Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sunday Secrets: June 29, 2008

PostSecret is an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard. I find it to be an amazing sociological experiment. I found four secrets that resonated this week.

When I was in my early college years, I made this offer to a guy I was nuts about. He didn't take me up on the offer. Now, I'm in a good marriage. His sucks. I think I came out of that deal better.

Ouch. Yeah. But as a kid, I was too scared to call the police. Too afraid of letting the family secret out. After I left my first husband and had lived for six weeks with my two babies in a women's shelter, I wasn't so afraid any more. I worked at the county courthouse. On my lunch break, I was on my way to my car, along with a bunch of other employees. A man and his soon-to-be-ex-wife were fighting on their way to divorce court. He was getting pretty nasty. I was the only one to stop and ask if she needed help ... and call the police for her.

I love my counselor and am unbelievably grateful for her.
I just wish I had a friend I could talk to that was as understanding.

Sometimes, I can't either. And it hurts.

Maybe, but not today

I don't feel like taking risks today.
I feel like reading.
Or stitching.
Or puttering around the house.

Risks make me edgy. Even small ones.
Today, I need to be peaceful and rejuvenate myself.

Saturday, June 28, 2008



All need action to go from "coming attraction" to "new and exciting."

Friday, June 27, 2008

Be Nice to Yourself

I am very very very good at kicking myself.

Take this morning. I received an invitation for a picnic reunion party of folks from the young adult group I was a part of through church over 20 years ago. Don't know if I'll go or not. But one of my first memories concerning people in that group was that I laughed derisively at one of the members. It was the mid 80s and I was not used to being around gay men. I was rude.

That memory came to mind. I felt terribly embarrassed. I started kicking myself.

Then I remembered ...
  • I acted in an unfeeling way then, but I feel bad about it now!
  • If I saw that guy, I could apologize (though he may not remember the incident)
  • I'm more comfortable around all kinds of people now
  • I am not so rude any more
  • I barely knew better then.
I do know better now and I act better now. So I can treat myself with kindness and compassion now. I can live as the woman I've become, and not resort to kicking that self-indulgent young woman I was then.

Funny. I still have to actively remind myself that I've grown up! I don't have to live with the shame of the worst moments of my life. I am much more than that. I can mother the young lady that I was, and cradle her with kindness and compassion within my memories.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

It's Your Choice

The next little story is sort of related to this quote.

When I was growing up, the dirty little secret in our family was just how much my mom and dad fought. They could go at it all night. And I couldn't sleep for listening to them and being scared of the possible consequences. Since I didn't get enough sleep, I'd doze off in class at school.

But I couldn't tell anyone WHY I was so tired. I couldn't betray the family secret.

What I did instead was find some married couples at church to watch. I'd see how they treated each other. I found three in particular that were great examples for me. One was the gal that ran the religious education program and her husband that liked to work behind the scenes. Another was the parents of my best friend. The third were an older couple whom I adopted as my godparents.

What all these couples had in common was an ability to work together and find mostly peaceful methods to solve their conflicts. It's not that they were conflict-free! But they negotiated. They talked. They made room for each other. They didn't scream at each other. And I saw these couples work things out over years of observation.

That was the spirit and image of marriage that I held dear. That was the kind of marriage I wanted.

Well, I missed my mark the first time. I didn't have that spirit of give and take in my first marriage. That marriage didn't last very long, either.

But I took my time the second time. I got to know my husband for two years before we tied the knot. And our whole relationship was based on little miniature verbal contracts that we made with each other. We've known each other 19 years now, married 17. We still make those mini contracts.

We've been through some tough stuff including the deaths of three parents and a sibling. Buying a house and remodeling it. Some health concerns for ourselves and our children, too. And that spirit of give and take gets us through.

It's so important to choose who and what to love very carefully. Once found ... develop the habit of holding them dear.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

On My Desk - New Book!

Here's my next installment as a participant in the On My Desk photo meme.

I managed to get through the entire pile of mini tasks last week, including installing Photoshop Elements 6 on my computer. This book, that will help me to learn to use my new program, arrived in today's mail.

Yippee! More to learn. I get high on learning!

Sounds Good!

I have not been doing this the last couple days. I've been running to appointments. Taking my daughter hither and yon. Tending to paperwork.

I still have not had the chance to sit at the beach with a good book in my lap. I really do want to tend to that!

And tomorrow, my daughter has wisdom teeth removed, so 'twill be another full day.

Yet ... I really want to act like a summer child ... to dawdle, putter, read, have some fun!

Monday, June 23, 2008

I Need a Catcher's Mitt

I've never been very athletic. I definitely throw baseballs like a girl. I'm not that great as a fielder, either.

But I'm in the game. So I might as well try and catch the ball.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


I might have to take myself up on this! It's been sunny and warm. And the beach, down by the river, is just a short walk away.

Sunday Secrets: June 22, 2008

PostSecret is an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard. I find it to be an amazing sociological experiment. This single secrets resonated this week.

I really like this card ... and I don't even know why ...

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Why Do YOU Write?

Truly. It's why I've used a journal of one kind or another ever since I was about eleven years old.

I also talk out loud to figure out what it is I'm trying to say. That works OK around people that know me, but tends to confuse the hell out of people who don't realize that it's through the talking that I learn what 'sounds right.'

Friday, June 20, 2008

Day Finis: Moving On

I added this new photograph to Creative Journey
in my Photography section, Change of Seasons

So ends my Creative Journey
This first day of summer, 2008

I stayed up late last night
Stood alone on a back road out by the lumber mill
Camera mounted to a monopod

My meditation music wafted from the car's CD player
And I waited
Waited and pondered
Waited for the full moon to crest the hill south of the river

I watched it rise
Along with my Spirit
Along with my inner churning

Feeling the newness
And the loss
And the steps forward of these last two years

My Creative Journey ends
And Plan B begins

Time to step forward
Into the Change of Season

On to Plan B

For the last two years, I've taken some time to explore my creative drives more deeply. When I began my Creative Journey, I thought that I would be trying out various art and craft ideas, learning a bunch of needlework finishing techniques, reading a ton of books. Lose some weight. All of this was to be in an attempt to figure out what I was to do with myself in my life chapter as a middle-aged woman.

Would I begin a new career? Would I go back to school for a Master's degree? Now that my family is mostly raised, would I devote more of my time to volunteer work or artistic pursuits?

Well. I did a bit of those things. At least, I asked the questions. But even on sabbatical, life gets in the way. I didn't know I'd be facing a health problem or that my emotions would be taken for a wild roller coaster ride. I didn't anticipate landing back in counseling to work through more inner 'junque'.

I did stitch some more. I found out how much I love being part of two groups of women who create quilts for people in crisis. I learned just how much that makes my heart grow.

I managed to try a few new needlework finishing techniques. But I found out I was even better at pointing my finishing group to other tutorials online than I was at creating a new tutorial each month (my original goal).

I even managed to lose 35 pounds so far!

I still have not made a basket, though I still have the kit. I still have not made polymer clay beads or buttons, though the clay sits on my shelf. I still have not stenciled the lower porch so that it looks like cobblestone, though I can see the supplies resting on the shelf to my right of my desk. I still have not taught my youngest daughter to sew, though a dress sits half made hiding someplace here in my studio. I still have not done a major update on my Stitcher's Studio, though I've been very consistent with posting to my blog.

I still have a huge pile of books to read. I think the pile got bigger, even though I did manage to read a fair number and to write book reviews for them. I love reading. I learned I don't allow myself the quiet time to do it. My husband and I are once again trying to maintain the discipline to read every Tuesday and Thursday evening.

I have not discovered my next career move, either. That's a bit disappointing. But I do have a kernel of an idea of what that career might be.

My biggest discovery in these last two years was in photography. I learned that even if you don't really know what you're doing when you start, if you just keep at it, you can learn some stuff along the way. I'm better at framing images now. I know a bit more about lighting. I can even use my image software more adeptly. But mostly, I learned that I love to photograph life's little details. Macro photography stirs my heart. I'll keep at that. Learn some more.

The other important discovery is that I'm really not great at going with the flow. I tend to be more Type A. I like my lists. I like crossing things off them. I like having a plan and sticking to it. And I get rather anxious when those plans get changed without my consent.

So as I close out my Creative Journey today, I'll move on to my next phase. I'm going to call it "Plan B."

What is Plan B? I guess you might call it planned obsolescence. Or ... PLANNING to go with the flow. I'm sure I'll still have my lists ... that's extremely ingrained in me. But I will leave some blank lines on my list on purpose. I'll leave room to scratch out the plans that don't work and go with an alternate one that does. One that leaves more room for Spirit to flow through. One that leaves more flexibility for my family.

In other words, I'm planning to make plans and allow them to change! (I'd say welcome them to change, but hey ... I'm Margaret ... that ain't gonna happen.) So in Plan B, I can fool myself into believing that a change in plans is part of the plan.

Such convoluted thinking, eh? Yet ... it just might work for me.

Thanks to those of you that have followed me on this Creative Journey of mine and become a part of it. If you'd like to walk with me in Plan B, I'd love to continue to have your company.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Day 665: Details, Details

I added this new photograph
to Creative Journey
in my Photography section,
All In The Details

I bent down on the forest floor when I spied this bright bit of purple popping out against the green. The flower was only about the size of a quarter.

Once squatting low and trying to get the flower center in focus, I saw the spider. It's teeny. Not much bigger than a seed bead.

I spent a good five minutes scrunched down in the dirt, trying to get my camera to focus on such a tiny insect.

That amount of focused concentration is an excellent exercise for me as a way to learn to cherish the moment ... be present ... appreciate the life right before my eyes.

Bits of Pretty Everywhere

I like this quote. It reminds me of a photo I took:

If I've learned anything in these last two years on my Creative Journey, it's that if I'm aware, I can see beauty all around me ... on my walks, through my photos, and in the people that spend a season of their life with me.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Day 664: On My Desk - Mini Tasks

I added this new photograph
to Creative Journey
in my Photography section,
Mini Tasks

Here's my next installment as a participant in the On My Desk photo meme.

I've got to say, the good part of participating in this photo meme is that it makes me look at my desk and get real with myself. This is the pile to my right. Lots of these items have been stacking up for weeks (oh, OK ... months on some) waiting for me to knuckle down and take care of them.

So what tasks await today?
  1. Install Photoshop Elements
    (I received that as a Mother's Day gift and still haven't installed it!)

  2. Hang the crystal prisms in my window
    (Remember that scene from Pollyanna where she goes to visit the grumpy neighbor, takes the crystals from his chandelier and hangs them in the window to create rainbows on the wall? The old guy's heart begins to soften. Well, I bought these crystals months ago. Time to make some rainbows!)

  3. File the stack of catalogs and investment information.
    (It's pure laziness keeping me from that. Will take all of 2 minutes — takes longer to write about it here. Can you spell
    P-R-O-C-R-A-S-T-I-N-A-T-I-O-N ?

  4. Hope for an Internet phone call.
    (My ear piece and microphone are ready! Hope my friend is!)
Shhhhhh! Don't tell anyone. There's another big pile of mini tasks to do on the other side of my desk. But ... let's just see if I can conquer this stack first.

I Have Confidence

Do you remember that song from The Sound of Music that Maria sings as she approaches her new job as governess?

I have confidence in sunshine
I have confidence in rain
I have confidence that spring will come again
Besides which, you see, I have confidence in me!

I used to walk to school, singing that song ... trying to build my own confidence.

I don't think it worked.

Oh, I have confidence in some of my talents and abilities, of course. But as a full-fledged human adult that believes she can make her way in this world and figure out solutions to her problems as she goes ... well, not so much. Yet, I constantly work at building my confidence.

Maybe I need to look at Sarah's recipe again:
  • attitude
  • experience
  • wisdom
  • optimism
  • faith
Hmmmm. I've got plenty of all those things. Maybe it's the proportions that are off. My blend is not so aromatic. Or, maybe I'm just looking in a defective, curved mirror — you know, like the kind you see in fun houses. One makes you look tall and skinny; another makes you look short and rotund. I think I'm looking in a mirror that makes me look like a dust devil hit ... all rather swirly and cockeyed.

Time to get a new mirror. See myself for who I really am and know that the image I see is good enough.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Day 663: Juniper Berries

I added this new photograph
to Creative Journey
in my Photography section,
Juniper Berries

Until I walked around the neighborhood with my camera and my macro lens, I never even knew junipers had berries.

I love what I find when I go out of my way to see the details.

Aren't those colors pretty! I ought to create a stitchery project using the colors of a juniper berry.


As in ... unrestrained or excessive self-indulgence.

That's one pipe dream I might actually be seduced to try!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Day 662: Ethereal

I added this new photograph
to Creative Journey
in my Photography section,
Angel Kissed

There's something about this flower
that reminds me of angels
dancing in mid air.

All Things Bright & Beautiful

All Things Great and Small
All Things Wise and Wonderful
The Lord God made them all.
— Ce­cil F. Al­ex­an­der

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Day 661: Forest Floor Fungus

I added this new photograph to Creative Journey
in my Photography section, Spotted 'Shroom

I like taking these kinds of photos that make me put my belly in the dirt, scrunch up in unflattering positions, and find a way to hold still to get a clear shot. Taking this kind of photo requires a lot of concentrated effort ... and a healthy dose of not caring what I look like so long as my photo looks good.

This gritty, earthy mushroom was growing on the side of the road, just up the hill from my home. I saw it while taking my walk, and it's unique beauty stopped me in my tracks. I love this mushroom's tenacity. It grew right there amid the pine needles, and didn't even bother shaking them off as it pressed upward. I like the ridges. The spots of crud. The variations in color and texture.

I like that I pay close enough attention to what is around me that something as simple as this mushroom stops me in my tracks.

Planting Seeds

I hope that I plant these kinds of seeds in my daughters. Now that they're close to grown, it's time for me to focus on the kinds of seeds I can plant to allow my happiness to shine. All my life, I've wanted to make the world a better place. Or at least, a bit more beautiful.

Perhaps these phrases I post every day will be seeds for someone. They surely are for me. Little ideas to stretch one's way of thinking, or light up a different perspective.

Sometimes, like today, the seed is but a question. The answers need to germinate, ruminate and grow before I get to see and smell the flower.

Sunday Secrets: June 15, 2008

PostSecret is an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard. I find it to be an amazing sociological experiment. These secrets rang true this week .

When I was growing up, I used to have a really hard time picking out Father's Day cards for my dad, too. He was a hard man to love because he scared me so. I didn't even bother looking at the "best dad in the world" cards or the "daddy's little girl" cards. I had to find something along the lines of "respect" or "honor." Thank goodness, things changed.

And this is how it changed. He listened to me. He apologized. I forgave him. I'm so very, very glad that it was not too late for us. The last year of my dad's life is one I'll always treasure. We got to know each other as adults and found a new love and respect for each other.

Thanks, Dad!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Saturdays are for Resting

I added this new photograph to Creative Journey
in my Photography section, Respite

Think deeply.
Cast your net wide.
Imagine the possibilities of things that are real,
. . . but out of the reach of the normal senses.
Walk a path less trodden.

I like to follow behind,
. . . pick up the morsels that line the trail.
I like to rest on a rock under a flowering tree.
Sit in wonder.

To Downgrade is to Upgrade

So I guess that means the wise learn to make things smaller, to simplify and become more peaceful. To deescalate.

Certainly, clearing clutter is a good first step to this in our home.

Then, perhaps, simplifying our schedule. Maybe even paring down our interests so that we can put more time into fewer pleasures, thus deriving more pleasure.

Surely, that can help move toward peace.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Day 659: Only the Good Die Young

I added this new photograph
to Creative Journey
in my Photography section,
Street Moth

I found this rather large moth lying dead in the street. Perhaps the image is morbid. I mean, the poor thing is cut open with some yellow ooze coming out of it. And then, it is dead.

It's just ... it looked so cool. I don't much like bugs, especially if they are crawling on me or buzzing about my ears. But when you get to see one so close up, they're pretty neat. Just look at the subtle variation of color in the wings. Look at his chest ... all soft and hairy-looking. Look at how giant the eye is in proportion to the rest of his head. If you look closely, you can even see striped things on his antennae. Or ... was that a leg. Hard to figure from this angle.

Poor little blighter didn't get to live very long. But now he's immortalized.

What ARE You Good At?

As I was reading through some of my favorite blogs, this line popped out at me as being particularly funny — and it somehow fits me!

Lin was talking about designing stitchery, and how she finds it difficult to design something that looks like something real. But this quote, taken on face value, just strikes a chord.

I tend to live in my head. Live in the past. But I often have trouble sticking with the here and now and with what's right in front of me. You know. Reality.

So, yeah. I don't do reality well (all the time), either. But ... I'm getting better at it, with practice.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Book Review: The Wednesday Letters

I finished listening to the audio version of this book this week. It was ... a disappointment.

This is the story of an older couple who die on the same evening. Their children return home for the funeral. While going through their parents' belongings, they find thousands of letters written by their father to their mother each Wednesday they were married. The letters reveal much family history -- and secrets -- that the three adult children must now face.

I really liked the premise of this book and it was recommended to me by someone whose judgment I trust. But ... well ... I guess there's just too much of the student of literature in me to enjoy this book. The writing style just kills the plot for me. It's also a tad bit too didactic for my taste.

I gave it two stars. If you'd like to read my full book review, check it out in my Bookshelf.

Day 658: Coated in Pollen

I added this new photograph
to Creative Journey
in my Photography section,
Allergy Season

It's not just the pine cones covered in pollen.
The driveway.
The front porch.
The front entryway.

I suppose that's what comes with having a yard full of evergreens. Cones and pollen all over the place.

I'm one of the lucky ones. I don't have allergies. If I did, I think this image just might make my nose twitch and my eyes water.

Nah. I'm one of the lucky ones. I only need to clean up the yellow gunk.

Take Your Time

This is good to know. Some days just start out slowly and never seem to pick up speed.

In fact, some years are like that — especially when emotional setbacks get in the way of progress.

So you just put one foot in front of the other. Make yourself take one more step. Get up off your knees when you fall — or just crawl along for a while until you get the support to stand up again.

Go slowly. Don't stop.
Good idea.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Day 657: On My Desk - Quilts!

I added this new photograph to Creative Journey
in my Photography section,
Quilt Stacks

Here's my next installment as a participant in this photo meme.

This is not technically on my desk, but I did have a hand in getting these to the table.

We had a very productive morning at Quilters this morning. Pat and Cecelia and I managed to lay out five quilt tops. Three were pretty. These two were a bit more wild.

Jackie hopes to sew these together this week. It's always fun to see how different they look once pieced, padded and tied.

What Keeps You Going?

I suppose motivation is what these daily phrases are all about.
Just a little somethin' somethin' to urge me on to the next bit o' growth.

And like a nice warm bath or hot shower,
I can feel invigorated afterwards.

What's next?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Day 656: Purple & Yellow; Pointy & Round

I added this new photograph
to Creative Journey
in my Photography section,
Study in Contrast

On the side of the road
Down near my knees
Was this study in contrast
Pretty as you please

How would it feel
A day spoken in rhyme?
Probably old
In short, short time.


The hardest part is watching them hurt, and knowing that sometimes they have to learn lessons the hard way.

The best part is the kisses and hugs.
The thank yous are pretty nice, too.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Day 655: Sweet Heart

I added this new photograph
to Creative Journey
in my Photography section,
Hearts n Flowers

I made a quick walk around the neighborhood with my daughter in between raindrops this morning.

The rhododendrons are in full bloom ... purple, soft pink, coral, white and these hot pink blooms fill many a front yard.

Jodie spotted this threesome, forming a heart. Sweet, isn't it?

Kick Fear in the Butt

Gad, I want to believe this.

Sometimes, what lies behind me feels messy ... things left undone ... too huge.
What lies before me? The unknown. A chasm. Big scary monster.
And those things are tiny matters compared to what lies within me?

I want to believe this. I want to believe in my strengths.
I want to trust my own judgments.
I want to kick fear in the butt.

(Like that line? My counselor gave it to me!)

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Day 654: A Gift from Grandma

I added this new photograph
to Creative Journey
in my Photography section,
Cow Creamer

In the summer of 1965, my parents went to the New York World's Fair. It was a big deal. There were 10 children to deal with. The older ones stayed home. We younger ones were farmed out to various relatives for the week.

My sister Janet, my brother Jon and I spent the week with Grandma and her husband who we called "Uncle Joe Fat." I was 7 years old.

That week, I learned how to dance The Jerk with the neighbor girl. We picked apricots off the tree in the back yard and made jam. We got to stay up 'late' and watch Grandma's favorite soap opera, Peyton Place. Grandma taught me to knit. I still have the set of pink double-pointed knitting needles she gave me. One of them is bent.

Another thing happened that week that changed my life forever. Yet ... I still don't have the courage to name it out loud. My sister Janet saw it happen and helped me deal with it years later, for my memory had blocked most of it out.

I loved my Grandma. At the end of the week, she lead me over to her china cabinet and said I could pick out any one thing and have it for myself. I picked this cow creamer. I thought it was funny that you could fill a cow with milk, and then pour the milk out of the cow's mouth. She now holds a place of honor in my own china cabinet.

Become Quiet

They'll lead you in the right direction ... for you.

Sunday Secrets: June 08, 2008

PostSecret is an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard. I find it to be an amazing sociological experiment. These secrets tweaked my interest this week .

He always did befriend the outcasts and the unclean.
Who among us has not felt that way at one time or another?

:: snicker :: Well, not horny ... but they do get my intellectual and creative juices flowing.

Yeah. But I'm getting over it.
Takes too much energy to yearn for something that can't be had.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Day 653: On My Desk - Bit o Joy'

I added this new photograph to Creative Journey
in my Photography section,
Oh Joy

Here's my next installment as a participant in this photo meme.

So, to crawl out of my puddle (see below), I'll start stitching this ornament for charity.

Time to put a bit o' Joy back in my life.

A Wet Day

I was going to post a phrase that just said, "Ouch!"

But I thought I'd first look to see what phrase I'd already picked out for today.
When I read it, I decided to post it as planned.

This is what my life feels like today.
Not enough sleep.
Transitioning from the school year to summer.
Ending my two-year Creative Journey.
Feeling some emotional upheaval.

On top of that, it's a cold, wet day outside.
My hands feel like they need gloves as they move over the keyboard.

In other words, I fell into my path's puddle.

So today I plan to be very gentle to myself.
Pick myself up.
Dry off.
Put on my warm terrycloth robe and pink striped slippers.
Curl up in my stitching nest.
Start a new project.
Watch some recorded TV shows and a movie.
Love on my husband and daughter.
Take a nap.

Oh. And eat a bit of chocolate ice cream
(not on Jenny's plan, but I did settle for the "1/2 the fat" variety.

Now and then when I fall down and get bruised, I need a day to just be gentle to myself and heal up.