Tag Archives: positivity

A Change Philosophy

It’s unavoidable. If you live, you experience change. Change in weather, change in priorities, change in location, change in association…the list goes on. It terrifies some and excites others but we all experience it over and over again – it’s unavoidable.

That simple fact drives me to embrace it. I have that logic sometimes. I’ve been hedging my bets on wishes for years. You know; the necklace clasp is in front so kiss it and make a wish or blow out birthday candles and make a wish or blow an eyelash off your fingertip and make a wish…all these opportunities to declare what/who you really want. I always wished for the same thing: fun. I wished I’d have fun that afternoon or evening or even just for a good day that day. I knew there was a very good chance those wishes would come true, so I just kept (keep) on making them. And you know what? I’ve found a tremendous sense of power in my wishing. Who hasn’t thought it would be wicked-cool to make wishes come true? I can do it. I do it all the time:)

first day of schoolKiddo is in his second week at a new school. This change came one week after returning from our visit with family and friends in South Africa. He had a double ear infection (then undiagnosed) and I didn’t get him to bed on time the Friday, Saturday or the Sunday before his first day…nor the Monday or Tuesday following it. We had our reasons and he got some good naps in but wow…how’s that for some change?

And still, his reports from school have been glowing. He’s been so excited to go there and his teacher is complimentary of his manners (score: 1 Mama) and besides peeing himself a little during his first few naptimes, he’s dealing well with the change at school. At home, of course, it’s a slightly different story.

Llama llama, mad at mama. If there is a whine to be given, I’m getting it. Meltdowns, temper tantrums and all things four and fearsome (ok, he’s 3.5 but he started his terrible 2’s early, too!) are directed at me – and me alone. Fair enough, I am the instigator of much of this change, but his current tactics won’t get him anywhere with the rest of the world and it’s my job to teach him that; by not indulging him now.*

Kiddo needs to learn how to roll with the punches – because there will be punches. I’m hedging my wishes (for him to grow into a happy adult) by teaching him to do so. I wish for him to see a lesson in every challenge, an adventure in every detour and potential in every surprise. I want him to have fun.

I suspect more grown ups would have fun if they responded to change the way kiddo did the past couple of weeks. It’s ok to pee yourself a little when it sneaks up on you but try and use your manners while in company and save your craziness for those you trust can take it. That exercise of discipline alone should make it easier for you to start seeing a lesson in every challenge, an adventure in every detour and potential in every surprise. And if you’re still struggling? Plant some perennials, take up a weekly class or create some other constant in your life. But please make what you can of the changes, too.

I’m always surprised when my perennials come in…
the yard becomes so familiar again!
Still, with their leaving they’ve brought forth a change~
though each time different, they will come again.

*DISCLAIMER: Hubby would argue I’m more indulgent than I should be…he’s right.

So how about you? Are you a change-a-holic or a change-a-phob? What constants have you created in your life you can come back to again and again when change becomes overwhelming?

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Pot Luck Kindness 2010: The Big 3-0

Yay, I'm 30!

Yay, I'm 30!

Last month I read Robyn Bomar’s How I Celebrated My Birthday (aka 38 Random Acts of Robyn) and was inspired. Have you seen this yet? Robyn decided she would spend her 38th birthday doing 38 random acts of kindness. She made a list and spent the day running around town with several members of her family doing random acts of kindness. What’s more, she asked her “friends, readers, Facebook fans and fellow Twitter-ers to each perform one Random Act of Kindness and to let [her] know about it throughout the day”. What good stuff, man! I wanna put some goodness like that out there!

So here I am, a few days from my thirtieth birthday and I haven’t gotten my act together. I actually considered doing a belated Earth Day post this week because the work involved to pull together something like Robyn pulled together is not work I want to be doing this week. Can you believe I would let lazy beat out good karma on an occasion such as this?

I do feel like it’s a special birthday. I own it, I love it and I feel somehow as though I’ve turned a corner in the past few months and I am so very excited for the me walking into my thirties. I had a lovely meeting today for the Netweaving Pay It Forward Week and this evening I spent $28 on $50 worth of groceries – a milestone in frugality. Two for two, man…can’t I make this idea work for me somehow?

Well, maybe with some help;)

Here’s the deal. The one thing I didn’t care much for on Robyn’s project was that so many of her random acts involved money. As I read through her list I was tallying the costs and the project felt less and less practical for my personal situation. I also really don’t need to take Monday off…I’m in the middle of some very cool projects and would rather spend my birthday working on them:) So, I’m going to rip off Robyn’s idea and dilute it down to my taste…throwing just a little bit of good stuff out into the world is better than not throwing out any, right? 😉  So…

Pot Luck Kindness 2010: The Big 3-0

  1. I ask that anyone so inclined to celebrate this milestone birthday with me perform a random act of kindness. I’m going to do as many as I can on b-day and I’ll tweet them out as I do them.
  2. I ask that you make every effort to perform a ROAK that doesn’t cost you money or at least doesn’t cost you much. Let’s put a $5 cap on it, ok?
  3. I ask that you let me know about your RAOK somehow. You can comment here, text me, FB me, tweet me; whatever. I’ll post any messages I get from other channels here later. My hope [read: gift] is that this post will collect a long string of creative RAOKs, inspiring anyone who stumbles on this post in the future to perform one themselves or perhaps celebrate similarly on their birthday.
  4. My birthday is Monday 5/3 but I’m not going to attach the request to the date. You can do it the day you read this post, the next day, a week later, whenever. I will certainly be pleased if some of you think about me day-of but I’ve been stretching out my birthday for years so I don’t know why I’d stop now;)

That’s it; my birthday wish. I hope you want to celebrate with me and I hope you have fun doing it. Thanks for reading, too…I can’t tell you how much this outlet – this regular writing – has done for me. And your attention, dear reader? It’s speaking my love language🙂

Tending the Gardens

Spring is sprung on my side of the world. My perennials are popping back up (as are weeds) and I’m sorting through my seeds figuring out what vegetables to plant in my square foot garden. Long days are upon us and I know I will soon neglect the house and the laundry in favor of the yard and gardens. This will go on a couple of months before the heavy heat of Georgia Summer chases me back in to the air conditioning where my boobs don’t sweat. Then the yard will be on it’s own until the temperatures moderate and I’m ready to venture out once again.

The yard won’t wow anyone these next couple of months. Though I will toil, my greatest rewards will be limited: the rediscovery of plants I’ve already cultured as I pull back weeds, the potting of purchased (not nursed) plants in my patio containers. I’ll kick myself for not planting more bulbs last fall and applying pre-emergent weed treatments to the lawn. I know because it went down like this last year and I made few changes to my routine to alter the outcome.

It’s hard to believe it was Easter on Sunday. This year is flying by. It seems just yesterday I was beginning my spiritual preparation for Lent, thinking about my relationships and my self…trying to identify ways I can improve both. Now here I am, a chorus of “he is risen, indeed” echoing in my head and still I find myself wondering what I’ve actually accomplished. Fortunately, my spiritual growth is not regulated by the same seasons as my gardens. I do not have to wait for next Lent to plant my bulbs. I may find the heat of introspection chases me back to my comfort zone from time to time, but those seasons are my own and I have more control over them than those that guide my physical planting.

Knowing this, I have made some conscious decisions about my yard and gardens – both physical and spiritual.

1) I will not neglect the yard just because I value the fruits of my gardens more. If I make the effort with the yard (weeding, edging) I will have to mow less frequently. I will not have to deal with the shame an unkempt yard evokes. This behavior is neighborly. My body is my yard and my soul is my garden. Though I value the fruits of the soul, I will do the hard work necessary to get my body in good shape so that I may be free of the shame an unfit one elicits. Once the hard work is done, I’ll be able to work less frequently. I’ll take pride in my healthy body and my next door neighbor (hubby) is bound to appreciate it;)

2) I will wait for the rain before I weed. There is no sense busting ass digging at roots in solid ground. That behavior only leaves me frustrated and unsatisfied. Similarly, I will not force spiritual growth on myself when my soul is not ready. Much like rain, circumstances for growth are beyond my control. There’s no sense kicking myself for not scaling some grand spiritual staircase this Lent. I’m better off working on something else until that slow, steady rain comes in it’s own time.

3) I will prioritize and make the time. No one becomes a master gardener overnight (nor a master of anything else, for that matter). I will sometimes set aside laundry or other housekeeping responsibilities to work in the yard when weather permits. For my soul? I will tear myself away from a work project to go to the Wednesday noon church service or miss a self-imposed writing deadline to play with my son. Also, as my gardens are shared with my husband’s, I will make time to tend them together – even if that means doing the “tasks” he wants to do rather than those I’d like to do.

4) I will make every effort to learn. I will identify my trusted sources, open my mind to positive influences and make every effort to soak up ideas.Through this I will achieve growth.

5) I will not be afraid to try new ideas, even if they are foreign to me. Nor will I be afraid to cast aside those that do not suit my soil, plants or climate.

6) I will share. Just as many plants can be split and rooted to grace a new space, so can positivity be shared and fostered to grace another soul.

7) I will compost. I will not cast aside scraps of food or life lessons. Instead, I will allow them to ruminate and culture, applying them when the time comes, that I may grow beautiful vegetables and the fruits of the spirit.

So there you have it – my gardening plans. I hope the exercise of writing them down helps me stick with them:) I find sometimes the best gardens are those that require little effort (thank you, zinnias!) but even when the grandest of my planting plans are left unrealized I can at least see the outlines of them to guide me the next year. Here’s to a happy season (whichever yours may be) and a yard and garden to be proud of! What about you? Have you ordered your seeds yet? Which plants will you share with friends?

Date Night

Illustration by FPJC

Sonskyn and I lived in Centurion, South Africa from late 2002 to late 2004. We stayed in a two bedroom flat (with our friend, Koning) with a beautiful view of the sunset. Our place had an open door to all our friends and, seeing that most of them were back in their parents’ houses (several of us had just returned from working in Scotland together), there was a constant flow of company. Sonskyn and I are social people, so we enjoyed this.  Still, we have our ups and downs like any couple and I recall a period when I was especially hungry for romance.

I hinted at it. I threw the lack of it around like an accusation when we’d argue. I’d fantasize about all the dramatic gestures he could make for me…if he wanted to. Did he just not love me as much as I loved him? Why, though I felt with all my heart that he did, wasn’t I sated?

I was driving along the N4 from Centurion to Wonderboom one morning and just as I was cresting the hill overlooking Pretoria, a realization came to me. I still associate the idea with the view.  If I wanted romance, I should do something romantic. I shouldn’t waste my energy being frustrated with Sonskyn for not scratching my romantic itch. I should scratch it myself and show him how nice it could be in the process;). I spent the rest of the morning scheming.

First I had to kick Koning out for the night- easy enough. Then I found rose pedals at a florist, scribbled a cute little poem alluding to what was to come and had a friend come with me to drop off the car keys with my note so Sonskyn could get home. As he approached the car that evening to leave, he noticed a few stray pedals on the ground by the driver’s side…then a few more scattered on the  driver’s seat…

He came into the apartment, which was aglow with scattered candles and petals. He laughed nervously when he saw me in silk…

We had a lovely evening. We laughed, we smiled and we had a taste of romance. I was sated.

That decision and that evening changed me in a sense. The success tuned me in to a power I have – the power of free will. Sometimes things happen that are beyond our control, but our response to those circumstances are very much in our control. Remember, Sonskyn may not have been in the mood for romance that night. He may have come home and told me he loved me and the gesture, but just didn’t have the stuffing for a high-level emotional evening. He may not have reciprocated. His response was beyond my control. But, knowing that the gesture had never been selfless anyway, I hope I would have chosen to find happiness in the idea that he did love me and the gesture. If I forgave him for not being in the same place as me I bet he’d have appreciated it even more.

Last week a post from Annakate at La Aguacate inspired me to shake up my shopping cart with some different veggies. I picked up some fresh fish and on Monday night I cooked. I not only cooked, I glided around the kitchen, cleaning up as I went along and really enjoying the process. At some point it all just looked so beautiful that the need to be romantic took over and, on a random Monday night, Sonskyn and I had a romantic (though late:)) dinner. I saw the Pretoria skyline in my mind’s eye all the while.

1. I cleaned as I cooked so I could relax and enjoy sitting down to the meal.
2. Fresh ingredients and the A.V.C.T.. I couldn’t remember for the life of me what endives were called but they looked like they’d be tasty sauteed…
3. You see the cous cous there? Just sitting there ready for the kettle water?
4. Totally forgot to make it.
5. But that’s ok because it gave a new twist to our leftover lunches:)

  • Fresh Fish
  • Pecans
  • Shredded Parmesan
  • Cilantro – 1 bunch
  • a couple of tablespoons of flour (salt & pepper to taste)

Finely chop pecans (can use A.V.C.T.) and about 1/3 of the cilantro. Mix with Parmesan. Lightly dust fish with flour to dry and then dip into egg wash before coating with pecan mixture. Cook in pan with EVOO at medium heat. Flip when browned. Let rest on paper towel before serving on bed of cilantro.

I halved endives and sauteed them in the pan after the fish. Those, a chunk of mozzerella and a half tomato each were our sides…you could obviously do something different.

I hope my story inspires you to create a little romance for Valentine’s Day…it can mean so much more than those commercializing the holiday would lead you to believe. And, if romantic love isn’t in the cards this year, please remember that you are free to express Agápe, Philia, and/or Storge at your will. I hope your week is filled with love! 🙂

Pretoria skyline

Netweaving: Why I don’t Mind Attending Events

The novelty of networking wore off quickly for me. All it took was a few of those people. You know them – they’ve handed you a card before a word has been uttered. Three flights up in your elevator pitch they’ve already checked out – scanning the room for their next card receptacle. They’re gross and they make me wish I were at home with my family. What a waste of my time.

When an esteemed colleague urged me to join her at a WINN meeting I only agreed out of respect for her. WINN (Women in NARI (National Association of the Remodeling Industry) Networking). Whew! That just sounds complicated, right? I was in a sorority in college and enjoyed it, but I’ve been exposed to enough caddy, female politics to steer clear. You can imagine my surprise when I walked out an hour and a half later feeling like my time had not been wasted. These women were incredible! They shared ideas and resources for growing and improving business. The fluff was minimal. I was hooked.

Early on in WINN’s evolution someone introduced us to Netweaving. Catchy word, huh? Wanna know more? Well, I’m happy to oblige:)

Have you ever seen or heard of the movie Pay It Forward?  Well, Netweaving is a pay it forward approach to business. Instead of walking into an event thinking about who you can meet to benefit you, you walk into one looking to meet people who interest and impress you. Then, as your black book of resource contacts grows, you begin to connect people. You connect them because they have a common interest or it benefits them to know one another. You help people with no known personal gain.

Frankly, I don’t believe Bob Littel, Chief Netweaver, has invented anything new. What Bob has done is give a name to an exercise that some business people do naturally and suggest a practice for this exercise so that those who do not can. It’s brilliant in it’s simplicity. Bob is teaching/reminding business people to be good people. Yes, part of the concept is a belief that good things happen to those people who make good things happen, but the payoff is not guaranteed and it’s not a motivator. It must not be.

The WINNers took this concept and we began applying it to our group at every opportunity. One such opportunity was Christmas. We opted for a non-materialistic gift exchange. After drawing names, we contacted our giftee and set up a time to get to know her better. Then, after learning more about her business, her personal professional goals and/or  her personal aspirations, we worked on gift ideas. Leslie sent me links to resources for marketing a blog and building readership. My giftee asked me to spend a couple of hours helping her set her new computer up. Some women hosted a Netweaving meeting,  introducing their giftee to someone it behooves them to know.  The gifts were specific and meaningful – we enjoyed the exchange so much!

We shared our stories at a meeting last week. Bob Littel (an Atlantan) even joined us to celebrate the efforts. I have rarely been in a room that oozed satisfaction like that one did:). When it was all said and done we had each gotten to know two members better (she we gave to and she who gave to us) and we had exercised our creativity generously. What a project!

I still guard my time. I don’t rush off to every event that crosses my inbox in the hopes that it will be another WINNer. Still, I’m glad I went to that meeting. I’m glad I’ve invested in a group of people I admire and enjoy. They’ve inspired me, supported me and befriended me in the past year and I value those relationships. They’ve replaced a hated chore (networking) with a healthy and welcome practice (Netweaving) that I can do every time I’m in a group of people. They’ve helped me grow, and that’s worth my time.

Ok, enough soppy stuff; here’s the fun part:)

WINN never did land on the right thing to call our little project. What we’re doing isn’t Netweaving, that’s just a gift some of us chose to give and an attitude we’ve adopted. Here are the names we came up with. If anyone can come up with something better I’ll give them a “whatever the game is called” gift.

  • Secret Santa with a Twist (this one had legs until “secret” made the getting-to-know-you pregame confusing…)
  • Netweaving Santa (yeah, we just went over all that…)

There’s been talk about doing this quarterly, by the way, so taking the “Santa” out of the name is welcome.

ALSO GOOD TO KNOW: Netweavers are doing an event this April (more info to follow). The original plan involved people flooding local restaurants to have their meetings. I actually think that’s a great idea (can think of a few places I’d like to support), but the event has grown exponentially to include so many different meanings now (inter-office communications and the like) that it it has opened up to any(one/where) they can meet. Think about this…one day when all these people (who are more like you than they are different) are exercising their nice muscle right along with you…I wouldn’t mind sharing in an energy like that.

Why I loved 2009

It’s that time of year: we look back, we look forward, we make lists.

There are many who bid a happy farewell to 2009. Though I hardly lament the passing year (there will be no mourning on my 30th birthday, for that matter), I wish we were not so eager to cast it aside. I want to remember it. I did good work last year. I learned last year. I grew last year.

I read a blog post today by Amber Naslund titled Four Words for 2010 (highly recommend reading). In it, she talks about wanting to have chords in her life. She doesn’t expect a well-composed symphony among her various interests and responsibilities, she just wants to try and keep them “moving in the same, coordinated direction”. She “needs” a theme. I kept coming back to her ideas and wondering what my own “chord” is. I started to look back, look forward, make lists…

And then a theme: growth. How was this year bad when I learned so much? How many of us banded together and found friends we didn’t know we had? In 2009, I went through the most trying heartbreaks I have experienced in my life – BUT –

  • I felt God’s presence more than once.
  • I learned more about who I am and who I want to grow into.
  • I saw people do good things for one another.
  • I made difficult decisions.
  • I was exposed to concepts and professional associations that changed my attitude about my work.
  • I began to participate.
  • I served my community.  (Get ready for a new I Am B.E.A.U.T.I.F.U.L. event this spring…teaser- it will involve cooking:))
  • I laughed, I cried, I was sober and imbibed, I learned to ground and I wrote some stuff down…

No, I will not cast 2009 aside. I will roll gently from my then to my now and on to the new as I grow. And I hope I’m not alone. I hope my community, industry and country don’t spend so much time jazzing one another up about the future that we forget about the blessings we have and the lessons we’ve learned. I hope we enter a new era, one where we value conservation rather than excess, time rather than things, and relationships rather than connections.

I love 2010 already:).