Saturday, March 19, 2011

Artful Living

This struck my heart this morning. I get disappointed. Some people think that because you have a positive outlook you never get frustrated or angry or upset. That is far from the truth. The truth is what you do with it that matters. This is artful living. One source defines art as "process or product of deliberately arranging elements in a way to affect the senses or emotions."  How you move from the situation is pure art, placing life on a canvas. No one wants to be miserable...not truly.  None-the-less the disappointment is often the most difficult to deal with, and most often, I am the disappointer. 

I am disappointed when I forget an important birthday or anniversary.
I am disappointed when I fall asleep on the couch instead of exercising like planned.
I am disappointed when the meal I prepare doesn’t turn out to be a five start culinary masterpiece.
I am disappointed when I am not organized and I can’t find a bill or other receipt.
I am disappointed when I have a few free minutes and I don’t use them effectively or productively.
I am disappointed that there are fur balls on my tile floors and and my baby's knees are doing the dusting.
I am disappointed when I let the laundry get so backed up we will have to eat on TV trays for the next two years. 

SO do you ever feel this kind of disapointement…either in your self of in others? 

Here is an amazing verse I found today from a P31 devotional.
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another humbly in love."
Galatians 5:13 (NIV)

Then I read this: "When I am free from expectation, I am free to enjoy whatever comes."

I was struck by a thought that hit like a freight train on jet fuel. I was reminded by my Dad’s gentle reminder and my Mom’s reference to this reminder

Lower your expectations

This goes against all I've taught and been taught about being your best, being mistake free, being an example to others etc. But as I pondered I realized its meaning is deeper... actually something different. Having super high expectations just sets you up for failure. Because we are human and we are bound by a flawed nature. So the next time I don’t get the kitchen totally clean at night and wake up to dirty dishes (like today) I am not going to stew in fruitless frustration. I am simply going to forgive myself and grab a dish cloth (or a match...ha ha, just kidding). How can this apply? How is artful living tangible in real life? Initiating God's involvement and surrendering to His total control frees you to be creative in how you handle every situation, big or small. It allows you to purposefully plan to work through each situation as an opportunity to be more creative. Beating yourself up defeats this purpose. Artful living is joyful living. And in Christ, it is abundant living.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tuesday's Top Ten...

Simple but precise. That is what the art of life is all about. Appropriate, maybe not so creative, but with good alliteration. So we'll just call it Tuesday's Top Ten. This may be the only time during the entire week where I am able to focus my brain on a single subject long enough to come up with 10 related thoughts. In living simply, in living artfully, in living abundantly and sometimes just plain laughing at life. That would be right now. Tonight is for fun. Not so much the serious stuff. Drum roll please....

Tuesday's Top Ten
...Reasons I am Avoiding the Workout Video of the Night...

10) It involves so much jumping around, the kids may wake up.

9) I could really use this time to balance the checkbook.

8) I am exhausted just watching the first 5 minutes.

7) The dinner dishes are still on the table.

6) The lunch dishes are still in the sink.

5) The breakfast dishes are still in the dishwasher.

4) "Just do your best" should never be paired with exercises called "sucide jumps"

3) Now I'm going to have to readjust my insulin pump...again.

2) My muscles haven't recovered from last night's workout.

1) I really feel I have enough Insanity in my life without the help of a workout video

With that being said....I guess I better go change clothes. Somehow sharing that with the world makes the all out dig-in-with-every-inch-of-what-you-are-trying-to-get-rid-of effort a little more appealing. Cheers!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

On Tuesday

I think that on Tuesday I will begin a top ten list. Sometimes I may not have all 10...but I am sure they will come to me. Perhaps they can even become newsletter material later. This thinking aloud is so therapeutic! You know, they may be things to do with a Food Lion flyer or possibly ho to use up left over chicken. Maybe the to ten things to get done during nap time or the ten best scripture verses for encouraging others. What about 10 favorite meals or vegetables to plant or ten ways to reuse bread bags? Hey, I'll start with what to call these little gems!

Top 10 Top Ten List Names

1. Top Ten Tuesdays
2. Tuesday Tidbits
3. Thinking and Plinking
4. My Favorites
5. It's Tueday Again, Here's the Top Ten
6.  Terrific Tuesday Ta Da or Terrific 10
7. Tuesday's Tangent
8. Ten To Count On
9. Ten to Think On
10. And Then There Were Ten...

Ok, so there are ten possibilities. More are waking up.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


I love this time of the day, especially on Saturday mornings. Just after waking, while the house is still quiet and the floor creaks as you get cozy slippers. Children and husband still asleep…maybe for 10 minutes, maybe for an hour.  The precious time spent with God. The devotions, the prayer, the Bible reading, the mind blowing revelations that turn life as we see it upside down, because we are learning to see through new eyes. The potential of the day just stretching before me, like a blank canvas to be painted or a wide open space to gallop across.
 Shall we learn something today? Perhaps blue berry pancakes for breakfast? Maybe put up that picture collage I’ve been meaning to work on. Or maybe bring dinner to a sick friend? To dos, to calls, to make, to try…all presented like candies in a shop window crying “pick me, pick me.” The possibilities are so endless. It is my prayer that as a steward of my time on earth, these ponderings lead to fruitful action that glorifies God. That the day be used in a way that may not seem huge to me, but that impacts eternity in a positive way.  I love Saturdays. Life is good.

May the day unfold
With memories untold,
Stirring sights to behold
As we tend to our fold

May the seconds of smiles
Lead to joy over miles
And the company we keep
Give harvest Christ may reap.

May this day bring God glory.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Did I mention...

"M'am, please put your cell phone in the bin."

"It's not a cell phone," I politely replied, getting ready to pat down  the device and explain it's giving, not life threatening. My hands were swabbed and the test came back non-explosive. My nine month old daughter had to remove her sweater as well...but that topic is for another post.

 Did I mention that I have diabetes. Twelve years ago I was diagnosed with a disease that would change my life. It was on a warm summer afternoon in Novia Scotia and I thought that I had the flu. While the family toured the lovely town of Badeck I guzzled Gatorade back in the hotel room and tried to rest. When I became unable to breathe, my parents called an ambulance and by God's grace it was less than two kilometers (remember, we're in Canada). The lapse in consciousness was followed by the appearance a golf attired on-call emergency room doctor, Dr. Chow. He took one sniff and pronounced a diagnosis that would change my life.

"We need her insulin right away. Her blood sugar is very high."

My confused parents sceptically looked at each other.
"She is not diabetic. She doesn't have insulin."
My dad knew all too well about diabetes. His own mother became diabetic after a bout with pancreatic cancer. As a pharmacist, he knew medications better than most doctors.

Dr. Chow looked calm. "Ah-ha. That is the problem."

So on this adventure of life, I received both a blessing and a curse, depending upon how one chooses to look at it. My choice is blessing. I view my health as precious. What I eat is easy to pay attention to (unfortunately sometimes still easy to ignore) because I calculate my insulin based on carbohydrates. I have no intentions of trying to mask the undeniable risks associated with the disease. But I have come to terms with a life that is different...a little bionic even, with the addition of an insulin pump. I want to encourage others who wake in the night wondering if their sugar is low...or high. Those who face countless needles, reloading lancing devices for the 7th time that day, and refusing decadent desserts. To laugh at the snafoos (like boarding an airplane) diabetes brings.

But I cling tight to Joseph's words from Genesis..."You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." While I realize he was speaking to estranged family members, not a personified disease, the reality is that many things seem bad that might be beneficial in the bigger picture.  Being sure that who you are is both who you are meant to be and a vital part of who you are becoming is a deliberate step of faith taken with thoughtful consideration. Blessings to all on that journey, with diabetes or without. I'll be walking beside you. Living abundantly.

Monday, January 31, 2011

What next?

Do you ever feel overwhelmed to the point of "what next?" I find myself in that very spot now. I am not sure if not being able to actually finish anything I start causes this recurring state. Never-the-less I frequently find myself in it...the pattern goes something like this:
1.  I find myself void of regular responsibilities and panic (i.e. the children are both in bed early, Nayla takes an extra long nap, dinner with family led to an unexpected sleepover, etc.)
2. Wander around in a stupor trying to figure out what to do next.
3.  Sit down. Make a list.
4. Find another sheet of paper. Continue list.
5. Move cuddling cat off of my lap..."Not now Monty...can't you see I am busy trying to figure out how to use the time I have before it's gone."
6. Pause and think...hmmm, I think there are wet clothes in the washing machine.
7. Put clothes in the dryer and repeat steps 2 through 6 (but replace "wet clothes" with "meatloaf still on table from dinner" or "toys out in the driveway."

Why is it that when we try to plan, the plans are sabotaged by distracted thinking, overwhelming possibilities, unauthorized demands on our times and plain old procrastination? My mind would like to buckle down and focus on my Etsy shop development and paint some wooden letters. Maybe something with trains or elephants. So maybe I should read that article on creating a business plan. Or maybe I should go down to the studio and paint some. Perhaps writing out a good evening routine like the Fly Lady recommends would be helpful. I know, I will just pay a few bills first (that seems like a good thing to do) and oh...what's that...someone put a Facebook comment about my status...let's see....

Really, it just goes downhill from there. So..what's a girl to do? Well, I have a few strategies I am trying out. I'll let you know how they turn out after more testing, but here goes:

1. Go ahead and play. Sometimes your mind just needs a little wandering before the focusing. Set a designated amount of time (I am a big fan of 15 minutes) and unwind with non-productive meandering.
2. Enlist help. Nobody wants to fold clothes or wash dishes while someone is sitting in the other room watching TV. But there is a pretty good chance the task would be more pleasant if shared.
3. Start small. Choose a small, manageable task and see it through to completion. Whether writing down menus for one week, cleaning out one drawer, writing one thank you note or finishing one section of a business plan, see it through. This one has been hammered from countless articles I've read about cleaning and organizing and productivity.  Just think how organized and clean my world would be if I had spent more time doing than reading.
4. Choose a "stop" time. There is something about knowing the duration of a task or effort that makes it easier to get started. If it is already late and you are prone to staying up later than intended, this is especially helpful. It can either be an "I'll-work-on-this-for-15-minutes" or "I'll-be-done-at-11-PM" kind of stop time.

So I applied this on a small scale today. Every hour, my goal was to spend 10 minutes cleaning. The rest of the time was devoted to the scientist and artist that were climbing the curtains. While the house is not immaculate (Rome wasn't build in a day!), the kitchen floors are better than sanitary and there is some laundry done. If you have any suggestions, I am all open ears. Still, all in all, it's been a pretty blessed day.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Vision

Art Abundant is unfolding as I type and while the vision is not complete, there are some key elements falling into place. Some imaging that goes on in my mind and makes me, I would love to share this!

I picture moms smiling as they read over the day’s musings thinking to themselves, “well, I guess I’m not alone in never finishing a cup of coffee.” I see moms reading the newsletter and glancing at their recycle bin thinking, I believe we do have the makings of a recycle robot. I see moms having a new outlook on meal planning (because it includes their kids), going for walks as physical and educational activity (like being number detectives) and seeking ways to refocus their eyes on an Almighty God who cares for them in the darkest depths of dirty laundry piles. Moms who love to learn grow kids who love to learn. You can’t fake it, so rekindle the love of learning in your own life. I picture opportunities for others to express their experiences and continue the circle of encouragement, burning the trash of gossip and the debris of mind numbing tv.
 And maybe, just maybe, someone will read something on the blog and say, “Something’s different here. There is ridiculous joy in the midst of challenges, unexplainable peace in the middle of paint puddles and servant hearted love for others, no matter who they are. If that is what Christianity is about, I want a piece of that. Something is different here from what I know to be religion. I want a relationship with Christ. I want to live abundantly

Blank Space and Endless Possibilities

For weeks I've thought about this moment. For months I've thought about a blog. It seems so appealing...sharing thoughts, dreams, ideas and experiences. A notebook you would never lose. No pencils to go dull. No pens to run out of ink. Just the endearing "click-click-cl-click" of the keys. Ok, perhaps over romanticised, but a big moment none-the-less.

Then the time comes and you sit there, staring at the blank screen, so overwhelmed by possiblity you have to make a trip to the little girls room. So here it is. The first post. Go ahead and do it. Then we can really get down to business. ;o)