Thursday, January 14, 2021

Thursday Morning Freewrite FIFTEEN MINUTES

A freewrite is setting a timer for fifteen minutes (traditionally but you set your own time) and not worrying about grammar, punctuation, spelling, feelings expressed, etc. 

I said a few posts ago that I would do this weekly, and I forgot to do it last week. So here goes. When I started doing these, I would set a manual timer. Now I just speak it out to Siri or Alexa, and they do it for me. 

Here goes!

It is 6:46 am on a beautiful Thursday morning. I got up at 5 am (sleeping in for me), and I have been sort of dabbling in this and that and not following my usual morning prayer routine, but praying nonetheless. This is my spontaneous side today. :) 

Oh, where to start with the last days since my last freewrite. (I would look it up, but that would defeat the purpose of just typing straight through for fifteen minutes, but I think it was the Sunday before last - maybe January 3.) 

It would have been my mom's 94th birthday today. I have been thinking so much about her lately and all my nuclear family. I am writing an Enneagram autobiography of my family with the primary types of my parents, siblings, and romantic relationships. I am doing this for my Level II Professional Certification for Motions of the Soul. 

I so appreciate my mom's loyalty to my dad and how she reveled in being the woman behind the larger-than-life personality that was my dad. She was a Type 6. Sure, there were the phobias and fears that she constantly verbally processed and caused great anxiety in me growing up. (As a Type 2, I always wanted to make it better for her.) My dad was a Type 8 with a strong 7 wing. My oldest brother was a Type 8. My only living relative is my brother, Chris. I asked him to take the test, and he is a Type 3 (I guessed correctly!), and that is three MOVE AGAINST MALES in my household. The women were MOVE TOWARD TYPES (We access, scan the situation and then we move toward whereas MOVE AGAINST people don't discern and just propel themselves forward, overflowing their energy onto others.) 

Yet, it wasn't a male dominating kind of thing with my dad. I never felt squelched by his larger-than-life personality. I always felt so loved, so accepted, so "I am woman hear me roar. You can do ANYTHING your brothers do. Go for it!" So there you have it.

On the physical fitness side of things (switching topics abruptly, but that is what you can do in a freewrite), I am getting SO STRONG. I did this New Year's Eve 90 minute boot camp with Positively Pilates. I think she is the best Pilates instructor out there. So I have been doing that boot camp over and over again on my own. It has been GREAT. It is also worth 4.5 miles on my Virtual Pilgrimages. Yes, I am doing TWO. I am walking through France from the Loire Valley to Mt. St. Michel (my happiest place on earth) and walking the length of Great Britain (currently in the Scottish Highlands). I have less than 200 miles on Great Britain, and I am way ahead of schedule on the France one. (The France Virtual Challenge one is so fun. My friend and former Rick Steves Tour Guide, Chris Coleman, and her friend, Patrick, are leading us along with live footage by Patrick and lessons on food, culture, architecture, history, etc.) 

Eating has not been the best. I am up .2 of a pound from the weight I want to be at for 3 months to see it. That is not very much, and I think it is because I ate Baked Ziti and am retaining a lot of water, but not to worry. I want to nip these very slight gains in the bud and NOT BE AFRAID TO WEIGH myself weekly. That has always been my downfall. I am weighing myself every Thursday no matter what. I have kept it below my goal from October 22 until today. BUT .2 of a pound is nothing! That is a 700 calorie output exceeding my intake of calories. So easy sneezy. I am going to MAINTAIN this year.

Oh, I am starting my OMS cohort on January 23. I am so excited about this. I worked really hard to make it to the deadline, despite the discouragement. My sponsor is Scott from Scotland, and he was so nice to accommodate me and get all three interviews in before the deadline on December 15. So, we will meet for two hours on the 3rd Saturday of the month. I am reading Punk Monk to start it all off. 

Well, off to more prayer. But this was good. TTFN. 

Sunday, January 03, 2021

2020 Reading Wrap Up

 These are a combined list of questions from Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks. She changed it this year. 

How many books did you read? 68

Which book would you recommend everyone read: 

How to Pray: A Simple Guide for Normal People - No matter how much prayer experience you have. This book is so good to read. It led me to some life-changing decisions. 

I also posted all my answers to the study guide questions and have the study guide in a PDF or a Word Document if you want it. I did this with six other people, and it was really a great experience. 

Did you discover any "new to you" authors? 

Frank McCourt. Loved his writing. 

Tell us about your reading year? What was your goal this year and did you have a plan, and/or follow rabbit trails or wing it? 

My goal was to get through all the book lists for the Book Babes Book Club, the Renovare Book Club, Spiritual Direction tests, and last but not least, the 1000 Book to Read Before You Die list.

I also accomplished the big goal of finishing Proust: In Search of Lost Time! WOOHOO!

Where did your armchair travels take you? 

Moscow, Russia, England, World War II Europe, France, Japan, Ireland, Central Valley California, Texas Samoa, All over America with John Steinbeck, Interior Castle of the Soul, Canada

Which books stood out, made an impression and/or stayed with you the longest? What did you learn from them? 

Interior Castle - I had read her autobiography several years ago, but this is her seminal work, and it encouraged me to go on a deeper adventure in Centering Prayer, and I am glad I did.

The Critical Journey - This was a reread as we went deeper into the book for the second year of Spiritual Direction training. It is such a good base for evaluating where a person is in their journey with God. I have it in the back of my mind with my directees. 

Spiritual Direction - I think this is my favorite of all the books on the subject. It is so thorough and practical.

The Golden Compass - So well written and finally read it for me after so much hub-bub about its anti-Christian undertones.

Silence - Jesuits in Japan. Gruesome. So hard to read but SO well-written!

Friday Night Lights - Such an interesting look into life and values in Central Texas. Mesmerizing. (Caused me to watch the movie and the entire TV series.) 

Angela's Ashes - Totally understand why this is on every classics list. WOW! Such a good memoir of poverty in Ireland. 

Bleak House - This might be my favorite Dickens. And the central characters are women. That is unusual for Dickens.

Open Mind, Open Heart - I finally really "get" Centering Prayer as a result of reading and discussing this book with others. 

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek - So a lovely classic. "Wisdom of born of wonder." 

How to Pray: A Simple Guide for Normal People - No matter how much prayer experience you have. This book is so good to read. It led me to some life-changing decisions. 

Hardwiring Happiness - I learned so much from this book that I apply daily. 

Remains of the Day - Delightful. I saw the movie years ago, but the book is so worth reading. 

Travels with Charley - What a wonderful insight into America in the 60s. 

Which book had the most original, most unique story?  

The Golden Compass - So unusual. The writing is near-perfect.

Which book made you laugh? 

Travels with Charley - Steinbeck is so clever. 

Which one made you cry?

Bleak House
Jude, The Obscure

Which book did you like the least and why? 

The Buddha in the Attic - Just a running list of all these Japanese immigrants to California. NO character development. I am so surprised by anyone who would like this book.

Favorite Cover:

68. The Ghost Writer

 I see why Roth won awards. Very good writing. It was not super engaging for me though. 

Summary: The Ghost Writer introduces Nathan Zuckerman in the 1950s, a budding writer infatuated with the great books, discovering the contradictory claims of literature and experience while an overnight guest in the secluded New England farmhouse of his idol, E. I. Lonoff.

At Lonoff's, Zuckerman meets Amy Bellette, a haunting young woman of indeterminate foreign background who turns out to be a former student of Lonoff's and who may also have been his mistress. Zuckerman, with his active, youthful imagination, wonders if she could be the paradigmatic victim of Nazi persecution. If she were, it might change his life.

The first volume in the Zuckerman Bound trilogy and epilogue, The Ghost Writer is about the tensions between literature and life, artistic truthfulness and conventional decency - and about those implacable practitioners who live with the consequences of sacrificing one for the other.

67. The Splendid and The Vile

 I forgot this review in 2020

The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the BlitzThe Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz by Erik Larson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The newest book by Erik Larson. This guy never misses. It is excellent. It is history and very personal. In 1940-41, 44,652 civilians died and 52,370 were injured in the Blitz! Of those dead, 5,626 were children. Much of it was Churchill's pleas for Roosevelt to get America involved. This would not happen until the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

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Sunday (Early) Morning Freewrite: My Compass 2020 Review

 Let's try a new type for the NEW year (at least for this freewrite because I will probably forget the new one I am using in future freewrites). I have in my Rule of Life to do a freewrite at least once a week. So, here is my first one for 2021. 

Here is a screenshot of the yearly review using 

YearCompass | The booklet that helps close your year and plan the next one.

It was a very good year for me. I still had to continue to work through the difficult thing that happened to me in December of 2019, but I kept working through it, and I "prayed to the PEACE" during my Advent retreat. It ended with a very dramatic conclusion as I drove over a bridge on the way back home from Mt. Angel Abbey. I really sensed a closure that I had not sensed prior to that. 

By the way, I am up at 1:19 am in the morning. I fell fast asleep at about 9 pm, and I woke up thinking it was morning, and I had slept enough at 11:45! I could not go back to sleep. Ironically, George was awake next to me, but I did not know it until he got up saying that his stomach was churning. He has been up for a long time reading. Paul came home from work at 1 am, and Michael was still up. So the whole family is up at 1:21 am!

After this freewrite, I will go ahead and do a quick reading wrap up of the year. I have to check and see which books I did not include here yet. 

I did a 90 minute Pilates/Barre class on New Year's Eve that was great. I was not even sore the next day, and I want to keep the strength I gained from doing all those Pilates videos for FSF. It took me two whole days to upload them on to the media site for OSU! I know it would have been less time had I done all my videos on an iPhone and uploaded them, but I did not get my iPhone until December 23. I will do the remaining ones on my iPhone. That is better. 

I have a big week ahead of me:

1) iMOS (Motions of the Soul) Enneagram training Tuesday - Friday from 7:15 am - 3:00 pm. 

2) Pilates 194 Tuesday/Thursday 3-3:50 pm (trying an afternoon teaching schedule and may like that better)

3) International Mom and Baby Group Teaching on "Person of Peace" Wednesday 3-3:45 pm

4) Prayer with M people 7:30-9:00 pm Friday 

I am doing Spiritual Direction every other week now. That way I can do things on the off week instead of having stops and starts because of directees sprinkled throughout the day. I like that better. 

Well, I am going to work on my "Reading Wrap Up" now. Stay tuned. 

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Sunday Morning Freewrite

 The SUN just started to shine through the window on what, at the beginning of my Centering Prayer time (20 min) was only gloom and fog. What a great end to a more focused Centering time than I have had over the last two weeks. I found myself being very distracted during Centering Prayer by all the Pilates videos I have had to make. I owe the University 30 hours of work because I was furloughed for one of my classes and not the other. I didn't find out about it until November. I couldn't start the videos until my biopsy for melanoma healed because it was on my bottom, and I could not do the three rolling exercises in the Pilates routine. So, I started the adventure on November 27th. I have done 14:40 so far. I will need to do 5:20 more. The other ten hours are given to me for the uploading and descriptions attached to my videos. It is doing 12 weeks worth of a Pilates class in four weeks (due date is December 31). 

The silver lining: I am getting back in Pilates shape. It is one thing to do it on your own at home and another thing to be in shape to do instruction for an Advanced Pilates class. I did that yesterday, and I always say that the level between Intermediate and Advanced goes up ASTRONOMICALLY! So, I was so tired yesterday. I had the family go shopping for gifts and cars (Michael's car was totaled, and Paul has not gotten around to getting one since he works so close to home) for three hours so I could have uninterrupted time in videos. Sadly, someone dropped in on me texting me and calling me to tell me they were in my driveway. Another friend called after not hearing from him for probably two years. So, I had to do my video in two parts and then put it in a movie editor and trim and put them together. I do love learning new things, but it prolonged my time, and I had a limited amount with them gone. 

All that said, when they came home they were ready to go get our Christmas trees. I had a moment in the kitchen where I could feel myself about to burst into tears and crawl into bed from the stress of this whole thing and the tiredness of my body when I CAUGHT MYSELF IN THE ACT! It was the coolest thing. (The sun is shining more and more. God always speaks to me with the sun breaking through clouds and shining into windows - So I am going with this freewrite.) I didn't stuff it, but there was this overwhelming sense of God's presence with me. God's protection of me - my body, my soul, my mind, my spirit. I wasn't "stuffing it and sucking it up and gutting it out for the family." Nor did I get emotional and crawl into a hole hoping that my family would understand. I could have done that, and they would have understood. We could have postponed but rain was on the horizon for the only other day we could do it. But there was this shift. There was an acknowledgment of how tired I was, but there was this shift to wanting to go. I was standing there in the kitchen on the verge of losing it and then I wasn't, but I didn't stuff it either. It is hard to explain. 

In the car, filled with joy, I whizzed down Walnut Blvd. with the people I am most in love with and bring me the most life, noticing the gorgeous color of the blue sky meeting forested hills, listening to Kenny Rogers' rendition of "Children Go Where I Send Thee" (man, it is GOOD), and just enjoying life STRESS-FREE. 

Our 23rd Trip to Donovan's Tree Farm was filled with the 23rd installment of life-giving joy. I asked about Mr. Donovan, and as I did, he drove up on an ATV with a hearty hello (he knows us after 23 trips) and gave us a personal tour of his latest pottery pieces, and I bought a bowl with the deepest and most beautiful color of green I have ever seen.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Sunday Freewrite

Fifteen minutes and counting!

I love freewrites, but I have not been very good at them lately. My life is FULL and FULFILLING! When I told George that I would not be teaching at OSU this fall and wondered what I would do, he said, "I have no doubt that you will figure out what to do with your time, Carol." 

And he would be right. :) Well, one thing is that my spiritual direction (companionship really) ministry has really taken off, and I LOVE IT! I meet with 18 people regularly, either once or twice a month (the ones going through the Exercises meet twice and a couple of others who want to meet twice who are doing regular spiritual direction). I have 1-2 meetings a day, and that is about all I can handle as I spend time in prayer before and after. I LOVE IT (of dear, I already said that) because it really more like being in prayer the whole time as I listen to God and listen to people at the same time. So, because I am not teaching Pilates, I have had more time to devote to this budding ministry (

Well, when I say "not teaching Pilates," it was an illusion because I found out that the paperwork was not filed in time. So, I owe my boss 30 hours of work (my time had been reduced from 60 hours for the term to 30 hours with the lower enrollment, but then they decided to cancel the class all together and put my students in with the other Pilates classes that were not filled), but the paperwork didn't get filed. So, I found out in November, after half the term was over that I need to make a bunch of videos. I could not start until this week because of the healing of my bottom biopsy for melanoma. It was good that I did not have this hanging over my head while I was adding more and more directees. Now I am sailing with all of them (I think I am at max capacity now), and I made my first two videos over the Thanksgiving extended weekend, and I had SO MUCH FUN! I think I have missed teaching. These videos will be for the faculty and staff, but I will use them for my students in the future too, and I will be able to add them to my collection. Eventually, I want to add Prayer and Praise Pilates videos, but these are the basic building block Pilates videos that people need to learn before they can go on with the routines. So it is all good.

All that said, I feel like the extra time I had also helped me to devote more time to the care of my own body. When I get busy with setting up my classes in the fall, it is more stressful and I tend to not do as much cardio (Pilates burns about 120 calories an hour, and walking burns about 400 per hour). So I can sometimes pack on the pounds during the fall. Then I head into Christmas and add a little more. It is my typical pattern. This fall, I definitely got the word to focus on my eating, and I lost 10% of my body weight. I was only "technically" 4 lbs overweight for my height, but I got down to where I am most comfortable. So I head into the holidays with a balance between body and soul! (Practicing what I preach).

I continue to love doing Centering Prayer with Mercy Center, Burlingame every Sunday and Thursday. In fact, I just finished with them before this freewrite. I seem to do much better with accountability. 

I am looking forward to doing a six-day Advent Retreat with the Ignatian Spirituality Center starting tomorrow night. I cleared my whole schedule (one thing that I could not clear was moved to a week later - that was cool to see God clear the way). I will meet with a director for 30 minutes each day during the retreat. That will also be very nice. 

Well, I thought it was about 15 minutes, and I looked at the timer, and I had 30 seconds which just ended right now. 

66. Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening


Centering Prayer and Inner AwakeningCentering Prayer and Inner Awakening by Cynthia Bourgeault
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have been growing (and benefitting from) more extended times of Centering Prayer for over two years now. Since June, I have been part of a Zoom group from California that meets twice a week (
Centering Prayer - Mercy Center Burlingame ( I love the accountability, and we have been discussing Open Mind, Open Heart: The Contemplative Dimension of the Gospel every other week. I think that book is a better introduction to Centering Prayer than this one. It is more practical with the "how-tos."  This one is much more into the theological and psychological implications. 

One of the leaders of my California group read from Bourgeault's book. So I read it. It expanded upon some things that I was wondering about when I read Open Mind, Open Heart, but it also got into all this other stuff in the middle of the book that wasn't what I was looking for (it was interesting but a bit too heady).

The end of the book had a thorough explanation of Welcoming Prayer which was just touched on in a CD lecture series I listened to on Centering Prayer. The CDs did not include the speaker's handouts. So I was a bit lost on the Welcoming Prayer part. This book had a detailed diagram about it, and I found that super helpful. So, this helped me like the book by the end.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Freewrite Fifteen

Here I go! I have not had a Freewrite for many, many days. I have been fairly full in my days, but today is a day for personal enrichment! 

I have no spiritual direction appointments. I was possibly going to have one with someone passing through, but it turned out that we had Valentina and Pieter here the whole time, and I thought it was going to be raining so we would have been inside with vacuum cleaners going. As it was, I had a very nice visit with them as they cleaned, and I had a pick me up as she commented on how well I have done at keeping my weight down! That was timely as I had gotten on the scale, and I have still kept my 10% weight off (from the gain during my Tibial Plateau Fracture), but it was at the very edge of that 10%, and I like to be about 5 pounds below that. So it was good to have the encouragement to KEEP IT OFF! 

With that said, I want to give a shout out to the new Weight Watchers. I had never officially done it before. I had gotten a book many years ago, and it was sort of a hassle. Now they have a great app, and you don't have to keep track of every single thing because there is a wide variety of Zero-point foods, and it psychologically does something to you to go for those foods instead of the really high point foods like ice cream and chocolate! I love how easy it is, and I love all the incentives and now they even have exercise videos built into the app! I think I will stick with them for another six months for maintenance. I think their maintenance is pretty cool because, at first, I thought, why didn't they give me more points to play with now that I have reached my goal? It seems like they didn't give me more points until a few weeks after my goal was reached (maybe four, but I am not sure). So maybe they want you to ease into it by giving you more points to play with as you prove you are keeping it off? I will have to read more deeply into all of this. 

I also made a good decision because I had switched from the blue plan to the green plan, and I just was not losing on the green plan. So I went back to the blue. It is fewer points, but they make lean protein options as Zero point foods. Anywho, it has been good. 

OH also, my back has not had tight problems (a precursor to there being a shift in my SI joint). The only thing I have been doing differently for the last 35 days is SQUATS. I do 50 squats a day in the morning, and I hear all these creaks. I think it "uncorks" me for the day. I am not sure. I told Dr. Myers that I want to break my record of 43 days. Actually, my real record was when I was teaching six Pilates classes a week (as opposed to only four). I think I went five months without seeing him then. 

Speaking of Pilates, I am going to make 20 hours of video content for the Faculty Staff Fitness because my boss did not submit the paperwork that said I have furloughed this term. I am looking forward to it, and it will be nice to have the video content for my Body and Soul Companion site. So it will be a win-win. I could not start doing it immediately because I had a melanoma biopsy on my bottom, and I had to wait to do Pilates until I got the stitches out after two weeks. I could not do the three rolling exercises with the stitches in. By the way, the biopsy came back benign.  I am happy about that.

I will start recording videos either today or tomorrow, and I have until December 31st to finish them.

Next week, I am doing a five day Advent Retreat. It is an "at-home" one, and they were not at all clear on their website about how we should go about doing this. So, I had four spiritual direction appointments, and when I called about something else, the lady was taken aback that I would have appointments. So, I called the director to find out if this was the case. I have no problem moving them, I was just seeking more information, and the director was so cold and "pithy." It left a negative impression in my mind of this group that I do not know much about. I have taken risks by joining groups "cold turkey" this quarantine season, and it has turned out great (thinking of the lovely people at Mercy Center, Burlingame, Albany CP group), but it made me wonder if I should do this retreat at all! I am still praying about this because I just did not get a good impression from either of the two ladies I talked to on the phone. I didn't understand why there was such coldness. So, still praying about it. If I do not do it, I will just have an Advent Retreat on my own since I moved all the appointments (except the one with the team I joined and have been waiting for for years - I cannot miss that one - no way). So we will see. 

I am going to IMAGINE today at noon. Then Teala is coming to visit. So it is a great enrichment Wednesday! 


Tuesday, November 24, 2020

65. Opening to God: Lectio Divina and Life as Prayer


Opening to God: Lectio Divina and Life as PrayerOpening to God: Lectio Divina and Life as Prayer by David G. Benner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really loved this explanation of Lectio Divina. It gives the big picture of WHY you would do this. It is an ancient practice that has more recently become much more popular.

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Saturday, November 21, 2020

64. The Man Who Was Thursday


The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare (Illustrated)The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare by G.K. Chesterton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Finally, I read something by Chesterton! This had me engaged. I cannot say I fully understood its meaning though.

“Shall I tell you the secret of the whole world? It is that we have only known the back of the world. We see everything from behind, and it looks brutal. That is not a tree, but the back of a tree. That is not a cloud, but the back of a cloud. Cannot you see that everything is stooping and hiding a face? If we could only get round in front--”

“The Iliad is only great because all life is a battle, The Odyssey because all life is a journey, The Book of Job because all life is a riddle.”

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Thursday Morning Freewrite FIFTEEN MINUTES

A freewrite is setting a timer for fifteen minutes (traditionally but you set your own time) and not worrying about grammar, punctuation, sp...