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Blog Tag : The A to Z of Me

Jane Barry of That Curious Love Of Green tagged me to continue the game of blog tag and post the A to Z of Me, an alphabetical roundup about myself. So here goes. It’s a wordy one but I think it’ll be a great way for you to get to know me if you don’t already. Watercolor Butterflies from Shalavee.com

Art – I grew up surrounded by art. My sister was an art major, my Mom was a dabbler in the arts, and all of our family friends were artists as I grew up. Seems I was one too but didn’t know it. I have no formal training for the practice or study of art. However I have proclaimed this to be the year I finally accept my self-definition of artist. I know you already knew but I had to find my way to it on my own. I’ve decided art is the only physical proof of emotion and the perfect way to express your heart.blogging means selfies in toilets on Shalavee.com

Blogging – Quite honestly, I had no idea what a blog was when I started one. Typical me diving head first before finding out how cold and deep the water is. But it turns out that after suffering through the technical and emotional growing pains of blogging, I think it’s one of the best things that has happened to me. It has allowed me to become a better writer, make new friends, discuss ideas, take pictures, and be hired to do a blogging workshop. And decide to be me. All are opportunities I never foresaw and am overwhelmingly grateful for.Beet Salad on Shalavee.com

Cuisine – My Dad is a gourmand, which is to say he values eating, drinking, and entertaining. And I was a kid who tried anything once. I developed a zeal for quality food and found myself in the restaurant business for a good twenty years of my life. I’m always cooking and mostly from scratch. I’m the Mom who makes homemade pancakes even on school days and my kid has no idea not all mothers do that. My ideal vacation would be eating and drinking my way through the South of France and Italy. You get the picture.painted dresser on Shalavee.com

Design –  I’m not up on the current design trends but I love and appreciate good design when I see it. I especially like it when interior design takes into account the living needs of the inhabitant as well as aesthetics and comes up with a super-duper out of the box solution. I aspire to my house being well designed and peaceful and effortless before I die. And until I can have pretty ads here on the blog, there will just be none.Eamon July 4th 2014 on Shalavee.com

Eamon – My first-born, whom I had when I was 38 years old, is named Eamon (pronounced Ay-mun). Yes I had to give him a screwy Irish name too since I have one. He is a delightful funny creative young man who gets along with everyone. Except maybe his parents because he has just turned 10 and that’s the age of obstinance. Fiona in the tub on Shalavee.com

Fiona – She is my two-year old and my miracle baby. She got the leftover girl’s name, also an Irish one. I had her when I was 46 years old. I didn’t know the odds, I just knew another child was high on the list of life’s necessary items. But OMG, this is a challenge. She’s a girl and a toddler and I’m constantly being emotionally terrorized. Ooosh is the sound of the wind being knocked out of me. She’s also really smart, funny, and photogenic. And a redhead with hazel eyes.Mother's Day Flowers on Shalavee.com

Garden – When we moved here from the big city, one of my criteria was a house with dirt I could dig in. I ended up with a lot of dirt, dare I say too much dirt. And the story and the progress has ebbed and flowed with our gardens as our learning curve has caught up with us and is now laughing at us.Homemade on Shalavee.com

Homemade – I am such a huge fan of homemade probably because I love unique. Creativity and hard work and thoughtfulness go into handmade items and homemade food and I’m filled with pride and support for anyone endeavoring to make, no matter how bad or good the results.

Intelligence – There’s both the learning kind of intelligence and the emotional kind of intelligence. The first comes from books and schooling and I admire that but emotionally intelligent people get to me more. Because the work that you need to do to get there requires self-evaluation and honesty and living the pain that graduates you from it. I admire that process of becoming emotionally intelligent immensely.Chair pile up selfie in May '15 on Shalavee.com

Joy – Laughter is my fuel. I am always finding the joy in the everyday and laugh constantly. Children are good for helping you find random joy and life is a daily source for happiness if you are willing to push aside your fears to find it.Fear steals joy by clouding your brain with anxiety, anger, and indecision.

Keep On Keepin’ On – Perseverance is one of my big modes. One of my first posts was on this subject. What the heck else are you gonna do anyway? You just pick it up and keep going. And if you are smart, you ask others to witness your journey with you. laughter daughter from Shalavee.com

Laughter – If there’s a day when you don’t find me laughing, worry about me. I have a signature big belly loud laugh. Just like my Momma, you can find me at a State Fair by following my laugh.

Mark, Marriage, and Music – This is the second marriage for both me and my husband Mark. He is the father of my children. We had parallel childhoods in row houses in Baltimore and were both middle children with low self-esteem and bad first marriages without children. We met through very close friends and that was that. We make each other laugh and will celebrate our 14 year anniversary this year. Mark and Fiona out for Sushi on Shalavee.com

Music is also a great love of mine. I am a fan of Alternative but I don’t have as much time to catch up on new music as I would like to because when I find new music I adore, it’s like making a new best friend. And when I work out, I love listening to Funk. I’m kinda diverse that way.

Nest – My home is my nest and I love to work on it, play with the styling, redesign the rooms, and can not see how I’ll ever consider it done. My nest keeps us cozy and it also allows me my playtime. And an incredible sense of accomplishment when I do a great job.1 May Sick of My Story post

Originality – As I said, I have a “thing” about being unique. I’m an artist and I praise and prioritize the different. I think it’s the best darn thing if I’ve never seen it before. I’ve got a constant case of out of the box-itis. And I like it that way.Jedo Fiona on Shalavee.com

Problem Solving – Like many, I like a challenge. I conceive of a design or an event and then I want to not only see it happen, I want to see how I figure out the solutions to the problems I may meet.I truly feel that there is an answer to any and all dissonance. It’s just a matter of thinking it through and sticking it out.

Quest – My life is a perpetual quest of knowledge and self-definition. I want to understand why and how and what. Self-awareness and self-actualization are good excuses to be on a quest and I really don’t care for an ending. Just a new Aha every day.working hard on Shalavee.com

Reading – One of the biggest and most fulfilling activities I sacrificed to having a toddler who sucks up my brain and time, is reading. I read blogs and posts and blips and blurbs but I miss the in-depth reading and friendship and escape novels provide. Summertime may find me making amends for that.

Stories – Seems that we all are storytellers. Our stories are the narratives to our visions of ourselves. They are also how we tell other people who we are and what is important to us. And I’m coming to find that we also capable of being our best editors when the stories we tell no longer fit where we want to be. And we can make stuff up too because it’s our story to tell after all.My Family on Shalavee.com

Travel – Only when my future husband and I went to England and Ireland 16 years ago, was I really able to understand the wonder and adventure of travel. I am a true homebody but for 2 weeks, I saw how vast and how beautiful the world is. And the excitement of that realization, the thrill of newness, and the kindness of people, that is what makes me want to continue to travel to meet new places, eat new food, take more pictures, and experience the world again and again. It makes the coming home that much sweeter.

Universal Truths / Uncomfortable – My quest involves searching for my “Ahas”, universal truths that we bump into each day but may be too busy to name or claim. I watch for those because these are the keys to changing our choices. I crave the discomfort that comes from the acceptance that how I’ve chosen to see it or do it may be able to be upgraded. The uncomfortable realization will eventually lead to better choices that are leading to longer bouts of happiness and ease. They make me a more interesting person as well. selfie Shalagh Hogan on Shalavee.com

Value – Up until now, I’ve not ever thought about my value. I value art and effort and beauty everywhere else and by everybody else. But I truly did not perceive that what I do or make or offer had value. Now, I’m working really hard on changing that .Writing on Shalavee.com

Writing – Writing was the very thing that I knew I wanted to do from way way back. The very thing that was so very important to me that when I thought about not doing it, it hurt. And it was the activity that I never allowed myself to truly pursue because it was a secret wish that I was afraid I’d spoil and ruin if I actually made it a reality. But then it became more painful to not write than to write and I began writing pieces and publishing them online on a writing site. And then I met someone who blogged and she suggested I blog. And then I thought about backing out of that I said, “Heck, if you want to be a writer than here’s your excuse/reason to practice. And I am a better writer for this blog where I publish a new piece every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.Up in the air on Shalavee.com

EXercise – I have always liked being active just because I knew it was good for me. I like that once I’m done I don’t have to think about my laziness the rest of the day. That making exercise a priority means I’m prioritizing my health and well-being. My sleep and disposition are so much better when I exercise so it just seems the positives outweigh the negatives. Plus I get to have free childcare at the YMCA and I get to have music in my ears for 45 minutes straight. Heaven.A to Z on Shalavee.com

Yes – This is a powerful word. It embodies all that is good in the world and all things going well. Saying yes out loud will open possibility pockets in your brain that weren’t there before. Try it.

Zero – From zero to hero, that’s my journey. I want to zero out all the negatives that have run amuck in my psyche for all these years. I want to zero in on the good thoughts and habits and understandings that will rise me above the fear and the pain I lived a lifetime’s worth. And I have zero tolerance for the stuff that keeps us stuck. Zero patience for the I can’t s. Zeroing in publicly doesn’t bother me if I know that my process will benefit and inspire anyone else to pay respect to their journey too. I urge everyone to share their journey and allow for the joy of being in process with others like me.

And If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your emailbox. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter or Pinterest too. I am always practicing Intentional Intouchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.

My Backyard Friends

Once upon a time, Stay at home moms communed over their backyard fences while hanging laundry out to dry. Their social needs to bond and chat were met because their days required them to be outside with their neighbors doing the very same chores. When the “automatic” washer and dryer arrived to make life easier, laundry became an inside task. And being inside meant a new era of isolation for the very people who needed community support.

Mt Vernon in Baltimore on Shalavee.com

Where once women were connected and substantiated over our fences in the sunlight with sheets dancing in the wind and children shrieking at our heels, now there’s a disconnect to our backyards and to ourselves.  Garden and card playing clubs and porch sitting gave way to soap operas and TV sitcom addictions. We’ve fallen out of touch with our natural need to bond with people in our community, the ones we are always a part of whether we know it or not. We’ve forgotten how to request support. We suspect it might be good for us to have community “if we could just find the time”. We are unaware that the smile from someone and human touch can heal us from so much pain and fear.

At the Walter's Art Gallery on Shalavee.com

Long disassociated from our fellow women folk, we surprised ourselves by embracing the internet and, stripped of all our pretenses, we delved into the online world of social media bearing our sorrows and struggles as we posted soulful paragraphs and square photographs. Suddenly a generation of turtle women is coming out of their shells. And we are connecting again with our global community albeit a sometimes faceless one as the rare selfie is all we have to go on to know what our new friends look like. What is truly amazing is that we already know each other even though we’ve never spoken.

My new Friend on Shalavee.com

I was buoyed this month when I came out of the box and met with fellow Mother and creative Leah, a contemporary who I have much in common with and met through Instagram. I needed to hear her voice as she gave words to the same struggles I’m experiencing and suddenly, those struggles were smaller. We are more empowered to create plans of action together when we hear the same worries and realities behind others’ stories and we can say, “I’ve been there. This is what I did”. We allow ourselves to move on then.

A tthe Walters Art Gallery on Shalavee.com

A the Walters Art Gallery on Shalavee.com

A tthe Walters Art Gallery on Shalavee.com

My new friend and I met for the first time at the Walters Art Gallery in downtown Baltimore, the city where we both spent our teen and young adult years. And what a delight to talk creativity and artistic direction. We talked about motherhood, childhood, stumbling and rising again.

I have a new friend and renewed hope that where I’m headed, and the lovely women I am headed there with, are all my destiny.

Garden in Baltimore on Shalavee.com

 I like the view of my life’s possibilities standing out in my backyard, standing out in the world, standing with people I met through our new playground telling and listening to one another’s stories.

And If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your emailbox. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter or Pinterest too. I am always practicing Intentional Intouchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.

Good Enough

My life is brimming. Where there’s good family time, there’s also getting on my nerves time. Where there’s wonderful resources to read, there’s no designated time to read them. It’s a yin and yang of good stuff and bad stuff doused with expectations that leap and land in my head from who knows where and leave me saying, what sort of life is this? Am I doing it right? It feels like too much. And it is. Because I haven’t adjusted my expectations to meet up with my “best” work. I have yet to understand fully what “good enough” means.

I’m doing my best every day. I am the best mother I’m capable of being at any given moment under that moment’s circumstances. And lacking any more arms or a private paid army of task-doers, I’m doing a pretty darn good job. The dirty nails are clipped every so often. The bellies are filled and they whine with that spoiled tone that says their needs are met. Yet I can continue to feel like I’m not enough. Me thinks my standards of enough need to be lowered.

Motherhood is a Sisyphean task.

You finish sewing one seam shut, and another rips open.

I have come to believe that this life I’m wearing will

never really fit.”

Jodi Picoult, House Rules —

 

I’d like to be creative more often than I am these days. I think fondly of my craftroom as I’m grocery shopping or folding that next load of laundry. I aspire to so many wonderful soul building tasks as I do those mysterious housewife tasks I do so well. Our lives look calm because of my hard work. And I literally have no brain or energy left to get that leg up on myself that I yearn for. My aspirations are just above my head always making me feel like this much of a loser. Housework is Sisyphean indeed as my friend Sabrina suggests.

My therapist asked permission to bust me and I gave it to her. She said she observed that I was always looking for the negatives. I agree with her as I seem to collect them up and savor them like some sort of sad sack rosary ritual. I have defined myself for so long by what I don’t have and by what goes wrong that I don’t think I have a realistic understanding of what enough or my best truly is. But I need to hurry up and lower the bar if I ever want to hope to feel like maybe I’m on my game and where I need to be now.

That constant feeling like I’m not enough, not doing enough, can’t reach the standard or the bar that is set, is a joy stealer. Seems so sad to feel like I’m not doing my best when I work so very hard every day. So let’s adjust this scene shall we? Let’s lower the standard and make it easier to connect with joy every day somehow.

Simone de Beauvoir on cleaning:

Few tasks are more like the torture of Sisyphus than housework, with its endless repetition: the clean becomes soiled, the soiled is made clean, over and over, day after day.”

For me maybe it’s finding room in the budget to sub out my household work. Hire a cleaning lady regularly to get to the dusting I’ll never get to. Or maybe it’s being more Sandra Dee and buying prepackaged dinner for the ease of it all. Or doing one more day of childcare. Or just making Wednesdays my mandatory reading night. shift_happens_poster-rd503f831363f471786b0a74816875271_wad_8byvr_324

Any and all of these would help tremendously so why don’t I allow for all of them? Because I’m so used to having it be hard, it’s unthinkable to make it easy. If I keep holding the expectations above my head and those standards too high, I guarantee that I will always feel sucky. Shift is happening.

I spoke with a wheelchair bound woman about gardening recently. She can not get out to weed her garden and lose herself there like she’s used to. And when I bemoaned the fact that so many plants had been murdered off by the late spring cold snaps two years in a row, she looked at me and said,”You just pick up and start over again. You replant and begin again because there’s no other choice”. Wisdom of experience trumps whiny head voices.

Danaides

The Danaides

So I am going to be very conscious of the standards of living I set that may be a little to haughty to keep myself risen to. Do my best, let go of the rest. Shoot those expectations right out of that pie in the sky. And begin again with the new belief that I’m doing my best at any given time. It’s my expectations of what my best should look like that need to go a little substandard in order to not go insane and live a feeling of happy fulfillment for the rest of my days until again I am forced to adjust my perceptions and my choices and begin anew in my spiritual and emotional garden.

And If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your emailbox. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter or Pinterest too. I am always practicing Intentional Intouchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.

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