the power of 5%.

I was reminded this morning of how I can be an ALL or NOTHING sort of person in my proclamations.  I LOVE CHANGE.  I love change so much more than the rest of my family and it drives them totally bonkers.  EXAMPLE:  If I could flip the rooms where the kitchen and the living room are I would do that.  I have to satisfy that part of my nature somehow and it’s abundantly clear that I must largely do it on my own. No public proclamations…or at least a helluva lot fewer of them.

I can be a little unrealistic: I WILL NO LONGER eat potato chips, drink beer, read news, use FACEBOOK, watch TV, eat meat or sugar, drive when I can walk, be critical of my kids or my husband, spend money on X…blah, blah, blah.

Thankfully, over the course of the positive psychology program I took through the Wholebeing Institute. I was taught something quite valuable and rather easy to incorporate into my daily life.  The simple trick of five percent.

I can improve 5% of damn near anything in my life…

then I can build on that incremental change.

I will try to exercise 5% more.  I will try to spend 5% less. I will try to eat 5% less sugar.  I will try to watch 5% less TV.  I will try to eat 5% fewer potato chips.  I will try to drink 5% less.  (NOTE:  I’ve discovered a great trick.  My beers are now 1/2 club soda and 1/2 beer.  Bartenders aren’t crazy about this order.  Who cares? It’s half the calories, half the alcohol and it’s much better for staying hydrated.)

SO, the next time you notice something you would like to improve in your life— think about a relatively painless 5% shift and just do it.

This might be all you need to get started on a desired new path.

Good luck!  Let me know what works for you.

I starting thinking about…


I read this line yesterday and it got me thinking about nonconformity.

“A culture that prizes traditional conformity, for example, may perceive specific kinds of individual rights and freedoms (e.g. freedom of speech) to pose a threat.”   Geographical Psychology, Exploring the Interaction of Environment and Behavior edited by Peter J. Rentfrow

There certainly is ease within organizations or families when conformity rules.  However, there also is a lack of creativity and innovation when we don’t have opposing viewpoints to challenge our long-held assumptions.

“A man must consider what a rich realm he abdicates
when he becomes a conformist.”   —Ralph Waldo Emerson

Similarity or perceived similarity creates PSYCHOLOGICAL SAFETY to speak our minds, knowing that people basically agree with you. The poet Ralph Waldo Emerson refers to the people in our lives who challenge us as “BEAUTIFUL ENEMIES”.   What an apt description, huh?  We need to be challenged to be stretched.  Keep your beautiful enemies close AND consult them often.


How do we share our perspectives without making others wrong?

Perhaps the goal isn’t to change minds.

What if our goal was simply to be HEARD?

To be heard, we have to LISTEN. Really listen.

Now, if I can practice what I preach, my teenagers would tell you I have a lot of work to do.


I have a very helpful one page pdf file titled Blocks To Listening.  It’s a real game changer for both our personal and professional lives.  I thought I was a decent communicator—I learned that I was way off the mark in so many ways.  E-mail me to request a copy.

NEW VAGUS—my planet.

Yesterday my son asked me, “If you had your own planet, what would it be like, Mom?” Sometimes I rush these kinds of discussions and don’t want to play the game.  But, yesterday thinking about MY OWN PLANET entertained my brain all day. What would it be like? I needed to do something creative and playing with my photographs while thinking about my planet really sparked my imagination, thanks Ellis. The images I created are a very different direction for me. I finally went to bed at 1am still thinking about my planet.  It’s magnificent. I’ll be working on more images to convey NEW VAGUS…perhaps a recruiting  brochure, a psychological test, a song or a movie…I like options.

It’s called NEW VAGUS after my favorite nerve.  The vagus nerve wanders like a vagabond (I love that).  It’s also the captain of your inner nerve center.  If you get off course, your captain can get you heading back in the right direction.  There are some relatively easy ways to stimulate your vagus nerve. I found this fascinating.  Gargling.  Cold showers.  Prayer.  Deep breathing.  Making some of these things a regular practice can help with inflammation, migraines, anxiety, addiction and so much more.  See link below for more options and information and share broadly.  It might really help someone you love.

How to stimulate your vagus nerve. This is your nerve captain speaking.


“What happens in the vagus nerve, it turns out, doesn’t stay in the vagus nerve. The longest of the cranial nerves, the vagus nerve is so named because it “wanders” like a vagabond, sending out fibers from your brain stem to your visceral organs. The vagus nerve is literally the captain of your inner nerve center—the parasympathetic nervous system, to be specific. And like a good captain, it does a great job of overseeing a vast range of crucial functions, communicating nerve impulses to every organ in your body. New research has revealed that it may also be the missing link to treating chronic inflammation, and the beginning of an exciting new field of treatment that leaves medications behind.”







cape-code-shed-upside-down  nolo-world-lillibridge-dakota





Here’s the key to the photos:

Los Angeles
Florence, Italy
Kenmare, Ireland
Packard Plant, Detroit, Michigan
NYC on the High Line
Burke, South Dakota
New Orleans, Louisiana
Cape Cod, Sandwich, Massachusetts
Florence, Italy
NYC near Grand Central Station
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
New Orleans in a cemetery near a famous restaurant I can’t remember the name of.

a subtle shift in perspective…

What we focus on can give us more clarity OR get us to hyper-focused, losing sight of the big picture. For me, I think this is a crucial distinction to understand right now. Take a look at the very subtle differences in the photos.  I focus on the fungus in front and the whole picture shifts.  I focus on the fungus in the back and everything changes…even the light a little bit.  Perspective.



I feel this shift a lot when parenting teenagers.  What do I need to pay attention to right now?  Should I use a different lens here?  Why am I so focused on this right now?  Should I take a broader look OR get in there and really explore one singular issue, letting other things fall out of focus?

These are really hard questions for me to manage in a split second.  However, as a very visual learner, a subtle shift in perspective made more sense to me when I thought about it in terms of photography.  What we focus on grows and sometimes we need a ridiculously wide lens and sometimes we have to hyper-focus.

I chose to focus on these mushrooms and not focus on other thins for a few minutes.  Aren’t they magnificent? 



Sometimes a day can just shift…

even when they start out pretty funky.  That’s what happened to me today.  I’m glad I was paying attention.  I drove to Putney, Vermont to see my son at Landmark College.  As the parent of 20 and 16-year-olds, I have to stay on my toes and I was this morning…tippy tippy toes, actually.  I headed south from Burlington and made some remarkable stops along the way.  Good golly, Vermont is staggeringly beautiful in October.  WOW!

I stopped at the Red Hen Baking Company in Middlesex, VT for coffee and a cheddar bacon scone. They didn’t have them today—bummer…coffee and reading my book for a while is nice even without a cheddar & bacon scone. I’m reading “A Short Course In Happiness and Loss” by one of my psychology instructors, Maria Sirois.  I graduated with a certificate in Positive Psychology last Friday after finishing a year long certification program through the Wholebeing Institute .  I have that post big project and deadline sense of loss.  I like deadlines.  I guess I’ll have to set some new goals now.

Since, I’ve been home and working mostly alone in my studio for two decades, a certificate in anything actually feels pretty damn good.



I’m not exactly sure how I took this picture, but it captures a moment for me anyway. I had the windows down and the music blasting because, even after coffee, I was still sleepy. The air was heavy and dark.  After I saw my son I was heading North on I91 and I missed my exit.  The sun was now shining and I was hungry, so I decided to explore White River Junction, Vermont.  I’ve driven by this town for 26 years and never stopped.  It’s so awesome.  I think we all must explore a lot often.  Our hearts and brains depend upon exploration  My whole day shifted by stopping in this funky Vermont town.

I parked downtown and ate lunch at Tuckerbox, a Turkish restaurant.  I had a meze platter—haydari, hummus, babaganoush, Turkish salsa, stuffed grape leaves. YUM!

Then I just decided to take a walk around town before I headed back to Burlington. I bought a vintage denim shirt at REVOLUTIONlevis-vintage-repro-shorthorn-denim-shirts-made-in-usa-lvc-western-big-e-jac-s-24ffc2d9d39176ea14f6d1acbe048905  One can’t have too many of those…right?

Then I walked around the block back to my truck and this is what I came upon…let’s review.  1. I miss my exit. 2. Great Lunch. 3. Cool denim shirt.

4. Then these pedals were all over the steps and sidewalk.  Who doesn’t need a little MAGIC in their day?



I was floored…it was so amazing to come around the corner of the street and witness this. I was so wiped out.  I  was gone all of last week at school and I really needed to be home, but I would’ve missed those pedals.  Thank you VALLEY FLOWER COMPANYYou have no idea how much you made my day.  Yes, there’s still more…

So I paused for a minute to just take in the pedals on the sidewalk.  I took about 11 steps and there was this interesting little jewelry gallery called SCAVENGER.  I popped in and the work is right up my alley.  One of the artists makes casts out of bugs, twigs, flowers, sea urchins…gorgeous, organic shapes.  I bought myself an early birthday present.  I even had it wrapped, so I don’t have a picture and I can’t open it until next week.  It’s a persimmon flower, very cool shape, greenish, bronzy, patina…her work made me feel like I had uncovered the bracelet on an archeological dig.  I’m now a big fan of Stacy Hopkins.  Nice people helped me make my choose the piece of jewelry I purchased as well.  Yes, really.  I felt like I was on a movie set.

Then I headed north—smiling from my adventures…listening to Aretha Franklin really loud and singing along.  It poured for a while.  I LOVE RAIN.  Then it cleared off and the color was just staggering…Aretha and I kept singing and heading north to HOME.

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White River Junction, you have a new fan!