Archive for January, 2017


Yesterday afternoon, Saturday January 21, many young women high school age, joined their boy classmates and made their beautiful VOICES HEARD. They all did this through their focus on how music is important to them in expressing themselves, giving great joy to the filled auditorium audience. They used their passion and desire and practice to compete to the state level of performance. They were led by two women directors and one male director, whose passion for the performance and sound of music in our world, is uncompromised. Their conductance of the choirs electrified through their bodies out the tip of their fingers. The sounds, movements and exhuberance for the songs selected came forth from the students; songs they loved performing with historical and spiritual backgrounds. Perhaps music is the true unifier among us.




It was another amazing State Honors Choir Performance with Andrew in the SATB Honors Choir at DeVos Performance Hall in Grand Rapids. Such a wonder to be in the audience and see hundreds and hundreds of high school boys and girls excelling in music and life.Thanks to the parents and professionals that support this going forward. Music rocks the soul and these performances are proof of that.



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I got as far as the letter B, before I lapsed into a time away from Napkinwriter. Many things afoot prevented my best intentions to get back to this post and write about the letter C.

Then what happens is so many C’s caught my imagination and begged for a showing….

choice,   courage,    Consciousness,    curiosity,    companions and more.  Oh my, to choose just one, I think not so I will give several a go.

zentangle-cI have chosen Zentangle art for fun.

CHOICE,  such a short word, such large CONSEQUENCES.  Ones we like or ones with which we suffer. Life is a conglomeration of choices. We have more than we think many times. We have choices between good and more good. We have choices that pan out about the same as in win-win situations.  We have choices made in a split second that are choices between good and very much not so good, harmful in fact.  We are always making choices and the choices we make at any given time are our total responsibility.  I am responsible, not for others, but totally for myself; the choices I make toward healthy being, spiritual being, intelligent and educated being, family and friend being, financial being, and the being I am as I relate to my world and environment.  We cannot know the full outcomes of our choices, they will come in time. We cannot control (ah, another C word) the results of our choices, but we do have to live with them. Choices, sometimes, are made on intuition –that often takes the next word…..

COURAGE — fire-c

Sometimes, we are tested by the fire. I don’t know many people who have not been. Courage is needed in life for the big things and small things.  We often take on responsibilities that require so much courage, that we wonder how we didn’t back down for them.  I believe there is a spirit of courage within us and scripture confirms “I have not given you a spirit of fear, but one of courage!!”   In me, I have always recognized a bit of the Wizard of Oz’  lion.  He was not aware of his own powerful roar, and he could always see the things he, perhaps, should have been afraid of, and whimper about them, but a deeper call forced him to recognize the fears and do what he had to do anyway.  I have done a lot of that in my life.  And I am still here to tell about it. I believe that fiery spirit within is the Holy Spirit and it helps us overcome the fears with the sweet gifts and fruits of the Spirit….love, mercy, kindness, patience, fortitude…. It is the same Spirit that runs through the Spirit of the Universe and holds us on evolutionary course, the course we must cooperate with.

c-practice-printingI always enjoyed the time we spent in elementary school with printing and cursive writing.


I want to learn Japanese kanji writing and Calligraphy. Both of those would take lots of new practice but I love the flow and peaceful appearance they both give. I have the rice paper and some ink supplies in my bookcase supplies and I hope I will get  ’roundto-it.  In elementary school, practicing printing and cursive writing was one of my favourite times. I loved seeing the cursive letters posted at the front of each classroom. Now, with the advent of all the electronic gadgets, I hear cursive is going by the wayside.  Who has not been surprised and gratifies by the arrival of an unexpected hand-written note, on no special occasion, that some loved one has written to them — and even better yet one that comes from a stranger to convey a thanks for some way that you helped them which you barely recognized. No computer board, typewriter nor word processor can produce the heart-felt sincerity of the writer, nor the gracious reception of it by the addressee.  It’s true, the elder generation is the keeper of notes and handwritten letters, until at long last they are put away by family after one’s passing; yet they held their value and vibration over long spans of time.  Texts disappear in an instant.


The C word I initially thought would have solitary spotlight for this post was CONSCIOUSNESS.


But Consciousness is too large a topic to write about here.  Yet, I can CONNECT it to two other words: choice and courage.   We learn, we grow.  “If I had known then, what I know now…..”  What? Everyone has a story that follows that thought. But that is what life is……”if I had known better, I would have done better”.  If I know better NOW, I must do better. Consciousness is alive and it moves in us.  We continually see things in a new and expanding way. We must use judgment and discernment throughout life, without being too judgmental about “how I used to be.”  A growing Consciousness begins to illuminate the individual relationship to the group relationships of the world.”  We are never alone, and yet we are all One.  Growing Consciousness leads us to thoughts and actions of love and never sees self or other as “less than.”  Growing Consciousness is filled with  “aha” moments and a better ability to listen actively and quietly to self and others.  It dispels the myth that for me to win, others must lose.  Actions to alleviate injustices to others, social and otherwise, are based not in the desire to hurt and discredit others, but in efforts, both humane and purposeful, to obtain healthy and orderly outcomes. There are people working toward these ends now, with these base purposes and you don’t hear much about them. Riots and protests are the candy of the media. The people, held out of the spotlight, are amazingly called “light workers.” I am one of them.

My COUNTRY  ’tis of thee
sweet land of liberty…


On this January 18, 2017, the eve of the Inauguration of the 45th President of the United States of America, we, as a people, are far, far from the spirit of the songs that point to the glory and spirit of our country. Indeed, the blessings of this country, founded in democracy.  People want different things.  People want to blame. People want to hate. People do NOT WANT to have discourse nor dialogue. They want to argue. They want to accuse. They want to be RIGHT and want you to be WRONG.

There is danger on all sides because of the way we are. It is not a Democratic danger nor a Republican danger. It is a type of danger that has crossed the line….some line…..and we are not sure even WHAT that line is. The danger is power-based and reason-deficient. We don’t look like America anymore because we cannot allow dissent to exist peaceable within our democracy. We are allowing dissent to become corrupt smearing of people and issues.

Coming out of the post office today, a older gentleman held the door for Tom (with his walking stick and me plodding up the stairs!). We said thank you to him. He smiled and asked, “Well, do you think the man tomorrow will fix some of the problems he says he will?”  We said we hope there will be progress in problem solving and changes for good, but afraid there is a large element working toward his demise.”   He said, yes, even though the vote didn’t go his way, he too, hoped that good could be achieved.

I thought that is the America I know.  A voter wanted someone else to win the election, but now was prepared to accept who he didn’t want to win and hope we would do some good.

I believe in the good in people. I know my country is MORE than a good country. I am greatly blessed to be its citizen. America is beautiful, in its people, its lands, its giving to less fortunate countries and peoples. I bless these good things and understand there is room for more goodness to happen.  I wish we could bless each other and go into the new political arena with a watchful eye and a willing heart to be a united states of America. There are enough checks and balances in place to respond to any of the envisioned tragedies  drummed up in people’s minds before the fact.


“America, America! God shed His grace on thee.
And crown thy good with BROTHERHOOD.
From sea to shining sea.

America! America!
God mend thy every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control
thy liberty in law.


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I feel a nap coming on, so I revert to a post I made five years ago. Today, it is the same, however Tom and I just returned from Panera’s where we enjoyed the comfort food of soup and a pumpkin muffin.  We will enjoy our rest this afternoon.

Winter Warmth

It may not be a good sign that the first four photos I’ve put in my blog picture gallery are images of comfort food! Even my computer is (patched together albeit) exceptionally s-l-o-w, as I begin this day which is predicted to deliver our first major storm of this winter season. Only the second snowfall of any accumulation at mid-date of January, it seems the snow may come anytime now. Today, Friday the 13th would be a great delivery date.

I say this, only because I do not have to go out in it. Tom will soon be returning from an early morning doctor appointment and after I fix him a hot breakfast, I plan to put some order and design in my creative room, waiting patiently for a little attention.

After the snow accumulates, we have the perfect backyard hill for Amy to come over and do her favorite snow activity — sledding and going fast.

Which brings me to hot chocolate. That’s what we will fix when we return inside, complete with large size gooey marshmellows and all. Actually Amy likes to help me fix it, but then she prefers to drink her apple juice.

I, on the other hand, would like nothing better than a cup of hot chocolate that tasted like it did when I was a frosty-nose, ice frozen kid thawing from the inside out after a long romp in the snow. But I can’t get it. It is one of the three foods/drinks I don’t think can possibly taste as good as they as they did when my mother made them for me.

And the best of all oatmeal treats was the oatmeal mom made on the wood stove on the old farm in Wisconsin. On the “Make Three Wishes” list, that would be one — to eat, just one more time, oatmeal that tasted like it came from mom and the wood stove.  And our afternoon cocoa, simmering with a thin milk film you’d skim from the top.

Now a perfect day would be topped off with mom’s baked macaroni and cheese casserole — milky, creamy smooth and I was always ready to beat out my brothers in portion size. I saw a Martha Stewart picture and recipe of old fashioned macaroni and cheese, but I think it might be a very cold day in …….somewhere else…..before I’d go through the toil and trouble to produce it

Some may suggest that my nostalgia has affected my taste buds and that there really is no difference. I will step up to the blind-folded taste test and be able to tell the difference.

The difference is they all used to taste……well, better.

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donna-knutson-91-year-old-motherMother Evie and Donna Knutson

I gift my friends and readers today with this guest blog. It was actually an entry Donna made on her Facebook page.  When I read it, I paused in appreciation, both of the photo and the text of this story and the beauty of this encounter between mother and daughter.  Napkinwriter


From Donna:   News on Grandma Evie… grandchildren , nieces, nephews and friends who love my 91 year old mom up in Fargo:

So I said to my mom, ” I brought pizza and we are going to try selfies!” which makes her laugh. Then I asked her what was beautiful to her in the world. She talks about her favorite nurse at Bethany Retirement Living. How Gail puts the craziest nail polish on her nails, and tells her about her five dogs, how she stays with her until her pain level gets better again. Gail brushes her 17 year old cat, Timmy.


She wants to know if I’m talking about beautiful faces and I say, “well it’s kind of like that, but you can see their soul shining out. That special place of knowing something about another person that you see within yourself, and you want to be near it.”


We start talking about Audrey Hepburn, and Katherine Hepburn and all the dance movies we grew up watching together. And how women are still moving through barriers…and she looks at me and smiles, ” And you’re going to be a minister.” and I laugh and say, ” Mom, God knew I was always going to be a minister, it just took me a while to catch up !” and she laughs…and then she says,”That’s pretty beautiful !” and I smile, and heal a bit deeper inside of me.


The last thing she tells me before I leave is that someday she is not going to be in pain anymore and that will be alright with her. And, I say, that will be alright with me too, Mom.



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Appreciation is under-appreciated.  It is a practice that we can bring into our daily lives with a constancy that defies gravity!

In an effort to remain true to writing on a regular basis in Napkinwriter during 2017 with no long lapses, I have decided to commit to two entries per week based on the alphabet.  Other entries will be as inspiration leads.

Today’s letter is A.  The word is appreciation.

I appreciate whenever the red cardinal and his charming female mate make an appearance on our back deck or the labyrinth entrance arch.  I appreciate the feel of a cold snowflake touching the skin on my face and I appreciate the warmth I feel in my house on a cold, snowy day.

I have noticed for a long time that people who live with visible evidence of appreciating their lives, no matter what circumstances seem to be up, are genuinely happy people.  It is a motivator and reminder for me to follow suit.

I appreciate coincidences and serendipity that appear before me and remind me that I am not as much in control of my situations as I tend to think I am.  Appreciation helps me relax into the Big Picture with some degree of trust that things will work out as they should.

I appreciate my senses: sight, and all that is before me to see, and for the ability to read and write; touch of the soft baby’s skin and the embrace of a loved one; hearing, that I may speak and hear others with clarity; taste, yes yum and hooray for the taste buds;  and the sense of smell brings gratitude for baking cinnamon buns.

Stop and smell the roses!  The senses are the gateway to so many appreciative treasures in the moment, if all moments are not spent in the fast lane.

The practices of meditation, Centering Prayer, and Yoga  amplify the blessings that appreciation bring into my life. Like an amplifier for the day, when night time falls and another precious slot of time allotted me on planet Earth has passed by never to return again, I am at peace and made whole when appreciation has colored my day — honored.


Some of the people and things I appreciate

beautiful-moonour moon and galaxy



img_6680my husband and family

labyrinth cardinalsthe birds that visit our feeders and deck

backyard sunsetthe sunsets

Fireworks behind statue of liberty

our liberty and country


vigin_mary_rosarymy faith & family help from Mary

Chartres Labyrinthmy trainings & experiences in labyrinth and SoulCollage

Chartres CathedralChartres Cathedral Labyrinth Retreat


IMG_1837Catherine Anderson

IMG_4284our backyard labyrinth

IMG_2587my wondrous trip in the Alps with Martha

souljourner - atLarge frontmy work and service


IMG_5398my help from my guardian angels

No Matter the weather

Butterfly House gorgeous lilies

It’s hard to stop. I could go on and on. Through our travels on our Earthly pilgrim path,  I have at times not known the ultimate destination, or thought I had found it, only to be moved along on a path accompanied by Tom and to my best discernment, designed by God. Always, when uncertain of means of provision, the lilies appeared reminding me that “they neither toil nor spin.”

I appreciate that.

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Napkinwriter is wishing my readers, family members and friends NEWNESS in your day……exciting STARTS in creativity, spirituality, kindness and wondrous living in your lives and in our world.   PEACE BE in 2017.


“Start Close In”
by David Whyte

Start close in,
don’t take the second step
or the third,
start with the first
close in,
the step you don’t want to take.

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