Saturday, May 14, 2011

May 10-14: Keep Moving Forward

Oh, man! Things have been crazy.  It seems like the more things stack up in front of me, the harder I try to avoid them.  I didn't write or paint all week until tonight!  Somehow other little projects and "to-do's" crept in and took over.  Some of them- like getting my visa and straightening out a banking error, were pretty important.  Others, like watching "Taboo"... not so much.  Why do we do that?  Well, as preparation for my RS lesson tomorrow, I have been finishing a book my Dad gave me over a year ago.  It's called "The Artist's Way- A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity."  I started reading and absolutely LOVED it!  And then I moved to St. Aug, started a job, got distracted, (and according to this book, was probably subconsciously blocking myself from progression).  Anyway, my lesson is on developing talents, and I realized this book has a lot of things to say about that.  So I have plowed through it, enjoying every delicious word and concept.  I've learned that often it is not laziness that keeps us from doing things, but fear.  We are afraid of looking stupid, we are afraid of attention, we are afraid of a moment, a person, a situation, not being good enough, and so instead of comforting and reassuring ourselves and taking baby steps and actually progressing, we obsess, worry, and avoid.  Well, no more.  The way to overcome this fear is affirmative ACTION.  And so after days of reading, thinking, avoiding, tonight I sat down and wrote.  I worked on my lesson, and I started those last two pesky paintings I've been avoiding.  I'm not at the finish-line... but I've taken huge leaps in it's direction.

When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don't adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.

Monday, May 9, 2011

May 9: Fight Fatigue with Action

So today my sister and I were really sleepy, and our bed was laying there all comfortable-looking and tempting, but we knew we'd feel better (and sleep better tonight) if we didn't take a nap.  So instead, we mustered up our energy and enthusiasm and went to a friend's neighborhood pool.  Because I am completely out of shape, I didn't swim as many laps as I wanted to, only 14 for today.  But hey, got some exercise, got to talk to my sister about some exciting things coming up, even got a little sun:)  All in all, it was a great choice to go.  Most things are like that in life.  We feel exhausted one minute and could easily take a nap or lounge in front of the t.v., but with just a little determination, we can push ourselves in the other direction- the direction of Action.  And with Action, comes change.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

May 8: Happy Mother's Day!

Went with my family to their ward today, so that we could all sit with my Mom on Mother's Day.  She's a very affectionate person, always hugging, kissing, rubbing our backs, stroking our arms.  Today as she put her hand on mine in my lap, lightly stroking my hand with her thumb, I looked down at her hands.  They are not the hands of a young woman, but they are beautiful.  I thought of all the thousands of dishes they've washed, clothes they've folded, band-aids they've applied, meals they've prepared, cold rags they've put on foreheads, diapers they've changed, and tears they've dried.  I thought of how lucky I am to have a mother that's so easy to love and appreciate.  All of us have a mother, but not all of us have a mother as amazing as her.
When I think of all she's done for me, and sacrificed of herself for the happiness of each of us instead, I wonder if I will ever know that kind of love... if I will ever be that selfless.
I couldn't pick just one quote about mothers, so here are a few that I really like:

I love my mother as the trees love water and sunshine - she helps me grow, prosper, and reach great heights.  ~Terri Guillemets

A mother's happiness is like a beacon, lighting up the future but reflected also on the past in the guise of fond memories.  ~HonorĂ© de Balzac

A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.  ~Washington Irving

It's not easy being a mother.  If it were easy, fathers would do it.  ~From the television show The Golden Girls

Saturday, May 7, 2011

May 7: Make Lemonade

Today as I was out delivering flowers for Mother's Day, I passed a kid selling lemonade.  I happened to be incredibly thirsty, and so I got 2- one "pink" and one "yellow."  He was so excited to be getting business and was so polite and cute, it made my day.  I thought of some of the crazy things my sisters and I did when we were little to make money.
I guess as a kid we see things on such a small, simple scale, that even the prospect of a dollar here or there can excite us.  A grown up would look pretty ridiculous out in front of their house selling lemonade, but a kids can pull it off.
"When life hands you lemons, make lemonade."  That's a famous saying we've all heard, which basically means to turn a "sour" situation into something good.  Of course, "unless life also hands you water and sugar, your lemonade's gonna suck."  So luckily, we get lots of that too.  Somehow, we have to mix the sour and sweet and make it into something delicious:)  Today, think of something "negative" in your life and how you can use it to make something sweet.

Friday, May 6, 2011

May 6: Make a Joyful Noise

So... delivered flowers for Kuhn today.  It was kinda stressful at times because some of the deliveries had up to 10 arrangements, some are heavy, some are slippery, it rained half the day, my map book had pages missing, I wasn't sure where I was going, had to deal with a couple cranky people, etc.  However, I also had fun.  I love driving, and since I've been back in Florida and without a car of my own, I haven't been able to do it as much as I would like, especially on my own.  When I'm on my own I can talk to myself, sing, brainstorm, make up song lyrics or sometimes snippets of scenes for books, I love it!  Plus, I did meet some sweet people as well.  One lady was particularly adorable- she was elderly, talkative, so excited to get flowers, and felt sorry for me that I'd had to deliver in the rain and for so long (delivered my last one at 9pm).  Above the entry to her driveway is an arch that reads "Joyful Meadows."  On the way out, it reads "Make a Joyful Noise."  After meeting her and witnessing her cheerful demeanor, I could tell that this was not something she just randomly placed above her driveway, it was a philosophy that she lived by.  It stuck with me the rest of the evening.  I definitely believe in karma- in the sense that we get out of life what we put into it.  If we exude joy (whether by laughing, singing, or positive conversation), we will receive more joy from others.  So get out there and make some joyful noise!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

May 5: Celebrate Something You Usually Don't

So... we have never... ever... celebrated Cinco de Mayo, mostly because we aren't Mexican.  But hey, we love any excuse to have fun and do something a little different.  So tonight Brittany and I made a delicious Mexican feast of enchiladas (from a box), a 7-layer chip dip (w/ refried beans, cheese, cream cheese, salsa, lettuce, and tomatoes), daquiries (virgin, of course, we use Sprite... mmmmm, so refreshing :) and strawberry pie.  Now, I don't know if all those things are actually Mexican, I'm pretty sure the strawberry pie isn't, at least.  But who cares?  The point was, we had fun.  Dad even helped a little.  And it was super-freakin' delicious, AND my brother wore this awesomely ridiculous black sombrero with gold designs on it while he read to us about the origins of Cinco de Mayo (which I obviously didn't listen to very well, except that I remember the celebration started with Mexico gaining their independence from the French.) And so, for us, Cinco de Mayo meant eating delicious food, watching "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" (which always makes me appreciate my life more), drinking fabulous beverages (which we garnished with fruit slices), and spending time with the family.
     So as I thought of my post topic for tonight, I thought, wouldn't it be great if I celebrated more things in life that I usually don't?  Not just holiday's that may not relate to my culture or religion, but daily occurrences in life.  Today, for example, I worked with my Dad, published 2 posts, submitted 2 more (a jump-start on next week), and found out I got a raise at Visitsouth.  I guess I could look at tonights' dinner as a celebration of that (though all the article stuff was after that).  Or... I could get another piece of that strawberry pie and go to sleep (the sweetest celebration of any long day :)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

May 4: Learn About a Place You Want to Go

So I am slightly obsessed with travelling.  I have jumped at every opportunity to go to a new place.  I love the new sights, sounds, smells, and experiences found in a foreign place.  I learn so much about the world and myself when I step out of my life and into a world of new possibilities and faces.  My wanderlust is only occasionally satiated by an actual journey.  The rest of the time, I must be content to read, watch movies, listen to music, try food, or meet someone who can teach me about other places and cultures.
Lately I have been feeling very restless.  And who should sweep in to spirit me away but one of my best friends, Bethany from Australia.  There is a lot of preparation to do before I leave, and I am trying to portion it all out into manageable but progressive installments of work.  However one preparatory project is to learn more about this fascinating country.  I was talking to her today about the travel guide I got, last year, I think.  Australia was a far-off dream to me then, a shadowy possibility.  Now it is only 27 days away, and I can hardly believe it!  Anyway, I told her I am such a dorky tourist, with my maps and photos and child-like wonder.  She said "No, you're not an regular tourist, you'll have your very own aussie guide family!"  So I told her I'd talk silly and slather vegemite all over my face so I could blend in.  "Um... not quite."
Learning about a place you want to go not only educates and encourages, it can really help adjust our priorities.  Travelling to upstate New York, riding my bike through beautiful Selkirk Shores State Park, I learned to appreciate natural beauty and quiet.  Travelling to England, walking in the footsteps of Jane Austen, I learned to appreciate literary history.  Travelling to Guatemala, bathing in streams and seeing extreme poverty, I learned to be less demanding and more appreciative of my pampered American life.  So take some time to learn about a place, any place that interests you.  Get lost for a few hours in a completely new place, even if it's only in your mind, and see what you find.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

May 3: Divide and Conquer

 This post is not about math (thank goodness).  I am thinking a lot about all the things I need to get done before I leave.  And as I was telling a friend, I feel like I should be stressed, but I am strangely exhilarated.  However, I know I need to really focus and prioritize to get it all done in time.  And so after making a list (which is getting longer every day), I am setting a few daily standards for how much I need to get done each day.  Today I took my first bite of the elephant and it tasted pretty good.  I lined up some VS articles, started the third temple painting, and got lots of research done for Australia.
Anyway, if you are having trouble balancing several projects, try out some of these tips: 1.) Grab your calendar and make sure important deadlines and events are all on there, it's good to be able to take a look at the month as a whole before you strategize.  2.) Make a list of goals/projects, and use abc's or 123's to prioritize them.  If you are feeling overloaded, you might have to drop or postpone a few of them.  3.) Devise a chart to monitor your progress, and reward yourself as you go.  4.) Allot time for each project, and give that time the focus it deserves.  If you have a thought that pertains to another project, make a note and continue with the project at hand.  (This one is tough for me, as I am easily distracted.)  and 5.) Sometimes when it's crunch time you have to suck it up and work hard to get things done.

"The Secret of getting things done is to act."  ~Dante Alghieri

Monday, May 2, 2011

May 2: Welcome Incredible Blessings With Gratitude

Received the most amazing news in the world today, and had no choice but to write about it as I am totally freaking out!  A little over a year ago, I was living in Idaho.  I didn't know that many people at the time, but I took a chance and went to a party, figuring it would be a good chance to make some new friends.  Now, I am not an outgoing person, and I felt awkward a good portion of the evening.  However, I pushed myself to at least try to get to know someone.  In a manner completely unlike me, I struck up a conversation with this random girl, who also looked shy.  Before long we were finding out all kind of similarities between ourselves, and were excited to have made such an unexpected friendship.  We made several attempts to hang out, but things never worked out.  Then she went home to Australia and a few months later, I moved home to Florida.  When she randomly called wanting to visit, I was a little hesitant.  I mean, we didn't spend that much time together, and we didn't know each other that well.  But she came and over the next few days, it was official.  We were absolutely meant to be friends.  And now she is mailing me to Australia to visit her and her family for 3 months!  I guess it just goes to show that extraordinary things can happen to us only after we step outside our ordinary comfort zone.  If I had been my usual self that night, I wouldn't be friends with this amazing person now.  I cannot express enough how much this girl means to me, and how overwhelmed I am by this generous gift.  Hopefully some day, I will be able to repay her.  Until then, I plan to enjoy every moment with her!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

May 1: Rinse and Repeat

Ah... welcome, May!  You have been much anticipated.  After the rise and fall of the New Year's newness, it's helped to reassess and begin... again.  I've been glancing through this years' morning pages and these posts, thinking of all the good, bad, ups, downs, and opportunities the year has brought already.  And though I have a really long way to go, I have faith that the best is yet to come.
It can be kind of frustrating to realize that the changes we try to make or the things we try to overcome keep popping up again and again in our lives.  It can seem like we aren't making any progress at all, it can be really hard to keep up enthusiasm, and really easy to give up.  It's important to take a look at our strategy and either try a new tactic, or just a better attempt at the old one.
My dailies list has gotten so big- 15 things now that I'm trying to do every day.  That's a lot of things!  So tonight as I make my dailies list for the new month, I'm going to "rinse" the things out that are distracting me from accomplishing more important things.  But there are some things, like daily prayer, scripture study, and meditation, that definitely need to stay.
The trick is knowing what things to cut out of our lives (even though they may be good), to make room for the things that really matter (the things that are best.)  So I am attempting that yet again.  I am aiming for only 6 dailies.  Maybe 7.  Okay, we'll see...  One thing is for sure, sometimes you have to clear out the weeds so the flowers stand out.  In the words of Ing, "Downsize... Purify.  Streamline, find your center."