Monday, March 29, 2010

First To Be, Then To Do

Macro Monday is easy to play,
snap a macro (or close-up) photo,
post it on your blog
then go to Lisa's Chaos
and sign Mr Linky.

To Be!

I read a refreshing article over the weekend that gave me a new idea about how to face each morning. Before you write your To Do list (whether on paper or in your head), write a To Be list. And keep it short!

After all, as my friend Mary reminded me the other day when I was bemoaning the fact that I got so little done one day, we are human BEINGS, not human DOINGS.

Yes, we all have stuff we must do simply to keep our lives on track: correspondence and bills, laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning, playing with our kids, giving loving time to our spouses, act on committees, do volunteer work ... oh, yeah, and our jobs that earn money.

But if we want to keep in touch with our own inner spirits, the stuff in life that makes us tick, the essence that gives meaning to our lives, we also need to give 30 seconds of thought each day to what we want TO BE. When we consider who we want to be, how we want to present ourselves to the world, to our family, to ourselves, then it will help us know how to prioritize all those TO DOs.

Here's a couple examples:

Monday is the day I get the house spiffied up to help the week run smoothly. In addition, my teenage daughter is on Spring Break and we want to spend some extra one-on-one time together. With that in mind, I asked myself, "What do I want to be today?"

I chose Productive and Focused.

This morning, my husband had a meeting in which it was his turn to bring snacks. Last night we bought some mini (3") Bundt cakes, strawberries, pineapple, mandarin oranges, and springtime silk flowers. He's getting to be a legend for making innovative snacks with a nice presentation, rather than plopping a bag of bagels on the table. Later in the day, he had a lunch meeting with the gal he's mentoring. She wants to learn to be a person of vision, and there's no one better at the credit union to teach her than my husband.

With those meetings in mind, Dale decided that today he wanted to be An Inspiration and Ambitious.

So here's your challenge. Tell me ... what do you want to be today? What two qualities do you want to embrace and personify?

Aim your energies in that direction. At the end of the day, see if deciding what you wanted To Be helped direct your energies and intentions in that direction as you worked your way through your To Do list.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Gratitude: A Good Night's Sleep

I didn't get one of these last night.

I was up at 3am, and didn't manage to get back to sleep until 4:30. When family troubles weigh heavily on my mind, and when my medications cause hot itchy rashes, my dreams turn peculiar and my body says, "Enough!"

And I'm up with the owls.

With a glass of warm milk and my husband's soothing words, I am lulled back into peacefulness. So though my sleep was interrupted, I awoke refreshed and ready to jump into my day.

Nights filled with restful sleep lead to days of alert presence, vitality, energy, the ability to cope with whatever challenges jump out in front of me. Nights filled with sound sleep help me make wise choices the following day. Nights filled with good sleep allow me to be the best woman, mom, wife and friend I can be.

Let's hear it for the zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzs

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Weekly Gratitude
For 52 weeks, count your blessings and document them once each week

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Film Worth Noting

I watched this documentary about the Iraq war this week. It is an eye-opening film that presents an important point of view. Two western journalists tell the story of American occupation from the point of view of Iraqi citizens who oppose the coalition's presence.

The film was shot in the first year of the war when, as we now know, so much was mishandled. No matter what your view of American involvement in the war, this is a film worth watching to uncover a rare perspective.

The film is entirely in Arabic with subtitles. I watched it with the option of the film makers commentary. Very thought-provoking and enlightening.

Here's the synopsis from Amazon:
Meeting Resistance is a daring, eye-opening film that raises the veil of anonymity surrounding the Iraq's insurgency by meeting face to face with individuals who are passionately engaged in the struggle against coalition forces. It documents for the first time the sentiments experienced and actions taken by a nation's citizens when their homeland is occupied.

With unique insight into the people involved in the resistance, this acclaimed film explodes myth after myth about the war in Iraq and the Iraqis who participate. Voices which have been previously unheard - both males and female - speak candidly about their motivations, hopes and goals, revealing a kaleidoscope of human perspectives.

Through its unprecedented access to insurgent and clandestine groups, Meeting Resistance is the missing puzzle piece in understanding the Iraq war- not only the toll of our occupatiion but the mindset behind those who resist.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Time for Another Kiva Loan

Some of the money I loaned through Kiva has been repaid ... so time to invest in another entrepreneur!

This week I'm able to help out a woman in Cambodia. From her home, she runs a clothing sewing and design business. Please meet Kong Thida.

She's asked for a $1,000 loan to update her home so that garment factory workers can rent the space. I was able to loan $25.00 to help her with that goal. Combined with other lenders, Kong Thida will soon have the funds she needs.

Won't you consider making a Kiva loan too? Business folks in developing countries all over the world can use a boost. When their businesses thrive, they can then employ others in their community. Gradually, they can be lifted from poverty. YOU can make a difference.

For you needlework friends, please consider joining my lending team, Needles for Change. We are a group of friends who met through a common love of stitching. We are choosing to make loans through Kiva to honor each other and all those around the world who love or make their living through needlework.

Kiva. Loans that change lives.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Macro Monday - You're In Luck!

Macro Monday is easy to play,
snap a macro (or close-up) photo,
post it on your blog
then go to Lisa's Chaos
and sign Mr Linky.

You're in Luck!

To celebrate St. Patrick's Day last week, I made some more Artist Trading Cards. After much input from my daughter Jeanne and fiddling around with various media, the design was finalized.

This card uses homemade paper, watercolor, picot-edged satin ribbon, dried flowers, glittered stickers and a bit of my own handwriting done with felt pen.

There are 12 in this series, sent to my girlfriends and daughters. It's quite fun to make 'mini masterpieces' and share them. It's a great way to dig into the bowels of my studio, find some nearly-forgotten treasures, and spend an afternoon in creative bliss.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sunday Secrets: March 21, 2010

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 insightful sociological experiment.

Today I related closely to only one secret:

My two oldest daughters are adopted by my husband. It's common to look at some of their trait and attribute them to him. I have to stop and remember that those traits cannot be inherited.

Friday, March 19, 2010

March Newborn King Update

I've been able to make some significant progress on my stitchery this month, despite getting stuck for a couple weeks on the tip of the angel's wing.

Once again, it was a chart problem holding me up. The very tip of the angel's wing was a separate little chart that had to be lined up with the main chart. And once again, the dark lines on the little chart did not match up with the dark lines on the main chart.

I seem to have a problem with matching, because it was befuddling me to get the overlap line in place and count correctly to line up that angel wing tip. So I stuck my stitching on the other side of the room for a couple weeks and just glowered at it.

I made a couple attempts to re-mark the dark lines (failing miserably). I then tried to extend the chart and write the symbols in myself. That didn't work either. Or rather, it started out working, then got all messed up so I stopped and frogged the few stitches I'd put in.

I finally just took scissors to my chart (degradation!), lined the thing up, taped it in place, and marked the dark lines in the appropriate place.

All I can say is, I darn better like the finished product! This chart has given me far too many fits which kinda takes the fun out of stitching. But I'm back on track now.

The entire angel and background are in half cross stitch, so once I get going, the stitching proceeds fairly quickly.

I've got to say, this is probably the least methodically I've ever stitched a piece. I usually let the pattern grow from bottom to top. With this piece, I seem to be doing whatever is easiest first, just to see some progress so that I don't get discouraged all over again.

It's been a month since I last posted an update. It's nice to see the comparison. Ta Da!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Oooo - La - La

Well, I've done it again.

I stopped at my favorite corner, and paid for another Lady of the Evening.

She was so inexpensive! Going rate?

Under $10.00 !!!

:: sigh ::

I have very little resistance to these lovely bejeweled gals. And this tart is not only dressed in satin, sequins and beads, but she wears a spray of embroidered flowers across her bosom.

She caught my eye from a distance.

As I approached, I was captivated by her beauty.
I'm smitten!

She tells me she's ready for her close-up:

I just might have to take her out for dinner and a dance.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

DVD: Every Little Step

Every Little Step
I can't say enough good stuff about this movie! I just love it.

This documentary is a backstage, up-close look at the casting of a Broadway production. It follows hopeful dancers as they audition for coveted spots in the 2006 revival of "A Chorus Line."

This film draws parallels between the interactions of the aspiring actors and the events of the play. The filmmakers also intercut interview footage of composer Marvin Hamlisch and dancers from the original Broadway production.

The story is wonderful. The editing is spectacular. It makes a person want to get out there and try to dance.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sunday Secrets: December 06, 2009

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 insightful sociological experiment.

Today's secrets have a common theme. Each depicts someone trying to understand why people react the way they do.

Who do they think they're kidding?
What's so wrong about their natural color?
They really think looking this way
will give a better impression?

I say outlandish things tongue-in-cheek
to make stick-up-the-'cheek' people uncomfortable.

... so my niece said.
Who thought what about who's art?

Yeah. Neither do I.
What's not to like?
I'm incredible!

As a young adult, I didn't shave either.
I was impressed by the honest reactions from kids.
Adult reactions were a whole different ball of wax.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Sunday Secrets: March 07, 2010

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 insightful sociological experiment.

These three secrets gave me pause for reflection this week:

Every time I see a political family fail,
I am saddened.
Folks generally go into public service
to make a positive difference in the community at large.
Some have a golden touch. Edwards did.
It's sad when their power goes awry
and personal misdeeds derail entire careers.

This tweaks my curiosity
and lets my brain play on a trampoline for a while.
Should I dress slutty
on my drive to California this summer?

I'll have to ask my truck driving friend Don
if slutty 50-something drivers sharing the road
give him a rise.

But then ...
laughing is the most important part
of most relationships.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Gratitude: What's in a Note?

I may not get around to Macro Monday today, because my eldest daughter is visiting and I want to spend as much time with her as possible. Yet I'm posting now because a link to this video landed in my In Box last night, and I have a specific reason for sharing it.

At the beginning of this year, I decided that instead of writing up some hard-to-keep New Year's Resolutions, I would pick one activity each month and make it into a habit.

In January, it was "stop complaining." I was so tired of hearing the whine in my voice, that I wanted to make a significant change. That was a tough habit to start, but got easier as the month went on. Now, each time I do hear myself complaining, I catch myself quickly and find a way to turn the complaint into something else. Finding a way to turn it into an action that removes the reason I complained in the first place seems to be most effective.

In February, I added the habit of 15 min meditation each day. This one is also a little difficult. My mind is so busy, that I find it hard to settle down and simply be quiet. This is one habit where I had to force myself to honor this promise I made to myself. I think I missed only five days.

I do use the term 'meditation' very loosely. Most of the time I have a particular piece of music I listen to. I start out with some full-body stretches, then sit quietly on the couch with my eyes closed. I've gone up to 30 min this way. Other times I used guided imagery / self hypnosis. Still other times I use my walks or time on the elliptical as meditation. This morning I read an e-mail that I needed to ponder, so took my meditation time with a bowl of cereal and then just sat quietly thinking about my friend's situation and the response that might be most appropriate.

I also thought a lot about my husband and the changes we've made in our marriage in the last three years that have helped us grow closer than ever. Talk about a nice thing on which to spend some brain power!

For March, the habit I want to acquire is to write a note each day. Why? Because it makes my day when I receive a personal something in the mail, rather than simply the usual junk mail and bills. I figure a personal note might perk up a friend or two, too.

To that end, last month I decluttered a desk drawer. Now it holds only pretty notecards and stationery (I had a bunch tucked away in various places in my office). I gathered my nicest return address labels (and threw the ugly ones away!) I placed my favorite pen on top. I made sure to buy some postage stamps (so I don't have that excuse). I culled my sticker collection and kept some fun ones I can use on notes to people who are young at heart. I even found my sealing wax and rose stamp in case I want to send an elegant card to a friend.

I've decided that e-mail notes and letters are OK ... and I'll allow that to suffice if my time is short. However, most of the time I want to write a simple "Thinking of You" note or perhaps a "Thank You" card. I hope to write to a number of the folks on my Christmas card list -- these people are important in my life, yet I usually contact them but once a year.

That, of course, is how the video above fits into the habit I hope to hone this month.

So, Readers and Friends, I offer you a challenge. Can you go out of your way just ONCE this month to send a hand-written note to someone you love? It need not be long. It can be as simple as a greeting card with a signature, a two sentence thank you note, a "Having a good time, wish you were here" post card or even a long newsy letter. Don't think about it too hard; simply follow through on your good intention.

If you do write, let me know! You will inspire me to press on with my own writing habit.

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Weekly Gratitude
For 52 weeks, count your blessings and document them once each week