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Change Direction and Refocus

Many things in my life have been brought to front and center lately as needing some attention. Relationships with friends and family, career, and my well being in general. These different areas are all sitting in front of me in an audience with hands raised and waving in the air. It’s time to call on them.

Just a minute ago, my reminder came in the form of poetry. A friend that has been calling on many life questions of her own lately posted the last lines of

Desiderata

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.

I was inspired to revisit the poem and read it again.

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be critical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.

© Max Ehrmann 1927

So many points in this passage allow me to reflect on my own life. Thus far, 2014 has proven to be a dynamic year, full of progress and realization. I see relationships that must change or must be gone from my life, with the promise of new ones to grace me. My direction in general is brought more into focus; clarity is coming in regards to what I should be surrounded by. My purpose in life, while not clear to me in the big picture just yet, is being revealed page by page, allowing me to have experiences, learn, and hone my skills to succeed in this life.

The journey continues.

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Posted by on March 22, 2014 in Life

 

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Complete Lack of Motivation

typewriter_hand

For months now, I have neglected my blog. It happens. There are lulls. I lose interest or am uninspired or I just forget. My intentions are good, however, my motivation is clearly lacking. There are signs all around me that serve as reminders to stay the course.

Last week, I was looking around online, researching how to retain motivation in writing. I came across a couple of sites that may help me. The ones that say to give yourself rewards and punishments are no help to me. If I want a piece of candy or a trip down the river in my kayak, I’m gonna get it when I want it. There’s no waiting for the end of a blog. Punishing myself doesn’t work for me either. Typically, we only punish ourselves after we feel guilty or wrong for something. Am I right? Punishing yourself seems to be more of having bad feelings toward yourself. That being said, it doesn’t work for me, either.

What does seem to work is realizing that I made a commitment to write and I must carry on. In my quest for motivation, I went to the internet to find others that were in the same boat and see their methods to maintain regularity in writing.

There were two websites in particular that got my attention. The first is specifically about blog posts.7 Ways to Stay Motivated to Write Blog Posts; Henri Junttila gives quite a few simple ideas to keep us rolling. One of his suggestions is one that I already use- having topics or blog posts complete for a rainy day. I have a list and some drafts at ready if I need them. Some of his ideas I could do more of- writing every single day, even if only for 15 minutes; changing my format on occasion to add variety and keep me on point.

The second site I came across was http://www.emeryroad.com. Jody Calkins is a writer and editor who’s website focuses on the writing side of business. After seeing her site, I found her on Facebook and Twitter. She provides a vast wealth of information as well as methods of motivation. I signed up for a 7 day exercise, in which each day, an email was sent to me with a description of something to write. Each exercise was completely different. They challenge writers to remain active in different aspects, in turn churning up thoughts to write about. She encourages research, short writing bursts, mapping, and even physical activities to stir creativity. I will admit, I have not completed the exercises yet, but I have been inspired to write this post.

In another area of my life, I am an artist. I dabble in different media, but my concentration is hand built pottery. I am part of a local cooperative art gallery that also helps to keep artists motivated and the public interested. We offer classes to the public for various types of art and each Monday night we have Studio Night. All are welcome, artist or otherwise, to work on whatever project they have going at the time. On any given night, there are as many as five different types of art/project going on: painting, sketching, pottery, fiber art/craft, jewelry, or even teaching or making a new fixture for the gallery itself. Our group usually is between 5-10 people and we help and encourage each other in our creative journeys. Some of the people work on the same type of task each week, while others (such as myself) change it up on a weekly basis. My main focus is to remain active in art and maintain creativity.

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Here’s a shot from Studio Night. Over in our annex, we were painting with oils and acrylics as well as making jewelry. The project in the foreground is a rack I made to put in the gallery with scarves that I make.

Check out Vision Gallery. Are you part of a similar group?

What about your writing? How are you staying motivated and encouraged? I would love to hear what you’re doing.

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2014 in Life

 

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DIY Arm Knitted Infinity Scarf

Lately, I’ve added learning to crochet to my project list. It’s coming along. However, I’ve seen a great deal of these videos flying around about knitting on your arms. My friend Sylvia Lee said she wanted to try it, and so last night, we did! Neither of us have knitted before, but it seemed very familiar once we got started.

The videos say that this can be accomplished in 30-45 minutes. I cannot say that the first one went that fast. It took me about two hours start to finish. This included following the video end even becoming a little frustrated here and there. Once I get enough practice, I feel confident that I could finish the task much quicker.

We looked at a few videos (via Pinterest, of course) and settled on this one. Her work and hands were easier to see. Kurtz Corner Arm Knit DIY

This calls for a size 6 yarn. This is chunky for sure. The pattern calls for a width of twelve links. In the end, it’s a little more bulk than I like. Next time I make one, I’ll make it with 8 or 10 links.

This would be a great project for kids. Sylvia Lee’s 10 year old niece joined us and completed one herself. Hers was 8 links wide. On her second try, she completed it. I should mention also, that she is left handed. It worked just fine for her.

Here’s a picture of the finished product! I’m happy with it. Have you made one of these? How did it turn out? Share a link or picture of your finished product!

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Posted by on January 8, 2014 in Projects

 

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Headlight Restoration

For quite some time now, my lights have not shown very far in front of me. All puns aside, my headlights have become so dim from years of use and lack of cleaning, that I was having difficulty seeing while driving at night. After doing some research on what to do about the problem, two options were given to me: replace the headlights or clean the surfaces of them. Not in the mood to spend a couple of hundred dollars for new lights, I opted to spend $23 and use some elbow grease.

Rarely dissuaded by a challenge, I gave it a go.

There were quite a few recommendations online for products that had a relatively good outcome. I’ve heard stories over the years about this process being totally useless and a waste of time. Not wanting that to happen in my case, I sought out the recommended products. Once in the store, I could not find the brand I was looking for. So, I ended up going with a mid-range priced brand- Meguiar’s. The kit comes with a 4 oz. bottle of cleaner/polish, a drill operated buffing pad, and reusable sanding pads. The option is given to go ahead and just polish and if that doesn’t work, use the sanding pads followed by the polish. Feeling very confident that I needed maximum restoration, I went ahead with the full process. I must say, it was a very easy process and took less than 30 minutes.

The pictures of my process are below. I am very happy with the outcome and can wholeheartedly recommend this product. I can actually see the road while driving at night!

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In the beginning- top half of light covers are very dull.

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Another view from the start. Supervisor, Willie, above.

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Terrible!

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Grit 1 of 4 sanding. Couldn’t believe all of the grime coming off!

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After the first sanding. Noted difference already.

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After second sanding, grit 2 of 4

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After third sanding, grit 3 of 4.

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After the 4th and final sanding and the polishing.

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What a difference!

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Posted by on December 29, 2013 in Projects

 

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16 People On Things They Couldn’t Believe About America Until They Moved Here

thewritemyers:

Greats thoughts from outsiders and or immigrants to America. Many times I’ve thought that Americans just don’t have a clue-about any number of things. Such an interesting read and opportunity for reflection.

Originally posted on Thought Catalog:

A lot of people around the world have ideas of what America is like, possibly thanks to Hollywood, or their local news channels, and maybe from what they’ve heard from families and friends. But then, they came here, to the grand old United States and their minds exploded. Taken from Quora.

1. Rakib Islam

I am originally from Bangladesh and here are a few things that I find hard to explain to peeps back home.

  • Fruits and vegetables are way more expensive than meat and poultry.
  • That, generally speaking, the poor is more obese than the rich.
  • A lot of couples adopt children, sometimes in spite of having their own, and treat them exactly like their own. (To me, this alone is a marker of a great people)
  • By and large, people do not carry cash.
  • That you address your boss (and some of your…

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Posted by on December 2, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Balsamic Vinaigrette Experiment

Well, Thanksgiving is over. From what I can tell, the majority of my friends had a wonderful holiday. I am no exception.  It was a wonderful time with family and friends around our table.  We all were responsible for bringing an item to the table for the meal.  I chose to make a salad.  Thinking ahead to overstuffed stomachs and excessive amounts of tryptophan, my choice was to go lighter.

My decision was based on kale.  It’s the hot green right now, but besides that, it’s really delicious! Then I was led to dressing choice.  Balsamic was the way to go.  It is a rarity that I buy ready made dressing, and this time was no different.  I haven’t made any balsamic in ages, but knew I didn’t want the straight oil and vinegar.  Too boring.

So, I started experimenting.  I made a base dressing of two parts oil and one part balsamic. (I used half olive oil and half canola oil as my olive oil was almost out.) A little later, I had four different types of dressing! I will tell you most about the one I ended up using, but will describe the others in case you are interested.

Ingredients going in.

Ingredients going in.

Dressing after the blender.

Dressing after the blender.

Per the norm, measuring was at a minimum, but I tried to eye it and keep track as I knew I would be writing about it. So, here goes.

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

2/3 cup oil (stick to a neutral flavored oil such as canola, safflower, or a good quality olive)

1/4 cup natural apple juice (no sugar added)

1 heaping Tbsp coarse ground mustard

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

2 tsp brown sugar

1/2 tsp sea salt or kosher salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

Add all ingredients to a blender and blend well until the mixture well combined.  It will be quite light brown in color.  Longer it sits, the better it gets. So, let it sit a while before you eat it.

The salad itself was quite simple.

Kale

Butter lettuce

Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

Fresh pear slices

Toasted pecans

I assembled on the plates, as not to bruise the pears and to have better presentation. I wanted pumpkin seeds to start with, but could not find them in my county. Ha! Didn’t think far enough ahead to get any. I will try this again and with the seeds.

The other variations I made had the following ingredients: I made tiny amounts and have no measurements here- so you are on your own. This can just be a starter for you.

1. First was the same oil and vinegar base (2:1. You can do 3:1 if it’s too tart for you)

To that, I added nutmeg, allspice, cumin, pureed pumpkin (leftover) salt, and pepper.  I would use probably 1/4 tsp of each of these spices and maybe 1/4 cup pumpkin.  Blend and let rest.

These other two were a little different.  I tried walnut oil instead.  Different and very much an autumn flavor.

2. 2:1 Walnut oil to vinegar, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, lots of fresh cracked black pepper, quite a few dashes of bitters. (This one was really different, but I loved it).

3. Last was the walnut oil and bv, along with Dijon mustard, brown sugar, black pepper, and cinnamon.

Plated and ready!

Plated and ready!

Give some of these a whirl and let me know how they turn out! If they are too tart, just add a little more oil.  No problem!

Cheers, O

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2013 in Food, What's For Dinner?

 

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Funeral Service of Independent Order of Odd Fellows

Almost three years ago, my family lost a dear friend of ours. He was quite a character, to say the least. I knew a little bit about the group he was involved with, but have only learned more since he left us. Jerry Wayne Skelton was a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F.) The historic mission of this fraternity is to “improve and elevate the character of man.” The current mission is based on this phrase, but goes quite deeper than that currently. As mentioned on their website, “Today, Odd Fellows and Rebekahs continue to exist with nearly 10,000 lodges in approximately 26 countries consisting of men and women who united together for mutual aid and conviviality, providing social and practical support for each other and their communities in every way possible.”  They go on to say:

“We are the family of Oddfellowship, composed of Men, Women, and Youth, believing in a supreme being, the creator and preserver of the universe, who have come together in our local communities having the same beliefs and values as others, that; Friendship, Love and Truth are the basic guidelines that we need to follow in our daily lives. Through working in our local Communities, States, Provinces, or Nationally we understand that we can make a difference in the lives of people in our World”

There is an incredible amount of additional information that can be found on their website. Independent Order of Odd Fellows

We attended his funeral and burial and, I must say, it was one of the most beautiful and eloquent services I have ever attended.  Members of his lodge were in their full regalia and stood proudly in front of the crowd.  The Noble Grand and Chaplain gave the service.  The words that the Noble Grand spoke were quite lengthy, but I could tell that they were typical of their services and that he had them committed to memory. He spoke with strength and gentility. He took his time; we were truly able to experience the life of our friend through his words.

After the service was over, I felt compelled to seek out the words that had been spoken of our friend.  I did not know the Noble Grand, Tyler Plegder, so I emailed the IOOF and requested the info.  Immediately, I heard back from him and he said he would send me the information. Time passed and I never heard from him.  I hesitated writing again as I did not want to bother him. As fate would have it, I got an email from this man’s mother this week (two and a half years later).  She indicated that I had made the request some time ago and that she wanted to make sure I got the information. I was so happy to receive the email the words he had spoken.

I would like to share those words with you. Beautiful language such as this rarely spoken these days. The service proceeded as follows:

Noble Grand: My Brothers, we have assembled to perform the last service the living can render to the departed: to pay respect to one to whom we were bound by the claims of sincere friendship, unfeigned love, and simple truth, one who was born as we were born, who lived as we now live, and for many days enjoyed his possessions, his power and his friendships. When we lay to rest his earthly remains, with its imperfections, we will cherish a lively recollection of his virtues.

Chaplain: Let us pray, Our Father, in this hour of sorrow, we turn to Thee for help. Though gavest life, Thou has received it unto thyself again.  May of the lesson of this hour sink deep into our hearts and purify them.  May friendship and love take new meaning in our lives, and may Thy truth guide us in righteousness to Thee.  Comfort all  whose hearts have been made lonely at this hour.  Assure them of They presence, and in their sorrow, teach them to know that Thou hast received the spirit of their loved one to Thyself again. Amen.

Noble Grand: Often we have been reminded in the solemn ceremonies of our Order of the great truth that all that is born must die.  How cheerless the home of the dead when unrelieved by the prospect of immortal life! But hope remains over man’s last resting place like an arch bright with mortality, which based upon earth, extends far into the sacred realms of eternity.

When the hour of death comes, it is faith in this immortality that brings consolation. Though we part, never to meet on earth, yet so we feel that somewhere, somehow, we shall rejoin our brothers. We look forward to a time when, with clearer vision, we shall know them in forms that never fade, in states that never change.

Today, we are in the full realization of health and enjoyment of the pleasures of this world.  In a little while, the ever burning furnace of time will consume to ashes all that have life and vigor in this terrestrial sphere.

Once, but surely once, will come to everyone the call that takes a soul from earth. We bow in love and in humility to the will of God. The Chaplain will now present a lesson from the storehouse from which all our principles are derived.

Chapalin: Lord, Thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.  Before the mountains were brought forth, or even Though hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting. Thou are God.

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in His law doth he meditate both day and night.  And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

Noble Grand: His life span has ended. The light of his eyes has gone out; and his lips are forever silent. His toils and labors are done.  The burning taper of his life has been extinguished and he has crossed over the silent river of his death.

My brothers, you are aware of his contribution to our beloved Order. No longer will his counsel be heard within our lodges, yet his wisdom will continue to aid us in our work.  No more will he labor with us; yet the results of his labors will continue through the years that are to come.

His work among us is done, yet his influence will live to direct our actions for the good of our Order.  We will miss him from our midst, but we will ever remember our association with him, and we will keep ever in mind the obligations that we owe to those who were near and dear to him.

As a token that the virtues of our brother will forever dwell in our memories we deposit this evergreen upon his casket.  Farewell, Brother, until we meet thee in the Eternal Home.

At this point, the information of Jerry’s membership was given. I do not have all the details. Grand Noble, J. W. Skelton, Lodge #3 in [Chattooga County, GA].

Noble Grand: The mortal remains of our brother will be laid to rest within God’s earth from whence he came.

Chaplain: Let us pray, Almighty and Supreme Ruler of heaven and Earth, look down, we pray Thee, with compassion upon this scene; give peace and comfort to these bereaved and give us the strength to live the obligations that we owe to them.  bless our beloved order here and everywhere.  May Friendship, Love, and Truth be not unmeaning words upon our lips, but the sentiment of our hearts and the practice of our lives.  May we live Thy law that commands us to do unto others as we would that they should do unto us, and, after a life well spent on earth, we shall pass through the valley of the shadow of death and cross the silent river to join our loved ones gone before. May we meet Thee Our Father, and hear the welcome plaudit. “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of Thy Lord.”

God of the Universe, while we entrust the holy spirit of our departed brother to Thy Holy care, may the record of his virtues be inscribed upon our hearts and his memory cherished forever. And we further pray in the words of Thy servant of old: “The Lord bless us and keep us. The Lord make his face to shine upon us and be gracious unto us evermore.” Amen.

I felt honored to be a part of this service and the life of my friend; both were gifts to behold.

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2013 in Life

 

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