Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Chair


When I lived in Quito, I spent a lot of time in this chair. I was usually reading, writing, organizing or watching the BBC's 'Sea of Souls'. If I wasn't out with my friends, I was attacking paper with a vengeance rather uncomfortably in this spot. Saturday afternoons were spent listening to James Blunt while writing away. Afternoons, weekends, nights....

I can't even listen to those cds any more. I can't sit still long enough to capture thoughts in the way I used to. There are many a days I wish I could sit in a chair and try to get it all down on paper.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Hard Lessons

I very much dislike when people say "it's the little things" that matter most. I actually can't stand this concept because I believe IT'S EVERYTHING. Absolutely every little bit including the good, bad, big, small, important, trivial; Every little thing makes up your world and each and every detail matters. From the lunch you eat, the questions you ask or answer, the emails you send, the hugs you give or don't give, to the delete button you accidentally pushed on a file that contained every bit of your written life since you were in high school. The aggregate of events and actions, big or small, is your life. So don't say it's the "little things" because it's EVERYTHING.

If you don't believe me, ask a woman whose husband just died or a child whose parent is no longer on this earth. Big AND little moments matter.

I've learned some hard lessons in the last few weeks because I have not been paying attention. I accidentally deleted a folder with an excel workbook titled "medley of goodness", which included everything I've ever written as well as items from high school I was adding from notebooks I used to write in. It appears the file is unrecoverable. ($45 later) I'm still pondering what to do next. If only I could go back and undelete that action...However, that is not an available option. I was given the advice to save everything in multiple places. That isn't how I roll. So we'll see what is next or what I'll do about my 'medley of goodness' going forward. Important lesson: PAY ATTENTION TO EVERYTHING YOU ARE DOING.

I've also had the sad situation of losing long time family friends to another person. All I can say is daggers. Just plain old medieval English daggers. That is all I have to say about that. Important lesson: LET GO EVEN IF IT HURTS.

I've learned to mind myself with the car as I accidentally left it in power mode overnight and had to jump it. I spent a day learning about Volvo batteries and reading the owner's manual (Yes, I read manuals). Did you know they put batteries in the cargo space in the trunk??? Weird! If only the recycling containers had not stolen my attention... Important lesson: FOCUS ON ONE THING AT A TIME. DON'T BE EASILY DISTRACTED. AND OF COURSE: PAY ATTENTION. Multi-tasking is not your friend. Don't be deceived.

Another hard lesson I learned is what it feels like to be number two. I was warned about this previously but hadn't really thought about it, as the cautioning was a long time ago. Then the thought dawned on me while standing in the kitchen eating a double tomato basil pizza veggie burger. I now have a new understanding of 'best friend'. Important lesson: ACCEPT THINGS FOR WHAT THEY ARE AND FOR WHAT THEY ARE NOT.

I'd write more but I have to go try to buy a mini book from Elise. I missed out last time because I couldn't decide on a book and they were gone before I could get one. Some situations require that you DON'T HESITATE - another lesson.

Now go pay attention to EVERYTHING before the rest of the day is lost.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

SPARKLER ART

Here is some sparkler art from the 4th of July. All photos courtesy of Peter.





I heart sparklers :)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Air Mail

There is a letter coming my way now any day. The purple marker squiggles across the ten double sided pages will be familiar. I know the girl who wrote those words and have a faint recollection of the thoughtfully written advice she administered across those bright white pages a year ago. I often wonder what that girl would say if she knew what I've done (and not done) this year. Will she be disappointed? Happy? Glad? Worried? Anxious? Encouraging? Loving? Is she going to kick my ass for being grumpy, lazy, and sad for the first part of my return? I can hear her now faintly whispering in the back of my mind. As each day gets closer and closer to her words arriving in my mail box, I get more and more anxious. I have a feeling she's going to be mad at me. I have a feeling she's going to make me cry. But I also know she's going to forgive me and offer some much needed inspiration. After all, it's her expectations with which I've had difficulty dealing.

Her twelve months of patiently sitting on a shelf are coming to a close.

I also wonder about the messenger as it quite possibly could be hand delivered by a kindred soul I no doubt would want to hug.

Regardless of the delivery method of my air mail, I know it's coming. I can hear it.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Times are a Changing

MSN.com featured a great article today about how Americans are changing the way they shop. The article highlighted changes in fundamental American life that will lead to some interesting trends in the future. Very englightening. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Umeployed - Want to Get Away???

So you're unemployed and need something to do until you find a job?? I stumbled upon an article and slide show at Travel + Leisure. I wish I had found it when I had three months of free time.... Very interesting ideas.

The Story Of Stuff

Courtesy of my friends at Two Girls Go Green, I found one of the most enlightening yet disturbing presentations I've ever seen. Do yourself a favor and get an education by watching The Story of Stuff right now.


Photo from agreenSpan.org
(It wouldn't hurt you to read that story either.)

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Year of Reading Dangerously - March

This month's pick for my challenge:


Review - "The Spy Who Came In From The Cold"

The prospect of reading this book excited me tremendously. I couldn't wait to dive into a story about which everyone raved. I picked it for my February Reading Dangerously Challenge. Unfortunately, the novel left me disappointed. I found the plot with its twists and interwoven characters to be confusing at times. All of this was sorted out by the end but I found myself saying, "that is all???" The characters were not as intriguing as I had hoped, the action was typical of this genre and the end was anticlimactic. Le Carré's famous work was rather predictable for me, which is probably why I didn't enjoy it as much as others did. I'd say it was a more mediocre read if this type of fiction piques your interest. Unfortunately, I was unimpressed and have very little to write about this mediocre book.

There was one quotation I really liked from the story:

"Everywhere that air of conspiracy which generates among people who have been up since dawn- of superiority almost, from the common experience of having seen the night disappear and the morning come. The staff had that look which is informed by the mystery of dawn and animated by the cold and they treated the passengers and their luggage with the remoteness of men returned from the front: ordinary mortals had nothing for them that morning."

Thursday, February 26, 2009

10 Things From Your Mom/Dad/parent's Kitchen

I was reading The Kitchn today when I came across a very endearing post about a mom's kitchen. The author took pictures of her 10 favorite things in her mother's kitchen and then wrote a little note saying why she loved them. Of course her reminiscing prompted me to consider what items I love in my parent's kitchen, however, I could only think of two items I love: my mom's cookie cutters and her Betty Crocker recipe book. Honorable mention might go to the ancient bean pot without a lid. This might prompt me to think differently about their kitchen the next time I shuffle through the cupboards.

Do you know what ten things you love about your parent's kitchen??

If I was a frivolous girl...

I don't really like wearing bracelets despite the collection I have in my bathroom. I think they look weird on my wrist because I have tiny hands. They are like cabbage patch hands, which means I rarely wear bracelets or giant rings- they looks funny and almost cartoonish. My small hand anatomy kind of makes me sad because I love fun bracelets especially charm bracelets, and crazy vibrant cocktail rings. I'd love a fun charm bracelet but I would never wear it so I don't have one nor could I justify the purchase. This being said, my interest was piqued today as I was perusing my litany of items on Google Reader and came across a wonderfully pretty thing:



from Tiffany.

I have two necklaces with similar charms but I had no idea how many charms they actually had nor did I know you could wear them on your necklaces. Now, if I was a frivolous girl, I'd considering buying a great deal of them to amass a giant collection of lovely charms. Especially the seasonal ones. However, the good accountant/economist in me knows better and takes delight in her orange savings account instead. But aren't they pretty?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Changing of the Guard


Unfortunately, this post is going to have a melancholy tone and it's my 600th post. Sorry friends.

Today I went to the local Secretary of State here in my new Midwestern municipality to get a driver's license because the insurance lady yelled at me. Well, not really but she was stern in her voice mail. I knew I had to do it, and have been reluctantly dragging my feet because, well I really didn't want to part with my little plastic piece of New England. I discovered today exactly how much I identify myself with my home state just as she punched a big ol' hole in my old driver's license and handed me my new temporary one. I've never had another state's piece of plastic. The entire transaction saddened me. They even made me put my middle name on it. I really, really violently dislike my middle name. I look forward to getting rid of it someday, but in the meantime, the lady insisted it had to be on there. Sigh....

I've always been a staunch, stoic New Englander who is rather passionate and patriotic about her roots. I realize that idea is kind of an oxymoron but it's the truth. Ironically, I might not be here if I wasn't proud to be an east coast girl. The majority of my character is a result of where I grew up, and I hold that place near and dear to my heart. It's who I am. However, I would be lying if I said I thought I would end up there. I did not believe it would always be my residence. I guess I just wasn't prepared to give up the official square declaring it so.

I also realized geographic and plastic have very little to do with identity. I'll always be a New Englander because it's in my heart. Besides, I could never call Coca Cola "pop". Sorry folks, it's soda where I come from. Yet, that all being said. I look forward to getting to know the new locale, as I firmly believe every place has its charms. I anticipate slowly being charmed by my new residence even if I'm a little sad for a bit.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Get Down On It, Mad Money Style

A couple of weeks ago, Peter bought me a new toy to make the work day more exciting:
It is shiny and purple and I love it. I have to say though, it kind of makes me feel like Katie Holmes' character, Jackie Truman, from the movie "Mad Money". She's the girl "armed with an iPod" who walks around dancing and singing ("Put your hands up!") to herself while she works... or speaking obscure foreign languages in my case.



(This isn't really the best picture of her dancing away her doldrums but it is the best I could find. It wouldn't hurt to see the movie, then you could get the full affect. The story is quite entertaining.)

The office is far more exciting now even though I have to shut my door on occasion to practice my moves so I'm a cool as she is.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Very cool Idea

Today, I stumbled upon a blog that creatively left a message for an unborn child. 1001 Rules For My Unborn Son is an inspiring way to communicate with a child. The idea, pictures, and lessons are noteworthy. I love stuff like this. I think you will like it, too.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Money Tips from MSN.com

Today, I stumbled upon this article through msn.com. I thought it was very interesting and therefore, am sharing it here. Also, last week I opened an INGdirect orange savings account. It was super easy and awesome. I highly recommend getting one. It's as easy as signing up at INGdirect.com.


"7 Smart Ways to Buy Happiness

Money may be tight, but that doesn't mean you have to stop spending altogether. Rather, use these tips to get the most joy for your cash.
By MP Dunleavey

After the supercharged spending spree so many Americans have been on these past few years, using your money to buy a happier, more satisfying way of life turns out to be the wisest move you could make.

Here's why: Countless studies have shown that most humans fail to realize what makes them happy. Typically, we spend on short-term glitz instead of long-term satisfaction. And that often leads to misery -- not to mention loads of debt.

Right now, we all need to make a giant U-turn. When money's tight, it's vital to spend in a way that yields the biggest payoff, emotionally as well as financially. Buying more stuff just won't do it.

What follows are seven ways you can use your wallet to turn around your life and your finances. (That's a big promise, but I wouldn't say it if I hadn't experienced it myself.)

1. Relationships

Friends, Romans, countrymen, kids and spousal units: Studies indicate we're happiest when we feel connected to others. People with strong relationships tend to be happier and healthier, and live longer on average, according to psychologist Martin Seligman and many other researchers.

Buy a Porsche or go fishing?

How can you invest more in these bonds of family and friendship? Splurge on a plane ticket to see your best friend. Get your buddies together and buy season tickets to your favorite team -- or the opera. Treat a friend to dinner.

After all, what would really make your month -- another pair of shoes from Piperlime or spending time with someone you love?

2. Time

Would you trade some of the money you make to have more time? A survey by Fortune magazine indicated most people would. Time is one asset that always seems to be in short supply; a free hour or two (or an unexpected day off) can feel like a windfall.

To buy yourself some time:

* As part of a raise or promotion, ask for additional time off.

* Explore flex-time options. A surprising number of companies support flexible work programs.

* Consider paying others to do the chores you loathe because they eat up your time, from hiring a teen to do yardwork to paying a pro to do your taxes, paint the kitchen or organize the garage.

For a little bit of money, you can regain a chunk of your life.

3. Health

Some good health can be chalked up to genetics, but a lot of the rest is lifestyle. And buying good health is a lot like investing in the stock market: Steady investments at regular intervals are the best way to see big gains.

A few suggestions: Pay a bit more to join the gym that's closer to where you work, so you'll actually use it. Shell out for biweekly acupuncture visits. Buy the pricier healthful meal instead the Happy Meal. And take your vitamins.

4. Learning

Humans are born to grow. Research by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced "CHIK-sent-mee-high"), who created the concept of "flow" -- the state of wholly contented absorption in a task -- suggests we are often happiest when engaged in activities that challenge us and hold our focus.

You've been there: when you played in that garage band, when you went scuba diving on vacation, when you determinedly embarked on "War and Peace" and then couldn't put it down. Put your money there.

Buy the damn compact disc set so you can brush up on your Mandarin. Join the local archaeology club and do local digs. Try rock climbing. Or put away your air guitar and restart that garage band. You don't need to spend much to notice the uptick in sheer joie de vivre.

5. Debt relief

Owing money downgrades your quality of life, creating so much stress that it may even make you sick or depressed, according to some studies.

Keeping your money emotions in check

Stop viewing your credit card bills as bad news; instead, treat them like updates on an underperforming asset class. By doubling or tripling your monthly payments, cutting back spending and doing everything in your power to bring your debts down to zero, you won't just be paying a bill -- you'll be increasing your own net worth.

Need a hand? MSN Money is packed with get-out-of-debt brilliance.

6. Giveaways

A surprise benefit of giving to others, or to a cause you believe in, is how good it makes you feel.

Studies show that altruism not only tickles the feel-good centers in the brain, but it also creates a sense of social bonding and mutual support that enhances your personal well-being.

You don't have to give millions to get that payoff. The most important thing isn't whether you spend money or volunteer time or contribute goods, but that whatever you share -- and however you share it -- means a lot to you.

Read to kids after school; bring canned food to a shelter; contact Kiva and help a South African woman build her business. There are countless ways to give. Just pick one that makes you happy.

7. Security

In an economic crisis like this one, it's tempting to stop putting money aside for the long term, but taking the reins of your future will make you feel more in control now and will beef up that cushion you might need someday.

Investing in . . . investing

A first step is to sign up for your company retirement plan (many Americans don't) or open an individual retirement account. At some companies, such as Fidelity, you can open an account with very little money as long as you set up automatic contributions.

Retirement is a huge topic, you can read more here at MSN Money. Making small, steady investments now can create double happiness: peace of mind now and greater wealth down the road.

Here's the real magic: When you start putting more money toward life (and less toward stuff), that shift quickly turns your financial picture from upside down to right side up. You spend less, but get more -- and in feeling more satisfied, reduce your desire to spend.

The net effect is more money saved, less debt and a sense of financial control and well-being -- oh, and more happiness. Now that's what I call getting your money's worth."

Review - "Gilead" by Marilynne Robinson

I picked this book as my January Reading Dangerously challenge and was kind of dreading reading it because of the religious aspect presented in the story. Overcoming my dread was easy, I picked up the book and started reading and was immediately glad I did. Marilynne Robinson's words were incredible. I have no idea how she managed to genuinely depict the tone and voice of a 76 year old man but she did so very convincingly. I look forward to checking out her other novels after finishing this one.

Reverend John Ames is writing a journal to his seven year old son. His aim is to leave his son something that can be reflected and looked back upon to remember and to guide after he is gone. While Reverend Ames tried very hard to be a source of wisdom and insight, he could not help but use the journal to reflect upon his life as it comes to a close. He used his words to deal with family, loss, life, religion, questions -all the unfinished cobwebs lost in the depths of his mind. The manner in which the main character delves into each issue is astoundingly and tenderly authentic. I was moved by his sincerity and his deep desire to understand and to be honest and good. His task was not an easy one, I imagine. I loved how he was a minister and true to his faith but constantly was human and fallible. His struggle to be mortal while following the path of God was commendable. Robinson manages to keep the character humble and meaningful in light of his spirituality.

The Reverend wants his son to have imagines, explanations, and bits of him. I enjoyed every minute of his thought process as he pondered how to express himself to his child. The story was well crafted and thought provoking. I also felt this piece of work ended peacefully. As the reader, I was left wondering if his son or wife would read the journal and how it would influence their memory of him once he perished. Very thought provoking and interesting and a nice deviation from the my normal reading.

Another point that stuck with me involves the setting of the novel in the late 1800s and early to mid-1900s. The simplicity of the Reverend's life is enviable. His problems and contemplations are real but the sheer ease of his daily life where the only distraction is his thoughts is amazing to me. I often long for that kind of life where the distractions are limited and the senses are heightened. A place where one cannot escape imagination, contemplation or nature. For example, Reverend Ames describes how much pride his mother took in how white her laundry was because the women were jugged by their laundry lines. A mark of the times, yes, but still it shows how priorities and pride were hard work and effort not the latest gadget or gizmo. I found the interactions remarkable and uncomplicated. His descriptions of the times still linger in my mind.

Quotations I enjoyed:

"And Old Boughton, if he could stand up out of his chair, out of his decrepitude and crankiness and sorrow and limitation, would abandon all those handsome children of his, mild and confident as they are, and follow after that one son whom he has never known, whom he has favored as one does a wound, and he would protect him as a father cannot, and defend him with a strength he does not have, sustain him with a bounty beyond any resource he could ever dream of having. If Boughton could be himself, he would utterly pardon every transgression, past, present, and to come, whether or not it was a transgression in fact or his to pardon. He would be that extravagant. That is a thing I would love to see." Reverend Ames


"There is no justice in love, no proportion in it, and there need not be, because in any specific instance it is only a glimpse or parable of an embracing, incomprehensible reality. It makes not sense at all because it is the eternal breaking in on the temporal. so how could it subordinate itself to cause or consequence? It is worth living long enough to outlast whatever sense of grievance you may acquire. Another reason why you must be careful of your health." Reverend Ames

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Year of Reading Dangerously - January

I think I am going to participate in the Reading Dangerously Challenge. Instead of writing a list of 12 books for the year, I am going to determine my choices monthly. I have a tentative list, but it is more than 12 books, so I want to see how I'm feeling when it is time to choose. For the month of January, I am going to read Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson. I'll post a review as soon as I'm finished.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Thoughts

Today, I wish 'we' could sit at the table with a mug of something, play cards, and talk about everything and anything.

I think mostly I don't know what to do with this insecure and fearful girl these last six months.

Hence the lack of words across this blog. They are here, I just get scared to write them because sometimes they sound very lame to me. Maybe I'll get out the crayolas....