Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Day 16,876 Gratitude: Lost and Found

Today I am so grateful for ...

The nostalgia of the season and tripping over photos of Christmases past, including this one, her first in 1993. Christmases are different now that she is nearly grown. I do miss the magic of the Santa years, but I celebrate that new traditions are taking shape and our options for the holidays are more flexible and expansive than ever before.

The wonder of the daily list. I don't want to call it a "to do" list. I don't even like to call it an "I will" list anymore. "Daily" list is good enough for me. A flexible flight plan of sorts. Something that I can glance at throughout the day to help keep me on track. I would be lost this week without it.

The dear hearts that keep asking me about the new wire and how wrapping is going. They, too, keep me from getting lost and losing hope. It's here. It's all here. And I will get back to it very soon.

Realizing that everything (and everyone) pretty much lives up (or down) to the expectations that I have for and of them. Most situations and relationships are only as positive as the stories that I tell myself about them. At this incredibly busy time, as this year fast draws to a close, I am paying closer attention to what I am telling myself and others (over and over again) about where I am, what is true and the power that I have to change what's due for it.

What is true for you this December?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Day 16,871 - Set Up for Success

I have been rocking the Livestrong program for about three weeks or so. I am the equivalent of one bowling ball lighter because of it. With yet another (and bigger) bowling ball to lose, I have been reflecting on what has been helping me to succeed (and what hasn't). As with any program tied to results, there are things that I need to do to increase my odds of achieving my goal(s), such as:

1) Show up
2) Do what I intend to do
3) Begin each day anew

But as you know, this isn't as easy as it sounds. I can see where and how I have (and haven't) set myself up for success. For example, when I automatically dress in clothes/shoes for walking, I increase the odds that I will actually go outside and take a walk. If I have nourishing options in front of me, I am less likely to choose something junky for a meal or a snack. And if I have someone doing the program with me, I am held accountable and likewise buoyed when I flail. It's all about making it as easy as possible for myself to do the right thing throughout the day.

As I start to see the positive results that come from better self-care, I find myself wondering if I can apply the same principle to my art. I've let my creative well run virtually dry. The only thing that I have done consistently these last several months is take pictures. Why? Because my iPhone is always on hand! I am setup for success because it couldn't be easier for me to take photos. There's absolutely no excuse when a couple of taps on the phone allow me to edit and upload. Voila!

How else can I set myself up for creative success?

1) I could make Blogger my browser homepage. Every time I sign in it will be like a "Hello You, ready to write?" I can draft a post as the day rolls along rather than feeling forced to produce on the spot.

2) I could put my art supplies out where I can see them. The pencils, paints, collage supplies ... they need to be at the ready. Our dining room table is begging to be that creation station.

3) And I could make sure that I have art buddies who are willing to check in regularly and nudge me along. If it weren't for Amy, I would have fewer sketches in my journal than I do. She invites, encourages and challenges me to show up and try ... again and again and again. I am better for it. And let's not forget the lovely reminder postcards from Beth! Believing mirrors are precious and priceless.

What are the ways that you set yourself up for success in your life? Where do you find yourself stuck? Maybe we can conjure some tricks to help.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Day 16,869 Gratitude - Good Hands

Today I am so grateful for ...

Handmade, heartfelt gifts, the memories that they hold and the ways that they keep me warm.

The sure and steady hands of my dentist as he prepped (i.e. excessively drilled) my teeth for two long overdue crowns.

Reiki. Always on hand. Not only to help others, but to help myself as well.

For all of these things and so much more, I am so very grateful!

(How about you?)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Day 16,868 Gratitude

We should all have at least one friend who understands the importance of snail mail and the impact of a reminder such as this ...

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Day 16,864 Gratitude

I have to be honest. Some days are easier than others when it comes to mustering the attitude of gratitude. Not so much because there is anything wrong, but rather I'm just not in the mood. There are times when I just can't get myself out the door for walk. I know it's good for me and that I will feel better for it, but it doesn't change the fact that I just don't feel up to the challenge.

The same can go for gratitude. It is like muscle that needs to be exercised ... a habit that I've got to use unless I want to lose it. There are days that I just don't feel up to it. Confessing that feels pretty sh*tty. And yet it not only let's me off the hook a bit, it let's you off of of it too.

I hope that you come here and feel uplifted by what's uplifting me on any given day. But I don't want to give the impression that this comes easily to me and I that I romp through life Pollyanna-tastically. If you know me in real life, you know that despite my belief in miracles and the overall goodness in and of this world, I am genetically wired to seeing the glass half empty. There is a fine, dark line between realist and pessimist that I can dance dangerously close to sometimes. Optimism is a choice I have to make. Over and over again.

That is why this practice of posting my gratitude is so good for me. I find myself taking notice throughout the day of what it is that I want to acknowledge and share with you. And like a magnet, it draws to me even more to appreciate. Savoring and basking has become yet another art in my cart.

But there will be those days, like today, that feel heavy and hard. That's okay. It never, ever stays that way. It passes like the weather.

And for that I am so grateful.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Day 16,863 Gratitude

Today I am so grateful ...

For those festive souls who go above and beyond the call of decorating duty. This is my daughter's boyfriend's house. His father is a collector of holiday inflatables. Their Halloween display is every bit as enthusiastic, but Christmas is my favorite. I can't imagine how long it takes them to setup and take down this display. Nor can I guess how much this costs them in terms of electricity. But I am grateful that it's in my neighborhood and running all day long. I can get out and walk past it anytime I need some cheer, which on dreary days is quite often.

What is filling you with cheer right now?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Day 16,862 Gratitude

Today I am so grateful for ...

Inspiration. At this moment, in the form of maps. Just think of the possibilities for 2012!

The goodness of a new water heater. Our 80-gallon dinosaur was replaced by a short-and-sweet 50-gallon energy efficient model. (It has a digital display which delights me far more than it should.) We look forward to all of the wonderful hot showers and lower electric bills that it promises.

The fun of Endomondo. Dan found the iPhone app which I promptly installed. (Because FREE is awesome!) I have some concerns about its accuracy, but at the very least it will give me ballpark figures to work with as I await Santa's delivery of a pedometer. (I've been a very good girl this year!)

A beautiful postcard from a dear friend with an important reminder to buoy me on cold, dreary days. (Love me some snail mail!)

For all of these things and so much more, I am so very grateful!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Day 16,861 Gratitude

Today I am so grateful ...

That with (significant) encouragement, I walked outside for 50 whole minutes despite the fact that we were receiving record rainfall for this date to the tune of 2.76". Officially. It was relatively warm and gave the illusion of being a soggy, spring day ... not so much like pre-winter at all. The hardest part was having to walk in the street and dodge the UPS truck flying its way around the neighborhood, but in the long run (or walk), it was so worth it.

For reliable handy people. Dan and I know enough about household repairs to be dangerous. We are not to be trusted with tools. This is why it was in our wedding vows that we shall always call upon the experts when warranted. Our home was built in the mid 70s and needs the kind of TLC that a house of this age often requires. After ten years here, we decided to pay for a home inspection to get a handle on what needs immediate attention. We more than received our money's worth from this appointment just by how much we learned about our home. Now we are in the process of addressing issues. Replacing the elderly water heater. Having some insulation blown in. Attending to some electrical issues to bring our fuse box up to the 21st century. It feels good to attend to what needs attending and know who to call to help.

For staying the course. I am pleased and proud to have kissed goodbye seven pounds since I started using the Livestrong app. Trust me, no woman ever wants to see her pre-delivery pregnancy weight flash at her on the scale. Ever. The best part is that I haven't had to give up anything besides my unrealistic portion sizes. I just need to reconcile calories consumed and calories burned so that I am at or below my calorie goal at the end of each day. Most days I am. Some days I am not. Either way it's okay. I just make a commitment to show up again the next day. And the next. And the next.

What's making you feel grateful these days?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Day 16,859 Gratitude

I can't say that I have ever enjoyed a November more than the one that just came to a close. Even the November in which I got married had its bumps and burdens despite its blessed festivities. Granted, this particular November was warmer and brighter than most and, human solar panel that I am, I basked in it and soaked it up.

Perhaps the lightness of November also had to do with the fact that I finally started walking outside again on a regular basis. Sometimes twice per day. Or maybe something to do with the fact that I brought the month to a close by making more nourishing choices for myself overall. I really don't know. And I don't really need to know. But what I do know is that I am crossing my breath and holding my fingers that it continues ... this, um, dark time not being so darn dark.

As December settles upon us, I have been committed to increasing the calm and decreasing the crazy this Christmas. This means insisting upon a slow and steady pace to doing what needs to be done and applying the art of reduction/simplification wherever possible. Of course that's easy for me to say only three days into the month and three weeks away from the holiday, but here is where I stand with it all at this juncture.

Christmas looks and feels different to me now with a nearly full grown child. I am assessing traditions ... which precious ones to keep and which ones have been outgrown. I want there to always be room for something new, something that better suits who we have become as a family and individuals within it. How many times must we do the same things, year after year, only because we've always done them? Even when they no longer bring us joy? I am disocvering that where I find stress is usually the exact same place I discover something that needs to be eliminated or transformed. It's all food for thought.

With that said, our tree is up and I have been appreciating this annual visit with our ornaments and the memories that they hold. Residents of our neighborhood have been taking full advantage of the nice weather to deck their homes and yards. And barred owls have been serenading me on recent sunset walks past a wee greenspace that holds many animal medicine messages for me. For all of these things and so much more, I am so grateful.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Day 16,853 Gratitude

And so this long weekend of thankfulness comes to a wet and sleepy close. There was plenty of time with family and friends, but also ample time for quiet contemplation and much needed rest.

For the last week, Dan and I have been using Livestrong.com to help us safely navigate our way through the start of this holiday eat-and-potato season. Their iPhone App has been an unbelievably helpful tool. See, I never worked off the weight that I gained last winter and then I added more since. Considering my family history of high blood pressure and high cholesterol, I would much rather make lifestyle changes than take medication for a lifetime. So here I am now, reading labels and being sobered by what one serving really looks like. All for the best, though ... all for the best.

I am eagerly awaiting my shipment of copper wire so that I can get back to wrapping. Things the last few months have not gone as planned, but that in no way implies that they've gone wrong. I have a feeling that it will all be well worth the weight wait.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Day 16,842 Gratitude

They say, "There are two lasting gifts that we can give our children. One is roots and the other, wings." Well, I think the very same advice can be applied to marriage ... "children" interchangable with "spouse."

Over the past two decades, Dan has generously given me roots and wings. There are so many opportunities, endeavors and adventures that I never would have accepted or attempted without his unwaivering support, encouragement and triple-dog-dares. Not once has he ever questioned or doubted my ability to go for whatever I've wanted, regardless of how crazy unconventional those whatevers have been. Best of all, he knows exactly how and when to bring me back in for a safe landing, despite the turbulence sometimes faced upon re-entry.

I'm a very lucky and grateful girl. And I can only hope and wish that I've returned the favor.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Day 16,841 Gratitude

Yesterday, as I was backing out of the driveway, this clematis bloom caught my eye. The mother plant resides at the northwest corner of our backyard. Every passing dog pisses upon it and yet every May it blooms profusely without fail. Well, um, it's not May right now and by all appearances the mother plant is dormant ... except for this bloom and the tendril that spawned it.

I hadn't sketched anything in my sketchbook journal in almost six weeks. Sure, I've written in it. A lot. And I've adhered to and embedded in it the precious bits and symbolic pieces that make up the current puzzle of my life. But a sketchbook journal needs sketches, so I decided to force try my hand at capturing this bloom.

What I am learning, every time that I put pen and brush to paper, is that what I try to capture will show me how to capture it ... and through that how will be revealed the why. The same can be said for photography, I suppose, but that's a much faster and more superficial flirtation. When I sketch something, I have to be willing to sit with it, study it and invest the time it takes to get to know it first, before it allows me to really see it and its essence. Once revealed, there is always a message for me there.

Today is my Chelsea-versary. Six years since her passing. For 18 years, she was my friend and familiar. I still wake up at night with space for her above my head. It gives me some comfort to know that Fred is with her now and yet their absence gives me paws, um, I mean pause.

For November, its gravitation pull inward, its anniversaries and essences ... I am so deeply grateful.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Day 16,829 Gratitude

Yesterday, before sunset, my husband and I took a walk around Withrow Nature Preserve which is just a few miles from our house. The trail around and through this little pocket of wooded and meadowed goodness takes about 45 minutes to navigate. I emerged from it with a full heart that had felt shrivelly small upon entry. It is becoming clearer and clearer to me that walks outside this winter is the code cracker. They will be the key to keeping myself centered. I won't always want to do it and the weather will provide ample excuses to avoid it, but the better I am at rising to occasions to get outside and do so, the better off that I will be emotionally in the long run.

Other things for which I am feeling grateful today ...

Fridays on Thursdays and the goodness that is a three-day weekend.
The welcome return of oatmeal and raisins for breakfast.
Blank canvases and second chances -- not always two different things.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Day 16,828 Gratitude

And so it begins ...

Dark time. The stretch from November through February is tricky terrain for me in terms of emotional stability. Ever-lurking is the seasonal tsunami of sadness awaiting the opportunity to sweep me out to a tear-filled sea. Okay, maybe not quite that dramatic, but each year I do wonder, in all seriousness, if it behooves me to get professional support for my SAD. Asking for help when needed is one of the kindest things that we can do for ourselves but, mind you, one the hardest things to do as well ... especially if you are an "I-can-do-it-myself" kinda girl, like me.

I bought this lightbox back in 2006 and it has made a huge difference in my winter well-being. I use it every morning from Autumn Equinox to Spring Equinox for at least 30 minutes. When the heaviness I feel can't be correlated to anything relevant or the blues come on so fast, so thick, that it nearly knocks me off of my feet and straight into bed, despite sunshine and blue skies, it's my queue to go to twice per day sessions.

I felt this shift on Monday without the slightest fair warning. I have scrambled to get my plan in place. The appropriate adjustments have been made to my vitamin regimen. I have to make a point of getting at least one walk outside every single day. With heavy emphasis on outside. But treadmill at time at the gym can still be worth its weight in mood-enhancement gold when the weather is inclement. I will soon stock my freezer with single portions of homemade soups and do my best to keep green smoothies in my daily plan. Genuine nourishment, in all forms, is so important right now. And it is imperative that I keep my carb consumption in check during this time, as it only feeds the problem. I'm looking right at you refined sugar ... with your pumpkin pies and your Christmas cookies!

I do my best to always have plans to look forward to during this time. Lunches with friends and artist dates really do keep my wheels on the wagon at this time of year, when I am prone to staying cooped up at home and circling the bed with longing for yet another hibernatory nap. This year I am making a priority of regular body work, so every other week through February, I will be receiving a one-hour massage or a one-hour reflexology treatment. It's definitely an investment, but this level of self-care is an immune system booster that may be priceless in the long run.

I know that this winter and how well I weather it has a lot (if not everything) to do with the stories that I tell myself about it, but I also understand that these feelings are very real. Self-soothing techniques and distractions can go a long way toward helping, as can offering myself the same care, kindness and compassion that I would to a loved one. But I share all of this to remind myself (and YOU) that there is abundant help and support available in a variety of forms and none of us ever has to go it alone.

And for this I am so grateful.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Day 16,821 Gratitude

I am so grateful to have spent Monday and Tuesday of this week at Mammoth Cave National Park with my friend, Amy Bogard. One year ago, Amy had the privilege of spending a full month there as the artist-in-residence. In October 2010, she lived on-site, befriended the dedicated staff, and got a behind-the-scenes view of the park that few are fortunate enough to be given. She created a stunning, hand-stitched quilt inspired by her time there and I was lucky enough to get to tag along for its long-awaited delivery and presentation.

The true gift of these past two days was getting to see the park through Amy's "insider" eyes. She arranged for us to take the Violet City cave tour of 3 miles by lantern light. It totally rocked my socks off (pun intended) with its rich story soup of history, science, and myth. Above ground, she knew the best places to go and what should not be missed. Along the way, we were showered with falling leaves and warmed by the hospitality and good humor of those who love what they do and where they get to do it. We marveled at the animal medicine all around us. The wild turkeys were out-numbered only by the deer that were so tame we could stroll within about 10 feet of them (in the parking lot!) before they casually scampered off. The whole of it could not have been more enchanting had it all been orchestrated in advance of and throughout our visit.

Needless to say, I've returned home with my creative well brimming from this brief but bountiful time inside, around and above the Underworld. For this experience and all that it may inspire, I am so very grateful.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Day 16,812 Gratitude

Today I am so grateful ...

To be reminded that we all should love and be loved like this.

To be savoring my way through Entering the Stone: On Caves and Feeling Through the Dark, by Barbara Hurd.

To be anticipating my own descent into the caves next week and what this experience symbolizes for me at this juncture on my journey.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Day 16,810 Gratitude

There is a lot to love about October. My neck of the woods has been blessed with an abundance of gloriously warm, bright weather the first half of this month, with turning trees set against azure sky. There have been a couple of grey days thrown in for good measure. Fair warning, I suppose, for what's to come. After the leaves and Halloween decorations come down comes November. The grey days replicate and temperatures drop along with my energy and mood. This transition can be tricky terrain for me.

The third of the wheel of the year which holds November to February may be my personal dark time, but thanks to tools that I've gathered over the years it isn't nearly as difficult to navigate as it used to be.

1) My lightbox is essential from Equinox to Equinox. Twice each day. It works.
2) Walks outside. Rain, snow or shine. Takes motivation, but so worth it.
3) Lunch and artist dates with friends ease my seasonally hermit-ish ways.
4) Massages/reflexology. Essential all year long, but even more so in dark time.
5) Needlework. For me, of the crochet variety. Meditative medicine.
6) Incense. My favorite these days is Juniper Ridge Pinon.
7) Hot tea is essential, but lately I love a cup of miso. So good for you, too!
8) Treks to the library for good books to be read from inside a blanket nest.
9) Soup-making. It isn't the soup so much as it is the process. Soul balm.

Please tell me what you are grateful to have on hand for dark time.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Day 16,804 Gratitude

Every day I think about how I have fallen one day further behind in my 60 in 60 project. I won't lie. Each day a shouldness knot begins to loop and tug in my stomach. But then I breathe, remind myself that there's still plenty of time, and that I am always, always, always free to change the plan, change my mind ... anytime I choose. (You have that freedom, too, my friend.) Yes, even when a deal's a deal.

I am so grateful that I've given myself the gift of space and time to deeply grieve Fred's passing. He deserved it. I deserved it, too.

I am grateful that I've given myself the gift of space and time to deeply celebrate my birthday. The completion of another journey around the sun is worthy of it. I am worthy of it, too.

And I am grateful that I've given myself the gift of full engagement in this particular turn of the wheel of the year. There will be no wistful sighs, as in years past, over missing the the transition from summer to fall. I've been embracing it, wide awake and fully present. All of autumn's magic tricks of light, sound, and sensation have not been lost on me.

What are you feeling grateful right now?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Day 16,801: Birthday Gratitude

Bright blessings all around as I celebrate my 46th trip around the sun ...

The day started with coffee and scones with a dear friend at a neighborhood shop that has a way of stealing your heart. The wise fellow in the photo above (born through local artist, Michelle Blades) was a sweet gift and shall humbly serve as a precious totem to accompany me on this next leg of my journey. After breakfast, Amy and I were able to steal a walk on the forested trails of a local park. It's something that I always feel called to do on my birthday ... devote part of the day to nature and honor the festive decay around me as the confetti of my own rebirth.

The day kept getting better and better ...

Lunch with my husband in the Hofbrauhaus Bier Garden, just basking in the sunshine and Cincinnati Skyline. A half liter of 1810 Prince Ludwig may have been consumed. And then my favorite dinner was prepared with love at home that night ... chicken enchiladas and homemade cherry cheesecake.

Best wishes from friends and family flowed in throughout the day via phone calls, e-mails, texts, and Facebook. Constant reminders that above all else goes love.

My heart is brimming with gratitude ...

Monday, October 3, 2011

Day 16,798 Gratitude

Late yesterday afternoon, I finally coaxed myself into doing a little cleaning. I had pretty much done nothing since Fred's passing. There lingered a strange compulsion to stop time and keep everything as it was when he was there. But it was a bright autumn day and it felt like it was time to move forward. So as I wiped this, swept that, and went about putting odds and ends in their place, I was stopped cold in the dining room as I saw the scene below.

The setting sun is prone to shine through our front door and cast an image of itself upon the floor. Always enchanting, yes, but this was spectacularly different. The way that the rays of light were streaming in and dancing in ribbons upon the floor made me wonder if this might be an angelic visitation. Maybe Fred was letting me know that his journey across the Rainbow Bridge was complete and that he's not only okay but happy. My heart felt full.

About an hour later, with cleaning complete, I set about smudging with dried sage. I wanted the blessed smoke to dissolve and dissipate any lingering heaviness and sadness from all of those weeks of worrisome care-giving and vigil-holding. When all was said and done, this was how the light appeared.

Just as we see faces in random patterns and animal shapes in the clouds, I know that the light can play tricks on the eye and appear to be something it's not. But if there was any doubt an hour or so before, this sight sealed the deal. There are angels among us. Not always in the form that we may anticipate, but they show themselves in unique ways when we need them most. Maybe through something that a loved one says. Maybe through a song we hear on the radio as we drive to work. And maybe, just maybe, in the way that the light of the sun streams through a leaded glass window on an October day as we pick up the pieces after saying goodbye to a beloved friend.

And for this I am so grateful ...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Day 16,793 Gratitude

When I decided to wire-wrap 60 pendants in 60 days, I knew that I had about enough sterling silver wire in my inventory to cover the first ten pendants. This wire had been ordered many years ago, so I had completely fallen out of touch with the escalating price of silver. When I perused the six-month-old catalog to gather information to order wire for the next ten pendants, I was flabbergasted at the exponential increase. When I mustered the courage to finally enter the order into the system, I discovered that those prices had doubled from what had been published. For better or worse, I placed the order anyway because for me, a deal's a deal.

I'm now looking at this fresh delivery of new wire that costs 30 cents, 50 cents and close to 75 cents per inch. Most pendants will require anywhere from 1.5 feet to 3 feet of it. For a moment or two, I wondered if I'd shot myself in the foot ... with this order ... with this project. Wallowing ensured. But still. The heart of the matter never waivered. A deal's a deal.

Call me crazy, but I made a promise to wire-wrap 60 pendants, my entire crystal and gemstone inventory in the queue, within 60 days. Years before that promise, I vowed to use my knowledge and gifts to be of service. A mineralogical matchmaker, of sorts. Again, a deal's a deal.

I trust that those who need these pendants will not only find me and them, but also recognize the love that is poured into each one. Precious metals prices are what they are. Thus the price of the pendants will be what they will be. I will continue to show up and do my part. The rest I will put into hands much bigger than mine with faith that all is and will continue to be well.

For all of this and so much more, I am so grateful ...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Day 7 of 60: White Howlite -- SOLD

:: Click to learn more about 60 in 60 ::

White Howlite can be used to calm communication, facilitate awareness and encourage emotional expression. It combines the power of reasoning with observation and patience. It also encourages a sense of ambition to reach ones goals and, in the process, helps to eliminate hesitation when taking action is required. This is a nice stress reliever and is said to be especially good for supporting the 6th and 7th chakras. This is one of my oldest stones in my queue to be wrapped ... I brought it back from Sedona, Arizona in April 2005!

This pendant is lovingly hand-wrapped in sterling silver wire. It is about 1.75" in length and .75" wide and it has been charged with Reiki. Both sides are suitably embellished so that either can be worn as the front. It will include an 18" black satin cord necklace so that it is ready-to-wear and will be sent in a 2"x3" white box for gift-giving.

It is available for $12 plus $3 shipping via first-class mail, but if you "Like" the Magic Beans Workshop page on Facebook, shipping is free. E-mail me to purchase.

Day 6 of 60: Quartz Wand -- SOLD

:: Click to learn more about 60 in 60 ::

Quartz crystals can be used to amplify both body energy and thoughts. They can assist in the creation of power and can provide clarity of thinking. Whether the crystal is worn, carried or placed in ones environment, the force, warmth and brilliance remain attuned to the energy of the one to whom it is connected. This particular crystal is one of only a few that I purchased in Taos, New Mexico this year.

This pendant is lovingly hand-wrapped in sterling silver wire. It is about 2.25" in length and .25" wide and it has been charged with Reiki. It will include an 18" black satin cord necklace so that it is ready-to-wear and will be sent in a 2"x3" white box for gift-giving.

It is available for $19 plus $3 shipping via first-class mail, but if you "Like" the Magic Beans Workshop page on Facebook, shipping is free. E-mail me to purchase.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Day 16,791 Gratitude

The heart-mending comes in the form of two steps forward and one step back. Just when I think I am doing better, a trigger or memory levels me. Today was my first work day at home since Fred's passing. I was home by myself most of yesterday, but it wasn't the same ... wasn't as hard. Sole responsibility for his care was woven into my weekday routine. Today I longed for his wet nose and warm breath by my side as I worked. I felt lost not having him here to check on ... his bed to fluff.

But then there lay Phoebe and Garrett, sharing the sun-soaked loveseat, ironing out the terms of their newfound friendship.

And then there was the orb weaver spider that I discovered ... expertly weaving her web outside of the back door. (Spider is good medicine to me.)

And, last but not the least, the celebration of my daughter's arrival in this world 18 years ago today. Time to reflect on another anniversary of the pivotal transition from maiden to mother. The requirements of that role certainly change over time and yet at its core is always and in all ways love.

How can my hurting heart be anything but grateful?

Day 5 of 60: Mookaite

:: Click to learn more about 60 in 60 ::

This variety of jasper is a stone of "the here-and-now." It can bring balance between the internal and external. It has protective qualities -- in particular for the emotions. It also supports the acceptance of change.

This pendant is lovingly hand-wrapped in sterling silver wire. It is about 2.00" in length and .75" wide and it has been charged with Reiki. Both sides are suitably embellished so that either can be worn as the front. It will include an 18" black satin cord necklace so that it is ready-to-wear and will be sent in a 2"x3" white box for gift-giving.

It is available for $35 plus $3 shipping via first-class mail, but if you "Like" the Magic Beans Workshop page on Facebook, shipping is free. E-mail me to purchase.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Day 16,789 Gratitude

Last night, with heavy hearts, we said goodbye to our 12-year-old greyhound, Fred. He spent his first two years of life being trained to race as Sign Man Fred at a track in West Memphis. Despite his impressive pedigree and a couple of promising races, he was sacked. We were so fortunate that the stars aligned in such a way that he came to live out his retirement with us ... ten joyful years.

Letting go of a beloved pet is never an easy decision, regardless of how much the evidence may support it. Thanks to Tammy, Fred made his transition peacefully from home in his own bed. The pet hospice service that she provides is an incredible blessing to the Greater Cincinnati area and made a difficult experience so much easier on us as a family.

Our other greyhound, Phoebe, stayed right by Fred's side throughout the process. Right before Tammy confirmed that he had passed, Phoebe left the room. Since then, she has been laying on Fred's bed. There is no mistake that she is in mourning. I think we all want and need our turn in the middle of Fred's bed.

Although we've had to keep our cat, Garrett, separated from the hounds because of his tendency to intimidate Fred, we've now given him complete freedom in the hope that he will be of support to Phoebe. He has risen to the occasion this morning and exceeded it. This is the closest that they've ever slept together. Garrett has been so gentle with and respectful of her. He even spent some time cleaning her ears which surprised her as well as us.

Animals have so much to teach us and for this I am so deeply grateful.

My commitment to wrapping 60 pendants in 60 days continues, but it may mean two pendants in one day as catching up is necessary. Thanks so much for your understanding.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Day 4 of 60: Turquoise

:: Click to learn more about 60 in 60 ::

Turquoise melds together the blue of the heavens and the green/brown of the earth. It strengthens and aligns all chakras and meridians. Native Americans considered it to be a protective stone and a bestower of goodness. There is a myth that turquoise will change color to warn of danger! It is a master healer with its purifying energy. It can be grounding and yet support the meditative state of "no mind." Its soothing energy can bring peace of mind. It's an excellent anti-negativity stone.

This pendant is lovingly hand-wrapped in sterling silver wire. It is about 1.75" in length and 1.00" wide and it has been charged with Reiki. It will include an 18" black satin cord necklace so that it is ready-to-wear and will be sent in a 2"x3" white box for gift-giving.

It is available for $38 plus $3 shipping via first-class mail, but if you "Like" the Magic Beans Workshop page on Facebook, shipping is free. E-mail me to purchase.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Day 3 of 60: Chiastolite -- SOLD

:: Click to learn more about 60 in 60 ::

Chiastolite is also known as Cross-Stone and is a variety of Andalusite. The natural celtic cross that runs through the middle of this stone helps to balance all directions, elements, locations and people as well. This stone helps to bring peace and healing and is ideal as an offering at sacred sites. In yesteryear, it was associated with deflecting the "evil eye." It opposes and thwarts negativity by transmuting dissension into harmony. It can be helpful during change and for getting a foothold in the new. It can also assist when creativity and practicality are needed.

This pendant is lovingly hand-wrapped in sterling silver wire. It is a wee one at a little more than 1.50" in length and .75" wide. The back side of this pendant is nearly identical to the front (hence, only one photo), so that you can wear it either way. And, of course, it has been charged with Reiki. It will include an 18" black satin cord necklace so that it is ready-to-wear and will be sent in a 2"x3" white box for gift-giving.

It is available for $32 plus $3 shipping via first-class mail, but if you "Like" the Magic Beans Workshop page on Facebook, shipping is free. E-mail me to purchase.

Day 16,786 Gratitude

Although I have been diligent about sharing what I've wrapped each day, I am a couple of days behind with sharing my gratitude. Let's catch up ...

Ah wrapping. It never ceases to amaze me how it's like riding a bike. Once I break through the thick cobwebs of resistance (which unfailingly regenerate each day), I'm not only fine but fantastic. My hands, the wire, the pliers ... they each know what to do and when to do it without me getting all thoughty-thought-thought about it. All the more evidence that the designs come through me, not from me. I'm simply (and gratefully) bringing into form that which has been waiting to be born.

I'm grateful for miso soup ... a new love of mine. I like the Kikkomon packets of miso soup just fine. But I recently discovered South River Miso and look forward to basking in the benefits from the love and care that goes into their handcrafted miso. I have much to learn.

Last, but not least, I am grateful for the healthtastic elixir that is cabernet. Bavarian Princess that I am and living in Cincinnati as I do, my adult beverage of choice is usually (or used to be) a good beer. A dear friend introduced to red wine this year and after the initial shock to my taste buds wore off, I discovered that I like it. Dr. Oz advises that one glass of red wine per day can be good for the heart and skin, thanks to its antioxidant and anti-aging properties. Praise to the grape! So, at long last, I decided to gratefully uncork this bottle of Ken Griffey, Jr. cabernet last night. It had been gathering dust for years after I won it in a fundraiser raffle. Okay, so it was less of a choice than it was the only option on hand. But thank goodness for it and all of the goodness that it offers (especially the good laugh), just the same.

Tell me what you're loving these days ...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Day 2 of 60: Citrine

:: Click to learn more about 60 in 60 ::

Citrine is a variety of quartz and one of only two minerals on Earth which does not hold or accumulate negative energy. It dissipates and transmutes it instead, therefore it never needs clearing or cleaning. It is known as the Merchant's Stone and can assist in acquiring and maintaining wealth. It is also good for the stomach and can help to balance personal power for better health and wealth.

This pendant is lovingly hand-wrapped in Argentium sterling silver and regular sterling silver wire. (Argentium is tarnish-resistant). It is approximately 2.75" in length and about 1" at its widest point and has been charged with Reiki. It will include an 18" black satin cord necklace so that it is ready-to-wear and will be sent in a 2"x3" white box for gift-giving.

It is available for $38 plus $3 shipping via first-class mail, but if you "Like" the Magic Beans Workshop page on Facebook, shipping is free. E-mail me to purchase.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Day 1 of 60: Serafina

:: Click to learn more about 60 in 60 ::

Serafina is also known as Seraphinite and Chlinochlore. It is a beautiful green Chlorite from Russia with fern-like accents in silvery-white. It is a powerful stone for growth and ascension and considered to be a light bringer. It can be helpful with matters involving spiritual growth and money. It can assist the wearer with seeing and understanding the stages of life and may provide insight to changes required to promote peace and happiness within it.

This pendant is lovingly hand-wrapped in Argentium sterling silver wire, so that it is tarnish-resistant. It is accented with Argentium sterling silver beads. It is approximately 2" in length and less than 1" at its widest point and has been charged with Reiki. It will include an 18" black satin cord necklace so that it is ready-to-wear and will be sent in a 2"x3" white box for gift-giving.

It is available for $58 plus $3 shipping via first-class mail, but if you "Like" the Magic Beans Workshop page on Facebook, shipping is free. E-mail me to purchase.

Magic Beans 60 in 60

Yesterday, I mentioned how, at long last, I sat at my workbench and took inventory of how many gemstones and crystals I had collected for wire-wrapping. Honestly, I was stunned. Some of them have been in the queue since as far back as 2004. No kidding! Some crystals were procured locally ... others in Sedona ... a few others in Taos. It's time for all of them to be where and with whom they can work their magic in order to make room for a new inventory in 2012.

That said, I have committed to wire-wrapping my entire inventory -- all 60 stones -- in 60 days. Today is Day 1. By adopting one of these 60 pendants, you will help to send me to the Animal Reiki Source Reiki III class at the C.A.R.E. Foundation in Apopka, Florida, February 23-25, 2012. This is an exciting opportunity and I'm delighted that 25% of my tuition will be donated to support this wonderful exotic animal rescue and wildlife education facility.

So how does "60 in 60" work?

Everyday there will be a new pendant wrapped and a post on this blog with details about it. Consider it first dibs. If you are interested in making it yours, contact me via e-mail and we will work out the payment details between us. It's that easy. Want to make it even easier? "Like" the Magic Beans Workshop Facebook page and first-class shipping is free!

Be advised that, at some point, unclaimed pendants will be added to my Etsy store. And if the logistics can be arranged and enough unclaimed pendants warrant it, there may be an open house on the horizon for local folks. I will keep you posted if/as these next steps unfold.

Please spread the word to those who may be interested. The Day 1 pendant will be posting soon and it's a beauty!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Day 16,783: Coming Back Around

I was shocked after I blew away the layer of dust and cobwebs that had covered this blog. My last post was August 25th? Really? How is that possible?

It's possible because I've been focused on caring for our elderly greyhound, Fred, as he approaches the end of his journey. Caregiving not only takes your full attention, but it takes your whole heart too. All the while, my daughter has been settling into her senior year of high school, my husband has been traveling for work, and day-to-day life in general goes on. There just hasn't been much of me left over for words.

In perusing previous entries, the one thing I have noticed is the one thing that I have missed the most lately. The gratitude. It's time for me to come back around to a regular practice of it. Because it makes a difference. Because it matters. Maybe to me only. Maybe that's enough. When I check in here with you, I really check in with me. At the end of a long day (or night), when it feels like I've lost the last glimmer of perspective, it can be like pressing reset.

So today I am so grateful ...

That my husband is back home and eager to take his turn on sofa duty and Fred's night-time assistance, so that I can try to catch up on my sleep.

That I mustered the motivation to sit down at my workbench and assess my inventory of gemstones and crystals that await wrapping. (Sixty!) Never underestimate the profound impact of taking one small step.

That every single day affords us with multiple opportunities to start over, see things from a fresh angle, and open up to the help and support that is always at the ready.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Day 16,759: Bite-Sized Morsels

There is a lot to be learned from caregiving mode. Anything that I set out to accomplish these days needs to be in bite-sized morsels, started and finished quickly, or tolerant of being picked up and then put down again on a moment's notice. It has wrestled me into relaxing about my processes, both professional and personal. And it has coaxed me into greater playfulness in my sketchbook journal, with which I tend to be unnecessarily regimented under normal circumstances. I have an infatuation with the vibrant creaminess of water soluble crayons and worked on this drawing like a jigsaw puzzle throughout last weekend. I would step into it and then have to step away again, but it gave me joy to know it was in progress. Art therapy, indeed.

It's all about showing up, even momentarily, for the things that are meaningful to me. I may not be able to give everything my extended and undivided attention right now or in the foreseeable future, but a few minutes here and there does make a difference. I am exploring other ways to apply this flexible, bite-sized approach to all areas of my life and discovering that almost every task, project and goal can be broken down into micro-increments. So simple and yet color me astounded at this revelation.

What has necessity and/or life's changing tides taught YOU recently?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Day 16,758

(No Instagram filter here ... it's untouched except for cropping.)

Fred's caregiving continues. Yesterday, we had a home visit from an angel ... Tammy Wynn from Angel's Paws. She will assist us with keeping Fred comfortable and preparing for his transition at home, when the time comes. We can call her any time of day with questions, concerns or to come over as needed. Knowing this gives us tremendous peace of mind, so we can focus on loving on Fred and enjoying the remaining time that we have with him. His pain medication is helping a lot and there have been recent days when it seems like we have our boy back. But we are realistic about how this will play out and do not want him to suffer, so we are prepared (as we can be) to be ready when the time comes to let him go. In the meantime, we are living in this rather solemnly awkward in-between. Waves of sadness frequently catch me off-guard and start to sweep me away. I falter. I flail. But somehow gratitude always comes to the rescue and manages to keep me afloat.

As Fred grabbed a nap beside me, the morning sun came streaming through the living room window upon me at just the right angle to create this magic. For a few moments, I was annointed by the light. Through it I am reminded and assured that everything is going to be okay. Moment by moment. Hour by hour. Day by day.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Day 16,753 Gratitude

Every year, we setup three window boxes of impatiens on the brick ledge outside of our living room windows. They are sheltered by Grandmother Sycamore and bathed in the morning sun. Every year, at least one crafty spider sets up housekeeping and weaves her funnel between the window and the box. The flowers become a sticky trap to future snacks. This particular web is rather breathtaking in its resemblance to a tornado. Deadly beauty, indeed.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Day 16,751 Gratitude

Recent days have been spent gratefully caring for this sweet boy. We adopted Fred in July, 2001. He was smart enough to suck at racing, so he could come and live with us. He's 12 years old now and his body is wearing out. He is taking Rimadyl and Tramadol for pain and receiving Reiki from countless caring souls. It's day-by-day around here. We celebrate every two steps forward. We make peace with every one step back.

There is nothing like caregiving to bring you into the moment. You can't afford to be anywhere other than where you are, doing what needs to be done. But a sixth sense is also demanded, to know what needs to be known. It can be exhausting and worrisome if we let it. It can also exponentially expand our love and gratitude. There is no better opportunity to understand the deep meaning of the word grace than when we are in the thick of it.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Day 16,735 Gratitude

Things for which I am grateful today ...

Lillies that bloom annually, without fail, despite outright neglect.
Writing an entry in my sketchbook journal and letting that be okay.
Sabra Supremely Spicy hummus to which I am addicted.
A strong practice at yoga class tonight.
The arrival of August -- summer's fair warning.

We are on course to match if not break the standing record for consecutive days (17) in the 90s. The air is thick and the sunlight is searing. Squirrels and birds line up at our patio fountain for a drink and a dip. Cicada song can be heard loud and clear indoors. I will long for this scene in January. I bask in it while it lasts.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Day 16,731 Gratitude

Today I am so grateful ...

For Church of the (W)Hole(y) Foods time with my dear friend, Sandra. We try to meet monthly, but the simmering weeks of this summer got away from us. It was soulful goodness to reconnect with her and it refueled me to share with her the details of my transformational travels.

For watching the two elderly men who sat at the table beside us, right in front of the checkout aisles. They clasped hands above their table and said grace over their meal. Now I am not a grace-sayer, by nature, at least not in the traditional sense. But it warmed my heart to see them so openly sharing their gratitude for their food and the blessing of it.

For Instagram on my iPhone 3GS. This app in combination with Camera+ rocks my socks off. My phone is almost always with me. Having it at-the-ready for photos and the ability to post-process on the spot makes me a happy, playful girl. I'm Jul of the Day on there ... look me up and follow me, if inclined.

For Pamela's Jazz. Beautiful Pamela was part of our Taos sketchbook journaling crew. She is not only an amazing collage artist, but she sings like an angel as well. If you live in the Greater Cincinnati area, you can see her live. Check out her website for details.

For Pixie Campbell's Soul Lodge which begins on August 8 and the fact that I am registered and ready to go! Pixie is one wise, wild woman and I can't wait to discover what magic she has in store.

For taking the leap and registering for Kathleen Prasad's Shinpiden Reiki III class at the C.A.R.E. Foundation in Apopka, Florida, February 23-25. This is an exciting opportunity to practice Reiki with wild and exotic animals at this amazing sanctuary. And Florida at the end of February will be a welcome respite from what is typically a long Cincinnati winter. I always appreciate having an adventure to look forward to ... especially a unique experience like this.

What are YOU grateful for these days?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Day 16,723: Cicada Season

It's cicada season around here
I celebrate the daily discovery
Of discarded shells found in
Peculiar and precarious places
The first found last week
On the brick of the back
Of our house by the patio door
In the days and weeks ahead
There will be dozens vacated
On the stark and sturdy trunk
Of the Sycamore tree that
Is the guardian of our home
It makes sense that they
Would climb her considering
They awake from their slumber
In the warm, moist ground
At her base, between her roots
This cicada was called to climb
This swaying coneflower stem
In order to release itself
From the very vehicle
That assisted it to ascend
To such heights as to fly
Be free and to sing
Hopefully mate, ultimately die
More signs of transformation
Each and all with their season

I love my iPhone.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Day 16,722: Frog Medicine

We arrived home late last night
After sweating through Steely Dan in concert
A moist and sticky mid-July evening
Air thick with the songs of night creatures
It stormed while we were away
What held the promise of a welcome respite
From the impressive heat only served
To increase the oppressive humidity
As some things wither in this climate
Other things thrive, as evidenced
By this sweet little guy ... or girl
That had taken temporary residence
On the glass of our back door
We have lived in this house
Over nine years and I still marvel
At the magical discovery of things
That have never before happened
Or revealed themselves here before
A reminder to always stay alert, awake
Because one can never know for certain
What never-before may appear
Frog medicine indicates transformation
Message heard loud and clear

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Day 16,716: Looking In, Looking Out

I have been basking in the afterglow of Shinpiden Reiki Teacher training which wrapped up on July 3. This is a powerful class and it really does take me a week or two to fully land afterward. My practice (and gratitude) have gone deeper as a result. And I am counting many new friends among my blessings.

Although I am quite late to the party, I've become completely enchanted by all things iPhoneography lately. You can find me on Instagr.am at juloftheday. My photo app collection is growing out of control and, well, it feels pretty good to give myself over to learning something new with complete abandon. It seems to be a theme for me this year.

That said, my sketchbook journal has been suffering from a bit of neglect in recent weeks, but it is always by my side just the same. I appreciate that it's handy for collecting the ephemera and notes of day-to-day life, but it isn't working for me as well as it could if I do not include drawing in the mix. And I haven't. Not since Florida a month ago. A month is too long. I am grateful to recognize this sooner than later.

From Taos to the sea and then to Reiki training, it has been two months of transformation. In so many ways, I feel like I have been taken apart and put back together again. Travel outward and inward has a way of making everything look and feel completely different upon returning home. I am in a state of assessment ... uncertain of what needs me to rededicate myself to it and what needs to be released. But trust me, multiple options is the best kind of problem to have.

Share with me what July is looking and feeling like for you ...

Friday, July 1, 2011

Day 16,704: A Breather

I didn't go into the last six weeks intending for it to be a breather, but a breather it has been. Nor did I have any idea that between Taos and now, I would feel completely rewired, but rewired I have been. I pull up this screen for a new post and I blink. Where have I been? What the heck happened? How soon can I do it again?

Today I embark on the first of three days of Shinpiden (Reiki teacher) training with Frans Stiene. This is the class that I took in San Rafael, California in April, 2009. I have the good fortune of resitting it practically in my backyard at beautiful Grailville in Loveland, Ohio. So the theme of transformation continues and my socks continue to be rocked off.

Once this phase of re-entry is complete, I look forward to showing up here on a more regular basis once again. In the meantime, I am grateful for supportive loved ones who have been helping me to keep my train on the track ... for green smoothies that bring me nourishment and energy for travels inward and out ... for abundant summer blooms that constantly beckon me to grab my camera. Happy New Moon (and solar eclipse!) to you! Tell me what brings you gratitude on these bright and balmy days.