Monday, April 30, 2012

Action Ideas

Ideas - inspire creativity

Action - makes them happen

Throughout my day, during routine chores,  while patience is stretched to the near breaking point (OK, sometimes it does break) as I listen to a son attempt the sounds again and again and again. As I filter out the cat litter box with shallow breaths. As I  watch the quiet, crystal water stream from the hose while I water the plants. As I stir the boiling water, the noodles churning. As I handle the plates and bowls and cups from the dishwasher into the cupboard. As we read aloud, cozy in the living room together, laughing and learning. As I read other blogs written by creative hearts. During all I do, I attempt to find inspiration and creativity.

Creativity. To change the perspective from a chore, a bore, to a source of energy. Creativity inspires energy. The chore of cleaning becomes a time to think and plan. The routine tasks are time to grow and develop my list of saying grace.

God created all we have from nothing but His heart of love.

I create, using what I have. All that is around me is fodder for creation. For ideas. Tools, to be used to create beauty from the common of daily life. The everyday common. Not smarter or different or deeper or better or profound or perfect. The stuff of everyday. Ordinary, average, normal. And beautiful.

Drop my drive for perfection and live, just live. Creatively. With heart.

The action that sparks the creativity is from the ideas, from the heart. All the ideas in the world won't amount to anything without action. That is often the point where I falter. To move from concept, an idea, into actual, tangible action. Do something with my ideas.

Take action. The best way for me to deal with insecurity and inadequacy is to take action. Ideas become reality, but only by taking the steps to make them real. Do the next thing. Follow through on ideas. Create. Ideas, inspired by the everyday ordinary of life. Action, living the everyday common. With heart.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Say Grace with Calm Delight

"...joyously giving thanks to the Father..."

joyfully, #5479 (Strong's Concordance),
chara, calm delight

giving thanks, #2168 (Strong's),
eucharisteo, to say grace

...Say grace with calm delight...

Colossians 1:11-12 (NAS)

Joining with others at for a quiet Sunday

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Travel With Less

I am clearing out my files, cutting them by more than half. I am taking it in little chunks, doing some each day. When each paper requires a decision, yes, no, maybe, keep, go, I can only do so much at one time before my head gets muddled and the decision process becomes clouded.

Some are easy. Why have I kept this, moved this for so many years? It goes. Others, are less clear. I like this, but will I really use it, ever? If probably not, it goes. Armloads out to the recycling bin. Hooray! Feels good to let it go.

Some papers are like renewing an old friendship. I love the colors in that room, the friendly way it looks. Ask, what makes that room work so well? Rooms that spark creativity and togetherness. So far I've been focusing on the house and craft type files. Two drawers are empty. What I have kept is broken down into smaller, more focused files.

Two very fat decorating files became smaller folders divided by room or by topic, like slipcovers or painting. I had a surprising number of magazine clippings of laundry rooms. Not sure what is the significance of that. I did save a few of those, ones that combine office and craft along with the washer and dryer. That is not a room I would think of decorating. In this house, it is part of the garage, but perhaps our next house?

Another fat file, crafts, became sewing, knit and crochet, painting, Christmas, but most of that I eliminated. I am not going to do crafts like I used to (reality = had planned to do someday).

It feels so good to be taking stuff out the door. To be refining and purging the piles of papers. Still several file drawers to go through, but progress is good.

In one file, I found an old list I wrote for a scavenger hunt. Descanso Gardens was a place we enjoyed each season. Acres of grounds were maintained with gardens of roses, camellias, native California plants, tulips in the spring, chrysanthemums in the fall, ponds and streams, and an old house that alternated art exhibits. We loved to go, to spend the day exploring the paths and picnic. We would hike the trail up the hillside and label the trees with familiar characters. That tree is Piglet's house, that pack rat's pile is Eeyore's house, Owl lives in that tree.

One visit, we were going with another family. I made up a two page list of things for the kids to find. Observation skills. Each had their own list, but they could work together, making notes of where or what they found. It was fall, so I included things like a pumpkin, yellow and orange leaves, and a scarecrow. I also included totally random things, like a woman in a purple dress, a hummingbird and an apple. They found everything on the list that day. The woman in the purple dress probably wondered why the kids were all giggling at her. Hope she didn't develop a complex.

As I sort through the files, I sort through memories of houses where we lived, plans I had of things to create, spaces I wanted to design, activities we made together, all looking toward building the home I want for our family. This has been a good project for me, to realize the heart of our home is not in the files and the plans and the wish-it-could-be, but in the reality of what we do have, what we do use, and the spaces we live in every day. Now, today. Not hoarding, storing up for some dream-day, but living here and now, with what we have, today.

Traveling lighter, carrying less on our journey, as we go.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Life On The Edge

Do you ever feel like you are living on the edge? Like things are at a teetering point about to tip one way or the other? All you would have to do is blow a little puff and it would set off the motion. Have you ever played the game, "Mousetrap?" Throughout the game, you build the plastic pieces into their slots and connections until the end when the foot kicks, the ball rolls, the arm drops, the hand tips, the next ball rolls into the tub, lands on the diving board, the funny man jumps into the pool, the trap drops and the mouse is caught. Sometimes the pieces don't do their part and the mouse stays safe. One broken piece, one piece sliding a bit off balance, and nothing works right.

  • Life on the edge: of disaster.

Listen to the news media. We are always on the edge of a weather crisis, an economic crisis, a gas crisis, an educational crisis, a health in Southern California, we are always on the edge of "The Big One," the earthquake that will drop us all off the edge into the ocean.

  • Life on the edge: of tears.

Emotional roller coasters. Challenges. Conflicts.

  • Life on the edge: of giving up.

It's too hard, too uncomfortable, too challenging. Why bother? It never works out right anyway. I'll never get it right. Do you ever feel this way?

There is another perspective. Always, if we dig deeply enough, there is another perspective.

  • Life on the edge: of adventure.

A new job, a new state, a new house, new skills (not a crisis). Looking forward to all there is still to learn, of enjoying the learning process (which does mean stumbling and failing sometimes). Pushing the limits, stretching the boundaries. A course called, "Learning 101," would be about testing the boundaries, stepping into the unknown, looking forward to adventure. Willing to try new things (not seen just as a challenge). Teens, becoming young adults, are good at pushing the limits, stretching the boundaries. Testing (not just conflict). Growing. Discovering the freshness of adventure in each new day.

Like our Mousetrap game, we are all full of broken pieces and missed connections. We drop the ball and don't carry through. We forget to do what we were supposed to do. We don't get it all hooked together the right way. We miss an important part. We are afraid to even start the ball rolling. "What if it doesn't work?" "What will happen if...?" Fears.

I was fussing to myself about this, that, and the other, and facetiously, thought about the term, "adventure." In my reading the next morning, Reaching Higher, by Poppy Smith, she said,
"Every situation that is less than perfect can be a spiritual adventure - an opportunity to move forward with God."

A spiritual adventure. A heart open to the Lord, like a flower bud, gently opening. How we live is not about location. It is a heart condition. Be brave. Be willing to learn, to laugh, to listen. The dignity and simple beauty of a life in process, even with broken, out of balance parts.
Living on the edge? Yes, the edge of adventure, of discovery, of dignity.

Monday, April 23, 2012

April Birthdays

April is our family birthday month. Six birthdays in one month.

To all of you with April birthdays,

Happy Birthday!

Sunday, April 22, 2012


"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law."

Galatians 5:22-23

Joining with to share a quiet Sunday.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Together at our Table

Five Minute Friday, hosted by gives us a chance to free write for five minutes about her given topic. Just write, for fun, for speed, for the adventure to explore an unknown destination, see where it ends up. This week,


Together, for me is about our table. The times we gather together around our table, day after day after day, there, together.

Sitting in a hospital waiting room, for our son's MRI late one night, my husband leaned over and said, "Recognize those doors?" They were the same as our table. He is in commercial construction, doors and hardware. For a Kaiser Hospital project, some of the doors were ordered wrong or something - don't remember for sure. He had three formica laminate hard core doors left over. Two of them, he attached to an old, beat up (as all our tables were in short time) oak frame table top. The other one, he cut in half and had the guys in the shop make iron u-shaped legs, to attach for benches. Don't even know how many years ago that was. That table is in family photos from way back. I could spend five minutes just listing all that has happened around that table.

Preparing the food, setting the table, gathering around it for our dinner meal every day. That is vitally important to me. We laugh and talk. Gathered around our table.

 We take the time, together, building a shared experience that will be a memory forever, and, like our table that has withstood the test of time when many other tables fell apart (literally), we build strong memories, and stronger hopes of future times, together.

Time is up.

"A table lovingly prepared...You have created a gracious setting for this special time,
An interlude in your day.
Now around your table loved ones can safely talk and tell,
listen and laugh, engage and enjoy, rehearse and reflect on the day...
Because you have fashioned a setting,
an atmosphere for strengthening relationships, for forming character.
An occasion to restore the graciousness of living."
-Kay Arthur
A Sanctuary For Your Soul

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. Please visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Prickly Pear

This was me over the weekend. Not something I am proud of.

I snapped at our youngest - more than once. Grumped. Pouted. There is a long list of ridiculous reasons, inadequate excuses. I will not bore you with them.

When I took these photos, I was thinking I would use them for how to get along with prickly people.

Turns out it was me that was all sharp and bristly.

This week, I am working at being softer, more approachable, more available, more touchable, more reachable. Not so prickly pear.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Crumbs Are Enough

"But He answered and said, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."

But she came and began to bow down before Him, saying, "Lord, help me!"

And He answered and said, "It is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs."

But she said, "Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their master's table."

Then Jesus answered and said to her, "O woman, your faith is great; be it done for you as you wish." And her daughter was healed at once."

Matthew 15:24-28


joining for a quiet Sunday

Saturday, April 14, 2012


"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."

                                                                           -Mark Twain

Friday, April 13, 2012

Say Good-Bye

Five Minute Fridays, with One word, five minutes, see what happens.

Today, Good-Bye

Let it go. Say good-bye to the stuff. Show it the door, send it away. Pass it on to others, fill the recycling bin.  Stuff we've been carting around for years. Papers, notebooks, files, just stuff. Let it go. Find the freedom and joy in less stuff. Armloads that weigh me down, thinking I might maybe need use it someday. Let it go. Say good-bye.

Let it go. The pounds, the excess weight I've been carrying. The indulgences I think are for me are really against me. Counter-productive. Sets me back. Welcome the gift of exercise and healthy eating. Say hello to fitness and strength. The excess food that weighs me down? Say good-bye. Let it go.

The things I love. Hold them in a light hand, an open hand, not a tight fist. Be willing to let them go. Say good-bye. Say hello to joy and freedom.

Time is up.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Painter of Light

Thomas Kinkade, known as a painter of light, passed away last week. His paintings, popularized through prints, calendars, cards, books and local galleries, are said to be in 20% of the homes in the United States. We are one of those homes, with several of his prints on our walls.

In another house, these climbed up the stairwell. Here, they work well following the line of the high ceiling. One day, our youngest was sitting on the couch, looking up at them. He said they told a story. "You go in through the gate, walk along the path into that garden in the middle painting, sit and rest awhile in the gazebo, then keep climbing on the trail, through the trees by that stream, up the hill until you get to the top and can look back down on the valley below." I hadn't really planned it that way when we put them up, but it works.

One of our daughters, in a college class, heard the instructor severely criticize his paintings as unrealistic and fanciful. Yes, we have lived in beautiful areas, but we have seen, many times, sunsets and sky and ocean scenes as spectacular as those he paints. For real. Cloud forms, sunrises, sunsets, light reflecting across water, ocean waves, cozy cottages, busy city streets, mountains, trees, all are scenes he painted. The next time it rains, watch for the lights reflected onto the streets, like in this painting. For real.

I love the houses and cottage scenes he paints. He said at one gallery, a woman came up to him to say one of his paintings got her through a very depressing time. She would look at the scene and visualize herself sitting on the porch, comfortably rocking in the chair, looking out over the field. By imagining the peace and quiet and calm of the place, she was able to rise above her conflict. This is one of my favorites. The dappled sunlight across the roof and courtyard, the abundant flowers, and the indoor lights shining through the shutters make it very inviting and comfortable. I could sit there, in my rocking chair.
His books, also are inspiring. Simpler Times is my favorite, a book easy to browse through, or to read and absorb. My book has crinkled, wrinkled pages from a time it got wet, but that does not dampen its message of creativity and joy and beauty. My favorite quote is from the chapter on romance.
"Contrary to popular opinion,  romance is not a relationship - although it can add fullness and spice and excitement to a connection between two people...Romance is instead an attitude, a set of habits, a way of encountering the world. You are a romantic when savoring experience is a priority for you, when you are willing to invest time and energy into making your experiences more vivid and memorable...We live in a beautiful world, one that is shimmering with romance. It's all around you, rich and lovely and exciting. It comes into your life when you open yourself to savor your moments - happy and sad, beautiful and mundane, alone or with someone you love."

In Lightposts for Living, he writes about planning and living a fulfilling life. He challenged readers to write a ten word summary of their life goals. At first, I thought that was impossible. Ten words? All of life purpose in ten words? Right. It came to me, one night, after I had worked and re-worked it.

People and places are improved because of my influence. Surprisingly, I fit it into nine words.

This artist, with his human frailties and struggles, just like the rest of us, expressed his creativity and encouraged us with scenes of joy and peace and love and beauty.
 I am inspired by him, and grateful.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Believe in Tomorrow

I love flowers. You probably already know that about me, and it is true. I love flowers. In pots on the patio, around the yard, in a vase, anywhere in the house, at the nursery, landscaping along a building - anywhere, I notice the flowers.

These photos are from my parent's backyard. We spent our Easter afternoon outside, enjoying the warmth, the fresh air breezes, the shady spots, their pretty yard and the flowers.

                             Flowers are so full of hope. Life. Beauty.
                             A quote I appreciate (don't know the source):
"To plant is to believe in tomorrow."

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Life Out of Death

"Life shoots up straight out of death and no one can make it stop."

                                                                    -Emily Freeman
                                                                     Chatting at the Sky

a quiet, joyous Easter Sunday with

Friday, April 6, 2012

Light in Darkness

Five Minute Fridays, with She gives a word, we write for five minutes, for fun, without over-thinking, with heart and mind. The word this week:


Go. Light. Right - write for five minutes about light? What a topic. Endless.

Our blind dog, now, learning to live without light. Yet she sees. Through other senses. Obviously, her smell, by sound, but in other ways, too. She feels her way around the house. She prances proudly beside her boy as we go out for walks on her familiar route. Sometimes a strange sound will frighten her, but normally, she knows the route by sight, by understanding, even without light in her eyes.

I remember studying light with the kids. Seeing the spectrum of light waves and the narrow, tiny part of that that is our vision, our perspective of color and light. There is so much more. Energy. Heat. Sound waves. Power. All a part of light that our human perceptions miss completely. We are short-sighted, narrow minded. Ignorant of so much that is going on around us. Blind in many, many ways.

Navigating through life, attempting to see and understand, learning, feeling our way along as we go. As our dog does, sometimes bumping into the walls, sometimes confused about about where we are, sometimes frightened by the unknown. Yet she knows we are there, there is still trust and joy and love. Even in the darkness.

Time is up.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Golden Windows

As the sun comes up in the east, its light rising over the roofs of the houses and the trees, it bounces off the windows of the houses on the hill to the west of my window where I sit at my desk in the mornings.

Do you remember the fable of the little farm boy who worked hard alongside his father all day long? He labored all day, working the fields, waiting eagerly for the moment at the end of each day when the castle on the hill on the other side of the valley would glow golden, its pure gold walls shining in glory. He longed to go, to see, to touch those walls, and he spent long hours imagining the beauty, the glory, the wealth that would create such a glow.

He asked and asked and asked his father for a day off, to walk to the other side and see for himself the splendor of that castle.

Finally, his father said yes, and the boy headed off, a crusty sandwich tucked into his haversack.

Late in the afternoon, as he climbed the hill, he paused to rest and turned to look back toward his own farm. It looked tiny and dingy and insignificant. He could not wait to arrive at the castle and see real beauty.

The path led through the trees, zig-zagging up the steep slope. Around one bend, when he expected to come up to the castle, he came upon a small house with a small garden and a small barn, enclosed in a small pasture. A girl, about his age, came out of the barn leading a cow. She smiled at him, and came over to the fence.

He asked her, "Where is the castle that is on this hill? I seem to have been following the wrong path."

"Castle? Our house is the only one on this hill. Where are you coming from?"

He turned and pointed across the valley. "From the little farm, over there, on the other side."

"Oh! Do you live in that house with the golden windows that shine with glory every morning?"

Confused, he tried to explain. "No, it is just a little farm, like yours, maybe a little bigger. We do not have golden windows. I see a castle on this side of the valley every afternoon that has golden windows. I wanted to  look at them and touch them and see them up close. It must be near here, somewhere."

"Yes," she said. "This is it." She waved her hand toward the front of her own house.

Still confused, he looked at the simple cottage with four windows, a few flowers, a stone path, a few chickens wandering around. Smaller than his own house. This could not be the golden castle. This was not the castle of his imaginings, of the hours of his visions of glory as he worked in the dirt with his father. It could not be.

"Don't you see?" she asked him. "In the morning, the climbing sun shines on your windows, making them glow with gold from my perspective, here. In the afternoon, the setting sun shines on my windows, which, from your house, makes them shine golden. We both live in golden houses, and do not even know it."

"Oh, yes, I see." Embarrassed, he turned to leave. Disappointed. Ashamed of his foolishness.

"Please, sometime, may I come and see your golden house?" she said.

"Of course, but don't expect much. It is just a dirty farm." They chatted about their farms and animals and crops and families and homes, each realizing how much they had, and became good friends.

Contentment. It is a trick, isn't it, when those around us have so much. When it appears that others have so much more.

The art of contentment is in looking closely at all we do have. At finding, and seeing, our own golden windows.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Count It All Joy

"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."
The King James Version uses the words, "count it all joy."

This list, my counting.

James 1:2-4

a quiet Sunday with