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Living Your Ecstasy

 

What inspires you? What makes you lose track of time? What makes the demands of life fade and the passion for life and love rush your soul in ecstasy?

A moment in dialogue with a child? A gaze upward on a starry night? A horseback ride at sunset? A hike along the forest trail? Faith-filled knowledge of your unity with God? An idea and creative inspiration in the space between waking and sleeping? Intimacy? These small snippets are the essence of what we really value, right? Is there is a discipline that allows these minuscule seconds to grow? Can we experience life more fully by experiencing more of these moments?

I think so. The discipline seems to begin with acknowledgement and giving TIME to experience glory moments. We have to come to expect them. Our busy, overwhelmed lives don’t facilitate soul food. Haven’t we given homage to drudgery long enough? It isn’t the path for wholeness.

There is another way.

While our logical mind tells us we have to worry to be productive, (and logic has it’s place in helping us survive in this body,) it’s not equipped for the survival of our spirit.  Is it possible to be living in effortlessness productivity? I desire more of that life.

This may explain why vacations and trips planned away from the routines of life fill our souls so differently. Those unique moments rise to the surface when we speak of the highlights of life. When we take time to be affected by the people we are with and the sights we see, reading books and taking long meandering walks,  intentionally letting our mind rest, we find that we became fueled and focused in profound, unexpected ways. We’re “more” of something, not less.

It’s as if life *rewards* and *responds* and *gives* based on something very different than our consumerist mindset. Maybe the mindset of passion + surrender = the inspired, purposeful, ecstatic life. Spirit living.

I’ve heard that we ARE what we LOVE, NOT what loves us. This makes me ponder.

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This is Living

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We’re a week into a new year of aspirations, resets, focus and tasks. We clearly see the red targets we’re aiming to hit. Our calendars are groaning a bit. And goals are a necessary part of our human equation!  (BUT)…

let’s not forget life happens “on the way” to goal(s).

The moment of silence that you took before you spoke, to settle the inner part of you, well, that’s living. It wasn’t a hindrance to your goal.

The chicken soup you made for a sick friend (that might have taken more time than you imagined) reminds you of your greatest strengths and also of your human frailty. That’s living. This living might have slowed your arrival to the target, and you’ll be tempted to think it’s of less value. It’s not.

The pause you made while taking a quick gaze upward allowing you to see the architecture that’s overtaken and interwoven with vines, grounded you and reminded you that multiple forces are always at work, both within and without.

This is living.

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What if I don’t have ‘a word’ for 2018?

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For years now, I have chosen a word, a verse, or a mantra for the year ahead. In many cases I would say more accurately, the word chose me. I love that feeling.But this year, (for weeks before the ball dropped) I have prayed, searched and listened for a word; THE word for me, only to find myself here on Jan 3rd without one. And I so love words. Sure, I could force it and lay claim to something, but that doesn’t really seem the right path. Am I alone? I imagine there are others who also feel a little bewildered that a word didn’t “find” them.

I’ve always considered having a word meant I had a sense of direction, vision and passion for what’s ahead.  And in some cases, it was a definite gift of grace when  I needed that exact word as comfort for a trial. But something did come to me today. It wasn’t a word, but an understanding  that (for me and at this time), NOT having a word may be the exact exercise to grow me. Have you ever cleaned and organized an office, only to find you didn’t get the work done or spent effort meal planning only to look back two weeks later to see you didn’t eat well? I guess I know deep down that a word does not insure execution of my dreams. But maybe I wanted to feel a little more “together” than I do? Does that make sense?

So, instead of looking for a word to embody a war cry or grandiose emotional movement that will carry me and/or keep me grounded, I’ll understand at a deeper level that our lives speak. There is always a word at work. Always a word lived out. I’m ok without a certain word to claim

Maybe I’ll find at the END of this year a word will emerge for HOW I DID live, not how I intended to live. I do enjoy seeing our word(s) lived out. When I see your name, words come to mind that embody you. Truly our life speaks louder than any word we could say.

To you! To 2018!

#beautynearme

 

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B.R.A.V.I.N.G. Blogging

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B.R.A.V.I.N.G. Blogging-

I just listened to an interview on youtube. Brene Brown talked about her book ‘Braving the Wilderness’. (I have it on my “must read” list.) She said

“True belonging is a spiritual practice and it’s about the ability to find sacredness in both being a part of something but also the courage to stand alone.” ~Brene’ Brown

Hmmmm, we add layers of warmth before we brave the cold. In a social sense, I think we must we layer on much wisdom before “braving the wilderness” of hard (but necessary) conversations. This acronym gave me a lot to think about.
B.R.A.V.I.N.G—

BOUNDARIES
RELIABILITY
ACCOUNTABILITY
VAULT
INTEGRITY
NON JUDGMENT
GENEROSITY
~Brene Brown’s acronym for Braving

After listening, some questions emerged for me as it pertains to blogging.

I wonder if in blogging, we must also find our “belonging”—-and the ability to find sacredness in both being a part of something but also the courage to stand alone?

Do we blog for escape or lack of courage for conversation?

Is there a conversation that we should have with a certain individual?

Instead of having a “hard conversation”, do we blog the release of our thoughts for self- gratification?

The nugget of truth that emerged for me is that there are times, beautiful times, that blogging to “everyone”is appropriate, meaningful and useful. BUT, there is another form of blogging that can steal growth from us. It’s a cowardly substitute blogging. A blogging instead of _______.

Blogging can’t become railing post; the “punching bag” to spew harsh, dehumanizing words about a person or group of people. AND, conversely, blogging can’t become a substitute for the vulnerability heartfelt words meant for a specific human with which you should interact.

Yes, Blogging and braving go hand in hand with courage and belonging.

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The Season of Quiet Mourners

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Dec 1st has come and gone, meaning the “Christmas season’ is in full swing. For many, this is all joyous. But for so many, it means a quiet reconciling of loss. Seasons of parties and pictures, family and gatherings, punctuate loss.

I have friends who have recently (or not so recently) said “goodbye” to someone, or some-thing. It seems odd that joyous occasions punctuate loss, but it does. Do you feel it too? Sure, I know there is a season for everything. There is. But there are seasons more difficult than others, Joyous seasons are difficult to sojourn in mourning. No one wants to be a “downer” in the midst of a party season. Smiles are draped like luxurious clothing. I think we must take time to see beyond the “clothes.” We must look past the lights and music. We must look into honest eyes and share in kind with honestly; with genuine care. We must see, really see. It might be as simple as a word of acknowledgement, or a release for tears among smiles; a touch on the shoulder. There is beauty in acknowledgement. Sometimes it is enough to admit we don’t know what’s needed. That’s a start.

Almost EVERYONE I know intimately deals with mourning silently. It is human. Beautifully human. The band of “Quiet Mourners” is real …and thoughtful, honoring and noble in a world full of tell-all, “exploitation at the cost of everyone” photos. Things happen that sometimes can’t be talked about or shared. It’s ok, It doesn’t mean you’re not vulnerable or authentic. It may mean you are respectful of someone else, There is no shame in quiet mourning. It’s a reality. In some ways, it gives a beautiful dignity and poignancy to something real.

I would like to take a moment to honor all of the quiet mourners.

Your dreams have gasped their last breath without celebration or fanfare. Your heart may have broken silently with the loss, at times being so interwoven with someone else’s, that there was no liberty to share the pain. That doesn’t mean it’s less important. That kind of mourning still matters because… you still matter.

You. Matter.

 

 

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Connection is contagious. When I see it, I smile. Monday #beautynearme is brought to you by my parents (their connection with each other) and my grandson (his connection to his creativity). It evokes gratitude. So much gratitude.

When we intentionally look for connection, even if looking on from a distance, our hearts are warmed.

The cold of the season cannot chill a warmed heart.

 

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Braids

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Today, I got to spend some one on one time with “little bit”, Lennon Jane. As I was getting her dressed, I thought I’d try a little braid in the front of her hair where it’s longest.

I braided a little strand and stood there with tears in my eyes. Her first little braid seemed to signify a passage out of babyhood and into girlhood. Yes, braids are cute, but they are also sturdy, making place for passion and focus in this wild and beautiful life.

Braids are perfect for her.

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A Time for Gray

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It’s a chilly morning, but not frozen

 It’s “in-between” world where I feel neither “here” nor “there”

-a place where nothing is completely anything

Few leaves, colored and clinging remain, still hopeful in the breeze

All the others are swirling down on the ground, free, unattached and forgotten

My thick skin hasn’t emerged for the season

so I place my my fingertips over the heater

I start to wonder as I watch the leaves, ‘which am I’?

Have I fallen already? Or am I still clinging?

This melancholy settles in with the blanket I wrap around me

I see pumpkins discarded from porches, replaced with the lights we need at night

Though it’s morning, grayness settles comfortably in the sky as if there is no sun in the east

That dreariness in the sky against the fieriness of the trees  grate on me

And yet if I’m honest, I admit I both love and hate the contrast

Why does gray have a place? My artist brain works for an answer

Opposites and gradients of color highlight each other

Is this how I make sense of the newness of sadness? Is this the comfort of change?

And then, as if on cue, I hear you outside my window

Yours melody is so free. No expectation. No restlessness in the gray

Like a dance

Your happy “in-between” gray cadence

trails effortlessly and fearlessly, leaving me mesmerized between longing and belonging

comfortable and inviting in the in-between

For the first time in a long while, it makes sense

You’ve gifted me, little feathered one,

with such a truth: gray “in between” moments belong, as do I

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

There is a “time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away…”

There is always a time for gray

 

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Food Fads Through the Decades

Oh my, I’ve been scream-laughing reading the Vintage Recipes Ads. I grew up in the 70’s and this article has my sides hurting from laughing so much. Take a look at these pictures!!!!!! Did you eat any of these?

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Thankfully, my mom is a really good cook and is also health conscious. But some of these make me question how my generation even made it past the 70’s!!!!

So, let’s take a look at the FOOD FADS and diet fads through the decades.  These were listed in bon appetit magazine as follows:

1920’s
Fruit cocktail. According to Fashionable Foods: Seven Decades of Food Fads, when Prohibition went into effect on January 16, 1920, it dramatically shifted dining habits in addition to drinking rituals. Fruit cocktails garnished with marshmallows or sprinkled with powdered sugar came into vogue, though not as dessert. They replaced oysters on the half shell served with Champagne as the dinner party opener. Hmmmm. who knew?

Diet Fad: Smoking

1930’s
Gelatin everything! Salads that contain the world “gelatin” or “congealed” make me gag a little. The “in” crowd began serving these architectural marvels (that jiggled!) at social gatherings during the Great Depression. Cooks were not shy about sticking any old ingredient into the cold molds: chicken, hard-boiled eggs, grapes, grated carrots. EEEEEWWWWWW

Diet Fad: Grapefruit a day.

1940’s
Canned meat. The lingering effects of the Great Depression and rationing for World War II dictated culinary trends during this time period. Enter SPAM. The canned meat marvel became a staple of soldiers’ diets and caught on among civilians, both as a buffet option (fruit cocktail-SPAM loaf please!) and eventual punchline. The only thing more lasting than SPAM’s “indefinite” shelf life has been its popularity. To date, Hormel Foods has sold more than seven billion cans. Can you believe that?

Diet Fad: They Cayenne Cocktail. (Yes, Cayenne pepper infused juice.)

1950’s
Casseroles. The Middle America staple goes by many names–casserole, hot dish, funeral potatoes–but it has always been defined by one key element: It is traditionally made entirely from processed ingredients, including canned tuna, tater tots and the quintessential binder, cream of mushroom soup. The end result often takes on the characteristics of glue and mush, yet this comfort food starred at picnics, family reunions and church receptions. Still does, in fact.

Diet Fad: Cabbage is where it’s at. Eat cabbage all day. eat as much cabbage as you want! 😉

1960’s
Instant and Imitation food. Despite the proliferation of hippie home cooks experimenting with ethnic cuisine, food companies flooded the market with NASA-inspired just-add-water products, such as instant mashed potatoes, freeze dried coffee, powdered cheese mix and scientifically-engineered Tang. The introduction of Easy Cheese, Bac-Os bacon bits and Cool Whip cemented these science project foods (some of which we still turn to every day) foothold in society.

Diet Fad: The point system (weight watchers). Forget health conscious. Let someone else decide the necessary magic system .

1970’s
Fondue—This idea is great in theory–crusty bread dunked in melted cheese; strawberries drowned in chocolate–and yet horrible in execution. Concerns of double dipping, spillage and the communal hot pot turning into a petri dish of germs all raised red flags. Then a Canadian design company decided to market the same concept, except as a chocolate fountain, making it all but impossible for one to dip his banana into the waterfall without staining his shirt.

Diet Fad: The little magic pill- Ephedra (ephedrine and caffeine). Pharmaceutical mania in full swing.

1980’s
Pasta Salad. In 1982, Florence Fabricant made a sweeping declaration in The New York Times by proclaiming, “The pasta salad, that darling of the carry-out shop, is here to stay.” That was an unfortunate reality for anyone who believed that mixing cold noodles with vinegar or mayo and sliced canned olives was a wise decision. The trend took a turn for the worse when salad dressing companies entered the game. Just pour a bottle of Wish Bone over those tri-colored tortellini’s and–voila!–a summertime favorite.

Diet Fad: Slimfast- ready-made meal replacements.

1990’s
Fat free. Bags of Frito-Lay’s WOW Chips fat free potato chips advertised “All the Taste 1 Gram of Fat.” Wow indeed! The secret ingredient was Olestra, a calorie and cholesterol-free fat substitute. Sales skyrocketed to over $300 million in the first year alone, which meant that plenty of folks discovered the side effects of Olestra: an urgent and unanticipated need to run to the bathroom. Not surprisingly, sales slipped to $200 million two years later. The product is still around today, however, it has been re-branded as “Light” chips. Olestra is still listed as the second ingredient. Bathroom, anyone?

Diet Fad: Anti-carb movement & Fat free everything.

2000’s
The Atkins Diet. Nothing about this diet made sense. As long as people cut back on carbs, they could gorge on all of the marbled steaks, cholesterol-friendly eggs and robust cheeses they could stuff down their gullets. At the height of this weight loss fad, 10% of Americans followed the starch-averse nutritional plan. After carb cravings returned in 2005, that number fell to 2%, Atkins Nutritionals filed for bankruptcy and bakers everywhere breathed a sign of relief.

Then, Energy Drinks. Yikes

Diet Fad: Atkins followed by Juicing for weeks at a time followed by the SouthBeach diet.

2010’s
Bacon everything. Don’t blame the bacon bacchanalia that has swept the country on the delicious pork product. Point the finger at the cooks who have taken the cultural obsession about 12 steps too far and put bacon in places it never should have been in the first place: donuts, cookies, cupcakes, ice cream, cakes–the list of sugary snacks runs out the door and around the corner. Hardee’s and Burger King are now selling a bacon sundae, which seems to be a good sign. Usually, once Corporate America gets on board, the trend is on the way out.

Also, Frozen yogurt shops. Gluten free eating,

Diet Fad: Paleo- (Dairy, grains, sugar, legumes, processed oils, salt, alcohol, and coffee were taken off the table in favor of vegetables, fruits, nuts, meat, and fish.)

As we embark on the close of 2017 and welcome 2018, I wonder what food fads will emerge this year. Any ideas? Happy eating.

 

 

 

 

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How to Expand Your Wardrobe Color Selections

Most people have a warm skin tone or a cool skin tone. This means certain colors will look best on you. We tend to find ourselves wearing the same colors a lot! But what if we want to break into a color tone/family that really isn’t our “go-to” color? Is there a way to do it? Yes. There certainly is a way! Here’s an example.

Take a look at the color wheel:

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You may wonder if your skin has cool tones, how you can “Pull Off” wearing warm colors?” Me too. Here’s a tip

Instead of thinking either/or, think compliment/expand.

For example, as you can see on the color wheel, a blue tone will look fabulous opposite a warm Orange. On the color wheel, they are complimentary (opposite each other). Similar to the idea that opposites attract, color combos that are opposite, highlight the hue.

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So if I’m wearing burgundy-ish plum, gray and black (cool hue) sweater with cool (bluish) undertones (as seen above), how can I incorporate a color with warm (yellowish) undertones? Take a look at the color wheel for ideas. I paired this cool sweater with warm golden brown and black pants and a warm golden brown scarf. (This golden hue is on the warm side of the wheel). Note that the color doesn’t have to be completely opposite for it to “work”, but that is a great place to start playing around with color combos. This allows you to expand your look. You will probably not go ALL warm if you are cool toned, but you can definitely incorporate warm tones as your complimentary color.

When you add a little of the opposite tone, it allows you to expand your accessories as well. Sometimes you can then mix gold and silver jewelry. You may even be able to wear more golden hues in your eye makeup. It works. Why? Because adding a complimentary shade opens up your options.

Let me know what “opposite color” you have added or would like to add. Happy Fall!