Focus on Life

I’m starting the new year with a year long weekly photograph challenge called Focus on Life and hosted by Sally Russick.  Focus on Life is certainly what I need this year in more ways than just photographs.  This week’s challenge is:  The minimalist photograph – capture an image using a single subject.

I couldn’t decide between my two, so I’m posting them both.  Ironic that in a challenge titled Focus on Life, my actual focus is on death.  Which do you like best?

watch blog

The Watch? or

rose blog

The Rose?

Day 9 – Gettin’ Zzz’s

Functioning without adequate sleep is stressful.  So, I’m assuming that getting enough sleep is one of the requirements of de-stressing.  I don’t have a good handle on this sleep thing.  I think I’m sleeping fairly well these days, but then out of the blue — a night of elusive sleep.sleep blogHere’s what I know will keep me awake:

  • Caffeine in the evening.
  • Watching a thriller type show before bed, and for me it doesn’t take much to be a thriller.
  • Getting sleepy and forcing myself to stay awake longer.
  • Any confrontations before bed — best just not to talk to me.
  • Knowing that I need to be up early the next day, and trying to force  myself to sleep quickly.
  • Working right up to bedtime.
  • A hot shower right before bed.
  • A barometric pressure change.
  • Having a nap during the day.
  • Worry.
  • Light.
  • Noise.

And here’s what I know helps me to fall asleep:

  • A warm, relaxing bath before bed
  • Reading a short inspirational reading before bed, or reading a semi-boring book.
  • About an hour of calm before bed.
  • An overdose of carbohydrates — obviously not a good choice.
  • Knowing that I can sleep in the next day.

Sleeping shouldn’t be this complicated!  Ever wonder why they call it, fall asleep?  Just what takes you from one state to another?  I’ve never been one of those lucky people who get into bed, and no matter what the conditions, they are immediately are asleep.  Clearing my mind and paying attention to my above lists seem to be the most reliable way for me to cross from awake to asleep.  Yet, even after all these years, I don’t have the process of passing from one state to the other down pat.

What are your tips for good sleep?

Mind on my Brain – or – Brain on my Mind

Day 7 of BlogtoberFest and 31 Days.  Obviously, day 5 and 6 are missing.  Everyday is just too much blogging for me, and probably too much reading for you.  Yes!  As a public service, I’m saving you from excessive blog chatter.

On to minds and brains, which does have something to do with stress reduction.  I’m not being chased by lions; there is no “thing” out there to cause me stress.  Yet, my body continues to respond as if that were indeed what was happening.  My cortisol overload is coming from my mind, from my thoughts.  mind blogThe mind and the brain have always intrigued me.   When I was a philosophy student a zillion years ago, Immanuel Kant was my hero.  Kant believed that time and space are constraints that we put on our perceptions rather than being something outside of us.  Of course, this is a simplification;  after all, it took him volumes to say it.  Never the less,  it gave me a starting point for understanding.

This interest was peaked again a couple of years ago by a TED Talk by a neuroanatomist, Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, who had a stroke.  If you haven’t seen this, and I know it’s 20 minutes long, it really is worth it.  She’s funny, too.  Since watching it, I have read her book My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey several times.  I read it again this summer, and now it seems that every book I pick up has to do with brains and thoughts.  You’ll be hearing more about this gray matter.

Would love to hear what you think of Dr. Taylor’s TED talk, and if it gives you pause for thought.  It’s on YouTube here and has been viewed over 2.5 million times.

Repetition is Not Failure

A devotional book is invariably beside my bed.  Most nights I read a bit to clear my mind of the bedlam of the day.  I’ve found that this small dose of inspiration helps me to get a better night’s rest.  Currently on my nightstand is The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have (Gift Edition) by Mark Nepo.  I have to say, Oprah can certainly pick books!

book of awakening

There are a couple of blog challenges coming up in October.  Great time to concentrate of at least one of my struggles — stress.  Then I thought why?  I struggle with the same things over and over, and  never seem to learn.  October is a busy month, but isn’t every month.  As I was beating myself up, I remembered a passage I read a couple of days ago in The Book of Awakening.  It gives me comfort and hope.  Maybe if you’re in need, it will also touch you.

“There is no expected pace for inner learning.  What we need to learn comes when we need it, no matter how old or young, no matter how many times we have to start over, no matter how many times we have to learn the same lesson.  We fall down as many times as we need to, to learn how to fall and get up.  We fall in love as many times as we need to, to learn how to hold and be held.  We misunderstand the many voices of truth as many times as we need to, to truly hear the choir of diversity that surrounds us.  We suffer our pain as often as is necessary for us to learn how to break and how to heal.  No one really likes this, of course, but we deal with our dislike in the same way, again and again, until we learn what we need to know about the humility of acceptance.”

So, I’m in for two blog challenges in October, BlogtoberFest 2013 and  31 Days.

All of my posts for the 31 days challenge will be listed here (updated each day):

31 button




1. You’re here!

2. You are getting very sleepy

3. Stress Reduction CD

4. Massage


6. –

7.  Mind on my Brain








Baking and decorating a birthday cake is a once a year activity for me, but so much fun.  This is my fifth year of baking a birthday cake for my granddaughter Lucy.  The tradition started with a “Henry” cake when she was three.

lucy 3

And here’s a blog post that I did about her fifth birthday.

Usually Lucy makes a request for what she wants for her birthday cake.  No indications this year.  I thought about just doing a “pretty” cake for her seventh birthday.  Wanting something more unique, I decided to try to capture Minecraft.  If you’re not in the know, Minecraft is a computer game (computer, iphone, ipad, etc.) that has captured the attention of kids from a young age on up.  I confess that I’m lost in the game with Lucy usually leading me around — you can be in the same game on different devices.  Really pretty cool.  You would have to be familiar with the game to recognize the features that I tried to put into the cake.


Lucy was happy with it which is what counts.

Lucy 7

As a side note, see the figure on the cake.  The game always has the same figure, Steve.  No girls.  Well at least on device versions.  So, Lucy composed a letter to Mojang the Minecraft developers requesting a girl figure.  We’ll see if they respond.