Monday, December 13, 2010

#reverb10 - Action

Action. When it comes to aspirations, its not about ideas. It's about making ideas happen. What's your next step?

I would say that my current aspiration have to do with exercising my creative juices and if the cards align themselves to support myself, or supplement my income through these endeavors.
I strongly agree that these ideas and aspirations must be placed into action in order to achieve the goal or make the aspiration a reality. To that end these daily prompts have helped me move from talking about writing and placed me in front of the computer typing. While these prompts have nothing to do with current projects, they do get the juices flowing and have helped the mind to expand and open up with reference to works in progress.

Another aspiration is to advance my photographic skills which have languished for a number of years. While working on these prompts I am also working on daily photography prompts to exercise that skill.

So while I am moving in the right direction, the final piece of this puzzle is to develop a flow and a way in which to complete these tasks along with the day-to-day life tasks.

Organization is the key to that problem, and I am currently trying to purge my home of extraneous items that are no longer of use so as to create a better work environment at home.

#reverb10 - Body Integration

Body integration. This year, when did you feel the most integrated with your body? Did you have a moment where there wasn't mind and body, but simply a cohesive YOU, alive and present?
I think I had two instances of being cohesively me and the interesting thing about each of these days is that I also felt very in touch with nature.

This spring on one of the first warm days of the year I felt overcome by what I called "spring fever". I just couldn't concentrate any longer and decided to check out of work a little early and go to the lake. It had only been a few weeks since my Mom passed and I was missing her desperately and felt I could be closer to her at the lake.

Well I got to the lake and remembered that the temperature is much colder by the water than inland, but I was comfortable and spent a couple of hours just gazing out into the lake, taking photos and being with me! It was great!

The second time was last Wednesday as I danced in the snow during Cleveland's first snow storm! I was outside without a hat on and just taking in the beauty of the falling snow. I had images of my childhood when we used to rush out the back door to make snow angels in the perfect white flakes! All the worries and cares were wiped away and I felt alive and ready to tackle any and all challenges!

#reverb10 - Wisdom

What a weekend! I'm late in posting my reverb10 reflections so today I'm posting two. Maybe three because it is my plan to do all 31 even if I didn't start on time!

First let's look at the December 10th prompt - Wisdom, "What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out?" When I first read this prompt I thought it would be difficult to write or to determine, because let's face it - most people don't think they are very wise especially in a day-to-day way. Or at least that's how I am. However after thinking back on the past year I was able to come up with a response fairly quickly.

Throughout the years I have been very good at advising others that you can 'only do what you can do' and that you are not in control of the emotions and actions of others. I thought that I did a pretty good job of this myself - that is not harping on the reactions and attitudes of others. My philosophy has always been "if you know in your heart that you have done the best that you can" in any situation then let it go.

This year has presented a number of situations when I have been engaged in heated exchanges with others because of their perception of an event, action or something similar. It was becoming a serious problem, one that left me angry, aggravated and just not in a good state. That is until I took my own advice and realized that there problems were not mine.

So, how has this worked? It has limited my level of anxiety and frustration, but it has resulted in strained relationships. I am not happy that some of my relationships with people that are very important to me are in dire straits, but at the same time I am not constantly stressing either. I can't always put others before me and my mental and physical health. Phew I said it, and I really mean it. Hoping for a stress free '11!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

#reverb10 - The Ultimate Party!

I don't do a lot of partying these days - much to my dismay. I guess it has to do with growing older and being more selective in the situations you put yourself in. That being said I would say that the year started off with a great party!
For the past three years we have gathered with a group of friends to bring in the New Year and each year the party gets better. It is a house party held at the home of some dear friends and it attracts a large gathering of friends, family and neighbors. The basement is small, but not tight and has a great layout complete with an area set aside for the bar. Because it's a house party the attire is usually casual with a little glitter added via tops or jazzy bottoms. Attire is so unimportant I can't actually recall what I wore.
My husband sometimes moonlights as a bartender and each year he adds this party to his portfolio, but this year I took over the bar. I don't quite remember how this happened, but it did and I had a good time and the attendees enjoyed my mixology.
The food was a mix of standard house party mix - chicken wings, ribs, pasta salad, spinach dip, and I believe there were greens too! So we had a good spread to fill the belly and a full bar to lift the spirits. Top that off with DJ Vince and the house was jumping.
We danced, ate, drank and talked well into the early hours of 2010 and a good time was had by all.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

#reverb10 - Beautifully Different

This is my fourth entry for the reverb10 challenge. The challenge is all about recounting the year and looking forward to the new year. It is also meant to help you write daily and become reflective - at least that is my take. So today's prompt is:
Beautifully different. Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different - you'll find they're what make you beautiful.
Wow, what a challenge and if you didn't believe me when I said this challenge motivates you to become reflective I think you're with me now.
I don't know if some of my better points are things that make me different, but I think that most of my friends and associates would say that I am considerate and giving. When thinking about gifts to give I really try to think about the recipient and come up with things that reflect them. I don't look at quantity or value but at the sentiment associated with it, or the personal value the recipient will place on the gift.
I'm sometimes blunt to a fault, but I believe that in recent years I have learned to curb the tongue a little understanding that what I feel is not always what someone else wants to hear. Lately a number of people have indicated that they admire my confidence and I think that's a good thing, although I've heard some call it arrogance - which is so far from the truth. I have a strong confidence in my abilities and if I believe I can do it - no matter what it is I won't back down.
Finally and probably most important is that I strive to find the good in most everyone. Each of us has some redeeming quality - it just may be buried and you have to dig to find it.

Playing in the Snow!

Today I have been channeling my mother as Cleveland, that is the city proper, received the first snowstorm of the winter. My mother loved the first snow and being a part of the glorious beauty that God has given us in the form of snowflakes. Now I don't dislike snow, but not since my childhood
have I really reveled in just being a part of it. I like to watch it from the window and I love to see the fresh snow on the trees, but to just hang out in it - Not!

Today was different, I re
ally think she was egging me on so out I went to take photos and just enjoy the beauty of it. The weather reminded me of a snowstorm we had in I think in 1999 or so. The city
was basically shut down and when I looked out of my house there was a couple of feet of snow in the driveway and on the streets. At the time I lived down the street from my parents and at the height of the storm who comes traipsing down the street but my Mom. She's wearing her fur coat and trying to get me to come and walk with her. I was not game. Now, she really wasn't a dog person, but that day she asked me to give her my dog - CoCo so she could take her for a walk. That was one of the funniest things I had seen and today it was a wonderful memory! I now only wish I had gone out to play with her.

One advantage I had today was that I did not have to drive in it! So I'm writing this post at 6:15 p.m. and although I don't have to drive in the gridlock that is Cleveland right now, I am becoming impatient. I have been waiting for my husband for over an hour, but there is n
o need to be angry because he has been trying to get from E. 21st St. to E. 13th street for over an hour. What a mess! This storm really caught the City of Cleveland by surprise. Hopefully I will arrive home before 8 p.m. and upload the photos that support this post. So it's now 10:32 p.m. and I have only been home
about an hour!

I just received a message from my brother in Virginia telling me to come down for a visit. I think I will soon, but as I said I'm not one of those Clevelanders crying about the weather. The snow
will get old sooner than later, but I love living in an area with four distinct seasons and hey the cost of living is good!

Below are some of the photos I captured.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

This is a shot I captured at Wade Oval this past Sunday during Holiday Circlefest. I used this shot for my December 5, 2010 "Picture the Holidays" class.

#reverb10 - Community

So what exactly is community? My interpretation is a place of nurturing, a safe zone - somewhere I feel comfortable. Now Merriam Webster has a slightly different take, but it is a definition with many variances. I will recount a few of them here: "a unified body of individuals: as a :state or commonwealth; b : the people with common interests living in a particular area; broadly : the area itself ; c : an interacting population of various kinds of individuals (as species) in a common location."

My reflection of community is best associated with example 'c' - an interacting population of various kinds of individuals in a common location. That I believe is a good definition of Facebook, and remarkably I have found a definite home on this social networking site.

This year as I dealt with the passing of my mother the many messages and heartfelt sentiments received from both near and far acted as a healing balm and made this most difficult time more bearable. During and after this time the many messages that were meant just to bring a smile achieved their goal. I also reconnected with many people I had not heard from in more than 20 years, so I would say that social networking sites have become a community of support for me.
Additionally, in the last several weeks I have participated in a number of classes online that have opened up many new communities. In particular the participants in two classes over at Big Picture Classes - "The Gift of Words" and "Picture the Holidays" have been inviting and represent a true interacting population of various kinds of individuals. Primarily women, but I have noticed a man or two in the forums, we all hail from various corners of the world and have been brought together in support of an art with all love.

With all of this online activity is there a face-to-face community I am hoping to join or re-engage? I would say that the passing of my Mom has left a huge void in my family and that sense of community is something that I am longing for particularly during this time of year. I will pray, meditate and contemplate the best ways to remedy this situation.
In the meantime I will continue to value my new online communities and nurture the face to face communities I belong to and call home.

Monday, December 06, 2010

#reverb10 - What is the Last Thing You Made?

So on my second day of participating in #reverb10 I am happy to say we have a happy topic, or one that does not dwell on any sadness. The topic today is what is the last thing you made and this works well with my previous post on feeling a little scatterbrained because I have been doing so many things. So technically, the last thing I made was one half of a pair of foot warmers. These are hand knit and made first and foremost with love, because I love the person who will wear them and I hope that each time they put them on the depth of our friendship will come through and warm them both physically and emotionally. The yarn used to knit these warmers is Artful Yarns Circus and it is 95% wool and 5% acrylic so they are nice and warm and you can toss them in the laundry - making them convenient.
I have knit these over the last several years for a number of friends and I receive rave reviews after the fact. It is such a joy to knit something and then have the recipient genuinely enjoy the gift. This is something that really brings a smile to my face!
The completed project are a couple of hand knit hats, again they are made with love, but t
he fiber used was Cascade Lana Grande a bulky yarn - also a mix of wool and acrylic.
I can't wait to pass on the love!

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Reverb10 - "What (or whom) Did You Let Go of This Year? Why

Today is my first day participating in Reverb10. If you're not familiar, this is an annual challenge held during the month of December and you - the writer are given prompts each day to tell the story of the year and look forward to the new year. That's my interpretation and I think I'm on point.

So I'm five days behind and I would start on the day they pose the tough prompt. So herei it goes!

February 27, 2010
Have you ever woke up and gone through the day without a clue as to the devastation and pain that was quickly approaching? Well that is the only way I can describe the day I had to say goodbye to my mother, Chris Shockley. I've never felt so much pain.
The day started at my parent's house where I had spent the night with my Mom. She was having a difficult time at night, but I never thought the end was this close. Mommy was restless Friday night constantly going from bed to chair, from bed to chair. It was almost as if she didn't want to sleep, and now as I reflect I wonder did she know the end was close and she wasn't quite ready? I think maybe. I now know that she was telling me the time was near, but I continued to hold on to hope that she would continue to fight.
At one point during the night she would wake and ask me to hold her as she went back to sleep and then a few hours later she woke with a start and yelled "I'm leaving" and I quieted her and said I was there and everything was okay. Today I know that she was letting me know that her journey was coming to an end.
I left my parent's house the next morning with my Mom seated on the side of her bed. She said "I love you," and I told her the same and that I would talk with her later. When I got home I went to bed and slept for most of the day. That evening I was to attend an American Legion dance with my husband so I got up and got dressed to spend a night on the town.
Less than an hour after arriving at the Party Center I received a call from my sister saying Mommy's pulse was thready and weak and I needed to get to the house. I grabbed the keys from my husband and began the fifteen minute drive to my parent's house. We were in the midst of a snow storm and I traveled as fast as I could - praying all the way "Lord, let her hold on until I get there. Lord, please don't take her." The snow was coming down thick and heavy and the roads were becoming slick, but I made it.
I drove into the driveway and ran to the back door where I was greeted by my aunt, and I knew before she said anything that I was too late. The pain grabbed me deep within my stomach and a scream of "Noooooo!" could be heard throughout the house. I slumped to the floor and cried before going upstairs and laying with my mother and saying goodbye.
Cancer had once again knocked on the door of my family and taken a cherished member away. My world is emptier and I am regularly reaching to call her on the phone and recount something special, interesting or funny going on in my life.
A piece of my heart has gone, but I now have my own personal angel watching over me. Below is the tribute I wrote in honor of my Mom.

The Birdie on My Shoulder

From the beginning you fought for me

That fight would continue for many years in many forms.

Your strength was always present even when we were apart.

You assured me that whenever I had trouble all I had to do was look on my shoulder

On my shoulder a little bird sat watching – that Red Robin was you.

You watched over me as I spoke my first words, took my first steps and ventured out into the world.

As I ventured into the world you assured me that you would be there, “I’m the little bird on your shoulder” you said.

With every step I’ve taken since I’ve paused to think “What would my little birdie think?”

My birdie said “Reach for the sky, there are no limits if you work hard at it.”

When the ceiling seemed short and I couldn’t see my birdie. You said take your arms, wrap them around you and squeeze.

That ever present hug is what I’m holding on to, because my birdie still watches over me, but she has taken flight and is perched on the right side of God.

From that perch on high she will guide and protect me.

Picture the Holidays

The first assignment/challenge was Gratitude. Here is my shot on gratitude.

So you might wonder why am I grateful for myself? Well I am grateful for each day the Lord has given me, but I was also grateful for the opportunity Big Picture Online Classes and specifically Picture the Holidays has given me to reignite by love of photography and to capture this shot!

What A Busy Time of Year

Wow, it's been a very hectic couple of weeks around here lately! I'm feeling a little scatterbrained lately. I have so many things I'm trying to focus on, and it appears as though something is going to be missed or come up short.

So why so busy? Well I came across this great website Big Picture Classes Online and it has really rekindled my interest in photography, which of course led to many more sites and reading as well as admiring the work of many photographers from all over the world.

Then there is Jessica Sprague, who you can find here. She had a wonderful free class, Inspiration Everywhere and of course I had to sign up because I'm always looking for inspiration! Add to all of this the routine Christmas knitting and Holiday cards to make, and you have a woman with a whole lot going on.

So am I accomplishing anything? I think I am to some degree. In a recent conversation with one of my sisters she asked what was going on and my response was "oh just doing too much," and her response was "as usual". Sometimes I do have a tendency not to say "no" to others when they are in need of my assistance but this time around I'm doing things for me. Or at least that's what I'm telling myself, but I really believe this hyperactivity is a coping mechanism. I've also added the reverb10story challenge to my plate.

You see this is the first holiday season without my Mom, and I am trying to cope in the best way possible - stay busy. Now this doesn't mean that she doesn't creep into my mind and my activities, but boy are the days more bearable.

I'll be posting details of all of my new adventures. I hope you will join me on this journey!