Christmas Photo a Day, December 31, 2019

I KNOW Barbara Walters’ voice is in your head as we get ready— Say it with me– “I’m Barbara Walters and THIS is 20/20.”

Word of the year.

2020 hindsight… .people always say, well, if only I had known this would be the result of that, I’d have done it differently, … that idea that being able to see into the future would change the decisions you make as you go through your life….

But your life, your life experiences–all of them, good bad or indifferent– have put you in the spot you are standing right now, with the people you are surrounded by, loving, working with, raising…. so, if you had 20/20 hindsight….would you use it? Of course, if you had known that I-95 was going to be backed up 6 miles, you might have taken 288 instead, right? Then your boss wouldn’t be on your case about being late again.

But, what I mean, is for the big stuff, would you use it?

When I was 13, my mother, who had abandoned me when I was three, convinced my newly teenaged rebellious self that I was wanted once again. That my strict grandparents only wanted to deny her more than an every second Sunday visitation, and that I would have freedom and love and A MOTHER if I moved back with her. I believed her.

Instead, I became Dobby the House elf and the primary caregiver of my 3 year old brother, and disappointed my grandparents beyond belief. They still loved me till the day they died. (I don’t recall getting the love part, or the mother part.)

In hindsight, though, using that 20/20 vision…. I can’t say I would change a thing. Because I met my daughter’s father on the bus-stop going to high school in sophomore year. A bus stop I would have never been on, going to a school I probably wouldn’t have attended. Then, I wouldn’t have my daughter. I might have had other children, but not HER. And that would mean I would be missing that experience, that child that I love, that woman who I adore with all my heart. THAT I can’t imagine.

And if I hadn’t had her, then, maybe I would have gone to a different college, and not met friends who are still my besties 35 years later. I could had a different career, in a different place, and met different people, and not had the chance I had when I met my hunny, and if hadn’t met him, I also wouldn’t have my granddaughter, and…. It’s not even close, is it?

LIFE IS WHAT HAPPENS WHILE YOU ARE BUSY MAKING OTHER PLANS. (john lennon)

So, how to tie this into a word of the year?

CLARITY. That is the word of the year.

clar·​i·​ty | \ ˈkler-ə-tē  , ˈkla-rə- \ the quality or state of being clear.

How I see it being used this year is somewhat amorphous … unclear… I know… It’s a work in progress, even to define…

2020… we are heading into the Roaring Twenties??

But it is important that we (I, it’s MY word of the year) see things clearly. Be certain that decisions and opinions are coming from a place of clarity and informed thought, rather than knee-jerk reactionary behaviors. This can be as little as if I am posting a Meme, have I done due diligence? Do I know that the website it may take you to isn’t simply collecting your personal information for purposes that may not be honorable? I don’t want to misinform, and I DO want others to have clarity of information, because decisions need to be made this year, and we need to be eyes wide open and we all need to see clearly, no matter how uncomfortable clarity of vision may be.

So, CLARITY. What do I want and how to get there, visualized? Like I have said in years past. the word appeared, as it does, without my prompting– I will go with it.

FOCUS! On the Word of the Year.

(I was somewhat astonished that FOCUS has never been “my word” before… I am a photographer, right? You would have thought I would have STARTED with that one and then moved on 😉)

However, I had started this “Word of the Year” with a FOCUS on quilting…indeed I think where I first heard of a “Word of the Year” was in an online quilt forum. So, my brain didn’t go elsewhere. And as I have stated before, the word picks me.  If I consciously settle on “Abracadabra” as my word, some other word jumps out and says, “Not so fast, there, I get a say, too.” (here is last year’s post, and my entire word list since I started this exercise)

“FOCUS” is the opposite of “Rabbit Hole”, in case you were wondering…

And I think THAT is actually the point of this word.

I can’t have it all. (I know, what a bummer!) I can’t DO it all, either.  And I think there’s a lot of “ooh, shiny thing” in my world. …I am interesting, dammit! Or interested. .. or distracted, or something…

I need to FOCUS. (Which is a sneaky way of saying resolution, if you aren’t careful, so I will be VERY CAREFUL…)

FOCUS on essentials: Health, family, friends, finances, work-related.

FOCUS on topics of interest– Genealogy vs quilting vs photography vs travel vs gardening (Giving that one up as a focus…. Easy. …Because no matter what my intent is at the beginning of the spring, by late spring it’s too hot, too buggy and I stop- this does NOT mean you won’t be getting garden photos when I am enjoying it, by the by…)

I have a laundry list of THINGS I WANT TO DO. I really need to FOCUS on 2 or 3, accomplish them, having given them the time, FOCUS and energy they deserve and then, move on. Enough of trying to fit A, B, C, D, E and F into one day off…

But, also, I can’t do ONLY one, because I do tend to flit.  I need to have some A list/left brain things, AND some B list/right brain things so that I don’t burn out on any one thing.

Genealogically, I REALLY need to transcribe and scan and then disperse originals to a place that is capable of caring for them. And, of course, disseminating the information to family. I don’t need the TREE part done, I feel pretty confident there, at least back 8 or 9 generations and even off into various branches. But there is SO MUCH paper! (Thanks, aunt Gertrude!) Following up beyond that, I would like to consolidate some of the info into a bound photo book. This is a HUGE project overall. Will I finish in a year? Doubtful…. but I do need to get it moving.

Quilting?  I am embarrassed to express in numbers the quantity of unfinished quilts –(unfinished, in my lexicon, indicates the TOP isn’t done)– let’s just say I don’t need to be inspired by any new ideas, I have plenty of things to keep me busy.

Photography? Household? Career? Yep, this could grow unwieldy, and fast! I will be making similar lists for each of these topics, and will try to focus on completion…

I have settled on a list making, journal type thing…. The Happy Planner was too much– it seemed to me like the making of the page became more important than the list or the doing…

IMG_6525

Yes, I took that lens and cleaned it after seeing all that dust!!!

“The best camera is the one you have with you,”–(Chuck Jarvis) and so I am sticking to that concept in choosing “One Note’ …. I auditioned many, read a lot of threads other friends  started on FB, took all their responses, loaded up my iPad with Apps and played for the last two weeks. (Anything that required monthly payments or such in order to unlock its magical real potential was an immediate NO)

I loved and liked a lot of features on a lot of different apps, but settled on One Note for a variety of reasons which are particular to my needs.  If you are looking for a productivity app, that is actually the best way to do it… ask people for recommendations but choose for your “learning style”.

I am also totally going to admit I hardly ever live up to this post. Quiz me in March about what my word was. I dare ya!

HAPPY 2019! It looks like it will be AMAZING. (here’s hoping, anyway!)

Joy!

Say goodbye to 2017 (Good riddance?) Hello, 2018 (Here’s hoping!)

My word of the year is MINDFUL. (I thought it was going to be JOY.  Really, I thought I had this years word taken care of early.) That’s what I get for thinking I had control of this little yearly exercise; as you hear me whine every year, I don’t get to pick the word. It picks me.

MINDFUL? Certainly, it’s a word that requires a bit of thinking—I just got up for a sweater; it’s chilly here in the studio at the moment, and I know I had a sweater when I came home. And so, I looked in two spots in the house and then went and found a different one.  And I returned to sit down, and guess what I had thoughtlessly draped over the chair I was sitting on? THAT is not a mindful experience!

But, I wanted JOY!! That was the word. I knew it! I am in the middle of my first Festival of KonMari-ing my home, keeping only those things that spark JOY! Joy, as opposed to minimalism. I am somewhat wary, having read the books, to become so devoted so quickly that I toss out all my everything, simply because it doesn’t bring me JOY.

I am on a message board where others are on this journey, and I won’t lie, as many of their experiences I am envious of, there are just as many who I fear are going too gung-ho, too quickly and they may regret it.  I am aware that things are just that–THINGS. But, I have reservations when they get to the place that they are tossing memories like so much old garbage. The throwing out of letters, of PHOTOS or selling of heirlooms because they are essentially on a “Fad Diet “… What happens when they no longer are satisfied with nothing and want the old back? Yes, you can buy new everything except new memories and tangible reminders of such. (I digress…this is a word of the year post. But feel free to contact me to talk about KonMari I’ve added this hyper-link because she seems to be doing it right –this isn’t a one-weekend slog!)

But, as this word JOY has been with me while I am doing my modified exercises toward the goal not of nothing, but of only things that spark joy, the word MINDFUL popped up.  And wouldn’t leave.

And then I got this for Christmas.

MINDFUL.img_0429

I can’t throw away all my anything, because JOY to me comes from knowing I can go into a drawer and pull out that random something or other, rather than the stress and expense of having to stop by the store to buy a new one of something all the time. I find JOY not in having a butter knife that I can turn to when I have a screw that needs to be tightened, but a toolbox with a screwdriver. Yes, if I was in a pinch, a butter knife would do the trick. I don’t want to live my entire life in a pinch, however.

Mindful means that as I Kon Mari’ed all my shirts, I got rid of a lot of things that didn’t fit well, or that didn’t look good. I still have more than I NEED, of course I do. (What appealed to me at the beginning is that she doesn’t say you can only have 4 or 6 shirts, but to keep only the shirts that bring you joy, whatever the number)  I tossed, folded, organized and limited the space for the shirts. But, now, if I am MINDFUL of that drawer, and I am honest about what is in there, I am aware that I am wearing still only a fraction of what I kept. What I felt I needed.

So, MINDFUL. Doing one thing at a time, rather than multi-tasking?  Sure. That is a tough one. Trying to be present in the moment…. choosing that quilt pattern and settling down to watch it develop into a gift and thinking about how the person may react? I can do that. Not mindlessly cutting fabric because it’s there, but thinking through what I hope to accomplish, and being present for that time. Vacuuming. Hmmm….that’s a mindless activity! There’s 14-16 hours that I am awake…am I MINDFUL of the things that happen, the interactions I have, the responses I give or things that are said? We shall see!

I know you want to see them, so here are (links to all the other Words of the year with which I have indulged myself ….) Happy NEW YEAR!!!!

(Hey, BY THE WAY, THIS was my 1,000th post!!!!)

And this article, just found it works with the MINDFUL part of things… not so much to save or not spend, but to be aware ….

2017, Try to be kind to us. Please.

HAPPY Sunday!! Oh, and Happy New Year. 2017!! We (most of us) made it through 2016. It was a near thing, it seemed sometimes, and a bumpy ride. But. There it is; we shall try again.

CHANGECONNECT— ENOUGH— CHOOSE— INSIGHT— WEATHER— MOTIONBALANCE— DELIBERATE —All of these link to past year “Word of the Year” posts.

I have found that “the word” finds me. I can not simply be reading someone else’s word, and run off with it as my own. The lofty promise of some zen-like list of my goals doesn’t work for me in providing a word. M15747837_10212245347792828_7681154613875706397_ny word tends to come like the fog, on little cat feet. And, like a cat, can not be deterred or distracted (by bigger, grander words.) Try as I might, once it arrives, it keeps pestering, stepping over and onto and around, and I am helpless to change it.

I could try to, I know. I could write an essay on some other word, but as I did that, THE word would keep trying to interfere.  Therefore–

TRY. My word is TRY because that was the one that wouldn’t stop. But, when I took a peek at it on Dictionary.com, it seems like a pretty incredible three letter word as word of the year!

 TRY–to attempt to do or accomplish:  Try it before you say it’s simple.  To test the effect or result of (often followed by out):  to try a new method; to try a recipe out. To endeavor to evaluate by experiment or experience:  to try a new field; to try a new book. To test the quality, value, fitness, accuracy, etc., of:  Will you try a spoonful of this and tell me what you think of it? To put to a severe test; subject to strain, as of endurance, patience,affliction, or trouble; tax: to try one’s patience. To make an attempt or effort; strive: Try to complete the examination. Give it the old college try, Informal. to make a sincere effort: I gave it the old college try and finally found an apartment.

TRY offers a lot of self-love, as well. TRY it. It isn’t saying you have to make something happen; it isn’t judging you for missing;  you just have to TRY. Give your best shot. Don’t feel you have messed up by 15726905_10212258346717793_5317902501914750240_neating that doughnut, or not running the extra mile. Just try to paint, or to learn some French, or to figure out how to …. 

Try says you have permission to forget your reusable bags when you head to the grocery store. Next time, you’ll try to remember them. You don’t have to throw up your hands in defeat of ever sticking to a budget, or saving more, when you realize that your goal of spending less on your clothes this year was blown on that one really nice pair of shoes. As long as tomorrow comes, you have another chance to try to get it right.

These all seem like positive, forward moving, active thoughts…. They require being present. And, to continue trying to figure it all out…a goal for 2017 if I have ever heard one!  Only the best to you and yours in 2017! Be well!

Ch-ch-changes…

Happy 2016!  Time to rip open that new calendar! Break out the gym membership card, give up all that chocolate, stop staying up so late reading; you know– it’s resolution time! Ha! Not here. I talk the talk, alright, and what do we gain from it? (I will resolve to doing ONE of these things.)

I know, I know. “Shush. Too. Perky. Not. Enough. Coffee.”

img_0677No resolutions from this woman. But a WORD for the year, that I can do.  This word came, as it does, in the same organic fashion I have grown to expect. It pops up and says “Hi, I’m your word: You get to deal with it now!” It won’t leave, and it  is noisier than the other words. So, I always go with it. Introducing—

CHANGE

It is certainly the right word for the year. Big changes afoot. Timmy JUST retired on Monday after 37 years! (He’s far too young to have worked that long, I know 🙂 ) Yet, as he is  lacking a sufficient stash to be a gentleman of leisure–and he didn’t marry money– AND he keeps bringing home the wrong lottery ticket–he is going to be starting a new career on Monday.

This is huge as far as CHANGE goes; now I have more vacation days than he does!  But that’s probably OK; we can’t afford to have 6 weeks off if the paychecks are so much smaller. The REALLY big thing about this is that he will come home, EVERY NIGHT. He will not work 16 hour days, he will not have to go to work at midnight and get drafted to stay until 4pm the next day. He will SLEEP at night. And get up in the mornings! Talk about CHANGE!

“But,” you say. “That’s all well and good, and congratulations and all. But it’s YOUR blog, your word!”  True, that.

It IS time for change.  25 years in retail/management is long enough for anyone! So, what DO I want to do when I grow up? I am a creative problem solver…Now I have a problem to solve, too. But, some smaller changes can also be worked on, as well.

  • Can I become a finisher of quilts?
  • Can I change the desire to buy things; be happy with what I have?
  • Can I finally edit ALL the photos?
  • Can I do the dishes before I go to bed?
  • Can I change our eating habits?
  • Can I cook at home more?

It will be a big adjustment to our little corner of the world, this less money/ more time situation, but so much better, as long as we both approach this year as a time of change, of different, smaller expectations. I recall the truth of the saying, “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.”

12435979_10208893178030679_1667159247_nThese are previous years words–click on any to read that years essay.

CONNECT— ENOUGH— CHOOSE— INSIGHT— WEATHER— MOTIONBALANCE— DELIBERATE

Have a GREAT year! (Do YOU have a word? How does it work for you?)

—Do you LIKE this? Share it, please!   My photos are available for purchase.  Follow me onFacebook. On Twitter, I am @rteest42 . @rteest42 for Instagram. My  Etsy shop!Photos, jewelry.

 

2015…word of the year.

 

is… CONNECT.IMG_6108

 

Happy 2015!  As per usual, I fought the word. “What?” I thought, when, about a week ago, while not really even thinking about the word of the year, “Connect” jumped up and waved its arms in the air. “Look at ME!”

 

Connect, I thought. Huh. What in the name of anything can I do with YOU? And so, stubborn wench that I am, I ignored it, and listened out for a sensible word. Right. That never happens. Remember ENOUGH or CHOOSE or INSIGHT or WEATHER  or MOTION or BALANCE or DELIBERATE or INCLUSIVE? (I look at this list and think maybe my inner Buddhist is coming out)

So, I randomly thought of other words (NEVER works, by the way. Never.) I tried,while going about my week, to figure out what CONNECT could have to to with my art, my quilting, because that is where the concept of doing a word started for me.  And, yet.

 

This morning–today, January 1, 2015, I looked up the definition of the word connect while getting ready to write this blog post.

 

1794641_10203652074326362_1275265419_n-001Well, DUH. Connect. To Join, link, or fasten together. To unite or bind.

 

Right there, the first definition, is about quilting!!!!! What more does one do in quilting, at the most elemental level, than attach two pieces of fabric together? And what is the last step, but to bind the quilt? (We shall not talk, today, about all the intermediate steps, of reverse engineering, running out of material, mis-measuring…) Let’s keep it classy, ok?  But will this have anything to do with the bigger picture, outside the studio walls…?

 

Connect verb (used with object)   1.to join, link, or fasten together; unite or bind:   2. to establish communication between; put in communication: 3. to have as an accompanying or associated feature: 4.to cause to be associated, as in a personal or business relationship: to connect oneself with a group of like-minded persons;  5.to associate mentally or emotionally http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/connect

 

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I shall connect with my fabric, indeed! As soon as I finish writing this post, as a matter of fact, I have to scramble to finish a project.

But on the larger scale, connecting, connection; it’s the thing we all want more than anything, isn’t it? Isn’t it why we hug, or hold hands? Why we walk side by side, why the cat climbs on you the moment you have created a lap?

So, this year, the “connect” I want to work on is the one on one, personal connecting… Comment on this post, start a connection with me. I want to know better the people I know…Connect in real life and in this new small world of the smart phone, the internet, where all my friendships can be at my fingertips…

I think making the threads that connect us stronger is a wonderful goal.

HAPPY New Year!!!

This quilt is called Emails from China, designed and worked on while my daughter was in China in 2009. We stayed connected during that time via emails that came while I slept, and were answered while she slept…

Enough IS Enough

My Word of the year, 2014. 

ENOUGH!  (to see previous years …)

This one showed up a few weeks ago, driving to work.  A quilting group I am part of annually shares the words they want to use as a talisman for their art. And life, as the case may be. As it happens most years, the word of the year chooses me, and I am rarely in the mood for it, or willing to give it access to my entire year, but once rooted, it refuses to allow other words the opportunity to audition for such a lofty spot in my world! And this time, I feel like maybe it needs to be tattooed on my forehead.

Because, really, enough already!  (I feel somewhat successful in last years word, Choose. I did have the foot surgery, I do have a quilt going into MAQS this February…)

if-you-have-food-fridge

Where does the word ENOUGH fall in your life? As the parent hollering “ENOUGH” up the stairs at the children bickering? At the level of stupidity at work, does the word actually mean “Uncle”? I give up, I’ve had ENOUGH, I’m moving on?

Or is it more of a peaceful, comforting hug, reminding you that you have more than ENOUGH to make you happy, if only you allow it?

You know the future’s lookin’ brighter
Every mornin’ when I get up
Don’t be thinkin’ ’bout what’s not enough, now baby
Just be thinkin’ ’bout what we got

Oh-oh, rich man, poor man, now
Really don’t mean all that much
Mama’s always told you, girl
That money can’t buy you love
”  Eddie Money

(Yes, even songs on the radio jump on the “Word of the Year” Bandwagon. Eddie Money, Philosopher. Who knew?)

So, ENOUGH. I, of course, have ENOUGH.

  • ENOUGH food that deciding what to make for dinner is the dilemma.
  • ENOUGH food that I can’t recall the last time I went to bed hungry.
  • ENOUGH money that deciding what restaurant to have dinner at is a question we ask too often.
  • ENOUGH money that we have to decide where we want to go on vacation each year, rather than having to decide which bill we don’t pay this month.
  • ENOUGH heat in our home that I sleep warmly that well, scratch that, I think I could always use another quilt or two on the bed! But I have them to use!
  • ENOUGH clothing that I don’t have to do laundry every third day. (Actually, so much clothing that the laundry seems to be full every third day!)
  • ENOUGH books (blasphemy!) that I could never be bored.
  • ENOUGH fabric to quilt every day of my life, and have to live to a ripe old age before running low. (Although, thread and batting might be needed.)
  • ENOUGH quilting patterns I shouldn’t ever have to duplicate a quilt.
  • ENOUGH creativity to ditch the majority of the patterns I do have, except for inspiration.
  • ENOUGH beads to make jewelry for more people than I know.
  • ENOUGH  cats that Nope, never too many of those.
  • ENOUGH health that most days I get up headache free, and can throw my legs over the edge of the bed with only mild groaning, can do the things I want and need to do with only marginal complaint and pain. And I make it through my day without medication of the life-saving sort. Too many people don’t have that luxury.
  • ENOUGH support from the people around me, who love me as I am, unconditionally, that I can soar!
  • ENOUGH friends and family that my Christmas tree looks dwarfed by presents.20131218-IMG_7550
  • ENOUGH hours in the day to Ok, so this word isn’t all-inclusive, and has limits. But, that sounds like LIFE.
  • ENOUGH love that I feel rich, indeed.

What do do with this word:

Therein lies the issue.  I can easily cut in half the number of clothes I buy. That frees up money spent at thrift stores, and time looking around them. I could easily lighten the load on the closet and the dresser and still have ENOUGH to be suitably attired for whatever comes along.  I can stay out of the quilt shops, and really only buy what is essential to finishing, not something because I must have this fabric. (Don’t fear, Joyce! You KNOW I will be buying!) Don’t see this as a resolution, by the way. I like pretty things!

I think this word is more of the emotional variety.

  • Glass half full and all that.
  • See the positive.
  • Look for the good parts of not continuing to acquire; indeed, looking at what can be removed from life, without creating a sense of denial or punishment.
  • A lot of that is about creativity and about being happy in your own skin and happy in the place you find yourself. 
  • Looking at everything you need to say no to, and realizing all the things you get to say yes to that so many other people couldn’t imagine!
  • Lighting the candle or cursing the darkness.
  • Being upset it isn’t Paris or excited that it is a vacation! 

So, soon will begin the declutter. Again. This time, it needs to be not only of things, but of thoughts. Knowing it’s a WONDERFUL life, just the way it is.  That, indeed, is ENOUGH.

I Wish You Enough— “I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright.
I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more.
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive.
I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much
bigger.
I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.
I wish enough “Hello’s” to get you through the final “Goodbye.”

(click the link to get the entire story that makes the email rounds)

WHY enough is enough-A woman I used to know as a child wrote this; it doesn’t HAVE to pertain only to Christmas!