Sunday, March 29, 2009

Finding the Ray of Sunshine

"Understanding that
heavy things can't fly,
she let go of what was weighing on her heart,
the things she could no more control than carry,
and she gave herself a chance,
a chance to reach to reach into the unassuming blue,
to embrace the possibility of an open sky,
with an open heart.
She gave herself a chance to soar."
~Jodi Hills, An Imperfect Life

Pardon my absence, but it's been a trying week. Did you ever notice how hard it is to watch people in agony? For me, it's impossible. I'd love to take all the worry and hurt and disappointment and struggle away from some people, and carry the burden myself.

Here's to a new week, a week filled with the promise of goodness and wonder.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

School on Sunday

"Forgive us our sins,
as we forgive those who sin against us."
Matthew 6:12

So, do you have someone in your life whom you just can't seem to forgive? I mean, really, truly forgive? It's hard. It can be difficult. Sometimes it may even be next to impossible.

I listened to a really inspiring sermon today. Going along with the past couple of weeks, our minister has been preaching on the topic: Learning to Pray with the Master. Very interesting. Very inspiring.

As a child, I remember learning The Lord's Prayer, and feeling so smart when we recited it aloud in church. I knew all the words by heart, and could proudly stand amongst the congregation members and boldly profess my prayer like a real grown-up. In my over-active mind, I was so polished and accomplished...

I guess I thought the words were like magic.... Abra-Cadabra!.... I never took the time to ponder the significance and decode the message.

So, anyway, as he talked it all started to make sense. "Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us."

It was interesting to listen as the minister explained that we expect God to forgive us, but that we pray the prayer, " we forgive those that sin against us."

I began to contemplate...humm... I can't expect God to do something, that I myself, am not willing to do. If I want to be forgiven, I must also forgive.

Do I honestly forgive others? Do I really forgive the people I feel have wronged me, or crumbled the hearts of those I care about, or shattered the lives of innocent children?

If God is going to forgive me, I must also truly forgive those who have casued hurt and anger on my end. Seems like a good deal, huh?

I'm sure it's not going to be the easiest thing ever, but I am going to give it my best shot.

I've gotta jet. I have a few grudges I must let go (wink*).

Friday, March 20, 2009

Happy Spring to You

"Awake, thou wintry earth -Fling off thy sadness!
Fair vernal flowers, laugh forth
Your ancient gladness!
~Thomas Blackburn

Welcome to a season of new beginnings. A season where fresh starts and new outlooks are possible.

Did you ever notice that during this time of year people magically appear more pleasant? What a fabulous gift- kind, gracious, positive people! Suddenly, as the newest buds pop from wakening branches and magenta crocuses burst from green cocoons, smiles begin to light the faces of young and old alike. In our self-centered world, people with some "spring" in their step really do add some sunshine to the lives of others.
In thinking about the dawning of a new season, a season filled with the promise of growth and change, I can't help but wonder about the blooming opportunities my life may hold.

There are so many things I contemplate.
There are so many things I wonder about.
There are so many things I am capable of, yet am afraid to undertake.

Am I using my talents in a way that I feel best reaches others?
Am I truly tapping my creative juices?
Am I following my intuition?

What if I changed things up?
What if I followed that ridiculous, insane dream that I constantly envision ?
What if I took more chances?

Yep, it's a definite season of new beginnings. Isn't it fantastic? (smile*) Happy, happy, happy spring. May yours be simply wonderful!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Fulfilling My Promise: A Picture of Possiblity

"I dwell in possibility."
~ Emily Dickinson
Can't you just picture it~quietly lounging on that oh-so-sweet sun porch with refreshing glass of lemonade? Or, perhaps it's evening, the sun is setting, and you're settling in with a cup of coffee, the evening newspaper, and your trusty little dog. Do you envision a little lamp burning on a wicker end table, while a few vanilla scented candles permeate the air?

Maybe it's a rainy morning. The smell of damp grass and morning fog gently creep between the nooks and crannies of the deteriorating boards. You are nestled amongst the pillowed chaise-lounge and an antique quilt. The quilt is made of tattered yellow and baby-pink fabrics.

The leaves are falling and the porch finds itself adorned with mums and pumpkins and a few cornstalks. Children come to trick-or-treat and find a hospitable resting place, complete with warm apple cider and homemade pumpkin gobs. They take a candy-collecting break, talk about where to go for the best treats, and scope out their current stash. A jack-o-lantern glows through the windows, silently greeting all who enter or pass by with a friendly smile.

As the days grow shorter and the snow begins to fall, tiny white candle lights appear in every window. They create a feeling of calm and comfort as they assist in preparation for a long and cold winter. The porch proudly sports a real Christmas tree, complete with twinkle lights, hand-strung popcorn, and crafty little ornaments. Boughs of pine and holly and garland complete the yuletide decor.

Oh geez- you don't even want me to get started on the living room and the kitchen and the cute backyard patio.

Can't you just picture it though? Wouldn't you want to spend a quiet weekend nestled at the end of this delightfully sweet street?

Pot of Gold: Imagination

May you always walk in sunshine.
May you never want for more.
May Irish angels rest their wings right beside your door.
- Irish Blessing
I've always had an active imagination. However, sometimes I'm not sure if it's imagination or insanity that takes over my mind.

The little house above has a special significance to me and to this St. Patrick's Day. You see, when I was a wee one, and would accompany my parents for summer evening walks, we would routinely pass by this tiny structure.

Ever the curious child, I would always ask about who it was that lived in that little house. My parents, for whatever reason, told me that the little neighborhood leprechauns resided inside.

For years and years I believed this to be true. It seemed completely logical. It was the perfect size for minute little green men and their pots of gold.

Every time we would stroll past, I'd stare, crane my neck, and do everything in my power to catch a glimpse of these fun little people. I never did see one, but continued to believe my parents' claim.

Over the years, it has sported numerous paint schemes, had different flowers gracing the window boxes, and donned many sets of curtains. However, one thing hasn't changed. No matter how many times I jog past it or walk by with Charlie, or drive my car hastily by, I always think about those tiny magical men.

And, I'll admit it- I always look twice.

(*Note- It's actually a gardening shed. Too cute, huh? I sure wish I had one that was euqally spiffy.*)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Pot of Gold: Green Sprouts and Dirt Therapy

"Green is the prime color of the world, and that from which its loveliness arises."
~ Pedro Calderon de la Barca
I'm beyond relieved. To be honest, I know God is really looking out for my gardening self-esteem.

Remember when I carefully and tenderly planted those pretty little packets of lavender seeds? Thankfully, after much delicate spraying, plenty of sunshine, a warm temperature, and lots of TLC, the first sprouts are sprouting!

I also took some time this evening to plant some of the cuttings that have been patiently rooting on my sunny windowsill. It was gratifying to see them in their new homes. I'm quite certain they were tired of lounging in tiny vases of high quality H2O. It was time. They were finally mature. They needed to move on.

Why is playing in the dirt such a satisfying adventure? humm.... Being that I am often classified as a neat-freak, this seems to be a serious contradiction. Oh well, I'm a difficult creature to figure out.

Blessings and Luck.

Keep growing little seeds. You can do it!

Pot of Gold: Possibility

"A thought, even a possibility, can transform us."
~ Friedrich Nietzsche
Grab a cupcake, your favorite afghan or quit, make a cup of tea and come settle in. It's such a quiet evening with nothing but the sound of gentle rain and a sleeping puppy.

Alright- (smile)- okay- (smile)- I'll admit it. I was daydreaming today, and maybe yesterday, too (wink).

Down the lane from where I live sits the most charming and quaint humble abode. It was built in the 1930s and probably hasn't been updated since. It's for sale and the price is right.

Aren't you just dying to see the inside? I wonder if it has a claw foot tub? Does the bedroom have a fireplace? Are the floors bare wood?

While sitting there, perched among a family of well established pine trees, it tugs at me, pulling my heartstrings, and gently whispering sweet nothings in my ear. I'm pretty sure it wants me to buy it and make it into a bed and breakfast, a sweet and warm weekend retreat. I'd make plenty of goodies and pots of tea and kettles of coffee- I promise.

"Little White Cozy Cottage" has the most snugly porch and enormous lawn. I wish I could weave the perfect descriptive picture, but I promise an actual photo tomorrow. I was on my way to play photographer today, when I was stopped short. The inside of the house was lit up people were mulling about. Since I didn't want to land myself a shady reputation, I turned around and returned to my home.

I'm such a sucker for old, left-over, abandoned, or forgotten objects. I feel some innate desire to nurture, love, and befriend those things that have been past over for bigger, better, newer, and cleaner. What's the fun in something that doesn't come with a story?

Who knows, perhaps one day I'll find that creative outlet that allows me to tap into my personal desire to own my own business and make executive decisions.

Perhaps with some blessings and luck my little daydream could emerge as a true possibility. I've got my fingers crossed and a prayer in my heart.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Pot of Gold: Planting

"There's a few things I've learned in life: always throw salt over your left shoulder, keep rosemary by your garden gate, plant lavender for good luck, and fall in love whenever you can."
~Alice Hoffman, Practical Magic

Sunday afternoon: The sun was shinning, the birdies were singing, the puppies were walking, and I was planting.

Today I planted 3 flats of teeny, tiny lavender seeds. I neatly filled seed starters, applied just the right amount of moisture, carefully tucked away the seeds, and then gently covered them with a thin blanket of dirt. Thankfully, the little greenhouse lids are already collecting condensation--this just might work!

All fingers are crossed that within the next few weeks some high quality germination occurs.

This is my first attempt at seed planting, and I am oh-so-optimistic.

Pot of Gold: Understanding

"Religion is about having the right answers, and, some of their answers are right. But I am about the process that takes you to the living answer, and once you get to him, he will change you from the inside."
~taken from p198 of 'The Shack,' by WM Paul Young

I've always been a questioner. Sometimes, I think, I spend far too much time questioning, analyzing, and looking at situations from multiple vantage points. This can be good. This can be bad.

Believe it or not, when I take a position on something, I often go into a silent conversation with myself. In this conversation, I play the opposition; the opposite side of what I think. At times, I've found that my opposition is right. Then, I am forced to retract my prior thoughts and opinions and re-evaluate my agenda.

More often than not, this leads me to what I call "circle thinking." I go round and round, but never really reach a solidified conclusion. Personally, I believe this has its benefits. I tend to be liberal in my thoughts and truly respectful and open to the opinions and propositions of others.

However, when it came to religion, I just had a hard time. I struggled with so many thoughts, questions, and belief structures. But, and this is important, I wanted to believe. My mind just wouldn't let me.

I could not let go of so many nagging thoughts from my brain. My heart would say, "Believe!!!" but my mind would echo, "humm....well how do you explain (insert your own question here)?"

I was between a rock and a hard place.

Recently, a dear friend of mine, someone I look up to greatly (yes, Greta- that's you!) suggested I read the book, 'The Shack'. Greta just so happens to be the best person I know. She's honest, real, forgiving, and understanding. She listens with a true heart, offers unbiased advice, and is completely devoted to God. I'm beyond blessed to have had the opportunity to merge lives with her.

Anyway, the book truly changed my life. In it's own way it answered so many questions I had pondered for years and years. It was simple and easy and basic, yet deep and thought-provoking and invigorating. I've been going to church, reading my bible, doing daily devotions, and spending time in prayer, thanking God for the blessings in my life.

I've bough this book for all the dearies in my life. So far, all have reported that it has life changing implications.

Naturally, it's not the end-all, answer-all of life. However, it gave me the foundation, the building blocks, and the mortar I needed to begin building a strong relationship.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Pot of Gold: Patience

"It is always helpful to learn from your mistakes, because then your mistakes seem worthwhile."
~ Garry Marshall

Today, I truly lucked out.

This afternoon, as I continued to work on my stash of handmade goodies, I learned an important lesson: Do not knit when tired, eating, or while watching Oprah and Lisa Ling interview women from the FLDS compound. It's a recipe for disaster.

I was fully absorbed in my sleepiness, the television, my delicious after-school snack, and the knitting, when I realized, much to my dismay, that I had a serious knitting conundrum on my hands.

Somehow, I must have missed a row, or turned the needles a bit to early, or made a horrible error in knitting judgement. Whatever the case, my little project was looking rather glum.

Normally, I'd rip the whole thing out, huff and puff under my breath, and start over. Today was different. Today was new. Today I went out on a limb.

"I'm going to fix this," I mumbled to myself. "Certainly I can figure out how to rip out a few rows and pick up where I left off."

I'm pleased to report that after 45 minutes of attempting, ripping out, counting intricate stitches, and beginning again, I got it.


Perhaps my little leprechaun friend is looking out for me?

Whew... luck. (and like my dad says, a lot of hard work)

Blessings and Luck.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Pot of Gold: Old-Fashioned Advice

"Good luck is 99% hard work."
~Ace Kaufman, my dad

This photo was taken during a recent trip to Belize, a primitive country in Central America. I took this picture through a bus window because I was amazed that this dilapidated little shack without electricity provided the meager income that a family was forced to
survive upon.

If you live under a rock, or perhaps have just returned from a lengthy visit to outer space, you may be unaware of the current dismal situation regarding the United States economy.

Today, the market tumbled 299.64 points, making it the worst day on Wall-Street since April 1997. Humm....not good.

I have watched news reports and read journal articles, all of which convey that the future situation appears rather gray.

In times such as these, when I personally know of people who have lost jobs, had hours severely slashed, watched the bottom line plummet, and sat idly by as bills piled high, I am thankful that I listened to the unsolicited and often times annoying advice of my elders.

Growing up, my family instilled in me the idea that one must save the majority of one's paycheck. It was preached that I not ever use credit cards for unnecessary or frivolous purchases. They told me that it was OK to wait until later in life to have big-ticket items. "It gives you something to look forward to," they would remark.

Wow- good thing I listened. As it turns out, the tried-and-true, mom-and-pop advice was right.

As I reflect on my life, my belongings, my possessions, I realize I have very few "things." Chad-0 and I often joke that if someone were to rob our house they would proudly score two non-flat screen TVs, two DVD players, two laptops, and two first generation IPods. I imagine the burglars would be rather disappointed.

I'm glad that the activities in life I truly enjoy- reading, knitting, painting, running, and drinking tea and coffee are rather cheap and require little if any money to sustain. I suppose being a rather dull individual has paid off- ha!

Anyway, during times like these, I'm reminded of how important a steady job and a savings account are.

For some strange reason, I enjoy the fact that people everywhere are cutting back, reevaluating their wants and needs, and thinking about the things that really matter. I believe things have been way out of hand, for far too long. I like the idea of having fewer things, but having those few things be more meaningful. You know, quality over quantity.

This just might be the year of the handmade gift. I hope you like scarves, washies, and painted flower pots. You just might end up with one :) After all, I'm continuing to take some of that good, old-fashioned advice: gifts from the heart mean more.

Blessings and Luck.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Pot of Gold

Blessings and Luck. As far as I'm concerned, these are two areas that I'm not going to complain about. Nor do I often hear others mumbling about their insanely good fortune or amazing plethora of blessings.

Blessings and Luck.
As a society, we covet them. We wish for them. We need them.
Blessings and Luck.

In thinking about the dawning of a new month, a month that holds the promise of warmer weather, longer days, and the occasional outdoor jog, I decided to dedicate my entries this month to those people, events, and things for which I am so fortunate.

Blessings and Luck.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if everyone found a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?
Blessings and Luck.

Sweet Weekending

"There aren't enough days in the weekend."
~ Rod was a sweet, sweet weekend, full of all things fun and delightful!

1. The Waterfront

2. wonderful shopping adventures and some neat new treats

3. a fresh pot of ginger-peach tea at P.F. Chang's

4. hilarious movies-seriously, the laugh out loud kind

5. a Barnes and Noble visit- Is there anything more fabulous?

6. a fresh start- Thank you Ella for keeping me company.

7. a bargain priced knitting book- I learned some new stitches.

8. "The Shack"- I bought a few copies and gave them to some special people. Do yourself a favor and get lost in its pages.

9. some quality time with my peeps- I'm a lucky girl.

10. a few hints of spring- The tulips were poking through the soil in Pittsburgh. (Hooray!)
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