Looking for answers to life's questions

Posts tagged ‘books’

Morning Pages

I’ve been sitting on my front porch in the early daylight hours sipping my one cup of hot coffee, writing my morning pages. Julia Cameron, of whom I am a big fan, says there should be three pages but I’m hard pressed to take the time for one or two. Once my coffee is gone, so am I. The pages of drivel seem to others to be a waste of time and paper. I figure I can shred the paper later and put it in the compost. Writing in the morning sorts out my mind. Since I am alone with no one else to bounce ideas and thoughts out, they reflect back off the paper. I get all the muddle out in front of me, make my list of possibilities for the day, then see how much of that I can bring to fruition.

I took the 12 week workshop with many other women. Wonderful!

No day goes exactly as planned. I can deviate so quickly by a turn in my step. Finding myself organizing my shed when all I wanted to do is find the fertilizer to finish watering my plants. Then the pain in my foot will bring me back to my original intention of getting the watering done before the heat descends.

I’m sure she has written something I haven’t read yet.

Writing my morning pages is very different from what I write in my journal each night. Morning pages set intent for my day. My nightly journal page is a documentation of that day. Time, date and weather are included in both. Morning pages help me bring my intention into focus and clear my mind clutter. The nightly journal page, only one as I’m quite tired by then, helps off load my thoughts so I get a better night’s sleep.

When my children were young, I began the practice of reading to each of them separately at night as there was quite the distance in age, then ask how their day had gone. That’s the time when they would tell me anything that had troubled them or had been of particular delight. I was their nightly journal. Since both children have Dysgraphia, actual journal writing isn’t something they do. But mom still asks at the end of their workday how it went. My daughter spills most on her Saturday visits and my son calls daily to make sure I’m still among the living. He knows he can still share the good and the troubling. If it’s something big in need of working out, I still say, “WRITE IT OUT”.

Borrowed from the library and listened to it.

Like a piece of paper, I can fix nothing, just be the place to reflect back. Life is slower for me now. More solitude than many would find comfortable. Writing longhand on paper always clears things up in a way that writing on a computer does not.

There is scientific evidence of the brain to hand connection that does not exist with the computer. Long hand, free-flowing writing can unblock creativity and the next thing you know, you have a list of what can be done that day as well as a blog post all done for you. I may not be an artist but these books help unlock all kinds of creativity. Now I need to do another artists date. Hmmm.



Have you found the benefits of morning pages yet or journal writing at night?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself



An Organizing Goddess

This month has turned out to be all I had hoped for after my January letdown. My bookcase is plastered with the valentines I received from friends and family. I didn’t get any sent out. Other things called for my attention.


As I’ve mentioned, I have been trying to clear clutter and make my space more user friendly. It’s been ongoing since I moved into my house. I have a lot of stuff for creative endeavors.

On Valentines Day I received a special gift. My blogging friend, Alys from Gardening Nirvana came to visit. It was our first meeting and I was looking forward to it as she is dear to my heart. Alys is an advocate for kindness, animals, and an uncluttered life. She has another blog that she rarely posts on entitled Organized at Heart. It’s how she makes her living.

Coming off the airplane I’d recognize her anywhere

Soups all gone Very tired traveler.

I spent many days cleaning and clearing before she arrived as you would guess. There is more company coming next week. I couldn’t think of where to take her to show her around the Portland, Oregon area. So we just let it happen. We had a simple dinner of homemade lentil soup and veggies,  The next morning we went to Bob’s Red Mill for breakfast. She buys their products but had no idea of what we would find there. Who knew it would be a huge birthday party for Bob’s 89th birthday with a band for entertainment. We even got a slice of birthday cake and a free cup of oatmeal to take home.

Entertainment getting ready

Bob at 89 stops in every weekend when he’s not working. The oldest working CEO in the country I think.

He looks great at 89. Saying happy birthday.

After breakfast we needed to walk a bit so I took Alys to Fabric Depot. It’s an acre of fabric and notions where you can find anything you can possibly imagine. She did find something that had to come home with her. I left it all there. I shop at home now. The party continued through the afternoon. Back at my house, I had to sit and rest my poor sore foot and Alys started to move like someone had set fire to her. She was everywhere at once. Asking how I felt as we proceeded. She immediately honed into the areas that were causing me the most grief and visualized an immediate solution. I was awestruck!

Right at home

We can make this easily

Watch yourself Vanna

Shelves were emptied and moved and other shelves were emptied and moved and then everything went back together looking like a department store had set up a beautiful display but she didn’t do what I was so afraid an organizer would do. She didn’t suggest I throw things away. I looked at things with different eyes and a lot more left to the thrift store. We found things my daughter wanted to keep with her.

Above the washer has never been so pretty. One day maybe a closing cabinet.

The next day, we had a light breakfast to fortify us for a trek through Powell’s City of Books, occupying an entire city block and housing approximately one million books. We only spent and hour and a half but managed to find things we couldn’t live without.

My sister had to drive us there as it’s out of my safe range. Then we went to have lunch at a nice and noisy restaurant friends of my sister own. We waddled out but stopped at Salt and Straw for our evening dessert to go. My sister drove us by the Rose and Japanese gardens but it was too cold and wet to stop.

Much lighter without the bookcase on top.

This bookshelf was on the kitchen desk.

That rack was originally in the laundry room looking quite ugly. Much better here.

Getting back home, Alys once more became more energized and the next thing I knew three more rooms had their Chi fluffed big time. I hobbled along the best I could but Alys was moving like lightning making changes to make my life so much easier. It’s like she read my mind and saw how I needed things to flow. I’m now able to do my sewing and crafts in a way that brings peace to my soul.

This was next to the desk in the kitchen. An emergency basket on the floor by the back door. I’ll paint this bookcase and the others this summer.

Will be putting a tension rod to cover the detergents.


My daughter came the next morning and was overwhelmed by how well Alys had read my needs and provided them. My daughter has dubbed Alys her new Goddess Hero for making my life so much lighter. She was gleeful as we moved more things around. In Feng Shui, there is a phrase that if you want to change your life, move 27 things. I think big changes are coming now.

Would you be able to let an organizer help you?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

September’s Celebration

My favorite month is half over in the blink of an eye. Two weeks gone but they were fully loaded. You remember the lonely Aster flower on September first?

This Aster has its own calendar

Well two weeks brought quite a change in the plant and in the weather. We are going from the upper 90-degree temps to mid-70’s and starting next week, we will get to the 60’s with a full week of rain. This is what I call race weather. I race to get everything outside done and buttoned up for whatever comes next. There is no second guessing the weather these days. You must be ready for anything.

Asters halfway through September

September is a busy month around here. It starts out with lots of birthdays. I get mine early and then many friends and family fall in line until the month is just one big celebration. My daughter and I had a simple Saturday together on my birthday. I felt a little giddy as I waved farewell to the last of my 60’s.

A special blogging friend knows me so well. I really wanted that book too.

First, we visited our favorite metaphysical bookstore downtown to see what was new. I spotted the pretty journals that I did not need but this one made it into my daughter’s shopping bag. I’m going to write my goals and dreams for the next year in it to start the 70’s out right. It was presented to me over a luscious lunch at a tiny Italian place within walking distance of the bookstore. They are known for their criminally delicious desserts of which we had to partake. There was a candle in the cake and Happy Birthday written on the plate.

My son gifted me with the laptop, refurbished with a hard drive that should not break if it was jostled. Now I can visit with everyone again.

Some of the cards that graced my day.

On the way to lunch, wait for it, we saw there was no line at the Salt and Straw!!! It was only 11 a.m. but I had never been able to get in to try their ice cream. It’s famous in Portland, Oregon for its locally sourced and organic ingredients. Lines usually going around the block all day. Dessert before lunch? Well it was my birthday and they were all but waiting for me. I had to try it once.

We did a lot of walking that day to work off the lovely lunch getting home as the 90 plus degree temps invaded our day and we settled in to sit and read.

The first and last part are most applicable to me.

September is my favorite month as the autumn descends upon us and cool things down. Remind me of this post when you see me lamenting the cold and gloomy months ahead. I love the cold over heat but will miss the fresh tomatoes from my garden that I munch on as I work outside.

The big ones had a hard time, The little tomatoes were prolific

I will miss the hard physical work of hauling mulch up the terrace steps and the weeds that always seem to grow better than the flowers. Mostly, I will miss the long daylight hours as days shorten into longer nights. This is the month of transition from summer to winter as autumn here, only gives us a brief wave and moves on.

Are you ready for the changing seasons? What is your favorite month?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself







I have bought a lot of books. Nothing unusual about that. I love books and love to read them…sometime.

Last weekend my daughter and I went to a book reading and signing at our favorite metaphysical bookstore, New Renaissance Book Store in Portland, Oregon. I’ve told you about this bookstore before as we love to go to their events or just browse the shelves. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m pragmatic and a little hippy woo woo. I got there a little late in life. Maybe the mid 1980’s. I was the one that searched out new ideas from new friends and new books and brought them home. My first metaphysical bookstore to discover was called the Psychic Eye in Burbank, CA. I was in love. A few years later, it was my daughter’s first job after school.

The beginning of the line for the book reading

The beginning of the line for the book reading

So this weekend, we went to see Donna Eden and her daughters. One of Donna’s daughter’s,(Dondhi Dahlin) had written a new book. Donna Eden wrote the forward and her daughter, Titanya Dahlin, wrote the afterward. It was a sold out event of over 70 people and we were packed in like sardines though no one minded as it was fun with very high energy.

Some great stories inside and quite entertaining.

Some great stories inside and quite entertaining.

These old buildings have very small rooms

These old buildings have very small rooms

We brought our books written by Donna Eden many years ago to be signed by her. They were in almost new condition. Why is that relevant? Because, like many of the books I have purchased over the years, I perused it, never fully reading or integrating the useful information into my life. I keep planning to find the time.

I've had this book for many years and never realized that another author I read wrote the forward. More corners

I’ve had this book for many years and never realized that another author I read wrote the forward. More corners

As I look over my shelves of books that tell me how to heal my body, life, relationships, spirit or write better in every way, how to cook a good meal, sew a better seam or decorate a prettier table, my father’s words come back to haunt me once again. They would be uttered whenever he was trying to teach me something and I wasn’t quite getting it.

“I buy you books and I buy you books but all you do is chew on the corners.” ~ James W. Liggett

It took me awhile as a child to understand what he was saying. Now it hit me full on. I buy these books and love the ideas in them. I am just lazy about doing the work to get the result from them. Resistance is ever present.

I remember daydreaming often of buying a bookstore and calling it Corners Bookstore just for the reminder of what books could really do if we quit chewing on the corners and got down to the meat of them and did the exercises.

More of early arrivals for the reading and signing

More of early arrivals for the reading and signing

I want more time to read is a familiar lament. I’m retired. I have time but squander lots of it. Some books are not as “fun” to read as others. Learning to heal the mind or body comes with some built in resistance that causes one to need another nap while trying to get through a chapter. It’s like losing weight. We all know what to do, we are just resistant to change our old habits and replace them with new habits. At 1:00 a.m. while writing this, I’m wondering if I’m done chewing on the corners and ready to sink my teeth into a couple of these excellent books. I may make that a goal for the New Year.

Do you read and incorporate instruction books fully or do they stare at you endlessly begging for attention?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

What’s in my bed?

Do you sense a theme here? Sleeping isn’t something I do much but the sleep I do get seems to be better. In spite of my discomfort with that horrid C-pap machine, I’m waking more “rested”.

Up until a few years ago, I had my little dog, Schatzie sleeping on my bed. She was quiet all night and never seemed to mind my tossing and turning or the occasional snore fest.

Lucille is my sister's new rescue. She is a year and a half and came to visit this week.

Lucille is my sister’s new rescue. She is a year and a half and came to visit this week.

Now I sleep with just books and notebooks in my bed. My headboard is littered with them and so is the bookcase beside my bed as well as the nightstand next to it. Everything in my life is designed to accommodate my books and notebooks. That includes e-readers.

The other side of the headboard looks just like this.

The other side of the headboard looks just like this.

I don’t read like a normal person. I can read four separate books in one night. Once or two chapters each. I may read a bit from a magazine, a short story book, a non-fiction and a fiction. That’s after I’ve done my journal writing and gratitude list.


My sister is reading and loving it now that I'm done. I'll have to order dinner next.

My sister is reading and loving it now that I’m done. I’ll have to order dinner next.

Recommending books is not something I usually do. The book a person is supposed to read will appear at the right time and place for them. I can be excited about one and tell you about it but you may not be ready for that book now…or ever.  These are just a few that I have read lately.


Some of the journals and books that sleep in my bed.

Some of the journals and books that sleep in my bed.

I’ve had books fall off the bookstore shelves at me, slide forward on my own shelves or just jump into my Amazon cart from nowhere. I have books on crafting, painting, sewing, quilting, writing, quantum physics, spirituality, children’s books, novels, short stories, and the list goes on. Who has time to sleep?


I'm not fond of white t-shirts but I loved this one so much it turned purple.

I’m not fond of white t-shirts but I loved this one so much it turned purple.

My e-reader is filled with self-help books of every manner. Many are filled with wonderful quotes that keep me in a positive frame of mind. I don’t naturally lean that way and must stay cautious. I want to learn something new each day by any means possible. Happiness to me is a bookstore or a fabric store and best viewed with a creative friend.

I couldn't put this one down.

I couldn’t put this one down.


There are novels on my e-reader written by fellow bloggers that only write e-books. I wouldn’t want to miss any of those. Some have to wait a bit to be read but I’m making shorter work of them as the winter projects draw to a close. I’ve read several by Maddie Cochere and Jackie Phillips. They are entertaining and light as well as have a bit of humor which sends me off to sleep with a smile. The only reading done early in the day are all the blogs I follow. That’s done over morning coffee.

This is the fourth book of Maddie's I am reading.

This is the fourth book of Maddie’s I am reading.

Jackie has this writing thing down pat

Jackie has this writing thing down pat

Another of Jackie's with more to come.

Another of Jackie’s with more to come.

As I take off for my trip to Phoenix to see a friend, there will be no hard copies of books going along. Just my journals and a notebook as writing sometimes requires pencil and paper to let the thoughts flow.

I loved this book on creativity!! Most helpful and I finished it quickly

I loved this book on creativity!! Most helpful and I finished it quickly

I will probably find a bookstore while I’m there. Hopefully my favorite in the Mesa area called Changing Hands It’s an independent book store; my favorite kind. I would probably sell my soul to own one. Right now the bookstores own me. If Heaven doesn’t have books, I’m not going.

What are you reading these days? Do you keep books by your bed or in it?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

That sense of Accomplishment

Procrastination is an art form born of fear. I tend to put things off knowing that somehow everything will be harder than it appears in the directions. Every report card I had in grade school had a small notation at the side saying “Marlene does not follow directions well.” I just never read them through properly resulting in my own unique version of the completed assignment. Sound familiar? I’ll bet it does. Most of us are not direction junkies or follow written directions as a last resort. And I can tell you from a great deal of experience, most directions are not well written to start with so why bother with them only to be totally confused.

christmas braid done 2016

Christmas braid bought 7 years ago. Finally, finally finished. Not perfect but done.

christmas braid back

Happened to have the perfect match to back it and bind it. Lucky me.

Sewing is about following directions. It never goes well for me. Especially if the directions “ASSUME” I understand what they want me to do. I had a friend bring a “pattern for dummies” to me on making a shopping cart cover for her grandchild. We read the directions a dozen times each and I finally just said, “screw the directions” and showed her how to put it together. I think I’ve spent more time taking apart things than putting them together or had one square going one way and the next one a different direction.

MG done

After a year and a half, it’s completed with borders, binding and quilting

MG done Back

I even learned how to put a sleeve at the top for hanging. Had to do it twice to get it right.

But in the end, something winds up completed. There is always a learning curve for me as most things I tackle are brand new to my scope of experience. I’ve made many shirts. Every pattern puts them together in a different way. Quilts are like that too. Getting one to completion is a big deal. Machine embroidery is probably easier for me. I enjoy it because there are fewer directions to follow. I have a very simple brain and pleads with me not to keep pushing so hard but I’m relentless in my pursuit of knowledge. Who needs a crossword or box puzzle when I have quilts and sewing patterns? There is also a deep seated desire to be creative and make pretty things. It drives me beyond my limits daily.

MG tshirt

My quilt group is called Material Girls so I made this to wear to the retreat and to meetings.

MG shirt center

Some thread color choices worked better than others. It’s a learning process

The very best part is that I have something tangible when I’m done. I can see it, touch it, wear it, cover up under it or gift it which is my favorite part. Even putting up a post on my  blog gives me that sense of accomplishment. I can see where my hours and hours went. I can listen to a book while I do some of these creative activities or even with handwork, watch something on television and not feel like I’ve totally wasted my hours.

The quilt I started on retreat is going to be ready to go in the mail before I leave to visit the friend in Phoenix who started me on the long road of quilting. I have not hugged this sweet lady in almost 6 years. I think the art of quilting has saved the sanity of us both.


almost done sams

Just finishing the binding then mail for Sam’s 75th birthday. Son’s former father-in-law and good friend

back of sams

Fleece backing for the man who loves wolves.

With the built in friendships we make of any quilter either real or virtual, we can get through anything life hands us. Many bloggers fall into this same category. They reach out a hand to one another across the internet and lift each other with encouraging words, even sometimes a bit more as is the case here. I received this book yesterday from my friend, at Living in Denim.

farmers wife book big

There is a CD inside to help create new and interesting quilts. A thoughtful gift from Lois whose friendship I cherish.


The perfect ending to a perfect day spent with blogging friend Sabine who lives close by. It just doesn’t get any better. Life is just all good.

What gives you that sense of accomplishment or is it even important to you?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

The Winds of Change

A New Year’s resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other. ~ Author Unknown

2016 will bring a lot of change. We had high winds this week just to make sure I’m fully aware that it’s coming in full force. It’s going to start with my blog titles. In Search of: has been quite limiting. I’m not good with limits. It feels like a child being told to sit still and be quiet. You can only do it so long and then the squirming starts. I’m basically a searcher of knowledge. I’m still searching with the title being implied. It’s a spiritual search for understanding.


Does anyone understand why a teenager must wear pajamas all day Christmas day when visiting family?

Does anyone understand why a teenager must wear pajamas all day Christmas day when visiting family?

Last year was an uncomfortable year. I was glad to see it end. I’ve been one (well, maybe many) step behind. My “to do” lists were always moving to my “didn’t get done list.” I had big plans for 2015: Get organized, financial solvency, finish a lot of projects that have been waiting a decade to be finished, lose the excess weight and find a way to restore my health. I have stacks of books to read and I just keep adding more to the list. I think I should unsubscribe from Bookbub. It takes me to Amazon and then I’m sunk. There are too many good books out there and I don’t want to miss one.

There will be other changes this year. Since I have been struggling with chronic fatigue I decided to have a visit to my doctor. Yes, I needed to shed a few pounds, (isn’t that always the case) but a sleep study was ordered. Turns out I have severe sleep apnea. Even when I was asleep, I wasn’t. So the C-pap machine will be picked up in two weeks. Medicare and managed care do not move quickly. Next on the list has been my failing vision. I can see the big things, not the details so after several trips to the eye care center, it was determined the removal of the cataract might help. It can take up to three months to schedule. In the meantime, the words dance across the page and I have to trust spell check to tell me if I’ve mistyped. Bear with me please.


Gifts made for friends barely done in time.

Gifts made for friends barely done in time.

I have been off sugar since September with the pounds reluctantly wandering just a short distance away from the scale. I’m sure they are waiting to see if I’m serious.
Sometimes I am. It is apparent sugar and I will fight to the finish line as I love to bake and I don’t move enough to burn it off. That will have to find a resolution as well. I read everything I can find on how to heal the body. Sugar isn’t on the list in any of the books. Darn it all. It’s the one area that moderation doesn’t work well for me. I’m an all or nothing kind of girl when it comes to sweets.


Our quilt groups after Christmas, Christmas party. It was a hard day for me.

Our quilt groups after Christmas, Christmas party. It was a hard day for me.

I’m looking forward to finishing many, many projects this year. My house painting in the spring, sewing and quilting projects this winter and maybe even getting to furniture refinishing projects that look at me and snicker at my inability to do it all. Let them snicker. I’m ready to relax and have some fun with friends this year.

The stealing gift exchange part of our party.

The stealing gift exchange part of our party.

My sewing and quilting groups are feeding my social and creative needs. Writing had taken a back seat the last year. Maybe this year, it will move up the line of priorities. My house took all my time last year. It’s still a priority though more like number two on the list. At least for now or until the HOA comes by with a notice to get busy.


Made for my sewing group. Some of the snowmen have purple, not yellow scarves.

Made for my sewing group. Some of the snowmen have purple, not yellow scarves.

What are you expecting from this year? Do you have resolutions or just hopeful goals?

Happy New Year
From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself