Archive for the ‘Growing’ Category


March 28th, 2011 by Jane

The weather keeps springing back on us, doesn’t it? My husband and I spent a long time working in the garden this weekend, as I’m sure many of you did. The above photo is of my rose tree that is about to explode in crimson blooms.

In an earlier post, I mentioned that I attended a conference a few weeks ago, led by one of my favorite yoga writers, Judith Hanson Lasater. She was so generous in sharing her knowledge about yoga and about life. I’m still digesting and absorbing many of her aphorisms. She beautifully articulated, sometimes in a funny or moving way, that life is yoga and how we practice both is up to us.

I thought I would share a few of my favorites with you:

Awareness in Tadasana (basic standing pose) is a life skill.

You can only be
yoga, you can’t do yoga.

We have a tyranny of choice in our lives.

Stability is the first rule of yoga.

Relaxation helps everything.

There is no ease in the edges of anything. Happiness and ease live in the middle.

You can’t be compassionate when you’re exhausted.

Yoga is a support group for people who can’t do yoga.

Give yourself 30 seconds of conscious whining everyday.

How do you define “enough?” The answer will define your life.

Yoga is a strategy for remembering your true self.

Breath is always in the present. You can’t breathe for last week or to get ahead for tomorrow.

Svasana (relaxation pose at the end of practice) is coming home. The post-svasana state is who you are.

Even if you don’t practice yoga, these are interesting to think about. I wrote down many more, and I’ll continue to share them with you. Which is your favorite?

For more of Judith’s wisdom and humor, follow her on Twitter @JudithYoga.


March 21st, 2011 by Jane

We cannot let another person into our hearts or minds unless we empty ourselves. We can truly listen to him or truly hear her only out of emptiness. ~M. Scott Peck (from

Happy Spring! I hope you all are enjoying fabulous weather. Lately, I’ve been thinking about emptiness. Sometimes, you might here someone refer to meditation as “emptying the mind.” That works for some people, but not all. The word empty has a negative connotation for most of us.

Indeed, Merriam-Webster’s entry for empty includes these words and phrases: null, unfrequented, containing nothing, lacking substance or reality, destitute, idle, devoid of sense. You get the idea.

But what if you never emptied or cleared anything? Such as your inbox or your refrigerator? What if your stomach was never empty? What if we kept filling everything up and never felt what it was like to feel that emptiness?

My husband and I joke that our life is so full that our cup runneth over, puddles at our feet and then sometimes we fall down in it. Pretty close to the truth on a lot of days, but it is not in our human make-up to be constantly full. In the stomach this creates indigestion. In a home it creates chaos and a feeling of bursting at the seams. In the mind fullness can foster in inattention and lack of focus.

There is much to be learned from emptiness. Even an empty gas tank or bank account brings a lesson, never forgotten. Is that a negative or a positive?

Emptiness allows space, breathing room, possibility. Do you know the story of the begging bowl? Buddhist monks sometimes carry “begging bowls” with them and what sustenance they receive for the day comes from what strangers put into their bowls. Sometimes they receive a slice of delicious bread or warm soup. Other times cruel people might spit into their bowls. This is a spiritual lesson because the monks must learn to be grateful for whatever is given to them. There are similar stories across all belief systems.

If we accept emptiness as something that might be positive, then we can learn. If we allow our bellies to feel empty, we might find out what we are hungry for. If we empty, or calm our minds, we might experience an unknown peace. If we allow some space in our day, in our lives then we might discover our greatest potential.

What do Jon Stewart, Bruce Springsteen and emptiness have in common? Take a few minutes and find out! Funny, beautiful and wise-my favorite combination!


Why I Love Tim Gunn…

November 10th, 2010 by Jane


I’ve never met Tim Gunn, but I’d like to. Yes, he is a distinguished sharp-dressed man. As co-host of Project Runway, he has what looks to be a fun job and he gets to hang out with really famous people. But, the fashion, the glamour and the celebrities are not the reasons I adore him.

Everything I have heard him say and the way he interacts with people is remarkable. I’ve co-opted his catch phrase: Make it work! This covers a lot of area, if needed. An article about him ran in the Austin-American Statesman a couple of years ago and I cut out a quote from him that has been hanging on the side of my fridge ever since:

“I’d like to believe that people respond to the fact that I’m a truth teller, but that I’m thoughtful and respectful of who they are,” he says. “I have a profound respect, frankly, for the human race. Am I disappointed by certain aspects of it? Of course. We all are.”

“But I really believe in the right of people to choose, and I believe that we’re not all the same by any means.”

I love his personal philosophy and wish that more of us lived by his motto. I think his respect and humanity come across in the television shows he has been involved with over the years. As far as I can tell from a 2-D experience of him, he tries to bring his highest and best self to what he is doing and he treats others as if they are doing the same.  Think about that. What if each of us treated others as if? As if we were our best selves at each moment.

I recently gained another reason to love Tim Gunn when I saw that he posted a video as part of the It Gets Better Project. This movement was started by writer Dan Savage as a response to recent suicides of Gay and Lesbian teens reported in the media. Tim Gunn’s video is very personal and poignant. Take a look and see for yourself.


October 24th, 2010 by Jane

I’ve been poking around the world wide web lately and I have come upon some new (to me) bloggers and writers. My favorite sites are those that make you laugh, make you think, are visually yummy and sometimes bring a tear or two.

The following few are just that perfect combination. I’ve marked specific essays that spoke to me, instead of linking to the home page. Can you have a crush on a blog? I do. Check them out and see if you agree.

37 Days
Patti Digh (rhymes with sigh) asks what you would do with your life if you had 37 days to live. No, she didn’t dream this up as a self-help gimmick. She has a very personal, poignant reason for this movement. But she is also very funny and her work is thought-provoking, tender and profound. She’s a wife, mother, diversity expert and writer who has a crush on Johnny Depp, which I get and totally support. Read her Eat on a Door entry and prepare to be charmed.

Kelly Rae Roberts
Kelly Rae is a very successful artist, a new mom and an experienced do-it-yourselfer. Her blog about her life, her art and her home renovations is beautiful to look at and read. Fall in love with her work, her writing and her house here.

Stark. Raving. Mad. Mommy
Her tag line reads, “Losing my mind, one child at a time.” She just might be crazy because she has more on her mommy plate than anyone I have ever seen, heard or read about. She lives in Houston and there are days that I want to get in my car and take a road trip to rescue her. But then we wouldn’t get funny posts like this. Or this.

Wishin’ and Hopin’
If my friend Kelly, who’s in Seoul for two years, ever expands her Random Korea Facebook postings into a blog, then you’ll need to keep some Depends on hand to address the resulting bladder leakage. It’s that funny.  She’s afraid she might cause an international incident, so she only shares her musings with her friends. Maybe when she’s stateside for good…

Something Sweet…

October 12th, 2010 by Jane

My husband loves macadamia nuts. His parents gave a jar of them to him and his sister every year as a stocking stuffer at Christmas when they were growing up. Sometimes they still do.

So, when we got married, I bought a jar of the roasted Hawaiian nuts for Christmas morning. On a trip to Sam’s Club that first year, I found a large box of CHOCOLATE COVERED macadamia nuts. Eureka! A little something extra for him! He kissed me on Christmas morning and told me how thoughtful it was of me.

Chocolate covered macadamia nuts became a holiday tradition. We had a tradition!

When we had been married about 14 years, I mentioned that the chocolated covered nuts were scarce that year. My husband said, “You don’t have to get me any. It’s okay.”

“No, no” I said. “I get them every year, I’ll keep looking.”

He said, “No, really. You don’t have to get them.”

“But you like them so much,” I replied.

“No, I don’t. I don’t like them at all.”

“What?!  But you eat them every year.”

“No, I don’t,” he said.

“Then who does?” I asked, incredulous.

“You do,” he said, with only the hint of a smirk.


Thoughts on Perfection…

September 28th, 2010 by Jane

Brenè Brown is staging a prostest. Now, I don’t know Brenè personally, but I’ve seen her speak, read her books, I’m devoted to her blog, and would sign up if she’s ever in the market for a new BFF! So, when she decides to start a movement-I’m all in.

She is protesting perfection. If you are compelled to make sure every detail in your life looks like a magazine spread, to not let the cracks show, to “never let ‘em see you sweat,” then this movement is for you. Not interested, you say? Well, most of us aren’t and we have a pretty good reason for hanging on to our sense of perfection. Brenè believes that we use it as a shield to cover up, disconnect and ultimately hide our vulnerabilities, effectively masking our authentic selves.

Her work as a researcher at the University of Houston is centered on shame-something most people don’t want to think about. She has figured out a few things in her years of study that can help all of us. Such as, it takes courage to be your authentic self. Shame cannot survive empathy. And, empathy and compassion toward yourself can be the most courageous, liberating thing you do. And everyone, yes, everyone craves connection.

Perfection is a stumbling block to connection, creativity, authenticity, compassion and love. Because if you can’t love your perfectly imperfect self, how can you love another imperfectly perfect, goofy soul?

My favorite line from the summer movie Inception, occurs when Leonardo di Caprio’s character tells his wife that he could never have dreamed “the complexity of you with all of your perfections and imperfections.”

Can we look at our beloveds as complex and perfectly imperfect? Can we look at  ourselves that way? Join the movement.

7 Fried Things

August 18th, 2010 by Jane

Way down here in the Heat Stroke State we are enjoying a heat index of 108ºF today. We Texans use our summer heat as a conversation starter, joke incubator and a badge of honor. Just walk into any public establishment and someone will catch your eye and say, “Hot out there, idn’t it?” Then, of course there are those who try to expand on the classic “It’s hot enough to…” Surviving a Texas August is no easy feat. Physically and psychologically, it’s our version of being snowed in, like those winters in South Dakota. Only with rivers of sweat.

Weathering August in Texas requires a commitment to hydration, the slowing down of your usual routine, and a willingness to use your life savings for your increased cooling bill. Mooching from a friend with a pool doesn’t hurt, either.

This time of year, my mind gets fuzzy and apathy is the general state in which you will find me. The only real relief comes with the first mini-cold snap we get around the last week of September, when the temperature drops down to a positively breezy 89ºF. Until then, I find that salsa and chips help me; something about eating spicy food makes all the sweating worthwhile.  Pair it with a mojito and you’ve got a party. But. You still have to hydrate: water, water, water or you will get sick, sick, sick. Here are seven things that suffered in the heat.

1) My Yard
The above photo is from my garden. My husband, who is handy with a garden hose, didn’t want me to post this because he thinks it reflects badly on him as my yard boy. It doesn’t. In Texas, everyone’s yard looks like this right now. Well, except for Lance Armstrong’s.

2) My Brain
I keep running into people I know while doing back-to-school shopping. We smile and chat.  We ask how everything is going and say good-bye with more smiles and well-wishes. Then I spend the next day-and-a-half trying to remember exactly who those lovely people might be. I look forward to the return of my memory when the weather cools.

3) Chicken
I have not turned on my oven in about 7 weeks. I have been “assembling” dinner, more than cooking it. Tuna salad, fruit plate with ham and cheese, chef’s salad and cold cereal have all been on the menu lately. In my desperation to keep the house cooled and my family fed, I even fried some chicken strips the other day. The kids wanted Happy Meals, so I made Mommy Happy Meals at home. Not to be confused with Mother’s Little Helper, of course.

4) Rice
I’m going to try this recipe for fried rice from Mark Bittman the next time I have leftover rice. Economical, yummy and kid-friendly. Don’t have the veggies listed? Use what you have and it will still turn out well.

5) Our Phone
The base station to our home phone fried in a storm two days ago and I haven’t been able to get a new one yet. They were out of the one with four extensions at the local WalMart, so that means a wait or a trip into Austin to Costco. No my house is not huge, but yes, we need four extensions because when two haven’t been recharged and another is in the bowels of a piece of furniture, then I NEED that fourth extension.

6) Science
Check out the Southern Fried Science blog by some graduate students in North (and South) Carolina. I don’t know half the stuff they’re talking about, but they make it seem fun!

7) Tomatoes
If you’re going to drag out your cast iron skillet to fry something, there is nothing worthier for your efforts than Fried Green Tomatoes. If you can resist eating them straight from the skillet (watch your tongue!) then put them in a sandwich. Mmmmm-mmmmmm!

7 Deal-Breaker Movies…

July 23rd, 2010 by Jane

Over wine some weeks ago, several girlfriends and I were catching up. A few of my friends have children that are older than mine and I pay special attention to their successes and stumbles with their children. I’m taking notes on how to deal with the next stage before my kids get there. I’ll keep you posted on how that works out.

One friend with a teen-aged daughter was talking about watching a family-favorite movie and how relieved they all were when the daughter’s new boyfriend “got” the movie. They use this as a screening tool for who will make the cut or not. Some have failed in recent years.

This inspired a long conversation about movies that we loved and why. It seems everyone has a movie, or five, that are more like family anthems and are a litmus test for how you will relate to others. Kind of like dog people who can’t be married to non-dog lovers. Here are some movies on our collective list. What are some of yours?

1) Monty Python
This one has eliminated several unworthy boys for my friend’s daughter.
Update: my friend said for this test, they use Life of Brian and The Holy Grail. Lately, they have been watching Spinal Tap as a “no fail predictor of longevity.” She would like all of you to take responsibility for choosing your own family movies, as she would not be held liable for any unfortunate pairings. She’s a smart cookie that way.

2) Fargo
My husband and I used to know a poet who took all of her dates to see this movie. If they didn’t like it or didn’t laugh at the appropriate times, she wouldn’t go out with them again. She had seen it seven times at the theater and thought is was the funniest thing she had ever watched. I think only two of five guys made the cut. We lost track of her, so we don’t really know how that worked out. We call this the Fargo Test.

3) St. Ralph
Another friend cited this movie as one that is beloved by her whole family. I haven’t seen it yet. I hope I like it, so I can stay on the roster!

4) Strictly Ballroom
This would be one on our list. My husband and I love this early Baz Luhrman movie. It is funny, sweet and campy with lots of spray tan and glitter. Who doesn’t love that?

5) The Princess Bride
This would make the list, as well. A fairy tale for grown-ups and kids alike.

6) Home for the Holidays
We watch this every November to prepare ourselves for the crazy train that pulls into Dysfunction Junction for the holiday season. Holly Hunter and Robert Downey, Jr. before he turned his life around: hilarious.

7) Love Actually
I have told you before about my love for this movie. I recently found out that a friend of mine doesn’t like it at all and I can barely look at him anymore. I’m working through it as best I can.

7 Questions…

June 20th, 2010 by Jane

Our three girls are very curious, active and clever people. But we’re not biased! We enjoy them so much every day, even when they are pushing the limits of our patience. There is a lot of good stuff we get in return, of course and some days we think we are living the modern version of the TV classic Kids Say the Darndest Things.

One of the twins, Twin A on the sonogram, is especially curious about everything. Her nickname around here is Lois Lane. She always knows what is going on in the house and she comes up with questions that we have a hard time answering most days. Here is a sample.

1) Why do we have chins?
Her dad told her it was so our noses wouldn’t slide off of our faces.

2) What’s the number before infinity?
She understands what infinity is, so this one really blew our minds.

3) Why are eyes different colors?
We consulted our neighbor, who is an eye doctor for this one. She gave Lois Lane a really good explanation about pigment and people’s different coloring.

4) Why do boy lions have fur around their neck?
Best guess: For protection when they fight other boy lions.

5) Follow up question: And why do they have that little bit of fur at the end of their tail?
Anyone got this one?

6)  Why are pirates called pirates?
From Latin and Greek origins meaning to attempt or attack.

7) What’s your favorite, Favorite, FAVORITE thing to do?
Be with you and your sisters and your dad.

7 Bright Spots

April 7th, 2010 by Jane

Spring has sprung and the world looks a little brighter, yes? Here are a few more bright spots for you to enjoy!

1) Who is Amy?
No, not our own lovely, Amy K. Brown. I am talking about the equally lovely Amy K. Rosenthal. She is a Chicago-based writer and maker of merriment. Her books are whimsical and touching, her small films are truly inspiring. And in my opinion, The Beckoning of Lovely is brilliant. Her work will be a definite bright spot in your life.

2) Guess What’s Exploding in Central Texas?
See the above photo, shot by our favorite photographer, Amy K. Brown.
We are having an awesome wildflower year here in Central Texas, due to all of the fall rains we had. The state flower of Texas is the bluebonnet and they are showy flowers in any year, but this one is a bluebonnetpalooza! Bring your toddlers on up here to put a heinie print in a field on the side of the highway!

3) Do you know TED?
If you are feeling down about the state of the world, then watch some of these TED conference videos. At the Technology Engineering and Design conference each year, some of the smartest people on the planet share their ideas and plans for making the world a better place. It gives one hope.

4) Got Gratitude?
I have been a fan of MJ Ryan’s books on gratitude for years now, my favorite being A Grateful Heart, but I didn’t know that she is an expert on change and adaptability. Peruse her website and blog and you might become a fan, too.

5) Know Any Young Poets?
Check out New Moon, no not that one. New Moon, the online and print magazine for girls, written by girls.

6) Wanna Get Lucky?
Katherine Center’s new book, Get Lucky is out today. I know what I am reading this weekend!

7) How Do You Eat an Elephant?
One Peace at a Time, a documentary by actor, writer and Austin-resident,Turk Pipkin, is out on DVD this week. If you missed his first film, Nobelity, then run out and get it.  In Nobelity, Pipkin asked Nobel laureates what to do about some of the world’s most pressing problems and their answers are simple and fascinating. A movement grew out of that filming experience and the Pipkin family started an non-profit to help solve some of those problems. Watch both of them back to back; with nine Nobel laureates, great music and Willie Nelson-you won’t be sorry! Or go meet Turk this Friday at the release party at Waterloo Records, if you are in the Austin area!

© 2008 7of