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Tag Archives: meditation

a walk in the rain

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Rain has continued for days off and on,

I cannot help but feel like my mind is flooded.

The intensity of spring cannot be described.

I cannot come up with enough words to describe even a short walk.

But there are photos.

These photos I share with you now.

Feel free to leave your own words.

Your interpretations and perspective would be valued.


Tiny budding leaves

DSCN0273 - Version 2

young elm seeds


young leaves of a box elder in a puddle


needles settled after a wash


nature’s debris


fallen blossoms of the box elder tree

bursting buds and emerging foliage

bursting buds and emerging foliage

bursting buds and emerging foliage

bursting buds and emerging foliage

dead and down wood, with lichens

dead and down wood, with lichens


the diversity is stunning


this is the world we live in

(Trying to) Navigate Stress in New Ways

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(Trying to) Navigate Stress in New Ways

Stress and I have an unhealthy relationship. It’s kind of a co-dependent relationship. I tend to respond to stress with compulsive behaviors.

Yesterday I put my husband in the hospital and today he might have surgery. It’s only his tonsils… but still, I feel the familiar stress of any set of crisis and unknown outcomes.

Without working a 9-5 job, I am not entirely sure how to spend my time. In fact, I am almost certain that working on any of my projects would not be a healthy option right now. For me, work as an escape is a habit. A bad habit. Using work to escape from the stress of any current state of being is essentially the same as using a chemical substance. And of all the things in my mind, work, play, rest, sleep, spazz-out, be grateful, write, draw, do dishes, walk…the one thing I can confidently know NOT to do RIGHT NOW is to have a drink. So, it would make sense not to engage in any other addictive behaviors, right?

This is day three of being in a stress response mode. And I feel like I’ve done remarkably well up to this point. Prioritizing, eating well, meditating, sharing, sleeping, I even went to yoga last night. And yet it is like speaking a foreign language. It takes great effort and sometimes feels like I’m doing it all wrong.

I think the key here is to remember the choices we have. I don’t know anything more than I did 10 minutes ago in regards to my husband’s condition. However I choose to use this limbo time, it is up to me to make choices that nourish me, reduce stress, and enhance my sense of well-being. Because acting like I’m trying to fix the situation certainly doesn’t fix it.

Interesting… the things we can learn when we are mindful of the situation at hand.

What a Tree Knows

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What a Tree Knows

Dogwood Blossoms

This is my place,

Under a dogwood tree.

The delicate blossoms,

The opposite arrangement of the branches and leaves,

They lend a bit of balance,

And I find myself grounded when I am there.

Even when I cannot truly be there,

I have the image,

The aroma,

The entire sensory experience,

The entire conversation,

All within my being.

For all that each offers,

That is what composes a sense of well-being for me.

The time will come,

I will see the green details,

And the intricate beauty again.

For now,

I must know,

That the mud, water, and even the snow

Are just temporary necessities,

And that spring, in time, will surely come.

Just as the blossoms,

and the leaves,

and the grasses always do.

learning to work again

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learning to work again

It occurred to me today, “Wow, I’m busy again.” Why yes, I am.

Last week, I wrote about the confusion that had overcome me when I started getting busy.

A reminder of what a slippery slope addiction and recovery can be. I found myself disappointed in myself. “I want to prove that I can be successful in breaking through my addiction.” Then I have to laugh at how ridiculous that it. I have to draw boundaries. I have to turn off my email. I have to know that I have a choice in what I do and how I choose to be. I have to remember that I am recoveringI have to focus on breathing. I have to remember the value of balance.

That was last week! That was my last post. I have been busy!

I’ve missed writing. I’ve been needing to write. I’ve been wanting to share about the intense artist breakthrough I had on Saturday. But now is not the time. Maybe tomorrow. Today, I found I had that feeling of determination pushing me along. As I left my part time job at the local coffee shop, I felt that feeling pushing me, in my car, down the road, to pick up child #1, then back the other way to pick up child #2. That feeling has to go for now, I am at home. That feeling cannot take over me.

Its not a surprise that feeling creeped up on me now. As I reflected on how busy I was, it dawned on me, “I have three jobs!” Time to update the resume!


2013- Present         

Upstage Gallery Manager

Dakota Prairie Regional Center for the Arts—New Rockford, ND

Assist with the integration of visual arts into current DPRCA programing.  Organize and oversee the opening of a visual arts gallery, including the development of appropriate space, marketing for the gallery, recruitment and cooperation with consigning artists, and management of sales.


Independent Artist and Writer

Pages of Paradigm—New Rockford, North Dakota

Produce and sell various drawings, paintings, jewelry and creative non-fiction. Manage a blog site at

2012- Present         

Grant Writer

Rachel Brazil Professional Services— New Rockford, North Dakota

Provide professional services such as writing, consulting, planning, and project management to a variety of organizations. Expertise in projects related to rural community development, sustainable agriculture, and environmental education.


The hard part of stepping away from the determination that strikes with these projects, is that they are fueled by excitement. They are part of the life I created. This dynamic, wonderful life! They are parts of other people’s lives as well. I share the excitement. I gain from others. It is contagious! Its so much fun!

So whats the problem!? The problem is that feeling can be addicting. I have a problem with it. I hit bottom with it. I took a long time working my way back up. I’ve been working hard to overcome this addiction. Now its time to put these lessons I’ve learned into practice. Its time to balance.  It’s time to keep the feeling of excitement from dementing itself in compulsion. Several months ago I finally recognized the terrifying power compulsive behaviors have on me. 

However, when it comes to setting goals, to-do lists feel like time-bombs ticking in my brain. Several of my former students witnessed the after-effects of these explosions as a sat on my office floor, surrounded by piles of papers, trying to find some orientation in the surrounding crowd of priorities. Since I no longer have an office floor for my thoughts to explode out on, I have come to find that to-do lists simply instigate my compulsive tendencies. My jaws tighten and tunnel-vision sets in. I begin to ignore my body’s need to eat, drink, rest, or contemplate. The compulsive actions seem to happen without awareness—only going forward with a bold confidence that thrives on escalating stresses created through excitement and achievement. It is not joy or happiness. It is not complete or compassionate. Any pleasure of success does not belong to me, but to the compulsion.  Sadly, such behaviors can be easily mistaken for motivation, determination, or excitement—which is why its existence is so strong. It has been nurtured greatly and for too long.

The weekend is near and luckily, my work week is over, so to speak. My writing and art will continue. Or at least I should hope. But looking back on the past few days, I am surprised to add up all my hours.


4 hours- preparing a grant document for a contract

2 hours- preparing artwork and jewelry

Monday –        

6 hours- painting items for the Upstage Gallery

2 hours- preparing a grant document for a contract


3 hours- working at the coffee shop, preparing for the official press-release for the Upstage Gallery

(now featured on the New Rockford City Website, will be in the paper on Monday)

2 hours- preparing a grant document for a contract


6 hours- completing and submitting grant document


6 hours- working at the coffee shop, attending a production meeting, developing space and contacting artists

If I can do math, that’s 31 hours, on top of my home management duties, on top of training a puppy, on top of grieving the loss of our pet duck, on top of recovery. I’ve done pretty well, I feel pretty good. But, it would be all too easy to jump into tomorrow and the next day, following this pace. Which might not be all bad, depending on what it is I choose to do. Whether or not the chosen activities restore the energies I have expended during the week, or if they continue to use the energy I have stored up. If its the latter, I’ll become compulsive for sure.

It feels like an experiment of mindfulness. A process that might be well initiated with some reading, maybe catching up on The Artist’s Way, revisiting The Mindful Path through Shyness, or spending sometime with one of my favorite blogs Zen Habits.

Wish me luck through this experiment and trust I have the tools I need for success… or perhaps I have more lessons to learn.

rachel, in her natural habitat