Archive for December, 2012


Christmas! It’s a great season for music. Music is tea for the soul. With grandchildren, all of whom are performing artists, ages from pre-school through high school, Tom and I attend lots of musical feasts during the month of December. So music, to us, is even more than tea — it is the second helping of dessert.

But you don’t have to be an artist to sing. I am reminded of the Sesame Street song:

Sing, sing out loud, sing out strong
Sing of good things, not bad;
Sing of happy, not sad.

Don’t worry if you’re not good enough
for anyone else to hear,

Just sing, sing a song!

In a recent Yoga magazine publication, Scott Bakal suggests singing when you feel as though your heart is locked up by sorrow. He says modern bhakti masters offer ways to exercise the muscles of love and fill your heart to overflowing.

In bhakti yoga, says master Jai Uttal, music is medicine. Singing a mantra, a hymn, or the name of a spiritual guide is another way to treat an aching heart.

“You can sing kirtan sweetly, or sing them fiercely with angst, or sing them with a yearning or whatever emotions are arising in you.”

Keep on singing, even if you get bored, he advises. “Sing until the singing itself becomes part of your molecules, and your heart flows into the ocean of divine love.”

Sing all by yourself, in the shower, in the car, or in the garden — anytime you want to feel uplifted.

Not to worry about what your voice sounds like — kirtan is about filling your heart with love, not about being a great singer, says Bakal.

“No matter our accents, our ability to carry a tune, or our musical aesthetic,” says Uttal, ‘when we sing kirtan, we are awakening our hearts and healing old traumas.”

I’m wondering about holding my warrior poses and bursting out with “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”, in Friday’s class.

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Elephant - believe in Magic


Note from Napkinwriter:  I am sharing a guest blog from creative friend , writer, creative journey leader, workshop presenter and Coach, Suzanne Murray. I hope to be on a trip with her one-day, it won’t matter much, where — it will be a grand adventure just being together.



plus Creativity or Writing Coaching Packages

& Spring 2013 Yosemite Retreats &

The Heart & Soul of Ireland – Journey to the West of Ireland, May 2013


I recently re-read Maya Angelou’s beautiful poem for the Christmas season titled Amazing Peace. As I read I could feel my heart open more fully and tears form in my eyes as I could feel the truth of the words working through me. We can all feel the need for peace in the world and in ourselves. And the poems reminds me of the power of poetry and all creative acts to open our hearts and expanded minds to new possibilities and solutions

One of the solutions for world peace is keeping an open heart and sending from your heart compassion and care to areas of the world troubled by storms, war and other crisis. This is exactly what the Global Coherence Initiative organizes people to do. An offshoot of the Institute of Heartmath they are a group of scientists working with the discovery that the magnetic field of the human heart is in direct communication on the energetic level of feelings with the magnetic field of the Earth. (This discover was made by a NASA scientist studying fluctuation in the earth’s magnetic field who on September 11, 2001 noticed an off the charts fluctuation as people around the world poured their heart’s concerns over the events of that day in America.) This lead scientists to the awareness that by sending focused care from our heart’s to areas of trouble we can calm the Earth’s weather and people’s fear and distress during disasters.

The Global Coherence Initiative suggests that by focusing your attention in our hearts and breathing our love and compassion into the planetary field for all those suffering from weather events or conflicts and also send our coherent heart energy to leaders to keep working together to find sustainable solutions for global problem and hold the vision for increased peace on the planet without putting time restrictions on it. Peace will result as we increase our collective ability to get along.

To help with the inspiration I’ve included below two of my favorite peoms on the theme of peace. One is Maya Angelou’s Amazing Peace.

Wishing you the peace of the season, from my heart to yours.

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

— Wendell Berry

Amazing Peace


Thunder rumbles in the mountain passes
And lightning rattles the eaves of our houses.
Flood waters await us in our avenues.

Snow falls upon snow, falls upon snow to
Over unprotected villages.
The sky slips low and grey and threatening.

We question ourselves.
What have we done
to so affront nature?
We worry God.
Are you there? Are you there really?
Does the covenant you made with us still hold?

Into this climate of fear and apprehension,
Christmas enters,
Streaming lights of joy, ringing bells of hope
And singing carols of forgiveness
high up in the bright air.
The world is encouraged to come away from rancor,
Come the way of friendship.

It is the Glad Season.
Thunder ebbs to silence
and lightning sleeps quietly in the corner.
Flood waters recede into memory.
Snow becomes a yielding cushion to aid us
As we make our way to higher ground.

Hope is born again in the faces of children
It rides on the shoulders of our aged
as they walk into their sunsets.
Hope spreads around the earth,
brightening all things,
Even hate which crouches,
breeding in dark corridors.

In our joy, we think we hear a whisper.
At first it is too soft.
Then only half heard.
We listen carefully as it gathers strength.
We hear a sweetness.
The word is Peace.
It is loud now.
It is louder.
Louder than the explosion of bombs.

We tremble at the sound.
We are thrilled by its presence.
It is what we have hungered for.
Not just the absence of war.
But true Peace.
A harmony of spirit, a comfort of courtesies.
Security for our beloveds and their beloveds.

We clap hands and welcome the Peace of Christmas.
We beckon this good season to wait a while with us.
We, Baptist and Buddhist, Methodist and Muslim, say come.
Come and fill us and our world with your majesty.
We, the Jew and the Jainist, the Catholic and the Confucian,
Implore you to stay a while with us.
So we may learn by your shimmering light
How to look beyond complexion and see community.

It is Christmas time, a halting of hate time.

On this platform of peace, we can create a language
To translate ourselves to ourselves and to each other.

At this Holy Instant, we celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ
Into the great religions of the world.
We jubilate the precious advent of trust.
We shout with glorious tongues at the coming of hope.
All the earth’s tribes loosen their voices
To celebrate the promise of Peace.

We, Angels and Mortals, Believers and Non-Believers,
Look heavenward and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at our world and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at each other, then into ourselves
And we say without shyness or apology or hesitation.

Peace, My Brother.
Peace, My Sister.
Peace, My Soul.

– Maya Angelou


plus Access Conscious The Bars Class & Spring Retreats to Yosemite & Ireland

THE HEART & SOUL OF IRELANDJourney to the West of Ireland

Dublin, Galway, County Clare, The Aran Islands

May 9 to May 16, 2013

for more info go to http://creativitygoeswild.com/west-of-ireland/

YOSEMITE RETREATS – Writing for Wisdom, Clarity & Creative Exploration

Traveling by Train


Weekend Retreats Spring 2013


Join me as writing teacher, life & creativity coach and professional naturalist for a Weekend Retreats where we draw on the inspiration from the beauty and magnificence of Yosemite Valley for wisdom and clarity. I’ve has been going to Yosemite all my life and lived there when I worked as an educator for Yosemite Institute. I’m really excited to share the wonders and secrets of this place with others especially during the time of year when there are fewer visitors and you can more easily feel the power of the place. These are three full days and traveling by train makes them very relaxing from the start. We arrive at the lodge at noon on Friday with time to write, relax, enjoy a walk or the spa. No writing experience necessary. We will work with simple, powerful techniques to working with your creativity imagination in writing for self discovery or creative expression.

Suzanne thanks for the wonderful weekend. Your superb guidance, the food, the accommodation, the train were all perfect. It was such a rich, relaxing and transformational experience. I feel new and expanded! – Elizabeth Markum

THE HEART OF WRITING – Four Week Coaching Package
Do you want to ignite your creativity and show up to your writing on a regular basis or go deeper into the process and craft? I offer online coaching to support you and coach you through any resistance or problems along the way. I can send you daily lessons and assignments that cover important aspects of the writing process and information on craft. Or we can tailor our work together to really fit your specific needs. I hold the space of unconditional acceptance and support to nurturing your unique voice  and work on the stories that are really important to you.Includes a half hour phone session with four weeks of online support with regular assignments and check ins for $195

CREATIVITY COACHING – Four Week Coaching Package
Do you want to experience the pleasure and joy that comes from adding satisfaction and meaning and a sense of well being to your life through creative expression. I will offer practical, emotional and soulful strategies to help you fully uncover your creative gifts and support yourself in expressing them. I will provide encouragement and support in understanding of the creative process and its stages and exercises for accessing the wisdom of your imagination. I’ll help you set realistic goals and support you in achieving them. We will work with tools for coaching yourself through the issues that get in the way of your creativity including career concerns, blocks, limiting beliefs, relationship issues and the existential and spiritual questions that can arise from wanting and needing to create.

includes a half hour phone session with four weeks of online support with regular assignments and check ins for $195

Access Consciousness The Bars Class
I have been working with Access Consciousness for almost two years and it has certainly expanded my life in wonderful ways including a deep sense of inner peace and more space to create a life a love. I am now a certified Access Consciousness Bars Facilitator available for both individual sessions and to teach The Bars classes in Sonoma County. The Bars has assisted thousands of people in changing many aspects of their body and their life including problems with sleep, health and weight, money, relationships, anxiety, stress and so much more! At the least you will feel like you have just had the best massage of your life. At best your whole life can change into something greater with total ease.

About The Bars Classes In this one day Access Bars Workshop you are guided through the process by giving two sessions of the Bars and receiving two sessions. By the end of the day you will be certified as a Bars practitioner and able to “run the Bars” the on others. It’s a great beginning of your own healing practice or a wonderful addition if you already work with other modalities.

Sunday, December 2, 10 am to 6 pm

downtown Sebastopol, Sonoma County

$200 for first time, $100 if repeating within one year

Transformational Coaching

Discovering Your Joy and Purpose with Creative Exploration
I am really excited to offer a new variation to life coaching where we work with the expanded intelligence of our creativity to discover our heart’s desire. Take a couple of minutes and imagine the life you would be living if you really could have anything you want. Imagine that you are living from your full potential and that all is possible. Where would you be living, what would you be doing, who would you be with, and what contribution would you be making to the world. Then consider where you are now in your life, what’s stopping you and imagine trying to get where you want to go all on your own. If going it alone feels like too much of a stretch or you have no idea where to start you might want to consider coaching. We also work with tools that work with the belief systems that get in the way. For life coaching I am offering a free 20 minute consult to see if coaching is right for you. For more information on a special offer visit www.creativitygoeswild.com/ life-coaching/

For more detailed information on all my offerings check web site at www.creativitygoeswild.com or call Suzanne Murray at 707.360.7776 or email suzmurr@yahoo.com. Also check out my Blog at www.creativitygoeswild.com/ blog for ideas on writing, creativity and life coaching.  Follow me on Twitter at wildcreativity where I tweet inspirational quotes for creativity and life.

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Doing dishes

Last week the opening latch on my dishwasher, which has always been difficult, finally went kaput, and just won’t close the dishwasher at all.

We have a call into the repair man, but in the meantime…I have returned to the sink, doing the dishes the old fashioned way — by hand!

I fill the sinks with sparkly hot water, a wash side and a rinse side; submerge my hands and the dishes in the bubbly suds and dunk them for a rinse, then up on the drying towel. I finish the toweling and return the items to the cupboard.

While I am doing this, my thoughts drift back to childhood where it was an “after-dinner” requirement to share the dish washing with my brothers. Today, I put on a favorite CD and the music reminds me of certain times, certain places in my life. Hint: most of my CD’s are, shall we say, “aged”. Other than Justin Bieber, I don’t know the favs of my grandchildren’s generation.

I also pray, in particular right now, for some very large needs of safety and health for a niece and nephew’s family.

I hear bits and pieces of the TV, and interrupt Tom with his TV ears, with “what did they just say?”

But I am also quiet some of the time. And I become centered with the swirling of the dish water and gentle motion. I’m not in a hurry mode in life these days so washing dishes does not make me out of sorts for the other parts of my day.

Practicing the Presence is one of my prayer practices that dates all the way back to Brother Lawrence many centuries ago….he loved finding God in his  monastery kitchen and at the sink.  I am reading “You Are Here” now by Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, and like walking meditation, he too sings the praises of mindfulness at the kitchen sink.

Father Jim got back from his thirty day silent “self-directed” retreat at a Benedictine monastery and he told us before Mass this morning how it went. He had so looked forward to it and planned it out. He said he had missed us and was glad to be back. But he had a young priest (I didn’t know they made them that young anymore!) subbing for him today.

Here is how his retreat went: He arrived with a toothache and by nightfall of his first day there, he found himself in a dentist chair getting an extraction. The next morning, he awoke with scabs and a rash all over his face.  It was discovered to be Shingles.

The third day, the head of the monastery pulled him aside and said, he knew that Fr. Jim did not want him to direct his retreat, and that it was obvious that he, himself as he had wished to, was not directing his retreat; he said he thought it best that Fr. Jim just go along with what God seemed to have in mind for him.

So he said he did. He said he had marvelous, close experiences of the presence of God, which he could probably not put into words. But then he cautioned us that we didn’t need to go off to any monastery to find God — we could find him right where we were in our daily life — any time, any day, anywhere.

That’s what I’m doing right now.  I’m doing the dishes.

I’m finding God.

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Buscia’s Stuffed Cabbage Rolls – Gtompki

June 17, 2011 by napkinwriter | Edit

(I am reposting this popular post from 2011; it gets reads every single week, if not everyday — that’s one reason; the second is I am actually hungry for them and I don’t have cabbage in the house — short trip to Meijer’s tomorrow.)

Tom’s Polish mother, our children’s “Buscia” taught me the art of stuffed cabbage making ( gtompki, pronounced Goo-ump-ki). It was a mainstay at their table, served along with mashed potatoes, mushy overcooked frozen green beans, a dessert and lots of love. Her Polish culinary perfection and years of experience created the to-die-for traditional meal.

She and her sister-in-law, Aunt Margaret, made hundreds of these for church affairs of all sorts, funerals, celebration get-togethers, and I think occasionally for Bingo outings, her main source of entertainment.  As a young helper in the kitchen at the Manistee hospital, she always did special things, within the dietary limits, of the patients, and they got to like it when Frances was in the kitchen. She received notes from patients back on the trays.

I had never had a stuffed cabbage before I got married. I can’t believe Tom’s mother didn’t serve that for dinner at least once during the time we were engaged. But when I tasted my first one, I knew I had never had one before.

I remember the first gtompki I had was after Tom’s family visited us all the way from Michigan to our new apartment home in Kentucky. She brought a frozen package with her which I promptly stuck in the freezer and forgot about. In all the years we’ve been married, Tom has rarely suggested the menu for dinner. But after a few weeks went by and he hadn’t seen the cabbage rolls served, he asked about them.

I asked how to prepare them  and he said just be sure they are really warmed up and serve mashed potatoes with them. Walah! I love tomato based foods anyway, but this was the B E S T!

I asked for the recipe promptly. But this is one of those things where the written recipe just doesn’t get it. Making gtompki, over the years, became a process of putting the food together, and letting the mixture of memories of a lifetime float through your recollection. Love seasons the dish as you set the rolls covered in tomato sauce and pieces and slide it into the oven.

At the beginning of my cooking career, I did not even know what “steam the cabbage leaves” meant on her recipe. My first attempts did not produce a replica of Tom’s mother’s wonderful feast. The next time back North, I w a t c h e d   her  from beginning to end, hearing many family stories and lots of laughter during the process.  I watched and listened as her experienced hands and fingers tucked each cabbage roll in what seemed like a loving home to her within her pot.

I became very successful in making this dish and having the whole family love it. It was not long before mom was delighted in tasting my cabbage rolls and encouraging me with her accolades.

Last week, our daughter had a major surgery in the hospital. On the day of her discharge, I asked her what she had ordered for lunch –I lifted the cover of her served meal tray and there was a moist, steaming gtompki – cabbage roll. Seems mom was directing the kitchen menu from heaven above for her granddaughter.

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The Gates of Heaven

Gates of Heaven

This is the joke I heard in the women’s locker room yesterday. It’s clean.

A man and woman had been married over forty-five years. For the most part, they had a rough time of it and just didn’t get along very well. Fought about things all the time. But they stuck it out in something which certainly could not be called marital bliss.

One day, after all this time, the woman died. She went to heaven and met St. Peter at the Pearly Gates. “Can I come in?” she asked.  “Well, yes,” replied the gatekeeper angel, “but first you have to spell something.”

“Ok,” she said. “What is it?

Love — said St Peter.

“L – O – V – E.”

“That’s right,” the angel said, “Come right on in.”

She stepped into heaven, took her first long look around, when St. Peter tapped her on the shoulder and asked, “Can you do me a favor and watch the gates for just a short while; I have an errand to run.”

She told St. Peter she wasn’t sure she would know what to do.

He said, “Oh, that’s easy, just wait by the gate and if anyone comes by, just do what I did for you.”

She thought she could handle that so she agreed and St. Peter took off.

When she turned around to the gate, she was surprised to see her husband standing on the other side.

“Oh hi,” she said. “What are you doing here?”

“Well, I had a nice funeral and all for you and after it was all over, I was really tired and I just went home and went to bed,” he replied. “Then, I guess I must have died in my sleep, and here I am.”

“Can I come in?”

“Well, I guess you can,” she said. “But first you have to spell a word.”

“Ok, what is it?”


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