Weekly Photo Challenge: Beginning

What do the beginner’s mind, an organized desk, a new year,
and a bird about to take flight all have in common?

beginning4

Hope for a new beginning.
A sense of possibility.
Anticipation of something new.

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Be Open. Be Receptive.

“The open mind and the receptive heart – which are at last with fortune’s smile the informed mind and the experienced heart – are to be gained anywhere, any time, without necessarily moving an inch from any present address.”

– Eudora Welty

A few mind bending and heart opening finds from around the world found from the front row seat at my own computer screen.
Is your mind open and your heart receptive?

SEE

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14-year-old Zev from Natick, Massachusetts, has taken the photography world by storm with his surreal photo manipulations. Better known by the nickname of ‘fiddle oak’, Zev presents a highly imaginative portfolio of surreal self-portraits, which he created together with his sister Nellie (aged 17). His work seems to mirror the transition from the fairy-tale childhood worlds into those that are way more complicated and still unknown.   Websites: fiddleoak.wordpress.comflickr, and  http://www.demilked.com/surreal-self-portraits-14-year-old-fiddle-oak/

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FEEL

SUSAN SONTAG ON LOVE

The recently released volume of Susan Sontag’s diaries, As Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh: Journals and Notebooks, 1964-1980, is a treasure trove of insight — on writing, on censorship, on aphorisms — from the deepest corners of one of the greatest minds in modern history. But besides her extraordinary intellect, what made Sontag a force of nature was also her complex and ever-evolving emotional perception, brimming with extreme self-awareness and keen reflection on her relationships with others. sontagonlove_brainpickings

“Nothing is mysterious, no human relation. Except love.”
source:  Brain Pickings 

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THINK

VANISHED: THE SIXTY-YEAR SEARCH FOR THE MISSING MEN OF WORLD WAR II

The B-24, a WWII bomber, is nearly 70 feet long with a wingspan of more than 100 feet. You wouldn’t think it would be hard to find something that big, but in September 1944 a B-24 went down with its crew of 11 in the Pacific and remained hidden there for nearly seven decades. Hylton’s gripping book begins with a modern-day mystery. Did Tommy Doyle’s father, who was a member of the B-24’s crew, actually survive the crash and live a new life with a new family? Tommy’s wife, searching for an answer, located a man named Pat Scannon, explorer, wreck-hunter, seeker of lost WWII gold, who had been looking for the very same plane for the past six years. Combining the modern-day search for the missing plane and the stories of its crew as they prepared for what would be their last flight, the book is both the tale of an exciting scientific expedition and a little-known WWII story.

“I told my agent I wanted to do a book because I just wanted to find out what the hell did happen with Tommy’s dad,” he says. If this West Texas football coach who had broken down crying was representative of any significant portion of the families of 47,000 men lost in the Pacific, then “there was something big, some big epidemic of this particular kind of grief that I’d never heard about.”  – Wil S. Hylton

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Excellent Article on the story, it’s author and the book
I
t’s already downloaded to my Kindle.

Happy weekend. Happy exploring.

Be open. Be receptive.

See.Feel.Think.

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46 for 46

In approximately 46 days, I will turn, well, 46.  There it’s out.  That means you all have 46 days to get my mailing address and send a gift! Oh, wait, did I say that out loud?

gift-blue

Oops, that’s not what I meant!

What I meant to tell you is that I read something last week that made an impression on me.  From a blog I follow, called Kind Over Matter and whose tagline reads: ‘touching the world with kindness, inspiration, gentleness and love”  authored by a variety of writers, came an email with the subject line  “how giving gave my birthday meaning”.  Knowing that I am just mere days away from turning a new number, it caught my attention.  I am not one to shy away from birthdays for fear of more wrinkles, aches and creaks; I believe that age is a state of mind. But I do approach a birthday with an appreciation for and an interest in looking at what my life means, to me and to others. Cake [lava cake to be specific] and presents are always welcome, but not required. Wine, on the other hand; is most definitely required. I’ve heard that anti-oxidants are good for anti-aging…

When Random Acts of Kindness was a novel idea, I was an early adopter, intrigued by the whimsical and yet positive impact of reaching out to others in unexpected and unnecessary but delightful ways. I may have actually paid someone’s toll booth fee on at least one occasion. It also reminded me of a memorable experience from college, when all my friends and I were broke and had had our fill of Top Ramen and mac-n-cheese.  A lasting impression was made on me when one of our friends invited a large group of us out to a nice restaurant – and paid  – for a fantastic meal for everyone. He shared that in his culture, it’s the custom to give to others in your life on your birthday, to return the gifts of friendship and love.  So, the more I considered this notion of a giving birthday, the more captivated I became. The blog post illustrated how one woman completed 35 acts of giving to celebrate her 35th birthday, and because this is me we are talking about, I have to take this literally – naturally  – as much as I appreciate the random nature of things – and have 46. Right? Right.

I have been quietly pondering this possibility, considering the different sides of ‘signing myself up for this’ and on some days, I am fascinated, and on others, intimidated. I have a lot in front of me at the moment;  this is my busy season at work, a big presentation to prepare for later this spring, and so on. And then I remind myself: we are all busy, everyone has too much to do.  And each time I gave myself permission to let it go [after-all, who would know?], I found myself coming back to this idea. In my mind, the challenge has been presented, and frankly, I think it’s probably necessary, something I may even need.

So, here we go, we are doing this.  Yes, you heard me correctly. We.

I was tempted to go about this quietly, not say anything, in part because that makes sense to me and in part because it’s often just how I do things.  It’s counter-intuitive to me to make it my mission to share and then tell everyone about it. But then I realized: I would not have learned about this possibility if someone else hadn’t talked about it. I would not have been inspired if someone hadn’t taken the opportunity to be an inspiration.  So, I convinced myself that sharing this is OK and again, because it’s me, put my own twist on it, and ask you for help.

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Remember the WE that I mentioned earlier?

This is where you come in and where YOU and I become WE.  I want to let myself be nudged, and turn the turning a new number into one of giving, and I’d like your help.  My goal is to somehow give in 46 ways to mark 46 years and I need your ideas for how to give, what to give, and to whom.

Let your brains fly   – WWYD – What would You Do?  Think of ideas – from simple, sentimental, and silly, to as fun, crazy and  ridiculous as you want.  Some can cost money, and some shouldn’t.

I will make a list of our ideas…a combination of yours and mine..and over time, as I complete them, share how it goes with you. We are in this together after all.

And for those who might be wondering, my word for 2013 is…

give.

And yes, I am intimidated. And fascinated.

“We make a living by what we get.

We make a life by what we give.”

Winston Churchill

It Takes Just a Nudge to Budge

A few years ago, I resolved to no longer make new year’s resolutions. I had come to see both their transience and their permanence: a lofty idea with weak velcro and little sticking power and yet a  lasting sense of failure.  I even tried tricking myself once – in the way some of us set our clocks back an “x” number of minutes thinking that it may get us to arrive on time, but really all we do is calculate those minutes into our arrival time, and we still end up being late,  or at least not early. I tried starting my resolutions in October that year, somehow thinking that I would be more successful when no one was looking, or expecting anything, and then by January, I’d be well on my way to a new habit.  It’s o.k., you can laugh.

I have seen a few different approaches to the notion of inviting positive change into our lives  and you may remember that I am a firm believer in the 21 days rule; do something {or stop something, say…eating Cheez-Its?} for 21 days and you’ve got yourself a brand new habit.  So, a little over a year ago, I found myself needing to bring more positive balance into my life.  Things were not necessarily bad, just kind of blah, stale, stuck and I found myself in a spot where I had let some ill feelings and resentments accumulate and I wanted to shake things up a bit and reset my focus.

That was also about the time I started this blog, and I got busy reading other blogs to  – a) learn from;  b)  torture myself;  c) be inspired by or d) all of the above – and came across what would quickly become one of my favorites, Create as Folk, where Laura shared that she had adopted the practice of simply choosing one word – or phrase –  to guide her year. A mini mission statement of sorts.  She explains it as choosing an intention, or choosing your own personal theme to guide your year.”  I interpreted this to mean, for me, that the word had to have meaning that I wanted to embrace, provide direction in a way in which I wanted to go,  and challenge me. Her approach had a calming effect on me; it gave me a sense of direction without the impending fear of failure; it wasn’t a commitment to anything specific, but instead suggested a gentle guiding force willingly chosen with no certain expectations for outcome.  It would serve as a framework of sorts, and I saw it as  a way to invite something good into my life that I wanted, even though I couldn’t see its form.  I viewed her video  and clicked out; I was fascinated and intimidated – I craved the direction and challenge but feared the failure. I mulled it over and over in my mind, letting myself percolate as I do.

It finally came to me one day. Quietly. Gently. Calmly. Just like I needed. The word is even somewhat gentle and quiet.

I chose the word nudge.

nudge

I sensed  a stirring, an urging towards something new.

I felt some trepidation about stepping out of my comfort zone, but I knew I wasn’t totally comfortable where I was.

I desired to move in a new direction and knew that I needed, well, a few nudges to get there.

I wanted to be pushed. But gently.

I chose the word nudge.

Or, did it choose me?   The year began with this notion of being nudged tucked securely in my pocket, and I found that I was seeing things differently. When choices presented themselves to me, I realized they had new layers, new options; was this an opportunity to be nudged, pushed a little bit further? Nudged to take a risk, no matter how small? Nudged to try doing things a little differently? Nudged to let some things go?

With each opportunity came that same fascination and intimidation…As I started to let myself be nudged in new directions, I began to realize a few things. It wasn’t as hard as I imagined, it got easier with each experience, and even when it didn’t work; knowing I had allowed myself to be nudged far outweighed the outcome.

I had started this blog, but was moving forward without certainty, and often considered hanging up my keyboard. The ambiguity and uncertainty were uncomfortable to say the least. So, finally, I took that discomfort as a nudge to look at why and wrote a post that put it out there, fears and warts and all.  That was a turning point; I learned that when we are real, others listen and I learned that some of the best blogging takes place in the comments.   That propelled me to keep going; and I found that as I did, this blog became a part of me, an extension of the person I am, and I found that the challenge to find something to say helped cultivate my thoughts and an increased awareness, understanding and appreciation of things happening in and around my own life.  And more importantly,  I found some phenomenal  friendships with the most amazing people from all around the world.

These nudges gave me the freedom to recognize and accept more nudges, with fascination beginning to out-pace the intimidation. I started to see that I didn’t hesitate as long when making choices, I felt more peaceful than I had in a long time, and in turn, the conversations with others became richer; I felt more confident in my own day-to-day life; opened myself to new projects and people who would have intimidated me the year before, but now they fascinated me;  the old resentments that I had started out with had faded and been replaced by creativity, appreciation, peace and craving more positives. I found that I could open the vault and work my way towards important life changes.

I took  my blog on a virtual cross-country road trip; reaching out and connecting with some of the coolest hosts ever who turned into friends, and with each post I began to wonder how I could have walked away; and glad I didn’t.  Each time it happened I shook my head in disbelief but I was secretly thrilled to be part of the generous and gracious tradition of sharing blog awards.  I always took too long to receive the gift; not out of lack of gratitude but always with a Sally Field-ish disbelief.  The year ended with a gift, icing on such a delicious cake at this point, when my friend Mimi from Waiting for the Karma Truck shared the Blog of 2012 Award with me.  Best.Christmas.Gift.Ever.  Frankly, one of the year’s best nudges too. Mimi, thank you [and forgive me for not following the rules!?]

I can look back now and realize that a year has come and gone, and with it, a year of nudging and blogging, and as they say, ask myself where did the time go? I appreciate the challenge and benefits of both over the last 12 months, often but not always intertwined. I wasn’t sure where to start, but did, and had no idea where I was headed [and still not entirely sure, but I do know that I like being here] and kept going.  I looked back and my second post was titled: Just Start Somewhere. Who knew that was actually for me? It was a simple tip for getting organized and went on to say:

Choose the easiest place to start…you don’t always have to start at the beginning. If that first step seems like it will be the hardest [and keeps you from starting at all!], then start with another part of the project instead. Often, once you get started…it’s hard to stop! Get going and have fun!”

Looking back, that makes all the sense in the world, whether you need to  –  a) purge a closet; b) improve a relationship, c) start a blog, d) invite positive change into our lives; or e) all of the above  – It’s true, just start somewhere. Let yourself be nudged.

words

I have chosen my focus word, my intention for 2013, but I am going to be quiet about it  for a little longer; it’s a more outwardly focused, active word, requiring a little bit more of me. Again, I am both intimidated and fascinated. This word and I, well, we still need a little time to get acquainted, see how we work together.  Worried about Nudge? Don’t be, she  is coming with me into 2013 also;  she has served me so well, and I am quite certain that I still need more nudging…

What do you think? Does choosing a focus word make sense to you? Have you ever chosen one and followed it all year; what word might you choose to help guide you through 2013?

With intention for 2013…

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Oh my, blogging goodness – speechless update!

So, today, I am totally speechless. Which is a bit backward for a blogger, right? Let me try to explain. If I can.

It makes the most sense if you read the post from yesterday {below}  if you haven’t already…and then pop over to visit Truth and Cake again.  What I didn’t include when I shared her amazing response to being Freshly Pressed was this small important detail she included:

As an added bonus, I’ll peruse your posts and choose three that resonate with me to feature on Truth and Cake next week. Instant fame! Instant fortune! Okay, just a lot of love and warm fuzzies. I look forward to reading your fantastic posts. Have a great weekend!

In the end, the response to her invitation was amazing and there were over a hundred posts to enjoy and experience, all of them amazing, honest, funny – and everything in between.  So, head back over to Truth and Cake today, and you will see why I am in fact speechless. And amazed. And honored. And Smiling from Ear To Ear.

Rian, you are one of a kind and we are all better because of you.  Copious amounts of gratitude to you, and hats off,  Ten Gallon Hats off to you!

 

 

Posted 7.16

Last week was a big week This week is a big week in blogland – at least from my perspective.  I feel privileged to have witnessed a remarkable occurrence, a mini movement you might say.

When someone reaches success – it’s easy to sit back, soak it all in and just revel in the attention.  What would you do if you were Freshly Pressed?

Last week, one of the bloggers I have been following the last few months, was Freshly Pressed on WordPress, for the second time.  She is completely deserving, her posts are insightful, thought provoking, and always leave me thinking and considering things in a whole new light. I feel expanded, challenged and at the same time, somehow comforted when I am done reading one of her posts. Like when you have one of those great conversations with someone and find yourself thinking about it for days after. Feeling like you just connected with someone who can meet you on a level that doesn’t happen all the time.  When I saw an email arrive with her latest post, and that it was something to do with being freshly pressed, I assumed it was going to be a post about her excitement or gratitude about the recognition.  Which would be so fitting.

And, it  was. But, it was so much more at the same time.

Rian, from Truth and Cake, turned the spotlight right around and turned it into a party for all of her readers, with a simple, but profound, invitation,

“I’m inviting you to Freshly Press yourself”

and gave us all some simple guidelines for how to do just that, right there on her blog.  Imagine a party, where everyone is talking, everyone is listening, and while the conversation never stops,  everyone feels heard, everyone feels that their voice is welcomed. She shared her motivation behind it all:

“I want all of us to succeed as bloggers.”

So simple, but in a world with so much competition, it was unexpected, fresh, new, reassuring.  She took her success and in one easy turn, created a movement among her readers. Everyone started visiting each other’s blogs, but it kind of felt like folks were stopping by for coffee or tea, right? I felt a sense of community and dare I say, something  a bit kindred?  I found new blogs with voices I like, bloggers new to me found mine and expressed that they found some resonance here. In my opinion, that is success here in this blogging space. Comments left for me over the weekend, on a post I hemmed and hawed about even posting in the first place, were ones that shared they found something they related to.  Isn’t that why we are all here?

Others shared in their comments about fears of getting it right, while others commented about learning that it’s not what everyone else thinks that matters and sharing their own reasons for blogging, and most importantly the realization of the importance of just writing for themselves.  I think most of us can relate to that!

Aren’t we all in good great company?! So, my hat is off, in admiration to Truth and Cake for sharing her success with us, for connecting voices that weren’t before, for raising the bar for all of us, and for having a vision that I happen to find refreshingly revolutionary.

But wait there is more!

{ I told you it was a big week in blogland! } Earlier in the week, another one of my favorite bloggers did something pretty awesome too. It’s remarkable really, the the connections that are formed here. Ever try explaining this to any of your non-blogging friends? It’s really hard to capture.

Paula from Stuff  I Tell My Sister celebrated a halfway point; at the six month mark of blogging she  is a well decorated blogger.  And deserves each and every accolade. She is warm, welcoming, real and supportive.  Oh, and did I mention, fun?  In the same pay it forward, share the spotlight, shine the light on others, way, she passed on the recognition to several bloggers. Amazed to find myself in the midst of some really great company, I am honored to be in the position to say thank you!.  Following the  great examples set forth by these two amazing ladies, and in the spirit of blog awards, it is my turn to shine the light on others.  I’m breaking the rules too, and not following the protocol of any one award, but instead sharing with you some blogs I think are worthy of your attention!

I am grateful to have discovered some new territory in blogland recently, there are more I know I will get to know over time, but let’s start here, shall we?

I hope you will stop by each, including Truth and Cake and Stuff  I Tell My Sister  {if you don’t already}  and listen for a moment; I am sure you will find that you hear some great voices…

Borrowing from an earlier post, I am glad to have my little blogging world be ever expanded, and to each I say…

Ps…

Oh my, blogging goodness

Last week was a big week in blogland – at least from my perspective.  I feel privileged to have witnessed a remarkable occurrence, a mini movement you might say.

When someone reaches success – it’s easy to sit back, soak it all in and just revel in the attention.  What would you do if you were Freshly Pressed?

Last week, one of the bloggers I have been following the last few months, was Freshly Pressed on WordPress, for the second time.  She is completely deserving, her posts are insightful, thought provoking, and always leave me thinking and considering things in a whole new light. I feel expanded, challenged and at the same time, somehow comforted when I am done reading one of her posts. Like when you have one of those great conversations with someone and find yourself thinking about it for days after. Feeling like you just connected with someone who can meet you on a level that doesn’t happen all the time.  When I saw an email arrive with her latest post, and that it was something to do with being freshly pressed, I assumed it was going to be a post about her excitement or gratitude about the recognition.  Which would be so fitting.

And, it  was. But, it was so much more at the same time.

Rian, from Truth and Cake, turned the spotlight right around and turned it into a party for all of her readers, with a simple, but profound, invitation,

“I’m inviting you to Freshly Press yourself”

and gave us all some simple guidelines for how to do just that, right there on her blog.  Imagine a party, where everyone is talking, everyone is listening, and while the conversation never stops,  everyone feels heard, everyone feels that their voice is welcomed. She shared her motivation behind it all:

“I want all of us to succeed as bloggers.”

So simple, but in a world with so much competition, it was unexpected, fresh, new, reassuring.  She took her success and in one easy turn, created a movement among her readers. Everyone started visiting each other’s blogs, but it kind of felt like folks were stopping by for coffee or tea, right? I felt a sense of community and dare I say, something  a bit kindred?  I found new blogs with voices I like, bloggers new to me found mine and expressed that they found some resonance here. In my opinion, that is success here in this blogging space. Comments left for me over the weekend, on a post I hemmed and hawed about even posting in the first place, were ones that shared they found something they related to.  Isn’t that why we are all here?

Others shared in their comments about fears of getting it right, while others commented about learning that it’s not what everyone else thinks that matters and sharing their own reasons for blogging, and most importantly the realization of the importance of just writing for themselves.  I think most of us can relate to that!

Aren’t we all in good great company?! So, my hat is off, in admiration to Truth and Cake for sharing her success with us, for connecting voices that weren’t before, for raising the bar for all of us, and for having a vision that I happen to find refreshingly revolutionary.

But wait there is more!

{ I told you it was a big week in blogland! } Earlier in the week, another one of my favorite bloggers did something pretty awesome too. It’s remarkable really, the the connections that are formed here. Ever try explaining this to any of your non-blogging friends? It’s really hard to capture.

Paula from Stuff  I Tell My Sister celebrated a halfway point; at the six month mark of blogging she  is a well decorated blogger.  And deserves each and every accolade. She is warm, welcoming, real and supportive.  Oh, and did I mention, fun?  In the same pay it forward, share the spotlight, shine the light on others, way, she passed on the recognition to several bloggers. Amazed to find myself in the midst of some really great company, I am honored to be in the position to say thank you!.  Following the  great examples set forth by these two amazing ladies, and in the spirit of blog awards, it is my turn to shine the light on others.  I’m breaking the rules too, and not following the protocol of any one award, but instead sharing with you some blogs I think are worthy of your attention!

I am grateful to have discovered some new territory in blogland recently, there are more I know I will get to know over time, but let’s start here, shall we?

I hope you will stop by each, including Truth and Cake and Stuff  I Tell My Sister  {if you don’t already}  and listen for a moment; I am sure you will find that you hear some great voices…

Borrowing from an earlier post, I am glad to have my little blogging world be ever expanded, and to each I say…

Ps…