Progress, no matter how small

When I see progress happening in my life, no matter how small, I am happy.  It produces a ripple effect.

Last week I was compelled to write a post, Waiting for that Perfect Moment.  Since then, I can report that I followed my own advice and I am starting to see the results.  Sure, it’s in small things here and there throughout our home.  Yet, I can see the subtle changes and that has been rewarding.

These positive changes have given me just the right amount of encouragement to continue.

As I mentioned in last week’s post, I have a full time job and at the end of the work day, I tend to be tired when I get home.  However, one of the things I did in the evenings last week was spend 30 minutes to an hour in my studio.  I create Art Jewelry and if you are curious about my work, you are welcome to visit my website or another blog I maintain devoted to my metalwork.

To my delight, by the end of last week, my studio time produced two pieces.  A pendant and a pair of earrings.  I will be posting photos of those on my other blog at some point in the near future.

What I like to think of as the reclamation of our home is occurring too.  Things did not get into this state overnight and the recovery of those spaces won’t happen overnight either.  Not only do I have a very supportive, encouraging, and helpful husband, I am embarking on my fourth year of reading the Simple Abundance.  The practice of decluttering to achieve a more simple life is just one of  the simple abundance principles.

Clearing out closets.  Organizing spaces so there is a place for everything.  It’s happening.  You may recall that as part of how I manage my time, I set a limit for how long I will work on something.  I continue to be amazed by how much I can get done in 30 minutes.  One of my biggest deterrents was mistakenly thinking I need 4 – 8 hours to work on something to its completion.  I don’t have that luxury of time.  But now, I have a new awareness to stay focused on the present moment and make the most of smaller time increments.  If I cannot finish something during a given period of time, I will return to it on my next window of time.  The key is to keep going back to it, as time permits, until it is finished.

If you too are finding it difficult to accomplish all the things you want, just start with small increments of time as you find them.  Trust me, they are there for the taking and the results will happen….the ripple effect.  Time management is easier than you think. It is great.

Namaste.

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Gratitude

gratitude

One of the many things my mother taught me was the importance of being polite.  Saying “Please”, “Thank you”, “You’re Welcome”, giving someone a sincere apology and many more.  Common courtesy went hand in hand with proper etiquette.  Treating others as you would like to be treated….the Golden Rule.  Yes!  Showing respect for others and their belongings; handle anything loaned to you as if it were your own.  Great values, yes.  I do my best to adhere to these every day.

Something I have come to realize is equally, if not more important than all of that is Gratitude.  Being grateful for the gifts and blessings I have received throughout my life.  The key, I have found, is to be grateful every day and literally giving daily thanks.  I’ll explain why.

Since last December, when my mammogram showed an abnormality (you can read about that by clicking on this link), I learned so many valuable lessons during the 8 days while I waited to find out what was happening inside my body.  One of the most important of those lessons was to express my gratitude for the gifts I have received.  And on December 7, 2012, I received the news that everything was fine.  My gratitude for that news went beyond anything I had ever experienced.  Immense joy flooded every fiber of my being, unlike anything I had ever felt.  And I find even more gifts and blessings have been bestowed on me as what I know and believe to be a direct result of expressing my appreciation for all that I have received.

Every day since then, when I wake up in the morning, I say “thank you” for another day of life.  I express my gratitude for what the day may hold.

This year I’m reading the Simple Abundance again, but with new eyes and new understanding.  The author,  Sarah Ban Breathnach, recommends keeping a Gratitude Journal in which you write down five things at the end of every day for which you are grateful.  It can be anything.  Just five things that happened during your day that you are thankful for.  She says this is one of the ways that the Simple Abundance path will work for you.  If you want to find out more about living an abundant life, I highly recommend Sarah’s book as a starting point.

You would think that coming up with five things on any particular day would be easy.  Most days it is, but I do find, from time to time that I get stuck on number five.  However, I always come up with my five and go to sleep with a certain amount of contentment and well being, because of all the good things in my life.  Yesterday, one of my top five was seeing the elk herd early in the morning.  The occasional glimpse of that herd is very special for me and I’m always grateful to see them.

I can tell you that keeping a Gratitude Journal works.  It helps to keep my mind on track, finding importance in the simplest of things.  But you know what else?  I’ll let you in on something I’ve discovered that I think is even more important.  Giving thanks, being grateful, opens up a wealth of gifts and blessings in your life that you could not imagine are possible.   I have found I receive so much in return by the simple act of acknowledging my appreciation daily.  It opens your heart to the rewards of giving your friendship and love to others.  Happiness is infectious and contagious.  I assure you all of it is a direct result of gratitude.  The more you give, the more you receive.   Those pleasant unexpected moments happen more frequently.  Just saying thanks in the morning and the evening (the first thing you do when you rise, the last thing you do before you go to sleep), you will be rewarded with more joy and love in return than you can imagine.

I’m not kidding.  It’s all true.  I know it because I’ve experienced it and I live it every day.  Just in case you doubt any of this, give it a try, see what happens, it doesn’t cost you anything to try….I think you will be more than pleasantly surprised by the results.

Namaste.

Embrace Your Unconventional Self

MeAsBabyWithMomAndDad
That’s me as a toddler with my mom and dad!

Today is my birthday! It’s a time when I tend to reflect on the past year and my life as a whole. I would like to share one of the many lessons I learned from my mother.

I owe my mom a great deal.  In my opinion, she did many things right.  You know, children don’t come with instruction manuals and the last time I checked, there wasn’t a return policy on them either.  I know there were times I tested her to the limits….as I guess any child does, yet she was there for me and loved me (so did my dad).  As a side note to this tale, I must add that I always knew that I was wanted and loved very dearly by my parents.

One of the many things mom taught me was to enjoy and embrace my individuality.  That can sometimes be a hard thing to do as a teenager growing into adulthood.  The peer pressure in high school can be quite daunting for those, like me, who weren’t in the ‘cool crowd’.  While I wasn’t the prettiest girl during those teen years, you know, the awkwardness of growing into an adult body and face can make one the target for bullies or sharp, hurtful remarks.  However, in spite of some of that,  I knew I had a good head on my shoulders and I was smart.

As a result of the encouragement my mom gave me about being unique, sometimes I think I have tended toward the unconventional.  One thing that helped me along that path of individuality was learning how to sew.  One day, after I completed the eighth grade mom said to me “No daughter of mine will not know how to sew.  I am taking you to a seamstress to learn”.

Well, it took me by surprise, but I was really excited about the prospect of learning how to sew.  After all, I had watched my mother sew all my life (all of 13 years at that point in time).  I was fascinated by the process and loved her trusty, reliable Singer sewing machine.

The seamstress was someone in her 70’s.  She had sewn all her life.  We went over the basics and I started my first sewing project, a pair of cotton pajamas with French seams.  What a disaster.  The lessons with this Sage of the needle and thread lasted all of three weeks.  I never finished those pjs, BUT I did learn enough of the basics to venture out on my own, with my mother’s guidance.

That summer I got my first sewing machine.  It was a sleek new Singer model.  The sad thing was the machine didn’t have the quality of my mom’s machine, which was probably a good 20 or 30 years older.  I struggled with it, the snarled bobbin thread balling up under my attempts at straight seems.   Making button holes with an attachment that did more eating of fabric than actual sewing.

In spite of all the machine frustrations, what started to happen was something magical.  I will never forget it.  In addition to a wonderful bond that started to grow with mom, I began to experience the understanding about expressing my individuality through the clothes that I made.  I could choose a pattern, find fabric that appealed to me and I had an outfit that no one else had.  I was unique.  I was becoming my true self.  And I was embracing my unconventional self who really didn’t want to be like everyone else.  It was great.

One of the foundations of my life was put into place that summer.  Discovering who I am, what I love, what makes me me.

Three years ago a friend introduced me to Sarah Ban Breathnach’s book, Simple Abundance.  Her goal is to help people find their authentic self.  At the start of this year, I am venturing into the world of simple abundance once again and I am well on my way to being even more of my authentic self.

Whatever terminology one uses to describe it, the common thread in all of this is understanding, finding and embracing the person you are meant to be.

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Mom & Me on the top of Pikes Peak. She loved adventures.

Thank you mom and dad for everything.  I miss you both, love you and keep you in my heart.

Namaste.