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A Curtain in Time

Yesterday was another overcast day in the Northwest. Don’t feel sorry for us, we’re used to it, and today is proving to be a stellar day, according to the sunbeams shouting through the window. And that’s how it works up here, one day on and one day off.

The days when the sun is off, I light candles, bake, read, clean and generally get stuff done…or try to. Curtains were on the agenda yesterday. Well, they weren’t on the agenda, exactly. I had to muster up the inspiration to get the sewing machine out (which was missing a part, but one I could do without), and hope I had enough thread on the bobbin for the “underside” of the machine (sorry about my sewing-ese, I don’t know what I’m doing), and plow through cutting and measuring while kids play (argue, fuss, complain). But after mustering, I climbed atop the washing machine and got the sewing machine out of the cupboard. (It occurs to me that moms have a lot of machines we have to master).

It has been two years since I made a large purple pillow for our new comforter. I know this because the purple thread was still sitting nicely on top of the sewing machine (that word again). Me, being impatient and a little bit lazy, used the purple thread because I didn’t want to take the time to change out the color, even though my curtains are blue and brown (welcome to my world).

The project was fun. I even found some really old crystal dangly-thingies that you might be able to see in the photo, and hand-sewed them onto the bottom corners. Now, before you go beating yourself up for not tackling a project you have in mind to do, let me just explain the moral of this story.

After all the time spent on making these kitchen curtains, probably a couple of hours for two panels, my curtains came out uneven. Yep, uneven, and to top it off, the color of the fabric was way off. Of course, I knew this before I got started, but since I ordered the fabric online, had to wait for it to arrive, and had to do all the mustering…I decided to try and make it all work. Unfortunately, it did not work.

I called my mom to let her know. She is an excellent sewer who made some of my clothes growing up (which I didn’t appreciate at the time), and my prom dress and a wedding dress for a neighbor and another prom dress for my cousin. She is coming up in a few weeks for a vacation, and if you haven’t guessed already, she will be making the kitchen curtains for me.

Even though my curtains didn’t work out, I can still glean something from the experience. I have a new phrase now. Instead of saying something is a “waste” of time, I’ll say that it is a “curtain” in time. Meaning that I may have spent what seems like a waste of time on something, but I got something out of it. When you get lemons make lemonade, right.

Now I have two curtain panels with dangly-thingies that I can repurpose somehow: flags for the garden; dresses for dolls, large napkins?

If you have any suggestions, or would like two irregular curtain panels for the price of free, let me know! And don’t forget to repurpose your thinking today…almost nothing is a waste.

Inspired Perspectives

A perspective is how we as individuals look at the world. It occurs to me, though, in general one is either on the outside looking in, or on the inside looking out. Each respective perspective (say that ten times fast) affords the opportunity for thought, conjecture, opinion and assumption.

Most of us view the world from the outside, not in an inferior way, but from a literal outside position. I used to live in a neighborhood which afforded the opportunity to take long walks on  bending streets. Just after dusk, I could see the warm glow of lights emanating from the windows, reminiscent of a Thomas Kinkade painting. My heart was full, imagining the home I would make someday for my future family. I was inspired by possibility.

At the time it never occurred to me that there was another perspective, the one of the person inside possibly gazing out her window longing to be someplace else. We assume so much from our perspectives, and sometimes those assumptions fail to ignite inspiration, but leave us with feelings of depression, anxiety and even envy.

It takes a little more effort, now that I’m older, to remember that the perfect model in a magazine is airbrushed and probably starving, that the photograph of a pristine living room is just a photo shoot set, and a candy-colored car is just a means to get from point A to point B.

It’s all in how we look at things. May your perspective be inspired by all that is possible, instead of what is not.

Change

The other day I broke down at a Labor Day sale and purchased $6 piggy banks for my children. All summer they’ve been learning the value of money, measured by how many Hawaiian Shaved Ice bowls they could afford at the local farmer’s market. Allowance can be a pretty powerful thing.

As I watched my son forage through cavernous areas of our house looking for change to fill his little piggy, I couldn’t help but think about how change in life is the complete antithesis of the coins we put in our banks. The coins collected like treasure, thrown into the Coinstar machine, and turned into “green” money, as my kids call it. It’s an exciting process. Not so with life change.

There are some people who exist in perpetual states of change, going through jobs and boyfriends like a supermodel changing clothes backstage during fashion week. Others of us approach change timidly, sticking our toes in ever so gently, and then drawing back when it gets uncomfortable.

I learned a few years ago that change, even self-initiated change, can be overwhelming and difficult to manage. In the space of 24 hours, I turned 30 years old, found out I was pregnant with baby #3, and sold our home. All of these changes were good, and self-initiated (except the turning 30 part, I really liked 25). The point is, during the next couple of months, I was absorbed with an overwhelming sense of misdirection, unsure how to handle it all, all at once.

There have been lots of changes since then, and while I may not go foraging for change, seeking it out like treasure, I can tuck away all the experiences change has to offer, and turn it into wisdom for the future.

Change is inevitable. Attitude is adjustable. Struggle is optional.

Embracing Your You-ness

Have you read the book Who Moved My Cheese? I read the book years ago when I was working for a company trying to improve sales. Unfortunately, I’ve forgotten the moral of that story, but in recent days the title of the book pops up in my head every time I catch a glimpse of my backside in the mirror, only my mind has taken liberty with the title and I end up saying to myself, Please, Take My Cheese.

We all suffer from a dossier of things we would like to change about ourselves, things that trap us inside a negative self-image. I recently read about a woman who explained when she bent over to brush her teeth, her womanly appendages looked like squeezed tubes of toothpaste. I can relate.

So how do we embrace ourselves, when it seems there is so much to change?

Gratitude is a great place to start. There is much to be thankful for: breath, light, smiles. Even if those are the only things you can think of today.

What about service? Perhaps if I focus on serving others, it would take my mind off of myself.

And then there is love. Appearance is not the whole of our existence. It is not the end of our story or the sum total of our capacity to live a life of meaning. Love really does conquer all, and loving ourselves helps us to love others.

And the cheese? Well, it’s behind me now.

Very Happy Download

I only have 5 minutes to complete this post. If only I could inject emotion into this blog post, or provide a download link that says “Inspiration” or “Very Happy Feelings” because that it how I feel this beautiful August morning in the Northwest.

There is nothing in particular creating this emotion. I didn’t win the lottery over the weekend, or win an all-inclusive trip to France. It could be the venue, Snohomish Bakery in Snohomish, Wa, where I’m working this morning. It could just be the light of the Summer sun reflecting on car windows and smiling faces. Whatever it is, I just want to bottle it up for a cold day in February.

If you are feeling the opposite of “Very Happy” today, try to remember a time when you felt elated, ecstatic, excited, and energized. Your life has meaning and purpose, you have been happy in days past. You  have something to share with someone today, even if it’s yourself. I’m sending “Very Happy” to you today. Enjoy!

The Art of Doing Nothing

I read an article the other day in the latest issue of O magazine called, Lying Low by Martha Beck. I haven’t read Oprah’s magazine in years, but I liked the hairstyle she was sporting on the cover, and with September looming, I thought it would be a good excuse to prepare my mind for Fall. Justification done.

As I was lounging on my chaise preparing to read the magazine, I felt an internal nagging. You know the one. It makes you feel like you can’t steal a few minutes to yourself, because dinner needs to be made, laundry needs to be folded and the nagging goes on and on. Just when I was about to heed my nagging self, the page flipped over to Beck’s article on resting like you mean it. Cool, another justification. So I stayed put.

Here is one of the many sentences that gave me pause. I wonder if you can relate to this:

Think about it:Humans are the only creature who resist the pattern of ebb and flow. We want the sun to shine all night, and when it doesn’t, we create cities that never sleep.

Last fall I went through a time when I was restless about which direction I needed to go. It was difficult to just rest and wait, knowing the season would change and bustle would be my friend again. Not coincidentally, it was my mom who gave me the advice to rest. I learned a lot from that experience, and coupled with this article, I’m wrapping my mind around the concept of resting like I mean it when the kids return to school.

Now I don’t think Beck means becoming a couch potato, falling asleep on the couch with an empty back of Doritos on your abdomen. But it does mean  it is perfectly natural to look inward, and evaluate in order to move on from the quiet valley.

If you find yourself today in a state of resistance at the lull in your day, I hereby give you a permission slip to do nothing. Hey, I could give these out all day: one for you, and one for you. If only I could give myself one. Well, I did say I was preparing for September, I’ll give myself one then. But you, you stay put and enjoy the art of doing nothing!

Authenticity Haiku

Inspired by phony, tasteless tomatoes in the grocery store, here is an English Haiku for you:

Authenticity

Originates in the Heart

Who are you really?

If you have one for me, share it here!

Fireflies in a Mason Jar

I’m sitting in a local, organic restaurant. It’s one of those places with mis-matched wooden tables and chairs, murals of farmland and vegetables, and boasts delicious, healthy fare. There is a glass vase on my table with bright-yellow Sunflowers smiling at me. They seem so….friendly, and I feel grateful to write my 100th blog post here.

I’m not from the mid-west, but I used to travel there with my grandparents many a Summer. One of my earliest memories is catching fireflies in Mason jars with my cousins. They were so beautiful and ephemeral. And somehow, thirty years later, the fireflies have returned to teach me a lesson.

The lesson came during my Summer reading, one of my favorite things about the season. The days are long, the schedule adjustable and lazy pleasure can be found in a good book. I can’t remember which book it was, but I read the following line and it’s been on my mind ever since. I need to make room in my noggin for other things, so I’m jotting it down here for you to ponder:

“The thinnest of things can separate people.”

That’s it. That’s all there is to it. It got me thinking about the different ways this statement is true. Take words, for example, they have the power to create and destroy, encourage and deflate, inspire and emaciate. Once spoken, words dissipate like fog with the noon-day sun only after affecting hearts unaware. Words cannot be captured like fireflies in a mason jar; we can’t take them back.

There are other intangibles which make this phrase ring true: silence, wayward glances, furrowed brows, etc. Body language speaks volumes about how we feel and what we think, “The thinnest of things can separate people.”

 I don’t know if you can relate to this today. It’s definitely been my experience in the past. Oftentimes I can’t even remember what it was that separated me from another: a word, a glance, an experience, a lack of something…I can’t put my finger on it all the time. All the more reason to think before we speak and act.

Today, the fireflies will be my reminder.

Shedding Insecurities

Arriving at our vacation home was an exciting adventure, but our kids just wanted to know, “Can we go swimming yet?” The scene was a frenzy of clasped hands, wonder and toe-dipping, as they peered over the edge to look into the glass-blue of the water. I miss that kind of anticipation as an adult.

About an hour later, dawned with water wings and goggles, I watched as my son swam in the hot tub. He was so bouyed, he almost looked like the Michelin Man. But as the minutes passed, I watched as he shed one insecurity at a time: first the floaties. He decided he didn’t need them in the hot tub, for it was a small enough space and he could touch the bottom.

The next day I watched as he swam in the big pool sans water wings, with a huge smile and the ability to hold his breath and swim under water, without plugging his nose.

I decided that I could learn something from this. As adults we don all the paraphenalia we need to approach a new endeavor, and little by little we become comfortable and transform into someone confident…even an expert. A little determination and a willingness to learn go a long way in shedding some of the insecurities we started out with.

These little reminders are all the more precious because they come from my kids. I hope you have little ones in your life. They are amazing.

Do you have any insecurities that you need to shed? Choose one thing you are clinging to: the side of the pool, water wings, goggles, a pinched nose, and pry it off with a little determination today.

PERIPETY

Have you ever experienced a sudden change in events? A reversal in the normal course of action, or something that caused a shift in your direction? Maybe you learned something new that catapulted you on a fresh, inspired trajectory. This is called a Peripety.

Pronounced \pə-ˈri-pə-tē\ and defined by Websters as: a sudden or unexpected reversal of circumstances or situation, it comes from the Greek word Peripeteia and is where I find myself this Easter morning.

I am humble and thankful because I’m not who I was! Just as a fully mature tulip was once an ugly, course, dark and unexceptional bulb, I was once a different person than I am now. When I look back feelings of guilt don’t corrupt me, I can look my “ugly” in the face and be thankful for my peripety.

When Jesus’ loved ones went to the tomb to annoint His body with spices and oil, the grief they felt is unimaginable to us living on this side of the risen Lord. The empty tomb was the ultimate peripety, the reversal from death to life, unforgiveness to full forgiveness.

What an amazing truth of love and hope. When I accepted Jesus as the One who saved me from sin and death, my story suddenly changed. So, this Easter morning I’m swimming in the sweet fragrance of peripety, what about you?

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