Peace on Earth

>> Friday, November 30, 2007

The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the universe dwells the Great Spirit, and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us.

-- Black Elk (1863-1950)


My heart took a picture

>> Tuesday, November 27, 2007

There's a new family in our cul de sac. They moved in a few months ago with their loads of bright plastic Little Tikes outdoor toys, trikes, wagons, and picnic tables. The family consists of a very nice young couple and two small children, a girl probably around three years old, and a little boy who is no more than a toddler. The dad is the one who stays at home with the kids while the mom works. They're a precious family, and on nice days one can often find the dad outside with the children while they ride around in their little peddle cars, and pull their brightly colored plastic wagons through the cul de sac.

Last night, as I was walking out to the car to leave for Chamber Singers rehearsal, I was met with a sight that was worthy of a Norman Rockwell painting. Like our family, they decorated their home for Christmas over the weekend, and their brightly lit tree sat in the front window of the house. As I looked over towards the end of the cul de sac, I could see the children through the window, all dressed in their pajamas, excitedly dancing around the tree, looks of glee shining as bright as the tree lights, upon their faces. The little girl pointed at several different places on the tree, and then jumped up and down and clapped, while the little boy stood and watched, seemingly mesmerized by the glow.

As I stood and gazed into their living room, I was caught up in the children's excitement, and I heard myself giggle out loud, my whole being warmed by their joy and youthful enthusiasm, and for a moment, I was a child again. I felt for just one instance, what those children felt, and remembered those Christmases, years ago, when I was a child with my family, and my heart took a picture.


Doing the family Christmas tree thing

>> Sunday, November 25, 2007

Last night our family got together for another one of our traditions: decorating the Christmas tree. I prepare a spread of party food, snacks, and egg nog, (known around here as "Schnoglagers"), while Steph goes into the garage and drags in the multitudes of boxes containing all of the Christmas decorations we have accumulated over the years, and Joel and Micah drag in the huge box containing the seven-foot artificial tree, (that you have to get right up on to tell that it isn't real). After seven years, Joel has really boiled this putting-up-the-tree-and-putting-on-the-lights thing down to a science, so we all just sit back and watch the master while he works. As he does that, I open all the boxes containing the decorations and start taking each ornament out of its box/wrapping, and placing hooks on them. After Joel finishes putting the tree together and putting on the lights, this is the point where everyone is supposed to dive in and start putting the ornaments on the tree. However, it seems that we've all become a household of supervisors rather than doers, (actually I think the more correct term would be "lazy-asses"), and we fight amongst each other over who is actually going to get up off their butts and do it.

While all of this is going on, we're listening to our favorite Christmas music on the CD player--"Not Bing & Friends", "A Rat Pack Christmas", Steph's collection of the Beatles annual Christmas greetings, (featuring the Beatles at their very weirdest), Michael Kelly singing "Joy to the World", and of course, The Vienna Boy's Choir singing traditional Austrian Carols in Viennese German and The Twelve Days of Christmas in really bad English.

Last night was, as usual, fun, heart-warming, and enjoyable, BUT, we were missing someone very important and it just wasn't the same without her. Several times we mentioned her and how much she loved doing this every year, and that if she were here, she would be moving all the ornaments around until they were just perfect. We miss her laughter, and her warmth. It just isn't complete without her. And despite the fact that she will be spending Christmas with her host family in France this year, we have still placed her stocking in the family row on the fireplace mantle, along with everyone else's.

We miss you, Lauren, and we love you.


I'm dreaming of a Viennese Christmas

>> Saturday, November 24, 2007

Next year I'll be celebrating Christmas in my home in Vienna!


And now for something completely different...

>> Friday, November 23, 2007

I found this meme on Steph's blog, so I decided to have some fun with it!

8 Things I Am Passionate About:
1. Music
2. Mozart
3. Steph
4. My family
5. Singing/Acting
6. Teaching
7. History
8. Learning

8 Things I Want To Do Before I Die:
1. Live in Vienna
2. Write a book about Nancy Storace
3. Study voice in Vienna
4. Travel through all of Europe
5. Travel through New England (The only part of the continental U.S. I've not seen)
6. See Steph's screenplay on the Big Screen
7. See an opera at the Met
8. See all three of my kids happy and successful

8 Things I Say Often:
1. "That is so cool!"
2. "I love you."
3. "Damn cat!"
4. "No shit!"
5. "Keep that vowel forward!"
6. "You need more height in the soft palate."
7. "Where are my shoes?"
8. "It's Project Runway night!"

8 Books I’ve Read Recently:
1. Mozart: A Cultural Biography, by Robert W. Gutman, (still reading that one)
2. The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne
3. The Law of Attraction, by Esther Hicks
4. Travel books about Austria
5. Anna Susanna: Anna Storace, Mozart's Original Susanna, by Geoffrey Brace (an ongoing reference)
6. Mozart and His Circle by Peter Clive (an ongoing reference)

8 Songs I Could Listen To Over & Over:
1. "Laudate Dominum" from Solemn Vespers, by Mozart
2. "So in Love" from Kiss Me Kate, by Cole Porter
3. "Lascia ch'io pianga" by Handel
4. "Ruhe sanft mein holdes leben", from Zaide, by Mozart
5. "Du bist die Ruh" by Franz Schubert
6. "Kyrie", from The Great C minor Mass, by Mozart
7. "Dream a Little Dream of Me", by Mama Cass
8. Any soft ballad sung by Rosemary Clooney

8 Things That Attract Me To My Best Friends:
1. Their sense of humor
2. Their loyalty
3. Their openness to new people and ideas
4. Their intelligence
5. Their ability to think outside the box
6. Their openness to displays of affection
7. Their creativity
8. Their ability to be spontaneous

8 Things (or more) That I am Thankful For This Year:
1. Steph
2. My family
3. My friends
4. My job
5. Steph's uncle
6. Our lawyer
7. Jaeson
8. Our home
9. My brother
10. The Stillwater Chamber Singers
11. Chanel No. 5
12. Mozart
13. My students
14. That kid at the bank who was doing his job
15. Life itself


I am grateful

>> Thursday, November 22, 2007

When your feelings of gratitude are conditional upon temporary circumstances like your stuff, your job, and your relationships, your base identity doesn’t change. But when you root your gratitude in something permanent, it becomes a permanent part of you. Instead of saying, “I am grateful for…” you just say, “I am grateful.”

--Steve Pavlina


The Grammar of Gratitude

>> Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The spiritual practice of gratitude has been called a state of mind and a way of life. But we prefer to think of it as a grammar — an underlying structure that helps us construct and make sense out of our lives. The rules of this grammar cover all our activities. Its syntax reveals a system of relationships linking us to the divine and to every other part of the creation.

To learn the grammar of gratitude, practice saying "thank you" for happy and challenging experiences, for people, animals, things, art, memories, dreams. Count your blessings, and praise God. Utter blessings, and express your appreciation to everything and everyone you encounter. By blessing, we are blessed.


Count Your Blessings


Hugs, Viennese style

>> Sunday, November 18, 2007


You shall go out with joy!

>> Saturday, November 17, 2007

For you shall go out in joy, and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. — Isaiah 55:12


The Winds of Change

The past two-and-a-half weeks have seen Steph and me beset with a whirlwind that has brought with it a season of change and transition in our lives, the likes that I've not seen in the nearly eight years since I was divorced. That's not to say that the past eight years have been a piece of cake, by any means, for every year, it seems, has been beset with its triumphs and challenges. It has been an interesting life. However, these past couple of weeks have brought a strange wind, that portends destruction, but rather, in its wake, is leaving the chance for a new start, a new life, and new opportunities.

I had a dream last week that I was sitting on a front porch of a house with my boss from the real estate office where I work. If you know anything about my boss, Grace, you will know that practically nothing alarms her. She's solid as a rock, and seemingly unaffected by anything. As we were sitting together sipping some tea, I looked to my right and about a mile down the road I saw a great, terrible storm cloud. It was black and churning and ominous, and it was coming right towards us. Alarmed, I turned to Grace and exclaimed, "Do you see that? It's coming right towards us!" In typical Grace fashion, she replied, "Awwwh...don't worry about it. We're in Oklahoma. We see stuff like that all the time." I turned towards it again, and it was even closer, and then suddenly a huge tornado fell out of the black cloud, and began consuming everything in its path. Then, suddenly, as it advanced towards us, it broke up into a bunch of smaller tornadoes, that kept coming down the road. What was interesting, however, was that although the tornadoes were consuming everything in their path, what they left behind in the wake was not destruction, but beauty! The sun was shinning, there were lush, green trees, fields full of green grass and flowers, birds singing--a virtual paradise. As the storm came closer and closer and eventually passed us, we were caught up in the wake, but we were never touched nor harmed, but left in peace, surrounded by all of this new beauty.

For a little less than a year, now, Steph and I have been intensely visualizing a dream that we have held since we have been together, and that Steph has had since 1994--that of moving to and living in Vienna. Around Thanksgiving last year, we were introduced to The Secret , and through the things that were revealed to us in that film, we learned about how living a life of joy, expectancy, and gratitude would open us up to a fuller and more abundant life through the Law of Attraction. Since then, we have been putting what we learned into practice, and now, a year later, we are seeing the beginnings of the harvest of what we have created.

I know that my blog entries have seemed rather cryptic over the last couple of weeks, and indeed they have been. As much as I would love to, I am not yet free to indulge myself in shouting from the mountain tops, just yet. That time is soon to arrive however. Let's just put it this way--there is a will, we have a lawyer, and our dreams of Vienna will soon be a reality.

And I am so very grateful...


Statehood Day--Oklahoma at 100

>> Friday, November 16, 2007


Reconciliation and Forgiveness

>> Wednesday, November 14, 2007

When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.

Catherine Ponder


The road to 100 -- The Centennial Float


Recognizing the good

>> Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Hebrew term for gratitude is hikarat hatov, which means, literally, "recognizing the good." Practicing gratitude means recognizing the good that is already yours.

Dr. Alan Morinis


The Road to 100 -- Pawhuska, the Osage Capital

>> Monday, November 12, 2007


The peace that passes all understanding

>> Sunday, November 11, 2007

There is a calmness to a life lived in Gratitude, a quiet joy.

~ Ralph H. Blum ~


Be happy!

I hadn't seen this video in a long time, and I'd forgotten how much I liked it when it first came out. And now, it's even more meaningful to me than it ever was.


Oh! What a beautiful mornin'

>> Saturday, November 10, 2007

Being from Oklahoma, I always have to laugh when I see the scenery in this film. It wasn't shot in Oklahoma, but rather in New Mexico, because the Hollywood producers said that Oklahoma didn't "look like Oklahoma". Tell me now, how New Mexico can look more like Oklahoma, than Oklahoma does?


The Gratitude Dance

>> Friday, November 9, 2007


Thoughts become things

>> Thursday, November 8, 2007

Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honorable, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there is any virtue, and if there is any praise, think about these things.

Paul's letter to the Church at Philipi, chapter 4, verse 8


Sing a song of thanksgiving

>> Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Laudate Dominum omnes gentes,
Praise the Lord, all ye nations(peoples),
laudate eum omnes populi.
praise him, all ye peoples.
Quoniam confirmata est
For his loving kindness (mercy)
super nos misericordia ejus,
has been bestowed upon us,
et veritas Domini manet
and the truth of the Lord endures
in aeternum.
for eternity.

Gloria patri et filio
Glory to the Father, Son,
et spiritui sancto,
and to the Holy Spirit;
sicut erat in principio
as it was in the beginning,
et nunc et semper
is now, and ever shall be,
et in saecula saeculorum.
world without end.


A gratitude-heart

A gratitude-heart
Is to discover on earth
A Heaven-delivered rose.

Sri Chinmoy


Gratitude: the evidence of a heart made whole

>> Tuesday, November 6, 2007

When gratitude is this well established, it is a sign of a heart that has been made right and whole. Gratitude can't coexist with arrogance, resentment, and selfishness.

Dr. Alan Morinis


Grateful for my state


A will for the good

To educate yourself for the feeling of gratitude means to take nothing for granted, but to always seek out and value the kind that will stand behind the action. Nothing that is done for you is a matter of course. Everything originates in a will for the good, which is directed at you. Train yourself never to put off the word or action for the expression of gratitude.

Albert Schweitzer


City of my dreams

>> Sunday, November 4, 2007


The soul a blossom

Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul.

~ Henry Ward Beecher ~


The Sound of Gratitude

>> Saturday, November 3, 2007

For me, gratitude is expressed in the music of Edward Elgar, in Nimrod, from the "Enigma Variations". This particular performance is conducted by Daniel Barenboim, with the Chicago Symphony.


Abundant Increase

"You simply will not be the same person two months from now after consciously giving thanks each day for the abundance that exists in your life. And you will have set in motion an ancient spiritual law: the more you have and are grateful for, the more will be given you."

~ Sarah Ban Breathnach ~
Simple Abundance


The Eagles still rockin'

>> Friday, November 2, 2007

I'm having a "blast from the past" moment. Our office manager went out and bought the new Eagles album, "Long Road Out of Eden", and she's playing it here in the office. Wow! These guys are every bit as great as they were years ago. I loved the Eagles when I was in high school, and now, thirty-some-odd years later, they're still rockin' strong!

Just goes to prove that youth doesn't have the corner on greatness!


A season of gratitude

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.

~ Melody Beattie ~


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