Archive for October, 2013


Just for a little Facebook creativity project this month, I chose to take my camera with me on a daily walk and post a daily photo of my mini-journeys and get a little exercise as well. Today’s walk was on my backyard labyrinth. A pretty simple walk and not a great distance. This was perfect as I am recovering from a cold and I don’t feel all that peppy.

I paused as I entered the quiet walking path. I always enjoy the circular rungs formed by the bricks that Tom so carefully designed this summer.  As I began to walk the path in toward the center, a song started playing on my Itunes station (inner playing system, not the electronic version).  “I Love to Tell the Story” a sacred hymn we sang a lot back in the year 2000 – the Catholic Church Jubilee celebration.  I went on pilgrimages that year to Rome, Chartres France and to the Encuentro Multi-Culture Celebration in Los Angeles and it seems that is when we sang it a lot.

Actually, I don’t really remember if it was “tell” the story or “hear” the story, but it continued like “tell the story”  as I continued around the circuits of the labyrinth. So I will tell the story of my walk today.


A labyrinth walk is a pilgrimage in a way, but not like the ones I mentioned above which involved all the intricacies of flight reservations, packing, meeting strangers along the way, being in and out of different time zones. It is just a common, ordinary walk on a common, ordinary day. It can bring calm and balance to your spirit. It can provide a space for an answer “to appear” to a question you’ve been pondering. It can be the aisle of a church for reflection and prayer needs.  It looks like just brick and grass. But that is deceiving.


I was wearing Tom’s shoes. Perhaps that made me aware of blessings of healings to offer for him as he recovers from his recent skin cancer operations. I didn’t know that particular song was going to pop into my head (and play loudly, I might add). It might have had something to do with my earlier morning writing and prayer as I develop some writing programs to offer to the senior population of our world.

I had just experienced a “Spirit-Wink” when I came across a short E-course that looks like it would support my beginning curriculum for my course. I call it a Spirit-Wink because I just happened upon the information while looking for something else. So — you know — it just happened….yeah, and it felt just perfect, like I was really looking for it. That’s how I get help.  And I love to help a person find the extraordinary in what she thinks is her ordinary life and write about it.


I am making a decision about taking this course. The fee is a modest amount and I just have to be willing to put in the work, which I actually was not looking for.  I continue to walk and I think the decision has been made. It was put on my path, the one I am currently on.

I see three stones on three different circuits. It makes me laugh as I remember my granddaughter Amy and her friend Logan who often play, run, skip and jump on this labyrinth. I like to build small cairnes (stone stacks) along the labyrinth when I am on it. It occurs to me, the children also like to play games with these stones and they are in these places for their own particular reasons. Maybe tomorrow, I will restack my cairn. Today, I just walk.


Soon, I encounter a small obstacle on my path. Today, it looks small to me, but I am reminded just how large I can sometimes choose to make a small obstacle.


Perhaps it is a matter of perspective, choice, desire and surrender?  Maybe some or all?

Things are not always neat and tidy in life, not in my life, and I assume for the most part, not in others’ lives as well. There is a purpose to be served in the existence of imperfection and chaos. They are the ingredients of transformation. I greet the grass that has sprouted up between the bricks.


A playful grasshopper sprints and jumps upon the brick path and grass, hardly ever staying in one spot long enough for my camera to focus upon him. Now who does that remind me of? I’ve been one who has lots of things going on, many sticks in the fire, and a candle burning at both ends. That was then. This is now…..admittedly a slower pace with the glory of multi-tasking permanently filed away.


I reach the center. I have walked the path into the center, focusing on just the next step ahead. I trust the path. I know it brings me inward — to the center. I understand that, once I agree to walk the path, I will not be stopped, tricked or betrayed into a blocked pathway. It may at times seem that I am close to and entering the center, then it swings me away to a far sweeping perimeter path, perhaps to the other side of the labyrinth. I continue. This is a living metaphor of all that happens in a human life:  Thinking I’m close, no, I am not there yet. Taking a longer, circular path, not a “straight shot” efficient line to the goal….well, there’s a thought. I just walk the path.


As I start back out of the center of the labyrinth, my mind falls upon the desert and green lands of life as I’ve lived it. They are each a reality. But each time the experience of desert existed in my life, I was led to the green pastures once again.  Our labyrinth grass path reminds me of this spiritual truth as part of it was killed in preparation for the stones to be laid in the path. The stones will come in the spring.  The path will have a new texture, just as life always does.


Leaving center and returning on the path out of the labyrinth symbolizes my walk back into my “today” life. I’ve received a lot from my labyrinth pilgrimage today without even going through a security check.

I return to the things at hand. Back to my writer’s table. Back to preparing for more work. Back to getting dinner cooking in the oven. Back to feeling grateful for my gift of life.

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Kathleen - in charge of Jesus Christ Superstar

Jesus Christ Superstar, Music Pit Band Director

How does a teacher become a student’s hero? Maybe by being true to her passion for music and being “a player” in the magnificent meaning it has in anyone’s life. Maybe by doing her job and taking charge of being an inspiration to youth in her classrooms. Maybe by helping students see past the notes on their music sheets to feeling how it helps them live their own life more happily and meaningfully.  Maybe by playing with them.

I think our daughter does all these things as a classroom teacher, a music director of youth and adult theater, and a performance artist herself. They all count toward enriching young lives and giving parents, grandparents and general audiences a fresh, new appreciative look at their young ones.

not far from momMother and Daughter Together

One of Kathleen’s eighth grade students recently told her, “You know you are my hero, don’t you?” Then the student told her that she had chosen her music teacher as the subject of an essay. The class wrote about their Michigan Hero. Brittany, the student, chose Kathleen.  She later showed her writing to Kathleen.

Her lead paragraph began,

“Have you ever been too shy or not really sure about doing something new? I was when I began 5th grade; we were learning how to play an instrument. I wasn’t really sure if I was going to be any good at it, so I was a little scared. Then I met Mrs. Warriner and she changed my life…”

Kathleen has charge of the total music program of a small town school from 5th grade up through the high school chorus and band. She is in the midst of changing the way the students and the parents think of music as an integral  and rewarding part of their life.  Listen further to Brittney’s writing:

I started to get the hang of the clarinet and was starting to like it. I liked the way the clarinet sounded and I felt good about being able to do something else in my life. Mrs. Warriner taught me to express myself and not to be afraid to try new things. I learned that you need to be positive about things that I am about to try or I will never succeed in life.”

To me, it seems like there is more than music going on here. In her own career, Kathleen faced challenges of balancing her love and passion and pursuit of music with “stuff” that just comes up and needs to be handled. If questions of purpose arose, she always fought on the side of music performance and education being the seed of her purpose, both for herself and in giving it to the world. She returned to school and obtained her Masters. She continued to look, change what needed to and could be changed, and find the music settings where she could continue to inspire and make a difference.

Her student identified with her. “I found out that Mrs. Warriner is like me in some ways. We listen to some of the same music. We are both funny at times….she talks to herself or makes up random words for things.” Kathleen liked that last part.

Kathleen - CMU Marching BandKathleen in the CMU Marching Chippewa Band

Ramana leads us in

In the Old Days, we couldn’t get close enough to the band.

Mom the musicianMom, the Musician

Kathleen built music right into and around her own family structure. Her daughter and son are top performers in chorus and instrument. Kathleen marched in her college band and her daughter, Devon, is doing that right now at her alumnus, Central Michigan University.  As Kathleen’s parents, Tom and I have enjoyed countless years attending performances of every kind from community 4th of July concerts, to high school and college marching, to professional theater. In the pit band, or behind the sound mike, Kathleen “pulls all the strings” for harmony at its best.

 JCS - Pit Band Member directed by mom

IMG_3009Mom, Kathleen, playing at CMU Homecoming with daughter, Devon, with saxaphone

Now there is not a pay grade high enough for any teacher who can instill self-belief in a child at this young age. I don’t remember Self-Belief being offered as an Education Methods class in my own college major. But along with her clarinet case, where ever this student travels, she carries the knowledge of how to compose the most important things in life for herself — stemming from this experience of music.

Kathleen has fun with her students and looks for ways to BE fun with them; she gets them gigs as the pep band in nearby college settings, stirs things up in band camp, and keeps them guessing, never knowing what to expect from Ms. Warriner today. Amy, our six year old granddaughter, is learning piano. One of her songs talks about the teacher’s name being “Mrs. Razzle-Dazzle.”  Maybe that name got coined from peeking in Kathleen’s classroom. She fits the bill.

Kathleen’s student, Brittany concludes her essay with: “I now play in the high school band even though I am in 8th grade. She has taught me to believe in myself….”

Belief in self — that’s a lot to achieve from getting acquainted with the Middle C note through an inspiring and sometimes funny teacher.

Love of Music

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Turtle closeup

Well, I had to take action. I had to do something. This “retired” stuff gives me too many choices. To do or not to do, that is too often the question.

So many things, I don’t have to do. Only if I choose. Many more things, I can do….only I can do them….later!  Or not.

It was coming to the point, I couldn’t tell if I am retired or refired. I have lots of energy and way too many things I want to do. Oh the choices. Then there are some things I still really need to do. They should fit in somewhere, sometime, someday, probably now or maybe later.

There are brisk, brief episodes of pure productivity. Then I have intermittent “sit-a-spell” moments, that turn into hours. And when is the right time to do all the reading I love to do? The writing I must do?

Facebook and blog time are in a category all by themselves. I allot them short times throughout the day, yet often get up with a bum feeling “bum” for having overstayed my welcome in the computer chair. One thing just seems to lead to another, click, click, click.

So the action I took over a week ago was to (ye gods!) institute a schedule on my day once again. Do you remember the sing-song from Hide ‘n Seek,  “Ready or not, here I come” ?

That’s what a scheduled life feels like to me now. My schedule is not like my old time Planner, I carried for too many years, with appointments and reminders stuffed in every little space available. No, my “Retired AND Refired” schedule has lots of spaces available in it and a gentle list of “what’s up” noted in some generous time parameters.  And my critical voice within has settled down quite a bit and seems to go with the flow with much less opinionated, negative self-worth jabs freely offered. For this, I am grateful.

So my schedule is not shouting at me…..It is just more of a check-in for me to hit the major stuff. And it is flexible, after all…a gal can always change her mind. Also, no staff meetings are involved, whew!

And I can always write the words,  play…, walk…, or your choice!… on any of the lines for the day. That seems ok.

One thing that changed my way of life (or what it had become) with this schedule is that I don’t give myself free choice to sleep in. I get up by an alarm clock at the specified earlier time before breakfast preparation time for my quiet time soul writing and contemplative prayer.

This I love, rather than dread, as I thought I would.

My first prayer greeting of the day is, “Good Morning, Spirit! What are WE going to do today?”

Now, I ask you, how do you schedule a day like that! There are always spontaneous surprises. But two weeks into this, I am loving it.

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Softening and Yielding – I’ve always resonated with the lyrics of “On Eagle’s Wings” and many years ago thought one day I would commission an artist to create an image of, “I will raise you up on Eagle’s wings, fly you to the breath of dawn….”
Then I took one of my first water color classes; the leader formatted the class in a very contemplative style, starting with searching questions and a time in quiet before we came to our canvass. I felt very stiff and threatened about “letting go” with wash technique and the salt speckle effect, and just chose colors I love and “yielded” to what, I do not know. Instructor came by and mentioned, “sorta cosmic”. It was then I saw the pink profile of the Eagle with spread wings on the breath of dawn. Do you see her?
So I yielded, became my own artist and framed my watercolor which has hung in my creative/sacred room for over twenty years now.


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Venus Rising Tonight

The change of seasons has painted a palet of more than pleasing sky and landscapes during September and October. The dangers of texting have been more than pointed out — they have been ticketed as an illegal activity to do while driving. Lately, I’ve been thinking the distractions of the autumnal changes are at least as dangerous to this driver as she tries to keep her eyes and attention on the road. There are just so many other visuals calling my name. I need to be the rider, not the driver.


While I may not be out on an official photography “shoot”, I bump into many regrets often when I have left my camera behind.

Misty Morning - Christine (Disney)

This photo was not taken by me , Christine DeCaesare was overpowered by the early Michigan morning view, having returned “home” after living many years in California. She shared this photo on Facebook and we are fortunate she took this majestic image. Do we not love the Earth we live on!

Morning glory
Linda Wilson, in Austin Texas also often shares her walk in her flower gardens with me. They are a melodious symphony all on their own.


Lake Michigan is surely part of Pure Michigan. Tom and I celebrated our 48th anniversary with a lunch in South Haven and a leisurely walk on the pier, watching one of the famed Tall Ships (this one from England) depart from the channel.



This just spells A D V E N T U R E, pirates or not.


Brenda Horton shares phenomenal photography at her blog,  bree1972.wordpress.com/‎ and stories galore of her and husband Ted’s daily life on Mackinac Island, the island where they have owned a condo for many years.  Her gorgeous golden, Bear and his companion Maddie have quite the life too, splitting time between Georgia and the vacationland northern Michigan island.


I took lots of photos on my 12 day tour through the European Alps and the countries of Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy and Liechenstein. I think about 1,500 in all. Again, no lack of inspiration and gazing from along paths we traveled or inside the bus as we traversed great distances. Oh, how I loved capturing so many moments through my lens. Pictures are worth a thousand words.



IMG_0800Childrens Festival in Innsbruck

IMG_0755Coming down from high, high places – Zugspitze

But I also take my camera out into my own back yard for simple walks, and there is beauty everywhere just waiting to be seen.

10-10--13 Labyrinth leaf trailDeck Petunias 2013

Turtle closeup

Welcome visitors and views of neighboring borders and sunsets.

Turtle from deck


aug 30


10-10-13 Fallen Leaf's shining glory

Now, I will just step out my front door and show you what awaits my camera there.


A hot air balloon floats overhead and lands nearby.



A rainbow graces the early evening sky.

IMG_2276 Floral arrangements mark the changing seasons.

Sept 2013

And the perfect pumpkin arrives to greet our fall visitors.

Perfect Pumpkin

My camera and I are one — I find many ways to mix words and photos to inspire myself and others. Behind the camera I am “somewhat out of time” yet definitely in the moment, united with the image I am focusing upon. I was blessed to have been a feature photographer for many of my professional writing years. But I have been a photographer at heart since the seventh grade, when I received one of the two greatest gifts ever — a box Kodak Brownie Hawkeye camera with one of those stinky flash bulbs. I started recording right then my life, family and friends in black and white from elementary school age, into the age of color, through the Poloroid era, into the professional cameras and then into  digital.

Not an expert, but enough of a fan to have an awful lot of fun and a ton of moments wrapped up in image making and story telling. Somewhere deep within me is the DNA of photojournalism and I love it.

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