Thursday, January 16, 2020

I've Moved to New Digs!

Thanks for visiting me here - but I'm no longer really here as my posts are now featured on my new website:

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Wednesday's Wide-eyed Warm-up - #117

There's a lot to explore these days as we move to the new website:

If you missed it on social media, here is my interview with Diane Gottlieb:

It is the first time I have been interviewed regarding my new life as a writer. I ask only that you ignore my frequent use of "Well" to begin sentences and not pay attention to how often I insert the word "just."  It was fun to read the comments section to this interview on her website. I'd love to know if you learn anything new about me, if something surprises you, or which part(s) of the interview (it's quite long) were the most interesting.

Tech genius Dan, moved my Blogger subscription list to Mail Chimp - the service I will use to send you the weekly posts - so if you currently receive my posts - you shouldn't have to re-subscribe. If you do sign up from the new site, the service may tell you that you already are on the list. If for any reason, you do not receive emails from me any longer, LET ME KNOW!

Thanks for continuing to explore the mystery with me! Nicky

Friday, January 3, 2020

Change is in the Air - #116

Blogger has been the home for this blog since 2012. 

In celebration of 2020 and in preparation for publishing my memoir unveiling the intricacies of my decade of Freudian psychoanalysis, exploring the mystery is moving to

Check out my new digs! Click on blog at the top right hand corner of the Home page to get this week's "sort of" blog post.

Please let me know if you have any problems! Any suggestions welcomed. Thanks for reading and enduring this change. I know it is a pain in the neck to change but hopefully it will be worth it. 

Thanks for really exploring the mystery! Nicky Mendenhall

eeI have a new website

Friday, December 27, 2019

End of the Year Contest! - #115

This, the last post of 2019, is designed to give you a chance to use your creativity and imagination. Guess what the above image is or bestow it with a proper name.

Here's a hint: 

It was hiding in a head of cauliflower! 

We haven't given the creature a name so consider this a contest and send your entry by replying to this email or posting your guess in the comments section. All entries will be considered and appreciated. 

Happy New Year and thanks for reading, letting me know you read but don't comment, and actually commenting. Soon I will be moving this blog to my own website so stay tuned for directions on how to sign up to receive blog posts from the new site. I know some of you left a comment and I didn't receive it - so hopefully this will never happen again. I'm excited!

CLUE for richer living: In honor of my Dad, who would have been 99 years old this month, gaze at the horizon. It was one of his favorite things to do and why he didn't appreciate mountains that much. Can you see the horizon on a daily basis? Do you notice it? What does it feel like to see it?

Thanks for exploring the mystery - Nicky Mendenhall

Friday, December 20, 2019

Do You Love Year End Musings? - #114

I remember 2016 as the year my life lost clarity: diagnosed with NPH*, I closed my psychotherapy practice which meant premature retirement.

I remember 2017 as the year of transition: a recalcitrant patient, submitting to  surgery disguised as a procedure,  I then opened more fully to love from family and friends.

I remember 2018 as a year of healing: retirement enriched by a year of Master Mind, meeting other artists, working with book coach, discovering writing is satisfying.   

I will remember 2019 as a year of writing: completed rough draft of memoir describing my experience in Freudian psychoanalysis and beginning collaboration with Mary Nilsen, editor and publisher at Zion Press.

Typically I resist year end summaries. This year, however, it felt invigorating to see where I've been and the direction I am headed as we move into 2020. My challenge to you - what do you remember about the last few years? Can you name a theme for each year? Please share with me anything you discover. My clarity came from thinking about this and writing. I didn't realize some of this before. Or if you hate the whole idea, let me know that too. I used to resist breaking life into themes fiercely so I will undoubtedly understand.

Thanks for exploring the mystery - Nicky Mendenhall

CLUE for better living: Before you get out of bed in the morning, pull the covers back and stick up your legs/feet and arms/hands and circle them clockwise for a few moments and then counter clockwise. This will wake up you entire body! Try it and see if it jump-starts your day! Ruth, a favorite former Tai Chi teacher initially called this the dead bug but eventually renamed it as the tipped turtle. Thanks Ruth!

*Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus

Image: The Guardian sits shivering with a lap full of snow.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Do You Believe in Stages?- #113

Reopening the David Ulrich* book, inspiration for the recent series of posts on the stages of the creative process, my intent was to discover what he listed as the next stage.

Before I glanced at his answer, I was blindsided by a strong epiphany: 

There really are no hard and fast stages in the creative process. 

This quickly morphed into another epiphany: 

There really are no hard and fast stages in the grief process.  

Sheepishly I recalled posts 106-112. My chosen words undoubtedly implied there is "right" order for the creative process to unfold.  Even more sheepishly, I recalled how as a psychotherapist, I would hand out copies of a diagram, the Grief Wheel, which I proudly explained to my unsuspecting clients, meant they would feel their grief in these particular stages.

I think these epiphanies are also here to remind me there is no right way to do the holiday season. Each year is different. Each person is different. Does anything happen in preordained stages? Do you think things happen in predetermined stages? Let me know what you think!

Thanks for exploring the mystery - Nicky Mendenhall

CLUE for living a full life: Strike up a brief conversation with a person you ordinarily would not. See what happens and let me know. Did you learn something? What? Just a few words can change your mood or the mood of someone else, hopefully to a more positive state. 

IMAGE: This image of ice and mud was in my Dropbox account and I picked it out randomly. We've had some of each already this year!

* Zen Camera by David Ulrich. If you are curious what Ulrich proposed, he said responsibility and release were the final stages. 

* David Ulrich's Zen Camera is well worth a look if you want to read about the creative process and at the same time, learn about establishing a daily practice in photography.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Create A Healthy Body? - Stage 6 - #112

During my bi-weekly training session yesterday, my personal trainer said in a kind but firm voice:
"Tighten your abdominal muscles. Tuck in you glutes. Stand up straight." 

"Tighten your abdominal muscles. Tuck in your glutes. Stand up straight."

Yes, she had to say it more than once.  I'll spare you typing it as many times as she had to remind me. 

This post is a reminder, as we move to stage 6 of the creative process, that the creative process isn't just activated when we are writing or painting or composing a song.  Being in your body, paying attention to how you are in your body, is a creative endeavor.  Cooking is a creative act. Organizing is.

The creative process isn't for the faint of heart and this becomes more clear as the stages unfold. For example, Stage 6 calls for discipline. It takes discipline to engage the core, stand up straight, have good posture. The hardest part for me is remembering to pay attention.

I want the discipline to tighten my abdominal muscles, tuck in my glutes, and stand up straight when I am standing at the kitchen sink, bathroom sink, or sitting in my chair reading. What am I creating? A healthy body!

Do you consider your physical exercise a creative act? What is your most creative activity? Do you have discipline? Please let me know!

Thanks for exploring the mystery - Nicky Mendenhall

CLUE* for Living Your Best Life: Look around and find the oldest thing you see. Then look around and spot the newest. What, if anything, do they have in common? Which one will last longest?

IMAGE: The Guardian is happy I swept all the leaves off the deck!

* Idea from Rob Walker's The Art of Noticing

Friday, November 29, 2019

Exploring Epiphany and Insight! - #111

Stage 5, the sought-after state of the creative process. This is the time when experiences of epiphany and insight are most likely to proliferate.  

The esteemed editor returned my MS with erudite comments which means I'm ravenous to read what she offered and make corrections and additions.  Much to my dismay the first few lines of my introduction disappointed me - they no longer felt accurate. This, I mused, is when I need an epiphany!  

When one didn't materialize, I thought about practicing negative capability: I might be able to continue reading if I just kept in mind that I didn't have to know right now how to fix the introduction. My desire was to keep reading but my stubborn self kept resisting, insisting we rewrite the introduction right now. My negative capability was weak. 

I had to know how I was going to work the problem out. I couldn't stay with not knowing and continue reading. I stayed up way too late and hammered out replacement words. It's too early to tell if they will stay for the long haul.

What's the lesson? I'm not entirely certain. Maybe the epiphany was disguised and I didn't recognize it. At any rate, I do have a start. How do you recognize epiphanies? What qualifies as one in your mind? How are they different from Insights? This creative process is full of mysteries! 

Thanks for exploring the mystery - Nicky Mendenhall

CLUE for Better Living*: Be alert for curious and unexpected smells. See if you can identify four different smells in the course of one hour. We need to use all of our senses.

*Adapted from an article in The Art of Noticing by Rob Walker

Image could have been the result of an epiphany that I missed.

Friday, November 22, 2019

You'll Never Guess What Stage 4 Is! - #110

Have you heard the term "negative capability"?  

I believe these two words are a different way to think about the way Ulrich describes the tasks in Stage 4 of the creative process. He writes we need to retreat, review, research, and seek refinement  

I've been reading that if you have negative capability, you are able to handle not knowing. There is a certain amount of not knowing in retreating, reviewing, researching and seeking refinement don't you think? "Knowing" would block all those r's.

Have you ever considered the ability to be with not knowing as a positive? It's been hard for me to embrace the ability of negative capability because of my need to know. I like certainty. I detest uncertainty. But I'm finding as I move forward in the creative process (writing memoir and establishing an author website), that I must develop the skill to not know so I can sleep at night. Right now, I don't even know for certain which of my chapters will turn out to be Chapter #1! 

What are you glad you don't know? Is it difficult for you to be in uncertainty? Please let me know how you are doing these days before the holiday onslaught.

Thanks for exploring the mystery - Nicky Mendenhall

CLUE: This week, try to actively notice new things. This will put you in the present. Do this because it's engaging, and it turns out it's literally, not just figuratively, enlivening.* 

*Ellen J. Langer in The Art of Noticing by Rob Walker. IMAGE: 

The Guardian is happy to be in the sun again.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Are You Auditioning for Stage 3? - #109

"I've reached the limits of my current skill." 

These heartfelt, somewhat desperate words are Ulrich's* words to describe Stage 3 of the creative process. 

They are also my words one bitterly cold November day when I snap the above image during a break from a frustrating morning working on a memoir of my intermittently aggravating experience in psychoanalysis.

My usually obedient printer, apparently auditioning for a vacancy in a real estate office, spit out a copy of Chapter 1 with font so minuscule it took a magnifying lens to read.

Struggling with no success to enlarge the print size I curse.  

Abandoning my audition for poster child of Ulrich's title for stage three, "Crisis and Creative Frustration," I ask for help.

After one and a half hours, problems solved. This stage apparently is a requisite part of the creative process. Do you remember this stage? Are you in this stage now? Or are you auditioning for a  role new to you? Misery loves company so be sure and send me a message. I'd love to know how you prepare yourself and how you make it through this stage!

CLUE*: We spend so much time looking down (think about it - what direction are you looking right now?). Today and tomorrow, look up. See the ceiling and the tops of buildings. See the sky. Stretch your neck! Let me know what you discover!

Image: This is the Guardian covered with snow - in November! A new record. 
*Zen Camera by David Ulrich
**Idea courtesy of Rob Walker's new book, The Art of Noticing.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Mouse Gone - On To Stage 2! - #108

Poor little mouse was just trying to get out of the cold. This new attitude is a big stretch for me. My little brother (he always calls me his big sister) just confessed that he made scratching noises to scare me (and my sisters).  I'll keep you posted on further developments (of which I hope there are none) but now more about the creative process.

Ulrich says that in stage two of experiential stages of the creative process you can expect to be energized. For me this stage started sixteen months ago when I began working with a book coach.
I remember this glorious stage with fondness. The more I wrote, the more I wanted to write. If someone asked me why I was writing again, I felt puzzled. What else would I do? I wanted to write because the more I wrote, the better I felt. It was difficult to imagine doing anything else.

Descriptive words for Stage 2:  Passion and Commitment. Do you remember having feelings like this about a project? Can you guess what comes next?

Thanks for exploring the mystery - Nicky Mendenhall

CLUE: Clean out your closet. Do a Kondo test - hold each piece and ask if it brings you joy. If it doesn't, give it to someone who may feel joy. Let me know how it goes. I just sent four + bags of non-joy-to-me items off to Good Will. I hope someone feels joy!

Image: A photo from my files from previous years. I love how one branch has multiple colors.

Friday, November 1, 2019

When Do You Feel Excitement and Heartache? - #107

I thought you'd be interested in the characteristics of Experiential Stages of the Creative Process, part 2, so this week I designed a post I was ready to polish for publication this morning but....................................

 ........... this very morning, I've emitted lusty loud emanations three times and I can't concentrate on the creative process stage 2.  My screams were passionate. The type of screams my parents said would raise (or was it wake?) the dead.

And these early morning screams were for the very same reason I used to scream. I SAW A MOUSE! The same mouse three times! The first time I thought it was a big bug darting by. The second time, a really big bug. The third time, there was no question what it was.

After being in psychoanalysis for over a decade, you would think I would have uncovered the root cause of my terror of mice. But it is obvious this morning that I have not. This may need to be a new chapter in my memoir! I am embarrassed that I have such fear of these tiny little creatures. But I do!

As they say, misery loves company so I ask you - are you afraid of something that you know realistically is not a threat? How do you manage it? Do you feel lingering shivers when you think of what ever it is?

I'm signed up for a Zen half day retreat this weekend: Do dogs have Buddha nature? Now I'm wondering, do mice have Buddha nature? Any insights on this koan welcome!

Next week - the real post for the question in the title!

Thanks for exploring the mystery - Nicky Mendenhall

CLUE: If you like raspberries, pick some up at the store. The have been really good! If you don't, buy blueberries. They are good too!

Image: Taken first morning there was a dusting of snow. Have you noticed how dark it is at 7 AM? Will this change next week? I can never figure out when the time changes where we get extra light! Can you?

Friday, October 25, 2019

Fear, Doubt, & Insecurity - #106

 Zen Camera, created by David Ulrich, is a beautiful book that has languished on my book shelf far too long.  Opening it at random, I find a list of Experiential Stages of the Creative Process. 

Stage one: Discovery and Encounter. Wassily Kandinsky* says an important motivation for creative work is:  "Inner necessity."

Ulrich says something similar in different words: "In this stage you encounter the need to just do it, just begin in spite of fear, doubt, and insecurity."

It's difficult to explain, even to myself, the inner necessity I feel to create a memoir describing my experience in Freudian psychoanalysis. I have fear of feeling exposed, doubt I can write, and insecurity wondering how people will judge me when they read it.

But I have to do it. It is an inner necessity. Have you ever encountered a creative project you felt destined to complete? How did you cope with fear, doubt and insecurity? Let me know if you have any tips!

Thanks for exploring the mystery - Nicky Mendenhall

CLUE: Make a big pot of soup. Eat some and freeze the rest.  When the snow arrives and you don't feel like cooking, thaw it out and send me an email of thanks.  

*Kandinsky is a Russian painter mentioned by Ulrich.

Image is of Guardian. I wish I knew how to capture the brilliant yellow leaves in all their glory.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Do You Care About Singular They? -#105

"In the building of artificial structures, the engineer has a prime concern: the character of the materials available for their use."

You will probably deduce upon hearing that this sentence is from Mabel Todd (The Thinking Body author we met in August's posts) we will be talking about the importance of knowing what is inside our body. But believe it or not, that is not our focus  today.

When you read her sentence, did it flow? I thought so. But if we carefully look at the sentence and see the singular word engineer is paired with the plural word their, isn't that is an error? Aren't nouns and verbs supposed to match?

The singular "they" or "their" or "them" is the result of language changes. In order to get away from "he" as meaning everyone, this change has happened. 

Can you tell that I'm reading books about writing?* I'd love if you see examples of this new phenomenon that you let me know! Mabel will preach posture; I will be grandma grammarian. 

Thanks for exploring the mystery - Nicky Mendenhall

IMAGE: This is a singular glove. Remember to make sure you have both of your gloves as where I live, it is getting time for them. In fact, I've already worn my pair once.

*Ensouling Language:On the Art of Nonfiction and the Writer's Life by Stephen Harrod Buhner is an amazing book that I've read slowly over several years.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Absolutely ROAR-some! - #104

This precious personalized birthday card from Wendell set the tone for my birthday.  On the three additional panels that you can't see are  alligators and monkeys and bright colors and these words: "Hope it's a s-s-s-s-super wild time! Hang out! Eat Treats! Have fun! Make your big day ABSOLUTELY ROAR-some!" After reading this, I feel young and ready to celebrate.

It is pouring down rain and really dark. I muse that I can't remember it ever raining on my birthday before. Wonder if that's true? 

Meditation seems longer than usual when the tantalizing smells of sausage and eggs begin to tickle my olfactory receptors.   

Through out the day it is lovely to talk to or text with my three sons, a daughter-in-law, my sister, my granddaughter, my sister-in-law, and my aunt. Isn't it interesting all the ways we are connected to people?  As I arrange the snail-mail cards that had arrived earlier in the week on the mantle, I marvel at the kindness of others.

I feel so glad to be alive. I can't help but remember that my mother died at the age of 75. That seems terribly young now. I want to live  many more years. There are more mysteries to explore.

Ready to push the publish button on this post, my youngest sister's texts, sent late last night, pop in to remind me that our Mother died on my birthday twenty-two years ago. I'm amazed this year I didn't think about the strangeness of having mom die on the day she gave birth to me seventy-five years earlier. 

Thanks for exploring the mystery - Nicky Mendenhall

CLUE: Pretend it is your birthday - do at least one kind thing for yourself this weekend.

Friday, October 4, 2019

If You Are Not Ready - #103

I neglected to mention that I would not be posting for two Fridays  but I'm sure you figured it out when I didn't show up last Saturday morning. I'm back from a wonderful time at the best wedding and dance I have ever attended.

A few bits of wisdom I'm trying to take in from The Aware Athlete by Scott Forrester:

"Be ready to respond to each situation appropriately and you will survive, thrive, and prosper."

Reading this initially, I thought to myself, but what happens if I'm not ready?  Scott anticipated my question: 

"Respond in a less organized manner, and you will not recognize all the possibilities available to you."

I like this answer because we know it is impossible to respond to each situation we encounter appropriately (unless you know that no response can be appropriate). It is helpful to remember that disaster won't happen if you are not ready, you just might miss something.

I'm thinking about how to publish my memoir and I'm reading that for 98% of authors, self publishing makes sense. I'm still investigating my options. If you have any ideas, please let me know because I want my memoir describing my experience in Freudian psychoanalysis to survive, thrive, and prosper!

What situations are you facing?  

Thanks for exploring the mystery - Nicky Mendenhall

CLUE: Eat butternut squash! 

Image: A recent picture of the Gerbera Daisies I have enjoyed this year on my back deck.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Important Announcement - #102

Take a close look at the image above. 
Notice that my hands are not on the keyboard writing memoir.
The photo is a stylized me preparing for
for a road trip from Iowa to Utah,
to witness and cheer on my granddaughter at her wedding. 
Plus, it is my way of telling you
that I won't be here next week.
My apologies if you recently began reading.
If that is true, you may go to the website and 
scroll back to 2012 to read weekly posts.

Enjoy yourselves in my absence. Consider the adage that there can be presence in absence.

Dorothea Brande writes: "We customarily expend enough energy in carrying out any simple action to bring about a result three times greater than the one we have in view."*

Brande says this is true for most things we do. Is this true for you? I think I have spent more energy deciding what supplements to pack, what hair products to bring, and worrying about my bangs and if my hair cut makes me look like a poodle than necessary. 

I always love to hear from you!
Thanks for exploring the mystery - Nicky Mendenhall

*Becoming a Writer, Dorothea Brande, with a forward by John Garner. Originally published in 1934.

Image courtesy of Mason Hiatt. Can you guess the location?

Friday, September 6, 2019

Flexible Flexibility: Fumbling Allowed! #101

An idea of Scott Forrester's, I discovered in The Aware Athlete, purports intelligence can be measured by how rapidly one can adapt to new situations. See Post #96. Flexible adapting is smart.

Today we look at another of Scott's ideas: fitness can be measured by how ready we are to move up, down, left, right, forward, and/or backward. Moving around flexibly is fitness. 

Intelligence and fitness both require flexibility. I'm learning in psychoanalysis that LIFE requires flexibility. My memoir will describe my increasing flexibility to life - I hope!

Forrester gives an example of Flexibility that is not as obvious: "The great writer has freed herself  from a love of her words and is able to discard a chapter, even a whole book and rewrite, re-create according to a new vision, one closer to her true intent." 

When eliminating precious words from my manuscript, I copy and save them in a folder labeled, "May Use Sometime." That's as flexible as I can be right now. Oh, I guess I should give myself credit for realizing, with book coach's help, that what I thought was Chapter 3 is actually Chapter 1.

Where are you flexible? Where do you want to be more flexible and what is the first step towards that? I like thinking of being flexible in more than physical ways. Let me know what you think!

Thanks for exploring the mystery - Nicky Mendenhall

CLUE: If you think of back to school time as the start of your new year, decide what your intention will be for this year. Regardless of when your new year begins, take advantage of sales on school supplies! I know a reader that used to buy all the notebooks she needed for the year on sale! I wonder if she still does? 

Image: When I noticed the beautiful reflection on Guardian, I knew I wanted to capture it.

Friday, August 30, 2019

What's In Your Unconscious? - #100

Mabel Todd's writing in The Thinking Body does not let me down! My experience in Freudian Psychoanalysis, which is the reason I'm writing a memoir, has  piqued my interest in the unconscious.

Here's what Mabel writes:

"The unconscious is a treasure-house and charnel-house of the creative and one of the keys to physiology."

Part of writing is learning about the creative process while part of psychoanalysis is learning how to honor all parts of life. I think Mabel is alluding to this in the treasure-house-charnel-house reference. Plus Mabel sneakily includes the biological and chemical mechanisms of the body! How great is that! Freud struggled to include the body in his work but Mabel is fearless!

Having experienced the treasure of being with youngest son and his beloved for a few days while sitting around the table making each other laugh and now, feeling the wrenching of letting them drive off into the world, I appreciate Mabel's insights on how these both relate to the unconscious.  And now, to follow Mabel's lead,  I need to take myself off to exercise class.

How do you touch into the treasures and the bones? How do you include care for your body in your daily life? What do you do? Please let me know.

CLUE: Go out to breakfast! Order something crispy if you remember (I sometimes forget). This morning's order: the Rise N Shine which is two eggs, bacon, and hash browns - last two crispy! I'm glad I remembered this time!

Image: This may be how my unconscious face looks. Double sequin art made this rendition possible. (Thanks Mason)

Friday, August 23, 2019

Thinking of Certain Arrangements - #99

Since I'm spending all my spare moments revising memoir where I'm trying to describe my experience of Freudian psychoanalysis, (Spoiler Alert: it's not all wine and roses), my peeks into The Thinking Body* are short in duration. Luckily that's all it takes to find thought provoking sentences:

"Guilt, craft, vision, meanness, ecstasy and lure appear in certain arrangements of arms, hands, shoulders, neck, head, and legs."

What position are your arms in when you feel guilty? Where do you put your hands when you think of the future? What position are  your shoulders in when you feel mean? How does ecstasy appear in your neck? How do your legs express lure? What part of your body do you pay the most attention to? For me it is keeping shoulder blades down.

Notice how many feelings and judgement you make when you are  observing people and thinking about your self and your body. I resolve frequently to stop judging; perhaps if I describe what I'm observing as an arrangement of limbs, I will feel concern not criticism. Please let me know!

CLUE: Tell someone that you appreciate them. You both will feel better! Be specific. Tell me your experience please.

*The Thinking Body by my new favorite author Mabel Todd

Image: This photo is of the deck where we had our wedding. We converted it to an outdoor room. Fun to see it again! I love how green everything is now in Iowa as well as in the picture. And I also love being married.

Friday, August 16, 2019

The Thinking Body Is Here!- #98

Mabel Todd's book, The Thinking Body (1937) arrived. It's a used book; looks like new. Here's what I found on page one: 

"A casual world over-emphasizes the face." 

Not sure what she's getting at so I read the next sentence: 

"Memory likes to recall the whole body." 

Still not sure what the point is until I read the next sentence:  

"It is not our parents' faces that come back to us, but their bodies, in the accustomed chairs, eating, sewing, smoking, doing all the familiar things. We remember each as a body in action."

I remember my mother in her chair recycling greeting cards and my father sitting at the table in the kitchen reading the newspaper. This feels like a poignant way to think of them. Remembering their entire being, their bodies.  

 When you remember your parents, how do you think of them? When you think of people, do you just think of their face? I think when she says the casual world she means that we don't pay enough attention to the body. What do you think? Do you pay attention to your body and what it needs?

Thanks for exploring the mystery - Nicky Mendenhall

CLUE: When I told my personal trainer that I hadn't been doing planks, she told me to do one a day. I just might do that. I think she's thinking I will do more, and I may, but I'm going to take her at her word and just do one and see what happens. What is something you want to do more of but resist? Can you break it down to one time a day? Let me know how it works!

Image: I figured out how to download pictures from my camera again so I can share a more recent picture of my desk. Mabel's book is the beige one you can see.

Friday, August 9, 2019

This Felt Amazing To Me! - #97

Last week I used a quote from Mabel Todd that I found in The Aware Athlete. Curious who this woman of wisdom was, I googled her. I only ordered one of her published books, The Thinking Body. It's not here yet but I'm excited.

You know how I've been investigating the unconscious? Listen to this! Mabel's focus was on the "subtle influence of unconscious intention and attention". Now you know why I had to purchase her book! 

In addition, she was an editor for Emily Dickinson! I'm so glad to know about her. I also read that she was an accidental activist for women's rights. I wish she would have written a memoir. I love connections like this!  

And my connection with the name Mabel just popped up! When I was a girl, Mom and Dad's friends, Mabel and Ira, gave my siblings and me, pajamas every Christmas! What a thoughtful woman Mabel must have been! Have you ever known a Mabel? What do you get excited about? Let me know! 

CLUE: List three reasons that you are glad you are going or three reasons you are glad you are not going to the Iowa State Fair. Then celebrate!

Image: I'm having trouble getting pictures from my camera to load on new computer so decided to use this path picture from one of my previous walks.

Friday, August 2, 2019

How Do YOU Measure Intelligence? - #96

"The intelligence of an individual may be measured by the speed with which he/she orients to new situations."

Scott Forrester writes that this quote* from Mabel Todd illustrates the concepts of fitness, dynamic balance, and true flexibility.

This morning I would say I'm getting stronger physically and can stand on one foot longer but that flexibility to new situations is where I'm not very smart. I've been taking over the wheel more often in preparation for our road trip to Utah in September. I am feeling more comfortable driving - except when I am not familiar with the roads I'm navigating.

I blame it on my cataracts and the virus damaged optic nerve in left eye that messes with depth perception. While those are undoubtedly factors, I think it is more likely that fear and anxiety  are the culprits.  

The quote helps me in ways that are difficult to describe. I just have to trust myself and know that I can see well enough to go to new places. Fear and anxiety interfere with intelligence - don't they? 

How do you manage in new situations? Do you avoid them or seek them out? Do you ever feel fear or anxiety? Please let me know if you have ideas about driving in familiar or unfamiliar locations that would ease my mind.

CLUE: Eat a cantaloupe! We got a really sweet flavorful one that restored our faith in them.

*The Aware Athlete, page 243.

Image: This photo of my desk is when I was still using my laptop. If I took a picture today the desk would't look as neat. Creativity is messy! I am starting revision on Chapter 15!

Friday, July 26, 2019

Do You Have A Book In You? - #95

I'm writing a memoir on my experience in Freudian psychoanalysis and my writer friend John, in New Zealand, told me about Patti Miller, an Australian author. Patti's book, The Memoir Book, describes a cartoon: A man goes to the doctor and says that he has a book in him. The doctor says that happens and he will help him find a publisher. The patient says, "NO, I want surgery. I want this book gone from me!"

Some days I can relate to the patient. But I do not want an incision, I'll just work on revision.

Do you have a book in you? My beautician said  that she wants to write a book for her colleagues and tell them how it really is to own a salon. What do you want to tell people? What will your book be about? I'd love to know!

CLUE:  Eat your meal cold or room temperature. Use your hands as utensils. Pretend you are camping. 

Image: The entrance to the most beautiful walk I have ever experienced in New Zealand. 

Friday, July 19, 2019

The Joy of Removing Obstacles! - #94

I'm still peeking into The Aware Athlete for inspiration. The latest phrase that caught my attention: REMOVING OBSTACLES.

This seems like the secret to accomplishing any goal.  

Right now my goal is to get as many chapters in my memoir about my experience in Freudian psychoanalysis revised before the end of July. 

The obstacle this morning was the need to spend time composing a blog post. So I'm going to go around this block (pun intended) and make a short post. In doing this I have effectively removed an obstacle. What obstacles do you need to remove? Please let me know!

Thanks for exploring the mystery - Nicky Mendenhall

CLUE: Eat raspberries - they are still good! Or if you prefer - strawberries! I know one of my readers doesn't like raspberries!

Image: I don't know if the empty phenomena referred to in the image is an obstacle. What do you think?

Friday, July 12, 2019

How Much Does Your Head Weigh?- #93

For a while, walking was difficult and painful. Now when I walk, mostly without problems, I try to concentrate on keeping my head from jutting forward.

According to Scott Forrester, the way we move reflects our whole self. We display our emotional, physical, and mental habits when we are moving.

If my head is habitually jutted forward, a habit I'm working to change, I wonder is it an outward sign of my tendency to push and rush in order to get things settled and decided? Probably.

Much of our daily life is spent in the forward position which is not good for our posture. Please join me as I ramp my head back, stand up straight and feel tall. We can also sit up straight and avoid slumping.

Scott might tell you your head weighs between ten and eleven pounds, more than his book The Aware Athlete. What can people tell you when they see you move? What do you notice about how others move? Watch and see what people do with their heads. Please let me know in comment section or an email.

Thanks for exploring the mystery - Nicky Mendenhall

CLUE: Really watch how others move. Do most people look at ease? What can you learn about yourself by seeing how others move?

Image: I love shadow pictures especially when my head looks like a bowling ball!

Friday, July 5, 2019

How Do You Find Reality? - #92

"It is in learning to focus on what can truly be instead of the insecurities that take our attention away that builds us up."

Another gem from Scott Forrester's book, The Aware Athlete.

My paraphrase: When I pay attention to reality (look at facts not feelings, how things really are, not how I wish they were), I will become more confident. I will be able to trust myself.

The hard part is stripping away mistaken notions so we can see reality. In the comment section Scott wrote about the difficulty of seeing the elusive obvious. It occurs to me that the elusive obvious is reality.

I woke up early yesterday eager to go for my walk. My feet felt tired. I didn't wear the right shoes for Tai Chi Balance class on Tuesday. This is the reality, the facts of what happened. My mistaken notion is that I should always push myself. The elusive obvious: I need to give my feet a break today and not go for my forest bath like I planned.

When do you avoid reality? Do you trust yourself? Does it make sense to you that the elusive obvious is reality? I'm very curious about your reality! Please email me. If you don't hear back from me, assume that your message didn't go through and try again! Blogger is not as reliable as I wish it were but that is the reality!

CLUE: We are over half way through 2019. Did you have ideas of what you wanted to accomplish this year? Are you on schedule? Are there projects for the next six months that need attention? I really want to have the chapter revisions for my memoir completed by December 31. 

Thanks for exploring the mystery - Nicky Mendenhall

Image: A favorite photo of mine that I received (as opposed to taking) six years ago. How can it be a half dozen years since I was given this gift? 

Friday, June 28, 2019

Keeping An Open Mind - #91

An open mind is a source of potential energy.

On Wednesday, I asked our chef Sarah from Friend That Cooks where I could find the caper dill sauce in the frig. 

Sarah replied: "It is in the jar I marked caper dill sauce." 

There was a jar to the left of the marked jar that was the container  she usually puts caper dill sauce in and it looked a lot like caper dill sauce. Since this is the container where she had always put the caper dill sauce in the past, I believed it must be there now, so I asked one more time: "Where is the caper dill sauce?" 

She said patiently: "It's in the jar marked caper dill sauce."

After more exchanges, during which my voice increased in volume, as if Sarah didn't speak English and if I spoke louder she would suddenly understand, my mind finally opened! The caper dill sauce was in the jar labeled caper dill sauce!  

Initially my mind was a closed mind, which Scott Forrester in The Aware Athlete, notes is similar to a battery on a shelf that never gets used.

Do you have an open mind?  Do expectations have the effect of closing your mind? My goal is to have expanded awareness and interested curiosity - the suggestions left in the comments by Anon last week.

CLUE: Use insect repellent when you go out for a walk. The mosquitoes are plentiful and the few bites I have received swelled, were bright red, and itched like crazy!

Thanks for exploring the mystery - Nicky Mendenhall

Image: I love fountains! This could be anywhere in the world which is to say I don't remember where I received the photo.

Friday, June 21, 2019

My Challenge of Sensing and Feeling - #90

Join me in contemplating the following sentences:  

"Sense and feel your innate ability without letting conflicting thoughts interfere. When you do this, you are ready to release some of your potential.  Can you see how effort gets in the way of assuming a proper standing position? No matter how much muscular tension we put into trying to stand well, it is immersion in the process of sensing and feeling that helps us to release energy efficiently, not the effort to try harder that brings us close bit by bit to the ideal of standing." The Aware Athlete  

Since May 28th, I've been attending Tai Chi for Balance classes where I practice banishing the conflicting thoughts referenced above. Thoughts that pop up in my head. Notions like: "I can't do this!" or "I will never remember this." In the past when I practiced Tai Chi, these types of thoughts interfered. I don't want that to happen again. 

It's interesting, if some one tells me to try harder, I can easily do that. However, if I'm told to sense and feel, I want to give up. I think: I don't know how! I'm learning that in order to sense and feel, slowing down is required. I need to develop gentle trust in myself.

Please let me know if you have ideas for how to manage conflicting thoughts. Do you ever encounter negativity when you try to learn a new skill or way of being? How do you manage your inner dialogue? Do you have the ability to sense and feel bodily sensations? How did you learn? What do you fear would happen if you slowed down?

Thank you for exploring the mystery - Nicky Mendenhall

CLUE: Open the dictionary in the middle section and pick a word to think about for a day or two. Perhaps say it out loud. It can be a new word or one you love. When I opened my paperback Random House Webster's Dictionary of American English (that I purchased from Half Price Books because I was advised real writers need to have a paperback dictionary on their desks), I found the word horizon. I remember how my Dad sat in his aluminum web folding chair and gazed over the fields towards the horizon. He knew exactly where the sun would set based on the season. He didn't want any darn mountains in his way! I will look for ways to use the word horizon in the next few days. The word has already brought me pleasure. Please let me know what word you choose and what associations you have.

IMAGE: This was the view from my room when I attended a workshop in New Zealand last December. It was beautiful!

Friday, June 14, 2019

Repeat After Me - #89

"Every day in every way I am getting better and better."

Have you heard similar sayings in the past? I have. Frankly, I used to turn up my nose at words like this. But when Scott Forrester, in The Aware Athlete, describes the use of "auto suggestion," with phrases like this, I am tempted to give it a try. 

He says if you give voice to this phrase at dawn's early light and then again at the dimming of the sun in a focused, relaxed, accepting manner, you will be moving toward the elimination of conflicting thoughts that interfere with releasing your potential. (My paraphrase of page 236)

The psychoanalytical literature in which I've been swimming is convoluted in ways that match my paraphrase. I believe I've been infected. Let me assure you that Scott has not. If you can't understand my language, please buy his book. You won't be sorry.

Similar to this idea of focusing on the possible, I've been trying to celebrate progress when it happens. On Wednesday I attended a Tai Chi Balance class, an Active Adults class, and went for a short walk all without pain. I'm celebrating because six months ago, I wouldn't  have had been able to do this! Thursday I went for a two mile walk! Friday morning I have a very tight hamstring but I can stretch that! 

How do you calm your conflicting thoughts and unleash your potential? What do you need to celebrate? I'd love to know!

CLUE: Pick a book you haven't looked in for awhile. Open it randomly and see what you learn. I love doing this!

Thanks for exploring the mystery - Nicky Mendenhall

Image: After not seeing crows for several weeks, I've noticed two huge black crows in our backyard. They are so loud that I couldn't miss them. Crows always remind me of my New Zealand friend Jo, who loved crows. I wish she could return like the crows.

Friday, June 7, 2019

How Would You Like Your Eggs? - #88

I'm wading through psychoanalytic literature searching for tidbits to include in my memoir. It only seemed fair to share a provocative bit here:    

"In our dreams," Anna Freud (Sigmund's daughter) said, "we can have our eggs cooked exactly as we want them, but we can't eat them." 

She continues:

"In reality, we can eat our eggs because they are not cooked exactly as we want them."

Here's how I tried to make sense of this: 

I went for a seemingly perfect walk on Tuesday - neither my leg nor my left foot hurt which was a cause for celebration. It was 78 degrees and the path was beautiful. I felt full of gratitude. It was like a dream come true.

In reality: Nature gifted me with three very large annoying bites on my neck and collarbone that itch and are very distracting. 

Take away- Nothing is perfect. Do you agree? Can you give me an example of how your dreams and reality are different? Are you able to be happy with less than perfection?

CLUE: Set the timer for 15 minutes and stretch your body slowly while enjoying the fact that you have a body. Tell me how it goes.

Image: Picture from a glorious bouquet a few weeks ago.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Do You Have Confidence? - #87

The new Fitness Pyramid that Scott Forrester designed in The Aware Athlete is down to earth and helpful. I think it is time for full disclosure: Scott does NOT pay me! I'm getting so much out of his book that it only seems natural to share.

Last week we looked at Potential and Intention as foundational blocks of the new pyramid. Scott says that intention is closely allied with belief of two kinds and that in order to take action, you must believe the action is possible.

The first belief he cites is the innate belief or confidence in your humanity and in your particular gifts. I have spent years in psychoanalysis learning to believe in myself and to have a realistic view of my humanity and reality. It has been an amazing process - so amazing that I'm writing a memoir about it. 

How do you build up your belief in yourself? What does confidence in your humanity look like for you? What would it take for you to be able to say Parker Palmer's statement: "Every Day I get closer to the brink of everything." with excitement and joy? What do you think he means by brink of everything? Do you feel this way when you wake up in the morning?

Next week we will look at the second important belief!

CLUE: Check your supply of bandages. You may not need them now but when you do, you will be happy you have them on hand.

Image: Compass plants on the prairie complements of Carl Kurtz. The computer says this was received in 2013. How can it be that long ago? Lately, I've been aware of how fast the time goes by. Have you?

Friday, May 24, 2019

TWO Foundations: Potential and Intention - #86

The author of The Aware Athlete, Scott Forrester, proposes a New Fitness Pyramid that we will begin to examine. Here are two foundation pieces of this new structure for us to ponder:

1. Potential: The innate ability you have but have not yet used.

2. Intention: A decision to use some of that potential.

Do you think we need help to find our potential and set our intention? I do.

Part of what I have learned during the last year is that I have innate physical abilities I haven't used. How do I know this? Because I work with a personal trainer (email me if you want information about her services - she's really helped me) who designs my fitness exercises. Then she watches me exercise and encourages me to give it a try when I say, "I can't do that!" It surprises me every time she's right.

The decision to use more of my potential bodily ability was re-enforced when the surgical procedure for NPH was successful. The surgeon was clear after sewing me up that I needed to walk, a LOT, if I wanted to be mobile. 

What do you need to discover your potential and make a decision? It's difficult to keep working out and believing in ourselves but we can! Let me know what you think of these two components of the new fitness pyramid and stay tuned for more on this.

CLUE: Purchase some bing cherries and enjoy spitting out the seeds!

Thanks for exploring the mystery - Nicky Mendenhall

Image: The strangest city hall I've ever seen in Nelson, NZ.

Friday, May 17, 2019

This Is Not About Imagination Per Se - #85

"To understand what a person means or says, it's basically necessary to already know what that person means or is saying."*

Do I think that is true? Been pondering this observation for several days. 

Thinking that I know what the other person is saying interferes with hearing what they actually are saying, at least sometimes.  Especially if what they say is different from my expectations. But that's the opposite of what the sentence above is inferring isn't it?

I'd love to know what you think. The implications are serious I think. I will continue to think about this while I'm polishing up Chapter 1 of my memoir describing my experience in psychoanalysis and beginning another revision of Chapter 2. I also have to search my old journals for entries that may be used. "Look at your old journals as you look at literature," my book coach suggested. Wish me luck!  

Thanks for exploring the mystery - Nicky Mendenhall
*This is a line from Go, Went, Gone, a fascinating novel by Jenny Erpenbeck that I highly recommend.  

Image is from Edward Burtynsky's exhibit on Water that we viewed at the Faulkner Gallery in Grinnell, 2013.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Are You A Disappointed Cynic? - #84

Here is an idea that needs a bumper sticker: Worry is imagination.
When we worry, we are imagining only the things that we don't want to happen.  

In order not to worry, I'm learning that if I remember the natural flow of most everything, I won't be disappointed. I think disappointment is the underlying reason for worry and its cousin cynicism. 

Writing a memoir about my experience in Freudian psychoanalysis has taught me about the ups and downs of creativity. Some days the writing flows, other days it is a real struggle. 

My task is to keep writing and not worry or get cynical. Sometimes it is difficult. I bet you can understand that. Is it difficult for you not to worry? Do you think worry is misguided imagination? I'd love to hear from you. Our discussion on imagination has been fascinating.

CLUE: I put all of our pot holders in the washing machine yesterday. I feel happy when I look at how clean they are so the hint for happiness this week is to wash your pot holders! 

Thanks for exploring the mystery - Nicky Mendenhall

Friday, May 3, 2019

True Confession - #83

I limit myself when I define a word. 

What happens when I do this? 

I feel righteous and exhibit the characteristics of a fundamentalist. I know the right definition. This is a group I never planned to join. Adhering to  this stance means there is room in my brain for only one definition. As a writer, and also as a reader, multiple meanings need to be available. So, I have to change 

In the past I have conjured up a very restricted idea of imagination. I'm not sure when my understanding of imagination narrowed to mean believing in Peter Pan or some far out reality. With the help of your comments, plus analyzing this in psychoanalysis, it has become clear I've been thinking that magic and imagination are synonymous. 

Have you ever caught yourself limiting a definition, thus limiting the meaning of a word?  And I will ask you again, what does imagination mean to you? Please hit reply to this email though my brother says he tried that and it didn't work. I contacted tech man but haven't heard back as of this moment. If you go to the website and click on comments, you should be able to put your comment in a little box. Then hit publish and it will tell you your remarks are being sent to the moderator (me). I would love for this to work and to hear from you! I'm imagining that someday this will all work!

CLUE: Feed someone besides yourself a piece of fruit. Let me know what happens.

Thanks for exploring the mystery - Nicky Mendenhall

Image: I pulled out of my files at random this image of Kali that sits on our fireplace mantle. I had to laugh when I realized she stands for death and doomsday as well as  motherly love! Laughing now that she sits and stands!