Friday, December 31, 2010

#reverb10 - December 24 Everything's OK

What was the best moment that could serve as proof that everything is going to be alright? And how will you incorporate that discovery into the year ahead?

(Author: Kate Inglis)

I have bravely been carrying on with these prompts even though I'm now a week behind.  I enjoyed the last two I did on travel and a new name.  I was even feeling like this was a pretty good exercise until I got to the December 24th prompt.  Honestly?  This is just too much self-reflection for me.  So I thought I'd skip ahead. However, now that I've read the next seven prompts through December 31st, I reluctantly must admit I'm done.  I just can't bring myself to forge ahead with this.

So I've adopted today's prompt to say...everything IS going to be OK.  I've written more during the month of December than I have in a long time and I've enjoyed it (except for the rant above...and the rant the other day).  I really hate not seeing it through but if you're going to sweep out the old and bring in the new, what better day to do it than December 31st? 

You only get this one grand new start once a year.  Sure, you can start fresh every day but there is something about JANUARY 1ST that makes it seem more important.    So what have I learned and what will I do with it?   

1.  I don't really care if anyone reads this.  And judging from the lack of comments, I'm guessing no one does. 

2.  I really do like doing it and so I will post when I can but I'm not setting up any unrealistic expectations by dictating a schedule.

3.  I'm a little concerned I won't have anything to write about that is even mildly interesting, even to me.  At least the prompts, gave me something to work on. 

4.  I found it much easier to post without dealing with photographs.  Unfortunately, I know that photographs makes blogs more interesting, especially if you're going to post about crafty things so I will need to figure this out. 

5.  Overall, I'm pleased with my progress and I hope to keep going.

Thank you for reading (or not reading, as the case may be).  I hope your 2010 goes out with a bang and 2011 is a wonderful beginning. 

Thursday, December 30, 2010

#reverb10 - December 23 New Name

Let’s meet again, for the first time. If you could introduce yourself to strangers by another name for just one day, what would it be and why?

(Author: Becca Wilcott)

When I was a kid, I loved to pretend that I was a single gal making her living as a secretary in New York City.  I had this very cool apartment in a Second Empire house (my house at the time) and worked for "World News Today Magazine."  I had a lovely office (in the kitchen) at a great desk (the kitchen table) overlooking the skyline of New York City (well, actually my backyard).  I also had a cool red plastic phone and an Underwood typewriter.   My name was Amy Miller.  I don't know if the love of the name Amy was my own or because my mother once told me that if she were to have another girl, she would name her Amy.  In any case, I loved the name and used it for any occasion when I wasn't myself.  Amy, the secretary, Amy, the Tony Award winning actress, Amy the librarian.  I was an only child and had an amazing fantasy/pretend world.   Why did my parents have to burden me with the stupid name I had?  Why couldn't I be named Amy?

Now as I reflect on today's prompt, I wonder why I wanted to be Amy Miller.  Pretty uninspiring.  I love my name now.  I do use my nickname, Mindy, in daily life and I guess I'm not all that fond of it; one too many "Mork and Mindy" jokes when I was wearing a name tag at the Burger King counter.  But I think my given name, Melinda, is lovely.  Not so unusual that people haven't heard of it but unique enough that people don't know ten Melindas.   I think my love of the name Amy Miller had more to do with being an easy-to-spell name that made me feel just like everyone else.  Whereas Melinda and my last name were not common. My last name had to be spelled for everyone and earned me a nickname of "mustard" in college.    And because the name wasn't common, I was often called Missy, Melissa or Wendy.  I hated  that. 

If I could reintroduce myself from now on, I would drop the name Mindy and only use Melinda and I would always use my "mustardy" maiden name as my middle name, even if I have to spell it. So why not just make the change now?  Unfortunately because I spent my whole life going by my nickname, Mindy,  being called Melinda indicates you don't really know me or you are my mother and I'm in trouble!  So what's a girl to do?  I love my formal name but don't use it and continue to be called Wendy or Missy!  Hmmm.....maybe Amy would be better?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

#reverb10 - December 22 Travel

How did you travel in 2010? How and/or where would you like to travel next year?
(Author: Tara Hunt)

I travel regularly in my job and although I run a statewide organization, it still requires a lot of travel outside Pennsylvania.  This was a surprising revelation for me when I accepted this position four and a half years ago.  I thought I would spend the majority of my time traveling around Pennsylvania to small communities, rural areas and many cities.  As it turns out, my staff does most of the traveling within Pennsylvania and other than a few trips to Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, I stick pretty close to Harrisburg with the exception of my participation in the Pennsylvania Humanities Council's Commonwealth Speakers' Bureau.   

The Commonwealth Speakers' program gives me the opportunity to speak about The Lincoln Highway in about four to six small communities each year, usually at the local library or historical society.  I love visiting these small places.  I've always adored visiting libraries so it's been fun to see all the great buildings.  For instance, the library in Danville, PA is just beautiful.  But here's the thing:  I go to these places, usually at night, speak for an hour or two, and head back home.  I hardly ever get the chance to really explore the places I visit.  If I could make one change in the next year, it would be to organize my schedule a bit better so that I arrive in these communities a little earlier in the day and take some time to explore. 

Sitting here in December, looking forward to the spring when most of these trips are scheduled, it seems like a great idea. Will I be able to do it?  I sure hope so. 

Monday, December 27, 2010

#reverb10 - December 21 - Future Self

Imagine yourself five years from now. What advice would you give your current self for the year ahead?

(Author: Jenny Blake)

I guess I've fallen down on this "write every day" plan.  Writing during Christmas prep and Christmas party fun has been difficult...well impossible.  So today I thought long and hard about giving up versus catching up versus starting from today and going forward.

I settled on catching up...not quite sure how I will accomplish that but I'm going to give it a try.  I think it's important to me that I follow through on this.  I really like the writing...I pretty much hate the prompts.  But I believe a good writer can write about any subject so here we go...

Dear Future Self,

I am so proud of the way you have tackled so many unfinished projects in quilting and knitting.  I knew if you were able to complete a lot of projects, your creativity would just explode.  What fun it was to be able to tackle a new idea without any guilt over the unfinished ones. 

You've become quite a prolific writer too.  Muscling your way through those #reverb10 prompts in December 2010 really started you on a good habit of writing every day.  I hear you've finished that book you've been planning for more than ten years. 

Please share with me what being less of a procrastinator has done for your work life.  I'm sure you have enjoyed the reduced stress level of always being under the wire in finishing projects.

Wow, it looks like you've gotten your life together in these past five years and I'm very proud of you. 

Here's hoping this was not just a Christmas dream...

Love ya!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

#reverb10 - December 20 Beyond Avoidance

Prompt:  What should you have done this year but didn’t because you were too scared, worried, unsure, busy or otherwise deterred from doing? (Bonus: Will you do it?)

(Author: Jake Nickell)

Today, I will try to get back to my original concept for this blog -- quilting and knitting.  I  think the topic of avoidance is an interesting one in regards to these topics.  I never quilt or knit as much as  I would like.  I start a lot of projects but they sometimes languish for good periods of time in the UFO (unfinished objects) bin.    I think it is easy to blame this on a lack of "free" time.  "I'm sooooo busy; I just don't have time to work on (insert name of project)." 

But if I'm totally honest with myself, I know that I can make time to do plenty of other things even while being soooo busy.  So what is it then?  I love to learn new skills and I'm willing to work through the learning curve to do so.  BUT, I get to a point in many projects where I have tackled a project that is a bit too big or a bit too complicated and I think I psych myself out of doing it.  I'm scared that it won't turn out well or the work won't be "good enough".  Who are these quilt police who will tell me it's not good enough?  I don't know....but there's always that chance.  

Is this a form of avoidance?  Yes, I'm pretty sure that it is.  To be so worried about not being successful  that you're afraid to try seems almost ridiculous, especially when we're talking about a knitting or quilting technique.  If skydiving were my hobby instead, I'd never actually jump out of the plane if all I did was worry about failure.    Thankfully, the consequences of failing at knitting or quilting are much less dire. 

The reality is that I enjoy the process of creating more than I enjoy the finished project so instead of avoiding something, I should just jump right in and start ...or finish. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

#reverb10 - December 19 Healing

Prompt:  What healed you this year? Was it sudden, or a drip-by-drip evolution? How would you like to be healed in 2011?

(Author: Leonie Allan)

I made a commitment to writing every day during the month of December using the #reverb10 prompts.  What was #reverb10 supposed to do?  "reflect on this year & manifest what's next"    Sounds like a pretty good exercise and, in fact, I enjoyed the first ten or so prompts.  It gave me a chance to do exactly what was promised - a bit of reflecting on the year and a few goals to reach for in the new year.  I was enjoying each session of writing and feeling pretty good until...I realized that what I was being "forced" to do, if I wanted to play along, was to throw some pretty heavy stuff out there for the whole world (or at least the three readers I may have) to see. 

Admitting to yourself what you'd like to change is one thing but to continually have to think about ways you are messed up and how you can fix yourself is, frankly, pretty depressing.  Especially in a month where I'm supposed to be feeling all warm and fuzzy and Christmas-y.  I have remained pretty excited about the season in spite of each night's self-reflection  I  found myself sighing about the icky stuff I was forced to bring forth in order to answer the prompts.  But I was an exercise in writing with a topic already chosen.  Slowly however, I was beginning to dread the point of the night where I had to sit down and spill out some other deep dark secret about myself.  So I delayed on a few of the prompts until the next day or the next evening.  In fact, right now I'm only one night behind. quote the great B.B. King, the thrill is gone. 

I was still enjoying the writing part, just not the subject.  I was thinking maybe I am a failure at blogging.  How hard could it be to follow the simple prompt and write a bit of drivel?  So for the first time, I started to seek out my fellow reverbers and I found out something.  I wasn't alone!  Others were  uninspired, disenchanted and feeling a little uncomfortable about laying it all out there.  Too much navel-gazing as Shauna so aptly pointed out (the link will take you to her post on this topic).  So the blogger that gave me the inspiration to do this has also given me the permission to NOT do it.  Not that I need Shauna's permission  (I've never met her and she surely doesn't know me) or anyone else's permission.  It just felt great to read the comments on her blog post that very closely matched my feelings. 

I'm going to attempt to loosely follow the prompts each day for the rest of the month because this commitment was more about writing every day than to actually follow #reverb10's plan.  I appreciate the opportunity it's given me so far for refection and manifestation but I think it's been said more than once! 

So for today's prompt on healing, I think my healing for 2010 happened today, all of a sudden when I gave myself permission to stop navel gazing and get on with the excitement of the holiday season.  As for 2011, I hope that if I undertake something like this again and it's not working, that I will recognize it sooner this time and give myself permission to make it work in my own way. 

Saturday, December 18, 2010

#reverb10 - December 18 Try

Prompt:  What do you want to try next year? Is there something you wanted to try in 2010? What happened when you did / didn’t go for it?

(Author: Kaileen Elise)

This is going to sound like one more bad New Year's resolution.  You know the kind I mean.  Good intentions that make it to about January 3rd.  Work harder, exercise more, eat less, get fit, enjoy life, etc.  I think we set ourselves up for failure when we decide solely based on the  date on the calendar, we can suddenly wake up and be "perfect". 

It goes back to that "all or nothing" attitude we like to take.  If we can't do it perfectly, then why bother at all?  I have worked on this concept recently, and, in fact, wrote a bit about it in yesterday's prompt.  And surprisingly (well to me at least), letting go of that way of thinking has been good.

I have struggled with bad eating habits my whole life.  Trying to make a permanent change for the good is tough and filled with pitfalls.    A few months ago, I decided, after a lot of research and reading, to try a new way of eating.  Not a diet or even a way to lose weight but a way to approach eating in a more healthful way that would improve my energy and reduce my addiction to sugar.  I took a radical step and included trying to cut down on not just sugar and white flour, but to eliminate artificial sweetener as well.  The theory behind that is that you'll never truly lose your craving for sweet things, if you eat artificially sweetened foods.  I didn't expect a miracle but I wanted to  see if I could do it and if it would change my energy level.

It was hard but it worked.  The first couple of days were okay because it was new and exciting but  the next few days were really hard as I was craving, of all things, Diet Pepsi.  I persevered, however, and in a little over a week, I wasn't craving sugar at all.  I was feeling better and had more energy.  Great!  Until a small stumble or two or three....

I never expected to be perfect and I didn't say I would never have sugar or white flour again.  The trick is to pick yourself up after the stumble and get right back to work.  What I find most surprising about the experience is that I HAVE picked myself up each slip AND after each planned deviation.  Currently I'm off "plan" more than I'm on but I haven't totally failed or given up.  I know that I feel better when I'm following it and I recognize the effects as soon as I change my eating habits. 

As I think about moving forward into 2011, I feel pretty good about continuing this way of eating and I will try to do it better and more consistently because I know how it makes me feel and I like that most of all. 

#reverb10 - December 17 Lesson Learned

Prompt:  What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward?

(Author: Tara Weaver)

It feels lately like I'm learning a lesson almost everyday.  It may be similar to the old adage that the older kids get, the smarter their parents are.  I feel like I've gained a lot of insight into myself and my relationships this year.  Maybe it was because I turned 50; maybe it was the year of change that we had; maybe it was a conscious decision to be more aware.  Whatever the reason, I think a few things clicked in my brain that previously didn't quite make the connection. 

As I reflect what some (or even one) of those lesson were, there is one that comes to the forefront.  I've had always had a good sense of instinct and maybe this year, I'm learning to trust it more and more.  It feels like this comes with maturity; enabling you to be more comfortable with what you know is true and less worried about whether anyone else agrees.

This has happened in my personal life and my professional life.  That niggling little feeling as you're about to make a decision that tells you to stop, wait a moment, rethink the plan and adjust.  I'd be lying if I said I always listen to that little voice but in the times I did, it was usually right on target.  As I sit here giving this more thought, I realize that this simple concept of "trust your instinct" gets all mixed up in a few other lessons learned. 

A big one is accepting that things do not have to be "now or never".  If this little voice is saying this is not a good idea right now, it doesn't mean it will always not be a good idea.  For example, I've had a strong desire to pursue my PhD for many years.  Last year, an opportunity arose to do that on a part-time basis while still working full-time.  I eagerly prepared at the end of 2009.  I crammed for my GRE dredging those old high school and college match concepts from the back of my brain.  It was tough but I  did okay.  I lined up references and began to fill out the application.  Suddenly, I couldn't shake the feeling that it wasn't the right time.  I really struggled with it.  I beat myself up on a regular basis as I procrastinated completing the application to the point where I literally ran out of time.  It was a pretty tough period and I was angry at myself while at the same time relieved.   I kept reminding myself that I could apply next year or the year after that. 

The reality hit in March when suddenly our financial situation changed as my husband was laid off.  I was immediately relieved that I hadn't applied.  Had I been accepted, I would have had a tough time not moving forward.  Although I could have made it work financially, I knew that it was not the best time.  I was very glad that I listened to my instincts this time. 

A year later, I still haven't applied but I'm still planning to do so.  I just need to wait until the right time...when the little voice inside my head lets me know I should go for it.  I sure hope I'm listening. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

#reverb10 - December 16 Friendship

Prompt:  How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst?

(Author: Martha Mihalick)

Beginning in college and through my 20's, I didn't really have that many girlfriends.  Most of my really good friends were male.  I'm not really sure why.  My best friend in high school was Pam and we understood each other.  Neither of us were close with a lot of female friends and I think that was one of the things that helped us become so close.  Through the years, Pam and I stayed close even if there was significant amount of time between visits.  But most of my day-to day friends were still men.  After I got married, my husband was my best friend.  After my divorce, the friends that helped me through were also male.  I like men!  What can I say?  I married another one and this one is a keeper, but there is one key difference this time.

Over the last few years, I developed relationships for the first time with a number of female friends.  Oddly enough,  it was through the Internet.  The stigma attached to virtual friends has pretty much gone away but I would sometimes feel a bit embarrassed to say that the people I interacted with most were online.   Introducing the idea of online friends to my husband (boyfriend at the time) was interesting and he had to get accustomed to the idea that my confidants were via email and we shared a lot!  That eventually changed and I met most of my online friends in person.  Now we are friends in real life who stay in touch through the Internet.  (OK, it's a bit of a subtle nuance but work with me.) 

Where is all this leading and does it have anything to do with the prompt?  Well yes, it does.  I think that I appreciate the female friends I have more every day.  Maybe it's my age or the place I am in life but I have come to appreciate the ability to reach out to any one of them any time of the day or night and know that when they check their inbox, I'll hear back from them.  I have learned a lot from these ladies, from the serious to the silly.  My changing perspective on these relationships has been gradual but every now and then, there's a burst of insight not previously considered.  This year especially, as many of us have had some serious matters to handle and some major changes in our lives, their constant love and support has changed my perspective on a number of things.  Most of all, my perspective on friendship in general and female friendship in particular. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

#reverb10 - December 15 5 Minutes

Prompt:  Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010.

(Author: Patti Digh)

An amazing trip in April to the Mohonk Mountain House.  Beautiful place, old style charm, wonderful setting, totally pampered.

The day my daughter chose Temple University over three other schools and I knew it was the right decision for her.  And it was!

A most amazing graduation party to celebrate my daughter's high school graduation.  It wasn't the occasion, it was the amazing mix of people -- friends, family, in-laws, ex-laws, etc. all together

A great trip to the beach with my husband and my daughter.  Great food!  A lot of laughs!  Getting stuck in the rain.

The day we dropped my daughter off at college.  Sad, but exciting.

When I finally got my mother to agree to see a doctor after many years of not going.  I didn't realize how heavily it weighed on me until I felt the relief of her going.

The night that my class of historic preservation students "got it" and began jumping in with ideas for case study solutions that were right on target.  What teaching is all about.

Preparing the house for Christmas in anticipation of my daughter coming home from college. Remembering how I felt that first year that I came home and the house was all decorated and smelled good and I was so happy to be home. 

#reverb10 - December 14 Appreciate

Prompt:  What’s the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it?

(Author: Victoria Klein)

We have to be vigilent in our day to day lives to not miss opportunities that present themselves to us.  They are everywhere.  Sometimes though, they are disguised as something that is frustrating or overwhelming.  Other times, they are downright distasteful.  This year, I have tried very hard to embrace the opportunities that are offered to me.  I'm not adverse to change but like most humans, I like knowing who I am and where I'm going. When I was a kid,  I hated coloring outside the lines and would often reject a picture I was working on because I used the wrong color in the wrong place or got outside the lines.  My mother is an artist.  Her work is very meticulous and precise.  She taught me early about color choices and shading.  Yes, shading with my box of 64 crayons. Coloring brought me great pleasure but I was definitely a conformist.  I didn't like when my friends would use the wrong color in my coloring books.  Trees were green, not blue, the sun was yellow, not orange.   

Is this what molded me into someone who doesn't embrace an idea or opportunity that seems outside the lines?  I think I have spent a bit too much time worrying about what I think other people think I should be doing or saying.  And along the way, I missed a number of opportunties.   Recently, I have been working on saying "no" more often in an attempt to make my life more managable.  But I have also been saying "yes" more often.  Yes, to something new or different.  For the most part, it has worked out pretty well. 

As a result, I have become much more aware and thankful for the many opportunities I have.  I think the best way to show gratitude for an opportunity is to take it.  What have you got to lose?  It may be a risk, but if you're successful, the result can be pretty wonderful.   

I am very grateful for the ability to make my own decisions and seize an opportunity when it presents itself.  It makes a world of difference in my outlook on life. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

#reverb10 - December 13 ACTION

PROMPT:  When it comes to aspirations, it’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. What’s your next step?       (Author: Scott Belsky)

Ideas.  Yes, I have lots of ideas.  Quilts I want to make, knitting skills I want to master, books I want to write, things I want to improve.  Putting those ideas into action is the real challenge.  In case you are just now reading this blog for the first time, procrastination is my middle name.  Lots of idea coupled with procrastination does not result in lot of progress. 

It doesn't stop me from dreaming, though.  I make lists and plans and try different methods to shake myself out of the routine of NOT doing.  But I am often not successful.  Lately, however, I have been working very hard on putting into action the ideas I have and I can honestly say it has been only somewhat successful, but immensely rewarding. 

For example, the decision to participate in  #reverb10 was very impulsive.  I have wanted to get into a strong habit of writing every day.  It was one of the reaons that I started the blog so many years ago but I wrote many blog posts in my head, not so many on the keyboard.  So using one of my favorite bloggers as inspiration (Thank you Shauna!) , I decided to just go for it.  The one thing in my favor was that I found out about it on November 30, so I had to put it into practice immediately.   I have been pretty faithful (although I'm currently a day behind) and the expereince has been awesome for. me.   It doesn't matter to me if anyone reads it.  I'm not concerned about it being perfect.  It feels good to do it and I can already see an improvement in my writing.  I stared out using too many cliches and overused the word "so" and I have pretty much stopped those two things.  Baby steps...  (Hmmm, is "baby steps" a cliche?)

I think turning your ideas into aspirations and taking the next step comes down to a very simple task.  Just sit your butt down and do it (with apologies to Nike who don't want you to sit your butt down).  I feel like my success (so far) with this exercise has spilled over into other areas of my life and I'm making some good progress.   I really want to sustain this momentum and  I like the feeling it gives me.  After all, being happy with yourself is more than half the battle....(those goes a cliche again).  Oh well, old habits die hard!  Stop it!  I'll do better tomorrow.  After all, tomorrow is another day!  (OK, that shouldn't as a cliche... it's a quote from a movie!) Sorry, I couldn't resist.    

Monday, December 13, 2010

#reverb 10 December 12 – Body Integration

This year, when did you feel the most integrated with your body? Did you have a moment where there wasn’t mind and body, but simply a cohesive YOU, alive and present?
(Author: Patrick Reynolds)

I think one of the most surprising things about getting older is the way your body lets you know that you are aging.  I am happy to still be active and able to do the things I want to do but a hard day of physical work makes for a less than stellar morning the next day.  An old knee injury from my youth screams at me every now and then and I hate that I can no longer sit cross-legged on the floor.  I still do it sometime, but it's not a good thing.  

However, earlier this year, while preparing for a big event at our house, we (my husband and I) spent a full week working around the house, primarily outside.  There was a lot of cleaning and moving things inside.  Old furniture was hauled to the dumpster, new furniture was arranged.  The yard work included trimming bushes, pulling weeds, cleaning up yard waste, some planting of flowers and a whole lot of weed-whacking.  Each day we got up, reviewed our list, began our day and worked until evening.  We cooked dinner together, mostly on the grill, relaxed and went to bed for a great night of sleep and rose again the next morning to do it all again.  

Motivated by the end goal, excited each day by the progress and enjoying the long break from my regular job behind a desk, I really felt alive.    

Saturday, December 11, 2010

#reverb 10 - Day 11 11 Things

What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life?
(Author: Sam Davidson)

I have lots of things in my life to get rid of both physically and emotionally so I think I will just list them one by one.

1. Clutter!!!  In what is supposed to be the greatest electronic age, I still have way too much paper in my life.  With at least four laptop crashes in the last two years, I guess old habits die hard.  I didn't even lose anything in my crashes except a few emails because I double, triple and quadruple back up now but I still like the feel of paper.  I will try and divest myself of a lot in 2011 which should make finding the important papers way easier.

2.  Clothes that don't fit!  I have essentially been the same size now for almost 6 years.  Why do I still hold onto things that are both too big and too small.  By the time I get to one of those others sizes, what I have will be so out of date that I won't wear it anyway.  Hopefully the clothing bank won't make comments on the out of dateness of my donations.  My closet and my attic will be happy and so will I.

3.  Knitting and Quilting UFO's (Unfinished Objects)!  I don't want to get rid of them but I do want to finish them thereby changing their status to "finished object" rather than "unfinished object".  I fear this may have been a plan for the last several years.  Achieving this goal, if only by a little, will make me spend less time thinking about knitting and quilting and more time actually doing it.

4.  The pile of unread books!  Once again I don't necessarily want to get rid of them but I'd like to turn them from unread books to read books.  At that point I can decide which ones to keep.   I love to read but I don't make it a priority.  My goal is to see a new book when I'm shopping and be able to buy it and come home and start reading it instead of adding it to the pile.  That would feel wonderful.

5.  Procrastination!  I think this word is my arch-enemy.  It gets blamed for everything.  It is the distant unattainable answer to all my problems.  I resolve to eliminate using the word procrastination as an excuse and to just carefully choose the things I will do without any guilt.

6. The phrase "yes, no problem"!  This is a phrase I utter without thinking even when there really IS a problem.  I guess there are time when I can use this term without a little ping of dread.  But saying it less or eliminating it altogether coupled with embracing the word "no" would feel pretty great!

7.  Excuses!   These are not the traditional explanations for why something did not get done.  These are the evil little voices in my head that justify not doing something that would be good for me, good for my relationship and good for my soul.  This will be a hard one but it would be a terrific accomplishment.

8.  A Volunteer Job!  I won't go into the specifics here but it is time for me to move on from a task that I haven't done well, continue to agree to do, resolve to do better and then feel guilty when I don't.  The overwhelming feeling of relief will be wonderful.  The first step is already in motion.  Fingers crossed that I don't cave at the last minute.  

9.  Sugar!  I know that sugar is not good for my energy level or general feeling of wellness yet I struggle all the time with letting sugar AND artificial sweetener alone.  I know that you can't eliminate all sugar but when I significantly reduce my intake, I feel better.  In a only a day or two my craving goes away.  It is a magical fleeting moment...soon it creeps back in and takes hold.  This is one of those goals that reminds me of the Japanese saying, "Fall down seven times, get up eight."  That is what I'm going to do. 

10.  Wasting Time!  I think this may go hand in hand with procrastination.  I do believe that everyone needs time to relax and recharge.  That is not a waste of time but there are any number of things that do waste time and I'd like to eliminate them.  This should have a positive effect on my ability to get things done in a timely manner.   

11.  Guilt!!!!!  This is the big one.  The one that came to mind first but I forced to be last.  I would like to eliminate the feeling of guilt that comes roaring in on every aspect of my life.  Just let it go!   
 These 11 eliminations are in random order, just as I thought them up with the exception of number 11.  If I truly succeed in any of these task, I will be very thankful.  Eliminating things, even those that are bad for you is tough!  

Friday, December 10, 2010

#reverb10 - Day 10 Wisdom

Wisdom. What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out?
(Author: Susannah Conway)

I think I am very wise.  I am so wise that I know exactly what I need to do to improve my life, win friends, influence people and have lovely shiny hair and a super firm, fit body.  Everyday I wake up with a strong resolve to work on all those things:  procrastination, organization, fitness and exercise.  Each day is different.  Some days, my firm resolve lasts until almost 10:00 AM, other days I forget it by the time I step into the shower.   

How can someone as wise as me be incapable of taking my own advice?  

Isn't this depressing?  No, thank God or I would be a basket case.  I would rather think of each day as a clean slate, where I can take the lessons I have learned and combine them with the desires that I have and I can put one foot in front of the other and take a step or two or ten or a hundred or even 10,000 as fitness gurus suggest we should.  If I falter, all is not lost.  You can pick up and start again.  

The wisest decision I have made this year is the same decision I make every day.  Try to make each day better than the last and take the lessons you have learned along the way and try to not make the same mistakes again.  But most important of all, just keep on trying using what you know to get someplace you want to be.  

Thursday, December 9, 2010

#reverb10 - Day 9 Party!

Prompt: Party. What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans.

(Author: Shauna Reid)

There is no greater satisfaction than hosting a party that comes together perfectly, is relaxed and comfortable and mixes together a lot of diverse people who all get along.  That describes my daughter's high school graduation party this past June.  A graduation party?  This is the party that "rocked your socks off?"  Well actually, yes it did.

The basic idea of this party had the potential to be a very painful experience.  Yet something made us forge ahead because, if we could by chance pull it off, it would be awesome.    We all wanted to be with my daughter for her celebration --- my husband, my mother, our relatives...her father, his wife, their kids, their relatives...our neighbors....our friends...her friends...see what I mean?  Could we honestly pull off a party where EVERYONE came?  Sure, why not?  Let's push it a bit more, how about if we (my husband and I AND my ex-husband and his wifeI) co-hosted?  Sure, friends thought we were crazy.  Honestly, I thought we were crazy.  But we did it anyway and it was pretty terrific.

We were blessed with a beautiful sunny day.  The party was in the yard.  The food was in the dining room and a continuously running slide show of 18 years of my daughter's life was in the living room.   There was also a table set up with muslin squares and pigma pens for guests to write messages to be incorporated into a quilt.  (Note:  yes, this would be the dreaded graduation quilt mentioned a few posts ago.)   Throughout the day, people dropped in and visited.  They talked and ate and sat down to watch the slide show.  Most signed quilt blocks and said their good-byes.  Others came early and stayed late.  Still other came late and stayed even later.  By the end of the night, as we cleaned up, there were still a group of my daughter's friends outside laughing and telling stories in the dark. 

The food was great.  The menu was chosen by my daughter.  I made several pans of macaroni and cheese, buffalo chicken bites and hamburger barbecue and her stepmother (who is from Mexico) made an amazing taco bar with various fillings, homemade salsa and toppings.  There was great chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting. 

Miss Scarlett, the sometimes crazy beagle, was on her best behavior visting with people and getting too many treats.  Even the cats made quiet appearances from time to time, didn't jump up on non-cat people and disappeared when things got a bit loud. 

So why did this party rock my socks off?  Because we dared to dream that we could pull off a party that included a widely diverse groups of people who shared one common thing -- they love my daughter.  And we were right!  Dream Big!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

#reverb10 - Day 8 - Beautifully Different

December 8 – Beautifully Different.
Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful.
(Author: Karen Walrond)

I like to think I am different.  I don't want to do what everyone else does or think what everyone else thinks.  Sometimes my desire to be different is affirmed when I suddenly realize that the people around me don't think the way I do.  When Men Are From Mars: Women Are From Venus came out, I eagerly got my hands on a copy. ready to learn about the secret world of men  This would help me understand relationships and I would be ready to face them head on.  After a few chapters, I was pretty excited as I read through the various traits that described me....too bad I was reading the section about men! It may be a bit of an exaggeration but I have always remembered it when I get frustrated about a relationship and often realize that I'm not re-acting the way a woman is supposed to re-act (well at least according to the book author).  I still think it is a great book about relationships but I need to refer to both sexes to figure myself out. 

My tendency to approach things in my own way, often with a wildly different perspective has  turned out to be pretty valuable. I was on the debate team in high school.  At the time, I thought it was because I just liked to argue.  However, it taught me to see both sides of an issue and when you're debating competitively, it doesn't really matter if you believe the side you are representing.  You just have to have the opposite view of the other team and effectively present your argument.  Is this where it all began?  I think so. 

In my real life job, I am involved with the preservation of historic buildings.  This is not a job for someone who does not like confrontation.  The fight to preserve something can be exciting, challenging, confrontational and sometimes downright hateful.  Emotions are very close to the surface and can bubble over without warning.  I feel that one of the most effective tools I bring to the table is the ability to see both sides of the issue and to speak the language of opposing parties.  It has served me well in my career and has resulted in some pretty great compromises and a lot of assuaged feelings.  

I've never followed the crowd, never needed to be like everyone else and actually enjoy being different.  I think it is a pretty cool quality.  My friends may think some of my ideas are odd but I think its one of the things they like about me and  I'm not shy about sharing my opinions.  

The other element that makes me "beautifully different" is my sense of humor.  Though it is not universally appreciated, I think it plays a very important role in who I am.  It can be a bit sarcastic at times but never intended to be mean.  This is a trait that I acquired from my father, either genetically (who knows, might be) or by just being close to him.   For me, humor is the way through any situation, even the uncomfortable ones.  

So what makes me beautifully different?  A unique perspective and a wicked sense of humor.  There are many things about myself I'd like to change but those two traits I will keep proudly. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

#reverb10 - Day 7 - Community

Prompt: Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011?
(Author: Cali Harris)

The age of the internet allows us to have multiple kinds of interaction, some with people we may never meet.  It's hard to imagine that this phenomenon has come upon us so quickly.  It almost seems overwhelming when you start to think about the people you now connect with on a regular basis through online communities of all kinds.  In the days of phone calls, snail mail and chance encounters at the grocery store, your circle of interactions was fairly limited.  Now on a daily basis, I have an exchange with an online quilting group, an email group of very close friends who all live fairly far apart, and, on Facebook, high school and college friends, work colleagues, quilting friends, acquaintances from previous careers, my daughter and some of her friends and few podcasters whose programs I listen to regularly.  Wow!  How in the world do I have time to get any actual work done?

There is nothing that will make you question what yourself about these relationships than to tell your 77 year-old mother about your "friend" in Kansas City whom you've never met, nor actually ever spoken to, yet you know their cat's name and their husband's favorite food and what their latest quilting project is. Life is fast-paced.  There is no denying it; we have evolved into a community of people who quickly check in and catch up with a great deal of people with whom we share something in common -- a hobby, an interest or a career.  I think its fun to see what gets other folks excited and its comforting to know you can reach out at any time and connect with someone without worrying about waking someone up or bothering them.

On the other hand, I have actually met a number of my online friends over the years on a variety of occasions including a cruise, a wedding or two (including my own), a graduation party for my daughter and a wonderful shopping trip for quilting fabric in Lancaster County, PA.  I've even gone off to quilt camp with a few of my online friends combining my "in person" quilting friends from my quilt guild with my "virtual" quilting friends.  And you know what?  People are people.  It's been my experience that if you become friends online, you actually end up knowing someone a whole lot better than some people you see in the flesh.  So far, there hasn't been one online friend whom I've met in person that I didn't like just as much as I liked them online. In person and online, I know so many great people.  

I cherish the friendships I have discovered through my online community.  They have become some of the dearest people to me.  My quilting friends are quick with encouragement and good advice and just the nicest people.  We have been through some tough times and some wonderful times together.  I truly hope that continues for a very long time.  

Love you Tiara Babes!

#reverb10 - Day 6 Make

Prompt:  Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?

What was the last thing I made?  Does that mean finished?  This is a challenging question posed to the queen of UFOs (unfinished objects) and WIPs (works in progress).  I routinely have multiple knitting and quilting projects going on at once.  There is usually one that is the favorite child and gets the most attention.  Sometimes that child misbehaves and needs a time out and another one comes out to take its place.  Sometimes they all need a time out because I've gotten excited about starting a new project (or two or three).  That, my friends, is called "start-itis."

I do finish things.  I think the last finished project was a lovely ruffled neck warmer made from baby blue alpaca from Peru, a gift from a friend who visited there.  When I look at it, it makes me smile. Now I haven't actually worn it yet.  And sadly, I have to admit that I rarely wear what I make.  There are exceptions to this...wool fingerless mitts for typing on cold days in the office and a nice cotton shawl that I wrap around my shoulders when I read.  The cold hard reality is that I enjoy the process of knitting far more than I enjoy the finished project. 

I am a process knitter, a process quilter and just a process person in general.  I love learning new skills.  I love the period of time spent working on the project the most.  Many times, once I  have mastered the new stitch or technique, I lose interest.  I do want to finish projects but I don't much care about them once they are completed.  This has both good and bad consequences.  It is very good for charity...finished shawls donated to hospice, preemie hats donated to the hospital, or scarves to anyone who admires them. It is very bad for family members and friends who are waiting for promised projects to be finished and passed on to be enjoyed.  Right now, my daughter's high school graduation quilt is a bit of a touchy subject.  She is convinced she'll be graduating college before she gets it. 

I love choosing the right material -- wool, cotton, acrylic -- depending on the final product.  I especially love choosing the colors.  I love color; every color.  Color makes me happy.   Fabric makes me really, really happy.   I love good quality 100% cotton quilting fabric.  I love acquiring it and fondling it, sometimes I even use it.  When I am using the yarn or the fabric, I am content and at peace.  I am caught up in the process of creating. 

I want to be knitting and quilting every day and if I could carve out a little more time to do it, I might finish more projects...or have more time to start new ones.  Happy crafting!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

#reverb10 - Day 5 Let Go

PROMPT:  What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?

Let go and let God.  It's a simple prayer for those times when you just don't know what to do to manage the thing over which you have no control.  Why do we wait until we've tried everything else without success before we let go...and let God?  This is not meant to be preachy in any way.  It just seems that we have to be at the end of our rope awash in frustration or anger or sorrow before we can force ourselves to "let go".  

I'm a Lutheran these days after spending most of my life as a Catholic.  It may be a cliche but I think I developed a great deal of Catholic guilt while I was learning the stations of the cross and praying the rosary.  I can easily convince myself that all things that are wrong in life are my fault in some way.  Someone is fault.  A change in routine at work that is not going over fault.  The destruction of the Amazon rain fault.  OK, I'm not sure I can really justify that one but it doesn't make me feel any less guilty.  

I suffer from a bit of an over-zealous habit to please everyone.    I overextend myself regularly to make sure all the details are under control so that every thing is "perfect" and everyone is getting whatever it is that they need.  Sadly, sometimes, to the point where I'm the one that isn't happy. 

So if recognizing you have a problem is the beginning of the solution, what have I done to let things (anything, something) go?  I haven't completely figured it out yet, but I have come a long way in the last year in not planning everything to within an inch of its life.  I like when things go as I have visioned them in my mind.  But alas, things seldom go as planned.  I have worked really hard this year to accept the changes that are inevitable.  Recently, my carefully made plans for a weekend changed at least seven times before Friday arrived.  As each issue arose that lead to the change, I quickly adapted and starting planning again.  I don't think I'll ever be able to get beyond the need to over-plan even the contingency plan but I have come a long way in how I react to the change.

I declare that a good step in letting go.   


Saturday, December 4, 2010

#reverb10 - Day 4

Prompt: Wonder. How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year?
A sense of wonder...this prompt has left me perplexed all day.  I tried looking up the definition of "wonder" and "sense of wonder" for some inspiration and came away with the idea that I needed to have been reading science fiction in order to experience wonder.  I don't think that's what the author of the prompt had in mind.  
Other parts of the definition seem to focus on nature, if not science.  To me, wonder occurs when you take the time to really see and appreciate the world around you and to allow yourself to be amazed by it, struck with a sense of awe. To know that there is a higher power that has created it all is humbling.  I find that being a quilter keeps me constantly aware of the beauty and wonder around me.  A quilt block design idea appears from gazing at the tile floor in a building.  An October walk along a path flanked by trees in their fall, yellow, orange, green and brown inspires me to design fabric in my head that might possibly capture that riot of color. The commute home takes me west and I experience the wonderful colors of a setting sun and sometimes, clouds that are pierced by rays of sunlight (God's light, I think it is called).  This leads me to think of how how I would capture the feeling of a sunset in a quilt.  
The knitter in me plans to dye fiber that will mimic the colors around me.  How would I capture the impressionist mix of colors as I watch a creek flow by in the sunlight with its million shades of color and reflection?  I almost want to take a paintbrush and add the colors one by one to the yarn.  What would that look like when it is knit into something else?  Would the colors stay true or would they blend to create a new color?
I do spend a lot of time naming my fictional fabric and yarn line or creating the perfect design of my virtual quilts. The places I see inspire me to create fun names that ideally convey the story but contain a secret meaning or double-entendre   Piece on Earth, my blog name, perfectly describes the sense of delight I experience when I find the name that pops into my head and makes me say, "yes!"  I love the idea of truly achieving peace on earth and hope that I do my part to contribute to it in my little corner of the universe. My adventures in quilting and knitting involve lots of pieces of fabric and fiber so combining the two hononyms just made me smile.  I am still completely in love with the name of my blog.  
I know that quilting and knitting certainly help me in my efforts to be peaceful, kind and loving and I can't help but think if more of the world took up these crafts, maybe we would all be a bit closer to peace on earth.     
Don't lose your sense of wonder or your ability to be amazed by the world around you.  Peace on earth to all.

Friday, December 3, 2010

#reverb10 - Day 3

Prompt: Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors).

This year my daughter headed off to her first year of college. She really wanted to take a trip to the beach before she left.  For me, the beach is where I go to relax, recharge and dream.  However, for the very first time, this trip would include not just my daughter but my husband (her step dad) as well.  It wasn't the first time that the three of us had gone to the beach but it was the first time that my daughter wasn't taking a friend along AND the first time that the three of us would share one hotel room instead of a condo.  I was excited but a bit nervous.   

My husband met my daughter when she was 10 and became her step dad when she was 15.  Their relationship is still evolving and I wasn't sure I could enjoy this trip while acting as the conduit (or maybe the translator) between the two of them.  

One evening, the three of us walked about six blocks to a Mexican restaurant for dinner.  We were seated towards the back of the a very full restaurant. Latin music played happily, punctuated by the sounds of chatter and laughter.   We munched on crisp tortillas and enjoyed the wonderful smell of grilled fajitas,   Dinner talk included conversation about graduation, the summer and the quickly approaching start of college.  I slowly came to realize that we were having a pretty awesome time with great conversation that didn't seem forced.   And best of all, I wasn't the one doing most of the talking.  

This lovely dinner came to an end and we made our way to the front of the restaurant with happy smiles and suddenly found ourselves crowded shoulder to shoulder with a lot of people trying to leave.  Peeking through the heads, we discovered the the rain that had been threatening all day had arrived with all the force predicted.  It was dark and it was pouring, the kind of rain that soaks you to the skin in a few minutes.  So we joined the crowd of people waiting for the rain to slow.  One by one, cars came by to pick some folks up and others opened umbrellas or put on brightly colored rain coats and started walking.   We, of course, did not think the threat of rain was serious enough to actually bring umbrellas.  

After a few minutes, we realized there was no sign of it slowing and we decided to just make a run for it.....six blocks!  We started running and were immediately soaked to the skin.  The heat of the day and our sunburns were immediately cooled.  After a bit of running, it became rather comical because we were truly drenched and whether we got back to the hotel in ten minutes or twenty minutes wasn't going to make a difference in our current soaked condition.  The rain, however, was pretty hard and so we began running from one striped shop awning to another and stopping....just to have a small reprieve from the pounding rain.  Eventually I took off my sandals and ran through the puddles in my bare feet, something I hadn't done in years.  All the while, we were keeping up this funny burst of running, stopping and laughing, and then running again.  

Finally back at the hotel, we took turns in the bathroom peeling off our drenched clothes and wrapping ourselves in warm, fluffy towels.  The rain continued and we eventually went out to the balcony to watch the ocean and the rain put on a beautiful show.  

Even now, four months later, I can still recall the feeling of running bare foot in the rain with my wet pants flapping around my legs and giggling uncontrollably.