My lucky day.

Today is Friday the 13th. Perhaps it’s my stubborn nature, but I have always refused to believe a date on the calendar can be unlucky – so I declared it lucky instead.

Tonight, I went to an opening reception of a gallery show called “The Rising” featuring my favorite artist, GC Myers. The first time I ever saw one of his paintings, I literally stopped dead in my tracks in the middle of a sidewalk because I saw myself. Suddenly, I wasn’t alone anymore. I was right there, behind glass, on a canvas, looking back at myself from a frame.

Tonight, I saw it again. I saw light that got caught in my throat, black teals that swept my breath out of my body, purple twisting trees that anchored me, and always, always, always, the sky that opened my eyes and made them swim in tears. And the red trees. I can’t describe what they mean to me, because they’re so vast. The trees tell me more about myself every time I see them. They’re solitary, but are they alone? They’re what I focus on first, but are they really the most important thing?

I love going to these shows because it’s like seeing an old friend and wondering if you remember them wrong, or if they’ve changed a bit since you last saw them. The work is familiar, but I have to look twice to be totally sure.

It seems that, in every show, I find one or two pieces that cut straight through to my soul – when I see them, I gasp, I feel exposed and found out, I see myself in a frame on a wall on Market Street in Corning, NY and wonder how I can be standing there in the art gallery having a conversation or holding my husband’s hand when I am stretched across canvas and bound in a frame.

This show, those pieces were “Idyllia” and “An Orderly Life.”

The last show, the pieces were “Revealed in Light” and “Empowered.”

Check out the show, either in person at West End Gallery or online here.  And definitely check out the site Redtree Times for more information about the work, straight from the artist.

I love this work, and I love this show, and I deeply appreciate this artist for his willingness to put it out there and do the work. All of the work. It reminds me how much more work I have to do.


Closing the gap.

If you have read my blog for any length of time now, you understand how I struggle with self-improvement projects. I am constantly picking up goals that I feel I should have to get me to where I would like to be. Nothing too sinister or insane, either.

For example, I started reading a book by Julia Cameron called The Artist’s Way, and in it, she recommends a new practice right off the bat – morning pages. I had heard of morning pages before, and they didn’t sound like much special – write three pages, longhand, first thing every day.

About anything. No wrong way to do them, no content restrictions or guidelines, no quality standard, no right or wrong about them except that doing them is right. Doing them is the goal. Doing them gets the upper film of gunk cleared away so that when you sit down to write, or paint, or whatever, it’s easier to get the good stuff out. It’s easier to get the good stuff out when I am not worried about my sister, or losing my job, or thinking about how I want to rearrange the dining room and reorganize the kitchen cabinets.

My brain is often in the way of my creativity. She races and backflips and taunts and nags me about everything I haven’t done, or said, and she is constantly compiling an unachievable to-do list. So the morning pages help my brain get out of the way, they escort her to a nice comfy chair and hand her a good magazine and say “wait here, please.” And she usually does, until the next morning, when as soon as I crawl out from under the covers, she is right there at it again, nag, nag, nag.

I started the morning pages the first time I started reading the book. That was around February of 2011. I may have continued them for about two weeks. Eventually, I thrust the book out of reach, because I grew frustrated with the content. It’s nothing about the book, trust me – it’s completely about me and my own resistance to some of the exercises in the book. I stopped the morning pages. Nothing happened.

In September of this year, I decided to try reading the book again. Over a year and a half had passed! I remembered that the morning pages had actually been beneficial, so I started them up right away, with gusto. I even picked out a special notebook for them, and a special pen that was only for morning pages. When I didn’t get to them first thing, I took the notebook with me to wherever I was going and tried to do them as soon as possible. They were great. I was feeling inspired, lighter, more motivated, and way less stressed out than usual.

Of course, I eventually stopped writing them after about two weeks. It probably wasn’t for a good reason. It’s just like exercise. All it takes is one excuse, one skipped workout because of something small like a runny nose, to spiral me from workout fiend to couch potato. And so, one day of not writing became two, became a week, became two… you see how it goes. Until, eventually, a year and a half later, I remember that once upon a time I did something that really benefited my writing practice, and I should actually pick it up again.

But not this time.

I wrote morning pages today. Only about two months have passed since I did them. It was like catching up with an old friend. It felt so good, so relaxing, that I actually fell back asleep for an hour! I only woke up when Mr. Thor called my name because he wanted help in the kitchen.

Only two months. Not a year and a half. Maybe it’s because I am getting older, maybe it’s because I am losing my job, maybe it’s just because I finally want something more than I can excuse it away – but I am not going to let myself get lost anymore and have to start from scratch.

This applies with eating, as well. The last significant slide off my plan I can remember was this past spring. I got wobbly in March, and by May I was double-fisting hotdogs at a memorial day picnic, and by September I was buying donuts from the gas station. But I dusted myself off at the end of September, lost twenty or so pounds, and this past week started to wobble again. But I can’t take it for more than a couple of days now. I have seen the slide, and I can’t take it. The discomfort of “getting my shit together RIGHT NOW” is so much less than the discomfort of being disappointed in myself for multiple months.

I am making a conscious decision to close the gap. Faltering and falling is normal. But the truth that coexists with that normality is that every minute of every day, I have a choice. I have a choice between doing the right thing and doing nothing. So when I stumble, I can wail and fret and roll around in it – or I can get up and keep on going. The sooner, the better. Not after 6 months, not after a year and a half. This week. Tomorrow. Today, even. This minute.

I am not perfect, but I am moving. Today may not have been all that I wanted and hoped for. I may have let myself down and fallen short of my goals – but tomorrow is another chance.

My favorite things: Coffee

Today, because it’s the weekend before thanksgiving and just looking up recipes on the internet gave me panic attacks, I decided to post a nice easy post about something I truly love.

This is coffee from a local roaster and coffee shop, Heavenly Cup. I recently got into a great conversation with the daughter of the owners. She explained to me how meticulous her dad is about his roasting. He sends her samples to try out new roasts, and he is just devoted to getting it right.

I have to tell you, his dedication really shows. Every cup I ever had in the coffee shop was so delicious that Mr. Thor and I decided to forgo buying our coffee in the grocery store and start buying the beans exclusively from Heavenly Cup. What a great idea. This is our third pound so far. Coffee used to be just kind of daily medicine just to kick start my brain. I would fill a travel mug every morning and leave most of it in my mug. No more – now coffee is a pleasure that I anticipate. This may seem like hyperbole or flattery, but I assure you that I am dead serious.

I have tried other local and regional roasters in an effort to spend my money locally and support small businesses. I am a coffee snob in my own way, and this is the first place I have purchased coffee that I would describe as perfect.

It makes a heavenly cup, if you will.

(ha, ha, ha)

So, if you’re stumped for gifts or stocking stuffers, or just sick of your coffee, consider Heavenly Cup. They even have a gift page and offer a sampler. Honestly, though – you’ll probably just want a whole bag.

Monday: Let’s think about something else.

Today is a Real Monday, one that feels like a Monday and makes me want to crawl back under the covers until Friday. So, in honor of a bad day, I will give you one of my all-time favorite recipes.

Fancy Macaroni

This is not just a side dish of macaroni and cheese. This involves bacon and half-and half. And it is magical. Take it as a side dish on Thanksgiving, or Christmas, or New Year’s Eve. Feed this to someone this year.

But, if you’re taking it to a party, make sure you take the first serving. Because in the time it takes you to get a plate and walk back to the pan, you will be left with nothing but what is stuck on the serving spoon.

Veterans Day

Veterans. I feel like I don’t have the proper words to thank them, ever.

I appreciate the sacrifices that veterans make. Even though I know that someone like me, who shuffles along life on the path of least resistance, can’t even fathom what it really “takes.”

I do know that it takes guts, and hard work, and patience. Perseverance. Determination.

It also takes in other ways too – takes them away from their families. Takes more than they have to give, sometimes. Takes a toll on their bodies, minds, hearts.

Sometimes it takes their lives – not just on the battlefield.

I appreciate veterans and all that they do when they go to work every day. I send my love, strength, and support and hope that they can feel it.

As a lover of peace, I understand that many people are against the wars that our country is fighting – but please, please, please – don’t take it out on the veterans. They have dealt with enough.

I’d love you to check out an organization that we support at my company: Wounded Warrior Project. I fully agree with their mission and vision.

Adventures in Blogging

This week has been so great for me. Making myself produce multiple blog posts per week has forced a schedule into my life, which has worked wonders for my mood. I can’t believe it. I have been SO happy since I started blogging every day. 8 pm is my blogging time, and I write a post for the next day. Sometimes, to get ahead, I start posts on my lunch break. I decided not to write posts more than 2 days ahead AND to still post when I wanted to just get on here and ramble (see today).

And, you guys, WOW! I have been getting the best, most thoughtful comments. The people who read and comment here (admittedly, at this point, all friends of mine from the past and present) really read and comment. So:

Dear commenters: you’re smart and funny and I’m glad you’re here.

Dear lurkers: I am also glad you’re here, and I would love you to comment if something strikes your fancy.

Dear person who found my blog by googling “i hate ms. thor”: Am I the right person? Do you really hate me?

To wrap up my ramble, I am going to celebrate that TWO! people I know with blogs are participating in NaBloPoMo. Which, every time I type? I type as NaNoWriMo.  sigh.

First, a real life friend, Elena Cambio at Fred In The Can.

Second, an online friend of several years, fancypance.

Both smart women who I am lucky to have in my circle. Check them out!

P.S. today is the last day to sign up for NaBloPoMo, so, if you have a blog- consider joining in, will you?

Mr. Thor is full of win.

I got a promotion this week, and here are my congratulations flowers, delivered today while I was out to lunch. I am not the kind of girl who needs to get flowers sent to work all the time, but I gotta tell you – this was well-timed indeed.  🙂

P.S. – The awesome photo in the background is from my friend Jax at Imagination Overload!

Link Love: Snowy Saturday Edition

It’s snowing here in Not the City, New York. Usually seeing snow fall from the sky strikes fear and terror into my heart, but since I have no plans, no commitments, and no intentions of getting out of my pajamas? Let it snow.

I decided that, since I usually have lots of time on Saturday mornings, I would take the opportunity to share a few links to stuff I am interested in at the moment.

1. Elizabeth Foster. Elizabeth is a Singer/Songwriter and Painter in Nashville. Actually, before I just looked up her site, I didn’t know about the Painter part. I have been listening to her album, San Francisco, on a very regular basis since it was released. It is inspiring, fun, and just folky enough to be nearly perfect. I am listening to “By the River” as I type this.

2. Sweet Clementines. I have never stumbled across a site that matches my style and color preferences more. And for someone as into details as I am, the hand-stitching on this stuff really gets to me. I go to the shop on a weekly basis to drool over sweet items like these:

Sleepy Owl!
Sleepy Owl Pilllow

Ferris Wheel!
Classic Ferris Wheel Wall Hang

This weekend I am finally going to pull the trigger and buy something. Decisions, decisions!

3. Tasty Kitchen. This little gem was the brainchild of The Pioneer Woman. The recipe for Fancy Macaroni is from The Woman herself, and I have made it twice since Thanksgiving. And I may make it again tomorrow.

That’s all for now. My pajama plans have been interrupted by a breakfast date request with the ‘rents (yes, it is noon, why do you ask?) I will be adding a page to this site where all of  the links from my Link Love posts will be posted – check for it within the next week!

Happy Saturday to you!