Monday, November 30, 2009

Anticipation - A Monday Morning's Meditation

Anticipation. Can't hardly hear that word without it having the rhythm and melody of the Carly Simon song from my youth.
*An * tiss * i * paaaay * shun - 's making me wait...
And then the utter desecration of the song by it's use as theme music for a ketchup commercial years ago. UGH! Shudders!

Do you have a 'thing' that marks the start of anticipation for you? Or is anticipation in your life a constant, a perpetually active flow? Do you sometimes feel the anticipation of something is greater pleasure than the accomplishment or attainment itself?

Sunday was the 1st Sunday of 'Advent', 4 Sundays of the church calendar preceding and in anticipation of Christmas.

Not being a habitual calendar watcher I have many years not even realized the 1st Sunday of Advent was upon me until it had passed & therefor often missed recognizing its onset as uniquely special. Kind of shrugged it off in years past as being part of a 'ritualistic' practice of religiosity instead of true spiritual relationship but Sunday afternoon I have to admit I was jogged into recognition reading someone else's blog about observing Advent which spurred me to scurry to the garage, uncover the box where the nativity set had been packed with other Christmas decorations and pull a CD of appropriately Christmas-y music from my collection for accompaniment.
In my house, no other Christmas decorating gets done before the indoor nativity set is placed in a focal point location - thereby recognizing the focus of the season in that most mercifully sacred 'gift' from God of the birth of the world's Saviour, Jesus Christ. At sundown I finished putting it in place and read to myself Luke's account of Jesus' birth foretold to Mary by an angel:
"Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name, Jesus." - Luke 1:30-31

I'm glad I stumbled onto the blog(s) on Advent I read yesterday afternoon. I hadn't been allowing myself much in the way of anticipation for Christmas this year knowing none of my 'family' will be with me and even Darlin' needs to be elsewhere but this morning I'm grateful to be feeling kind of like my 'Christmas Spirit' and anticipation has effectively had a resuscitation/CPR.

I'll NEVER be one of those who have their gifts all tucked away weeks or months in advance or even one of many folks I know have their home all decked out for 'The Holidays' come Friday after Thanksgiving ready to switch 'on' the lighted Christmas Tree Friday evening. I have felt inadequate in the past because I could never get it together like that. A part of me also would internally groan and quip that was just TOO MUCH too soon, getting caught up in the proverbial hamster wheel rush of the commercialized 'Holiday Season' and recognizing that whole approach is pretty much only safely possible using an 'artificial' tree. Horrors! There's NO SUBSTITUTE for the scent of fresh pine as I brush against the sticky needles while placing lights and ornaments and garland and I ADORE it! When I decorate our Christmas tree - talk about a tree hugger! But if one can and does do all that advance preparation in a spirit of excitement and anticipation - effectively extending 'Christmas' beyond just one day (how many times have you thought 'Why can't it be Christmas EVERY day?') - what could be wrong with that?

We pick & choose what goes into the personal 'shopping cart' of our souls, what we'll 'buy' for Christmas, don't we? For me, absolutely YES to the Nativity, YES to the Christmas tree, lights and trimmings, NO to Santa for the most part, NO to mass marketed, HOT ticket, 'GOTTA HAVE IT' gifts, YES to sacred songs of Christmas but NO to too much cute-sy 'junk' jingles & Rudolph/Frosty and such, NO to artificially extending the spending machination of the 'Season', YES to Merry Christmas & NO to generic/PC watered down 'Season's Greetings' & 'Happy Holidays'. YES to 'making' magic, spreading cheer and joy in word and deed to one and all I meet and touch.

Wishing you joyful anticipation this Monday...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

75th Post - TA-DA!

I began blogging solely to participate in an online book club, The Next Chapter, that was beginning a book on creativity in women - a subject I was especially ravenous for. When I started into blogging I really had no idea what I might discover. Years ago when I first accessed the internet I had gotten into some quilting Yahoo Groups only to be disappointed and even hurt surprisingly. I had tried MySpace much to my disappointment and frustration and I had started YAHOO 360 which disappeared and then Multiply and finally Facebook seeking somewhere I could interact and communicate in an online community.

THIS is my 75th blogger post (counting the OTHER blog I'm not quite sure what to do with - digital/computer/electronic details are NOT my forte or I'd figure out how to import the posts there over here to the Studio). TA-DA! If I'm pretty consistent I MAY be able to log 100 for my 1 yr. 'blog-iversary' (is that what it's called?) December 26th. :> Pressure! Feeling a little here...just a tad. Usually totally laid back - I really want to hit that #100 for the year. Somebody 'blog-slap' me if you notice me putting up posts lacking quality and value just to add a click on the counter, K? I don't want to sacrifice quality for quantity under any circumstances.

What do they call that in the business world? Hmmmm...I've got it! (SNAP!) It's a foundational component of MY personal corporeal 'culture'. Perhaps it's time I have a Blog Culture.

Studio Lakeside Culture Statement

Authenticity, truth & honesty are priority: NO BS!

Quality over quantity: Value is not inherently attached to numbers . Rich is more than a monetary assessment. Sometimes less IS more.

Faith trumps fear: EVERYTIME!

Serenity: Accept what can't be changed.

Courage: Change what can be when the time is right.

Wisdom: Know the difference between what must be accepted and what & when to do something different.

Respect diversity: Variety IS the spice of life.

Generosity: Aggressively encourage stomping out stinginess.

Abundance in mercy and joy.

That's a fairly accurate summary. I reserve the right to make additions and changes to the above, tweaking when necessary. Does your blog presence have a 'culture'?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

When You Don't Wish Upon A Star

Being a long-time quilter who has always preferred a vast variety of fabrics in quilts over "match-y - match-y" for years and knowing an acceptable mix of fabrics requires much dilligent and constant hunting, scrounging, auditioning and rejection AND someone who by necessity 'collects' (from junk/yard/garage sales and thrift stores) a piece at a time (sometimes over a period of years) to furnish/decorate a room...I have a HUMONGOUS appreciation for fantabulous moments when the 'just right', piece de resistance, icing on the cake thing just falls into my lap.

I seldom experience synchronicity like today when Jamie Ridler's Wishcasting Wednesday prompt was 'What Do You Wish To Embrace? '

Monday night this week I had prepared for staying up into the wee hours of Tuesday morning - drank three cups of instant cappucino late afternoon & early evening - hoping to catch a glimpse of one or more 'shooting stars' in the supposed peak viewing hours of the Leonid Meteor shower. As I sat outside in the dark with my face up to the starry sky, I remembered nights I had sat on the front stoop watching the stars with my Mom when I was 8 or 9 and first learned to make a wish on a shooting star. I thought should I see a shooting star that night, what should I wish?

And I was missing my youngest daughter, Rachel, (now half way across the country in her 3rd year of college in Michigan) who would sit up with me watching for shooting stars and thinking of the conversations we'd had over mugs of milk-y flavored coffee as we sat in our lawn chairs with our faces up to the sky. I realized sitting there - missing her like that - next week is Thanksgiving and she won't be here for it, wasn't last Thanksgiving, nor Christmas either, spending them instead out of thrift and frugal practicality with her siblings and father and stepmom just a couple hours' drive from her campus in nearby suburban Chicago. And I had to admit two consecutive years without sharing major holiday meals and celebrations, without daily hugs and kisses and secrets and surprises exchanged and shared means my girl - my 'baby' - my youngest of four not being 'home' means my nest is empty. I've become as they say, an 'empty nester'.

That same day was my oldest son's 31st birthday. I've been tending 'hatchlings' for 31 years + ---- WELL over half my life. This 'empty nest' state isn't a phase I'm being introduced to to shake hands with or even kiss on the cheek and move on. It's the rest of my life!

And so...after much consideration as I expectantly watched the sky for a shooting star to wish upon, I determined my wish would be to embrace (hold closely with tenderness, assume or take up in an eager or serious way) being an 'empty nester' - but I didn't see even one shooting star. I must have been being allowed to hold it for today's wishcast.

"We must sacrifice the urgent, petty agendas of the ego to a larger field or participation. We must learn humility and own humor, finding guidance in intuition and making logic a servant rather than master. Control is a personal experience, surrender is a transpersonal one. Through surrender we learn to move with the rhythms that flow through our existence and in so doing open ourselves to the wellsprings of life that are the gift of the divine Trickster." ~Allan Combs (from Synchronicity)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Saturday's Smile - Snowmen

I relish the blog(ger)s I visit who make me think - who plant thoughts like seeds blown in the wind into the fertile ground of my mind each day. But what I adore and appreciate most and LOVE are the ones that make me genuinely smile within and without - the ones who tickle memories and my fancy. This morning I'm adoring, appreciating and LOVING Connie @ Dirty Footprints Studio for sharing the work of her 'kiddos' from art class.

Never met a snowman I didn't like. Nope. Not EVER. But since one early November about 17 years ago, I have a particularly big, mushy, soft spot in my heart for snowmen.

Colder than normal temps had seized us and overnight we'd received a much earlier than anticipated HEAVY snowfall in the western burbs of Chicago. My oldest son, Leo, was about to turn 14, (his 31st birthday is just a couple days away), and being ever short of funds I was doing that perpetual mother's dance with available cash, thinking I could buy 3 year old (7 years younger than the youngest of the older 3 so without any hand me downs) Rachel some winter outerwear AFTER taking care of big brother Leo's birthday.

Sooooooooo, the morning of the BIG 1st snow all 3 of the oldest kids had eagerly donned their coats, scarves, hats, gloves/mittens and boots and rushed outside...making angels circling the evergreen tree, starting a fort for snowball fights with kids down the street and finally, building the biggest snowman - EVER!

Even with double pane windows tightly closed against the cold, Rachel and I constantly heard them laughing with utter glee. The first ball, the base, of the snowman was in place and the next was almost getting too big to heft on top of the first as Rachel stood crying on the couch cushions, watching out the front window and whined that she wanted to 'make 'no man' too. My heart ached for her as I kept thinking for her this was likely the first snow she'd remember (the two prior winters of her life she'd probably not remember snow) and how I was responsible for her not having 'the gear' to be outside too and deserved a huge 'FAIL, Mom!'

Suddenly, my 11 year old daughter, Sarah, came rushing through the side door and whooshed up the stairs to my bedroom closet, coming down with an old winter coat and thermal sweatshirt of their father's and his cast off work boots from days gone by as a 'helper' on a construction job. She tapped on the front window and waved both their brothers in like a traffic cop. When the boys were in she had Joel, the younger brother, take off his coat and boots and the oldest pass his to the youngest, gave the oldest Dad's gear, and rolled up the coat sleeves of Joel's coat and stuffed newspaper balls into the toes of the younger brother's boots which she then put on baby sis. Several mismatched socks layered to became Rachel's 'mittens' and a couple layers of sweatshirts went under and over brother's coat to keep it from being 'too airy'.

Oh, how I wished I had a video camera to record the orchestration! One of my scarves got pulled into the mix and I helped tie it like a 'babooshka' to cover Rachel's ears. And then they were outside. And now, I stood at the window watching. And then right before my eyes - I saw a miracle! My oldest son, who prior to that day had mostly left behind or ignored little Rachel whenever it came to 'big kid' play, slowed down. While the two middle kids finished the next layer of the snowman's body, Leo kneeled down beside Rachel and guided her in beginning the roll for the snowman's head. When they got it to sufficient size and shape, she picked it up with his help and he picked her up to place it atop the snowman. Then they all gathered sticks for arms. Someone came in and grabbed a broom and a carrot for a nose and took it out.

And there I stood at the window with tears rolling down my cheeks, watching as they removed one's gloves and another's scarf and another's hat to 'dress' the snowman.

THAT was the first time I'd ever seen ALL FOUR of my kids work at any one thing together!

I've collected snowmen ever since...

Monday, November 9, 2009

Monday's Meditation...

On 'sanctuary' (sank-choo-wary) What do you think of? A place set aside for worship? A place of safety and shelter? An asylum or refuge? A protected area for wildlife?

Sunday morning I awoke with a desire to be in church,immerse my soul in fellowship & corporate worship with singing and sharing an attitude of expectation. In a sanctuary. My faith flourishes without the Sunday-Go-To-Meeting ritual, but it's been too long for me without fellowship. I thought it would be comforting after the upset in my spirit from disturbing occurrences in the news the past week. Aside from the sheer horror and tragic loss of lives resulting from the shootings at Fort Hood, I have continued to dwell upon a comment to the media after the fact by a high ranking officer/spokesperson re: how disturbing it was that soldiers who are prepared to put their lives on the line in the field - out there - were gunned down in their 'sanctuary'. We may be aware of the incredible fragility of 'life', subject to irreversible change in a heartbeat. We may know life can be as easily snuffed as a breath exhaled upon the flame of a candle. Still, we presume invulnerability and rest secure in our places of 'sanctuary' - ourimpenetrable fortress & inviolate place of safety - until, shockingly, the impenetrable is penetrated and the inviolate is violated.

I think it's a ripple effect of that thought introduced into my soul - that chi or spirit or whatever you may name it - that had me feeling uneasy & insecure as I lay me down to sleep Saturday night in MY sanctuary. Halloween night I'd become acutely aware my dog, Thunder,is NOT a good guard dog nor even a responsive alarm system when she failed to utter a sound when 4 adolescent boys I did not recognize came 'trick or treating' to my door. (a rare, rare occurrence in our area where acreage separates next-door neighbors) Late Saturday night car lights beamed from across the lake long after the 'park closes at sundown' sign should have deterred parking there,thus I'd fallen asleep uneasily, a trifle insecure,after blocking the slider door and double checking the status of all the door and window locks in the house. (secret confession: I normally don't bother checking, never mind double checking, and often don't even think to close doors/windows, never mind locking them) I didn't make it to church Sunday morning but I was up before the sun, before pre-dawn light broke even. While coffee brewed I watched stars fade as darkness slowly passed into light. Awaiting dawn's early light I hoped to see local deer out for breakfast but they apparrently either stayed in or went the opposite direction. My morning companions were birds - jays scolding smaller ground feeding birds hungrily pecking like little chicks all over the parched 'grasses' surrounding the back door. Over the scolding jays I heard though I couldn't see, two hawks screaming and wondered if they were 'talking' to each other or like Indians in old westerns, heralding a pending attack. Though their screeching isn't exactly 'music' to my ears, it means I don't see mice and snakes like some in the area do.

Sanctuary had been way up there in my higher thinking for weeks before hearing that officer use the word so it was no surprise it touched me. I'd been thinking alot about home as sanctuary,what has been for some time now solitarily my home without ever feeling any need to separate my sacred spaces. I'd been feeling simultaneously urged to preserve and protect my most precious personal space and openly embrace a whole family with warmth,comfort and the security of sanctuary/home. It was quite touching to hear this presumably flinty, rock steady officer of the US Army toughened by his military training use this word that for me was a tender, gentle concept growing in my heart and soul and finding it's implementation in my home. It's a good thing to know what is to me, a soothing and serene concept of peace and nurture and sacred space has a high place in another soul less mushy than mine. After hearing that officer use the word sanctuary with such impact I went 'surfing' for quotes on sanctuary to add to a running list where I collect random words of wisdom I call 'Words To Live By'. I thought there'd be an abundance but found only a few. I like this one alot telling me sanctuary is in my self, not environment or space:

Remember, the entrance door to the sanctuary is inside you.

Do you maintain a safe place of refuge and sheltered sacred space? Where is your sanctuary?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wednesday Wishcast - I Wish To Experience...

Whenever I tippy toe into Jamie Ridler's Wednesday Wishcaster's circle, I do so timidly - sweatty-palmed nervous and feeling I'm going to appear like someone showing up in stained grey sweats, tattered t-shirt and smelly sneakers when everyone else is attired in silk and satin and taffeta and lace and slim, sexy high-heeled sandals or pumps with perfect mani/pedis and adorned in shiney metals and gems or like a late comer to a skinny dipping mandatory pool party and clumsily and noisily crashing into a cart full of metal serving ware as I try to slink into the water unnoticed.

That's how awkward and inadequately clothed and even naked I sometimes feel when I attempt to respond to Jamie's wish prompts. Last night before I shut down my computer I bopped over to Jamie Ridler Studios and checked out this week's prompt and no one had yet posted. The little #1 and the word's "You're first!" mocked me. HA! I thought...not me. I wouldn't DARE, but I thought about it. As I was thinking I kept bubbling up with one word replies and considering what to write in explanation and kept second guessing myself. After a few of those, I could envision one of Jamie's pics I've seen of her on her site animated and leaning toward me with that darling little head-cocked, half coy expression she wears and altered so she's wearing a thick knit gray turtle neck with bushy white eyebrows over tortoise shell framed eye glasses and stroking a graying goatee as she says, "Vat eez it you vish to ex-peer-ee-ence, Sheila?"

And I wonder, does anyone else feel like they're on the analyst's couch when they ponder what wish to share???

Does everyone angst over what and how to say what's in their heart or do they just throw out whatever pops in their head reflexively like returning the ball playing ping pong or tennis?

I find myself hesitating - rejecting thought after thought as too greedy, too selfish, too materialistic, too revealing, etc. Then I think I wish I had more confidence, more daring, more faith and I didn't have such insecurity, such anxiety, such fear.

The more I thought (turning over and examing each idea that popped into my head like a stone nugget to see if it had any jewel or precious metal embedded in it before tossing it aside into an increasing pile) the more I came to realize, more than passion or freedom from financial worry or success or having a best seller, I REALLY WISH TO EXPERIENCE BELONGING.

I wish to experience comfort, being embraced with enthusiasm, confidence in acceptance, acknowledgement and affirmation of goodness and worth and contribution and being wanted and necessary.

When I was in OH I painfully realized both due to time and distance I'd come to no longer 'belong' at home, having been squeezed out of the gearing necessary to keep that machine running. Here at my house we've been talking about plans for Christmas and I've just recently found out Darlin' will be spending it with his oldest son in AZ, which I heartily encourage because they have time and distance to make up for, but more than his absence here the lack of even a passing thought to include me in his travel plan makes me realize I 'belong' much less than I'd like.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Welcome TA-DA! Tuesday #12

I'm a little bit late,
An almost perpetual state...
Mid-day, plenty of daylight left in it,
Not quite last minute.
It really is Tuesday still
And I'm hoping readers will
Share with me a TA-DA!
And beg a deserving HURRAH!

I sometimes amuse myself considering the irony of things I surround myself with in my 'home', like this little guy at the juncture of the foyer, hallway and the family room. Isn't he just adorable? And just in case a guest or visitor doesn't feel embraced with his happy greeting, around the corner to the left on top of an old credenza are these guys -
And that's not all. I must have 7 or 8 (maybe more) little signs that say 'Welcome' sitting about under my roof, not to mention the 'yard art'. What does that REALLY say??? Don't YOU think that's kind of overkill?

This is not new for me, or even just recent. Recently a box of 'stuff' that had been being held on my behalf since separating from my ex by my oldest daughter came back to me and in that 'stuff' were brass, porcelain and wooden pineapples - door plates, salt/peppers, bowls and other containers - from back in the day having discovered the pineapple was once upon a time symbolic amongst colonial and mariner's families as a sign of welcome and hospitality.

And yet, I don't have near the 'open house' readiness these signs and symbols would seem indicative of. Even for my Dearest Darlin's too few and far between returns to home I'm always scrambling to transform the evidence of my negligent housekeeping into a gleaming sparkle. THIS past weekend when he arrived I was still behind on the transformation but his first words to me were - and this is the TA-DA! of today's post - I'd obviously been doing some heavy cleaning. I think what prompted his remark more than anything he saw, was the scent of bleach water having just drained from the washing machine and some standing in the kitchen sink to sanitize some 'questionable for ever using again' dishware. UGH! Maybe I ought to bathe in CLOROX, ya think?

Anyway, it was good to hear that verbal approval despite the fact that I was still WAY, WAY shy of MY image of 'welcome home, darling'.

Tomorrow I'm supposed to welcome in a friend, one of the members of my beloved book club, for an afternoon of one on one quilting class. I'm not near ready either as teacher or hostess and my private fantasy that this first session as a presursor to a group evening Friday with some of the other gals might open my door for many future afternoons/evenings spent fostering and sharing the pursuit of creativity is splintering. I wonder what makes you feel truly welcome?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Being Aware, Stayin' Alive!

I've been totally snuck up on! I can hardly believe it's the first of November! Even just yesterday November still seemed far away. I live in perpetual denial of passing time. Even though yesterday, next month was tomorrow, next month sounded so much further away. After posting this I'll rip the October off my desk blotter calendar and slide it beneath the other months passed of this year and maybe before I turn out the light I'll finally change the time on the digital clock by the bed (THIS, writing this and getting it posted with November 1st as the date, is MY extra hour from the time change - without it I wouldn't have a start on grabbing this next to the last month of the year and renewing an intention of consistency and constancy and actually blogging daily THIS month).

There were soooooo many things I expected to have done/started so that this now countdown to the passing of yet another year would flow smoothly - and I didn't. I feel sedated (tranquilized came to mind to use in this sentence, but somehow doesn't seem right to use - tranquility being perceived as a sought after state), sedated out of awareness/consciousness of the irretrievability of the moments just slipping unproductively passed. I think of Robin Williams in the movie 'Dead Poet's Society' and his manic admonition of "SEIZE the day!" I've been SOOOOOO passive and easy-going so much of my life, the concept of seizing anything seems foreign and yet each time my darlin' is here at 'home' for a too brief weekend I want to SEIZE that time and multiply it and make it count for all the cumulative days that have passed since the last time he was home and for all the days that will pass before he comes home again. It feels SO urgent to do so.

I don't know whether it's the day of the time change that had me contemplating time today or what, but I had an unexpected flashback memory this morning as CBS Sunday Morning ran a piece on the Bee Gees. I was back in high school when their music was something heard daily - at a dance in the cafeteria after a basketball game and dancing with Marcus, the stereotype handsome brotha with his downy 'fro, disco sleeved purple shirt over bell bottom jeans and platforms. It was one of those moments depicted in a movie scene where we were SO tearin' it up on the dance floor that everyone else stopped to watch us. Gosh I miss dancing like that! Seems like just last night - not over 30 yearrs ago! I'd forgotten...gonna hafta find some disco I can listen to tomorrow, or Motown or something!

Time flies! It really, really does.