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There IS no perfect time. Act now.

Tuesday, January 12th, 2016

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I needed to read this, and thought a reminder would be good so I made this image. In certain areas, I tend to be perfectionist  and feel things are “not done enough” and never actually finish the last tiny bit. The other side of that is being afraid I don’t have enough time/energy/focus to start, and then waiting for the perfect time.
I do this most for things where I think someone is going to judge in some way, especially with my artwork/knitting. In 2015 I finished a bunch of knitting patterns I’d started in previous years but never finished. I’m practicing finishing and remembering that I can be my worst critic when I’m in the wrong mood.
 Some people only knit one item at a time, where others of us enjoy starting many projects (that’s me).
I think starting something or at least planning something is like embracing a dream. Maybe not finishing is, in a sense, holding on to the dream that started the project rather than embracing what it has grown into becoming.
Do you ever have trouble finishing things you start? Tell me a bit about them.

Sending love to my teacher, Tara Swiger

Monday, January 4th, 2016
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The only difference between a madman and myself, is that I am not mad. –Salvador Dalí

Monday, January 4th, 2016
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First teatime of 2016. My Word Of The Year is Flow

Friday, January 1st, 2016
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Choosing Ease over Ceaseless Striving

Monday, June 1st, 2015

The New York times published an article called The Small Happy Life. I found it  a thoughtful essay. I relate.

After daddy died (I was 14), besides holding relationship more dear, I was a “Live! Live! Live!” Grrrl. I felt I needed to be/do/think big. (The inner frenzy now reminds me of the Peter Gabriel song, Big Time.)

Now I have a wonderful, contented life. We have a modest home in a modest city instead of the condo in Chicago with a view of Lake Michigan that I nearly bought. We sing at nursing homes and make folks light up and sing along, instead of me singing solo on a big stage or in a movie s I dreamed as a child. I have no unsecured debt, and at present no car or house payment… Instead of the expensive hair, clothes, shoes, and credit card/car payments I had when I was trying to impress others and myself. 

Ironically, I have more friends and more ease than I ever imagined… and I love being an adult. Life is full and joyful. I have never laughed so much!

I once truly had a job with a key to city hall. It paid well and someone’s else sorted my mail for me. I had another job where the secretary supported my needs (after I had been the secretary myself for years). Now I work more hours for less pay, but fewer expenses… and am content. 

And my husband lights up when I walk into the room. Who needs designer clothes? This is the life.  

Big Time by Peter Gabriel

Kindness Heals the Heart

Saturday, May 16th, 2015

throw kindness around like confetti!-Kid President
I started the day discouraged. Nobody can function when they are down like that. I needed a change.

Just as music can be a drug and determine your mood for the day, so can other things such as videos and reading material.

be the reason somebody dances this week!-Kid President
I needed a better mood. I needed to change my direction. Fortunately, Kid President came to mind. Just the thing!
Watch this. Giggle. Go on recharged. It only takes 3 minutes, less time than getting up for a drink of water.

DO it! Click!

 Kid President screengrab 

Need to Manage Your Time?

Monday, May 11th, 2015

Is this True?

I think I might be like you…

It’s so easy to feel I need to “manage my time” so I can do everything on my plate. Do you have that idea, too?

Stopped in my Tracks

Then last week I went to the Doctor for a routine appointment… And was pronounced sick with a contagious virus and told to stay home for 5-7 days. Ack! I didn’t feel too bad, mostly tired and spaced out. (Usually sick for me means sleeping all day feeling miserable.) Yet the fog made me slow down. 

There were a few things I could do with my feet up, so I did those while feeling guilty and ineffective. Most of them involved knitting. 

Since knitting frees up thoughts and ears, I listened to audiobooks. When I was done with those I switched to podcasts. (Podcasts are like radio shows I can download to my iPod and listen when it’s convenient.)

Explore Your Enthusiasm 

As a creative professional, I enjoy Tara Swiger’s “Explore Your Enthusiasm.” I often even listen to the episodes multiple times.”

So I listened to Tara’s podcast 46 from a few months ago… About “Time Management Fallacy.” It was the perfect message.  

Excellent Effectiveness Advice

She makes great points: 

  • Don’t plan forever, just dive in & do the work. 
  • Don’t give yourself 2 hours for a 20-minute job. 
  • Stop doing things you don’t need/want to do (and are doing because others want you to).
  • Choose to enjoy time, not cram it full of more tasks. 

Excuse me, I’m off to work on the porch with my laptop. Seize the day!!!

 Working on the Porch 

Use that Good China!

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

I clipped this quote somewhere on the internet, and now I’ve done a Google search and a search of Facebook and can’t find it. May the writer forgive me for sharing these wise comments (which clearly were intended to be shared) without attribution.

” When I was studying nursing, I worked in a nursing home. There were so many residents that had sentimental and special things that were given away, in pristine condition and never used. It just seems like such a waste!

Tomorrow may never come, so don’t leave your beautiful, sparkly things sitting in boxes and in the cupboard. Use and enjoy them!”

I also found a column by Regina Brett, Columnist Regina Brett45 life lessons. It’s being circulated on Facebook as written by a 90-year old. They have her name right, but her age is 53 (I found this information on the urban-legend-busting website Snopes.com). I particularly want to share this goodie that relates to the one above:

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

–Regina Brett

For the record, I’m showing Ms. Brett’s photo here… and then showing the photo that has been accompanying the post on Facebook. Iris Apfel, Fashion DesignerI happened to recognize the incorrect photo. It’s Iris Apfel, a New York fashion icon and designer. I love her style!!! Click here for more photos and information on Iris.

My Own Challenge

I’m in a group on Facebook full of entrepreneurs working solo. One week there was a challenge to find things in our homes that we had not used, that we were essentially “saving for good.” I did well in the kitchen area, there was one jar of golden syrup that I deem so yummy I was saving it for a special occasion. I’d used my long-saved saffron and a vanilla bean, before the challenge.

Hawaiian dressBut in my closet? Oh, the beautiful clothing I wasn’t wearing. I have a 1960’s Hawaiian dress, in like-new condition. I sort of think of it as a museum piece and so I leave it for later, which never comes. I have a hand-woven/hand-embroidered dress from 1970’s Egypt which I’ve never worn and now doesn’t fit me anymore.

I do have some textiles I deem collectible which I never intended to wear (hand-embroidered with hand-dyed threads, from Uzbekistan and Turkey… and hand-knitted Turkish socks and Andean hats). I also have an amazing wool double-knit top from the 70’s (back when polyester double-knit was king… with op art patterns).

But really? Why not wear a dress until it doesn’t fit my 50-something body… when it did fit when I got it as a gift from a woman who bought it in Egypt?

And I have some amazing yarn I’ve collected as souvenirs on my travels. The problem with this is that I typically buy yarns I can’t get at my local shop. And I make a living helping shops help their customers, by pairing their yarns with my designs. So it’s hard to justify knitting with a specialty one-off yarn.

Isn’t life funny? I think I don’t hoard. I don’t hoard food or household supplies. I don’t hoard money, goodness knows. But I hoard textiles, which are my most precious things.

I am now eager for a hot day. It’s time to wear that dress.

How about you?

First Flowers of Spring

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

Art is the unceasing effort to compete with the beauty of flowers – and never succeeding.”
Marc Chagall (1990-1985)

Maybe you are like me, waiting for spring. It seems every year winter feels harder.

First VioletI did get a break this year when I drove south a few weeks ago. However, I nearly cried when Brian brought in this beautiful little bloom two days ago. He found it in our side yard. It had snowed that day, but the flower was there, along with the first robin we have seen this year.

Tuesday, the birds were all happy. There was no snow, and the side yard had many little violets blooming.

In Lansing, Michigan, where we live… well, there is always at least a light flurry of snow sometime in April. However, if we are lucky it won’t stick again this year.

I think we made it!

Violets peeking through

Above the Daisies!

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

Just being alive is enough.colored daisies

I get confused about priorities, I get distracted constantly, I mismanage my time, I make choices that later I think might have been best made a different way.

However, I have people who love me and work I am excellent at doing, and a community, and a great family (by birth, marriage, and choice) and I am ALIVE.

As mom says, I am “above the daisies.” I really can’t want for anything else.

Do you feel pressure to live BIG?

Monday, October 27th, 2014

A friend asked on Facebook…

Do you feel pressure to play it big?

My Reply

Here is what I wrote to that friend’s prompt:

Nope, not now. I want to be kind, be a good friend, and help my right people feel more confident about whatever it is that I’m teaching.

Family Portrait, Circa 1972My daddy died at 40. I was 14. My 20’s were a whirlwind, trying-to-fit-a-whole-life-into-a-short-decade. In my 30’s I went through profound inner change involving more than can fit in this post.

When I hit 40, I figured “the rest of my life is gravy.” Daddy influenced many others in his short life and I was given more time than he.

So I focus on being real, honest, kind (not nice/wimpy like “good girl” often means), truly helpful and authentic.

Community is My Everything

I can’t go out in my city or at a fiber-arts/knitting event or ukulele festival without being recognized. Last night attending a concert, a woman stopped to thank me for an excellent socknitting class years ago.

Last week at Walgreens a young woman stopped me. I taught her to knit in her elementary school years. She’s 21 now and a mother. She thanked me. She still knits regularly. Here she is at right,  many years ago, having knit a frog from a kit one of my ColorJoy readers sent. It was really heartwarming to see her again.

Youngster Showing Frog she Knit HerselfWhat would a huge income do for me? I wish to have a tombstone that says “She was a good friend.” Some people have fame and respect but nobody wants to hug them, or be their friend who can take a call at 4 o’clock. Later for that sort of “big.” I’ll take small and gentle any day.

Surprise, Surprise!

I’ll keep striving, in part because nobody really expected me to have a good, happy life. (They’d say “you have so much potential.”) I worked my emotional butt off to get here. As long as I can teach and encourage, I am content. It’s OK for people to pay me for the encouragement… But I fortunately prefer serving groups rather than individuals. I can price a group experience so that more people can take advantage of the offering.

It was a deep question. Excuse the long answer. Fewer words would not answer properly.


Beyond My Initial Take, if I Want to be Honest

The truth is, I do want some parts of my life to be BIG. I want a big heart, I want to help others make their lives more content.

No matter what I’ve done professionally, I’ve always been the “explainer” of the office. I was the unofficial trainer and the problem-solver long before I ever had an official teaching position. If I understand it, I can teach it. It’s a joy and a gift to see someone’s face light up in understanding!

slow and steady

If I thought my calling was “teaching” I might end up a full-time schoolteacher like so many people in my family. If I thought my calling was “art” I might try to sit in a studio alone cranking out product to sell at the next art fair. If I thought my calling was “encouragement” I might be a coach or a therapist. All of those things are part of what matters to me, but the intersection of them brings me to life and makes me the best I can offer to the world.

(Side note… I used to work in a finance department. I used to be a legal secretary. I used to be a purchasing officer. I used to teach DOS batch programming and other computer skills. I used to be a data entry operator. I used to be a Y2K consultant. I did all of those well enough to make a living. Some were even fun, and a few were life changing.)

Slow is the Way to Go

The longer I live, the more I find that real progress happens when I do small things consistently over time. If I choose to walk around the block every morning as water boils for tea, I will become “someone who walks daily” and I’m more likely to go on a longer bone-strengthening walk, more often.

Autumn Colors in my Neighborhood

If I choose to first eat a piece of fresh fruit (and make sure there is some in the house) when I crave sugary treats, then I may find I don’t want more… or that a smaller portion of the treat will satisfy me later. If I decide that my keys MUST go in my purse and the purse goes near the door, then I will have less chaos every day. Small stuff adds up.

Where Does this Hit You Right Now?

So… what about you? What are the true treasures and gifts in your life? What matters most of all? Do you feel like YOU need to play it big? Are you OK with small steps? I sure would have answered this differently a few decades ago… I’d love to hear your input.

An Encouraging Quote

Saturday, May 31st, 2014

Aha! LightBulb

The good news is that for every one person who doesn’t like you or the things you say or the work you do, there are a dozen people who adore you and absolutely want to see you succeed in life.
— Rosetta Thurman

I love quotations. It’s fun to search online quote pages for inspiration, but sometimes the quotes are not worded exactly right, or they are attributed to the wrong famous person. For that reason, I particularly love collecting quotes myself. Sometimes they come from reading an article online, sometimes from reading  or listening to an audiobook.

Today’s Inspiration
Today, I got a newsletter from Rosetta Thurman, a young woman with lots of vim and vigor and sparkle in her eye. I met her on Twitter a number of years ago and I just loved her spirit and attitude.

Rosetta’s website is called Happy Black Woman. She talks there about the choices she’s made to have the life she desired (rather than the life others thought she might best prefer).

When we met, she was still working a day job and she had chosen to move from an apartment into a room of a house so she could use her money differently. She pared down her things and made choices about what she loved.

Now she travels a lot doing workshops and classes to encourage others who are interested in being deliberate about their lives. She particularly works with people who have dreams about businesses of their own, helping them develop what she calls a “side hustle” while they have a job, so they don’t have to change too quickly and risk too much all at once.

Kindred Life Choices
I have had a different but similar story. In 1990 I gave up unsecured credit (it felt out of control, I didn’t have the sense of choice I feel from Rosetta). Slowly I’ve let go of things, got more things to replace them, got rid of those, repeat until we have less stuff (but not as little as my goal).

I’ve been self employed since 1999. I make a lot of choices to do with less so that the ups and downs of self employment don’t hit me as hard.

My travel is usually basic rather than deluxe (car or train rather than plane, staying in hostels or with friends/relatives rather than hotels). Clothing comes second hand except for shoes and undergarments. None of these choices feel like a compromise, because they are conscious choices. I do get two luxuries: good food and good yarn, because of my health and my work.

Back to Rosetta
Rosetta doesn’t know I’m writing about her. I get absolutely nothing from posting this. However, the quote above really struck me today. I know that we all sometimes worry about the wrong people when we’re feeling unsteady… and we all feel unsteady some days. (Thanks, Rosetta!!!)

Be the Rainbow in Someone Else’s Cloud

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

Dr. Maya Angelou, Poet Laureate, speaker, world citizen/elder, lover of life and Phenomenal Woman,* died today. I’m crushed.

I saw her twice and both times she rocked my world. I tend to love moments and then forget the specifics, but points she made have stayed with me years afterward.

The second time I heard her, she had a crowd of mostly students (at Michigan State University). She referenced a 19th-century black song with a lyric “…when it looked like the sun wa’nt gonna shine any more, God put a rainbow in the clouds.”

Here is a powerful 4-minute video of Dr. Angelou. It includes a reference to that song and how we can aim to be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud.

Listen. Hearing her may change your day. In my case, it changed my life.
Be the Rainbow… Like Maya Angelou.

*Phenomenal Woman
By Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me. 

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman

Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Maya Angelou, “Phenomenal Woman” from And Still I Rise.
Copyright © 1978 by Maya Angelou. Publisher – Random House, Inc.

A Sigh of Joy

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

tulipsWe finally have spring here in mid-Michigan. It was the hardest winter to live through that I remember, and I’ve lived here over 50 of my 55 years. We are winter-weary city slickers this year.

We had a devastating ice storm 3 days before Christmas, and 40% of the Capital city was without power. Some friends outside city limits were 8 days without.

A friend slept on our couch one night, and I cooked Christmas dinner for me and 2 friends. Brian worked a 15-hour day on Dec. 25 getting the store computers (where he is webmaster) up and running so they could be back up and open on December 26… after being closed for 3 days before the holiday.

Juicy Spring Day
It rained big, fat drops this Monday, off and on most of the day. In other years, we might have complained. This year we agree that it ‘s better than snow.

Almost everything is green now. A week and a half ago, we had very few buds. Now look at it!

©1966 by Adrian Keith Smith
Age 4
New Zealand

From the Book:
Miracles, Poems by children of the English-speaking world
Collected by Richard Lewis
Simon and Schuster, 1966

The rain screws up its face

and falls to bits.

Then it makes itself again.

Only the rain can make itself again.

green spring