Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Day 16,611: First Drafts, Maximizing, and Upcoming Class

Grateful for Anne Lamott's recommendation for more shitty first drafts. Although this advice is intended for the craft of writing, I think that it can be applied to every creative endeavor where we need a nudge to dive in. See that sketch above? Not my best. Kinda scary, perhaps. Plants, I can draw. Inanimate objects that don't stand a chance of moving? You bet. But I've gone out of my way to avoid giving people and animals a try. Until today. There's a lot wrong with this drawing, but all that's wrong makes it alright. It's one shitty sketch that I've gotten out of my system. I'm a wee bit less intimidated than before I gave it a go. Now, with the first try under my belt, it should be a little easier to give it a second, third and 125th try, hopefully reflecting some improvement each time. But that doesn't mean for one minute that I don't have a portfolio of craptastic waiting to be drawn. I have a lot to learn and it is oh so good to be a beginner.

Appreciating the word MAXIMIZE ... "to increase or make as great as possible." It's a word that keeps popping up for me recently. I never came up with a word, my word, for this year. A few months late to the party, yes, but maybe this is it. For the record (mostly mine), "as great as possible" doesn't mean perfect. Just want to ensure that there's no confusion. And "great" should be easily interchangable with words like "fun" and "playful." Just sayin'.

Grateful and excited to be teaching Level 1 Reiki/Reiki for Animals, April 16-17. If you are in the Greater Cincinnati area and interested in taking this class, the details are here. I keep these classes very small (just four spots) for lots of individualized attention. The registration deadline is this Saturday, April 2, so please contact me right away!

Just 50 days until Taos! A milestone in the countdown well worth noting.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Mandala Monday - 3/28/11

Brand new mandala ready to download here. Is it obvious that I've got spring flowers on my mind? Happy coloring!

Day 16,609 Gratitude

Today I am so grateful to sketch in my sketchbook journal. In perusing the pages from the last few days, I see that I've got the morning pages practice down pat. As always. But it's a whole lot of handwriting and not enough art. So I'm playing with ways to bring the book back into balance. Turning over a new leaf. I sketched the bonsai that my mama gave me last year. Maybe it was the year before. Whenever it was, it was because it was on the wane in her care. (Say that fast three times.) Somehow a family rumor got started that I have a green thumb. The truth is I'm just lucky. It gives me lots of greenery to draw.

Speaking of that lucky thumb ...

Today I am so grateful that my Christmas cactus is blooming AGAIN. Third time in about four months. I don't understand. I toss in about 10 ounces of distilled water once per week. It sits beside a drafty, east-facing window. Curious to see if it intends to bloom at random throughout the year. I know that's exactly what I plan to do.

Last but not least ...

Feeling grateful for brighter days. There is unseasonable cold upon us. Winter's last gasp. (We hope.) But the sun has shifted. Our home is situated in such a way that we receive ample morning and evening light. It's streaming into each room from angles that it hasn't since last fall. I noticed last night that it was still slightly twilight at 8:40 p.m. and I think I might've squealed a little.

Longer days. I welcome them.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Day 16,608 Gratitude

(From the Archives: April, 2005)

Several months ago, I deactivated my Twitter account. Why?

Me + Facebook + Twitter = Constantly Connected

Twitter wasn't the problem. My compulsion to be constantly connected ... well, that was a problem. Something had to go. Twitter drew the short straw. I deactivated my account and never looked back. Much.

Recently, for better or worse, I decided to give Twitter another try. I took a deep breath and setup a new account. I left it in park for awhile without any posts. Marinating in possibilities, perhaps ... but more than likely steeping in my ambivalence.

Today I decided to take it for a test drive. And you know what? The old impulse came right back. There I was again, constantly checking, clicking, and (unfortunately) comparing. The question of whether or not I'm keeping up, in all of the forms that question can take, was in my face again. I deactivated the account. Again.

I have many friends, on- and off-line, who love Twitter. I understand how it can be a great way to stay connected, as well as a genuine asset to those with a business to market. No disrespect to the platform intended ... it just isn't a good fit for me. I'm much better off minding my own business. Literally and figuratively.

I know that by opting against maximizing my online presence, I run the risk of falling behind, out of sight, out of mind. Not only being forgotten, but never being found in the first place. But I'm comfortable with trusting that I will connect with whomever resonates with and wants what I have to offer.

I am and always have been a keep-it-simple girl at heart. I just want to write something to make you laugh, lift you up, touch your heart. I just want to make things that might bring you some peace, comfort and joy. I just want to share my journey and connect with you, my travel companions, in ways that feel authentic to me and my style.

I thank you with all of my heart for meeting me here on these sweet and simple terms.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Day 16,607 Gratitude

Today I am so grateful that we went to see the Cincinnati Rollergirls at the ol' Cincinnati Gardens tonight (and reminisced about seeing Van Halen there in 1984). Come on, who among us doesn't have an inner rollergirl just waiting to break free and push a few people around (all in the name of fun, of course)? My family and I aren't entirely clear on the rules, but learned enough to follow along. The team is certainly not lacking in support ... they're drawing quite a crowd. You already know that I'm a sucker for supporting those who are out there doing what they love. A good time was had by Team Keefe and I'm sure that we'll be back. And if, one day, I should get the opportunity to live out my rollergirl fantasy, my name shall be Jakk Hammer. Beware.

Today I am so grateful for a walk/run this morning that included an encounter with six deer. I turned the corner into my neighborhood and they were slowly following each other across the street. They looked at me but didn't appear to be alarmed. I kept walking closer. Finally, we were directly across the street from each other. It was amazing! Then they slowly continued on their way. A few moments of medicine magic. It will never stop thrilling me that we share this land with them.

Today I am so grateful that the Ametrine iAmulet has found a forever home. I know that there were at least a couple of you watching it ... mulling. If it's any consolation, I listed two new pairs of earrings today. More wrappings on the way!

Today I am so grateful that, if the electronics gods will allow, we will soon be streaming Netflix through our TV. My husband is trying to work his I.T. magic, but now faces some obstacles which we hope can be resolved soon. My fingers are cramped from crossing.

And, last but not least, today I am so grateful that indulging in an afternoon nap is on life's long list of sweetest things.

I hope that you, too, are basking in gratitude this weekend.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Day 16,606 Gratitude

Today I am so grateful ...

To watch our greyhound, Fred, sleeping soundly beside what is likely to be one of the last times we'll use our fireplace until fall. With eyes barely open, his pink tongue sticks out through his missing teeth. It's hard to believe that he'll turn 12 years old next month. That's 84 in dog years. He came to our forever home from the track at age two. We're so grateful that he's still so happy and playful ... and we never for one second take for granted our time together.

For rediscovering this December post by Karen Walrond which has reinvigorated my journaling practice. With my friend Amy Bogard's help, I have kicked the multiple journal/diary habit. It wasn't easy. And it was funny to me that it wasn't easy because, well, geez. It wasn't like I was kicking a crack habit. But I definitely had a strong attachment to the way that I was doing things and had been doing them for a very long time. So with Amy's encouragement, I started a sketchbook journal this year and have been trying to use it as a daily catch-all. Karen's post, which spells out her "system" in detail, gave me that final push of inspiration. Her morning pages, the to-do lists, the art, photos, and notes ... seeing it all laid out in pictures ... it's helped me to find my own groove and feel really good about how keeping one journal can work for me, too. It's my travel companion now and I'm almost never without it.

Speaking of Amy, I'm grateful for her Artist's Way interview on Creative Voyage. Not to mention oh so grateful for the insights and positive changes that this and other Julia Cameron books have given me over these last dozen years. Late bloomers unite!

For the sweet and funny blog, 3x3x365. And I'm not just declaring the love because we share the same Blogspot template, although I've always found good taste attractive. What really resonates with me is the simple intention behind it. Three friends staying connected each day via one photo and caption. What they're capturing is one magical, whimsical, and even ordinary moment at a time ... not only for each other to enjoy and ponder, but all of us as well.

For Lauren's spring giveaway. Not that I want to decrease my chances of winning, but you've still got a little time to enter before the drawing tomorrow (Saturday, March 26). HURRY!

What's filling your grateful bowl today?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

What Do You See in Me?

Once each week, my daughter, Alyssa, helps her former first grade teacher with her current third grade class. She grades papers, helps individual children with assignments, and is available to lend a helping hand in whatever way it's needed. She loves it so much that this is her third school year as their high school helper.

Every year there is a Grandparents'/Special Person's Day. And, every year, there is at least one child who doesn't have an adult special person who can attend. Even if it isn't her scheduled day to help, Alyssa is there to spend the afternoon with whomever invites her to be their special person ... and on standby to be the special person to more than one child if the person they invited doesn't show up. (Sadly, it's happened.) It's one of those experiences that means a lot to the children, but a whole lot to Alyssa, too.

The day's activities include drawing a portrait and writing a description of your special person. So very sweet. I don't think Alyssa realizes it, but these are such precious gifts. We don't often get to see ourselves this way, through another person's eyes. Especially the innocent eyes of a child.

But what if we were to do something like this ... to somehow capture the image of a friend, loved one or other special person in our life and share a description of how we see them? Maybe, through our eyes, they can see something within or about themselves that they couldn't before. I think the idea of this idea makes my heart swell. There's definitely a project here. I feel the wheels turning ...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Day 16,603 Gratitude

Today I am so grateful ...

For sweet surprises in the mail.

For my learning the art of the repurposed journal.

For the friends who made them happen.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Day 16,602 Gratitude

Today I am so grateful ...

To get Mandala Monday back on track after missing last Monday. You can download the fresh, new mandala here.

For a noon-time labyrinth walk to honor the recent Full Moon in Virgo and the Vernal Equinox. In bare feet, I might add. Rebirth is in the air!

For this unexpectedly sunshiney, windows-at-long-last-WIDE-open afternoon that is the stuff of Spring Fever. My shoulders came down out of my ears today for the first time since November.

For Mighty Leaf Organic Detox Influsion coming into my life. Love this tea.

Tell me what you've been feeling grateful for while I was away!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Day 16,598 Gratitude

The Friendly Sons of St. Patrick Glee Club

These are tender times. I just don't know what to do about Japan. In my heart, I do, but not so much my mind. The images are difficult to digest. As a Reiki practitioner, I can send healing distantly, like a prayer. But I'm feeling weary in the face of the depth of this disaster ... like what I have to offer is a miniscule drop in the bucket compared to the massive miracle that's needed. I know every loving thought helps ... every dollar helps ... but, man.

Mustering a sense of festivity today may not be easy, but feeling sad certainly doesn't help their cause (or any other) either. On this St. Patrick's Day, I am especially grateful for green. It's the color of the heart chakra, you know. I'm focusing on compassion for those in need and the love that embraces us all.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Day 16,595 Gratitude

It started yesterday afternoon with unexplained weepiness. Something random, seen or heard, would touch me unexpectedly and my eyes would fill with tears. Vulnerability in and for our humanity, perhaps. I'm wired to be more stoic than sensitive, but I think so many of us have felt our compassionate hearts burst and spill open recently. As the Mighty Ohio River overflows her banks right now, as do I mine. Along with the emotions has been this dense fog of fatigue. I long for the deep, restorative sleep of which my troubled dreams deprive me.

This morning I thought I ought to check my biorhythms just to see if there might be a clue as to what's going on. Well, there was not only a clue, but a flashing neon sign. R E S T !

I'm an affirmation kind of girl and can pep myself up pretty good by insisting on the right frame of mind. But the older I get, the more I'm learning to be gentle with myself in each moment, especially in the low times. To be curious in and about this space rather than hustle myself through and past it. Bullying is still bullying, even with a sweet voice and the best intentions. Sometimes what's best is for me to leave me be.

Life is a series of cycles. The low times provide space for us to wallow and, eventually, replenish. Of course, we certainly don't want to get stuck here ... and of that there is a risk. But there can be treasures unearthed in these moist and murky places. And for that, today, I am grateful.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Day 16,592

Today I am so grateful ...

For my Christmas cactus that won't stop blooming. I had another picture to share, but evidently I didn't save it where I thought I had and, honestly, it could be anywhere. I just don't feel inclined to look for it. I'm willing to bet that you don't mind.

For cutting myself some slack. I don't need to have a photo with every post. Sometimes I let the fact that I don't have a shot to share keep me from posting. Giving up Morning Pages for awhile has revealed where my other compulsions lie ... those things I make myself do every day that, in the long run, don't matter as much as I thought they did. I'm learning to be more flexible, less regimented. With myself. With others. With life.

Beth's post about The Hundredth Monkey Effect. The idea of moving toward a critical number of relationships as opposed to a critical number of sales through my business really resonates with me. I'm not just talking about "Likes" on the Fan Page, Hearts in the Etsy shop, Google Followers, etc. It's about recognizing each visitor here, each buyer, each student as, well, a friend ... as a fellow traveler on the journey. Maybe there is something here that you find of value. Maybe I'll never know what that is. What I do know is that I'm committed to sacred commerce and I know that what that looks like may be ever-evolving.

What are YOU holding in gratitude and appreciation today?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Day 16,591

I love this angel. She came to me as a recent Christmas gift from my dear friend, Sandi, who is an angel to me. I am trying to do one sketch per day leading up to Taos in May. I would love to have this sketchbook journal filled before then. There is a lot of experimentation going on ... a lot of figuring out what this journal can and should look like and contain. Some fumbling. Some breath-holding. I suspect that this journal will always be evolving. (That's good. So am I.) My techniques will evolve. What I choose to capture will evolve. The frequency with which I add to it will evolve. And all of that is fine by me. Really. Yes, even for a self-confessed creature of habit.

I have gone all week without the deep ritual of my Morning Pages. It has been awkward, yes, but not as hard to do without as I'd anticipated. I've been able to sleep a bit later in the morning, which has been nice. And I've had an unexpected insight. Here I am letting myself draw after decades of not doing so. Something ancient within me must be feeling nourished by it because now, from out of nowhere, revealing themselves like the first shoots from spring bulbs, I'm thinking of other things that I haven't done since I was a teenager. Things that I used to love to do back when I drew. Like sing. I was in chorus then, singing on a regular basis, and I loved it! And dance, too ... which is funny, because it's something I now go to extreme lengths to avoid.

What happened? Obviously, I didn't always feel awkward about these things. They came naturally to me. Having fun and doing things for the JOY of it, came naturally to me. It makes me wonder what else I've had amnesia about missing ...

Today I am so grateful for my willingness to follow this trail and see where it leads ... for the goodness of hearing the sweet voice of a far-flung friend ... for the synchronicity of reading an article in a magazine that I swear was written to buoy me, specifically.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Day 16,590 Gratitude

Today I am so grateful ...

For the momentum that I seem to be gaining in my sketchbook journal. I have (cautiously) decided to take a break from writing morning pages. I have been writing first thing in the morning for at least ten years. It's a practice that has come very naturally to me, but I don't think it's helping me to grow creatively. It's more like habitually picking up whatever I was chewing on from the day before, similar to a dog turning a hundred circles before it lays down. I would like to try a blank canvas ... literally and figuratively. I'm curious whether the energy that went into my morning writing will reroute itself to my sketches and other creative outlets. I'm willing to give it some time and see how it goes.

For this heartfelt post by Connie. I watched the program and ... I'm still processing. Can it be that after our darkest hour, after all else has been lost, there's art to save us? I can see why so many feel called to help in Haiti and why it must be incredibly hard to leave. Still so much to be done. So very much ...

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Day 16,589 Gratitude

Today is my Dad's birthday! I know that I have a photo around here of him as a youngster, but I really do like this one of him coloring with my daughter when she was a smiley, wee one. She loves her Popi. This is the man who taught me about moon phases with a flashlight and basketball, which is one of my coolest memories ever. I'm grateful that he is only a couple of weeks away from retiring after many decades of hard work. He's looking forward to volunteering around town and I know he'll really enjoy it. Happy birthday, Dad!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Day 16,588 Gratitude

Today I am so grateful ...

For a few stolen moments with my sketchbook journal. Trying to weave it into my daily routine so that it can one day come as naturally to me as cups of tea.

For the inspiration of these lovely sketchbook pages - via Amy who keeps my creative well filled with a steady stream of linky goodness of the artful variety.

For learning and practicing the Sa Ta Na Ma Meditation (Kriya Kirtan) at yoga last night. Powerful stuff.

Tell me what's stirring in your gratitude soup today?

First Dibs: "Pearls" Reiki Shawl

This Reiki prayer shawl is freshly finished and needs a home.

As with all Reiki prayer shawls made by me, this one is crocheted from Lion Brand Home Spun Yarn ... this one in "Pearls" which reminds me of luminescent sands and makes me long to be by the sea.

Most of the shawls that I crochet are created for someone specific. This one was created for and made with the intention to comfort "whomever shall wear it." Maybe that's you. Maybe it's someone you love.

I want to give my blog and Jakk's Magic Beans Workshop Facebook friends (that means YOU!) first dibs before I list it in my Etsy shop. It is $50 plus $10 for shipping ... unless you live in the Cincinnati area for hand-delivery. Please leave a comment here to claim it as your own. I'll contact you via e-mail to sort out payment and delivery details. If it hasn't been spoken for by this Saturday, March 12, you'll find it in my shop.

Mandala Monday - 3/7/11

New mandala for you to color ... ready to download here.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Day 16,586 Gratitude

Today I am so grateful ...

To watch The Brothers Keefe be 17 again in the Turpin versus Anderson alumni basketball game. They played their hearts out (and likely did fair damage to their knees and lower backs as well), but they brought home a winner for Turpin High, had a great time, and earned money for a good cause in the process.

For the first of a 2-day Level 1 Reiki and Reiki for Animals class. It's such an honor and privilege to teach this technique. I look forward to Day 2 tomorrow.

For Girl Scout cookies. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

For getting my Moop bag assembled for travels near and far. It's now my day-to-day super purse. Since the first of this year, I've been juggling multiple calendars and journals. It was fine at first but then I started feeling bogged down. Inspiration became replaced by shoulds. I'm now on a streamlining and simplification rampage. I made the decision to keep my calendar on my Blackberry synched to my laptop's Outlook, just in case something unfortunate should befall my phone. Now I'm carrying around my sketchbook journal everywhere, all of the time, for capturing everything. I still have a separate journal that stays at home for my morning pages. I don't know if I'll transfer this practice to my sketchbook journal or not. I want what's in there to be open to the potential for public consumption. The purpose of morning pages is to let it all hang out in private ... to let what wants to come up come out, be it ugly, petty, whiney, crazy or (most likely) just plain boring. No judgment. So, with that said, I'll keep them separate and just see how it goes.

Please share with me what you're grateful for right now AND if you are inclined to share the nitty-gritty of your journaling or morning pages practice, please do!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Day 16,584 Gratitude

Today I am so grateful ...

That it's my Piscean mama's birthday! She instilled in me the love of creativity ... making things for the joy of it and then giving them away to make more. And if I hadn't cut my metaphysical teeth on her Shirley McLaine books when I was a teenager, I wouldn't be the seeker I am today. So grateful for her mama love, sense of humor, wise counsel, and potato salad. (She really does make the best.)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Day 16,583 Gratitude

I never know how to show up here in gratitude on the days when that feeling is harder to muster. It seems insincere to wax poetic about the soft blush of the sunrise and the gentle comfort of my morning cup of tea when the truth is that I was distracted most of the day by my yearning to punch someone in the nose. Welcome to another day of being human on Planet Earth.

Lay down your burdens in the comments, my friends ... we're all in this together ... and knowing that keeps my gratitude boat afloat.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Day 16,582 Gratitude

Today I am so grateful ...

For the 20th anniversary of the day that my husband asked me to marry him. From the moment I laid eyes on that man, it's always been nothing but yes. I can't imagine anyone I'd rather have as my partner on this journey.

For a clear, blue sky and bright sunshine from start to finish and the sun-worshipping dogs that basked in it. They know that we'll be back to rain again in no time.

For the first crocuses that I've seen this year ... my reward for throwing myself out the door for a lunch time walk.

For these words at the end of a horoscope I received this morning: "There is even more incentive now to make your life as love- and user-friendly as possible." I can't think of better advice to apply every single day!

For spaghetti and homemade meatballs. I've been looking forward to this dinner all day long. You can't imagine how much pasta I can put away in one sitting. Really. It's one of my many superpowers. I use it to stun others into shocked silence.

What are you feeling grateful for today?