Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Worth Repeating: Enhancing Your Creative Gifts

Creativity is a gift, and everyone has this gift.  How we manifest that gift is unique.  For some, creativity is expressed in writing, drawing, or hands on work such as with glass or clay.  For others, creativity is expressed by making unique pieces of jewelry or sculpture.  For others, creativity is expressed in cooking, cleaning or organizing.  Yes, creativity is expressed in these ways too.  Decoration is my downfall, yet, when you walk into my neighbor's home, you see her creativity expressed by the framed photos on the walls, the flowers in the vases, and the colors in her kitchen.  My neighborhood is full of creative people.  My next door neighbor has a unique gift for gardening, and I do love her garden!  She has made our neighborhood much more beautiful with her creativity!
It doesn't matter how our gifts of creativity are expressed, the part of our brains which blesses us with the creative flow still needs to be nurtured and worked.  Creativity is a process.  Like a flowing stream, with all the swirls and pools, creativity needs to developed, because if the flow of water (creativity) dries up, a stagnant pool develops.
So, how do we do this, knowing, that at times our Muse is on vacation in Hawaii, and we are not.  The first thing we need to do is to accept that, at times, the creative flow will be slow or non existent.  This just happens.  Acceptance works wonders.  The next thing we need to do is to begin to lovingly  nurture the bits and pieces of creativity we know is still there.  You can't force the Muse's return, but you can gently urge her back.
How do we peel away the layers to our creative brains and open the door for creativity to flow again.  Luckily, there are a lot of things we can do.
Stop struggling and take a break.  I have been off my torch for almost 2 months now.  I am finally  beginning to feel the urge to light that baby up and make beads again.  It's been a long time since I have felt this way
Try something new!  I have been working with polymer clay, fibers, and wire during this self imposed hiatus.  I have also been working at organizing my home.  That has been drawing out my creative muse.  I think she wants to get back to glass!  She doesn't like organizing
I have been writing, too, much more than I have in a long time.  Writing exercises my brain, and helps to draw out my thoughts, sometimes, thoughts I had hidden away
Look at life through a different lens.  Now instead of resistance to many things, I say, "Why not?"  Acceptance of things we can't change is amazing.
Exercises that stimulate the brain also help.  One of my favorite exercises during this hiatus has become listing.  I am not one to make an art journal of lists, although, I have seen some beautiful art journals of lists.  I simply hand write or use my phone or Ipad to make lists.  They are simple, minimalist, and, yet, they are effective
One of my favorite writers of the past, Erma Bombeck once wrote, "I list, therefore, I am."  I think she's right.  In many ways, we are our lists: our lives, our likes, our dislikes, our hopes, our thoughts, our to do's, our yesterdays, our tomorrows.  And, listing can stimulate the brain to open up, to allow the creative juices to warm up and flow.  
So, I have an assignment for you.  I want you to begin to list, and to list often.  You can make a list journal or, like me, use the plain and simple for listing.  The goal is to list and list often.  You don't have to spend a lot time listing, or you can.  It's up to you.  All I ask is that you take the time to enjoy what you list.  An easy way to get started is to try this assignment.  Set the timer for  five to ten minutes.  In that time, free yourself up for this gentle exercise of listing.  If the phone rings, don't answer it.  Let your writing flow during that time.  If it doesn't, don't sweat it.  Enjoy the time you have to list.
Are you ready?  Here's your first assignment.  In these next few minutes, make a list of all the words you can think of beginning with the letter A.  That's it.  Then, for the next 24 days go through the alphabet making lists, and you are on your way!  You will find that the creative juices are flowing, maybe in ways you didn't expect.  The journey begins with one step.  This is your first step.  
The letter A.
Let me know how this works for you.  I'd love to hear.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Gals

What about your friends?
I mean your real friends.
The ones you do things with or not.
The ones who, if you don't see each other for years, can take up the conversation you were having when you saw each other last.
You know, those friends.

I've been having fun with my new friends.
I call them 
"The Gals."
I'm going to enter some of them in a juried art show soon.
We'll see if they are accepted or not.
Either way, I really like them.

This is Fatima.
I had totally different ideas when I started conditioning the clay,
Fatima wanted to be born,
Her birth was easy, and it was faster than I expected.
I love her.
I hope the jurors of the show like her, too.

These are some of The Gals.
So far, only the Gal in the middle has a name.
She has been named
pronounced "Daw-ris."
She's had a rough life, and she has some health issues.
She either had a stroke or has Bells Palsy.  She's feeling better, but she's been tried by life and has come up with a big smile on her face.

I don't know what to call the other two "Gals."
Do you have any suggestions?
I'd appreciate the help.

Monday, August 29, 2016

I'm Stuck, so I'm Writing for 5 Minutes and that's it! Random Thoughts

The timer has started to tick away.
In five minutes, I'll be finished.
I think I've hit a writer's block, 
I'm taking advantage of my random thoughts.
I have a lot of random thoughts.

Do you see the heart in the center of this flower?
I didn't see it when I took the picture, but,
there is a heart in the flower.

Pretty isn't it?

I spent the day resting.
I attended Mass last night, so I was able to sleep in today.
That was very nice.

I'm listening to a commercial about a movie that I don't think I'll see.

The day was beautiful.  The rain didn't pour down as predicted.  I love rain, but we have had a lot of rain lately.

The tomatoes are ripening nicely.
I might even get a small melon if the first frost isn't early.
I hope it's later this year.

The pumpkins are growing.
I planted two kinds in one hole, and I don't know which is which.
I planted the decorative plants and the sugar pumpkins. 
They are all about 5-6 inches across. 
Do you see my problem?

Only one minute to go!
Sometimes, this type of random writing is the way to go.
I made another "Gal."
I like her.
I'll show her to you later this week.
The new "Gals" need to be "antiqued."
I hope to get that job finished tonight.

Well, I think it's time to go.
Good bye.
See you tomorrow.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

I Dread This Day Every Year, but the Dread Changes to Joy When I Remember the Kindnesses of that Time

We dread this day.
The date,
August 25th,
is a painful reminder 
because that is the day my husband died.
I became a widow.
My children lost their father.

My son, now a man of whom his father would be proud,
I'm sure he is, wrote a Facebook Post that talks about the kindesses of that time,
the gift of light that our neighbors gave us.

He gave me permission to use his post.
Please read it to the end to understand what we were experiencing at that time.

As I said earlier I've been going through a lot of photos this week. Not going to lie, it's a tough week for me. Around this time 12 years ago my dad was ailing in hospice care. I'm not posting this to be a Debbie Downer. Maybe it's because I'm usually closed up and private, and sharing this is somehow oddly therapeutic for me. I think mostly it's because of going through the tough times I've found that if you look hard enough, there is good to be found in even the worst of times; sometimes you have to look very hard for it, sometimes it's right in front of you. Trust me, I've seen it. Not just in this story I'm about to tell you but in many other instances too.
The small paper lanterns you see in all of these photos are called luminarias. Consulting Wikipedia (yeah, I know how that sounds), luminarias are traditionally used in New Mexico and the southwest United States at Christmas Eve, lining driveways and walkways. The Roman Catholic tradition is used to symbolize a walkway that will guide the Christ child into your home. The luminarias are simple to make, consisting of a brown paper bag, sand at the bottom, and a candle. (There are other traditions and uses for them but you can Google that if you want to read about them further). Every Christmas Eve, my mom, and most recently my mom and sister would line the driveway with these luminarias.
As my dad's health began to fail, my mom began to line our driveway with the luminarias at night. Being that Minnesota is quite aways away from the SW part of the US, our neighbor asked about the luminarias in our driveway. Everyone in the neighborhood knew of my dad's failing health but no one had heard of a luminaria before. They were told the story you just read above (if you're still with me at this point). The next thing we knew, all of our neighbors began to set out luminarias too.
I don't have words to describe the overwhelming feeling of support, love, solidarity, and community, that came along with this simple gesture by the neighborhood.
Even in this dark time for my family, our neighbor's literally provided a shining light for us.

When my husband died, he left this earth surrounded by love and light.
For that I am eternally grateful.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Worth Repeating: So Where Did you Get that Bracelet

Mary Clare and I were having breakfast at Perkins one morning.  She said, "Before I forget, here's that bracelet I was telling you about."  Truthfully, I had forgotten.  I saw it and said, "Wow!  I like it!  Where did you get it?"

Mary Clare looked at me like my kids do when they think I've just something stupid.  "You made it for me," she said.  "I did?  But where did you get the beads?"  I was totally puzzled by now.

Again, the look.  "YOU made them."  "I did?  I did?"  Wow!  I really like them!
She said, "I do, too, and I wear it a lot because it's so colorful and I can wear it with so much."  "I really made those beads?"  The look.

I guess so!  Aren't they fun?  I plan to make more of them now.  Especially since my skill level is so much better than when I made this bracelet for Mary Clare.

I really made them?  I was better than I thought.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Random Thoughts at the End of Summer

The days are growing shorter.
Yes, I know, no matter what, there are still 24 hours in everyday, but
the amount of light each day is getting to be less and less.
This won't change until December when day light will begin to lengthen again. 
The good thing is that soon, the leaves will be changing colors and dropping from the trees.
Here in Minnesota,
we are about 1 month away from the average first frost.
It might be sooner, but it's coming.
Summer is almost over.

Life is going from the slow moving, long days of summer to the short, cold, gray days of winter.
At this moment, I'm not sure which I prefer.
It's too hot or too cold.
The weather is rarely perfect.
It is what it is.

I'm thrilled to see my garden matured.
There are small pumpkins and teeny tiny melons on the vine.
I'm not sure that they will mature in enough time for us to taste their fruits.
With any luck, one or two of these fruits will mature,
and we will enjoy their taste.

The tree frogs are making a lot of noise at night.
They make so much noise that I want to throw something at them to make them shut up.
The males are calling their mates, frantically.
They must know that the first frost is near.
It's just that they are so noisy.
If they chirped quietly, I would be fine with that.
Now, the noise is too loud for my tastes, 
but, if I were a tree frog, I think I'd be able to pick my mate, quite easily.

Soon, the transition will begin from sandals to shoes and socks.
I'll pull the jeans out of the closet to see how much the hangars have caused them to shrink.
This fall, something new will happen.
I am scheduled for a knee replacement in September.
That will be interesting.
Things change.
I know I have.
Now, I have another summer under my belt.
Life goes on.
I've lived as fully as I can.
I'm grateful that I am healthy, not pain free, but I am healthy.

The transition will be quiet.
Summer will melt into fall which will melt into winter which will melt into spring.
Life finds a way.
Life goes on.
Seasons come and seasons go.
We were made to change.

How have you changed this summer?
Are you anxious for fall?
Are you ready for winter?
I'd love to hear what you think.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Chia Pudding Recipe

You know those seeds that you put on a pottery face at Christmas?
You wet them and smear them on to the pottery.
Those are chia seeds.
I don't use those pottery faces for my chia seeds, but I do make food out of them.

I love Chia Seed Jam.  
I thought I had posted the recipe in a past blog, 
but I can't find it.
So, when I make some chia seed jam again, I will post that recipe.

I also love 
Chia Seed Pudding.

As you can see in the photo, I was able to finish the last bit of pudding, and 
it was delicious, and it was very easy to  make.
There's no cooking involved.
It's a refrigerator pudding.

Here's how you make it.
Depending on how much you want to make, and I usually double this recipe, multiply it times 2.
You won't regret it!

Here's what I used:
1 cup of milk of any kind: cow's milk, soy, almond, etc.
1/4 c cocoa
1/4 c chia seeds
1 teaspoon real vanilla
1/4-1/2 cups chocolate chips
(For this recipe, I used chocolate milk.)
Mix all the ingredients together, stirring gently with a spoon.
When they ingredients are mixed together, put in refrigerator to set.
Before serving, add about 1/4-1/2 cup of chopped nuts of your choice.
Nut allergies, of course, don't use.

Let me know if you like this recipe.  It's a favorite here at home. 

Friday, August 12, 2016

Three Beautiful Things This Week

Three Beautiful Things This Week was inspired by a wonderful blog that Three Beautiful Things. Everyday, Clare writes about 3 Beautiful Things that happen each day in her life. It's a wonderful blog! I can only hope to imitate her in a very small way.

1) The garden is providing enough veggies for each day's consumption.
Isn't that great!

2) It's been hot and humid, but I am most grateful for air conditioning.

3) I started a new "clay painting" today.  I'm looking forward to working on it more tonight.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Quick! Make a List! What gives you joy? Write for 3-5 minutes without stopping

The things that give me joy:

my children
attending daily Mass
my dog
the kitties
a good book
working with polymer clay
working with glass
taking a walk on a cool day
writing a great blog post
getting rid of the stuff
Opening the windows on a cool night
watching the rain fall
Hearing the rain on my roof
the first snow fall of the year
working in my garden
long days and short nights
making beautiful beads
giving away my beads
seeing a smile on someone's face
hearing the tree frogs stop croaking after the first frost
walking along the river's edge
seeing parts of the city I have not seen before
learning something new
cooking a good meal
picking tomatoes from the vine
eating a fresh tomato
cuddling with my dog
seeing an old friend
drinking a glass of wine
sleeping well at night

Isn't it amazing all of the things for which we can be grateful?
This is a way to change your thought patterns and it helps to write down and see all that you have that blesses you with joy.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Worth Repeating: The Old Rocking Chair

I heard the story, the other day, that a Facebook friend knew a man whose wife was having a baby very soon.  She wanted to hire a "Night Sitter" so that they could sleep through the night while the "night sitter" got up and took care of the baby.  She was stunned.  So were a lot of us to hear this.  It wasn't that the mom was working and needed the help.  She was planning on staying home with the baby.  Of course, dad would continue to work.  Nevertheless, how many of our husbands would get up and help us with our babies at night?  The couple had family in town who was willing and able to help.  The mother to be simply wanted one because many of her friends either had one or had had one when their babies were born.  The man was complaining because the cost of such a sitter was $1000 per week!  (If only I had earned that much as a teacher to take care of other people's children day after day after day!)

Then I looked at the rocking chair.  It's almost 35 years old.  We  bought it right before Jenny was born.  We shined it up and put it in the living room.  Jenny was a good baby, but she managed to get her days and nights mixed up.  She was so sweet and mellow at night, you couldn't help but enjoy her.  Nick on the other hand was all boy from the day he was born.  He would sleep for 20 minutes at a time, wake up to be fed and stay awake for 2 hours!  That was his schedule.  He was just a happy, bouncing baby boy.

I don't remember the number of hours I spent in this chair with my babies.  We'd be awake when everyone else in the neighborhood was asleep.  The soft glow of the night light in the living room, lit my way to the chair with the baby.  We'd rock and talk.  We'd rock and play.  We'd rock and look at the world around us.  We discovered our hands.  We held fingers.  We'd smile at each other.  Hours upon hours were spent in that chair.

When the kids grew a bit older and they'd get sick, we'd often find ourselves together in the rocking chair even during the dark hours of the night.  I'd rub aching tummies and sooth feverish brows with a cool wash cloth.  We'd take temperatures.  We'd drink the normally forbidden glass of pop that did help to sooth the aching tummies.  We'd count chicken pox blisters.  Once in a while, we'd even turn on the TV softly and watch until we went to sleep.

There was no night sitter and no family close enough to help.  We did this, and it was very hard at times, especially when I was exhausted or sick, too!  The reality is that, in spite of the difficulties of being awake when you didn't want to be awake, I would never trade this special time with my children.  This is time that can never be replaced or lived again.  I feel blessed to have had this time.  I thank God for it!

My children are grown now.  There is no more cuddle time in the rocking chair.  When their children are born, I am hoping that one of them will take it to their home to rock and care for their children.  We'll see.  Maybe they will have a special chair of their own.  However, no one or event can take that time from me!
I was blessed!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Change the Thoughts. Change the Behavior.

"If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change."
Wayne Dwyer

I honestly don't think I will ever look at this critter from 
Pokemon Go
and think that it will change.
I have started to play the game with my daughter, and she has taught me that these critters do change.
There is an evolutionary process involved, 
I don't know how it works.
I am amazed that these critters do change, 
I am beginning to look at them with new eyes and hope for change.

The art of change is characterized by acceptance.  Once we quit fighting the change, the change becomes easier.  With acceptance comes growth.  With growth, like a plant, comes change.  Fruit is borne by the plant.  Hope for the future is implanted with change.

Sometimes, we get stuck.  I am one of those people who does not forget.  I might forgive, but I don't forget.  My daughter pointed this out to me, and I had to admit she was right.  I tend to nurse a hurt or injury given to me by another person.  That hurt becomes a seed in my soul, and infection sets in.
There are no antibiotics for this kind of infection.  Lately I have learned that rather than live in the negative, I need to work to change my thinking.  Yes, it's up to me, no matter how hard the hurt or how badly I feel.  I don't have to be a doormat.  I don't have to let those who hurt me back in my life, but I do have to forgive so that I can move on.  

I tend to nurture my hurts in my thoughts.  They go in a circle and implode and the hurt grows in my mind.  This is where the cycle must be broken.  I am learning, slowly but surely, to swim out of the water  and look at the bank rather than allow the murky water to drag me under.

If I am doing dishes, and the negative mindset creeps in, I must change that channel.  Sometimes, singing a song can do the job.  Other times, I must change my activity and my thoughts at the same time.  Although the dishes need to be finished, I might stop and go for a walk.  I seek life in the moment rather than in the past.  If it's a cool or cold day, I think about the air on my skin and how it feels.  I pick up a handful of snow and throw it up in the air.  I remind myself not to taste the yellow snow, and I laugh.  When I come home, if I fall back into the mode of negativity, I change the channel.  I make my bed.  I clean my drawer of socks.  I look at old photos and remember the good times.

Of course, you have to grieve your losses, but, I have learned that you do not have to allow them free rent in your brain.  I am not weak.  I am capable of change.  If I cannot do the job alone,  I seek help.  I seek to change my thoughts, and when I do, I find that my behavior changes.
I am happier with me.
I am happier with others.
Of course, there are days when I slip back into old roles.
Change doesn't come easily, and it often comes with pains, growing pains.
This is healthy and good.
The growing pains will end, and we will find ourselves in a new place where life can be better,
mentally we are healthier.

Thoughts can become inbeded in our souls.   When this happens, what we think becomes what we are.
The good news is that we can change the negative into the positive.
Not everything will go our way, but we will find ourselves shedding the bumps and bruises like a fighter who cannot be brought down without a lot of effort.
Even when we are brought down, we climb out of the ashes with new knowledge and strength.

i know who I am.  I am happy with who I am.  If I didn't try, I would have lost, but now I know more about me.  I'm willing to learn, and I'm willing to change.

You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of. Jim Rohn
Read more at:
"You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of."
 Jim Rohn

Monday, August 8, 2016

The Art of Change

For people like me,
change is difficult at best.
When there is a choice,
I will change after kicking and screaming,
even when it's in my best interest to
Kicking and screaming helps me to release my attachment to the 
Some changes are inevitable.
Aging is inevitable,
and with aging comes
Joints that used to work with no trouble are now working with trouble.
Experiences cause change.
A loved one dies.
A move to a new home or city or state causes change.
We mourn for what we had and loved.
We wonder what will happen in our new location or situation.
Our personalities change.
Sometimes, our accents change.
A relationship ends.
For some, that causes joy, for others, not so much.

Change, by itself, equals a loss of control, and that loss of control takes us away from the sense of comfort we have.
That loss of comfort is a change, but because we loose what we have had, we begin to develop a new awareness of that which we didn't have before.
A new job can bring us challenges that fuel our spirits and bring us joy.
A move to a new city can give us experiences that we were not able to enjoy before.
Life is not without change.
Life cannot happen without change.

There is an art to change.
Change becomes easier when we accept that which we cannot control and surrender ourselves to that change.
This acceptance opens doors for us to explore.
The change might be painful, but the pain means that there is new growth as the old skin is discarded and a new one begins to grow.
Soon, that which was painful, becomes more normal, and the pain begins to decrease.
Through acceptance and surrender, the change begins to bear fruit.

That is the art of change.



Friday, August 5, 2016

Three Beautiful Things This Week

Three Beautiful Things This Week was inspired by a wonderful blog that Three Beautiful Things. Everyday, Clare writes about 3 Beautiful Things that happen each day in her life. It's a wonderful blog! I can only hope to imitate her in a very small way.

1) Whatever this stuff was, I think I'm at the end of it!
I feel so much better!

2)  The humidity is gone! 
That's even better.

3) Tomorrow, I'll start looking for pokey stops again!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

The View, and, No, I Don't Mean the Show

This has been my view this week.
I thought, 
"I just ate something.  This shall pass."
Well, a lot has passed, and I'm still in bed with a fever, aches and pains, well, you get it."
my daughter is here with me, and she's helping me so much.
I guess there is good in this.
I might be on the tail end of it,  because I actually feel like sitting up.
I might even play with clay,
I really doubt that.
When I play with clay,
I know I'll be feeling better.
Oh, well,
this is a part of life.
Hope your week has been good.
Take care.

Monday, August 1, 2016

A Morning for Journaling

I'm one of these people, 
and we are few and far between,
who do not want to live on a lake in
Our  state is known for its 
10,000 plus lakes.
I prefer the life of the city,
the quirky life that one can only find there.
I like the life of the 'burbs, too,
but the city is where I love.
Many times, as you walk in the parks and roads,
you will see Iphones, Ipads, and pens and books being used to record the day, the hour, the minute, the flying thought
that we all have, 
not necessarily want to share with the world, but just something to remember for us.
There is comfort in isolation for me.
There is comfort in knowing that I can be alone, and still record my life and thoughts without sharing in a 
Don't get me wrong.
I believe in community, but most of the time I prefer isolation.
Journaling helps me to preserve my isolation.[
No one is allowed to enter this world with me.
I use my phone to record the world in pictures.
I actually use Facebook, one of the biggest, most outrageous communities in the history of mankind to record my world,
but that world is the world I let people see.
In my journals, I record that which is most meaningful to me.
I record that which no one else knows or cares to know.
I record that which is most precious to me.
I record that which no one can see but me.
I have thrown away most of my earlier journals.
There were good reasons for that.
There was a great deal of pain, abandonment and rejection recorded, 
it was not something for others to see.
My journals, back then, were a means of release for me
a means of realizing I wasn't wrong, no matter how many times I was told I was wrong.
Those journals saved my soul.
Now, I look at journaling in a different way.
They are a form of fun, even though I might rant, they make me feel good.
They entertain.
Some of these journals, I might leave to posterity, in case anyone wants to know how I felt or thought or acted
most importantly,
We live in tumoultous times.  
There's a lot to be remembered now.
There are a lot of questions that we need to answer.
Look in my journals.
You'll see how I felt and why.
Now, it's time to return to them.  
You know how I use my journals.
How do you use yours.