Wednesday, July 30, 2008
I met Nic & Nikki (so, did you notice that their names match?) at church.
Nic did some contract work for AD...mostly web work and flash animations...so we shared an office for a bit. And Nikki...well as David-the-Artist-Pastor once said, "if Nikki is there, then its a party."
I just got my invitation in the mail and can't wait!
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Mindy spoke about spiritual development on a level I'm not sure I've ever heard.
Some framework on where this intersected me....
I've always been a "get things done" girl. I'd shrug off John's hug if I was in a mode to do dishes. I would multitask to the point of locking up my computer. (Still do that a bit.) My bosses raved about me. I explored every single fun idea my brain thought up. Tried very hard to be the most amazing mom to my kids and tried to be the most caring/sexiest/thoughtful amazing wife. (In case you're worried, I've learned not to shrug off John's amazing hugs.) I remembered all of the birthdays, bought the teachers gifts and was active in church and volunteer organizations.
The thing is, I got really tired.
Somewhere along the way I learned that you can't live your life taking care of everyone else and ignoring your soul.
As it turns out Mindy had the same ephiphany. (It just so happens that she is way further down the road than I am.)
Mindy framed it this way... "The opposite of simplicity is not complexity. It is duplicity." Let that sink in.
The opposite of simplicity is duplicity.
Mindy talked about simple being the "one thing." Your purpose. Your mission. Any time we try to be something we are not supposed to be...that we were never designed to be...we are working in duplicity.
We pretend to be more capable than we really are.
We pretend to have more emotional or time resources than we really have.
We pretend to be more spiritual/holy/good than we really are.
Mindy said to "embrace where you end and where God and others begin."
God has put me in a position to run up against my emotional and physical boundaries this year. I have found limits I never knew existed. Limits I would never fully confess on this blog.
Embracing where I end and where God and others begin would require me to have to depend on other people. To be vulnerable. To actually need community.
Mindy gave me stuff to think about.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
That is, we watched most of it. At a point, it simply got too hard to watch, and I was crying too much to stay with it. I became so overwhelmed that the story was real.
The thought that has been nagging me since watching the film is the wondering how one race of people could believe they were "the right ones." That they needed to get rid of all of the others.
Then, a scarier thought hit me. How many times have we heard this sentiment echoed? A counselman in a nearby city is on a personal mission to rid that city of illegal immigrants. And didn't you hear people after 9/11 float the solution that we should just "bomb them all?" Haven't you heard variations of it in religious circles? Groups--even as recently as 10 years ago--who felt the need to purge people out who didn't match where they thought their convention should go?
It occurs to me that when Jesus came 2000+ years ago, there was a bit of a disappointment. The religious leaders of the day were expecting a military revolt. Something that would rid them of the Romans.
Instead, they found a man who loved people. One who fed them. Who healed them. Who had a crowd put down the rocks when they were clearly caught in sin. And one who ultimately laid down His life in obedience because the Father who sent Him asked Him to. One by whom many of those "Romans" became believers because it was so transformational. (Doesn't it strike you as interesting that the Vatican is in Rome...the city that was responsible for arenas and lions?)
Actions and initiatives that aren't characterized with love for people don't bear consideration. And I'm not talking about "tough love." That is a recent construct. I'm talking about sacrificial love. The kind that sees others--no mater what--as better than ourselves. And more dangerous still, any initiative rooted in "purging" people is suspect. Even if they use the term "illegal immigrant."
Friday, July 25, 2008
When I opened it, this beautiful 3.5 x 2.5 piece of art fell out with a little story on the back about lathes and male bonding. (Funny.) The detail (though I couldn't capture it with my camera) is incredible. The inked edges, the photo corner, the embossed wax, the dimensional quote... It is beyond cool.
The premise of the group is six months. Six themes.
Though I'm not technically supposed to begin until August (so that the others don't have to scramble to make an extra) I couldn't wait. I sent mine out in the mail today. The theme as I mentioned before is "Male Bonding." As it so happens, Thursday night was poker night at my house for John and his buddies. A little digital magic to make the photo look like it was printed in the 1960's and "voila!"
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Though life shared is much more satisfying (for me anyway) than life spent alone, it takes a certain amount of strategy to design your life the way you want to live it.
Linda Mason in the Working Mother's Guide to Life talks about morning and evening routines being the place where you get to set the culture of your family. Organization guru, Fly Lady makes developing a morning and evening routine part of her "baby steps." And then there is the famous story of the $25,000 productivity tip when Ivy Lee told Charles Schwab (back when he was an actual executive under Andrew Carnegie and not an investment firm) where Lee recommended top executives closing out the end of each day with a list of the 10 most important things to be done the next day, starting at 1 and working all the way through. (Schwab reportedly tried it for a month and was so impressed that he gave Lee $25,000--his estimate of its worth.)
This concept of routine frustrates the artist in me. After all, how can you follow inspiration if you are locked into a routine? What I've come to learn...albeit a little grudgingly...is that routine is actually the key to designing your life like you want it to be.
Scheduled workouts, scheduled silence or centering prayer, scheduled art time, packing lunch and laying out my clothes the night before, planning the top 5 before I leave each day in Microsoft Love Note is a source of margin. Breathing room.
Sadly, if you aren't intentional about things, they don't happen.
The beautiful thing about schedules is that on the rare days when you break them, that can be intentional too.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
One of the perk's of adoption is that you get to look gorgeous in the new baby photos.
Per Robin's e-mail, she was singing at her brother's wedding when she got the call. (No stress there.)
Baby is now home and Rob is on maternity leave. (Don't she and Floyd look like they are going to be wonderful parents?) I can't wait to meet the little guy!
Monday, July 21, 2008
Except that sometimes you don't.
Sometimes the date of the occasion looms ever nearer with impending doom and you are stuck running out to get something at Walgreens that you convince yourself is a decent alternative, but leaves you as confused to what you were thinking as the recipient when they open it.
Then, joy of joys....the digital world gave us Amazon wish lists. Then interactive thing that it is....it allowed it to connect to Facebook; giving all of our closest friends a window into all the things we really, really want, but won't buy for ourselves.
Just so you know...(as if you care)...here is a random collection of what is on mine.
- A couple of Pigeon books, by Mo Willems. (Because I love the "sarcastic pigeon" expression!)
- Vegan and Living Foods Cookbooks. Because someday I will be all vegan all the time and I get inspired reading about it.
- Numi Flowering Teas. Because my sister gave me a flowering tea pot (gorgeous!) and I'm out of the flowering teas.
- Neroli Parfum. Actually anything by L'Occitane works. This one just happens to be pretty expensive.
- CD's from my Favorite Groups. Hawk Nelson, Sanctus Real, Superchick, Eisley, Switchfoot...
- Old books of the faith....I'm really interested in reading some of the classic works the people who have gone before considered important.
- The Pop-Up Book of Phobias. Hilarious! I saw it in a bookstore once and thought it was wonderful.
- Bento Lunch accessories. Because it is more fun to pack your lunch when it is in cute compartments.
I wish that all of my friends had wish lists. I wish they were all connected to Facebook. However, until that day comes, Walgreens is just around the corner.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
However, one day this week I checked out the evening class after work and HATED it.
So I started thinking about why…and discovered a huge principle that applies way outside of the class.
The morning class is taught by a woman over 50. (Only the lines around her eyes gives this away, she is in wonderful shape.) A former dancer, she often uses ballet terms to explain the moves. You can tell she considers the class fun…like dancing is fun. But the most important thing is that she leads the class from in the water with us. At our level. In our same conditions.
The evening class is taught by an impossibly perfect 20-something. (Impossibly meaning implants.) With a boot camp attitude, she makes the class sound like work. (“Harder. Harder. Faster. Faster.”) She teaches the class standing on the pool’s edge. Her movements are too fast to keep up with because she doesn’t have the resistance of the water. She is above us. Looking down on us.
Though the parallel is probably obvious, it is easier to be led by someone who looks like you. Taught by someone living in your conditions.
It makes me appreciate why God decided to come down and spend 33 years with us not “sort of like a man”, but as a man.
Quite humbling really.
I’m relatively sure he didn’t have implants.
Friday, July 18, 2008
What if there is more to it than that? Something everyone has. If creativity is making something where there was nothing before, then wouldn't it cover a lot more ground than simply writing or painting?
Among my friends, there are lots of "creative" things happening that are never labeled with that tag.
Kathy-of-the-Mom-Bows can take the raw ingredients of flour and sugar (plus a bit of the this or that) and create truly amazing things without a blink at a recipe book.
Nancy-the-Insightful can take the most random exchanges between people and develop them into something meaningful.
Angie-the-Engineer (she hates that tagline) can orchestrate details into precise and perfect things that actually function. (And better yet understand them).
I love the idea that creativity is part of all of our Imago Dei and should be encouraged and celebrated.
(Actually Rob, if you introduce me as Random Cathy, then the URL would match.)
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
In case you are wondering why this would interest you (or me) at all...check out this from Joss' blog...
"Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog" will be streamed, LIVE (that part’s not true), FREE (sadly, that part is) right on Drhorrible.com, in mid-July. Specifically:
ACT ONE (Wheee!) will go up Tuesday July 15th.
ACT TWO (OMG!) will go up Thursday July 17th.
ACT THREE (Denouement!) will go up Saturday July 19th.
All acts will stay up until midnight Sunday July 20th. Then they will vanish into the night, like a phantom (but not THE Phantom – that’s still playing. Like, everywhere.)
And now to answers a few Frequently (soon to be) Asked Questions:
1) Why, Joss? Why? Why now, why free, why us?
Once upon a time, all the writers in the forest got very mad with the Forest Kings and declared a work-stoppage. The forest creatures were all sad; the mushrooms did not dance, the elderberries gave no juice for the festival wines, and the Teamsters were kinda pissed. (They were very polite about it, though.) During this work-stoppage, many writers tried to form partnerships for outside funding to create new work that circumvented the Forest King system.
Frustrated with the lack of movement on that front, I finally decided to do something very ambitious, very exciting, very mid-life-crisisy. Aided only by everyone I had worked with, was related to or had ever met, I single-handedly created this unique little epic. A supervillain musical, of which, as we all know, there are far too few.
The idea was to make it on the fly, on the cheap – but to make it. To turn out a really thrilling, professionalish piece of entertainment specifically for the internet. To show how much could be done with very little. To show the world there is another way. To give the public (and in particular you guys) something for all your support and patience. And to make a lot of silly jokes. Actually, that sentence probably should have come first.
2) What happens when it goes away? Does it go to a happy farm for always like Fluffy did when mommy was crying and the neighbor kept washing his fender?
No, Dr horrible will live on. We intend to make it available for download soon after it’s published. This would be for a nominal fee, which we’re hoping people will embrace instead of getting all piratey. We have big dreams, people, and one of them is paying our crew.
So, check out Dr. Horrible.
Erin, this stars Neil Patrick Harris....you should totally be in.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
It all started when my mom took me to my very first one for my cousin, Paula, and explained to me that if I won any of the games, I had to take the prize, open it, then give it to my cousin. I've heard that this is strictly a Southern thing--though I can't be completely sure. But, as a general rule it sucks. (Once at a shower I saw a girl open a gift after she won a game completely taken aback that she'd been given a bottle.)
But I digress....
Sunday afternoon, I went to a baby shower for my friend, Robin-the-Artist. She and Floyd-the-Sidekick learned about a month ago that a birth mother had selected them through the open adoption agency and they were going to be parents.
It's been weird to watch this. Normally, you have nine whole months to get ready. But Robin and Floyd have had six weeks. Yes, I know this has been a two year process, but it is hard to feel like it is real when you have a seemingly endless loop of home visits, paperwork and classes.
It was so amazingly fun to see all of Robin's friends in one place and to watch her open cute little socks and stuff. I also got to spend time in sparkling conversation with Robin's "Fun Friend Lisa." (This is how she was introduced to me) which saved me having to glom onto my SIL for dear life. Though I did make a desperate phone call to her when I walked into the crowd and realized I did not know ANYBODY. (For some inexplicable reason this is extraordinarily difficult at a baby shower but not at a business conference.)
So now, Robin just waits for the phone call. In the meantime, she is finding places for tiny socks.
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Today I did some painting. (Not the fun kind.) We've lived here for almost three years, and the hallway really needed to be painted. I took advantage of Sherwin-Williams 30% off sale last weekend to pick up a gallon of paint for their high traffic areas. Holly-the-Realtor mentioned I might want to update my light fixtures which sparked a trip to IKEA.
The trip to IKEA produced an accidental bedroom makeover. It all started when some pillow slipcovers caught my eye. (They were marked down to $4 each from $15.) Then I walked past a bedspread that was perfect. Then, I had to change the swags and lampshades so all would match. (Lampshades were $1.50 each on clearance at Walmart. I embellished.) I'm pretty happy with the results.
Another IKEA find sparked a minor organizational renovation in the kitchen.
I moved my large spices into these magnetic tins (found in the kitchen section) on the side of my refrigerator. This freed up a surprising amount of cabinet space and allowed me to move things around and reorganize. (Did I mention I love IKEA?)
Over the past two weekends, John and I (well, mostly John) worked on the garage. John built this workbench out of the wood that made up our bookshelves in the old house. It feels so good to drive into the garage now unloaded of everything useless. (Which is now hopefully living a much more useful life with others via Goodwill.)
It is funny how much joy you can get from home improvements. I smile at the lights every time I go down the hallway.
Friday, July 11, 2008
I wanted to know what it would be like if I worked with people the same way I had done with the animals and this was the result. It began as inspiration from a face pin I purchased when I was in Panama, then took on a life of its own. (No, the resemblance to Lichentstein isn't lost on me.)
I finished two other projects this week that I worked on a bit day by day.
The first was a magnet board. My college roommate's mom always had a scripture verse in their kitchen. I thought that was a cool practice. The idea is that I would simply write on on a card and affix with a magnet completing the collage. Then it could change weekly. (Or not.)
The other project also had a spiritual bent. I have (had) a manilla folder where I tossed little scraps and notes that were significant to me spirtually. I decided to give them a better place to live and created a scrapbook of sorts. It includes a very creative note Bethany sent me when she was about seven addressed "from the purple room" to the "big room." (So cute.)
I've already washed out my brushes and tonight I'll pack up the table I've been working on in my bedroom and stash it away.
As far as vacations go, this is potentially one of the best ones I've taken.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
This time, I worked with "veggie leather" a gift from Robin-the-Artist. I have to say that I cracked up when I opened the package. "Veggie Leather" is simply dense foam that you can purchase by the sheet at any craft store. However, what was really helpful were the embossing instructions that came with the set.
With the heat gun that I purchased on Tuesday, I simply heated the foam then pressed designs into it. A little bit of copper paint and some black ink enhanced the results allowing me to create my ATC's for today fairly quickly. A good thing, since I took the morning off. I ran into David and Kylie Knight when I popped into Escape and they were doing cool artistic things on the computer.
We laughed about Veggie Leather and swapped resources for a bit. (I introduced Kylie to my newly discovered visual inspiration site, Fubiz. And Kylie connected me with a new affordable display source: http://www.exhibitsolutions.net/aero_displays.htm.) And I also got a fabulous pedicure and manicure from Diva Nails (thanks Chase!). Of course, I've already botched the manicure working on a decoupage project this afternoon. (Sigh.)
Note: No vegetables were harmed in the making of this leather.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Along with my Mehndi art fascination, I am also into the designs of Talavera tile. I think part of the beauty of it are the variations from tile to tile. Painted by hand each one is unique. (Unlike machine produced tiles which are painfully identical.) Side note: My favorite spot to buy Talavera items in Dallas is at Amigo's Pottery down by the Farmers Market. The sheer volume (and reasonable prices) make it a fun field trip.
Anyway, that was the inspiration for the pieces. I chose subjects (gecko, bird, flower, butterfly) that are common pieces of Talavera pottery.
There is something healing to the soul about working in color. And I worked all day layering color. Four little pieces 3.5 x 2.5" each. I think they are beautiful.
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
I also tried dry embossing. I purchased tools for this at a stamp show I went to with Robin-the-Artist once. Again, I have a lot to learn. Essentially, with dry embossing, you "carve" the paper using templates and a light box. Then the embossed image can be inked to make it stand out more, or it can stay plain to be more subtle.
These were my best two efforts of the day. (Sigh.)
Tonight, Nancy-the-Insightful is headed with me to Robin's house for a "play" date. Robin will pull out all of her cardstock, ephemera, and inks and we will eat Thai food, drink tea and create. Hopefully it will be more satisfying than my work earlier today.
Update: Tonight, Robin, Nancy and I had the best time. I took a Club Stamp kit that I had never opened (Ivory Elegance 12.06)and played with all of Robin's wonderful inks.
I love working on Kromekoat paper. The coated surface really makes the color of the inks "pop." I made several greeting cards, and a set of 4 artist trading cards which redeemed my earlier failed attempts at embossing.
In addition to Thai food, wine, conversation and music (Dirt Poor Robins...yeah!) I got to see the baby's room. It is interesting how Robin is using her usual artistic style (stack of old suitcases, antique armoire, etc.) to create a room for the new baby that suits their family.
Only eighteen days until she and Floyd get to meet Elliot. Exciting stuff!
Monday, July 7, 2008
The idea is that each day, I'm exploring something artistic that I've always wanted to try but have never found the time to do. To keep the projects simple, I'm creating artists trading cards (ATC). I first learned about these at a show for Mail Art at the Bath House Cultural Center in Dallas.
ATC's are collectable, original pieces of art created and traded by artists. There are a few standards. The ATC must be be 2.5"x3.5" (64x89mm). They mustn't be sold--only traded. And the works of art usually serve as personal calling cards between artists.
Information on the back usually includes: name, contact information, title of the ATC and number (1/8, 2/8...) if it's part of an edition. By definition ATCs are made in limited numbers, often no more than one of a kind. To read more about them, and to see examples visit http://www.cedarseed.com/air/atc.html.
I'm really fascinated with mehndi art (henna tattoos of India) and decided today to play with the patterns using ink and pens with nibs (you know, the metal kind you dip in a well.)
Sunday, July 6, 2008
Much of my strategy is based on the concept of setting myself up for serendipity.
Though serendipity would seem to imply random chance (def. ser.en.dip.i.ty n. an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident.), the reality is that you can place yourself in positions where unexpected things might happen.
Example: Many years ago John committed us to go to a friend's party not realizing that it was scheduled on our anniversary. Though we love these friends, we didn't know anyone else at the party (making it boring since it was a stand about and talk affair) and it fell fall short of the romantic evening I had hoped for. I finally convinced John to leave. (I was going to have to go without him if he didn't.)
John (annoyed) said we could go to movie. I told him if we were going to go to a movie for our anniversary it at least had to be somewhere different. Not our usual theater. I asked to go to the one in the West End. (Because maybe, just maybe we would pass a street performer or something out of the ordinary to make it a slightly memorable night.)
When we got downtown, the whole West End was closed. There were tents and security guards everywhere. I slipped past one just to get a good look at what was happening. It was a convention.
I still can't believe we actually did this, but we had a conversation with a guy (I had to ask someone what was going on) who mentioned he didn't think his associates were going to make it. I walked up to the registration desk and used those names to pick up the passes. We wound up seeing Tony Bennett in concert. (Very romantic.)
Anyway, all of this to say that serendipity rarely happens unless you put yourself in a position where it might happen. Which makes life much more engaging and fun than trying to ward off any chance of the unexpected. Sometimes, the unexpected turns out to be delightful. (And then you call it serendipity.)
Friday, July 4, 2008
I went to Aqua Fit. My friend, Carol-the-Lionhearted has done this for years and enjoys it.
I wasn't sure what to think as I grabbed a set of resistance paddles and joined the others. Most of the women in the class appeared to be over 40 (I didn't take a survey) and there were a couple who looked over 70 (go them!). And there were absolutely no guys (I learned why later.)
Anyway, we were in constant motion for an hour. Like most of the classes at my gym you can participate to whatever level you want to. So, since I was only going to get out what I put in, I made my motions as big as possible and pushed hard.
You know what? It was fun. Really fun.
I got a little worried when we made a circle and played a game. Then started to freak out a bit when they started singing. (Now you know why there were no guys.) But I decided what the heck. I didn't know anyone. And we were all laughing at that point anyway. Why be too "cool" for it?
It was so much fun that I wasn't sure I'd felt the "burn" until now. The muscles in my sides (obliques?) hurt sooooo bad.
They have classes in the evenings. Next week, I'll have to check it out.
Thursday, July 3, 2008
It's grown into quite a party for the people I work with and their families. We cater in dinner, walk across the street with lawn chairs in tow, then we go back to the offices for coffee and dessert while we wait for the traffic to clear.
Tonight, the airshow before the fireworks was amazing. A man STOOD on top of a biplane as it did loops and spins in the air. Another plane had sparklers (fireworks?) shooting out as it sped through the sky. Not to mention the historic planes and planes in formation.
In the background, a group from our landlord's company, The Hanger Bangers, belt out popular songs. They are actually really good and the live music really adds to the event.
Once it is dark, people tune their radios into the station that plays the soundtrack for the show. The fireworks are almost indescribable. Huge. Fabulous. Wonderful.
We are definitely spoiled. I don't know what I'd do if I ever changed jobs. Fireworks anywhere else just wouldn't be the same.
Tonight during dessert Jason McKelvey brought Rock Band. I learned two things: 1) I suck at playing the drums as badly as I suck at guitar hero. 2) There was music on it that I actually know and like, so i may have potential as a singer. (I was too embarassed to do that in front of my office crowd after Jason did such a great job.)
Of course, the VERY best thing was that this year, I wasn't the one planning the party. Kathy-of-the-mom-bows and Wonder-Woman-Erin hit an absolute home run. It was really, really nice.
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Microsoft's OneNote. Yes, I know I'm about three years behind the curve on discovering this one, but I totally and completely love it. In fact, I am so enamored of it that I made a Freudian slip when I was telling Russ--the one in charge of my company's IT--about it and called it MSLoveNote.
The OneNote software is very simply an electronic notebook with dividers and sections and pages. Here are the cool parts:
1) You never have to save anything. Once you type it, it is there.
2) It maintains source links from whatever you copy/paste from the web.
3) It has a snipping tool so you can easily screen capture and paste.
4) It has a recording feature that tracks with your meeting notes.
5) Flagged items appear in your Outlook as tasks.
Of course, my favorite part is in the application. One of my notebooks contains the flow of all of the notes of my day. People I talk to, tasks that need to be done, status of projects. Everything I need to write down is written there. So, three months from now, when Joe Smith calls me again, I can search for "Joe Smith" in the notebook and immediately have the notes from our previous conversation. (Pragmatically, each month has a tab and each day has a page with full pages of notes on a given topic slipped in where I need them.)
Del.icio.us While most browsers allow you to sort your favorites into folders (allowing only one designation), del.icio.us allows you to tag your favorite sites. So instead of having to decide if churchproduction.com should go in the “church” folder or the “production” folder, you can tag it with both. For that matter, you can add a host of other tags such as inspiration, audio, video, lighting, random coolness, staging, resources, etc.
It also lets you see other people’s tags introducing you to other sites on the topic. With easy plug-ins for Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Flock, del.icio.us allows you to add your sites with the click of a button.
Of course, my favorite part of del.icio.us has nothing to do with plug-ins, tagging or finding new sites. The best part is that I no longer have to scramble to get back all of my “favorites” when my husband, the computer consultant, arbitrarily reinstalls our operating system.