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happiness | ˈhøpin1s |
1 feeling or showing pleasure or contentment
2 inclined to use a specified thing excessively or at random
3 an abundance in your life of that which makes you happy and giving it away (darwin's definition)

Monday, November 30, 2009


Over the Thanksgiving break my daughter and I visited the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. This video is her expression of our experience.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Stretch & Trust

As you'll see in a lot of my writing, I believe that creating is at the heart of all happiness. You can interpret this in a lot of different ways, but essentially the concept is that when you create and share that which didn't exist before you find happiness. It is simply because this concept of happiness is so fleeting and requires constant creation that we find ourselves lacking happiness in our lives.

In this weekend's Inspiration Workshop, my co-teacher Kelli Barnett added a lot of new partner poses to the last phase of the workshop. These poses are designed to help you understand your unshakable connection to Humanity and allow you to distinguish the difference between being on your own and connecting with someone else. However I didn't know that she was adding or changing any of the poses. And as you can see on the look on my face during the new pose above, experiencing her creative process was as enjoyable to me as it was her.

To create is only half of the equation. It is the sharing with others that brings us true joy.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Spiritual Healing

I love how Deepak has the courage to introduce physical and spiritual healing in the same context. The connections between the Body, Spirit and Mind are incredibly powerful if we can but learn the languages that bind them together.

in reference to: Emotional Healing Arts Meditation Workshops | Chopra.com (view on Google Sidewiki)

Ready to be awakened?

I love that Eckhartt has helped humanity awaken to the possibility of a Spiritual existence. Without such awareness blossoming around the world our evolution would surely be slowed.

in reference to: Official Website of Eckhart Tolle, Author of A New Earth - eckharttolle (view on Google Sidewiki)

Monday, June 22, 2009

1st Row at the A's vs. Giants

Thursday, June 18, 2009

My Adventure of a Lifetime

I have been on the most amazing adventure. No, I didn't go backpacking in the Himalayas. No, I didn't goto to a music festival in Berlin. And I didn't fly around the world in 80 days. In fact, I was only gone a couple of days and burned through less than a tank of gas.

Most importantly, my adventure had no agenda, destination or expectation for success. Equipped with little more than the clothes on our back and some camping gear (which we never used), my five year old son and I headed out on Tuesday for destination unknown.

I know what you're thinking. Yeah sure, this was a fun trip for the kid and as a father you probably had an good time too. And in the this you would be correct but there something else was going on. I decided the morning of our trip that we would have no destination in mind when we hit the road but it wasn't until we we're driving that I decided to let my son make all the decisions.

As we headed out of the city I asked if he wanted to stop at the Golden Gate Bridge. He agreed but when we stopped he wanted to head out onto the pier below the bridge. Now this is where you Type-A type people start getting nervous:

The bridge...it's right there. If we don't get to the bridge quickly it will be hours before we get on the road. And we don't know where we're staying. We don't even have reservations.

And before you know it you're steering away from the pier and walking straight towards the bridge. But a funny thing happened walking away from our intended destination. My son started asking me questions about what we encountered. Ranging from why the men we're fishing from the pier to what's poison oak, our journey started to turn into much more than a vacation.

We took the most out of the way route up to the bridge and we did in fact walk on the bridge. But half way across my son looked up and me and said, "I'm done, let's go." And that is exactly what we did. Good thing too, because that put us in Petaluma precisely in time for lunch. It was there that we saw the sign for Bodega Bay and decided that it was time that we steered West instead of North.

Upon crossing into Bodega Bay we were both struck by the beautiful countryside. And the wind was really kicking so when we passed a kite store I figured it wouldn't be long before we we're trying our luck at some flying of our own.

"Do you want to stop and get a kite?" I asked.

"Nope, we're on a scavenger hunt and I'm not looking for a kite," he responded.

"What are we looking for?" I asked.

"Something round, something cool, peaches and gold," said the magical five year old.

North of Bodega Bay we spotted some cabins at River's End Dining and Cabins. "Do you think we should get a cabin instead of camping?" I asked.

Stone checked out cabin #4 before agreeing but instantly decided to stay when he took a look at the world of adventure awaiting us below the cabin. Surf, a private bay, seals, ducks, rocks, mud...everything a five year old boy loves and more.

The restaurant was closed but our camping gear provided us with a stove for cooking and many of the amenities one needed to rough it in a cabin without preparation. We found the closest grocery store (which was anything but close) and picked up a feast made for a king:

  1. Bratwurst
  2. Orange Juice
  3. Beer (for Dad)
  4. Chips
  5. Cookies
  6. Red Grapes

The next 24 hours was filled with scaring seals, four wheeling up the Russian River (thank you Range Rover for making a vehicle that can handle the untrained driver), throwing rocks in the river, exploring Fort Ross, flying and losing a kite (we went after dinner to buy one), hunting for sea shells and getting to know one another in a memorable way.

In fact, we couldn't handle much more.

PS: There is a journal in the cabin that every guest has written in for over a decade. There are many great stories but I thought I'd share with you our entry and another one that I found particularly amusing.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Adventure Begins: Tidal Waves & Seals

Stone and I put on our shorts and ventured down to the beach across the bay from our cabin. We intended to climb on the mammoth driftwood but soon found ourselves fifty feet away from a cadre of California sea lions in their natural habitat.

The surf here is treachorous. On the walk down the beach a lifeguard drove up to warn us that kids and adults get sucked out to sea all the time on this beach. "Yeah, I'm not stupid," was the essence of my reply (in a much more polite manner).

So further down the beach we find ourselves face to face with all these sea lions. There were a pack of about twenty-five a short distance away from us and about one-hundred feet away was another pack. To get where the second group was resting, required walking across this somewhat narrow strip of beach that separated the ocean from the bay. We, of course, started walking across this narrow strip and noticed that the sand was wet beneath our feet. It was obviously wet for a reason.

As we walked by the first set of sea lions I cautioned Stone to be quiet so as to not to scare or disturb the sea lions. They watched us carefully and some of the teenagers scurried into the bay as we walked by.

When we got to the other side we found ourselves in this little lagoon sheltered by a large rock. Nestled beneath the rock we watched the sea lions leisurely swim back and forth watching us carefully.

And then all of a sudden the ocean behind us reared up and sent a wave our way with no warning (or at least no warning to stupid people like me). Seemingly all at once Stone and I were scrambling to scurry back up the beach and get out of there before a set of bigger waves emerged. Stone's little hand gripped mine tightly as the strong surf beneath us ripped both of our flip flops off.

"My shoe!" he screamed.

"Forget the shoe!" I panicked like a school girl. "We gotta get out of here."

In our haste to get back to dry land we ran screaming straight into the pack of resting sea lions and they all scrambled into the water. Up above on Highway One, I could hear the jeers from the onlookers, "You moron!"

Soaked, shoeless and ashamed we walked back to our car and prepared ourselves for the next leg of our adventure.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Destination: River's End Cabins North of Bodega Bay (photo)

Stone and I had lunch in Petaluma and then cut over to Bodega Bay to run up Highway 1. Along the way we noticed a fun beach to explore and spotted some cabins dropping down along the bay.  This shall be our home base for "the adventure."

First Stop: Golden Gate Bridge (photos attached)

First stop on our unplanned adventure was the Golden Gate Bridge. Stone decided we should take a side trail up to the walking path and we discovered Poison Oak along the way. Great nature learning opportunity.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Cowgirl Up (Tea style)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Don't you just love homemade puppetshows?

Saturday, June 6, 2009

T-Ball is Life

If you're ever depressed and wondering what's the point in life, I encourage you to make your way over to a t-ball baseball game. The game is like nothing else that you'll experience as it is a unique fusion of fun, passion and appetite for excitement. Their skills have yet to develop but their love of the game is clearly shown on their faces everytime they take the field.

They care not if they're practicing or playing a game. They just want to play. And don't we all long for that approach to life?

Friday, June 5, 2009

Tortilla Boy Attacks Family

Can someone tell me why we spend all that money on Halloween costumes in October? All you really need is a tortilla and an appetite.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Daddy's Girl

Over the weekend my family and I traveled to Las Vegas to attend my nephew's wedding and in the process I had a "moment" with my daughter. The moment I'm referring to is one of those memories that we might cherish and remember forever. However, it might also become one of those memories that keeps my daughter in therapy most of her life. Either way, it was definitely a moment.

Before I describe the moment, let me give you a feel for my relationship with my daughter. Words could describe our connection but for me the following photo say's it all:

Although this photo was taken several years ago it captures the essence of the girl I see in my daughter. She is full of life and when she looks at me I know that I hold her hopes and dreams in my hands. So too, my daughter is also very contemplative and very insightful:

She is very connected and experiences life with every breath that enters and leaves her young body. She is definitely a "daddy's girl" and with that role I carry much responsibility and pride. It is an amazing experience to have another human being think so highly of you, believe in you and look to you for guidance. My daughter definitely has her own opinions and so too she isn't shy about thinking her dad is a dork (especially when I'm dancing with her) but there is a connection between us that is unmistakable.

So when she caught the bouquet at my nephew's wedding at the young age of ten I was both excited for her and immediately present to what it would be like to give her hand in marriage someday. I immediately popped up to my feet and gregariously shouted, "No, put it back! Put it back right now!"

Everyone in the wedding shared in this comedic moment of a father shouting for his daughter to not even think about the concept of marriage for a couple of decades. I could hear the laughter all around me and I too felt pride in being the center of attention for just a second. It is similar to those times when a remark gets a laugh from everyone in the room and for a split second you feel on top of the world.

But that was the experience for everyone in the room except my daughter. She believed she had done something wrong. She looked into my eyes and, before I could explain that I was joking, she tossed the bouquet back and ran out of the room crying. The energy in the room changed in an instant and I went from funny guy to creep in less than a second.

My heart broke in that instant. No woman has every broken my heart so deeply. My deep, meaningful love for my daughter spilled out onto the floor as if I had stabbed myself with a dagger deep into my soul. In that isolated moment, we were the only ones in the room. Time stopped for an eternity as her innocence spilled out all around her. Before this moment, her father could do no wrong and would always be on her side. Afterwards I was yet one of the many people in the world that would betray her trust at her expense.

I ran after her but just like in a Hollywood movie she disappeared into the hotel hallway and slipped out of eyesight. I sprinted down the hallway to mend her heart but it seemed she had disappeared into thin air. Calling out to her I knew that she wouldn't respond. And when I found her curled up in the stairwell crying I would've given anything in the world to take back this moment.

My wife and several of my daughter's older cousins soon appeared and you can imagine the logical conversation we had with her to explain why her heart shouldn't ache the way it did. I didn't mean it, it was just a joke, it was a symbol of your father's love for you...these words made her tears stop rolling down her cheeks but we all knew things would never be the same.

The next morning she clung to me and hugged me a little tighter than before. In this moment we had grown closer and further apart at the same time. Both of our hearts were broken even though they overflowed with love. All the kings horses and all the kings men, couldn't put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

I've replayed this moment in my head numerous times with varying scenarios of how I could've handled this situation better. Why didn't I just keep my mouth shut? Why didn't I call out to her with arm's open wide? Why didn't I just savor the moment of my ten year old daughter catching the bouquet?

The truth I know to be true is that this moment will only be a negative, harmful memory if we both allow it to be. I have the rest of my life to be a great father worthy of being her daddy. And that is what I intend to do.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Inspiration Workshop

On Saturday April 18th we debuted the Inspiration Workshop at Cosmic Dog Yoga which is an expression of the message contained in my book Inspiration Divine. In this, I am truly happy. Let me explain.

Per my definition of happiness (an abundance in your life of that which makes you happy and giving it away), the workshop has brought me happiness because of the good that it did for the students. In four hours of physical, emotional and mental work, the students engaged their sensations, feelings and thoughts to put themselves on a very personal and individual path to enlightenment. Witnessing this was amazing to behold.

When I began sharing the draft of my manuscript with others I found out just how hard it is for people to shake loose the logical conclusions that have governed their entire lives. Words on a page, regardless of how well written, can hardly change a person even though they can often move us to a new place. In truth, upon reflection we knew that we would go to these seemingly transformational places but weren't sure how we would get there. Thus for really big shifts, it takes more than words.

The reason I believe this to be the case is that such shifts often don't make sense to the logical Mind. Thus if we limit ourselves to what makes sense, we limit our life experience as God doesn't necessarily need to be limited to the logical, sensible parameters of our Minds. However when we step outside of a mental existence and begin to experience what life would be like in a Spiritual existence the barriers of our Minds begin to dissolve.

The Inspiration Workshop plays in this space. Without ever telling the students what to believe or think, the Inspiration Workshop enables the student to experience the language of the Body, Spirit and Mind in union. When the Mind steps back and allows the Body and Spirit to play their rightful roles, we experience life on an entirely different level. And this is the birthplace of inspiration.

As I spoke with the students afterward, I came face to face with the power of this work. I knew it had the potential to be powerful, but how well it transferred to others in this setting was a big unknown. The full impact was revealed in a beautiful, young woman nestled in the back corner of the room.

She told me that the workshop was the most powerful experience of her life. Those are powerful words and I could tell that she didn't use them lightly. She recently had experienced multiple tragedies in her life and she confessed that she had never faced her sadness.

She told me, "I don't know if you noticed (I did), but I was crying my eyes out during the workshop. I had never faced my sadness but during the workshop I found the courage to face my sadness. This was the first time I've ever done this."

The look of love on her face was unmistakable and her peace was contagious as she exited the room. She was but one of the students that expressed to me how moving the workshop was for them.

As I look back, I have to ask myself, "What if I would've kept this to myself?"

If I would've not labored to make this workshop a reality, if Kelli Barnett and I wouldn't have dragged ourselves into Cosmic Dog every week to bring the workshop together, if I wouldn't have followed my bliss...none of this would've happened.

By sharing we unite Humanity. That sounds so simple but when we share we have to give a lot of ourselves in the process. To survive, it is natural for us to keep this for ourselves and not to give it away. In a sense, it makes no sense to give away that which makes us happy. But when we do, it is powerfully enlightening.

I am deeply indebted to the students who gave themselves so fully in the Inspiration Workshop. It takes a lot to do this work, to walk the path and to take a chance on learning from another. I soooooo look forward to continuing this work.

Monday, September 8, 2008



Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Wall in Motion

Yesterday at the unveiling of The Wall we had a great time. You can read more about my contribution in Design. I have to say, "These people are amazing."

First of all, this was a world class event. I've been to a lot of events put on my many more people and this event was one of the best I've been to. What's amazing is that this event was largely put together only by the friends and family of Todd Blair.

Here is The Wall in motion:

But this event was more than just The Wall. There was an author book reading (Mother of a Traumatic Brain Injury survivor), Belly Dancing (my favorite was the snake charmer) and Drum Musical Show. I'm not doing these ladies justice by describing them this way. Suffice it to say they were all amazing.

However there is no doubt that everyone was inspired when they saw all the gears go onto The Wall and seeing it turn for the first time:

It sounds campy to say, "A great time was had by all," but this was actually the case. There were crafts for the kids (special thanks to Sally for sponsoring Ruby's shirt) consisting of shirt designing and gear art. And what kid doesn't like running around in a closed environment filled with happy, artistic and inspiring people.

But the real beauty of this event is the man of the hour. I was able to hear his wife Alex speak about his amazing recovery. Her courage and dedication is inspiring to all who come in contact with her. She is truly a human being to emulate.

As I've mentioned before, I don't know Todd nor did I know anyone else at this event. I didn't really know what to expect when I showed up with my family and gear in hand. However what I can share with you is that I benefited from this experience by giving without expectation. Being in community with others that give without expectation fills the Spirit with energy.

I am truly grateful to Amy for organizing this event and allowing me to participate.

The Wall

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Lasting Impressions

When I was 4 years old my father poured a concrete base for a new gate and I (my knickname was Darby) pressed in my hand and footprints at our house (1671 Farnum, Casper WY).

Now 35 years later I'm in town on vacation and my four year old son's hands and feet fit perfectly.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Suspension Bridge

After crossing the suspension bridge, we stopped to take in the view.

Floating down the Wind River.

Floating down the Wind River.

Hot Springs Park

On the path around the hot springs in Thermopolis.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Driving to Thermopolis

3 more hours to Thermopolis!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Smith Family Farm Field Trip

I took the day off and went with Ruby on her field trip to the Smith Family Farm in Brentwood, CA. Visiting the farm is the annual field trip for Arroyo Seco Elementary in Livermore, CA.

So there was this cute song they did with the class:

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Stone's 1st Year Preschool Graduation Ceremony

Stone technically has another year of preschool but they had a graduation ceremony for his class anyway. Many of his classmates are heading off to kindergarten next year. We always have our kids start kindergarten at age 6 to give them a head start on things so Stone will be back at Our Saviour for another year of preschool.

These videos were taken with Rita's still camera so they're not the highest quality. But you'll get the point.

Monday, May 26, 2008

1st Time BMX Track

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Ruby's Spring Kindergarden Performance

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Runaway Dog

By Téa Stephenson

Monday, March 21, 2005

My Fireman

As soon as Stone was old enough to walk we knew it was time for him to get into the family movie experience. The girls came up with a good plot which allowed him to (a) be a central character in the movie and (b) be the hero even though he really hadn't started talking yet.

Saturday, November 6, 2004

Night at the Ball

Once we started producing home movies it wasn't long before our kids' friends got into the act. Some Saturday play dates turned into production efforts with multiple script writers, choreographers, designers and actors getting involved.

In "Night at the Ball" the Burns' kids joined the Stephenson and a fairy tale like tale emerged. As always, the adults sat back as the plot and narrative came about. We only get involved when their aspirations exceed our abilities (e.g. no one can fly in our productions) but otherwise we simply ask them what scene were shooting and how they want it to appear.

"Night at the Ball" was made before Stone was born so the only male character you'll see in the movie is Bobby Burns. He originally wanted to act in the movie but at the last minute decided not to be in the movie. This might have something to do with the theme being constructed by two young girls. Maybe he wasn't interested in being typecast as the prince. In the end we recruited him to play the role of "the bear" and the growling sounds were inserted from the very young Ruby Stephenson.

The main princesses in the movie are played by Ruby Stephenson, Téa Stephenson and Sarah Burns. Stay tuned at the end of the movie for a few bloopers from the set.

Sunday, March 7, 2004

Blueberry Tiger

Blueberry Tigers was the first home movie we made. For all the movies I have the kids come up with their own plot, script, props and costumes. I stay out of the creative process and put myself in the role of facilitating their desired outcome. As such, the storylines are best interpreted via the mind of the age of the actors in the movie.


Sunday, December 29, 2002

Playtime with Cousin Brian

The girls' cousin Brian came for a visit just after Christmas in 2002. This was back when we still we're calling Ruby by her birth name "Ally."

Friday, December 27, 2002

Monkey Toes

OK, so you have to recognize that some things are only interesting to your parents. Things that we find humorous and amazing are rarely things that get the word's attention. But you're not exactly sitting in our living room being forced to watch slides from our vacation. So don't click the play button unless you're really interested in a cute baby, my daughter Téa in this case, doing something that you'll find utterly elementary. I warned you.

Blow Me a Kiss