Friday, December 31, 2010

Reach HIgher

Enjoying a walk because I can 
On the last day of 2010
174 days of walks this year
191 left to meet my goal.

Another year to walk taller
Take a chance and reach higher
To catch an unreachable goal
Who knows where it will take me.
20 minutes walking

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Community Gardens

Gardens are being used in schools, universities and nonprofits to create a healthful environment for education, improved self-esteem, and economic empowerment for students and families. For example the Yale University's "Sustainable Food Project" brings people together around shared food, shared work, and shared inquiry. Exploration, research, testing, and evaluation are career skills that are learned in the garden. For more about community gardening and empowerment see my article, "Gardening as a Tool for Career Development" in the National Career Development Association’s Career Convergence online magazine.

First Lady Michelle Obama and California's First Lady have been promoting gardens in schools for health and learning. This is an exciting trend for improving health and education. Gardening kids get excited about planting, maintaining, and eating vegetables. They learn responsibility while seeing results for their work.
"A lot of answers to life's questions can be harvested from a student garden. A child who nurtures a tiny lettuce plant is more likely to enjoy a salad. As the plant grows, the child develops, learning about nature, nutrition and responsibility." Read more about schools with successful community garden programs in the article, "Seeds: School Gardens Offer Learning Opportunities" Debbie Arrington online !2/12/2010.
We are planning a winter garden for the first time. According to the Urban Organic Gardener website, coconut shells make great starters for planting winter greens. Blogger Mike Lieberman believes in the importance of growing at least some of your food. 

I'm not a natural gardener. None of my thumbs are the slightest bit green, but I think there is value to being outdoors and growing and caring for a garden. When I water the plants I am connected to something living and growing and providing me with health and nutrition.

 70 minutes walking

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Feather

I felt the cold slice through my coat and shirt. It was like snow cold although it rarely snows in Sacramento. I looked at the ducks happily swimming in the pond as the geese and egrets strutted around for our amusement. They were quite comfortable in their attire.

Cotton, rayon, polyester. Is that really progress? Maybe a feather would be better.

30 minutes walking

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Put Me in the Scene

When I tell a story whether it is to communicate an idea to a friend, share my experiences in a job interview, or write a scene for a story, I need to put my audience in the scene. By describing details, observations, or feelings, I can bring you into my story. I want you to care about what is happening. If you've had a similar experience, or you know me or follow my blog, I may be able to bring you into the scene with me.

Step outside and notice how the air feels on your cheeks, your hands, your feet. Is the air dry or wet? How do you like it? What does the color, scent, or temperature bring to your memory. Try describing the experience verbally or in writing.

There are so many ways to tell a story or share an experience. You might describe a scene differently to a friend who knows you than you would to a stranger. You can read the scenes below and see if I was able to put you in the scene in either scenario.

Scene #1
I could barely feel my tingling cheeks and heavy fingers as I walked against the cold wind. Droplets began to blur my vision. I wasn't prepared for the rain. Despite the chill my hands warmed up on the walk home.

Scene #2
I went for a walk and came back because it was cold and rainy.

40 minutes walking

Just Write

Can I learn something about myself by just writing when I have nothing to say? My pen feels heavy yet empty. My mind draws a blank. Not feeling creative or inspired, I just write. The light tapping of the keys tell me where I am going. Soon the action of my fingers reach my mind and I feel a stirring.

Writing down hopes, dreams, and wishes are a great way to find out what you really want. Journal your dreams, walk and observe, find new ways to test your strengths. Walk and write when you don't want to just to build character. .

Walking is definitely not a hobby or something I love to do for the sake of getting outdoors, but every day is new and I want to experience it. I want to be healthy and creative, so I walk.

20 minutes walking

Monday, December 27, 2010

Ordinary Day

I have a goal to write everyday.
I look for joy, inspiration, and meaning in each day.
I feel so inspired I'm not sure how to express it.
I look for deeper meaning
Something unique
A reason to write.

Some days I just need to take action
To start writing when I feel I have nothing to say 
Not knowing if anyone is listening
I just say what my fingers are typing
On an ordinary day
I'm thankful for living.

40 minutes walking

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Make Peaceful Moments

Make peaceful moments in your day.
A time to think,
A time to act,
And a time to "just be."

50 minutes walking

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Changing Seasons

From  hot summer days to midwinter rain, enjoying  walking and seeing the changing seasons.

30 minutes walking

Friday, December 24, 2010

Peace, Family, Joy and Love

Dear Friends,

This is the perfect time of year to listen to family stories, practice multi-cultural traditions, and bring joy to the season however you celebrate it. As families mix and mingle we can learn new traditions as we share our favorites.

This will be our grandson's first Christmas. We will share a few gifts, play games, and join in music and laughter.

Have fun listening and giving as you grow your relationships old and new. Whether you are an entrepreneur, manager, job seeker, or retired, your relationships are the most important part of the business of you.

Take a walk, smile, and have fun this Christmas season.

With Love and Happiness,

Nancy Miller, M.S., CCM
Creativity Coach
Credentialed Career Manager
"Spread happiness like a quilt of warmth and joy!"

30 minutes walking 

Thursday, December 23, 2010


As the fall turns into winter, the moon is covered by an eclipse, and the nights get longer. The light evaporates so quickly it seems to get wisked away.
Digital information feels so fragile. One minute I am secure in having put my pictures on my computer, writing, researching and neatly gathering my thoughts and ideas on my computer. Then one day my computer starts acting erratic. It doesn't recognize the ports or network, and I wonder if I will lose all of my information.

 I want to hold onto my stuff. I wondered how I would feel if it all just flew out the window. I want to hold onto the past as I move into the future. I wonder why I really have so much stuff.

With over 2 gigs of memory, I have so much storage space that I rarely need to sort and delete until I can't find something. Now I am going through hundreds of pictures and documents to let go of the old and make room for the new. I can't move on as long as I am just shuffling through the old.

40 minutes walking

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


A spot of clear blue surrounded by white, grey, and black clouds. An orange glow peeks out from under a blanket of clouds. I looked at the sky with a sense of anticipation. Something is coming! The heavy clouds seem to descend on a radiant blue sky. Will the cold air bring a rain storm or another sunny day?

Learning is like the winter sky transitioning from light to dark to bright. In the light life seems simple and thoughts are clear.  As clear as the translucent sky. New information floods my senses everyday. Where does it fit with my understanding and beliefs? My mind, heart and emotions get stirred up and cloud my thoughts until a faint glow of enlightenment streams through my consciousness.

Knowledge follows dissonance. Learning comes out of confusion.

30 minutes walking

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Celebrating Love

I look at the trees on a winter day and see deep roots, a strong trunk, and the shedding of leaves and dead branches. The wind carries away the the loose leaves and sometimes even pulls off a branch or two, but the tree stands tall.

Building a strong relationship is like growing a tree. If the roots are deep and the trunk is strong, it will withstand the stormy seasons. By shedding the old anger and fears, we can move on to grow and blossom in the spring. Today I celebrate 36 years of marriage. Like the rings in a tree trunk each year marks the transitions from old to new. Each year brings new opportunities for celebrating love and growth.

60 minutes walking

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Gift

Bundled up in my red scarf and gloves I hardly felt the cold wind. Wrapped in the warmth of friendship, I was blessed with hand made scarves from creative crafters. A warm winter scarf is a great gift for anyone who walks.

30 minutes walking

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Be the Light

It was a dark wet day. If I had stayed inside, I would never have seen the rain splatter on the sidewalk or the wet leaves that stuck like glue to the grass.

For a few minutes the sun shone through the gray clouds. “It must be time for a walk,” I said. Within minutes the sun was lost to heavy skies. I smiled and put on my raincoat. Today I am the light. I can smile, share, and find joy in the day.

“Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

20 minutes walking

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Barren Branches

Have you ever noticed the barren branches on winter trees? Peeking out of my hood through the rain, I noticed how each of the bare trees looked so different. I hadn’t noticed the different shapes of the branches when they were covered with leaves.

Some trees have branches that are straight and smooth while others have curling gnarled branches showing years of uneven growth and harsh winters. Or was it a scorching hot summer that caused the unusual shapes?  Different types of trees in the same park were affected differently by their environment.

We each have such different temperaments that, like trees, we can be in the same family, job, or activity and each respond differently to our environments and challenges. From the outside, we see the popular styles and colors, but if we look deep enough to see the barren branches, we will discover the beauty and uniqueness underneath.

40 minutes walking in the rain

Friday, December 17, 2010

Krochet Kids

I had the chance to go to a Krochet Kids International party this evening. I bought a beautiful white silky scarf made from bamboo. It was fun to watch the video of the guys who started the Krochet Kids after learning to crochet in high school. The smiling faces of the Ugandan women who made the hats and scarves was contagious.

"Being avid snow sports enthusiasts, we liked the idea of having our own unique headwear on the mountain and, though it was not a normal hobby for high school guys, we reveled in the novelty of it." Dubbed "Krochet Kids" by a hometown newspaper, the boys went to college, discovered the plight of Ugandan people who had been living in camps after the ravages of war. They eventually started a nonprofit that has been helping women support their families. Some of the women have gone on to start their own businesses and the nonprofit is growing rapidly. It was a blessing to see the women's jubilant faces as they are learning a craft and supporting themselves.

"Do not train children to learning by force and harshness, but direct them to it by what amuses their minds." Plato

I saw this quote by Plato and I thought of the high school boys who were able to have so much fun learning and teaching.

20 minutes walking

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Be the Change

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”
—Mahatma Ghandi

Change is escalating faster and faster. We can easily feel like we are being caught up and carried along with the changes, but we don't need to be blown around by the winds of change. We can take charge of our lives and careers and be a significant force in the direction of our lives and the lives of others.
20 minutes walking

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A New Way

When I stay inside the house or office the walls are the same color, the consistent glow of the lights don't change, and the air grows stagnant. I step outside and everyday is different. One day is bright and the next is hazy. Green trees in the spring bare a kaleidoscope of colors in the fall.

Walking outdoors everyday gives me a new perspective each day. When I look at the same scene in a different light, I see an old scene in a new way. Walking is one of the best ways to stimulate your mind and gain new understandings.

"That is what learning is. You suddenly understand something you've understood all of your life, but in a new way." Doris Lessing, Author of The Grass Is Singing.

20 minutes walking

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Dark Rainy Day

 A dark damp rainy day is great for contemplating, reflecting, and stirring up ideas all at the same time. As I looked out the window, I thought about how the rain does so many things at one time. The rain cleans the air, washes the sidewalks, waters the garden, wets your windshield, and sprinkles your glasses as it washes the leaves into the gutters. I'm sure you can think of many more things that rain does. Amazing!

As I shop for gifts for my grandchildren, I look for toys that do multiple things. When I write I want to infuse meaning, often multiple meanings in one book. In fact, with all of the options we have for creating books these days, I can create multiple forms of a similar idea. It can feel complicated and confusing at times putting ideas together in different ways, but when it works it's like the rain serving several purposes at one time.

20 minutes walking

Monday, December 13, 2010


In workshops and classes, I love to have everyone brainstorm. In the past I didn't like the idea of brainstorming because anyone can share whether they seem to have a good idea or not. But the point of brainstorming is to come up with as many ideas as possible in a short period of time. One idea leads to another. Brainstorming is an intuitive creative process that I had to learn to appreciate.

As Nobel laureate Linus Pauling said, “The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas.” When writing, problem-solving, or inventing, unproductive ideas can lead to creative designs and failure can lead to success. In her article, Creative Arts and Creative Thinking Are Not the Same Thing! Abby Connors defines creativity as the "ability to generate multiple responses."

When I tap into my intuitive feelings and responses I come up with multiple options and a slew of ideas. I can choose which thoughts and ideas I want to share and how I want to share them, but first I want to be honest with myself. Journaling, blogging, and brainstorming are great ways to delve into finding my true self.

Brainstorming, writing, and walking are great ways to generate ideas. Try a Walk About U! to brainstorm ideas with a LifeWork Coach.

25 minutes walking

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Gardening Kids

"A lot of answers to life's questions can be harvested from a student garden. A child who nurtures a tiny lettuce plant is more likely to enjoy a salad. As the plant grows, the child develops, learning of nature, nutrition and responsibility." Seeds: School Gardens Offer Learning Opportunities. 2/12 Debbie Arrington. December 12, 2010.

Schools are collaborating with businesses, hospitals, and gardeners to create amazing learning opportunities. Grant High School in Sacramento has an extensive community garden, sustainability, and entrepreneurship program.

Gardening is a natural, simple, and sometimes profitable way for children to learn. With First Lady Obama, and California's First Lady Maria Shriver supporting gardening in schools and communities.

40 minutes walking

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Reward for Work

"The highest reward for a person's work is not what they get for it, but what they become by it." Paul Stevens, The Centre for Worklife Counseling.

The work we choose to do, whether we are working for pay, helping the family, or working toward the greater good of the community becomes a part of who we are. Our identities, values, skills, and character are all developed through our daily habits, activities, and thoughts.

Taking time to savor a meal with someone you care about, reach out to someone as a fellow human being, and smile while doing work that needs to be done builds character. Finding things to do that enrich your mind and bring you joy will also enhance your physical well being.

Smile! Enjoy a walk and a vegetable whether you want to or not and become happier and healthier.

45 minutes walking

Friday, December 10, 2010


I feel guilty if I just sit and let my mind wander. I may be trying to think of something meaningful to say, or maybe my mind went blank. If I can't think of anything, I feel unproductive and frustrated.

Instead of feeling like I'm not doing anything, I have been taking deep breaths and relaxing. When I allow myself time to breathe, relax, and stop worrying about what I am accomplishing, I begin to think better.

Often busyness is seen as synonymous with productivity in American culture. To stop, breathe, relax, and contemplate may be seen as idleness. But deep breathing is not only relaxing, it is good for your heart and immune system.

Enjoy some deep breathing in the fresh air outdoors.

20 minutes walking

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Deliberate Practice

We all have a story to tell, and more people than ever are telling their stories, writing fiction, and promoting their businesses through self-publishing. Authors, entrepreneurs, and consultants are joining the publishing craze by learning to publish their own books.

"The DIY ethic (do it yourself ethic) refers to the ethic of being self-reliant by completing tasks oneself as opposed to having others who are more experienced complete them for you. It promotes the idea that an ordinary person can learn to do more than he or she thought was possible." Wikipedia

I am in the process of discovering my story through writing blogs, articles, and a book. I sometimes wonder why it is taking so long. As I read about the DIY's, I realized I have been learning to be a writer and publisher. Setting a goal is the first step, but developing the mastery to accomplish the goal is an even greater leap.

Research by K. Anders Ericsson and others have shown that the right environment, deliberate practice, and study have a greater affect on expert performance than inborn talent or intelligence. In an interview with Fast Company Magazine, Ericsson says,

"Successful people spontaneously do things differently from those individuals who stagnate. They have different practice histories. Elite performers engage in what we call "deliberate practice"--an effortful activity designed to improve individual target performance. There has to be some way they're innovating in the way they do things."

Disciplining myself to walk everyday, practice writing daily, and learn about writing is helping me improve my skill and expertise. Having friends, family, colleagues, and other professionals who give me feedback, publish my articles, and support me in my work gives me an environment to grow my talent. We'll see where it leads me.

70 minutes walking

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Recycling the Story

I had a little trouble throwing all of those words in the trash yesterday. Some definitely had to go, but others stuck with me. They just didn't fit in the book I was working on. I realized that I had more than one way to tell the story.

I am working on writing about how job seekers and business owners need to take charge of their lives and have a plan. In fact, even if you are retired you still have expectations, dreams, and hopes. Developing a simple LifeWork Success Plan™ will help you think about how you want to spend your time and money no matter where you are in your life.

I was writing about how to develop a plan and kept interjecting my own experiences in developing and using the plan, then I had an example of someone else using it, and then how you can use it. Whew! Too much even for me.

I realized that I can recycle some of the material into an eBook. Like raking the leaves in the fall and moving them to the garden to grow new vegetables, I can move words to another place and change the focus of the story.

I realized that in my own life I sometimes have too many thoughts, memories, and emotions all tangled up together. Some can be moved somewhere else and put in a new story. My own story can be told in so many different ways. I can't control all of the experiences and circumstances in my life, but I can decide where I want them in my story. Some thoughts and memories become headings large and bold while others are tiny footers hardly noticeable.

Long walks with family, friends and colleagues, cool breezes, baby smiles and ocean waves are all big bold headings in my story.

30 minutes walking

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


I need to prune the roses
Baring tender stems.
Crinkled buds protect from frost
Til washed by gentle rains.

I need to prune my chapters
Painful as it seems.
Spattered words undo the finish
By hanging in the sentence.

I hit delete to terminate
Useless tangled words.
Replaced “the it and there”
With descriptive names and places.

The practice of organizing words in the form of poetry is a good exercise for developing good writing skills. I wanted to write about my struggle with organizing and editing my writing. As I rewrote this poem several times I asked myself these questions:

What am I trying to say?
How do the words sound out loud?
Do I have unnecessary words?
Would another word better convey the meaning?
Do I want to keep making the poem better or finish?
Is it worth my time to write this?

I decided it was worth my time to practice exploring word choices. Then I needed to get it done and move on. Tomorrow is another day and another walk.

25 minutes walking

Monday, December 6, 2010

Take a Comma

"Writing clearly isn’t easy.
 Writing, clearly, isn’t easy."

While I agree with both of these statements, the commas give each a different meaning. In her article, "The Best Use of Commas," Mary Morel shares her advice on how to use, or not use, commas. Commas are like shadows giving pause before the next burst of sunlight. Sentences need commas to give a break, short release, or meaning, just as we need breaks in our energy/work cycles. Take a comma, I mean a break, and I'll try to avoid the run on sentences.

60 minutes

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Green Bean

Today I feel like a green bean. My ideas are still immature and develop seemingly independently within an outer pod. I don't want to say much. I feel like being protective of my inner thoughts until they ripen further. I'm comfortable in my shell.

"Green beans are picked while still immature and the inner bean is just beginning to form. Green beans are in the same family as shell beans, such as pinto beans, black beans and kidney beans. Yet unlike their cousins, green beans' entire bean, pod and seed, can be eaten." The George Mateljan Foundation for the World's Healthiest Foods.

30 minutes walking

Saturday, December 4, 2010


I was shocked and confused to see an additional pound for the last two days when I stepped on the scale. I walk therefore I lose, or so I thought. Standing on a digital scale makes it easy to forget that scales are a balancing act between weights. The numbers seem to magically get larger or smaller. But the image of the balancing of two scales reminds me that calories consumed on one side of the scale versus calories burned on the other determines the weight on the scale.

I resolved my dilemma when I realized I had been walking less than usual. I pulled something in my hip while bouncing my ever growing grandson. My pace slowed and my walking time was reduced. Burning calories is a balancing act between consumption and energy. I simply got out of balance by burning fewer calories than I was consuming.

 The Walking Site offers interesting information about walking and burning calories:

There are approximately 3500 calories to one pound of body fat.

For most people losing one to two pounds per week is a healthy weight loss goal (more than that can cause loss of bone and muscle mass.

In order to average one pound per week it would be necessary to burn an additional 500 calories per day. (7 days a week X 500 calories per day = 3500 calories.)

This will vary depending on the individual, speed walked, terrain, etc. An average person can lose approximately 100 calories per mile.

An average fitness walking pace is close to a 15 minute mile.

20 minutes walking

Friday, December 3, 2010


“It has always seemed strange to me that in our endless discussions about education so little stress is laid on the pleasure of becoming an educated person.” Edith Hamilton

Walking outdoors, observing, counting, touching, smelling, and seeing the dynamic balance in nature is true education. It stimulates the mind and creativity. When teachers are allowed to inspire and stimulate the mind of a child it is the greatest gift they can give.

30 minutes walking

Thursday, December 2, 2010


“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” Mahatma Gandhi

30 minutes walking

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Fire in the Sky

The blazing sun hovered over the horizon burning through the clouds. Soon it would slide over the earth and leave darkness in its path. The fiery sun is like the passion I have for my work. It seems to consume me, and then the evening comes, the fire cools, and it’s time to stop, breathe and see what has been accomplished. Sometimes I’m amazed and other times disappointed, but the sun rises again, the fire burns in the sky and I am at it again.

25 minutes walking