Around the Corner… P.S.

DSC_0006Question… Did you notice the art work, around the corner, reflected in the mirror?

If not, you just have.  Are you going, “Wow…”?  Yes, it’s a very wonderful piece.

I wanted to give a shout-out to the artist… Charles Kurre .  The similarity of name is no coincidence.  He’s my brother. Younger brother, he might want me to add.

Check out his website… and his blog – It Happens Every Tuesday.  You’ll see what he’s up to; you’ll learn about his art and his process; and you’ll see his new works.  Enjoy!

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Around the Corner….

DSC_0006Have you ever noticed that when you decide to do something differently, it reveals other things?

Over the years, I’ve paid attention to the amount of wheat I eat and to the infamous “carbs”, but that was about it.  I thought my body was happy and my weight was fine.

Then, a couple of years ago, when I learned about the science of wheat, gluten, and my digestive tract, I went gluten-free.  There weren’t weird things on the list of gluten-free foods, nor did it require extreme new regimes.

It all sounded so simple.  As a good friend with many years of gluten-free eating remarked, nonchalantly – “Order a hamburger and fries, leave the bun, eat the fries.”  Well, that sounded enticing.  Buns, particularly the whole wheat variety, had been on my “good” carb list and fries on the “bad” carb list.

Ha…simple, yes…. but simple didn’t mean “without a thought”.

I soon discovered how much of my food had gluten.  There it all was.  My simple morning routine – toast, muffin or bagel with fruit… sandwich or salad with croutons at lunch… and a healthy, fresh pasta dish for dinner.

Goodness.  Note to self… “Pay attention to what you eat.”  The 1st Thought on the adventure appeared.  This was quickly followed by the 2nd …. “Yes, that means the snack cookie and the splurge apple fritter with Starbucks coffee, bold.”

What happened next?  The 3rd Thought popped in, eager for its ah-ha.  “Guess we need to re-think the food lists – the “good” (eat these), the “bad” (don’t eat these) and the “splurge” (eat, occasionally).”

Fortunately, the enticing nature of what I had learned about eating gluten-free was enough for me to keep going.  I breezed through the 4th Thought (“Continue or not?”), almost without a thought.  Amazing.

DSCN0020Continue I did, to the adventures, waiting around the corner….like stocking my pantry with new foods.  Another seemingly, simple task except that it meant I needed to let favorites go.  You know the great pasta that we finally find after years of searching?   My 5th Thought turned curious “What will I like?”

Actually, I hadn’t realized there were so many options.  Pasta and breads can be made with rice (brown and white), potatoes, quinoa, beans, and almonds.    Instantly, the grocery morphed into a research library.  And, when I got home, my kitchen, became “testing laboratory”.  At first, I was the official taste-tester until I got brave enough to ask friends to join in.  I soon found out, add wine and it’s a party.

As I tried new foods,  it was easy to eat the ones I liked.  No thought, here.   But what about the ones, I didn’t?  Alas, there was no getting around the  6th Thought, turned question.

Eating out, I’d employed the mantra of  “Be polite.” (It’s better to not say anything than to say something bad, and if possible, when asked directly, say it was “fine”, just don’t ask for seconds).  Thanks Mother and Dad.

But, one Saturday at the local Farmer’s Market, I stopped at a booth where a young man was selling his breads – including gluten-free.  We talked for a bit and as I tasted the bread, he commented “See, you can’t tell the difference!”.  And then, asked “Do you like it?”

I gulped “Now what” and continued “Well, it doesn’t suit my tastes.”  His emotions flashed on his face as he looked for a response to my unexpected comment.  So, I smiled and in my best comforting voice remarked “I’m sure it works for a lot of people and I’m glad to have tasted it.”  7th Thought … “It’s okay to tell your truth, nicely.”

This was not the only hidden mantra that came through.  I soon heard, “Eat everything on your plate” (Whether you like it or not), translated into the broader mantra of “Don’t waste food.”   What do I do with the gluten-free foods I try at home and don’t like?  Keep them in the pantry, unused?  Fix them, anyway, and get myself through eating something I don’t like?  More thoughts.  More questions.  More choices.

“Yes”… The power of a simple “Yes” is quite amazing; as is the adventure that awaits us, sight unseen, just around the corner.

On the gluten-free path, I discovered that my body liked it and that kept me going.   Plus, I experienced aspects of myself that I had taken for granted, like the foods I ate.

For example, I could be patient with myself – letting time work its magic.  I was curious, again – finding new foods and flavors.  I am an adventurer – my pantry stocked with new options and my awareness alive with new choices.  And, I still bake amazing chocolate chip cookies and brownies, gluten-free.

Reminder to self ….  “Adventure must start with running away from home.”  William Bolitho

Say “Yes” Often… Happy Adventures….Thanks for Reading!


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As I grew up and grew older, I easily put on the cloak of action.  There were always places to go, people to see, things to do.  Play morphed into school… School morphed into career… Family morphed into being mom…Participation morphed into community service.

Relaxation took on action forms as well.  Running.  Cooking.  Reading.  Learning new things.  Rest was sleep.  Rest and relaxation were a two-hour nap on Sunday afternoon and get-away vacations.

I’m comfortable nested in my cloak of action.  Not only have I been doing it for a long time, I thoroughly enjoy it.  And, as we all discovered early on, action and its results are positively reinforced.

Unbeknownst to me my nesting began changing.  It started simply enough.  One evening, I was going over in my mind what I had accomplished that day – where it fit into what needed to be done and how I was progressing on my plans.

And,  “out-of-the-blue” I saw a new question.  “Did you enjoy the day?” a quiet voice asked?   Maybe from all the years of creating success, first in school and then in business, I got so focused on getting to the “results” that I had forgotten to feel the delight in life….

…. Where moments are filled with the joy and passion to be with others, to learn, and bring ideas alive…

…. Where rest and relaxation are not another line on the list, but rather a treasured time to re-connect with myself and all the aspects of life I know, but cannot see.

A few months later, I visited a physician friend.  We were talking about the nervous system and the unseen miracles it performs every day.  He said “In every moment, our physical bodies assess what’s going on and decide whether we need to get into the action (fight/flight) or take a break from it (rest/digest).  This is our natural movement of balance.”

IMG_0314Then, he looked at me, as friends do, with the pointed question “In the midst of all that you are doing, are you honoring your built-in balance for rest and integration?”  You know the saying… when the student is ready, the teacher appears.  Between the quiet voice in my head and the loving voice of my friend, I saw a new way to live.

That is, action and all my activities get to continue to be full, creatively unknown, and intense.  And, they get to be grounded, like a great oak tree standing in its roots, in the broader knowing of life itself.  Now when I’m doing daily things – fixing breakfast, working on a project, talking to friends, my intention is to feel the gift of life pulsing through me.

Rest, relaxation and integration have also become more intentional.  I have relinquished the urge to count the minutes I meditate, miles I walk, or hours I sleep.  Rather, as often as I remember, I feel them as an oasis – a special place for my body to revitalize itself and for my knowing to fall into the warm embrace of grace.

Fortunately, we are all a “play” in progress.  And, now, more than ever before, I’m marveling at the “play” that is my life.. with all its twists and turns…opportunities for action…and intermissions for rest and integration.  And, I’m amused… “it’s looking good so far.”

We join spokes together in a wheel, but it is the center hole that makes the wagon move.

We shape clay into a pot, but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want.  

We hammer wood for a house, but it is the inner space that makes it livable.

We work with being, but non-being is what we use.

Tao te Ching, #11, Translated by Stephen Mitchell

Thanks for reading!


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Spring Collection

Spring in Atlanta

Spring in Atlanta

In Atlanta, spring arrives slowly at first, with a fresh smell in the air, daffodils popping through the ground, and birds singing with delight  finding buds in the trees.  And then, the day always comes when Mother Nature abandons all subtlety – the skies are filled-in with the green of new leaves.  Azalea pink, red and white greet you at every turn, and the world has a yellow tint of pollen blanketing any surface that isn’t moving.

How beautiful nature is – sharing its newness, reminding me of life’s eternal renewal.  There is nothing to do….it just happens.

This spring, nature had company inside.  It all started simply enough.   In January, I was thinking it was time to replace the well-worn carpet and stone.  And then, one day, a backed-up pipe gushing water into my den catapulted the thought into action.

Dakota enjoying the new floors and his "Gator"

Dakota enjoying the new floors and his “Gator”

And so, the creative process of the new, inside spring collection – began.  The long and short of the story is that I changed the color palette of my home – with new awesome floors that are puppy-proof, redone cabinets, and new paint colors.  What had been my office was transformed into a studio and library.

Under construction...

Under construction…

I must confess that there were some days – like when the crew with jack-hammers put a 9’ hole in my den to replace a clogged pipe and when the hall flooring team took saws to my floor and set off the smoke alarm – that I wasn’t so sure.   No one can really explain what any change will be like or how it will feel – particularly on the days we can’t see our way through to the end.

Just as there were surprises in what needed to be done, there were even more in the gifts that came.  For example – the craftsmen.  They spoke an array of languages, shared pictures of their families, filled my home with songs and laughter along with their love of their craft and their devotion to creating beautiful spaces.

Chipper checking out floor color

Chipper testing to see if the new floor went with his outfit.

What was poignant then, and still is today, is the memory that when life is in seeming chaos, there are always guides to help.  For me, the flooring team made sure the puppy, cat, and myself had a path to get between rooms.  My good friend and master of the plan had a wonderful way of showing up at the right time to get me out of the house – for breakfast, or looking for new cabinet knobs, or office table.    And every day, my daughter Sarah reminded me that “this too shall pass” and it was all going to be beautiful.

2013 GT BPC Winners - GoNow

2013 GT BPC Winners – GoNow

Finally, spring’s faithful harbinger is the line-up of entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship events.  The season begins with the Georgia Bowl at Kennsaw State.  There were teams representing both U.S. and international universities.   And, having taught entrepreneurship at Georgia Tech, its Business Plan Competition for GT students is always a favorite.  Then, of course, I’m geeky that way – love to see science transformed into impactful businesses.

A relative newcomer to the line-up, which is now in its 5th year is the Idea 2 Serve Competition.  Here, Georgia Tech students present venture ideas to impact the world.  This year, teams focused on ideas to serve domestic and international communities in areas of water, energy, food, air, transportation and education.  No small feats.

I was honored to participate as a judge in the Business Plan Competitions.  And I was the host for the Idea 2 Serve Showcase, where the 29 teams presented their ideas to a panel of 35 judges and the community.  They reminded me that we are all students and teachers, irrespective of our physical age.  The university students presented new ways to look at the world, seeing possibilities.  And the seasoned judges shared their wisdoms of how to bring the ideas into reality.  This is a great recipe for inspiration.

Hallway leading to my new studio

Hallway leading to my new studio

Now, I’m back at my computer, in my new studio, pausing for a moment.  I must say, the 2013 Spring Collection has been amazing.   It is exciting to create new adventures, to feel the power of commitment in the middle, and to revel in the joy of seeing the results.   Beautiful outside.  Beautiful inside.  And, new possibilities on the horizon.


“When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest.”  Ernest Hemingway…A Moveable Feast.

Thanks for reading!


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Standing in 2 Places at Once

Through the Looking GlassYears ago, I was introduced to the possibility of seeing life from the physical and Divine perspectives – all at the same time.  Imagine that – being present in what is happening in the now (think Eckart Tolle’s The Power of Now) AND seeing ourself and the situation through the lens of unconditional love – as the eternal Divine sees.

I liked the idea, and began.  My intention was that irrespective of whether I found myself in a pleasant situation or an intense one, I would remember that all of it was part of a broader purpose – one which I might understand or not.

It didn’t take long to realize that when life was going great, flowing as I had thought, wanted or planned, it was easy to see a perspective of grace.  Liking this prompted me to feel the love available in every ordinary moment – breathing, washing dishes, petting Chipper the cat, in conversations, watching a bird in flight.

I also discovered that in the moments not going so well – the ones that were difficult, intense, unwanted – it was harder, if not, at times, impossible, to find the broader divine perspective. Joseph Campbell calls these “trickster” moments – reminding us that life is full of the unknown.  And, he suggests that, with practice, we can see the broader knowing within “trickster’s” surprise.

But somewhere along the line, I interpreted this to mean that the intense moments would lighten up.  And that somehow, I would become an “expert” in circumventing the situations.  Looking back, it’s easy to see why I thought this – in school and in jobs, we learn that mastery means we’re done with the lesson and we can move on.

Well, not quite.  Over the past couple of months, with great help, I planned a renovation project for my home.  I knew what I wanted to do, when, how, and how much.  Wow,  it felt great – and easy – to consciously create, thinking I had it all under control.

Then the trickster showed up.  There was a lot more than what I knew. A well-orchestrated plan for a new floor expanded into jack-hammers in my den and a new sewer line.  And, as the construction plan morphed into days of hammering, sawing, and air compressors – the luster of the plan became the reality of disruption, infinite dust, and chaos.

Neale Donald Walsh in Conversations with God notes that intensity is a gift of our physical life.  And, being on the path of mastery doesn’t mean that we circumvent these moments, it means that we hold the center of love and peace in the midst of the intensity.

David Whyte in The Heart Aroused shares the same insight in a different way.  He reminds us that in filling our lives with structure, ritual and planning, we hope to keep, uncertainty at bay.  Yet, we know all too well, that the details of our life, when seen from a physical perspective only, are uncertain.

So the question is:  “How do we hold both the intense physical experience and the broader knowing all at the same time?”  The truth of the answer is simple:  one step at a time.

I found that in the midst of the chaos, my anxiety came from worrying – the noise wouldn’t stop, the problem wouldn’t be fixed, or that my budget couldn’t afford it.  Then, I’d take a deep breath and remember that for all the ups and downs in my life, whatever I needed came.

So I began reassuring my anxious, physical self that no matter what was going on in the moment, “All is well”.   The perfect help will appear.  The matter of dollars and cents will work itself out.  And I turned my attention to thinking how beautiful and sound my home was becoming.  Not only once, I repeated this refrain often. Vigilant.  Patient.  Persistent.

Now, writing from some distance, I realize that my internal process mirrored the external one.  The process of rejuvenation and growth – whether on the inside or out – is noisy, dirty and takes time.  Replacing floors or a learned emotional pattern requires great care – to take up the old, strengthen what’s beneath it, and setting the new in place.

Miracles do happen – every day and beyond the trickster.   I’m finding the reminders easier to access.   And I know now, not to get too comfy here.  There is always more on the way.

Well, back to dusting and settling in to the new space….

Thanks for reading!!!


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Radio Show – Listen In

A couple of weeks ago, I was interviewed by Quinetha Frasier for the “Better You Network” radio show.  It was very cool – she is exploring the multi-faceted issues within the giving community – nonprofits and the individuals, organizations that support them.

It’s first airing is/was on February 18, 2013 at 11AM EST and 11PM EST.  Take a look and listen, if you like.  I’m sure you’ll be fascinated by the website, people, and insights.




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Loving Lost

TravelingIn sharing the details of a trip overseas, a good friend casually remarked, “I love being lost in new places.”   He didn’t skip a beat with this revelation, just continued excitedly through more stories of his adventures.  Later, the phrase resonated in my ears, finally, clamoring enough for me to pay attention.

I figured the “clamoring” was for a reason, so I dove into the idea and feeling of being “lost”.  I found myself in some interesting territory.  I don’t know that I have ever consciously gotten up any morning and said to myself “My goal is to get lost today.”

The phrase “being lost” doesn’t get used a lot as something good.  Imagine when asked about the status of a project, we respond “Hmm… here’s where we’ve been, this is what we see, but for the most part, we’re lost.”  Nope.  We’re taught to develop an internal GPS to have answers about where we are and where we’re going.

So, wondering if I could make friends with “being lost,”  I hung out in the murky waters. At first, it was a scary notion, laden with movie scenes of dark forests and alleys.  Then, I realized that I frequently find myself in the midst of the unknown.  Isn’t this the same thing?

Sometimes, yes.  Sometimes, no.  There are times when the unknown feels like an adventure, like “being lost” felt to my friend.  But other times, the unknown feels scary.  “What’s the difference?” I wondered.

Simple. When I intentionally set out on an adventure – a new project, friendship, menu for dinner – I expect the unknown.  Finding myself in unfamiliar territory is part of the fun and adrenaline rush.

But, if my intention is to end up at a particular place and I can’t find my way, the unknown doesn’t feel the same.  The feeling of “scary” arrives when I don’t know where I am and I feel vulnerable.

My conclusion now feels like it should not have been a surprise.  That is, since we live life in the next, unknown moment, which we get whether we planned it or not, the idea of “being lost” comes down to attitude.  Whether I think I am or I’m not, I’m right.

So, the deep dive helped me re-calibrate my thoughts.  Now, when I wake up, I don’t think about my “plans” for the day.  I feel the day as an adventure waiting to happen.

I imagine all the things I’ll do that I know and all the new things that will arrive, unplanned or not.   And I promise myself that if I feel “lost”,  I’ll remember to note “Ready or not, here I come!”  and savor every moment of my daring adventures with a big “Yahoo!”


Stand still.  The trees ahead and bushes beside you are not lost.  Wherever you are is called Here.

No two trees are the same to Raven.  No two branches are the same to Wren.

Stand still.  The forest knows where you are.  You must let it find you.

David Wagoner, copyright 1976

Thanks for reading.


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New Year’s Presence

DSC_0110 - Version 3One of my go-to contemplation books is the compilation of Florence Scovel Shinn’s writings. Born in 1871, she was an artist, writer, teacher, and metaphysician.  Her writing is simple and direct; and always deepens my knowing.  Most mornings before the day starts moving quickly, I sit in the quiet, close my eyes, and open Florence’s book to a random page.  Today, I opened the book to page 236.

In front of me was the story of the Wizard of Oz.  As we all know, Dorothy went searching for what she thought she didn’t have, but desired.   She had quite an adventure.  And, at the end of her journey, the good witch from the North asked Dorothy what she had learned.  Dorothy replied “I have learned that my heart’s desire is in my own home and in my own front yard.”

For today, the first day of the new year, Dorothy, through Florence, gave me the only wisdom I really needed.   In the midst of my fond, loving memories of the holiday season, now past; and my intended desires for the future, they reminded me to be present to the moment.  The moment is home, my front yard.  It is where all life comes to life.

My memories quickly transformed into deep gratitude for every moment of anticipation; every gift given and received; every smile, hug, and “I love you”; and for every bite of food abundantly shared by Mother Earth and lovingly prepared by family and friends.   And, all my meanderings for planning in 2013, morphed into a simple promise to myself.

Be present.

Savor it all.   Feel it all.

Know the gift of life itself.

That is, whether resolutions are kept, or not…Whether the year unfoldsIMG_0251 as planned, or not…Every moment is the promise for experiencing life’s fullness and mystery.  As Dorothy discovered, there is no place to go.  Life is happening here and now.

As we treasure this first day of 2013,  I wish that every new moment be filled with wonder and loving presence to yourself, your family, friends, and the world.


This is now.  Now is.  Don’t postpone

till then.  Spend the spark of iron

on stone.  Sit at the head of the table.

Dip your spoon in the bowl.  Seat yourself

next to your joy and have your awakened soul

pour wine.   Cloth

for green robes has been cut from pure

absence. You’re the tailor, settled

among his shop goods, quietly sewing.

Rumi, from Coleman Barks Rumi the Book of Love.

Thank you for being in my now.  Happy New Year!


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Flowing, Part 2

DSC_0084The Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I was in the Atlanta airport, standing at the arrival lobby with many others, excitedly awaiting my daughter and her husband to appear at the top of the escalators.  By the time, I saw them in the sea of people, I had tears running down my cheeks, in spite of my discreet wiping – trying hard not to give myself away.

Alas, my daughter took one look at me, rushed toward me, and gave me a big hug.  Then asked “Mom, are you okay?”  “I’m great” was my reply.  She pulled back and looked at my eyes to see if I was telling the truth.

Before she could ask the next question, I responded.  “I’ve been watching families coming together – sons, daughters, mothers, dads, friends, loved ones.  It touches my heart to feel the gift of life, family, joy, and love.  I’m so glad you are both here.”

Many years ago, a teacher told me “Kathleen, when your heart is open, your eyes leak.”  It was a great gift.  All my life, I had been told to be strong – which meant no crying.  I didn’t realize that the tears have to go someplace and if they don’t flow, they get stuck inside.  Over time, they overwhelm our heart trying to keep them in.  In this simple phrase, I was given permission I didn’t know I needed – to let the tears flow and feel the gift of an open heart.

The following Sunday, we were back at the airport, they were going home.   Yes, the tears came again.  Still joyful, loving.  But, in a different way.  Rather than tears of loving anticipation, they were tears of loving gratitude.  The hugs, kisses and waves goodbye all held the laughter and love of the weekend and of our lives, fully shared.

Driving home in the quiet, I remembered we don’t need momentous occasions for our hearts to open.  Every moment, we have the opportunity to feel the gift of being in life.  “Breathe is all in” I whispered to myself.  The sound of an arriving text message brought me back to the traffic, my daughter letting me know their plane was on time.  I smiled “All is well.”

How do we hold a lifetime of life?  The precious moments we’d like to hold onto?  The moments we’d like to take back?   The simple routine moments of every day?  We let them flow.

DSC_0082Like the river, we let our heart flow with all the life that comes.   We laugh.  We cry.  We love.  We feel the gift of being spirited humans.   Doing our best.  Feeling it all.  Remembering that strength is like water – always flowing, carving mountains.

“Nothing in the world is as soft and yielding as water.  Yet for dissolving the hard and inflexible, nothing can surpass it.”  Tao te Ching # 78 from Stephen Mitchell.

Happy Flow!

Thanks for reading!


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Deep Breath…

It’s a warm, early November afternoon in Atlanta, Georgia – the kind of afternoon that warms your heart and puzzles the mind, wondering if it really can be November.  Somehow, it feels like September – both in terms of the weather and the quick passage of time.  How did I lose October?

Easy.  Life flowing quickly.  In fact today, a good friend did a short, guided meditation with me in which I was standing at the edge of a beautiful flowing river.  I walked out into the middle of the river where it was waist deep.  Facing down river, I felt the powerful flow of the water swirling around me, releasing energy that was ready to go and bringing new, nourishing energy.  Golly, I needed that.

And actually, I don’t have to think too long or hard wondering where October went.  For the past 3 years, one of the fall rituals is a weekend retreat in Northern Georgia with a group of Georgia Tech faculty and PhD, Biomedical Engineering students.  Teaching and sharing is sheer joy for me – as is being with the fabulous group of faculty and the inspiring students.

This year, we had an added treat – zip lining in the woods.  It was my first zip lining adventure and what fun it was!  Plus, it was great being with others – some novices, like myself and others seasoned zip liners.  There were many encouraging words and celebratory sounds of flying through the air!

Then, mid-month a new addition came into the family.  Meet Dakota – a now, 9 week-old Australian Shepherd puppy.  Most of my friends and neighbors are surprised – or flabbergasted might be a better word – some days, no more than myself.

It all happened in a blink of an eye.  One Saturday morning, a new puppy was not even a thought in my mind as I drove east to volunteer at an event at the Georgia International Horse Park.  I was doing my thing, minding my business when a horse neighing behind me got my attention.  I went up to say Hello to the horse – a beautiful brown mare and to the rider.  The conversation went about it’s course and we started talking about dogs.  He had a mom-dog with a group of pups – then, just six weeks old.  The next thing I knew, I was going to see them the next day.

Of course, I immediately called Sarah, my daughter, and said “you are not going to believe what I am doing tomorrow.”  She laughed with disbelief.  Two hours later, she texted me with the name Dakota.  Perfect.  An hour after that, she called and said “Mom, I’ve already looked at flights so I can come and be with you – to pick up Dakota and help get him settled.”  Life, flowing – lovingly.

They say that our animal companions choose us.  This was true.  Dakota had prepared us with his name.  And the next day, as I sat in the midst of the lively pups – this beautiful brown puppy with a white heart on his head walked up and made himself at home in my lap.  No questions.  Just fact.

Two weeks later, I was at the airport picking up Sarah and the next day, we were off to bring Dakota home.   He is all settled, well as much as a puppy gets settled.  I must say, the days move faster, now.  I’m outside a lot more, now.  And, my throwing arm is getting back into shape (after all of Sarah’s softball years).  The cat, Chipper, still hasn’t swatted at the puppy and patiently lets Dakota herd him to places the dog cannot yet go (like up the stairs).  Needless to say, the puppy has brought many smiles to many hearts, including mine.

Yes.  Life happens, flowing quickly like the river.  Reminding us that there is no time in its flow, only the beauty of each new moment.   And on a warm, fall afternoon, this new moment brought a deep breath to remember just how sweet life is.

Thanks for Reading!


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