I can learn to play more. I think my nephews inspired me to get back at it when we were making up songs on the spot. Talent runs in the family.

Tell me your music stories. I'm listening.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Be careful

My mom is known to utter this phrase. My brother and I are actually going to write a book a book called, "Be careful or you might...". The thing is that this time she was right.

I was just going on a hike with my friend Ruth. My mom's worry was that I would slip on the ice from the remaining snow. Oh it was slippery but that wasn't why I needed to be careful. Instead I ran smack into a branch. Thank goodness for sunglasses my eye is okay, but the area around my eye is swollen and cut up. I look like I was in a fight or that I was abused.

Even so I toughed it out and completed the hike up to Hanging Lake. On the way down the sun was completely gone so I didn't wear my sunglasses. You should have seen some of the looks I got. No one said anything until this guy just said simply, "are you okay?" It was a nice way to ask, and it was a welcome change to the looks I was receiving.

It seems most people don't want to get involved. Instead they want to look away. I had all these great stories to share: I was in a bar fight, I saved someone. You name it. Anyway, truthfully I'm clutzy, and I didn't see the branch at eye level. I'm okay, but bruised, and I'm hoping it doesn't leave a scar. The good news is the hikers ahead of us had a first aid kit. I guarantee that they were the only ones on the entire trail with a first aid kit. Go figure.

Despite the mishap it was a beautiful hike and a great way to celebrate Ruth's birthday. Just remember to be careful or you might...

Friday, April 15, 2011

Tourist in your own city

One of the most fun ways to celebrate where you live is to be a tourist in your own city. Of course, it helps when you have a friend coming in town. My friend Ruth will be arriving in Glenwood on Friday. We've been friends since the 5th grade.

So my thoughts if Ruth's up for it is to enjoy the tourist happenings in Glenwood. There's swimming and soaking in the hot springs pool, riding up the tram, hiking Hanging Lake, going out to dinner at the Pullman, and more. It makes you realize why people come to these resort towns.

Ruth will be celebrating her birthday on Sunday. I've got some fun plans in mind, but again its her day so she gets the final say. It's funny when you know someone for as long as Ruth and I have known each other. It is quite a marvel. What are you doing this weekend?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Quote of the Day

Here's the Quote of the Day. Make it a wonderful one!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The neighborhood is waking up

Last night I went for a walk in the neighborhood. Sometimes it seems like I don't have any neighbors, during the winter everyone goes directly in the garage, and they're in for the night.

I have to admit in the winter once I get home I'm usually home. On nice days I might venture out for a walk, but it's much less often. Instead the treadmill seems like a better choice.

In the spring and summer, walking is a social activity. People are outside walking, riding their bikes or skateboards, and there are kids playing baseball and soccer.

I don't know about you but the sound of a bat hitting a ball is really comforting. It is a signal that you've made it through the long winter, and it means barbeques, time spent on the deck, and lots of smiles. That's the difference everyone seems to be smiling.

What are you smiling about?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Spring fever

Spring fever. I got a definite case of it. The warm weather is making me so happy. Right now I'm reading a book called, "The Emotional Calendar" by Dr. John Sharp. It seems that seasons, emotional highspots and lowspots on your own personal calendar, as well as seasons such as sports, TV series, school year starting and ending, and holidays, can all affect your mood. It's really about being aware of your own reactions and figuring out how to deal with them.
For some it isn't that simple, but it does bring to mind the mood that certain seasons bring. I truly love all four seasons, but I admit living in the Rockies I think winter is too long. I'm here for the summers. The spring and summer and the resulting sunshine really make me feel good. It just lightens my mood, and I can look forward to the lazy days of summer. And this year I will take even better advantage of summer. (I say that every year).

The spring also inspires me to do more. For example, even though I've had the card of a personal trainer who was recommended to me for awhile I hadn't called. This week I did, and I have a session scheduled on Thursday. I can finally move forward with the next phase of my path to better health. I just needed the spring to remind me of the impending swimsuit season.

And I scheduled my first guitar lesson for next week. I am finally going to start playing again. It's another spring thing, because it helps with readiness. When it's dark when you get home and when you leave it is more difficult to get motivated.

I've already started going to Hot Yoga, again, too. So though it's not just spring it seems that I'm embracing some new beginnings. Happy spring to you!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

My Painting in the Women's History Art Show

So I'm debuting my painting on this blog. So my painting grew from thinking about women and the layers that each women possesses. Here's my statement: "Women are layered, complex, and vibrant. This painting represents the texture and depth of women and all they offer to the world. It also represents embracing and honoring my own layers."
I hope that you enjoy the show. Don't forget, tomorrow, 5 to 7 pm, Basalt Library.

Also, read about the show in the Aspen Business Journal:

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Is our dependence on technology good or bad?

I don't know about you, but for me sitting in one room listening and learning is actually tougher than before. Why? Well one of my theories is that with technology and our need to multi-task constantly it is actually difficult to just sit and listen.

Yesterday I was in a eight-hour training. I am now a certified QPR Suicide Prevention trainer. Yeah! (Even so just sitting there I realized college would be tougher now, as I'm so used to constant tech access). I mean I had my phone on vibrate. When I got out I have 50 emails, three voicemails, and a couple texts, and don't forget a Facebook request from someone I don't know. Ignore.

There is a book out called, "The Winter of Our Disconnect," by Susan Maushart. Disclaimer: I haven't read the book, but I've seen a few articles about the experiment. Basically, this women and her three teenagers took off six months from technology at home. Her kids could use the computers at the library or at friend's houses for homework, but otherwise at home it was a no tech zone. Did I mention the mom said that she slept with her iphone. (What's wrong with that?) Anyway, the result was a happier more connected family.

One daughter now prefers the library to get things done in a quiet space. Before she thought her mom was crazy for needing quiet to get things done. Her son gave up his souped up gaming computer to get a saxophone. It does make you wonder about our dependency on technology. Meanwhile I'm writing in a blog. Yes, I see the irony.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Women's Art History Show, Opening Reception Friday, April 8, 5 to 7pm

Kathy Stover's Art Piece (I'll feature mine later. I need to download the photo.

Yesterday Carrie, Bill, and I put up the Women's History Art Show at Basalt Library. The show looks great, and it offers a lot of diversity from 12 local artists. Even with the variety of pieces somehow it fits together. It is really satisfying now that the show is up and on display. Creating art for the show was great, but so is the curating, as you feel like you're helping to promote art in your community.

An artist is a dreamer consenting to dream of the actual world.
--George Santayana

And now since taking on this art show it seems like I'm noticing art more. For example, I went to lunch, and the art on the walls was jumping out at me. So now I'm taking a moment to read about the artist. Have you seen any good art lately?

A great opportunity is this Friday, April 8th, from 5 to 7pm at the Basalt Library. Come enjoy appetizers, wine, and art. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Read this book!

So I'm recommending a book to read. It's "A Discovery of Witches," by Deborah Harkness. I know that some of you know that I devoured all of the Twilight series books. Guilty. These types of books are my guilty pleasures. Those of you who know me well also know that I read literature and nonfiction books of substance as well. So I'm not apologizing for falling for this book about an Oxford history professor and reluctant witch, Diana Bishop, who falls in love with a vampire.

Note in a stroke of genius, Harkness makes Diana a Bishop, which means she's related to Bridget Bishop, who was a witch in the Salem Witch Trials. This gives her witch lineage a boost, and it gives her a certain cache among other witches, as well.

The book that draws Diana and Peter, the 1500-year old vampire, together is a bewitched alchemical manuscript from the 1500s. Diana is able to access it, but she returns it to the library, as she doesn't want to use her powers. She tries to access it again, but it doesn't work. But then they discover that the book is just a piece of the puzzle, which involves Diana and the future.

Honestly, I'm ready for the next book to come out. The book left you hanging, and we know that another book will follow. And for those of you still scoffing at my book, even NPR liked it. So there!


If you give it a read, let me know what you think!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Should I or shouldn't I?

The question is whether it's too early to feature my blog on facebook. I think I'm committed to regular updates, but as you can tell last year that wasn't really the case.

This year is different. Yesterday for lunch Carrie and I went skiing. It was a bluebird day. Check out this photo.

What a beautiful day. And getting outside was such a great way to be reminded of why I live here in a place where gas is outrageously expensive.

Last night I went to Bikram's Yoga. It was HOT. It is only my second time back at Hot Yoga, and I'm still getting adjusted to it again. The mantra, "drink lots of water", certainly applies.

What I'm finally realizing and embracing is that making changes in your life takes time, dedication, and it has be a constant endeavor. When you backslide and make choices that aren't in line with what you're trying to accomplish--you can't give up. Instead you have to dust yourself off and acknowledge what happened and do better next time. For me the all or nothing tack just doesn't work in the longterm.

Happy spring, to a time of renewal and growth.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What do I want to say?

What do I want to say today? I want to write about what I'm grateful for in my life. I am so grateful for my family and my friends. They sustain me through thick and thin. They stand by me no matter what.

I am also grateful to live in such a beautiful place. Today the sun came out after yesterday's snow storm. For lunch, Carrie and I are heading for the slopes to enjoy the 17 inches of new powder. I admit though I'm more than ready for spring I can enjoy the snow for a bit longer. Enjoy what the day brings instead of wishing your life away.

I'm grateful for the opportunity to write and create, as it feeds my soul. Each time I write, take photos, or now paint I feel a connection to the universe. I am grateful for what I have in my life, which is a lot.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Hello Monday

Woke up to snow today. It is a bit dreary. Can you tell I'm ready for spring? I had a good weekend, and I've almost completed my art. I actually did a painting, which is a first for me. It feels good to try something different, though photography and writing are still my first loves. My photos didn't seem to embrace the theme, "Our History is Our Strength". I'm not sure my painting does that either, but it's an abstract version.

I spent the weekend chilling out and cleaning. The reason: I was out of town the last three weekends, and things had gotten a bit out of control. I just needed the weekend to catch up on things and devote time to being creative. I also met Mari for lunch on Sunday, and I went to Mary Anne's baby shower. It was fun to celebrate the little one, and catch up with MA and her crew.

Today it's back to work. Why does the weekend go by so quickly? Happy Monday to all.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Starting Again

I just read a blog about someone who took a year off to hike, travel, and write. (www.momonvacation.blogspot.com) It was inspiring to read about someone taking the "jump" as she described it. It sounds like a wonderful idea. It's not something that I can do completely right now, but I can take a small leap.

This weekend I'm working on my art project for my Women's History Art Show. Carrie and I are co-curating the show of 12 artists. I'm going out on a limb this time, because instead of photos and words I'm going to work on a painting. It could turn out a disaster, and I'll be back to photos, but I want to take this small leap to give it a try. I want to move past my fear of not embracing myself as an artist.

The other thing I want to commit to is writing in this blog at least once per week. That will be a challenge, but I'm going to put it in my calendar. The iphone might be able to prompt me to follow through. I started a new journal this year, and this blog is the next step. Once I start following through, then I plan to send out a note to gather some readers. One step at a time.

In the meantime, what small leap will you take in your life? It's time!