The night is still aglow with light

This morning I awoke to the rush of my husband’s footsteps as he dashed to the basement to see why we had no water pressure. He got as far as the light switch when he realized the issue was a lack of power. The ice storm caused a power outage in the neighbourhood. He escaped to work and the kids and I took the opportunity to sleep in. The power came back on mid-morning. Yay, power! Out here where we live, that means flushing toilets! It also meant coffee!

Winter | Melanie Ritchie

I also awoke with a migraine. Tonight I felt really horrible. Nothing would make the hammering pain in my head go away. My ice pack had thawed twice. The tylenol I didn’t want to take did nothing. My other medicines were making me nauseated. I had no energy to do anything and trying to sleep just felt painful.

I was lying there for hours and then I decided I’d make some tea. Once downstairs I thought I’d enjoy the lights of the Christmas tree. It’s still up because I haven’t had the energy to take it down. I had just enough energy today to make the kids lunch and a Swirlio (ice cream out of nothing but frozen fruit). So, now I’m on the couch enjoying my tree even though the festivities are winding down. I was too lazy to wait for the tea to boil so I’m having a V8 instead. A small cheat in my diet as I’m not supposed to have tomatoes (nightshades). I took my chlorella pills and I’m hopeful that sleep might come to me soon. For the first time today, my headache is aching less.

Today I had hoped to get a few chores done and to play a couple games with the kids. They got a cool Lego toy I wanted to build with both of them. Luckily, they were in a good mood and played together nicely without me. I spent most of the day in bed while they chatted with me before disappearing to play another game with rules that only they understood. I was supposed to go out for dinner with a friend but the weather worsened (I didn’t think it could!) and it was better that way because I would not have been good company!

While I was lying in bed I was thinking about my “to-do” lists. My council work, my design work, my house work, and my personal work. At this moment I don’t know how I’ll get back to my council work. I can’t even wrap my head around the things I need to tackle. Right now reading  a recipe feels like learning a new language. Simple emails feel complex. My design work I’ll worry about next week. My house work, oh dear, my housework. That is a never-ending story. My personal work… I’m itching to get started on One Little Word, to paint something, or to digitally scrapbook a page (I’m not up to making a paper one). I can’t decide what word to choose to work on for 2017. I thought about “heal” but am also considering “rest” or “pause”. I just don’t know. Too hard to think about.

Oh, and I really really really want to take a bus to the Women’s March on Washington in a few weeks. A group from Ottawa is traveling down to the march and  coming right back afterward. Since I find making lunch to be a completely energy depleting task, I’ve decided I’m probably not up for the trip. I hope the March is a success. There is so much that needs to be done.

I think I’ll try that sleeping thing again. Nighters!

 

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Exploration and TMI?

Admit it, your curiosity is totally piqued. Why doesn’t curiosity have a “u” in it? I won’t be answering that question in this post.

Really, I just want to talk about plans for 2015.

I jumped on the One Little Word bandwagon again this year. My first year I chose the word “Authentic”. I was struggling with being myself and caring too much about whether others accepted me. It was the right word to play around with for 2013. Last year, I chose the word “Release”. I didn’t do most of the monthly assignments. My goal was to accept being “imperfect” and not feel I had to say yes to everything. It was a year to accept that things change and time moves on. Honestly, starting 2015 I do feel I’ve let go of a lot of baggage and expectations. Maybe a month ago I came up with my word for 2015. I had no plans for taking the OLW class. Then last week, I thought “what the heck, why not?” and signed up.

My word? Are you ready? It is EXPLORE. Yes, this is my year for trying out new things and seeing what works and what doesn’t. It’s my year for deciding what I like doing the best and then actively pursuing it.

What does that mean for you, dear blog reader? It means, you’ll get small doses of different types of content. One of the areas I want to focus on is my blog. I want to see what I like writing about and what I like creating. Expect to see my journey documented here. That’s where the TMI comes into play. Maybe it is just too much info that you don’t care for when I share my favourite body wash with you. Or maybe you’re just not into the wonders of gouache. Who knows, maybe I’m not either. Let’s find out together!

So with that, I will share three products I’m in love with at the moment. No, I didn’t receive them for free and the companies have no idea I care. Just sharing for the sake of “exploration”.

1. Satsuma body wash by Body Shop. So my day goes like this: Get up, drink coffee, get kids ready for school (yes, coffee comes first), freeze outside in the cold at the bus stop, come home and hop into the HOT shower. I treated myself to a bottle of this awesomely smelling body wash during Black Friday sales. It reminds me of junior high when The Body Shop was the “IT” place to shop. Back then I’d spend my allowance on lip balm and a bar of soap. I wish they still made Raspberry Ripple bubble bath.

satsumabodyshop

2. Pureness Balancing Softener by Shiseido. So I get out of the shower feeling all blissful and relaxed and smelling of an orange grove. Then I slap a little toner on my face. In the winter my face gets dry and itchy, especially after I wash it.I don’t care for the feel of anything on my face like heavy moisturizers (or makeup for that matter). I bought this product in the summer when they had an awesome sale. It is amazing stuff. A little bit goes a long way and my face feels soft and perfectly balanced. I can only tell I have something on my face because my skin feels good. Nothing more.

shiseido pureness softener

 

3. Fairy Godmother Soap by Lush. So in the evening I sometimes have a bath to relax my weary bones and calm my anxious nature. I like candy and even better than that, I like smelling like candy. This soap doesn’t dry out my skin like other soap can. Just plain delightful, it is. I received it as a gift and I love, love, love it.

Fairy Godmother Soap by LushI’d love to hear what body product you love and why. Hook me up in the comments.

Are you participating in One Little Word? What’s your word? I’d love to hear it.

Releasing the prisoner and other intentions

“Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, Whispering ‘it will be happier’…” – Alfred Tennyson

As 2013 comes to a close, I am trying to remember what events transpired. What did I do, where did I go, what did I learn? It’s all bit of a blur.

I spend too much time in my head. Next year I want to spend less time thinking about me and more time doing things for others. It is way too easy to get caught up in rumination and fear. Too much of life passes by, completely unspent. Wasteful.

Life is too short. That’s what I learned. In 2014, I want to GET OVER stuff. I want to stop whining, stop annoying myself, and just try to enjoy a minute without analyzing, obsessing, and ruminating over how I’m not living the moment up to its potential. I blinked recently and when I opened my eyes I saw how much my life has changed in the past few years. Time is not going to pause for me. I need to enjoy my life now. Screw the resentments, boredoms, annoyances and heartaches that plague everyone. I have no time for that. Gotta just look at the stuff I like and stop to smile and take it all in… because, whether I like it or not, the times they are a-changin’.

I am not perfect. I’ve always known this but for some reason I seem to beat myself up for my failings. You know what? I don’t like getting up in the morning. I don’t like walking to the bus stop. I don’t like wearing bras. I don’t like cleaning toilets. I don’t like sweeping, mopping, washing dishes, and vacuuming. Oh, and I don’t like socializing very much either. There I said it. I do these things but in 2014 I’m not going to apologize for disliking them. Oh yeah, and I have a big butt and thick legs. That’s how it goes.

I decided today to participate in Ali Edward’s One Little Word. Could not stop myself from signing up. Chose my word. RELEASE. Told my husband. Fits of laughter ensued. Apparently he thinks my word pertains to Prison, Sex, and/or Prison sex. Um, no, not my intentions for the word. Actually, hadn’t even occurred to me. Thanks for the input though.

I found by the end of 2013 I was feeling empty and listless. Kind of “what’s the point?” malaise. Ok, yeah, another word for it might be depression. Wouldn’t be the first time. The advent of Christmas was more stressful than I would have liked. I just felt sad. I didn’t even do all the seasonal stuff I normally try to do. For the past five years I’ve put a lot of effort into making the season “magical” for my kids. This year I simply let them play and make their own magic. Craft projects and Christmas cards could wait until next year. I just couldn’t be bothered and I didn’t think the world would stop spinning. Christmas still happened. Luckily, by the time we set off on our Christmas trip to my parents, the fog of my mood had lifted. I felt a wee bit festive. While my mood sucked, I did like the freedom of not having to live up to all these unnecessary expectations I have for myself. Enough is enough.

So, for 2014 I want to focus on the word “release”.

Release of worry and fear. I am in the grips of fear a lot. I don’t know that this is doable but I’ll keep working on/managing it.

Release of shame, regrets and resentments. Ok yeah, I’ve failed things. I’ve made mistakes. Words haunt me. Stupid events haunt me. LET IT GO. Who cares. We live. We die. This will not be how I am remembered. People who judge me need a new hobby.

Release of the past. Now this one is tricky. I have so many good associations with the past and they keep me just as busy ruminating as any bad experiences. I get all caught up in the “good ole days”. My remembrances of being a child are well… childish. Some crazy part of me seems to think I need to be the perfect mother and give my kids the perfect childhood just like little girl Melanie imagined. Or I need to recreate the wonderful childhood memories that stick out in my mind. I need to relax and realize I am giving my kids their own great memories. They’re lucky and loved just like I am.

Release expectations. Mine. Humanity. Good people. Bad people. My kids. Customer Service. Whatever. Whoever. The cat. Yes, I’d like everyone to be perfect. I’d like the world to be perfect. I’d like to be perfect. See next item.

Release perfection. See above.

Release of pressure. A big ole sigh of relief. Breathing deeply again. A weight off my shoulders. I need to leeeettt gooooooo.

Release my sadness. Crying is cathartic and yet I don’t really cry much because I don’t like to and it hurts my eyes. I think I might try it again anyway. Hey, what are you looking at? Allergies, man, allergies.

Release my children. That sounds weird. I am really struggling with this one. My youngest will be heading off to school in the fall. Kindergarten is now a full day program. In my mind, I still had two more years of half days with him. I feel like that gift of time has just been ripped away from me. Yet, I think he is ready for school and will enjoy it. I will miss this period of my life. Sure, it was exhausting. There were countless times I just wanted some time ALONE! I couldn’t imagine “free time”. I’ve always viewed a child’s formative first five years as sacred. A little cocoon of bonding for us. I didn’t expect it to come and go so quickly. Suddenly, the house will be empty again for hours at a time. I don’t feel ready for it. It scares me. I have to focus on the new things I will be able to do. Not all is lost even though I feel lost.

Release my creativity. Release artwork. What I will do when my house is too quiet and empty during school hours. I will have the time to pursue my art again.

Release the need to please others. Release the habit of caring what other people think. WHY oh WHY do I care so much over what people think of me? Especially people I don’t even like. What is WITH that? As for people I do like, it would benefit me to have the inner strength to have grace when being judged.

Release anger. Although I am a pacifist and abhor violence, I have to admit I carry a lot of anger inside of me. Perhaps this is my number one concern only because my anger is a result of all the other things I need to release. I am angry because I am frustrated, hurt and fearful. The only way to release the anger is to let go of shame, resentment, expectations, disappointments, and fear. I have to stop caring about the opinions of others. My journey is my own. It doesn’t have to be understood, accepted, or permitted by others. It is mine and mine alone.

This is it. 2014. I’m going to live it as best I know how. Imperfectly perfect. Perfectly imperfect. With humour. And a whole lot of love under that furrowed brow of mine.

Oh, and I didn’t edit this post. I’m living life on the edge, peeps.

Happy New Year!

Here’s a picture because I heard all blog posts need a picture.

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One Little Word 2013 Blog Hop: October in Review

OLWbloghopLOGOI’m taking the One Little Word class by Ali Edwards at Big Picture Classes. It’s a year-round class and you can start anytime. Every month on the 1st you receive your prompt challenge for the month. A group of class participants are using their blogs to share their thoughts on the month’s topic. To see all my posts listed, go to the top menu bar under “Documenting Life” and click on One Little Word.

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(there is no project… just some thoughts. i won’t be offended if you click onto the next blog.)

Art Journaling. The project for the month. My word for the year? Authentic. This month I have felt quite separated from my word. What does the word even mean? Does one have to bare their soul and expose their true thoughts on their deepest secrets to be authentic? Should I not exercise caution? Why do I try to fit in and keep my beliefs to myself to avoid judgement? Maybe my view is right? Maybe my story and experiences are true. Maybe someone could learn something from me. Maybe I don’t want to be hated. All these thoughts have been whirling around my head all night, all month, all year, all my adult life.

Last week I posted a quote on my facebook. I should frame it really. It was:

“Don’t try to win over the haters; you are not a jackass whisperer.”
― Brené Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

Ultimately, I fear rejection. I fear people not finding me credible. I want to be taken seriously. I don’t want to be misunderstood.

I’m kind of sick of hiding.

20 years ago tonight (Halloween), River Phoenix died. For reasons I don’t care to go into, the news changed my life. Ever seen the Tower card of a tarot deck? That’s how my life felt. That year of my life was an opportunity for growth as a person and an artist, and I think I botched it. I still don’t know how to fix that.

(here is a pointillism drawing I did of River Phoenix off of a magazine cover. I’m pretty sure doing a drawing of a photograph infringes on copyright but I didn’t know that when I was 19 and it was for an art class project.)

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I watched Glee tonight. I’m not a regular follower. It was the tribute episode for a star of the show who recently died of an overdose. There was a scene where the cast was singing James Taylor’s Fire and Rain. It made me cry. It took me back 20 years and made me take stock of where I am in life.

I had a brief discussion with my husband before he went to bed. I was telling him about my beliefs that I rarely share and how I don’t know how to walk the tightrope of an authentic life. When he went to bed, I went to get a comforter to sleep on the couch as I have a chest cold and need to be propped up to actually sleep. While searching for the blanket I came across some old diaries. I grabbed some to see if I had written about my life 20 years ago. What I found was not what I was expecting. Over the years I’ve glanced at the pages. I guess tonight my eyes were open a little wider, or my brain was a little more receptive, because I noticed something very interesting. First, a little back story.

I went to art school in 1993. I was young, just out of high school. I had an instructor who taught me how to “see” and draw. It was a useful year but it was difficult as the man scared me and I rejected most of what I had learned. Now, I am seeing things a little differently.

On October 23, 1993, I wrote in my diary:

“… There’s still time left”.
” Time for what, Ray?” I asked.
Ray was silenced. He was thinking then he spoke.
He said “Magic.”

He said that there is time still before the Magic is snuffed out and the world needs light. Something vaguely like that. He also said that I am him when he was young except it took him longer, 20 years longer, to get into the art studio.

He said that it took him a long time to realize that other people don’t feel, think, or see the way he does. He says I have to stop trying to be like everyone else. 

So what if people think I’m eccentric. They will learn from me, even if its something seemingly stupid, they’ll learn.

When I read this it stopped me in my tracks. It took me 20 years to understand what he was trying to tell me. I guess I didn’t listen because here I am still fighting that battle. I have not lived up to my potential as an artist and it saddens me. Wasted years. All because I wasn’t authentic. I’ve been playing this game of trying to please others. Trying to get external validation. I’ve been hiding my magic.

I stopped drawing and writing poetry in my late twenties. It was too hard to be “normal” and “creative” at the same time. I had to pick one or the other. I decided to go with normal. Or my version of it, anyway. So, slowly my dreams became foggier, and my creative ideas fewer. I paid a price for my normalcy.

People say Halloween is the night where the veil between our world and the otherworld is at its thinnest. No doubt. I feel empowered and honest. It’s an overwhelming feeling. I’m sure tomorrow I’ll shrink back a bit. It is uncomfortable being authentic and I like to feel like I have both feet firmly planted beneath me.

So what is it I even want to say? What is the best way to express myself? Where do I begin? I would like to end the year knowing I have made peace with the word Authentic. I am not there yet.

You came from Margareta’s blog. Next up is Mrs Wookie’s blog.

If you need to start at the beginning, please go to Lee’s blog.

One Little Word 2013 Blog Hop: June in Review

OLWbloghopLOGOI’m taking the One Little Word class by Ali Edwards at Big Picture Classes. It’s a year-round class and you can start anytime. Every month on the 1st you receive your prompt challenge for the month. A group of class participants are using their blogs to share their thoughts on the month’s topic. To see all my posts listed, go to the top menu bar under “Documenting Life” and click on One Little Word.

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It is summer!!! June is about to make its exit. Right now, as I type I’m listening to the whistling and popping of fireworks off in the distance. July 1st is Canada Day. People must be eager to celebrate as this is the second night I’ve been listening to fireworks.

Personally, I’ve had a lot to celebrate this past month. Summer is finally here! My parents came for a quick visit in the midst of their road trip with friends. My daughter finished her first year of school. I’m a guest instructor at Tiffany Tillman’s new scrapbooking website called Scrapaneers, which opens August 5th. My lesson is part of the class All Star Techniques. Last, but not least, I had a fabulous weekend with my family, being tourists in our own city, and visiting the beach. 

When I first saw the challenge for June’s One Little Word, I was stumped. I had not a thought in my head. This past month, I found it very challenging to think. Bit of a brain fog really. I’ve had various tasks to do and couldn’t do them because I can’t focus or concentrate. PRO-BLEM! I even tried the task a few times over the month. Nope, wasn’t going to happen. Tonight, I will answer these questions. NOW. In a blog post. You with me?

So, here is my mid-year reflection…

This process has been ENGAGING.

SURPRISINGLY, I did a lot of soul searching as a result of choosing to have “one little word”. My word is Authentic. I wanted to find how that word has meaning for me. I wasn’t always thinking about whether I was being authentic. I am pretty good at being me. It was more that I was trying to find ways to BECOME the version of ME I want to be. I project a certain image of myself to the world. I convince myself that I am that person. Honestly, I am not always that person but I want to be. At this point, I’m authentically flawed… that’s my new starting point.

I’m PROUD that I am trying. In this process, I’ve discovered that the way to become more authentic is to be mindful. In a way I have two little words. Mindful is the word I must actively practice and Authentic is the guaranteed result of that practice.

I have ENJOYED how the word Authentic has given me a new way to look at the world. I like control. If you’ve read my other posts, you know I have a problem with “shoulds” (Things SHOULD be this way. Things SHOULD be that way). I want the world to run in a peaceful, organized, responsible, and safe way. I get angry and depressed when I don’t get my way. I can’t control the world and trying to diminishes the joy in my life. Joy is abundant in my life and I dull it with my worries and fears. Through choosing the word Authentic and attempting to become more mindful, I’ve discovered I can control the world after all. If I can control my thoughts, and I have a way to cope with uncertainty, I can be happier. I can attempt to make peace with all that saddens and frightens me in the world.

I have ENJOYED the creative process of making a vision board and choosing actions for the year. I have ENJOYED delving deeper into myself and making something creative with those thoughts. I have ENJOYED blogging about each month and reading the experiences of others.

All of this has been CHALLENGING. The toughest part of this process has been changing old patterns of behaviour. I’m trying not to be too hard on myself. It’s a process and it will take a long time. For example, I might be disappointed in myself when I lose my temper or feel overwhelmed. The positive is that I now know I have other options. I hear that little voice in my head telling me I can calm down, that my anger or fear is a choice. I can take a deep breath and refocus my energy. I sometimes tell that little voice where to go, and allow myself to get angry anyway but I know that with practice that little voice will become louder, and I will become more disciplined with my choices and actions.

By the END OF THE YEAR, I’d like to feel I am stronger. I can be bit of an interesting character. I think sometimes I try to hide it. Weird as it may sound, I’m conflicted with feeling both ashamed and proud of being who I am. Insecure, I guess. I need to care less about how others perceive me, and maybe get over myself. Funny how being more “mindful” of myself might actually help me be less self-involved. Who would have thought?

So, that’s the big recap on 6 months of Authentic one-little-wording. Thanks for joining me! See you next month!

You came from Amy’s blog. Next up is Naomi’s blog.

If you need to start at the beginning, please go to Lee’s blog.

Oh and I’ll take this moment to mention a contest… forgive me for the blatant plug 🙂

Namaste!

One Little Word 2013 Blog Hop: May in Review

OLWbloghopLOGOI’m taking the One Little Word class by Ali Edwards at Big Picture Classes. It’s a year-round class and you can start anytime. Every month on the 1st you receive your prompt challenge for the month. A group of class participants are using their blogs to share their thoughts on the month’s topic. To see all my posts listed, go to the top menu bar under “Documenting Life” and click on One Little Word.

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Ha ha ha, very merry month of May! How you got away from me! I had a nasty chest cold for the first couple of weeks and then spent the rest of the month either playing catch up or greeting Spring. I am proud to say I managed to get the one little word challenge completed!

I was really excited by Ali’s challenge this month. We were encouraged to listen and take note of the things we tell ourselves. Kind of the sort of thing I was already doing anyway. We were to document the things we repeat to ourselves and create something with the phrases.

As usual, things don’t go quite as expected. My biggest problem wasn’t stopping to listen. Oh no, I was eager and willing. There were several times I recognized a thought and tried to keep it in my brain. I’d finally get to a piece of paper and the words would escape me. Several times this happened!!! I had some gems…

Then one day I had a couple hours to myself. I decided to make some 3×4 cards. I used mists and sparkly paints… very fun! I made three and then didn’t get back to making more. I’ll show them here so you can see what I did.

Initial Attempt:

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Finally, I decided to just do smaller cards in a baseball card sized page protector.

For the centre card, I put my word and a little title. I used a journal card and trimmed it down to size. For the surrounding cards, I used a piece of scrapbook paper and taped pieces of washi somewhat randomly. I used letter stickers to make my phrases. Despite my memory issues, I did manage to collect several of the things I tell myself on a regular basis. In a perfect world, I’d have a photographic memory and get it all down just right, but I did the best I could.

Here, I’ll explain why I think these thoughts.

Relax: This is for those moments when I am way too tense. Either I’m nervous, fearful, or stressed out. Just saying the word deflates the tension.

Let’s get this party started: This amused me when I realize how often I think this. Sometimes it is when I’m about to do a craft with the kids, but it can be for something annoying like vacuuming. Something to get me pumped about a situation that I either don’t enjoy (vacuuming), OR something I like that requires some energy and thought (craft projects with kids).

Loving Kindness: This is a new one for me. I’ve been taking meditation classes for a few months. One meditation we do is a Metta. It means “loving kindness”. You meditate on sending love to yourself, to someone you love, to a stranger, and to someone you have conflict with. I’m not sure what our teacher said that made me think to use the word outside of meditation. Now when I’m annoyed with someone who is doing something out of my control (crazy driver, violent people in the news) or something difficult to control (my son not wanting to go to bed), I think the words “loving kindness” in hopes that the offending person will feel love and maybe become a bit more enlightened in their lives. It also gives me a chance to stop reacting and be more mindful.

Make it happen: I’ve been saying this for years. Do I want something? Well, I’d better make it happen. It gets me started on goal setting. My husband would say I’m very good at voicing this phrase as well (Honey, make it happen!).

Be mindful: This one doesn’t usually enter my mind as a way to de-stress. It is more of a reminder to myself. I say it to myself when I wake up, or maybe after I haven’t been mindful enough.

This is the life you always wanted: It is good to remind yourself of the blessings in your life. Sometimes it is so easy to get carried away with the “next step”, the challenges, or wanting a break, that you don’t appreciate the moment you are in. For me, all I’ve ever really wanted was to be a Mom. I dreamed I would find a wonderful husband and live in a nice house where I would get to raise my kids. What do I do now that I have it all? I live in fear that I might lose it all. I waste my energy fretting. I get stressed out over small things. I constantly remind myself that I have actualized my dream and should darn well be “awake” and happy enough to enjoy it.

This too shall pass: Just something I say when I’m frustrated with a situation. I know that like anything in life, things are temporary. Phases, events, tribulations….

Stop & let yourself enjoy this: I’ve been saying this to myself a lot lately. When my daughter wants to play Barbies and I’m trying to figure out what to make for supper. I can stop myself from saying “no, later” and realize that my chores can wait a bit. I don’t always have to be in “take care of business” mode. I can stop and just have some fun. I can spend an afternoon building forts and messing with playdoh. I can take a moment to step back and just observe my beautiful babies laughing as they chase each other around the yard. I can.

So, those were my phrases. I just remembered I forgot to make one that says “Choose your battles”. I think that one a lot too.

Final Attempt:

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Thanks for reading all of that. What can I say? I’m full of words. Have a fabulous weekend and a fabulous June!

You came from Michelle’s blog. Next up is Veronica’s blog.

If you need to start at the beginning, please go to Lee’s blog.

Namaste!

One Little Word 2013 Blog Hop: April in Review

OLWbloghopLOGOI’m taking the One Little Word class by Ali Edwards at Big Picture Classes. It’s a year-round class and you can start anytime. Every month on the 1st you receive your prompt challenge for the month. A group of class participants are using their blogs to share their thoughts on the month’s topic. To see all my posts listed, go to the top menu bar under “Documenting Life” and click on One Little Word.

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April is for fools. Ha, ok, that has no real meaning. I’m just really tired and it seemed clever. For a second. If that. Although on second thought, maybe it is for fools. The tarot deck starts with “The Fool” card which represents the beginning of journeys. We all begin our lives knowing very little, having to learn as we go along. So maybe spring is a fool’s journey. Fresh starts, new beginnings and all that.

My month was rather unremarkable. It’s a blur really. I’ve been trying to be more creative this month… trying to “own” my talent and just be me when it comes to creativity. Trying not to censor myself, or follow someone else’s rules, while also trying to learn new techniques. That has been a bit of a focus. Other than that, not much a-goin’ on that needs mentioning right now.

So, let’s focus on what I did with my One Little Word challenge for the month. The goal was to take photos that give life to my word “authentic”. Ali beautifully added words to her photos. So, I did the same on mine. I didn’t use the template she provided but I’m sure I’ll use it in another project sometime. I took nine photos, instagrammed them, imported them into Photoshop and added text. I’m happy with the outcome. (the font is “arsenale white”. i seem to be addicted to this wildly, whimsical font.)

I had planned to print out the photos and adhere them to kraft paper card stock. One one side would be the nine photos and the other side has a very pretty transparency quote with a photo strip and a few elements. It is sitting on my craft table half finished. Waiting. I’ll have to show that another day. Sorry!

What I can show you are my photos with the text added. I hope you like!

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You came from Michelle’s blog. Next up is Kelly’s blog.

If you need to start at the beginning, please go to Lee’s blog.

Namaste!

One Little Word 2013 Blog Hop: March in Review

OLWbloghopLOGOI’m taking the One Little Word class by Ali Edwards at Big Picture Classes. It’s a year-round class and you can start anytime. Every month on the 1st you receive your prompt challenge for the month. A group of class participants are using their blogs to share their thoughts on the month’s topic. To see all my posts listed, go to the top menu bar under “Documenting Life” and click on One Little Word.

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March. Oi! Where is the time going? My month was zapped by activity.

  • My husband was out of the country for over a week. I planned/hosted/celebrated/cleaned-up birthdays five days apart.
  • March Break… our first.
  • A Stomach bug. Yes, St.Patrick’s Day was very green but not so lucky.
  • Recovery of all of the above.

All of which leads me to now. This is the part where I admit I did not give enough attention to my one little word for the month. I was just getting through it. You know?

My one little word intention for March was “seeking truth”. I can admit that I am always doing this… in myself, in the world, in others. My biggest attempt at living this intention was signing up for a meditation class in February. It started at the beginning of March. While I have to admit I haven’t been meditating daily, I have found the classes tremendously helpful and insightful (except for the missed one last week due to the stomach flu…grrrr). Most exciting to note, is that I applied a few techniques to my daily living. I might not meditate as I would like, but during the day when I am stressed I am able to focus myself and not be so quick to react. Take a deep breath, observe the emotion, and let it go. I found it most helpful with my kids. They have a tantrum? Fine. It’s not mine and it isn’t personal. Somehow that little thought helps me to keep my cool when they’re not. Secondly, I’ve used the breathing techniques to calm my son when he is upset or resisting bedtime. I hold him and take 3 deep breaths. With every inhale, I imagine myself infusing all my love and goodwill into my son. It works like magic… seriously, it is amazing. If anything, he must feel my body relax and responds accordingly. Whatever the reason, I’m thrilled.

On a negative note (or so it seems, perhaps), seeking truth was just painful and confusing. I have a tendency to get down in the winter. I know with depression one tends to view themselves negatively. Every flaw gets magnified. So, this month I’ve been a tad bit too critical of myself, my past, my roles, my everything. I’m not sure if I was seeing truth, or a distorted version of it.

The second part of the One Little Word for this month I’d like to talk about is our challenge. This month we were to choose an action, brainstorm how to accomplish it, set a time to get it done, accomplish the task, and reflect on it once completed.

Well, I waited until the last week of the month to even watch the video, to even learn the challenge and its steps. So, I could have raced around looking for some action and accomplish it in a week. I could have decided to simply make the challenge for April and bow out of this blog post. What did I do? I decided that I HAD chosen an action for the month and I did follow the steps. It wasn’t  a conscious choice for a one little word challenge, but it was a very conscious choice for my life.

So, what was it? To drive. I think I’ve mentioned this on my blog before but I’m sure most people are unaware of this issue. I get fearful when I am in a car. I’ve been this way for nearly a decade. It worsened after having a baby. It worsened further when we moved 8 hours away to a new city. I learned to drive in a small city at a time when people for the most part were still following basic rules of the road. So, for the past five years I mostly avoid going into the city. It simply overwhelms me to drive anywhere busy. I have my safe areas where I am willing to drive but anything outside of that is off limits.

I had a few invites while my husband was away and then again during March Break. All the invites involved going outside of my safe zone. Oh, I wanted to cancel. I was in a panic and crankypants mood for the whole time leading up the events. I said yes though. If I were to say no then my fear would be interfering with my quality of life and my functioning as a healthy person. I might not choose to go outside my safe zone but when faced with invites that I would otherwise accept, I knew I had to face my fears.

Secondly, I had to consider the quality of life for my kids. I do not want them to miss out on opportunities simply because of my fear. How unfair is that? What kind of example would I be?

So, I am extremely proud to say that we went to:

  • the Science Museum. I took a wrong turn in a busy intersection and got lost. I was 20 minutes late. We survived. We had fun. We made memories.
  • the airport. I made a wrong turn and didn’t panic. I was pretty sure I could figure out how to get there anyway, and learned a new way! We greeted Daddy back from his trip in Belgium. Seeing my daughter jump up and down, and the serene, relieved look on my son’s face was absolutely priceless.
  • a playdate at a good friend’s house. The family moved a few months ago. Their old house was in my safe zone and the new one was not. I was so close to canceling and then looked on the map for a way to get there that avoided the merging of two very busy highways (which freaks me out). My kids had fun. I chatted with my friend. I found a new way to get somewhere and found out that it is a pretty direct (and rural…yay) route to the Target that is going to open in a few months. YAHOO!!!
  • the Chinese Grocery store. I love this place. I took the kids there on the way to our last outing of March break. We had lunch in the takeout section. Yay, me.
  • the Environmental farm. We got to see all the baby animals and their Mommas. The traffic on the way home was heavy and it was OK. We were OK.

Ok, that was a lot to read and your tears might be a result of boredom rather than joy for my overcoming or at least dealing with my fear. Either way, you took time to click onto this blog. Thank you! I hope you have a wonderful April!

You came here from Veronica’s Blog. Next up is Margareta’s Blog.

To go back to the beginning of the hop, go to Lee’s blog.

And to finish off my post nicely (and because I have no other visuals to offer you), here are some photos of my daughter’s birthday party and a digital scrapbook layout  to give you a sense of what I’ve been up to in March.

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How did 5 years fly by so quickly?

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Neverland themed party.

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Happy Birthday Girl

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You can never go wrong with cupcakes.

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Fairy Toadstools… half a grape tomato stuck to a piece of cheese stick with cream cheese.

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fairy toast

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fairy stars. also known as sliced cucumber.

One Little Word Blog Hop: February in Review

OLWbloghopLOGOI’m taking the One Little Word class by Ali Edwards at Big Picture Classes. It’s a year-round class and you can start anytime. Every month on the 1st you receive your prompt challenge for the month. A group of class participants are using their blogs to share their thoughts on the month’s topic. To see all my posts listed, go to the top menu bar under “Documenting Life” and click on One Little Word.

February. I don’t have a lot to say about the month other than I like that it has a heart. Right in the middle. I like the number 14. I like Love. February needs a little love because in this part of the world, it is a cold and miserable time.

For February, Ali asked us to create vision boards. I was open to the idea. It was bit of a “feel, don’t think” exercise. I grabbed a bunch of magazines I’ve been meaning to give away and cut out anything interesting. Anything that inspired me, moved me, or caused a “aha” without really knowing why. I didn’t think too much about why I was touched by a word or image. I just gathered. I did this shortly after February began as I was eager to reduce, recycle, reuse. I was eager to create. Then I got dragged down by winter. Colds, flus and general moodiness. Yippee yay! Then on the 19th, I sat down with my pile of clippings, a piece of paper, and a glue stick. It all came together pretty quickly.

I made this:

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I added a few embellishments on top of the clippings. A silhouette cut out file of the word LOVE by Karla Dudley, a piece of doily, a star, and letter stickers spelling out my one little word “authentic”. I was surprised how well everything flowed together and suited me. I enjoyed the process.

For me, the vision board was a nice add-on to the January challenge of choosing actions for each month of the year. Here’s an image of the cards I did for the January challenge. See the top right card? That is the card I made to represent February. I used Love as a theme for the month with the actions of “trust” and “let your heart be touched”. Did I succeed?

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Well, I tried. What I came to realize is that this process isn’t about immediately actualizing the words and actions in our lives. Sure that would be great, but there is a reason we’re striving for these actions in our lives: they aren’t easy to achieve.

I thought about “Love” a lot in the past month. In order to be a happy person, one has to love wholeheartedly. Love themselves, love their families, their neighbours, and their enemies.  I have this idea that I’m a compassionate person. I think I’m full of love. It’s those other people who need to get their act together and live lovingly. They need to start being nicer. THAT attitude is where I’m running into problems.

1. As much as I love to see goodness in the world, I am somewhat drowning in darkness. Over the years I have been overcome by the darkness I perceive in the world (from news events, media, social interaction). It has cast a shadow over my life. A shadow of fear? I need very much to start looking for the light (good) in the midst of darkness (bad).

2. I need to look at the people who anger me and focus on the good. I am really struggling with this right now. I need to look within myself and see the good when sometimes I dwell way too much on past failings, and what I don’t like about myself. I need to stop separating myself from others with thinking it is a “me vs. them” world. How will I do this? Baby steps. First step, I signed up for a meditation class. I am hopeful. Perhaps I will learn to trust myself and in doing so, maybe I’ll be more open to trusting others. Maybe I’ll stop being so angry about all the darkness. I think part of the problem is that we reflect our inner world onto the outer world. You feel love inside = you see love everywhere else. Like Cinderella twirling around with serenading birds and crafty mice. She was full of love and focused on what love she was given, despite being otherwise surrounded by misery. I have a life FULL of blessings but I’m so busy holding onto anger and hurt, that I view the world as a place full of angry people. I need to heal that part of me so that I can instead see all the beauty that truly surrounds me. I deserve it and everyone around me deserves it too.

I think I had other points to make but my mind is in a fog at the moment. It’s been that kind of month.

In conclusion, I’d say the past two months of this project have been very rewarding. I’m looking within, I’m trying to understand, I’m exploring who I am  and who I want to become, and I’m learning. Baby steps that will hopefully lead me to becoming a more fulfilled and happier person.

Next up is Angela’s blog. You came from  Nikki’s blog. To start at the very beginning, go to Lee’s blog. OH, and you might want to check out Kelly’s Blog as well. Her name was accidentally omitted from the hop for this month… she has a very interesting blog full of great design and insight so I definitely suggest you check out her post too.

One Little Word 2013 Blog Hop: January in Review

OLWbloghopLOGOI’m taking the One Little Word class by Ali Edwards at Big Picture Classes. It’s a year-round class and you can start anytime. Every month on the 1st you receive your prompt challenge for the month. A group of class participants are using their blogs to share their thoughts on the month’s topic.

This month I did several posts about my One Little Word. I revealed my word here. I shared how my word choice was beginning to impact my life here. I posted photos of my first month assignment here. To see all my posts listed, go to the top menu bar under “Documenting Life” and click on One Little Word.

After choosing my word and completing my first prompt, I began to focus on the intention I’d chosen for January. Authentic Self. The action phrases I chose were: Be honest with yourself; Quiet the Critics; and to Just be yourself. That’s what I want to talk about today.

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I thought it important to start the year off focusing on the heart of the matter: me. My self.

I try to be honest with myself all the time. I think the human mind is pretty tricky. It does a good job of hiding itself from the truth. Sometimes I mentally beat myself up and feel down about all my perceived failures and weaknesses. Yet there are often times when I can’t see my faults. They’re in my shadow; they’re peeking around corners; they’re hiding just out of sight. Sometimes it is hard to admit you are wrong. This month I’m trying to be more aware of all aspects of myself. Even the stuff I don’t want to see.

Which leads me to “Quiet the Critics“. The biggest critic being me. The voice in my thoughts that tells me I’m wrong, that I’m not good enough, that I’m bad. Whether it be something as simple as feeling too lazy to vacuum, or wanting to keep sleeping in the morning. It doesn’t matter that I do end up vacuuming, and that by 8am I am sipping coffee in the living room. The critic in me feels victory that I even felt lazy. What I do accomplish seems to matter little. So, it is important that I learn to find ways to lessen the impact of my inner critic. Give it a big ole SHHH!!!

Additionally, I care too much what other people think. I need to quiet those critics simply by not caring so much. My solution is to just be myself more. To not try to please, to not try to quiet my personality, but to accept myself for who I am. If I can have that inner strength and acceptance, the thoughts of others won’t matter so much. I recently read a quote that struck a chord with me. It basically said that what other people think of you is none of your business. I hadn’t really thought of it that way and it is true. It isn’t my business. I should stop being so nosy about it!

Here’s a photo of myself I took on Instagram the other day. I’m going to add it into my One Little Word album. It’s the good version of how I see my self in my mind. Nevermind the irony that it has a couple filters added to it. In my heart, this is me.

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For me, this month was about quiet observation. My goal was not to change anything about myself. Rather to consider who I think I am and observe who I actually am. It was more an evaluation and taking stock of myself so that I can decide how to navigate my year with authenticity.

Thanks for sharing in my experience. Please come back again! I might even have a goody or two to share next time.

Make sure to visit all the blogs. You came from KELLY’s Blog. Next up is VALERIE’s Blog. Be sure to hop again with us next month!

Pixels and Company… Most Super Fab Digital Store in Digiland

Am I overdoing it with the enthusiastic heading? I don’t think so. I have a guest spot on the Creative Team at Pixels and Company, a brand new digital scrapbooking store. I have to say, I’m pretty darn thrilled to be there in the presence of such talent.

Now, some of you may know that I am also a designer of scrapbooking products. So, you might wonder why I’m on a creative team. Well, I found that I was getting really tired and didn’t have any time to do my own life documenting. I have young kiddos and I want to soak in this time I have with them while they’re so young. So, I’m putting less time into my designing (for now) and using my free time for scrapbooking about my life as it is now. It is important to me to remember these moments, conversations, tidbits of joy and hardship, that make up our lives right now. I hope designing has a place in my life once my kids are both in school. For now, the scale is tipped in favour of cherishing my family life and its documentation. Being on a creative team allows me to do just that.

So, with all that said, here are some layouts I’ve made for Pixels and Company since their soft opening. Their grand opening will be on February 1st. Right now, the designers are stocking their digital shelves and there are a LOT of products on for a dollar. Starting February, get ready to see a whole bunch of brand spanking new digi goodness.

Tea Time

I used:
Heart of the Holidays Template 4 by Simply Tiffany Studios
Insta.Luv frames by Karla Dudley
Peppermint Stick Kit by Karen Funk
Caffeine Papers (and elements – button) by Robyn Meierotto

Contexual Journal Cards

Three journal cards from Simply Tiffany Studios Contextual Template Cards #1. I altered colours of layers and added a word or two. I printed on a kraft paper that has a gold shimmer to it. Then added my own embellishments and journaling.
I couldn’t get the dymo labels to focus in my photos… will have to work on that!

Everyday with You

I used:
Heart of the Story Templates Add-on Pack One by Simply Tiffany Studios
Made of Awesome Element Pack by Gennifer Bursett
Made of Awesome Paper Pack by Gennifer Bursett
Frame Essentials (BokehLuv and InstaLuv) by Karla Dudley
Everyday Life Sentiments by Karla Dudley
Splatter by Karla from Green Light Ahead

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I used Twenty13 – Calendar Cards by Robyn Meierotto
I added two photos. I selected the colour blocked parts of the card and used the selection as a mask on my photos so only part of the photos would show.
I’ll use this in my project life album. Btw, the B&W photo looks that way because there is snow on the window and the coloured looks that way because I was trying to capture the mist.

Sweet as Pie

I used:
Heart of the Story Templates Add-on Pack One by Simply Tiffany Studios
Caffeine – Papers by Robyn Meierotto
Made of Awesome Element Pack by Gennifer Bursett
Happy Holiday by Karla Dudley
Peppermint Stick – Elements by Karen Funk
Frame Essentials by Karla Dudley
Jumbo Sentiment Cards 1 by Karla Dudley

Today Jan 11, 2013

I used Made of Awesome Element Pack and Made of Awesome Paper Pack by Gennifer Bursett on a layered template called Contextual Template Cards no. 2 by Simply Tiffany Studios. I then printed it out for my project life album.

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I made a project life card with Robyn Meierotto’s Caffeine elements and a paper from her Quilting Bee v2 Digital Papers. I made the card in photoshop, printed it out and pasted it onto a project life card which has hidden journaling on the inside.

 

One Little Word… what’s the word?

Ok, so I’ve already told you my one little word is “Authentic”. What I haven’t done is shown you my intentions for the year. I made a two page 8 1/2 x 11 spread of 18 cards. Nine on one side, Nine on the other. I haven’t decided whether I want to add little month tags, or little number tags to 12 of the cards. The idea is to have an action and intention for each month. I used Odds & Ends by Cosmo Cricket for most of the cards, as well as some Thickers stickers. I handwrote “Authentic” on the 12 cards with a black marker. Then on little strips of kraft paper I made a rough banner with white marker. I outlined it in black and wrote my intention word on the banner. Then I cut out the banners and stuck them on the cards with a 3D foam sticker, for a bit of depth. I still think the cards need a bit of embellishment. When I find the right thing, I’ll finish them off.

1. The whole shebang, front and back.

2. Closeups.

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I want to fix this and I can’t.

My heart still breaks for people I don’t know. My thoughts are still on the grieving parents of Newtown. I don’t know their names.  Today, I bought 26 sympathy cards. They had the perfect sentiment. It gave the message that is in my heart. I got home and didn’t know what to do with them. I don’t know where to send them. I’m not sure I want to. Will they just be lost in the other 1000s of cards? Will they just cause more sadness? They won’t fix anything. They have no magic potion in them. They won’t reverse time. Is sending them more for my personal healing? I don’t know. My heart said to buy the cards but it isn’t saying to send them. I will wait. I will listen. I will know when to use those cards but I don’t think it is today.

In lighter news, I am thinking of my One Little Word. Last week, I changed my word from Strength to Authentic. I want to be stronger in my life. Yet, that seems like it is either something I can’t attain, or will never do well enough. What is my measure of strength? Will I always expect more of myself? Will I feel defeated because I’m too harsh a critic? I changed my word to authentic. I think if I am true to myself and to the world, I will become stronger as a result. Stronger in mind, body and soul.

Tonight, while thinking about the sympathy cards, I thought about my word. Then I thought about the word “listen” and wondered if that is the word I should have chosen. Lately, I am listening to myself more. There is a stillness within me. There is an elastic band of tension within me. There is also this deep need to make sense and to find a place in this world. Listening to myself, I’ve noticed two things:

One, I am very angry and short tempered. I am cursing in my thoughts when I didn’t before. I am stewing. It shows outwardly in my furrowed brow. More importantly, it shows to my daughter. Yesterday, she told me I had my sad face on. I didn’t realize I had. I guess she was seeing how I felt, and it wasn’t pretty.

Two, I’m looking for answers within. I’m listening to my heart when it tells me to do something, and I’m not reacting when it is silent. I am patiently waiting until my heart responds again. It might even be possible I am building empathy for myself. Possibly. Respect for myself. Important.

I laughed when I pondered the idea of changing my word again. I’m not going to change it but it amused me to think I’d even have that thought. I realized that again, my word “authentic” is busy at work threading itself into my thoughts and actions. I am being my word. I am being authentic by listening and responding to myself. I can’t be real if I don’t even know who I am, now can I?

Having One Little Word has made me more aware of words in general. I am very curious to see where this project takes me. It feels a bit like an experiment.

I can’t control the world, I can’t fix horribly sad events and heartbreak, and I’m struggling to see meaning, goodness, and beauty in this world. I don’t know what to DO. I don’t know what to think. I don’t know how to make peace. Yet, I have to say, this project gives me hope. I think there is beauty and goodness in taking a word and living it with intent, in hopes of improving life for oneself and others. Having hope is a very good thing. I know because my heart just told me so.

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One Little Word 2013

I’ve been aware of “One Little Word” for a number of years. OLW is a year long online class by Ali Edwards. You choose a word that reflects what you want for the year. This is the first year I’m taking the class. Around 6 or so years ago, I did choose a word. At the time, I thought of it as more of a mantra word to focus on. The word was “endurance”. I printed it out and stuck it on my office wall at work. I needed that word.

I’ve been a fan of  Ali Edwards for a long time. First in scrapbook magazines, and then online. I admire her writing style and talent for memory keeping and teaching. She seems like a very genuine person. I took her class 31 Things last year. It was one of the best classes I’d ever taken. So, I was really motivated to take her OLW class. Each month there is a different focus on the word we’ve chosen for ourselves.

I had chosen the word “Strength” for 2013. For a number of reasons, I need more strength in my life. I thought it was an appropriate word but I wasn’t feeling very passionate about it. It seemed a bit daunting and overwhelming. I wanted a word with calmness attached and strength felt a bit too cold. I thought maybe I was scared to embrace the challenge inherent in the word. Maybe. Either way, I’d committed to the word and had no intentions of changing it.

Then last night, I wrote a blog post. I talked all about “shoulds”. After I posted it, my husband and I were discussing what I had said as I’m sharing a lot of heartfelt vulnerabilities with the world on this blog. I said it was important to me to be honest about how I feel. I need to be smart about what I choose to say to the world, but I also want to be authentic. Then it hit me. That is my word. Authentic. Strength was my “should” word. I feel so much better about my word now. Authentic is the warm word I wanted. I’m excited about exploring it more. Now I just need to redo my project life cards as that is the medium I’m using to document my OLW.

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