Makes Me Happy Monday: Pattern

Sometimes ….
I wonder about pattern
and WHY I am so drawn to it.

For me, it is the presence of multiple patterns
side-by-side
that I find fascinating and stimulating.

I love to strip a basket down to its metal frame
and then re-work the basket with fabric strips.

Bare basket

Woven basket

I often add decoration to the handles

Handle of fabric basket

and buttons or other embellishing objects to the body of the basket.

Woven fabric basket

On a recent morning, a current basket project was positioned in such a way that
the morning light filtered through it
like a stained glass window.

Light filtering through a fabric basket

As I studied the light illuminating these patterns
touching …. and even overlapping ….
I thought about the physical/spiritual parallels
in this image.

Like Jesus spoke in parables, paralleling the spiritual and physical worlds, God convicts and teaches me through similar daily events.

I see multiple patterns (personalities)
stamped upon …. ingrained within …. (inseparable from)
the different fabrics (people).
These fabrics (souls)
are butted up against each other (living shoulder to shoulder)
some overlapping (immersed in the life of the one next to us)
and some just barely touching (physically close but emotionally distant
from even the person of closest proximity).
Each strip of fabric has a distinct pattern (character, life experience, gifts and struggles)
that may or may not be visually stimulating to those close-by (maybe the person doesn’t fit society’s idea of beauty or femininity/masculinity or talent or wealth)
but that strip still has an important role in the framework of the woven basket (we all have a place in this world … a space to fill … a job to do. When we are not “in place,” our presence is missed and there is a noticeable void).
And in the darkness, we still serve a purpose ….
but – Oh My!! – when we position ourselves just right
we will find that we nearly GLOW from the Light
so that our patterns, colors and purpose
are illuminated and simply marvelous to view!!

As you start your week,
I pray you are able to see the beauty of the patterns around you
… in creation
…. in people
… and in situations.
Position yourself to see the Light … to experience it.
May your week be full of the awareness of beauty.

Patterns make me happy today (and every day).
What makes YOU happy this marvelous Monday morning?

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I don’t need a man

For years, I’ve said there are three things I can’t do well. The OBVIOUS is figuring out how to make my way back from the bathroom to my seat in an auditorium. This talent is  excluded from my “working on it” list because there is no “fixing” my total lack of sense of direction. I laid that beast to rest years ago. We can’t do everything well, right? haha

There are a few skills that have caused me on-going frustration because I just can’t seem to master them  … like sharpening a knife/scissors, filing my taxes and lifting heavy things.  Somehow, these seem to be things that men do with ease yet women don’t easily master.

Through the years, I’ve asked many people how to sharpen my kitchen knives. I have bought at least a dozen different tools for sharpening knives/scissors … but never had much success with them. I remember seeking help as early as New Bern, North Carolina, circa 1985-1990. I worked at Branch’s Office Supply & Gifts. We sold Chicago Cutlery so I bought a 10″ sharpening steel. It is a steel rod used for honing a blade before use. I’ve never been able to notice a difference between before and after when using it.

Within the last year, a friend of mine who is truly a jack-of-all-trades introduced me to the many uses of steel files. I bought a needle file set and …. *poof* my life was changed! I keep a file in my kitchen knife drawer. I keep one in my yard tool bucket for sharpening pruning shears and clippers. And I keep one on my art table to sharpen scissors and X-acto blades. I no longer struggle with dull blades. I know how to sharpen most anything!

The tax thing? I have a dear friend who has done my taxes for me since my husband left. I have still struggled just getting all of my paperwork together each year, but I have come up with a system that should work well and involves 12 end-of-month activities rather than an end-of-year, free-for-all meltdown. I think this will be a great improvement!! I no longer feel strife over my taxes.

I’ll never be as strong as an average man … because testosterone. It amazes me that a man who never does push-ups or pull-ups can be dramatically stronger than an average woman who does. While I believe that most women are stronger emotionally/mentally  than men, women (as a general rule) are definitely the weaker physical “vessel.”

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I began this blog post yesterday
and got sidelined by my inability to
find the photographs I wanted to use for my illustration.
I took some photos for this blog post around a year ago … but just couldn’t find them in my iPhoto albums.
So, God provided me with new material.

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The last hurdle that causes me inner turmoil
is needing physical help with projects.
There are some things a woman just can’t do without help.
I’ve called my fascination with a man’s natural strength “bicep envy.”
I am amazed at how men seem to have power without trying
while women have less even if they work at strength building.

Enter Greg Og Edwards. “Og” is a nickname given to Greg by a friend years ago because he’s like a “caveman” in that he has the ability to fix just about anything with only a rock as a hammer. Yes, I know. That’s a slight exaggeration … but only S.L.I.G.H.T.

As he lived beside me in May of last year and I then listened to his stories as he bicycled back across the US to Sacramento, I intently watched him hit snags and use the found-items around him to get him out of jams. At one point after his departure, I found myself asking, “What would Greg do?”

God has been slowly teaching me to be brave. I’ve gone camping alone, repaired a hole in my roof and changed my brake pads and rotors.

And when I have to move something heavy or need a hand, I figure out a way to keep going without help.

Yesterday morning provided a perfect example.

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While I was out running, I passed a home with a pile of things out on the street to be picked up by the trash truck. I walked up to look at the rusty box. And it turned out to be a wood stove! My first thought was to use it outside as a fire pit!! Then I thought how helpful it would be in an outside shed/building so I can work there in the winter. I knew I wanted to try to get it home …. but I knew it would be heavy.

I finished my run and headed back with my trailer.  “Heavy” isn’t a strong enough word to convey this rusty man’s weight. I pulled out the grate, the ash bin and all the heat bricks that were inside it. This beefy box was STILL going to be a bear to lift.

I got the trailer as close to the stove as I could, hoping to just tip it up into the trailer and then slide it in. The short stature of the stove meant that I had to lift it pretty high to work across the fulcrum point on the trailer bed.

I was talking out loud to God, asking Him to show me HOW to do this job without help! In trying to move the stove around a bit, I accidentally let it land on a rock in the rock pile  and …. and there it was!! My Answer!

With the stove tipped, I could slip something underneath it for leverage … but WHAT? I began mentally sorting through the resources in my car.

My car jack could help me lift it!

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With the trailer within a foot or two of the stove, I was able to sit on the trailer bed and use my legs to leg-press the stove forward. I used the jack handle to slide the jack under the back of the stove. I placed it so that the grove in the jack fit on the lip of the stove so that it would have some stability.

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Just in case, I stuck a tire chock under the tire so it wouldn’t move and I slowly lifted the stove, adding bricks as I went to bear the weight should it fall and to raise the fulcrum point. When I got it high enough to be helpful, I moved the trailer back and lifted the stove from the front so that it easily tipped backward into the bed of the trailer.

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In the past, I would have given up much sooner. I would have tried to lift the stove and realized its weight was too much for me … and I would have walked away.

But, because I’ve learned to work smarter, not harder, I’ve learned how use the things around me to help me accomplish jobs that I would have considered impossible to do alone.

So, for the first time in my life …. I have realized that I don’t need a man.
I don’t need a man’s “biceps.”
I don’t need a man to sharpen my knives.
And I don’t need to be in a relationship so taxes can get filed.

You know what else I don’t need a man to do for me?
I have realized that I don’t need a man to travel with me,
repair or build things for me or to finance my life.
I don’t need a man
to affirm my beauty, wisdom, worth or intelligence.
I don’t need a man to protect me, approve of my ideas
or  fill in my empty places.

This marvelous place of not “needing” is beautiful.
Now that I don’t “need” these things,
I feel free to openly want these things.
And I want them in a relationship
because I have a gracious list of wonderful attributes to offer.

I want to accompany a man through the daily walk that is life.
I want to edify with words of encouragement, little gifts and a listening ear.
I want to love on him by cooking for him, serving him dishes I know he’ll love
and cleaning the kitchen beside him.
I want to offer him strong back rubs, gentle kisses and passionate, raucous sex.
I want to explore with a man, share my ideas
and be comfortable sitting in silence beside him.

The wonderful thing is …

I WANT these things …

but I do not NEED them.
What a beautiful place of glorious, gracious freedom!

Makes Me Happy Monday: Bedtime

Years ago, I lived in a trailer on the edge of a cotton field … way out in the country. We had one car. When my husband went to work, I was left alone with two small children and unable to leave. He worked long hours. Our home was struck by lightning that knocked out our air conditioning so summer days were HOT.  And this particular move was one that I did not want to make …. but I was the admirable “submissive” wife. I shared my opinion. It was ignored. And thereafter, I kept quiet.

I still remember waking up from a nap on a summer’s afternoon
and realizing I had slept four hours.
That was when I LOVED to sleep
because it was my only escape from the realities of life.

During this time …. I used sleep as an escape….
from motherly duties….
from financial strain ….
from marital strife …..

from life.

That was my “rock bottom.” That was the lowest time in my emotional history. That was when I realized that I had to make some drastic healthy changes to get back to a healthy place of living.

 

And I did.
I reached out for help
and climbed my way out of that deep hole.

My relationship with sleep is TOTALLY different now.

I love to sleep because it rejuvenates me and gives me energy to take on new challenges. Sleep offers my mind a chance to focus on my thoughts without outside stimulation so that I can parse and process activities, emotions and motivations. Sleep offers permission to be quiet and still.

These days, I go to bed early and get up early. I start getting excited about going to bed around 4:30 or 5:00. I start looking forward to rest and crawling between clean sheets and lying under a heavy quilt. These days, I carve out time for a short power nap almost every day. These days, I make sleeping a priority for a whole host of very healthy reasons.

Bedtime makes me so very happy.
What about you?
What makes you happy on this marvelous Monday morning?

 

 

Churchill was wrong – or was he?

Winston Churchill was known as a wise man. He was the Prime Minister in the UK. He was an Army Officer during several wars. He was an aristocrat with controversial ideas and a writer honored with the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Churchill

He is known as saying

“Never, never, ever give up.” 

During the days when my well-meaning friends were picking verses of scripture and using them to encourage me that God wanted my marriage healed and whole, I loved that quote. I had a magnet on my refrigerator. I saw it daily.  I clung to those words with the same fervor that I did many of those oft-quoted Bible verses.

But, as my marriage unraveled and I had to re-evaluate every idea and thought that I had based my marriage-healing-hopes upon, I was forced to realize that my rose-colored-glasses were smudged and filthy, I had to find the strength to take them off so that I could see more clearly.

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I came to the place that I realized that Winston Churchill was mistaken. There are times to give up. There are situations where you should walk away. There are events, relationships and circumstances that may be harmful and we should heed the nudging of our head when we feel that fight-or-flight rush …. whether our heart is in agreement or not.

For some of us, this is hard. I think, “But, what if I stick it out and I am able to show that person that there IS someone who cares? Or there IS someone who understands?”
What if  …..
my hanging on with perseverance could change the life of another?
What if …..
my holding tight when I find myself white-knuckled with rubbed-raw palms
could get the attention of another soul
and allow them to feel seen and understood?
It seems to me a little discomfort
and chafing of the skin
would be well worth that victory.

I am still wrestling with WHEN to remove those finger-print smudged glasses.
I continue to learn how to balance the noise between my analytical head
and my stubborn, hopeful heart.
I continue to work on honing the sharp skill
of sensing the boundary lines set by others
and figuring out where to establish my own .

I have certainly learned that there are exceptions to the “Never give up” rule. There are absolutely, positively times that we should throw in the towel. There are definitely situations where we should use the escape route provided … and create one if it isn’t obvious. There are simply times when all our energy has been poured into an empty vessel that can’t hold what we have offered because the vessel needs repair first. And nobody can make those repairs for another. We can OFFER what we have, but we can’t force the  mending of another soul.

So, give up! Quit! Walk away!
Be sensitive to emotional exhaustion and physical depletion.
There are times when we should ……
just        …           let it         ..       go.

Oh …. and speaking of taking things out of context, Churchill didn’t actually say “Never, never, ever give up.” THIS is what he actually said,

“Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense.” 

Makes Me Happy Monday: Hammock Resting

I have a hammock that I picked up a few years ago at a yard sale for three bucks. The person had recently purchased an Eno and didn’t need the older one. I was THRILLED to have it. I know Enos have a place – they are SO lightweight and fold up into such a compact size – but …. I’m not taking this one camping or hiking. I just wanted a hammock for resting, napping and in general lounging.

The home that I moved into around the time that I found this new hammock has several huge hardwood trees nearby. One of those makes the perfect canopy for my hammock. I make it a habit to “power nap” there almost daily I set the timer set for 35 minutes. I pet my cat for five and close my eyes for 30. It’s just enough rest to power me back up for the afternoon.

But, when I have guests over, someone must sit in a chair if we head outside. I most often insist that the other person sit in the hammock because it’s the best seat in the house.

But … then I’m not in a hammock. 😦

I didn’t want to buy a new hammock because they’re pricey.
After years of looking at my old one,
it occurred to me that ….
it is just made from sewn fabric.
I have fabric … and can sew!

So, I studied how my current hammock was designed and put together.
I mimicked the pattern …. but made it a tad larger and longer
so it would comfortably fit someone larger than me.

I’m so pleased how it turned out! It is strong and stable.
It has pattern and personality!
And it cost me less than $20.00 for hardware and rope.

So, as spring nears
and the days lengthen,
my new hammock has me tickled pink!

What makes you happy this marvelous Monday morning?

Makes Me Happy Monday ; Little things

lovethispic.com

This has been one of my favorite pieces of artwork for a while. I wish I could read the artist’s name in the far left-hand corner. I love the font. I love the little branches. And  I adore the saying.

And … oh my … the truth.

I remember being super-excited about some trip that was planned in the past. Maybe it was my family trip to Disney? I don’t remember. What I DO remember … is looking back on the trip and thinking how it wasn’t quite what I had built it up to be in my head before I left.

That was when a shift began in my attitude about events, relationships and life.

I began to realize that
the new car ….
the trip to that destination ….
or the healing of a certain relationship
WASN’T going to make EVERYthing better.
Truly, it wasn’t the BIG things that could change my life and my happiness ….

it was the little things.

And more specifically, it was attitude ABOUT the little things.

So, I began to focus on the small stuff …
and notice the little joys
and revel in the tiny beauty
all around.

Today ….
it is the crisp of fall in the air
a compliment from a stranger
or sight of beautiful symmetry in nature
that causes me to s.w.o.o.n.

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These tiny mushrooms did just that for me this past week.

I was headed out for a run … stretching there on the sidewalk at the rehabilitation center where my father has been spending his days recovering from back surgery…. when I saw these sweet little friends standing tall in a flower bed, chilly but erect and supple in the damp soil.

I spoke out loud to God.
“Thank you, Lord. Yes. I see them. They are beautiful.”

I adore mushrooms.
And I was both tired physically and emotionally at the time.
And the sight of tiny mushrooms
brought to me a gentle peace and an new energy.

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As with every Makes Me Happy Monday post …. it’s all about the small stuff.  We can wait for the major things to offer us some huge climax that we hold onto for months or years … but then we live our lives looking forward to what is to come and may never arrive …  or desperately clinging to the happiness in the past.  …..
OR ….
We can live our lives embracing the common and average in the every day.
We can look for and find the incredible wonder
in the friendliness of a dog
the intricacy of the veins of a leaf
or the relatable lyrics of a song.

It’s our choice really.

Today, mushrooms make me incredibly happy.

How about you? What makes you happy this marvelous Monday morning?

 

 

Makes Me Happy Monday: Superior Rocks

Greg  left my home the first week of June. He got back on his bike and began his pedaling trek home. He headed north towards Niagara Falls and then dipped into Canada for a few days after he turned to head west.

Days started at day break and ended with the setting of the sun. They were filled with navigation and careful attention to road hazards.

Nights were spent along roadsides, at state parks, in national forests and anywhere else convenient and safe for a lone traveler, a tent and a bike.

Because he lived alongside me for the month of May, he knew my love of rocks.

When he reached Lake Superior,

he took the time to pick up a few rocks that were unusual …

and mail them to me.

He took.the.time to pick them up,
ride his bike out of his way to a post office,
buy an envelope and a card,
write me a note inside the card
and then mail me the package.

And look at these beautiful stones.

This one may be my favorite. I plan to drill a hole in her
and wear her on a leather strand around my neck.

The smallest gestures
can take great effort
and mean SO much

Rocks
from the distant shore of a huge northern lake
make me smile today.

What makes you happy this marvelous Monday morning?

I’m a poser

For years now, it has felt like life has just been
plain hard.
The responsibilities of being a single mom
when layered with ….. well …… #allthethings
…. it’s just been tiring.
Like many single moms, I’ve felt overwhelmed and exhausted.

But,
one.at.a.time ….
God has allowed several of the responsibilities
that I have had
to finally
be r.e.l.e.a.s.e.d. 

The change in weight
from my mind and heart
is more than I can explain
with mere words.

Every passing day feels  :: l i g h t e r ::.

It is a very welcome change.

So ….
I have just recently decided
it is time to stretch.
I’m ready to step out of my comfort zone.

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Since my divorce,
I have participated in several “stretching events”
that are physical.
I participated in
a Warrior Dash, a half-marathon and a Sprint Triathalon.

But …. I’m ready to step out emotionally
and face some challenges
that make me test my boundaries in a different way.
I want to do some hard things
that make me explore
WHY I consider the activity to be hard.

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I began a list of things
that make me uncomfortable
but spark my interest.
You know the things.
They’re different for all of us.
We are intrigued by them

but fear holds us back. 

 ….  oh, fear.  we’ve been friends for SO long now  ….

My goal is to do one thing that makes me uncomfortable
each month
for the next year.
That means 12 scary things!

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I have a friend who recently told me about her stint as a nude model.
::trembles:: Uhm. Yeah. THAT would definitely make me uncomfortable.
Sitting bare and exposed
before intently staring eyes
that must look closely and examine
in order to transfer
what they see with their eyes
through a brush or pencil or stick of charcoal
to a flat, bare surface of paper.

That conversation sparked my curiosity.

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So, this past Tuesday evening,
I went with a friend to Columbia, SC
to the Columbia Museum of Art.
I posed as a model for About Face.
About Face is a group of talented artists
that meet every other week
to practice their craft
through drawing or painting a live model.

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I wasn’t nervous.
I sat for four segments of 25 minutes
with a five minute break between each segment.
I chose what to wear and how to sit.
It was SO much fun!

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This piece was created by Alice, the artist in blue in the photo above.

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And this is Tran.
Look at his work!

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And the ever generous, sweet Barbara Yongue
actually offered me her work in charcoal.

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Tuesday was my first chance to meet with the group
and try my hand at sitting still
for two hours.
NOT an easy task for me.
Tuesday night was the first time in years and years
that all eyes in the room have been on me.
Another out-of-the-ordinary sensation.
Tuesday night was preparation.

I go back in two weeks
to pose nude.
Let the new stretching begin.

Makes Me Happy Monday ; Stretching

I have run with people that have made fun of me for my stretching routine.

Stretching

I always walk a short distance, stop and stretch  … then run.

When I lived in Montclair, I walked to the park in the next block and stretched at the playground.  The park bench was the perfect height for me to throw my foot up and get a good hamstring elongation. And the curb was excellent for lengthening my achilles tendon and the plantar fascia so I wouldn’t have a run in with plantar fasciitis.

From my new home, I walk to the bus stop/turn around (which is about the same distance from my home as the park in my last neighborhood) to stretch.

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I stretch before AND after I run.

And I rarely have trouble with shin splints, ham string injuries or pulled muscles.

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I’m very flexible in the “forward folding” position. But, not so much with my hip flexors. I am really working on this. My goal is to one day be able to lie flat on my back in butterfly position. It may take years, but I’m working on it …. every.single.day.

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Without stretching shortly after a warm up, sooner or later, there will be injury.

This is a spiritual/physical parallel, don’t you think?

Like Jesus spoke in parables, paralleling the spiritual and physical worlds, God convicts and teaches me through similar daily events.

I see this in every area of life. If we aren’t stretched physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually in our relationships with ourselves and others, there will be atrophy and eventually injury.

Isn’t it better to have a “warm up” and then some stretching
than to find yourself avoiding confrontation and then
*BAM*
you’re right in the middle of a crisis
that leaves you sore and wounded
because you weren’t warmed up
and you weren’t prepared?

I’m all about the warm up
… the stretch
… the prep it takes to get ready
so that people – others or yourself –
aren’t left injured by an exercise
that could have been simple
but ended up being a complicated, painful mess.

Yep …. I love stretching ….
all kinds –  physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.

Stretching makes me happy today.
What makes YOU happy this marvelous Monday morning?