Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Buddhist on Death Row (Book Notes)

Recently I read The Buddhist on Death Row - How One Man Found Light in the Darkest Place by David Sheff. It's an excellent I would highly recommend. 

From the inner cover, the book is described as, "Jarvis Jay Master's early life was a horror story. He grew up in a house filled with crack, alcohol, physical abuse, and men who paid his mother for sex. He and his siblings were split up and sent to foster care when he was five and he progressed quickly to juvenile detention, car theft, armed robbery, and ultimately San Quentin State Prison. While in prison, he was set up for the murder of a guard and convicted - which landed him on death row. He's been there since 1990."

Having been involved in a prison ministry program and corresponded with many people since March 2013, many of the references in the book made sense to me - the solitary confinement (or "the hole"), the restriction of items that could be used as weapons, lockdowns, and more. 

I was so impressed with Jarvis Master's ability to spiritually grow so much in such a challenging place, and - even more so - his desire to want to help others on death row in San Quentin. Some of the parts of the books that were particularly insightful for me are below:

 - Hurt people hurt people. ("Warlock," former Crips shot-caller, in a GRIP (Guiding Rage into Power) class at San Quentin State Prison.

- "Deep sadness came over me as I watched these powerful men lift hundreds of pounds of weights over their heads. I looked around the yard and made the gruesome discovery that everyone else had the same deep gashes - behind their legs, on their backs, all over their ribs - evidence of the violence in our lives..." 

- What have I done with my life? Have I been of benefit or have I caused harm? 

- The judge said, "If people don't want children, they shouldn't have them. Apparently, his mother didn't know how not to have them." This made him think If my mother shouldn't have had me, I should never have been born; the world would have been a better place without me. He felt he had been born useless.

- As hard as it is to accept, this is where you have to be now. You may not see it, but you are fortunate to be in a place where you can know humanity's suffering and learn to see the perfection of all beings and yourself.

- Continue facing your pain, because the more you free yourself from being held back by your past, the more you can focus on others. 

- Studies have shown that solitary confinement is psychologically damaging....Courts have ruled that solitary confinement and cruel and unusual punishment. A UN report concluded that a stay longer than 15 days in isolation amounts to torture. Jarvis had been in the hole for 22 years.

- In marriage, cultivate generosity, kindness, enthusiasm, discipline, wisdom, patience, and most of all, compassion, not only for yourselves but for all beings. The most important thing is for you to be kind to each other.

- The judge who sentenced Jarvis to death row didn't believe in the death penalty but her job required her to ignore her conscience and follow the law. When Judge Savitt sentenced him she acknowledged that deciding the punishment was the most difficult decision she'd ever faced.

- Buddhism teaches you there's always another way.

- The smallest things Jarvis makes the biggest thing over (like a leaf on the ground) and the biggest things he sees as nothing at all.

- He thought about all the suicides he's heard about while he's been on death row.

- Regarding the guards: I was thinking how it must make them feel to work all day in a place where they're hated. They're prisoners too.

- Hope and fear are two sides of the same coin. Both are traps. Both rob you of the present moment.

- A highlight for Jarvis was when he was able to take 3 steps on the grass. He hadn't walked on the grass in 30 years.

- Mantra: How can I be helpful?

- Life is hard for everyone - we're all suffering together. We cause so much of our own suffering.

- Your practicing in a place where you're living among the suffering of lives lost, dreams lost, families and futures lost; the suffering of remorse and regret, old age and dying, the suffering of guards, and the suffering of pain and causing pain.

- My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness. (Dalai Lama)

- In Buddhism, just as in Christianity, there is a notion of hell. In Buddhism, it's not a literal place - no fire and devil - but a state of mind where there's unceasing suffering.

- Comparing yourself to others, you never win.

- How will I use today? Will I be asleep or awake? What will I notice? How can I help? Whose life will I touch?

- In the end, these things matter most: How well did you love? How fully did you live? How deeply did you let go? (Gautama Buddha)

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Apple Cider Vinaigrette

This recipe for Apple Cider Vinaigrette was in a book that was focused on recipes that use produce from farmers' markets. It is from Eric Simpson, the executive chef of Hazeltine National Golf Club. 

I used honey from the bees that Sophia used to have and parsley from our garden. The lettuce for the salad is from the CSA.


1 cup apple cider

1 honeycrisp apple, peeled, cored, and chopped

1/2 cup cider vinegar

1 tablespoon grainy mustard

1 tablespoon honey

1/4 cup canola oil 

1/4 cup olive oil


freshly ground black pepper

chopped parsley


In a small saucepan, reduce the cider by half to get 1/2 cup.

Place the apple in a food processor. With the machine running, drizzle in the vinegar, mustard, honey, and reduced cider. Puree until smooth. With the machine running, add the oils in a steady stream and process until the mixture emulsifies. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add parsley to taste.

Monday, June 28, 2021

Halibut with Citrus-Ginger Glaze - Whole30

For a while now I've had a recipe for Halibut with Citrus-Ginger Glaze that was in a Whole30 cookbook. As with other Whole30 recipes, this one was flavorful and delicious. 

Halibut is a more expensive type of fish, but for this recipe, it is necessary given the preparation method. It is well worth spending extra money on this meal. The Whole30 cookbook said that other white fish could be substituted: cod, turbot, dogfish, haddock, or striped bass.


1/2 cup apple cider

Grated zest and juice of 2 lemons

Juice of 1 orange 

1/2 tablespoon fresh ginger


3 tablespoons cooking fat

2 halibut fillets (5 ounces each)

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper


For the glaze, cook the apple cider in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until reduced to about 1 tablespoon, 4-6 minutes. Add the lemon juice, orange juice, and ginger. Cook until reduced by half, 3-5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add the lemon zest. Set aside.

For the fish, heat 2 tablespoons of the cooking fat in a large skillet over high heat. Swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. While the fat is heating, season the halibut with the salt and pepper. When the fat is hot, place the fish top-side-down in the pan and sear for 2-3 minutes. While the fish is searing, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon cooking fat. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and brush half of the fat on the paper.

Remove the halibut from the pan and transfer seared-sided-up to the greased, lined baking sheet. Brush the remaining cooking fat over the top of the halibut. Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes, until the flesh is just barely firm and flakes easily with a fork. 

Transfer the fish to a serving dish or individual plates and spoon the glaze over the top just before serving. 

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Italian Sausage and Spinach-Stuffed Mushrooms

This recipe is from a Weight Watchers cookbook that I checked out of the library. I haven't had stuffed mushrooms in a long time and wanted to try this healthy version of them. I modified the recipe a bit so that I didn't have any sausage leftover. We (with the exception of Olivia who doesn't eat mushrooms) liked the recipe and would have it again. 


24 large button mushrooms

1/4 pound spicy Italian turkey sausage (I used an entire pound so I didn't have leftovers)

1/2 red onion, finely chopped

1 large garlic clove, minced

2 cups packed baby spinach

3/4 cup cooked brown rice (I used 1 cup)

1/4 cup spreadable light garlic-and-herb cheese

3 tablespoons seasoned dried bread crumbs

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese


Remove stems from mushrooms, set caps aside and finely chop stems. Spray a large nonstick skillet with nonstick spray and set over medium heat. Add mushroom stems, turkey sausage, onion, and garlic. Cook, breaking up sausage with a side of a spoon until it is cooked and the mixture is dry, about 8 minutes.

Stir in spinach and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove skillet from heat, let cool 10 minutes. Stir rice, garlic, and herb cheese, bread crumbs, and 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese into sausage mixture.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray baking sheet with nonstick spray. Spoon filled into mushroom caps, pressing firmly. Arrange mushrooms on a prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining Parmesan. 

Bake until mushrooms are tender, 18-20 minutes. Serve warm. 

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Great Jobs for Everyone 50+

Continuing on my reading about re-starting a career after raising Sophia and Olivia, I came across the book Great Jobs for Everyone 50+ - Finding Work that Keeps You Happy and Healthy...and Pays the Bills by Kerry Hannon.


- AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associate - no maximum age. Skills in communications, community organization, leadership, and teamwork. Biweekly living allowance is about $2,200. At the end of service, receive a $1,230 education award or a cash stipend.

- Pet Concierge - pet owners who are heading off on vaction need you. Could either stay at the owners' homes or take the animal into your own. Pay range from $10-22 for a single visit. A daily half-hour walk is about $20. The National Association of PRofessional Pet Sitters (NAPPS) offers an at-home certification course online. Get personal liability insurance, businessinsurance, and bonding coverage. 


- Education and training - K12, Kaplan, and other education companies recruit for remote jobs in education and training. Look for online tutors or virtual teacher opportunities. 

- Online tutor - most in demand are the core curriculum - world history, English, and others. Rates are $10-14 per hour, based on experience, subject tutored, company, and grade level. Some private tutors can make as much as $65 per hour. Teacher certification is preferred, but not required. 


- Volunteer Manager - recrutiing volunteers - including recruiting, training, supervising, and retaining them. $20-25 per hour for part time managers. For full-time, it ranges from $37,598 to $64,263. 


- Substitute Teacher - can be K-12. There is higher demand to work with kids who have special needs. Up to $190 per full day with half days being half the rate of a full day. High school diploma needed. However, someone substituting for more than 19 days needs a teaching certificate. Go to to see what the requirements are for substitute teachers are in each state.


- Aging-in-Place/Home-Modification Professional - Create or rehab a home that will serve long term for people who want to age in place. Contractors, architects, and interior designers can get into the act. Look at lighting, ramps, grab bars in the shower, and more to stave off accidents. $40 per hour and up. The National Association of Home Builders offers a course that teaches design and building techniques for making a home accessible to all ages. 

- Fitness Instructor - focus on becoming a senior fitness instructor. Get certifications in chair aerobics, SilverSneakers classes, personal trainer, and group fitness. The Aerobics and Fitness Association of America has a written and performance exam. Can earn $40-50 per hour. 


- Think about what skills seems to come naturally to you. Review experiences in your career that you relished. What times were you the most happy?

- Be physically fit, spiritually fit, and financially fit.

- Have a six-month cushion of living expenses set aside for unexpected emergencies.

- Pay off outstanding high-interest credit card debts and any loans. 

- Set up a retirement plan if you will be doing your own business.

- Connect with The Transition Network (The Transition Network | Minneapolis/St. Paul). 

- Do something every day to work toward your goal.

- Look your best - be physically fit and look and dress with an eye toward a vibrant, youthful appearance. For interviews, invest in some new clothes, update your hairstyle, and find fashion-forward glasses, if needed. 

- Market your age as a plus - self-starter, know how to get the job done, and don't need as much handholding as those with less experience. Those over 50+ tend to have a good deal of knowledge and leadership ability. 

- Create multiple income streams at home to give income, variety of work, and flexible control of your time. 

- When interviewing, don't focus on what you did ten years ago. Stay focused on what you've done lately. 

- Take online courses through AARP Learn @50+ (, Coursera (, CreativeLive (, and Khan Academy (

- Resume: keep it to two pages. Get rid of the objectives and summary. Get a new email address. Use an email address that includes your full name and

- Employers want to see your most recent 10-15 years of experience.

- If you were out of the workforce for caregiving duties, you can sell that too. You were skill-building. You were a project manager, managing a team of other caregivers - from nurses to doctors and physical therapists. You were a researcher - tracking down the best doctors and medical care. 

- Resume red flags: college or high school graduation dates; outdated tech skills; unrelated jobs

- List your personal LinkedIn URL on your resume just below your email address on your resume. Also, add it to the bottom of your outgoing email too.

- Write a LinkedIn summary. 

- Find job postings on LinkedIn.

- Know your digital identity. Click on the top 10-20 links and read carefully. You're looking at what a prospective employer can see.

- Calculated posts on your accounts at Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest can craft a richer picture of you. 

- Post comments or articles, retweeting, or sharing on your social media sites to keep them current and relevant.

- Look at for job postings.

- Other websites to look at:  

- Government websites to look at:

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Tao Te Ching (Book Notes)

 One of the books that was recommended for the photography class I took earlier this spring was Tao Te Ching by Stephen Mitchell. This is a new English version of the Tao Te Ching written by Lao-tzu.

There were some parts that resonated with me. I've noted them below:

- In dwelling, live close to the ground. In thinking, keep to the simple. In conflict, be fair and generous. In governing, don't try to control. In work, do what you enjoy. In family life, be completely present. (8) 

- Care about people's approval and you will be their prisoner. Do your work, then step back. The only path to serenity. (9)

- We join spokes together in a wheel, but it is the center hole that makes the wagon move. We shape clay into a pot, but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want. We hammer wood for a house, but it is the inner space that makes it livable. We work with being, but non-being is what we use. (11)

Horse and buggy in southeast Minnesota.

- When the Master governs, the people are hardly aware that he exists. Next best is a leader who is loved. Next, one who is feared. The worst is one who is despised. (17)

- Express yourself completely, then keep quiet. Be like the forces of nature: when it blows, there is only wind; when it rains, there is only rain; when the clouds pass, the sun shines through. (23)

- He who stands on tiptoe doesn't stand firm. He who rushes ahead doesn't go far. He who tries to shine dims his own light. He who defines himself can't know who he really is. He who has power over others can't empower himself. He who clings to his work will create nothing that endures. (24)

- Thus the Master travels all day without leaving home. However splendid the views, she stays serenely in herself. If you let yourself be blown to and fro, you lose touch with your root. (26) 

- A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent upon arriving. A good artist lets his intuition lead him wherever it wants. (27)

My mom, sister, and me on vacation in the late 1960s.

- Weapons are the tools of violence; all decent men detest them. (31)

- Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. If you realize that you have enough, you are truly rich. If you stay in the center and embrace death with your whole heart, you will endure forever. (33)

- When there is no desire, all things are at peace. (37)

- In harmony with the Tao, the sky is clear and spacious, the earth is solid and full, all creatures flourish together, content wit hthe way they are, endlessly repeating themselves, endlessly renewed. When man interferes with the Tao, the sky becomes filthy, the earth becomes depleted, the equilibrium crumbles, creates become extinct. (39)

- Ordinary men hate solitude. But the Master makes use of it, embracing his aloneness, realizing he is one with the whole universe. (42)

- I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures. Simple in actions and in thoughts, you return to the source of being. Patient with both friends and enemies, you accord with the way things are. Compassionate toward yourself, you reconcile all beings in the world. (67)

Sophia putting one of many scarves out for someone who is cold to take.

- The best leader follows the will of the people. [This embodies] the virtue of non-competition. (68)

- Men are born soft and supple; dead, they are stiff and hard. Plants are born tender and pliant; dead, they are brittle and dry. Thus whoever is stiff and inflexible is a disciple of death. Whoever is soft and yielding is a disciple of life. The hard and stiff will be broken. The soft and supple will prevail. (76)

Monday, June 21, 2021

The Guerilla Art Kit (Book Notes)

I've been interested in the guerilla art movement and came across the book The Guerilla Art Kit - Everything You Need to Put Your Message Out Into the World for Fun, Non-profit, and World Domination" by Keri Smith. 

There are a lot of fun ideas in the book. Below are some of them.

- Make seed bombs - add greenery and life (and also food) to places that are neglected or rundown. There's an artist Masanobu Fukuoka who was referenced. The seed bombs will self-germinate when the right conditions occur. You need 2 parts mixed seeds (native is preferred), 3 parts compost, 5 parts powdered red or brown clay, and water (enough until mixture is damp enough to mold into balls).

   Pinch off a penny-sized piece of the clay mixture and roll it between the palms of your hands until it forms a tight ball. Set the balls on newspaper and allow them to dry for 24-48 hours. Store in a cool place until ready to sow. 

- Chalk Quotes - collect some quotes - the shorter ones work best. Find a good location - in front of the post office, the library, or on a street. Sidewalks use up chalk rather quickly, so bring more than you need. Visit the location at another time and watch people responding to the quotes. 

- Guerilla Gardening - you'll need a towel, seeds, watering container, and soil (optional). Look for sidewalk cracks, empty planters, ditches, ugly green spaces, spaces next to ugly buildings, etc. Add soil if the conditions are less than desirable. Plant and water.

- Public Chalkboard - paint the desired surface with chalkboard paint (either green or black). Leave chalk for people to share their own thoughts. 

- The Unexpected Object - you'll need a jar, found object, paper, and pen. Get a jar and write on the lid, "Pick me up." Put something of interest inside it - a note, a found object, etc. Leave on a park bench. You could also put tags on objects that say, "A Gift for You." Another idea is to leave hand-written or typed notes in the pockets of pans for sale in a store. 

- Moss Graffiti - you'll need 12 oz. of buttermilk, several clumps of garden moss, a plastic container with lid, blender, and paintbrush. This recipe will create several small pieces or one large piece of graffiti. Gather several clumps of moss and crumble them into a blender. Add the buttermilk and blend just long enough to create a smooth, creamy consistency. Pour the mixture into a plastic container. Find a suitable damp and shady wall onto which you can apply your moss milkshake. Paint your chosen design onto the wall (either freehand or using a stencil). Return to the area over the following weeks to ensure that the mixture is kept moist. Soon the blended moss will begin to grow into a rooted plan and create the design. 

- Wish Tree - create an envelope or use an existing one. Cut out blank tags from paper or fabric and punch a hole near one end of each tag. Tie 5" pieces of string to the holes. Place tags in envelop. Affix envelope and pen to a tree somewhere nearby. Write some of your own wishes on a few of the tabs and hang them there to encourage others. Instead of tags, use colored ribbons approximately 10 inches long. 

- Origami Additions - choose an origami format (e.g., crane, balloon). Make multiples (30 or more). Find a place, such as a tree, to hang the objects.

Friday, June 18, 2021

Viktor Frankl - A Life Worth Living (Book Notes)

 On my list of books to read was one called Viktor Frankl - A Life Worth Living by Anna Redsand. Viktor Frankl grew up in Vienna and had developed logotherapy, a revolutionary form of psychotherapy that encourages patients to look to the future and live their lives fully, rather than relive the past. 

Frankl was imprisoned in the Nazi concentration camps and was able to put his theory into practice not only to help himself find meaning in his own life but also to help others who were there with him. 

After being liberated in 1945, he published a book, Man's Search for Meaning, detailing his theories and experiences. This book has sold millions of copies and is considered one of the most influential books of modern times. By 1984, five American colleges had chosen it as the book of the year. In 1991, the Library of Congress and the BOok of the Month Club named Man's Search for Meaning one of the ten most influential books in America.

Below is some information I found especially interesting:

- By the time he was 24, Viktor had developed the concept that there are three main ways of finding meaning in life. The first is through action or creation. An example of meaning through action might be an auto mechanic who feels her life is meaningful when she comes up with the correct diagnosis for an ailing car and then repairs it. Meaning through creation can occur when a musician finds satisfaction in writing and recording a piece of music. 

    The second way to find meaning, Frankl said, is through an experience, a human encounter, or love. Through experience: the exhilaration of scaling a difficult mountain face. Through human encounter: exchange of a smile with a stranger on the street. Through love: romantic love, love for family members, and love for friends. 

    The third path to meaning, meaning through suffering, can come about when a person responds to a difficult or even fatal life situation that is outside his or her control. 

- Frankl's logotherapy was the beginning of what would later be known among psychotherapists as the human potential movement. It focuses on the possibilities humans can create out of their reality, hence on human potential

- Frankl worked with people who were depressed. He listened to them talk about their feelings of worthlessness and then responded with caring toughness that would become the hallmark of logotherapy. Rather than comforting them, Frankl let his patients know that life asked something of them and that they had a responsibility to respond. Although it can be very hard for someone to take action when he is depressed, Frankl recommended that his patients find places to volunteer in their communities. Once they were engaged in meaningful activities, even if they weren't paid, their depression often was relieved.

- The Frankl family and 1,300 other Jews were shoved into waiting trucks and driven to the Aspang Station for deportation. There were Jewish psychiatric patients who were part of the transport and they rode in a single old passenger car. Because Viktor supervised their care, he and his family didn't have to ride in the freight cars, which were so crowded that people had to take turns squatting on the floor and standing. 

- Frankl was at Theresienstadt where there were fewer people. It was to give the appearance that the place wasn't overcrowded. The prisoners participated in "beautifying" the camp - planting gardens and painting houses. The Nazis made a propaganda film following the "beautification," portraying Theresienstadt as a place where Jews were happy, well-fed, and well dressed. 

- Many of the people interned at Theresienstadt were famous - Jewish leaders, doctors, lawyers, artists, and musicians. When the Red Cross visited, the inmates presented cultural events for the inspectors. But even when the Red Cross wasn't there, the prisoners tried to keep their lives stimulating and meaningful. 

- Frankl organized suicide-prevention teams that helped people adjust to life at Theresienstadt.

- Daily life in the camp was a strange combination of exquisite beauty and extreme pain and torture. On the one hand, artists and children painted, actors performed plays, symphony orchestras played the music of the great composers, and scholars like Frankl conduct lectures. On the other hand, at the eastern edge of the camp stood a police prison where the Gestapo ran it for the purpose of controlling, torturing, and often killed Theresiendstadt inmates and others the Nazis wanted to punish. 

- The indescribable tortures of the morning and the jazz in the evening was typical of the existence there - "with all its contradictions of beauty and hideousness, humanity and inhumanity" Frankl wrote.

- Frankl was sent to Auschwitz. He had brought his manuscript of his book about logotherapy and a pin he earned as a climbing guide on the Austrian mountain peaks. When he arrived at Auschwitz, the SS guard demanded that the prisoners leave their clothes and belongings in a pile. At that point, he lost his lifework and the reminder of his time on the mountains. 

- He had heard stories about prisoners being told to get ready for the showers, even given bars of soap, only to realize as the door clanged shut that gas, not water, was entering the chamber. 

- Mauthausen was a camp so well known for torture that even Auschwitz prisoners feared beaing sent there. 

- In order to survive, the prisoners focused their dreams, fantasies, and energy on the smallest details of gettng food, getting a better piece of clothing, avoiding punishment. 

- Looking to the future and thinking about his goals pulled him through. He daydreamed about lecturing about the psychology of the concentration camps. THis dream became his goal, and ironically, focusing on that dream, rather than on survival, is what helped him survive. He wrote, "I succeeded somehow in rising above the situation, above the sufferings of the moment."

- Survival depended more on people's inner strength, on their abilit yto use this horrible experience to grow as individuals. 

- There was a strict rule in the camps against trying to save a man in the process of committting suicide, and suicide was common. Yet many times, Viktor spoke to someone who was considering killing himself. 

- "That which does not kill me makes me stronger." (Friedrich Nietzsche)

- As the liberating armies drew near, the SS forced inmates to evacuate and march, often to their deaths. The officers were trying to do away with evidence that could later incriminate them.

= When he was freed on April 27, 1945, he weighed 83 pounds among other medical issues. Despite his poor physical condition, Frankl had survived more than 2 1/2 years in four concentration camps. The spirit of his survival is expressed in the title of a book he wrote later: Say Yes to Life in Spite of Everything.

- He learned that his entire family had died - his father from starvation, his mother gassed as soon as she arrived at Auschwitz-Birkenau, and Tilly (his wife) died of starvation, exhaustion, and disease before they could be treated by the British soldiers who liberated the camp. His brother and sister-in-law died while working as slave laborers in a mine that was part of an Auschwitz subcamp.

- The deaths of his family members caused Frankl to feel that his life wasn't worth living. He had held onto the hope that he would be reunited with Tilly and his mother, but that didn't come true. Even as he was struggling after being liberated, he felt his life must still have a purpose...that he was destined for something.

- Finding a purpose, even though he felt it was temporary, helped him live through those first few weeks without his family. 

- Frankl observed that concentration camp prisoners go through three main psychological stages during their incarceration: Adjustment (including shock, disbelief, denial, a "cold curiosity" about what was going to happen next) which lasted a few days. The second stage was apathy. He called it "a kind of emotional death" and how it was necessary for survival. Not caring, or at the very least, not showing that they cared, lessened their torture. The third stage was liberation and recovery.

- The inmates had many opportunities to make choices as to how they responded to the things that were happening to them. Something as simple as shaving - even if it was with a piece of glass - would make prisoners look younger and it would give them a healthy color. It helped the prisoners look fit for work. 

- Humor was another weapon in the fight for self-preservation. 

- The most important tool for survival came directly from logotherapy. IT was a prisoner's belief in the meaning of his own life, no matter what was happening around him. Frankl said, "The prisoner who had lost faith in the future - his future - was doomed."

- Frankl also looked at the psychology of camp guards. Some were true sadists. Sadists were assigned to perform torture and other especially horrific tasks. Guards who were not sadists had most often become numb to what they were seeing and doing, just as the prisoners had. Prisoners who worked in the gas chambers and crematoria received a ration of alcohol to help them stay numb.

- Frankl's message in Man's Search for Meaning is that whether concentration camp prisoners or guards or people in the walk of everyday life, have a choice about how to respond to every situation they encounter. 

- An important principle in logotherapy is the acceptance of personal responsibility, and patients who were looking for sympathy did not necessarily want to be expected to make an effort on their own behalf.

- Frankl spoke inside San Quentin and told the prisoners, "You were free to commit a crime, to become guilty. Now, however, you are responsible for overcoming guilt by rising above it, by growing beyond yourselves, by changing for the better."

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Currently I'm...

This is a swap for Swap-Bot called "Currently, I'm..." which I'm in. I thought it was a departure from what I've been doing recently on my blog so I signed up to do it.

Reading...a variety of books about art (photography, collage, papermaking, and book arts mostly). Also am starting to read Marlo Thomas's book called It Ain't Over Till It's Over.

Playing...unfortunately, nothing. It seems like my days are filled with volunteering for the Lions and doing what feels like "work" - updating Facebook pages, editing a website, and lots of emailing. There's more time behind the computer than what I would like. 

Watching...nature mostly. I'm loving how the flowers are blooming and there's so much color compared to even a couple of weeks ago. 

Eating...some new foods that I haven't had before. Each week, I try to make at least one new recipe. This week I have several new recipes I'm trying: Honey-Glazed Sweet Potato Fries, Asian Chicken Noodle Soup, and an Apple Cider Vinaigrette. We get our first CSA box tomorrow and there will be a lot of lettuce in it, so I'm excited to try a new vinaigrette.  

Drinking...lots of water. Every day I try to drink between 3-4 bottles of water (24 ounces each). 

Crafting...I'm taking a mixed media sketchbook course through the Minnesota Center for Book Arts. I thought I'd really enjoy it looking at the photo that accompanied the course description. For some reason, it's just not resonating with me. I haven't been that happy with the pages I've been creating. 

I also started a photography course (9-week course) that I began and did for about four weeks and then stopped. It wasn't what I thought it would be, and the instructor was off conducting other in-person classes so he wasn't providing much, if any, online feedback. The other students seemed to know one another. So, I thought I'd download the information and do the course on my own at my own pace. 

Tomorrow, I have an eco-printing on fabric class and a European papermaking course I'm taking. Both are through the Minnesota Center for Book Arts and are online.  

Swapping...doing electronic swaps only since postage is so much these days. 

Going errands today (post office, bank, Walmart), take Olivia to the oral surgeon for a pre-op appointment to get her lower wisdom teeth out (she doesn't have upper wisdom teeth), and meet with the director of a local history museum who hired me to do proposal writing for a grant they hope to get. 

Craving...a rootbeer float for some reason. I haven't drank pop since January 1st of this year. Maybe that's the reason. 

Loving...the peacefulness of mornings when things are quiet before everyone wakes up. 

Hating...mosquitoes and horseflies which seem to be around every time I go outside. 

Thinking...about what in the world I'm going to do career-wise once Olivia goes to college. I have no idea what direction to go or what to do as I re-enter the workforce in my mid-50s after being a homeschool mom since my mid-30s. 

(As a side note, the photo below is of my mom, Sophia, and Olivia touching a Picasso sculpture at the Minneapolis Institute of Art in May 2013. We were able to do a "touch/tactile tour" of the museum because my mom was legally blind. Touch was her only way to be able to enjoy the artwork.)

Planning...for many upcoming service events for the Lions. It's the club's 40th anniversary and I would like to see 40 service activities done and 40 new members added during the upcoming year.  

Smelling...nothing right now. I am remembering how beautifully-fragrant the roses and peonies are that are blooming in our front yard. 


Listening to...the fan try to cool the bedroom which has to feel like 80 degrees. This is the hottest room in the home during the summer and coldest room during the winter. It used to be an attic and I don't think it has adequate insulation.

Wanting to buy...a second (used) car to help with getting everyone to where they need to be. It has been a challenge with the girls' activities and needing to get to multiple places on the same day.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Twyla Tharp - The Creative Habit ( Book Notes)

 As part of the photography course I'm taking, I'm reading books recommended by the artist/instructor. Twyla Tharp - The Creative Habit - Learn It and Use It for Life is one of many books he recommended. 

Below are some of the things I found interesting.

- Being creative is a full-time job with its own daily patterns. Set a goal for yourself - write 1,500 words or stay at your desk until noon. But the real secret is that they do this every day. In other words, they are disciplined. 

- Creativity is a habit, and the best creativity is a result of good work habits.

- Nobody worked harder than Mozart. By the time he was 28 years old, his hands were deformed because of all the hours he had spent practicing, performing, and gripping a quill pen to compose. 

- If art is the bridge between what you see in your mind and what the world sees, then skill is how you build that bridge. 

- There is no one ideal condition for creativity. What works for one person is useless for another. The only criterion is this: Make it easy on yourself. Find a working environment where the prospect of wrestling with your muse doesn't scare you, doesn't shut you down. It should make you want to be there, and once you find it, stick with it. 

- It's all been done before. Nothing's really original. 

- I'm often subtracting things from my life rather than adding them (e.g., movies, multitasking, background music).

- Ralph Waldo Emerson sought solitude and simplicity. Henry David Thoreau turned his back on the distractions of his life in pursuit of a better and clearer life. 

- What is the one tool that feeds your creativity and is so essential that without it you feel naked and unprepared? 

- You're never lonely when your mind is engaged.

- Alone is a fact, a condition where no one else is around. Lonely is how you feel about that. 

- Solitude is an unavoidable part of creativity. Self-reliance is a happy by-product.

- Every day you don't practice you're one day further from being good.

- You won't be of much value to others if you don't learn to value yourself and your efforts.

- Take inventory of your skills. Pick one of your skills from this list and remove it. What's left/ What can you accomplish without it? 

- Henri Matisse was bedridden in his home in the south of France with only the use of his arms and imagination in his final years. But he wasn't going to stop working. His mind wouldn't rest. So he came up with a new way of working: paper cutouts. These exquisitely pure creations, out of the most childlike materials, are...the essence of his art. 

- My heroes are the artists whose bodies of work are consistently surprising, consistently fresh: Mozart, Beethoven, Veldi, Dostoyevsky, Yeats, Cezanne, Kurosawa, and Balanchine. They all had stunning early triumphs, and they kept getting better through their middle and later years. 

Friday, June 4, 2021

The Gift - 12 Lessons to Save Your Life - Book Notes

 I was going through my "Books I Want to Read" file and saw that I had noted The Gift - 12 Lessons to Save Your Life by Edith Eger in it. I'm not sure where I heard about this book, but am so grateful I ordered it from the library. 

Edith Eger has written two books - The Choice (which is the story of her survival in the concentration camps, her escape, healing, and journey to freedom) and The Gift. In this book, she explains that the most persistent prison she experienced was not the prison the Nazis put her in but the one she created for herself - the prison within her own mind. Below are notes from the book.

- Many of us experience feeling trapped in our minds. Our thoughts and beliefs determine, and often limit, how we feel, what we do, and what we think is possible.

- The foundation of freedom is the power to choose.

- All I could do was decide how to respond to terror and hopelessness. Somehow, I found it within myself to choose hope.

- For many decades, I remained a prisoner of the past. 

- "Learned helplessness" - we suffer most when we believe that we have no efficacy in our lives, that nothing we do can improve the outcome. We flourish when we harness "learned optimism" - the strength, resilience, and ability to create the meaning and direction of our lives.

- Freedom requires hope: the awareness that suffering, however horrible, is temporary; and the curiosity to discover what happens next. 

- Remembering and honoring are very different from remaining stuck in guilt, shame, anger, resentment, or fear about the past. 

- It's not what happens to us that matters most, it's what we do with our experiences.

- We do not change until we're ready. SOmetimes it's a a tough circumstance - perhaps a divorce, accident, illness, or death - that forces us to face up to what isn't working and try something else.

- Change is about interrupting the habits and patters that no longer serve us.

- When you change your life, it's to become the real you.


- Victims ask, "Why me?" Survivors ask, "What now?"

- Suffering is universal. But victimhood is optional. There is no way to escape being hurt or oppressed by other people or circumstances. The only guarantee is that no matter how kind we are or how hard we work, we're going to have pain....but we each get to choose whether or not we stay a victim.

- Many of us stay in a prison of victimhood because, subconsciously, it feels safer.

- Victimhood is rigor mortis of the mind. It's stuck in the past, stuck in the pain, and stuck on the losses and deficits - what I can't do and what I don't have.

- Every behavior satisfies a need. Many of us choose to stay victims because it gives us license to do zero on our own behalf. 

- The only one you have is you. YOu're born alone. You die alone.

 - Sometimes it takes one sentence to point the way out of victimhood: Is it good for me?

- Another tool for moving out of victimhood is to learn to cope with loneliness. It's what most of us fear more than anything else. But when you're in love with yourself, alone doesn't mean lonely.

- The whole reason to step out of victimhood is  so we can step into the rest of our lives.

- When you wake up in the morning ask yourself: What am I going to do today? When will I do my therapy exercises? What projects do I want to work on? What do I need to do to take care of myself?


- Sick people have sick minds. And you get to choose how long you let a sick person's choices keep you from the life you want. 

- Let the feelings come. Let them move through us. And then we let them go.

- The opposite of depression is expression. 


- One of our first fears is of abandonment. Thus we learn early how to get the A's: attention, affection, approval. We figure out what to do and whom tobecome to get our needs met. The problem is not that we do these things - it's that we keep doing them. We think we must in order to be loved.

- It's very dangerous to put your whole life into someone else's hands. You are the only one you're going to have for a lifetime. All other relationships will end. So how can you be the best loving, unconditional, no-nonsense caregiver to yourself?

- Our childhoods end when we begin to live in someone else's image of who we are.

- Generosity isnt' generous if we chronically give at the expense of ourselves, if our giving makes us a martyr or fuels our resentement.

- Love means that we practice self-love, that we strive to be generous and compassionate toward others - and to ourselves. 

- In trying nto to be a burden on anyone else, he neglected himself. 

- Learn to develop inner self-regard because no amount of pampering on the outside can change the way you feel about yourself. 

- Let your appearnance be an avenue for self-expression.


- Secrets are harmful because they create and sustain a climate for shame, and shame is the bottom line of any addiction.


- Freedom lies in accepting our whole, imperfect selves and giving up the need for perfection.

- Rejection is just a word we make up to express the feeling we have when we don't get what we want.

- Is there anything helpful here that can support my growth and creativity? Whether you paln to integrate the feedback you receive, or release it, say, "Thank you for your opinion" and move on.

- You're the only one you'll never lose. You can look outside yourself to feel cherished - or you can learn to cherish yourself.

- What you pay attention to grows stronger. Spend a day listening to your self-talk. Replace negative messages with a practice of kind and love self-talk.


- All therapy is grief work. A process of confronting life where you expect one thing and get another, a life that brings you the unexpected and unanticipated.

- Grief is often not about what happened. It's about what didn't happen. 

- When we have unresolved grief, we often live with overwhelming rage.

- What if I'd known she was dying? What if I'd known I was about to lose her? But what-ifs don't empower us. They deplete us.

- GUilt stops us from enjoying our memories. And it prevents us from living fully now.

- Time doesn't heal. It's what you do with the time.


- When we're aggressive, we decide for others. When we're passive, we let others decide for us. And when we're passive-aggressive, we prevent others from deciding for themselves.

 - Don't let negative words from others penetrate your spirit.

- How (or why) are you maintaining a point of view that isn't serving you anymore?

- If you take back your power and still want to be right, then choose to be kind, because kindness is always right.


- The biggest disruptor of intimacy is low-level, chronic anger and irritation.


- Take a risk. Do something you've never done before. Change is synonymous with growth. To grow, you've got to evolve instead of revolve.

- We have a choice of how much of our lives we give over to fear.

- When we've been hurt or betrayed, it isn't easy to let go of the fear that we'll be hurt again.

- Curiosity is vital. It's what allows us to risk. When we're full of fear, we're living in a past that already happened, or a future that hasn't arrived. When we're curious, we're here in the present, eager to discover what's going to happen next. It's better to risk and grow, and maybe fail, than to remain imprisoned, never knowing what could have been.


- The most toxic, obnoxious people in our lives can be our best teacher. Ask yourself, "What are you here to teach me?"

- What legacy do you want to pass on?


- Choose to fill your day with passion and things that are meaningful to you. Spend time with people who are kind and have integrity. Remember that loss and trauma doesn't mean you have to stop living fully.

- Hope is a confrontation with darkness.

- It takes courage not to be discouraged.


- Forgiveness isn't something we do for the person who's hurt us. It's something we do for ourselves, so we're no longer victims or prisoners of the past, so we can stop carrying a burden that harbors nothing but pain.

- As long as you can say you can't forgive someone, you're spending energy being against rather than being for yourself and the life you deserve. To forgive isn't to give someone permission to keep hurting you. It's not okay that you were harmed. But it's already done. No one but you can heal the wound. 

- What stays in your body makes you ill. Forgiveness is release. 

- Silent rage is self-destructive.


- We can't take away suffering, we can't change what happened- but we can choose to find the gift in our lives. 

- Life is a gift. A gift we sabotage when we imprison ourselves in our fears of punishment, failure, and abandonment, in our need for approval, in shame and blame, in superiority and inferiority, in our need for power and control.

Thursday, June 3, 2021

My Favorite Photos - May 2021

On Swap-Bot there is an ongoing swap that focuses on your favorite photos from the previous month. During May 2021, these are my favorite ones:

On May 1st, I coordinated a community event through the Lions Club.
We had a shredding event (the white truck) and recycled over 3 tons of paper!
Also did many other types of collections and sold food.

Olivia painted two custom-designed barn quilts.

I'm taking a photography class and one assignment was to 
break a personal rule you have about photography. 
I don't photograph signs. For this assignment, I did.

Another photography assignment was to capture the theme of "Emerge."
As I walked the dogs, I saw trash emerge along the side of the road 
as the snow melted. This was a shiny piece of garbage 
on the side of the road with writing on it. 
The sun and weeds were reflected in it.

A lone tree in a field yet to be planted.

Barbed wire on a fence. 

There were lots of goldfinches throughout May at our farm.
The males are now bright yellow.

Bailey was watching me in the backyard.

The hummingbirds have returned!

One of many tulips in our backyard.

The orioles returned in May!

I've never noticed the tiny red pinecones on one of the trees.

More tulips.

Scooby relaxing in the sun. 
The dogs are enjoying spending time outside now that it is warmer.

Cows grazing in a pasture.
This was on my way to pick up some plants.

One of the cows that the dogs and I pass by each time I walk them.
I named him "Ernie." His companion is "Bert."
Unfortunately, their days are limited. 
It makes me sad that these Ernie and Bert - 
who watch us as we pass by and sometimes come running to see us -
will be processed this summer.

The dogs relaxing on the chairs and sofa. 
This is what they typically look like when we leave.

Mother's Day dinner.

Olivia found a warren of bunnies by the barn.

The bleeding hearts were prolific this year.

My sister and I saw a raccoon on a hike on her birthday.

We also saw lots of chipmunks.

We were surprised to see two garter snakes.
This one was a lot bigger than I thought garter snakes got.

My sister and I went to Franconia Sculpture Park.
This is one of the sculptures.

One of the men in our Lions Club died. He was a Vietnam Veteran.
The quilt that is displayed is one that I hand in helping get presented 
to him about 7 months ago. It is part of the Quilts of Valor program.
Several women in Minnesota made the quilt and 
it was presented to him in October. The Color Guard 
from the VFW was there also. It was a very moving ceremony.

One of many different types I made this month through the 4-H Pizza Club.
This one was a dessert pizza which we've never had before.

One of the Asiatic Lilies.

Cooper enjoying being outside.

Aspen on alert. She was watching for activity in the driveway and road.

Prairie Smoke. I really like this unusual native plant.

We planted two of these azalea plants in memory of Paige's mom and dad 
who died on May 5th and 6th in 2008 and 1985 respectively.

These are Virginia Bluebells - another native plant.
We planted them last year and this is the first year they bloomed!

Pulmonaria or Lungwort in the front yard.  
The flowers are a variety of purples and pinks.

This inquisitive male deer was in the west pasture. 
His antlers are growing in.

This wren is cleaning his feathers. He was sitting in the sun 
on a chilly 47 degree morning over Memorial Day weekend.

We visited Paige's stepfather.
Sophia and Olivia enjoyed seeing their grandpa.

We saw 4 geese parents and tons of goslings.
This was one parent with the goslings s/he was watching.