Monday, May 28, 2018

Grace and Humility

As I begin my 70th year, I reflect on so much I have to be grateful for and so much I have to look forward to as I move into this rather nebulous and unknown time in my life. My elder years. I will be continuing my work at Skagit Family Study Center as a counselor two days a week beginning in July. I will finally be retiring completely from the college as an instructor and from my work as a counselor with the Swinomish Tribe at the end of June. Friendships with very dear colleagues that have walked along side of me for many years with continue, yet take on a new color. They will never be lost. They will always be treasured. I was told by a tribal elder from the Samish Nation, "We have no words for good bye in our language." This is what I have been told by the tribal elders and young ones following in their ways over and over again and from many different tribal communities. I have accepted the invitation to return.  "You are not really leaving, you are coming back right?" "Please come back and visit us whenever you like." It is an honor for my family and we will return often.

I take a bend in the river now, turning home to a slower pace of deepening my life with my husband and continuing our collaboration here at Skagit family Study Center and Ullulate Gallery.

What this photo I took some months ago along the Skagit River means for me is that my walk has been blessed, each step a lesson learned. As I reflect on my blessings, I prayerfully walk in immense humility and gratitude. 

Friday, December 29, 2017

On this day to my family, I honor my mother, my elders, my ancestors.

Two photos here. The first is with me and my mother and my mother's beautiful and first great grand daughter, Emma. I appreciate the photo because of the strength I experienced all of my life from my mother. Taken about 18 years ago, we were at a family picnic at Bowman's Bay in Anacortes. I am deeply aware of how much our family misses my mother since her passing December 25th, just two years ago. My mother is the rock in our family and will ever remain so, and there in this photo the love is felt and beautiful memories of her strength, wisdom and love are held tightly.

Mom's grand parents and the parents of her father, Edwin (Sonny) Kolhs are in the second photo. Edward Kolhs, born December 25, 1879, Pommer, Scheawig-Holstein, Germany. Passed over November 26, 1958 in his home in Fruita, Colorado. Emilie Alvina Kasch-Kolhs, born October 25, 1881, Schoenberg, Germany. Passed over July 7, 1980 in Fruita, Colorado. Thank you to my beloved father for your incredible life long work of maintaining our family photos and our family tree.

My wish for you my family, now as this 2017 year ends and in memory of my mother, is that you each hold onto the dear ones in your life. Continue to create lasting memories built on respect for the all knowing force love brings and hold tight the ever present power behind the morning light of God's grace.

"Peace... comes within the souls of men when they realize their relationship, their oneness, with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the Universe dwells Wakan-Tanka, and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us."
-- Black Elk (Hehaka Sapa) OGLALA SIOUX

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Winter Solstice

Fog and Ice
I took this photo the morning of December 11, 2017. The roads that morning were very icy, and the fog was often difficult to see through. I could feel the car slipping a few times and was feeling blessed to have made it safely to my destination for the day.  The sun was so striking, glaring at me as it shone through the clouds. I put my gear down that I had gathered from the car to take into my office, and tried to capture the beauty in and around the fog and ice with my camera.

As I reflect on this year as it comes to an end, this image somehow describes the varying degrees of experiences I have had over the year. Sometimes not able to see clearly through the difficulties in front of me and sometimes slipping and sliding through the varying situations occurring in my life.

Each and every day I rise in prayer and meditation, which is a habit I have developed over many years, beginning from when I was a child seeking spiritual guidance. I have come to understand the importance of prayer in my life. Prayer and meditation brings me stillness within the Fog and Ice of my life and gives me the guidance needed for my walk.

 I am grateful for what this year has shown me as I reflect on the joys and hold up the sorrows I know we each must walk through. May you receive many blessing this coming year. May you be guided in a good way as we each enter and celebrate this Winter Solstice which is upon us. With gratitude for my life with my husband, my family, the dear friends in my life, I raise my hands in prayer to you.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Consistency of Will, Insight Tools, and The Third Way

Developing consistency part one: create a list of what you think you need to be doing for yourself, which is what your gut or intuition is telling you, and you know you need to be doing, but you aren’t. The second part: What brings you calm? make a list of positive experiences that you know provide you safety and calm. This process will support your important ideas for the healing of yourself, your family, the world, it is your journey.

 Insight Tools: At Skagit Family Study Center we believe the "Five Step Self Time Out" tools support a reflective process of intentional emotional and spiritual development. Through reflection I can choose to intentionally become more aware of my feelings and needs, and the inner discomfort and contradictions stored in my body. When I am able to identify, label and process my feelings and needs, I am choosing to practice self care with intentional, gentle, tender, love. I can choose to notice and interrupt my inner contradictions and the discomforts I am feeling in my body. I can choose to stop blaming and shaming myself and others.  The goal is to notice and interrupt the dual thinking, the discomfort of contradictions, and replace the discomfort with the practice of gently affirming myself with positive, kind, affirming thoughts. When I practice affirming myself, I am building healthy internal boundaries.

Consistency of Creative Will: The management of choice is the balance of mind and heart. When these tools are practiced over a period of time the process of managing the emotional self will open awareness to the inner contradictions, i.e. the energy around feelings of irritation, anger, fear, hate, etc., and all of the negative "stuff" that keeps us stuck. The practice of the "Five Step Self Time Out" tools naturally includes the process of noticing, interrupting and replacing the inner contradictions created by negative self talk. As I notice, interrupt, and replace the discomfort I am feeling in my body with a plan based on healthy gentle care of myself, I create a deeper calm safe place within. As I choose to create a deeper calm safe place within, I am reducing the dual thinking of contradictions, while increasing a congruent consistency and management of creative will.

This is the Third Way

Saturday, March 11, 2017

What's happening in 2017

This year 2017, I completed my EMDR certification training in February, this took about eighteen months. This summer in June I have been invited to attend the American Indian Psychologist Association annual gathering. I have been researching the area where this has been held for the last thirty years and talking to other therapists who have attended in the past. I am waffling with trepidation as I will travel to a remote area in the mountains of Utah, 7000 feet elevation, and stay in tents and participate in mountain horseback riding and camp for a couple of days as part of the experience, before heading on back down to the University of Utah for the three day conference. Looking back I camped on the beach in Santa Barbara when I went to the University of Santa Barbara for three weeks to receive my Montessori practicum which was required for my certification.

At that time I was a young mother and on a mission to teach my children all I could learn so they would enter school with a firm foundation. This new invitation will take me to Utah and is bringing up memories of my adventures of traveling to Santa Barbara the summer of 1976. I drove with my young children from Anacortes, Washington to Central California where my parents lived at the time. They had bought property and were living in a small town called Orosi. The property had five acres of orange trees, Valencia oranges. My father was working to establish his home building and construction business. My children stayed there on the "farm" as we all called it, with their grandparents, while I traveled on to Santa Barbara University to complete my three week practicum. As part of our travels we left Anacortes and headed to the tip of Washington to visit the Makah Indian reservation and attend the Baha'i Faith Spiritual Gathering held annually there. We then drove along the coast and headed to my folks place. Here is a web site for the Baha'i friends in Neah Bay.  I have since traveled to Neah Bay with my daughter and with my husband.

When I returned from California in the late summer of 1976,  I was hired to teach in the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community Head Start program. From that experience a long road of stories are still occurring today. I am just beginning to understand their purpose as I unwind and share the experiences from that point in my life to this. I continued my education through the masters program at Pacific Oaks College. I will stop there for now.

The painting is one I love very much and used as the logo for my school, Children's House Child Development Center.  After working for the Head Start program, I created the school and owned and operated the program for more than fifteen years. 

Saturday, January 30, 2016

     We were her angels, and now she is ours

                   In loving Memory

My mother, Velda Mae Kolhs, was born January 31, 1929 
to Juanita and Reinhart Edward (Sonny) Kolhs. 
She was daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother. 

My mother had an infectious laugh that captured us all. In her presence she was filled with joy and curiosity to know all about your day or recent adventures, as if nothing else mattered. She wanted to know all that could be found out about you, and made each child, grand child and great grand child feel special in their very own precious way.  Velda is treasured by each one of her loved ones and will always be admired for her warm heart and deep insight into each soul she came into contact with, if only for a short time. She was never afraid to speak her mind, and would not hesitate to let you know what was on her heart.

Velda is survived by her loving husband Bob, of 68 years, their two sons Ed and Robert, and their daughter, Connie, as well as nine grand children and fifteen great grand children. Two daughters Diana and Barbie passed before her, in 1995 and 2000 respectively. 

Velda has many loving cousins, nieces and nephews from her hometown of Fruita, Colorado. The Washington and Colorado families were reunited the summer of 2013. The visit from her Colorado family brought her immense joy and she was filled with gratitude for their visit. She glowed with pride when sharing her joy that all of the grand children and great grandchildren visited her and Bob this past summer of 2015. Velda made friends with each one she came into contact with, through her cheerfulness and curiosity, intent on never forgetting a name of anyone she met. She is deeply loved and will be forever remembered by all of her family for her ever-present loving heart and warm touch. 

Great grandma holding Great Grandson James River, born March 3, 2010. Great Grand daughter Jenna watching in the background along side her Grandma Nonni.

Our beloved mother passed on December 25, 2015
Family Memorial and Dinner
The Farmhouse Inn 
January 30, 2016
She will be laid to rest at
Grandview Cemetery
Anacortes, Washington

Thursday, August 6, 2015


Today I visited my mother and father. I visit them weekly. My mother is 86 and my father is 89. He will turn 90 on November 10th this year. They both live in their home. Two weeks ago my mom was in the hospital and when she was released, the doctor ordered a home health care nurse for her, two days a week. She has her vital  signs monitored, blood drawn, and her medications organized. We agreed it was time for my father to see his doctor to review his need for a home health care nurse as well. He qualified, and today the nurse visited them both. It was a 2 and a 1/2 hour visit to establish their needs in the home. Having this care in the home brings such relief for us as they will be able to discuss their health concerns regularly with their nurse. My brothers installed a beautiful walk-in jacuzzi and bath tub a few years ago for them. They installed hand rails and guards where appropriate, inside and out.  As the nurse reviewed their needs, she did not need to add any updates to the home related to their safety at this time. There are many blessings running through our family. The most significant is the love and care the family is demonstrating for our parents as they grow older and their health needs increase due to their age. Strong, determined, independent souls, struggling to accept the reality of their life at this time. Blessing abound within our family and the strongest is our love. Strong, determined, independent children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren standing together in behalf of our parents.