Monday, November 22, 2010

A Wannabe Burglar and a Mother’s Grace

We all have our stories. Stories we love to tell from our life’s book. Some stories grow old, or maybe our lesson is learned, so we no longer need to retell them. Those are closed chapters.

Others always seem fresh. They bring up certain welcome thoughts or feelings no matter how many times or years in the telling.

My new friend Robyn told me one of her stories last week. I will share it here in her words, as I remember them.

My daughter was home, not feeling well one day. She was on my bed upstairs. Sometimes snuggling into momma’s bed is the best thing for healing.

She was sleeping, so I left to run a few errands. When I returned, the window was broken out of the back door. Electricity surged through me. Someone broke into my home with my daughter asleep upstairs. I need to get to her NOW.

As I started heading up the stairs, a young man, arms full of our laptops and such, was coming down. I started to speak, mind crazed, to this man between me and my daughter. “What are you doing”… I demanded. Then, “put that stuff down on the table.” He did. ‘Do you have a weapon,” I asked. He had kept one hand out of sight.

“No,” he said.

“Let me see your hands.”

The hand he’d kept hidden was wrapped in one of my bathroom towels and was bleeding heavily. I was insane with a need to get up to my daughter. “Lemme see your hand,” I said. He held it out to me. “We need to get this cleaned up. You sit down. I’m going up to get some things to clean these wounds.”

“What would your mother think,” I said, almost under my breath as I headed toward the stairs.

My daughter was not in my room. I looked out the front window and saw that her car was gone. She must have gotten up and left before the young burglar showed up. I sat on the edge of my bed, somewhere between breaking down and punching something.

After I pulled myself together, I got the peroxide and bandages.

He was still sitting at the table (I figured he would have made a run for it but …)

As I cleaned his wounds, he started to cry. “My mother would be so disappointed if she knew,” he said. Then he reached into his pocket and returned heirloom rings and jewelry that had been in my family for several generations. “What can I do to make it up to you,” he asked.

“Well, you can fix the door,” I said.

We went to the hardware store, got a new pane of glass and some trim. He fixed the window. When he went to leave, I handed him $20. “I don’t know what your situation is, but twenty dollars should help you for a day or two. Take it.” He took the money and left.

Every year, on Mother’s Day, I get a card from him. I have gotten them for 18 years now.

I was speechless after hearing Robyn’s story. I’m glad she hasn’t worn tired of telling it. I wonder what the story would sound like from the wannabe burglar, and if he still tells it.

Dawnya Clarine
Soul Appeal

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Puddle Party

I voted today.

My polling place is an elementary school.

I showed up a few minutes before 8 AM, early, so I waited in my car, reading and watching kids walking down the sidewalks to school.

It has been raining in Sandpoint. Of course it’s been raining in Sandpoint. It’s fall. It’s always raining in Sandpoint. There was a good supply of puddles in the uneven sidewalks. That’s another given in Sandpoint, potholes and uneven sidewalks makes for lots of puddles.

Anyway, I watched the kids negotiating the puddle directly in front of my car.

The first two girls, probably 7 years old, stopped and carefully skirted around the puddle. It was just in the way. They had boots on, but didn’t want to get them wet I guess.

The next second-grade pedestrian was attired in high-top Converse All-Stars and Pippy Longstocking-style hosiery. She stopped, gazed into the puddle, skimmed the surface with her high top and then proceeded to stomp both feet in the puddle, before sprinting to the door. My kind of kid.

Then came a pair of blond elementary-goers to the puddle. Both bent at the waist, looked at their reflections in the puddle, burst into giggles, and jumped cleanly over the pool. Must have been a good two feet across, and they were flying!

There was a constant stream of kids taking their turns at that puddle for the 20 minutes I sat there.

It occurred to me that every kid that came along saw that puddle in their own unique way. Some didn’t see it at all, they only saw themselves, and that was ok too.

What a perfect place to participate in the democratic process - freedom at work, and the future of it all out exercising their simple right to see things as they want to.

I’m glad I live where I can vote. Where children can look into their very own puddle and dream whatever they want.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Vote for us!

Vote for us!: "Vote for us!"

If you like Dawnya's songs, please vote for her using the link above. The winner of this contest will open for the Bangles.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Dawnya Featured on Women's Radio

Dawnya is featured on Harmonium on Women's Radio this month.


Listen *Live* as WomensRadio broadcasts the finest Independent Female Musicians in every style & genre, from all around the world.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Free download of Walking on Water

This month's free download is the title track from my album Walking on Water.

The song is about remembering your greatness, all you can do! Feel free to share the link/download with your friends.

Snippet of the lyrics:

Woke up this morning
Went for a walk

Surprised myself
When I walked off the dock

Even more surprised
I didn't sink

Not sure what happened
Not sure what to think

And now I'm Walking on Water ...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Procrastination and Potato Chips

I am a procrastinator. There, I said it. No taking it back.

Webster’s dictionary says procrastination is to postpone something you dread. Here’s the silly part, I procrastinate doing the things I truly enjoy – writing, performing, singing – which makes no sense. If I’m going to put off the things I love, why can’t I procrastinate eating potato chips?

These things I enjoy so much (yet delay doing) are also my work. I guess I still struggle to see how something I love doing, something that makes me feel good to the core, can be called work, can be valued as work. Isn’t work supposed to be, well, work?

Not according to people in the know. Shakti Gawain, in her most excellent book Creative Visualization suggests, “You don’t have to exert effort to get where you want to go; you simply keep clearly in mind where you would like to go and then patiently, harmoniously follow the flow of the river of life until it takes you there.” In The Secret, there is one account after the other of living the life you desire easily, without effort, while enjoying the ride.

I believe this. In concept, it makes complete sense. Yet, that nagging voice in the back of my head keeps saying, “and what do you have to show for your efforts?” There’s the rub.

What I have to show is words, songs that dissipate into thin air, performances that, as soon as the curtain call is over, join the songs in the ether. I have nothing tangible to show for my efforts.

So, I procrastinate – which my synonym finder also calls delay, dawdle, dilly dally. Do I want to be a dilly dallier? I don’t think so.

I can dilly dally and do diddly, or do what I love and at least do something. Seems like I need to come to terms with the obvious fact that who I am and what I do cannot be measured in the tangible. My work cannot be held. But it can (and does?) have value (even if I never know what that value is).

I better go eat some potato chips and think on this awhile.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Good People Everywhere

I had a great “people” day last Thursday.

First, I was invited to meet the members of a public affairs firm in Spokane The meeting was the result of a couple of e-mails I sent off to somebody I didn’t know, who called me back, invited me to his house and whom, I’m sure, will become a good friend.

He saw something in my e-mail that said we might help people by working together. I left the meeting feeling good about people and the potential for doing good things for good reasons.

I then stopped by the Volkswagen dealership in Spokane Valley, WA.

Pardon me while I give you the set up: Our old VW (160,000 miles and counting) required a new battery last week. When power is gone from the car the radio goes into a “SAFE” mode which means no music until you reset the thing. You’re supposed to be able to disarm by pressing buttons and entering a code. I did all the right button pushing (I think) but the radio wouldn’t come back on. It just kept flashing SAFE SAFE SAFE.

So there I was at the VW dealership. No appointment. Didn’t buy the car there. I walked up to the service counter. Jeff, the assistant manager, smiled and said something like “hot enough for you?” and proceeded to listen to my rambling story about the radio.

He grabbed a special tool., walked with me to the old Jetta. With a flick of the tool, he popped the radio out of the dash, read a code from the side of the radio, walked back inside, checked the validity of the code on-line, walked back out to my car’s 100-plus-degree interior, pulled a couple of plugs out of the radio replaced them, held down the two buttons. SAFE disappeared as promised and yes, music!

“There ya go.”

“How much do I owe ya?”

“Not a thing”


Then I traveled back to Sandpoint, looking for a place to have an antique pewter flask engraved before sending it to my son for his birthday. I had procrastinated getting it done.

First shop, “Sorry, try the trophy shop in Ponderay.” Then she gave me directions and told me she liked the flask.

Good gift daddy-oh!

The trophy shop. “We can do it, but you want it by when?!!! Kinda poor planning on your part.”

“Yep. Guilty as charged..”

“ No matter. Have you tried the Jewelry Store in the Mall?”

“Nope, wanted to try you first.”

“Here, I’ll call the Jewelry Store for you.”

“Huh? You don’t have to do that.”

“No problem, sorry we couldn’t get it done for you by tomorrow. Maybe they can.” She dialed the phone and handed it to me.

“Jewelry Store. Sure, right up our alley. Tomorrow? No Problem.”

These days do come along. And they come along more often when I remember to serve others as I want to be served.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Grammy's, A Burrito, and a Sick Boy

Friday I walked over to the post office to send off the Soul Appeal Records entries to the Grammy’s. I’m pretty sure my feet weren’t touching the ground. It’s just plain fun to throw your songs into the music industry hat, see what happens.

Once posted, I headed back to the office via a different route, this one in front of the Daily Bee (our local newspaper), where there was apparently a “yard sale” going on. The sale was on both sides of the sidewalk, so foot traffic was funneled through. Yes, I looked. Voila, I found two picnic table cloths (on the list for the camp box), but no prices. I got in line to inquire.

The woman in front of me handed over a twenty for her few items and was on her way. Turns out this was a sale “by donation” and the money was going to a boy in town who has brain cancer. The family, including cousins and extended relatives, were giving up household belongings, sporting equipment, every single thing they could spare to raise money for medical care for the young boy.

Both feet now solidly on the ground, I watched as person after person gave $10, $20, $50 dollars to help a boy they did not know. I watched as the things that were being sacrificed by one family to try and save a life were finding new homes at prices they probably didn’t see new.

When you made a donation, you got a coupon for a free burrito from Joel’s (the best Mexican food anywhere, served up by the nicest people you could hope to meet). So I got Tim and we walked to Joel’s. Joel said, “the coupon is good only on Sundays,” (the day they are closed). “And I was going to tell you how great I thought you were for being so generous and giving,” I replied. We all had a good, neighborly laugh.

While we enjoyed our lunch, a friend from the radio station was chatting with us. “What’s going on over at the Bee,” he asked. I told him. “I’ve got a few spare bucks in my pocket,” he said, “I’ll take it over.”

Tim and I could both feel the tears stinging our eyes.

People want to help. People do not want to see others in pain. People are inherently good.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Around the Bend

I just got back from camping at the St. Joe River in North Idaho. Note to self: An air mattress, with two people, just doesn’t cut it. If Tim moved at all, I mean if the guy breathed, it caused a ruckus on my side. I had to hold on for dear life to stay on board. Must have been the same for him because when I suggested separate mats next time, he said, “maybe separate tents.” Looks like the sleeping arrangements need a little work.

First morning I took a hike while Tim got settled in at his fishing spot. I wandered up a creek that feeds into the Joe. Around the first bend, grey headed cone flowers that were at least six feet tall. The next curve opened to a small meadow of Indian Paintbrush, St. John’s Wort, wild Lupine and Phlox. Stunning!

Because of the twists and turn of the path, I could never see what was coming next. I couldn’t see what awaited me until I was on it. A small waterfall, ripe wild raspberries (yum), a hillside covered with flat, red rocks, one of which was shaped like a heart. Around every bend something new, delightful, perfect.

On my trip back, I was thinking how not knowing what came next was exhilarating, seemed to make everything more vibrant and alive. Just like life.

When I am willing to be surprised, to let life unfold, to let go of control (hey, we never truly have it anyway) life is perfect.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Two Strangers Having A Laugh

Living in Sandpoint, Idaho has it upsides - beautiful views, sparkling water, sailing, fishing, and skiing. And it downsides - it’s 6 hours to Seattle, 8 hours to Portland, the closest cities with Trader Joe’s stores.

Consequently, when any of our friends make those trips, we all send along a list for cheese, crackers, wine, nuts, and other favorite TJ’s items. It also means we have a couple of the reusable Trader Joe’s bags around and in use all the time. (We’re trying to do our part to keep the plastic bags out of the landfill, the ditches, the lake, and the trees).

Yesterday, I rode my bike over to the Sandpoint Safeway store for some sandwich fixin's, a couple of apples and a cold six pack to take to my play rehearsal (my turn to provide the liquid creativity).

I put it all in my reusable, Trader Joe's, multi-colored bag and was pedaling down the avenue, trying to keep my balance with about 10 lbs of stuff hanging off my left wrist. (I crashed once with a gallon of milk under the same circumstances, but that's another story for another time).

At a stop sign, a guy in a Mercedes pulls up by my left handlebar. The passenger window hisses down and he says, across the passenger seat, "hey, where's the nearest Trader Joe's?" (tourist).

I said, "Seattle … and it was a bleeding long ride."

A beat …

Then the guy absolutely cracked up. Put his car in neutral and laughed. Says, "they still got 2 buck Chuck?" (TJ's signature cheap wine).

"Yeah, but it's just Chuck now, ‘cause it doesn't cost 2 bucks any more."

"Yeah, well what does?" He was laughing as he pulled away. And so was I.

That was fun.

Two strangers having a laugh.

There's pretty good stuff everywhere really, and it doesn’t cost much either.

Monday, July 19, 2010

A Soggy Season Ignites Ideas

This has been a long spring. The rain started in March and stopped less than 2 weeks ago. All the outdoor work I usually have done by Memorial Day is getting done now … and there is a lot of it. Every spare minute I’m out there power washing decks, pulling weeds, mulching, touching up paint, mowing, trimming trees … well, you get the idea. I usually look forward to this work, but that is when it’s spread over a couple months.

Henry Wallace, Secretary of Ag and the US Vice President a long time ago, once said, “gardeners never die, they have to live to see what comes up in the spring.” That’s me. Every spring I’m out scouting the gardens waiting for the fresh new growth to greet me. This year, I squiged my way out to the gardens, stood there in the pouring rain, and nothing looked back!

So this got me thinking about how I spend my time, and that lead to an idea. Now, whenever I say to Tim, “I’ve had a thought,” he gets that oh-no-what-is-it-this-time look. So, I smiled sweetly and said, “I think we should sell the house, buy a bus, outfit it like a smallish … okay real tiny home, and hit the road. Write and play music, meet people, see the country.” During the split second while his jaw was dropped and words couldn’t form, I jumped back in. “We spend every spare minute working on the house. That’s hardly a dream, American or otherwise.”

“What about your airjet baths,” he asked. “What about your Viking kitchen?” Well yes, I MAY be attached to those particular luxuries. But he didn’t out-and-out say no.

This week I have sent Tim several e-mails, most of them referenced a Flower Power bus in his future, or the Partridge Family. He’s half-heartedly humoring me, pretending to go along, but afraid I’m serious. “Just what I need, to become a hippie at 56,” he said. I could think of worse things you could become at 56.

So all this leaves me with a few questions: Can I walk away from my home and my life as I know it in pursuit of simplification? If I simplify, will I spend more time on the “fun” stuff or fill the void with some new tasks? How do two people pursue their vastly different dreams when one of those dreams is to also be together? Looks like I’ve got a little more thinking to do.


Friday, July 9, 2010

Offering and Accepting

I have a good friend, Dee, who called her neighbor, Rae, who is getting married in a few weeks.

Dee called to offer the use of her stunning home as a place to host wedding guests. (Rae’s wedding is in her yard and it is way off the beaten path).

Seems Dee was going to be out of town during the wedding and thought Rae might just need some extra rooms and possibly refrigerator space after the party. Her house will just be sitting there. And it’s so close to the Wedding.

Dee left a message on Rae’s machine a couple of times. “Hey give me a call when you have a chance.”

Rae called back about a week later. She had put off calling because she was apprehensive that the call might be about some difficulties that had come up with some new members of the neighborhood. (Just what Rae needed on top of all the wedding plans).

When Dee made the offer of her home for Rae’s use, Rae was overwhelmed.

“My fiancĂ©e’s best friend from college just called and wants to come. We were so excited, but we had no idea where we would put them. I was afraid they weren’t going to make it if we didn’t find a place for them to stay,” said Rae. “It’s like this miracle just dropped out of the sky. This is just perfect.”

A big smile on each end of the phone.

Offering and accepting.

A perfect gift for both.

When we allow someone to give to us, often that provides the giver something vitally important toward being the kind of person they want to be.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Listening, Giving, and a Hummingbird's Nest

Dawnya and I participate in Couch Surfing. You may know about it. It's worldwide. Basically, we go stay with strangers and they come and stay with us. During the day or two you spend together, you've shared meals, swapped stories, and usually you end up with new friends or at least having learned something new.

We had a new friend from Wisconsin stay with us last weekend. Turns out she has a 15 year-old son who is enrolled in one of the wilderness schools near here. His particular struggles and risky behaviors (along with the usual teen difficulties) have consumed her life and everyone around him. So, she and her husband mortgaged everything in an effort to get him in a place where he cannot harm himself, can learn some more positive behaviors, and so they can get their lives back.

We didn't know this when we accepted her request to "surf" at our home. She needed to let a lot of stuff out, to vent, to know her thoughts and feelings are OK, that she's OK. As we listened, it was uncanny how her 15 year-old sounds so much like our son. And we just happened to have gone through a lot of the same things, the same questioning. We sat up late around our fire ring, looking at the full moon, and mostly listening.

Before we all turned in, she said, "I feel better right now than I have in about 5 years. You guys are so inspiring." That's sweeter than "good night, sleep tight", wouldn't you say?

The next day, she and I hiked for about 3 hours around the creek near our house. We stopped for a drink by a small stream. She looked up and saw something I had been looking to find for 40 years. There it was, about 7 feet off the ground, with a grey-green mother sitting on her eggs, being transparent.

I don't know why I've always wanted to find a hummingbird's nest, but it’s been a major thing on my bucket list. I haven't had much luck tailing them. They're getting faster every year. I never would have seen that golf ball-sized miracle without our new friend from Wisconsin.

I was reminded that when you give without any expectation of a payback, something will come to you that you can't see coming or put a value on.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Me, Me, Me – A Lesson From My Cat

Modine, the large, grey cat I belong to, never says meow. He sticks with the first syllable, me.

Me, me, me. That’s all he ever says. No apologies, uh uh.

Most of us see that as selfish, maybe even bordering on rude. We were raised to think of others, to give, to focus out.

Well, yes, that’s true. But I’ve been spying on Modine, and I think he’s onto something.

When he is tired, he sleeps.

When he is curious, he watches.

When he’s hungry, he eats.

When he needs help, he asks for it, “meeee”

When the sun is shining, he finds a nice patch of sunlight and stretches out to enjoy it.

When he wants love, he gives it.

When he’s feeling playful, he plays.

And, when he’s tired, he sleeps. (yes, I did already say this but you know cats).

What if, even for a few minutes a day, we were more like Modine? What if we twirled if we felt like twirling, clapped our hands along with the music, drove fast on that cool spot in the road while shouting woo hoo, walked away from the computer and stretched out in a patch of sunlight? Would that make us selfish? I don’t think so. I think we would have and be more fun and be more at peace. We would be more whole and have more to give.

I’m being the cat, “meeee”.


Listen to He’s A Cat, if you like sassy jazzy tunes.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The End of Blame is the Beginning of a Great Organization

What do people fear most? Criticism. Put another way, blame.

In his book, If God Stops Working, James Dale forwards the theory that many concepts of (G)od were created in order to have someone to blame for the mishaps and tragedies that we can’t logically explain or don’t want to accept.

I think he’s right. People want a reason. Who can be held responsible when things don’t go as planned? “We don’t like the outcome. Who’s to blame? Whose stupid idea was this anyway?”

And then there’s pre-blame, “That won’t work.” Followed by the blamer’s mantra, “I knew it wouldn’t work. Told you so!”

Where does perpetuating that age-old bad habit get you as a leader? Inactivity, while stuck in the “safe”, comfortable ways of doing things. No innovation. No growth. No productive thinking. No risk taking. No success and no fulfillment.

No fun.

Don’t confuse not reaching goals (factual) with being blamed (emotional). Can you take the blame out of your group or company?

What if you said, “Nice try. Now, what did we learn?” Or maybe, “Don’t stop trying the new things. If we stop, we’ll get buried.”

What if you said that, and your actions and other words showed you really meant it? People would step up and be the leaders you hired them to be. Those people would get out of bed ready to accomplish something every morning.You’d be leading the groups or organization you always wanted to be a part of.

And you would keep and attract the best.

In his book, Linchpin, Seth Godin talks about having “bad idea” sessions. Bring your worst ideas and throw them on the table. Thing is, there’s always at least one good one in there.

Without the threat of blame, those hidden ideas come to the surface and get used.

Find the way to encourage and welcome criticism in your organization. Forget the blame.

Leaders accept effort, risk, and creativity. They shoulder the responsibility for encouraging “outlandish thoughts” and make impossible futures a reality.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

No Greatness in Making Anyone Feel Small

Today I previewed Kevin Hall’s new book, Aspire. I admit that, coming on the heels of more than 20 self-help, I can be anything I want type-books, my enthusiasm and attitude were a little limp. I mean sheesh, I’m living in the now, the secret is no longer a secret, and I can meditate and mantra right along with the best of them.

I’m not making fun of anything here, except for the fact that when I decide to do something it’s with a vengeance. While the last 18 months of searching, trying new concepts and growing have been wonderful, the fact that I went at it with such velocity is kinda like missing the point, right?

Back to Aspire. The Forward, by Stephen R. Covey, seemed to go on forever (yawn). I fast forwarded to chapter one. I am hooked.

Hall has identified 11 words whose deepest meanings can cause us to be the kind of people we aspire to be, maybe are born to be. In chapter one, we meet Pravin who reveals one of the words, Genshai. Here’s an excerpt:

Genshai (pronounced gen-shay) means that you should never treat any person in a manner that would make them feel small. As children in India, we are taught to never look at, touch, or address another person in a way that would make them feel small. If I were to walk by a beggar in the street and casually toss him a coin, I would not be practicing genshai. But if I knelt down on my knees and looked him in the eye when I placed that coin in his hand, that coin became love.

Genshai also applies to treating ourselves small. How often in a month, a week, a day do we dishonor ourselves? Forget our greatness? How often do we view ourselves through judgmental, foggy glasses instead of with a clear view?

Today, I learned a new word, Genshai. With it comes the responsibility to treat myself big. I can do that.

Promise to never treat yourself small. Will you do that?


Friday, June 4, 2010

The surprising truth about what motivates us

A while back, a group of friends and I were discussing our need, not just a want but a passionate need, to do something that matters. To put good into the world.

I assumed this need to make a positive contribution was due largely to the age of the folks in the group, all 40+. And, that we were all well into our careers and have had positions, at one time or another, that were for an economic good, rather than the common good of people. It seems that my assumptions about what drives our need to do good was a bit off the mark.

According to Dan Pink's animated video, Drive, as the days of top-down management are winding down, and the era of innovative, creative thinking across organizations is upon us, people of all ages everywhere are motivated by giving, accomplishing, doing good stuff - and all without monetary incentive or reward.

When you have 10 minutes, watch Dan's video and let me know you thoughts. Dawnya

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Being, Doing, Having

I once wrote a quote which, at the time, I thought to be brilliant and unique, Be More, Don't Have More. OK, so it might need a little polishing but you can see where I was going, right?

Years later, I stumbled across a wonderful book (that had been written years before my clever quote) called Creative Visualization by Shakti Gawain.

She said, "being, doing and having are like a triangle where each side supports the other. Often people attempt to live their lives backward - they try to have more things or money, in order to do what they want, in order to be happier." I think she's onto something! "The way it actually works" she continued, "is the reverse. You must first be who you are, then do what you need or want to do, in order to have what you want." Isn't she the clever girl!

Today, if you have a few spare moments do a quick bubble graph (come on, it's fun and you deserve a few minutes just for you). On top of the page, list and circle all the things that describe who you want to be (mine says things like positive, fun, present). Next, list and circle what you want to do once you are being who you want to be (mine includes write songs, help people, make short movies). And last, list in bubbles what you want to have (I was surprised by how short this list was, but mine included things like eat excellent food and have fun and funky clothes for performing).

I want to hear what you come up with and see if there was anything that surprised you.


Monday, May 31, 2010

Soul Appeal blog to launch soon

Soul Appeal, which is launching soon, will be loaded with lots of fun stuff that appeals to your soul. Music, stories, photos, videos, and any other tidbits or recommendations we think will bring something good to your life.

If you have come across something you would like us to share at Soul Appeal, shoot an e-mail to

Be seeing you soon,

The Soul Appeal folks