≈ Comments Off on Return to the wondrous and the tangible: The Artist Date
For the creative ones in our midst, who, like me, working hard to vulnerably put good things into the world, this is a good article. It is a great reminder of a healthy practice that I participate in regularly, Artist Dates, or as I call them Author Dates.
When did play dates turn into dates? As children, other people coordinated spaces for us to gather with friends either for a specific event or just to play. My mother was usually this person, calling other moms to plan tea parties, a game of tag or a walk to the local playground. Now, I wait for someone to ask me on a date or I myself do the asking. Either way, “dates” are no longer organized by a third party, rather, they are planned by two autonomous individuals for a particular purpose.
Similarly, the word “play” has been removed from the concept. The traditional definition of the word play is “to engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than serious or practical purposes”. A playdate was time specifically set aside for this. Now, dates have ulterior motives; they are not for child’s play anymore. But what if they…
When circumstances shift unexpectedly and become challenging, awkward, or even painful, pay attention. Maybe the shift came with recent news. Maybe it came with mystery and no apparent explanation of what is actually going on. Perhaps many questions came next. Perhaps good people behaved in hurtful ways, acted differently, or things got confusing.
Recently, I found myself in that kind of situation. I was face to face with a change in my circumstances, not initiated by me. I rarely make any changes when I am content. Yet I’ve learned that the gift of growth and good is often hidden in opportunities that come with discomfort in change I did not initiate.
What can I control when things seem out of control? What tools do I have to get through the situation? I reflected back on other times where change came my way and identified some things I could do to get through this new challenge, along with the layers surrounding it.
In a Brene Brown course I took online years ago, based on the wonderful book The Gifts of Imperfection, I sketched out a “change map.” Starting at the point of awareness that change was coming or needed, I mapped out steps I took to end up in a better place down the road. That was such a helpful exercise. I recently looked again at that map and reviewed the tools. I could apply some to my current situation, and that was empowering.
Are there new possibilities? What is just one next step to take? Read the road signs and determine options.
In a season of redirection, focus on internal growth. Look for the strength to accept things are now different. Realize that expectations will not be met in an expected way. That’s not easy. Leaning on family, friends, community, and faith provided the support I needed to keep my head clear and heart strong when circumstances intersected with change.
We all come to forks in the road. I’d prefer a spoon. And a bowl of ice cream. But off I go in a new direction, whether I want to or not. When things don’t go the way I’d planned, will I pull off the road or continue to go forward and grow as I continue down a new road?
Often the new road is winding. Watching for ways to grow in those troubled days is too much at times. Just keeping focused on the road, moving at a safe speed, hoping to get home safely, takes all we’ve got.
If you are like me, I work hard to make sense of difficult circumstances. On days that feel uncomfortable and odd, it is exhausting and sometimes a waste of my time and energy. If I’m feeling anger, I work hard to make sure that doesn’t cause the flat tires of bitterness or blame, which only slows me down. I need to keep moving down the road looking for a better place.
Some circumstances bring major delays in life. Often those leave us waiting and waiting. Our frame of mind or trusting heart goes under construction. We are reminded to use caution, to be patient and kind to ourselves and others. Waiting is a challenge in itself.
Some dark times cannot be simplified when choices are limited by commitment or resources. Some change brings limited options. Some change brings that impact like a truck overturned and spilled cargo blocking the road. So much to clean up and sort through before making any decisions! Sometimes the only choice is how we respond at that moment. Though change and weird circumstances can bring delays to plans, but growth is still possible.
Perhaps we need discernment and good counsel from wise people to determine if we’ve simply hit a speed bump to endure or need to merge at the end of the lane to a new lane in the journey of life.
I have learned that rough situations lead to new opportunities. Willingness to look beyond the situation, listen, watch, wait, and prepare to change can be so helpful. If you remain in difficult times, at least growing stronger is a hopeful option. But you might just find an open door to a new phase of life that brings more good.
Stay strong, my friends!
P.S. Recently, my job ended earlier than I would have planned. It’s a long story, and things are working out. It was a patch of rough road. Nothing tragic. Lots of challenge. I’d be happy to share more, but not here. However, it was unexpected and filled me with uncertainty, disappointment, and insecurity. I am still “under construction,” but enjoying a bit more of a scenic byway as of this posting.
If you celebrate Easter, what are your traditions? How have they changed over the years? What do you do now that is fun and meaningful for you that is a recent tradition? Do you find yourself missing loved ones who are not at your table this year? Does your world feel smaller or have traditions that don’t seem to fit the way they once did? Holidays have a way of making the heart long for loved ones and good times gone by. Holidays seem to sharpen the pain of missing others. But let’s not stop there.
I grew up enjoying our family dinners on Easter Sunday. After going to church as a family, dressed up in our new Easter outfits, my mom provided a lovely meal and included some relatives or friends. I carry those fond memories with me to this day, and always miss my parents, especially at holiday times. Thinking back as I write almost puts me in the mood to make a molded jello salad. Almost.
When I married and lived far from my hometown, I spent Easter Sunday dinners with my in-laws. Those times also provide sweet memories of good family fun, such watching young nephews gather eggs from the hunt. We even had an earthquake one year! I still treasure all the rich memories of the past. The family has grown through marriages, relocation, and the arrival of grandchildren. Our get-togethers are more spread out. Yet we make it work.
Traditions bring meaning to our lives. They anchor us in a sense of belonging. Circumstances shift and create opportunities for different Easter Sundays and new memories. Change comes along and invites itself in. Loss and separation flicker in hearts at the holidays, shining a quiet light on pain residing there. When change collides with tradition, we recognize that traditions need to bend. Flexibility is key to joy, especially during this pandemic. Flexibility can permit traditions to get a makeover that welcomes new happy moments.
In addition, Easter Sundays are busy days for many, too. We often help out at our local church until early afternoon. My husband now works on staff at our church, so Easter Sunday is a long day. We still find ways to still enjoy this special and important holiday through good food, conversation, and connection.
At our house, our immediate family is a party of two. I like the traditional Easter dinner, but that looks different now. I am a casual cook and have no interest in preparing a full meal, especially for just the two of us. I look for an easier way.
This Easter, I ordered two “Dinners-to-Go” Easter meals from Alicia’s Cookery & Catering in Brea, California. I picked up the meals Saturday in the early afternoon. What a great dinner for just us two, especially since I am a non-ambitious cook! Here’s what this year’s meal included:
The food was delicious, interesting, and packaged so nicely.
The serving portions were generous.
All I had to do was set the table, heat the items we wanted to be served hot, and plate the food.
The meal was ready in about 15-minutes, saving time and energy for other things.
Clean-up was minimal following the meal since Alicia’s did all the cooking.
I split the food into three different meals: Easter dinner (ham, potatoes, grilled veggies, rolls, and shared one of the salads and a deviled egg), a light supper (fruit, cheese, water crackers, and shared the second deviled egg), and another meal for later this week (soup, the other rolls, and the other salad).
Once I calculated what it might have cost me in time and money for shopping for and preparing a homemade meal, I thought the price was fair. Plus, dividing it into three meals for two people really made the price reasonable.
My leftovers will provide lunch for me this week.
Ordering meals is a great way to enjoy good food for just two people or a single person. It was tasty and convenient with great leftovers. A single meal could also be shared with two people.
A cupcake and two cookies were included in each meal. The desserts lasted several meals, too.
The timing worked out, too. In years gone by, Easter dinner was reserved for right after church on Sunday. That just doesn’t work for us anymore. Easter Sundays are long and packed with church responsibilities. This year we were able to enjoy a traditional Easter dinner on Saturday at 3:00PM as an easy alternative. My husband then went to church to help out with the Saturday 5PM service. This worked out well in a relaxing way.
Another option, depending on pandemic restrictions, is to dine out. For the past couple of years, prior to the pandemic, we’d leave church around 2PM, tired, and ready to eat. Our local family had already eaten. My husband and I headed out to BJ’s Restaurant for a relaxed meal. We never have to wait to be seated. The crowds have thinned out by then. We plop down in a comfortable booth, order, and enjoy a relaxed meal served by someone else. And cleaned up by others, too. My husband usually orders the prime rib. I like to order a mini Sweet Pig pizza and salad. We split a Pizookie. It is also fun to be in a busy dining room with other people out having a good time together.
These new traditions are so different from my memories of Easter Sundays long ago. Yet, with an open mind and the help of prepared meals or restaurants, we eat well and enjoy the time. Maybe we even end up with time for a nap!
Stay open to new traditions, my friends!
P.S. For those without family plans on holidays, I hope this encouraged you. For single friends or those living with just one other loved one, I hope we all continue to find ways to enjoy good food and make holiday traditions meaningful. Let’s avoid comparing our situations to others. Social media is full of photos of bigger family events. We can be happy for our friends enjoying their traditions. We can remember to also find contentment with what we have, to be creative, and to look for blessings around us.
I recently purchased a card-making kit and found it to be easy and fun.
Card Making Kit Fun
Last December, I participated in a card-making workshop on Zoom hosted by my friend, Marsha, on the East Coast. I met and worked with other women from all around the country in the Zoom room. It was like a quilting bee for 2020. All women were working on cards or scrapbooking while together in conversation. An enjoyable time during the pandemic. The card making workshop started at 10AM EST, before sunrise for me on the west coast. You’ll notice the darkness in my photos.
I ordered a card kit from Creative Memories. It came ready to go to make twelve cards for $20. I also purchased adhesive. I really enjoyed it, and plan to make another set of cards soon. Here are some photo details. This might be fun for you, too.
Within minutes, I was ready to go!
Kit supplies, adhesive roll and foam squares (sold separately), scissors (my own), and instructions were all set up. Plus, I prepared some snacks for while I work. My laptop was ready for the Zoom video call.
All the pieces are numbered by card and letter for easy identification.
Below you see the parts for Card #9.
I separated the parts into piles by number.
I pulled out one card at a time and just followed the instructions to assemble.
I finished the cards in less than two hours and had a good time.
Below are six of the finished cards. I did customize a couple with bonus pieces that came in the box.
I addressed, stamped, and sent each card on its way to friends and family.
Stay creative in 2021, my friends!
P.S. If you’d like a closer look at another Creative Memories Card Kit, watch this video:
To see all the card kits Creative Memories offers, click here: Card Kits.
Have you tried Cloud Toilet Paper yet? With the one-year anniversary of the toilet paper panic, I thought I would honor that in today’s post and share what I found out about Cloud Paper.
I recently heard about Cloud toilet paper and decided to try it out. I like to save a tree when I can, so this bamboo toilet paper caught my interest. I never really considered the deforestation related to toilet paper. I ordered a box.
The box was 24-rolls for $28. Free shipping is included with a subscription. I chose to commit to just one box to try it out.
The box arrived in good condition.
I liked the pretty tissue paper that came inside.
I unpacked the box, with paper crackling. I prefer a crackling fire, but this was a nice touch.
Even the packaging is considerate of the environment. That is important.
The mission of Cloud Paper is to protect our environment.
Each individual roll is wrapped in a recyclable wrap.
All ready to roll!
Time to put it to the test. It is soft enough to the touch and held up as needed. The roll lasted long enough. I would never guess it was made from bamboo. I found it to tear well enough, too. Some other brands tear easier, but I was OK with this.
This label is certainly helpful! And subtle. Ha, ha.
And how could I resist! The box comes monogrammed with my initials!
I like it. I will switch to this brand.
Stay environmentally responsible, my friends.
P.S. If you’d like to try this yourself, I highly recommend it. I was quite pleased with the product, price, and the values.
Here is another review. This reviewer did not think the paper was soft enough. I liked the level of softness. So now you have another perspective. He compares it with Charmin and Kirkland (Costco).
Many of us will be vaccinated in the coming months. Many of us already are, as we pursue herd immunity from COVID19. I recently completed my second dose of the Moderna vaccine at my neighborhood Rite Aid. The following information may be helpful or comforting to you.
I am 65, which is a high-risk age group. These ideas can be adjusted for different situations and schedules. Each person will have an individual response to the vaccine. I do not speak for anyone but myself. This is not medical nor moral advice. Much of this information is common sense.
Here are ten suggestions I found helpful. Please leave any additional positive suggestions you may have in the comments.
Schedule your appointment, if you have a choice, for a Friday or Saturday so you have the weekend to take it easy. Your body is doing good work as it responds to the vaccine and will benefit from some rest.
Clear your schedule for 24- to 48-hours following the vaccine, especially the second dose, to anticipate recovery from any side effects. Relax. Plan ahead for meals, groceries, and necessary chores. Dress comfortably. Put your feet up. Your energy may come and go, so listen to your body. You may not need the time to recover, but you’ll feel ready, which is less stressful, and that’s good.
Stay hydrated, which is always a good idea. Plenty of water is helpful.
If you and your main helpful person (spouse, partner, roommate, relative, friend) get vaccinated, avoid getting vaccinated on the same day. If you encounter side effects, the other can help out. But if you both are down with side effects, that could be more difficult.
Schedule your vaccination, if you have a choice, for later in the afternoon. It is easier to slow down at that time of the day for many. People could then enjoy a nice dinner, unwind, and go to bed. Sleep is helpful in recovering from side effects and also boosting your immune system.
An ice bag may be helpful. I iced my upper arm for 20- to 30-minutes with my first dose and then again for my second dose. It helped address the mild but annoying pain. I liked that.
Enjoy a bowl ice cream or your other favorite dessert. Kids got treats for being good patients when I was young. I think that there is some comfort in that. A sweet treat certainly got my mind off the general feeling of malaise that I felt. It was a nice reward.
Avoid arguments. We all know this vaccination is not without controversy. Everyone should do their research, talk with their physician and pharmacist, decide who and what to trust, accept that we cannot know everything about this at this time, and make their best choice.
Get extra rest and stay hydrated. Those are worth repeating.
Sign up for the V-safe app, if you feel comfortable doing so. I am happy to help the CDC monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines through my feedback. For more information, go to V-safe After Vaccination Health Checker.
I recently read a new award winning children’s picture book, All Because You Matter, written by former teacher Tami Charles and illustrated by award-winning illustrator Bryan Collier. It is important to share books that tell stories that may be different from our own. It is essential that all children see themselves in storybooks. I was interested in this story for those reasons, and found it to be a tender, timely, and important book.
All Because You Matter is a thoughtful love story written to a young child, affirming the beauty and richness that lives within the child. The story is strong and encouraging to the precious children among us who may not be part of the majority. For readers who grew up in different circumstances, this may bring some discomfort. If we can sift through that discomfort, and take in more of the reality of the world as experienced by others, then we will grow more loving and empathetic through this picture story.
And wouldn’t that make us better neighbors and the world a better place? All our children need this from us.
January 2021 is coming! If you are a paper planner person, I have two things to say to you:
You are probably already in possession of your 2021 planner.
You are my kinda people.
But first, it is so weird to be a planner person and to look deep into the eyes of 2021 and see very few things to plan. Just like that last nine months. Yet I still have goals and a schedule, so here we go! Big dreams on pause. Small steps and what’s next in clear view. We are often what we do. The pandemic has forced us to face who we are. Oh, and quick question. What day is it? “Blursday.” Here is a great seven-minute story from CBS Sunday Morning, December 27, 2020: Going to Plan B: When COVID pulls the rug out from under you.
I love planning. I love paper planners. I work at living an intentional life and these tools help me. I can be a procrastinator and a last-minute kind of person, too, and planning provides more of a guardrail for that.
Maybe I should open a planner store or work for a planner company. I have a good time looking for the right paper planner. Too good a time. I enjoy seeing what friends are using for their planners. It’s a hobby as much as it is a practical resource. I own multiple planners and calendars. I’m not sure if I’m asking for help or bragging. I’m not sure if I need an intervention or to start a club.
For a brief time, I used only a digital calendar, my phone’s iCal, and then also Google Calendar. That didn’t work for me. Putting pen to paper makes a difference. The full visual of a month or a week on paper gives me a better sense of time and space for planning projects, next steps, and prep work. Paper planners also permit doodling and decorating with colorful stickers or stamps and art, which is important to me. That’s a creative outlet I find useful, relaxing, and rewarding. As a result, I am now a hybrid planner person, using a combo of digital and paper. That has worked for me for years.
Planners and Systems
My hybrid planning includes:
Phone iCal digital calendar: For appointments, scheduled things, and repeating routines. I love the convenience and mobility.
Paper planner: For plotting out the months, weeks, and days to plan projects, next steps in pursuit of goals, and preparation for various coming events and activities.
Teacher planner: Used exclusively to plan my writing business in blocks for all the aspects of my duties and projects as a writer.
Bullet Journal: For collecting notes on projects, making lists, mapping out a plan, notes from a phone call, and all kinds of notes and doodling. This tool broke me of the scattered sticky notes life. Weekly, I summarize any growth opportunities, celebrations, and blessings from the previous week to help keep perspective.
I like Franklin Planners for a variety of reasons and keep coming back to them. I was required to use one as part of my graduate studies in educational leadership, and that is something that has helped me to this day. When priorities are important, planning is the tool for success.
I also like some of the features of the Happy Planners, along with some of the planning stickers.
I started using a teacher planner in August for my writing business. It adapted so well to tasks that I treated as I would have subjects and periods in the school day. After so many years as a teacher, it felt quite natural.
I also love wall calendars both for the art and for the practicality. Time is a gift, and wall calendars remind me of that, and make me pause when I find myself wishing time away. Here are some of my favorite wall calendars.
Wanderlust Wall Calendar: We post a 12-month wall calendar in the kitchen to communicate housemate dishwasher duty rotation, monthly house dinners, reserving the kitchen or living room for guests, and the dinner duty schedule for my husband and me. (Photo below.)
Paper Source Great Big Calendar: This large planning calendar was on my desk at the office, but now that I work remotely, I repurposed it. I use it strictly for work deadlines and meetings and it hangs on two large clips on the wall behind my studio desk. It’s part of my virtual meeting background. (Photo below.)
When I look for a paper planner, I look for a pretty design, a monthly spread with large blank boxes, a place for notes, a place for scheduled appointments and tasks, and a place for the to-do list. For my Bullet Journal, I use a Leuchtturm1917 journal with dotted pages. What do you look for?
What works for you in planning? Do you have a favorite planner brand?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life.
– Mary Oliver
Here are some other questions:
Do you put work and personal things on the same calendar? I keep them separated, but I might blend them this year.
Do you tend to be the planner in your family?
Perhaps there are four kinds of people in the world. Paper planner people, digital calendar people, hybrid planner people, and then everyone else. This time of year, switching calendars and setting up new planners, is fun for those of us who are planner people. I hope you are pleased with your new planner and that you have a year that is organized, relaxing, and filled with moments that become great memories.
May your new planner full of blank spaces bring a sense of hope. I share your optimism.
Christmas is around the corner with New Year’s Eve and 2021 just beyond that. How are you feeling today? Are you, like me, working to wrap your head around a pandemic Christmas? Are you looking at your 2021 calendar hoping for better days? I cannot believe we are still dealing with these restrictions, over nine months later.* Is pandemic fatigue or frustration fogging your season?
I made a list of my favorite things about Christmas, the fun and meaningful ones. I assessed the list and realized most of my Christmas favorites can still be part of Christmas 2020. That was so encouraging and provided a good perspective. A few things were adapted in new ways. And just a couple were actually put on hold this year.
Perhaps you too have noticed how much is similar to past years. For instance, here’s a few:
Decorations inside and outside our home
Enjoying some of the same favorite holiday foods
Stockings are hung
Pretty presents wrapped and ready for delivery
Holiday music playing
Steaming hot cocoa fills our mugs on cold evenings
Taking a drive after dark to see Christmas lights
Favorite Christmas movies and claymation stories entertain
Cards and letters are trickling in
Plenty of Hallmark movies with quaint snowy towns and holiday romance. Who ever tires of a happy ending?
And yet hovering over everything is the ominous CoVid19 cloud and all the challenges with that. It has taken the shine off this time of year for many, even if only slightly. It also brings a more intense sense of missing and longing for people and traditions, not part of this year. I have to acknowledge that for many of us this time is also littered with disappointment, stress, uncertainty, painful loss, and limited social life for those following guidelines. Those are weighty things for sure.
Sometimes this virus feels like a Grinch ready to steal Christmas. So much is so different. Yet we can choose to not let the pandemic ruin Christmas. I hope we can all find a centered place of contentment, reflecting on the good we have encountered this year. What can you find to enjoy? Who can we encourage? Maybe we can express thanks to any essential workers with whom our paths cross. Perhaps we can focus on what we have, what we hope for, instead of what is missing and has been lost. Then the Grinch virus will not ruin Christmas. It is about more than the fixings and the fuss.
I know some are so lonely and blue this Christmas because of cancelled plans and limited contact. My heart goes out to them. It is so hard to overcome in these circumstances. I pray those dear ones can find hope and joy in their holiday, too.
Here in Los Angeles County, we are on a stricter “Stay at Home” order through Christmas. For most years of my adult life, I’d be thrilled to be asked to stay at home for Christmas. But somehow this is not exactly what I meant.
We are having a very different December. Christmas celebrations for us won’t include the physical presence of family or friends beyond our CoVid home bubble. We choose to do what we can to slow the spread and to follow the county and state requests. That isn’t easy, but we feel like we want to contribute in that way.
I hope you and your loved ones are doing OK as you finish planning and preparations. I also hope you are kind to yourself this year, accepting what you cannot control, and enjoying what you can. Maybe if we just have a day without controversy, conspiracy, or conflict. That would be a good gift. And I hope you, like me, are able to enjoy a slower schedule.
In closing, I also want to wish happy holidays to all my friends who celebrate different traditions with family and friends. Perhaps you recently finished the meaningful time of Hanukkah. For those honoring Kwanzaa, you will begin soon and are probably already looking forward to the feast. As the different celebrations always remind us, we can get through this together.
Stay resilient, my friends! And merry Christmas to all celebrating the birth of Christ this week.
P.S. *Speaking of nine months of pandemic life, here come the babies! Perhaps you’ve noticed that we are heading into a little baby boom, and it’s underway now. New sweet little ones are making their way into the world, and we are cheered by that for sure!