I Ching Hexagram #21: Biting Through Difficulty







This post is #21 of 64 hexagrams in a series of posts about the I Ching, an ancient Taoist text that has many ties to the Tao Te Ching. For those of you new to this series, you may want to start by reading my post called “What is a Hexagram?” that helps to explain more about the general idea of the I Ching.

This post has been a long time coming. I think perhaps today, in reviewing this hexagram’s details for the third time, I am finally ready to write about it!

This last month or so has been hard. On the surface, I can’t really complain. My life is pretty easy. But it has been a challenging month and it started with the first reading of this hexagram. Every time I would think of writing about it, I would groan internally. It seemed so negative and I had a hard time dealing with it. It just felt like I had nothing to say about it! But then I realized that part of the reason I was stuck is because I wasn’t writing about it, so here goes!

The essential message of this post is about dishing out a punishment of some kind. I am not big on the idea of punishment, so I had a hard time with that. But as I read through it again this morning, it seems that I have finally been able to accept its advice. We all must succumb to old-fashioned punishment at times. As I am spending this month immersed in my 30 Day Self-Love Challenge, I am acutely aware of how much I punish myself already! I was raised on a philosophy that my parents learned from a book called Children the Challenge by Rudolph Dreikurs. When I became a parent, my mom gave me a copy and I am forever grateful for it. The main philosophy that this book suggests is to let the consequences for behavior be dealt with naturally. If you forget to wear shoes, your feet get dirty and you might step on something nasty. You let the consequences be the bad guy instead of you. Then, last year my mom also bought me The Conscious Parent, which is also an amazing book on a similar vein.

As parents, we often try and shield our children from these natural consequences. When left with a dilemma, we then attempt to compensate by creating artificial consequences which often don’t work… or, we just yell at them which REALLY doesn’t work. (Been there, done that.) Just last month, my daughter forgot her gym shoes at home. I happened to be off that day, so I could have driven them over to her school. I felt like a super mean mom when I said no. This was a perfect opportunity to let natural consequences dole out her punishment. It was very hard to do. MUCH harder than running her shoes over to the school! She would have to take the zero for gym that day and make it up – and she might hate me in the process. But this way, next time she certainly won’t forget her shoes. We only get 18 years to work with them before we send them off into the big world. We must make every moment count. As it turned out, she texted me a few hours later and told me that the gym teacher told her she didn’t need them that day. I almost cried. We got to share a moment together about how wonderful it was that she lucked out this time AND she will never again forget her shoes. I also shared with her how difficult it was for me to not run them over to her but that I felt that it was important not to do that. I think she understood. We have a pretty good relationship.

The other day, I was talking with a friend of mine. She was having some challenges with her teenage son. It seemed that he did not want to have much to do with school. She struggled with this. She tried many things but nothing seemed to have any effect. As we talked, I wanted to help her find a peaceful way to help him through this difficulty without direct punishment as I know from my own experience that direct punishments for teenagers are often ineffective. In fact, they are more likely to push them in the opposite direction – as teenagers are prone to go. It seemed perhaps that a better way to resolve this was to present him with the natural consequences that come from such a path. Let the natural consequences be the bad guy! She decided to sit down with him and go over his options for college, based on his current choices and this seems to have opened a door for both of them to move through this difficulty.

One thing that challenges me about this idea of punishment is that it so often inspires an “us vs them” mentality. When we take it upon ourselves to dole out the punishments, instead of letting nature do it, we end up being the bad guy. Inevitably, the situation ends up being about something else besides the actual transgression. For example, if my daughter stays up too late she ends up being very tired the next day. Do I punish her with something else like making her do extra chores which are completely unrelated to the event or do I point out to her that her choice to stay up late has caused her to be extra crabby today and puts bags under her eyes? When I chose the second option, I am merely a guide for her. When I chose the first, there is an opportunity for a power struggle. As adults, no one is there to dole out our punishments except ourselves so we may as well learn early how to deal with that. I have seen many adults that still live as if there is a parent present and their choices reflect a desire to go against authority rather than towards what is best for themselves. I see it in the media all the time with television shows and movies.

The lesson of this hexagram is to bite through the difficulty. Whether it be a teenager struggling with schoolwork or a struggle with your own indiscretions – bite through it, let the punishment take its course and do your best to learn from it. That’s all we can ever do.

How about you? What difficulties have you been struggling with lately and how have you dealt with them?

30 Things I Love About Myself {30 Day Self-Love Challenge}


The very first exercise in the 30 Day Self-Love Challenge by Michele Bergh was to write down 30 things you love about yourself. Hmm.. This is day 8 of the challenge and I’ve been sitting on this one. So here goes…

30 Things I Love About Myself

  1. I get a lot done. When I wrote my last post, I realized that I have A LOT on my plate. Even though it keeps me busy, I get a lot done this way. The list never ends but when I look back at my accomplishments, it is cool to know I did so much with my life.
  2. I have good style. I know what is cool. Everyone probably thinks that they have good taste, of course, but I know I do.
  3. WYSIWYG. I’m real. I don’t go for the fakey stuff AT ALL.
  4. Great companions. I am incredibly good at attracting some of the finest humans on the planet to be in my inner circle. Super proud of that.
  5. Environmentalist. I love our little planet and it shows in the choices I make every day. I even use recycled grocery bags!
  6. Practicing Sage. I would probably never say that I AM a sage, but I do spend a considerable amount of mental energy trying my best to be as good of a person as I am able to be.
  7. Good handwriting. I love my handwriting.
  8. Enthusiastic. If you need a cheerleader, I’m it.
  9. Happy/Positive. Goes with #8.
  10. Caring. If you are one of my peeps, I care about you. I hope it shows.
  11. Good Cook. Although I don’t cook as much as I would like to, I do have some good meals in my repertoire.
  12. Fixer Upper. I can do just about anything when it comes to home improvement.
  13. Love to Learn. If I don’t know something in #12, I learn it. I am also learning Spanish.
  14. Love Nature. This goes with #5, but I am happiest amongst the trees.
  15. Good Friend. This goes with #10. I really try to be a good friend since I have such amazing people in my circle.
  16. Tech Savvy. If I don’t know something, I can figure it out when it comes to technology.
  17. Visionary. I’ve got a lot of ideas floating around in this head of mine! I dream BIG!
  18. Live big. Life is too short to life small.
  19. Courageous. This is what it takes for #18.
  20. Take Care of Myself. I need to do this in order to do #19.
  21. Don’t Eat Much Sugar. Sugar is the devil’s spawn. I have learned to stay away from it, for the most part.
  22. Pretty Clean. I am not super neat, but I am clean enough.
  23. Love to Travel. I have seen a lot of the world and would be happy to see much more of it.
  24. Easy to Talk To. Want to test that one out? Let me know.
  25. Confident. I could not have written (and published) this list without this.
  26. Creative. I am an artist. My modalities are innumerable.
  27. I Know How to Knit. This is a new skill that I am rather proud of.
  28. I Don’t Just Talk About It – I Do It. If something comes into my head to try, I do it. Life has been very rich for me because of that.
  29. Giving. I love giving things – time, money & energy. This can be my downfall too!
  30. Great Butt. OK, this is a silly one for my last one but it’s true!

So what about you? Share a link of your blog in the comments or tell us what you love about yourself!

SoulSpace: Phase 8 – Celebrate


This post has been several weeks in the making. Our SoulSpace book study technically ended a few weeks ago, and in that time I have not celebrated much so it is TIME TO CELEBRATE – or at least to start by writing about it and see what comes up! Funny enough, this whole “lack of celebrating” thing comes at a time when I am participating in Michele Bergh’s 30 Day Self-Love Challenge. (Don’t you just hate how life hands you a 30 Day Self-Love Challenge AND a phase to celebrate your life and accomplishments smack dab in the middle of a time in your life when you have ZERO time for yourself, much less time for celebrating yourself?)

If you know me, you know that I am a DOER. In fact, this last week I was feeling a bit overwhelmed by things, so I wrote a list of all of the projects that I am currently working on and it was an eye opener. I won’t publish the list, but I will tell  you that there were way too many things on it!! That is not including family time and time with my dear friends, which are a very high priority for me. So I decided to go through the list and sort them by what is truly important to me and what is urgent, using the model suggested in Steven Covey’s Habits of Highly Effective People that I found on this post.



Remember this little handy chart from the 7 Habits book? The U stands for urgent and the I stands for important. The numbers stand for the numeric order in which you should do things: first – urgent AND important stuff like putting out a house fire. Second, important but not urgent stuff like most of the things on my list. Third, the urgent but unimportant things like the things my husband tries to delegate to me because he is good at delegating and super good at weeding out those tasks he doesn’t want to do. And, fourth, the things that are neither urgent nor important. I had typed up my list of projects and time investments in Toodledo.com so I could play with the priority settings and the urgency and see where I should be spending my time. I thought perhaps if I studied this list, it would help me to boot out a few things that really aren’t important to me right now to work on and give me such much needed extra personal space for celebrating and kicking back to enjoy life a bit.

In using the philosophy I learned in Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I went with keeping only the things that I truly love that bring me joy. The problem is, I love too many things! I am like a raven attracted to every single shiny object out there! Like we also learned in the SoulSpace process, we do not need to bring more things into our lives that we do not love. This includes time commitments as well as spare spatulas in our kitchen drawers. We may love something about all ten of our spatulas, but the truth is that we really are better off with less of them.

So today, on my walk to the coffee shop where I am sitting here writing this post, I was talking with my sister. She suggested that it is very important to create space in our lives for rest. To me, that is the space of celebration – those quiet moments when one activity is ending and before another one begins. It is important during these times to look back and acknowledge what we have done.

So, here is a celebratory list of all the things that I did during our two months of SoulSpacing:

  • Books. I cleared out about 2/3 of my book collection and sold many of them on Amazon and made a little extra cash.
  • New Bedding. My husband and I ordered a new 4 inch mattress memory foam and ordered a new duvet cover.
  • Clothes. I sorted through all of my clothing and got rid of everything that I did not love. (This is an ongoing process.)
  • Office Space. I cleared all of my stuff off my old desk and gave the space to my husband. I got rid of a lot of stuff that I didn’t need and found new homes for the rest.
  • Bathroom Updates. I super cleaned my bathroom, including the floor around the back side of the toilet which had not been cleaned in a really really long time. I also bought a new toilet brush and new plunger that don’t leave the floor all icky and gross so it can stay cleaner down there.
  • Patching. I patched a few holes in the walls that had been there for a long time.
  • Planning. I did a LOT of planning for my space and feel like I have a much better idea of where I am headed with my house remodel.
  • Shopping. I incorporated much more Pinterest, Wayfair and actual house shopping into my routines. Although I haven’t purchased a lot of new things, I have made a few purchases – much more than I had in the past. I THINK about my house and my space much more now after doing this book study.
  • Linens. I tossed every single hot pad I owned and had to buy some new ones! I also got rid of any dish towels that I do not love.
  • Linen closet. I went through my entire linen closet (and medicine cabinet) and sorted and tossed many many silly things I didn’t need or love anymore.
  • Fabrics. I went through all of my fabrics and donated what I didn’t love.
  • Cleaning supplies. I went through all of my cleaning supplies and gave them a new home. I added new contact paper on the shelving and cleaned it up and then brought all of my old cleaning supplies to the recycle center.
  • Tatia’s Closet. I gave my daughter her closet back. We had been using part of it for storage of oversized coats that we hardly ever wear and fabrics and sewing stuff. So when I cleaned out the linen closet, it gave me room to store my fabrics and sewing stuff there and give my daughter her closet back.
  • Tatia’s Bedroom Planning. Had some discussions with Tatia about her room and what she wants it to look like. Am keeping my eye out for a cheap loft bed on CL so that we can make her room exactly as she wants it.
  • Cleaned Kitchen Cabinets. I wiped down the fronts of my kitchen cabinets. Some of you may think this odd that I added that to the list, but the truth is I don’t do this little task enough and my cleaning sprints made me realize that. They will NOT get that gross again.

I really have to thank the SoulSpace group for helping me with that giant list. I honestly don’t think that I would have gotten nearly as far if I didn’t have the group to share my adventures with! It was so much fun! I also want to thank XORIN for writing the book that we studied. We can certainly celebrate him as well! If you haven’t done so already, you should listen to my interview with Xorin Balbes (the author of SoulSpace). He’s pretty amazing.

So that is MY celebration. What have you been up to that deserves a little celebration? 




SoulSpace: Phase 7 – Elevate


I am a bit behind in my SoulSpace posts. I did the interview with Xorin Balbes during the Elevate week (what better way to elevate things than to talk to the author of our book study book?) After the interview, I forgot to write about how I elevate my own space.

If I have learned one important thing from all of this, it is that my best progress takes place when I am forgiving of myself. Like Naomi wrote, I also have been feeling a bit of down time to absorb this process. It feels out of place to be focusing on elevating my space when I am still surrounded by stuff! I want to keep looping on the first three phases until my entire space is where I want it to be as far as cleanliness and clutter! I am just not there yet.

But I still want to honor the process. This phase of elevating is a fun one. In this phase, Xorin encourages us to consider what are the “little things” that we do to make our space comfortable and to give us a sense of relaxation. Ideally, we are able to create a spa-like experience in our own home.


So how do I do this? There are lots of ways. One thing I love is putting a tablecloth on the table and lighting candles for dinner. Celebrating the day with my family is a great ending to our day. It gives us time to tune out all the electronics that rule our time and to focus on each other.

Another thing I love to do is play music in the house. We don’t always agree on our musical tastes, but my husband and I have music that we both love and Tatia and I have music that we both love. Playing music and enjoying it together adds intimacy to our day. Eric and I love to listen to kirtan music. We’ve often attended concerts and kirtan festivals to enjoy this together. It is a rich part of our relationship and something that we connect deeply with. With Tatia, we love listening to the same music. We have very similar tastes in our fun and funky music choices so we will put on music sometimes while we are washing dishes and cleaning up the kitchen. Or when we are cooking together.


Another comfort to our family time is cozy blankets. A few years ago, I made a colorful quilt. This quilt is our family quilt and we all love to snuggle under it while we watch TV together in the evenings. Recently, it got displaced by another more snuggly blanket that my mom gave me for Christmas, but this blanket is not big enough for all of us so we kinda fight over it. The family quilt is still used but the blanket is preferred so we might have to work on that. Maybe we need to get a bigger one that we can all fit under and then move our family quilt to our bed.

Speaking of our bed, this last week our bed has become another strong ELEVATE point. Our bed is always an elevate point because we tend to use very comfy pillows and blankets. We are really picky with our bedding choices. But our mattress is a getting older and not holding its shape as well as it has, so it has started to get uncomfortable. We had discussed getting a new bed, but really didn’t want to invest in that right now. So, rather than buying a new bed, we decided to purchase a 4 inch memory foam. Wow. What an incredible difference it has made! Tatia’s bed is very comfy too. Last Christmas, we got her a new memory foam that is pretty thick. Like us, she really likes her comfy bed!

So that is what we are doing to elevate our home. What about you? What are the special things that make your home unique to you?


A Tribute to Loving Myself


My friend, Michele Bergh, posted a blogging challenge for us to write about self-love. In typical UN-self-loving fashion, I ignored it. (giggle)

Loving myself? That’s kinda cheesy, isn’t it? Where’s my unicorn stuffed animal? (My inner critic rages at this idea of “self-love”, so I know we’ve really got something here!) Kinda like the conversation I had with my sister the other day… We were talking about the SoulSpace group (what else?) and about how she put that dang post on there about my being the group’s fearless leader and how everyone should write a note to me about how much they love me. Something like that… And I wrote a comment on there that asked for people to please stop writing these little sweet comments because every time they did, it brought a gigantic photo of me up to the top of the feed. Not that it was a BAD photo, it was just a little embarrassing. We were also talking about my upcoming interview with Xorin Balbes, so she points out how silly it would sound if Xorin asked us to please not write all those nice things about him. She had a point. Dang her…

I DO love myself. I am a freakin’ LEO, for Christ’s sake. But life’s too dang busy with real stuff to take time to LOVE MYSELF. {Eyes rolling}

OK, OK. This is an article about self-love. Hmmm. And this week’s topic on the SoulSpace board is ELEVATE, which means to spoil yourself with sweet little things like bubble baths and spending the day in bed re-reading 50 Shades of Gray. Or do like Naomi did and make it a new commitment to take life easy. If I listen to Xorin’s advice, (which who wouldn’t after listening to his interview?), I would have to make sure to build in space to take a BREATH now and again.

So, uh, what am I going to write about self-love? Get to the point, sister!

OK. Here’s this. So, later in that conversation with Kim, we talked about this interview with Xorin and how both Kristin and Kim said (on separate occasions) that this (the book club, the interview) was my life’s work. I wondered what they meant by that. How is this stuff related to my life’s work? So Kim went on to say something to the effect that my role has always been to pump up the people around me and make them shine. Something in me IS rather good at finding that gem in people and bringing it to light. This is definitely true. She went on to say that this SoulSpace group could never have even happened if it weren’t for me and that this interview most certainly would never have happened and that Xorin is probably not the sort of guy to start a dang book club to study his book but that this group has changed the lives of so many people that we don’t even know the repercussions of that. That is pretty dang cool. She went on to say that she wanted to recognize ME the way that I have always recognized others in similar fashion. I got it. And I even felt a little embarrassed for asking people to not comment on my loveliness.

I think what generally stops me in all that is that it feels embarrassing to highlight myself. Yeah, I know I do good stuff, but I do NOT need to be all in people’s faces about what I did. That is kinda gross to me. As a Leo, I do want the spotlight, true. So there’s always been this duality there. I can’t stand people that gloat about themselves. It’s an ugly move and it usually comes across as weak in my mind. Who wants to sit and listen to a gloater?

The thing is, we ALL have amazing talents. One thing that I’ve learned from studying a bit about Xorin’s life (and several other big players I’ve had the amazing good fortune to meet) is that I want to live a bigger life. Mine’s a bit too small for my tastes, but I haven’t yet learned (like Xorin) how to make it bigger without driving myself into an early grave). But I also learned that celebrating life’s accomplishments is very important, as my dear friend Michele Bergh often reminds me.

As I look back on my own life and my accomplishments, I DO feel proud of myself. I am proud of having the balls to ask Xorin for that interview. I am proud that I’ve had the balls to ask lots of great and amazing people for interviews – especially Deng Ming-Dao and Robert Kull, two of my all-time favorite interviews. I am proud that Jonathan Star gave me the nod on my blog when he is one of my Tao Te Ching heroes. I’m proud that Hua Ching Ni (Master NI) is someone that I have considered a very dear personal friend. I’m proud that Pace Smith is someone I could call up and hang with next time that I am in Portland. I have lots of things that I am proud of.

I’m glad that I have the heart to WANT to live a big life and that I have the confidence to think I can actually pull it off somehow. I am glad that I am humble enough to be real and yet bold enough to swing for the fences. I love that about myself. I am proud of the fact that I have the most sublime choice of companionship of anyone in the world and that it includes my incredible family, my sweet daughter, my fabulous spouse and my dear sweet friends who I would mention by name but would feel that naming each one would cause too much anxiety at the dread of leaving out one single one. They are all incredibly special to me. You know who you are because I spend time with you. I am rather reclusive otherwise.

So that is me. I am just like you, but your list just looks a bit different than mine. What are you proud of? Tell us about it in the comments! Be BOLD and WRITE something!


SoulSpace: An Interview with Author, Xorin Balbes


Oh my.

I just had the most FABULOUS interview with Xorin Balbes today, the author of SoulSpace that we have been studying for the last six weeks over at our SoulSpace group on Facebook. He was such a delight to talk with! I won’t say much here because we said it all in the interview! Click below to have a listen!


NOTE: It’s a big file so it takes a minute or so to download it before it plays so please be patient. (I will fix that.)


Here are some links to things we discussed in the interview:

Lumeria Maui: One of his most current projects and a huge project that he recently sold. When he discussed his reasons for selling it, he said that he realized that (running the place) was not really his thing as much as creating it.

Sowden House (his favorite project). On his website, he has photos of this place and of many of his other fantastic projects! He said it was his favorite project because it was like “living inside of creativity itself”. In speaking of why he loved it so much, he said that working on a home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright was like “restoring a master’s work”, of which he felt humbled and grateful for at the same time.

SoulSpace: This link is for his website for the book. After talking with him, I can see how this process is infused in everything that he does!

Templehome.net: This is Xorin’s online home/blog/website. On this site, he has photos of many of his AMAZING PROJECTS to inspire you!


SoulSpace: Phase 6 – Create



This is the sixth post in a series about a book we are studying on Facebook called SoulSpace. The book is about creating your home in such a way that it supports who you are and where you want to be in life. You can still join us, if you would like…

Phase 6: Create

As I reviewed the chapter on CREATE, I could not help but feel disappointed that I am not further along in my changes in my home. So I decided to make a list of what I have done already to make myself feel better about what positive changes I have done.  It is also to show you that even little changes can mean a lot and it is important to honor what you’ve accomplished. This is not an easy journey! Our group has been working very hard this last six weeks on their spaces.

Here are a few of the changes that I have made in my home since starting this book club six weeks ago:

  • 11004134_10204227927551992_480508965_n
    Replaced our dining room chair cushions.
    This is a biggie! Our old cushions were rather battered and not very comfortable. I looked at a LOT of chair cushions and none of them really had the right color or the right style that appealed to me. I am really trying to make my purchases carefully so that I don’t end up tossing yet another bad idea and throwing money down the drain. I finally settled on these mustard yellow cushions from Pier 1. Bonus that Eric actually thought they were OK too! Eric is not the most enthusiastic of decorating partners, but this is helpful to me when it allows me to just pretty much do whatever I want.One of the things that came up in our assessment phase is that I do not have enough comfortable seating for guests when they come – thus the search for good dining room seating. We debated somewhat on replacing our table and chairs and I spent some time searching for new dining room chairs. In the end, I decided that I didn’t want to replace the ones we have. We have lots of other more important things to spend that amount of money on! So we settled on getting new updated cushions and then spending the bulk of our money on updating our very sad torn sofa with a better quality one with more seating. That way, the seating of our dining room chairs is not as important if we are able to move ourselves into the living room and comfortably sit there instead. BONUS: Having more friends and family come to our tiny 680 square foot house!
  • yarn_basket
    New yarn bin. I found this yarn bin at Goodwill. I like that it is tall and I love the natural fiber baskets around my home. My yarn corner is still a mess and this bin sits empty in my dining room, but I will eventually replace my old one with it. I would like to line it, perhaps with a fabric bag, so that the yarn does not catch on the weave. Knitting is very important to me and I am almost always working on something from my knitting bin. So it has to stay close to me when I sit on the sofa. On the new sofa, I will not have my corner next to me. Where to put my yarn has been a big unanswered question. I am hoping that this yarn bin with the smaller footprint can fit at the end of my chaise.
  • Reusing a storage unit. Eric was a little upset when I told him that we needed to get rid of either the drawer unit where his stuff is kept or this new storage unit that we bought last year for the office corner. There just isn’t room in our tiny living room for both of those pieces AND a new L-shaped sectional! But, all was not lost. I asked Tatia if she wanted it in her room and she does. Her room is a whole other story, as far as furnishings go, but this piece will eventually be moving into there. I also bought some bins for her to use in the storage unit. So we are going to sell her old dresser and replace it with this.
  • Bathroom storage. I love our new bathroom storage basket. I got this for only $7 on clearance at Michaels and it is perfect for us. Now, rather than having a dusty step stool with a dirty scarf on top of it piled with crap, we have a simple lidded basket with our roll of toilet paper on top and all our important bathroom essentials at a moment’s grab away. I also super cleaned our bathroom floor so that it no longer has that “gross factor”. I want to keep it that way.
  • New kitchen towels & hot pads. Funny how you find things in unusual places. We were grocery shopping and I came across these dish towels at the grocery store. I wouldn’t normally think to buy dish towels at the grocery store, but these were really cute and (because I had just TOSSED nearly all of my old ones), I knew that I needed some new ones. As for the hot pads, who doesn’t need a bit of Yeti in their lives? Especially in the Great White North?

Projects still in motion:

  • Sofa shopping. I have spent many hours in search of the perfect sofa. The SOFA has become the grand demonstration of the cumulation of this work for me. It was my concession in giving up about 80% of my books and giving my desk and office corner over to my husband – he gets the office and I get my L-shaped sectional! I believe that I am very close to finding one. We have narrowed down the shape, which is a biggie in our tiny space. (Our living room is only 90″ wide, so this is a very careful consideration!) We have decided on a general color group, somewhere in the sandy color area. I am still researching textures, although leaning towards a tweedy or a velvet, depending on ability to keep it clean. I am also researching brands. The last time we bought a sofa, we just went into a furniture store and picked out the most comfortable one. Three years later, it has a hole in it and one of the recliners doesn’t go back in easily so I hardly ever use the recliner. In short, it was a bad decision. Given that this project is getting us in touch with surrounding ourselves with things we love, the sofa choice is MAJOR. It must be of really good quality so it will last us a long time.
  • Family Photo Wall. I’ve made some headway, but this project is still in the making. I’ve been going through lots of photos and choosing ones that I want to include. I just need to get out the printer and start printing some of them!
  • Tatia’s Loft Bed. When we were at IKEA the other day, we found a loft bed that fits a desk underneath it for Tatia’s room. She really liked it and she doesn’t get excited about much so I am thinking of getting it for her. It will make her very tiny room much more efficient!
  • Kitchen. Sad to say, I have made zero progress on my kitchen renovation during this book club, but that is OK. I had not intended to finish it during this book study. It’s been a bit of an albatross for me. (Not the bird.)
  • Our bedroom. Not much of a start there, either, but I feel that I have made some progress in the PLANNING stage of this space at least!

So that is where I am at with all my stuff. How about your home projects? Anything exciting going on?


Happy Chinese New Year: Three Goats Bring Harmony

Vector illustration of goat and sheep, symbol of 2015.

Each year, Chinese New Year is celebrated on the second new moon after Winter Solstice. This year, that day is February 19th so today is Chinese New Year!

Happy New Year!

Chinese New Year is a time for families to spend time together. The time leading up to new year is a time of great cleaning, as we have been experiencing in our SoulSpace Facebook group! But in the first days around Chinese New Year, it is considered bad luck to clean so put down those cleaning rags, people!

This year is the year of the Wooden Goat. The word goat in Chinese is similar in sound to the word yang.  There is a popular saying in the I Ching which says “three yangs bring fortune”. So, for Year of the Goat, they say “3 goats bring harmony” because goats are harmonious beings.

I am a goat person. I was born in 1967, so I am a Fire Goat. If you are a goat person like me, you may wonder when you visit a Chinese restaurant why they sometimes replace the word sheep for goat? In some cultures, they call it the Year of the Sheep. Well, being a goat person myself, I did some poking around on this because I wanted to know which one I am! For me, this is my Ben Ming Nian, which basically means that it is my birth animal year. Every 12 years, we each have one.  It appears that goats and sheep have been pretty generically named over the centuries. According to an article I read,  goat is the appropriate term because the Chinese Zodiac was created during the Han Dynasty and the Han people did not have sheep. They had goats. The goat was even one of their 12 bronze statues at the Old Palace. Even with its head removed, they know it was a goat. But, according to another article I read on this,  other cultures have a different idea of this. The Japanese, Vietnamese, Mongolians and Koreans all have a different word for sheep than they do for goat (unlike the Chinese), so they had to choose one or the other to represent the Chinese Zodiac. The Japanese and the Mongolians call it the Year of the Sheep and the Vietnamese call it the Year of the Goat. Not sure about the Koreans, as the article did not say. (If anyone knows, please add this to the comments!)

Each of the 12 zodiac symbols has both an animal and an element for any given year. As you go through your life, each time you come across your animal it will have a different element. After age 60, they repeat since there are only five elements and they change every 12 years. This year, it is a Wood Goat. For those goats like me, here is a summary of the different types of goats. If you want to know any other animals, click on the goat link and click on your animal in the left column.

As with all things Chinese, theirs is a deep and rich culture and I find myself being constantly surprised by new information. One thing that I had not realized is that each of the years had its own hexagram from the I Ching to correspond with that year. According to this article, this year’s hexagram is #20 , so I linked it up so you can read my hexagram post for that one. Another cool thing that I did not know was that the U.S. makes lucky money each year (since 2000) for the Chinese to share with their families, since giving crisp new money in red envelopes is a traditional thing to do. That is pretty cool.

I know that some of you that read these posts have a better understanding than I do of Chinese New Year. Please share if you have any other information that will help us to understand this important holiday!


Scattered Life Collective: February 13th


This post was inspired by a blogging adventure  called Scattered Life Collective by Cynthia Lee. It’s a great series and I hope that you will check out the rest of the participants and perhaps even join us! Since I am participating in Michele Bergh’s Inspired Blogging Challenge this month, I needed to step it up a bit with my blog writing and I always love writing these kinds of posts. They have usually nothing much to do with the Tao Te Ching, but then all of life is really a chapter out of the Tao Te Ching, so I am taking my creative license here. 

current time: 1:03 PM.

on the menu:  Salad… lots of salads this week! Yeah, me! Salads are a funny thing. I love them but I get SO lazy in the morning when it comes to making a lunch for myself. So this week, I think I figured out a new trick! I prepped a bag of romaine lettuce (I do not like iceberg lettuce and I normally would do spinach, but getting fresh spinach is sometimes tough in the winter time in MN). So I prep this big bag of lettuce and then I prepped a big bowl of the veggies to put with it. This combination lasted me three days. Then all I have to do each morning is fill my little dressing container! Nice! 

SoulSpace: Phase 5 – Discover



This is the fifth post in a series about a book we are studying on Facebook called SoulSpace. The book is about creating your home in such a way that it supports who you are and where you want to be in life. You can still join us, if you would like…

Phase 5: Discovery

This was “break down week” in the group. But, if you’ve studied the Tao Te Ching and in the I Ching, you know that energy works just like that. We had a really HIGH couple of weeks there and I knew that we were in for a crash. This week was the crash. The group was fairly quiet except that many mentioned how tired they were. It was like a unanimous groan felt throughout the group. But that is OKAY. Energy that high is not very sustainable, but if we all just take a breather and do our dreaming (internal/quiet/yin/resting) work, then we will recharge and be fine.

This week, we had several people sharing their DREAMING ideas and it was a lot of fun to see some people’s dream boards and look on our SoulSpace Pinterest Board and see what people put out there to show what they were dreaming about! Last week’s phase was all about dreaming of your ideal space. I must admit that the idea of actually doing a dream board has grown on me, especially since two of my sisters did them for the group and they found it to be very helpful. So I am going to try and fit that in someday soon.

This week is about discovery. 

Now that we’ve done some dreaming with our dream boards, Pinterest, shopping, etc. This week, it is time to find the pieces, colors and styles that match those dreams. What hobbies or interests do you have inside you just itching for the spotlight? What special pieces can you find that help to bring out the best in you? That is what this week is all about.

In my own discovery ventures, I started looking for the COUCH that I would like to get to replace our current one that is: a) too bulky a style for our small living room, b)  has a hole in it and c) only seats three people. This new couch that I am dreaming of represents a lot of things for me: most importantly, this new couch has space for visitors! Eric and I are somewhat reclusive and I would like to be a bit less so. When people visit, we don’t really have a good place for them to sit so it seems this couch is taking up the bulk of my DISCOVERY energy. I also have been looking for some comfy dining chairs for people to sit in – or at least some comfy cushions to sit on in our current chairs.


I want one pretty much like this one, except that it would not have a chaise at the end. Instead, we will have an ottoman, which can be moved.

As part of the process to make this large of a sofa possible in an already crowded living room, I had the epiphany last weekend to give up my office corner of the living room to my husband, Eric. Not only my office corner with the desk, but my storage unit as well, in an effort to make room for my dream couch on the other end. This huge undertaking was started with a promise and ended up taking up nearly my entire weekend! I had moments of sheer panic at the breadth of it throughout the weekend but managed to muddle through and ended up feeling rather free and light. I cleared an entire 8 square unit piece and sold two boxes of books to Amazon. (Jury is still out on whether this was a good idea, but it’s done now and I am hopeful and crossing my fingers that it is profitable.) With our small house, there was no way that all this stuff was just going to go away. That which was actually useful had to find a new home and so I also went through my linen closet, my small desk and my buffet drawers in the dining room in order to find new homes for what was staying. All this and I have barely scratched the surface of the paperwork in the filing cabinets – three drawers yet to go through! Before you start wondering why I would give up my desk, I must tell you that I never really used that space except to clean it – which, as we all know by now, is not a good sign. My husband, on the other hand, does all of his work on the couch and he works from home. So now, when we get our new couch, he will start working at the desk.

Also during this weekend, I went through all of my daughter’s books with her. She had a small bookcase overflowing with books she never read. So I pulled them all out onto the floor and sat with her as she went through them one by one and chose her favorites to keep. She ended up keeping about ten of them! If this system on Amazon ends up making us some good money, we will sell her books to them as well and I will let her keep that money to refresh her stock of books. She certainly changes her taste in books rather quickly at this age! She loves books. We also went through all of her clothes the same way.


Besides a new couch, I am also looking for a color scheme for my home. This is a toughie, because you really can’t start buying anything until you have a plan. I am thinking of using one of those online room design planning sites to map out my rooms with colors and all that. So yesterday, I went to the hardware store and picked up some paint samples. This is just a smattering of some colors I love. I showed them to Tatia and we put a T on the colors she liked and I put an A on the colors that I like and I will ask Eric and we will put an E on the colors he likes. That will help me narrow it down a bit. Right now, it’s just in the planning stages but I am SO itching to PAINT something!


Here are my color samples, before we put our marks on them to indicate which colors we wanted.


A few weeks ago, I may have mentioned that another thing that I was trying to do was to come up with a name for our home. Naming it will give it an identity and this is something that is encouraged both in the SoulSpace book we are studying, but personifying your home is also recommended in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up – another favorite book in the group. So we discussed it as a family and have decided to name our home Dreamwood Cottage. It has an air of dignity to it, which this house can certainly appreciate, without being too pretentious. The word Dreamwood came to me, literally appeared on the page and then promptly disappeared, as I was reviewing the abstract title for this house. It was strange. I think it was in one of the early pages, from the 1930s or so when the house was built. It may have been the original name of the street (instead of Woodland Rd) or it may have been the name of the community that was purchased. Regardless,  Tatia and I both like it and Eric is rather indifferent about the entire matter – thinking that Bob is a more appealing name, but Tatia and I overruled that. I like the name because all three of us tend to have the capacity for dreaming a lot about our futures, so it is a fitting title. Naming it seems to also have the effect of getting us closer to the entity which is our home.

So what about you? What do you dream of your home representing about you? Please share with us in the comments below!



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