Friday, May 31, 2013

Ending May with a Friday Finds

A new series sprung up on Kim's blog, Friday Finds...

I was all prepared and this week's was postponed and justifiably so...but I'm still going to show you mine!

I'm not a big cruiser of Antique shops, mainly because I'm an Antique Dummy...and they see this sucker comin' from a mile away. :)

I'd be the one who would go on Antiques Roadshow and the appraiser would laugh and say, "You paid what?  This isn't worth a plugged nickel."

But I ventured out last weekend...

I have no idea if they are worth anything...but I found these teeny little empty ink bottles and could not resist.

I had bought a bouquet at Wal*Mart for my father's grave...but you know how there's always little stragglers that either break off or are lower on the stem and your cutting point of the stem is above it...

Wallah...put them in these tiny little ink bottles...

And you're ready for a waste! :)  See?

A Friday Find!

Now...I saw some things similar that I knew my grandmother owned and were still tucked in a way in a chest in my home.  I mentioned it to the woman at the antique shop who said they would be interested but they might not be worth a lot.  My response to her stunned her...she said "that is beautiful."  What did I say?

They are valuable because I know whose hands have touched them.

(I actually surprised myself...)  Not worth a lot?  Hardly.  They are priceless.  Maybe I'm not such an antique dummy, after all!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Where Women Create...and Why...

I must not get out much because I had NO idea how magazines were costing these days...

But I came across this treasure of a magazine in May...thinking it was a fluke...I bought the next issue...

This one was just as good...if not better...

Each issue profiles about 10 or so artists...all in diverse genres...just a few are:

  • Kathy Davis - greeting cards and lifestyle products
  • Melinda Graham - interior design
  • Flora Bowley - painter and instructor
  • Jenny Doan - quilter
...and more...

There are WONDERFUL photos of their studios, where they their own story how they evolved into the work they are doing today.

Each featured artists gives one tip AND a favorite quote...

Then there's an issue feature called, The Business of the Studio by Elizabeth Maxson.  <--link to a great blog!   Last issue's article was on The Storytelling of Staging.

Her article this issue, From Passion to Pro, started out with:
For those of you who spend every waking hour trying to figure out how to ditch your 'real job' in order to pursue your passion into a profession, this article is for you.
Now...I am passionate about my 'real job'...but to say I would not like to take my artistic passion and turn it into something that could supplement my retirement is pretty much on target!

Whether an individual artist's genre appeals to my personal taste...each story resonated with me.  A lot about  being bit as a child with the creativity addiction...being content alone with paper or things thrown away or scraps of fabric...perfectly entertained.

Now Where Women Create can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and the magazine can be found at Barnes & Noble and at Books-A-Million...and oh does it feel good in your hands!

Now why women create...I only have one answer...based on my own experience and what I've read about these other women.  It is because we cannot NOT create...

It is like breathing...without it, we are not our true feels something's missing.  Can you relate?

And lookie is my new swing I talked about here!  (and Arthur...)

But honestly...why do I create?  I  know that my only Source is the Creator ... and in order to create with the talent He graciously bestowed to me...I must plugged into Him every day of my life.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Hallowed Beginning - An Opportunity

While Memorial Day is the gateway to is one of the most profound, meaningful days (actually the entire weekend) for me and Edster.  We tend to watch war movies and documentaries, reflect on the cost of our freedom, and ponder our gratitude for those who risked all...and some made the ultimate sacrifice.

This is the cemetery where my father is buried...5 minutes from my house.

(We also traditionally decorate the graves of family...including relatives and ancestors going back three centuries.  Those are all in West Virginia.)

The cemetery where my father rests was a sea of flags...everywhere...for those who had served for our country.

Hallowed Ground

I placed the flowers in the vase in the plaque...but my heart broke.  There was no flag.

He had served in the U.S. Navy in World War the Pacific Theater.

He was an mechanic for all the warplanes that battled against Japan...a meticulous job that could mean life or death for the pilot and crew if not done with precision and close attention to detail.

But where was his flag?

We saw a couple of men in a golf cart down the way...

We asked.  They gave us a flag.  And explained that the flags were distributed by volunteers...mostly by the elderly.  They do their best but they probably miss many, as well.  I asked for a second flag.  They obliged.

Walking back to my dad's grave, I walked past the husband of my mother's best friend.  He had died 28 years ago from melanoma.  He had served in the U. S. Navy in World War II, as well.  He had no flag.

I took the extra flag and pushed it into the ground...and then I knew...

I would add a new tradition...

Edster and I would call the cemetery office to volunteer and ensure no veteran goes without honor by inadvertently not getting their flag.

I am grateful for their service.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Complexity of Simplicity

Have you ever heard the phrase, "the silence was deafening?"

I am beginning to see that it is the same with the virtue of simple, that it's complex!

I watched a great documentary tonight... Happy!  Directed by Roko Belic, this award-winning film from 2011 combines global personal stories to cutting-edge research on the science of happiness.  It included people living in the bayous of Louisiana, a Kalkota slum in India, a community in Taiwan.  While I do not espouse all presented in this film 100%, it had great points.

The take home points:

  • If 50% of our happiness baseline is determined by genetics, and only 10% by individual circumstances, we have 40% of our happiness which we control by intentional actions and choices that will increase our happiness, including our thoughts and behaviors.
  • All of us are victims of the hedonic treadmill -- essentially no matter how much "stuff" I acquire that makes me happy, I will naturally adapt to that and go back to my happiness baseline...resulting in wanting more "stuff" to get to that higher level of happy.  [Uh...yeah...I believe that also includes camera equipment...]A lot of effort for a trip to nowhere. 
  • We can all participate in activities that enhance our happiness such as:  finding meaning, practicing compassion, connecting with others, participating in the discipline of grateful living, physical activity.

Seems so simple...that it is complex!

If we would all live more simply, we would be so much happier.

What makes you happy?  And how are you going to practice over the Holiday weekend?  I definitely will be...let's compare notes!

(By the way, you can see Happy on Netflix or view online for $2.99 at the link above...)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Thank You and Changing It Up

I have not posted a Texture Tuesday in quite some time...Kim Klassen's feature every Tuesday...

But first...

Thank you for all the wonderful feedback and encouragement you have given me after my last post...some posted on my blog and others communicated with me privately.  I will be responding to each of you in the next days to come...until then...know that each one of you are amazing!  My hope is that my openness will encourage others they are never alone...

I was so attracted by this green and white barn on an unpaved road in the back hills outside of Elkins, West Virginia.  Pairing it with Kim's texture, Bamboo, gave it a soft airy look in early Spring.  Interestingly enough, when I took the photograph, I never noticed the solitary little red tulip in the foreground.

That little bonus made this photo even a little more sweeter!

Happy Texture Tuesday!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Courage is Owning Your Story

I'll be honest...I don't know how to write this post.  And yet...why not?  I often go on a soapbox about authenticity and being "real"...and so it would be hypocritical of me not to write this post, right?  (Got you wonderin', yet?)

I wrestle with depression...and boy have I slid into a pool of it this go round.  I know this bout is significant as I don't even have the gumption or energy to go to West Virginia for the Memorial Day holiday...a tradition I've had for almost a decade to decorate the graves of my ancestors.  The place I call home.

Not this year...


I'm not sure why I struggle...but it has been, for the most part, lifelong...but episodic.  Probably a combination of artistic temperament, introversion, family of origin, chronic stress, chronic sorrow, and marching to the beat of a different drummer...and also a life changed I mentioned in a previous post.  I'm resilient...but it doesn't come easy.  It's all God's grace.

I found these quotes quite eye-opening, as someone who has viewed creating equivalent to breathing:

  • Artistic temperament sometimes seems a battleground, a dark angel of destruction and a bright angel of creativity wrestling. - Madeline L'Engle
  • Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one. - Stella Adler
  • The arts are more dangerous [than other occupations] because they require sensitivity to a large extent.  If you go too far you can pay a price -- you can be too sensitive to live in this world. -Terence Ketter
  • He was a complicated artist who had an inner life and embedded that inner life on the page.  His anxieties and fears brought him Lucy and the characters in ‘Peanuts.’  A normal person couldn’t have done it. - David Michaelis about Charles Schulz
But even more...was Ann Voskamp's post on April 7, 2013, after Rick Warren's youngest son died of suicide.  Ann tells of her own story...and how telling her story is what sets her free.  The thought I had at the end was, "Wow...I wish I had written that!"

We hear the term "mental illness" and see the Jared Loughners, Adam Lanzas, and the James Holmeses of society...the most severe extreme.  And yet, on any given day, no less than 35% of the population is dealing with issues of anxiety and depression...while still tolerating its pain in silence as they function in life...numbing as they go so they can take the next step.  But the numbing is actually adding to the problem.

With me, it comes in waves...starting out almost unnoticed...then a low buzz like the hum of a refrigerator...then I become more aware as my energy is zapped from doing anything or seeing/talking to anyone...and then stuck in a "what's the point" frame of mind...that interferes with doing anything with any of the little energy I have to muster...including reaching out.

And when do I know this bout has passed?  When I am able to glimpse purpose and meaning once again in my life...and that energizes me.  Deep, rich conversations with kindred spirits nourish my soul in a way beyond measure...including those dialogues with my Savior.

I did a series on The Battlefield of the Mind in March...about controlling how we think, how we talk to ourselves in our mind...because your thoughts create your emotions and subsequent behavior...your life, in fact.  My reward?  A bout of depression (I say while laughing).  I've heard it said that "we teach best what we need to learn most."  True dat!

But what bothers me still, is how the Church fails so miserably when fellow Christians, such as myself, are experiencing this pain.  What to do?

I love the suggestions in Rebekah Lyons' article:  My Take: Let's Quit Keeping Mental Illness a Secret.  She suggests:
Remove the stigma
As people of faith, let’s talk about mental illness, giving others permission to do the same. Let's release the stigma that keeps this a secret, holding untold millions captive. All secrets lose power when they exit the dark. The church is a place where we should be able to come as we are, with our longings for what we hope to be. Jesus always pursued the weak with open arms. When we are broken and fragile, He draws us closer to Him in ways we’ve never known. In my own journey, I’ve never felt more loved and cared for by God than in my darkest hours. When we grieve, we are comforted.
Be present
Let’s be present. Let’s love unconditionally. Eye to eye, we must be honest about our own struggles. Especially in the church, no one should have to hide or sneak around or double his or her dose. Let’s be on-call in the late night hours, when the phone rings and we are summoned to show up. What if our communities of faith were the one place you could count on to find a listening ear, a hand to hold, another loving human being with a compassionate and sensitive response?

Don't pretend to have all the answers 

Let's not shame mental illness with the judgment of spiritual weakness. As Christians, we believe this side of heaven all disease, sickness and pain is rooted in a world broken by sin. But there are real consequences to living amidst the mess. To oversimplify these complexities would be naive at best, negligent at worst. Faith should never undermine the necessity of doctors, of medications and therapy, because we must deploy every effort afforded to us when we tackle our brokenness.
Isolation/going-it-alone is the most treacherous route for those being tossed in the storm of anxiety or depression...and yet, I believe Ms. Lyons has it right.  Without understanding, available "others" in our lives, isolation is the least painful than being with those who are naive, clueless, smug, or pious.

I wrote on Facebook today, "Jesus came for the sick, not the smug"...a quote from Ann Voskamp.

In the end, Jesus is my go-to-guy and brings the hope of hope!  I have not wanted to go anywhere this weekend or pick up my camera to create anything...but I sit at home in the quiet, with the breeze coming through the house, hearing the songs of the birds of spring migration, with a glass of iced tea, having the courage to tell my story.
Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it.  Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy--the experiences that make us the most vulnerable.  Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of the Light. -Brene Brown
And all is grace and will always be...whether I recognize it or not.

And I feel a little order my front porch swing, where I could have been sitting, with all of you beside me.  I'll let you know when it comes in!

Monday, May 13, 2013

What Would Anna Think? - Thoughts on Mother's Day

I'll just put it out there...I have mixed feelings about Mother's Day...

I love the good intentions of Anna Jarvis on 1908 when she held a memorial service on a Sunday for her mother in Grafton, West Virginia...and pushed to make it a recognized holiday...which did happen in 1914...but by the 1920s, she was already disappointed by its commercialism...

How much more would she feel that disappointment today...

I have thought a lot about it this weekend...

Imagine my disappointment when the red carpet was not rolled out for my feet when I stepped out of bed...nor was there an eloquent breakfast tray with a vased flower and linen napkin awaiting me when my eyes opened.  No flurry of calls from my flood of accolades paired with expensive gifts of appreciation.  (Although my heart was full from a thoughtful card from Edster!)

But actually...I don't buy into those images...

Instead, while reading my latest literary adventure, The Gifts of Imperfection, the words reminded me once again:

Comparison is the thief of joy...

I believe we are set up for complete obliteration of our joy if we compare our lives with the images we see on Facebook that show everyone's best side...or the commercials that guilt us into believing if we don't buy this or that, we must not love our mother...

Instead...I thought about...
  • The mothers who have a child who has died.
  • The mothers whose children were never born.
  • The children who can no longer reconcile and make peace with their mother as she is gone.
  • The mothers who may have a child that broke her heart.
  • The mothers who may have a child enslaved in destructive habits and addictions.
  • The mothers who have children with profound disabilities who cannot say thank you or even say "mom."
  • The children whose mothers have died or are living but no longer are who they once were.
  • The mothers who find themselves unwantingly spending their Mother's Day as a single mother.
  • The children who have grown up without a forever family and not knowing their mother.
  • The mothers who have lost their children due to mistakes they regret than cannot be undone.
  • And the mothers of children who today are still prodigals...

I held the hand of the godly woman who bore me, although, like every day, she never opened her eyes...and am grateful...

I brushed and braided her hair...and I am grateful...

Kissed her and prayed in her ear...and I am grateful...

And comforted that she has good people around her good care...grateful this mother gave up her Mother's Day to serve others...including my mother...

Lilacs on Mother's Day

And while I had expected to see my daughter and grandsons this afternoon...a call from my daughter that my youngest grandson had thrown up all over himself and everything...and was sick...changed that...been there, done that!  But I was thrilled at the handmade card I received from my oldest grandson when he knew I was sick last week...he made it at school...that also wished me a Happy Mother's Day.  I marveled at his wonderful spelling and handwriting of my little first grader...

But my daughter wrote this on her Facebook page this morning:

And a very special mothers day to my momma Denise Fabian! Thank you for all your love and support even though my questionable phases I'm life. You've showed me how to be a strong loving woman and to always trust in God. For this I will always be grateful and blessed. xoxo.

And how grateful I am to my husband, who put food spikes into the cold ground in January to feed the lilac bushes that produced an over-abundance of blooms to make a fragrant vaseful to fill my mother's room with an aroma better than anything that could have been purchased.

And no card, no phone call came from my son...because he is unable to do so...  He cannot say thank you...he cannot even call me, "Mom."  But today, through the commitment of motherhood, I know
  • he is safe
  • he is content
  • and he is functioning at his best
What greater gift can I ask for?

I think Anna Jarvis would be pleased...and I am grateful for the mother whose greatest desire...the only gift she has ever craved...has always been to see her children standing at Christ's side on Judgment Day...

Friday, May 10, 2013

I Collect...

Kim Klassen had us focus on the beautiful things that we have, that we tend to save or my Beyond Beyond course...

A month or two ago, I created a Facebook group page for those cross-stitchers that used to be on AOL (You've got mail!)  X-stitch GeriRoyer, SuzNov, Grndmadi, Jane in WV, GinaEgg, Billsfran, MelissaJax, Mimibear1, GSRox1, Houstnrose, Lenora(andsomenumbers), HooBeeU...we knew each other by our AOL screen names.  Some of those folks have become lifelong friends...  Who knew?  We found 81 former members from AOL and we are all now sharing again on Facebook...

When I thought about "I Collect"...

I thought about crosstitch and pulled out some things that had been put away some time ago...or shall I say was packed when I moved in 2010 and still remains, for the most part...still packed.

There is comfort and solace running your fingers across such color, such fibers, threads, and textiles...bringing some of it back out was like coming home...

These AOL X-Stitch peeps knew without explanation about the joy of our stash...even if you could not get everything you had ever stitched up...we could not live without our S.E.X. (Stash Enhancement Xperiences) aka shopping for crosstitch stuff...and telling each other about our latest enhancements.

Beautiful colored evenweaves...some linen (Belfast, Dover, Newcastle, Newport, Edinburgh, and Cashel), some Lugana, Fiddler's Cloth, Floba, Jobelan, Hardanger...and yes what we all stitched on for our first project...Aida!

And you had to have an interpreter or special primer to understand our language as a newbie:

  • Frogging - Pulling out threads from a mistake (you had to rip it, rip it, rip it...get it?)
  • U.F.O. - Un-finished Object, project started but not completed
  • Fuppies - Completed projects but they were not finished up (i.e., framed, sewn into something, etc.)
  • Rotation - You might have several projects going at the same time and you would work on one for a week, go to the next one for a week, and so on...and repeat so you completed projects without getting tired of them...

EXCEPT for SuzyNov...this is her photo of her GBH (Great Blue Heron)...she would always groan about still working on the water of her GBH.  It is legendary and still talked about today all over the country..

And as I went through the little bit of items I unpacked for this challenge...other memories surfaced...

We had ornament swaps, floss swaps, stitch-a-longs (subgroups of those working on a specific piece together)...but we also made a quilt for Susan who was hurting, and supported those who had lost spouses, enduring illness, divorce...while keeping it light talking about our "Cabana boys."

Past Threads

And as I looked at things I had stitched...memories of my own life flooded back...a time when my own last name was different...with different initials stitched to show I had done the work.

I also remembered how long it exercise in patience...each project.  Kind of an illustration in tenacity...

And as I looked at patterns I had dreamed of making at one time...I remembered my dream for my bedroom...

It's kind of a Sturbridge-Yankee colonial style...always wanted my husband to have something that could pass as "the Lincoln bedroom" with a wall filled with my handstitched reproduction samplers from past centuries from patterns shown here...

...but maybe I've been inspired by finding my AOL X-Stitch girls again...and by running my hands over a minuscule of my stash (I have tons of stash!)...and I may go back to my sampler wall...

And before putting this time capsule away, I pulled out a small antique reproduction project and kitted it...

Maybe I'll put my needle to work this weekend...and before long you'll see it here!

I'm so grateful to have not just my stash...but also my collection of crosstitch peeps from over the years!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Think Happy...Be Happy...

Yesterday...I talked about how gratitude and joy cannot be separated...

Sometimes we get stuck...get in ruts...clogged...and it seems as if that has been the case with my groupie photography girls...

So...Sarah Huizenga came up with an idea...having a weekly challenge in our group based on a theme of a word or a color...

This week was either "amusing" or "orange"... and I chose one and wove it into yesterday's post.

Think Happy...Be Happy

Now I know joy is different than happiness...but you catch my drift, true?

A Cuppa Orange

Anyway...I think this Sarah is on to something...and it surely will be fun!

Monday, May 6, 2013

You Can't Have One Without the Other

As I progress through the current book I'm reading...The Gifts of Brene' Brown.  She's spent her career as a researcher of shame and resilience, spending the past ten years focusing how the gifts of imperfection can lead to wholehearted living.

She writes about over the years to research...there are certain concepts that cannot stand alone.

The concepts of joy and gratitude...without gratitude, there is no joy.

Lightness of Pink

A virus got ahold of me and kept me in the house for four well as took my voice.  We have had the long-awaited 70-degree spring, sunny days those four days.  I felt as if I might miss Spring in Ohio because I couldn't get out in it.

I went back to work about 50%...but I went.  After dinner, Edster and I took a walk with the doggies...a slow stroll through the neighborhood.  I inhaled the Spring air and each bloom and blossom were eye candy as all the lawns were a lush green.  I viewed the neighborhood a little differently...a gratitude walk...not only to be outside, but to have the privilege to be surrounded by the brief beauty of the choreography of Spring.

And then there it was...the reviving of joy in the deepness of my soul.

My God, you are so creative and so amazing by what I can anyone deny you or think that for one moment a relationship with the God of the Universe is dull.