Making Things Happen

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On January 1st I started reading Lara Casey’s book Make it Happen: Surrender Your Fear, Take the Leap, Live on Purpose.  I had been introduced to Lara’s blog last year and had wanted to read this book for awhile.  I’ll spend more time reviewing the book itself in another post soon, but today I want to share with you some of the work that came out of reading that book and also Lara’s blog series on 2016 goal setting.  As with most years, the beginning of 2015 started off very promising and I even blogged about living a year of intention back in January of last year.  Somehow, as often happens, things went off course.  So, I found myself in December wondering where the hell 2015 had gone and feeling defeated that I hadn’t accomplished all those things I’d wanted to do.  So, this year, and we’re only a couple of months in, I’m already finding that the key to making things happen is 1) to take action – actually go and do stuff, and 2) tending – if you don’t monitor those goals and keep focused attention on them, you can’t actually accomplish them.

So, for 2016 I am going to work through the goal setting process and share my progress here not only as a way to be accountable, but also because hopefully someone else will benefit from it.

The first thing Lara has you do is to first check in with yourself – how are you?  I won’t share the epic novel I wrote, but the main theme is that I’m feeling very disappointed in myself for getting so off course last year and feeling like I was basically in the same place that I’d started the year at.  Also, I had a life-changing lightning bolt moment recently of discovering what my purpose is.  And although I feel this huge sense of relief from having identified where I’m going, I’m feeling a bit lost though not knowing how to get there or what it’s going to look like.  But, I’m willing to have faith that as long as I move in that direction, I’ll have the guidance that I need.

Next, it’s time to take a look back at 2015…

What worked:

  • I detailed my crafty accomplishments and new endeavors over on my Cozyegg blog here
  • I was re-introduced to essential oils through my friend Sylvia and became an independent distributor of Young Living essential oils
  • Read the Red Tent (my New Year’s planned start for 2015) and 9 other books
  • I got to reconnect with my friend Marty and visit with other high school friends, plus help raise money for Adele’s retirement
  • Eric and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary
  • I completed my first Whole 30
  • I made some new friends
  • I was able to take all of my vacation time and holiday time without having to check in to work at all
  • Eric and I went to visit my Dad’s grave at Christmas, which I’ve been meaning to do for three years
  • I reached out to my mom to try to begin healing that relationship
  • I had a huge attitude shift with work and on letting go of the stress thanks to my essential oils (Stress Away!)

Three Lessons I Learned from What Worked:

  1. I don’t have to kill myself with working so much, I am better if I completely unplug and rest
  2. Essential oils have changed my life and using them daily makes a difference
  3. I do better focusing on one thing until it’s done rather than jumping around. Also, I do better doing my own thing rather than being dependent upon someone else’s participation.

What hasn’t been working?

  • Allowing myself to get burnt out
  • Running around with no purpose/no focus to my actions
  • I feel like I can’t do it perfect so I don’t do it at all
  • Allowing myself to be totally thrown off course by someone else’s stuff
  • Comforting myself with things that are bad for me (eating junk, overspending, mindless internet time-wasting i.e. the mindless scroll)
  • Health challenges
  • Dealing with feeling unbalanced/unsatisfied in some areas and then getting bogged down in the sadness of everything
  • Missing my family so bad it hurts
  • Feeling burdened with the weight of financial stress
  • Procrastinating and not moving forward, staying stuck
  • Completely wrecked over some work situations and office politics
  • Feeling like I never have enough time

Three Lessons I Learned from What Didn’t Work:

  1. Don’t get sidetracked by distractions – distractions can be other people’s stuff, shiny & new, want to vs. have to, mindless scrolling
  2. Take time for me – rest – mentally, physically, emotionally. I need time to recharge.
  3. Concentrated focus is what allows me to be most productive and stay on target with my goals/purpose/projects

What Season Are You In?

I feel like I’ve been in winter – it’s been a really hard season that has stretched over the past several years. I think the beginning of last year was like a false spring, and then winter returned. At the end of the year I was able to do some reflecting and be still and really look at what’s important to me. I feel like now I am in spring, and reaching toward summer when I dig in and get my hands dirty to do the work.

So that’s my look back at 2015.  And I feel like really taking a hard look at what I’ve learned from what worked and what didn’t work will be very helpful in starting to define my goals for 2016 and what I can build on.  Check back soon for the next installment of this series and how I’m working towards defining my goals and working daily to achieve them.

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And So We Begin

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Late in 2013 a friend directed me to this post on a favorite blog.  We talked about wanting to make 2014 the year of living deliberately.  I was inspired to be more discerning in where I focused my energy and choosing to plan over my usual flighty approach to things.  Shortly after the new year my world tilted on its axis and while there were some good memories made in 2014, I carried with me some things that weighed heavily on my spirit during the year.  My eyes were opened wide with wonder for the new experiences I embraced, which was a much-needed counterbalance to my heart’s ache over the empty spaces.

It was only in the last weeks of December that I was able to pause and be still and sit with it all.  What I learned in those solitary moments bathed in white twinkle lights was that it is truly time to slow down, to take care of myself, and to be deliberate in my actions.  So much of my life is internal.  I get caught in my thoughts and my dreams and my plans, but to really and truly live deliberately I have to put actions behind those intangible thoughts.  I have learned that I am resilient.  That even when it seems as if everything that was a constant in my world is stripped away, and even when it feels like God has hit me over the head with a 2×4 to get my attention, I’m still standing.

So now the challenge is what to do with what I now know?  What do I want to create in 2015 for my life?

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I want to focus on good stuff.  I know that sounds overly simplistic, but that’s what I want to do.  I want to be happy.  I want to be my authentic self and all that that brings with it.  I want to be excited about life and not just going through the paces.  I want to open myself up to all that life has to offer – even though that means being vulnerable.  I don’t want to look back on 2015 and say “I wish I could have…”  And the critical thing for me lies in the act of doing, not just thinking about and planning, but the actual doing.

So here is what I’m doing –

★ I want to nurture my relationships.  The past few years have been so full of protecting myself from hurt and anger and all those messy emotions that are just part of life.  I shut down and insulated myself against anything that might find the smallest chink in my armor and unravel me.  I want to allow myself to love and be loved, to reach out and connect and be open to giving and receiving. I’ve already started working on a clean slate and letting the past go and have reached out to a couple of people in the hopes of starting a fresh conversation between us.

★ I want to read more this year, and read more involved books and a little less of the potato chip variety.  I set the same goal of reading 25 books that I had last year on Goodreads.  I’ve started reading The Red Tent by Anita Diamant.  After seeing the mini series, it was a perfect choice to pull off the shelf.

★ I want to spend more time on my spirituality.  One of the things I thought about last year was reading the Bible. This weekend I downloaded the She Reads Truth app and started the Bible in a Year plan.  It’s feeding my soul.

★ I want to be more active.  I’ve spent so much time thinking about and goal-setting about losing weight and getting healthy, etc. but it’s time to focus on the doing.  The 2,015 miles in 2015 challenge on Instagram immediately struck a chord with me.  What better way to encourage myself to get moving?  One step at a time!

★ I want to learn new things.  In the past I have allowed myself to become paralyzed by not doing new things for fear of failing.  But if I never try, I never practice, I never take that first step – I will never grow.  I’m learning to knit and I’m practicing because it’s not perfect and I’m still not entirely sure what I’m doing, but I’m learning.  And I’m learning because it makes me happy.

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I think 2015 is going to be challenging, but I hope also it will be rewarding.  I like to think that January is an empty bowl, full of promise and possibility of what’s to come.

And so it begins…

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December in Photos

December in Photos

 

December was a very emotional month, full of equal parts joy and sadness.  There was a lot of stuff going on that resulted in a lot of stress, upset, etc. in my world.  So I felt a bit like I was balanced on a razor’s edge throughout the holidays.  But, there was definitely a lot of good stuff in December.

Over the months leading up to the holidays, Eric and I spent some time doing some home improvement and a little bit of decorating.  We really wanted to have some things “done” before we had guests over for our holiday party.  One of the big things we did was buy two rugs.  We bought one for the living room back in October, you may remember, and you can see it in the photo of our dessert table.  At the beginning of December, our second rug arrived for the kitchen.  It took us a long time to finally find something we loved, and as you can see Thutmose loves it too!

We also got snow near the beginning of the month, and ice with it, so we were cozied up in the house for several days waiting for it to thaw out so that the roads were passable.  The ice storm put us a little behind in getting our tree, so we were rushing a bit to decorate this year.  Once all the decorating was done though, I always realize how happy the site of a decorated tree lit up makes me.  It’s amazing the transformation everything goes through at this time of year.  Magical!

I worked on some Christmas projects – one was a mystery stitching piece that a part was released each Sunday from Thanksgiving through December 10th or so.  It’s the little nativity scene you can see.  I loved working on it, and most especially I loved that each Sunday I was able to focus on a related Bible verse and really think about the season.  And I also bought the backing fabric for my Christmas quilt so that I could get it finished up.  Those hot cocoa cups just did me in.  So cute!  One of the things I do love about my time off around the holidays is getting to work on some of my crafty projects while I’m home.

We had our dessert party as usual, which was lots of fun.  Of course, I always love picking out recipes for treats I’m going to make so that each year it’s a little bit different.  I loved the vintage look of our Christmas cards too (Target!).  And Thut’s favorite napping spot was on the table with my Dickens Village.  He was so happy there, and every time we would see him, we’d comment that he was scaring the villagers.  So funny!

We took my niece to see the Trains at Northpark at the end of the month, our other annual tradition.  It included lunch at Pie Five and that chicken pesto pizza is to die for!

I also started and finished the last book in the Beautiful series on one decadent Saturday morning, had my very first macaron, and treated myself to a facial.  Such fun!  So, as I said, there were definitely some great moments of joy and peace during the last month of 2013.

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November in Photos

Nov in Photos

November started off with a bang!  The first Saturday I attended a book signing for Christina Lauren for their latest book in the Beautiful series – Beautiful Player.  I’ll have a post up soon on the series and the book signing too, but I finished Beautiful Player shortly after getting it at the signing!  And speaking of books, I also got to go see Catching Fire the night it came out in the theatre – loved it!

I spent some time during the month looking at my in progress craft projects, working on some, and planning for some new things.  One of my big projects towards the end of the month was working on finishing some Christmas ornaments I’d stitched.

Of course, one of the things I was excited about was visiting a local camera store and checking out a variety of camera bags in preparation for my trip to Germany/Paris.  I loved the bright yellow of the one in the photo, but I ended up going with something slightly different.  Post to come on that as well and why I chose what I did.

As the holidays approached, I celebrated with a super blingy manicure – I used my new polish, When Monkeys Fly, over a gold I already had on hand and wowza!!  Eric and I made apple pancakes for breakfast, which is our tradition for Thanksgiving morning, and then watched the parade.  We went to my mom’s for our cozy Thanksgiving dinner and it was really a nice, relaxing day.  So much to be thankful for!

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July in Photos

July in Photos

This summer is just zooming by like nobody’s business.  Frankly, July was a rough month.  Started out fine but then it took a nosedive.  My crazy work schedule took over again and a lot of late nights left me feeling overwhelmed and stressed.  Near the end of the month I made some adjustments in my attitude and did my best to start looking at things from a place of gratitude and abundance.  Amazing what a difference that makes.  Two things that have really helped me are the IG posts from @tarotandtea, particularly her daily tarot advice, and Katie O’Keefe’s blog and IG.  I’m loving watching her moving through #intentionalaugust and #mth (making things happen).  Both are two roads to the same destination, a destination of re-engaging with myself and what means most to me.  All a work in progress, but I’m feeling a lot better equipped to deal with the “stuff” that’s going on in my life right now.

So, what adventures did I get up to in July?  It was so nice to have a long weekend for 4th of July, and you can see I celebrated with a fun mani.  I spent a day with some girlfriends over that weekend too – I even baked cookies!  Eric and I opted to not go out to see fireworks, but instead we enjoyed the evening at home and watched some of the specials on tv.

We had lots of rain in July and it actually made for a much cooler summer than we’re used to in Texas.  I love it when it rains, so it’s always a little bonus.

As part of my attitude adjustment, I spent some extra time on myself – nails (of course), some new makeup (eyeliner and powder), dug out my favorite summertime heels (don’t those cherries kill you?), and some summery statement necklaces like my starfish that jingle!  I even went through all the lipstick I have hoarded in my purse.  Amazing what you find in there.

I had a little bit of relaxation time that I spent working on a gift for my Goddaughter (a summery yellow quilt) and catching up on my DVR’d shows, namely the red carpet from the Oscars.  Yes, it was in February.

Eric and I also did something for ourselves, we finally ordered our frame for the photo we printed from our honeymoon so we could hang it over our bed.  The frame is perfect and goes beautifully with the warm tones of the sunset from the top of the Spanish Steps in Rome.  Apologies for the reflection/glare in the photo…but trust me it looks wonderful.  And it allowed us to mark our bedroom as complete on our home improvement list.

So that was July, and we’re already halfway through August so I’d better start thinking about my August in Photos post!

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May in Photos

Hello June
I’m looking forward to June and the start of summer.  May was rather a rough month for me.  It started off well, and then took a bit of a nosedive.

May 2013 Mosaic

At the beginning of the month our guild had our first workshop of the year, and I got the chance to finally meet a friend in person for the first time when she came to teach. She designed a beautiful piece for us and it was lovely just to get to give her a big hug and visit while I whisked her from place to place. We had a lovely dinner that evening at Via Real, with margaritas, of course!

Our guild meeting on the first Tuesday of the month also brought another visitor from out of town, a woman who collects and lectures on Mexican Samplers.  What a treat that was to hear her speak and get to see some of the antique samplers she brought.

Work got crazy busy around the 7th of the month – I was working 10-12 hour days plus three nights a week I was on conference bridges from 10pm to 1 or 2am and working weekends too with no end in sight.  Despite being so tired I could hardly see straight, I tried my best to focus on little bits of gratitude in the every day, whether it be the first BLT I’ve had in years or an amazingly beautiful holo polish.

Eric and I were able to attend my niece’s choir concert.  It was a great show, and what a throwback to be in the cafeteria of the same elementary school my sister and I went to.  Nothing much has changed!

I finished reading the Jenny Lawson book that I started on our flight back from New York in April and I decided to pick up the last Dan Brown book.  Figured it was time I read it, since the new one was being released.  I have made little to no progress in it, not so much due to the book, more to do with my limited reading time.  But Fridays at the allergists office always offered me a thirty minute respite from my day and time to read.

As you can probably imagine though, I made it through the month with LOTS of coffee and sometimes just sheer willpower.  I am so looking forward to June and summer and re-engaging with life.

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Memorial Day

Last year for Memorial Day, we went out to the cemetery and saw my dad’s headstone for the first time since it was placed.  I was amazed at the amount of people there for the ceremony.  I’m glad to have experienced it, but this year we decided that a quiet remembrance of the day was more in line with how I’m feeling these days.  But, I thought it would be nice to share some of the photos I took last year.

I love that they place a flag at each of the graves.  And the ceremony was very nice and so moving.

You can sort of get a feel from the photos how many people were actually there.  We had to park offsite and take a bus into the cemetery.

Such a site to see.

I brought some red and white carnations to put on my dad’s grave.  Nothing to compare to the wreath below, but I’m glad I brought them.

The weather was hot hot hot last year, and boy did I get sunburned after standing outside for hours.  But it was worth it.

I think this year, instead of going at Memorial Day, I’ll go for his birthday, which is coming up in June.  It will be a small and quiet memorial for just us.  But, it will be just as important.

Thank you to all the men and women who have served our country.  And thanks as well to those who remember and honor them.

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March in Photos

March in Photos

Something crazy has been going on with my blog and/or WordPress over the past week.  I keep trying to come in and do a new blog post and haven’t been able to!  So, finally here is March in photos.

March was kind of a month of indulgences.  Between the Mozartkugeln from Germany, the yummy homemade pizza, a good book and some nail polish, I was kind of on a roll!  Really, I think a good part of it was a bit of escapism from some stuff that hasn’t been so fun to deal with this month.

One of the best things this month was going to the Dallas Quilt Show with a friend.  I haven’t been to the quilt show in years, and it was such a fabulous day full of inspiration and even a little shopping.  And the inspiration hasn’t left yet.  I’ve been itching to sew!!  Once I finished my Kate Spain quilt in February, I was dying to get back to my Kiss Kiss quilt.  In March, I managed to get all of the cutting finished and also got all of my pieced blocks sewn together.  Next up is starting to assemble the rows.  I can’t wait to see this beauty come together!  And I finished up a hexy pincushion for a friend’s birthday and sent it on its way.  And a beautiful little thank you card came in the mail for the birthday gift I’d sent to another friend last month.  Isn’t that little bird with the blue and white bowls adorable?

Some days it really started to feel like Spring, and the trees were blooming with glorious color.  But we keep getting days of temps dipping back into the 30s and 40s, so I indulged in a little Mexican hot chocolate in the evening.

In family life, my boys are getting so big!  They are a year old and we are feeling so fortunate to have them in our lives.  Their daily shenanigans really keep us on our toes!!  In June it will mark one year that we’ve had them, which I find hard to believe!!

As always, I appreciate you stopping by!  I’m really enjoying sharing some of what’s going on in my world here.

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Honoring Her

Easter never used to be more than a holiday for me.  As I mentioned in my last post, over the past few years it has been made more special by spending our honeymoon in Rome for Easter.  Eric’s love of family and traditions has also changed my perception of it, and we celebrate with a special meal and his special cake.  But, this year things seemed to all fall into place to change me at some deep level, to focus on the true meaning of the days leading up to Easter.

On Good Friday, Eric’s grandmother passed away.  And suddenly, we were faced with mourning this amazing woman who had helped to shape Eric into the man he is today.  The past few years have been so full of loss, but somehow this was different.  In the midst of our sadness and grief, we were presented with the message of Easter and for me at least, it brought some comfort.

While I had intended to make Eric’s special cassata cake for him, because of the tradition his Grandmother started, once we got the news on Friday I knew that making Easter special this year was something we both needed.  When I did my last post and posted the photo of my dining room table decorated for the holiday, it reminded me that other than Christmas, I have done zero holiday decorating in several years.  So, I decided that I wanted to make this Easter as special as possible for both of us.  So, on Saturday, while Eric was gone I dug through my holiday decorations and did a little decorating around the house.  Just a few touches, since I knew it wouldn’t be up for very long.  I was so happy to see our dining room all dressed up for Spring.

I especially love my little glass bunnies.  I think I got them from Williams Sonoma years and years ago.  But, aren’t they cute?

And I’m glad I managed to get a photo of how pretty everything looked before the hoodlums got up on the table and ran off with an egg ornament in their mouths and proceeded to bat them around the house.

After I got the decorating finished, I got started on making the cassata cake.  My recipe reminded me that it’s good to make the pound cake a day ahead so that it is completely cooled before I try to put the filling between the layers and frosting it.

On Sunday morning, I got started on finishing the cake.  I made the filling and popped it in the fridge to chill so that it was easier to spread.  Then I got started on making the whipped cream frosting.  Homemade whipped cream is just the best, isn’t it?  Reminded me of my chocolate bread pudding – I need to make that sometime soon.

Once I had my filling and frosting made, I cut my poundcake into layers and then brushed them with rum.  I have actually forgotten this step before, so this time I made sure that I noted it on my recipe ingredients.

Once I had the cake assembled, into the fridge it went so that the ricotta filling and the whipped cream frosting could set up.  Then it was time to make dinner.  Eric made the fabulous Moroccan lamb burgers we’d agreed on for Easter dinner, from a recipe courtesy of our friends in Rhode Island.  We opened a bottle of Barefoot Moscato for dinner and it was a delicious counterpoint to the spices in the burgers.  Everything was so good!

And after dinner we dove into dessert.  I sprinkled the top of the cake with some semi-sweet chocolate shavings.  I loved the finishing touch it added.

Here’s a little view of the cake once we’d sliced into it.  So so good!  And don’t you love the little bees on the table runner?

It was a beautiful Easter Sunday, made all the more special because I felt like we were honoring Grandma’s life by celebrating with a wonderful meal, a beautiful table, and time with each other.  She will be truly missed.

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Things I Love Thursday: Bond, James Bond

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It’s possible, and very likely, that I’ve mentioned my love of James Bond before. So much so that Eric and I recreated a tasty cocktail in honor of Casino Royale.  I grew up watching James Bond films.  The first one my parents introduced me to was Thunderball.  Both of my parents loved Bond movies, and I became instantly enamored with them.  My dad even took me to look at Aston Martins one weekend, so that I could appreciate Bond’s (classic) vehicle of choice in person.  Over the years, there have been many Bonds, some better than others, but I am a particular fan of Daniel Craig as 007.  I love his slightly rough around the edges Bond.

Over the holidays I had the great fortune to get to see Skyfall with a dear friend.  There really is nothing better than seeing a Bond film with a fellow fan.  And I can’t get the Adele theme out of my head.  Perfect choice for the film.  And even better, in honor of the film and the 50th anniversary of Bond, OPI released a gorgeous new polish collection.  How could I resist?

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And I especially love the Skyfall polish that appeared in the film.  Gorgeous color.

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Of course you know I couldn’t resist adding some of the Bond polishes (I WANT THEM ALL!) to my collection.  A friend of mine treated me to a set of four of the OPI minis from the collection, and Goldeneye just begged to be first.

I did treat myself to two of the full-size polishes from the collection.  I fell in love with this one, The World is Not Enough.  This is such an interesting color, sometimes grey sometimes pink.  Love it!  (This one was also one of the minis in the four-pack)

It was even a good companion to my red cup!

The next one I tried out was the other full-size polish I purchased, You Only Live Twice.  I did also do a pedicure with this polish, so I got to doubly enjoy it.  This is a gorgeous cherry pink that really was the perfect color for that film’s representation.  I really hated to take this one off.

But, I replaced it with another mini – The Spy Who Loved Me.  Which is a gorgeous red and the perfect polish for our Cocktail and Dessert holiday party.

The only one I have left to try on is Live and Let Die.  It’s the last of the four minis.  Maybe that will have to be my next manicure?  I’d really like to invest in some more of the full size polishes from this collection – they really are all stunning.  I especially want Skyfall, Tomorrow Never Dies, and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.  But I seriously would love to have them all!  Even the Man With the Golden Gun 18k gold flake.

I’d intended to watch Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace back at the beginning of November while on a little trip I took, but that never materialized.  I’d wanted to see them again before seeing Skyfall, so I’ll just have to settle for watching them now and rewatching Skyfall when it is released on DVD.

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