It may come as a refreshing surprise to learn that I am not immune to impulsive purchases. The most common are farmer-generated and occur at outdoor markets year-round (at least here in the San Francisco Bay Area). Visually inspiring and delicious, veggies and fruits often lead to impromptu desires. That’s me (right) communing with a bundle of scapes at a friend’s farm stand at the Ballard Sunday Farmers Market in Seattle last month. The temptation was strong, but I resisted them despite the lure of their curls!

But here’s a first for me: while leaving the Mission Community Market last night, I got side-tracked not by produce, but by a towel. (more…)

When you think of love songs, I bet lines like “Oh baby, baby, baby, baaaaaaaaby, I love you” and other word conglomerations of that ilk come to mind. These songs run the gamut of happy, sad, mournful, or even overly goopy.

Leave it to my sweetie to write a song for me that speaks to what we value, not to mention what I spend my days navigating in varying degrees while I make a living. The lyrics go like this:

by Sven Eberlein

I’ve got a closet full of things
don’t know how they made it in
there’s that sweater I don’t like
and the tapes left behind by my friend Mike

I’ve tried to clear it out before
but all that stuff keeps getting more
my house is looking like a store
and now I can’t even close the door (more…)

One of the happiest joys and honors is an invitation to witness friends unite their lives. As a natural observer and sometimes documentarian, my eyes are always drawn to the quiet details that make each event so unique. In recent years, I’ve notice a proclivity to incorporate incredibly personal handmade or D.I.Y. (a.k.a. do-it-yourself) elements, and this has been most notable in the flowers.

A wedding I attended last year featured arrangements and a bridal bouquet lovingly homegrown by the bride’s sister. I consider this to be a brave and stunning undertaking, especially when one is at the mercy of Mother Nature!

flowers arrangement with wine glasses


When you read the name Homeless Prenatal Program (HPP), it’s easy to assume what population this nonprofit serves and make a good guess what kind of services it provides. That assumption changed drastically for me and several of my colleagues when I extend the invitation for a tour of their facility.

Five years ago, the now 22-year-old HPP purchased and occupied its current home, a big grey building with a nondescript facade on the corner of 18th and Potrero streets in San Francisco. Once we were past the front desk, we were struck by the friendly and open physical interior of this surprisingly modern and inviting space that once upon a time was fixed up by a now evaporated dot-com. Visual awe gave way, however, to a deep sense of amazement and frequent mouthing of “wow” at one another as the extraordinary array of services provided by HPP was described by our tour leaders, (more…)

A long ago discarded pair of pants are hanging over my desk. Well, that’s partially true. To be precise, parts of my pants and parts of two other peoples’ pants are hanging over my desk in a wall warming creation called The Traveling Elephant Quilt.

quilt hanging on office wall

detail of elephant quiltdetail of pants in quilt

The elephants are parading through space to an unknown destination, but the “traveling” part of the piece hails from my insanely talented, creative, and silly friend, Sharon. Throughout the earlier part of this year, I received sporadic emails from her that read, “Now where? Hee hee,” and “Elephants in Orleans, CA?” (more…)

girl in witch costume for HalloweenHappy Halloween! While most people are doing their autumnal digging out of costumes and ideas for trick-or-treating and upcoming holiday festivities, my little organizer self likes the seasonal ritual of shedding. The trees drop leaves and begin to expose themselves to the cold while I exfoliate the underused or no longer relevant pieces to simplify and refine my wardrobe. It’s an activity I seldom plan, but one that spontaneously happens at least twice a year. How the spontaneity happens is hard to record, but three years ago, I captured one such episode:

I was perplexed by the amount of time it was taking my partner, Sven, when he disappeared into the bedroom to put away the small bundle of clothes he unpacked from our weekend away. Did the exhaustion from the drive and the days of relaxation overtake him? Curiosity got the best of me, so I went to investigate.


Christmas treeFrom a distance, it looks just like any other bedecked Christmas tree. But this one, residing in the back room adjacent to my neighbor’s kitchen, is a little different from the one in the living room. (Yes, she has two.) You have to get close to see what I mean. This tree is aptly and affectionately called the shoe tree. (more…)

a road sign that reads "time to slow down"

This piece was written for and  published in The Noe Valley Voice, December 2010/January 2011.

The beginning of a new year presents a fine occasion to hit the proverbial reset button and get oneself back on track or onto a new course altogether. It is a time of new beginnings and in many ways, too, a revisiting of the old.

So as the last of the holiday season’s nogs and bubbles are sipped and the glitter and pine needles are swept away, allow yourself to slow down and sit down to think about your resolutions and goals for the new year. What habits and ways are you ready to shed or revise? (more…)

a red question mark painted on a piece of concreteChange is a bloom full of possibility and a wide river of uncertainty. It is a giant question mark, though in the case of the photo to the left, a question mark spray-painted on a piece of cast-off concrete. Change often rings of uncertainty, and with uncertainty comes all sorts of possibility.

We are creatures of comfort. We get used to things just the way they are and when derailed from our normal routines and proclivities, the situation we are confronted with can be an unexpected adventure, a challenging inconvenience, a paralyzing halt, or anything in between. Our individual and unique sets of life circumstances and experiences, values and dreams impact how changes affect us.

One of the privileges of the work I do as an organizer is being front and center with my clients as they go through the many shapes, hues, and volumes of change. In the realm of the change by choice, I have guided and assisted clients as they (more…)

If it helps any, I was laughing while typing that headline.

The hanging out with Oprah bit probably caught your attention, but the truth is we’re together in name only. Check out the generous mention of Liberated Spaces alongside Miss Winfrey on the blog of Goodwill of Greater New York and Northern New Jersey. Someone from my natal home turf found my recently posted photo essay about textile recycling at the Goodwill processing facility in San Francisco!

In addition to being a great name for a band, Fake Plastic Fish is the name of an engaging and informative blog by Beth Terry of Oakland, CA. Since 2007, Beth has been tracking and reporting on her personal quest to diminish the existence of plastic in her life. She interviewed me for an article about people who reduce waste by bringing their own bags and containers when grocery shopping and dining out – you know, for carrying home the left-overs. Read the article for my tips for organizing your to-go containers and bags! And because I have the utmost admiration for Beth’s commitment and journey, Fake Plastic Fish has been added as an “eco-logical” link (see right column!).

p.s. And while you’re visiting her site, check out the fish-shaped a’s of Beth’s logo! It’s March and my Piscean self loves the fish letters!


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