Category Archives: refresh
Yesterday, I stumbled into a poem
New to me that I love. Love.
Hours pass and I then discover that April is the month.
How fitting, I thought.
This will be the first time I celebrate national poetry month.
With in my heart and on the page
so many words
The poem I read:
THE FIRST TIME
by Mindy Nettifee
The first time your heart was torn from your chest,
You thought you were dying.
You knew you could not live with the empty space.
So you replaced your heart with metaphors
And set out to create a world where the metaphor was unbreakable.
Now look what you’ve done—
You can’t breathe so you write.
You can’t hurt so you drink rum and pour our pirate chanties.
You can’t want revenge so you leave.
When I see you I have two thoughts:
You are the reason The Smith’s wrote songs,
And my god, you are beautiful.
You are so beautiful
Blinking stars go blind.
But I can see this is going to get ugly.
The metaphors don’t make you feel whole anymore.
You sell out your deepest insecurities for a handful of laughs.
This life has you wound so tight you make grandfather clocks look relaxed.
You hold your body like banks hold money—all locked up.
Your shoulders are glass rocks waiting for the next attack.
But you’ve got it all wrong.
You don’t survive history.
History survives you.
There is no breakthrough without breakdown.
If you’re going to break, shatter.
No limp-legged dog excuses.
No messing with this bullet proof vest fury
So popular with the cops and the presidents.
You’ve got to break like Texas.
You’ve got to take the pain from the safety valve of your heart
And return it to your fists.
Fight your better judgment ‘till you’re sinister again,
‘till your body remembers what it already knows how to do—
and manifest grief.
Scream torches ‘till you embarrass the enlightened.
Please. No more polite conversations with your death wish.
Give it something useful to do.
Change your life.
Cause I can’t stand to see you like this.
So blue, my eyes turn green in your presence.
Listen—you are so beautiful,
Grass pushes through sidewalk cracks just to kiss your feet.
Maybe no one ever told you,
But the heart IS a metaphor.
Yours is growing so strong
You’ll have your rhythm back any day now—
Loving like rumours spread.
Dreaming like lunatic spacemen jump from their suits.
Living like you never forgot how.
30 ways to celebrate national poetry month
Sometimes, when I probably should be sleeping, incredible things are discovered.
I was distracting myself from my own mind and from sleep when I saw this girl on The Voice. She sang “One of Us” and I loved it. So, naturally, I took to YouTube to hear more.
And that would be when I found this.
My experience listening to this was:
0:00-0:07 Love this song. Loved what I heard of her voice before. Excited…please be awesome…
0:08-2:00 Wow. Is it really possible that someone else could sing this so beautifully?
2:00-3:30 Stunning. So legit.
3:31-4:08 Holy wha…?! Goosebumps.
4:08 There it is
5:30 No..please don’t end.
Sarah Simmons, people. I imagine we may hear more from her.
Deciding to put more food in jars started simply as an effort to organize my shelf space, but has resulted in several positive benefits.
I was feeling frustrated by the stuff hiding in the back, the amount of plastic and the overall cluttered feeling. Around the time I did my closet cleanse, I also sorted through my storage bins in the garage (yes, I was in full declutter mode) and found a couple jars that had belonged to my grandma. I had always loved the jars and thought, “I should be using these”. And thus began my shelf full of jars.
I started (and my roomies helped) saving used jars and filling them with items formerly stored in plastic bags and containers in a rather jumbled fashion. Soon enough, most of one shelf was full of jars and the other shelf easily holds other items, such as boxed granola bars, oils, pasta and canned goods.
So, what am I storing in the jars? Right now, I have 18 of them and they hold pancake mix, brown rice, quinoa, wheat berries, oats, black beans, cashews, peanuts, slivered almonds, sliced almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chocolate chips, chocolate covered ginger, raisins, dried cranberries, dried mangoes and goji berries.
For me, here have been several benefits to having food in jars:
It feels more simple and clean. And that was my original intent, after all. Being able to simply shuffle some jars around and clearly see what is in them all feels like a breath of fresh air compared to my old shelf. It also enhances my effort to cut down on plastics.
Reuse makes me happy.
There is something about being able to reuse that just feels good. I smile when I see my grandmas jars and wonder where they originally came from. 🙂 Also, did you know that glass takes a loooooonnnggg time (I’m talking a million years here) to break down? Being able to reuse or recycle it helps the environment!
I am eating more healthy.
You can see from the list of things being stored in the jars that they are mostly healthy grains, nuts, seeds and dried fruits. (non-processed foods) When I open my cupboard and see these things, I brainstorm meal ideas with them in mind. When I feel like snacking, I often end up reaching for nuts and fruits. I have been making efforts to eat more clean and this has only helped. And…
I am saving money.
Most of what I buy for the jars comes from the bulk container/pay by the pound section of the store and I have absolutely concluded that it is cheaper to buy this way.
The other thing I love about my jars is the variety. For me, there is something about having organization with a twist of randomness that puts my creative self at ease. I look at my shelf of jars and take a deep breath because it is easy to see everything and retrieve anything. And then I smile because the jars are different shapes and sizes and the lids are different colors.
Having a shelf of food in jars might not be for everyone, but for me it has been fabulous and I highly recommend it!
“In a way it feels foolish and selfish to be dissatisfied with my life because I have so much…for which the gratefulness overwhelms. But in the midst of the wealth of my life, I find that I am craving more. More connection. More love. More sincerity. More art. More nakedness. More life. More growth. In a way, I am actually desiring less. My cravings have a simplicity to them. I want to breathe. I want to exist in a new place…a place where I am stripped down. Where I shed manufactured adornment and my heart becomes exposed enough to wake up. My whole heart.”
I wrote those words six months ago. It was my birthday. And now it is today. This is me:
I don’t really know how to map the journey in words from that day I reflected in the mountains to this day. And if I did share every divine detail, I am not certain that anyone would even believe me. It has been a beautiful and chaotic whirlwind full of awakenings, serendipitous moments, dreams, real connection, harsh realities and vulnerability.
So anyway, about this portrait.
The words are drawn from the things I wrote on my birthday retreat and from what I wrote down during Holiday Council when asked, “How do I want to feel? What am I craving?” Then, a couple weeks ago, I sat down with some markers and wrote them all down.
Vulnerable is in the center because that word has become like a fire in my heart, dangerous yet able to ignite every other craving. Why I wrote down that I wanted to feel vulnerable is beyond me. I didn’t even grasp the fullness of what that meant and I didn’t remember writing it. But vulnerability decided to come knocking at the door of my heart whether I remembered inviting it or not. And I let it in. Ever since, I have been either wrestling with or embracing it.
I decided to collage these words with an image of myself and immediately knew I wanted the photo to be simple and stripped down.
No hair styles.
And I decided to only take three pictures. I didn’t need this to turn into some crazy photo shoot.
The exposure and contrast of the photos was created more by me with the camera than in editing because I wanted it that way.
I also wanted the expression to be simple and without too much of any one specific emotion.
After looking at the three shots, I almost took more because I was slightly uncomfortable with them.
But that was perfect because sharing these imperfect photos and these words and this collage and everything about it makes me feel vulnerable.
And that is what I want.
To be exposed enough to find my real heart.
To breathe in my own skin.
To be awake and authentic and alive.
Sincerely and wholeheartedly.
To draw from the opening pages of Daring Greatly by Brene Brown (read the book, watch the TED talks), which seemed to providentially find its way into my hands in January (which, by the way, I just today discovered that the book came out on my birthday last year and almost had a cow), I want to be in the arena of my own life. I want to move forward with courage and passion and whether I win or lose wont matter as much as the reality that I fought with my whole heart.
I have to admit that I am right now fighting the urge to completely rewrite this entire post. I feel like I’m saying too much or too little or not saying it eloquently enough or with enough humor. And that is why it needs to stay exactly as it is…
If I wait until I am “perfect” to share myself and my heart, I will wait forever. This is who I am and where I am right now. And it is beautiful.
Suma from Nepal
Ruksana from India
Azmera from Ethiopia
Sokha from Cambodia
Wadley from Haiti
Yasmin from Egypt
Senna from Peru
Mariama from Sierra Leone
Amina from Afghanistan.
I watched the trailer at least 25 times. And then, I went to see the film so that I could hear and see more of their stories.
The statistics and lives shared on the screen were both troubling and inspiring. These girls faced (and still do in some cases) everything from slavery, loss and abandonment to rape, abuse and arranged marriages, but the spirit that rises from these depths illuminates a hope for positive change. And education fosters that spirit. Though their lives and stories are diverse, they are bound together by the injustices they face and by the reality that educating these girls is changing and will continue to change their lives, their communities and the world.
I could say so much more about the film and the way different writers with connections to the countries took on different stories. Or how beautiful the cinematography was. Or drop the names of the well known who came on board to narrate. I think, though, that my most important response is to ask myself how I can help fight ignorance and fuel positive change. Yes, the film was disturbing and inspiring. Now what? What can I do?
Well, for starters, I can share my thoughts and encourage others to see this film or support this cause. So here I am. To find out more about 10×10 or Girl Rising, how to get involved or where to see the film, visit their websites. Also, check out a preview of the film below:
Another step I have taken is to give financially to this cause, which helps girls education initiatives throughout the world.
In addition to financial support, I was challenged by others and within myself to find ways to support this cause on a local level. Within my own day to day world, I have the opportunity to educate and because of this movement, I will be more proactive about pursuing that. I have also discovered a couple local programs that align with empowering girls and women through education and am getting involved with at least one of them (more details on this as it develops).
I want to share two other organizations that I have been a part of in some way already that align well with supporting girls education and happen to help two of the countries focused on in the film, Peruvian Hearts and The Anyway Foundation.
My passion lies in creating positive change in this world on an individual, local and global level. For me, it anchors in the arts and I want to use my creative voice to fuel this change and give others the opportunity to do the same. This film has inspired me to continue to pursue my passion.
There is a quote from the film that I want to end with here, but I cannot track it down or remember it in detail, but I will find it soon and it will be here. 🙂
photo from the 10×10 media resources page
March 1, 2013 through March 2, 2013, I joined a group of people in unplugging for 24 hours. My computer and cell phone were OFF. Instead of texting, tweeting and zoning out in front of a screen, I worked on a creative project and connected with what has been going on in my world and with those around me!
I didn’t think this full day of being unplugged would be that challenging for me and in a lot of ways it wasn’t. However, it did open my eyes to the amount of time and focus that gets sucked up in my world by things like my phone and computer. I began to realize that once I am in front of a screen, I tend to lose clarity. The other thing was that I basically had no idea what time it was all day long. Like many, I use my cell phone as my clock and I wanted to reach for it dozens of times to find the time. I didn’t really have a schedule on my unplugged day, so I finally chose to just let the time go and focus on what was in front of me. That was insanely refreshing and freeing.
So, on a day of being unplugged, I found clarity, connected, created and felt refreshed even though I had no idea what time it was. The day was good and all the things that happened in the day were good and as a result, I am choosing to unplug once a week. Yep. One full day each week to find some focus without the help of the technology we are in relationships with today. A friend of mine asked me if I really thought this was a good idea. The alarm in their voice only affirmed the way I already felt…YES, I think this is a fabulous idea.
How fabulous are these?!?
I knew I had to make these the first time I saw the idea. Valentines dinner gave me the perfect excuse, though they would obviously be lovely any day. 🙂
This was super simple and a lot of fun. It did take a tiny bit of a time commitment to cut the fruit and assemble, but it was worth it.
Fruit. Be creative! (I used watermelon, kiwi, cantaloupe, pineapple, strawberries and blueberries)
Heart Shaped Cookie Cutter
Kabob Sticks (or whatever they are called…they have them at most grocery stores)
I bought halves of the pineapple and melons and cut slices of desired thickness to cut the hearts. The kiwi and strawberries were easy to quickly slice and heart up. One thing I would say is to make sure the hearts are thick enough so that they stay intact on the stick. I made mine about half an inch thick.
I then put one of each fruit on each stick with blueberries in between. A lot of fun could be had with less fruit or more fruit or fun color arrangements!
I thought about making a yogurt dip with a little bit of cinnamon for these, but just kinda forgot to…
I went for the breakfast for dinner thing with these and served with eggs, bacon and heart-shaped pancakes, of course!
This beautiful idea was inspired by mint in the middle
Coming into this new year, I spent several weeks defining goals, dreams and cravings and mapping out a road to success in achieving them (much thanks to my wonderful friend and founder of Stratejoy and her program, The Holiday Council…check it out!) There is sooooo much awesomeness I could share about all of this, but one of the most important moments of clarity I gained from the experience was this:
I need to be LOVING MYSELF.
This might seem an obvious thing to do as a human, but somewhere along my journey, I completely missed that turn. Now don’t misinterpret my feelings. I don’t dislike myself. In fact, I am a positive person with what I consider a fairly strong self-awareness and sincerity and I take pride in my strengths and accomplishments. However, I have struggled to truly focus on myself in a way that nurtures my soul and instead focus on others with unbalanced abundance or walk straight into selfishness in an unhealthy way and then wonder why I still feel unfulfilled and even guilty. My heart has been awakened to the reality that there is a distinction between selfishness and self-love and that I should be pursuing healthy self-love.
And so, I made loving myself one of my main goals for this year. Figuring out how to do this took some time and brainstorming and is still developing, but one tool that I have created is what I call my self-love box.
I started by making a list of ways that I could love myself. Then, I cut out a bunch of little hearts and wrote the items from my list on them.
Some of the things from my list?
buy yourself a special treat
reach out to an encouraging person
get dressed up
take a nap
do something that inspires you
dream, plan and go on a personal retreat
stop. breathe deep.
write yourself a love note
get a massage
be grateful. make a list of things you are thankful for.
Next, I found an inexpensive heart shaped box at a craft store and plastered it with some meaningful and inspiring pictures. The little self-love list hearts went inside and I am challenging myself to use the box several times a month.
Creating this simple little box and using it has been a rewarding and wonderful experience thus far and I recommend doing something like this to absolutely anyone. Whether you create a box or a list or not, though, please remember to LOVE YOURSELF! You are worth it!
Early last week (after an interesting handful of days), I typed the word ‘vulnerable’ into the search tool at a local bookstore. Five minutes later, I had Daring Greatly by Brene Brown in my hands. Fifteen minutes later, I was spilling chai all over the book. (I was already sold, but that sealed it) Two hours later, I was watching her TED talk…
Ok, so one month is long enough for my “yes, please winter wonder” (see previous post) retreat. I spent much of this time writing, walking/skiing/hiking in the crisp air, focusing on defining my priorities, cravings and action steps for this year (thanks Holiday Council), writing, experiencing a lot of serendipitous moments, going on a mostly spontaneous New Years day venture where I came face to face with myself and my demons, listening to my heart and writing. Did I mention that my journal was open a lot? One important and wonderful thing that I discovered during this time is that this blog is aligned perfectly with what is important to me right now. I crave moxie. And three of my top priorities for the year are health, creativity and balance. And so I am back in blogland and ready to pursue my passion and to do more, share more and grow more here.
About a week ago, I was staring at an emotionally filled journal page when this song popped up on pandora. I was dumbfounded. Many of the words that fill this song were the same as the exact words filling my page. It feels like this song was made just for me at this very moment of my life. It will be hard to convince me otherwise as I get it together, heal my heart and learn to fly…
originally found on pinterest (the pin wont link anywhere, so that’s all I can reference…)
I love clothes and all the accessories that go with, but I have a small closet (think coat closet here). Its a problem. When I first tried to fit all my stuff in my current closet, I would catch myself daydreaming of the walk-in I had in my Chicago studio apartment (it was almost the biggest room!) Back in reality, I scored one of the hall closets all to myself and use it for my dresses, skirts, sweaters and heels, which helps a lot. I employed perfect sized drawers, crates and baskets to help me fit everything else in the closet in my room, but over time I noticed only about half my clothes were in the closet at any given time. I had clothes in the bedroom closet, in the hall closet, all over my floor, in bins and baskets, in the laundry and in the garage. Finally, one day, while trying not to drown in a sea of scarves, I threw out a lifeline to myself…”I have too many clothes! Time to take control.”
And so I began the process of really owning what I own. I feel that being in the right frame of mind to do this is really important. I was ready to simplify my wardrobe. A few months before, I may not have been able to part with things or organize as well.
I started by making three different bins, one for stuff I wanted to keep for sure, one for things I could give up and the very important third bin that I could figure out later. I made myself get rid of at least one of everything…one coat, one sweater, one dress, one t-shirt, etc. ,etc. After going through everything, I bagged up the ‘give’ clothes right away. Then, I focused on the ‘not sure’ collection. I laid everything out and picked out one favorite to go back into ‘keep’. Feeling good. Next, I looked through the pile for things that I would wear if it was ‘improved’. For example, there was a pair of jeans I love but never wear because of a missing button and a light blue puffy vest that I want to wear, but don’t because of the color. A new button and some dye will hopefully fix those problems, so they get set aside in a new pile. From there, I picked my least favorite thing and throw it in the ‘give’ bag. The rest goes through individual decisions and quite a bit goes back to ‘keep’ so that I don’t stress myself out. Then I repeat the process with all my accessories (hats, tights, shoes, scarves, etc…).
As I looked at the size of the bag of stuff that I would no longer have to fit in my closet, I felt energized and relieved and rode that clothing cleanse high straight into organization.
I put everything from the ‘keep’ bin in piles…shirts, pants, socks, bags, workout clothing, etc. Then I pulled out all my baskets, crates, hangers and bins and got to work. I love using baskets and small fabric bins for hats, socks and tights and purses. For scarves and belts, I love a multitude of hooks that hang over doors and stay out of the way of everything else. My favorite thing is a fabric bin with a lid, which I store things in, but also use as a chair, a computer stand or to reach the baskets up top in the closet. I was so excited when everything I had kept fit in my closet(s) with a tiny bit of room to breathe. Sigh of relief.
3. DEAL WITH THE FIXERS
Once all my keepers were happily put away, I still had a ‘give’ bag and a ‘fix’ pile to deal with. I looked through the fixers and made a list of things I might need to fix them. I actually got rid of one more thing in doing this. Then I put them all in a box and made a deadline. If I don’t deal with these by the end of the year, I never will and we will then say our goodbyes.
4. GIVE, SELL AND DONATE
One of the best parts of this whole process was finally giving the clothes away. If something I dont need anymore will make somebody else happy, I’m happy. The first thing I did was let some friends go through my pile of stuff. Then I looked through one more time to see if there was anything I might be able to sell and actually picked out a few things. There are lots of ways to sell, such as garage sales or ebay and for me this time around it was a consignment store. I took in seven items, they took four and gave me $19. Deal. That money went to a savings for something special. Finally, I took what was left and donated it. There are lots of options here as well and I like doing a little research because I like to give to a womens shelter or local project if possible. This time around, I was able to donate to a rummage sale to benefit a local outdoor school that one of the kids I watch attends.
5. A FEW EXTRA IDEAS
Don’t forget to do the laundry! This process will be easiest if everything is clean and available to sort.
Do some detailed sorting. I found that I had more trouble getting rid of any skirts and dresses, so I went a little more intense in the sorting. I laid everything out and arranged by color and/or category. There was a gray skirt I had been contemplating that was then easier to get rid of because I saw that I had two other gray skirts. It also became more easy to see that I didn’t need five floral spaghetti strap summer dresses!
Prepare for the next round. I had seen a great idea on pinterest for hanging clothes and decided to use it. Basically, you hang up all your hangers backwards and then after something is worn, they get turned around. After a year or so, you can see easily if anything wasn’t used. And if you dont wear something over the course of a year, do you really need it!?
Try stuff on. For me, trying things on helped to make the keep or give decision. If something was far too tight, it went away. On the other hand, I found some things that were far cuter than I remembered and made sure they were easy for me to find in the future. Also, I know it is easy to think that something will fit once you lose those 10 pounds, but be careful about hanging on to things that aren’t being used. I kept a few of my favorite ‘tight’ things as a fun reward, but tossed the rest. If you lose enough weight to fit into things you can’t come close to fitting now, I say you deserve a shopping trip for new stuff! 🙂
Make a shopping list. Once I had a fuller grasp of what was in my closet, I made a list of a few things that might help my wardrobe out. For me, this included a colorful cardigan, a versatile black skirt and a neutral lacy top among a couple other things. That way, when I’m shopping I can buy what I need and can build more outfits with instead of dropping money on something I already have!
It took time and made a mess for a little while, but it was worth the clean closet (and mind) in the end and I wish you the happiest of sorting, organizing and giving!
Something awesome is happening on my photo blog, daily perspective, right now. I just posted my 1000th photo a week ago! To celebrate, I am giving away free prints of photos from the blog and you get to choose which one you want!! Find out more on the blog and tell me your favorite before the holiday ends!!! 🙂
I was given this handy change-saver for Christmas last year and I have to say its one of the best investments I’ve ever (not actually) made! (gift) It provides such an easy and fun way to save all that spare change floating around. I wasn’t sure how long it would take to fill or how much money that would be, but I am excited to say that it now holds over $150! I am looking forward to cashing it in for something special soon and highly recommend CJ as a way to organize and save.
Here are a few quick tips for ways to collect more change:
Designate a place for your change. It doesn’t have to be a fancy counting jar like CJ. Any old jar or bowl or bucket will do.
Create a goal and/or reward. If you know that you are saving your pennies for a night out, a massage or a $100 shopping trip, you are simply more likely to save the coins.
Use Cash. Obviously, the more you use cash instead of cards, the more change there will be. It is also a great way to budget and limit overspending.
Round it Up. Loose change manages to find its way everywhere, from pockets and purses to washing machines, car consoles and counter tops. If you see it, touch it or hear it, gather it up and put it in its designated place. The occasional floor cleaning cushion turning change hunt can be a fun activity as well.
Happy change saving!
p.s. If you are interested in this specific product, find it here on Amazon. There are lots of other counting change jar options out there as well.