Monday, December 31, 2012

Putting Off and Picking Up

Have you ever put something off for a really long time? Silly question - of course you have. Me, too.

My Christmas cards were mailed just before Christmas after an absence of two years. For good reasons, mind you, not that I need a reason or have to feel bad about it.  But I kinda do. They were addressed in 2010, the year my mother-in-law died. I always write a Christmas letter but didn't have the heart to and one day dragged into another until it was New Year's Day and I put the envelopes away with the cards. Last year, my husband almost died - cards were shelved again.

My year of simplifying has had a side benefit in that I am getting back on the ball and doing some of the things I have put off. Occasionally, I table them for good - not necessary to my well-being anymore. Like keeping a budget book.  If I don't know where the money is going by now, I never will.

With the long New Year's weekend home from work, I have been doing a few things. The one which is bringing me the most satisfaction is finally making the lined drapes for the bedroom. The fabric was bought  ummm..ahhh a few years ago. Really more than that but I won't tell if you don't. My measurement notes will probably turn up when I am done. I know what they look like, just can't put my finger on them.

My work surface is a little low and the fabric panels for the sliding door are huge, but seams are being sewn and pressed and I am just about to attach the lining. My back isn't particularly happy about the bending and pinning so frequent breaks break up the action. Nice. Breaks are always nice - especially on days off.

It is New Year's Eve. Snow blankets the ground and makes the inside feel that much more cozy. On this day, ten years ago, we signed the papers to purchase our house. We have been here ten years now and are celebrating our milestone tenth anniversary in Massachusetts together. We will stay at home, perhaps play Scrabble and eat pizza from our favorite shop, enjoying each-others company just as we did then. We will light a sky lantern filled with our wishes for our loved ones and set it aloft over the lake. As it fills with heat and expands with our hopes and wishes, we will let it rise to the heavens with our prayers.

Happy New Year's Eve!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Later That Same Day

The promised snow started falling late in the afternoon. Minute flakes drifted down with increasing speed and by mid-evening every surface that had been cleared yesterday had reached the same depth again.

The cottony snow lay thick over the azalea branches. It drifted under the deck where it dusted the patio with a confectioner's coating. I am entranced by the hushed silence outside just as I am every time I experience it. How lucky I am to have the opportunity to enjoy this wonder of nature.

Snowy Saturday

It is the last Saturday morning in December and I am waiting for the snow to begin. Our plans to drive to Hartford to meet our new grand-niece, Lila, have been thwarted by the weather. While disappointed about today's trip, I am excited to go with plan B to spend the first day of the new year with her. I will relish my anticipation until then!

With a 'free' day at home, I am planning how I will make the most of the snowy weather and it will surely involve lighting the fireplace, a good book and stitching (maybe with some housekeeping thrown in). I am out of grape jelly so perhaps I will make a batch from the grapes I pressed and stored in the freezer.

Clutter from the holidays is scattered here and there. As I bend to pick things up while waiting for my tea to brew (a lovely Ronnefeldt Red Berries blend), delicious options skip through my head. I can do anything I want...or not.

It occurs to me that I am going into the new year more settled than I have been in a long time. My focus is renewed and priorities adjusted. There are still a few rough edges which need smoothed - I supposed there will always be - and I will deal with them when they warrant it.

Fotopastele Photography
I am savoring the ordinary moments - the taste of the rich fruit tea on my tongue, knowing that some of my grandmother's family-famous spritz that I make last week are still in the cookie tin and I can get one any time I want to. Cozy socks, our snoozing dog tucked into the crook of my dozing husband's legs in the other room and music played softly in the background soothe me.

I will make a rich beef stroganoff for dinner. By then, the snow will be flying in earnest and the comfort food will be welcome - perhaps in front of the fireplace. Hmmmm. I wonder if I can find an old movie from the 50's on TV - that wonderful time when entertainment was joy-filled.

There is a lot to be said for ordinary moments. While they mostly scoot by me unheeded, paying attention to them is creating a whole different mindset. Today, I will take note of each one and savor their simplicity. Paying attention is my reward.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Love Enters, Hearts Expand

I settle into the corner of the couch with a Christmas book I have been reading the past few days and our dachshund jumps up beside me stretching his body out along my leg in scrumptious comfort. The room is softened by the glow of Christmas lights and dark chocolate cocoa releases fragrant steam beside me. He sighs with contentment as do I.
Mario has been one of our pleasures this year. Rescued from an abusive home, he warmed up to us over those first few months last summer and is now fiercely loyal, thrusting his 16 pounds of quivering toughness between me and any supposed intruder until the all clear is sounded. He is so loving and so in need of love. He gives as good as he gets and is devastated if he disappoints me. While he knew most of the house rules before he came, there have been a few ‘accidents’ which he hung his head over even before I discovered them. That no one had played with him was so sad. Now he plays fetch and loves his unstuffed toys, neatly folding them in his mouth on retrieval so he doesn’t trip on them. So smart!

Each time love enters your house, it is hard to remember a time devoid of it. As your heart fills with the wonder of it, your live expands to accept the new feelings. Whether new acquaintances which grow into friendships or tiny creatures added to the family we all grow from the experience.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Early Resolutions

from A Cup of Jo
After burning the candle at both ends for the past week or so, the last package is wrapped, cookies are made (and some devoured) and I spent a wonderful Sunday morning dozing on the couch with my husband while listening to Christmas music.

My grief has mellowed into a reverent thankfulness. Priorities have shifted, commitments have been renewed. I have touched base with friends and family I have not talked with in quite awhile and checked in with those who need comfort or a little attention. A new baby has been born in our family this past week and her beautiful countenance warms my heart. We gladly welcome a new generation in the Swanson/Starybrat family.

It is usually New Year's Day which prompts resolutions and promises to better ourselves in one way or another. This year, my desire arrived early for tragically obvious reasons.  I have felt agitated and words have been darting around inside my head in a mad attempt to make sense of the world's violence and my part in it.

I do not have to condone it by sitting in front of the tube watching blood and gore, degradation and pain. I have been moving away from this type of entertainment for several years and have never watched horror movies or abusive stories so favored on Lifetime but my husband still watches a few shows which, although milder in content, still disturb me. Bones, Castle and NCIS, where the good guy wins and humor softens the human aspect of the shows, still have victims, still
offer entertainment through violence. I do not need it in my life, it does nothing to enhance it. I have been putting off more pleasurable creativity in order to keep him company but I have really had enough. I will explore other ways to spend time with him. If there are still things to pass along to younger souls at this late stage, I want them to be positive things, uplifting things.

I want what my dog offers me - uncomplicated affection. Relationships that expand my heart and broaden my horizons. If hurt, pain or sadness strikes, I want to be there to support and console.

Bob and Mario
I crave simplicity in mind as well as home. I am making good headway on both scores.We have set four years from August 2012 as goal for deciding our plan for what comes next in the scheme of things - retirement date, where we will live, downsizing - all the big questions facing those in their later years.

In the meantime, I plan to lighten my load, put my priorities in the right place for me and go with the flow. Life will happen, there will be tough things to face but there will also be countless joys to savor.

The Christmas music plays quietly in the background, the ornamented tree warms the room and there is a spritz or two in the cookie tin which will go perfectly with my tea. Time to move on....

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Coming to Terms

Like everyone in the world, I have been trying to come to terms with the horrific deaths of children and teachers in Newtown, CT.  It would have hit home no matter where it happened but I grew up in Bethel, have friends in Newtown and have myriad memories of beautiful days spent there.

This does not tarnish my memories but grief ravages my heart to know that these lives were taken and innocence lost. It is mostly the innocence of children which comes to mind but I know it also encompasses the innocence of adults, too.

I responded to Barrie's post on Bloom this morning and found myself writing probably much more than she bargained for. Since I could not articulate my words and the path they took any better than I already have (nor do I want to delve back into the pain again to do so), I hope she will excuse my repeating them here. Be sure to go to her blog to read her thoughts, too.

There is no need to know why he did this unspeakable thing. It is totally inexcusable. For me, it is about the vulnerability of our minds and our children's minds and the effects of what we experience in this country where trauma is foisted on us by multiple 24-7 news feeds which turn tragedy into entertainment.

Over the past few decades, the United States has developed a fascination for violence that does not exist in other countries. Only here do we raise the criminals who shoot our innocents to an elevated status. We do not just report the news, we force feed it to the public over and over and over, flashing images of the perpetrator until his face is burned into our brains and his actions are graphically discussed or, worse, exhibited. Without realizing it, we also condone opinion in the guise of news. To fill air time, the topic is discussed ad nauseum until the reporter's opinions have crept into the story which then extrapolates it into fact in our minds.

Stores sell violent video games and the players get points for 'kills'. Children play these games. Played mostly in isolation, some can spend hours in front of the screen. Is there any wonder that they might become desensitized to the value of human life? Look at the television lineup. Our TV and much of our movie entertainment are comprised of crime and mayhem. A number of the reality shows do nothing to portray healthy family participation or competition with honor. Some TV shows resort to lewdness, ridicule and injury for entertainment. Even 'America's Funniest Home Videos' runs a laugh track when someone gets hurt. It is supposed to be funny. How awful.

Is it any wonder that we can list the mass murders by name easier than we can list the last ten presidents? That we know what Charles Manson did in detail but we may not know what Mother Teresa did for her country's people? Our country's values have morphed over time and are influenced by our environment and our society and what we accept as the norm in the media and play. We all have the means to follow our own special path. If we do so with creativity and compassion, we will be better for it. If we understand the importance of love and support for those around us, we will be better for it. I agree with you there.

There is no placating our psyches, though. It is not just about us healing from the damage wrought by this event. It is about what we choose to accept into our lives, to embrace wholeheartedly and what we do for others in our sphere. We need to face the things that have contributed to our society's unrest and its morbid fascination for violence. Until we move towards more healthful entertainment, this will happen again. Another person will grow angry and his anger will fester and he may see his shot at fame rests in violence. To make concrete changes, we must assess our own role in it in order to promote change within our families and our society as a whole. In order for us, our children and our society to grow with grace and compassion, we need to practice it ourselves and show, by example, that there is another way to live.

I know that I have been ranting a bit but it stems from me trying to come to terms with my own grief. I want to discover how I have contributed to this horrible phenomena by accepting the things which have become commonplace in our lives. My travels overseas have shown me that we have, indeed, become a nation onto its own in this matter. I feel sorry for that. No one action will turn it around. My challenge is to find more creativity in my life and welcome others into it through sharing my joy. If we create, we are not destroying. The two cannot coexist in the same action.

PS These are my opinions and I am still working everything out in my mind. One personal note I will share with you...on Saturday, I went to the memorial service of a close friend's mother. Sitting in the church with them, hearing stories about her life was uplifting and comforting. When they tolled the church bells 91 times, one for each year she lived, I lost it. Newtown's children only get six bells. I could not stop crying.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Pleasure Twice Felt

With its holidays and family gatherings, November seems like the shortest month of the year. We will spend Thanksgiving with my niece in Connecticut where family and friends gather and fill her house to the brim, a tradition she began when she and her husband moved into their new home. In January, a new family member will be born – the next generation to enjoy this joyful tradition.

Of course, then there is the big gear up for Christmas which follows and, in the case of commercialism, bumps heads with November’s (and sometimes October’s) holidays. The push is on for shopping, shopping, shopping – buy, buy, buy. My eyes narrow and I fast forward through commercials touting the latest gadget you must have or excessive spending you can ill afford. In light of the extreme weather and devastation along the east coast, it seems crass to be spending money on ‘things’ that perhaps no one needs just to give an expected gift.

Every year I fill seven stockings (all for adults who enjoy this most childlike pleasure of Christmas morning) so I will go out in search of little treasures to stuff inside them. This year, I will take a page from the practical stockings of years past and add some traditional goodies like oranges and fresh baked cookies.

Not being a shopper, per se, especially when pushed by aggressive advertising, I want to discover secret wishes or make something special for someone I care about. I am not always successful in this goal but when I am, the pleasure multiplies and draws me into its circle. Whether knit, stitched, baked or painted, I am the recipient as much as they are.

Giving is a pleasure twice earned when I spend my time rather than mindless dollars. I vow to enjoy this holiday season like I have no other…mindfully, giving thanks for blessings, prayers for the suffering and ill and savor gentleness within my household.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Some Things Never Change

Frye Measure Mill, NH
I got a laptop a few months ago to replace my old, sluggish desktop and give me freedom to write wherever I liked.  When I first transferred files to the new computer, I purged redundant photos.  Now, I am going through some of the documents.

This morning, I came across some journal writings.  While I prefer hand-writing them, there are times when my book isn't with me and I resort to computer entries.  One file, 105 pages long, was from 1993 when I still had Creative NeedleArts and would write at work after everyone left.  It was password protected and I had a moment of panic - that was nineteen years ago!  I had a universal password then and I tried it - I'm in.

Some things apparently don't change. My laments are pretty much the same.  That doesn't mean I haven't moved forward.  It just means that my creative concerns have a fallback reason for being.  Time and a plethora of ideas.

I constantly have ideas crowding my brain about other things to design and get into.... I am driven (but why?) to create new ideas; I'm just frustrated by the restrictions of time.  I keep pushing the parameters of time. 

I can guarantee that I have sung this song many times over the years.  My interests are expansive; my ideas for paintings, writing and needlework are like a fountain which never turns off.  I read voraciously.  I have messy closets.  I desperately need to have a yard sale.  My art supplies are ordered, though, so my priorities are straight in one respect.  

It occurs to me that a creative mind can be one's bane of existence as well as its blessing.  

Have I finally reached the point in my life when I accept the activity in my head, knowing I cannot act on all of it?  Writing down notes and ideas keeps them from disappearing in the crowd.  I can get them back to the top of the pile anytime I want.  

Relishing my varied interests is delectable.  Worrying over the lack of time to explore them all isn't.  Today I immerse myself in the ones on the top of my pile.

Friday, October 5, 2012

A Bit of Sun Among the Raindrops

Today has been blessedly sunny. Indian summer, perhaps. It seems like it has been raining forever and more is forecast for the weekend. I couldn't resist the temptation of the unexpected warmth and stayed home from work today to get started on readying the house for winter.  I made good headway but I am losing steam.  Perhaps a glass of wine and a comfy chair on the deck will do the trick.  I imagine it is time to stop anyway.

The lake below is ringed with vibrant color.  The lowering sun points out the brightest branches and shines its spotlight on them while allowing the deeper greens to fade into the shade. Reflections on the still water double the pleasure. I am entranced by the pockets of color and I pull my feet up under me to settle in and enjoy the view.

With all our travels this summer, the days have sped by. We have had a good time but now I feel like it is my time to hunker down and take care of the things I have neglected. Appointments are made, some of the broken items are getting repaired. Paperwork is sorted and (mostly) filed or shredded. I am amazed at how much I can accumulate in a few months!  Even though I have simplified my paper handling, so much still comes in.  Even email needs tamed.  Once solicited e-newsletters and postings have been unsubscribed.  My interests have changed and some have expanded in new directions.

I have been focusing on my book research in the past few weeks.  Most of my writing has been with pen in hand lately which is great for short jottings. Impressions and ideas, scenes and phrases for the novel flow unrestrained and I know I'd forget them if they weren't written down.  My little notebook travels with me - I never know when something will set me off on a path.  One word can do it. I am eager to see where it will take me.

Monday, October 1, 2012


My focus this summer has been a creative one.  It started with a long weekend on the Cape painting at a cozy harbor in Truro. Family visits over the Fourth of July were sun-filled and blissful on the lake and at the beach.  A trip to the Adirondacks in August left us nature-saturated and rested.  We finished it off with long days under the sun on East Beach in Charlestown, RI and threw in a trip last weekend to Buffalo to see family and go to Bob's 50th high school reunion.
Hickory Hills July 4th Boat Parade
Needless to say, time flew.

When there is a lot going on, I have to make harder choices on what to do with the rest of the time. This summer, I spent my writing time working on my journal which has evolved into an art/memoir kind of book.  I love how it has expanded over this year and combines sketches, photos, watercolor and words.

Our new long-haired dachshund, Mario, loves adventure and riding in the convertible.  His limit is about 55 miles an hour and then he slides back along the window.  We have to keep a firm hand on his leash or I bet he would try to climb right out onto the hood for a better view.
Water is his other passion and will swim and explore, jumping from rock to rock, until he is shivering and must be bodily removed and wrapped in a towel (for which he is grateful until he warms up and is ready for another go at it).

The weather has been wonderful - summery hot with nice breezes.  Now it is autumn and the leaves are building wattage towards brilliant color.  Pumpkins and mums grace front porches.  The air is crisp and I need to go to the Price's barn in town and see if the first batch of cider is ready.  I will look for the table by the road with the jugs on it and put my money in the Cool Whip container with the rock on top.  Then I will know it is autumn for sure.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Quiet Musings

Close-up of a painting at Fruitlands, Harvard MA
 I relish the times when good music infuses me with pleasure. As I grow and mellow, though, quiet is a balm. I avoid most TV now and prefer books and 'doing'. With less time before me than behind and an appetite for so many activities, I need solitude to pursue my interests. Sometimes it is painting or writing but often it is the peaceful pleasure of sitting outside and just listening to my surroundings. Bliss.

A moment ago, I finished reading a post on A Design So Vast and added my comment to those of others who sound surprised at the changes their psyches demand as they grow older. A thread runs through each of their observations. Sometimes just being is the greatest solace of all.

Simplifying and streamlining, purging and organizing – many of us are looking at our lives with new eyes. I am fairly preoccupied with simplifying my surroundings. With so many interests, I don’t want to be using up my precious time cleaning and rearranging ‘stuff’ or letting it clutter the corners of my mind. Less stuff gives me a place for my eye to rest and an ease of home that is comforting. It is no less cozy but it is becoming calmer.

I’d like to feel the process will be done someday, but I know it won’t. Just as I have evolved from a cluttered, country d├ęcor, laden-Shaker-peg decorator to preferring a blend of treasured antiques and traditional accents, there will be more evolutions in my future as I downsize from the ‘big’ house to something, hopefully, antique and cozy in the center of a New England village. My favorite afghans and treasures will come with me and I will hang my paintings on the walls and scatter rugs on gleaming hardwood floors. If the season is right, I hope to bring starts from my garden to plant around the patio and front door. I like the continuity of bring a bit of the past with me, especially with living things. I have cultivated many a garden and plan to have the quiet time to dig in the dirt in my next incarnation.

Will my vision happen as I see it? More than likely. Affirmative visualizing often nets the expected results. A regular dose of quiet time to ‘see’ your heart’s desire will grow aspirations into reality. I should know. My early visions of my ideal home have come to fruition in this place on the shore of a lake in Massachusetts. The images in my head now show sun-dappled brick sidewalks and clapboard houses close to the cobblestone street. Compact but ample, the house is a cozy haven within walking distance of water, the library and small town shops where I can meet friends for breakfast. A flagstone patio in the small backyard is surrounded by color and a wide-branched tree shades the chair where I read.

Where is your ideal home? Who lives there with you? Walk through it room by room and visualize all the details, the yard, the street. Pick a day and describe it from awakening to end – the weather, what you are doing, who is there (it is startling to discover who is not) and write it down. Save your story and peruse it often. Make your vision a reality.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Ode to Summer's Mellowness

Summer is pure pleasure to savor and enjoy.  A video from Kinfolk, music by Sea Chant Production.

An Ode to Summer from Kinfolk on Vimeo.

Monday, June 4, 2012

One Tiny Ant

Yes, I know this is a cat but he is crawling

I am sitting in front of my computer on the third floor of the house where the walls are cozily slanted and the two shaded lamps close by are casting shadows behind me.  The windows are closed against an unseasonable chill and have been for weeks to keep out the bright yellow pine pollen which has blanketed everything in its path.  So why did a tiny ant walk across my thumb?

A different one walked over the back of my hand yesterday.  Maybe two - or was that on another day as well?  When I lifted the papers on the desk, nada - not an ant to be found.  Just one at a time, walking on the mountain ridges of my fingers.

Now the itchy phenomena begins.  I scrunch up my back against an imagined tickle along my spine and scratch my head above my ear which is momentarily sensitive to a pin prick of feeling.  I scratch my ankle but nothing is there.  Why is that?  Why am I squirming when nothing is really there?

We all do the ant dance from time to time.  Little prickles set off an avalanche of bothersome signals which claim our attention.  We imagine what someone is thinking about us when we pass in the hall or interpret a glance the wrong way and think we forgot to do something.  The pile of unread magazines grows and the folder which has two inches of torn-out recipes (and not one ever made) bother us. We squirm a little in our imaginings wondering what to do remedy the situation.

What we think and what is real can be as far apart as the ant and the itch. The itch is of our own making.  That person in the hall with the screwed up face was thinking about the meeting he was rushing to.  What is another recipe in the stash if it has possibilities?  It is all small stuff, minor annoyances which distract us for a time or, perhaps, gives us a moment of clarity where we see what is really there and what isn't...important.

Like the tiny dancing ant using the back of my hand as a stage.  All he wants is a little attention.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Much Ado About Something

Letting go of things can be difficult.  We amass in our early years - going it alone, setting up house, complicating things with children (wonderful), friends (so much fun), accoutrements (lots) and their subsequent drain on our finances which we replenish with the toil of our minds and body leaving little time to actually enjoy said treasures.

It isn't so much the tossing and burning and endless hours outside in the garage stickering our former treasures with dollar and two dollar day-glow dots.  It is the realization that the charm of the things we loved in our twenties definitely didn't travel alongside us into our thirties even if we did carefully wrap them in tissue to store behind the box of Aunt Agnes's dishes under the eaves.  That didn't stop up from moving them to the next house either.  Maybe, just maybe, we would need them. 

Now that I am twice that age I finally get it.  I am not going to open that box.  Or the others.  Some things are passed down (another reason to be thankful for children).  Some are stickered with day-glow dots.  Everything else is donated or trashed.  My buying days are close to an end, thank goodness - except for clothes, paints and canvas.  I am content in what surrounds me for now.  The next house will be smaller and the process of elimination will start again and it will be no less easy to do.

I wish I had listened earlier to the urgings of family when they advised from their lofty height on wisdom mountain that I would find more joy in doing than acquiring.  I could have saved myself a lot of time.  There is a chair in the garden calling my name.  I will answer as soon as I carry this box out to the garage.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Life is Short via
 Lately, there have been many opportunities to grasp an important concept and grow with it.  Most of these come from chance words in conversations.  Observations about someone's actions either applauded or reviled hit a chord and stop me in my tracks.  I rarely hear the rest of the sentence as I try to grasp the concept of why these particular words are so important to me and what I am meant to learn from them. 

For important they are and I know I am supposed to pay attention.

There have been many such moments in the past few months, some I have taken the time to contemplate while others are circling above me and my hands are outstretched to catch them but they elude me for the time being.  I suspect I have enough to think on and they can wait for another day.  I want to stop my busyness, though, and find a quiet place so I can give these observations their due.  I know it will make me a better person.

When someone is talking about a friend or spouse or acquaintance - or even a stranger - and a facet of that person's personality is revealed, it can be like an ah-ha moment of recognition.  It begs for acknowledgement.  There, but for the grace of God, go I.  Or ew, I do that, too.  These are big deals if we are paying attention.  Anything which makes us squirm or gives us pause to assess our own actions helps us grow. 

Other comments feel like some kind of preparation.  After almost losing Bob in December, I am ultra-sensitive to what my friends are going through as they battle cancer, illness and job loss.  Alan's death last Friday due to pancreatic cancer was an eye-opener as was Nancy's husband's death in January.  We are all ill-prepared for this finality and the rebuilding that must go on afterwards.  While I think I want to be super organized and prepared, what I really want is to make the most of each day and dust be damned.

One would have thought that by this time, all the growing would be completed and I would have graduated, maybe not with honors, but with a well-deserved diploma.  But the voices still sing their siren song and I still evolve along with the refrain.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Chipped Polish

Portobello Road
Everything evolves and there is a new manicure option available now called shellac.  I haven't tried it as it is a bear to get off.  It is a thick coating that is supposed to last longer and strengthen your nails by covering them with an 'invincible' coating. Doesn't make them appear longer, though.  Just think of it as a protective coating.

For years, as we grow and evolve into the person we will become, we develop our own veneer of sorts.  Some are so thick that you could knock and hear an echo inside.  Others are pretty thin - what you see is what you get.  Now, on occasion, that might come across as abrasive but so be it.  Others in their proximity just need to add a layer to their own coating to interact with them.

If they really want to.

Decades of experiences help us build and strengthen our outer persona.  If we are fortunate, we are guided by those who have been there before.  We grow.  We evolve.  We polish the surface.  Some facets of ourselves we embrace and revel in (quietly lest we be perceived as braggarts), others we abhor and hide.  We chip away at the edges in order to form a more perfect person.  This goes on for pretty much all our lives.  From pre-toddler to old age, we are encouraged to be the best we can be. 

The factors which influence this process come from family, friends, our intellectual environment and that person we saw on the train yesterday who was a perfect example of who we don't want to be. We devise our own views of how our world should be and then our viewpoint communicates with that of others and we all grow.  We evolve.  Amazing.

Will an isolated person grow into a person who can relate to the social butterfly?  Can a thoughtful one enjoy the vagaries of a spontaneous thrill seeker?  How do our differences enhance each other? A lot depends on who we pull into our embrace. Even more depends on what we do with the knowledge we gain from them.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Perspective in Creation

Toulouse, France
Recently I read a post on A Certain Simplicity where Diana questioned the challenge of change and the driving force behind it.  Whether creative or situational, change is fraught with dips and valleys and can just as suddenly soar you over the top of known experience.  It got me to thinking about it from my perspective.

It is our creative self which strives for more and that won't change as long as we live and think. If Michelangelo was not driven to improve his creations, painting and sculpting again and again, chasing the elusive perfection he craved, would he have grown? Would he have been happier sitting back and contemplating what was done, looking no further? When he took pause, what were his thoughts? Reflection or progression? What of the others? Our creative inner workings build on what we do now and what we did in the past and we have an opportunity to savor the process. That doesn't stop our minds from looking at things from different angles, imagining subtle adjustments which will be filed for future use. It is the foundation for our discontent with things as they are. We are c-r-e-a-t-i-v-e. This is what we live for. It comes with the territory.

In some matters, yes, good is good enough. The glaze may be a little off but it gives us food for thought for next time. Imperfections and repairs may be obvious to others (we imagine) but are in fact virtually invisible in the scheme of things. They are what gives our lives character. A little roughness in our physical surroundings hurts no one and allows us a place to rest without feeling uptight. I love to garden. In the past ten years, I have learned that perfection has no place in a garden. Now I carry that inside and know that, while I 'should' paint that wall and 'should' fix the trim, it doesn't change the pleasures wrought within these walls. The same goes for my art. As Diana so aptly put it, I can relax. My mind whirs with ideas and I would be so grateful if I could pursue even a small portion of the projects in my mind's stash.  Regrettably, I don't have a patron to foot the bills. I pick my battles, let go and enjoy what is. It doesn't quiet my mind, but it gives me more pleasure in the process.

And isn't the process of living what matters most?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Metaphorically Speaking...

I have always felt that I have a pretty busy life filled with things that need to be completed, concerns which tax my heart and a wish list of pleasures which rumble around in my head unfulfilled.  There is some truth to that.  A really busy life, though?  Perhaps it is more a busy mind which wants to do more in a day that has just so many hours.

There is also the energy aspect.  I do not have the stamina I used to have.  I can remember days filled to the brim with activity and stimulation.  Now some of that stimulation just plain wears me out!  Doesn’t mean I stop craving it, it just means I need it in smaller doses so I can savor the experience.  One thing at a time is better for me now.

A milestone year approaches unlike any other.  My feet are nearing the edge of a precarious cliff.  The flower-strewn meadow is behind me. Blades of bright green grass bend under my feet and I can feel their coolness between my toes.  I like it.  I want to stay in the meadow a bit longer so I sit down away from the edge and plant some flowers.

My seeds need good, rich soil to germinate.  There is no room for toxicity in my meadow and I haul away that which taints my ground.  As I turn toward the path from whence I came, I can see dull brown patches amongst the fragrant blooms.  All but a few trees are strong and sturdy which pleases me.  Only a small number have broken branches or decaying trunks and I acknowledge them with thanks for what they have taught me. 

As my eyes travel across the panorama, flowers of every hue fill my vision and crowd out the patches of dry earth.  A soft breeze ruffles my hair. There is so much more good in the world than bad.  I feel that my focus now is to stimulate a healthy ground and try not to over plant. 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sweet Song

A little sweetness and light to start the day.