Sunday, December 1, 2013

About a dog...

We bought a house and in 2005 and before we closed escrow we rescued a dog.  She was kind of ugly; black with a white chest, a mixture of lab and pit bull.  She was about 9 months old and had her first litter of four.  She had never seen grass before she met us - she had lived in east LA in a home with no yard.  Before they abandoned her they named her Pinky.  We thought better of it and named her Maggie.

She was incredibly obedient.  She was also sometimes naughty.  She loved us.  She was patient with children.  She adored cats.  She opened up the sliding doors to let herself out for potty breaks (she never closed it).  She only got up on our bed when we weren't home.  She ignored other dogs and people when we went walking and she didn't need a leash.  She ate through six pairs of black flats and one brown pair in the first few years of living with us - and then she stopped.  She had this way of putting her nose down in the grass, especially if it was dewy, and pushing herself through it with her hind legs. She loved the park and she loved grass.  She loved to run after the ball and was so proud of herself when she brought it back.  Every time I sat down in bathroom she would come running and back herself up into my hands so that I could scratch her rear end.  As soon as we went to sleep she would go through the kitchen trash, or the bathroom trash...

I'm sure you have a pet like Maggie.

She drove us nuts and we loved her.

She was killed while crossing the street on Saturday the 19th of October.  Todd was outside gardening and Maggie was with him as always.  The neighbors called him over and she stayed behind.  And then she must've realized she wanted to go with him and started to cross the street.  The neighbors saw it, but we didn't.  It looks like the driver was texting.  He didn't even stop.  Although he did come back a few minutes later.

Todd was worried about her being in pain and came running into the house for help...Clarke, Todd and I ran outside and found Maggie who had made her way over to the curb across the street and put her head between the curb and a car wheel.  She didn't suffer for more than five minutes.  But we are still suffering.  Every time we come home we wait for her to bark or run to us and wag her tail.  Nothing.  I hate it.

We thought to take her body to the vet and I called them to find out what to do.  It was $200 for a group cremation and $260 for an individual service.  I decided to call the Humane Society in Pasadena. They said they would come out, but since we were already driving (our neighbors very generously loaned us their mini-SUV because I couldn't bring myself to put her body in the trunk and our son had the truck) we arranged to take her to them.

We were just a wreck with tears.  We walked in the office and Todd took the lead.  I just tried to hold it together and not make eye contact with patrons picking up just neutered pets or making a new adoption.  We were instructed to take her around back and we were met by two young men who saw her body and suggested a stretcher to move her.  They were so incredibly compassionate and kind.

We realized that we hadn't been charged anything, so we went back to the front and paid the fee ($5.00) and made a donation because Maggie was a rescue dog and it just made more sense to donate to them then the vet.  It felt less selfish.

For a few days we are all in a funk.

One morning while praying and meditating I was just sitting with the feelings and noticing that I was waffling between anger and sadness and feeling frustrated because Maggie drove me nuts and I also love her.

And an answer came so clearly: I drive God nuts.  AND God loves me.

I know you probably figured this out years ago.

It's new to me and I think it's because my thinking is extremely black and white.  If I'm good, I'm lovable.  If I'm bad I'm not.  And it's only about me, not my husband or children or friends, I accept them and love them as they are.  I wonder how they can put up with me for my imperfections and I think that's because I've made up all of these criteria that I usually cannot meet.  There is just a broken place in my brain that tells me all or nothing, either good or bad.  And it doesn't apply to my children or my husband or friends.  I love them and don't judge them as good or bad - I let them be human...

But I don't allow myself this break.  It isn't helpful thinking.  It isn't thinking I want.  And it took my sweet dog to show me that it is possible for me to be loved deeply despite flaws.

I hope this lesson sticks.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

June - One Word prompt

It's June!

We are six months in and six months out of 2013 - smack dab in the middle.

This is the time for me when all of the movement I've made in the direction of my best self really tends to slow.  I tend to think I'm not close enough to my goal (however nebulous that is), I'm not moving fast enough - I don't do enough good things...  And, most powerfully, I hear some sort of a voice telling me that there isn't enough time because I'm too busy or I need to sleep.  (Sleeping is something I am really good at because I practice it regularly).

To address these not-so-encouraging voices it's time to find external messages and affirmations and capture those.

Here's what mine looks like from 2012 and the word emerge.  I think it's so helpful to look back at this and see how the word FREE (my 2013 word) was beginning to show up:

As you can see, I used phrases from songs to capture my word and I even made a CD with some of the music I was listening to last July.

I invite you to use scriptures, songs, quotes and even your personal internal dialogue to find phrases that affirm you and your direction in life.  

I will have a form for you to download in the next week or so.  In the meantime, grab a journal and start taking notes.  What speaks to your heart with love right now?  In this moment, what do you want to remember about where you are in your journey in June 2013?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

"To Rescue a Soul so Rebellious and Proud as Mine"

Back on April 7th a lesson began.

Some friends called around 3 in the afternoon to say that a "giant bird" was trapped underneath their car and did I know anyone who might help.  Well, I love birds.  One of my dreams is to capture one of the wild parrots that squawk across the sky each morning and evening in this area.  So, I said, "we'll be right over."  Notice how easily I rope my husband into my adventures!

I went prepared with a large towel and a sliced apple.

The bird was a parrot.  And we thought he might have been a lost pet for about two minutes.  After that we knew he was wild because he was so agitated by human attention.  This is a good time to note that my daughter thinks it's anti-feminist to think of this bird as a he.  In fact, parrots' genders cannot be determined without a blood test.  I refer to him as a he because - well...I don't know why I refer to him as a he.  Perhaps because he was so grumpy.  Or maybe I am not a feminist.  I guess I need to think this over.

I tried all sorts of things to lure this bird to safety.  I noticed that his left wing was drooping and he didn't fly very far.  But he could move.  From car to bush to deep in the hedge and back to under the car.  The Authorizer (my dear husband) corralled from one end and I cooed and proffered food from another.  Our friends offered support and ideas - and one of them kept going in the house (deep fear of birds).  Finally we were successful.

Here's a little video right after we caught him:

On his beak is strawberry flesh, not blood.  This was about the calmest moment for him.  He bit me at least fifteen times and broke my skin twice.  Several times I had to hold his beak from the top to keep him from hurting me.  And he was SO hungry.  He at half an apple and 3 strawberries in about 5 minutes.

We took him home and I set him up with bird seed, more fruit, and unsalted peanuts in the shell, which he loves to crack and eat almost as much as my husband.

I called local veterinarians, shelters, and Mr. Google to figure out next steps.  On google I learned more about how to treat the hurt wing.  So I went home and put Grumpy McGrumpster in the sink with warm water and used hydrogen peroxide on what I thought might be a wound - but it was so dirty I couldn't tell if it was oil from the car or dried blood.  It was dried blood.  I mistakenly used a white towel to dry off the parrot and the towel turned brown.  Oh well.

The next day I gave the bird (G McG) another bath and checked his wing again.  He was getting stronger and flying a few feet at a time.  Here's a video of that session, during which he seemed incredibly happy:

Notice how brown his feathers looked when they were wet.  And look at all the yucky stuff in the water - he was much cleaner after his second shower.

After a few more days I took G McG outside to get some air and see the garden.  I put his plastic box on its side to see what he would do and what he did was RUN.  He was out of the box and into the garden in seconds flat.  Knowing he couldn't go far, I thought, "I'll let him play outside while I make dinner."  I put strawberries and peanuts in his box and went inside.  

Our latest Garden Box

An hour later, he hadn't returned and wasn't visible to me, so I went back in the house.  He slept outside that night.

I saw him in the neighbor's tree the next day.  He wasn't any friendlier.  I felt like he was throwing gang signs and he yelled at me a few times.  I threw some peanuts at the base of the tree and went on with my life.  He was happier outside and the weather was nice.

Can you see him?

Throwing Gang Signs

About a week later my husband opened up the French doors to find G McG sitting on one of his garden shoes.  

G McG - still angry

I gave him a bunch of strawberries, which he ate.  

And that was April 15, 2013.  I haven't seen him or heard him since.

I shared this story with my Dad, who lives in Utah and doesn't have wild parrots.  I joked that I was frustrated with the parrot because it was still mean to me and distrustful even though I had consistently approached it with food, affection, comforting words, a warm and safe place to sleep, and treatment for its wounds.

He told me a story in return.

When he was a young man in Fairbanks Alaska he and his friends liked to take a short cut in the winter and cross the frozen Chena River to get to school.  In the spring, as the weather warmed, the ice began to soften.  One spring afternoon as he was walking home from school he saw that a dog had fallen through a soft spot in the ice and the dog could not get free.  To rescue the dog, my father lay himself on the ice, and reached toward the dog.  The dog bit him, hard, drawing blood.  And my dad realized that he could not help this dog because the dog didn't want the help, or was too afraid to accept it.  He couldn't save the dog.

And then it hit me.  

I have done this.

I have reacted with fear or pride or bravado or agitation or 3-year-old foot stomping "By Myself" many times when the Lord has offered me security, succor, affection, hope, alternatives and treatment for my wounds.

On Sunday we sang the hymn "I Stand All Amazed."  I thought this was a hymn that everyone knows, but when I googled it I got the impression it was a Latter Day Saint hymn.  So, here are two videos in case you aren't familiar with it:

Mormon Tabernacle Choir at Conference

Tongan Girls sing I Stand All Amazed A capella

The second verse says: 

I marvel that He would descend from His throne divine,  To rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine.   That He should extend His great love unto such as I,  Sufficient to own, to redeem and to justify.

This is how I feel today.  


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

One Word | May Prompt

Let's find our words in the world around us in May.  That's right, it's time to pull out your camera or your cell phone and take pictures.

What images come to mind right now?

In 2011 my word was EMERGE and I took photos of flowers blooming, the sun bursting through clouds, me walking through a door...

Get behind the lens and let it show you your word.  What do you see?

Note: Mark your calender - May 21, 2013.  We will be meeting a little bit early (6pm) for a photography walking tour.  We will grab some dinner after.

Join the journey - it's not too late!

One Word: FREE | Big News for Kristen

Hello May!

Spring is springing and summer is in the wings.  I'm starting to get energized about some new adventures as I begin in earnest the transition from my comfortable and worn path to a brand new adventure.  That is to say: I quit.  I resigned my full time job.  I told them at the staff meeting yesterday.  It's official!  My last day as the computer teacher for Paradise Canyon elementary school is June 13, 2013.  Wow.  Talk about actualizing my word: FREE!

And the associated emotions?  Joy, fear, hope, curiosity, open-mindedness...did I say fear?  How about worry?  I also have a bucket and a vat of faith right now.  My mind reaches for that adage, "When God leads you to it, He will help you through it."  This decision has been happening for three years now and I am the one who has been dragging her feet.  So, here it is - the gigantic leap of faith.  I quit my job!

What is next?

Monday, April 29, 2013

One Word | April 2013 prompt

Well - this is a late post for the April prompt.  Still, here it is - and it's good as long as you need it.

This month - sometime soon - get out a piece of paper...any size, any color...and write one of the following words:


Write big - fill the whole page (leaving just a little room around the edges).  Write with a marker, a paint brush, a crayon, a pencil.  Color it in, decorate it up, spend some time connecting with this word.

just above the word (or inside, or on the side, or on the bottom) write these two small words:

I am.

Put your piece of paper where you can see it.

Put you and your piece of paper in front of a mirror and take a picture.  Or ask someone to take a picture of you holding your paper with some of these words on it:

I am enough
I am worthy
I am good

How does that feel?  Repeat this phrase every time you see yourself in the mirror, or reflected in a car window, or anywhere.  Try it for a few weeks.

Eventually you will put it in your folder or notebook.

Say a little prayer, or call me if you forget these messages.  I am here to remind and support you.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

One Word | April 16 meeting

Tuesday night at the church six of us met to work on our One Word pursuit.

We finished up our January prompt - here's mine...

Most everyone had already finished their vision boards (our February prompt).  I took a photo of mine and put it in my album behind the January  page.  And then we worked on our March prompt by meditating for 15 minutes (or so, I couldn't eyes were closed!).

We put pages in page protectors, page protectors in folders, and we talked.  We talked about the answers we received during our meditation time.  We talked about the fact that it was easy to come up with what we're doing "wrong" and difficult to come up with what we're doing "right."

We talked about sacrificing what we want for so long that we've forgotten what we want.

We talked about being vulnerable, eating well, and listening to our bodies.  Our bodies know what to eat.  Our hearts know what we want.  Our sisters know how to succor us - even when we don't know how to do this for ourselves.

I'm glad you were there/I wish you were there.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

One Little Word | March reflections

Over at Big Picture Classes I'm taking Ali Edward's class called One Little Word - just in case I haven't said that enough.

The prompt for March was to take action.  Ali encouraged us to identify something we've wanted to do, pick a date, mark it on the calendar, and DO IT!  

My personal "intention" for March was Dare to be Powerful - because power is liberating!  

So my action for March was to set aside time to "dream, think, pray and ponder what's next."  

And I did it.  The path just ahead of me is still unclear, but the fog is lifting and I know I am on the right path.  

My daring to be powerful in March resulted in FOUR blog posts - up FOUR from January!  Daring to be powerful also helped me to push though some work around making amends.  Daring to be powerful prepped me to launch a complete studio re-do, which is something I've been working on little by very little since last summer.  

In March I bought a new computer and printer - and I let it sit in the living room because I was too afraid to be powerful enough to set it up and claim it for myself.  What a discovery - neither good nor bad - just information and another little evidence that I stop myself from experiencing life wholeheartedly (as Brené Brown says).

Well guess what?  The computer is set up now!  

I'm off to rule the world.  Take care!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Healthy Habits - What I'm learning

I'm involved in two healthy habit challenges right now and I love it.  Last week was the first week of my Healthy Habit Challenge with friends from work and family.  I was so motivated and I notice that the support really helped me stay focused.  I still ended up with two treat days (all it took was having to taste a piece of chocolate to see if I could use it in my recipe...oh well). I still got in 5 days of exercise and I can tell choices.

I'd love to hear what you learned from this experience.

Here's what I learned: 

1) I don't get in as much fruit and vegetables as I thought
2) On the weekends my timetable for eating shifts down and I often don't finish eating by 9pm (this was a big surprise)
3) It didn't take long for my body to adjust to the extra water - and now I am better at identifying that thirsty feeling

Thank you so much for doing this with me.  I am LOVING the extra motivation and support.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Healthy Habit Challenge FAQ

This is the beginning of my week 3 on the healthy habit challenge and I am really happy with how my clothes are fitting more loosely - already!

What a great day it was yesterday - I drank lots of water and got in a great work out, and I'm hearing that you did too!  I really appreciate your support.  I am learning that it is really important for me to have an accountability structure in place.

Answer to some frequently asked questions. 

1) Eat as many fruits and vegetables as you want - making sure you eat a minimum of 2 fruits and 3 vegetables to earn your points

2) A sugary treat or dessert is something like ice cream, candy, cake, cookies, jello, pudding, chocolate, gummy bears...  It is NOT: a little sugar added to your Greek yogurt, sugar in your coffee or tea, foods that have sugar in them (granola bar).  We are not giving up sugar!  We are rewarding ourselves for reaching for a healthier choice over a sugary food choice.

3) You can eat sugar/drink alcohol as many days as you want each week - but you only earn points for avoiding sugar/alcohol 6 days of the week.  During the first few weeks you may want to reduce gradually - going to three days, then two days and then one day each week.  It's all up to you.  And I am NOT taking a point handicap because I don't drink alcohol! :-)

4) You earn points for exercising only five days each week.  If you want to gradually build up the amount of exercise you do, that's fine!  The point is sustainable shifts, not dramatic and often injury-inducing hyper exercise.  Slow and steady!

5) I've heard some people are concerned about integrity since we are self-reporting our points.  I trust that we will all be honest since, as Linda D said, "The challenge is really me against me."  In addition, the weight loss component will act as a check and balance.  When we make these positive/healthy shifts, our bodies will shift too.

Some portion guidelines:

1 vegetable serving = 1 cup raw vegetables or 1/2 cup cooked vegetable

1 fruit serving = 1/2 cup - 1 cup fresh fruit, 1/4 cup dried fruit (raisins, etc), or one piece of fruit - bananas are typically two fruit servings.  Your call

These foods do not count as anything (not vegetables, not fats, not illegal): pickles, ketchup, 1 tsp sugar, salt, 1 Tbsp honey, mustard

1 protein serving = 2 Tbsp peanut butter, 1 oz cheese (1/4 cup shredded cheese), 1 oz meat, 1 egg, 1/4 cup nuts, 3 pieces of bacon

1 fat serving = 1/4 avocado, 1 tsp butter, 1 tsp mayo, 1 Tbsp salad dressing, 1 Tbsp nuts, 1 piece of bacon, 1 Tbsp cream, 1 Tbsp sour cream, 1 Tbsp cream cheese, 1/4 cup olives

1 dairy serving = 6 oz yogurt, 6 oz milk

Until next time - Keep up the terrific work!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Healthy Habit Challenge

We are starting the Healthy Habit Challenge April 8, 2013

Come on along for the fun.

Here's a .pdf file for you to download and print out.  Fill in your points every day and send me your scores every Sunday evening.

Leave comments and questions below and check back for rankings next Monday.


Challenge pdf

Also!  I need to give credit to Six Sister's Stuff.  I used their healthy challenge printable as the basis for the form we are using for our challenge.  Thanks ladies!

Monday, March 18, 2013

One Word - March 2013 Prompt | Meditation

The March One Word prompt is about meditation and much more than meditation.  We will be using a bit of quiet time to explore our journey with our word.

Here's the overview:

Pick a two dates for meditation.  Mark them on the calendar and note the time. 

Read the Meditation Hand Out and follow the prompt. 

Download the documentation file (here) and print it out.  

List one thing that is helping you right now on your journey toward integrating your word into your life.

List one thing that is hindering your progress toward your one word.

In a few days (yes, this time I promise!) I'll post what I've done.


Monday, March 11, 2013

One Little Word January and February in Review

At the end of the month I like to review what I did with my word and my intention.  I have, of course, already fallen a little behind.  But here are my January and February summaries.


My intention was Free Time (see my list of intentions) and in January I took several steps to shift my schedule.  The first thing I did was request a further reduction in my work hours.  Instead of working 3 and a half days I asked to work only Monday-Wednesday.  I think having two full days to pursue creative interests will be more productive than a day and a half.  It's hard to shift gears in the middle of Thursday.  Our school principal was supportive of  my request and the School Board votes the first week of February and the change should be effective 20 February 2013.

The next thing I did to free my time was to stop playing two silly games on my iPad.  One of the games was a virtual zoo and the other a fantasy restaurant.  Both games are designed for much younger people and I'd been playing both for more than a about a time drain!  Still, it was hard to unplug.  I quit the zoo game the first week of January and the restaurant game was deleted at the end of week two.  I still play a word game because I've heard it staves off Alzheimer's (?) and because I'm really good at it.  Look for QueenKristen if you play Scramble with Friends - or if you're on Instagram.

Here's some fun I had in my new found spare time: 

I took a list of synonyms for FREE as well as my name and uploaded them on Tagxedo.  Try it!


In February my intention was Free Body.  I have been struggling with pain from a torn meniscus in my right knee and some referred/compensatory pain in my left knee so exercise has been tough for me this last year.  In February I felt strong enough to get back to moving.  I walked at least three times per week for the first three weeks and then made a point to get to the gym at least twice.  What a great feeling! 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

One Word - Class Announcement

So happy to have you here on the blog.  As this is my personal blog, look for the entries titled One Word for class specific information.  It's not too late to join me on the One Word journey!

The La Crescenta Ward Relief Society met on February 12, 2013 at a no-longer-called-Enrichment meeting.  We talked about the power of selecting just one word to guide us for the year.  The turn out at the event was great and the art work was Ah-MAZ-ing!  We made vision boards!

From now on we will be holding class mainly on the blog and periodically in person.  Here's what you need to know to get started:

Here is a link to the class announcement including supplies list.  Please leave a comment if this link doesn't work and I'll put the supplies list on the blog.

Mark your calendars for future One Word group gatherings in 2013. We will meet at 7pm either my house or the church.

April 16
May 21
July 16
September 17
November 19

I also made some mini-canvases for you to decorate with your research and images of your word.  There are three colors: black, gray, or brown.    The canvases are meant to be put into a baseball card holder/page protector (on the supply list).  We will use this card holder page protector at least 2 times during the year.  Rather than all of us buying a packet of these, I am happy to buy one package and give out a few to everyone for a small charge (.50 for 2 page protectors and .50 for gas to get to the store and back...J) I'll start bringing these to church so look for me.  The dimensions on the mini-canvases are 3.4" x 2.4".

Mine (is a little different) looks like this: 

Our assignments so far are:

1 - January 
Select a word (or let it select you) and do some leg work - look up the definition? what are some synonyms? what do you want to invite with this word?  take a self-portrait.  Find a quote or scripture that uses your word and write that out.  Cut out the mini-canvases and put them in the page protectors.  On the blank mini-canvases write your word or make some art that inspires you.

2 - February 

Make a vision board!  Christine Kane has an article on this, here. But basically all you do is cut pictures and words from magazines or the internet and put them together on a canvas or piece of paper in a way that inspires you.   Cover it all with Mod Podge, gesso or gel medium and you're done!   If you do it on a piece of 8.5" x 11" paper the next step is easy - just put it in a page protector and place it in your album - or cut it into 9ths using the dimensions of 3.4"x 2.4" and put your vision board in the back side of your baseball card page protector. If you don't want to cut up your finished work, make a scan of it, take a picture, or get a color copy in the  8.5x11" size and use that for your scrapbook binder. 

Here is my completed vision board (I made a big one on a 20"x 24" canvas) and hung up in my studio.  

On or about the first of every month I will send you an email inviting you to check out the new prompt for the month on the blog.  

EXPERIMENT - do you own thing and make this personal to your journey.  I can't wait to share the transformational power of One Word with you this year.

Questions?  leave a comment below!

One Little Word - 2013


That's my word for 2013.  In January I set some intentions for each month.  What do I want from FREE?  Here's what I came up with:

January - Free TIME
February - Free BODY
March - *Dare to be POWERFUL 
April - *Dare to CREATE
May - Free WRITE
July - Freely BELIEVE
August - Burst FREE
September - Debt FREE
October - Free SPIRIT
November - Free ENOUGH
December - *Dare to be STILL

*Dare is a word that I am using to assist me with Free this year

I made 12 baseball sized cards and added a few more details.

Have you picked a word for 2013?  Leave a comment and let us know.  If you haven't picked a word here are some links that I used the first time I selected a word (in 2011!)  I used this document by Christine Kane to help me understand the purpose of selecting just one word instead of making multiple resolutions.  I also rely on Ali Edwards' guidance in her One Little Word class at Big Picture Classes.  In fact, some of what I've planned for this year has been adapted from Ali's class.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Pink Cookie Day

A friend just dropped off some heart shaped shortbread cookies with pink frosting.  She said, "yesterday was a pink cookie day and you were so good to listen to me so I made you some."

It is hard to be Mormon sometimes.  It's hard to deal with the peer pressure.  I love being Mormon.  I love the gospel, the scriptures, the social support and the good deeds that we do for each other.  I love my relationship with God.  I love the temple, General Conference,, did I mention the scriptures?  I am so blessed by the priesthood, my patriarchal blessing, my testimony... I love being Mormon.  I love the gospel.

I hate the judgment, criticism, perfectionism and gossip: that I have all the downsides of a small community even though I live in Los Angeles.  If we really follow Jesus Christ, perhaps we could stop with the comparison.  The down the nose looking... (I've prepared a list of those who need to pay attention to what I'm saying)

I can't tell the truth in my community.  It's just not appropriate.  But I can love.  I can love me and I can love you.  I can do my part to stop gossiping (it is fun for a few minutes).  I can do my part to stop the judgment. I can do my part to accept people as they are, and myself as I am.  And that's where I'll focus.  I get to be a good person.  And I get to practice being a good person, which isn't easy for me.

I get to have pink cookies in my heart and give them to those who support me...and to those who don't.