Tuesday, May 31, 2005

First Major Purchase

Over the weekend, I purchased, on my own, my very first new furniture….

Well, unless you count my Ikea coffee table that was brand new 12 years ago or my computer desk that I got 4 years ago…

I don’t count those!!!!

After MUCH shopping around and style watching, etc, we settled on a sueded microfiber sofa and chaise from Ashley and two mission style tables. Here are some pics: (the tables aren’t exact…I couldn’t find pics of the one’s I purchased!)

Sofa

Chaise

Coffee Table

Side Table

Now, all I have to do is patiently wait the 10 days until it is delivered….

SIGH!!!!!

I'll post some new pics in my living room...if I can get them to turn out!!!!

Monday, May 30, 2005

Heartfelt Thanks

To all who have come before and all yet to come...for serving our country, whatever the call.

Boots

I'm just trying to be a father,
Raise a daughter and a son,
Be a lover to their mother,
Everything to everyone.
Up and at 'em bright and early,
I'm all business in my suit,
Yeah, I'm dressed for success from my head down to my boots,
I don't do it for money, there's still bills that I can't pay,
I don't do it for the glory, I just do it anyway,
Providing for our future's my responsibility,
Yeah I'm real good under pressure, being all that I can be,
And I can't call in sick on Mondays when the weekends been to strong,
I just work straight through the holidays,
And sometimes all night long.
You can bet that I stand ready when the wolf growls at the door,
Hey, I'm solid, hey I'm steady, hey I'm true down to the core,
And I will always do my duty, no matter what the price,
I've counted up the cost, I know the sacrafice,
Oh, and I don't want to die for you,
But if dyin's asked of me,
I'll bear that cross with an honor,
'Cause freedom don't come free.
I'm an american soldier, an american,
Beside my brothers and my sisters I will proudly take a stand,
When liberty's in jeopardy I will always do what's right,
I'm out here on the front lines, sleep in peace tonight.
I'm an American,
An American Soldier
(Artist: Toby Kieth)

Friday, May 27, 2005

“FUNK”y music

I’ve been in a funk…a SERIOUS funk…

But, perspective is everything and now that I have some, I’m encouraged about the circumstances that put me in a funk.

I found out THIS week (after the less-than-acceptable review) that there is a woman on my team who wants to come off the road. She has a higher title than me and is very valuable to our organization. So, she will be the new manager for the team that I have supervised for over a year and a half – me included.

I’ll admit, I was furious, especially since I was “sold” the situation kinda like used car that I was not really sure I wanted…I had buyer’s remorse.

BUT, I had a realization and a flash of clarity thanks mostly to my friend Sareta, who gave me sound Biblical counsel; and my friend Teri, who gave me fabulous sympathy and shook her head in disbelief a lot; and my friend Larry who gave me guidance to translate Sareta’s wisdom into sound action; and my friend and dear husband Scott, who had enormous difficulty finding anything wrong with the situation.

My conclusion: God is working here.

I had a serious breakthrough at the beginning of May. Part of that was the realization and admission that I place too much value on work and money and not enough on peace and relationships. I tend to assign value to my life solely on how many hours I work, how many things I miss because of work and how much money I make. Out of balance, wouldn’t you agree?

But after prayer and advice and working through the humanity of my reaction, I realized something. This change is going to remove an enormous burdon. I will be free…

And I will have more time to breathe…

And learn…

And work on having a baby…

And do creative things….

And to visit my family…

And spend time with friends…

And spend more time with the Lord and in worship…

God is preparing me for the next thing…He is calling me to get rid of my old ways and get busy with the next thing

Oh, I’m so excited!!!

So, in my funk, I found some music to comfort me, to fill me up and to help me release…

Here is my “FUNK”y music:

Rob Thomas

The quintecential sexy man of music…his music is so hot. It feels like “home” and something new all at the same time…don’t know what kind of creative lightening strikes this guy, but he just rocks.

I Am An Illusion and This is How a Heart Breaks are my faves on this one – just can’t help but dance all around to these songs. It doesn’t hurt that he can move and has those KILLER blue eyes either.

Antigone Rising

This is an all female band. That fact alone makes this worth a listen. But they are a GREAT all-female band which makes it a little like nirvanna for me. These ladies can WRITE like nothing I’ve ever seen and they qualty of their music is exceptional. Its interesting and different and full of real emotion. Something about female writers/composers…the music they create is almost tactile…you can feel it physically, touch it because its so solid. Writers/composers like this have an ability to point your attention to the subtleties, the underlying currents of life, and expose them with tenderness and truth. It’s the truth factor that is most appealing about this band. I’m all about the underproduced Americana sound – something based in folk music and spirituals and blue grass. These ladies have mastered that on-your-front-porch sound and you just know that its going to be phenomenal whether they are on a big stage or in your living room. Interestingly enough, they wrote a song with Rob Thomas that’s pretty good.

My faves are Go All the Way, Michael and She Lived Here.

Amos Lee (thanks to Cathy Z for this one)

No favorites on this one yet…I’m still processing, but I can’t get his smoky voice out of my head. I want to just sit and absorb him.

The Duhks

Another underproduced Americana-type band. The singer for this band has a delightully smoky voice that just does not quit. She’s absolutely gorgeous as well. This band puts a very unique spin on songs that you might recongize from other genres and has a way with folk songs, spirituals and blue grass that is unusual to say the least. Yet another band that you could imagine sitting around on your front porch, sipping iced tea and jammin’ into a summer night.

Faves on this one are Mists of Down Below and Death Came A Knockin’

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Flashdance

Ok...so today I took a vacation day for one and ONLY one reason....STAR WARS!!!!

We've had our tickets for a few weeks.

Scott went to stand in line at 6...I got coffee and went to stand in line around 7:45.

We met some nice people in line.

We got great seats.

It was awesome...and as a person who is a Star Wars fan by proxy - meaning I'm married to a REAL fan - it made SO MUCH about the story make sense. Now, i'm ready to see Episodes IV, V, and VI again. I think I'll enjoy them much more now that I know all that darn backstory!

And then, this afternoon I found FLASHDANCE!!!

6300214184.01.LZZZZZZZ

Did anyone besides me want to BE Jennifer Beals.

I've always lamented because I WANT to have the body of a dancer.

Alas, even when I was my thinnest, there was not a dancer's body in here.

Still, this movie came out when I was 13 and at the time, I was still hopeful for that dancers body!

DH made a comment today about my butt. The largeness of it, to be specific.

If you read the comments about being a fat child a few days ago, you might understand why this was upsetting to me. Somehow, I still have that in me....

Its driven me to be WAY to thin (drug induced, I might add) and so despondent that I've weighed 20 pounds more than I do now. Which, incidently is 30 pounds more than I should weight and 50 pounds more than I wish I could weigh.

I've got an entire slew of pictures that you would look at and say, "Who is that? That can't be YOU!"

So...Flashdance...I've been watching in awe and dreaming of that dancers body...I'm thinking I'm going to go find "Maniac" on the internet and dance around my living room to it. In my own living room, I'll always be Jennifer Beals!

But DH is home and frankly I don't have the energy to spend on the worry that he might come out and see my big butt dancing around.

So...I'm indulging in a Flashdance chair dance and a delightful memeory from 13 where there was still hope that I could have a dancers body, when it was still possible.

Cheers!!!

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Average...

Has anyone ever told you that you are average?

I have never been a person who was given an average rating in my life…sometimes its well above average, and some times it’s well below.

Now when it’s below, I’m generally well aware. I know if I’ve given something everything I had to give it or if I just plain suck at it.

But I’ve never worked my butt off, thought I excelled and gotten an “average” rating. In 35 years, this is the first time I felt like I gave my all to something but that my effort was perceived as average. Frankly, I’m a little stunned.

I work my booty off. I am on call every weekend. And I don’t have a company cell phone to be on call with…they call me at home or on my personal cell. I get up to work the 5 am shift so that no one else has to suffer through the torturous hours. Most people in our environment work a standard shift. I’m forever being called to meetings and expected to participate in resolutions that take me well beyond the 2 pm when I should be leaving the building. I affectionately refer to my schedule as the 5 to 5 shift. I manage a team of 5 people, but my boss tends to consider us his general “resource pool.” That means that when he wants to use one of my team members for a special project he can and does. His last “borrow” decimated the team, leaving two part time contractors and myself to handle the work load of five good people.

Recently, we were subject to an audit for Sarbanes-Oxley that was brutal. During the course of the implementing of process control, my personal work load nearly doubled. I became the team task administrator. The increase of the work load was significant enough that I had to be removed from another project – a project where I could have gained huge amounts of knowledge and been well on my way to obtaining a title I have wanted for some time. My boss told me point blank that there was no one else to do it – there were no other options.

So, to receive an average rating is sort of a slap to me. I don’t like it. I could not find anything wrong with the comments on the review. They were accurate. They were neither good nor bad…just accurate. And so my accurate comments earned me an average rating.

Oh, there were reasons for the average rating. There were three very specific reasons. Firstly, I’m not “politically tuned” to my environment. Second, I’m not as concerned with others’ perception of me as I should be. And lastly, probably the one that makes me the most despondent, I don’t have enough product knowledge. Hmmmm…I was pulled off a project where I could gain product knowledge to manage the day to day tasks of a team because there is no one else to do it. I neither requested the extra work-load nor asked to be pulled from a project due to that work load, but I’m being held responsible for not getting the product knowledge I need to go to the next level. Part of being a task-master for this audit means that I cannot play political games. The process is the process and no one is immune. And getting managers and VP’s to do what they have to is sometimes, often actually, a bit like getting a toddler to eat peas. Sometimes, even when it’s good for them, they throw it back in your face.

It all seems sort of vague to me and I’m not at all satisfied with these reasons I am supposedly average. I’m not sure of their real value in my big picture. I don’t want to walk around on egg-shells, editing everything that comes out of my mouth and dressing just right so that somebody else can get a good-but-probably-false-impression of what I think of their politics, their work, their interaction and their opinion of me. This doesn’t seem like work that I would find rewarding. And it sure FEELS as though I have been expected to execute some very unpleasant things that have been added to my job duties. And by accepting and executing them effectively and efficiently, my chances for going to the next level successfully have been sabotaged.

Frankly, I’m just baffled. And a bit offended. And exasperated.

And AVERAGE.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Right answers to my questions...

I read blogs by various artists…actors, designers, scrappers, graphic artists, poets, musicians…the list is significant.

I completely relate to the need to create, the need to be “real”, the need to achieve something significant artistically, the need to be in the process, the anxiety over what happens when I don’t create, what happens when I do, the desire to cook something up from the peanut butter and lime juice in my fridge, the desire to have work that rewards me artistically, the desire to get in and investigate, to open all the closed doors and go into every room.

But then I look at the art these people are creating and I think, “What the heck am I doing? I’m no artist! I’m a hack!” Perhaps it’s because the creative process is being re-birthed in me. Perhaps its because I’m still trying to loose the chains of perfectionism. Perhaps its because I am discovering a new person under my mask and I’m not quite sure what it is she has to say artistically. Maybe its because I’m JUDGING the outcome again rather than being part of the process and allowing myself freedom there.

I used to trust my own creative choices. I was sure once, of the color of my walls, the shape of my living room sofa, the time-period of the antique pieces I wanted in my home. I knew how to dress creatively and where to go to be inspired to write. Now, I’m sort of lost…can’t go back – there is nothing there. Can’t go sideways – there is already somebody in that lane. And going forward is scary – I don’t know what is there…and I struggle so much with not knowing what is there!

Looking at the work of others is very inspiring to me, but I’m beginning to wonder if I shouldn’t pull away, to isolate for awhile. It is most assuredly possible to fill the well with nature, with texture, with feeling, with seeking and not look, even one time, at the art of another. But how does one live without ever looking and analyzing the artistic quality of what is around them? Relevance gets called into question with this approach. Can I be relevant, can I create in and of myself without somebody on the outside to produce work that inspires me to work? How does a designer do it? How do they make something from nothing? Is the decay of much of the quality of artistic endeavor due to this very thing – that we are all looking at one another to find relevance rather than looking within and to God? And an even more important question: Am I pulling away because I’m too intimidated to just keep going and get to a place where my art is better?

Do I have what it takes to make something from nothing? And will that something be relevant? Do I have what it takes to learn from, rather than be intimidated by, these other artists I’ve been watching and listening to? Are these even the right questions?

The pondering is good…I know because the seeking of answers for these questions is what drives me in the first place. I know there are answers for each question…lots of answers….lots of RIGHT answers…but knowing which right answer is MY right answer. That is the true problem at hand. Does my art signify the right answer for me to my questions?

Of this, I am not certain...

Sunday, May 15, 2005

GREAT Cards!!!

Found this Breast Cancer card on Two Peas. I was so entertained by the humor and love in it that I had to put it out here.

It was scrap lifted from this card.

Enjoy!

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Beauty In Progress

I’ve been addressing, recognizing and trying to heal through forgiveness. I am continually surprised how much hurt has come along with me on my life-journey.

I had Anna Nahlick playing and her song “Paper Bag” came on. Can’t say as I ever listened very closely to this song before now. There are so many others of hers that I cannot get out of my head…but these words jumped out at me today.

I thought “Hello! Here is something I recognize.”

Yeah they talk about her
She smiles like shes so tough
She says
"hey can you talk a little louder,
I don't think my heart is broken enough"

But someday we'll all be old
And I'll be so damn beautiful

Meanwhile I hide my head
Here in this paper bag
Cause if I can't see you
Then you can't see me
And it'll be okay
Fly little bee away
To where theres no more rain
And I can be me


All things in their perfect time, right?

I was a fat and often clumsy child. (The clumsyness is NOT something I’ve outgrown!)

Children can be unmercifully cruel about such things.

This, of course, was exacerbated by my fear of failure. How can a fat child try new games, new exercises, learn to trust others and herself, when she is afraid that new things equal sure failure? Why would she try something new if she is so certain that she will not only look like a fool by messing it up, but a fat fool, even?

Some of you are good at this laughing-at-yourself thing. I have not been. I can say safely that I am getting better at it. Some of the things I do are so hilarious that I could do nothing but laugh. I’m a total dork.

BUT there are still things I won’t try in public, in front of anyone. Not to say that I don’t do the running man in my living room if no one is watching, but if somebody is watching…well…you know.

That whole “dance like no one is watching” thing…Some of you haven’t a clue how dancing like no one is watching is different, let alone better, than dancing like everyone is watching.

But I do.

But someday we'll all be old
And I'll be so damn beautiful


I am human. That means the perfection cannot be obtained. I will forever be imperfect in my humanity.

Its time to release that fat child and her fear. These things that are “wrong” with me are so RIGHT.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not beautiful No matter what, I am so damn beautiful.

I’m in progress…

I am beauty in progress.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Rain…

At 4:30 am, I watched the sky pour buckets of water on the earth from the safety of my wide front porch…

Rain is fascinating….the heavy smell of pregnant purple and blue clouds lumbering in for the show…the light touch of moist, cool air across my cheeks…the sound of thousands of tap-tap-tapping beads on the roof, the sidewalk, the street…ripples converging on ripples intersecting ripples overtaking ripples…electric skies change the normal colors of the world…blues are black, pinks are red, whites are overexposed…but only for a split second, not even enough to leave more than the slightest impression…and all of it underlined by a low growl that is felt to the core of every bone, that rumbles and rattles and groans…

Rain…how like humanity it can be…gentile or savage, nurturing or destructive, timid or overwhelming, too little or too much…it can rest like a blanket over the land, quieting, insulating, nurishing…or it can barrel through, digging its own path and taking even the most reluctant resident along for the ride…it provides a tiny shoot the power to grow to a mighty tree and, then again, has the power to tear that tree from the ground and toss it aside like a spent matchstick.

When I was a child, I liked the thunder storms and torrents of summer rain that arrived every summer at my grandparents’ Minnesota home. I could sit in the dark of the hallway and watch the lightening display itself from one room to the next, a laser light display. It rains so hard that flash floods fill the ditches with water in mere moments and writhe restlessly across fields. The rains are warm, and heavy, and smell like alfalfa and manure. They are followed by the music of creek frogs and cattle and birds…and every flat surface harbors earth worms, snails and other small slimy’s in search of refuge.

I was never afraid of those storms and have clung to their memory across two states, nearly 20 moves, through the end of one marriage and on into another…and today I sat in my quiet spot on the front porch and thought, “How small I am.”

I understand the rain. I’m all the same things that it is…including violent and destructive if required to gather more than I want to, hold in longer than I want to, move quickly on an unfriendly wind and push against a hard and unyielding landscape until I burst. I’m from the dust of the earth and, so, for my natural humanity to be like the rain is not so difficult to understand.

God made me with “weather.” I’m grateful that He also put the weather in the world for me to watch and learn and to understand.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Detoxify

This is my word for the day, week, month, year, lifetime….

Detoxify…

I heard a tape by Cynthia Swindoll where she says, “You are not irresponsible because you are sick. You are sick because you are irresponsible.”

Wow. I’m sick because I’m irresponsible. I don’t want to be sick. I don’t want to be irresponsible.

Detoxify…

What does this mean to my everyday life?

Take responsibility – take action. I’m bemoaning my state to God instead of doing what I know works, what I know is right.

Drink more water. Quit with the diet coke. Drink GOOD coffee once a day in moderation and not bad coffee all the time. Caffeine is stealing my sleep from me and the combination of caffeine and carbonation is stealing my bone mass. Why am I consuming something that is stealing from me?

Sit up straight – my posture has just been rotten. I spend too much time curled up in a little ball.

Turn off the TV – it’s poisonous and I allow it to steal my time.

Enrich my spiritual and intellectual selves – I need to read, to listen, to surround myself with challenging concepts and spiritual food…I need to feed myself on God’s wisdom and the wisdom of His chosen messengers.

No more junk food, fast food, processed food, sugar overloads, bread overloads, boxed cereal. Its poison. I don’t feel good when I eat this stuff…its temporary “up” time and does not provide me with any substantial and long-lasting energy. I cannot live my very full life on this junk! My body just won’t do it.

Exercise…This is really a no-brainer, but somewhere along the line, I started to avoid it. It’s a life necessity and its time to face the facts.

Take care of my body – while I’m at it I might as well face all of it. I need to take good care of my hair, my skin, my teeth, all the time, every time. I do these things, but I’m neither consistent nor thorough. I need to take better care of the body that God has given me…he will only give me one. I cannot have another if I continue to screw this one up.

Focus…I have none. My powers have diminished considerably. Partly due to the emotional strain I’ve been placing on myself, partially due to the physical strain I’ve placed on myself. I’m not filling myself up with good stuff, so all I have to give out is junk. I’m not surrounding myself with good stuff, so all I can see is junk. How can I focus when all I want to do is close my eyes and close my mind and close my soul to block out the all the junk?

Continue the concepts of Breaking Free. It’s amazing what 15 scheduled minutes of prayer, journal time and the courage to challenge and face the things that bind me has done. I’m only getting started. I can’t stop now.

Listen to music – I used to know all the up-and-comers. I used to go watch bands play. I used to hit the coffee houses and revel in the creative process, in the birth of other singers and musicians. I used to buy cool CD’s and get lost in them. I used to look up artists on the internet and listen to their snippets. I have stopped. WHY? Because Scott doesn’t like it. But he and I are two different people and its time I do what feeds my creative self! He can come along or not…and that is ok. I need to fill up the well inside of myself with the things that I know fuel my own growth and journey to maturity. I’ve run on an empty well too long.

Stop judging my own creative process. I want to actually challenge myself in many ways here. I have projects up the wazoo to finish. Its time to get myself out onto the page. I need to finish these projects…to touch those painful things that made me want to stop…to soothe those things in me and keep going. The process itself will be healing and I need just exercise the process. The results are just results, not good, nor bad. When I can just be in the process and not worry about the outcome, then I want to be published. THERE. I said it. I want to be published.

Find work that makes me happy. I don’t know what this means for me yet. I just know it needs to be done. Where I am or somewhere else. I cannot continue to be so unhappy and so burdened for hours and hours of the day.

My whole life is toxic and I’m ready for it not to be. It will be uncomfortable. I keep hearing in my heart, “I built a gulf so wide I saw my life go by on the other side.” I’m crossing the gulf, I’m bridging the gap, I’m going to make non-toxic choices, no matter how unpleasant they may seem.

Detoxify…

Monday, May 02, 2005

Blissfully Unplugged

This weekend was a blissfully unplugged weekend…unplugged from life, I mean.

I took a weekend “off” from the world and from obligation to other people and from the business with which I tend to surround myself.

I spent a couple of hours with coffee and my Bible on the front porch on Saturday. It was peaceful and quiet and so lovely. I wish I could start every day this way. However, I’d have to start at 1 am to accomplish that, so….either I get a new job or I just do my reading at night for the time being.

Laundry still got done, because, lets face it, I can do that in my pj’s and watch a movie while I’m at it and its just no big deal.

My scrap desk got cleaned off in my office. Again, this is not really work…its more like being on an archeological dig for lost supplies. And I discovered a long lost collection of Basic Grey Sublime that I purchased in San Jose and a bunch of other very neat stuff that I totally forgot I had. I was inspired to WORK on a few things!!!

I also got to touch all of the new things I got at Cracker Jack’s moving sale…I purchased over $100 worth of stuff and paid just under $40. I used the sale as an opportunity to get a Herme (something I’ve been desiring but had yet to buy…I kept coming up with excuses not to have it…now I wonder what I was thinking!) There was also that lovely collection of papers in the warm color family covered with words and letters and clock faces, etc. All very wordy papers by different manufacturers that I have loved together, but that I’ve put of buying because I had no conceivable project for them! But when they are 16 to 26 cents a sheet, why wait?

After I’d sorted and touched all of my new and old treasures, I decided I’m not buying any supplies in the month of May with the possible exception of adhesive. I don’t NEED a single thing! And if I desire something, it will just have to wait until June. For the month of May, I work with what I already own.

Took a long look at all the books I have in my house. I NEED a bookshelf. I don’t know WHY we haven’t purchased a new one. Both Scott’s and mine disintegrated during the last move. He has purchased a new one for his office. But, alas, all of my books have been relegated to stacks on end tables and the coffee table and beside my bed, etc. I want a darkly stained, Pottery Barn, mission style book case. Maybe two for the wall behind my sofa…so I can stack all these lovely books on something gorgeous.

And while I was marking the fact that I have all these beautiful books that need to be stacked someplace equally beautiful, I began to realize that I own TONS of tomes that I have not read. I’ve got THREE started and marked but never finished in my bedroom by the bed. SO….new goal…READ the books I have before purchasing any more. I’ve got this goal every year to read one book a month anyway. I’m severely behind this year. I’ve only completely finished TWO and its MAY!!!

I’m going to add two things to my template today sometime…number of books read and $ spent on scrap crap. I think I’ll even list the books, just so I have a list….It’s the least I can do to day accountable to myself…if I see it in print, it will be real to me.