Panning for Gold – Your Own Wisdom

Posted by Dianne on Mar 31, 2014 in Blog | Tags:, , | No comment

If you have ever spent time in Colorado, you may have had a chance to pan for gold. It is a really fun and relaxing – and I admit – touristy thing to do.  In some ways it feels like journal writing on a very good day.

The process goes this way. You sit by a little stream in the mountains in an area known for gold. Using a shallow pan similar to a pie tin, you begin your search with a scoop of the nearby sandy soil. You fill the pan about two-thirds full and submerge the pan in the stream. The water allows the contents of the pan to begin moving. You gently swirl the pan. The heavier materials – gold flakes and black sand will sink to the bottom of the pan and the lighter materials such as gravel and light sand float to the top. (I find it fascinating that these excess materials that need to be removed to find gold are called “overburden.”) Then you carefully pour off the water and brush the “overburden” out of the pan.



Repeat as many times as it takes until nothing is left in the bottom of the pan but the fine black sand. Add just a little water to the pan and swirl it. If you are lucky you will see fine gold flakes buried in that sand.

This process also allows you to mine for the gold of your own wisdom. Here’s how:

  • Sit by a little stream – or anyplace where you feel comfortable and relaxed.
  • In an area known for gold – your gold is always with you, in your mind and in your heart.
  • Prepare your pan – or in this case your notebook or journal.
  • Begin with a scoop of sandy soil – or whatever material you can unearth from your head and onto the page.
  • Gently swirl the pan – shake those thoughts around, play with words.
  • Watch the overburden float to the top – as you write, you may learn what is holding you back. As your story pours out you feel your burden lighten.
  • Carefully brush the overburden out of the pan – and out of your mind, even if you must shoulder those burdens again when you’re journal session is over.
  • Repeat.
  • Repeat.
  • Repeat – None of those other philosophers and great thinkers figured it all in one sitting.
  • You will see fine gold flakes – If you keep at it, you will find the treasure you are looking for. Then you can share it with the world.


Sweatin’ Like an Oldie

Posted by Dianne on Mar 28, 2014 in Blog, Social Audiences | Tags:, , | No comment

I know that exercise is one of the most reliable happiness boosters, but I have to admit it’s not my favorite thing. So I always look for exercise that looks like fun.

I have started going to a Zumba class. Dance has always been my favorite form of exercise and this is the latest in the long line of exercise/dance combos for me. While I jumped, bumped, shimmied, swayed, kicked, and struggled to keep up the pace at class last night, I paused to think about what made this class different from others I have taken. Oh, all right, I’ll admit it. I was desperately grasping for any reason to pause.

Music (and lyrics) – The beat seems consistently faster to me than anything I have ever danced to. Is that possible or is it just me? I think some of the lyrics may be in Spanish. The Zumba website says the program features a “fusion of Latin and International music.” But I’m sure I heard the words “Zumba” and “Sexy” a couple of times and a lot of repetitions of “left, right, left, right, left right.” That might help if hadn’t gone quite so fast.

Sexiness factor – The lyrical mention of sexiness is not an idle use of the words, there is quite a bit of shimmying, bumping and hip circling involved in this style of dance. I’m sure when they “fused” the International music, they skipped Ireland entirely. I don’t think anyone of my cultural background could effectively carry off these moves. But we can adapt.

Footwear – My footwear has reached a whole new level. I remember my first ballet slippers. They were white and had a little elastic strap to keep them on my skinny feet. I was four years old, fearless and nimble. They were the first in a long line of ballet shoes that included, pink ones, black ones and finally the coveted pink satin toe shoes that meant I had finally attained the mastery level that allowed me to dance “en pointe.” There have also been tap shoes, jazz shoes and character shoes. In my teens and twenties I could swing, twist, frug, watusi, swim, and mashed potato for hours in stilettos, loafers and anything in between.

Things went downhill in the late ‘70s when I started going to “Aerobic Dance” classes. Sure, I wore sneakers. They were required, but they were white and looked somewhat sporty (we convinced ourselves) when paired with crisp white shorts and a bright t-shirt.

Now I am sad to say that the sneakers have orthotics inside and I can’t kick up the heels of them as high as I used to.

Attire – I’m afraid the leotards and tutus of my early dance career are long gone as are the plaid skirts of the ‘60s and ‘70s. The crisp white shorts have given way to yoga pants and tank tops or t-shirts. I have to admit, Zumba is much more about moving than it is about costume.

Age – I just know I am the oldest person in room at this class. It’s not just my speed and crow’s feet that set me apart in this group. The t-shirts mentioned in the previous paragraph sometimes bear legends such as “I’m the bride” on the young lady who mentions getting ready for the first dance at her reception or “Jeffrey Middle School Cheer Class of 2006.” Oh sure I know that means she has been out of middle school for eight years, but how old can she be? 22? These young girls intimidate me. Their triceps don’t wobble at all.

Visible tattoos – There is just one more factor that sets me squarely in the “oldies” category in this exercise class. I have absolutely no visible tattoos. The truth is I have no tattoos at all, but I am afraid to admit this for fear of shocking the younger women in the class.

Sweat level – Well that’s what started me thinking about all this in the first place. I’ve never sweat this much doing anything before. Did I mention Zumba is estimated to burn 11 calories a minute? That means I can burn almost 700 calories in a one hour class. I think I will keep going. So I feel old, so my feet are going in the wrong direction and I am sweating bullets – old bullets. When it’s over, I’ll have a piece of chocolate cake. Oh, come on! I’ve earned it.

Buddy Holly

Posted by Dianne on Mar 23, 2014 in Blog, Social Audiences | Tags:, , | No comment

Last week I had the chance to see The Buddy Holly Story at a local theatre. The theatre’s glittery decor of red velvet everything and lots of crystal chandeliers makes every visit festive. The production featured excellent musicians and singers. The only thing that surprised me was the audience.Buddy Holly was the ultimate rocker, right?So his fans were kids, right?So what were all these old geezers doing in the audience?

I started watching American Bandstand when I was 7 years old.I remember running home from second grade to watch Dick Clark and all the cool teenagers celebrating rock and roll! Those were glorious days! For the next 15 years I could do all the new dances and could sing all the words to the top 40 singles. I was in the know. I expected the audience to be made up of all those rocking teenagers.

So why was I the only kid at The Buddy Holly Story?The crowd reminded me of the bunch I saw at the Paul McCartney concert at the UnitedCenter. Gray-haired grandma types and guys with canes and walkers made up seventy-five percent of that audience. It’s a mystery how, this late in the game, the great rockers are finding a new audience among senior citizens. I didn’t see that one coming.

Three Ways You Tube Can Make You Happy

Posted by Dianne on Mar 21, 2014 in Blog, Social Audiences | Tags:, | No comment

In my ongoing search for ways to bring more happiness into our lives, I have added another tool to the toolbox: You Tube. Here are three ways that You Tube can give you a quick happiness boost.

  1. Find your favorite upbeat song and take a dance break. Pete Seger’s Old Time Rock and Roll works for me. What song becomes an irresistible call for you to dance?
  2. Singing has been shown in multiple studies to raise our happiness levels. If you need a little help to remember the words or carry the tune, You Tube is the answer. Sing along with the artist of your choice.
  3. You Tube can provide an endless supply of laughs. You can find anything from pratfalls to stand-up comedians to my favorite: laughing babies. Click on quads laughing and I’m sure you will find yourself laughing, too.

When you find a few posts on You Tube that make you happy, please write a comment and share it. Making others happy is another sure way to increase your own happiness.

How I Start a Great Day with My Journal

Posted by Dianne on Mar 21, 2014 in Blog, Social Audiences | Tags:, , | No comment

Some people write in their journal in the evening, unwinding and reflecting on their day. I prefer to start my day with my journal using it to make it a great day. Here is how I use my journal to set a positive mood for the day.

I get worries out of my head. “Sufficient unto each day are the worries thereof.” (I know it’s from the Bible, I just can’t remember the book and verse.) Sometimes I wake up anticipating the troubles that might crop up and without my journal I might be off on a day of worry and wheel-spinning. To cut anxiety short, I open my journal and start pouring out all that worry onto the page. My worries are short-circuited. The act of writing down a worry lets my brain knows I am not going to forget about it. There is no need to keep reminding me, no need to dwell on it. What’s more I use my journal to brainstorm possible solutions.

I focus my thinking. I can plan my day on paper. It doesn’t mater if I use my journal to write a To Do list, a shopping list, or just think about how I am going to handle the day’s tasks. My journal gives me a place to think before I jump into my day with both feet.

I write affirmations. To put myself into a positive state of mind, I write affirmations in my journal. I don’t wait for anyone else to say what I need to hear. I know what I need and I write that positive thought five times. As the thought flows from my brain to my hand to the page in front of me, it takes residence in my being.

I daydream on paper. This is one of my favorite ways to use my journal. It is almost like a stream-of-consciousness affirmation. I write about what I would love to be doing – my ideal life. I describe in detail where I would be, what I would be doing, who would be with me. I describe my ideal habits. The more I write about these ideas, the When I daydream about exercising every day, I am reminded that that is possible. I don’t have a personal trainer, but nothing is stopping me from taking the dog for a walk as soon as I finish writing. I picture myself in a warm, sunny place in the winter, and I know that I can’t afford a month in the desert. I can afford a visit to my daughter in Denver which is always warmer than Chicago, and has the added benefit of allowing me to see her and her family.

That’s the way I like to journal. What about you?