Monday, February 25, 2013


Today held a few good moments. More than a few. But a few good enough to reflect on.

When life sends you down a raging river, sometimes your instinct is to kick and scream and reach and paddle your heart out - it's a fight or flight response to imminent danger. But, any person who has been given instruction before setting out on a white water rafting adventure has been told differently. If you fall out of the raft, your flotation device is your friend. So might be a paddle, if you're able to hold on to it and take it with you. If you keep your feet downstream, and make sure your head is somewhat protected (maybe by the collar of the flotation device and/or a helmet), the water will carry you. I'd be screaming, most likely, but kicking and screaming could be counter productive. Kicking can get your legs caught in rocks or limbs or who knows what. Pray the boat you just got dumped out of isn't far behind. Wait for the spotter in a kayak to send you a rope, or a hand, or a paddle. Don't panic. Stop resisting. 

So it is with other things in life. Acceptance doesn't always come easily or naturally. Kicking and screaming sounds like the right response. Stop the panic. Stop resisting. And go with the flow.

Adding "color" to the food I eat - if this doesn't make the grade, I don't know what might!
Leeks soaking - awaiting introduction to the Chicken - Cannellini Bean - Leek Soup

Saturday, February 23, 2013


Some days it's hard to know what's a mountain and what's a molehill. Or how one can become the other, or one perhaps should be seen differently.

The Purple Mountain Majesty in my smoothie takes to to the place of beauty and awe - Paradise Valley. Can't say how many trips through there I've taken in the last 33 years. But I swear, the views and the light and the sky NEVER repeat themselves. Every trip, every view, every time - it's a new snapshot.

Maybe there's the lesson. Yesterday held trying moments. Challenges of opinions, time, space, communication, decisions. Support? Encourage? Discourage? Listen with empathy? Voice an opinion? Be vewwwwwy quiet? Step forward? Step back?  By the end of the day, there were still questions. 

The morning comes, and brings new light. New energy. The mountains of yesterday subside back to molehills. Molehills of today stay molehills. Even if they become mountains, chances are, they're not here to stay. Just like the light in Paradise Valley. And the weather in Montana. Wait a few minutes, and things will change. Most of life is not black and white. Not so rigidly defined. Sometimes, it take a gentle lesson to remind me of that.

The Blueberry / Strawberry / Soy Milk Smoothie - reminds me of landscapes in Montana - Paradise Valley to be exact. I may have to use this as an inspiration for decorating some pottery.

Thursday, February 21, 2013


"This is aggressive." That's what the doctor said when she handed me a copy of a modified Paleo diet. I've accepted a three month mission to wellness. Including cutting all grains out of my eating. In addition to about a kazillion other things. It's important to me. It's important to my life. It's important to my well being. 

Aggressive. I can go there. Being a middle child, I'm usually a bit more passive. Should I point fingers at my birth order for that? In an effort to be kind, I won't resort to pointing fingers.

Aggressive. The word I will need to repeat every day at the gym when I'm pushing another weight machine around, or doing another 15 minutes on the eliptical. Or when it's time to take the dog for a walk up hill, both ways.

Aggressive.  Not the way to win when working on a potter's wheel. Last night, I sat down wondering if I had lost my touch (that, after a frustrating night of trimming bowls on Monday.) It appears there's something to be said for "not overthinking it" and just doing what you're supposed to do. Work with the clay, the wheel, gravity, instincts, and faith.  One small and one large bowl later, I was in awe. But there's still much to accomplish. 

Small bowl - my favorite from the Winter session at the Archie Bray.   My instructor helped me see new ways - and introduced the concept of a a complete thought of shape from the inside.  Playing with the glaze overlay is always unpredictable. You rarely know how it will go in the kiln. Growing more confident in my throwing every week - looking forward to the Spring Session to continue.

Friday, February 15, 2013


This morning I attended a "conclave" to allow a local software designer-turned-sustainable grower to dance with some ideas about creating a local CSA (community supported agriculture) - beginning with leafy greens and herbs. His ideas include hydro-ponics using towers, to allow for more effective use of the greenhouse footprint. All very intriguing.

One of my thoughts was why he didn't just dive in to another, already created CSA group? He said he would if he could, but .... is there one - or more - already functioning and finding a place in Helena? I will do some research. Because I want to - for my own reasons - and for helping him out. We can all use a little "community" once in awhile. No need to be all "hermit like" in our own little worlds.

Last summer, I purchased a CSA share from Market Day Foods / Field Day Farms in Bozeman. They delivered all the way to Gardiner - not sure how that worked, but since they were willing, I was "in". My pal Carrie and I shared these veggies throughout the summer. Now, being in Helena, I could again check them out - they indicated some interest in Helena, but really? Helena can't pull this off on their own?

Starting to do some research. Growing here at home - on the deck - with some sun and light and new found options beyond the chilly Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. It's exciting in many ways.

Scheming on an "English Garden" look to the front yard, maybe a raised bed out back. Tucking in some more herbs and perennials. It's February, but it's beginning to look a lot like GREEN around here.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


There came a time this week when my workspace became counter-productive. I'm still adjusting to this "place"- this place meaning Helena, this place meaning this house, this place meaning this table that serves as a desk, office, workspace.  Work became life, life became paper, paper became work and somehow the inspirational and creative aspects were trying to find a place here as well. And this week -  the three worlds collided. It was time to un-blur the lines.  Work can stay here. The computer "command center" can stay here. But, the personal/life/bills needed to have another home. And the creative/inspiration needed to have another home. The first, down to a beautiful roll-top desk in the living room. The second, to the newly renovated studio space. By creating meaningful and well-defined spaces and intentions for each, boundaries have been set. Un-blurring has begun. And life feels more manageable and comfortable.

Moroccan Chicken - a wicked combo of spices - cumin, ginger, garlic, cinnamon, cayenne - with raisins, chickpeas, red peppers.  Served over Orzo.  Very nice.
Blueberry Focaccia - a slight sweet hint thanks to brown sugar, but otherwise more yeast and berry.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Art supplies make me happy

Bar Harbor - I'll admit I bought this because it sounded good and because thinking of great times in Bar Harbor made me smile. Feeling crappy due to a cold on Friday made this a no-brainer lunch.

I wish I could take credit for this. Love the colorful statements.  How can I get my sweetie to drink multiple tins of coffee before summer hits!?!

This morning - inspired to get after my daily sketch, and to pull out the water colors. The old stove - a Monarch from the 1950's sat in front of me, with the tea kettle giving me inspiration. Having a riot working water colors in a way I don't know I ever have. Something is starting to click. Eyes. Wide. Open.
"Ode To Monarch" - Completed


Big goals can be daunting. I've been known to stop myself dead in my tracks by the overwhelming nature of trying to eat an elephant in a single sitting. Instead, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. 

Progress and not perfection. That's a slogan to live by. Yesterday I made progress. I took a step in the right direction - forward. That step alone may not result in "success", though by taking ANY kind of step, the energy moves along. No longer stagnant - no longer holding me captive in the place of "deciding what to do." 

I chose to arrange a visit with a naturopathic clinic. I believe Western Medicine has a place in the big circle of life, but I also have seen how driven by insurance and pharmaceutical companies it is. Doctors are under pressure to give "mandated" time and energy and treatment, rather than give patient care they may otherwise hope to provide. So many specialists, and individual doctors doing their thing - but who's looking at the big picture? Moving to a new city has allowed me the opportunity to search for a "partner" in my health care. This naturopathic clinic is associated with traditional medicine services. With that, if all goes well, I may be able to have the best of both worlds - or perhaps, choices. Not a bad thing. Fingers crossed. 

Sometimes an ingredient is an inspiration. I adored these really interesting galletti pasta shapes - all curly and begging for a great sauce. I thought I read somewhere that it was National Chicken Alfredo Day. I obliged. I'll eat steamed broccoli any day.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


This process is working well for me. It's Day 7 of this chapter, but it appears only to be Day 5 in this blog. I am being gentle and kind, with myself, for myself, but not forcing the process.  So, perhaps it's best not to number the entries.

What is this process? Why the "Inspiration Piece"?  When working with quilting, or interior decorating, or cooking, for that matter, there's something at the heart of the creative process. In quilting, I find one fabric that starts to "speak" to me, and the other colors/fabrics are built around the "inspiration piece". In cooking, inspiration starts at the market or seeing a recipe, then going after an ingredient. And building the rest of the meal around it. Decorating? A pillow, a photo, a fabric, a color .... something starts the juices flowing. And so, here I am - working on a bigger vision for "the Inspiration Piece".

A new chapter of my life started last fall, with hugantic changes and transformations of life, living arrangements, social circles, work and history.  The months since then have been spent breathing, exploring, being, and finding a whole new reality. My birthday isn't far off and I thought maybe I'd spend a month, a year, forever, working this process. But it was January 31 and I thought, no better time than the present, so I jump started. And here we are.

That fills in some of the blanks.  This blog, The Inspiration Piece, is only one part of the process, the journey. I've long been a journaler. I'm a visual person, a textural person. A creative through and through. Seeing words flow on to the paper, moving forward thoughts, prayers, dreams, fears, hopes, pain - it's a natural flow. I wondered about documenting this process - The Inspiration Piece - and started with one journal entry on paper. And then dove into the blog. I'm not sure I'll need or use the journal. This seems fine. In addition, I am keeping a sketchbook - in an attempt to execute at least one artistic expression a day. It's time to re-ignite the right side of my brain.  I have a portfolio handy, too, in case I find photos or magazine articles or other things that contribute positive energy to this process.  Along the way, finding and making new and interesting culinary adventures will keep things moving along nicely.

I have a list of words, quotes, thoughts that I'll grab for focus if I don't have an "inspiration piece" come to me. That way, I am never without a topic or a starting place. Sometimes, the starting place is the hardest place to be. Taking a leap of faith, taking it one step at a time, crossing the line - however you choose it look at it. 


The world is a crazy place. "Be the change you want to see in the world" has long been a stand-up straight quote for me. If I can make the world less crazy by being kind - to myself, the world, others - that's a great place to start.

I choose to cross the line. To lessen the darkness of condemnation, harsh judgement, negative energy is a good goal. Go easy. "Calm and kind", as my dear friend Carrie H. would say. The Buddhist belief of being one with the earth - one with other beings - encourages kindness. We are all in this together. And somehow, with luck and patience, kindness and love, we'll do more than just trip over a life of goodness. I choose to cross the line, take the leap of faith, over and over until the world of joy and peace unfolds.

Strawberry, banana, greek yogurt and egg white protein powder smoothie

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


def.: "the property of not existing for indefinitely long durations"

Today I was talking with a friend who relayed the death of two moms this week - moms of other friends of hers. It's not really a comforting thought - wondering about the future of moms as we know them. My mom, Tom's mom - me as a mom. Oye.

This life of ours - impermanent at best. We are not meant to live forever.

But I'm not ready for what that means. There's too much to be said, done, witnessed, honored, experienced.

I don't know what to make of it all. When faced with imminent crisis, we respond. We have responded and we will respond. Stepping up, stepping back, stepping in, stepping away - whatever it takes. We can only hope that when we are called to respond, we'll be given the grace to know how to respond. For loved ones, strangers, friends, family, and self.

The lesson for today - is to embrace all there is - today. It's the gift - the present. The biggest present there is.

Butternut Squash Risotto - with pancetta and Jack Cheese, and Coconut Shrimp 

Monday, February 4, 2013


Day 3

Note: The photo should not be taken as a representation of the title of this blog post ;-)

The food adventure for the day, nothing new, but a good replay, is oatmeal with blueberries and walnuts. Great start to the day with superfood and good things.

Disappointment came as the "word" of the day - the "inspiration piece" - after randomly choosing from a list of emotions. Defined in the dictionary: the state of being defeated in expectation or hope. 

Life certainly hands out many lessons in disappointment. Like the funny little quote, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade." There are days when dropping the disappointment of the day into a the juicer and squeezing the daylights out of it might be an appropriate activity. May have to give that a whirl.

Growing up a people pleaser, middle child, turned recovering co-dependent, disappointment has colored my days in challenging ways. Disappointing those I love is not at the top of my list. Disappointing my parents may have started from the day I was born.  Unfortunately, I can also recall not wanting to disappoint total freaking strangers, which luckily I see now as totally over the top. The most intense disappointment, however, is measured in disappointing oneself.  
Having goals - expectations - can work for an against you, depending on what you do with them. If spun in a negative way, it's easy to slip into the role of being your own worst enemy. Being unsupportive, unkind, critical .... really? Would you treat your best friend that way? Why would you treat yourself that way? Go easy. 

In Eben Alexander, M. D.’s, book, Proof of Heaven, A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife, he shares some similar learning’s with Moorjani. Specifically, he encounters a girl (read: angel) who beams three main lessons into his awareness multiple times.

1. “You are loved and cherished, dearly, forever.”
2. “You have nothing to fear.”
3. “There is nothing you can do wrong.”

Breathing those words in. Working to make them stick. A new way of looking at the world. My world. My inspiration.

Oatmeal with Blueberries and Walnuts

Friday, February 1, 2013


The color purple. Long before the book or the movie, there was the color purple. And for a very long time, purple has been a color that speaks to me. I owned a pair of purple high top converse shoes, and owned several neck ties with purple (remember ties were a part of 80's fashion). Prince and Purple Rain? Why, yes, I was in attendance at a concert. (Good God, what was I thinking driving to Detroit alone?) If I have a choice of colors for clothes, for flowers, for most anything - purple would be in the first round. Rich and deep, sensual and magical, royal and passionate. As much as I know about color - I have not been fully aware that violet and purple are not one in the same. Purple falls between Magenta and Violet on the color wheel. Okay. So it does. I ordered myself purple roses for my birthday one year. Because I could. And because I didn't know they existed before that. And I lived in or near Yellowstone for 30 years and just now read that there's a Purple Mountain? Time for a road trip.