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?

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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?

 

Makes Me Happy Monday : Amber jars of tiny blooms

I love flowers. I love them in the yard. I love annuals and perennials … bulbs and bushes …. vines and, yes, even weeds.

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But like most other things I bring into my home, I can’t bring myself to pay full price for flowers.

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While shopping at Kroger yesterday, I happened past some flowers marked down. As gorgeous as the dozen deep crimson roses were, I couldn’t bring myself to pick them up. They were $4.99 a dozen and … I just didn’t want to hand over a five dollar bill for flowers.

But, these baby’s breath were only $.99 !! That was an investment I was pleased to make.

As I trimmed down the long legs of these pretty girls, I had a few sprigs that had flowers on them.

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Rather than toss the dregs, I stuffed the little shoots into an amber jar on the dining table and promptly filled her with water.

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So, there are two spots in my kitchen that are singing summer in crisp white
and my investment was less than a dollar.

For days, I’ll have the opportunity to find joy in the fresh flowers that are brightening the busiest room in my home … and it really makes me happy.

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

Makes Me Happy Monday ; Warm Showers & Tawny Port

I wake up and walk out in the darkness.
The kitchen table still speaks of last night’s final conversation and libation.
Artwork gifted by my dear friend, Gina,
rests beside two crystal tulip-glasses
that held tawny port.

Tawny Port and artwork in the morning

One month ago, I had never heard of tawny port.
Today, it is my favorite after dinner beverage.

Tawny PortThe color of this particular bottle’s port is stunning.
You might describe it as reddish amber or golden burgundy.
The taste is smooth, fruity …. and woody.
It amazes me that
a wine can taste …. like a tree smells!
After years of sitting inside a wooden barrel,
it only makes sense that she takes on the aroma and flavor of her container.

It was a month ago that I received a request from another WarmShowers.org member
asking if he might stay with me. He only requested to pitch his tent in my yard for one night. But substantial rains on the next day, the Monday of his arrival, made me refuse to allow him to sleep in a tent. My home is tiny, but I made him a pallet on the floor of my extra bedroom and offered him dinner, a warm shower and time to dry out and rest.

Conversation quickly revealed that he had been riding since mid-February. He had ridden his bike from Sacramento, California to Augusta, Georgia with one goal in mind; to race in a USA Cycling National Championship race to be held at Fort Gordon Army Base. Of all of the homes in Augusta available, he requested to stay with me because I lived closest to the event site.  He made good time crossing the US so he arrived a few weeks earlier than he expected.

And there I sat, across the table from this stranger
with clear, blue eyes
and tan, defined legs
listening to stories of Texas and New Zealand,
Australia and Lake Tahoe,
the Sierra Nevada mountain range and Alabama.
He had a week’s reservation at a local hotel for the week before the June 3rd race
and planned to possibly do some sightseeing
and couch surfing
while he trained and rested.
I offered that he stay still for a few days
while he figured out where he might want to visit
and how he might want to spend the next month.
Og and me

Yes, I slept with my bedroom door locked,
and mace inside my pillow case,
my phone beside me on the bed
and a home-made contraption to LOUDLY alert me
if my bedroom door was opened in the night.

But, by the third night,
I didn’t feel the need to lock my bedroom door.
He’s been living beside me since May 1st and
this man has been a gentleman to me
in every.way.possible.

With the race behind him,
in only two more days,
he will mount his bike
and begin the trek home.

He took a southern route to get here.
He’ll head north up the coast and then west across the states to return.
He plans to visit Niagara Falls on his way home.
i.am.jealous

This rough-around-the-edges stranger
has become a dear friend
to this intentionally-sheltered Southern girl.
No. I won’t be changing my Facebook relationship status.
No. I won’t turn down a date if someone else comes along.
And no. I won’t quickly forget all the ways that he enriched my life
in the thirty eight days that we shared meals, conversation and living space.

And yes, I will miss him dearly.

WarmShowers.org, tawny port and “Og” (his nickname given by a friend)
make me happy today. What makes you happy this marvelous Monday morning?

 

 

Makes Me Happy Monday ; Outdoors In

The thin sliver of glass
that separates controlled humidity
from the wild, blue open
is an invisible barrier.

My inside world is laden with nature.
I choose to fill my home with colors, textures and objects
that blur the line between
outdoors and indoors.

I often find gifts from creation
that have an unusual color, shape or feature …
so I pick them up and bring them inside.

I love the way this oak gift dried open and flat
with her sweet little acorns scattered along the main stem.

So, I picked her up and brought her inside.
Oak love with acorns

Often, my stick and root finds
make their way into artwork.
This brings me such contentment.

My favorite pieces always have elements of nature incorporated into them.

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These branches are grand.
One has great movement
with branches that twist to the side
rather than reaching straight out.
And the one in the foreground ….
has lovely little buds.

I brought them in, too.

Tree parts to be admired

Some of my branches have found a home above.
This is my office/art space ceiling.
It is vaulted so there is space for a canopy of twigs.My office/art space ceiling

Dried orchid blooms
and still-green-oak leaves sit beside sticks and reindeer moss.

Oak leaf treasure

A bowl cradles Sycamore fruit.

Sycamore balls in a bowl

A pine cone from a long ago adventure
rests on a tray.

Pinecone on the dinner table

What once was a single jar ….

#amber #rock #words #branches #quiet #still Happy Monday.

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has become a trifecta of collected beauty.

Tiny stick bouquets

And this tiny bowl
holds a broken piece of beauty
that I adore.
Small. Unevenly spaced. And intricate.
I look at it often when I sit at the table to dine.
And it makes me so happy.
I will definitely work her into a tiny piece of art …
a little, bitty, tiny work of art.
Stick love in a clay dish

Here’s the thing …
you have to know yourself
to know what makes you happy.
You have to separate yourself from the
things you’ve been told about
who you are,
what you should like
and what you should do …
to really consider
what brings you joy.
What makes your heart sing?
What makes your soul dance?

Give it some thought.

Then begin to surround yourself
with the things and the people
that bring you the greatest joy!

This morning, I am reminded
that nature makes me happy.

What brings you joy on this marvelous Monday morning?

 

Makes Me Happy Monday ; Being Happy with Being Alone

You know what really made me happy recently?

Being okay with being alone.
No, actually ….  being HAPPY about being alone
made me happy.

Jason Mraz came to Augusta to serenade us with his lyrics, tunes and instruments.
He has been one of my favorite musicians for years and years. As soon as the tickets went on sale, I grabbed one.

One ticket.

So, I would leave my house alone.
I would arrive alone.
I would stand in line alone.
And I would sit and listen and soak in the beauty … alone ….
in a crowd of 2,000.

The Jessye Norman Amphitheater beginning to fill as we wait for Jason Mraz

After years of being a homeschool family of five that did everything together
to being a family of 2-3 after a kid and husband moved out
to now being a family of two in the house (just me and the youngest),
life continues to change.
And the youngest often has to work in the evenings, so we don’t get to do things together.
So, now, it’s most often …..  just me.

For years I dreamed about when the children move out and move on
and I would be able to fully and totally focus on my spouse again.
How could I bless him? What would make him happy? What would be fun for him?
I was SO looking forward to being a married couple with freedom to go and do
and enjoy what we WANTED to do
rather than what family-life dictated.
I find myself instead alone to go and do.

And you know what? It’s been wonderful.

I’ve dated some since becoming single.
Being in a relationship – whether married or not – is complicated and a great deal of work.
But right now ….
I don’t have to worry if my outfit will please the man I’m with,
or if I’ll say something that will be upsetting to the balance (or lack thereof) in the air,
or if my stopping to talk to a friend for ten minutes
or snap a half-dozen pictures
will be considered irritating.

I can go where I want,
do what I want
and know that I don’t have to fret over upsetting anyone.
This is bliss, I tell you.  Pure, unadulterated, wonderfully-freeing bliss.

So, I arrived early (because I didn’t have to wait for anyone).
I stood in line and chatted with those in front of me and behind me.
I EASILY found a seat near the front because I just needed space for my one little fanny
not two or three or five of them. Waiting for Jason Mraz to play at the Jessye Norman Amphitheater

While we waited for the stage to be taken,
I found myself in wonderful conversation with all of those around me.
The couple beside me was from Charleston (where James now lives)
but just moved there from Raleigh (where Glory now lives).
I discussed what makes a good BBQ sandwich with the couple to my right
as they sucked BBQ sauce off their dripping fingers
having just brought down two HUGE BBQ sandwiches from a vendor.
Another couple was there from out-of-town with their awesome son
who had met and played guitar with Jason at another concert
and had nothing but kind things to say about Jason, his talent and his spirit.

We watched ominous clouds
roll past in the distance
and I prayed they could stay in the distance
and they did. Praise God.

Clouds filled the sky as we waited to hear Jason Mraz play at the Jessye Norman Amphitheater

As Jason played, boats meandered in and kayaks followed.
There were kids and dogs and cool-down splashes and  ….
it was just so neat!
Jason even played to the crowd to his rear
that were privy to his waterside tunes for free.
He turned to them and spoke to them and sang to them from time to time.
He was so gracious!

Jason Mraz playing at the Jessye Norman Amphitheater

As the sun began to set, I snuck down to the stage and snapped a few shots
of the golden light
and the calm.
It was ethereal to me … poetic and dreamy and so easy.

Jason Mraz playing at the Jessye Norman Amphitheater

This being alone just gets easier
as I relax and become more me than I’ve ever been …
more me than who someone else wants me to be
and more me than the me that I thought I should be
before he and she and them
began to impress upon me
that I was too much of this
or too little of that.

It’s a new freedom and I love it.

Jason Mraz playing at the Jessye Norman AmphitheaterSo, bring on the solo concerts.
Bring on the solitary kayak trips and independent camping trips.
Bring on the stag social events and the solitary moves.
And bring on the days and nights of being the only one in my home.
I’m ready for them.
I’m excited for them.
And I’m so very happy to be alone.

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

 

Makes Me Happy Monday ; Nippon Condiment bowl

There is always a “to go” bag near my door for donations. I will swing it by Goodwill or Julie’s House Thrift Store when it gets full. I downsized a LOT (probably by 3/4 of my belongings) when I moved a little over a year ago, but I still have too much (or it HAS ME, as the philosophy goes).

And I don’t yard sale or thrift shop much any more. I have an on-going list of things I’d love to have … most of which are power tools, if I’m totally honest. I keep this list above my desk and add to it as something new comes up that I know would be super helpful in my creating endeavors. When I find that I need something time  and time again (like the palm-sander!! I NEED), I plan it for next month’s budget.

ToolWishList

My new home is much smaller than the house we left last February. So, the things that are decorative have fewer spots to be displayed. Thus, there are fewer of them.

A few weeks ago, I was downtown at one of my favorite plunder shops, Ray’s Estate Sales, when I spied this beautiful little treasure.

Nippon China Condiment Bowl

I didn’t buy it immediately because ….
I didn’t “need” it.
But, after I left the shop, I couldn’t get it off my mind.
I love the shape, the color, the design and the sweet feel of this beautiful ceramic china.
After days of remembering, I messaged Ray and asked him to set it aside for me
and when he opened back up (he’s only open a few weekends a month),
When he was open next, I dropped by to pick it up.

Nippon China Condiment bowl

A little research tells me that Nippon is the Japanese name for Japan. And this style bowl set is marketed as being a mayonnaise bowl … but …. I don’t think of mayonnaise as being a Japanese staple. Am I wrong? I’ve seen this bowl also called a condiment bowl, which makes a little more sense.

But, whatever others call it, I call it stunning.

Nippon China Condiment bowl

I won’t use it for condiments or mayonnaise very often. More than likely, it will be filled with acorns or some nature treasures
or it will simply sit empty on my shelf to be adored.

Just look at that pretty hand-painted edge!
This style of painting is actually one that I use in my own artwork at times. I like really loose color with broken, fine, loose lines to give the illusion of an outline. I’m really just learning how to paint this way (with watercolor and usually black pen). It’s a strong contrast to my patterned, heavily textured, mixed media acrylic work.

Nippon China Condiment bowl

It’s a tiny thing …. painted bone china, fired and antique ….
but it makes me happy.

Nippon China Condiment bowl

As always, my reason in sharing some little something in my life
that makes my heart feel happy
is to spread a little joy
and challenge you to find beauty in the little things
that surround you in your every day life.

May your Monday be wildly blessed
and graciously lovely.
What makes YOU happy this marvelous Monday morning?

Nippon China Condiment bowl