Saturday, December 31, 2011


As 2011 draws to a close, my thoughts turn to angels.

Snow angels, to be specific.

I am grateful today for the opportunity to squeeze in one last angel for the year.

Plopping down onto the cold, smooth ice of the lake, laying on a small cushion of snow, my arms and legs gliding back and forth in perfect snow angel formation, I reconnect with the magic of childlike wonder that exists in me -- in all of us. The place I try to remember to live my life from each and every moment of each and every day.

Not an easy task. But not so hard either. Not really.

We just have to remember.

So, I leave you tonight with a wish for the New Year...that we remember this precious place in ourselves. That we remember our own divinity and that of those around us. That we remember that this life isn't about all of the physical trappings...but about love. And joy. And wonder.

And snow angels.

Happy 2012 to one and all! See you in the New Year. :)

Friday, December 30, 2011

Sauna State of Mind

Tonight, we're luxuriating at a cabin in the North woods with two other couples. A precious annual New Year's trip that we missed for the first time in seven years last year...and were able to reinstate this year.

Gorgeous lake views, good food, cocktails and great company. And a sauna (pronounced "sow-na" for those of you who don't know), which is home to me.

A beautiful eve before the Eve to you. I think I know where I'll be for the rest of the night... //

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Knowledge Is Power

I've really been wanting to love my new iPhone, but strange happenings are many and my patience, as of late, is none.

So this morning, on my day off, I made an appointment at the Apple Store at the Mall of America (god help me) and went to consult the geniuses at the Genius Bar. I was initially annoyed that I had to make an appointment. But that was yesterday when we fought the afternoon mall traffic to find a place to park and then did the stop-start walk all the way around the mall behind hoards of aimless wanderers only to be told there was a two hour wait ahead of us.


Needless to say, we left.

Today, however, I was smart enough to make the earliest appointment I could get, which was before most stores opened and all the walkers are professionals and actually know how to walk.


To my pleasant surprise, the geniuses at Apple deserve their name. Do they know everything? No. I stumped my guy a couple of times. But he knew to keep looking for the answers. And for that, I am grateful. None of this I-don't-know brand of customer service. Give me a bona fide problem solver and I'm a fan for life.

My iPhone and I are now on speaking terms -- although I continue to have trouble with accidently dropping calls, answering calls when I'm trying to silence them, making phone calls I have no idea I've made (sorry Laura!).

The patience I need, I've realized, is less for my new electronic device and more for myself. Shocker, I know. Seems that when I don't understand something, I don't just get frustrated, I get a.n.g.r.y.

And what is anger, but fear.

When did I get so afraid of not knowing? When did not knowing translate directly into not only feeling stupid, but being stupid? Maybe it's been there my whole life, but is more exacerbated now that technology is no longer my profession. I'm behind the times. I don't know it all. I don't even know all the technology that would normally allow me to figure out for myself. In the world of iClouds and syncing and backing up and disappearing calendars, and information getting pushed from places it shouldn't have access to...I don't know. It isn't rocket science, but it's new.

And new is different. And fun. But when you just don't quite get it and have been set loose with a completely personalizable piece of technology that is out of my realm of experience...well, it can be just plain scary.

Until now. Until a little Apple genius shared with me some details I was lacking. Until I embraced my fear and went in head on, willing to be vulnerable and not know it all, and asked for...


Knowledge is power. I walked out of the Apple store this morning feeling like a million bucks. Not because I was anywhere close to knowing it all, but because I knew in my gut that I still had the potential to learn. To be dangerous. :) And to play.

I'm not one for resolutions, but it seems to me this year it would behoove me to make better friends with my technology. Not so that it can take over more of my life, not so I can become more dependent on it, but so I can better utilize the tools I have at my disposal.

Viewing technology as the tool it is and doing the work to learn how to use it allows me to live my life where technology acts in service of me...not making me its slave.

Fear is what makes us a slave to whatever it is we're afraid of. Seeking knowledge and actively learning gives us power over the fear.

What self-limiting fears will you work to vanquish in the coming year?

Power on!//

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Simple Gifts

Sometimes you have to roll with the wave of your life. No matter where it goes, no matter how fast and furious, sometimes our job is to simply let go and see where it takes us. It isn't necessarily easy or peaceful or sane.

It just is what it is.

Sometimes, for better or worse, life moves that fast. Gratefully, it can't keep up the frenetic pace forever. Which is good, because neither can I.

For as much spirit as I mustered a week ago, by last Friday night, I was beyond exhausted. A "done" sort of exhausted. No spirit left whatsoever, just a deep painful desire to sleep, to heal and to rejuvenate.

"Survival" is a funny word. It speaks of Sisu -- that grim determination. It talks of stamina and will and tenacity. It talks of a fierce unwillingness to give up.

And yet somewhere in there, too, is the energy of surrender. The willingness to let go of what dances on the periphery of our lives, the things we think are important that we normally give so much attention and energy to, and focus single-mindedly on one thing -- what is required of us to get through to the other side.

It's hard not to put all our attention on the future...when will this all be over? It can be painful to be in the moment when it is wrought with intense effort and concentration and struggle. It can be hard to reconcile the thrill of success and pulling off the impossible, with the dire physical, mental -- and sometimes emotional -- costs of the prize.

One thing I was reminded of this past week was that sometimes resistance is just...plain...futile. Unless, of course, you enjoy banging your head against the wall. Which I did plenty of. As recently as this afternoon, as a matter of fact.

If you recall, I'm a bit of a stubborn fool.

I also took away the reminder that being in the present moment -- being in the truth of what is -- requires that we shift what we deem essential to our lives according to our circumstances.

I've written before about the importance of knowing what is essential to us in our lives and acting from that space in our day-to-day. When we slip into survival mode, when we no longer feel that we're even close to bringing the best of ourselves to our daily round, our list of what's essential must be pared back even more than before. Sometimes we're only truly able to focus on our most basic needs, namely food, water and sleep.

Sometimes surrender means letting it all go. Everything. Just for now. With the promise that we can pick up what we come to know really is essential when the time is right. And not one second before.

So that when we pick up the things we are absolutely certain we want and need in our lives, we can treat them with the utmost respect and honor, with a new dedication and commitment than we were able to offer before.

Who knew this place I'm stewing around in was essential??!?

The simple gift for all of us is to recognize that it is only from this most vulnerable place that we are able to really look at our lives and make a change.

The perfect holiday is a figment of my imagination. There, I said it. Whatever "perfect" means. But still, the truth for me is that I've chosen a profession whose busiest season is the busiest season...which just compounds the stress further.

So, what do I expect?

Still, I ask: Is there a way to get through the holidays feeling relatively sane (i.e., not lip-bumblingly-out-of-control)? I continue to hold out hope that this is possible, although I've finally come to realize it won't likely look the way I expect it should. seems my expectations might just be part of the problem, no?

Certainly, my trying harder to control it will not tame the beast...this much I've learned.

For now, I must be satisfied with having asked the question. With knowing that it is likely less effort than more that will get me closer to solving this riddle. And with having another whole year to work it through.

Perhaps, the answer is in always creating the space to appreciate the true simple gifts in my life:

Good night!//

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Almost Out From Under

Welcome to our busiest holiday yet at the bakery. Let me just say this...

...we could tell.

My silence these past two days was out of self-preservation more than anything and the past 18 hours about resurfacing.

I'm almost there.

Until a proper post can be posted, I leave you with the wise words of one fat, jolly man of wonder...

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a Good Night!//

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Back In the Spirit

I had to give myself a serious talking to this morning. This year with no snow, it's been a little tough to get in the spirit...I cannot lie. Last year at this time, we had over two feet on the ground and it was impossible not to be in the spirit.

And then guess what??

We got a dusting...

...and that's all we can expect this Christmas. still looks like Christmas...

...see? There's even an outdoor lighted tree!

So you can understand how I've been a little Scroogish so far this season.

Thank goodness I respond well to serious-talking-to's -- the self-talk kind, at least. It was as if a light switch was flipped this morning in my meditation. My energy was back, things at work were hectic but not frantic. The dusting of snow lifted my spirits even more.

Is it because I'm seeing the light at the end of the tunnel with only three days of work left before the holiday? Or did another almost-straight-to-bed night last night and some meditation this morning increase my buffer enough that the insanity didn't phase me today?

Whatever it is, I'll take it.

Actually, I think it's the Solstice -- Mother Nature's energy is shifting and we're at the turning point. We're at the cusp of our turn back towards the light.

Thank god! It's enough to brighten anyone's spirit.

So tonight, to celebrate, it's...

...Wednesday Night Dance Party!

Because sometimes, you have to create your own fun. : )

First, there was fire! What better night to celebrate the coming of the light than this??!?

Then, there was...!

Our friend Mikey (you're welcome, Mike!) puts together an annual Christmas CD, which I LOVE!

Now, be warned: This isn't your ordinary Christmas album.

First, he calls it "Dirty's 2011 xmas cd" which should tell you something. Next, he's been doing this for thirteen years, so eventually, he's scraping the bottom of the barrel. Really.

But in a good way. : )

Everything from Bob & Doug McKenzie's 12 Days of Christmas, to Dr. John's Silent Night. From the Muppets Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (with Rolf and John Denver, no less!!!), to Kurtis Blow's Christmas Rappin'. From Halford's We Three Kings to the Pogue's Fairytale of New York featuring Kirsty MacColl.

The list goes on and on and on...24 fantastics! Well, maybe not the last two "songs" -- which we've been warned in the CD notes: "If you have youngins that are old enough to know some more robust verbage and you want to shelter them; turn off the CD after Auld Lang Syne".

Enough said.

Thanks Mike, for another eye opening musical Christmas adventure!

My current favorite, if you must know, is The Blind Boys of Alabama singing Last Month of the Year. True dance party material, right there!

Love it.

And I have to say, the iPhone app Shazam is the coolest ever. Not only will it listen to your music and tell you who it is, it will give you a little karaoke thing where it highlights the lyrics as the music's playing.

Too cool!

Who knew the life of an iPhone owner could be SO MUCH FUN??!?

Thanks, Santa!

OK. Where was I? First there was fire, then there was music, and then there was...

...his and her favorite winter libations! Cosmopolitan (hers) and VO-7 (OK, VO and Sprite) for him.


Then, of course, there was dancing...but didn't get any pictures of that (thank god), so you'll have to take my word for it.

Clearly, these two weren't particularly impressed.

(But look how close in proximity they are??!? I think they might like each other!!)

Lastly, there was...

What's For Dinner Tonight?

Enchilladas. You know, the usual that allows us to use up a bunch of leftovers.


A great day! Shopping almost done, wrapping to finish Friday night while my man is off at The Wine Thief pouring wine (from 4-7pm for those who like to plan ahead!). Stop by and see him...and tell him I sent you! : )

It must be time to sign off since I'm dancing at the computer, while I type, to Buck Owen's rendition of Santa Looked A Lot Like Daddy (I HATE THIS SONG!!! What's the matter with me??!? Thanks a lot, Mike. No, really.)

I know what's wrong with me...

...I overdid it. Now I've now got spirit to spare.

Anyone in need? Let me know and I'll send it your way!

A beautiful winter solstice evening to ya!//

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

They Are Back!

The ducks were back tonight...all ten of them! I was feeling bad because with so little daylight and work and such, I didn't have time to put down any seed.

So, I thought I'd see how hungry they actually were and went out while they were eating. I figured I'd either manage to feed them or...I'd get mauled.

It was a chance I was willing to take.

Believe it or not, they let me come out three different times -- with seed, bread, and water. A little skittish, as they should be, but easily herded, which helped.

Except for these drakes who weren't at all worried about their chances against me.

Little do they know! ;)

They ate well tonight. And didn't bite the hand that fed them.

There's the holiday spirit for you!

Go ducks! (right, Joan??)

Off to visit a friend in the hospital tonight, this darkest night of the year. Honor the dark, as lightness is right around the corner!

Peaceful dreaming!//

Monday, December 19, 2011


Last evening, right before dusk, the most interesting thing happened...

Ten old cronies who haven't yet flown South, stopped by frantically searching for food. I just so happened to put a bunch of seed down yesterday afternoon.

Who knew??!?

Bella thought it was about the best thing that has ever happened to her! Should have seen her face when she caught them all putting their landing gear down, screeching to a halt past the patio door and scurrying up to the feeder.

Now, that's her kind of Christmas!

It was a feeding frenzy. I've never seen them vibrate so intensely. I only wished there was more seed out there...or at least the loaf of bread in the cupboard I meant to put out for the squirrels but didn't because I figured the squirrels didn't need it. I had no idea there would be ducks!

See, all the squirrels at our house of late remind me of Theodore from the Chipmunks...

...with their beautifully rotund tummies.

No one's starving around here. Although the ducks are certainly searching for sustenance on the frozen tundra. Good luck!

Glad we could help -- if only just a little!

That's it for this babushka-ed baby. It's crunch week ya'all! Beddie bye will come none too soon.

Peaceful dreams to all, and to all a good night!//

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Silent Sunday

In the spirit of the season, today's post is a peaceful, (mostly) silent look at our favorite place -- Ritter Farm. And a whole lot of fun with my iPhone.

Ritter Farm, the video...

...and photos.