Monthly Archives: December 2014

Magic Is Believing In Yourself

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is quoted as saying ”  Magic is believing in yourself.  If you can do that, you can make anything happen.”

Through the years, I’ve read lots of wonderful, uplifting quotes about belief.  Some had to do with religion, others alchemy and even science.  I’ve read them and pondered the basis of my beliefs.  Most of them have been handed down through my english, swedish and irish ancestors.

My Mom and Dad very carefully taught me what they had been taught.  And I believed.  I believed not only them but also my teachers in school and church.  For that matter, I believed what every authority figure in my life had to say.

I do have to admit that many of these people are great in my eyes.  My english teacher in high school inspired my love of words and books.  My seminary teacher, a couple of college professors and several art teachers achieved a measure of success  in their own lives and inspired my love of learning.  However, as I’ve grown older and become aware of them as human beings with frailties, I realize that all they could give me was their own best guess.

I accepted the values of others verbatim.  What does that say about my intuition and judgement?  It would have made more sense to accept them as input, accumulate them, weigh them against what I saw in my life around me and come to my own conclusions.  Because, as I look back, there was a lot of “do as I say, not as I do” going on.

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I love the quote from Napoleon Hill:  “Do your own thinking on all occasions.  The fact that the human beings are given complete control over nothing save the power to think their own thoughts is laden with significance.”

This sculpture, The Thinker, by Auguste Rodin is a image of a man thinking…..lost in thought.  His muscular body suggests a great capacity for action. It was commissioned to be part of an intricate monument:  The Gates of Hell.  I like to think he was contemplating his beliefs:  which values are worth living for and then what was he going to do about it.

For years I made resolutions in the spirit of  ringing in  the New Year.  Some I kept longer than others, but for the most part, they were quickly forgotten.

I asked my husband if he planned to make any this year.  Not surprisingly, he said no.  But then he added that he makes resolutions almost every day and that as he reaches goals or milestones toward goals, they invariably spawn new ones.  It’s an ongoing process for him that has evolved over the years.  He is a thinker and a doer.

So, I’ve come up with this:  I resolve to learn more, to think more and to do more in 2015!   Let’s make MAGIC!  Let’s learn to BELIEVE IN OURSELVES!


Be Vulnerable


Joseph Raffael told a story about his daughter coming into his studio while he was looking at pictures he’d taken trying to choose the subject of his next painting. She told him she was sick of water lilies and asked when he was going to paint something else.

He let her choose his next subject. It was a rose. He had taken pictures of roses for years but since “men” didn’t paint roses, he never had.  He said “it’s one thing to paint water lilies, they’re symbols–transcendental–metaphysical–but how could I paint a rose”.

He painted the picture she chose and now it’s one of his favorites.   Then he commented:   “the point is that, in order for me to be my whole self as an artist and as a person, I have to  open up those parts that are most vulnerable”.

I recently attended a CEO Space Conference with my husband expecting a two week vacation in the sun while he networked with other business people.

But…..I spent every meal with 6-7 other entrepreneurs and a faculty member and lasted 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  The focus was on cooperating rather than competing and helping each one of us crystallize our purpose and formulate specific steps to achieve our goals.

The whole process was a giant wake up call for me.  In the beginning, I couldn’t even articulate what I wanted.  I didn’t know what I wanted. How sad is that?  As I soul searched through the first days…..imagine spending six hours a day with coaches and mentors eager to help you find yourself, not your facade but your real self.  Then, between meals were hours of workshops and seminars.

I kept looking around the different venues, at all of the accomplished people around me, feeling alone.  Feeling less. But, as I made friends and heard others’ stories, I realized we were all the same. Yes, some of us were more composed and confident at the moment. But, life has a way of presenting ups and downs…..challenges and solutions.

At the graduation ceremony , Berny Dohrmann, the CEO and Chairman, thanked us for being vulnerable!  I sat there for a moment, struck by that statement and realized that’s what had happened.  He had created an environment that was safe and all inclusive as well as stimulating…..energizing.  Creativity blossomed all around me.  This large group of people had let down their barriers and become vulnerable to one another. It was amazing!  I felt amazing!

That experience is why I’m blogging…..why I’m painting again.  That’s why you’re seeing my paintings on my blog.  That’s why I’m loving life again. The message I received and the message I pass along to you is “be real, be you, be vulnerable.”001

Christmas Morning 2014


The weather stations were forecasting snow for Christmas Morning.  We took the news with a grain of salt because the whole month of December has been, with the exception of a few drizzles, dry.   The mountains all around us got all the snow but not the valleys and foothills.

We woke up Christmas Morning to five inches of the fluffiest white blanket. We giggled.  (We’re living with a six year old).   We ran to the windows and then the doors in wonder. It was a gift!  We were grateful.  Through the day, it snowed another eight inches.

My husband’s grandfather started a tradition that my husband treasures.   He would call Christmas morning (no Caller ID at the time).  When my husband answered “hello”  his grandpa would say “Christmas gift”.  That meant he had to give him an extra gift, usually hugs when he saw him.

But the game was:  saying it first.  So all of the calls that day were answered “Christmas gift” instead of “hello”.  Some callers were very surprised and certain they had the wrong number.  This went on for over 50 years until his grandpa died at 100 years of age.

It was a very special link between a boy and his grandpa…..and then between a man and his grandpa. Now, it’s a memory…..a gift!   He is so grateful.

Through the day today, we’ve enjoyed the snow and the blessing of family and family traditions.  I kept noticing these bright Christmassy red geraniums and their vibrant green leaves.  Through the window behind them I could see the snow covered tree branches and bushes.  What a contrast!  Inside we are protected, warm and cozy, and outside it’s freezing and harsh!  There are gifts everywhere we look.

And, yes, we’re so grateful.

Christopsomo Recipe

It is fast approaching the time to make Christopsomo.  Christmas is just a few days away.  This is one of the recipes I enjoy planning to make almost as much as making it.  I hope you’ll enjoy it too!

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These days not many people I talk with bake their own bread.  Our local Harmon’s store has a wonderful bakery.  They make their own sour dough bread…..which is rare and which I appreciate so much.  They have a great challah braided loaf with a shiny golden top which is delicious and which I buy often.   Put it side by side with Christopsomo, however, and I would choose Christopsomo every time.   So, read the recipe, get the stuff and make a loaf.   I know you can do it.  You just have to want to.


1/2 cup milk
1 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. crushed anise seed
2 pkg. active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 tsp. sugar
5 eggs
5 1/2 to 6 cups flour
1 T. milk
1 jar maraschino cherries

Combine milk, butter, sugar and salt in small saucepan and
bring to a boil.  Cool to lukewarm.

 Meanwhile, crush anise
seeds.  I do a fine chop thru the pile of seeds on my cutting
board.  They pop around a bit…..just scoop them  back into the
pile and set aside.  Sprinkle yeast over the 1/2 cup water with
the tsp. sugar and dissolve.  Now combine the cooled milk
mixture with the yeast and anise seed.

Beat 4 of the eggs in a mixer bowl and add the milk mixture.
Gradually add 2 cups of flour to the liquid, beat until smooth.
Gradually add an additional 3 cups of flour.  Then turn out onto
a floured board and knead until smooth.  In a dry climate, like
Utah I use about 1/2 cup flour in the kneading process.  If you’re
in a more humid area, your dough may be a little sticky so add
another 1/2 cup flour as you knead.  You want it to be
smooth and elastic.  Place in a buttered bowl, cover and put
in a warm place to double in size.

Punch down and knead a couple of minutes on a lightly floured
board.  Pinch off 2 pieces of dough about 2″ in diameter.
Set them aside.  Shape the remainder into a round loaf and place
on a buttered baking sheet.  Flatten to a rounded disk shape.
Roll each of the balls of dough into ropes long enough so that
they extend 2″ over each side of the loaf.  Cut a slit in the ends
about 5″ long.  Lay one rope over the loaf and form circles with
the cut ends, pressing them into the loaf gently to seal.  Place
the other rope on top of the first forming a cross in the center
of the loaf.  Repeat making circles with the cut ends.  Press
the cherries into the center of each circle.  Cover, let rise until
doubled in size.

Beat the remaining egg with 1 T. milk and brush over the loaf.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until it sounds
hollow when tapped.

This bread makes the best french toast.  Sprinkle some cinnamon into your egg mixture
before soaking the bread.  The anise, the cinnamon and the occasional bite of maraschino cherry…………umm!  Maple syrup of course.

Bye the bye,  Whole Foods bakery introduced me to a good sour dough  loaf that they get from Eva’s Bakery in Salt Lake City.  It’s made from their own sour dough starter.  And get this:  they don’t add additional yeast.  Most bakeries do.   If that’s important to you, you know who you are.

The Red Umbrella

Do you have a special place to go for 30 minutes, when you can’t take the day off,  or a weekend?  But, things keep piling up on you.  You’re feeling overwhelmed or frustrated.

It helps me to find a quiet place by myself with a big glass of water, if it’s early in the day, or a glass of wine if it’s evening.  It gives me a minute to reflect on what’s happening and why I’m reacting the way I am.

In colder weather, I have a window seat in a cantilevered cubby that’s a perfect place to read or to write or to think.

In the warmer weather, I crank up the red umbrella on my back deck and sit under its rosy glow.  It is an artificial enclave; but, it does the trick.  I feel embraced in a reflected light that is at once comforting and liberating.  That’s my best explanation.  Well, yes, it’s all in my mind.  I’m grateful that my mind will do that for me.

I have a friend that doesn’t know how to say no.  She is the kindest, most compassionate person I know.  To the naked eye, she is superwoman.  Inside, she admits, she often feels overwhelmed and frustrated.  When she recognizes these feelings building, she calls a friend and makes an appointment for lunch the next week… she has something to look forward to.

The first time she called me for a lunch date, I asked her if everything was okay.  I thought something was wrong and she needed to talk.  She laughed and explained this was her coping mechanism.  I was so impressed.

We all need a coping mechanism.  During the holidays, that need becomes even more pronounced.  If you don’t already have one, this might be a good time to take a good look at your life, what or who pushes your buttons and formulate a coping mechanism uniquely your own.

I was struck by what Finnick Odair said to Katniss in the Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 1.  He said… takes 10 times longer to put yourself together than it does to fall apart.  So, an ounce of prevention… know what I mean?  A red umbrella is not a bad idea.


In the late summer this year, the days were still in the 80’s.  The night temperatures would plummet and signal to the trees that is was time to think about dropping their leaves.  I watched.  I took pictures.  It was impossible not to.

As the breeze made the leaves flutter, I couldn’t decide what intrigued me more,  the branches lifting and swaying or the shadows…..constantly changing in a soft, lazy way.

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My painting Process

I had a bunch of yellow roses and a soft green spider chrysanthemum left over from Thanksgiving that kept calling my name.  I finally sat down,  sketched them and began painting.

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I seem to go through the same phases every time I sketch and then every time I start a painting.  First, there is the early on excitement phase.  Every line, every stroke is anxious to get going…..mostly from loving the subject, feeling inspired.  Soon, I feel tired…, not really, maybe more I don’t know what I want to do next.  I get a drink, step back, “was that what I wanted?”  Then it hits me,  “yep, this is where I want to go” and I dive right back in.

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Little by little, a shape here, then one there and I’m on my way.  At a certain point  the painting  takes on a life of its own.  It  calls out…..”over here”…..”notice this”.  We draw or paint along together for some time, sometimes days,  in a more sustained excitement phase.  I don’t know why;  but,  next a funny thing happens with every painting I’ve ever done.

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It’s not encouraging me on any more.  I’ts actually pointing out:  “this line is too hard”,  “that shape is too heavy”,  “oops, that’s awkward”.  I get  discouraged and take a break.  Sometimes the break isn’t just a few minutes, or hours, sometimes it’s days.  Eventually,  I see what I think is a solution and start puttering around.  One thing leads to another and I’m in a rhythm again and loving life!

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My Libran State of Mind

I was recently told “You shouldn’t feel that way”.  “How the hell do you know how I should feel?”  Oh my goodness.  Did you hear that?  That was my mothers voice.  And…yes…she was right.  Feelings are so uniquely personal.

When I was younger and was uncomfortable in a situation, I would just endure it and be relieved when it was over.  Was it peer pressure, living up to family expectations…..trying to appear to be someone I’m not?  It was all of that.  It was fear.  Fear of disappointing.  Fear of not measuring up.  Fear that if I spoke up and said how I really feel, no one would like me.

I googled “feelings” and “trust yourself”, etc.  One thing lead to another and I found some great quotes.  One attributed to Goethe I loved:  “As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live”.  Another went something like…..never waste your feelings on those who do not value them.  And, it hit me, that’s me.  I’m the one who doesn’t value them.  I share them.  I wallow in them.  Why am I not acting on them?

I spend a lot of time in a Libran state of mind.  I weigh the pros and cons.  I try to see all of the angles, perspectives and set up a value scale. What a waste of time!


Maya Angelou is quoted as saying:  “Listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God”.

I resolve to add “I listen to myself” and “I trust myself” to my affirmations each day and then act accordingly.  Does that mean letting go of my baggage and focusing on what will make me healthy, wealthy, happy and successful?

Well,  I’m going for it.

Our Christopsomo Tradition

My first introduction to Christopsomo was an article in Sunset Magazine in 1976.   The picture was so enticing.   The  cross had been laid across the top of the bread and it was  punctuated with maraschino cherries.  Then an egg wash  was brushed over the whole thing:  it was shiny and golden.  Perfecto!  Or rather Teleios!

The process of trying this recipe was such a pleasure.  How could it be otherwise?  Butter, eggs,  anise and maraschino cherries  perfumed the kitchen.  From the moment I removed the first loaf from the oven… was instant tradition!

These early December days, I have a fleeting thought or two every day about Christopsomo.  At the beginning of the month, these thoughts are about gathering the ingredients and finding some pretty white paper doilies.

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The memory of the buttery, eggy, moist feeling on my fingers as I pull a slice apart…..I get lost in the moment.  I want to describe it as flakey.  But, that’s not it.  The texture is far too moist to be called flakey.  I looks a bit like a croissant to me:  the layers.  But, when it’s still warm, right out of the oven, instead of crunching when you bite into it and little pieces floating down all over your clothes, it almost melts in your mouth.  That’s my favorite way to eat it…..slathered with butter.

My second favorite way to eat Christopsomo is toasted…..for breakfast…..with an omelet and bacon on the side.

Through the years, we taken hundreds of these loaves to family,  friends and neighbors.  Well, just figure 8 to 10 a year, they add up fast.  We wrap the loaves in red cellophane and a bow and deliver them during the holidays.  It’s our Christopsomo Tradition!

This World Of Ours Is One Big Art Gallery

Our world is a fascinating place.  I think it’s actually one great big art gallery.  Everywhere you look Mother Nature displays another masterpiece.  Take this tree for instance.  It grows near my parking spot between the bank and the gym.  I watch it change with the seasons.  It’s beautiful in the spring covered in blossoms.  It’s gorgeous in the summer dressed  in one thousand shades of green.

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But, look at this.  It’s December 1st and you can see its bare bones gracefully asymmetrical and symmetrical all at once and then covered with polka dots

I love polka dots.