Category Archives: Cerebrations

Au Revoir…

Dear Gentle Blogreader,

I started this blog when we launched on our journey in the motor home to travel for a year.

We traveled through 14 western states and had the time of our lives.

I didn’t realize how much I would miss traveling. Life was so simple while living in those 300 square feet.

We moved from Homer into this house ten months ago.

We both thought we’d travel more than we have in those ten months, but it wasn’t meant to be.

Therefore, I’m taking a break from writing until we get a chance to travel again.

Thank you so much for following along through our travels and allowing me my cerebrations.

I have enjoyed it and hope you have, too!

Au Revoir (goodbye for the present),



I know that lots of people like Donald Trump. And lots of people don’t like Donald Trump.

I worry most about his impact on America’s social norms. I’m concerned that we’ll change drastically into a bunch of bullies who just try to out yell, out criticize, and out belittle one another…

Actually, we’re already there in politics. I’m concerned that the trend will encompass more and more of our everyday lives…

Anyway, John Oliver devoted his entire 30 minute show, Last Week Tonight, to Donald Trump.

While I’ve never watched his show on TV, I have watched excerpts that appear on Facebook.

Loving Vincent

I spied this on Facebook yesterday and was intrigued enough to do a bit of searching…

Trailer from the upcoming film Loving Vincent by Breakthru Films. Obtained from the official website:

12 oil paintings per second, all done by over 100 painters trained in the same style.

Loving Vincent is an investigation delving into the life and controversial death of Vincent Van Gogh, one of the world’s most beloved painters, told by his paintings and by the characters that inhabit them. The intrigue unfolds through interviews with the characters closest to Vincent and through dramatic reconstructions of the events leading up to his death.

Loving Vincent features over one hundred and twenty of Vincent Van Gogh’s greatest paintings. The plot, drawn from the 800 letters written by the painter himself, lead us to the significant people and events in the time leading up to his unexpected death.

Loving Vincent will be the world’s first feature-length painted animation, and is brought to you by Oscar winning film companies Breakthru Films and Trademark Films. Every frame in the Loving Vincent movie is an oil painting on canvas, using the very same technique in which Vincent himself painted.

I may have to break my 17-year-fast from going to a movie theater to see this because Van Gogh fascinates me! 🙂

Everyone (EVERYONE!) Has a Story

To quote my sister Carol, “Everyone’s got a story!”

And we seldom know what that story is, how long it’s been going on, and when it’s going to end.

Too bad that some people don’t realize that before they hurt another’s feelings…

Boy removed from plane over allergies, passengers applaud


COUPEVILLE, Wash. – Instead of sightseeing on a ferry, 7-year-old Giovanni, his mom, Christina Fabian, and dad, George Alvarado should have already boarded a flight.

“We were on Flight 171,” said Fabian.

But the trip from Bellingham back home to Phoenix was interrupted by Giovanni’s allergic reaction.

“He began to get very itchy and he was scratching all over. He started to get hives, so we informed the flight attendant who informed us that there’s dogs on every flight and just smirked, which minimized his experience for me,” said Fabian.

The allergic reaction delayed take off, and soon the family was told they’d have to deboard.

“We understood. They helped us off the plane, but as we gathered our stuff the people toward the back of the plane clapped,” said Fabian.

Giovanni’s feelings were crushed by the clapping.

“People who don’t have sadness, they don’t understand,” he said.

What passengers on the flight didn’t know is the trip to Bellingham was on a bucket list. It was a chance to visit family for a very important reason.

“My dad is sick with stage four throat cancer,” said Giovanni.

Alvarado’s cancer is terminal and with time running out, the trip was supposed to be a special one.

“To make memories, and I am sad that this has to be a memory with my dad,” said Giovanni.

“As a dad I was just hopeless right there. I just looked at the people clapping. I was just shaking my head, I was like, man, let’s get out of here,” said Alvarado.

As the family waits for the next flight, they try to turn something terrible into a teaching moment

“You don’t know how much time people have or why they are hurting. Just be nice. Be kind,” said Alvarado.

A cancer patient’s call for courtesy is the message he leaves behind as the family prepares to head home.

The airline, Allegiant, is in direct contact with the family and has offered their apologies for the negative experience and the inconvenience.

MacGyver Moments

The seventh cultural concept explored comes from India.

Jugaad is what we in America would call a MacGyver Moment. It’s where you ingenuously think of a solution to fix a problem using only materials that you have on hand.


Jugaad alternatively Juggaar)is a Hindi word that means “an innovative fix” or a “repair derived from ingenuity,” — think a jury-rigged sled for snowy fun, or a bicycle chain repaired with some duct tape.

It’s a frequently used word in India where frugal fixes are revered.

But the idea has further merit beyond figuring out solutions to get by with less. It also encapsulates the spirit of doing something innovative.


As the authors of Jugaad Innovation write in Forbes, they see jugaad in many other places than the repair shop: “In Kenya, for instance, entrepreneurs have invented a device that enables bicycle riders to charge their cellphones while pedaling. In the Philippines, Illac Diaz has deployed A Litre of Light — a recycled plastic bottle containing bleach-processed water that refracts sunlight, producing the equivalent of a 55-watt light bulb — in thousands of makeshift houses in off-the-grid shantytowns. And in Lima, Peru (with high humidity and only 1 inch of rain per year), an engineering college has designed advertising billboards that can convert humid air into potable water.”

Jugaad’s idea of frugal innovation can definitely be applied in the individual life — what about setting aside a half a day twice a year where everyone in your family fixes something that needs repair?

You’ll save money, spend time together, test problem-solving skills, and get a sense of accomplishment from repairing instead of buying new.


Sadly, I think this is one of the most important things we are losing in America–the ability to think outside the box to solve problems with very little consumption.

Great Company + Good Times

The sixth cultural concept explored comes from Germany.

Gemütlichkeit (Iguh-myoot-lish-KYT) refers to a feeling of feeling cozy and content combined with good food and good drinks and, the most important part, great people to enjoy it all.


Gemütlichkeit  is a German word that means almost the same thing as hygge, and also has its peak usage during the winter.

In fact, some linguists posit that the word (and concept) of hygge likely came from the German idea.


Blogger Constanze’s entry on the German Language Blog for “Untranslatable German Words” describes how the word means more than just cozy: “A soft chair in a coffee shop might be considered ‘cosy’.

But sit in that chair surrounded by close friends and a hot cup of tea, while soft music plays in the background, and that sort of scene is what you’d call gemütlich.”


An introvert by nature, I will have trouble incorporating this into my life.

Perhaps if I start with small Gemütlichkeits in quiet tea houses that will help. 🙂

Improvement Baby Steps

The fifth cultural concept explored also comes from Japan.

Kaizen is a very new term that is the practice of continuous improvement.  Continuous steps are taken to improve individuals or organizations.


Kaizen is another Japanese concept, one that means “continuous improvement,” and could be taken to mean the opposite of wabi-sabi (though as you’ll see, it depends on the interpretation).

It’s a very new idea, only coined in 1986, and generally used in business circumstances.

As this tutorial details, “Kaizen is a system that involves every employee, from upper management to the cleaning crew.

Everyone is encouraged to come up with small improvement suggestions on a regular basis.


This is not a once a month or once a year activity. It is continuous.

Japanese companies, such as Toyota and Canon, a total of 60 to 70 suggestions per employee per year are written down, shared and implemented.”

These are regular, small improvements, not major changes.

Applied to your own life, it could mean daily or weekly check-ins about goals, as opposed to making New Year’s resolutions, or a more organized path based on small changes toward weight loss, a personal project or a hobby.


Dear friends of ours have their own way of doing this. At least once a year they examine their lives, individually and as a couple, in seven areas and determine what they need to do to improve.

They’ve been happily married for almost 40 years, so it’s working for them. 🙂

Accepting Life’s Toll on Us

The fourth cultural concept explored comes from Japan.

Wabi-sabi is the honoring of the beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. A tradition of things modest and humble.


Wabi-sabi is the Japanese idea of embracing the imperfect, of celebrating the worn, the cracked, the patinaed, both as a decorative concept and a spiritual one — it’s an acceptance of the toll that life takes on us all.


As I wrote about it earlier this year, “If we can learn to love the things that already exist, for all their chips and cracks, their patinas, their crooked lines or tactile evidence of being made by someone’s hands instead of a machine, from being made from natural materials that vary rather than perfect plastic, we wouldn’t need to make new stuff, reducing our consumption (and its concurrent energy use and inevitable waste), cutting our budgets, and saving some great stories for future generations.”

We might also be less stressed, and more attentive to the details, which are the keys to mindfulness.


My favorite line from this:

It’s an acceptance of the toll that life takes on us all.

I would say not only an acceptance but also an embracing of all that has helped make us who we distinctly are…

Coziness at Its Best

The third cultural concept explored comes from Denmark.

Hygge  translates directly as “cozy” — though it actually connotes much more. Combine the ambiance of a warmly glowing fireplace with brightly lit candles surrounded by friends and family snacking on wonderful food where everyone is snuggled under blankets drinking cups of cocoa while the snow falls softly outside.


Hygge (hooga) is the idea that helps Denmark regularly rate as one of the happiest countries in the world — Danes have regularly been some of the most joyful in the world for over 40 years that the U.S. has been studying them — despite long, dark winters.

Loosely translated at “togetherness,” and “coziness,” though it’s not a physical state, it’s a mental one.

According to VisitDenmark (the country’s official tourism site): “The warm glow of candlelight is hygge. Friends and family — that’s hygge too. And let’s not forget the eating and drinking — preferably sitting around the table for hours on end discussing the big and small things in life.”


Hygge’s high season is winter, and Christmas lights, candles galore, and other manifestations of warmth and light, including warm alcoholic beverages, are key to the concept.

Still a little confused and wondering how you could cultivate hygge in your life?

This Danish NPR commenter sums up some specifics: “Hygge is a deep sense of cozy that can originate from many different sources. Here is a good example from my life : a cloudy winter Sunday morning at the country house, fire in the stove and 20 candles lit to dispel the gloom. My husband, puppy and I curled up on our sheepskins wearing felt slippers, warm snuggly clothes and hands clasped around hot mugs of tea. A full day ahead with long walks on the cold beach, back for pancake lunch, reading, more snuggling, etc. This is a very hyggligt day.”

Now that sounds do-able, doesn’t it?


When we lived up in the mountains, we were lucky enjoy to have many hyggligt days.

Now that we live in the valley, we still have them but our definition of ‘snowy’ has changed a lot.  🙂

Forest Bathing

The second cultural concept explored comes from Japan.

Shinrin-yoku (森林浴) describes a way to heal ourselves by surrounding ourselves with certain plant pheromones known to lower blood pressure, reduce stress, and increase the growth of cancer-fighting white blood cells.


Shinrin-yoku is a Japanese term that means “forest bathing” and unlike the Norwegian to English translations of friluftsliv, this one seems a perfect language fit (though a pretty similar idea).

The idea being that spending time in the forest and natural areas is good preventative medicine, since it lowers stress, which causes or exacerbates some of our most intractable health issues.

As MNN’s Catie Leary details, this isn’t just a nice idea — there’s science behind it: “The “magic” behind forest bathing boils down to the naturally produced allelochemic substances known as phytoncides, which are kind of like pheromones for plants.


Their job is to help ward off pesky insects and slow the growth of fungi and bacteria.

When humans are exposed to phytoncides, these chemicals are scientifically proven to lower blood pressure, relieve stress and boost the growth of cancer-fighting white blood cells.

Some common examples of plants that give off phytoncides include garlic, onion, pine, tea tree and oak, which makes sense considering their potent aromas.”


I’m always amazed at how peaceful I feel in a forest. Calm, serene, and whole.