Choosing my Word for the Year using the Desert Wisdom Cards — Part II

Letter Type

Setting Words © 2014 Bo Mackison

Every year for the last six years I have chosen a word for the coming year – a word to guide me, inspire me, encourage me.

After working with three of the Desert Wisdom Cards in Choosing my Word Part I,  I shuffled the 52 card deck again and pulled a new card for each of five categories – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and trans-personal. James Wells writes about these categories and their use on his Evolutionary Tarot site and I adapted the categories to work with my needs.


Vitality – Desert Wisdom Card © 2014 Bo Mackison

PHYSICAL  (health, basic needs, sexuality, living spaces) — VITALITY


Nurturance – Desert Wisdom Card © 2014 Bo Mackison

MENTAL  (thoughts, beliefs, conversations, writings)  –  NURTURANCE


Openness – Desert Wisdom Card © 2014 Bo Mackison

EMOTIONAL (feelings, intuition, intimacy, friendships, family)  –  OPENNESS


Hope – Desert Wisdom Card © 2014 Bo Mackison

SPIRITUAL  (soul, essence, self-esteem, personal energy) — HOPE


Reverence – Desert Wisdom Card © 2014 Bo Mackison

TRANS-PERSONAL (community, culture, world, cosmos, the web of life)  — REVERENCE

As I consider each pair of words, and journal about them, I love how my ideas coalesce – the emphasis of vitality and the physical, an invitation to come alive; nurturance and my mind, an invitation to nurture my thoughts, my studies, my writings; spirituality and hope, an invitation to hold hope with precious intention; reverence and community, the world, the cosmos, an invitation to treat the world and all in it with respect and reverence.



Invitation – Desert Wisdom Card © 2014 Bo Mackison

– the INVITATION to live each day with vitality and awareness, with generosity and openness, with reverence and hope.

So my new word for the coming year is INVITATION. The invitation to be present, to live fully. May it be so.

Choosing my Word for the Year using Desert Wisdom Cards — Part I

Desert Wisdom Cards Set III

Desert Wisdom Cards © 2014 Bo Mackison

Every year for the last six years i have chosen a word for the coming year – a word to guide me, inspire me, encourage me.

In choosing a word for the coming year, I first looked up my words I’ve chosen the last six years – Show Up, Balance, Possibilities, Weaving, Soul-centered, and Wisdom. Some of those words played more significant roles than others, especially the words WEAVING from 2012 and WISDOM from this year, but I always place each year’s word in a prominent place on my desk.

To pick a word for 2015, I pulled three of my Desert Wisdom Cards to help guide me. The cards pulled at random were:


Visibility – A Desert Wisdom Card © 2014 Bo Mackison


  • This is a word I have struggled with much of my life. I see that I used a similar word, SHOW UP, in 2009. I have made progress in this area – from doing art to claiming my role as artist, from creating art in the privacy of my studio to doing nationally juried art fairs and festivals, from making personal books to creating a series of Desert Wisdom Cards, and offering three different sets for sale while also creating and giving workshops based on them.
  • None of this was done without struggle, and there were times when I hunkered down and didn’t show my face for weeks (or even months) at a time. But I have made discernible progress in the process of becoming more VISIBLE, in SHOWING UP.
  • Since it is still something I do with difficulty and much encouraging self talk, it is well worth considering that my word for the coming year would advance my goal of being VISIBLE.



Clarity – A Desert Wisdom Card © 2014 Bo Mackison


  • Lucid, clear in thought, focused. Only in extra-ordinary moments do I capture the clarity I seek – the flow of my creative vision, the words coming together to state my full intentions, the awareness of my place in a tiny part of my world.
  • I tend to wander, find my bearings by examining lots of alternatives, so zeroing in on one clear goal has always been a challenge, improbable and infrequent.
  • Yet, I wish for clarity in vision and I can create small practices towards that goal.



Delight – A Desert Wisdom Card © 2014 Bo Mackison


  • Of all the cards in the Desert Wisdom Card Set, DELIGHT is one of two cards that make me cringe when I pull it as my card for the day. (The other card that throws me is BEAUTY!)
  • Given that response, a response which I choose to notice, how might I infuse the coming year with more instances that provoke/encourage DELIGHT?
  • DELIGHT is a spontaneous feeling. When I look at the past year, I experienced DELIGHT, especially when stunned by stark natural beauty or  greatly amused by the antics of my one year old granddaughter or my best dog, Gracie.
  • Hard to plan for DELIGHT, but easily noticed when it bubbles to the surface. Perhaps I need to hold the intention, then, to be more aware of DELIGHT in my daily life.

Taking all of this into consideration, my practices for 2015 will include furthering my personal work of showing up and being visible, adding small steps to gain clarity and focus, and paying attention to that which provokes delight in my life.

In Part II, I’ll examine choosing my word of the year in terms of physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and trans-personal aspects.

And I’ll choose my word for the year.

Do you choose a word for the year? Share your process and/or your word in the comments, if so inspired.




Fog in the Forest – A Blessing

Pine Forest in Shroud

Pine Forest in Shroud © 2014 Bo Mackison

Nothing stands in isolation.
Experiences, stories, a life time of truths.

Traveling in a forest in fog. Water droplets suspended in the atmosphere, my vision
obscured as I peer fiercely through the mist. To no avail. Not a glimmer or a ghost.

Moisture permeates the dried, the desiccated. Ragged and spent.

A pulpy mix of leaf litter, feathers, tiny skeletons and detritus.
Life and death and the in-between takes on many forms.

A shudder up my spine, bone to bone. And I recall
my grandmother’s shivery words under similar circumstances

“Someone walkin’ over my grave.” She’d shake her head, eyes closed,
and chew her cracked lip. Back away from trouble.

I hold out my bare hands in supplication. Help me.
The trees shiver in winter’s wind.

Water drops, sanctified in the sodden oak leaves,
sprinkle upon my bare head and I continue my passage through.

Thirty One Thresholds – Architectural Spaciousness at the Wisconsin State Capitol

Wisconsin State Capitol

Rotunda of Wisconsin State Capitol © 2014 Bo Mackison

This building, the Wisconsin State Capitol, was once one of my frequent winter hang outs. A perfect place to explore. Spacious. Filled with architectural delights and period art, and recently renovated, it is a beauty.

Perfect in my quest for thresholds, for there are a multitude of nooks and crannies to explore.

Wisconsin State Capitol

Dome, Wisconsin State Capitol © 2014 Bo Mackison

The current Wisconsin State Capitol (the third Capitol building constructed on this site) was built from 1906 – 1917 at a cost of $7.25 million.

Wisconsin State Capitol

Wisconsin State Capitol Interior © 2014 Bo Mackison

Because of financial limitations and the need for immediate government office space, the construction was extended over several years and emphasized building one wing at a time. A time of true fiscal responsibility!

Wisconsin State Capitol

Stairways, Wisconsin State Capitol © 2014 Bo Mackison

The Capitol was constructed of 43 types of stone from six countries and eight states. The exterior stone is Bethel white granite from Vermont – the largest granite exterior dome in the world.

Wisconsin State Capitol

Wisconsin State Capitol © 2014 Bo Mackison

The rotunda is constructed of marble from Greece, Algeria, Italy, and France, plus Minnesota limestone, Labradorite, and Wisconsin red granite.

Wisconsin State Capitol

Marble Beauty in Wisconsin State Capitol © 2014 Bo Mackison

The building was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2001.

Wisconsin State Capitol

Always Something to See in the Wisconsin State Capitol © 2014 Bo Mackison

I believe that one of the true wonders of this building is there is always something new to see. The architectural detail, the construction, the art — there is always something new to notice with awe and amazement.

A Day at the Museum of Natural History in NYC

Welcome to the Natural History Museum

Welcome to the Museum of Natural History © 2014 Bo Mackison

On our last day in New York City, after three days of fun and activity with family and baby showers and NY outings, Manda and I decided to spend the day – the entire day – at the American Museum of Natural History. We had a late flight out of La Guardia, and so we checked out of the hotel early and headed to the museum. Considering it was a cold and rainy day, the chance to leisurely visit the many attractions in one under-cover space was mighty appealing.

First stop is always the entrance hall, named in honor of Theodore Roosevelt, and holding the remnants of one large cast dinosaur, one of only two Barosaurus specimens in the world, and the only one in an upright position.


Walkers © 2014 Bo Mackison

More dinosaurs. Love the juxtaposition of the “walking” dinosaur with the human walkers.


Origami Tree © 2014 Bo Mackison

An annual tradition, the Origami Holiday Tree marks the start of the holiday season at the Museum, as it has for more than 30 years.


Origami on the Origami Tree © 2014 Bo Mackison

The tree is decorated with handmade origami models inspired by the 2006 movie Night at the Museum, filmed in these museum halls.

Dinosaurus Wreath

Dinosaurus Wreathus © 2014 Bo Mackison

As we left the museum after a full day of exploration, we had to stop and take a shot of the Holiday Dinosaur, complete with festive lights and a glittery wreath.

What a great time we had this past weekend. And even more exciting, the next time we visit the Big Apple — mid January, give or take a few days — I’ll be here to say hello to my newborn grandchild. (Big smile!)


Wandering NYC – Daughters with Doughnuts, Plus Museums, Meatballs, & Matilda


The Star of Breakfast © 2014 Bo Mackison

Visiting the Lower East Side while in NYC…

My Trifecta includes breakfast at The Doughnut Plant – the number of donuts consumed was justified by the infrequency of our visits…


Daughters with Donuts © 2014 Bo Mackison

And doughnuts with daughters makes the doughnuts incredibly special!


Tenement Museum © 2014 Bo Mackison

Followed by a tour at the Tenement Museum


City Scenes on a Rack © 2014 Bo Mackison

And a long stop in the Tenement Museum Gift Shop which is perfect for browsing and a few purchases, too…


Three Meatball Sliders All in a Row © 2014 Bo Mackison

Last stop while walking the Lower East Side is The Meatball Shop for a lunchtime snack before heading to…


Waiting for Matilda © 2014 Bo Mackison

Broadway and the musical Matilda.

Since a visit to Manhattan happens only once every few years, we made the most of our long weekend! Pacing is key!

New York City – So Much to See, So Much to Do!


Coffee to Start the Day © 2014 Bo Mackison

Start the morning with the largest cup of coffee in sight. A very good beginning.


Harlem School Children’s Mural © 2014 Bo Mackison

Then a walk through the neighborhood, brightened by a long wall of children’s. There is something about community art that makes the whole street a happier place to walk


MOMA Interior © 2014 Bo Mackison

Pre-baby-shower duties performed, we took a two break and visited MOMA. We arrived early enough to beat the Saturday crowd, and so had no lines to negotiate. Matisse’s Cut Out Exhibit was a surprise bonus (no photos inside the exhibit though.)


Shower for Smudge © 2014 Bo Mackison

Baby shower fun and games. So happy we were able to be there to celebrate with daughter, soon to be mama.


Tea Blossom © 2014 Bo Mackison

After the party, it was time to relax with a cup of tea. Specially brewed with a tea blossom – a bud of tightly wrapped tea leaves that opens like a flower when submerged in hot water. Beautiful.

Cloudy Skies, City Lights — and the Gift of Presence and Time


December in New York City © 2014 Bo Mackison

There is something reviving about colorful lights, dangling stars, a mesmerizing light show, all against the backdrop of cloudy skies and rain-soaked streets.

There is something precious about a reunion of family, the reconnection of a mother and her two daughters, and a day that stretches forward at a leisurely pace with no plans, no hurrying, no outside commitments.


Bakery overlooking the City © 2014 Bo Mackison

There is something priceless about an unhurried conversation, face to face. No cell phones, no Skype interface. Conversations that are funny, serious, full of hope and longing, conversations that range from the past, to the present and the future beyond.

There is something about a comfort food lunch. Grilled cheese and tomato soup. Rice pudding for dessert.

More stories and laughter, memories and wonder, questions and pondering and even an answer or two.


December in NYC © 2014 Bo Mackison

There is something, oh so special, about the waiting, the anticipation of that first child. Something equally special about the waiting of your first child’s — your daughter’s — first child.  The endless wondering — will the baby be a boy or a girl, what names are still in the running, oh, and what will the next six weeks bring forth?

That is how I spent a part of this past weekend — in conversation and connection. With hope and anticipation. Soaking up the gift of the presence of time and  togetherness with my girls.

Priceless gift.

Thirty-One Thresholds – A Traveling Threshold Not to Be Missed


Threshold – On the Plane © 2014 Bo Mackison

Out the door in the early morning dark. A car ride across town. Suitcases unloaded at “Departures” at the airport. Check in at the airlines. Through security. A brief stay in the waiting area at Gate 8 and then down the gateway to the waiting aircraft.

Biggest threshold of the morning — the single step from the airport to the airplane.

I wasn’t planning on counting this trip as a threshold, but after some thought, I decided that this weekend has innumerable thresholds. All well worth counting!


Early Morning Take-Off © 2014 Bo Mackison

I’ve done a lot of traveling in the last few months. I’ve not been not anticipating another weekend of travel, but the reason for the travel is a good one, a great one. A reason not to be denied. I’m visiting one of my daughters who lives half way across the country. And I have a suitcase full of gifts.


In the Sky Heading East © 2014 Bo Mackison

I’ve been invited to attend a baby shower, and the expectant mama is my older daughter, so there is little hesitation. No matter what, I am on my way!

Grateful that I am traveling with family, that I will be staying with family, and that we will be visiting the Big Apple, a city that I could never live in but that I love visiting! Grateful that I have the opportunity to attend this celebratory party, that I can take part in the special moments of waiting for this first baby.

And recalling the baby shower I attended over thirty years ago, the baby shower when I was expecting my first child — my daughter who is now expecting her first baby.

Such excitement.

Thirty-One Thresholds – A Break in the Clouds, Today That is Enough

A Break in the Clouds

A Break in the Clouds © 2014 Bo Mackison

I should have expected this kind of day to happen, even planned for it.

When I created the Thirty-One Thresholds Project to encourage me to get out of the house and provide inspiration for getting involved in a daily activity, it sounded doable.

There are many places to visit in the Madison area. It is reasonable to expect that I could find a place to go every day. (Though I might have thought a bit more about the effects of weather and choosing outside vs. inside spaces…that is another technical glitch for me to explore another day)

I visited the National Mustard Museum the first day (with the admission that it made the top of the list because of its proximity to my home). One Threshold checked off the list.

Yesterday I managed a cross town trip to Olbrich Botanical Gardens, tempted by the thought of sitting in the tropical conservatory and luxuriating in the green and the warmth. The tropical appeal was enough of a carrot stick. Two Thresholds checked off the list.

Today. Today, though it wasn’t my initial plan, the threshold I crossed was the door of my house as I took Gracie for a pre-sunrise winter walk through the neighborhood. And then the return home after admiring a break in the clouds and momentary glimpse of sunlight.

I did run an errand, so I could have taken a photograph of the double doors of a neighborhood convenience store, but I previously decided that the thresholds of stores, while important, were not going to be a part of the Thirty-One Thresholds. There was also the threshold of the door to the laundry room. Doing laundry is important, too, especially since I needed traveling clothes for the weekend. But again, not a part of the Threshold Project.

So, it was a slower than hoped for day. And since I am boarding an airplane tomorrow morning for a very important weekend visit, I gave myself permission to indulge in self-care. And that is a threshold in itself — knowing when the practice of self-care takes priority.