How slow can you go?

My recently finished piece. Hope to have in my Etsy store soon.
My recently finished piece. Hope to have in my Etsy store soon.

Happy Mid-August!  Where has the summer gone?  School started back this week and there are hints of color in the leaves here already.  I’m not ready for cold weather!!!

It has been a productive week for us.  The floor is installed in the laundry room, the dryer is fixed and back in place (no more having to rush out and get the clothes off the clothes line before the afternoon storms) and the washer has moved out of the kitchen to it’s rightful place as well. One more little bathroom to go and the floor will be finished.  Of course I have to paint the new cabinet this weekend before I install the flooring.  It just never ends.

As life begins to finally settle into a rhythm I am facing a new adjustment.  Slowing down.  Well that should be easy enough!  Yeah, you would think so, but…

Is your To Do list longer than your arm every day?  Is every minute scheduled? Do your kids think their names are Hurry Up and We’re Late? I have also been living under that craziness as long as I can remember or since my first kid was born, whichever came first.  Work (often two jobs), house, dog, car, yard, two kids in several sports, volunteer work, church involvement, etc.  Years and years of hitting the floor running early in the morning and collapsing into bed late at night.  Stress, stress, stress.

One of the most insane moments I remember is being at work at our then family business, rushing to pick up both kids at two different schools, coming back to work and supervising their homework, then rushing them out the door at closing time to grab another fast food dinner and drive them both to soccer practice in two different towns.  It had been “one of those days” all day and when we pulled out of the fast food drive through my kids decided that their Mom might need to be committed.

Why? First, what I thought was closing time was actually an hour earlier.  I had looked at the clock wrong.  Then after screaming at them to get their stuff in the car and driving like a maniac to Wendy’s for dinner, I paid for the food in the drive thru window and then proceeded to drive away WITHOUT THE FOOD! It wasn’t until my son gently and tentatively asked me if I was OK that I realized what I had done.  I would not chalk that day up as one of my best parenting days.

That was the point where I started dropping some unnecessary obligations and trying to regain some sanity in our lives, but things have still been “go, go, go” even after my kids left home.  D. warned me that life up here has a different time frame, but I did not realize how different until this week.

I decided to get a haircut at one of the local hair salons.  I got an appointment for 5:00 pm.  My hair is very short and it has never taken more than 15-20 minutes for someone to cut it.  I arrived 10 minutes early and got to sit for about 15 minutes listening to the local gossip and meeting some of my new neighbors.  My haircut started at 5:05.  I left at 6:00!

Tuesday we needed some lumber to finish our barn and fix a room in D.’s new business.  We arrived at 3:45 with our list.  Said hello to the owner who was helping another customer.  Sat in his office for another 15 minutes. Then he and D. proceeded to discuss hunting for another 15 minutes.  Finally out to load the lumber we went. Then the fork lift stopped working.  Another 15 minutes of fork lift discussion until it was decided to use THE OTHER forklift. Another 15 minutes picking out the right pieces. Yep, another hour bites the dust.

I used to start work at 6:30 in the morning. Now that I am down to one job I sometimes just stand in the middle of the room trying to figure out what to do with myself.  With the yard, house, dogs, horses, bees, work and an hour drive anytime we go somewhere, there is plenty to do, but there really is a time difference.  It’s like a Twilight Zone episode (if you are younger than 45 years old you will have to Google that reference).  Honestly, it’s going to take awhile to get used to this.  I have a physical reaction when I have unoccupied time on my hands. I get anxious and antsy.

Oh, it is a much better and saner way to live and one that our grandparents had everyday.  We have made time into our enemy.  Something we have to race again the clock to beat everyday.  Time should be our friend.  Time to get to know our neighbors.  Time to pay attention to what you are cooking and eating. Time to enjoy a walk in the woods. Time to read a book or get lost in a project.

I finished this guy this week. It takes so TIME to do all those dots.
I finished this guy this week. It takes so TIME to do all those dots.

 

I’m working on it my friends!  I’m taking a deep breath when I start feeling the anxiety coming on and sitting down in my lawn chair and watching the butterflies do their thing on my zinnias.  I hope you can find some “country time” too.

 

Advertisements

Life – Phase 4

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Slowly but surely some semblance of order is taking shape around here.  I say that while our washing machine sits in the kitchen.  The laundry room is getting it’s new floor finally.  The whole floor tiling ordeal began because of the laundry room when there was water damage from our leaking hot water heater.  I have been looking a subfloor all these months and am beyond ready to have that covered up.  Then, all I have left is our powder room.  You would think a tiny little bathroom would be easy, BUT I wanted a new cabinet in there and if you are going to have to take up the toilet, you might as well replace the child size one with an adult size one.  So, this week there has been a chunk of bathroom improvement shopping.  Our poor bank account!

I titled today’s post “Life – Phase 4” because as I settle into my new life I realized that we don’t actually break our lives down into neat little bits anymore than life ever goes completely aggravation free even during the best parts.

In my head, Phase 1 was childhood through my early 20’s, Phase 2 was married life and early motherhood, Phase 3 was divorced and single mom and now I am at Phase 4, remarried and empty nest.  There are varying numbers of years in each phase, but the common denominators are big life changes.

How many times do you hear people refer to their lives as, “after I got married”, “when my second child was born”, “after I lost my job”, “when Mom was sick”, or “after my husband died”?  The big, pivotal life events are our markers.  Sometimes we can’t even remember the year all that clearly, but the event is burned in our soul.

These time markers aren’t planned either.  I’m sure the 2016 Summer Olympians will always mark these couple of weeks on their life calendars, but I suspect they will not actually be the beginning of a new life phase.  Probably in many cases it will be a moment like, “the first time I swam the length of the pool when I was seven” or “after my shoulder injury I had to make up my mind to keep going”.  Time markers are deeply relational and/or deeply emotional.

Sometimes we get stuck in a phase.  I know people who seem to be stuck and unable to move forward in life because of grief, unforgiveness or fear. In limbo is not a good feeling. I have been there.  The problem is that you can’t rush it, but you do have to deal with it.  Head on.  Running away or avoiding just makes it worse.  Wallowing in it should only be allowed for a limited time. Two weeks most likely, not two years.  People start avoiding you if you wallow too long.

If you have some down time this week, kick back and think about your life phases.  Enjoy the memories of the good ones and pat yourself on the back for surviving the bad ones.  If you are in a bad one, be good to yourself and know that you will get through it. You probably have some work to do, but are capable.  Don’t think you aren’t and there are people who can help if you need it.  We all do sometimes.  Life ain’t for sissies!

Have a great week!  I am working on my writing skills and subjects, so if you have suggestions or ideas please let me know.

 

Photo by Brooke Campbell

Hands

hands photo-1439920120577-eb3a83c16dd7

Most of us come into this world with two hands and ten fingers. Once the early infant discovery of our hands and their abilities is over we give little thought to the miraculous appendages that serves us so well in our lifetime. Now, at the age of 53, I am deeply appreciating what my hands have allowed me to do.

I do not know how far back the genetic disposition to arthritic thumbs and fingers go in my family, but I have seen my Dad struggle with it for many years. Since my late 40’s my thumbs have given me increasing pain and this year every finger has expressed its displeasure in the tasks I put upon it.  It is a rare day that there is no pain now.

All these 50+ years I have been blessed with the finest motor skills in my hands.  In one of my many retail jobs the jewelry department would bring me all their tangled, knotted necklaces for me to carefully unbind after they discovered I had the patience and motor skills to work the tiny chains apart. My hands have allowed me to make almost anything I wanted to make from pottery, clothing, embroidery, Halloween costumes to jewelry.  I have used them to repair my home and car as well as dig in the earth for my garden and train delicate tendrils of vegetables and flowers onto a trellis.

I have braided my daughter’s silky hair, buttoned tiny baby buttons and trimmed tiny baby fingernails.  I have doctored many scrapes and bruises on young knees and elbows, stroked the soft fur of many loved pets and chopped thousands of vegetables to feed my people.

All of this I took for granted.

No longer will my hands go unappreciated.  As a “Do-er” not a “Be-er”, I am struggling to learn how to sit with my hands at rest. No more can I mindlessly keep my hands busy while a movie or TV show is on.  No more can I ask my hands to move heavy tile for hours and expect them to be able to still knit scarfs that night.

There are long standing activities that I am questioning now. My signature is no longer as pretty as it was, closer to a doctor’s scrawl, so writing is limited.  The crochet hooks may be retired soon.  Knitting is less painful, though even that will be pared down to what I truly enjoy making. My jewelry making supplies are likely to be given away after I squeeze out a few more pairs of earrings and my long time plan to learn the craft of stained glass work probably is not going to happen.

Is there a positive side to the aging process?  I am finding that though there is a mourning process as the children leave the nest, the face in the mirror looks strangely different and the body parts become more vocal about their distress there is good in the transition.

Like the cleaning of a cluttered, heaped up closet it is cathartic to pick and choose the most important elements of your life.  What do you truly love to do?  What sooths the soul? What brings a smile? What brings the most good to you and others?

I can still paint and draw.  That makes me extremely happy and I am finding that the limitations of my hands are making my artwork better.  Now instead of getting sucked into the vortex of detail that has been my nemesis, I am forced to be looser and more expressive in my work.  I now question what is most important to be done before I tax the strength left in my hands.

I can still hold a baby and the hand of a toddler.  These are becoming increasing joys as D’s kids have kids and I look forward to the possibility of my own grandbabies in the future.  I can still hug and hold the hands of those I love.  As each year brings the loss of more special humans and animals in my life, a simple touch is precious and golden.

I can still play in the dirt and tend to the plants.  As long as the spot is large enough, sunny enough and nourishing enough the plants do not complain about how unwieldy my fingers are.  They respond to my energy and my commitment more than my finesse.

My hands have given and given and given over the decades.  They are asking for more gentle treatment and appreciation now.  They will no longer let me take them for granted and I concede they deserve better.  There are still many things I want to do and would like their cooperation for another 50 years.  From here on I will thank them for their service on a regular basis, listen when they ask for a rest and appreciate what they are willing to do with me as we head into our next half century!

Photo credit

Quirks

Harmon ParkIt is finally here. Spring and the official start to the floor tiling extravaganza. I know, you have been hearing me talk about it for months now. There may have been a little avoidance/procrastination going on coupled with some unexpected family commitments to delay the process. If all goes well this weekend I will post a photo or two to prove I actually did stick tile to floor.

This past week has consisted of more Spring cleaning than creative endeavors. Yard work last weekend while we had some decent weather then digging things out of storage to be donated to a couple of fundraising yard sales in April as well as a big town recycling event. Time to get rid of the ancient VHS players and old cell phones.

Last Sunday we had a conversation in church that has amused me all week. Who knew that a coffee pot could  cause so much division?

coffee yin yang

Have you ever thought about your personal little pet peeves and quirks? How did you acquire them? I think many of them are passed down through our families. You know, the “that’s the way it’s always been done” effect. Some are in reaction against the way it was done in our families. My sister and I will never wash dishes the way our Mom does because we had to do it her way growing up.

The same quirks you thought were charming in someone when you were dating will drive you to the brink of insanity after a couple of years of marriage. Wars may very well have started over quirks.

Our quirks are part of what makes us each unique beings. As hard as it is sometimes, we really should appreciate and celebrate the quirks in each other. Why does the way someone carries their money in their purse make someone else crazy? Or how towels get folded? That’s one of mine. I fold towels a certain way and that’s the way I want them done. Yep, much of it comes down to control issues. Does it really matter how the towels are folded if they are put up in a cabinet and very few people actually see them? It does to me!

How do you handle someone else’s quirks? How do other people handle yours? Can you find a way to appreciate them or at least compromise before World War Three breaks out?

I have claimed responsibility for my towel folding obsession and just do it myself rather than subjecting family members to “my way.” The same goes for the dishwasher. Have you noticed that the dishwasher is a HUGE issue? It is now understood at my house that my rearranging the dishes is not a statement of anyone else’s inadequacy, but just a hang up of mine. Well, that and the fact that my way is better!

So what was the subject of the church discussion?  One of “my kind” sinned by taking a cup of coffee from the pot that had not yet finished the brewing process. This set off a protest by D’s “kind” that the “sinner” had now effectively ruined the pot of coffee for everyone else! It was soon determined that the class was almost evenly split between the two coffee obsessed factions. It was left to the non-coffee drinkers to mediate. We consider them “heathens”, but for continued peace, love and understanding with our Christian brothers and sisters we practiced forgiveness and grace.

May your week be filled with understanding and grace for others and yourself. Happy Spring and Happy Easter!

 

Harmon Park photo by Christel Williams

Coffee photo credit

 

And a little more education

Happy Halfway Through February!  If you read last week’s post you know that I do not like the month of February.  By now I am getting cabin fever and needing Spring badly.

I’m running behind today so this might be short depending on how my morning goes.  Last week I talked about how I seem to be using YouTube often to learn new things.  No tuition required!  That has been continuing into this week as well.  I have been studying how to install tile.  I will let you know how that goes in a few weeks. Prayers requested.

Here is a little watercolor painting I did last week. It is actually a jungle illustration.  I can show you the finished product in March.

Jungle background 2

What else have I done this week? Oh, I fixed one FABULOUS dinner with a honey sriracha sauce.

I IMG_2762have been leery of taking on Asian cooking since a seriously botched Chinese dish about a decade ago that my children still laugh about.  It was so bad that we actually ate grilled cheese sandwiches instead.

Something that has been increasingly on my mind is the state of our planet Earth.  I have no desire to get into the politics of the environment, and I am not a member of any environmental group, but my intuition is ringing loud and clear that we are very likely on the tipping point of saving or destroying ourselves.  I believe the Earth will recover from our selfishness and arrogance, but we probably will not.

My kids have called me their “hippy momma” forever because I have always been the recycling, vegetarian, food-growing kind of gal.  It just seems to be in my DNA to make my lifestyle as earth friendly as I reasonably can.  Not to say I can’t do better.  I am always looking for little tweaks to improve.  So, starting next week I am just going to add to my posts ways to make small lifestyle adjustments or pass along some information that might be a light bulb moment for someone to take action toward healing our home.

We can pass laws and clamor for corporations and governments to do something to stop ruining our earth, water and air, but it will still come down to human beings taking responsibility for their actions each and every day to stop the destruction of ourselves.  No more ignoring the signs of things to come.  Poverty and suffering are only going to get worse if we don’t clean up the water, air and dirt. I have no control over wars starting or ending and am not even sure that the vote I cast in an election counts, but each little effort I undertake at least makes my tiny minuscule drop in the ocean one better drop.

Aren’t I just a ray of sunshine today? Oh, go out and hug a tree.  You will both feel better.

Have a wonderful week!

 

Christmas came early

Window

I’m sitting here watching it rain buckets, but the town’s “Blinkie” lights and the Moravian stars are keeping my mood festive.  I am not a big celebrator of holidays.  That probably comes from the whole commercialization aspect that has taken hold of our celebrations.  I hate shopping and dislike the obligatory gift giving.  I would much rather buy a gift for someone at a random moment that would actually be special than having to figure out what they might want or need at the end of every year.  And who doesn’t like an unexpected gift? That is much more fun for the giver and the getter than the Christmas gift gluttony.

Having been the Grinch/Scrooge many times over the years I finally decided I needed an attitude adjustment.  I quit beating myself up for not having a budget for extravagant gifts.  I discovered Etsy and Amazon (no affiliates here folks) thus ending the need to fight through crowds.  I simplified the decorations to what I really liked and took little time to put up.  I stopped trying to cook ridiculous amounts of goodies that none of us needed.  Instead I perfected my Chex party mix recipe and live off of it for one month, once a year.  I quit trying to win Most Beautiful Package of the Year with my gift wrapping. Now I don’t even put on bows. They just get squished.  Most importantly, I quit looking for Christmas “cheer”.  The expectation that all was wonderful and bright about the season.  Ok that sounds pretty Grinchy but let’s be real.  It’s stressful not cheerful most of the holiday season.

All these changes had the effect I wanted.  I’m rarely stressed now at the holidays. Instead, I get to appreciate what Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year should be about in my opinion.  If you thrive off the hustle and bustle, go for it and celebrate on!  I’m a low-key, introvert, borderline hermit.

Yesterday my Christmas came early. Not the gift giving, but the Christmas spirit.  We celebrated the life of my uncle Chester who passed on Saturday.  I know that sounds strange, but bear with me a few more minutes.  First, Chester was 88 years old.  Most of those 88 years he was the life of every party and a prankster extraordinaire. For about the past year he had been confined to life with a feeding tube. I don’t think any of us wanted him to continue on that way for much longer.

His funeral was more laughter filled than tear filled as just a drop of his many antics were shared. The Christmas spirit part for me was the time I got to spend with family and old friends.  I rarely get to spend more than a couple of hours Christmas day with my aunt, uncles, cousins frantically trying to catch up on each other’s lives.  Many have stopped coming to the family gathering as their own families have grown and new traditions are made.

The funeral was held at my home church in the community where I grew up.  Thanks to Facebook I manage to keep up with some people there but so many others I don’t.  Though very brief, the hugs and conversations were wonderful.  I even discovered a couple of them read this blog.  Thank you, my highly patient and tolerant friends and cousins! I left the funeral with those all too rare warm and fuzzy feelings that come from tears, laughter and love.  I think uncle Chester was enjoying it immensely too.

Have a wonderful hug filled week!

My Pinterest addiction

Print

Two years ago this month I cut the cord of cable tv. The only reason I did not do it earlier was because I still had one teenager at home who thought he couldn’t live without it. As I watched him play hours of video games with his friends and grow to the sofa, marathon watching a series on Netflix, I was pretty sure he could survive without it but indulged him for the last year I had him at home. Ok, I admit to a weak parental moment.

With him off to his first year in college and me having downsized for the second time, I finally bid goodbye to the 150 channels of which I only watched two. I bought a Roku and a digital antenna, kept my subscription to Netflix and Amazon (I use it primarily for the shopping/shipping but it’s there for the watching) and waited for my HGTV withdrawal symptoms to start.  That was my only real concern about giving up cable.

As a lifetime maker/diy-er I got endless ideas from HGTV. I wasn’t sure I could live without it. But, like any addiction, there are many ways to get your fix. Pinterest entered my life. I blame my daughter for my newest addiction which has completely surpassed the HGTV problem. I am a HEAVY user.

Check out the number of pins I have. I think it's safe to call this an addiction.
Check out the number of pins I have. I think it’s safe to call this an addiction.

So why is Pinterest a problem for me? Because it has not only invaded my home improvement life, but my cooking, gardening, art, design, hobby and pet life as well. Forget Google. If I need to find something I do a search on Pinterest, then I have to start a new board to keep all that new info. I have given up reading novels before bed (what had been one of my great loves since I learned how to read) and Pinterest myself to sleep now.  As I write this I have over 15,000 pins!!!

I use Pinterest to inspire my design work when I am stuck on a work problem and to keep up with current trends. I find new recipes to perk up my cooking when I’m in a rut. There is the Art board, the Mixed Media board, the Mosaics board, the Fabric board, the Travel board, even the Critters board. In total I have 40 boards right now. Heck, I have recently culled a few  boards and deleted many pins that I decided were highly unlikely to ever be done in this lifetime.

How could you not just love something when you can find things like this! (Hey, I did some serious research to find these 😉

Facebook does not corner the market on bad jokes.
Facebook does not corner the market on bad jokes.
No explanation needed for this one.
No explanation needed for this one.
I think I had this same outfit back in the 70's.
I think I had this same outfit back in the 70’s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have started to dip my toes into the Pinterest business marketing, but still have some learning to do.  I would love suggestions or information about how you or other businesses you know have used it and if it has worked.  I should at least try to make some money with all that time I spend on there.

With my most serious warning combined with my highest recommendation, if you need some inspiration, motivation, instruction or amusement I suggest you check out Pinterest if you haven’t discovered it yet. And now I have stepped into the realm of Pinterest pusher.

I think I know what I will need to give up for Lent this year 😳.

It can change in an instant

heart in hands

I had the beginnings of three different posts started to choose from this week, but yesterday (Sunday) changed all that.  A friend lost her 28 year old son in an accident.  Another local family lost their son on Friday in a separate accident.  Life changed in an instant.

Even though most of you would not have known the difference it seemed insane to write about a favorite book or website in the aftermath of such shocking news.  My heart hurts and grieves for them. The clarity of the very few things of true value pierces through everything else right now.

I saw my friend as she expertly directed a wedding Saturday afternoon, laughed and danced at the reception and went home to be awakened by the phone call no one wants to get.

I got the news when I walked in the door at church to set up for the service Sunday morning.  There is some comfort in corporate grief.  After the announcement we all sat in silent prayer because our assistant minister could not get the words out without tears. We understood completely.  Our Senior Minister had gone into his office early that morning after he received the call and changed his sermon to one that spoke of grief, the stages of grief, and how to comfort the grieving.  For now, all we can do is wrap them in our prayers, words of love, embraces and provide what basic tasks they need help with.

Like most people who have had five or more decades on this tiny planet, I have had some painful losses.  It seems as one gains the wisdom of experience the more one realizes that there is only a miniscule amount that we have control over.  We can let that lack of control drive us mad (and we all know people who do) or we can learn to embrace the people and the moments tightly, knowing that nothing is guaranteed to be there in an hour much less the next day.

This may seem to be a depressing post today.  I don’t mean it to be, but a sadness grips me right now.  This same weekend I had the delight of seeing the grown and newly engaged, daughter of my late dear friend and college roommate.  Due to circumstances beyond our control, my former college suitemates and I had lost contact with CV after her Mother’s death.  She had been very young at the time.  For oh so many years we thought of her, wondered how she was and prayed for her a wonderful life.  Through the power of social media we found her again and she made the trip with her fiancé to NC for a visit and to learn more about her lovely Mom.  What a wonderful thing to see what a beautiful, sweet, smart, down-to-earth woman she has turned out to be.  It was one of those times to pay attention to and wrap your heart around.

If someone out there happens to read this who is grieving, my prayer for you is that there are people near you to give comfort and if not, you will find your way to someone or someplace that can.  So many people resist a place of faith now, but a good one can truly be a saving grace.

For anyone who is taking what and who is important for granted right now, my prayer for you is that you will become aware and rectify the situation before it’s too late.  Regret is a terrible, awful thing to live with.

Quit working extra hours to buy the boat and go home to read to your kids.  Put down the phone and see your friends face to face.  Spend time with your parents and listen to their stories. Play fetch with your dog for the thousandth time just to see his tail wag. Don’t put off what you love to do until later.  Later your eyes may not see or your hands may not work like they do now, kids leave home, parents pass, friends suffer in silence, dogs are not here nearly long enough.  These are hard earned words, don’t take them for granted.

Some of my favorite podcasts

Monkey w ear buds

I had a request a while back to post some of my favorite websites, blogs, etc.  I am finally getting around to it.  My apologies for taking so long.  I’m sure I will forget something, but that will give me another blog post in the future.  Today I am focusing on podcasts. I spend more time listening to podcasts than I do reading blogs or visiting websites (Pinterest being the exception and that merits a blog post all its own).

For years I was fed up with paying for cable tv because I rarely watched anything regularly other than HGTV. When my last kid left for college I almost immediately dropped the cable (and saved $50 a month!) and got a Roku to watch Netflix or Amazon Prime (neither of which I watch very often either and will probably drop one of those eventually).  What I discovered instead were podcasts.  I LOVE podcasts because I can work, knit, paint, sew and still keep up with what is going on in the world or learn something or just hear a great story. Here are some of my favorites:

Craft Sanityhttp://craftsanity.com/

This is actually my most recent find and obsession.  I discovered Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood’s podcast just a couple of months ago and have been binge listening to her ever since.  I just this week listened to the most recent episode.  She has been podcasting for years now.  I don’t know how I possibly missed finding her until now.  If you  like crafts of any kind there will be something for you to enjoy.  She talks to a wide variety of crafts people at all stages of life and craft.  I think what I have enjoyed the most is realizing that my people are out there in the world, I just need to connect with them.  I am not the only person who jumps from one form of making to another, sees the world differently, can’t function well in a “normal” job, etc.  I am not as alien as I have often felt!

I also follow Craftsanity on Instagram.

Etsy Conversationshttp://convome.com/

As an Etsy seller, and still a novice one at that, I have learned so much from listening to Ijeoma Eleazu and her guest Etsy shop owners. If you have an Etsy shop or are considering starting one you need to listen to this podcast.  I have actually taken notes at times for things that I need to do, improve on, try, etc. I also follow her on Instagram.

Ijeoma, thank you for putting in the time on the podcast!

The Savvy Painterhttp://savvypainter.com/podcast/

Antrese Wood hosts this podcast. Focusing on fine art painters, she interviews artists about their life, work and process.  Even though I have been painting and drawing for years and years now, I have been out of the fine art scene since I left college.  Eventually I would like to get my act together and start showing my artwork.  I consider this podcast as my classroom.

Good Life Projecthttp://www.goodlifeproject.com/radio/

Jonathan Fields offers up an alternative to the negativity of the media.  Through thoughtful interviews with people from all walks of life who are making things better out there in the world, Jonathan opens up a window of light and encourages us to make a better life for ourselves and others with whatever abilities we have.  It beats the heck out of watching the mainstream news!

This American Lifehttp://www.thisamericanlife.org/podcast

If you just want to get lost in another place start listening to This American Life.  I get so caught up in the stories that I forget that I’m knitting or cooking or driving (not necessarily a good thing).  I never thought I would be mesmerized by the process of selling cars, but one episode had me on the edge of my seat waiting to see if the salesmen made their monthly quota.  Lovely storytelling.

There are some other podcasts I check on occasionally and I would love to get some recommendations from you.  Let me know what you are listening to.

I will have a list of websites, blogs and books coming up soon.  Have a wonderful week!

Photo credit – photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/42329213@N00/1216468104″>Ipodular Monkey</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

My hideaway

Generally I am a creature of habit like most human beings. Most of my days have a rhythm that I don’t think much about and the day to day chores get done on a regular basis. I have a crazy quilt way of making a living that even has a schedule I can predict most days (more about that in another post). Lately though I have noticed a shift in how certain things are getting done.

Maybe it’s my age (I’m not telling! Well, maybe later.) and I’m needing more quiet to concentrate.  Maybe I have been running on warp speed for too many years and the engines are wearing down.  Maybe I am craving my country roots after almost 20 years of suburbia.  Whatever it is, I have found that I have been escaping my suburban townhome more often to do my thinking.

I happily work in my newly converted (from post-teenage boy room) studio space at my townhome when I need to get the actual work done, but for the thinking, new ideas, planning, zoning out parts of life/work I have begun to head to The Farm.

morning

Later on I will give you more information about it, but just know that when I escape it is a 45 minute drive from where I live to a rural area with a different culture from my town. At The Farm I tend the garden with my boyfriend. My goofy city dogs come with me and pretend they are cool country dogs though I don’t dare let them off their leashes.  They have no “forest smarts” as opposed to “street smarts” which they don’t have either.  I would rather they not end up as coyote food!  We have three horses at The Farm as well, though we don’t get to spend as much time with them as we would like.  Not that the horses are complaining.  They get their daily food and hay and get to spend their leisurely days in the cool woods with a lovely spring running through it, without having to earn their keep by toting a couple of humans around.

Bob

I am writing this post at The Farm now. I should really give it a more creative name. Maybe in the future it will get a proper title.  The Farm is down a dirt road with only two neighbors so there is no traffic noise.  The rare, unknown car makes all animals and humans alike run to see who is stirring up the dust.  Occasionally a rooster crows and there is a strange anomaly where we can hear a distant neighbor’s radio fairly clear on certain days. A dog bark. Birds, lots of birds. Crickets and tree frogs. What is missing? Traffic noise, neighbors talking, someone else’s TV or music set too loud.

I did not realize just how much constant sound surrounds me until I started spending time at The Farm.  It took some getting used to. At first I was stir crazy and didn’t know what to do with myself.  Now, I swear my blood pressure drops when I get here.  I take my time weeding my flowers and herb garden that migrated here over the past three years. The garden is constant work this time of year, but there is something grounding about tying up tomato plants and hoeing weeds. The horses seem to enjoy my visits with them and don’t mind my picking their daisies.

garden

Yes, I drag my ever present smart phone and    computer with me to The Farm, but I use them differently.  I’m much more focused here.  I don’t have six browser windows open at once, jumping back and forth between them.  I open one for some research and the software I need for a job. I don’t check social media constantly here.  Why I do it at home, I don’t know.  All I do know is that what I accomplish here is much more fulfilling and concentrated.  Most of us don’t realize how much our environment affects how and what we do.

Bee

To wrap this post up, I would like to let you know that I just took the dogs out for their night business.  Lightening bugs. I have missed lightening bugs.  You don’t see them much where I live.  Bats.  I have not missed bats!