a year of Wooden: week 34

Good morning, everyone! My uncle Frankie just hit the road back down to L.A. after a nice morning of visiting with me and my grandparents over breakfast. Now I’m drinking tea and taking care of some emails/business stuff before heading out to Starbucks for a writing session. {I always get more productive writing done at Starbucks than at home. I crave the background noise and busy atmosphere.} Then I’m hoping to have a gym session this evening!

Before I get moving, time for this week’s year of Wooden challenge! Since Wednesday is the start of October, we’re going to move onto our October challenge this week…

a year of wooden

  • January: Drink deeply from good books
  • February: Make friendship a fine art
  • March: Help others
  • April: Build a shelter against a rainy day {financially}
  • May: Be true to yourself
  • June: Give thanks for your blessings every day
  • July: Love
  • August: Balance
  • September: Drink deeply from good poetry
  • October: Make friendship a fine art {new friends}

Back in January, we began this year-long challenge with the first item from Coach Wooden’s 7-Point Creed: Drink deeply from good books. In September, we focused on poetry because Coach Wooden had a deep love for poetry.

Last week’s challenge was to read New and Selected Poems: Volume One by Mary Oliver.

Mary Oliver poems

Mary Oliver is one of my favorite poets — I shared her beautiful poem “The Summer Day” earlier this year as a mid-week meditation — and for this week I’d like to share her poem about one of my favorite things:

The Sunflowers

Come with me
into the field of sunflowers.
Their faces are burnished disks,
their dry spines

creak like ship masts,
their green leaves,
so heavy and many,
fill all day with the sticky

sugars of the sun.
Come with me
to visit the sunflowers,
they are shy

but want to be friends;
they have wonderful stories
of when they were young —
the important weather,

the wandering crows.
Don’t be afraid
to ask them questions!
Their bright faces,

which follow the sun,
will listen, and all
those rows of seeds —
each one a new life! —

hope for a deeper acquaintance;
each of them, though it stands
in a crowd of many,
like a separate universe,

is lonely, the long work
of turning their lives
into a celebration
is not easy. Come

and let us talk with those modest faces,
the simple garments of leaves,
the coarse roots in the earth
so uprightly burning.

You all know how much I love sunflowers, so it’s no wonder I was drawn to this poem. At first, I simply reveled in the beauty of the lines and the perfect description of sunflowers — their creaky spines, heavy green leaves, bright faces like “burnished disks.” But as I read the poem through a few times, what I was most left with was a sense of quiet strength, confidence, and hope. I love the lines about “turning their lives/into a celebration” even though this is not an easy task. I think that is a noble task for all of us to attempt!

sunflowers

Now, let’s move onto our challenge for October. This is a reprise of our February challenge, from Coach Wooden’s 7-Point Creed: Make friendship a fine art. For October, we’re returning to this point, but instead of improving existing friendships, we are going to focus on nurturing new friendships.

This week’s challenge is to reach out to an acquaintance you would like to get to know better, and invite them to do something — coffee, lunch, a movie, etc. Reach out and get to know this person better!

friendship quote

Questions for the day:

  • What is your favorite poem by Mary Oliver?
  • How do you make life a celebration?
  • What new friend will you reach out to this week?

goals + recipes for the week of 9/28

Happy Sunday, friends! It’s a busy day around here. I’m off to do a little tutoring this morning before church; then after the church service we’re having a Young Adult potluck; and then tonight we’re having family dinner at my aunt Annie’s house before my Uncle Frankie heads back down to L.A. in the morning. Lots of friend & family time, which makes my heart happy!

Speaking of happy hearts, my sweetie’s birthday is this Tuesday! Last night I was invited to celebrate with him and his sister, dad and stepmom at the beautiful Clairemont Country Club. I wore my navy and ivory chevron dress from this past Easter {thanks to Arianna for helping me decide on an outfit! My cousin is eleven years younger than I am but has waaaaay more style!} 😉

chevron dress

And my other stylish cousin, Bianca, helped me bake red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting for the birthday boy!

cupcakes

Speaking of yummy desserts, I have to share a photo of this aaaaaamazing butternut squash bread pudding I ordered for dessert on Friday night. I’m gonna try to recreate it myself at some point, perhaps using this recipe? Oh and yeah, that’s salted caramel gelato on top. With chocolate caramel cups mixed in. Yuuuuummmmm. I want to eat this again, like, right now.

butternut squash bread pudding

Before I lose myself in drooling over this photo, let’s move onto goals…

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from this past week: 
– complete new draft of my novel-in-progress {wrote two new chapters; one more to go!}
– finish editing work
– prepare for first week of teaching/new semester
do yoga twice & core exercises five times
– read 100 pages of Into the Night Sky by Caroline Finnerty

Here are my goals for this upcoming week:
– complete new draft of my novel-in-progress
– celebrate Allyn’s birthday! 🙂
– do yoga twice & core exercises five times
– finish reading Into the Night Sky by Caroline Finnerty

And here are some recipes I’m eying this week:
crockpot asian pulled chicken via The Pajama Chef
creamy spinach & cheese green chile enchiladas via Two Peas & Their Pod
pumpkin cinnamon cookies via Two Peas & Their Pod
6 healthy crockpot chicken freezer meals via New Leaf Wellness & Money-Saving Mom
– my own curried butternut squash & apple soup

Questions of the day:

  • What are your goals for this upcoming week?
  • What recipes are you drooling over lately?

MPM-Spring
This post is featured on Menu Plan Monday!

mid-week meditation #11

Happy Wednesday, everyone! Oh man, I went to yoga last night for the first time in for.ev.er and I am sore today! It’s the good kind of sore, though. I’m already looking forward to class tomorrow! It’s nice to be getting back into my regular routine after such a busy, travel-filled summer.

When I got home from yoga last night, there was this gorgeous cake sitting on the kitchen counter. Apparently one of our neighbors saw my grandma walking with her walker and learned about her hip operation. So she baked this homemade lemon cake as a get-well gift. Such a thoughtful gesture! It warmed my heart {and my belly — delicious!} Next time I see her, I’m going to ask for the recipe so I can share it with all of you.

lemon bundt cake

Last night, my fave contestant Tavis Smiley was voted off Dancing With The Stars. 😦 But I’m happy to be heading into San Francisco today to hear Tavis give a talk about his new book about MLK, Death of a King, at The Commonwealth Club.

Death of a King

Then I’m off to teach my first class of the semester for Communication Academy — I’m excited to meet my students and get started! Tonight I’m heading over to my aunt Annie’s house to watch the season premiere of Nashville with her and Arianna… the other show I watch on a regular basis in addition to The Good Wife. Any other Nashville fans?

Before I go, here’s a September-inspired meditation to add some calm to your week:

September quote

Have a beautiful day!

a year of Wooden: week 33

Good morning, everyone! Hope you’re feeling recharged after the weekend! I slept in a little this morning, which felt SO nice after a busy weekend of travel and commitments. Now I’m easing into the day with a hot mug of tea and some pb + banana toast, sprinkled with chia seeds on top for a bit of healthy crunch!

pb banana toast

What do you have going on today? I am hoping to get LOTS of productive work done on my novel. Then, later this afternoon I’m meeting with one of my favorite students for a tutoring session. But for now, time for this week’s year of Wooden challenge!

a year of wooden

  • January: Drink deeply from good books.
  • February: Make friendship a fine art.
  • March: Help others.
  • April: Build a shelter against a rainy day (financially).
  • May: Be true to yourself.
  • June: Give thanks for your blessings every day.
  • July: Love.
  • August: Balance.
  • September: Drink deeply from good poetry.

Back in January, we began this year-long challenge with the first item from Coach Wooden’s 7-Point Creed: Drink deeply from good books. Now, in September, we are focusing on poetry because Coach Wooden had a deep love for poetry.

Last week’s challenge was to read The Soul of Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks. {Thanks to my brother for letting me borrow his copy!}

Rumi

I love how Rumi’s poems are so wise and filled with imagery and meaning, while also being accessible to the average reader like me. Reading this collection, I felt like my spirit was lifted up. His poems made me feel more in touch with the greater meaning and spirituality of life. It was really difficult to choose just one poem to share, so I ended up narrowing my favorites down to these two short poems:

One Song

What is praised is one, so the praise is one too,
many jugs being poured

into a huge basin. All religions, all this singing,
one song.

The differences are just illusion and vanity. Sunlight
looks slightly different

on this wall than it does on that wall and a lot different
on this other one, but

it is still one light. We have borrowed these clothes, these
time-and-space personalities,

from a light, and when we praise, we pour them back in.

I love this poem because it makes me feel hopeful and it celebrates the unity between all of us as living beings. Too often, I think, we focus on our differences. We use those differences as reasons to divide us. But, like the poem says, deep down we are all singing one song, together. I love the metaphor of the same sunlight on different walls. And the end of this poem gives me goosebumps every time.

rumi quote

The Most Alive Moment

The most living moment comes when
those who love each other meet each

other’s eyes and in what flows
between them then. To see your face

in a crowd of others, or alone on a
frightening street, I weep for that.

Our tears improve the earth. The
time you scolded me, your gratitude,

your laughing, always your qualities
increase the soul. Seeing you is a

wine that does not muddle or numb.
We sit inside the cypress shadow

where amazement and clear thought
twine their slow growth into us.

At the end of this poem, I can’t help but sigh with contentment. I feel a release within me. Do you feel it, too? I think this poem beautifully captures the wonder, refuge and delight of loving another person. I especially love the lines: “To see your face/in a crowd of others, or alone on a/frightening street, I weep for that.” And the ending image of slow growth and understanding is an important one — love not as a lightning bolt in a fickle rainstorm, but something steady and nurturing like a tree.

rumi love quote

This week, I’ll be reading New and Selected Poems: Volume One by Mary Oliver.

Mary Oliver poems

Next week, I’ll share my favorite poem from the collection, and I’d love to hear yours as well!

Questions for the day:

  • What is your favorite poem of Rumi?
  • What makes you feel alive or inspired?

goals + recipes for the week of 9/21

Greetings from the Bay Area! It’s great to be reunited with my grandparents — my grandma is walking around with just a cane now! I’m so proud of her! And last night I was reunited with my sweetheart, who I hadn’t seen for more than 3 weeks because I dog-sat/house-sat for my parents while they were away on their trip to Ireland. It felt like I was gone a really long time! Tonight I’m bringing dinner over to Allyn’s apartment… I’m thinking of making my turkey enchiladas. They’re super easy to prep ahead and then pop into the oven when you’re ready to eat.

My morning started off with a hearty bowl of cinnamon oatmeal with blueberries and sliced pear, and the rest of the pear on the side.

oatmeal pear blueberries

I needed something to give me sustained energy because it’s going to be a busy morning around here — I’m serving as Worship Associate for the first time at my church! In addition to assisting the minister with a bunch of preparation duties for the service, I’ll also be giving two short speeches: the Call to Worship and the Call for the Offering. I’m a little nervous, but mostly excited and honored.

Before I head out, it’s time for goals…

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from this past week: 
– complete new draft of my novel-in-progress {getting really close!!}
– prepare for Worship Associate duties at church
soak up time with my family
do yoga twice
– read One Plus One by JoJo Moyes

Here are my goals for this upcoming week:
– complete new draft of my novel-in-progress
– finish editing work
– prepare for first week of teaching/new semester
– do yoga twice & core exercises five times
– read 100 pages of Into the Night Sky by Caroline Finnerty

And here are some recipes I’m drooling over this week:
greek orzo pasta salad via The Pajama Chef
pb cup oatmeal & carrot cake oatmeal via the real-life RD
honey peach muffins with oat streusel topping via Two Peas & Their Pod
17 freezer-cooking recipes via Homeschool Creations & Money-Saving Mom
– my own pumpkin pasta

Questions of the day:

  • What are your goals for this upcoming week?
  • What recipes are you drooling over lately?

MPM-Spring
This post is featured on Menu Plan Monday!

a year of Wooden: week 32

Hi, friends! How are you doing on this marvelous Monday? Hope your week is off to a great start!

Time for this week’s year of Wooden challenge!

a year of wooden

  • January: Drink deeply from good books.
  • February: Make friendship a fine art.
  • March: Help others.
  • April: Build a shelter against a rainy day (financially).
  • May: Be true to yourself.
  • June: Give thanks for your blessings every day.
  • July: Love.
  • August: Balance.
  • September: Drink deeply from good poetry.

Back in January, we began this year-long challenge with the first item from Coach Wooden’s 7-Point Creed: Drink deeply from good books. Now, in September, we are focusing on poetry because Coach Wooden had a deep love for poetry.

Last week’s challenge was to read Good Poems, an anthology of poetry selected by Garrison Keillor.

good poems

There were so many poems I loved in this collection! It’s hard to choose just one to share. But I think I’ll end up going with this one by Tom Hennen, “The Life of a Day”… I really love the message.

The Life of a Day

Like people or dogs, each day is unique and has
its own personality quirks which can easily be seen
if you look closely. But there are so few days as
compared to people, not to mention dogs, that it
would be surprising if a day were not a hundred
times more interesting than most people. But
usually they just pass, mostly unnoticed, unless
they are wildly nice, like autumn ones full of red
maple trees and hazy sunlight, or if they are grimly
awful ones in a winter blizzard that kills the lost
traveler and bunches of cattle. For some reason
we like to see days pass, even though most of us
claim we don’t want to reach our last one for a
long time. We examine each day before us with
barely a glance and say, no, this isn’t one I’ve been
looking for, and wait in a bored sort of way for
the next, when, we are convinced, our lives will
start for real. Meanwhile, this day is going by perfectly
well-adjusted, as some days are, with the
right amounts of sunlight and shade, and a light
breeze scented with a perfume made from the
mixture of fallen apples, corn stubble, dry oak
leaves, and the faint odor of last night’s meandering skunk.

My favorite sentence in the poem is, “For some reason we like to see days pass, even though most of us claim we don’t want to reach our last one for a long time.” That line struck me as so honest and true. Why do we behave this way? Why do we like to see the passing of days? One thing I have really been working on lately is enjoying and savoring the ordinary routines of my days. I also like this poem’s message of treating each day as a beautifully unique entity, and to appreciate each and every one you are given!

This week, I’ll be reading The Soul of Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks.

Rumi

Next week, I’ll share my favorite poem from the collection, and I’d love to hear yours as well!

Questions for the day:

  • What is your favorite poem in Good Poems?
  • Have you ever read poetry by the ancient poet Rumi?

goals + recipes for the week of 9/14

Hi, friends! I’m happy to report that my parents are home safe and sound from their adventure in Ireland 🙂 After I picked them up at the airport, we drove across L.A. to have dinner with my brother before coming home to Ventura. It was the first time that all four of us had been together since June, and it was soooo nice! I adore my family and feel so blessed to share life with these loving, supportive, amazing people.

fam wedding pic

Photo from my cousin Amanda’s wedding last year.

Today is shaping up to be busy with errands, exercise, family time, and a BBQ! But for now… let’s move onto goals and recipes!

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from this past week: 
– complete new draft of my novel-in-progress
complete new essay for Chicken Soup for the Soul
– finalize tutoring schedule
connect with three friends
do yoga twice
– read through three back issues from my New Yorker stash

Here are my goals for this upcoming week:
– complete new draft of my novel-in-progress
– prepare for Worship Associate duties at church
– soak up time with my family
– do yoga twice
– read One Plus One by JoJo Moyes

And here are some recipes I’m drooling over this week:
healthy crumb-topped zucchini bread via The Pajama Chef
baked apple chips via The Lean Green Bean
easy homemade peach butter via Two Peas & Their Pod
roquefort rotini w/roasted squash & walnuts via Panera Bread website
– my own pumpkin oatmeal cookies {let the pumpkin obsession begin!} 🙂

Questions of the day:

  • What are your goals for this upcoming week?
  • What recipes are you drooling over lately?

MPM-Spring
This post is featured on Menu Plan Monday!

a year of Wooden: week 31

Hi, friends! Happy Tuesday! I don’t know where the week is going…

Just poppin’ in for this week’s year of Wooden challenge!

a year of wooden

  • January: Drink deeply from good books.
  • February: Make friendship a fine art.
  • March: Help others.
  • April: Build a shelter against a rainy day (financially).
  • May: Be true to yourself.
  • June: Give thanks for your blessings every day.
  • July: Love.
  • August: Balance.
  • September: Drink deeply from good poetry.

Back in January, we began this year-long challenge with the first item from Coach Wooden’s 7-Point Creed: Drink deeply from good books. Now, in September, we are focusing on poetry because Coach Wooden had a deep love for poetry.

Last week’s challenge was to read Selected Poems of Robert Frost.

Selected Poems Robert Frost

I love so many of Robert Frost’s poems — “The Road Not Taken“; “Birches“; “After Apple-Picking” to name just a few. Reading through this collection, I discovered a new-to-me poem that has become one of my new favorites. I think it fits this end-of-summer season very well, so I wanted to share it with you:

HYLA BROOK

By June our brook’s run out of song and speed.
Sought for much after that, it will be found
Either to have gone groping underground
(And taken with it all the Hyla breed
That shouted in the mist a month ago,
Like ghost of sleigh-bells in a ghost of snow)–
Or flourished and come-up in jewel-weed,
Weak foliage that is blown upon and bent
Even against the way its waters went.
Its bed is left a faded paper sheet
Of dead leaves stuck together by the heat–
A brook to none but who remember long.
This as it will be seen is other far
Than with brooks taken otherwhere in song.
We love the things we love for what they are.

The poem’s themes of transition and the poignancy of change — echoing another poem of Frost’s I love, “Nothing gold can stay” — are a gentle reminder to enjoy the beauties and fruits of each season as they last. The brook in the poem has dried up; it is no longer a beautiful brook filled with water. Yet the speaker in the poem can remember it clearly when it had “song and speed,” and still loves the brook even though it is now nothing but “dead leaves stuck together by the heat.” I really love the ending line, which makes me think of a love that endures and sees beneath the shallow surface.

For this week’s challenge, I will be reading Good Poems, an anthology of poetry selected by Garrison Keillor. 

good poems

Next week, I’ll share my favorite poem from the collection, and I’d love to hear yours as well!

Questions for the day:

  • What is your favorite poem by Robert Frost?
  • Who are some of your favorite poets?

goals + recipes for the week of 9/7

Happy Sunday, everyone! Hope you had a great first weekend of September!

This past week I was able to continue my writing momentum and get a lot of pages revised — and some new stuff written! They say it takes three weeks to really solidify a habit, so I’m planning to continue my strict routine into this week and hope it sticks. Every writer works differently, but for me it really makes a difference to jump into my projects first thing in the morning and get some words onto the page before life gets in the way with other responsibilities and fires to put out!

I’m curious: how do you stay productive in your work? What schedule is best for you?

Now time for goals and recipes!

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from this past week: 
revise 100 pages of my novel-in-progress
– complete new essay for Chicken Soup for the Soul {started this, but didn’t finish}
submit three pieces to journals/publications
connect with three friends
do yoga twice
– read through five back issues from my New Yorker stash

Here are my goals for this upcoming week:
– complete new draft of my novel-in-progress
– complete new essay for Chicken Soup for the Soul
– finalize tutoring schedule
– connect with three friends
– do yoga twice
– read through three back issues from my New Yorker stash

And here are some recipes I’m drooling over this week:
chocolate-chip buttermilk waffles with caramelized bananas via The Pajama Chef
easy homemade greek dressing via The Pajama Chef
– apple zucchini muffins via Two Peas & Their Pod
best-ever black bean soup via Money-Saving Mom
– my own spaghetti with garlic, olive oil and tomatoes

Questions of the day:

  • What are your goals for this upcoming week?
  • What recipes are you drooling over lately?

MPM-Spring
This post is featured on Menu Plan Monday!

a year of Wooden: week 30

Hi, everyone! Hope you had a lovely Labor Day weekend! Dana is visiting and we spent a gorgeous day soaking up the sunshine in Santa Barbara. I love having this beautiful inside-and-out person for a friend!

me and dana sb

Now it’s time for this week’s year of Wooden challenge… and we’re into a new month, which means a new topic!

a year of wooden

  • January: Drink deeply from good books.
  • February: Make friendship a fine art.
  • March: Help others.
  • April: Build a shelter against a rainy day (financially).
  • May: Be true to yourself.
  • June: Give thanks for your blessings every day.
  • July: Love.
  • August: Balance.
  • September: Drink deeply from good poetry.

Back in January, we began this year-long challenge with the first item from Coach Wooden’s 7-Point Creed: Drink deeply from good books. Now, back-to-school time seems the perfect season to return to this idea of learning, curiosity, and growth through reading. I want to include a special focus on poetry because Coach Wooden had a deep love for poetry. He could recite many poems by heart and even wrote poetry himself. So, for the month of September, we are going to delve into poetry.

But before moving forward, let’s wrap up August’s focus on balance. Last week’s challenge was to try to do one activity from each of your categories every day. My main categories are:

  • Family & friends
  • Work
  • Writing
  • Mental health
  • Physical health

Here are some activities I did this past week: spent quality time with my grandparents {my grandma is healing very well from her hip operation!} and extended family, as well as my parents, sweetheart, and Dana; put in a solid 12-15 hours of editing work; revised 80+ pages of my work-in-progress; submitted pieces to three journals; watched a fun movie and read some of my favorite blogs; wrote in my gratitude journal and meditated; and did lots and lots of walking in the sunshine!

I still want to get back into my yoga routine, which has been difficult with all the traveling I’ve been doing lately. Does anyone have good beginner yoga YouTube videos to recommend, since I haven’t been able to make it to my favorite classes in-person?

It can be overwhelming {not to mention impossible} trying to “have it all” and “do it all”… so last week’s challenge was important for me. I shifted my mind-set away from trying to cram 1,001 things into each day and instead focused on making time for two or three of my key categories every day. Just as I had hoped, over the course of the week I did feel much more balanced and peaceful — and happy! I’m definitely planning to continue this routine.

To kick of the month of September, for this week’s challenge, I am going to read Selected Poems of Robert Frost.

Selected Poems Robert Frost

You can also read many of Robert Frost’s poems online here. Next week, I’ll share my favorite poem from the collection, and I’d love to hear yours as well!

Questions for the day:

  • How did your month of balance go? Did you learn anything about yourself?
  • Who are some of your favorite poets?

P.S. A special birthday shout-out to Holly, who turned 27 yesterday!

me and hol brunch

I love you so much, my dear friend!