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Showing posts from July, 2016

Year Two, Day 83: The "Happiness Way"

Life is interesting.

This morning I woke up cranky as usual. But then I remembered what I had written in my dayplanner on Saturday:

"The way to happiness: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry. Live simply, expect little, give much. Fill your life with love. Scatter sunshine. Forget self, think of others. Do as you would be done by. Try this for a week and you will be surprised"\. ~The Power of Positive Thinking, Norman Vincent Peale, 1952
Mr. Peale adds in the next paragraph: " long as you lead a God-centered life".
I am on Day 3 of my "happiness way".
I am realizing while studying this book, and doing the exercises, which include much prayer and self inspection, that I have been my own worst enemy.
I am determined to change!
"...the formula is to know what you want, test it to see if it is right thing, change yourself in a such a manner that it will naturally come to you and always have faith".  ~The Power of Positive Thinking, Norm…

Year Two, Day 82: NVP!

I have three words for you: Norman Vincent Peale.

Ok. That is actually a name.

"Norman Vincent Peale (May 31, 1898 – December 24, 1993) was an American minister and author (most notably of The Power of Positive Thinking) and a progenitor of "positive thinking"."

He is my new hero.

I stopped by the used book store by the music center yesterday after teaching class. It was so hot and muggy out, I was seeking an escape before heading to the gym.

What I was really doing was battling a craving for a cheeseburger and fries!  Oy!

But I really didn't need any more books. I am trying to stick to a very tight budget since this summer my piano students are down to a skeleton crew and the cupboards are nearly bare!

But I told myself, I would just look on the discount shelf.

And there it was! It nearly threw itself at me:

The Power Of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale.

It cost me $.33.  Best $.33 I have ever spent.

I …

Year Two, Day 81: Salad Rolls to the Rescue!

Finally had a bit of a breakthrough with this eating disorder of mine. 

Since it has been so hot lately, I have not felt much like cooking. No, not even in my crockpot.

I was thinking about my Vietnamese family that I am teaching English. Then it hit me.

Salad rolls!

I didn't have much time to do anything fancy yesterday. And with my small, but loyal crew of piano students, funds are limited. So I made vegetarian salad rolls.

It was one of those last minute decisions. I was going to run up to Fred Meyer's near our house and pick up the ingredients. But I wasn't certain they would have everything I needed.

So, instead I went to the Asian grocery store on SE 82nd near Foster. I cannot remember the name of the store, and oddly I cannot find them on the internet.

But I'm glad I went! The produce was very fresh and cheap. Most grocery stores do not stock fresh bean sprouts. But they did here! I got rice paper wraps, rice noodles, bean sprouts, cucumbers, green onion, fresh…

Year Two, Day 80: Conventions are Over...Hallelujah!!

This is going to be a short post.

I am too hot to write. Too hot to think.

It is after 10p.m.and still 80°.


Plus, tonight was the democratic convention. I watched it at the gym.

I am exhausted in more ways than one.

But at least the conventions are over.


On that note, sweet dreams and I hope your Thursday was happy!

Year Two, Day 79: Intervals

Interval: "A period of time between events In music : "The difference in pitch between two notes"
I am taking some time today. Time for quiet. Time to breathe.  I am on a train, returning from a day of teaching in Salem. It was good to get away, even for a short trip. I started out listening to talk radio. But the manic, intense voices were making me feel anxious. So I switched to the classical radio station. I was rewarded with the sublime sounds of Beethoven' s Fourth Symphony. My breathing slowed. I felt the music infiltrate my being like liquid. I sighed and felt thankful for bliss.

As I listened to the orchestra play a work of genius, I consciously willed myself to not think in words. Just to be present with each note. It was profound. I looked out the window at a deep blue sky. My gaze lingered on a puffy  while cloud, that seemed to be gliding along on in tandem with the train. Then a flock of birds whisked by …

Year Two, Day 78: Mourning Sickness

True confession time.

I am and have always been an emotional person.  I get teased a lot. Especially from my children.  If we are watching a movie together and a moment of sadness or even joy comes on, they all look at me.

Inevitably I am sniffing and dabbing my eyes. They laugh at me and say something like,

"Mom, it is only a movie"!

I have actually prided myself on my emotional depth. Yes, I consider it depth. Not weakness. I feel like I have a capacity to feel deeply. To empathize. And to "follow my gut".

But lately my stomach hurts almost constantly.  It seems daily we are horrified by acts of senseless violence.  I wake up in the morning with a sick feeling.  And I am past childbearing age so it is not morning sickness.

I believe it is mourning sickness.

And this is not a movie. 

Mourning the loss of innocent lives at the hands of what I can only comprehend as pure evil.

If you are a Christian, it is hard to deny this looks like the "End Times".


Year Two, Day 77: Breaking for the DNC

Watching the DNC I am.

I was impressed with Cory Booker' s speech. And I am looking forward to seeing my man Bernie Sanders. I am feeling the tears well up already.

But first, Michelle Obama.How can you not love this woman?

I think I will focus my attention on her.

Happy Monday.
See you tomorrow!

Year Two, Day 76: A Very Handsome Bus Driver

So nice to feel good again!

And to put me in an even better mood, my newest Gwynnie Bee selection arrived in the mail!  A teal colored sleeveless dress. Fits perfectly. I put a little sweater shrug over it - not brave enough to show bare arms in public!

I decided to walk and bus to church this morning. Still feeling a little weak. Plus, it's kind of challenging riding a bike in a dress.

I got on the bus, and there was my favorite bus driver. He is Latino. Think a slightly older version of Eric Estrada.  Was nice to see his handsome, smiling face.  And as usual, we engaged in a bit of friendly flirting.

"Ah, my favorite rider", says my Latin Driver. Let's just call him LD. "It makes my day to drive around such a beautiful woman.  With the red hair and gorgeous eyes!"

I blushed violently but was smiling. I don't get much of this kind of attention at my age!

So, before thinking, I blurted out, "And it makes my day to ride with such a handsome driver…

Year Two, Day 75: A Sick Day :(

I am taking a day off from blogging today.  I am functioning on very few hours of sleep.  Feeling quite sick.

I will resume tomorrow willing!

Happy Saturday!

P.S. Nausea has it's plusses.  I lost 2 pounds overnight...not my favorite method of weight loss!

Year Two, Day 74: The Realm of Certainty

I crashed through my wall yesterday.

My wall of despair, gloom, pain and fatigue.

I remember the moment when the smoke cleared. So I need to blog about it before the realization dissipates.

I rode my bike to the music center yesterday.  I remember as I packed my belongings in my little basket, attached to my bike, strapped on my helmet and pushed off, I felt a rustle of a breeze in my hair. And a bit of relief from my doom and gloom state of mind.

I kept riding, pushing a little harder than usual.  I broke a sweat.

But I still felt weighed down.

I taught my first class.  I love my students.  I felt a bit better.

Then I took a walk on my break.  Had an iced tea. I had some time before my next class, so I began working on a piece of music that I will be recording for one of my customers.  This is when the fog began to lift. I got really immersed in what I was doing. 

I forgot about everything else.  It felt so good to be focused on an activity. And no words were involved.

With languag…

Year Two, Day 73: I Wish I Were a Turtle

I had a dark night last night.

Instead of getting out of bed, I just wanted to pull the covers over my head this morning.

How I long to be a turtle. To have a hard shell protecting you from the outside world, and a safe place to retreat when things look dangerous.

I have been following the Republican National Convention.  I have been listening to talk radio. I was getting lured into all the hype and drama.

My heart was racing. My head pounding. I felt sick to my stomach.  But I was not bored! I was engaged.   I felt like I was on a rollercoaster. It was like a drug.

And I am ready to stop.  Perhaps this morning was the beginning of withdrawal symptoms.

I have had enough.  Stop the ride. I am getting off. I have a real life here that I seem to be ignoring.

As difficult as it is, I am turning off the television and the radio.  I am doing one quick check in on Facebook to check on family and friends.

Then I am going back to the business of living my life.

I am registered as a Democrat, …

Year Two, Day 72: Under the Weather

I almost went to bed without blogging tonight! A bit under the weather am I.

I spent most of the day with my adult children. Good bonding. Luckily I made it to the gym before I started fading. And thankfully I had a day off today. So my plan tonight after I post, is a long soak in the tub with Epsom salts and lavender. Then to bed with a large glass of water.

More tomorrow.

Happy Wednesday!

Year Two, Day 71: Nothing Political Here...

...the RNC, social media, radio talk shows and news are raising my blood pressure. I am taking it all in, but will not be blogging about politics.

Instead, I will be talking about my day yesterday. My day in food!

Yesterday began so sweetly and peacefully.

And pretty much continued!

I went to the gym with my daughter. Had a nice 30 minute walk on the treadmill. Also did some overhead presses.

Then we went to the grocery store and picked up a few items for dinner. I was determined to put all the applesauce I had made to good use. I did not do the whole sterilizing of mason jars and sealing of lids. I just made a big batch and put it in plastic containers in the fridge.

But we still have oodles of apples. And I do not want to see them go to waste.

So I made applesauce chicken in the crockpot yesterday.  And it was a hit! And oh so easy!

I adapted a recipe from one of my favorite blogs, A Year of Slowcooking

Year Two, Day 70: Knowledge is Power

"Now you are having pain. But I'll see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you." John 16:22, International Standard Version
My heart is heavy yet again to hear of the officers shot and killed in Baton Rouge, Lousiana yesterday.
But I had a moment of peace in church yesterday. The pastor said, "Do not let the enemy take away your joy. Pray for the suffering, but live in the peace and joy of Christ with the hope of the resurrection."
Terrorists and those who follow a path of evil want to strike fear in our hearts and steal our joy. One way to fight back is with joy, inner peace, strength and love.  
No, it won't stop a bullet.  But I prefer to live a life of love.

I am listening to online disaster preparedness training videos for Neighborhood Emergency Team volunteer training. When I am done with the videos, I get to take a test! :)

Good thing I am beginning my training, because a "little one" hit yesterd…

Year Two, Day 69: Uncrossing My Fingers:Preparing to Respond

It is very quiet this morning.

I like quiet. But as a single mother, even though my children are now adults, the quiet worries me.

When they were little, my mama instinct would kick in when suddenly there was dead quiet.

Like now. I feel like it is the calm before the storm. Or perhaps after the storm. Or in between storms!

It is quiet outside. It is quiet in the house. It is also quiet on the internet.

I saw mostly scathing political comments on my Facebook feed.  No terrorist attacks that I can see.

Not that I am searching for attacks.  But my world has changed.  I am on heightened alert.

It is not a question of if another terrorist attack will occur, but when and where.

Of course, there are other life threatening dangers besides terrorism lurking everywhere:  Car accidents, domestic violence, fire, earthquake, gun violence...

I feel more alive by recognizing how precious life is and being aware of every possible threat.  I prefer this way of being to putting my head in the sand, …

Year Two, Day 68: Defying Evil

This is one of my Gwynnie Bee blouses.  I love this pattern!  The bright colors are lifting my spirits.

But I admit I am distraught over the state of this world. All the violence!

I find myself trying to get into the head of the terrorists. I need to stop that.

I keep myself informed and then pray.  What else can I do?

I doubt that I will ever understand evil.


I googled terrorism 2016 and found this article:

We are about seven months into 2016 and there have been over 100 "major" terrorist attacks in the world!

I know the dust will settle, my racing heart will slow down to a nice complacent pulse.

Dear Lord! I used the words "Nice" and "Pulse" in the same sentence inadvertently.

Who am I kidding? Me, a middle aged, over sensitive piano teacher. What difference can I make in the face of evil?

All I know is this: I will continue to seek truth and peace and help others whenever possible. I…

Year Two, Day 67: Soothing the Soul

Yesterday was a very good day.

My son says he feels "almost 100% recovered". We celebrated in our true family nature by going out for Pho.

Pho feels very healing. Maybe it is the nutrient rich broth. Maybe the rice noodles. The flavorful meat. Perhaps the fresh herbs and sprouts. Of course then there are the special sauces we dunk our meat in.

And the history we have in our family going back over 20 years when I first discovered the first Pho restaurant in Portland on a lunch break.

Whatever. It is yummy! All the kids in our family are pho-o-holics!

After lunch, I headed to the grocery store. I was making stuffed green peppers for lunch. Another family favorite. I loaded them up and put the in the crockpot and headed out to teach piano lessons.

 They were done and wonderfully succulent by the time I got home.

I also filled my other crockpot with peeled slice apples, lemon juice, a bit of sugar and water. Cooked them all day on low. We were rewarded with homemade applesauce l…

Year Two, Day 66: Room Service- Streets of Portland

These pictures hardly do the scene justice. This is what I saw yesterday morning on the way to Union Station to take the Amtrak down to Salem.

The street in front of the Greyhound Station was literally packed with bodies. Sleeping bodies. I had to step over them to get to my destination.

While I was picking my way through the bodies and belongings, I noticed two security guards, or were they police officers? I didn't want to stare... Smiling young men in uniform.  It was like we were at the Hilton. Or perhapsa Motel 6.

The young men were walking around giving wake up calls.

They stood over the sleeping folks and said, "Good morning! Time to wake up and move along now".

Funny thing is, no one budged.

On my way home last evening, the campers had returned. They were already getting their bedding ready for a nice summer's night sleep.

Good to know. The way rent is rising in Portland, worse case scenario, I could have a room with a view and a wake up call in the morning.…

Year Two, Day 65: Parenting My Stomach

I rode my bike all over SE Portland yesterday.

15.16 miles round trip. Roar! I even went over a mountain. Well part of Mt Tabor, which is really more like a big hill. With a road. But still. Mountain!

 When I reached the other side of the mountain my son-in-law called with good news. The little boy who was hitt by a car on our street has been released from the hospital with no serious injuries.

Thank you God. Happy ending for that family and a big wakeup call for our neighborhood filled with children running on the street...

Speaking of waking up: I have been waking up in the middle of the night with hunger pangs. Growling tummy and all! Quite disturbing. I try to ignore it. Toss and turn. Breathe deeply. Drink water. Imagine the growling is burning fat.

But to my dismay, I have not lost an ounce of weight in weeks. In fact I am heavier. Grrrr.

I became quite angry with my stomach. Spoke to it sternly: "You are not hungry. And you are not the boss of me"!

But really, my stoma…

Year Two, Day 64: God Bless Our First Responders

1 John 3:18.
"Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth." The above scripture was just quoted by President Obama in his speech honoring the fallen police officers in Dallas.

He also said:
"...we ask the police to do too much and we ask too little of ourselves".
President Obama. 7.12.2016

Such truth. Painful truth. 

And I need to be reminded of this daily.

Take yesterday for example.

I had come home for lunch after teaching.  I was feeling so good about my bicycle travels. My daughter and her husband were heading out to do some shopping. I asked them if they would return my Gwynnie Bee package, since I was on my bike.

Then I grabbed my purse and was heading out the door when I heard a lot of commotion. Coming from the house right next to ours. The house of many, many children.  People were screaming and running to the street.

"9-1-1! 9-1-1!"

I pulled out my cell phone and followed the runners.  There was a car in …

Year Two, Day 63: On My Bike

I went to the gym before my first student. At last! I feel like my world is coming back to normal.

However, I doubt if the world as we once knew it will ever return.

But today, in my little world, all is well. Most importantly, my son is recovering. He is going to try to go back to work tomorrow.

Before I left this morning, I was able to put the dinner in the crockpot- ground turkey/chicken meatloaf made with oats instead of bread crumbs, and another crockpot of baby Lima beans.

My gym workout was short, - had to get to a student's house. But I am happy I went. I did a quarter mile on the treadmill and 2 sets of 12 shoulder rows with 30 pounds and some light stretching. But honestly, just walking into the gym felt therapeutic.

In stressful times, it seems that it is comforting to have healthy routines to rely on.

I don't have much time to blog today, have more students to visit.

On my bike. :)

Happy Monday!

Year Two, Day 62: Moments of Incredible Compassion and Dunlap's Disease

I forgot to mention two wonderful moments yesterday.

1.  On my lunch break, the pastor from the Chinese congregation at the church where I teach on Saturdays stopped by to say hello and tell me he was leaving for the day. We visited a bit.

Then I told him about my son and his trip to the emergency room last weekend. I asked if he would pray for him.  He sat down with me, and bowed his head and prayed right then and there! Not a short prayer, but a long heart felt prayer.

I had shared with him that I was feeling bitter and vengeful. Not only with this perpetrator, but with all people who resort to violence.

He suggested I read Philippians 4:8.

I wrote it down in my notebook of favorite scripture passages I carry with me. I have been meditating on this passage all day:

Philippians 4:8New International Version (NIV)
"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is exce…

Year Two, Day 61: The Student Teaches the Teacher

I rode my bike to church this morning.  I am happy to be riding my bike again. I can think on my bike.  And get air into my lungs. I feel like I have been holding my breath.

 I am so glad I made it to Saturday morning mass.  This is one of the favorite times of my week. A small, faithful group gathers, hears scriptures, prays, hugs and receives communion.  There is a female lay minister who presides over Mass on Saturdays.  I find her to be a loving, kind person.  After the readings this morning, she said with all the violence in the world, she had found this poem spoke to her. And she shared it with us.  

I was so moved that I wrote the following on my Facebook page:
We Were Made for These Times Clarissa Pinkola Estes
"This morning we prayed for the victims of violence all over this planet. 
And then the lay minister read us this poem. It really resonated with me, so I would like to share an excerpt with you. "My friends, do not lose heart. We were made for these times. I…