live for today

i've been working more on my writing...i found out a few weeks ago that they "extended" our creative writing class, so i will get at least two more stories critiqued over the next 10 weeks. david and i have been talking about documenting our hilarious wedding adventure (if you haven't already heard, we got married one week after hurricane ike, in our house with no power)...so that will probably be my first submission.

i have also been working on a rewrite of the first story i submitted for class, which chronicles the events following my sister's death, through the funeral.  i am hoping to submit for a contest at memoir (and) next month. i have also come across creativenonfiction.org, which has been immensely helpful in finally understanding the type of writing i hope to create. it seems to be the perfect description of the writing i have been doing, and aspire to publish someday.

finally, i finished my "this i believe" essay! this is something i've been meaning to do since i heard my first episode on npr 4 years ago. i'm still tweaking it a bit, but i thought i'd put it out there...as a promise that i WILL submit it very soon. and if you've never heard this i believe...be sure to download a podcast to your iPod!
I believe I must live for today.

There is something freeing about learning to live in the present moment. Freedom from the must do's, should do's, and a focus on what I am doing. Right now. I have learned mindfulness from Buddhism, encouraging engagement and participation in each moment. The ability to find steadiness in the extremes of our hectic lifestyles. And self-help books that promote "living in the moment" and "being present" in our everyday lives.

But this belief is mostly a result of life experience.

In my early 20's, I was a typical college graduate, dreaming of the big job, the corporate office, house with the white picket fence. Always thinking I'd be happy when I got the promotion, my name on the door, met the right guy…

When I was 27, my life changed forever. Two weeks shy of her 25th birthday, my sister and her husband were murdered in their home. In the moments after I heard the news, everything shifted. The future vanished, my plans dissolved, there was no room in my grief for "someday."

As the years have passed since her death, and I've moved further along on my journey, I have refined this belief. Over time, I have perfected it, and finally realized it's place in my life philosophy.

We never know what can happen in the blink of an eye. Some may call it morbid, but I fully expect to be hit by a bus at any time. I know how quickly life can change. I have learned that we can only control this one moment. I hug my husband tightly, tell him how much I love him. I am fully present and engaged at the hospital, as a medical social worker. Even mundane daily activities…coffee tastes richer, music sounds sweeter, the feel of sand between my toes becomes cause for celebration.

Because I live for today, I worry less about tomorrow. I aim to live without regret for what might have been. And I never take for granted the gift of each day my little sister will never enjoy. I still have dreams for the future, but they are never as lovely as the moment I am in right now.


discovery #24

that i am a collector

this idea actually came to me as i was looking at the door of my fridge this morning. what's with the amount of condiments we amass after a while? i just went and counted: 29 items!?! now, i would argue that like most "collections," we do not intend for them to grow so large, it just kinda happens.

my first experience with this is displayed proudly in the photo above. first of all, i cannot believe i actually found this photo today (or remembered that i had it!) and second, please note the pink carpet and teal furniture of my 7th grade bedroom. from this time until about my senior year of college this collection had grown out of control...somewhere over 100 pigs at last count.

i noticed this phenomenon again  when i started doing mixed media. i had a ridiculous amount of art/craft supplies that had been steadily growing since my first trip to pearl in chicago, about 10 years ago. i went through quite a few phases: mosaic tiles, scrapbooking, painting old furniture, jewelry (including a rebirth of the "friendship bracelet" craze--tons of embroidery floss!)...collecting new toys along the way.

then i started thinking about my resume. wow, that's quite a collection! i talked a bit about my career path(?) here, which is as varied as my ever-changing art/craft interests. and when i finally decided to go to grad school and become a social worker, i realized how important all of those experiences truly were. and i believe this is the beauty of all the randomness that accumulates as we age.

hoisin sauce for the perfect asian chicken pizza,
ribbon for a last minute gift,
the ability to make a child laugh,
or an incredible powerpoint presentation

this is the power of time...the experiences we have collected over the years. and as i continue to fully embrace my 30's: the wisdom that comes with age, the skills culled, the knowledge gained...the pigs sold at a garage sale. these are the things that make each of us unique. the collections build the foundation for our lives. the stories we tell, the memories we hold dear.

what have you gathered over the years? what would you like to collect more of? for me, it's the memories. the crazy things i've done that always make for a good story.  and i believe that is what this blog has become--a new way for me to collect everyday moments that might otherwise go unnoticed. a collection of the beautiful memories of my life.



i never thought about how people actually comment on my blog...i just set up my little space and hoped that someone might be interested in stopping by. i've gotten comments over the months, so i figured it was all good. but then i actually ASKED people to comment, and found that maybe's there's a problem. my cousin told me a while back that she tried to comment, but it wouldn't go through. knowing that blogger is sometimes crabby and prone to tantrums, i just figured it was another glitch in the system. well, this time she tried again...to no avail...and i realized i had selected "registered users" only. so i opened it up to everyone, thinking that might solve it. but AGAIN, she couldn't comment.

so....what i'm thinking is: MILLIONS OF AMAZING PEOPLE ARE TRYING TO COMMENT EVERY DAY! at least that will make me happy for right now. but what made me happy on sunday, was that my first (and only!) comment was from susannah, who started the whole smile-revolution. and that made the whole experiment worth it.

and now i'm back to writing just for me, to remember this crazy-beautiful life i live, and to have a place to display all the pretty things i've been collecting. i went around my house and took photos of all the things that make me happy. and as we plan to move out of this big house and into a tiny apartment, i really need to enjoy the space while i can. here we go... 
all of my vintage cameras...and some favorite photos
the original paintings from our wedding invitation, in an old frame found at a garage sale (p.s. if you look close, i wrote our vows in the border)
a mosaic i started over the weekend, which was supposed to be entered in a contest at work tomorrow...but sadly still looks similar to above...
my desk in my studio...i love when it looks like this
the bulletin board by my computer desk...the plastic baggie holds my grandmother's hankie that she mailed to houston for my wedding (when she couldn't fly in due to the hurricane)
the watercolor david and i made together to remind us of our time in greece



i absolutely love this post by susannah conway! and i would love some smiley love too! since i started this blog in june 2009, i have had 22 comments. i now have over 100 posts...22 comments makes me a bit sad. i can't be the ONLY one thinking this stuff, where's the love?

i've been doing a bit of a "review" again after 6 months...and definitely hope the next half of my year will include more connection with other bloggers (and friends who follow!) and i know you're out there...my cousin convinced me to get into my analytics file the other day.

i remember a while back, i read another post that talked about this...maybe we just have to ask for what we need. i am craving that connection right now, perhaps i'm just a bit needy this month. so, let me know you're there...just a quick :) to say hi! i'm not expecting 100 responses like susannah, but maybe 4 or 5 would be a start.

are you there?


discovery #23

that i do NOT suffer from adultitis!!

i had another one of those overlaps. i've been seeing the "escape adulthood" badge over at joyrebel.com for a while now, but never had the time to check it out. finally, the other day at work, i really needed a reminder on how to maintain my child-like attitude... then the next day, the lifelaughsandlemmings post referred to adultitis as well! (and i had to leave a comment supporting the mission!) i knew this was a sign from the universe that i needed to spend some more time on this subject.

according to kim & jason, "Adultitis is a common condition occurring in people between the ages of 21–121, marked by chronic dullness, mild depression, moderate to extremely high stress levels, a general fear of change, and, in some extreme cases, the inability to smile. Patients can appear aimless, discontent, and anxious about many things. Onset can be accelerated by an excess burden of bills, overwhelming responsibilities, or a boring work life. Generally, individuals in this condition are not fun to be around."

i am very happy to report that i do not exhibit ANY of the warning signs! if you are worried you may be infected, you can take the intake exam here ! commenting on the other blog made me start thinking of the things that i do to avoid the stress and general discontent described above. i started looking through my pictures to find something for this post...and realized that today's entry will mostly be a visual representation of my thoughts:

how do you escape adulthood?


THE BIG 100!

this is unbelievable...100 entries seems crazy to me. when i first started, i'd look at women who'd been doing this since 2006, and drool at all the loveliness they had accrued. i have to say, after only 6-7 months...100 posts is not.too.shabby.

i decided a while ago that for #100 i would list all of the "discoveries" that didn't make the cut. especially in the first months while i was trying to get the hang of it, i'd list my daily discoveries like a gratitude journal. obviously only one was turned into my entry for the week.

so, in no particular order....here's a peek at the OTHER things i've discovered so far:
  • the importance of good co-workers
  • that there isn't a photo of my sister jamie in my office
  • the power of getting all dolled-up (and someone noticing!)
  • painting is like exercise for me: i just need to get my clothes on
  • the importance of my friendship with my sister casey - i miss hanging out with her more often
  • that you can lower your electricity bill like your cell phone (competition is good.)
  • the beauty of those "breakthrough" fights...that actually make your relationship stronger
  • there are still kind people in the world (the guy who gave me free glasses frames)
  • i can start doing continuing education presentations at the hospital
  • soybeans are the devil
  • my husband and i have similar dreams for the future
  • my headaches may be caused by TMJ
  • i have a wild imagination
  • old friends through facebook
  • new excuses for skipping the gym
  • this video (i love toys that remind me of my childhood!)
  • i’m obsessed with trees
  • i need to downsize, simplify my life
  • i am good at yoga (and that i've been doing it for 9 years!?!)
  • pomegranate seeds in my martini -- yum.
  • that being outside on a gorgeous tuesday afternoon is where i should be
  • (and that i'm thinking much more about a non-8-5 life)
  • clovers growing in my yard
  • muscles i haven't used in a while
  • that having my own bank account is no longer important to me
  • families are very hard work
  • i am a crazy contradiction
  • lost memories (i.e. watching disney movies with my family on sunday nights)
  • that i love going to services to do the prayer for the bereaved; my connection to jamie
  • the universe is conspiring to push me toward my dreams
  • that i am enamored by the RV lifestyle...check this out. and i always love looking at these.
  • i love video art pieces
  • i don't like when my house is too clean
  • the definition of an innerpreneur...and that i qualify as a cultural creative
  • that my hair looks amazing in a climate with 49% humidity
  • that i am a good problem solver
  • that david and i need 2nd jobs to satisfy our appetite for travel


timing is everything

usually driving home from galveston is depressing. i was expecting after a week of loveliness, it would be even worse. but david and i raced out of the house to get to my favorite antique store by 5pm, made it just in time to buy some tiles for my artwork. then stopped for delicious pizza...AND ben & jerry's on the way out of town. while the pizza was cooking i thought the sky was gorgeous....
and then it did this:
these are the days i wish i had a real camera. wow.

p.s. i still don't have photoshop loaded on my new laptop yet, so you know this is the real deal.



well, my "writer's retreat" has taught me a lot more than i expected. the second day, my laptop--which my husband lovingly took to some tiny shop and paid $200 to fix--stopped running AGAIN. so, no blog entry that day. the next day we decided to bite the bullet and buy a new one. ( i will talk about how excited i am about this at a later date.) but then the weather was so incredibly bad i couldn't risk taking my new baby out into the storm, just for some wireless access.

i tell you all of this to help explain the anxiety that began to creep in last night. i couldn't figure out what it was. i was here in the beach house (one of my favorite places on earth), cozied up with my husband, shiny new laptop in the corner, a dozen inspirational books, delicious food and wine...what was the problem??? and then i finally realized what it was: i was disconnected.

i didn't recognize the implications of my daily routine (which is exactly why i needed this week off to do "nothing.")...every morning when i get to work, i check my hotmail account, browse through my blog reader, and generally catch up with my co-workers at our 8:15 huddle. for the days david went back to houston to work this week, i was completely alone. i realized one day that i hadn't spoken to anyone until he got back at 8pm!

for some people this would be heaven. and don't get me wrong, i love my alone time, but not at the expense of feeling connected to the outside world. so, very soon we will get dressed and venture out to brave the elements, not because we need food or water, but because i must use my new computer for something other than word documents and photos. i need to check-in with my friends...and upload my ramblings into the universe.

i learned this week that while it's important to spend some time in solitary confinement every so often, it's really nice if they let you use the internet.


discovery #22

the sting of rejection.

not really the way i wanted to kick-off my week of writing and relaxation, but i guess it’s a necessary evil. if i want to be successful as a writer, i am going to need a lot of determination—and a very thick skin. after reading the e-mail, i realized that the thought of rejection never crossed my mind. i only pictured my article posted on the collaborative blog, happy in knowing i had shared myself with a wider audience.

walking back to the house i started thinking about the other times in my life that i have dealt with rejection. not making the cheerleading squad in the 6th grade, because they said i was too quiet (which if you know me now is causing squeals of laughter). and most recently, after an incredible second interview with the CEO of a local non-profit; a job for which i was barely qualified. but it didn’t seem so bad since i hadn’t expected to get the job…i was just proud i actually got that far.

what i’ve realized is that it’s the anticipation of success that causes the most pain. expectations are dangerous, they can often be an invitation for disappointment. and often we’re much happier without the pressure of their presence. but that seems a bit depressing at the same time.

if i lived my life without the expectation of success, i would never accept a challenge. i would never set goals outside my comfort zone. i would never make steps toward growth. life would be pretty boring if i did everything to avoid rejection and disappointment. i would miss out on valuable opportunities to learn and to make adjustments for the future. i would simply maintain the status quo.

i refuse to limit myself to things that are easy. i choose to set goals that seem outrageous to others. for me, i need that challenge. i thrive on the adrenaline that accompanies risk, and with it the possibility of failure.

and it makes the taste of success that much sweeter.



the anticipation builds as the car lumbers over the old bridge.
the water in full view, 360 degrees of blue.
i open the windows to the familiar scent, the taste of salt in the air.
i breathe deep, the peaceful feeling already beginning to undo the weeks of knots building in my shoulders.
with my arm out the window as i always do, the cool breeze floating through my fingertips.
a salute to the pelicans soaring above.

a camera can never capture this scene.
cannot convey the change within my soul.
the experience of being here, in this moment.
the tension releases, i relax deeper into my seat, i am fully present.
two dollars to the man in the booth; a small price to pay for this freedom.

we have arrived.


new artwork

it's been a really long time since i posted new artwork...i've found that i'm doing less mass-producing these days, and trying to spend more time on each individual piece. i'm loving the wax lately...experimenting with different layers. each of these is done on wood, i've moved away from the album covers, as they tend to curl/bend with time. and the wood is just as cheap (about $1.50 per 12x12" square) and fairly light/easy to store.

the one above is something i'm still working on. i wanted a heavenly feel...i'm still dreaming of doing an angel painting, i just can't come up with a design that i like. we'll see where it goes.
this is a bit bright for me...and i tend to hate pink, but i'm still playing around with the various textures...i'm not sure how i feel about the butterfly looking so 3-D, but i'll give it some time to grow on me.
finally got a few stamps...still playing around with them...

i'm also working on a new banner tonight...we'll see how it goes...


discovery #21

writer's market 2010

i actually remember several years ago, i was unemployed (again!) and decided i would become a writer. like it was something you could just jump into...a pool on a hot summer's day. i can picture myself at the bookstore, sifting through the pages of writer's market, amazed by all the publications just waiting to praise my work. i had so many stories to tell, insights to share...

and it's true, i did have a lot to say. but as jane friedman so humorously states in the opening page of beginning writer's answer book: "more than a few accomplished editors and authors will say that your book should remain exactly where it is (inside yourself)..." i'm gonna go ahead and give it my best shot.

for me, writing has similar characteristics to quitting smoking. i had an interest in it, but never a strong commitment. there would be periods of intense desire to assume the challenge, but also very poor follow-through. i had my last cigarette on 9.18.08, and not a single puff since. i must have tried quitting 7 times prior to this final (and successful) attempt.

i've been flirting with the idea of writing for about that many years, and have finally committed to doing the hard work. i started this blog as my gateway drug; the first step toward writing more consistently. i hoped the various "discoveries" would become seeds for further development.

i also completed my first creative writing class...this was my attempt to improve my writing and truly learn about craft. the class was a partnership between the hospital where i work and inprint, a 7-week course led by a local professor. although we didn't do as many writing exercises as i would have liked, it allowed me the experience of my first critique and showed how much i still had to learn!

the one thing i have going for me is that i'm always ready to learn...and i know i have a ways to go in my education. out of sheer curiosity, i gathered up all the books i purchased in 2009 on the subject of writing. i found 8 books...apparently i was more focused on learning than i thought. here's the list:
  • beginning writer's answer book (referenced above)
  • if you want to write (brenda ueland)
  • on writing well (william zinsser)
  • writing as a way of healing (louise desalvo)
  • freelance writing (casewit)
  • writing your life story (selling)
  • juicy pens, thirsty paper (SARK)
  • and of course: writer's market 2010

and i still need to get bird by bird (anne lamott), which everyone seems to recommend! these all represent a direct effort to become a better writer and gain insight into the daunting world of publishing. i am ready to put my books to the test! and as you may remember me mentioning (over 3 months ago!) here, i am going to put together something to send off.

i am taking a staycation next week and will be solely focused on my writing endeavors. it's like my own writer's retreat...only free! i'm taking all my books, all the subject ideas i've amassed over the years, and my dream to have something published in 2010. i now understand the use of a query letter, the importance of researching target publications, and knowing your audience. i am ready for this challenge. i am ready to combine my academic training with my personal experiences with my passion for words.

i'll keep you posted throughout the week on my progress...and maybe a peek at some creative writing as well. stay tuned...



i love words. i love the power of words. how a single word can evoke incredible emotion, bring a long-lost memory flooding back to the present. how the simple act of writing it on the page can transform my mood.

i think of a stark white room, free from clutter. uber modern furniture. a closet, stripped down to the simplest of wardrobes--a pair of jeans, little black dress, color-coordinated t-shirts, 3 pairs of shoes. freedom. wide open spaces. meditation. getting down to the basics. a feeling of peace.

this is what i need in my life...simplicity. a narrow focus. a reduction of non-essentials. reorganization. prioritization. clarification. what is my goal? my dream? my passion? can they be simplified into one strategic plan? and how long might it take to accomplish? i have many interests, i enjoy living a balanced life. i like to try new things...have various outlets for my creativity.

but what is my PASSION? what drives me above all other factors in my life? what keeps me going...boosts my confidence? how do i "follow my bliss" and where will this new adventure take me? i am ready for a new journey. i am ready to take the steps necessary to create my best life with david. we have agreed on one thing: we are not conventional. we will not follow the same path our parents took. we cannot achieve true happiness by conforming to someone else's ideals.

it is time for a change. it is time for simplification. it is time to pursue our dreams and take action. it's that simple.


miss you...

i miss you today. i think it’s that the holidays are over…all that twinkle and coziness are gone. back to normal.

i always wonder what normal is anyway. for the last five years i’ve thought of the time when you were alive as “normal.” and i always talk to my patients about “the new normal” – that adjustment period after a traumatic event – learning to live again. have i finally adjusted?

i sometimes wonder what my life would be like if you were still here. where would i be living? what would i be doing? but then i stop. i promised myself five years ago that i would never do the what if thing. and i like to think that you had a lot to do with the life i have now. the master’s degree, the job helping others, the amazing husband. you gave me the strength to pursue these things. your commitment to andy and faith in marriage showed me that i could be brave in love. you helped me reach this normal, and for that i will always be grateful.

so i will take this time to miss you. to remember the fun times, to peek at the scrapbook and photo albums. i will cry when i need to and not feel silly when david asks me what’s wrong. i will remember that grief is a lifelong journey, that although it gets easier to traverse, the road is very long.

and that i will always have my angel to show me the way.

love you.


happy new year!

i don’t believe in new year’s resolutions. it’s similar to my feelings regarding diets: they don’t last. they set you up to fail. they are not usually easy. or fun. but i do like the idea of a clean slate. a fresh start. a new beginning. (or at least a shiny new calendar.)

and according to this fun “experiment” in the uk, i am right. people don’t keep resolutions. which is why i made a list for this year that is everything a resolution isn’t….easy, fun, and with a high chance for success. here are my top 20+10 for 2010…

30 things i will not fail to accomplish this year:

· kiss my husband (passionately) every day…and yes, phone kisses are acceptable when necessary
· call my best friend molly more often than i did in 2009
· only sit outside at restaurants, the one exception being snow. or possibly golf-ball sized hail.
· go to galveston once a month
· eat healthy foods. (this includes my promise to never again use spray butter!)
· read 5 books (in their entirety)
· complete a triathlon
· go to at least 1 conference/workshop/retreat, preferably on the topic of writing/creating
· take one fabulous trip (or perhaps a fabulous staycation)
· do one thing that scares me*
· celebrate the 2-yr anniversary of my last cigarette
· laugh out loud
· substantially reduce my debt
· continue the “year of discovery”
· volunteer with teens at bo’s place
· make connections with inspirational bloggers
· feel generally calm and peaceful
· swim
· learn a poem
· cook dinner more often
· paint with my sister
· participate in ARToberFEST
· take a mountain bike trip to Austin
· buy a “REAL” camera
· stop feeling guilty about being a bad housewife
· hire molly maids when necessary (to accomplish the above)
· make my own clothes – or modify, alter, funkify the ones i never wear
· limit new purchases
· play with children (or just ride the swings)
· live an authentic life

*this may include: singing in public, speaking Spanish with my mother-in-law, submitting a query to a big publication, moving into a tiny apartment, talking to my dad about his political-email-forwarding habit, etc.

what will you succeed in accomplishing this year?