Saturday, October 30, 2010

12 Things - I learned this week

1. I am not a good patient in the hospital -- well, I am when I have to be there, I think (like when I had meningitis). But when I don't have to be there? I am a whiny, crying baby.

2. I have a malfunctioning gallbladder -- because my gallbladder didn't want The Monkey to have all the fun, so it decided to be disobedient, too.

3. A malfunctioning gallbladder and a hedonist personality do not mix -- Because now I can't have chocolate. Or bacon. Or chocolate covered bacon. For the rest of my life.

4. I can have chocolate and bacon... if I want to be in a LOT of pain -- and I'm not down with pain.

5. My spirituality goes all to hell when I'm in the hospital -- I just couldn't bring myself to be kind of compassionate when my roommate was snoring like a buzzsaw, which prevented me from sleeping, but DID make me cry like a baby.

6. My spirituality comes right back when I'm home & can reflect on my blessings -- I am incredibly grateful for all the love and kindness that was sent my way over the last couple of days. I am wholly blessed and loved, which goes a long way toward the healing process.

7. The Nancarita is precious -- she was all freaking out that she couldn't be with me in the hospital, despite being the one that was taking care of The Trolls while I was in there, ergo, relieving me of any worry I had about their care.

8. The Boyfriend™ is a blessing -- I don't think I can ever adequately express how good he is. I'll spare y'all the schmoopiness.

9. Everything has fat in it -- and having to live a mostly fat-free lifestyle now, I am becoming increasingly paranoid about anything I put in my mouth. My gallbladder has turned me into one of Pavlov's dogs.

10. I am a mama bear when I can't be near The Trolls -- those are my chicks, y'all. And even though I know they're being well taken care of, being forced to not see them does not make me happy.

11. The Best Friend (R) is adorable -- home girl hung out until she was absolutely sure I was being discharged... despite having much more amusing things planned with her kid-free evening. That's friendship right there.

12. There's nothing more restorative and therapeutic than a kiss and hug from The Trolls.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Thoughts on knitting... while knitting

Undiagnosed ADD is not something one should have when they undertake a hobby such as knitting. I mean, unless they want to make potholders all the time. Then undiagnosed ADD is perfect for knitting.

Basically, I have no patience. None. Zip. Zero. Nada. For instance, when The Trolls were born, I expected them to come already knowing stuff, like how to go on the potty... or change their own diapers. I just don't have the constitution for things like follow through -- or knitting, as it turns out.

Part of my problem is hyper-focusing. I get so excited about a new project that I eat, sleep and breathe it. I binge on a new project and then, inevitably, I purge. I get bored. The novelty wears off, and then it's just too easy to get distracted by something shiny. Seriously, y'all, I'm surprised I've kept up with this blog as well (and for as long) as I have.

If these blog posts were time stamped, you'd see that there was exactly ten minutes between them. That's my point. I blogged, I went back to knitting, got bored and came back to blog about being bored.

All of the wisdom from the people I've asked say that you should do things in small snippets, especially when you're living a dream while still working a day job (and doing the full-time, single mom routine). I've been trying to follow their advice because, well, they know stuff. But part of my problem is that small snippets leave way too much room for lack-of-completion. I have seven different paintings mid-way through. My living  room is still not completely rearranged. The nine loads of laundry I came home to? Still muddling my way through that (a load sits, unfolded, on my dining room table as we speak). So when it comes to this knitting stuff, especially since I wasn't kidding about scarves for Christmas, I gotta buckle down and get some shit done.

This is part of the purpose of the life list -- to learn. To combat that which is counterproductive to your nature and get rid  of it. Or, at the very least, make it work to your advantage.

So, this time, I really am going to go back to knitting. I'm going to carpe the hell out of this lesson. I am going to do the task for the task's sake.

Wish me luck.

....Ooo... shiny!

Life List Updates and Wednesday Night Randomness

Goal #40 - Learn to crochet. Once-upon-a-time, I actually knew how to crochet. Nothing fancy, mind you, but enough to keep my hands busy. I'm of the opinion that we humans are much like computers -- there's only so much memory. So, when I had to learn something new (like lyrics to another song -- you don't even want to know how many songs I know the lyrics to), I unlearned how to crochet.

A while back, I was at Michael's and I picked up one of those kits you get 'tween girls to keep them crafty and wholesome. The one in particular was a knitting craft kit. I held onto it for a bit and lost track of it (which, believe it or not, is easy to do in 900 square feet action packed full of crap). I was rearranging my house the other day and came across it again and decided to pull it out and see what I could make of it. Before I knew it, my house was only 1/2 rearranged and I was ensconced in my favorite chair knitting the hell out of a scarf.

So, it's not crocheting, but it is knitting and I'm gonna call this goal done. One of my co-workers is a master crochet-er and she's willing to teach me how to -- and maybe I'll take her up on the offer -- but, for now, I'm pretty damn happy knowing how to knit.

Note to friends on the Christmas list -- guess what you're getting??

And in other news...

I have Internet access at home again! But now I'm feeling all this pressure to get out on the web and do stuff. Why is it that a connected computer makes me feel like I added about eleventy billion things to my to do list?

Speaking of Internet -- Facebook is starting to become the bane of my existence. I'm torn between canceling my account and keeping it active so I can keep tabs on my nearest and dearest. I mean, Facebook saves me the trouble of having to actually call people, but then there's that whole I should call thing. Facebook stalking is so much more convenient, but...

I think you can see my conundrum.

Oh, but wait! There's MORE.

So, apparently, I have this inexplicable stomach issue that worried my co-workers enough to forcibly evict me from the office to go see my doctor, who, in turn, was worried enough about what was going on to send me for an ultrasound (he thought it might be my gallbladder). When the ultrasound didn't show anything, I got to experience the joys of a contrast CT scan.

CT Scans are actually kind of fun -- and the contrast stuff makes you all warm in the good places. Totally worth the big-ass bruise on my hand from the IV

Just in case you wanted to know.

In all the randomness of the last couple of days, I got to experience some really wonderful moments of connectivity. My nurse today is, apparently, going through a painful divorce. I was able to reach out to her and offer her some of the wisdom gleaned from my experience in the same kind of place she's in now. My heart ached for her, because I know how raw this place is, that she's in. Her eyes oozed the vulnerability that she was trying very hard to cover up.

I remember all too vividly that place -- putting on a brave front; trying desperately not to cry in front of total and complete strangers. I gave her a hug and wished I could do more for her than offer her five minutes of camaraderie.

I also learned that, no matter how old you get, sometimes you just really need your mommy. Fortunately, my mommy was willing to mommy me, which made me feel tons better than I thought it would. And she totally didn't call me out about being a big whiny baby.

Last, but most certainly not least -- The Boyfriend™. Good lord am I ever grateful for that man! I'll spare you the schmoopiness, but let me just say that you know you're loved when someone feels guilty for wanting to go home when his car breaks down on the side of the road (who wouldn't?), but still comes over because you feel like ass. Who still hugs and cuddles you, despite your looking like utter and complete shit, making you feel like a princess on a throne, and who will still be a smart-ass just to remind you that even though you're sick, he will stay exquisitely and beautifully just who he is.

I'm off to try to knit some more... and bask in the glow of love and gratitude.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Special Guest Post from Magpie Girl

Hello my lovelies!

I'm very, very excited to be sharing my blog space with Rachelle Mee-Chapman, of Magpie Girl. As I've mentioned previously, I'm all about synchronistic moments, and stumbling onto Magpie Girl was another one of those moments. Rachelle provides soul care for artists and her messages and inspiration (most recently about taming the monkey mind... ooo... shiny!) have provided a great deal of help while I'm on my journey toward living my most authentic life.

In honor of her birthday, Rachelle is doing 30 Stories in 30 Days -- answering questions posed by we artists in the blogosphere. She stopped on by Fearlessly Phobic to answer my question:

Q: How do you chase your dreams while still having to do the have-to’s without burning out?

The language of your question is revealing in and of itself. Did you notice your verb? Chase. It’s quite driven isn’t it? Not just compelled but also propelled.

Many of us feel that our life is like this – pushed around by forces that are not within our control. It can be maddening to try to figure out how to make space for one’s creative dreams, while still doing the work, chores, and child-rearing of everyday life.  Here are some tips and techniques I’ve found helpful.

- Adjust to right-fit expectations. Notice I didn’t say “lower” your expectations. This is not about setting your sights low, it’s about healthy function. Be realistic about the amount of time and space you have for your dreams, and trust that this is enough. (And it will be.)

- Work in small snippets. Sometimes we don’t work on our dream because we want a big chunk of time in which we can do it all at once. Even ten-minute increments will add up to a finished project eventually. Do what you can when you can.

-Do Less. One of the issues I see in my coaching practice is that people are not willing to do less to make space for their dreams. Your kids might not be able to be in two sports. You might not be able to be in your book any more. Dinners might have to get a lot simpler. Society tells us a lot of “shoulds,” but really very few of them are essential. You can to Do Less to Live More.

-Rest. You cannot pursue your dreams when you are drop-dead tired. Get sleep. Practice Sabbath. Take a day off. You have to fill-up to create something new. Even a little rest can shore you up for a new burst of creativity.

- Make a Pact. When you are spinning a dream, having a withmate can be a big help. Together, you can help each other focus, set right-fit goals, and break each other out of stuck points. What might a creative partnership look like for you?

What about you? What are your tips and techniques for getting your chore list done and pursuing your dreams? We’d love to hear what works for you, because “there ain’t nowhere to go but together.”

Rachelle Mee-Chapman, specializes in customized soulcare for spiritual misfits. She works with clients at Magpie Girl to help them find a spirituality that fits; and hosts Flock, an online soulcare community. You can learn more about her creative approach in her free ecourse, Magpie Speak: a new vocabulary for soulcare.
Friend :: Follow :: Presents!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Hey! Boston! There's a whole rest of a state to the west of you!

Pictures from my trip home:

Random guy, enjoying the scenery. Potholes, Buckland, MA

Down the river from the potholes.

I forgot what the exact symbolism is for the stones, but these line the path on the way to the Peace Pagoda

The Boyfriend, taking pictures of the stacked stones. I took pictures of him.

Ooo... depth of field. Fancy! Actually, I really like this one.

Prayer flags that line the koi pond and woods, surrounding the  pagoda.
Some fancy flower on the Bridge of Flowers in Buckland, MA

Things I'm Grateful For - Part 8

I originally started this entry while on the plane ride to Florida, back from Massachusetts (my home state). Either the Xanax (necessary for my being able to fly – damn turbulence) was working overtime or the freshness of the trip was making the words rather bitter, so I shelved the entry until I had at least one full day “back to normal” with which to process the last couple of days.

Since moving to Florida in the summer of 2005, I have not been back to Massachusetts during the fall – admittedly my favorite time of year. This was not for any particular reason other than I just hadn’t made it up there. But I think, subliminally, I hadn’t made the journey north during the autumn because New England falls have a unique magic all their own; it captivates and enthralls you – even one such as me, who thought herself pretty immune to foliage – and you find yourself pricing houses and wondering how many cords of wood you’ll need for the upcoming winter.

"Downtown" Buckland, MA

As fate my begging would have it, I wound up working a trade show in Marlborough, MA this past weekend. My bosses bestowed their benevolence on me by allowing me to piggy-back a mini-vacation onto the trade show trip (it helped that it was significantly cheaper for the company for me to fly back on a Tuesday, rather than that Sunday).

Side note: The Boyfriend™ was born and raised in Florida. The furthest north he’s ever traveled, in this country, was to West Virginia (he was in Michigan when he was a baby, but that hardly counts, since he doesn’t really remember it).

Because I was already headed home, I begged and cajoled nagged The Boyfriend™ into coming with me, to see my roots. I figured it would be best to place myself “in context” by way of explaining some of my rather – to a Southern-born mind – eccentric way of being. In need of a vacation outside of Florida, The Boyfriend™ acquiesced and I picked him up from Logan Airport and we made our way to Western Mass.
The Boyfriend™ being intensely touristy. See the look on his face? Intense.

Side Note: There is an entire state west of Boston. Yes, I know it’s hard to believe – even the maps Enterprise Car Rental was handing out stopped exactly at Interstate 91 – but Western Mass exists. Where do you think people go to get liquor on a Sunday?

I pre-warned The Boyfriend™ -- who hates long car rides about as much as I hate flying – that there would be a lot of driving involved in this trip, mostly because my grandmothers now live 45 minutes apart from each other, and they were my priority for the day. Because The Boyfriend™ is delightful and incredibly understanding of my weirdness, he was mostly good-natured about my neurotic, road trip-filled behavior (the man seriously needs to be nominated for sainthood. I am no picnic – even on the best of days). I think it helped that my family was incredibly accepting of him (read: they just went along about their normal behavior, as if The Boyfriend™ had always been there), and he could just ease himself in.

The last time I was home, I was rather melancholic about it; home didn’t feel like home anymore. I resigned myself to the fact that I would have to be nomadic for a bit longer, until I either found where home was or I made peace with New England again, so I could return, but other than that didn’t pay my melancholy much mind. Home feels less so when you stay away long enough. It’s the nature of the beast.

I must’ve made peace with New England, when I wasn’t paying attention. Sometimes that happens to me – must be the perpetual distraction by shiny things.

While driving hither and yon, this quote from Rumi was a constant refrain in the back of my mind:

It may be that the satisfaction I need depends on my going away, so that when I’ve gone and come back, I’ll find it at home.

Suddenly, I was home. It wasn’t just the place I was from – this was home. A sense of peace overcame me and I was looking at familiar streets through a different set of eyes. I was aware of everything and the beauty of it all – how food tasted better, the water more pure. As poetically trite as this is, my heart literally sang with joy. HOME!

The Boyfriend™, apparently, feels similarly. That, let me assure you, was not something I was prepared for. In fact, I was prepared for everything but his falling in love with Massachusetts. After all, Florida is what he knows; it’s where he was born and raised. He’s always been within a stone’s throw of an ocean – and the Pioneer Valley is certainly not an ocean; and while the Connecticut River is pretty, it’s not nearly as warm as the Gulf of Mexico.

But I should’ve been prepared. I should’ve known that the foliage would be a succubus. I should’ve known that he’d experience the first good night’s sleep he’s had in a dog’s age (New England air has that effect). I should’ve recognized that one of the things that attracted me to The Boyfriend™ in the first place was a similarity in spirit to my beloved New England. Perhaps, it’s why I wanted to take him home for Halloween to begin with – I must’ve known on some level that he’d love it.

I knew I’d be weepy and nostalgic – even though home hadn’t felt like home for quite some time, I still miss the holy hell out of my family – and the Xanax would be doing double-duty to calm my frazzled flying nerves as well as my heartbreak at leaving my family, but I was prepared to suffer that alone. Turns out, I don’t have to. The Boyfriend™ misses home as much as I do.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Update on Life List Goal #69

And it is done...ish. The Boyfriend got to experience -- albeit briefly -- a real New England fall.

Added bonus: I now know how much he loves me (read: he can, good-naturedly, put up with me in neurotic traveling mode).

Down side: I miss home truly, madly, deeply.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Observations from an airport

We're at our layover in Philly, that got extended an extra hour. I love airports! They're great for people watching and observing human nature.

Believe it or not, airports - to my mind anyway - have a whole lotta love in. I'm grooving on the vibe... or maybe it's the xanax.

Hard to tell sometimes..

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I have no idea...

If the chicken pot pie will be enough,
Or if the shephards pie is too much;
I undercooked the rice in the pudding,
But a little crunch is good, right?
(I'll claim it's how the French do it)
Salad veggies need cutting,
I still need to pack.
I'm tired.
My feet hurt.
The kitchen gnomes are on strike.
But it's a heck of a lot of fun.

One Last Thing -- and this is kinda of a huge, big deal

I was going to wait until tomorrow to post a sort of book review about Life is a Verb by Patti Digh, which I heard about through one of the blogs that I follow, and finally got this week to check out. This book is sixteen kinds of awesome! While some of it is really rather intuitive, a lot of it is giving me those AHA! moments that are inspiring me and keeping me on this path.

Cuz sometimes it's really hard to stay on the path. All I want to do, most some days, is lay down on the side of the road and take a nap, y'all.

But life isn't just about living your dream; it's about living in such a way that you can make a difference -- no matter how big or small -- in the world. You have to give back. And I don't mean "have to" in the obligatory "I have to go to my parents' for Christmas" kind of way, but in the "You know what? I want other people to feel as great as I do, so I'm gonna pay all this goodness forward" kind of way.

Bottom line: we're darn lucky to be living the kinds of lives that enable us to whine about inconsequential stuff, such as hating our 9 to 5s. There are entire countries being ravaged by HIV/AIDS, and other treatable, preventable diseases. There are oppressed cultures, orphans, war zones, natural disasters, Republicans... the world really is much bigger than we think it is.

I am not in a position where I can afford to donate to all the charities and organizations that really need my money, but I can do a small part in letting you all know about some wonderful efforts made by some magical and talented people.

I'm going to excerpt directly from Gypsy Girl's Guide here, because they say it so much more eloquently that I can:

We are honored to support this month’s collaboration between our gypsy friends and contributors, Christine Mason Miller & Marianne Elliott. As you know, Marianne has taken the challenge to raise $20,000 for HIV/AIDS Projects in South Africa. Here is one way you can be a part of this very important endeavor:
For the entire month of October, Ordinary Sparkling Moments will be available at Christine’s  Etsy shop for $24 instead of $28.  Christine will donate $10 from every book sold to Marianne’s project, which you can read about right here.
To sweeten the deal a little bit more, Christine will also include a FREE set of four notecards as a special Thank You for your help towards reaching the project’s goal.
And if you already own a copy of Ordinary Sparkling Moments, if you have enjoyed this lovely book, please consider purchasing another copy this month as a gift to someone you love.
Also, if you feel inspired, we would appreciate any shout-outs, tweets and anything else you do to help spread the word.

I'll tell you what, too, I cannot wait to get a copy of that book. It'll do my soul a whole lot of good.

Things I'm Grateful For - Part 7

Despite the sheer amount of complaining I do - about my job, The Trolls, perpetual sunlight - I actually have a pretty great life. Sure, there's some bullshit and minor drama that I deal with, but in the grand scheme of things it's really not all that bad (this fact, however, will not stop me from whining about my life -- with a startling regularity).

Every once-in-a-while, I get handed a big heaping dose of perspective that actually shuts me up for a while -- and for that, I am grateful.

Today, I'm on my way into work, listening to NPR, as I usually do, and they featured an interview about this web site, which is dedicated to featuring emerging music from the Middle East. On the surface and taken at a very American face value, that's not such a big deal. Right? Except that in most Islamic countries, being in a hip hop band, for instance, is grounds for death.

Death, y'all. These kids can be killed for being hip hop artists.

Truth be told, it's  not really as simple as being killed for being a hip hop artist. You can also be put to death for being in a metal band or being a female in a band. There's really a laundry list of punishable-by-death musical offenses. You can be put to death for speaking out about social issues, religious issues or promoting a band whose lyrical content speaks of dissent.

Listening raptly to the interviewee, a sense of gratitude came over me -- for the perspective to realize that, as long as The Trolls aren't inciting a riot, they can be in a band that speaks out against their government; that my biggest issue is teaching The Trolls when to pick their battles, figuratively speaking. Which is a damn sight better than their having to pick their battles literally. That I can teach The Trolls to speak up against authority -- to question it and to live the life they want without fear of death or dismemberment. That I can create any kind of art I want, freely and without fear of governmental reprisal.

With a sense of relief that I live here, where freedom of expression is encouraged, my gratitude is overwhelming. Today, I am grateful for perspective.

Artist Space and Pages From My Sketchbook

This is my work desk. When I need more space, I work on the floor, despite owning an easel.

Sunflowers  - rough draft, though I'm kinda diggin' it this way

Turning The Best Friend's album cover into art -- this is the only part of it I like.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Rainbow Toes

I am having a wonderful, rainbow kind of day. To celebrate, I painted my toes rainbow-y.

May you have a rainbow-y day, too!

Date Night with The Trolls -- Or, How I Learned to Love Having Less

The Monkey is going through The God Awful Puberty and is pretty much unbearable to be around most of the time. I know this is not his fault, but rather the fault of the toxic combination of pubescent hormones floating through his little body. Knowledge does not equal power, when living with a little person in the throws of adolescence.

What I wouldn't give to have a fast forward button for this part of his/my life. But since I don't have said fast forward button, I am going to do my damndest to try and use his tween rebellion to impart some life lessons -- like "You can't alpha Momma, so don't even try, but because you're going through God Awful Puberty, you will try anyway, despite my warning, so please try to learn something from this moment."

I know it's going to be a rough couple of years here, while The Monkey tries to reconcile the disparities between Who He Is Now and Who He Is Becoming. Wars will be waged, he will hate me (and I'll wish I lived some place far, far away from pubescent children, like Mars), and I will try to make peace with the monster I created.

To keep me from stowing away on the next NASA mission, I do a little recollecting back to happier times before my mother's curse -- I hope you have five just like you -- manifested itself in my life. One of those happier times is The First Date Night.

I'll spare you the dramatic intro to this story, because it ain't pretty and I don't want to relive it, but suffice it to say there were circumstances in my life that found me a single mother to a toddler and an infant, in the great cold north, with not enough money to turn the heat on, never mind afford any extras. Now there are only so many "arps and craps" (that's a Monkey-ism) projects you can do with a four-year-old boy and humanoid blob with marginal motor skills, and the four-year-old will only be entertained by The Teletubbies for so long before he goes off to grander adventures (read: finds something to break).

In the interest of sparing my pawn-ables from the curious hands of a four-year-old Monkey I came up with the bright idea of date night with The Trolls. After a long, long week working the phones in a customer service department for a candle company -- during the holidays -- I just didn't have the energy to be a "good mom" and attempt to entertain my kids for a night. I also didn't want to be bothered cooking anything remotely healthful... or make anyone brush their teeth. So, I rented a movie, made some popcorn (The Nugget got biter biscuits), and we all cuddled up under our warmest blankets, in our warmest jammies, and chilled. There was a lot of love in the living room that night -- so much that even The Nugget sat still and relished it.

It was good. No, really good. So good, in fact, that the one date night turned into a tradition that has gone on for the last six years.

It always strikes me that if I'd had enough money to turn the heat on, thus had enough money for extras, this lovely tradition of ours wouldn't have been born and, quite possibly, I wouldn't have the bond with The Trolls that makes God Awful Puberty a little less God Awful. Also knowing that I don't have many date nights left with The Trolls -- time has a curious way of flying faster than you want it to -- means Friday nights are sacrosanct for me.

On second thought -- screw the fast forward button.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Monkey's new name: The Worm

The Monkey...err... The Worm is taking hip hop dance classes as one of his electives at school.

He can do the worm across the entire house. Makes a mother proud.

Friday, October 8, 2010

"Some people never go mad. What truly horrible lives they must lead" - Charles Bukowski

So a couple of weeks ago, I left The Boyfriend™'s house and didn't have a whole lot to do. I was Troll-less for the weekend, I had made no other significant plans and was really just... well, bored. I decided to mosey on down to Books-A-Million (which is the only passable bookstore around these parts, that doesn't require an hour long drive), where they were having a dollar sale on a bunch of books.

I love dollar sales on books! Dollar sales on books (and bacon) is God's way of saying He loves you.

Because I had actual time to browse (try shopping with two spirited boys sometime. It's an exercise in guerrilla warfare, I tell you!), I scanned the carts and grabbed a couple of books that I thought looked interesting.

Side note: I often judge books by their covers. Or, rather, the texture of their covers. I've had remarkable luck with books of a certain texture.

One of those books I grabbed was The Virgin's Knot. The author had a way of depicting the beauty of Turkey in such a way that I have added Going to Turkey to my life list. The other book I grabbed is called A Short History of a Small Place by T.R. Pearson.

Jesus, Buddha and Santa Claus! Is this book GOOD! Seriously, I want to write like this guy. I want to be able to convey mental illness in such a candid and humorous way -- because I'm going to need to know how, down the road, if my neuroses get any worse.

An excerpt:

"Daddy said the nature of Uncle Warren's employment probably afforded him the great leisure insanity requires and he imagined Uncle Warren had spent the better part of his life losing his mind. He never went violently or dangerously crazy, Daddy said, just noticeably so, but according to Daddy there was no reason to suppose that Uncle Warren would have ever been committed if not for the combination of his particular brand of madness with Great-grandmomma Lanier's affliction. They simply did not mix."

After reading that, I have also added "Finding a job that affords me the leisure insanity requires" to my life list.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Have I mentioned that I love my camera phone app?

Roof top at work -- who knew it could be so artsy?

Marc -- he was not amused when I made him sit still for this

Dianne -- sweetheart and incredibly beautiful

Here's The Best Friend® looking like Meryl Streep

This is me -- The Best Friend® took it

A tree with some berries.

A rain gutter -- again, who knew a gutter could be art?!

I'm so in love with this app! During my lunch break, I can be artsy and it makes me feel TONS better about my 9 to 5. Not only that, but The Best Friend® finally feels like the artist she truly is, thus, is happier.

The world really looks a whole lot different and more enjoyable when you can look at it in a different frame.

The Everything I Love to Do List

I think I mentioned that, through a moment of synchronicity, it was Karen Walrond's blog - - that set me on the course of living my most authentic life.

Her story is remarkably similar to my own, to the point where I find myself constantly nodding my head in agreement, as if I were bobbing my head along to my favorite song. I check her page every day for inspiration and to keep me true on the path when I feel like I should just give up and do what "I should."

So, thank you, Ms. Walrond, for being my beacon. While you don't know me from Adam, I owe you a debt of gratitude.

Because she's been right on the money so far, I am taking Karen Walrond's advice and listing everything I love to do that fills me with joy and/or grace.

I am, more-than-likely, going to forget a whole lot of things that I love - mostly because the fact that I love something doesn't hit me until I'm smack dab in the middle of doing it, where, upon the epiphany of love, I relish the moment and then promptly get distracted by something shiny.

No, I don't have ADD. Why do you ask?

Without further ado, and in no particular order, here's my list of things I love to do:

1. Drawing, painting, sketching, collaging -- basically, anything at all have to do with making art.
2. Photography -- especially if it's urban decay. How I love urban decay.
3. Reading
4. Drinking coffee (I need to marry Juan Valdez)
5. Yoga (I really need to do this more often. I always feel tons better afterward... except during that one period when I was getting angry all the time during and after)
6. Date Night with The Trolls -- a little tradition started back in the day. I'll post a blog about it one of these days.
7. Wikipedia-ing - I love, love, LOVE looking up inane topics, like medieval cooking processes.
8. Spacing out - other than when creating art, this is the only time my mind actually stays still.
9. Road trips - I love exploring new places and feel such a sense of accomplishment when I can follow directions.
10. Cooking -- it soothes me to no end, and I love that feeling of providing sustenance to people I love.
11. Making plans for anything - there's nothing like a good plan to make you feel successful. Now, if I can learn how to follow through on said plans.
12. Visiting museums, historic landmarks or anything else that feels like I'm reaching back through time to connect to a people or civilization.
13. Taking things apart to figure out how they work.
14. Being able to answer The Trolls' questions -- and have them pay attention to the answer.
15. Listing to The Trolls laugh -- The Monkey is going through The God Awful Puberty, so hearing him laugh is a rare blessing these days. The Nugget's laugh is ridiculously contagious, so much so that he once got an entire airport terminal laughing, just from listening to him laugh.
16. Stealing back my time - between all the have to's and shoulds, this little act of rebellion is especially necessary for my soul.
17. Singing in the car -- I sing it loud and proud.
18. Making Lists - I mentioned how my mind doesn't sit still, right? Lists make me feel safer. Weird, I know.
19. Visiting with my family - now that I live so far away from the vast majority of the nest, these visits are especially meaningful.
20. Having one of "those" conversations -- you know the ones, where you feel so very connected to the person you're talking to, and you feel like you could solve the world's problem just from that conversation alone.
21. Discovering something new to be obsessed with - like steampunk, Tim Burton art, traveling to Turkey or the app for my camera phone.
22. Early morning snuggles with The Boyfriend™ -- oh, those do my soul SO much good. I could get drunk on those snuggles.
23. The Best Friend®'s kitchen -- well, and spending time with her, too.
24. Experiencing through my olfactory sense -- food cooking, concrete after it rains, my nana's basement, the woods back home in Massachusetts. Some of my best memories are associated with scent.
25. Making a friend feel better... or at least making them smile.
26. Experiencing the world anew, through The Trolls' eyes.

I will have to add to this as I think of more things. It feels exceptionally awesome to take a moment to reflect on that which brings me joy!

Why don't y'all take a moment and make a list, too. It'll do your heart good.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I'm in love, love, LOVE with my camera phone

I may never go back to my regular camera again (OK, that's not entirely true, but I like to indulge in hyperbole from time to time. It does the soul good.)

Retro camera app photos

The Best Friend® - This will be her album cover. Fo'reals.

Dandelions. They make me happy.

Monday, October 4, 2010

From my sketchbook (forgive the photo quality)

Cityscape 1 - Rough draft

This was is SO not finished, but I kind of like it as is.

Rough draft for the smoking chick. Draft isn't finished, either.

Things I'm Grateful For - Part 6

Inspired by The Monkey's school art. I'm grateful for that, too.

Today I am grateful for all the little things in life, and nothing in particular. That isn't to say I'm just randomly grateful, or grateful for nothing, but that I am filled with so much gratitude that asking me to choose just one thing would be akin to asking me which of The Trolls I loved more (hint: I love them both equally, but in vastly different ways.)

But here's a sampling:

I'm grateful that it finally feels like fall.
I'm grateful that, while I was late to work, I wasn't horribly late.
I'm grateful for having been able to stay in bed 'til 1 on Saturday (oh, that was decadent!)
I'm grateful for having some wonderful books to immerse myself in.
I'm grateful that, no matter how tonight's game goes, I still won the football pool at work.

I am grateful to feel grateful.

Friday, October 1, 2010

School Pictures

Poor Nugget... he can't take a decent school picture to save his life.

Upside: it's because of his school pictures that you can tell he's actually Filipino.