Liebster not Biebster

This article has absolutely nothing to do with Justin Beiber, shown here turning himself into police on Jan 30, 2014, courtesy of

This article has absolutely nothing to do with Justin Beiber, shown here turning himself into police on Jan 30, 2014, courtesy of

All the talk about what the Biebster is doing wrong again. . .  instead of that, I am going to talk about the Liebster!

imageKhana, of, was awesome enough to give me the Liebster Award nomination. This award honors quality blogs that have less than 200 followers. I guess she feels I qualify on quality, and my stats tell me I do on the last! As of today, 168 extremely insightful, astute and intelligent people follow this blog! It will be interesting to see if participating in this award will add to that number, but I’ll keep writing even if  just for you wonderful 168!

In order to comply with the nomination, though, I need to answer Khana’s ten questions–hers, not someone’s who started it 10,000 posts ago! I decided to turn them about and give them to you from #10, countdown fashion, to #1. After you get through this incredibly interesting material, you will find links to those I’d like to pass the nomination on to, and the ten challenging questions I thought would be great to know about them.

Here goes!

10. Describe yourself in a Haiku. (A three line verse of seventeen syllables, traditionally five, seven, five, but this is flexible).

Simple yet complex
Compassionate yet boundaried
Gentle, wild and true

Did that tell you much? Well, it’s a start. Let’s jump into the weightier questions–

9. What is your perception of the meaning of Life, The Universe & Everything? (Why are we here lol?)

To quote John  McEnroe, “You cannot be serious!” Seriously, Khana, there’s not enough room to do this one justice. Let’s just say I believe it is mysterious–none of us really knows–but there is a place inside of us that testifies to what is true and good, and we are blessed to be a part of it all. It all matters. I really don’t like cliche responses, but there is one simple answer I heard a pastor in Titusville or Melbourne, Fl, say once (I was just visiting that day, but never forgot it): “The purpose of life is to love God and enjoy Him forever.” This offering, though over-simplified, sits well with my soul. I believe that Love is key; digging deeper and reaching out, growing, learning, sharing, passing it on. The universe is infinitely small and it is infinitely large, so both small and huge things matter. Energy changes but does not end. We are more than our bodies that decay in less than a hundred years; we are also the energy in our bodies, eternal. Why? To quote again, this time Dr. Seuss, “Ask me tomorrow, not today.”

Okay, enough, before I go on and lose 160 or so  of you!

8. Regarding your personality, what animal would you say you identified with most closely & why?

This is something I don’t think I’ve ever thought about before. As I sit here and think through various animals, I think perhaps I most identify with the butterfly. Not in the way Cassius Clay did (“I float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”)

Once quite the worm, pretty much formless and stuck, I spent some time cocooned in the deep places of my heart with God, and emerged with wings that brought me freedom to soar, to overcome obstacles, to be gentle and uniquely colorful. I’d like to think that when I rest for a moment with you, that you somehow feel special and blessed. On top of that, I like sweet things like nectar. So, yep, I’ll go with the butterfly.

But please don’t squish me in the chrome grill of your  pickup truck.

7. If you were granted three wishes by a genie what three things would you choose?

The first, of course, would be that the three wishes turn into three million or so.

The second, that none of the wishes would backfire on me and make me sorry I had wished it.

Third, that heaven is for real, because if it is, it makes all the crap in life worthwhile, and takes a lot of the pressure off of me to make sure I wish all the right things, because if I wished for world peace, or limitless wealth, or for no one to ever hurt again, then I might mess up the important things we are all supposed to be learning through our suffering. I think these things are too big for me to decide, so I tend to trust God to know who has to go through what, and for how long. Silly maybe, but it’s where I am for now.

6. Do you have a recurring theme in your dreams & if so what do you think it means?

Hmmm. Let’s see. There’s the one driven by the need to use the toilet when none can be found. Obvious meaning attached.

There’s one where one of the kids in my life is in trouble and I am trying to get to them to help or get them to help. Serious rescue issues, huh? That one’s probably a little too deep for the Liebster Award questionnaire!

Another: I’m just starting to enjoy myself (variations in this, like this morning I just got into a nice warm pool and was beginning to relax) and then I wake up. What does that one mean? I don’t know, but it sounds just like what happens in my awake life too.

Go  ahead, psychoanalyze me if you must.

We’re half-way there!

5. Do you regulate what you eat, for health, diet or religious reasons & if so, how?

Yes, mostly. My willpower, or won’t power, fluctuates, but generally I make healthy choices in what I eat and drink for all of the reasons above.

For health, well that’s a no-brainer, I want to be healthy as long as I have this body here on earth. I want to be one of those old ladies who still has it!

For diet, I suppose you mean to lose weight? Yes, I spend more days working on losing weight than I do on gaining it. They say one pound is gained if we consume 3,500 more calories than we burned during any given period. So let’s say I go out to dinner in a nice restaurant. Take for example, a nice steakhouse with one of those buttery steaks, garlic mashed potatoes and asparagus. Yum. Add a glass or two of red wine and share a chocolate molten lava cake with my husband. Result: 1-2 pounds. Right there. Or, say I’m in a hurry, in the car, and swing into a drive-through for a burger, fries and soda. There it is again, a pound. Now, if I work on losing that pound, that means consuming 3,500 fewer calories than I expend. A woman of my height and activity level needs only about 1,200 – 1,500 calories a day, and an hour on the elliptical burns about 300 calories. Do the math! How could I possibly eat 3,500 fewer calories in one day than I expend? Throw into the picture how our metabolism adjusts if we starve ourselves and you see how it can take a week (or more)  of  good regulation to lose that one pound gained in 20-30 minutes. So, yes, managing weight plays into my daily nutrition choices.

Religion, you ask? Well, I value spiritual relationship over religion, thinking in terms of religion being our attempt to reach God while spiritual relationship is God’s attempt to reach us, paired with our reception of same. I think that centuries of religious teachings regarding food and drink have some influence over my choices, outside of my conscious awareness, but it’s not like I think it would turn God away from me if I ate something unhealthy. I think God wants us to make healthy choices because of love, because we’re valuable. We generally take good care of the things that mean a lot to us.

4. What motivated you to start your blog & what do you want to achieve with it?

I think I covered the answer to this question in this page of my blog:  If not, let me know and I’ll tell you some more!

3. Is there a work of art that really speaks to you. What is it & what does it say?

The earth and heavens are works of art. The cell is a work of art. The atom is a work of art. The human being, a tremendous masterpiece! The sunset and sunrise, amazing beauty. Then there are the arts, as I suppose you mean them here, such as writing, music, drawing, painting, photography, sculpture, dramatic works, dance, yoga, culinary, and the like. Alright, I will try to select one piece and tell you what it says to me.

I’ve always loved Monet. As a child I sat in wonder as my Uncle Jack furiously painted replicas of famous pieces in his basement, one of my favorite being ‘Red Poppies at Argenteuil.’

Red Poppies at Argenteuil, stolen Monet image from

Red Poppies at Argenteuil, stolen Monet image from

I remember him laying down layers of paint, standing back, cursing, wiping and laying on again.

I wanted to paint like him, but life took me another way and the most I did was dabble in artwork.

Much later in life, while attending University of Florida, my dear Uncle Jack passed away, and I was unable to go to his funeral to say goodbye. I hadn’t seen him in years, but I felt his loss sorely, as he was my favorite uncle throughout my childhood. He was animated, funny, and loved not only painting but classical music as well. During this phase of my life I turned to classical art, music and literature with great interest, perhaps as a way to feel connected with Jack again. It was then, at UF’s Harn Museum of Art, that I had the opportunity to sit in front of Monet’s painting,  Champ d’avoine (Oat Field).

This is Monet's Oat Fields. It seems lifeless here, doesn't it? Go see it in real life.

This is Monet’s Oat Fields. It seems lifeless here, doesn’t it? Go see it in real life.

I was amazed. What seems in print a simple, boring landscape literally jumps off the canvas when seen in person. I was astounded. The piece is full of light and texture. The fields are laid with confident strokes of thick textured paint created with palette knife instead of brush. What confidence of hand this master had. While we, in this technological era, strive to break down an image into pixels in our pursuit of realism, Monet took in the whole  view and splashed it onto canvas with sweeps of movement. I sat there, on the little bench provided under the lighted masterpiece, all alone, just wishing I could touch it, just taking it in. If this piece be so, what must his other works be like—in person? My world changed that moment. No longer was I content to see or read about works of art in print or on the computer. I wanted to see them, feel them, witness them first-hand. . . maybe even try to create them. I wanted to live a thousand lives, so as to fully experience all that is capable of being seen, heard, felt. I was ready to move on from college, and master life, in person.

2. Does your job satisfy your soul? If yes, how? If not, what job would?

I’m glad you asked this, because I have been wanting to be able to bring more of what I do for a living in to this more personal side of me here on Heart to Heart.

My answer? Yes! Occupational therapy is a health profession in which a therapist skillfully chooses appropriate activities that are intrinsically motivating (meaningful) to the client to assist in gaining or returning independence in the client’s life. OT may be in order for a person of any age after an illness or injury creates deficits in a person’s function. OT’s are frequently part of the rehab team in hospitals, rehab settings, psychiatric units, nursing homes and schools. We work in early intervention, bringing expertise to support development for children with developmental disabilities. We even work in neonatal units, bridging the gap between what the neonate can do and what a full-term newborn can do, to help the neonate make a successful adjustment to life outside the womb, and to help the parents (and medical team) know how to best support the baby’s development in ways that prevent further disability.

I could write for hours on this amazing profession. It is versatile, dynamic, interactive and extremely rewarding. I love it!

I became an OT late in life, fueled by my desire to spend my days doing work that is satisfying to my soul, as you say, and at the same time, financially comfortable. As a health professional, my work has not only soul-value but is also science- and evidence-based, and therefore recompensed by most insurance companies. The work I do to help my clients, then, is not a strain on them to pay for, yet brings deep and abiding rewards for them. This is especially important to me as my chosen specialty within the profession is pediatrics. Families who have children with special health care needs already have enough challenges without having to dig further into their pockets for the sort of help I can give. As an early intervention provider, I have state funds backing up any private insurance policies the families have, so they don’t even have to pay a deductible or travel to a clinic. I come to them and work on the things they need me to, in their home, daycare or sitter’s home. The relationships we forge as we work together on their health goals are relationships that springboard a whole new level of life, love and health that my clients didn’t even dream could come from the challenges that landed them in need of an OT in the first place.

I get to see babies grow up to defy those who said they would never be able to eat, or move about, or interact with their families. I get to see toddlers with autism or PDD go from being stressed, isolated and wild to being calm, connected and attentive. I get to see babies born with partial paralysis or low muscle tone master their motor skills from strategies we employ to give them the just-right challenge each step of the way.  I get to see parents who were distraught and overwhelmed move into a state of confidence as parents with amazing children, hopeful and aware of their resources.  So, yes, occupational therapy is satisfying work!


1. Which book has most affected your life & how did it affect you?

There have been so many great books that influence, guide, enlighten and delight my life, but the keystone supporting them all is the Bible. Really. I worried you would find this cliche, predictable or small-minded. If so, so be it.

I studied the Bible intently for decades, and used it like the manufacturer’s instruction manual to learn how to live this life I stumbled into. I found many challenges in this approach, as there are so many possible interpretations to its many instructions. However, the main message of redemptive love, and the accompanying Spirit that guides me from the inside-out, are always helpful, reliable, empowering,  encouraging, full of wisdom from the ages, and yet, miraculously, new every morning. It is so powerful that it ought to come with a warning label: Beware, reading this book may be hazardous to your current way of life and thinking. If you read it, though, don’t pick it up and glance in the middle somewhere and assume God is speaking to you that way; at least not until you’ve thoroughly read it, studied it, read other scholars’ thoughts on it, studied the historical context and cultural values at the time. That may help a bit in avoiding some of the pitfalls many well-meaning folks fall into. Not that God can’t speak that way, but generally, it is always a good idea to really dig in to whatever you’re reading.


Now that you know alll of these amazing intimate details about me, here are my nominees and the rules of the Liebster Award, should you choose to accept:

Here Are The Rules:

1. Each nominee must link back the person who nominated them.

2. Answer the 10 questions which are given to you by the nominator.

3. Nominate 10 other bloggers for this award who have less than 200 followers.

4. Create 10 questions for your nominees to answer.

5. Let the nominees know that they have been nominated by going to their blog and notifying them.

And the nominees  are:

New nominees, your 10 questions, should you choose to accept, are:
1. Do you read blogs that give you advice on writing your blog, and what do you think of them?
2. What led you to your decision to blog anonymously or using your real name?
3. Do you find yourself shopping for blogs to like and follow primarily to build your own follower base?
4. Has there been a time when you found a blog, for whatever reason you were browsing, that impacted your life significantly, helped with a major decision or really made you rethink something? Details, please!
5. What most annoys you about blogs or blogging?
6. What are your two major hopes or dreams regarding your writing and/or photography?
7. What type of blogs do you like to read?
8. What sort of thing draws you to follow a blog?
9. Wha turns you away from a blog?
10. Have you experienced a challenge or adversity that later turned out to be a treasured experience? Is so, what do you feel made the difference between it being something that got the best of you to becoming something that helped you improve?

5 responses »

  1. Wow Joan, what an amazing set of answers.I was so happy to find long & genuine responses to all my questions.
    The Bible, of course, is a great answer & living here in the Holy Land I am surrounded by it’s symbolism constantly. I get the Nazareth bus to work for instance & often visit Jerusalem’s, Old City. As a Roman Catholic child I was immersed in the Bible, both at home & at school, so I am very familiar with it’s teachings & messages. I left the religious path when I was very young & adopted a more holistic approach to spirituality. So I am now familiar with most of the world’s other scriptures & have found them very rewarding also.
    I believe that having a job that both pays the bills & satisfies you spiritually is a real blessing in life. It was very interesting to hear about your work in OT & I loved your answer to the art question. I’ll read your answer to the blog question when I’ve finished here.
    Hilarious response to the food question & I totally agree that God is unlikely to be concerned with what we eat. Although I have noticed that some foods tend to make us denser, in a spiritual sense, & I try to regulate my food to ‘feel better’.
    All your answers are really interesting , but this comment is getting rather long lol, so I’ll just end by saying … “What an amazing haiku”. It’s beautiful, well done & thank you so much for responding so enthusiastically 🙂


    • Thank you, Khana! It was my pleasure, you asked very thought-provoking questions. I am glad you enjoyed my answers. Your comments, and your writing overall, reveal depth of character–always refreshing to me.

      I am still seeking three more blogs to nominate, most that I read already have more than 200 followers. In time I’m sure I will, though. WordPress doesn’t seem to have a search mechanism for new blogs, and many themes do not specify how many followers a blog has. Do you have any suggestions for me on this?


      • I only know that, for blogs I follow, I can find the number of followers by going to ‘Reader’ & clicking on the ‘Blogs I Follow – Edit’ button on the top right of the page. This gives me a complete list of blogs that I follow. When I click on a link it gives me the number of followers for that blog.
        I also followed contributors to the daily prompts as many new bloggers use them as a way to get started & maybe the forum is a good place to hunt, new bloggers go there to get advice.
        Still, without following a blog I don’t know a way to get a sure number of followers. The number displayed on a blogs ‘Follow Me’ widget is often wildly inaccurate.
        Maybe WordPress should have a special section for new blogs, for the first month, so that we can give them some support 🙂


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