Archive for the ‘Authenticity’ Category


A Conversation
the Pippsywoggin
Addie Brianne






Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, like just last week, and in a place far, far away, on the river bench that overlooks my garden studio, I sat in some state of despondency and contemplated the little door that is nailed to the base of the old willow tree.


I didn’t really expect the door to open or anyone to come out of it, as I knew all too well that it was only a fake door, and that my friends from the edge of imagination, the Pippsywoggins, were not real at all. But I wondered, given a chance, what the Pippsywoggins might have to say to me, today, in the midst of the turmoil that is permeating our world.









And so I sat on the bench, by the little door and stared at the muddy waters of Sand Creek, feeling compelled to be there, but also feeling a bit like a fool.  And then it happened.






An image appeared before me, addiebposter157that of the 5-inch tall Pippsywoggin Addie Brianne, who plopped herself down beside me, crossed her hands under her chin, and looked expectantly over at me with a grin.

I grinned, too, for of course it would be Addie Brianne who would show up. I remembered her story, which begins like this.

Addie Brianne is content with life.  She doesn’t have any great ambition to be a dancer or a seamstress or a writer.  She doesn’t have urges to gather the largest strawberries or the sweetest nectar or the shiniest pebbles.  She is just content to relax and to respond to life as it comes to greet her.


Ah, but don’t think that she is lazy.  No, not for a moment.   Above her front door is a sign that says:  THE FIRST THING TO DO IS TO SHOW UP.  And this she does.  Every day.  With as many of her senses of sight and sound and touch and taste and smell as she can marshal together.

Her little house hangs like a basket in the middle of a clump of willows that grow on the edge of a small farm pond where cattle come to drink, where a pair of Mallards yearly raise a brood of ducklings, and where the neighboring Irish Setter routinely comes to bark at crabs.

Because she has made it a habit to show up, she has been there to see the new calf get his first wobbly drink.  She was present when the littlest duckling got swept through the drainage ditch by the sudden spring downpour, and she glimpsed the look in the Setter’s eyes when he came face to face with the giant snapping turtle.

She shows up, and because she does, opportunities for learning and growth and amazement are continually hers.  The other Pips are a bit jealous of her charmed life.  But, you know, the funny thing is that even though they have visited her little house in the willows many times, none of them have seemed to notice the sign above her door that says:  THE FIRST THING TO DO IS TO SHOW UP.


riverwestposter57I bent down to pick up a twig to throw into current as I contemplated Addie Brianne’s story.  Now what, I said. So what if I show up? How does that change anything in this messed up world and my messy life?

As I said this, Addie jumped up and ran towards the little door at the base of the old willow tree, throwing these words over her shoulder as she entered the door, “It may not change the world but it might change you.”

I hardly had time to think about the implications of what she said when Addie was back in front of me holding a sign that said:



Show up.

Keep it simple.

Keep it honest.

Be true.

Those Pippsywoggins! Always with something new to challenge me!  But I took Addie’s poster home with me and nailed it above my own front door.  You’re welcome to make copies for yourself, if you like. I’m sure that Addie B wouldn’t mind.



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The view out my office window is dreary indeed, not at all like last fall’s blaze of sun-bright yellow nor the spectacular glow of ice-white which greeted me one morning last winter.






Today it’s gray, a dull lifelessness, which fits my present mood. I’ve no reason to be glum as the future is full of creative possibilities for joy and love, adventure and discovery, compassion and connection. I do believe that, but last night I let myself watch way too much cruelty, dissension and hatred on TV. That, on top of days of political news and confusion as to what’s moral and what’s true, plus my own disheveled getting-ready-to-move house and studio, and I went off to bed feeling like curling into a fetal ball, which I did. As a result I woke before 5:00 this morning feeling the dread of an already forgotten but way too vivid dream.

So here I sit, determined to bring myself back to that inner space and place where I can look at both myself and my fellow human beings with light and hope reflected in my gaze. I know that there are many ways to center oneself and reconnect with soul. There’s prayer, mindfulness, breath, yoga, meditation, gratitude, forgiveness, paying attention to one’s thoughts, various healing modalities, physical activity, volunteering to help others … and there’s storytelling.

I believe that all of us have a knowing, a wise soul, inside of us, deep in our inner core where we connect with Mystery, with each other, with All that is. We each access that inner knowing in a way that fits us, who we are. One way that I connect with that Truth is to immerse myself in nature. Another way is to sit down and have an imaginary friar2poster2conversation with the Pippsywoggins, little friends from the edge of imagination.It may sound weird to some of you, but it’s great fun, really, and a bit magical, too, as going into the world of make-believe allows me to access inner truths that escape me otherwise. Speaking with the Pippsywoggins let’s me be a kid again and put voice to ideas that otherwise are only rumbling around somewhere, beyond my grasp. Letting go and seeing where the conversation leads, has, in the past, been a great adventure, but it has been on hold for the last 15 or so years because, well, life has been busy. But, just maybe, now’s the time to open the door, that little one that’s hidden at the base of the old willow by the creek, and see if anyone’s there.

I’ll let you know …


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Olive, our blue-eyed, tiny-framed, skip-on-her-toes 2 year old granddaughter came to visit last weekend. The trip from her home 3 1/2 hours away was planned to be a very short one as both parents needed to get back to family responsibilities, and the two teenagers, at home. But the hospital visit with a family member turned out to require more time than originally planned, so Olive was our “guest” for most of Saturday and half of Sunday. We did have fun! I also learned a few things.
  1. Music is essential.
    Children’s folk songs make my body, heart and soul dance! I’d forgotten that, but, thanks to the presence of Olive, and to the ability on Pandora.com to choose stations with a theme, I now remember. In fact I’m going to hit pause and go turn it on … and up… right now! (pause)
  2. The heart knows.
    On Saturday I had a class scheduled, one that I really wanted to attend, but I’m so glad that I spent the day with Olive. Choices are hard, sometimes, but listening to one’s heart, and then going with it, makes the way easier. I think the lesson is to listen, choose, embrace, follow through … and don’t look back. Second-guessing is only that, guessing. Every chosen experience is part of our story and deserves our attention. Our whole-hearted attention? Yes, perhaps that, too.
  3. It’s Ok to ask for your own spoon.
    Our daughter, Jenelle, has long shared a love of deliciously flaky, rich, filled pastry with her father, Dan. As a thank you treat for the weekend spent watching Olive, she picked up two enticingly beautiful and generous portions of torte at Cossettas ( http://cossettas.com/home/hours-location/ ), one for her and one for Dan. I was watching my intake of sugar, so I received a wonderful loaf of raisin bread, an only slightly less rich concoction than the torte!
    Before presenting the torte to her dad, Jenelle, with a grin on her face and a lift to her eyebrows, went to the kitchen and got two forks, then proceeded to sit on the couch with her dad, open the white carry-out box, and the two of them dug in. Olive, who had climbed onto the couch alongside them, received periodic shared forkfuls between Jenelle and Dan’s savoring sounds of delight.
    “More, papa, more,” says Olive.
    Suddenly she gets down from the couch and runs into the kitchen.
    “Where are you going,” asks Dan.
    “To get my own fork,” says Olive.
    Her Olive-sized spoon was lying on the kitchen table, so she took that, instead of the fork, and headed back to the couch where she filled her spoon to heaping, again, and again, an equal part in the experience.
    kossettasjan242015That image has come back to me over and over again in the week since Olive went home. Those of you who know me may perceive me to be a strong-willed and independent woman, but I always recognize, and remember, the tendency that I have to take what people are willing to give me rather than to recognize what I need, that I want more, and that I do have the power to take the initiative, to get up and go fetch my own fork, or spoon, and be an equal part in the experience.
    Two books that were recently recommended to me are The Year of Yes, by Shonda Rhimes, and The Art of Asking, by Amanda Palmer. I think it’s time to check those out. Don’t you love it when the universe, or God or Spirit or the Inner Knowing gives us the same message, over and over again, using different messengers and metaphors, until we finally get it?

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Photo Styling by Susan Lumoto of DailyArtMuse.com

On par.  Up to par.  Is par.  At par.  Above par.  Below par.  Par.  Par was my “word of choice” for 2011.   I gave myself permission to be.  Just to be.  There were a few months there where I actually forgot what my word was, so I had to come back here to my Jan 2011 post to look it up!  That strikes me as funny, definitely a below par sense of memory there!

 But the word was in there, in my unconscious, doing its thing anyway.  Perhaps it’s a little like the riddle over what comes first, the chicken or the egg, because I’m pretty sure that I chose that word because the riddle of its meaning was already present in my life.  Now was just the time to delve into it a bit more deeply.

So, did having a word affect my approach to 2011?  Did it make a difference?  I think it did.  Not in any magical way, but just taking the time at the beginning of the year to think about what was important to me put an intention out there.

 Par is a good word in and of itself, but it is also an acronym for Playful, Authentic and Responsible.  Choosing the word “playful” gave me permission to play in a deeper, less self-conscious way.  Paying attention to being authentic meant that I looked more closely at my behavior as I peeked behind my masks.  And I definitely noticed myself stepping back and being less driven about doing things in my normal “must be perfect” way.  In fact, a lot of things I didn’t do at all!

The problem came with the word “responsible”, for that word raised lots of questions.  Responsible to whom?  And for what?  And why?  And what really mattered, anyway?  That’s the part of par that I’m still trying to figure out.  Which brings me to my word for 2012: embrace.

For me that word means moving past observing and noticing things, which I’m pretty good at, into wrapping my arms around them and engaging with them.  I looked up the definition and found words like seize, embody, accept willingly, receive gladly or eagerly, to clasp.  Hmmm.  Sounds a bit dramatic for that part of me that tends to step back and watch a while before making a commitment to action.   But here I go.

I looked through my picture files for something that embodied the word embrace.  The closest that I came was the feeling of love with which the Pippsywoggin, Winnie Viola, holds close to her bosom her cup of warm tea.  Switch that beverage to coffee and I can feel it!

Who knows, I  may even get so I LIKE the sharing of hugs at my spiritual community’s weekly gathering …

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Jeff Rouse of OurStoryMn.com

Chances are that if you’re reading this blog, you’re a person who identifies with the word  “creative”.  And if so, you’ve surely had someone say to you, “It’s all in your imagination!”, as if that’s a BAD thing.  Gets old, doesn’t it?

It seems to me that the mythical place of imagination is where ideas are generated, where creativity is nurtured, where visions begin to take form and where yesterday’s magic becomes tomorrow’s routine.  The ideas that are brewed in this “land of imagination” become the events and productions and goods of tomorrow. Without imagination we’d still be copying books by hand, harnessing horses to buggies and spending a good portion of each day growing and gathering and spinning and mending.

And, to be honest, I don’t believe that would be ALL bad.   I think we are in risk of losing touch with our connection to the Land and to Source.  I am a believer in the concept of simplicity and love and face time with self and neighbor.  But I do love it that with the click of a key I can talk via email or phone with my friend Iris in Israel or Dayle in California, those wonderful grandkids in Wisconsin … or, when we’re both busy, busy, busy, my partner husband, Dan (Hi, Dan), who is at work in his office downstairs.  Imagination at work has allowed us in the 21st century to stay connected with our friends and family in ways that our immigrant grandparents never, ever experienced.

Despite my ambivalence about the results of imagination, for me, imagination is Sacred.  It is more than coming up with a beautiful sculpture or a clever rhyme.  Imagination IS the rhyme. Imagination is both sender and receiver.    The rhyme isn’t clever until our receptive energy interacts with the written word.  Sort of like how air isn’t breath until a living being takes it in and interacts with it.  For me, Imagination is the Sacred Mystery of life itself.  The spark.  The energy.  The wave and the flow and the pulse that makes us – and keeps us – alive.

So, in honor of imagination, I’d like to tell you about a remarkable Imagineer who is sparking connections here in the MidWest.  Jeff Rouse, pictured, has started a business called Our Story Minnesota.  You can see his work and that of his partner, Denise, plus their platoon of volunteers, at OurStoryMn.com .

Dan and I were fortunate to be able to spend an evening with the Our Story Minnesota people a few weeks ago when I was interviewed on their Women of Sweet Swine County program.   Yup.  Sweet Swine County, their version of down-home midwest tongue-in-cheek fun and play with a healthy dose of marketing and info sharing thrown in for good measure.

The segment that we taped isn’t yet on-line, but do go check out past offerings.  As you smile, or laugh, or grin in recognition of one of the corny jokes or clever phrasings, your receptive energy becomes part of the creative circle without which there would be less energy and less joy and less reason for any of us to get out of bed every morning.


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This photo suits my mood this morning.  It’s been a long time since I’ve posted.  And the reason?  That addiction/condition called perfectionism.  Couldn’t post if I didn’t have time to do it “right” or if I wasn’t in the correct mood or if I didn’t have time to write each word with precision.  Yet whose judgement is it that I crave?  And what happens if I continue to get in the way and keep spirit and soul from permeating the “work”?

And I do just that.

So here I am.  Again.  And with me come these two magnificent pictures of clouds, just as they are.  And all is well.

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Seems to me that there are many ways to hear the voice of God.  Sometimes it’s through nature, as in this magnificent Cottonwood tree that engages me in “conversation” as I walk through Mill Pond Park.  Sometimes it’s through dreams or art experiences, inspirational speeches or readings.  And sometimes it’s through the internet! 

Ever since I returned from retreat in Colorado in late August, I’ve been on a heightened path of discovery as I yearn to hear the story of who I am, what my mission is and how I proceed with this next phase of my life.  It’s as if a familiar door has opened just a bit wider than usual to reveal the obvious connections between the different “rooms” in my life, such as the clay wee folk, simplicity, storytelling, spirit, creativity, teaching, expression and service. 

What triggered this new burst of inquiry was a conversation that I had about Crazy Wisdom, Wise Fools and the Trickster Myths.  Something there was calling my name.  I wanted to learn more.  As I went from one website to another looking for relevant info about those topics, I was sidetracked into other areas (YOU know how it goes!) until I temporarily forgot what I was searching for and ended up in a different area altogether.  As I did so, one of the things that struck me was how much joy, life and creativity some people exhibited through their websites.  I was so inspired, and I wondered, why do I put limitations on my own imagination?”

 Instead of feeling overwhelmed, which I have tended to do in the past, I have been using these websites as part of my own Curriculum of Possibilities, with these people as my private mentors, so to speak, as they teach me what it means to show up, to be present, to be true – or at least that’s how it seems to me. 

Last night in a conversation with a friend we were talking about how important it is to BELIEVE in our own gifts and abilities, in ourselves, that without that belief we remain stuck in our limitations.  We struggle.  We strive.  We compare, feel less than, or not able.   And so we don’t.

And how do we get past those limitations and become believers?  How can we be healed of our unbelief?  How do we stay open to positive, creative possibilities day after day after day after day, even in the midst of what may seem to be limitations and roadblocks? 

Here are a few answers that come to me at this moment.  PLEASE ADD TO THIS LIST, if you like, in the comment section:

  • Ask for help.
  • Find spiritual mentors and/or teachers who model a belief in possibilities.
  • Keep company with friends who believe in possibilities, who are creatively engaged in life.
  • Give yourself permission to believe that it’s OK to believe in yourself.
  • Tell yourself that what you do DOES make a difference to the world.
  • Tell yourself that again until you do believe it!
  • Ask yourself what you care about?
  • Listen to yourself.
  • Be willing to dream BIG.
  • Envision yourself doing those things that you love, about which you have passion.
  • Learn and master new skills so that you are equipped to follow through with your vision.
  • Give yourself permission to make mistakes.
  • Have courage. 
  • Take calculated risks.
  • Show yourself and others what you can do.
  • Forgive yourself – and others.
  • Laugh.  Dance.  Sing.
  • Take a break and get a little perspective.
  • Don’t take yourself so seriously.
  • Take yourself seriously.
  • Laugh, dance and sing some more.
  • Keep company with people who give you honest AND positive feedback about yourself.
  • Ask for help.
  • Ask again.
  • Remember that life is a journey, not a competition.
  • Give thanks for the journey.

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