I rested.

Now that my mini-sabbatical is over, I am back and ready to focus on the second half of the Dare to Excel challenge.

Interestingly enough, challenge number 9 has been working itself out in my life behind the scenes. In my time away I had a lot of productive conversations about the new space and my life reboot. These talks provided me a chance to really process also how I can bring the re-tooled and freshly shined pieces of myself to others.

I know it all sounds so very vague. But we are working with a primordial creature here. Which is perfect that challenge 9 says “Allow for messiness.”

This is also where we are asked to:

  • “Invite a few people behind the scenes.”
  • “Invite feedback.”

I have continued the personal ritual process that I defined initially and just engaging others on the topic has seemed fruitful and helpful to all parties involved. It’s like some kind of massive permission giving to restore the sacred to the mundane. IMG_20150725_141734

I have also been inspired by friends who work on a very regular traditional spiritual and religious schedule, and those who have forged their own paths and help others to the same, healing through nature and the seasons.
The prompt’s last message included what I will call “the escape hatch”–

  • “In the words of Lean Start-up author Eric Riess, then decide whether to move forward and persevere to publish the big project or to pivot toward a different project.”

While I have no desire to abandon the everyday project, I have seen ways I can expand and share what I am gaining through that process. And it, most ironically, relates to my first draft of my burning question, where I asked, “What if we sought inspiration for daily acts of creativity in people’s personalities and experiences, in our relationships to one another?”

You see, I study and teach personality theory, but it has never felt good for me to do so in big groups. I like the small group or one on one discussion where people discover who they are and begin to create a new vision of their self in relationship to the world, friends and family. It’s art. It is. It isn’t tangible, but it is transformative.

As I struggled through leaving another aspect of my life behind recently, my darling Kevin pointed out that I lead people and groups to transform and resistance comes to me when those people aren’t ready for the journey.
I think I need to find a way to work with people who are . . .
so there may be a new project in the works already . . . 
Experiment #2

Stay tuned.


reflect and celebrate

I’m doing lots of that these days.

It is the 8th Dare to Excel Challenge,
but having just completed some major life transitions,
I have been tidying up in my emotional world, too,
which is involving carving out quiet time and not apologizing for it.
Now *that’s* my kind of party.

positive changes? yes!
paying attention more to what matters? how did you know!
new relationships? isn’t that surprising!

The positive changes have included the mental and mood benefits of doing less, more frequently. Simple little things like sweeping everyday are really clearing out some majorly funky attitude cobwebs.

I am paying more attention to things at home . . . and home is benefitting.
My darling spouse is even making some major strides in his own attention and growth. It’s all oddly exciting. And makes for great conversations every single day.

Wasn’t the point to de-clutter my life, including my obligations and circle of friends and acquaintances?
Yes, but . . . once things that drain your energy slip away, there is just so much space. It seems infinite. Which I am aware time is NOT.
So, while I am making no strict commitments, there are possibilities afloat for some new adventures.

The rest of this week involves some travel and some great connections,
so it might be a week before I pick back up on the challenge!


Time. We are friends.

Time isn’t something I really struggle with in the way many others do.
I don’t want to change my relationship to time.
If anything I want to stop justifying it.
I have sufficient boundaries and a good acceptance of its natural ebb and flow. My sense of time is more like the ocean than a good dam or reservoir.

Now, in exchange, I don’t really keep track of it. I may waste it.
But at least we aren’t “fighting.”

Dare to Excel has asked me to change my relationship to time.
But we are okay. I can wield time to my advantage if I need to in the moment or for a set amount of time.
After that?

It’s just a calendar grid, clock faces. Empty of numbers and words. Just images of places and items from memory. In other words, if you ask me, yes I recall. But if you want to know when, I won’t know the year or how old I was—I will have to attach the memory to where I lived, how long my hair was, how the furniture was laid out, and place it in linear time that way.

Ability Recycling

Apparently it’s a thing—utilizing skills developed for one area of your life in another. And I am sure we all do it unintentionally all the time.
But as with most things, I am certain a little attention can make the experience all the more powerful!

Challenge #6

is to Identify Cross-Training Opportunities

List 1-5 existing skills you have developed from previous experiences and work that you are bringing forward to this project. 

I am sure I could find ways to repurpose all kinds of skills, ones I really really enjoy using. But I am interested in being focused on items I have deemed necessary or helpful in making my house a home.

In the last challenge I identified 10 skill related goals.
When have I actively done these things in my past?

In school and in college, I was dutiful.
Never missed assignments, always went to class, etc.
So I was good at being consistent, setting next day intentions and following through.

(I grew up in theatre, was an art major and helped start an art gallery once, so mad power skill tools came in pretty handy today while hanging blinds and curtains. See: ACTION i*s* happening. )


In graduate school I was in seminary and set aside time to focus on my spirit as part of my program. I was regularly meditating, sharing feelings and experiences and setting sacred goals.

When I went back to grad school, this time to study library science, I exceled at documenting progress and organizing.

That just leaves releasing expectations and defining environmental needs.
Tonight I will sit with thoughts of times I may have used these skills and since they may have been less used, focus on these for the coming week.

Good News. Bad News.

The good news is . . . .
The second half of the Project Brief for #daretoexcel came a bit too easily . . .

That is also the bad news. hahahah

In other words, I know and apparently have known and had the power all along to achieve what I may have believed IMPOSSIBLE.

So do we lament all the years of not having or bask in the possibilities for the future?

I mean, duh.
Lamenting has its place, but if you have a choice . . .

Here be my skills listicles.


Who is this for?


That’s what the 4th challenge in #daretoexcel is asking me.

The actual prompt involved who might reap benefits from this work, who our true audience is.

Before I get to that, I am going to consider the concentric circles, the ripples of influence involved in this experiment. (I am crafting a “home” environment by creating sacred mini-practices.)

Doing the work is obviously going to put me at the center of any orb of potential outcomes. My spouse lives in our house, which means that any intentionality in our living space will directly affect him as well. And I do hope we experience a positive shift in environmental energy. But how do you share the most personal of your creative expressions with the world? I would argue that it’s often not about the “thing” anyway—even for painters and ceramicists and people who sell actual physical objects. Writers certainly would agree that their art isn’t the folded paper or epub file, but rather the ideas and stories, experiences and thoughts they inspire in their readers. So if we are peddling inspiration and intangibles, there is certainly a way to share our personal artistic successes. I have seen a lot of artists become business coaches for others. That can only work for so many people, I imagine. In the purely motivational realm, there are hundreds of weight loss or fitness successes who seek to inspire others in getting results. I personally lost 75 pounds a few years ago. I posted a single photo and barely mentioned it until I had met my own goal, partially a fear of failure, but certainly because I just couldn’t be *that* person in someone’s Facebook newsfeed.
So I doubt that the “I did it and so can you” approach is going to work for me.

I suspect my audience will benefit indirectly from the changes that occur as I create my ideal living environment.

But I don’t want to hide what I learn, soooooooo
I guess I will be spending some time finding out how to share openly without the sense of “humble brag” that is a little gaggy for me.

And beyond my experiments who really is in my “patch of the planet?” (my favorite phrase from this prompt)

For now, here is my commitment—to share as much of the process as I can on the blog and in social media. Just letting people into the private world is a big step. I will respond to those who are interested. I will engage others in similar places. I will seek out, to start, a very small group of people in real life and online who might want to do some exercises and incorporate some daily practice of making the everyday sacred.

*** I am sure you are wondering why there is a picture of an old grey garage door here. It’s to prove to myself how one person’s mundane effort can be damn near transcendent.
My darling Kevin has ALWAYS hated home projects. Buying this new house has already changed him. He did this. He painted this garage door. All by himselfs. Bought all the stuffs. Was a little miserable. BUT HE DID IT. (The guv’mt said we had to.) But he did it. And it meant a whole lot. And it inspires me more to care for our property.

Explorer: Mind, Body and Soul

Dare to Excel Challenge #3


I was taking in the world–
Madonna and the Boston Celtics, Moonlighting and Golden Girls,
Cherry Coke, New Coke and back to Classic, We are the World and Live Aid,
a teacher is chosen to go into space and the USSR gets a new leader,
A young boy is diagnosed, a blood test is finally developed, Rock Hudson dies.
Closer yet to me, my grandfather is killed by a drunk driver.
I wore homemade clothes and got chicken pox.

It all happened when I was 9.
And I watched it happen from inside my little world.

I was vulnerable and alert and resourceful.
But mostly I was AWARE, SOLITARY and SERIOUS.

It probably doesn’t sound much like childhood.
But it was mine.
I wasn’t playful, or even really that imaginative.
Mostly I just observed.

But I explored everything from the very safe world my family created for me.
I read books, and hiked mountains, and saw magic.
I explored.


I prepared well to leave that cocoon.
To eventually be more intimate with people, and far less serious.

But sometimes I wonder if I overcorrected.
Or if, at the very least, I couldn’t learn something again from the wise little adult I was.


It’s my favorite word, did ya know?
Well, one of them.

I have decided that right now I especially love its lack of commitment to a particular outcome.

While I intend to continue to work in the future on public creative projects,
I have labeled for myself a new series of personal creative endeavors that will be experimental.

This is the first. It is no small feat, and much groundwork has been laid.
We bought a new house. We purged probably an actual TON of stuff.
We moved everything else in unwieldy rental trucks.

Now it’s here. I have a giant constructed box to live in and probably still an actual TON of stuff . . . and all the possibilities in the world for how to make those elements jive together.

So, I present my second #daretoexcel challenge, the first half of My Project Brief.

My_Project_Brief 1

No time like the Present

I suck at being future oriented—being not very ambitious or competitive.
I feel obligated to the past—giving just enough information and attention to honor it appropriately.
Which leaves me right where I am.
I have a gift for expanding the present moment.
Maybe I should consider Buddhism.

In my blessed blogging absence, there has been no shortage of LIFE HAPPENINGS. We bought a house. We lost a beloved pet. We moved to a new city.
And I did another production of Godspell.
Wherein I desperately attempted to stay present, but a combination of discomfort with the current experience and the overwhelming urge to REMEMBER kept pulling me into my memories.

And I knew I would soon be reflecting and preparing a place for new things to be born, because I wrote this, though never finished or posted it:

”I almost never NEED to write. But for this brand of thinking, I do.
It’s like my brain is reset to 1997. I am a theologian, a pastor, a biblical scholar, a seminary student. I think about religion by writing.
Now that I am a professor, I just talk talk talk. Smile

I find myself back in Godspell—like it’s a town I visited every Summer as a child. There is a faint nostalgia to the present moment. The veil so thin.

Graduate school gave and took many things from me. I gained wisdom and friends; I lost faith . . . and friends.

The greatest gift was hearing the words of Jesus through my friend Johnny.
The gentlest dissenter, the kindest challenger.
No one dares compare a living ordinary human to the Christ.
But that’s what Jesus was. And I heard the New Testament like never before and felt the forging of community—transformation—and fire.

A couple short years and Johnny would be gone. First back home for awhile to California, and then strangely absent from this Earth with no explanation that could ease grieving hearts. He was my congregational studies partner and he was the best conversationalist.

I had the honor of helping to lead the seminary’s memorial for him. I still had our coat rack, his jacket and cane from All for the Best. I used it in the worship design. If I had known how powerfully that would haunt me . . . “

johnny and me


I now find myself quite contentedly back in the Present, but WONDERING, which is dangerously close to my unfamiliar territory . . . the FUTURE.

Having missed a regular practice of purposeful thinking, I have turned to something formal-ish. Something even a little future oriented.
During my busy-busy, Jeffrey Davis presented the world with a visioning period of prompts and exercises, Quest. It wasn’t for me at the time, but I drank in other creative people’s time and devotion to their craft and lives like Gatorade after the big game. Now there is a new challenge, and enough free time and energy for me to accept it. Dare to Excel.

The words Dare and Excel both sort of give me hives, so it must be therapeutically necessary for me.

So I am just gonna expose the process right here, as I think and write.
Seems like a good enough place to begin the work, the re-centering and re-making of my life.

Before I received the first official email, I saw that the prompt was:

What burning question of possibility will influence what & how you create during the next 30 to 90 days?


Calm the hell down, Heidi.
Here were the first questions that came to my mind.
These were the personal questions that might inspire the greater vision and outcomes of a more honed, project driven “burning question of possibility”–
for your amusement, consider these navel-gazing fear-based inquiries:

What if I consider acts of creation essential to my daily life?

What if I wasn’t cripplingly ashamed of my stories?

What if I turned a single thought from my head inside out each day?

What if I really am a writer? (Albeit a wildly undisciplined, non-practicing one . . .)

What the snot am I going to do with that drivel?
Likely nothing.

So, I do what I always do. I unpack my directions. And I research.
And then I said, just write the question. For now. It can change.
Everything can.

What if we sought inspiration for daily acts of creativity in people’s personalities and experiences, in our relationships to one another?

Even still the question evolved. I was a trained minister– am a natural ritualist.
What I need to know is:
Is it possible to craft everyday some event, even a mundane task, in order to perceive the meaning in life that we crave?


Churches are fading. People are still in spiritual starvation.
I am tired of feeling helpless—or only helping myself.

Onward, 2015

We will open the book.
Its pages are blank.
We are going to put words on them ourselves.
The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.
~Edith Lovejoy Pierce

I don’t have any words for 2014.
One would think in a year of such struggle and intensity,
I might have some desire to speak of its misery.
But there was enough light.
Not enough to really see by,
but enough to maintain hope for a brighter year next.

Much has happened to me and around me.
My wish is for more creation, more say so,

more stories that I author for myself.