Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Wanting to create something, trying to get over the distractions

I don't know about the rest of you, but I feel best when I'm being creative.

A few hours at a crop, seeing the photos and papers coming together into scrapbook pages....
A couple of hours at my art table, turning found objects into Steampunk-style jewelry or textural art...
Grabbing some paper, paints, sketching pens and brushes and heading out to do some little paintings of a leaf, a flower or even an interesting twig....

I lose myself, and all sense of time when I create.  I smile, even if I'm completely alone.  I feel energized after, as though the creating fed something that was hungry.

So here's my question...if it feels so good, and I get so much joy from it, WHY DON'T I DO MORE OF IT????

Why is it so hard for me to find/take the time to spend 3 hours creating, when I know the benefits will last for days?  Am I the only one, or do others have the same experience? If you do, what is it that's keeping us from art?

Friday, 10 December 2010

The many shades of pink....

Did you know that there are a least (at most?) 32 words which contain the work pink? Well, 31, if you leave off pink itself. Some of them I know, most I had no clue about...so here's the list, along with my personal guesses about the meaning of a few of them -- and dictionary definitions for those of you who simply must know the real meaning.

firepink - I think this is a new color dreamed up by the fashionistas on South Beach ("This season's hottest look will be firepink feathered skirts, topped with..." 

firepinks - The plural of course, always in a sentence with the most improbable combination of colors or patterns...as in "Consider mixing bold zebra stripes in aqua and orange with your firepinks"


(In reality, at least beyond my own, firepink is an alternate spelling for a wildflower that is, surprisingly, usually quite red.) 
Thank you, U.S. Forest Service for this lovely red "firepink"


pink
pinked


pinken - This is the missing brother in the classic children's bedtime poem/fairytale "Winkin, Blinkin and Nod"   After a falling out with the other brothers over the distribution of royalties for their first gig at the Garden (as in the Enchanted, not Madison), Pinkin changed his name to Pinken, and started his solo career as a singing tour guide. Unfortunately, he had incredibly bad luck in picking locations and travelers for his tours, and after the "Real Housewives of New Jersey Luxury Tour of Iraq and Afghanistan" turned out to be an epic fail in late 2009, he disappeared into obscurity, eking out a living delivering singing telegrams and waving down hungry motorists while dressed in a chicken suit.

(As an aside, after their Garden debut, brothers Winkin, Blinkin and Nod shot to the top of the nursery charts, and have graced the walls, blankets and sleepers of babies ever since. No one, however, can sing their theme song well.)

pinkened - A past tense verb used to describe a meteoric fall from imminent success by making a really dumb choice at the worst possible moment. 

pinkening  - A common slang term for shooting yourself in the foot.  Active verb. 

Image from www.elfwood.com
The real meaning?  This was disappointing...it is "to become more pink"  wow.....

After that let down, I think I will let the rest of you play.

Send me your best, most creative definition for any of the remaining terms on this list.  Post it on your blog and send a link.  Pictures count for extra points.  And just for fun, I will give a random player a surprise gift from sunny but sooo chilly right now South Florida. 

pinkens
pinker
pinkers
pinkest
pinkey
pinkeye
pinkeyes
pinkeys
pinkie
pinkies
pinking
pinkings
pinkish
pinkishness
pinkishnesses
pinkly
pinkness
pinknesses
pinko
pinkoes
pinkos
pinkroot
pinkroots
pinks
pinky

Happy Pink Saturday! 

PS...My favorite holiday movie is "Christmas in Connecticut" -- as a writer, I can soooo completely identify with the main character!

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Being cold makes me want to bake

It's chilly here in Florida...50's right now, 40's during the night. It's a wonderful change from the super, super hot summer we had where I thought I would melt.

An interesting side effect of the colder weather -- I want to bake.  I want to fill the house with yummy smells and pretty pies and breads. Never mind that I eat none of the former, and little of the latter.  I still want to bake.  And someone will eat it!

So tonight, I am going to bake....maybe cookies....I think I have everything I need for luscious buttery cookies....

Flour....


Sugar.....



Vanilla....



Sea salt....


Butter....



And a pinch of baking soda....


And maybe just a hint of cinnamon....


The whole house will smell like winter, like holidays, like family.

What better medicine for stress and worry than the smell of a freshly baked cookie? What greater yet simple joy than taking one, so very hot, right from the baking sheet, and tossing it hand to hand until it's just barely cool enough to bite into....

Tonight, we are baking!

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Going out to buy that G-d box now.....seriously

The stress is getting overwhelming...I need to go get that box....like on my lunch break.

In addition to my older daughter's illness that no one can seem to diagnose, much less treat, my younger daughter did something to her back, and has been in severe pain for 4 days.  She can barely move.  And she's a kid!

We went to doctor, and they said strained muscle, give it a week.  Keep doing what you're doing with the Advil and such.  Pay the receptionist on your way out.

Thanks, Doc.  That was a big help.

Time to get that box, write it all down and release it. Time to put it in G-d's hands.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Inside the G-d Box

This morning, as I sat outside sipping my tea and getting ready for my day at work, I came across an article in Real Simple magazine called "Inside the G-d Box"

The author of the article, Mary Lou Quinlan, described her mom's way of dealing with questions, problems, and concerns by writing down a simple note to G-d on whatever paper was handy, and dropping it into what she called her G-d box.  By the end of the article, I had tears in my eyes.  This simple practice had allowed her mom to deal with issues big and small, by asking and then leaving the results in G-d's hands.  So simple, and yet so powerful.

In the light of my current concerns and issues, I think this message came at the perfect time.  It's time for a G-d box of my own.

I'd encourage you to click through to the full article...it's well worth the read.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Thank you all...and an update

For the sweet comments and prayers and virtual hugs and shared stories.  Thank you for the encouragement and the gentle thoughts for someone you've never met.

We are still trying to figure out what's wrong with my daughter. More tests yesterday, a consult in the works with a specialist in another state. And yet through it all, she remains sweet and loving, with a spirit that amazes me.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

More tests tomorrow....

My daughter is having more medical tests tomorrow.  Please keep her in your prayers. Prayer works, and we need it all.

Thanks.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Stress, gratitude and exhaustion

I am way behind on this blog.  My older daughter is still very sick, and we are trying desperately to figure out what is wrong.  My younger daughter is struggling with school and friends and growing up issues, and I struggle with feeling that I am not giving her what she needs and deserves. I seldom get to see my son, who lives in another state, and whom I miss more each passing day.

 Financial stress adds to the mixture. Trying to stay on top of everything at work. Side writing jobs long since abandoned.  Exchanges, swaps, blog parties, all late or missed.I simply cannot turn on the computer for more than a few minutes at home.  My eyes, brain, spirit will not cooperate.  A recent loss of an extended family member, and yesterday, the sudden the loss of my best friend's father, and wanting to be there for my loved ones who have lost so much.

I crave sleep like a wanderer in the desert would crave water. I crave peace and rest and renewal.  I need time to center myself, but the time just isn't available right now.

Yes, in the midst of trying to keep my eyes open and my brain functioning, I am profoundly grateful.

I am grateful for the wonderful man I married in March.  I know he thinks that I could not understand loneliness as he once did, because I had my children, but he's wrong.  In a post on this blog a few years ago, I wrote about a lonely evening in a candlelit apartment, and another on a midnight beach.  And now, instead of posts about tears, I wrote about our house of dreams and dreams come true.  And I am profoundly grateful to him for all that he is -- yes, for what he does, too -- but more so for what he is.

And I am grateful for my children, and the joy they have added to my life since the day each of them entered my world. Even when it's a struggle, or we're battling over messy bedrooms or last-minute school projects, I am grateful for them.

I'm grateful for a job I love, for my dog and kitties who great me at the door each evening, for my 100,000+ mile car that still runs, and for so many other things.

But despite the gratitude, I am still tired. Bone tired. Brain tired. Spirit and soul tired.

So I apologize for things I've missed, comments I have not left, comments I have not acknowledged.  Please, gentle readers, forgive me.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Alphabet Thursday Games

I was walking along by a pond on Sunday. I saw a family having a picnic. It was a big family!...Thirty or forty at a minimum. But a big part was missing. Can you find out what?

Hints

I saw:

Four or so boys floating boats in a pond
Two moms grilling hot dogs
A group of moms knitting and talking and laughing
A bunch of girls playing Monopoly
Kids with iPods
Six boys and girls tossing a football around
Dads and granddads talking about sports and politics
A baby girl with a big black toy train and a baby boy with a small pink toy lion
Lots of food!  So much food for a picnic lunch! A giant sub sandwich or two, four kinds of soups, fruit of all kinds, chips and dip, cinnamon rolls, popcorn, candy, sushi, pasta salad, fruit tarts, flan, puddings, nuts of all kinds -- YUM!

And funny things, too....

A dog who was drinking milk from a glass!
Cats who could walk on two paws without falling!
A pig who could draw with chalk! And paint, too!
A duck who had on sandals and socks, and a small pink t-shirt that said "Quack!"

This family all had on ski hats and big coats, too, but it was sooo hot that day! Almost as though it was July or August, not autumn. It was an awfully odd day for coats and hats outdoors! But still, all had fun that day, hot or not. .

So what was missing from this family picnic?
.
.
.
.
.

Why, E is Exceptionally Absent! Happy Alphabet Thursday!

Monday, 18 October 2010

A message to my readers....

My daughter has been sick for the past two weeks.  Between doctors appointments and taking care of her, my blog has been neglected.  I know am behind on two critical posts...Pink Saturday and the Halloween Blog Party, and I will post both of those entries in the next couple of days.

But for now, my energy is going elsewhere.  Please add you prayers to mine for her fast and complete recovery. Thanks!

Monday, 11 October 2010

Moving offices -- a parallel to life

It was recently announced that in a giant corporate game of musical chairs, almost all of us will be shifting from one office to another.  And with that statement, most of us will be leaving behind the offices we've come to know as home for 9 or so hours a day...longer than we spend at home and awake on a typical weekday.

For some of us, that rearrangement also means leaving behind the comfort of a big office with a closed door and moving into a cubicle...that most wretched of corporate creations, clearly modeled after someone's long-ago rat maze experiment in a dark, damp college psych department basement. I would bet they got an "F" on it, by the way. Cubicles are their revenge.

Back to the move... as I inwardly (okay, a little outwardly, too) complained about the move, I realized that this kind of shuffling is a lot like life.

We get comfortable somewhere.  We go through our days, adding our own personal touches to our lives, in the belief that we are the master's of our destiny...or at least our daily life. ..

...and then WHAM, something completely out of our control sends us completely out of our comfort zone.  And in a flash, everything we expected to do each day is shifted...or gone.  And odds are we complain, and gripe as we pack up our old life and move somewhere else, whether it's a new location, a new relationship status or a new set of daily focuses.

But here's the kicker.  We complain and resist that change, EVEN IF IT'S SOMETHING GOOD!  Something better than we had before.  Now we're not talking somewhere down the road good, I mean even if it is "Slap you in the face and no mistake about it good."  We're still hanging on by our proverbial fingernails to what "used to be."

I want to try to break that pattern with this move to a new office.  So here are the pluses....

1) I will have a window -- a big window -- for the first time with this company.
2) The move will force me to look at what I need in my office, versus what ended up there, and that will clear the energy by clearing the clutter.
3) If I can create the right attitude, I will be one step closer to non-attachment to unimportant things.

Not there yet...I am still mourning for the office-with-a-door that I'm leaving, and I still think it's a mistake to uproot people like this.  But I have a glimmer of hope that come Wednesday morning, when I sit down and look out the window at the beautiful Florida sky, watch an airplane fly overhead, or maybe spot the family of raccoons I've been told play there, I will be on my way.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Backyard dreams for Pink Saturday

For the past few months, my husband has been working hard on our backyard. There was tons and tons of decking, covering over half of the yard. And it was all rotting, so up it must come.

He's done a lot of it already...and teh rest is in progress.

But even before the first board was removed, I started recreating the space in my head...

1) It will be green and rich and shady, to make it perfect for an early morning breakfast or a late afternoon cup of tea.

2) It will be welcoming, with comfortable places to sit and secret spots of beauty to discover.

3) It will look as though it has been there for years, growing and becoming. No neat rows of perfectly spaced identical plants.  Nothing that would be called "landscaping" or "shrubbery."

4) But most, most most of all, it will be a place where fairies and other magical beings will feel at home. Where the mere fact that a visitor hasn't seen them is not enough to convince anyone they aren't there.  Instead, they will say... "Was that a glimpse of a wing just around that tree?" Or perhaps,   "Did I see an odd sparkle among those flowers? "


For now it's still in the dream stage.  There are piles of wood, and some still to be removed.  Then there is the ground to level, and plants to buy....

But it's on its way! And that is good enough for now :-)

Happy Pink Saturday!

Friday, 8 October 2010

The divine sparks are everywhere.....

Light plays a critical role in almost every religion. Light as energy, light as G-d (or Goddess), light as renewal or hope....

Candles, stories of light, prayers for divine light exist in almost every faith.

According to one of Judaism's great mystical Rabbis, when G-d was creating the universe, the process began with vessels filled with some of G-d's own divine light.  But the vessels could not contain such powerful light (what COULD contain G-d, really?) and the vessels shattered.  Shards of divine light spread throughout the universe, and became a part of every thing -- people, animals, plants, even inanimate things likes rocks.  So in everything we see/touch/breathe there is a bit of G-d's light.

I love that story.  It mirrors the interconnectedness of all things in Buddhism, as well as the many faces and aspects of G-d in Hinduism. It reflects the all-reaching light of the Goddess, and the all-encompassing touch of Mother Earth from Wiccan and Native American beliefs. And that should come as no surprise...surely the light which reaches all things, has been felt and seen by all beings at some point in time.

Every where and every thing G-d's light. She/He is the light. Within and without.

Nowhere and Now Here...

Love and Light to you all.  Namaste. Shabbat Shalom.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Cool breeze, creativity blooming

I walked outside this morning to find....

A cool breeze!  A real, honest-to-goodness, cool breeze!  Really cool!  Like maybe 20-25 degrees cooler than a week or so ago!  For the first time in months!

And with the cool weather comes....


Long walks - around my neighborhood, in the park, at the beach

Big pots of creamy homemade soup for supper

Home-baked bread

Lazy afternoons outside with a good book and a cup of tea

Feeling good when I put on a soft hoodie

...and creativity!  Time to pull out the scrapbooks and art supplies and paints!


Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Anne's House of Dreams...and mine

I can't remember when I first read Lucy Maud Montgomery's book "Anne's House of Dreams."  But since that time, I've re-read it at least 10 times.  Her story of the former orphan, Anne (of Green Gables, for those who did not know that the story continues through several more books), her garden wedding and her sweet house of dreams on the coast of PEI was the stuff dreams were made of for me.


"The first glimpse of her new home was a delight to eye and spirit--it looked so like a big, creamy seashell stranded on the harbor shore. The rows of tall Lombardy poplars down its lane stood out in stately, purple silhouette against the sky. Behind it, sheltering its garden from the too keen breath of sea winds, was a cloudy fir wood, in which the winds might make all kinds of weird and haunting music. Like all woods, it seemed to be holding and enfolding secrets in its recesses,--secrets whose charm is only to be won by entering in and patiently seeking. Outwardly, dark green arms keep them inviolate from curious or indifferent eyes.
The night winds were beginning their wild dances beyond the bar and the fishing hamlet across the harbor was gemmed with lights as Anne and Gilbert drove up the poplar lane. The door of the little house opened, and a warm glow of firelight flickered out into the dusk. Gilbert lifted Anne from the buggy and led her into the garden, through the little gate between the ruddy-tipped firs, up the trim, red path to the sandstone step.
"Welcome home," he whispered, and hand in hand they stepped over the threshold of their house of dreams."

Somewhere deep inside me, despite the plans for career and success in the world, I wanted that home, that romantic marriage.  And I've only now realized, on starting yet another read with Anne and Gilbert and the rest of PEI, that I have it.

No, my home doesn't overlook the sea -- but it's only a few minutes away.  And like Anne's house of dreams, mine is surrounded with huge, lovely trees that make our yard a green oasis that we are in the process of transforming into a magical space. And like Anne, I had my wedding in a garden, then went home with my beloved new husband.

Today, the 6th, is the day, about a year and half ago, when we went on our first date.  Dinner and a movie. Now we are 6 months into our marriage, busy creating our own house of dreams.  Like Anne and Gilbert in the story, we know that this house will not be our forever-home.  But it's a place where we are starting out together. And that makes it a house of dreams.

Maybe Anne's story was just an early 20th century version of a fairy tale. Can a life dream really be based on a fairy tale?  Maybe.  Even Albert Einstein believed in the power of fairy tales, believing them to be the greatest tool for inspiring creativity and imagination and success in young minds.  And who am I, now living my fairy tale, to argue with Einstein?!

Monday, 4 October 2010

Do you remember when you saved my life?

Every day we meet people, talk to people, interact with people. It may be a passing comment to the barrista who makes our morning coffee. Or a casual hello to a coworker.  It could be a comment left on a blog, or an e-mail sent to a friend.  We seldom pay attention to most of those simple interactions, as we rush on with our busy days.

But Debbie, at The Mosaic Magpie, reminded me today that those tiny gestures could mean everything to someone. The same idea was beautifully portrayed in an episode of the TV show "7th Heaven," where Reverend Camden goes to heaven, and finds out about all the people's lives he has changed with small gestures, many of which he did not even remember.  Perhaps you have received one of those life-changing or even life-saving moments.  A word spoken when you were down, a gift when you were desperate, a gesture when you had given up hope.

I received at least one of those.  It was early December, and I was living from dollar to dollar.  My daughter's 6th birthday was coming up, and I knew I could not afford to buy her anything.  Nothing.  I was heartbroken, but I said nothing to anyone.

Then I opened the door a week before her birthday, and there was a box on the doorstep, from someone at her elementary school (that was the only information on the label.)  It was full of pretty, just-the-right-size, new winter clothes and some new toys for her...gifts for a birthday that would have had none.  I never knew who arranged for it, who sent it.  No one would claim it.  But that gesture saved us, maybe in more ways than I know.  Probably in more ways than the giver ever knew. It gave me hope, the hope that carried me through to a better life I have now.

Before you watch this clip of one of those life-changing gestures, stop and think for moment.  Someday, when it's time for an accounting of your life, will you be greeted with someone who says "Do you remember when you saved my life?"




Saturday, 2 October 2010

Pink Saturday....looking deep inside

What do you see in the picture?  A sea shell? A conch shell, maybe?  What else?  Is it anything else?

Do you see a home?

Do you see a specimen from the sea?

Do you see one of G-d's most elegant creations?

Do you see the colors and the way they gently blend into one another...pink to white to cream to gold to grey...no lines...just a soft flow from one to another.

Do you see the textures -- can you feel them in your imagination...smooth as silk inside, soft ripples, pointed spires....

Do you imagine it to be a certain size...it's just on a table here, so there is no frame of reference. Is it small enough to fit in a child's palm?  Or large enough to need a table of its own?

There are difference in light and shadow, too...

And then there are the things you feel about it...does it bring back happy memories -- or sad ones?  Does it make you want to plan a visit to the beach?  Or does it remind you of the shells you have in your home, and a trip is unnecessary?  Or is it something exotic, something you cannot imagine finding out in the "wild" on a beach?

Is it still "just a sea shell" or is it all the things you see and feel about it?  

Now take that lesson, and apply it to people.  Are they just what you see at first glance, a single thing?  Or are they, really, the total of their shapes and colors and functions and voices and the memories you have of other people like them? Can you see the subtlety in shades of skin, accent, the curve of a cheek, the use of language and the way they move through the world?  Can you see beyond rough protective spires, an exotic origin, or size, to get to the beauty within?

Can we look deeper?  ...

Happy Pink Saturday!

Friday, 1 October 2010

I feel it! I feel it! It's autumn!

fairy fall

Okay, so the signs are little more subtle here in Florida. There are no flashy leaves, and if you actually put a real pumpkin on your doorstep, it would be a pile of mush within 24 hours. But this morning, as I stepped out of my door, it was unmistakably autumn!

First, there was the breeze. It was a not a watery, hot blast -- it was cool and gentle. The sweetness of it, after our very hot summer, was delicious!

And then there was the light. I'm not sure if it was the angle or a quality of the light itself, but it was autumn light. My daughter said it felt like the first day of school in Pennsylvania.

I used to have a love/hate relationship with autumn. I loved the cool weather and the bright colors and the masses of apples and pumpkins and winter vegetables at the farmer's market. I love the feel of putting on a soft hoodie or a new sweater and feeling cozy. I loved building the first fire in the fireplace after a long summer of it sitting cold and empty. I loved having a supper of hot soup and homemade bread with just-made apple butter feel like just-the-right-thing.

But I hated the fact that the arrival of autumn meant that winter was close on its heels. I'm a Florida girl, and I never quite got used to the freezing winters up north and in the Rockies. I missed being comfortable outside without layers and layers of clothes and boots and gloves and hats. I missed walking without worrying about slipping on ice. And because of that anticipation of all the winter-stuff to come, I probably missed out on some of joy of autumn.

That got me thinking...

How many times in our lives do we miss out on the good stuff now, because we are too focused on what comes next? Whether it's something don't want, like winter, or something we do, like a vacation or a wedding, we miss so much of what is happening AT THIS MOMENT by living in dread or anticipation of the future.

How much of the joy of autumn, my favourite season, did I miss by looking ahead to winter?