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In the presence…

There was a bat in yoga class today.

Now you have to understand…I HATE bats. I detest how they flit about in erratic ways. They are unpredictable, and in their frenzied state, I’m afraid they are going to dash into me.  You just never know, and they are so darned hard to get rid of!  Usually, I choose to run away from them. In fact, the last time one flew into our house, I locked myself in the bedroom until my husband got him out.

So there we were…enjoying an incredibly soulful yoga class on a rainy morning, when in flits this unwanted visitor. He roared down the middle of class, grazing yogis on the shoulder, even fluttering into their hair. Immediate disruption. Peace, gone.

We stopped our practice…ducking, slightly confused, the way forward blocked by indecision on how to proceed. While some bravely stood to deal with the bat, I assumed Child’s Pose. I contemplated leaving but realized the better choice was to get as far down on the mat as I possibly could as this black beast zoomed all around the room.   Finally, he flew out the double doors that had been opened for him. With sighs of relief, we gathered ourselves and settled back into our practice…problem solved.

15 minutes later, he came back.

This time, I chose a different mindset. We all did. As he flew by the face of the young woman beside me, we kept going. I was engrossed in what we were creating in class. It had been way too long since I had been to yoga. I was feeling empowered once again by strength, peace and an inspired state after a long period of inactivity…and it felt good.  I choose not to have that disrupted. There was also a lovely sense of community as practice progressed. We were a diverse group in age and ability, and there was a unified harmony as we moved through class with our own varied expressions. The bat settled on the wall, and we continued, undisturbed.

As I lay in Shavasana, a phrase from the 23rd Psalm came to me “in the presence of mine enemies”.  It occurred to me, our work, our activity, our progress and our peace can all move forward even in the presence of an “enemy”.

Now there are different types of enemies.  An enemy can come in the form of problems, disruption, chaos, misunderstanding, rumor, gossip. Others are more destructive, personal and are found in blatant attacks against us. But once again, no matter how aggressive the enemy, we can move forward, we can have peace, we can stand our ground effectively in the middle of their presence.

We tend to think that we need to be free of the dissention, the conflict, the chance of being attacked before we can find a sense of peace.   We think that an enemy or a problem needs to go away before we can move forward.  Or, we tend to think we need to change someone or affect their character or chosen nature before we can regain our equilibrium.

This morning I saw that the bat did not need to leave for me to act. He didn’t need to go away for me to have a sense of peace.  The erratic nature of the bat did not need to impede my activity.  Also, I didn’t need to change that winged beast and make him something other than a bat.  He could be a bat and I could move forward, and that choice was entirely up to me. Obviously this is a small example, but I so appreciated the lesson behind it.  And rather than running away, at the end of class, I walked away empowered, inspired.

I’m grateful for the lesson learned from that beady and erratic little guy with wings.

 

 

 

It’s Going To Be A Good Year

2017.  A new year, and you know what that means… time for our annual New Year Resolutions.

As I embarked on my yearly mental gymnastics, wrestling with what lofty goals I should embrace first, my thought wandered to the word “Resolution”. It means to “determine a course of action” and is usually associated with choosing new habits or doing better in certain areas of your life.

In it’s strict definition, “resolve” means to “come to a definite or earnest decision about”.  You know…“In 2017, I will exercise regularly!”  or the ever-popular, “This year, I’m going to lose weight!”.   And with every Resolution, we usually insert a measure of willpower which fades about as quickly as a snowman in the midday sun.

I’m so tired of that…of setting quick intentions, and failing.

I realized it’s about delving a little deeper.  Break the work RESOLVE into 2 parts. To SOLVE is to “find a solution for”. It’s to untangle, unravel, to work out an answer.

The preface “RE” means “again and again”. It is also associated with “turning back”.

This causes me to look at what area of my life is holding me back?  What problem cries out for a solution? What habit or pattern need to be unraveled and untangled? What challenge keeps coming to me, year after year, in order to be solved, once and for all?

Framing it in this light, I realized that going into the new year with several good intentions isn’t going to work at all. (Not really a news flash, is it?). However, turning back, identifying a habitual challenge and working out a solution for it, once and for all, is what a Resolution is really all about.

It’s going to take work.  (Darn it.)  It’s going to take real change. It’s going to take a drastic restructuring of habits and patterns that are not productive, because that’s what solving a problem is all about.

We often don’t want to change. And that’s exactly why we have the same Resolutions year after year. That’s also why we tend to have the same problems as each new year rolls around.

So this year, I wish us both a real RE-SOLVING of those challenges that are weighing us down.  I hope that in our resolve, we get a little better, a little bolder, a little more authentic, a little more disciplined, a little more courageous…that we have the capacity to bring a little more of our best selves to our family, our work, and our community.

And as we do that, it’s going to be a really good year!

The Perfect Thanksgiving

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My childhood Thanksgivings were perfect.  They really were.

They were stress-free gatherings full of love. Perfectly delicious meals, perfectly prepared. The table set with my grandmother’s beautiful cranberry glass goblets. The guests, always the same, always on time. The turkey served moist, juicy and the homemade pies beyond delicious.

I’ve spent my adult life trying to replicate that magic…that perfect experience.  I tend to worry that what I do isn’t special enough to create such magic for our family.

Today, as I was doing mental gymnastics planning the timing of our Thanksgiving celebration, thinking about what expressions of thanks would be shared, who would be present in our gathering, a thought hit me. I wonder if my grandmother thought her Thanksgivings were perfect?

I wonder if she was simply delighted over the thought of finicky Aunt Marian coming to visit for a month and half? If she jumped with joy as she prepared 3 meals a day for a houseguest that usually found something wrong?

I bet that some of her turkeys weren’t quite done when she was ready to serve. Probably, there were times the mashed potatoes were lumpy, her pies not sweet enough, her stuffing too soggy.  I never noticed.

I wonder how excited she was to host Christmas Eve, Christmas, my birthday, a New Year’s Eve Party and a New Year’s Day marathon only to collapse in exhaustion on January 2, her birthday…the day we all left.

I’ll bet you anything she didn’t think those Thanksgivings were perfect. And I’m completely convinced she wouldn’t have traded them for the world!

All the chaos, all the work, all the stupid things that were sometimes said…it didn’t matter. Our family was together and we built a foundation and legacy of love that still blesses our children and grandchildren.

Perfection doesn’t exist…and it doesn’t have to in order to be really, really good.   We can love “what is” and not be responsible for things we can’t control. We can do our best with the preparations and the meal knowing that what we are really serving up is love. We can open our hearts and our home and find joy in stretching the boundary of our bounty and gratitude.

So, the turkey may look like the one above. That was actually our turkey 4 years ago. It kinda stayed too long in the fryer.  (Ya think?!)  While it was the most hideous bird I have ever seen, it was really quite moist and delicious inside.  I guess that’s a pretty good analogy for the holiday season.   It may not always be pretty on the outside.  There may be some chaos.  Some things may go wrong.… and that’s OK.   Gratitude is about having a “great sense of full-ness” for all the goodness in our life. And at the end of the day, it’s all good!

May you be perfectly happy and blessed this Thanksgiving and holiday season.

Welcome Home

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After 52 years, my parents are moving back to El Dorado County.

My mom just called from her car as I sit in their new home waiting for the moving van to arrive.   She talked about what it was like to walk out the door this morning. I was twelve when we moved into that house in the Bay Area, and it’s been home for most of our life. She remarked that she should be sad to leave a house we’ve shared as a family for so long. However, although bone-weary from the moving process, both my parents feel a strong sense of joy as they look forward to this new chapter in their life.

I am struck by their bold courage, their fresh sense of optimism, their willingness to leave behind all that is familiar and reach forward, with joyous anticipation, to what lies ahead.

I am also struck with the realization that we always have a choice.

We can live life looking forward or continually straining to look backward.

We can be hopeful about the future or we can worry about what might happen in the vast unknown.

We can be filled with gratitude for all the good that has embraced our life, knowing it is evidence of future blessing that await us. Or we can be weighed down with sentiment that clings to past joys, which we feel certain won’t come again.

The choice is ours.

Life is like a book. A really good book has chapter after chapter of exciting events. Each chapter builds on the next as characters are developed and as meaning and depth ripen with the evolving storyline. One chapter is not a book, no matter how good those pages are. And an exciting, rich chapter means that what lies ahead is going to be worth our time, energy and investment because it has been building all along.

And don’t you love it when a book is so good that you can’t put it down? You just want to keep exploring its pages, wondering where it’s going to lead but all the while knowing that it’s going to be good because the foundation is solid.

I’m so proud of my parents for feeling that way. So proud of them for refusing to be weighed down with anything that keeps them from moving boldly forward. My life is infinitely blessed by their example.

I am infinitely blessed by them.  And I look forward to the new home they will create, because the one they just left was so incredibly sweet.

Mom and Dad…welcome home.

 

 

A Well-Cared For and Cherished Community

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My friend, Cindy Savage, used this phrase in reference to Placerville and it grabbed me…

“A Well-Cared For and Cherished Community”.

Doesn’t it speak to the heart of how we all feel about our City? There’s something about Placerville that is so uniquely special that it takes hold of you. You can move away. You can tour the world. Eventually, you’ll come back as your heartstrings pull you home to a place where you know the Christmas trees will welcome you every holiday season. Where you know the merchants and they know you. Where you watch what you wear to the grocery store because you know you’ll run into your friends and neighbors!   Where you feel like you belong.

“Cherish” evokes the kind of emotion that runs deeper and stronger because it’s based on things that matter. It also makes a demand on us…it calls us to “protect and care for lovingly” that which we claim to cherish. What does this mean for our community?

Placerville needs us to protect and care for her.  Next Tuesday, November 8th, Measure L will be on the ballot asking City residents to approve a ½¢ Specific Sales Tax so we can pave our failing roads and replace the leaky water and sewer pipes under those roads. Those are the improvements that our City desperately needs:

  • Over 75% of our roads are in the “Failed – At Risk” category
  • 25% of the water we buy from EID is lost in leaky pipes before it gets to your home or business
  • 34% of our sewer system is in immediate need of repair/replacement
  • We are $45.5 million behind in critical repairs
  • We need to spend $2 million MORE each year on critical repairs to City roads and pipes, and we just don’t have that kind of money to “reallocate” in the City budget.

We need a dedicated string of money that will guarantee these improvements can be made now, and that is Measure L.

Measure L also has some important safeguards:

  • Measure L money will ONLY repave and maintain EXISTING City roads and fix the pipes under those streets. (It’s can’t be used for new development or new streets).
  • By law, Measure L money cannot be used for any other purpose or diverted.
  • The money can only be used for repairs and maintenance inside the city limits.
  • It will end in 20 years. (Let’s see how it works!)
  • A Citizen Oversight Committee will make sure the money is used correctly.

Measure L is anticipated to cost each household about $66 per year because it spreads the cost of repairs over everyone that uses our City streets, not just you as a City resident. Every day, up to 70% of people who come into our town DON’T LIVE IN IT. Now don’t get me wrong, we’re so happy they are here! We warmly welcome them to work, shop, play and enjoy our city! However, they use our roads. They use our infrastructure. A sales tax is the ONLY way to ensure that they help pay for the repair and maintenance of those roads and pipes. If they don’t pay their share, city residents will pay the entire cost.

Imagine you and your spouse are enjoying dinner in a local restaurant. There’s a family of 3 at the table next to you. You smile. You introduce yourselves. You chat. You enjoy the evening, then they get up to leave and walk out the door….and you get stuck with their bill. The cost of their entire meal is on you. Not fair? You’re right. It’s only fair they pay for what they chose to order.

If you’ve already voted and said “L Yes” to fixing Placerville’s roads and pipes, the Residents for Measure L heartily thank you!

If you haven’t voted,  on Tuesday, we URGE YOU to join your friends and neighbors and VOTE YES on Measure L.  You’ll be voting for everyone to pay their share of maintaining our roads and pipes.

YES on MEASURE L will be a conscious choice to care for and cherish the City of Placerville.

She deserves it.


For more information, visit www.FixPlacervilleRoads.com.

MEASURE L IS ENDORSED BY:

  • Taxpayers Association of El Dorado County
  • El Dorado County Chamber of Commerce
  • Mountain Democrat
  • El Dorado County Association of Realtors
  • Foothill 7
  • CA Alliance for Jobs
  • Your Friends and Neighbors

 

 

 

 

 

“Action”

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Yesterday I got a glimpse at a world I know nothing about and it led to a unique insight.

After years of experience in the business, my daughter, Brie, is the lead actor in a new movie. It’s filming in Sonoma County and I had the privilege of visiting her on location. Like you, I’ve certainly seen hundreds of movies, but I’ve never seen how they are made. Stories were shared of scenes they shot, and as I walked the different sets, she talked about various segments. Driving home, it hit me that the movie process is a lot like life.

A movie is filmed in fragments, one scene at a time. One segment may call for lighthearted, friendly banter. Another one, deep-seated emotion. While yet another may be consumed with sheer, raw terror. When called to the set, the actor plays the action at hand. They are expected to bring the scope of their talent and training to whatever is before them. They aren’t concerned with what is filming tomorrow. They don’t have time to think about yesterday’s lines and performance. Today, this scene, this action, this moment, demands their very best and their full attention. And while each segment might not make sense on it’s own, the film is magical and meaningful when the entire movie is seamed together.

It’s a lot like life.

We live it in segments, and yet, how often do we bring our full selves to the moment at hand? Probably not nearly as much as we should. We are often tempted to spend our energy concerned about what’s coming tomorrow. And when we’re not worried enough about that, we’re probably consumed with what did or didn’t happen yesterday.

Today, this moment, is the set we are being called to. The action that is being demanded is now. Now is all that matters. As we show up, we will find that everything we have done has prepared us for this moment. We are enough, and we have all the talent, strength, character and ability to respond to the scene, to the direction at hand, to move successfully through this moment and get to the other side.

Tomorrow the Director will call us to play a different scene. But right now, we are to bring our full self to the set. And it doesn’t matter if this segment makes sense on it’s own… it will.  We just have to trust the process, show up and engage our intellect, intuition, and skill set to the part we are directed to play today.

So quiet on the set….“Action”.

 

 

 

Before I Die

Before I Die Collage

What started out as a way to process personal grief reasonated so deeply with the human heart that it became a Movement sweeping the Nation.

It is now here in Placerville.

“Before I Die” was unveiled last night, and you can find it in the middle of Main Street on the Robinsons Pharmacy window.  As I journeyed Downtown for the unveiling, I expected it to be a cool idea; what I didn’t expect was to be so profoundly moved. Little by little, people joined the celebration as the canvas concealing this interactive art project was revealed. A chalkboard confronted us with row after row of “Before I die I want to __________” boldly painted across its face. The blank line and container of multicolored chalk beaconed our entries.

The crowd sat there, transfixed.   I don’t presume to know what everyone was feeling as I imagine it was deeply personal. I only have my own reaction to act as a guide.

I felt challenged to come up with a monumental answer. (What would the right answer be? What would people think was meaningful?).   I quickly threw that out of my thought as I knew this wasn’t a performance. It wasn’t about other people…this challenge was asking us all to look inside our Bucket List and set as a goal those desires hiding in our heart. And we all have lots of them!   Big and small. Some meaningful, some just plain fun!

After I sorted through my first reaction, I found I felt naked…that I was bearing my soul for judgement. (“Gee, that’s a pretty shallow goal.”  Or  “Oh, that’s wonderful!”). Once again, I kicked myself. It’s amazing how often we need to shift through our need to have other people validate us. And the ironic thing is, when we are authentic, when we are willing to be human, vulnerable, fallible, it’s then that we find connection with one another.

One by one, the chalk called us and we bravely put our hand to the board. The range of desires was moving…

One person wanted to kiss under the moon.

One wanted to hike the John Muir Trail.

A little boy wanted to learn to ride a bike.

Many yearned to travel.

One aspired to raise someone from the dead

Another wanted to walk his girls down the aisle.

And there was one entry that brought me to my knees….

It was a lovely, mature woman that wrote in bold, hot pink letters that she wanted to “experience true love.” My heart broke for her that she hadn’t had that deep privilege yet. My spirit celebrated her for the courage to so boldly pen that most profound desire. And my immediate prayer for her was that love would come crashing into her life, sweep her off her feet and envelope her with passion, tenderness and joy. I will continue to hold that in my heart for her.

“Before I Die” will be on Main Street waiting for you. Write all over it. Spill out the wishes of your heart. It will be photographed to preserve the answers, then it will be erased to await a new dose of desires, filling it up again and again.

The wall filled up quickly last night and I was moved by the commonality that connects us all. Our desires are really not all that different. We want love. We want adventure. We want connection. We want new experiences. We want to learn new things.

We want to fully experience the journey of being human.

And my desire, you ask? (Don’t judge me). I want to go to Italy with the man I love. I want to eat spaghetti in San Marco’s square.   I want to share Dennis’ wonder and amazement when he sees Michelangelo’s “David” for the first time. I want to be moved to tears together in the Sistine Chapel. And I want to kiss under the moonlight as we stroll along the Amalfi Coast.

And someday we’re going to do that because I have now written it on a wall on Main Street.

The chalk is waiting for you.

 

(This interactive community art project is sponsored by Debbie Cheevers and Janice Curtin of Marshall Hospital’s Advanced Illness Management Program, Eric & Moira Magneson of Magnus Construction, Dennis Thomas of Robinsons Pharmacy and Snowline Hospice. Our deepest thanks to you all…this project is so cool!)

What We Stand For

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Our Country and our community is reeling over the horrific attack on our law enforcement personnel in Dallas, and we should be horrified. This senseless act of violence should also heighten our awareness that the heroic men and women in uniform who have pledged their lives to keep us safe, deserve our allegiance, our respect, our gratitude and our full support.

This violent attack should also shine a light on us.

It is time that we stand strong against the divisiveness that seeks to divide and destroy communities all across America. There are individuals and groups embedded in our cities and towns working to destroy them from the inside out. Their tactics range from subtle to overt…whether it’s simply planting doubt or suggesting conspiracies or it’s outright lies and broadcasts of hate, it is time we stand up against this nonsense. It is time that we cast aside our tendency to jump to conclusions and to make quick, sweeping judgments on hearsay. It’s time to stop spending our time and mental energy on efforts that would destroy the fabric of our communities and neighborhoods.  It’s time we stop being so afraid of being “politically correct” that we fail to stand for ANYTHING.

One of my favorite quotes is by Edmund Burke who stated: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”   We are the “good men” (and women) and the battle against evil is on our shoulders.

In fact, it is up to us…

  • To voice the truth when we hear lies being spread.
  • To think for ourselves rather than believing and acting upon rumor and personal opinion.
  • To spend our time and energy in efforts that build community rather than destroy it.
  • To be patient in times of strife and allow the truth to be revealed before rushing to judgement.
  • To work for the common good. To build relationships, and to work productively as positive change agents when circumstances need adjusting.
  • It’s up to us to challenge evil intent rather than standing passively by
  • And it’s up to us to draw a line in the sand and choose to be Americans that are proud of their Country and who are willing to stand in the gap against anyone or anything that would seek her destruction.

And it starts HERE.   It starts with us deciding who we want to be, how we want to live and what we want to flourish in our community.  Are we going to allow hatred to prevail?  Are we going to let malevolent intent divide us?  Or are going to let goodness strengthen and unify the fabric of our community so there is no place for evil to take root.

We get to choose what thrives in our City, in our State and in our Nation.  

And I believe in the power of good.  It’s worth standing for.

 

 

Just a Reminder

Rock

I didn’t want to go. We had been running for months. I felt behind on my work and I thought I needed a weekend to catch up on my work. Then my sweet husband suggested a weekend at the beach. I should have jumped at the chance; I knew I wanted to go. And while I said “yes”, I worried about what wouldn’t get done in a weekend away. I felt burdened by the time away and it showed in my attitude on the drive to the coast.

Fast forward a day later.  After a relaxing day of good food, reading, and maybe a glass of wine, we were walking on the beach as rogue waves pounded the sand. It was then I noticed it… an irregular shaped oval stone, pounded smooth from the surf, whose pattern reminded me of burled maple. As we approached it, I yearned to touch it. As we walked by it, my eye remained fixed and I noticed my urge to pick it up. Quickly I rationalized, “It’s only a rock. It doesn’t matter” as I hurried on by.  A voice said, “Pick it up. You know you want to”.  And all the times that my rational mind had denied a simple pleasure came crashing forward and I ran back to pick it up.

It was smooth. Silky in my hand. I enjoyed tumbling it end over end in my palm. As we walked along the beach, I asked myself what would have happened if I hadn’t picked it….nothing.  But I was cherishing the joy of a moment, unhurried, gifted, unsought…a moment that was possible because I had “let go”.  Let go of all the “have to’s” and “should’s”. All the preambles to something else that was yet to come.  I let go, for a moment, of revenue challenges, of sales tax measures, of finding solutions to the homeless and affordable housing mandates. Let go of trying to figure it out. Just let go of tomorrow and allowed the present to be enjoyed, unhurried. And I smiled, in the moment, peaceful, turning a rock over in my hand.

It will sit on my desk as a reminder of the patterns of life that are varied, diverse, and layered. That life is made up of big moments, of victories after hard won battles, and sweet, spiritual tender mercies that are indescribable in words. Of times of hard work and all the moments in between…unhurried, breathless in simplicity….that remind us we will be more effective in our work, we will love more deeply, if we take the time to notice.

And run back to pick up a rock that has caught our eye and just enjoy it.

It is will sit my desk….just to remind me.

Time for a New Focus…a New Twist

Bell Tower Twist

WE SEE OUR CITY EVERY DAY.  We drive its streets.  We shop in its stores.  We live in its neighborhoods, but what are we focusing on?  What are we looking at?  What vision do we have for our community?

I RECENTLY ATTENDED a League of California Cities conference and had an “A-ha” moment.  It was presented that if we want, or need, something to change in our City, if we want to achieve something new, we need to get a new vision.  We need a new bold twist in our thoughts and actions.

IT WOULD BE SO EASY TO FOCUS ON OUR PROBLEMS. Yes, our streets are in terrible condition.  Our water/sewer rates are too high.  Our infrastructure is failing before our eyes.  Our shopping districts on Placerville Drive and Broadway have challenges. Our revenue stream is not sufficient to meet our needs.  Man, what a state we’re in!  But to continue to focus on our challenges will keep us in a defeated state of decline.

WHAT IF WE TWIST OUR PERCEPTION OF THESE CHALLENGES?  Would it change our attitude to think that these problems are coming to our attention to be corrected, once and for all?  Would we be more hopeful, more resolved to action, if we understand that it is in our power to fix them, rather than once again kick these problems down the road?  What would a new vision look like?  

IT WOULD LOOK LIKE…

  • Envisioning new possibilities without the fear of losing what is precious in our community.
  • Dreaming of amentities that add to our charm and character without changing it.
  • Boldly exploring options and then deciding what works for us.
  • Saying “YES” to solutions that make sense.
  • Saying “NO” to obstructionist tactics that breed fear to further a personal agenda.
  • Having the courage to trust, where trust is due.
  • Collaborating in different ways with local partners.
  • Advocating for positive change in some areas while protecting what makes us unique and special in others.
  • Acting on our priorities without getting sidetracked and derailed.
  • Being proactive rather than continually reactive.
  • Pursuing new revenue streams that will ensure our financial strength.
  • Investing in tools and/or resources that will make us money in the future.
  • Recognizing that time doesn’t have to stand still to preserve what we’ve got.
  • Understanding we CAN honor our history, protect our unique character while repurposing parts of our community that need help.

A NEW VISION WOULD LOOK LIKE A FORWARD FOCUS.  Our best days are not behind us, they are in front of us.  Our best days are, however, making new demands of us, and if we don’t accept them, we will continue to have the challenges we currently have.  And that’s not good enough for our incredible City.

Let’s see our way through these current problems as we invite in a new vibrant prosperity for Placerville.  That’s a focus and twist worth pursuing.