Sunday, December 26, 2010

52CP52: Hello, Goodbye

Hello again, and welcome to the final inspiration/challenge of the year! I've learned a lot this year coming up with things to share with you (and about regularly-scheduled posts - that weren't always as regular as I'd hoped) and I hope that some of what has been shared here has been helpful and/or inspirational for you, as well...

This coming week will be a time of reflection, evaluation, and mapping out of the coming year for me, and probably for many of you, as well. I've found several useful tools in my Internet wanderings that you might want to implement, too, so here are a couple of links for you:

Susannah Conway shared her "Unravelling 2011" worksheet in her newsletter this week - which, of course, I can't find now - but you can find last year's (which I'm fairly confident is much the same except for the dates) HERE.

She also shared a link to Reverb 10, which is " an annual event and online initiative to reflect on your year and manifest what’s next. Use the end of your year as an opportunity to reflect on what's happened, and to send out reverberations for the year ahead." Susannah shares her responses to the prompts on her blog, starting HERE, and working back through the newer posts to see all of them.

Chris Guillebeau, author of The Art of Nonconformity, takes some time at the end of each year to reflect on the past year and map out the new one, as well. He shares his process HERE.

I also tripped over this blog post about "Planner Hacking" that looked interesting...

Now that I've shared a few directions to maybe take your thoughts for the reflection/planning process, I'd like to share a tidbit of inspiration from the ever-brilliant Seth Godin (you really should sign up for his updates - SO worth it!):

What are you working on?

If someone asks you that, are you excited to tell them the answer?

I hope so. If not, you're wasting away.

No matter what your job is, no matter where you work, there's a way to create a project (on your own, on weekends if necessary), where the excitement is palpable, where something that might make a difference is right around the corner.

Hurry, go do that.

That little blurb is my motivation/mantra for the coming year...

Stamps: Stampin'Up! Holidays and Wishes; Ink: SU! True Thyme, Ranger Vintage Photo and Walnut Stain; Paper: SU! Naturals Ivory and Holiday Thyme dp; Accessories/tools: SU! decorative label punch, Nestabilities Labels four, Close to My Heart stubble tool

Lastly, I'd very much appreciate if you could participate in a very quick survey (completely anonymous, no way to track who answers what), so I can decide whether or not to continue on with this blog in the coming year:

Thanks for a great year! I hope 2011 is everything you intend it to be!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

52CP51: Everyday Heroes

It had been a rough year. Divorce, losing her custody battle, relocating for a new job only to have it fall through after traveling over 3,000 miles - not a lot of bright spots... Her fifteen year-old son had recently come to live with her - that was a good thing.

Of course, she didn't have a lot to offer him. A mattress on the floor in his room, a mattress on the floor in hers, two beach chairs in the living room with the leaf from the borrowed kitchen table propped on a crate between them serving as a coffee table - "spartan" was an overstatement for her apartment, to be sure!

At least he had found a nice girl from school and spent most of his time there. They fed him, fortunately, since there was rarely food at home. Her job as a waitress allowed her to buy a meal at half-price either before or after her shift, so a kid's meal every couple of days was pretty much the norm...

Christmas was coming soon. Her son had requested gloves and a red baseball cap to wear, as he had to walk to school through the snow every morning, and home again every afternoon. She'd found some gloves on a great sale, and those were ready to go, along with a cheap chess set she'd picked up at the drug store. The cap was another matter altogether. It was difficult to find a red one, and they were usually a licensed product and, therefore, out of her price range.

Well, the guy she'd just met had promised to take her to find one after her shift on Christmas Eve. Maybe she'd still be able to come through for her son.

Christmas Eve came and she got off later than she'd hoped. By the time they were able to get to any stores, everyone was literally locking the doors in their faces. Despair was looming...

"What kind of hat does he want?" her new friend asked.

"He just said he wanted a baseball cap, and he'd prefer red," she replied.

"I have a lot of baseball caps back at my apartment, if you want to come and check it out."

A little voice in the back of her head warned to be wary of ulterior motives. This was, after all, only the second time she'd spent any time with this guy. Of course, the first time they'd sat in Denny's and talked - literally - all night until he had to go to work. There was a glimmer of something possible... She decided to take a chance and go with him to his apartment.

He wasn't kidding, either. There was a rack on one wall of his apartment (a true bachelor's apartment, complete with weight bench and bar lights) that held at least thirty or forty caps. He pulled a brand new red cap from the rack and asked if it would work. She looked at it - San Francisco Forty-Niners. Her son's team! Hard to get more perfect than that!

"Are you sure?" she asked. "You've never even worn it."

"I probably never will, either. You need it - take it."

The little voice in her head not only decided to stop warning her, but had actually switched sides. "This could be someone we could love," became the new idea, and there was an unexpected, but very pleasant, warmth in her chest...

Thus began the love affair I've had with my husband for nineteen years now. We celebrated our seventeenth wedding anniversary yesterday. While this story may not seem heroic to many, trust me - "The Saving of Christmas" for my son was the only happy thing that season. My five daughters were still across the continent, and I wouldn't be able to scrape enough of anything together to send them until Valentine's Day. Greg was definitely my hero that holiday. He's done even more heroic things since then, but that was when I really started paying attention to who I'd met and what he was about. Here's the anniversary card I made for him:

I think that we have a tendency to consider heroes only in the context of 9/11 or war or some other equally epic event. I would propose that any time anyone fills a deep need for someone else, that they are a hero. I would further propose that any time you push through fear or self-doubt to do something that you feel strongly about, that you are a hero, too.

Mariah Carey agrees with me, too, I might add. As evidence, please view this video:

Who's your hero? Whose hero are you? What will you create this week to share with us? Here's Mr. Linky: Oh - and have a wonderful Christmas!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

52CP50 Featured Artists

Hooooly! Where did this week go? I spent the first half sick and snow-bound and the rest playing catch-up , and the whole thing is just a blur! You, too? How pathetic is it that I forgot to post my creation for my own challenge - doh! Good thing we had a couple of other players!

Mary made two beautiful cards to wish special people in her life a good Christmas and a good 2011. Make sure you click on the links to see all the gorgeous details on her cards:

Stephanie made a stunning sympathy card with - of course - the BEST sentiment ever! Just lovely...

And I made a semi-fancy envelope for someone special. I'm planning to write a letter that tells them how much they mean to me and send it off. I've left the to/from portions unembellished and unfinished for now:

And that's all for this week! See you tomorrow for our next-to-last challenge for the year (can you believe it?)!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

52CP50: The List

I've been trying for two days to finish my project for this week's inspiration and haven't managed it yet (which is ridiculous, since it's not very involved - I just keep having other things come up that pull me away), and I don't want to delay this post any longer, so I'll just add it later when it's done, okay? Oh - and if you're wondering where yesterday's "Featured Artists" post was, there were no participants last week, so there was nothing to post...

This story was not written by me. I have no idea who wrote it. I received it in an email a couple of years ago and saved it to my computer, where I found it a few days ago while looking for something else:

One day a teacher asked her students to list the names of the other students in the room on two sheets of paper, leaving a space between each name. Then she told them to think of the nicest thing they could say about each of their classmates and write it down. It took the remainder of the class period to finish their assignment, and as the students left the room, each one handed in the papers.

That Saturday, the teacher wrote down the name of each student on a separate sheet of paper, and listed what everyone else had said about that individual. On Monday she gave each student his or her list. Before long, the entire class was smiling.

"Really?" she heard whispered. "I never knew that I meant anything to anyone!" and, "I didn't know others liked me so much" were most of the comments.

No one ever mentioned those papers in class again. She never knew if they discussed them after class or with their parents, but it didn't matter. The exercise had accomplished its purpose. The students were happy with themselves and one another. That group of students moved on.

Several years later, one of the students was killed in Viet Nam and his teacher attended the funeral of that special student. She had never seen a serviceman in a military coffin before. He looked so handsome, so mature.

The church was packed with his friends. One by one those who loved him took a last walk by the coffin. The teacher was the last one to bless the coffin.

As she stood there, one of the soldiers who acted as pallbearer came up to her. "Were you Mark's math teacher?" he asked. She nodded: "yes." Then he said: "Mark talked about you a lot."

After the funeral, most of Mark's former classmates went together to a luncheon. Mark's mother and father were there, obviously waiting to speak with his teacher.

"We want to show you something," his father said, taking a wallet out of his pocket. "They found this on Mark when he was killed. We thought you might recognize it."

Opening the billfold, he carefully removed two worn pieces of notebook paper that had obviously been taped, folded and refolded many times. The teacher knew without looking that the papers were the ones on which she had listed all the good things each of Mark's classmates had said about him.

"Thank you so much for doing that," Mark's mother said. "As you can see, Mark treasured it."

All of Mark's former classmates started to gather around. Charlie smiled rather sheepishly and said, "I still have my list. It's in the top drawer of my desk

Chuck's wife said, "Chuck asked me to put his in our wedding album."

"I have mine too," Marilyn said. "It's in my diary."

Then Vicki, another classmate, reached into her pocketbook, took out her wallet and showed her worn and frazzled list to the group "I carry this with me at all times," Vicki said and without batting an eyelash, she continued: "I think we all saved our lists."

That's when the teacher finally sat down and cried. She cried for Mark and for all his friends who would never see him again.

The density of people in society is so thick that we forget that life will end one day. And we don't know when that one day will be. So please, tell the people you love and care for, that they are special and important. Tell them, before it is too late.

And that is your inspiration for this week... Have a good one!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

52CP49: Miracles

Sorry for the late post - I wasn't quite prepared to schedule it last night, and I've been away from home (and my computer) all day today!

Miracles have been on my mind quite a bit of late. Earlier this week I read a very interesting article on finding miracles by Martha Beck (I know, I know...) that triggered quite a reaction for me. I blogged about it, if you're interested. Among the interesting things she had to say, she included this:

If you need help taming your inner skeptic, think of psychologist Abraham Maslow: He warned against coming under the sway of "the antirational, the antiempirical, the antiscientific," but he also wrote, "To be looking elsewhere for miracles is to me a sure sign of ignorance that everything is miraculous." A rigorously trained social scientist, he found that seeing everything as miraculous was only logical.

This time of year ("the most wonderful time of the year") is a celebration of miracles.

Those of the Christian faith celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ - a two-fold miracle: the (virgin) birth of the literal son of God, and the entry into the world of the Saviour of mankind.

Those of Jewish persuasion celebrate Hanukkah. According to Wikipedia:
From the Hebrew word for "dedication" or "consecration", Hanukkah marks the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem (Second Temple) after its desecration by the forces of the King of Syria Antiochus IV Epiphanes and commemorates the "miracle of the container of oil". According to the Talmud, at the re-dedication following the victory of the Maccabees over the Seleucid Empire, there was only enough consecrated olive oil to fuel the eternal flame in the Temple for one day. Miraculously, the oil burned for eight days, which was the length of time it took to press, prepare and consecrate fresh olive oil.
There are many other festivals and celebrations of a non-miraculous origin - and non-religious origin - as well, such as the Winter Solstice and Kwanzaa, and I want to include reference to these here, as well, because I feel that the true miracle of this season is that, for a brief moment or two, the whole world sets aside their differences to acknowledge a desire for "peace on earth, good will toward men". For the short holiday season, "love and joy come to you" is more sincere and heartfelt a greeting than at any other time. Whether we share the belief - or non-belief - of our friends or neighbors, we still wish them well and celebrate the season and the bonds of love and friendship that we share.

For my project this week, I chose to make a non-specific holiday ornament. It could be used to decorate for any of the occasions discussed here, and encompasses all nationalities and beliefs:

Stamps: Stampin'Up! The World Over and Many Merry Messages; Ink: Memento Tuxedo Black, Versamark; Paper: Paperbilities black, Georgia Pacific white, coaster donated by bar owner friend, Wilton doily; Accessories/tools: Lion Trellis ribbon yarn, "bangle bling" from Michael's, detail white embossing powder, Crop-a-dile, Bic and Prismacolor markers

Here's Mr. Linky so you can link up your creations:

Saturday, December 4, 2010

52CP48 Featured Artists

Good Saturday evening to you! I hope your December is going well so far! I've been decorating trees all day, but wanted to take a quick minute to share the two lovely cards submitted for the "small things" challenge.

Lisa enjoys spending time with family and friends at the holidays and made this card that says, "Snowflakes are like friends, each unique and each a gift to treasure." 'Nuff said...

Very fun stair-step layout, too, eh? Thanks, Lisa!

The other card was from Steph, who says that the things she remembers about the holidays "aren't the decorations or gifts ... it's the time spent laughing with family and friends that are the moments I remember and treasure", which the sentiment on her card sums up, as well:

She used a wonderful double-embossing technique on her card - click over to her blog for more details!

Thank you both for your wonderful contributions, ladies! See the rest of you tomorrow for a new challenge!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

52CP48: All the Small Things

"All the small things,
true care, truth brings..."

So begins a song by Blink 182 that I hear every time I think of the phrase "small things"... Other "small things" quotes, poems, etc.:

Good things come in small packages.

Little drops of water, tiny grains of sand
Make the mighty ocean and the beauteous land.

From the tiny acorn grows the mighty oak.

We can do no great things,
only small things with great love.

There are many, many more, but that's enough to start with today... Why am I discussing small things?

As we move into the holiday season we are bombarded with - and possibly overwhelmed by - ad campaigns and commercials and store displays that try to make us believe that our holiday must include the most elaborate decorations, the most extravagant gifts, the most sumptuous dinners, the most over-the-top parties, etc.

I don't know about you, but when I take my trips down memory lane none of my memories are tied to "bigger, better" anything! Here are some standouts for me:
  • Looking out my window at the Christmas lights reflected in the wet street (rain is Christmas weather in southern California, where I grew up)
  • The smell of bayberry candles and balsam Christmas trees
  • Swedish spritz cookies that my mother made with a cookie press and that we decorated with tiny red icing bows and silver dragees
  • Driving around town in the family station wagon to look at the Christmas lights
  • Going to the Christmas tree lot run by my brother's Boy Scout troop and watching them flock the trees in a big tent
  • The row of ornaments my mother hung from tinsel garland in the front windows of our family room
  • My mother playing piano while we sang Christmas carols
  • Opening our one gift (new pajamas) on Christmas Eve - the rest were for Christmas morning
Nothing on that list cost a lot of money or required a huge effort on anyone's part, yet those are the memories nearest and dearest to my heart. I have to believe that the same is true for you...

Do you remember the decorations at the parties you went to, or what was on the menu? Or do you remember the warmth of friendship and good times shared? Aside from one or two memorable gifts, do you remember the rest of the pile, or just the anticipation and excitement of Christmas morning?

We've all heard the phrase "We do not remember days, we remember moments." What moments will you create this holiday season that will be happy memories later? When your loved ones reflect back on this Christmas - or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or whatever holiday you celebrate - what will they remember?

I made a card with one of the truest sentiments I know to remind me that "it's the little things that make life BIG":

Stamps: Stampin'Up! Happy Harmony; Ink: SU! Purely Pomegranate; Papers: SU! Raspberry Tart dsp, Purely Pomegranate; Accessories/tools: Nestabilities Labels Four, Martha Stewart border punch, ribbon, vintage button

The "Featured Artist" post for last week's challenge is below this one - please scroll down to view it - thanks!

Here's Mr. Linky for your creations for this week:

52PC47 Featured Artist

Apparently all of you have had as busy a week as I have! Erica was our sole participant this week! Here's her adorable card for "the most wonderful time of the year":

Is that snowflake paper the cutest, or what? Love the card - thanks, Erica!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

52PC47: Time

Good Sunday Morning To You!

I hope that things are going well for all of you! I'm making progress on the get-a-handle-on-my-life front, I'm happy to report! I've decided that my issues of late are part of a learning curve while I adapt to increased demands on the parental front (they are, after all, very old), and increased demands on the work/career front.

That being said, the biggest issue in all of it has been TIME - as in, not enough of it to go around! As usually happens in Sue-land, once I identify an issue or a trend or what-have-you, I start seeing all kinds of tie-ins in the people and things around me. No exception on this: I got a handy little post from Chris Guillebeau in my inbox this week. The theme? Killing Time! Here are a couple of excerpts from it:

"We all have to make judgment calls on where we should spend our time. I am an advocate for spending it deliberately: if you’ve got a spare hour, put it to good use. Or enjoy it by deliberately choosing to chill out. But don’t waste it, and don’t kill it. “Killing time”… what an unfortunate phrase.

Sometimes it helps to put things in perspective: what one thing will you get done today? If nothing else happens, how will you help others while pursuing your own dreams? (These goals are not mutually exclusive.)

When you find yourself with time to spare, don’t kill it. Respect it."

I also referred back this week to a post by Leo Babauta that Stephanie alerted me to regarding procrastination which, as I've told you before, is something I struggle with and that eats up waaaay more time than is even remotely allowable! He begins the article with this:

"Procrastination is one of those topics that, it seems, I can’t write enough about. There isn’t a person among us who doesn’t procrastinate, and that’s a fact of life.

It’s deep within us. We think we’re going to do something later, or read that classic novel later, or learn French later. But we always overestimate how much we can do later, and we overestimate the ability of our later selves to beat procrastination.

If our current self can’t beat procrastination, why will our future self do it?"

He then outlines the "why" of procrastination and some very practical steps to take to overcome it. VERY worthwhile article, as all of Mr. Babauta's articles are! (Thanks again, Steph!)

For my project this week I decided a clock was in order! I up-cycled a freebie CD to make it (there's a tutorial coming Monday on my other blog), and serendipity dropped a fun thing in my path for it, too! The clock hands that I had were too long for this small clock, so I headed out to Michael's to buy new, shorter ones with my 40% off coupon. Know what was on clearance? Oh yeah, a set of "Time Flies" stamps (Recollections)! I used them with a piece of paper from Basic Grey's Sugared collection and some distress inks to make the face for this:

That's one of my favorite "time" quotes, typed up on the computer in Pegasus font (bold). The clock hands were brass (not my fave) and I tried to spray-paint them, but the paint didn't stick. I hit them with some alcohol-ink markers, but they're still not right. Good enough to share for now - I'll fix them later! I don't need an excuse to stall on this post, right?

And that's it for me! Here's hoping we'll get a few more participants in the last few challenges of the year. I canNOT believe we're in single digits with how many weeks are left! Hopefully Mr. Linky won't be quite so lonely this week:

Saturday, November 20, 2010

52CP46 Featured Artist

Stephanie is our sole participant again this week! Here's her oh-so-fun card:I love the bright colors and goofy monsters (Steph thinks the one in the lower right corner represents her, by the way...) Fun sentiment, too! Thanks, Steph for giving us a genuine smile!

I've actually been able to get back to some semblance of "normal" this week, so I have a post AND a project ready to roll for tomorrow! Amazed? Me, too! Be sure to come back tomorrow to see what that's all about! Oh - and thanks for stopping by today! Buh-bye!

Monday, November 15, 2010

52CP46: Genuine Smiles

Hi, all! Sorry about the looooong silence here. I'm inundated, overwhelmed, burnt out, and have no better excuse than that I haven't been anywhere near my studio or my computer for the past five days. I am trying - again - to turn things around, and have a most excellent blog post that I will send you over to check out in a quick minute, but first I want to thank the ever-faithful Stephanie for her contribution to last week's challenge:

She wrote:

"This card is also for Sue's 52-Card Pick-up Challenge where she talks about the lyrics to the Jewel song My Hands, which begins with:

If I could tell the world just one thing
It would be that we're all OK
And not to worry 'cause worry is wasteful
And useless in times like these

That's one of the best things about having a sister who is also your best friend ... no matter what the world tries to pound me down with, I knew a few minutes talking with my sister will always help me see things through clearer eyes ... and remind me that we're all OK."

Thank you, Stephanie, for your thoughts and for always, always joining in (also for sharing your talents in the beautiful-card-making-field)!

On to this week: One of the bloggers I follow, Marta Dansie, has been hosting a series of "How-to" guest posts on her blog, and I found this one to be extremely fitting and inspiring: How-to Carry a Genuine Smile Every Day.

Since I've been unable to create anything new this week, I'm bringing back a card I originally created for one of Stephanie's Inspiration challenges (she hosts them every Saturday over on Splitcoast Stampers):

Stamp: Heidi Grace Quotes; Ink: Versafine Onyx Black; Paper: Close to My Heart Pink Carnation, white, black; Accessories/tools: Stencil (hand), Close to My Heart Stubble tool, Marvy corner punch

Here's Mr. Linky for this week:

Sunday, November 7, 2010

52CP45: My Hands

Good Sunday afternoon to you all! I hope it's been a pleasant day for you! This week I have a video for you. It's an older song, but I still love it. Embedding has been disabled, so you'll have to click through to YouTube, unfortunately. Here's the link: Jewel, Hands

Back again? Beautiful song, isn't it? I especially love the refrain at the end: "We are God's eyes, God's hands, God's heart..." I have long held the belief that we answer each others' prayers - that people are placed in our path, and we in theirs - to help each other through this life.

With that thought in mind, I decided to acknowledge that I am ready and willing to take on whatever is next in my role as a kindness-sharer, joy-giver, or prayer-answerer:

Stamp: Inkadinkado Maison Frames; Ink: Close to My Heart Garden Green; Paper: DCWV Mariposa Mat Stack, black, Stampin'Up! Naturals Ivory; Accessories/tools: Stampin'Up! Decorative Label punch, ribbon, computer-generated sentiment (Amazone BT font)

Here's Mr. Linky so you can link up your creations:

Saturday, November 6, 2010

52CP44 Featured Artists

Good Saturday evening to you! Kind of quiet again this week... We did have a couple of cards for the empathy challenge, though:

Stephanie used the scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz, who felt like he needed a brain to matter:

I love the colors and papers she used (I pretty much always do!) and her take on the challenge.

Erica made a great red-and-black card:

Fabulous classic color combo, and the textured background is perfectt!

Anne made a card for last week's Count Your Blessings challenge, but linked it up this week (thanks for adding this to our small gallery!):

I love the sentiment-stamped leaf - so pretty (and clever)!

Thank you, ladies, for your contributions!

I have a favor to ask all of you (well, a couple of favors, actually). I would be ever so grateful if, when you link up a card, you could take a quick sec to also leave a comment. That's the only way I get alerted to the fact that there are cards linked up (I get an email for comments, nothing for Mr. Linky), and it would also be nice to give some feedback to the author/creator of whatever inspiration I post.

The second favor is: please add a brief comment (either on your post on your blog or in a comment here) on how/why the card relates to the inspiration. It's totally awesome to see different takes on the same information, and I like looking at things from different perspectives, which is what that info would provide. Thanks so much!

See you tomorrow for a new challenge!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

52CP44: Empathy

Good things come to those who wait - that's my story, and I'm stickin' to it! We won't even discuss needy, elderly in-laws or husbands who need assistance with a home-improvement project (my kitchen floor - perfectly willing to assist, since I NEED that room frequently, and it NEEDED a new floor). Suffice it to say that the delay will more than be compensated, in my opinion...

A recently-discovered inspirational source is I Dance I Write. The author (and dancer) is Megan, and she has graciously granted permission for me to share an entire post from her website here. She originally posted this on her website on October 21st, with the title I Am Somebody. I Am Safe:

The reason. The skinny. The WHY.

Everything we do, the good, the bad, the embarrassing, the brilliant, we do to accomplish one of two things.


Once I let this sink in, I began to have more empathy. It blossomed inside of me. Empathy for myself and for….YOU.

I return to the people, the places, that make me feel one of these two things. Safe. Important.

I go to the studio, my legal pad, my computer, because this is where I MATTER.

I attach to my family and friends for the blanket of safety they wrap me in.

Are you doing something that you think is less than stellar? (Join everyone else on the planet.) What’s at the bottom of it? Comfort. Or for the need to feel important? We all, in varying degrees, sometimes miss the mark of loving ourselves in the best way possible. I will try never to judge someone else’s choices.

I don’t think the serial do-gooder gives unselfishly because she is better than you and me. I think she is generous with her love because what she’s doing makes her FEEL IMPORTANT. She found a place, an environment, an action, that fills this need for her. It gives her the I Am Somebody feeling. (We, as a society, like her choice.)

But other choices don’t look as good. The pregnant teenager on welfare? No- She should not get pregnant. But take a moment to step into her life. Her heart. She will hold her baby and feel IMPORTANT. I can feel her yearning to matter.

Or. The man with the gun. He doesn’t feel safe. (He can’t trust anyone to keep him safe.) And his human desire, his desperation to find importance, is heartbreaking. Wrong. But I feel for him.

When you wake up, and it’s a BRAVE kind of day. Ask yourself why you do the things you do. The LESS THAN STELLAR things.

The eating of crap.

The extra drinks.

Keeping yourself SMALL.

That thing you did yesterday? The one that felt good when you did it, but now makes you feel bad? Ask yourself WHY. You need to feel SAFE and IMPORTANT. Don’t beat yourself up, but wrap yourself in something soft, and imagine a better way.

Change your life with love.

Thank you so much, Megan, for sharing your insights with us!

One of my teachers (Reiki, Rapid Eye Therapy) used to say that - when we are faced with an issue of some sort - we should ask, "How does this teach me love?" Megan turns that question both outward and inward in her post, and delineates it brilliantly. When we come from a place of love, it is difficult to be too harsh or judgmental, and we are far more likely to treat ourselves and others with kindness and empathy.

Because I like to have reminders around me of what matters and where I want to focus my life, I decided that I wanted to make something that just said "Love". I had some very small antique brass-looking frames and some sheer black ribbon and some gold embossing powder and black paper and pretty alphabet stamps, so I made this:

Looking at the picture I can see that I might want to move the bow higher so there is a bit of ribbon showing between it and the first frame, but I'm still relatively pleased with it... Here's Mr. Linky so you can share what you make this week:

Saturday, October 30, 2010

52CP43 Featured Artists

EIGHT participants this week - woo hoo! I appreciate all of you "Counting Your Blessings" along with me. I certainly did need a mood-changer last week, and it worked!

Shannon incorporated our challenge with a card drive for deployed Marines to make this fabulous patriotic card:

Kate is apparently grateful for birthdays (or little boys - or both!), and made this fun card:

Stephanie was back again this week with a card "that celebrates the many blessings that come with creating" - well said, and a beautiful card, too -love the flourishes!Sarah incorporated fun textures and shapes into a beautiful Thanksgiving card:
Erica is thankful for birthdays, too (and long life)! Fun brads and borders on her bright card:

Jackie joins us from Nairobi (welcome)! She did some time-consuming quilling and added some bright butterflies to a card expressing thanks. She is especially grateful for her loved ones:
Beverly's back again this week with one of the prettiest color combos I've seen in a while! Lots going on here (sewing, diecuts, etc.), including the sentiment I had in mind when I posted the challenge: "Gratitude can transform common days into Thanksgivings":
And, lastly, Jan created an oh-so-cute gift bag to be presented to her Thanksgiving hostess:
I love it! Thanks again, all of you wonderful ladies, for supporting my challenge this past week! I also want to thank those who drop by to read and/or comment, but don't have time to make anything, as well - you're certainly welcome and appreciated!

Be sure to stop by again tomorrow for a wonderful new inspiration! 'Ta!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

52CP43: Count Your Blessings

I'm not even going to apologize for the lateness of this post, just 'splain...

I'm very much of the "everything happens for a reason" school. I fell asleep last night before I scheduled this week's post. My usual Sunday routine got TOTALLY thrown for a loop with various family issues. I've been emotional and weird and need to turn things around today. I was planning on using this video closer to Thanksgiving, but I need the reminder NOW, so here it is:

I made this card last year, but I'm putting it here because - obviously - I didn't plan to have THIS post today, in the first place!

I will post the supplies used later, along with a new creation for the week, but I have an obligation that I will be late for if I don't run NOW, so I am!

Here's Mr. Linky:

Saturday, October 23, 2010

52CP42 Featured Artist

Hello again! I held off posting the submissions for this week's challenge a bit longer than usual, because last week - just after I finished the post - Beverly linked up her card and I missed it, as I didn't go back and look until I was scheduling the next inspiration/challenge. I guess that's why she gets the spotlight all to herself this week!

Pretty card, eh? I really like the colors and the whole concept! Thank you, Beverly!

Either the rest of you are waaaay better on following through on things than I am, and didn't need to create a reminder of any kind, or you're as bad or worse, and never got around to it :)

Regardless, I hope you'll come back tomorrow for a new challenge!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

52CP42: Follow Through

I've mentioned Danielle LaPorte here and on my other blog before, but I'm mentioning her again this week because in my trying to be more authentic, I increasingly find more and more wisdom in what she has to say.

I've also mentioned that I have a life-long habit of procrastination, which causes disappointments along the way, and I've fallen short of the mark several times this year here on this blog. All of which brings me to the point of this week's inspiration and challenge: Follow Through.

Danielle sent out her White Hot Truth on August 10th of this year with THE secret to success. this is IT. for reals..., which she identifies as:


If we all just did what we said we're going to do, we'd experience an evolutionary leap in consciousness more brilliant than solar power and the invention of the wheel.

She continues by outlining ways to follow through and be accountable and all the rest of it, then eloquently ends with this:

Of course you can't always do what you said you would. Minds change and some prerogatives need their exercise. Batteries die, tragedies happen, the best intentions can get rained out. When you can't or choose not to honour your word, then say so.

Tell the truth, tell it fast, deliver it with sincerity and care.

Words are arrows.
You can't always hit the impeccability bull's eye, but even if you're off a smidge, your words will land on integrity.
Please click on the link above to the full article - well worth the read!

Because of my procrastination issues, some of what I say I want to do/will do falls by the wayside. I am making a concerted effort to change things and to be careful about what I say I will do.

One area that has been the source of dismay/distress is my well-intentioned efforts to be more in touch with my children and grandchildren - all of whom live many miles away from me. I often find myself putting off what I want to do for them "until I finish this job" (deadline issues) or "until I get paid" (financial issues) or "until I finish what I have to do for Greg's parents" (obligation issues). The true thing is that there will ALWAYS be these - and other - issues, and I need to prioritize and work around them. I'm finding that as I do this, nothing really gets "traded off". Somehow, when I make authenticity and integrity the priority, the other things fall into place.

One thing I said I would do this year is to make pillowcases for my grandchildren for Halloween. Evidence that I actually did it:

Not only that, but I've even created a tutorial for them, in case you'd like to make your own! It's on my other blog, and is titled - what else? - "Tutorial: Pillowcases"

One last thought: Did you notice that this post went "live" just after midnight, like they did when I first started this blog? Yeah - I didn't procrastinate this week, thank you very much! I'll try to continue the trend and be more consistent. Thanks for joining me again this week!

What do you need to follow through on? Here's Mr. Linky:

Saturday, October 16, 2010

52CP41 Featured Artists

Four players this week - woo hoo! Apparently more of us can identify with being "perfectly imperfect"!

Erica started us off with a thank you card because "no matter what, you can't do everything alone". She also 'fessed up that she messed up the stem... I wouldn't have noticed, would you?

Steph was back again this week with another one of her wonderful cards:

Her take on the challenge was that "if we all tried to embrace the joy of Playing Hard that we had when we were five years old, we would care much less about perfection". Well said! Very fun card, too!

Sarah made a two-page layout celebrating relationships in all their imperfection:

Beautiful colors and accents (the kids are pretty great-looking, too) Nice change to have a scrapbook layout - thanks Sarah!

Anne went back a bit in her blog archives for this fun card:

The inside says "ONE OF THOSE DAYS!" 'Nuff said, right? Cute, colorful card!

Thanks to all four of you ladies for participating in the Perfectly Imperfect challenge! A new post tomorrow with a new inspiration - see you there!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

52CP41: Perfectly Imperfect

Brene Brown recently held a week-long "Perfect Protest". She encouraged anyone with a blog to post a picture of themselves with a protest sign, and had Mr. Linky for the participants to add their links. 192 participants! That's a whole lot of folks protesting perfectionism. Brene wrote:

Being our best selves is about cultivating the courage to be vulnerable, authentic, and imperfect. Perfectionism, on the other hand, is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgment, and shame. It's that simple. Perfection is not about healthy striving or being our best, it's how we protect ourselves.

In the new book, I write, "Perfectionism is a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from taking flight."

The book she's referring to is "The Gifts of Imperfection: How to Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Really Are", which I am currently reading, and which is right on the money!

Lauren Bergold posted a link - again - on her blog to Bruce Mau's "Incomplete Manifesto for Personal Growth", which reminded me to re-read it. He encourages us to take risks, make mistakes, capture accidents and so on - in other words, to be imperfect. That's where the learning and growth are...

If I had participated in Brene's protest, my sign would have read "I'm too curious to be perfect!" I am not afraid to delve into things that interest me - new educational opportunities, new artistic mediums or techniques, new sports, etc. - and it's a fairly safe bet that I'm not going to nail everything on the first try. I'm okay with imperfect - even outright failure - so I'm not afraid to give it a go.

For my project this week, I made a card with my husband in mind. It might have more pink than he's comfortable with, but I kinda sorta don't care. Inside it says, "We're the perfect couple - warts and all..."

Stamps: The Cat's Pajamas Puppy Love and I Love Mew; Ink: Memento Tuxedo Black; Paper: Basic Grey Urban Prairie dp, DCWV white and pink textured cardstock; Accessories/tools: Colored pencils and Prismacolor colorless blending pen, Stampin'Up! decorative label punch, Fiskars threading water border punch, Marvy dimple corner punch, Corner Chomper, Michael's ribbon, Bon Bon turquoise glitter fingernail polish, unknown gems

You can barely see it in the photo, but the frog and his lady have sparkly turquoise "gems" on the crown and whatever-the-heck-you-call-her-hat. I made them by dipping a toothpick into sparkly nail polish and touching it onto the image where I wanted it. Tricky, tricky!

How do you embrace being perfectly imperfect? Here's Mr. Linky:

52CP39 & 52CP40 Featured Artists

Hello again! We seem to be consistently having two artists joining us each week! This week it's Beverly and Stephanie, who have been our most consistent contributors right along - thank you, girls!

Bev made another red-and-white creation with another of my faves - hearts! (I have way too many in every available form - stamps, stencils, dies, punches, stickers, etc.)

I love the variety of patterns on the hearts - so fun! Bev says she keeps this stamp above her desk for inspiration, and on her "down" days, the one with that says "8-ball, corner pocket" inspires her to visualize sinking that ball with confidence, and it helps her creativity spark again. Great idea, that!

Steph did a cool monochromatic card this week, using a great layout, some beautiful shimmery paper and some pretty snowflake punches:

Steph says that the snowman and snowflakes take her back in memory to when she was a child and playing in the snow sparked all kinds of imaginative ideas - building snowmen that they imagined could come to life like Frosty, sliding around on patches of ice pretending to be Olympic skaters and other fun imaginings. What great memories!

Well done, ladies - beauty abounds! Hopefully we'll have more players this week... A new challenge tomorrow - don't miss it!

PS: This weekend on my other blog I'm giving away a free ghostie digital stamp to anyone who wants it. If you're interested, click HERE.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

52CP 39: Imagination and 52CP40: Creativity

I've been wanting to do this double post for several weeks now, but "life" keeps happening and, if you've been following this blog recently, you know that other things have preempted planned posts and been replaced by other ones...

Back in 52CP35 where we discussed creative problem-solving, it triggered a few thoughts on creativity in general, and I've been wanting to do a double post to get us back on track with the actual weeks in the year, so when we hit the final challenge, it will actually be a true #52! Since I consider imagination and creativity to be pretty compatible bedfellows, it followed fairly easily to combine the two for a double post.

Back in July 2009, I wrote a post on my other blog about imagination and play. It was triggered by a video clip from Oprah's visit to a second-grade class at the Yearning for Zion polygamist ranch (the one that was raided and over 400 children removed). You can watch the clip HERE. This video reduced me to tears, and this is what I wrote on my other blog:

...not because the subject matter was particularly sad, but because the overall effect is tragic! Several things came to mind, but the overriding tragedy is that these children do not get to use their imagination AT ALL! They've never even heard of Cinderella or the Little Mermaid or Humpty Dumpty or Shrek, let alone pretended to be one of these characters! They claim that work is fun, and they never play ("it's not fun", claimed one little boy), and the very meaning of the word 'play' {in their society} is synonymous with 'goofing off'!

Why do I consider this tragic - beyond the obvious these-children-are-missing-their-childhood scenario? Because the underlying tenet - that everything they do serves the purpose of becoming like God - is self-contradicting, for starters. If, in fact, there is a God, and if, in fact, He is perfect, would he not have a perfect imagination? Didn't He (or She or They or whatever) dream up flowers and clouds and hummingbirds and the platypus and all the rest of it? If these people are aspiring to become gods themselves, won't they need imagination when they start creating their own "worlds without end"?

Every single thing you see around you - NO exceptions - was a thought before it was a thing, whether in man's mind or God's. Have you ever, ever in your entire life created something with no thought behind it? With no imagining the end result? Yes, things evolve in the making, and the finished product may turn out different from the original thought, but the original thought at the very least initiated the making!

Einstein - brilliant man that he was - referred to imagination as "a preview of coming attractions". It just pulls at my heartstrings to see this entire generation of children growing up without a preview, and with no concept of play!

Moving on to the creativity aspect of things, my thoughts went to all the people I've heard in my life lamenting, "I wish I could (fill in with some artsy endeavor here) - I don't have a creative bone in my body." I would propose that unless they are a gelatinous mass with no bones whatsoever, that they are also big, fat, floppin' liars!

The problem - as I see it - is that somewhere along the line, "creative" became synonymous with "artistic", and - admittedly - not everyone is artistic. Let's define creative properly, though (from Merriam-Webster):
  1. Marked by the ability or power to create: given to creating
  2. Having the quality of something created rather than imitated
  3. Managed so as to get around legal or conventional limits
Synonyms include: clever, imaginative, ingenious, innovative, inventive, original.

I didn't see anything in the definition that precluded originality outside of the arts, did you? Mathematicians do creative things with numbers, accountants have been known to get creative with dollars (especially at tax time), engineers come up with creative solutions to the problem at hand - be it electrical, mechanical, what have you!

My mother was the most creative mother I know! She managed to keep five children not only occupied, but engaged, and made memories for us that I will always treasure! (I'm actually one of six, but since I was 16 when my baby brother was born, my "childhood" was essentially over by then. Hmmm...come to think of it, producing that baby brother was a pretty creative act, too...)

Creative cooks are very much in the forefront - Rachel Ray, Paula Deen and others - and there is evidence all around us in the everyday conveniences we enjoy of someone's creativity! Computers, appliances, transportation - all came about because someone approached a need creatively. My point is that creativity extends to ALL areas of our lives!

Look around your little corner of the world and identify where your strengths lie. Odds are incredibly high that you use creativity every day without identifying that that is what you are doing. I hereby issue you a "cease and desist" order if you've been complaining about your lack of creativity up 'til now! Identify where you are creative and celebrate it!

Edited Monday morning to add: I just got an email from alerting me to this new book: Creative is a Verb: If You're Alive, You're Creative by Patti Digh Serendipity, yes?

This picture is of a "project in progress". It includes both challenges ("dream" for the imagination challenge, and "create" for the creativity challenge), but is nowhere close to being done. These panels still need embellishing and attaching to the actual project before I can say "it's done", but I have ZERO idea when that will actually be accomplished, since this is as far as I've gotten in four or five weeks of delay and re-gear and all. I promise my most excellent promise that I will post the final product when that time comes, though!

For your project this week, you can do something for each challenge or combine the two - the choice is yours! Here's Mr. Linky:

Saturday, October 2, 2010

52CP38 Featured Artists

Happy World Cardmaking Day! Not related to this blog, technically speaking, but still wanted to acknowledge it, since it's a big part of what we do here... Three submissions this week - thank you ladies!

First off, Steph made a gorgeous card in my all-time fave color combo (red and white) and used another of her fabulous sentiment stamps, too. I love the bits of the flower that extend past the oval - so pretty!

Next up is Lawren, with a fun card to remind us to "be still". You know how I feel about that concept, since we've used it in a few variations here! Cute image, great coloring, fun layout:

And our third and final contribution to the simplify challenge is this simply beautiful card from Rachel:
Great texture, fun addition of buttons to the wreath - great card!

Thanks again to these three for contributing their talents, and thanks to all of you, too, for continuing to stop by this blog! See you tomorrow for a new challenge!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

52CP38: Simplify

Again this week, the inspiration I'm posting is not the one I planned on when I started my day... I don't believe in coincidence, but I do very much believe in serendipity and the Law of Attraction, so I think the convergence is where the last couple of posts have come from. It actually works out better this way for several reasons:
  • The theme for this week is the theme of my paradigm shift and new focus in my life the past several weeks
  • There's a great segue from "white space" to "simplify"
  • This post is going to be SIMPLE - short and sweet
I went up to my ("blowed up real good") workroom/studio this morning to add the sentiment to my project and take a picture of it to post here. I was sure I had the quote that I had in mind somewhere in my stamp collection, but as I flipped through my stamp index to find it, I realized that I was mistaken (I must have seen it on one of Steph's cards - she has all the best sentiment stamps!) As Plan B I pulled out my quote books and started flipping through them, but tripped over several excellent quotes on simplifying/simplicity and changed immediately to Plan C.

I've been attracting blogs and books and quotes and all the rest of it that have resonated deeply with me and pulled me a direction I never saw coming but that now looks like the road home. It started HERE and then went HERE and on to HERE and the momentum and resources have continued to build, and what can I tell you? "Simplify" is my new mantra and - soon! - my new lifestyle. It's been a long time coming, but here we go!

Since different people are at different stages of their lives - and even in different lives! - I realize that this is NOT the path that everyone will take, but it does resonate with me, so I'm going there. Simplifying is a valid concept for everyone to a degree, however, so I'll leave you with this thought from Danielle LaPorte's guest post (the first link above): "You're giving sacred space to something that isn't sacred to you." What is it in your life that fits that description? Eliminate it (or all of the 'its') and move on freer and more engaged in what is sacred to you...

Instead of making-a-something, I created three versions of a quote file for you - all with the "simplify" theme. It's a half-page and available to you as a Word document, a PDF file, and a JPEG file (or just click on the pic below to enlarge it, then right-click and select "save" or "save as"):

I typed them in basic black, but you can play around with them in Word or Photoshop or whatever program you use to do what you will with them! I didn't crop the picture above so you can see what you're getting.

And I'm done for today! Off to finish the purge/reorg of the studio so I can function in it! Here's Mr. Linky:

52CP37 Featured Artists

Sorry I'm late posting this! I had another not-as-I-planned-it week, and then ended up doing a major studio re-org yesterday and just plain forgot! Here are the beauties submitted this week:

Steph made this amazing card - notice the oh-so-cool border treatment (my fave color combo, too...):

Shannon made a gorgeous monochromatic card:

Sarah gave us a beautiful head-start for the Christmas season, too, with this fabulous card (again with the red-and-white, too!):

I just love all three - thanks, ladies!

Once I clear a tiny spot on my worktable (the room is still in "blow-up" phase) I'll take a pic of my project and post this week's challenge. Stay tuned!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

52CP37: White Space

As I mentioned last night, this has been quite a week. Last week was quite a week. There seems to be a developing/recurring pattern. The Universe is trying to tell me something. Stephanie (bless her forever!) has been the "messenger of the angels" this week, and has sent me exactly the information I needed to hear!

In 52CP26 (July 4th), I discussed "The Space Between", and included the concept of "white space" as part of that discussion. The information Steph sent was a link to the perfect article expanding on the idea of "white space" in our lives, why it's important, and how to go about achieving it.

I'm particularly grateful for this article because my life is not really my own in some aspects right now. Anyone who has been a caretaker for elderly and/or invalid individuals knows that "me" time is at a high premium. Add in full-time employment and domestic duties, and there you have it! Mulling over and implementing the ideas in this article will be helpful - possibly life- (or at least sanity-) saving! Thank you, Steph! Here's the link: Life's Missing White Space.

For my project, I chose to go very literal with the idea of white space:

Stamp: Close To My Heart For Every Occasion; Ink: Versafine Onyx Black; Paper: Close To My Heart White Daisy; Accessories: Prima and unknown flowers, ribbon, bling brad, Cuttlebug floral fantasy embossing folder

That's a thank you card for all of you! You really have no idea how much I appreciate each of you! Have a great week, and try to carve out some white space for yourself! I'm gonna give it a shot, and then I'll report back, k? Meanwhile, here's Mr. Linky:

Saturday, September 18, 2010

52CP36 Featured Artists

Whew - what a week it's been! Apparently for you all, too - two contributions to the challenge this week! First up, Beverly reminds us to "step out with confidence" with this pretty-in-pink confection:

And Stephanie has some sage advice for us, too - straight from the lips of an 8 year-old!

My thanks to both of these ladies for their contributions and support, and my APOLOGIES, as well - I looked at both of their cards soon after they added them to Mr. Linky, but have yet to leave comments on either blog - bad, bad hostess and bad, bad friend! I'll try to be better...

I also need to thank Stephanie for her help on another front - more info on that tomorrow in the new challenge! See you there!