art · Personal Success

Reverence is the Answer

By Vittorio Zamboni

“Let’s think of reverence as awe, as presence in and openness to the world.”

Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird


If you wake up grateful for the day – the sunshine, your comfy bed, your loved ones – and you continue this state of gratitude and presence, imagine how happy you would be.

Have you ever been sick with flu or had a broken bone and then realized you’ve recovered completely? Remember how happy you were just to be “back to normal?” This is gratitude and reverence and you can live in this light all the time, if you choose.




Moms · Personal Success · teens

Ease Up

photo by Clem Onojeghuo

I’ve mentioned a tense relationship between my daughter and me on this blog. It has gotten pretty distressing at times and when I decided to push my ego aside, I realized I had to surrender. Pestering was not working. I had reflected on my intention. Was my primary motive to help her be “successful” in life? Was hounding her to do homework and practice her violin most important? No. But that was what I was practicing.

I set my priorities clearly. First of all, she must know I love her unconditionally. Secondly, this is her life. I trust her with it. She knows what to do and if she doesn’t do it, she will have to face the consequences. That’s how she will grow. Throughout it all, I will love her, absolutely.

What I DO owe her is a happy mother. Every time I start to resort to my habit of nagging, I redirect my energies to what I want to do: plant lantana in the backyard (even in 100 degree heat), exercise, write, cook and so on.

Since I’ve put this practice in place, a magnificent event has occurred. We’ve become closer than ever. She wanted to get into shape. I took her to a fitness club. We signed her up for a four week membership (realizing there will be NO time for the gym once school starts). The club gave me a 2 week free pass. Organically…naturally…completely unplanned…I’ve become her trainer. We work out together and laugh and (sometimes) partake in junk food afterwards. There is ease and love where angst and friction once were. And if I ask her to do something, she does it. Most of the time. And that’s OK.

The intention came first. Space (a lot of it) came next. And then complete awareness and unconditional love.  I’d say this works for all relationships.

Marriage · relationships

20 Years is Platinum

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June 28, 1997 – We get married after a 2 ½ year courtship at the Frank Lloyd Wright Civic Center in Marin.

photo on Pinterest

The first year of marriage is traditionally themed “Paper” and this is quite apropos as we work to zero your credit card debt. Most of our income goes to MasterCard and Visa. We also make payments to my college loans.

In what will become the beginning of a pattern, you help me recover from adversity. I am in a car accident right before the wedding which requires orthoscopic ACL reattachment of my left knee, but you are there for me.

Year 2 = Cotton – 1998 – We walk down Sanchez Street to the corner market, cook dinner, dance and enjoy life. Cotton symbolizes the intertwining and flexibility a couple has for each other. We learn to give and bend.

2000 – We buy our first house on Mt. Vernon. It has the original electrical from the 1920’s. I can’t toast bread and blow dry my hair at the same time, but it’s ours, all ours!

Theme: Fruits and Flowers 2001 – Four years of marital bliss!  We take our first trip to Italy together to celebrate John’s 40th.  [We drink lots of delicious “grape juice” and take in all the gorgeous flowers of Italy.]

2002 – Our beloved Josephine Choonja Wipff is born!  Traditional Theme: Wood  – Like the deep roots of an old oak tree. We are a strong family.

2003 – Ava Oksoon Wipff is born!  Traditional Theme: Candy.  Our life is definitely sweet.

2006 – moved to AZ, against your wishes. If a marriage has ups and downs, this is our “down.” But we get through it. Theme: Pottery and Willow – Our marriage continues to be the product of our choices and experiences, fired in the “oven of adversity.”

2007 – The girls begin violin lessons with Mrs. Lia Taylor, violin teacher extraordinaire. It’s the beginning of a beautiful relationship. You are starting to like – maybe love? – Arizona’s deserts, natural beauty and space.

2010 – I am diagnosed with breast cancer. We are scared. But we weigh the options. I want the cancer OUT! So I opt for a radical bilateral mastectomy. 13 years of marriage and the theme is lace – beautiful, yet strong.

2011 – Ivory – represents fidelity and purity. We have a good taste of the part “for worse” in a marriage by now. And we stick together, help each other through job layoffs and my six surgeries for breast reconstruction. I cry tears of joy (yes, joy!) as I drive to a class to complete my Master’s degree with drains hanging from my chest, under my shirt. I know I am so fortunate to have you…..the girls…this life.

2014 – Furniture is the theme for the 17th year of marriage.  Furniture? We have plenty. We both have the uncanny talent for choosing furniture that is too large for our house.

2015 – Porcelain can be simple or complex. We are decidedly simple.  We eschew extravagant spending and luxuries. Wrinkles and gray hair are starting to form…our memories are starting to fade. Fortunately, when you say, “Oh, there’s that actress…you know…from that one movie….with that one guy….” I look at the screen and and I completely understand you. See? We no longer need words.

2016 – Our 19th, baby!  Bronze. A metal consisting of metal and tin, mixed together. It requires dedication to keep from corroding. Despite our longevity, we know marriage requires constant attention. We’re bronze with a patina of strength.

2017 –  Platinum. Credit card companies and airlines afford you platinum status when you’ve created an exceptional track record of responsibility. Twenty years, my love. I look forward to at least twenty more.

Health · motivation

Laziness #3: Pema Chodron


by Jason Rosewell

Chodron’s third kind of harmful laziness  is the “Couldn’t Care Less” form. This is a harder, tougher version of “Loss of Heart.” For in this type of apathy, we are hardened and angry at the world. We are “aggressive and defiant.” If someone tries to cheer us up, we lash out at them. We use “laziness as a way of getting revenge.” But really, we hurt ourselves the most.

Until we decide to investigate and objectively look at our intentions, we will continue this destructive pattern. We will continue to have our “problems”: health, relationships and career.

It’s simple, but not necessarily easy. Sometimes, we don’t want to “get real.” We are comfortable in our habitual patterns of laziness. But the benefits of doing the work will greatly outweigh any temporary comfort.





Health · meditation · Personal Success

Laziness #2: Pema Chodron

photo by Parker Byrd

Yesterday’s post was a review of Pema Chodron’s take on laziness (part one) from her book The Places That Scare You. Chodron asserts that there are three “debilitating habitual patterns” that we often partake in.

The second type she identifies is “loss of heart.” One symptom of this form is when we tell ourselves something like, “I’m the worst. There’s no hope for me. I’ll never get it right.” (Chodron, 90).

When we become lazy with loss of heart, we avoid interacting with the world. We retreat and we watch lots of TV (or surf the net). We eat, drink, smoke and watch the screen mindlessly. We have forgotten how to help ourselves.

The remedy for Lazy Type 2 is the same for Lazy Type 1. Get curious. Ask the right questions (hint: one wrong question would be, “why me?”).  Notice that you don’t have to subscribe to negative thought or belief patterns. You can choose differently.

We often condone our behavior. We say we are “happy” and deserve to relax. But in reality, we are “haunted by self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy.”

Why concern ourselves with these notions of laziness? As Marcus Aurelius (Roman Emperor, 161 – 180 AD) reminds us in The Meditations, our lives are short. There is no time to waste.