This blog may see a bit of a hiatus until after next week’s Thanksgiving holiday; work is cranking up and higher priorities are filling my time. I’m really looking forward to a good turkey dinner and pie party afterwards with my boys, followed by the annual Trot Off Your Turkey 5K on Friday. I’ll keep you posted…

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I had the good fortune to be aware of the clock at 11:11 this morning, which is, of course, 11.11.07. By the way, if you add those digits you get another 11.

Some people attach meaning to these things. i never could grasp their logic – the names assigned to units of measurement are simply bits of language, and differ from culture to culture, right? (One could argue that the units themselves are simply agreed-upon arbitrary assignments, but that’s trickier.) Say the same thing in a different way: if you add up the digits in 11.11.2007, it does NOT make 11. Boo hoo.

Still, I enjoy a congruency of numbers in lots of different ways; it’s a pattern thing. Humans like that in their world. Just the other day I played a great Scrabble game and the combination of the two scores was a perfect 700. That’s just satisfying!

I’ve used repeating numbers on the clock for years as a reminder to tune in to my inner self for a minute. Right then, when I see 2:22, 5:55 or 10:10: deep belly breath, let go of external stimuli, connect with the divine, the universal spirit, earth energy, whatever you want to call it. It’s been a helpful practice for me in so many ways, and I like the surprise quality of it – you never know when it will be in front of your face. Like musical chairs and the music going off. Time to sit down!

If you see the clock at 11:11 this evening, remember to find your spirit before you go to sleep. It’s a very calming way to go to sleep.

i love safari. but firefox keeps creeping in, forcing me to love it. will i have to switch? i’m at a weird place with technology right now – i currently have two cell phones (don’t ask me to explain why) and now i’m straddling 2 browsers (i actually use several more for testing websites, but i’m talking about personal use). it’s so inefficient, and that really bugs me.

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Part of my quest for learning this year is a desire to get some expertise with money. Most of my life I’ve observed money: watched it come in, and watched it go out. But I haven’t used it with any sort of creative vision to BUILD something, I never shaped it.

Now (somewhat late, I know, but whatever…) I’m hot to figure this all out. I’m making pretty good money, and I would like to retire some day. Recently I’ve read Suze Orman and David Bach and I’m accumulating a bit of knowledge and vocabulary. I’m trying hard to get rid of some of my old patterns of thinking about money, patterns that have held up my growth in this area. And one of my goals has been to find an independent financial advisor who can help me identify how to manage my money and business, and how to think about the way money grows.

This is a whole industry; you wouldn’t think it would be that hard to find a good person, but I’ve had a really tough time. Recommendations lead to people working for big investment firms who want to sell you their products. Or people new to the field who have no experience but are looking for referrals to start (I know you have to start somewhere, but I’d like someone with a history in this stuff). After one woman quoted me a minimum dollar tag for the year, I asked her what the deliverable was. In other words, I said, what exactly do I receive during the year? She couldn’t answer me. Yikes.

Today I called a woman in Maine who was recommended to me by my dear friend Mary. Mary lives in Cleveland now, and I guess that’s why I hadn’t asked her before about this. As soon as she heard me talk about my discouragement during a phone call the other day, she suggested I call Robin. I was game: first, I’m desperate. Second, Mary’s husband is a minister and if they think someone is good, I tend to believe them. It’s heartening to know your financial advisor is ethical.

When Robin answered the phone, I liked her immediately. I do much of my work on the phone, and I’ve gotten pretty good at knowing a lot just by listening to a voice. She has a good one. And everything she said, including the fact that she charges by the hour and her rate slides with a person’s income…well, that’s just plain smart. Incentive for her to get me to make more! I also liked that she identifies her work as financial educator and advisor. That lets me know she values teaching people how to manage their OWN money. Her work is about empowerment, and that’s what I’ve been trying to find. She’s sending a packet of forms to me and we’ll get started right away.

I’m so excited about the prospect of planning for the future that I’m buying a powerball ticket tomorrow. If I win, Robin’s rate will go up, but I suppose I could live with that…

Early start today for meetings in Boston and plans to get at least three things off the perpetual list of things-hanging-over-my-head. Just found a link to Brian Greene’s contest results (String Theory in Two Minutes or Less) which looks interesting even though I don’t have time to watch it today. If you get a chance to see it, let me know if it’s worth the time…

about wonder.

Sometimes I like to have a word or idea noodling around at the edge of my brain. In the course of a high pressure week like this one — and I know it’s high pressure because my stomach is actually upset today… Me, owner of the cast iron stomach and guts! Twisted insides only happen when the stress is a bit out of control — during weeks like this I like to keep a thought in my head like a piece of candy under my tongue, just slowly melting there, giving me a bit of sweetness through the mind jamming required by the rest of the day. When I have a moment of waiting for a printout or someone to answer the phone, I have a bit of “thought relief” for a few seconds that is relaxing but not distracting.

So, today the word is “wonder,” which came up in a conversation recently. One of the things I found on the thesaurus last night as an antonym is “expectation.” It makes sense that you can’t take something for granted, and still experience it with wonder. Now that’s a good idea to suck on for awhile…

This weekend things started bubbling up that let me know it was going to be a wild week, and on Monday I jumped into action to address the pace, canceling with great disappointment my plans to visit friends in New Hampshire for a few days and creating a schedule to turn my attention full on to the work at hand.

So my entries this week will be written in 5 minutes or less. Maybe mostly in bullet format. Let’s see how this goes. Things that can snarl me up:

• getting caught up in long conversations when 2 minutes will do.
• falling off task because my curiosity takes me on the roundabout
• stopping to give myself a break by doing something in the house, and not coming back out to my office. maybe i’ll set the oven timer when i go in, and that will prompt me that my break time is up.
• feeling overwhelmed becasue the to-do’s are too long, resulting in sleepiness and conking out

so today i’m focusing on a simple breakdown of must-do items and will hopefully stay on track. i’m pretty good with my discipline during my work hours but working alone and from my home do give me privileges that can undermine a weak intention.

so here i go…

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my will must be like a bar of steel

I like that phrase. It implies what I think is a truth: that you carry your sense of belonging and acceptance with you wherever you go. That home is a state of being. I can sense when someone is at home with me, regardless of our physical setting. I can tell if someone feels at home in my house, and whether or not they are at home with themselves.

Some time ago, I had an idea that home is where your heart meets the world without fear. Wherever the safe place is for a person to meet the unknown without fear, that’s what home is. Maybe that’s within a certain group of people, a family. Maybe it’s from the security of a specific town or house with a certain familiarity. Maybe it’s being buried between the covers of any good book. Maybe it’s a particular pace or rhythm of life that rocks you with a cadence that echoes in your heart. When I look at the faces of people I love, I feel like I’m home.

I have found that as I get older, the boundaries for what I call home seem to get broader and broader. I thought of this as an artifact of having wider experiences, or somehow knowing more. Lately, though, that train of thought seems to be an illusion. In reality, I think my heart is becoming more at home in itself, and that makes everything I experience part of home in some respect.

Maybe I’m turning into a bit of a turtle, carrying home around with me wherever I go. For the shaman, turtle is a very powerful animal totem, the oldest symbol for the Earth and the personification of eternal Earth energy itself. I like that.

In any case, over the next few months I’ll have lots of family members returning home for holidays. I think this is a good time to think about what that means, how we create meaning about home together, and what we can do to intentionally bring our hearts in harmony to meet the world without fear.

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get the t-shirt here

During my Catholic girlhood, I imagined that All Saints’ Day was a nod to the fact that we all are saints. Actually, the day after Halloween is marked for honoring all “known and unknown” saints, so I suppose that encompasses everybody if we want it to…

There are no fewer than 11 Saint Elizabeths, and some of them are quite remarkable, either in the way they lived, or the way they died. In reading about them I uncovered some interesting words, like inedia, the ability to live for years with no nourishment other than Holy Communion hosts, and anchoress, the correct word for a female hermit (this particular one retired from the convent to live in a hollow oak tree. Hmmm. Leaves a pretty grim impression of that convent…). Being very rich or very poor seems to be a help in attaining sainthood. Also having an abusive spouse of some sort, or being a nun. Having visions is a plus, as are ecstatsies or stigmata.

Other than a shared name, another way to connect with a saint is to see who is honored on your birthdate. One of my favorites on August 1 is St. Ethelwold, known as “father of monks” and “benevolent bishop.” He wasn’t rich or poor, had a good upbringing, helped the poor, was a leader in the 10th century monastic revival supporting music and illuminated manuscripts, and best of all, died a natural death. A regular guy, doing a good job. That’s my kind of saint.

Find out about your kind of saint here. Would love to hear back from some of you about what you uncover.

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she’s the old one…cousin to jesus’ mother mary

This weekend I’ve stayed underground instead of flying overhead. Yesterday’s grey damp weather was the perfect setting for my scheduled cleaning of the basement, and that’s where I spent most of the day.

When people move, they often leave behind a mess. Especially if they’re teenagers. This year, all three of my kids moved out to their own lives, and most of their leave-behind mess has been in my basement. It’s been a year of working on the house as well, and tools took up residence all over the house, just never on the toolbench where they belong, it seems. Lately I’ve practically had to put on hiking boots just to get to the ironing board…

So, armed with the shop vac, hefty bags, cleaner, and paper towels I headed down the stairs. The house was built in 1921, and the basement is cement, mostly unfinished. Vacuuming up the streaming cobwebs was sort of fun, and I actually like organizing my hardware and tools. Found a few things I’d forgotten I had, including a new showerhead still in the box. I just bought a new one at Home Depot and installed it. Too bad I didn’t clean first.

I found a box of refrigerator magnets that I had put away in a tupperware container a few years ago when we got a new Maytag. I didn’t want the old magnets to scratch the new surface. Finding them was like taking a trip back in time, because most of them were purchased during family trips or occasions to be marked in some way. I put a few back up on the fridge (which got scratched in a few places anyway) and saved the rest to share with the rest of the fam if they want them. That was fun.

I’ve always liked basements. I like the sound of them: the sounds from the rest of the house, music and voices, are all muffled, and you can hear the hum of the big machines that make the house run. It’s like being in the womb. It’s the engine room. I like the exposed hardware – pipes and pumps and wires and such – and I like the musty smell. I like feeling the connection between the house and the earth it’s nestled into. When I was a kid I was in my basement a lot, in my dad’s dark room developing photos with him, or hanging out while he tapped morse code on his ham radio. Those are really good memories for me.

A basement is the first chakra of the house: foundation, security, the in and out points for the power and plumbing and heat, and laundry, always the laundry. I like how it’s warm there in the winter with the furnace minding its business day and night and the dryer doing its part, and how it’s several degrees cooler down there in the summer. I respect the spiders and the occasional potato bug even while I encourage them to find a different place to play. So my chore yesterday felt good and connected me to my house in a variety of positive ways. I love my basement.