Monday, March 22, 2010

simple joys

My four day weekend has just about concluded. Magically it feels longer than four days. That feeling is a true gift. I was completely surrounded by the richness of my life. This little photo collage is a glimpse of what I'm talking about.

1: Top left. This is a plate I found in a kitchen cabinet at my parent's home. I'm doing something with it that is beyond what I thought I would ever do: hanging it on a wall in my home. My sister was in town this weekend and we had a fabulous sister weekend. She came up so we could go to the Five for Fighting concert at the Fitzgerald. She loves F4F. This is the second time we've seen them perform. It's really one singer/songwriter that makes up the band - John Ondrasnik. I was sort of lukewarm about him two years ago, but he's so warm and inviting live that I like his music more and more. We enjoyed hearning him again. . .and celebrating Jodi's birthday a few days early. The plate is from another bit of the weekend: cleaning out a few kitchen cabinets for mom and dad. We laughed and laughed and laughed some more as we worked away Saturday morning. I'm all about weeding through things and asking mom to make a decision - keep or give to the rummage sale? Jodi, not so much. And mom, not so much. In the end mom said yes to two bags worth of things to let go of. We also organized the hutch + cabinet my dad built last year for the dining space. There are five shelves behind glass doors that needed some beauty. We decided all of mom's cut-glass stemware and serving pieces, fancy china and a few vases and knick-knacks needed some face time in the hutch. Jodi handed and guided from across the kitchen and I arranged. It looks so gorgeous! After 50+ years of these treasures living out of sight, they're now shining up the dining area. It just makes my heart sing seeing all of this beauty combined in my parents house, out in the open for them to enjoy. They deserve it. Jodi and I each took just a few things home with us. She took some steak plates our aunt (her godmother) gave mom and dad many years ago, and I took the plate above. I'm sure I've looked at it before and thought not much of it. On Saturday it took my breath away. The image reminds me of The Burren area in Ireland, and maybe a bit of northern California. Both places I've visited. Mom thinks it came from dad's mom, or his maternal grandmother. I bought a wall plate holder for it and now just need to decide where to hang it. I love it!

2: Top right. Taking some reflection photos this past week. This one is me reflected in a glass pane on a building door at Dodge Nature center. There's something about it that so speaks to me right now. I'm calling it seeing learning.

3: Bottom left. Another reflection picture. Last year I scanned a bunch of old photos from when I was little. I'm making a scrapbook with many of them, and framing some favorites as well. This is one I've framed. It's me, probably around age three or so. I'm "taking a picture" with a toy camera that squirted water from the lens. Probably a holiday, judging from what I'm wearing. The bird image is reflected from a shirt I'm wearing today. I love how memories are seen in layers.

4: Bottom right. The light and colors of this intentionally out-of-focus photo are so early spring to me. I also took this one at Dodge on Sunday, just as the sun was setting. When I look at it, memories of past springs just flood my mind. Place isn't important in this photo, it's all about the colors. The grey blue mixed with golden brown. So spring-is-here-more-and-more-each-day. A few minutes after taking this I heard rustling ahead and one by one, six deer crossed in front of me. Each looking at me with their expressive brown eyes. Living next to Dodge is probably in my top three things I love most about my home.

Moments and stories like these fill me up beyond measure. I am truly blessed.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

green with something other than envy

poem by Esme Evans
Did you know there's poetry on many St. Paul sidewalks? Check them out sometime now that spring is on its way - they are a fabulous nod to public art.

Today I've been thinking about envy. . . from the side of someone else's envy. My first development supervisor, who took a chance and hired me 12 years ago, just accepted a position back where we worked. She sent me a facebook message about this over the weekend, that she's excited and that it's all a bit surreal. I responded with congratulations. And today I received another message from her that ended with her saying she enjoys keeping up with me via facebook and that she's envious of my life.

Really? That was my first thought. My second was beige. Because that's how I've been seeing my life recently. Beige. The word even sounds like how I hear my life right now. Beige. As I'm typing this and trying to think of more descriptors or explanations, I realize I can't. Only beige will do.

Today I came to the realization that envy isn't any better when you're the object of someone else's envy. I've probably felt this in the past, but today I feel the need to write this realization in the public sphere.

I also remembered something one of our coworkers told me, not long after my 22 year old self arrived on the scene some 12 years ago. It was something like this. . . just remember that if you want someone else's life, you will get their entire life. That includes both the green and brown grass in their yard.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

sigh. . .

That's what I told myself to do tonight. Just sigh. I'm feeling both overwhelmed and underwhelmed by my life right now. One might think those two would cancel each other out and I'd feel neutral, but that's not the case with feelings. I could make a list of hows for each word, and perhaps that would be helpful. But for here, and because this came to mind quickly, I'll share this. I feel overwhelmed by all the creative ideas that are finding their way to me. Crafty items I'd like to make, others' creations I'd like to explore on-line and stories to write. I'm feeling underwhelmed by my career right now. I have a few interesting short-term projects I'm working on that have been a bright spot the past few weeks. Aside from that I've received more no's to visit requests and gift proposals than I care to think about, and I completely understand why people are hesitant and feel the need to say no, not now, or not ever. No is still tough to hear, over and over. I'm grateful to work with a supportive group and an understanding supervisor. . . and really, to work at the U altogether. It was a dream and I do love it there.

I can actually feel the warmth of the sun on my feet as I type. Days like today make me question why I'd like to live in Ireland, since this is close to typical weather for much of the year. My visit was deceiving in the weather department.

Looking back a few days, I had a spectacular Saturday. Over the past two years I've greatly reduced the amount of time I spend shopping for non-essential items. Spending lots of time on the weekends in stores, even if not buying anything, was a typical pattern for me. I think in early 2008 I made an intention for the year to reduce this habit. . .and lovely enough, I'm still practicing it. As a result I now spend more time enjoying my home and with friends and family on the weekends. And my consumption of items that bring me less joy has dropped dramatically. All this explanation to say I had a wonderful shopping day last Saturday. I'm convinced it's because I saw it as an adventure, rather than a routine. I found some decent deals and stuck to my list.

The highlight of the day was visiting Hunt & Gather in Minneapolis. Not a new place at all, but new to me. I've rediscovered my affection for vintage items. I was all about going to flea markets and "junking" after I graduated from college. I found some cool stuff - but again - I had just too much of it. Now I am almost ruthlessly selective with my gathering. I stick to items that have use beyond decoration, and one of something is generally enough. I'm also not drawn to the big state fairgrounds flea market setting anymore. Just too much. There are two antique stores in West St. Paul, across the street from each other that I swing through quarterly or so. And now Hunt & Gather. Ironically, what I loved most about Hunt & Gather is that the store is mostly organized with like items grouped near other. Perfect for comparing and making quicker decisions. Brilliant idea to me!

My focus for the rest of the week (maybe longer) is to find balance and peace in the overwhelming and underwhelming of life. I've been there before, and I'll be there again. Now is the time to explore some ways to be with the -whelming.