Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I Found My Word For 2010

I have been torn this year about what word to select to guide the next year (2010). Since doing this word selection process for the past several years, it has really helped me focus and direct my energies toward a theme. Last year's word which was "Priorities" worked pretty well all year long until the Fall, when I seemed to lose my priorities in a flurry of bus-y-ness and problems, and allowed myself to get swept away into doing URGENT things that didn't necessarily match with my priorities. So it worked, but sometimes juggling my priorities and the expectations of the rest of the world required some Flexibilty. By year's end, I was just scrambling to get stuff down however it could get done, one day at a time, and I let my own priorities go to hell in a hand basket, which is one reason my life feels a bit chaotic and out of control right now.

So what about this year? I've had the feeling that this coming year is going to be about making MORE from what I already have, or finding something valuable in myself or my surroundings that I'd long buried or forgotten about. Hidden Treasures. I have this feeling that there's all sorts of hidden treasure in what I already have.

My word to guide me in finding this hidden treasure is FIND. Not SEARCH because it's already there. I just need to open my eyes and find it.

The first thing I'm going to do to find stuff (inner stuff) is to do some serious reflecting, in the way of meditation and journaling. And the outer stuff, that will be found by doing some sorting and organzing, starting this long weekend.

So if you can't FIND me, watch for my head to pop out of a pile - because there's a lot of buried stuff I hope to be sifting through. I'll let you know what I FIND.

Now what's your word/phrase or guiding idea for this coming year?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

White Christmas Blizzard

It can stop snowing. Anytime now.

What started off as dreamy and fun yesterday is getting really OLD today, especially when the street crews have done such a terrible job of clearing the roads.

I enjoyed staying inside for several days but ended up a little cabin feverish and after eating a few too many homemade Christmas cookies, I got ahold of myself and got back in control again. I got a lot of exercise shoveling the driveway.

We went to see the new Sherlock Holmes movie with Robert Downey Jr. It was TERRIFIC. I loved it. The Victorian time period is my favorite, and I've always been a fan of Sherlock. And this Sherlock in particular. The plot is fast-paced and interesting, and the casting of Holmes and Watson are first rate.

Oh, I also made a pair of these French Press Slippers. Yarn Harlot blogged about them and made them a huge sensation and after making a pair, I see why. What's not to love about something you can knit in just a few hours? Seriously? They are adorable and easy.

Size 15 needles!! If you watch two movies in a row, you can have them finished, including seaming. Then you just felt them. I made mine with Plymouth Galway yarn in medium green. It took 4 washings to get them the size I want. My feet are really small. In the photo, the slippers look light green, but that's just because of the flash. They are actually a medium tweedy green.

Happy (Belated) Birthday, Elysbeth!!!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas Everyone!

We are having a big ice and now snow storm here in the Midwest. We kept expecting it to hit earlier today, but it came tonight instead. Not sure how much we will get, but it will definitely be a white Christmas. Yeah! It's nice to be cozy and stuck inside on a holiday night like this where we really don't have to be anywhere. Home is the best place to be.

We had my Mom over for a wonderful meal together and we all sat around enjoying being together. What fun! It was great being off work today all day, so we had an early Christmas Eve so Emily could go to work.

I received some really neat Christmas presents.

I adore these really cute pair of Dansko shoes Bob bought me. What I like about it is the fact that I looked at a similar pair two years ago last fall and ended up not getting them. He remembered that I liked them and found a darling pair in black, brown and glitzy with litttle paisley designs on them. How did he remember that paisleys are a favorite? Very sweet. And they are SO comfortable. I love these shoes. They are funky, cute, and comfortable.

I also got a fabulous bath set from Emmy as well as a cute little fountain that will help me avoid workplace stress.

The best gift of all is simply being together.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

This is Why I Like a Portable Wheel

It gets no better than this - being able to share my love of spinning with my Grammy Ferne who first taught me to appreciate crafts of all kinds. She loves knitting, spinning, weaving, painting, soapmaking, paper mache, sewing. Gosh, I can't think of a craft she didn't at least explore. You name it, she did it!

These photos were taken last week when I went to the nursing home to visit her. She celebrated her 94th birthday last Tuesday.

To the left of my shoulder in the last photo, you may be able to see a small woven wallhanging that she made years ago. She absolutely loves both spinning and weaving. And maybe I shouldn't mention it now, but I've been bitten a bit by the weaving bug myself lately.

Love you Grammy.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Taking off the Gloves

The Holidays can be really conflict-ridden and this year, I thought I'd FOR ONCE cleared the hurdle and not gotten in any heated incidents on the homefront, but alas, we didn't quite escape.

With the pressure of two birthdays and the holidays to plan, my daughter and I had an argument the night before her birthday. I must say though, we resolved it and all is well now.

Still, I am convinced that holidays lend themselves especially to conflict because they often involve typical stress-producing landmines such as: 1) time deadlines; 2) inflated expectations, 3) mix up in communication due to the frenzy of rushing around trying to meet those inflated expectations; and last but not least, 4) taking whatever miscommunication that occurs personally and overreacting to whatever slight the other person may or may not have intended.

There are also a few communication bugaboos that OFTEN get us in trouble in communicating with others, regardless of what time of year we use them.

NEVER/ALWAYS - these words seem to create a negative climate with ourselves and others. And plus they just aren't true. When was the last time you ALWAYS or NEVER experienced anything? They are exaggerations at best; at worst, they often lead to judgmental statements and views of another person, and they make the whole situation seem hopeless.

SHOULD - this points the finger and gives other people added things on THEIR "to do" list which can create a real blow up. Regardless of whether you are "shoulding" all over yourself or someone else, it only adds emotional pressure and doesn't help performance one iota.

You Statements - Saying, "You did this to me", instead of motivating change in another, often creates defensiveness and hostility. Instead, use "I" statements, since you can really only know what's going on inside your own head and not anyone else's.

In summary, to survive the holidays:

Don't take things personally.

Don't expect too much.

Keep it simple.

If you or anyone else has a holiday meltdown, forgive and forget as soon as possible.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Happy Birthday - Is she REALLY 18?

Happy Birthday Emily. I really really really can't believe it.


Oh gosh, you're officially grown up.

We had a great party at Dave and Busters with all her friends and it was a blast for everyone.

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Mental Snapshot of Hope

After living nearly fifty years, I've come to the conclusion that it's not the big things in life that really make a difference. It's the small everyday things. What gives me the most hope are things like what I witnessed today while on my lunch break from work:

Lunch at a fast food restaurant - a major chain that serves Mexican food. A little old ancient man who was so frail he could barely lift his taco to his mouth. A young man, maybe college age at most, was eating with what I presume was an outing with his Grandfather. The little old gentleman was dressed up in a sport coat, with a little bow tie at his neck. As the two ate together, the man pulled out his grocery list as well as his Christmas gift list and discussed it with his grandson who was apparently taking him shopping for his items.

The young man was so patient and loving with the older man. It really made emotions well within me. I fought the urge to go up to the young man and say, "You are so kind and decent." But I held back.

I remain mesmerized as they finally made their way out of the restaurant, the older man linked to a portable oxygen tank and the young one kindly leading his Grandfather out, clinging to his arm to the car.

What's a more holiday honoring sight than that? A showing of real kindness and caring that is such a gift no one can buy?

So I hold a mental snapshot of those two men in my mind's eye to shore up hope on days when I see a less charming side of humanity. There's hope. It's there. You just have to look.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Mr. Piano Man

When Bob had this extra time on his hands recently, aside from job hunting, which he is doing plenty of, he mentioned that he'd really like to learn to play the piano. We've had a piano sitting around for many years gathering dust. He's always wanted to play piano but never did. I always wanted to play piano and did it briefly when we were first married, many years ago, but I only took lessons for about a year and then my music teacher retired. That's why we had the piano in the first place. And then Emily took lessons for a while, but she too, didn't stick with it.

So I signed Bob up for lessons about a month ago. He really loves it. As he was practicing, I too was drawn in and now we are BOTH taking lessons together. It's really really fun!

We're both still at the "kiddy song" stage of learning, although I remember a bit from before, so I probably have an easier time than he does. But still, we're both fairly raw in our music knowledge. We are learning to read notes and chords together and everything. We have flashcards.

We also have been watching music lessons on the internet. Much of the stuff we're finding is just an extended sales ploy, but we landed on one young man who does a terrific job of teaching, and he has a whole series of free lessons which have been very helpful in advancing our understanding of music theory. His name is Andrew Furmanczyk http://www.howtoplaypiano.ca .

This guy is a genius and a fantastic teacher. Wow are we impressed with these lessons. He makes learning even more fun - the enthusiasm he shows for piano is absolutely infectious. So I recommend these lessons to anyone who is interested in piano - especially for beginners.

So now I ask: what have you always wanted to do? For me, on the Bucket List remains: learning Spanish, learning how to play Bridge. Maybe there are things you'd like to try to. There are many others, but I won't bore you with the whole list! Now that we have the Internet to guide us, it's even easier to learn a new skill or hobby. What's left in your Bucket?