Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wishcasting Wednesday...what do you wish to share?

Lately, I've been such a curmudgeon, you know? On most days, if you asked me what I'd like to share, I certainly wouldn't want to pass on my outward behavior. But, each day I am coming to embrace and understand that I am going through this period of time for a reason. I am exactly where I need to be right now and it will pass and when it does, I'll be at such a good place with myself. Little pieces are starting to come together for me. INSIDE of me is the place where my pure joy and purpose really live. Inside of me, at the core of my soul, is a loving heart so big; so compassionate; so ready to share.

I wish to share pieces of my journey to those who are young enough to just be starting out on their theirs or to those who have been on their journey for a long time. At 45, I've learned so much. I'm certainly no voice of authority but I've got so much to share.

I wish to share my joy and compassion in a setting where I am working with others; either teaching or owning my own store. Every time I walk in to a school, I am overcome with regret that I changed my major in college from Early Childhood Education. I love working with people; especially young children. I'm looking in to what I need to do to obtain a teaching certificate in my state.

I wish to share with the world how very much I adore my husband. The man is a saint in my book. No matter the mood I find myself in, he patiently sits by with his love and support. I believe it's because of him that I can move through this transition and get to the other side where I can be me but a thousand times better. He inspires me and silently guides me every single day. My world would not be the same without him in it. I pinch myself wondering why he chose me.

I wish to share how important it is to help others that have a more difficult time in the world. My son is going through a difficult time right now with social issues. Any shred of compassion that I have, I learned from him. I've learned that "being different" does not mean "being damaged." We can learn so much from people who see the world in a different way. Because of my son, I'm learning to serve others. I think that's one reason why God gave me Max so that I could find my compassionate voice and use it for the highest good.

I wish to share my art updates with you over here.

I wish to share a FREE APRON GIVEAWAY with you over here!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


This past weekend, Breen and I went to church. We had not been in quite a long time. Initially, when we first discovered that Reverend John would not be doing the service, I was hesitant about "the quality" of the service. Boy, did I misjudge that one! The sermon was on gratitude; specifically unconditional gratitude. And by this I mean the idea of being grateful without basing it on external things. For example, when I say that I'm grateful for my husband, children, the roof over our heads and my health, I really am grateful. But, if my husband left tomorrow, my kids were suddenly not here, I found myself homeless with failing health, would I still be grateful? Of course those are extreme examples but the point is, what would you be grateful for if all the familiar external blessings suddenly changed?

Lately, I haven't been myself. Where is my joy, I ask myself. I feel like 100 years old. I don't feel that wonderful sense of playfulness and I feel less than attractive. Some days I feel like my worth is tied to the kitchen and the washing machine. I know these stories I tell myself aren't true. I know I am filled with an abundance of good things; I just don't let them come out and shine these days. But life has taught me that you have to hold hands with the crappiness just as much as you would hold hands with the joyfulness. You have to walk right alongside all the feelings until you reach a new part of your path. So today I am grateful for being. Each new day is a gift, even if you find yourself in a bad spot. A new day is a chance to do things differently than you did the day before. Just being here on the planet with a chance to keep stepping out and learning are reasons enough to be grateful.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Six Word Saturday

The image of numbers fascinates me.

I love numbers. Maybe in a past life, I was a numbers guru or a high rolling gambler. Who knows? Yesterday was my birthday and I was adamant this year about NO GIFTS. I broke my own rule though and bought myself a gift. I stumbled across this giant dice and simply had to have it. My lucky number also happens to be 52. But that's another story for another day.....

PS: my husband came home with flowers for me and inside the bouquets were two pairs of funky reading glasses, which I also love!

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Joy Diet: Nothing

I have a lot to learn about nothing. I used to think that doing nothing wasn't that difficult. I've always craved my own down time. It goes all the way back to when I was a little girl. I was one of those kids who could play for hours by herself in her bedroom. I used to lay in the grass for hours watching clouds go by and hunting for four leaf clovers. I didn't have a care in the world and I knew nothing about the years to come. I was just a little girl living in the moment each and every day. Sometimes I yearn for that simplicity but the reality is that I'm a big girl now with her pockets overflowing with life stories actually lived. Stories of worry. Stories of regret. Stories of long journeys down paths that I can't seem to find yet. But mixed in there are also stories of happiness and stories of finding my feet.
Stories of true love.

I've been looking for work since June. During the summer, my days were spent hearing the voices of my kids but now they are back in school and the house is too quiet. The silence is sometimes deafening. I realize how much I've been programmed to be doing "something." When the silence really gets to me, I find this voice inside yelling, "what are you going to do now?!" And it is in that moment that I take a deep breath, put on some nice soothing meditation music and do some deep yoga stretches. I also have a CD called "Luxor Meditation" by John-Rodger which runs about 23 minutes and really allows me to chill out. Believe it or not, I find myself in a zone when I sew or do an art project. In those moments, I'm so immersed in the process that an hour could go by without thinking of anything. What have I learned this week? I've learned that the art of doing nothing is something that has to be learned and practiced. Like riding a bike or learning a new language, it's only as successful as the time you put in to it.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A new find

I'm so excited, I could pee myself. Seriously. These days, I've inflicted so much stress upon myself that when something truly joyful and sublime comes across the radar, I stop for a moment and check to see if there are any candid cameras in the room. A new food find usually brings me joy and today was no exception. I was in Trader Joe's this morning when I spotted Sesame Crepes on the shelf. I snatched up a package immediately. $1.19 for two 7 1/2 inch crepes which are covered with sesame seeds, a little sugar, peanuts and cashews. Half a crepe is all you need for a delicious snack. I cut my half in to little wedges and topped each one with fresh fruit, peanut butter and honey. You do the math; this packet provides 4 days worth of afternoon bliss for less than 30 cents per day. Well? What are you waiting for? Get thyself to Trader Joe's!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wishcasting Wednesday: what luxury do you wish for?

This week, I'll be turning 45. The idea of "luxury" is an interesting thought right now. I'm not exactly a luxury kind of girl. The luxuries that I wish for certainly aren't things that anyone can give me and they aren't necessarily things that I could easily reach out and grab for myself.

I'd like the luxury of aging gracefully. It's time to color my hair again and I made the decision yesterday to let it come in gray from here on out. I've been coloring my hair for 20 years. The first one came when I was 25; now everything coming up is gray. What's wrong with aging anyway? If God intended for women to look 30 for their entire lives, he would have stopped the aging process for us right there. Why is it that when men turn gray, it's distinguished but when women turn gray, it's time to hide it with artificial color? It's actually quite hideous how the world is obsessed with stopping the aging process. Just go to any drug store and stroll the aisles. Face creams, anti-wrinkle creams and the list goes on. I'm certainly not a beautiful woman by magazine standards but I'm still happy with the genes that I've inherited. Mantra: I do not have to be a Barbie Doll to be accepted.

I'd like the luxury of waking up and having just one care-free day. I'm inundated with the stress of being unemployed and feeling inadequate because I'm not doing something impressive or contributing in bigger ways to our family. I'm trying to turn the other cheek with my ex-husband and stand my ground but he's on his own little vengeance trip and I've come to expect some type of ambush daily.

I'd like the luxury of seeing my son have a care-free life with no bullying and, if I could add in an extra wish, a few friends for him to hang with.

I'd like the luxury of experiencing peace with my daughter. What I wouldn't give to exchange conversation and kind words with her. I'm not sure which is worse, the deafening silence or the bitter words.

I'd like the luxury of taking about 75% of the clothes I own and hauling them out to the curb. I'd love to replace and update everything. Ok...that was one materialistic wish.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A time to play....

Yesterday, I took Max to an old train station where he filmed some of the track action. While he filmed, I played around with my camera (pictures best viewed large):

Then I played with some images I already had:

Enough playing for now. While I got lost in time yesterday, the laundry piled up and the bathroom never got cleaned. A million little things always need attention. I'm glad I always find time for a little play.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A few lovely Sunday things...

I've had a really nice weekend and the weather has been beautiful and cool. This morning, Breen ran in the Philadelphia Distance Run:

When we went in to the city yesterday to pick up his race packet, we had breakfast at the Reading Terminal where I also got to load up on my favorite 99 cent produce bags from OK Lee Produce Stand. And speaking of produce and good food, today I took Max to our local Japanese grocery store and came back with a few delicious things. I'm hooked now on the their refrigerated Fried Tofu, which comes in a long thin strip. Perfect for slicing in to thin strips and stirring in to a stir fry!

There are still more delicious finds today. When we got back from the race this morning, our neighbors were having a huge yard sale. I bought a big side table for $5 and a chair for $5. These are PERFECT pieces to re-paint in my own funky style.

Yellow is bright and gorgeous, don't you think?

Check out this interesting "thing" that's growing on my parent's Dogwood tree. I simply had to pull one off and feel it in my hands. It looks sort of like a strawberry and it's soft too.

Finally, I am almost done the base of my old ottoman:

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Six word Saturday

Find a place to create peace.

I'm one of those people who loves visual reminders of peace and fond memories. Little bowls filled with shells from a trip to California, old tin cups filled with snippets of paper I've collected on walks....

I recently was given an old book case that was intended to be used in my son's room. It stayed downstairs for so long that I decided it would be perfect to use for my own personal shrine in our living room. Every day I walk by it or sit and look. It holds a cross I found outside a catholic church, a big stone Buddha that an old co-worker gave me, a box filled with letters, special photos and lots of prayer books. This is my own little shrine; a place that instantly calms me.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Joy diet...week one

Years ago, I purchased The Joy Diet and it's been sitting on my shelf ever since. I've read parts of it from time to time. But recently, I listened to Martha Beck's Finding Your Own North Star and I was really impressed with so much of her approach. When I saw that The Joy Diet was up next for book blogging, I knew immediately that I wanted in!

In March of this year, I married my North Star. Every day feels joyful with my husband. Life wasn't always this kind to me though. As I continue on this journey of joy and self-discovery, I think it's well worth while to participate in this group. My experience in my blogging community has been so amazingly supportive and uplifting. As a group, we can get through this book together with so much love and support!

Joy is a choice; so is anger and self-defeat. It's obvious which is the better choice and yet, we spend so much time bashing ourselves. We owe it to ourselves to live life fully. I'm learning to "take the high road" and walk away from situations that have traditionally zapped me of my joy. You know what? It feels so damn good to let nasty things go and shift my focus back to the joy and beauty around me.

I'm looking forward to sharing this journey with you.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A diversion....

I haven't been writing very much lately. Instead, I've been reserving my on-line time primarily for job searching. I still write daily in my journals but I miss being here. In any case, I thought I'd take a little break and share some creative fun. I've had this over sized ottoman sitting in my family room half finished for a while now. It's pretty normal for me to have 100 things left undone, but lately I've been trying to change my ways and pick a few things that I am absolutely resolved to see to the end. When I first started painting this ottoman, Breen told me it reminded him of Alice in Wonderland; the piece soon became affectionately known as "Alice". But after a while I realized that "Alice" wasn't resonating with me. Early this morning I looked over at it and the light bulb went off. My husband loves argyle and the lines of this piece are perfect for that theme. So now, I'm off in a new re energized direction and my husband will have his own one-of-a-kind argyle ottoman. I can't wait to design the seat! Here's an odd little fact: whenever I hand paint a piece of furniture, I usually end up painting it in the room it is intended for. Something about the energy? I'm not sure.....

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wishcasting Wednesday: How do you wish to stretch?

The first word that came to mind today was "growth". I have been stuck in old patterns of thinking for such a long time. There are 2 very specific areas where I need to grow and stretch: dealing with my ex-husband and finding the work life that is meant for me.

As you may know, I've been unemployed since June of this year. This has been a time of challenge for me. I've had to confront some really nasty self-sabotaging thoughts. Every day as I continue my job search, I feel frustrated. I'm answering ads for things that fit my "old life". Things that look interesting seem way out of my league and I find myself thinking horrible, limiting thoughts about my potential. I'm acutely aware of how society values a person's profession. It seems like everything I read is followed by the person's occupation and brief bio on their accomplishments and it leaves me feeling so insignificant. What is my true purpose here? There is a magnificent way of earning a living out there just for me but I have no idea how to get to it. My wish today is to destroy the old tapes and stretch my possibilities as far as they can go.

As far as my ex-husband is concerned, I've had a long history of swallowing my anger and letting him walk all over me. He gets away with so much because I never have the nerve to challenge and confront him. Instead of speaking to him directly, I've been directing harsh words to my kids instead. He often intimidates me with his craziness and he knows exactly how to cut me to shreds with a single word or two. He is a 47 year old emotional bully who is actually more like a scared little boy on the inside. Lately, I see myself stretching in the smallest ways. He no longer has control over me. I'm remarried and living a wonderful, loving life with my soul mate. Actually, he never had the control in the first place; I simply reacted in ways to his behavior that gave him the upper hand. This week, I set the wheels in motion with the court system, which is something I avoided for far too long. I'm no longer afraid of his reaction. I'm prepared to speak my mind and stand my ground. Today, my wish is to keep stretching in ways that make me more confident and strong when dealing with him and his parents.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Six word Saturdays

The summer days are fading quickly.

Friday, September 11, 2009

This week has really whirled by! I've accomplished quite a bit actually. It seems like forever and day that I've had 3 major projects sitting around half finished: my Helen chair, my wedding quilt and my Alice ottoman. I finally finished the seat for Helen:

Yesterday, I put my wedding quilt together. What a job! Sewing a quilt together that measures 91x101 is no small thing. It's a good thing I don't make these for a living. I happen to love the little imperfections in my own work. I have to be so much more careful when I'm selling something. Here it is on our bed. The big charm for me are the squares that have a bride and groom in a hot air balloon.

I've been thinking about starting up another 365 day self portrait project. Thinking about is the key phrase here. This month I turn 45. A lot of changes have happened over the past year or so. Big changes are about to come. The last major life change I went through brought out the photographer in me. I learned so much about myself through those self portraits. I've noticed that I haven't been interested in taking photos for a while now. I'd love to bring that back but I also know it's not something I can force. So for now, I'm merely thinking about it.....

What else? I'll be starting in with "B" recipes over at my food blog next week. Don't forget about the apron giveaway over there!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

On Tuesday of this week, I got a brain flash. I decided to keep a running list throughout the day of what I was actually doing. So much of the time, I beat the crap out of myself for the things I don't accomplish. It's funny how the human mind works, isn't it? Generally speaking, we focus in first on our negative attributes while the good things inside of us are screaming for a shred of recognition. I was really pleased with myself at the end of the day on Tuesday. I really had managed to accomplish quite a bit. I did the same thing yesterday but made a conscious effort to observe how much time was spent "doing things". Was there anything that I was avoiding? Was I spending to much time just keeping myself busy with "things to do"? I've been listening to Martha Beck and she has a method of looking at our tasks for the day and rating them on a scale of -10 to +10. When you find a negative rating, it's something that doesn't feel good to you at all. That's when you decide about the 3 B's: Bag it, barter it or better it. Example: you have to take out the trash, which you HATE doing. Do you bag it and decide to never take trash out again? Do you ask your mate to barter with you; maybe he/she would take out the trash in exchange for you doing something for them? Do you find a way to make trash removal a better experience? So, my task for myself now is to look at how I'm spending my time and looking at the negative things that I am avoiding. My intention is to get right on top of those unpleasant things and turn them around for myself. I truly believe that we all have the ability to turn around an unpleasant situation or task by changing the way we approach it. Living life with a positive spin is so much more fulfilling.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Wishcasting Wednesday: what do you wish to learn?

I used to keep an updated bucket list filled with so many things that I wanted to learn. I think learning is the gateway to ourselves. When you get a strong feeling that you want to learn something, it's probably your truest self asking you to expand; the more you know, the closer you get to your purpose. Here's my list, in no particular order, of some things I want to learn:

1. how to flyfish
2. how to crochet
3. how to ride a motorcycle
4. A million and one new art techniques
5. how to plant a big, organic vegetable garden
6. how to make and can my own jams and jellies
7. how to open my own store
8. how to operate commercial coffee makers and cappuccino machines for said store
9. how to sew better
10. how to be kinder to myself
11. how to listen to my heart more than I listen to my head
12. how to stand my ground better with the kids
13. how to know God better
14. how to meditate
15. how to market my art
16. how to write and publish a book
17. how football is played so I can actually watch the games with Breen
18. how to be a better baker
19. how to get through a book without skipping ahead 20 pages

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Tuesday and a new change

This morning my daughter started back to school. My son went back last week. Up until this morning, I had fallen in to a "comfortable" routine being home with the kids. But now, the house is empty and I am reminded that there is so much I need to do in order to secure a new job and get myself back out there. I miss having a paycheck and I really want more than anything to feel like I'm contributing to our household in more ways than just doing laundry and cleaning. I'm feeling something that I can't quite put my finger on....sad? inedequate? useless? I'm not sure. I was reminded of another thing this morning too. Watching my daughter leave the house for school tugged at my heartstrings. Once, years ago, I sat at the bottom of the driveway with her every day waiting for the bus. Now, she's almost bigger than me and wants nothing to do with my presence at all during the morning school routine. I know it's normal to experience all this. It just makes me see how truly fast the time goes. I don't want to turn around one of these days and see how much time went by while I sat in this house. I want to get out there and take the world by its heels, in my own unique way.

Just a few shots today. I'm still having fun with my food journal.

Last night I made the most delicious Linguine with Artichoke Sauce. Go over here to get the recipe!

Monday, September 7, 2009

The end of summer

It's Labor Day and that brings summer to a near close. We've been hanging around this weekend. Relaxing. Eating. Playing. Reading. Kendall has the Twilight book. I picked it up out of curiosity and now I'm hooked. I've finished that one and I'm now half way through New Moon, the 2nd in the series. What else has been going on over the past few days?

Bubble blowing.....

A haircut (2-3 inches off)......

A big batch of Tomato Gravy (GO OVER HERE FOR THE RECIPE AND STORY)....

Time with Max....

Badminton at my parent's house.......

followed by a yummy dinner....

and more badminton. Breen and Kendall are the uber competitive in our little family. They like to play until a definite victory is declared

or until it's so dark that one of them can't see the shuttlecock anymore ;))

Like mother, like daughter...don't you think?