Wednesday, January 20, 2010

question 3.

Continuing my new year's introspection:
Pick three words to describe 2009. Create a phrase describing 2009 for you.

Surprising. Sparser. Slippery slope-y.
The world moved forward; I fell back.

Geez. Guess I'm not feeling too good about myself, eh? Zoinks.

image source: paul graham raven

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

tuesday morning.

Time for some gratitudes, for sure.

1. Sunshine.

2. Ellen Degeneres.

3. Inspirational art.

4. The power of words.

5. Messages from the Universe.

6. Circles of women.

7. People around me who are much more understanding of me than I am myself.

8. The opportunity every new day offers to begin again.

9. Peanut butter.

10. The process of percolation.

image source: the ellen shop

Monday, January 18, 2010

question 2.

Continuing my new year's introspection . . .
What was an unexpected joy for you in 2009? an unexpected obstacle?

An unexpected joy for me was a notable inheritance from my birthmom. Not kajillions, but notable for me - it's all relative, right [no pun intended!]? Her husband of 25 years had given me her wedding ring following her funeral, and it was quite a gift [though oddly, even though it's platinum and I haven't had eczema since I was a teen, I experience an eczema flareup in-between my fingers whenever I try to wear it ... hmmm] - so I was surprised by a call from her trust company letting me know they were working to settle her estate and eventually, it was going to be split 50/50 between her husband and me, her only child. It wrapped up late summer, and the cash portion of it graced my bank account by November - enough to pay off a big chunk of debt, buy some items we've been putting off and enjoy a comfortable Christmas. I understand money can't buy happiness, but it can help give you a little room to breathe. This posthumous gift from my birthmom was an unexpected, yet utterly unsurprising extension of her amazing generosity and unconditional love.

An unexpected obstacle was also financial [funny how these things seem intertwined, eh?] - for the first time in seven years of successful fulltime freelancing, I went completely unpaid by clients for a couple of months, despite several outstanding invoices totaling several thousand dollars. This period of forced [and again, relative] frugality happened just before my inheritance cash turned up, and was terrifically stressful. For an upper-middle-class family, we were treacherously close to having to just start charging everyday necessities, like groceries and prescriptions. I'm still not sure what universal message I was intended to glean from last autumn's "rags-to-riches" microcosm ... but I suspect it has to do with money management and gratitude.

And you? Unexpected joys or obstacles of 2009? Do share.

image source:

Friday, January 15, 2010

gretchen rubin.

I've been following her blog for over a year and have mentioned her here many times - we all know how I love to go on and on about happiness. Well, it looks like 2010 is going to be Gretchen Rubin's big year.

Rubin's longtime blog about her active quest for a happier life has evolved into a newly published memoir - The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun - which hit the shelves as a New York Times bestseller. She's everywhere I click on the Internet, was interviewed on the TODAY show, and is currently out on her nationwide book tour [but not coming to anywhere in Texas, doggone it!].

OK, yes, of course I've bought the book, and am aiming to read it during January. I'll let you know how it goes, and share whatever inspiring or provocative tidbits I glean from it.

Meanwhile, you can begin your own project through her 2010 Happiness Challenge, or you can catch the Rubin-esque author at her blog, her website, her Facebook page, her Twitter page or the Woman's Day Happiness Project website.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

question 1.

I've never been one to just tear off a quick list of resolutions as we ring in the first of January. Oh, no. I like to have a plan, I like to carefully formulate my plan, and I like to contemplate excessively in order to do so.

After all, this is my life we're talking about here. It deserves excessive contemplation once a year, at least.

So I've developed my own little new year's tradition of spending my January - yes, the whole month - in introspection to help me choose what it is I want to focus on in the coming year [or the remaining eleven months, anyway]. Typically, I do quite a bit of journaling, beginning with reflections upon the past year. This year, I'm going to do my journaling here, question by question, hoping some of it might resonate with some of you - maybe move you to do a little soul-searching of your own and/or share your answers/revelations with the rest of us here.

And so I begin with some prompts from "Reflection Questions for 2009" at the Simple Mom blog:

What was the single best thing that happened for you this past year? the single most challenging thing?

Interestingly, I find the single best thing and the single most challenging thing from 2009 are intertwined for me. The single best thing was the inauguration of Barack Obama as the President of the United States. I don't want to gush too much within this arena, but I'm an Obama Mama through and through, and this historic event was not only a political game-changer but also a life-changer for me and, I hope, for this amazing country of ours.

The single most challenging thing for me was a mid-year debacle with my parents - my mom, especially - which we're still wrestling to recover from. L - o - n - g story short: It began with my parents sort of attacking me because they felt I wasn't engaging enough with them, and has come down to an agreement not to talk politics [my dad watches FOX news 24/7 and my mom is the president of her local Republican women's club] - an agreement my mom particularly is having trouble upholding. She just can't seem to embrace the whole "agree to disagree" thing, so it's a struggle. The sad irony is, the whole thing was ignited by them feeling too distanced from me, yet every single time she soapboxes about Obama's Socialist Administration, it puts a little more distance between us. *sigh.*

And you? Best and most challenging happenings of 2009? Do share.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

goy mezuzah.

I just bought this beautiful plaque to hang up by the front door of our home [considering hanging it up on the front door itself, but I do enjoy my seasonal wreaths ... ] as a reminder to all who enter here - mostly and especially us - that, to quote the wall above our hearth, we wish our home to be a place of happiness & health, of contentment, generosity & hope, a home of creativity & kindness, and for them to know only blessing & peace.

The quote is a Jewish blessing, though we are sooo not Jewish. And the concept of putting up such a reminder at the entrance to our home came from one of the women at the Slow Family Living blog, who was inspired by the mezuzahs on the doorposts of Jewish households.

She chose an aluminum star stamped with the word peace to put up on her front door, as "a reminder to all of us to slow down, connect and enjoy family life ... to leave the mess out there and bring in the connection we all need, love and want." Every time she and her family enter their home, they've begun a ritual of touching their "talisman," absorbing its good vibe.

I love this idea, but wanted something cheerfully attention-getting for our home's entrance. I went to Sticks, a furniture + home accents company whose pieces I've coveted for some time, to see whether one of their wall plaques struck a chord with me, and - ta da! - discovered this perfect little gem. I particularly love the way the words "Love Life Together" can mean either that we should relish life to the fullest together as a family or that we should love our family life ... or maybe it's just three top-priority words: Love. Life. Together. Whatever - any and/or all work[s] for me!

A quick shout-out for Sticks founder, Iowa-based artist Sarah Grant-Hutchison, who began creating her inspirational wood-etchings almost 25 years ago, and today oversees almost 150 artisans all producing handmade furniture, home accessories and object art. Another woman making money while making the world more beautiful.

image source: Artcraft Online

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

it's a new year, even for sloggers.

OK, so I've been quite the slogger [blogger + slacker = slogger] the past few months. I've got no real reason for my being so blog-inactive, other than I seem to be suffering from some sort of relatively mild malaise - have been on and off for months now - the cause of which may be anything at all, from midlife to an undiagnosed kidney infection

Regardless of the "disease," the symptom I seem to be consistently experiencing is just an overall lack of motivation to do things. Things like blog. Or work. Work out. Go out. Clean. Scrapbook. Get up. Move much. Mostly I just feel like going somewhere quiet and sleeping for several months. "Slogging," it seems, is exactly the word for what I'm up to - slogging through some quagmire-like stage of life.

Cheese and rice, am I officially pathetic yet?

Anyway, it is a new year, a delovely new decade, and I'm trying to be a better blogger - among other things - while also trying to give my little self the comfort and compassion I apparently crave.

Here's a quote I find infinitely inspiring from the January issue of O, under Oprah's own "What I Know for Sure" column:

"If living your best life were a test, I would not get a passing grade for 2009. All the things I vowed to do this time last year, I didn't. I didn't give myself more balance or more time. I didn't work out daily. I failed. So 2010 is a start-over, for sure. And I feel immensely blessed to still have a chance to get it right."

Seriously, if Oprah can own her own personal failures just like that, then I guess maybe we're all human and flawed after all, eh?

So here's to 2010 - another opportunity to start over, maybe not all at once with the flip of a magical calendar page, but with understanding and kindness for ourselves as human beings who move forward sometimes, back others, occasionally sideways, around in circles or even, once in a while, not at all.

Here's to start-overs, however - and whenever - they happen for you this year. :)

image source: Mirage Las Vegas

Monday, January 11, 2010

garfunkel & oates.

I've got about a dozen new posts lined up ready to write - including one about what a slogger [blogger + slacker] I've been for the past few months - but this one seems like the right fit for a Monday following a weekend lost to the dreaded annual science fair project.

So maybe you're way hipper than I (not much of stretch, frankly) and you've already discovered Garfunkel & Oates. But I just stumbled across this dynamic duo over the holidays as I was clicking past the doomed Jay Lame-o, er, Leno Show, and they are sooo not lame. In fact, they're utterly hilarious and way hipper than I can hope to be at this stage of life.

They are musician/actresses Riki Lindhome [aka Garfunkel, above left] and Kate Micucci [aka Oates, above right], and with titles like "Pregnant Women are Smug" and "Sex with Ducks," their material ain't for Mormons. But here's the piece they performed on Leno, so yes, you can view it with colleagues or kids around:

Here, conversely, is a sampling of something you might want to view much more privately, and sans a glass of milk, lest it spray from your nostrils:

I believe the word you're searching for is irreverent. Or f**king riotous.
Go get s'more at YouTube or the G+O MySpace page.

Friday, January 8, 2010


So I've been mulling & mulling [yes, just like cider] my "one little word" for 2010 - a concept from life artist Ali Edwards of choosing a single word to represent what you want for yourself for the year - and seriously can't seem to hit upon the right one.

Past years' words: 2007 - embrace; 2008 - rest [an utter bust, by the way]; 2009 - connect.

So I'm considering not going with a verb, moving away from what I want to do and toward what I want to be. Existential, eh?

Still, I can't seem to come down to a single word.

So I'm thinking about trying to come up with a new word every month to meditate and reflect upon. What the hey - let's give it a go:

January's word: full.

a full life.

full of life.

full of energy.

full of the moment.

full of breath.

full of intention.

full of gratitude.

full of grace.

full of seeking.

full of understanding.

full of bold experiences.

full of strong connections.

full of movement.

full of purpose.

full of optimism.

full of joy.

a full heart.

Friday, January 1, 2010

celebrate the everyday - january.

Happy New Decade!!
It's January, 2010. How will you celebrate being a woman?

January 6Epiphany
I don't know about you, but I can almost always use one of these!
January 11National Clean Off Your Desk Day
Only one day? How about "Clean Off a Corner of Your Desk Day"?
January 16Nothing Day
. . .
January 18Thesaurus Day
Also known as . . . ?
January 23National Pie Day
Mmmm. Piiiiie.
January 24National Compliment Day
Such as, "Good pie."
January 29Fun at Work Day
Challenge yourself . . .
January 30 - Full moon [the Wolf Moon]
Howl a little!

Remember, where there is connection, there is power.
Where there is power, there is hope for change. For ourselves, and for our world.
We are all connected. We are all powerful.

Until my next post, be well, be happy & be hopeful.