Sunday, January 31, 2010

GIT N 'er Done

Can you believe it?! One month gone - a twelfth of the year behind us already. And how am I doing on my GOALS for year? Like as if you'd care or be even remotely interested Well, since I really am only talking to myself up here anyway, I will share how I'm doing.

Very well indeed, thank you:)

I have honed in on my real needs & desires and am moving forward quite nicely. Thanks to an 'ah-hah' moment while watching David Letterman one night, I'm limiting myself to the TOP TEN. For me to only expect myself to deal with ten things for the year is a major exercise in focus. Okay, I confess - each of those ten things have ten things, but that's still a major culling for me.

One of the important tools that I've implemented is to meet regularly with a couple of like-minded friends who have the same need & intention to move forward efficiently and productively. We are scheduling bi-weekly meetings to chart our individual progress and hold each other accountable for our own, self-chosen plan.

We meet in neutral ground (a coffee shop) & have a time limit for presenting our individual needs & intentions, reporting on how we're doing and getting feedback or advice/help/encouragement. We have a high expectation of each other for results & accountability. We have christened ourselves GIT, as in Get It Together. Our first meeting was 'GIT N' ... Gettin' It Together NOW'. You should see us at the coffee shop with our papers & journals & coloured pens spread all over the table- just as intent on the business at hand as the professionals with their business clothes & cell phones & laptops.

At our GIT meeting this week I will be able to report that I have been successful in my goal of having three entire rooms dunged out - purged & edited, with empty spaces allowing for new things that may come into my life. I will also be able to say that I have made it through one full month of posting consistently on The Daily Muse.

In celebration of that, I am having a BLOG GIVEAWAY on that site. All you have to do is leave me a quote & your name will be entered in a draw for ten cards of your choice. It goes on until February 15th, so do stop by and share your wisdom.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Whale and Proud Of It!

There is so much cool stuff that goes flying around the e-waves. Amazing photography, great wit and wisdom - stuff that is remarkable, touching, funny, inspiring. Something that otherwise would have remained relatively obscure, can achieve instant fame as it's viewed by millions.

My big issue & regret about that though, is that very rarely, if ever, is the person who is responsible for that creativity given credit.

You know from my other blog, that I have been a Quote Collector forever. I especially value the ones where the source has been documented. It's not only a matter of giving credit where credit is due, but to me it also gives it credence and validation. If I have to put 'unknown or anonymous', even though it's a good quote, it loses something for me.

It seems more so now, likely because of the speed and ease that everything gets out into the world, that we are destined to not know the source of so many wonderful thoughts & inspiring images and creativity. There are beautiful photographs that I wonder whose eye caught that moment. And entertaining or thoughtful writings that I wish I knew whose mind came up with it. When it used to take time for things like that to receive their audience, the author or artist could be identified. Now it just takes a 'cut & paste' and off it goes. I do hope that we can soon adjust to this new world & learn to ensure that we somehow do get the names that go with the remarkable creative efforts.

This big ponderance all because of a forward I got from my friend yesterday. I loved it and laughed out loud. I so wish I knew who this woman is - I'd send her an email saying "AMEN SISTER!"

Here it is, without proper credit, which I do regret - but I've got to share it ...

Recently, in a large city in France, a poster featuring a young, thin and tan woman appeared in the window of a gym. It said, "This summer, do you want to be a mermaid or a whale?"

A middle-aged woman,
whose physical characteristics did not match those of the woman on the poster, responded publicly to the question posed by the gym.

To Whom It May Concern,
Whales are always surrounded by friends (dolphins, sea lions, curious humans.)
They have an active sex life, get pregnant and have adorable baby whales. They have a wonderful time with dolphins stuffing themselves with shrimp. They play and swim in the seas, seeing wonderful places like
Patagonia, the Bering Sea and the coral reefs of Polynesia .

Whales are wonderful singers and have even recorded CDs. They are incredible creatures and virtually have no predators other than humans. They are loved, protected and admired by almost everyone in the world.

Mermaids don't exist.

If they did exist, they would be lining up outside the offices of Argentinean psychoanalysts due to identity crisis. Fish or human? They don't have a sex life because they kill men who get close to them, not to mention how could they have sex? Just look at them ... where is IT? Therefore, they don't have kids either. Not to mention, who wants to get close to a girl who smells like a fish store?

The choice is perfectly clear to me:
I want to be a whale.

P..S. We are in an age
when media puts into our heads the idea that only skinny people are beautiful, but I prefer to enjoy an ice cream with my kids, a good dinner with a man who makes me shiver, and a piece of chocolate with my friends.

With time, we gain weight because we accumulate so much information and wisdom in our heads that when there is no more room, it distributes out to the rest of our bodies. So we aren't heavy, we are enormously cluttered, educated and happy.

Beginning today, when I look at my butt in the mirror I will think, ¨Good grief, look how smart I am!¨

So there it is ... I'm not heavy ... I'm cluttered!!

Monday, January 25, 2010

I Would

I don't find January long or dull, but if I did, I know exactly what I would do. I would gather up a bunch of interesting, like-minded women and I'd go off to a cozy, secluded place in the woods and talk & eat & play. And eat & play & talk. And play & talk & eat.

We would share art techniques, books that we have read, places & food we've enjoyed and stories. Many, many stories. We would share our ideas, our plans, what we have done, what we could do, what we should do, what we might do. We would laugh much and often.

We would have a place to create - a little nest in the woods, with a crackling wood stove & smoke wafting up from the chimney, just like in a painted winter scene. It would be warm & inviting and as you opened the door you would hear laughter and see many women bent intently above their projects. You would sense the camaraderie shared by kindred spirits and feel a creative energy tying all the those souls together.

The woods would be enchanted with the sound of the music of a babbling brook as it tumbled down over little ice sculpted water falls. Beyond that, there would be silence. Blissful, treasured silence. The long shadows, cast by the winter sun would produce a pleasing monochromatic design on the soft blanket of snow that would add to the artistry and the hush.

We would have our own private, wonderful chef prepare gourmet meals and again there would be laughter and the sharing of stories. Nourishment for the body and the soul. Then off we'd go, with not a worry about doing dishes or cleaning up ... back through the woods; back to our projects, back to more laughter, back - back to pleasure of creating.

Our time would be solely devoted to Creation ... the creation of art, the creation of friendships, the creation of memories to warm our hearts through the rest of the long winter days. There would be no talk of doom & gloom, no politics, no television, no issues ... just happy, glorious, wonderful creation.

Yes, I would surround myself with awesome & inspiring women ... fun, energizing, supportive, encouraging women whose generous spirits and positive energy would be a beacon of sunshine that would travel from one to another to another and back again. A common thread stitching us together in a Sisterhood of Creativity.

That is indeed what I would I do to feed my spirit on a winter weekend in the dead of January.

I would. I did.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Happy Birthday Aunt Ruth!

A remarkable woman in my life was born 93 years ago today. She was my grandparent's last child, my Dad’s baby sister; she is the mother of six, grandmother of eleven, aunt of a couple dozen and friend of countless.

She is my beacon - the living proof that aging does not have to be a scary thing. That it is indeed possible to have a full, rich, healthy and vibrant life well into your nineties.

For her 87th birthday, she had a 'Celebration of Life' party - 29 years single, 29 years married & 29 years widowed. She gave every one of her children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, beautiful handmade quilts that she had been working on over her lifetime. For her 90th birthday, the women in her life - daughters, daughter in law, nieces and some friends, gathered for a lovely luncheon. She made each of us hand knit slippers and went around the table and told what each one of us meant in her life.

I still chuckle about what she said of me - that by the time I came along, she though 'oh big deal another niece'. She really didn't come to know me at all back then, but now she thought of 'Newfoundland' & we weren't done with that yet. Indeed - she has been there twice more since her 90th birthday.

I love her sense of spirit and adventure. Each time I called to see if she wanted to come to Newfoundland, which is in fact a pretty big trip from here for anyone - there was not a single moment of hesitation, in wondering whether she was free or able - it was an instantaneous "YES!" In fact, one of her motto's in life is "If someone asks you to go somewhere, GO. Or they stop asking."

On this summer's adventure, she enthusiastically embraced the opportunity to dress up in curtains & be surprise Mummers at a public concert, which included much dancing and making a fool of ourselves. And while my other two, much-younger guests, were not interested in going to two concerts in a row - one not starting until about 10 pm, she immediately said 'I'll go!', and the two of us had the most wonderful time. She became famous in the town last summer, with total strangers coming up to us, saying 'Is this Aunt Ruth? I've heard about her. During that trip she also suggested that we have a sharing circle by candle light, down in one of the little outbuildings, which we did two nights in a row til past 2 am. It was not only the most wonderful memory, but it is the beginning of a new tradition of doing that with all my friends who come out there.
We have spent many hours, well into the wee hours, talking about all kinds of things - family history of course, but also life in general. When I talk to her, I sense no age at all - there is no 'elderliness' in her voice or her manner or her attitude. Or certainly in the way she gets around - I can hardly keep up with the woman.

Yes, indeed - she brings a smile to my heart. For her I wish many, many more happy & healthy years. For all of us, I wish the spirit & enthusiasm for life that my dear Aunt Ruth has. Happy Birthday, m'love.

This last picture is of another dear, wonderful & sweet lady in my life - my adopted 'Nan' from Newfoundland, who will be 99 in April.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

My Sweet Katie

In 1986 I had surgery on my vocal chords. The Doctor said that if I promised that I would not speak one single word, I didn't have to stay in the hospital. A mammoth challenge for me, but I solemnly agreed.

The anesthetic made me groggy & I went into a deep sleep when I got home. When I awoke, the house was dark and quiet. With four children under ten, 'quiet' was a totally foreign concept to me. I thought that I had died and gone to Heaven. I got cozy with a cup of tea, blankets and a pile of magazines & was set to enjoy some rare solitude.

I hadn't heard them leave & there was no note to say where they went. It was just dark. And quiet. For about five minutes I thoroughly enjoyed it. Then I got antsey, wondering where they could be, what if there was some emergency ... it was not like Brian to load up four kids & go off somewhere. I had myself pretty well worked up by the time they came in - the kids all excited, saying 'Come See! Come See!'

Since I was not allowed to speak, I couldn't even ask where they'd been or why they were dragging me out to the barn at that time of night.

When I walked in, there was the sweetest, beautiful, tiny little baby donkey. Brian said that he had been reading the paper & saw an advertisement for the donkey (which was extremely rare back then - still is actually). He decided he would go and get her for me, as a 'Get Well' present, instead of flowers. You can well imagine how difficult that was to express my surprise, my delight, my gratitude with no voice. Especially with a bunch of excited kids waiting for a reaction.

That was the day that Katie came to be part of our family. She had the most beautiful, gentle, doeful eyes. That was her personality too - so sweet & gentle. When everyone else is pushing & trying to get right up front for the treats, she'd stand back, patiently waiting her turn. She was like that with her babies too - low key & calm. She so loved being a mother & has enjoyed her little Jack Jenkins who was born on August 2nd this summer.

Last week, I lost my beloved, long-eared friend. I guess it was a heart attack - sudden & unexpected. It's hard for me to not see her out there with the rest of my dear donkeys. Every time I look out the window, my heart falls. She's been part of our lives for almost a quarter of a century. And it's particularly hard is to see wee little J.J., laying out there all by himself, wondering I'm sure, why his mom is not right beside him. Oh yes, so hard. So very hard.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


I found it. My word for the year.
A couple years ago, I heard of something that really appealed to me: to choose a single word for year and have it for your own. Having a love affair with words, I thought 'How cool! That will certainly bring me focus'. The word SEE came to me immediately. My intention was to create something deep, meaningful & inspirational around my word & carry it with me to let it center & guide me throughout the entire year. I was so excited about the possibilities, sure that my word would take me to great inner depths, to an insight and wisdom that would surely inspire and ignite my spirit. That was January & February. To be perfectly honest, the next time that I thought about My Word was January 1st this year, when it was time to choose a new one. All part of my 'Take-a-half-a-minute-to-put-my-life-in-order' Annual Project.

Now, it would not occur to me that because I had failed to do anything with last year's word, that it was an exercise in futility & unnecessary to choose a word for this year. No, when I like a concept, I stick with it. However, I was a little disappointed in myself that I hadn't taken advantage of it as much as I could have & should have. When I got to thinking about it though, I found that I actually had I lived my word last year - unconsciously it would seem, which makes it even more significant. It was not forced; it became me in such a natural way - such a comfortable fit that I didn't have to spend time fabricating it, assessing or judging my performance.

When I look back now, I am aware of many times last year that I did see, in a much different way than I have before - with great depth & appreciation & intention. I have always loved the palette of the sky, but last year I was in even greater awe & appreciation of it and more than once found myself pulling over on the side of the road to look closer and longer. To SEE it. I have never purposefully come to a full stop before; I have noticed it & enjoyed it & been grateful as I sped along. My word last year was not Look, but SEE - and for a thousand reasons now, I know that it was the right word.

When I didn't immediately have a word this year, I wasn't at all concerned. I don't believe that you can manufacture your word - it's not a Word Search - it has to find you. I knew that I would know My Word when I heard it. And sure enough, it found me yesterday. Totally out of the blue when my mind was no where in that vicinity. I was driving along with the radio on, not actually listening to it, when a word jumped out of whatever conversation was going on. "THAT'S MY WORD!" I said out loud. "EMBRACE". I LOVE that word! I love the image of it, the feel of it, the infinite number of possibilities with it.

I came home & started my list: Embrace LIFE, Embrace FREEDOM, Embrace OPPORTUNITY, Embrace POSSIBILITY, Embrace SILENCE.... it goes on & on with such positive energy that it ignites my spirit at the same time as it wraps it in warmth & care & comfort. I do SO love that word.

This morning, I opened my Book of Words. Just single words that I jot down randomly because I like them, for no particular reason other than I do. I might like the connotation, the place my mind goes when I hear them, or I might just like the way they sound. Like 'Indigo' ... I just like it. And there on the page, the very first word on the list is Embrace. Is that not a sign that it meant to be My Word this year?

Now that I think of it, my opening line here is wrong ... it should not be "I found it." but: She found me.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Three Line Novel

It's been quite pleasant to have time to read the newspaper, something that I haven't been able to do for a few months. I have found all kinds of tidbits that have sparked my interest and got me to thinking. Like I really need one more spark, I've got an inferno going on in my head as it is.

There was a review of Felix Feneon's 'NOVELS IN THREE LINES' - a collection of over a thousand 3 line stories that were published in a French newspaper in the early 1900s. It got me to thinking ... could I possibly be able to say something with such brevity. I think perhaps not, but it sure would be a good exercise for me to try.

I have decided to combine it with the other exercise that I attempted last year and failed. Sounds promising, ehe. I intended to create something each day, using one of the hundreds of wonderful quotes that I have collected for decades. Either from a photo that I've taken or something hands on, like a collage, an ink creation, and ATC or an Inchie. It lasted for four whole days. Of course I did create a fair number because that's the focus of my Photo Art line, but I did not do it with consistency.

I can be fairly focused and productive when there is an expectation, but let me loose and I'm off in some other direction and I forget to re-visit my original intention. One of my New Year - New Decade objectives revolves around FOCUS & RESULT.

And so, right here, right now, I am announcing that I am up there swinging again - going to try to get past four days. I am publicly committing to have a photo/creation for each day of this entire year and have created a blog simply for that.

An even bigger challenge for me is to keep it to a SNIPPET - three, and only three lines. If Felix could write a whole novel and get his idea across with that, then surely I can. I will continue to get my fill of yattering here:)

So don't be afraid to visit. I promise, it will be quick! And if you notice me slacking off & falling behind, or getting too wordy ... call me on it!

The Daily Muse:

By the way - if any of the images speak to you, they can be ordered as cards or photos.

Saturday, January 2, 2010


Oh my gosh ... I can't believe it!!!
For the first time in the history of Me, I am on the cutting edge! I am on the right side of a trend!!
In the Pot Belly Pig days, by the time I got one and paid more than I would care to admit to, the bottom fell out of the market and they were giving them away. In fact people begged us to give them homes - free.

Same with the miniature hedgehogs that I used to raise. As soon as the male died, the prices went through the roof and I couldn't afford to replace him, so Tiggy Winkle went husbandless and I went babyless.

We imported Beanie Babies before anyone in Canada even heard of TY, and wound up selling them for half price just to get rid of them. We got $2.50 for ones that later went for $800. I still had an original catalogue which was worth over $300, but apparently has no value whatsoever when some of the pictures have been cut out.

And I'm afraid I must confess - I am personally responsible for Black October back in 1987. I happened to invest in the stock market for the first time in September.

So imagine my utter delight to read a headline in today's paper: "Versatile turquoise the "it" colour for 2010".
I'm there!

This spring, I made the bold move of re-doing the walls of our home in Newfoundland. I so loved the way that the kitchen already looked, loved the old wallpaper and have dragged my feet about changing it for a few years. After finally admitting to myself that the time had come, I stripped it and discovered wall panelling beneath. I smooshed and mooshed dry wall compound all over it.
In Newfoundland, one of the most incredible, beautiful sights are the icebergs that swim through the ocean right behind us. They were my inspiration for colour choice.

When I base painted it turquoise, Brian commented that it looked like his Grandmother's house from the 1960s. He remarked: "Usually, everything you do looks pretty good, but I don't think you're going to pull this one out of the fire."

I must admit, it was quite reminiscent of the 60's and 70's - in fact, the mohair throw on the chair is one that we bought for Brian's Mom in 1978. Of course, I never had any intention of using just one colour. I added lime green and another blue. Whoa. That was a little more vibrancy than our humble little Salt Box house kitchen could handle. So I washed the whole thing with white & have waited patiently for it to grow on me.

The jury was still out for the most part. When my sister visited this summer, she didn't comment. It wasn't like she didn't notice the change, so I came right out and asked her: "How do you like my paint job?" Her response: "I don't." But my artistic, creative friends greeted it with great enthusiasm - jubilantly, joyful. "It's totally different", they agreed, "But we love it! It's fresh & happy." "It's Iceberg" I shared. "Of course it is!" they confirmed.
I have quietly pondered the scenarios - whether it was the difference between artsy folk & someone who leans towards the more conservative; or between someone who takes comfort in having things remain the same & those who embrace change; or simply the difference between the outright, forthright blunt honesty that a sister can get away with or the unconditional cheerleading of friends. But as it turns out, none of that matters ... I just happened to be on the cusp of a trend.
It says & I quote: "This blue-green shade of cyan based on the gem turquoise is the hue that stylemakers everywhere will be suggesting that you wear and bring home this year." It goes on to say: 'Turquoise is associated with faithfulness, truth and constancy, it is a cheery colour, known to give us more confidence and a sense of youthfulness.' What better way to go into the new decade. Cheers to turquoise!!!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Two thousand & Ten, Begin Again.

On January 1st, every year, I do the same exact thing. I write down my goals for the coming year and assess the ones from the previous year to see how I've done. Now, perhaps if I had a peek at them at any other point during the year, I might actually be reminded and act towards them. And then again, likely not.
Year after year after year after year, they are, for the most part, exactly the same. They all revolve around writing, photographs, purging and getting a handle on various aspects of my life. Last year I pared down the expectations and tried to be more specific. Instead of the 'Write family history' from the '08 list (and '07 & 6 & 5 etc), I put: 'Write at least 3 chapters of family history.' Did I? Nope. Did I organize my photos, which has been on my list since 1979? Nope. Did I get to tick off a single one of the things that I had listed. Nope. Did paring it down to 9 from the previous year's 20 help? Nope. Knowing that I will do my list today & will most likely have the same exact result, will I scrap the exercise. Nope. Will I put down some fresh ideas instead of carrying the same ones that I've been carting along for two decades. Highly unlikely. They are important things that I really, truly do need to & want to accomplish. Yes, I am quite aware that I am not getting any younger & I am not going to be here forever. To be sure, I will be right ticked if they have to bury me with my same To Do list.
So ... today is not to focus on Goals, but on Strategy.