Living like vampires

drapes closed

leftover lunacy

shrimp stir-fry with peanut sauce

rotisserie chicken noodle soup

chocolate chip pancakes afternoon and morning

does Thich Nhat Hanh mindfully lick the butter from the edge of zen?

paint and a six-year-old’s bodily functions

making mazes with earwax traps, eyeballs, ‘bergers’

rubber duck races in the bathtub

allergic reaction to dishes, laundry

superhero squad

poems, peeps yellowed by the sun or some other substance

make a movie

document the construction of a planned vacation

undone by contracts, taxes and a runny nose

Celebrate this quiet mind

plugged into what matters

and frivolity

touch tap the moment when home becomes adventure

obstacle course

Easter eggs balanced on spoons

citrus tucked under chins

comforters on the couch


Being Awake

Human Beings have a gap—between who we think we are and who we really are. Closing the gap is where being awake is. (Natalie Goldberg, The True Secret of Writing)

A few weeks ago, I wasn’t writing like this.  Until yesterday, I haven’t been painting like this. There is something alive in me that was sleeping, resting, “om-ing” in some other dimension. Now it’s awake. And I hope that reading this, you will feel something stirring, if that thing isn’t already hopping in you. The athlete. The writer. The painter. The chef. The designer. The life coach. The entrepreneur. The philanthropist.

And now I give you a gift that will take 19 minutes and 32 seconds of your life to enjoy. It’s Elizabeth Gilbert’s talk on “Your elusive creative genius.” It’s funny, it’s got history, love, Tom Waits and the most splendid story about one of my favorite poets: Ruth Stone.  Put it on while you do the dishes, pick this over TV, you can just listen.  Or take a real lunch break today at work, for at least 19 minutes and 32 seconds.  It’s worth it.

Pictured below: “Be Sure” painting by Rebecca Villarreal (4/3/13). Acrylic, oil pastel and mosaic.


Acrylic  and pastel painting in progress

Underneath the final painting, the words: “What they say is true and Are you sure and yes and Be Sure”

What’s your third thing?


Lots of us live in conflict. These conflicts can be big or small. Live in the city, longing for nature. Married to stable, longing for passion. Broken childhood, happy adulthood. Overweight, desire to run the fields. In The True Secret of Writing, Natalie Goldberg addresses the idea of a third thing. It’s not necessarily something you can point to right away. It’s that medium where you find relief. “Should I do this or that? A choice between two things is not a choice. It becomes a fight between right or wrong.” The idea is that out of the struggle something else can grow. A third thing. It takes an awareness, a waiting, a letting go, a fertilizing, a quieting. In my case, I realized this morning, that my novel is my third thing. That answer to my dark and light. I am so excited to share it with you. Natalie’s third thing is her house in Santa Fe. Her struggling between her love of Minneapolis and its order and her existence in Taos.

If you feel a restlessness over conflict, try this calming meditation I learned from Thich Nhat Hanh:

I am home.
I have arrived.
In the here and now.
I am solid. I am free.
In the ultimate I dwell.

Here’s to your third thing arriving at the moment that is right for you.

Stop and smell the burnt spaghetti

According to a New York Times article, The Amigdala Made Me Do It, “The choices we make in day-to-day life are prompted by impulses lodged deep within the nervous system.”  I’m experimenting with paying more attention to the five senses.  Like today, when I was preparing our family’s tax papers while cooking my son’s spaghetti.ImageI smelled something burning.  His spaghetti was alight.  They say that multi-tasking is bad for the brain and it turns out, it can also prove harmful to lunch. 

Recently, I’ve been enjoying the smell of purple hyacinths and dark chocolate coconut cream eggs from Zitner’s (thanks Mom!) which bring back great memories of waking up insanely early Easter morning to forage through my basket.

In an effort at mindfulness, try to stop and smell.  Try smelling your food before you eat it.  Consider purchasing something odiferous that elicits a pleasant memory. See where your nose leads you.  I’d love to know what you discover.