Friday, December 6, 2013

Decisions, Decisions

I wrote this a couple of months ago and never posted it. Rereading it, it remains as important to me as it was then. What do you think?

Life is jammed packed full of possibilities. Some of them are responsibilities. There is only so much time, however.  Decisions must be made.

Some decisions are easy to make.

Take the garbage out now 
wait until the morning when it has stewed and become more fragrant.


hot chocolate





Other decisions are not so simple. They may involve complex layers of social pressures, conflicting desires or lack of realistic potential.

Earlier in life, decisions were so difficult for me. It seemed like there was a right answer. If only I were privy to what that answer might be. Opportunities for joy were missed in the decision making process – or should I say as I tore out my hair and gnashed my teeth trying to make the decision.

“The right answer” is something we are taught to look for as soon as papers with bubbles on them and number 2 pencils become the measure of our worth. From a young age this “right answer” colors our view of how we perform.

But there is no right answer to what cars we should buy or clothes we should wear. My hairdresser has relieved me from worrying about what my hair should look like, but I still wonder about those glasses….

The more people I talk to, the more I am convinced that we stumble through life as best we can weighing the options to the best of our ability. Sometimes we don’t’ need to make the “right” decision. We just need to make “a” decision.

Not every decision has to be made using all the available data. Sometimes, deciding is enough.

I started thinking about making decisions this morning as I had 90 minutes of free time on my hands. Part of me was tempted to take the camera and shoot film of the lovely changing leaves. I haven’t spent enough time with my camera lately. A fair on the common of the town I am in, beaconed. Yet ultimately, the library won. Last week, I was knocked out with a cold and ended up sleeping in the car in the library parking lot. Never made it to the door.

Despite the lure of the beauty outside, the library won. These rare hours of solitude are precious. Not to be squandered. Not a minute can be thrown away on pondering which choice to make. Would that these hours were elastic and could be stretched to fit all that inspires.

We still have to choose. What will fill the time? Flip a coin if you need to. Just decide and move forward.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Changing Seasons

I’m afraid that summer is on the wane. It’s been a bit easy to think that maybe it was not quite over – especially with temperatures in the 90s this past week.

This morning, however, there is a nip in the air. Although the sun is back casting lovely shadows across the grass, the breeze made me reach for my fleece.  It’s time to savor the flowers that remain, to make sure to enjoy some fresh produce and spend time outside. Autumn is fast approaching.

School is firmly underway. I am slowly getting used to the schedule, remembering names and waking up on time. In the summer I take care of the stacks and the library collection. In September, it’s all about the kids. Once we have all the beginning of the year things under control, I’ll be sneaking a peak at the collection again, but September is not the time.

Other things in life are changing, pulling together. Sometimes you plant seeds wondering if anything will come of it. Sometimes all the seeds come to fruition all at once. It feels like that right now. It’s exciting and overwhelming. I keep reminding myself to breathe.

All of this makes me think of Yota Schneider. Her course “Letting Go and Moving Forward, a 4 – weekonline-learning course on the process of letting go and moving on – withconfidence and enthusiasm” starts on September 16 (just 2 days away). I was a member of her beta class. It was an amazing experience. I took the class hoping to find a way to reconcile myself to letting go of some of the things that I could no longer fit in my life. I wanted to hang on to the things that worked for me….the only problem is that I no longer had time to fit them into my current life.

I came out with so much more than that. In fact, the timing was brilliant. Life moves forward whether we choose to or not. I was in the “Kicking and screaming” denial phase. Yota’s class was helpful in the short term, but I can see that it has been a powerful experience for me long term as well. The subtle shifts in the way I viewed the way my path was changing helped me to turn from denial and hanging on, to embracing the reality of my present. From acceptance comes the ability to find the beauty in what is offered.

Since then I have lived much more in the moment and have found that I find so much more joy this way. It does not mean that I don’t plan for the future. The importance of the day I am living has become front and center.  Sometimes that means doing tasks today that will make the future brighter. Other times it means refueling to be ready for that future. In either case, it is easier to notice the beauty around me and the gift of the people who fill my days.

Hope you are making the transition to Autumn with joy. If not, why not give Yota’s course a try? I know I’m grateful that it was there for me. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Adventures in Rabbit Rescue

Treasured Teen has started a new endeavor. Saying it is "new" might be stretching the truth - it was only a matter of time before action would follow the path the heart tread. 

TT, as I sometimes call Treasured Teen, is an animal person. I am a person person, a word person, a person of ideas and words and talk. TT relates to the language of animals, the love and trust, the warmth and cuddling. It took many years for TT to break down my wall of reasons get beyond the fish I had allowed (3 betas in separate tanks) and get the pet she had dreamed of - a rabbit. 

Rabbits are sweet and lovely. I love them, they just make me sneeze. I blow my nose more frequently and must admit that my life is so much better for the companionship of our dear boy Sir Fernly. Rabbits, riding and volunteering at a dog shelter, TT's life revolves around animals. 

The open heart is a funny muscle, however, with ever expansive room for love. TT joined rabbit groups and found her heart breaking for the number of rabbits who are brought home (usually at Easter) only to be discarded like so much green, plastic grass when the novelty wears off and the cage cleaning gets old. TT dreamed of creating a rabbit rescue. 

Miss Madeleine's Bunny Academy was created to foster bunnies in need of homes. (I voted for Halfway Home for Rabbits Who are Down on Their Luck). TT will take in one rabbit at a time, a limit imposed by her supportive (to a point) family. Her first rabbit is Scuppy in the picture above. 

We'd be delighted if you'd follow her adventures in rabbit fostering.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Vivienne McMaster in Artful Blogging!

When I learned that Vivienne McMaster was going to be featured in Artful Blogging I was very excited! Vivienne has been such an inspiration to me. 

Having seen the issue blogged about, I haunted my local book seller. I couldn't get my hands on a copy. Then yesterday I saw it as I rounded the rack and exclaimed "Oh, there it is!" A woman who was looking at quilting magazines asked what I was so excited about. She didn't know about blogging or Artful Blogger, but she went home with a copy in her hands and plans to put her quilts online. 

I learned about Vivienne's classes when a writer whom I admire changed her twitter profile photo and commented that she had taken it in an online class. I got Vivienne's contact info and then time went on. 

Several years later (last summer) I took my first course with Vivienne. She is a kind and gentle soul who brings out the best in people. The community of people she draws to herself is positive, powerful and inspiring. No wonder I keep going back for more. 

Congratulations, Vivienne. To celebrate your appearance in Artful Blogging, I decided to take some selfies. I share my favorite with you here. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Joys of Menu Planning and a Give Away - My Happy List Tuesday

It's been a couple of weeks since I participated in My Happy List Tuesday. 
Here's what's been making me happy these days. 

The school year is almost upon us. Last year, I spent much of the year lunch-less. I worked straight through the day and found myself ravenous once the last student had left my charge. This was good - I had a lot of work to do and it was easier to get it done without taking the time for lunch. I also spent more time with students. This was bad - I didn't eat as well as is good for me and I missed out on the bonding time with colleagues.

After school there is always a maze of appointments and things to do. Evening meals proved to also be a challenge.

This year I decided I would take the bull by the horns and do something I hadn't done in years - make weekly meal plans. There was a point when I was reading a lot of books about home organization and all of them recommended a weekly meal plan. My reasons for resisting trying this included the inability to take advantage of deals at the green grocer or fish market - a reason that never stood up to examination. Once tried, it was clear that weekly menu plans simplified life. Even the odd daily deal could be accommodated by pushing the plans back one day. It should have been a no brainer to continue this plan. Yet, it's been years since a weekly menu has been in residence here.

Enter Just Bento, a website dedicated to the art of packing lunch boxes, Japanese style. It's a wonderful site full of great resources. One of the personally most helpful parts of the website were the meal planning PDFs. These PDFs were what inspired me to get back on the horse with weekly meal planning. After looking at them, I made my own forms that addressed the needs of my family. The form includes a checklist for protein sources and one for color balance. It helps me to see visually that I am creating a varied menu. There is also a check list for items to be made the night before. The next step is shopping list.

A few weeks ago we took a trip to Ebisuya, a Japanese grocery store in Medford, MA. It's a wonderful store with a very wide range of Japanese foods. In the book section of the store was the Just Bento book! I snatched it up. Even though our stash of o-bentou making supplies is prodigious, some new tools ended up in the grocery cart.

I bought some boiled egg molds. You open the up, place the raw egg inside, snap closed and boil. Presto – a rabbit or bear shaped boiled egg! Cute, right?

Meanwhile, I have been trying out an app called Snap Recipes for tackling the large stack of loose recipes that has defied organization. The app allows you to take up to five photos of the clipped recipe and add information. Tagging the recipes make them searchable by type. The elimination of that stack of clipped recipes and the ease of mobile access to them makes this a real win. It has helped me to work on this project on the go.

Last week I did a trial run of week one menu plan. I hope to eliminate some of the kinks of my system and see where my problems lay. Eventually I hope to have at least four weeks of lunch plans to choose from.

And here’s the give away!

Tools for making your lunch special!

Cookie cutters you can use for cookies, sandwiches, omelets, carrots and more. There are even message stamps – it’s like scrapbooking your food!

Want to win one of these prizes? Subscribe to my blog and leave a comment below with your email. I will select the winners on September 15th. 

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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A Love Letter to My Windows - My Happy List Tuesday

Being thankful for the every day things in my life is a practice I want to be more adept at doing, or should I say being?

This week I want to give a shout out to my windows. 

These windows are such a blessing. They bring the outside in and have been such a joy to look out in every season. The snow falling, the trees in bud, the blue summer sky, the colors of autumn - I experience all of these more fully because of the marvel of these windows. Birds fly by and stop to perch in the trees outside. During some seasons the birds feast on fermented berries of the cherry tree and then fly, drunken, into them. The wind moves things, the trees, scattering leaves and, sometimes, the birds themselves. 

But most of all it's the light that I revel in. The light that streams through them illuminating my world. Window sills seem a wonderful place to store glass. The light traveling through sends rays of lightness into the room. The reflections of cut glass dance merrily on the wall at certain times of day. You can't take these things for granted, but receive them as gifts when they come. I know they sometimes come when I am not there to receive them. Sometimes I unable to humor them. Mostly, though, I see them as reminders to accept joy and be aware of the moments of beauty. 

I am spoilt by these windows and their beauty. How I will ever bear to live anywhere else? For this season, these windows are my joy. I intend to soak in their light and the life they bring with them.  

For more My Happy List Tuesday posts click the icon below.

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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Memories - My First Take a Word Challenge

Over at Take a Word, the challenge is to create a piece of art that reflects the word of the week. I discovered the blog last week and thought I'd give it a try. I had a great idea, but then I found this watercolor postcard I painted of my daughter when she was 8 or 9 years old. It brought back so many memories. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Sowing Positivity

If you haven't visited the Kind Over Matter website, make sure you get over there and check it out. It is a storehouse of positivity. You just can't help smiling and feeling a little lighter when you visit.

Several months ago, I printed out these free compliment tear off sheets. Wednesday I finally got around to taking them over to the laundry room and tacking them up. I was nearly shaking with delight, wondering who might take one of those inspirations. 

Today I was walking by and stuck my head in. This is what I saw - a bunch of them are missing. That made my day. 

Want to spread some joy? Give compliments to someone who needs them? You can get yours at the freebie section of Kind Over Matter.

Thanks, Amanda, for creating such wonderful ways to spread joy. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

My Happy List

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When I visited Ricki Treleaven's blog during the Mad Tea Party blog hop, I discovered her My Happy List Tuesday event. It struck a chord in me and I decided to give it a go. If you have been following my blog from the beginning, you will know that I started this blog as a way of appreciating the delightful parts of life and encouraging myself to go after them with more gusto. Ricki's event seems like a great way to keep the practice of being aware present in my day to day life.

1.   Grab my delightful button coding for your post above.
2.   Link-up a happy post.
3.   Visit other bloggers and enjoy!

Actually, I found that there were so many things I could put on this post. As I have always wanted a more visual blog, I stuck to things I had pictures of. Here is my first list of three.

1.     Camera Happy Dragonfly

This beautiful dragonfly was buzzing all around. I pulled out my phone thinking I’d be too late, yet the dragonfly flew circles around me until I had a good shot.

2.     Pink Laundry

Yes, this really is what my laundry looks like each week. We sort our clothes into whites, darks and pinks. Seeing all that pink folded up makes my heart sing. It doesn’t take much, does it? 

3. The Beauty of Blogs

I've come across many blogs over the years. blogs I've meant to follow. And I did. I placed their name and URL in my Google Reader which I then promptly forgot to check. With the demise of GR, I had to find another solution and I did in spade. Feedly, Digg Reader, Blog Lovin' - how's a girl to choose? I chose them all. 

Through the act of switching over, I started looking at blogs again. I n spare moments, I'd sneak a peak at something beautiful - some thing just because it inspired me. I'm grateful to the blogging community for providing such a haven of visual delight, good reading and, sometimes, affirmation. This week, I'm all about being happy to revisit blogs I've neglected and searching for new ones through Artful Blogging, a favorite source of inspiration. 

Thanks, Ricki, for the opportunity to join My Happy List.