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Let the Gratitude Begin

A new friend of mine wrote a post on her blog here recently in which she was slightly irritated with the sudden gratitude explosion that happens online right before Thanksgiving. She said, shouldn’t people be practicing gratitude all year round? I say yes but it’s all good. Any gratitude is good.

Me personally, I feel my fits and spurts of gratitude come and go. There are emotional seasons of joy and gratitude, and there are seasons of fear and disgruntlement. They can not exist at the same time together and each would be nothing without the other. All gratitude all the time isn’t really possible.

As I unpacked my groceries and ferreted away my Christmas gifts today, I meditated on what I was grateful for. I was thankful that I had a house to live in, food to eat, and a husband who can work to earn money to buy this food. I was thankful that I was gifted two lovely healthy smart children to feed. If they weren’t so picky, I’d be even more grateful.

gratitude on Shalavee.com

I live in a country where I feel mostly certain that I can sleep safely without fear of someone breaking in, murdering, or doing worse to my beloved family in front of me. I’m a citizen of a country where, as a woman, I still get a chance to vote for the people who will run it and I make choices about my body. And I am a fully capable person who can walk down the street, seeing and thinking unhindered by injury or a military presence.

All of this brought me to the realization that the drama and the angst I often put myself through is so self-indulgent and pointless. I’m the one self-administering the blocks and the fear. I have a choice everyday to be bolder, truer, nicer, smarter, and kinder. And losing sight of that choice is the greatest injustice I can do to my freedom and myself. In choosing gratitude, I can also chose to let go and start again. And that realization is my biggest gratitude today.

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.

You Get What You Give

This past year,when I’m creatively stuck, and need to feel the gratitude of the gift of the greater than me world, I’ve gone to the craft room and made cards to give away. I started this movement last Fall. This year, people’s gift exchanges put me in the gifting mode. I’d ask people to give me their addresses and I’d then send something hand-made, maybe a few trinkets or stickers or candy or decorations I have around.

A delivery of thoughtfulness puts your brain out into the larger world to appreciate. This practice is so healing to me because it’s being selfless and it seems to be the best excuse for me to create. And lastly, not that I really counted on this, but it’s turning the love around which is being delivered back to me. Friendship is the most precious gift ever and I am a lucky wealthy woman this month and this year.

A really sweet card from a friendship I gained through last years faraway friends card send out surprised me with one with such an affirming message inside about why we get along . That about made my month Homemeade card from Shannon on Shalavee.com

Then there was a hand-made card made especially for me back from a new friend from Instagram.

Package from Christel on Shalavee.com

And a package of goodies from Germany from yet another new friend, including her artwork cards, who had given me such a gift some time ago just by telling me my voice of my creative journey inspired her. Christel really was the first person who’d put their finger on my continued “why” in blogging. Because being me gives me hope. And hope and friendship and kindness are really what matter to me. I sent her this array of goodies and almost thought it got lost in the mail.Chris's presie on Shalavee.com

And this was the fabulous post I was then rewarded with.

“YEAH, your sweet package arrived today @shalaghhogan! Thank you so much for your kind words on your beautifully handmade butterfly card. I loved all the nice details while unwrapping all your lovely gifts: a handmade garland, candies, and a toy car and those glittering robots (Nico loves them!)… You made our day! So good to have (understanding) IG-Friends For those who do not know: @shalaghhogan read about this idea to send a surprise letter/package to 5 friends just to spread joy and maybe to receive joy again.”

I now have a friend named Chris who lives in Munich. How lucky ? And she has a friend who lives in Maryland. How lucky are we ?

At first, as I watched all the love between everyone back and forth on Instagram, I felt left out. And then I realized that we often have to invite ourselves to the party we want to join. And then, when I began to feel a part of it because I had joined in the gratitudinal giving, I enjoyed watching the posts and the hopeful notes and thankfulness that the giving was giving back. Weird how that works but it just does.

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 orPinterest 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.

Weeding My Garden

This weekend was a glump of happy life happenings. It was a Mother’s Day weekend of wonderful gifts. My cooking hiatus started Thursday so carry out food it was for three nights in a row. Usually this would bother me. Not this weekend.

Caitlin and Fiona on Shalavee.comOur surrogate daughter Caitlin visited Friday and she and everyone else but me and Fiona went to see a local high school production. Instead, Fiona and I watched Follow That Bird, the Big Bird movie from the 80’s. Sweet. And then came Saturday, the day I’d been patiently awaiting. My gardening relief crew showed up as planned. The Uber Weeder on Shalavee.com

My garden story is a story of overwhelm and give up. But it was also a story I hated telling. So I asked for help from two women who I knew would bring it on strong. The uber-weeder and the disciplinarian/transplanter. I am so cheered and encouraged by their presence in my life and my garden. Hope has returned. And these are the thoughts that bubbled up for me on life and gardening. Ajuga takes over on Shalavee.com

Everyone’s got a life garden they are tending. The original garden plan is created in the family you grow up with but sometimes the major focal plants are just not what you want or need in your garden in your adult life. One person’s rose is another’s thorny weed. And so it’s up to you to decide which dreams and efforts are worth keeping and making the effort for and which need to be summarily yanked from that bed and tossed ceremoniously over the precipice. The Boobis Garden

Sometimes in my garden I’ll continue to coddle plants that needed the boot long ago. I’m a laissez faire gardener. Sometimes I make so much effort only to have half the garden get nuked by two freakish years of spring frost. Sometimes, we don’t want to make the effort unless we know it’s the perfect height and color plant in the perfect micro-climate in the perfect soil and light. Perfection is also a garden killer. And a life thwarter. Nothing grows if it’s not planted.New plants to kill on Shalavee.comBut most of the time you are taking a gamble on every single choice you make in the garden and your life. Once you expect the unexpected, you can start to hedge your bets. You’ll make good friends with people who have gardens and who have the sort life they can advise you on creating. You get medieval on the weeds and the negative influences in your life. And you keep your eye on the prize, your hands in the dirt, and you keep on digging, goaling, and doing. Awaiting my garden help on Shalavee.com

My garden is nothing like I’d like it to be. And yet, I am beginning to see my garden and my life not as a product but as a process. A learning process. Not as a destination but an adventure. My perception of how things are going is the only control that I have. The quality of my garden is both mine to make and to choose to then see. So I begin again. Enjoying the small moments, seeking some bigger ones to take root. And not trying to overachieve while I still have a wee Fiona ensconced in my soul and my time. All in good time.

(The story of my lovely mother’s day weekend will be another upcoming post. Talk atcha then.)

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.

Self Discoveries

My emergence from October’s rough seas was Venus-like with a clearer vision of lovely me. Full of gratitude and clarity, November was my month to “get it”. Do you remember the scene from City Slickers where the old cowboy Curly (Jack Palance) is telling Billy Crystal’s character that all he needs to do is find that one thing ? He then dies and we’re all left to wonder, what was it.

I found a chunk of “it” inside me that makes sense of me in the ‘outside of my brain’ world. It is Creativity with a capital ‘C’.  I need to create daily I declared. And so far, it’s been working out pretty well.

antique tray shoot from Shalavee.com

November was also the month I chose Abundance and Opportunity for my two new focus words. And when you focus on something, as I understand it, it manifests in your life because it has to. And then you have days like this. So the lessons I was learning about myself pertain to these words because that is where I wanted to show up and learn about myself.

First, with a quick intro to enneagrams,  I learned that I’m the kind of person to create and build up wonderful stuff full of potential. And then walk away from it just when it was getting ready to be the very thing that needed to happen to move me on. Because I get distracted or don’t value what I’ve made? I dunno. My life feels like it’s never taken off in the right direction. Just a bunch of stalls. But now I have begun to see all the parts that lay around me that could all be considered both abundance and opportunity. I’ve been overwhelmed by my abundance and didn’t value what I had. “It’s not getting what you want,” sings Sheryl Crow, “It’s wanting what you’ve got.”

beef stew on Shalavee.com

Then, in a conversation with my counselor, I also realized that I make situations harder than they need to be. “Why do you think I do that?” I ask. “Because it’s all you’ve ever known” she says. So simple. I make things hard. So I have made a conscious effort to make things simpler. And noticing the difference in the stress level when stuff doesn’t have to be so… perfect, cooked from scratch, or clean. And that my child doesn’t have to have every meal be well-balanced and an Elmo episode, or two, is good for both of us.

diningroom table from Shalavee.com

Putting the equation together in a daily practice suddenly became easier too. Thanks to inspiration from Jane Barry of That Curious Love of Green who said make the time for your stuff a priority and when you prioritize your creative time, everything else will end up getting done anyway. And thanks to a weird faith that has started to form around my understanding of my ability to pull off whatever I put my mind to, I’m making things happen. And that keeps me jazzed up enough to move on to the next challenge and perhaps a few more self discoveries. And sometimes I do it so quickly I don’t have anytime to pause. A rolling stone gathers no moss. But I really like moss so that’s OK too.

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.

Gifts of Spirit and Five Good Things

Some months, that gratitude basket is empty and some, my basket is overflowing. Maybe some of my thankfulness is relief from getting through my October’s gauntlet of events alive. But the gratefulness keeps rolling in. Grief comes too but it’s easier to handle when your heart’s got spare mirth.

In honor of all my recent gifts of spirit, I’m doing a five things list to start the week off. It wraps up my random events and thoughts like making the most fabulous stew from my life thought leftovers.Jeanne and Me on Shalavee.com

  • On Saturday, I got to meet Jeanne. I began to follow her blog, Bees Knees Bungalow like three years ago after I began my blog. She is a garage sale guru who repaints and style her vintage finds so nicely. And I immediately knew, we were kindred spirits. She happened to be in Baltimore for a cruise with her mother throughout the Chesapeake Bay. Such a wonderful thing to meet up with a friend whom you’ve never met. And how amazing a gift to meet her and solidify the bond of our kindred spirits. Happy Birthday Lovely.

fall tray and bottle on Shalavee.com

  • Mark had a few employees over as an appreciation party on the same day. The fact that he’s been keeping his business going and it’s clientele is increasing is encouraging. He’s very good at what he does. His success is our success. He’s at that 3 year mark for On Your Mark Lighting. That’s the point when you decide whether to keep going or not.

cards for friends from Shalavee.com

  • I finished painting Fiona’s room. No excuses, no prisoners. And now I get to actually decorate it! And since I’ve promised myself to create everyday, all those projects I will share with you soon. I am looking forward to them.

fall foliage in the rain on Shalavee.com

  • My children are alive and so am I. Eamon got through his pneumonia and Fiona didn’t get it. And the husband took himself to a doctor in a timely fashion to get treated when his cold became instant infection. On my return drive from an appointment in Baltimore on Thursday in torrential downpours, I had a few scary hydroplaning moments on a major highway. This was the kind of trip where you are suddenly living in the moment until you make it home alive. I was never so happy to see my home and my un-napped daughter.

art in the kitchen on Shalavee.com

  • My husband stepped up for me on a couple of occasions this week. He watched Fiona and I was able to do what I needed to do. And he discovered that he can take and handle her anywhere, even keep both children relatively happy simultaneously, and he got a chance to earn his own Daddy badge for himself. Competency can only be earned by practice. We both needed to allow for that.

I am busy thinking a lot about what I am doing right and what I’d like to change. And I ‘m so very happy to know that I have your company dear reader. You get the first dish always.

Let the Good times Roll, Let them wash your rock and roll hair. Let the Good times Roll.” -The Cars-

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