Thursday, December 31, 2009

A New Day, A New Dawn, A New Year


Seems like just a few months ago that I was looking at 2009 with excitement and awe, wondering what was in store. I am amazed as I look back at just how grounded I have become. I have not been on airplane in over a year, I left the state one time in August to take long-awaited vacation to Yellowstone National Park. I seem to have gotten way behind in my photo archiving but I did learn to play a violin (sort of!) and have knitted a dishcloth and a scarf. Our huge garden is now packed into various jars that bring back the warmth of summer, if only in our stomache and hearts! I now have a beatiful workspace for writing, coaching and counseling. We got the flooring in upstairs and new colors on the walls. The basement is nearly done; the boys each have their own rooms and we have the beginning of a comfy, cozy family room. to appreciate all that has been accomplished so far. It is easy to look at see all that we have left to do though I am shifting my focus I think sometimes those small victories become overshadowed when staring down the bigger picture.

One of our New Year's traditions is to write a list of all the experiences that we are ready for in the coming year. These are not necessary resolutions or goals, its more of a "dream list", though there are practical intentions included as well. I review this list each month and note the small steps that have been and can be taken each day to help materialize these wishes into reality. Some are big wishes, like traveling to Ireland, some are on a smaller scale like having a chicken coop for laying hens that I still don’t have! Some are simply to take time each day to appreciate the view off my back deck, play with my kids, or just to relax more.

So while I have a lot of experinces that I am looking forward to, no resolutions are made in this house! I realize that at any given moment, on any given day, we can start over. I can turn things around in my life that are not working, I can choose to do anything different once I make the inner choice to do so. I am excited for a new day and a new dawn. The good news is we have 365 of them coming up!
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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Stockings Were Hung By The Chimney With Care....


Here it is, our white Christmas. We’ve spend the day getting somewhat organized for the “big night”. I have to say, there is nothing like kids to help get one in the Christmas Spirit. I was thinking today, as I battle a bit of fatigue and last minute panic over all that I haven’t gotten done this year, this is not what I had in mind. I always have an ideal image of a perfect family Christmas; all the baking done, all the presents wrapped, sitting in the rocking chair, drinking a cup of hot tea, watching the twinkling lights on the tree and gazing out the window at a light snow falling.

BONGGGGG! The bells in my head go off , snapping me back to “what’s really here”. We have a drooping tree with the top half of the lights that are not working, we have a laundry room filled with snowy, wet caps, coats, boots, gloves in assorted sizes and colors. There are only two of the seven mountains of laundry left but several baskets with articles to fold, hang up and put away. No baking has been done. I have three more presents to finish making, I hope I can find them in my craft room. Things are pretty messy down there. Nope this isn’t the ideal I had in mind, guess I will have to work on that one next year.

Though my mind would like to have a picture perfect Christmas, my heart is telling me things are fine just as they are. My family is here. We are safe, we are healthy, we are happy, we are warm and we are together. We have plenty of food, a roof over our head, nice warm beds, and transportation to visit family when the opportunity opens. There are a lot of things un-done this Christmas so I am taking notes in my journal of what I want to do next time around. II have the same amount of days leading up to Christmas every year, so I am not sure why this one has been so unfocused and off track! I thought I had this holiday prep stuff down to a science………..guess not! Just when I thought I was so far ahead back in November, I blink at it is already almost Christmas! I am thninking it would be nice if we could put off the celebration until next week, though I would probably not be ready then either.

Tonight I will take a break from all the to-dos. We’ll sit by the fire downstairs, drink warm cocoa and read our favorite Christmas stories. We’ll read until the kids get tired of it or until mom gets tired, the later may come first! I’ll then turn it over to one of the boys and let them read to me if that happens. I am learning to share the work load. I used to be a bit of a perfectionist. My gift, this Christmas, is to realize that image no longer fits. I’m celebrating the perfectness of all my imperfections. Joy To The World!

Blessings to All this night, before the night before Christmas!
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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Happy Holidays From The Reindeer Wranglers!


Greetings Family and Friends of Reindeer Wranglers Inc.

Congrats! If you are reading this, either you are already addicted to having a computer and internet or you are borrowing a friend's computer/internet to see what the heck that little slip of paper in your late Christmas card says!

The crew and I are going “High-Tech” this year. We’d like to say it's because we are so advanced here at HQ but that would not be the truth! Actually the the dark-haired elf, hired as the HR director, flew out of here on a jet bound for Maui muttering under her breath that she’d had enough of this snow and cold weather. (Boy those elves can swear when they get mad!) North Pole Job Temps are getting more and more scarce every year. We really didn’t think we’d have any trouble hiring this year as this location is so balmy and warm compared to the Great North. Guess we were wrong!

Another reason we decided to go “green” this year is because we’ve been so busy chasing, branding, tagging, wrestling and training reindeer for Santa’s sleigh team that we barely know what day it is around here. And when that HR elf stormed out, it was up to me to figure out a way to get the yearly update sent to our loyal readers! It seems in the last year I’ve been working in the world of devices and deadlines so I should be a bit more efficient but alas, I am not. The only thing I really know how to do is push buttons here and there (pun is absolutely intended, this happens to be one thing I am really good at!) I do apologize for the lateness of the RW update; at least this letter will be here for you by the time you finally get the picture!

The year has been another busy one. In the off season, the boys felt they needed to keep their skills honed by attending their first junior rodeo. The night before we had a little more rain than what mom thought. We slid down the hill and into the bottom of the canyon. Let me just say a sleigh is a lot easier to drive than a Dodge flatbed with a trailer full of ponies. The kids learned some colorful new words and I showed my NASCAR skills by maneuvering our rig out of the “sucking mud”. We made it in time. The boys are sure that more junior rodeos will keep them in shape and primed for training renegade reindeer for Santa!

All the wranglers have changed since the last issue of our newsletter. The littlest one joined elf-school this year and seems to be blossoming in the social realm. Pryce enjoys seeing other short people with pointy ears and high-pitched voices. There is no end to her impish energies, vocabulary and questions. There just isn’t a reindeer that is going to escape her eagle eyes. She may end up heading this deal after I retire, she already thinks she’s the boss. We do work hard on manners though she is very cunning in the art of adorable manipulation (we pretty much melt when she tells us she loves us!) This does not make up for trimming her stuffed pony’s main, hiding various kitchen tools and using purple marker to decorate her carpet.

Parker went toothless for quite a while this year. Several renegade reindeer tried to get the best of him. His prowess proved more than what they could handle; he's now sporting a new set of BIG pearly whites to sing Christmas songs with. His favorite is Feliz Navidad, which he sings at the top of his lungs in the shower (and yes, he knows all the words!) He keeps us laughing with his wide array of accents. As an 8 year old, he can channel just about any voice he’s heard plus… he has dimples and he knows how to use them! We’re thinking that if the Reindeer Wrangling business doesn’t work out, we’ll encourage him to become an actor……

Pake works hard every day to meet his quota of food; eating is still his favorite pastime, though we are certain he’s not even hit his stride. He announced that he is now officially 5 foot tall. He wants to be measured about every two weeks and has aspirations of being as tall as his cousin Austin, currently 6’5”. Height comes in handy when roping reindeer, shooting hoops, and trying to tackle anything that walks by. Last night it was me………I had to share with my 11 year old that mom is no longer a target. He could flatten me out one of these days! My muck boots, coat and gloves are getting double use as he’s found that its better to get my stuff dirty than his!

Chad remains the CEO of the operation (at least Pryce and I let him believe this!) He keeps the place up and running here despite continual issues with water, fences, and cattle that can‘t read signs! We celebrated his 40th birthday with a surprise party in Maywood. It was a fun, fun night with lots of great friends and great laughs. His co-workers honored the day by dressing in black to mourn the passing of his youth. They filled his office with black balloons, paper shreddings, and many “elderly gifts”! My favorite was the little vulture on top of his computer! (which is now perched on top of mine!)

We nearly finished the second level of office space, then rodeo season hit and the builder went AWOL! I’ve threatened to fire up the saw and lay that tile myself but I am not known for my measuring abilities, precision or neatness so finishing the 8 year long home improvement project is once again extended…………

As for me, I keep pretty busy. It is a full time job to keep this crew in-line, though they are a lot of fun! I’ve opened an office space here at home where I offer counseling and coaching services. I co-author the North American Journey Practitioners Association Newsletter and act as the Educational Director for the group. I’ve also taken up violin, mainly as a way to scare off stray animals. In an effort to keep warm and stylish, I am learning to knit! Everyone will be so thrilled to have knitted underwear under the tree, don’t you think?

I’ve also started writing the Crea8tive Cowgirl blog, which captures the goings-on around here, random thoughts, musings and some of the interesting ideas that floating around in my head! If you’d like, pour yourself a cup of coffee and have a look! There’s a place on the right side where you can sign up to follow blog or you can “friend request” me on Facebook where the blog is also posted! This feels like a great way to share my writing with more people. I’ve received great support and positive responses thus far, so I’ll keep posting! Who knows, maybe after the Reindeer Wranglers all graduate from college, I’ll sit down and write that book……from sunny Hawaii!

Well, there you have it the 2009 Reindeer Wrangler Update. Seems like I got just a little bit windier since I am using virtual space (guess some things don’t change!) Here’s wishing you and your Reindeer Team a joyful, peace-filled, blissful Holiday Season. If you are ever down in these parts, please know there is a comfy bed waiting for you, warm cider, hot salsa, loud kids, lots of dogs and plenty of entertainment! We love to have guests and hope to see ya’ll in the coming year. Thank you for being part of our lives and our hearts. We’d love to hear from you so send us a message anytime and let us know how you are doing. will get it there. Merry Christmas~ Chad, Robyn Pake, Parker Ray and Pryce
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Saturday, December 19, 2009

My Newest Addiction


So I am totally addicted………………..

I see what all the rave is about in the knitting world! There are so many fun yarns, colors, styles, and items one can make with a couple of sticks and some yarn. Color me impressed. I had several errands to take care of in town on Friday but what I really wanted to do was sneak into the knitting store and visit Vickie for a few more lesson. A couple of hours later I walked out with a huge grin, a finished dish cloth, a glob of bright yellow year and “fat” kindergarten size knitting needles (I like to call them sticks!)

I nearly blew off driving by the bank to drop off a payment and pick up a perscription at Shopko. I completely skipped getting those last three Christmas gifts in lieu of learning how to bind off and a refresher for casting. My priorities are clear. I have visions of knitting sweaters, caps, mittens, and felted purses, that latter really trips my trigger and makes my heart flutter. Ok. Deep breath, this is pretty exciting stuff!

Parker requested a bright yellow scarf, which I am working on now. I’ve also started another dishcloth. I am a multi-tasking knitter, if only I had a couple more hands. I also realize I've quite innocently found a new addication. There,I admitted it.

I am ready for a bumper sticker that reads, “I’d rather be knitting”.
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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I'm Back and its Cold Outside


After a couple weeks of frustration and a lot of bucks (green ones, without horns!) I am finally back on-line. Being unplugged was a strange experince. I felt disconnected at times. I hate to admit that I may be slightly addicted to the ease of the internet. We do everything from paying bills on line to choosing movies, finding recipies, and reading other blogs. Emails, texting and facebook make it really easy and fun to stay connected to others and that is what I most missed. Can we do without internet, yes. Would we want to? Probably not.

Its nice to be able to blog again. My computer had to be completely rebuilt and even now it is still not restored to its former glory. There is much to do. With Christmas just around the corner, I can feel overwhelm creeping in. I choose not to acknowledge it today. Who cares that I have case studies due, a newsletter that needs to be written, ki readings to be done for next month, presents to craft, gifts to wrap and oh there's that little thing called supper tonight. Yep, back in the routine...........I'm on the computer putting off what is here and contemplating pulling the plug myself. Somehow it is easier when I choose to unplug versus when the unplugging happens by an unknown, outside force that cannot be controlled.

I want thank my very sweet, loyal readers for the support and encouragement to get back into the blog. Like many things, blogging would be easy to let slide and put off 'til later if I didn't love it so much! Your kind words were deeply appreciated and I am delighted to share with you once again. We have much to catch up on!

I found this picture as I was redownloading picasa today. Our view looks similar to this one taken in 2006 with the exception of the ice. We had a terrible ice storm that wiped out power across the state that holiday season. This holiday season the news has been on the freezing temperatures. This morning it was 2 below. Let me tell you, it took Myah only seconds to pee and poo and she was barreling to the door. I wasn't far behind her.
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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Random Acts of Kindness Rock


I've been especially looking forward to Monday and Wednesday mornings as this is about the only time that I have to myself! Pryce now goes to pre-school which gives me a few, uninterrupted hours to work on computer or working with clients. Today I decided I'd take the morning off. I was going walk Myah but I haven't made it outside yets, its a bit on the chilly side!

I was savoring the delight of the approaching holiday season by picking up the mess of toys, ornaments decorations from our tree decorating party the last couple of nights (why is there always clean up after a party?!) when I received an unexpected gift in the form of a phone call.

This simple message was something out of the blue that just made me smile! It lasted no longer than five minutes but had the impact of brightening my entire day. Most importantly this call didn't have to be made; the sweet soul on the other end didn't have to take the time to share. She could've easily noticed, observed and kept the observation to herself and going on with her busy day. She took took a few minutes to share something that deeply touched me, both the message and action. I am so blessed to live in a place where people take the time to call and share something with me just because they want to!

I am going to go back to my decorating now. I have just under an hour before my little helper returns. I finish my tasks with an even bigger grin on my face. Sincere gesutres, thoughtful phone calls and random acts of kindness the greatest gifts to give and receive. What's been your favorite? Let's spread the cheer!
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Monday, November 30, 2009

We don't need more stuff!


It is experinces, not things that are important. We all know this yet sometimes we forget this concept. I admit I have. Usually in the rush of activity and the mind-set of keeping up, what I forget is that it is not about getting the most stuff, it is about enjoying what I already have. I know I am preaching to the choir a bit here. Most of the people I know (and love) feel this way too. In fact, I can say there isn't a person that I don't know that wouldn't give me the shirt right off his/her back if I asked for it. That is something to be thankful for. When a person knows more good, kind, helpful people than selfish, negative, mean ones, it's safe to say.......... she is blessed!

Maybe that is why I am looking at things differently now? I am at a place in my life where getting more is no longer appealing, I'm actually going the opposite way. I am trying to figure out how to downsize certain aspects of my lifestyle. I've been reading a lot about frugality, voluntary simplicity and reduction on many levels. Right now I am reading a book called No-Impact Man by Collin Beavan. It is interesting and enlightenting look into Beavan's experiment of seeing what it takes live an environmentally supportive lifestyle. I first saw him on the news a while back. I remember what caught my attention when the clip aired,he and his wife were not using toilet paper! ummmmm hummmmm!!!!!!

I do agree that changes need to be made to make less of an impact on the environment. I do not consider myself an enviornmentalist or a politician for that matter, though I do feel we can make more positive, personal choices. I do not buy into fear and as of yet I don't even know about global warming, there's a lot of conflicting reports out there. Many of the ideas in Beavan's book are inspirational, though for people in the midwest, far from the throes of NYC, it will seem pretty far away, even in theory! His insights do coincide with my desires to pare down and live on less though, that's what I found appealing. I especially like the idea of getting away from processed, packaged food, in addtion to trash reduction it would be much healthier. This would be a huge hurdle for anyone, no matter where you find yourself living.

I believe, like many ideas, it is easer to talk about and read about, yet another feat altogether to live this way. So I do admire him for what he's doing and the positive changes that he and his family are inspiring others to make. If I lived in a large city I would definitely give it a go. In comparison, I am about as far on the opposite end of the spectrum as I could be.

*I don't live in a city~I live in the country, 60 miles round trip from any fancy food joints. My version of fast food is in jar that I canned this summer and set on a shelf.
*I don't have a year-round, fresh food farmer's market that I can go to once a week for my produce, but I do raise my own garden and preserve its bounty.
*We don't have much in the way of entertainment though it can be amusing to watch the horses run up and down the canyon bank, or watch my kids try to figure out how to ride their bikes on our dirt road. There are no outdoor concerts but the moon is beautiful to watch.
*There isn't a Starbucks on my block but I can make make a cup of hot Joe for my old plaid thermos.
*I could ride my bike to get groceries but it may take a while to get there and it will be pretty cold this time of year. A horse might be faster?

Though I am having a little fun here, I have to say that the book has been great in getting me to think about my own habits and the positive changes that I want to make. My goal, becoming more clear each day, is to reduce needless spending, to live within my means and to take care of my family. I am ready to be debt free and live a more self-sufficient lifestyle and changes are needed to bring that through.

Prior to reading this book I found a group called The Compact. The Compact has several aims which include:
"•To go beyond recycling in trying to counteract the negative global environmental and socioeconomic impacts of disposable consumer culture and to support local businesses, farms, etc. -- a step that, we hope, inherits the revolutionary impulse of the Mayflower Compact.
•To reduce clutter and waste in our homes (as in trash Compact-er).
•To simplify our lives (as in Calm-pact)
We've agreed to follow two principles #1 Don't buy new products of any kind (from stores, web sites, etc.)
#2 Borrow, barter, or buy used."

Ok. I joined. There I said it. And again, it is so much easier said than done! I actually thought it would be easy since I don't consider myself much of a shopper. What I wasn't prepared for was seeing all the sale flyers and invitations to buy, buy, buy. I was, quite frankly, shocked at my temptation.

I have realized, after being part of this group for a couple of months now that a total revolution of my spending habits and choices is necessary. Everything is up for review. I have made some personal exceptions because sometimes buying new is necessary and sometimes a better deal can be found. I am seeing the benefits of being a more Conscious Consumer, knowing what I am buying, why I am buying it, where my money is going and how this item will support me down the road.

I've stopped buying holiday decorations, purses, jewelry and shoes so that's a start! I know that I have a serious book addiction and I'm not even strong enough right now to talk about lattes (when I am in town to buy them!) I do know that as we begin another holiday season, I am going into this one with my eyes a bit more open than in previous years. I am intent on spending less in the way of material goods while richly increasing and enhancing my experiences with family and friends. I don't know where this path will lead next but I can say, I am enjoying where it is taking me now!
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Friday, November 27, 2009

It is really quite simple...........

I am at my mom and dad's right now, totally enjoying the slower rhythms that come when I am away from my familiar responsibilities. This is certainly where I come to get away from the world, relax, unwind and recalibrate.

I can't get cell phone service here so my connection with the outerworld is internet. I like it though, my system needs this break. I have been working in ki readings in the quiet times and taking walks on my favorite road. So many memories are here. It doesn't seem like work to pitch in and help either. So last night, when I asked my dad what was on his list for the following day, he said he had to clean out the grain bin. I shared that I would be glad to help. He said he'd pay me. "Sure" I said, "I'll do anything for a little money"! My middle son piped up and said, "Mom loves making money" and the other one said "and she likes to spend it". I never thought of my young children making these observations but obviously they have!

So after helping dad clean out the grain bin, Parker and I went for a walk. "Mom did get paid yet!?" Amused, I shared that I helped Papa because I wanted to, not because I was getting paid to. I knew Papa needed and appreciated the help and it had nothing to do with getting paid.

He looked at me with a puzzled expression. I thought you loved making money?! I do I shared but it is not the most important thing to me. I love you and your siblings and our family and friends more than anything. "Well," asked Parker, "How would we ever make it if we didn't didn't get paid? How would we eat? How would we live. Would we die?!!!!!" (I guess I hadn't thought about it like this?!)

I explained that we use money as a form of exchange to buy things we need and/or want. We do use it to buy our food, clothes and pay for gas so that we can visit our family. It is nice to have money, its good that we can earn it and if we had to, we would be fine without it. "Well if we didn't have money to buy gas, we could just ride our horses" and off he skipped!

I love seeing perspectives through the eyes of a child. Sometimes the things we think are so complicated are really quite simple. If one way isn't working, we can just try another. Sometimes, it IS that easy!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving


It the beginning of a wonderful holiday season. Most of my readers already know that I am not a fan of the cold however, I am a HUGE fan of family, friends, hearth and home! This is one of the most magical times of year to honor those connections and offer thanks for an abundance of blessings.

We're just about ready to hit the road, bags are packed and kids are anxious. I getting ready to record a guided meditation for the Dynamic U class and then we'll be off. I do love to see my family and am really looking forward to those country roads taking me home, though I have to say, I am just as "cozy" right where I am at. Those are words that I never thought I would write! It has taken me nearly 15 years for this area to feel like home to me. I am not sure exactly when the shift took place or if there were any particular scenes that cemented it into my consicousness. It did though and that is what matters!

We'll be away for a few days and then right back here to begin the fantastic holiday preparations. There's so much to do and so much to look forward to! Excitment is in the air! I do belive we'll be fetching a tree by Sunday!

Wishing you a splended, warm and joyous Thanksgiving!
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Monday, November 16, 2009

To All My Angels


Angles. We all have them. Sometimes we see them, sometimes we just notice a feather that has been left on our path. I am certain of their existence.

We all lead busy lives and it is easy to feel separate and isolated. When I get busy, I tend to forget that there are thousands of people, just like me, that are experiencing challenges too. It is easy to focus on all that is going wrong or at least see more of the negative evidence than the positive. Putting things in proper perspective can shift our focus helping us to realize that we are continually supported. Through internet, email and Facebook, we can support others and be supported no matter if we live next door, half-a-state away or in another country! This truly is an amazing time of technological advancement.

Today, I realized just what a supportive tool that FB can be. I took a moment to check emails and surf while waiting for Pryce to eat. My status this morning was about the marathon week that I am experiencing. Let me tell you I could have jumped for JOY when I read the sweet comments of support! I had tears in my eyes (yes I am deeply sentimental!) I felt those pats on the back distantly and it was the boost that I needed to get through the morning of errands, a rental car, and a cranky- stubborn, preschool child! I do believe a few supportive words of encouragement, such simple, authentic gestures are the greatest gifts we can give and receive. Thank you to ALL of my angles today!

Without going into boring details we’ll just say that I covered a lot of ground so far and I have even more to go and its only a little after 9 pm. I’ve played many roles today, some that I love and some that I loathe. I have two piles of laundry that have been successfully ignored and a stack of papers and mail that are about to consume my once spacious kitchen desk. I am continually amazed how some weeks appear to be wide open and the next I can’t pack one more to-do in if I tried! That’s the ebb and flow of life and so I fully embrace it!

Tomorrow is a full day at the computer. On-line coaching, newsletter writing, cooking, laundry, desk work, bill paying, organizing just to name a few to-dos. We’ll be drawing for the Bag It winner too. (I have a helper who is very excited to pick out that name.)

So for all of you supporting me, I send a big hug your way! Thank you for the reminder that the best things in life aren’t things, they are people! No matter how busy we think we are or how much we have to do, we can set it all aside and really be someone's angel today. We are ALL blessed and we are ALL a blessing for others.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Day in the Kitchen


runza fixings!


finished product!


homemade pretzels


Apple Streusel

Yesterday was a productive and exhausting day. I am learning to consolidate my time in the kitchen by making double batches of everything. In the end, the results are worth it but during the process I do wonder! During the runza making, I chopped extra cabbage and onions so the next time will go a bit faster. I browned four pounds of hamburger and set out another one to thaw for salisbury steaks tomorrow night. A friend gave us some carrots from her garden so with that and sqaush we raised, we'll be set for the next couple of meals. (I am getting better at this thinking ahead thing, still not an A, just right at B+!) I did have to stop in the middle of the process to clean up the kitchen and do dishes as the counter space was completely covered. Took a slight break to watch the Huskers and then returned to make the Struesel and pretzels. I went to bed totally exhausted and thrilled that I didn't have to cook today. Chad treated us with a with Sunday dinner out. We ran some errands and did some Christmas present scouting. We're going to try to make as many gifts as we can; I come up with the ideas, he puts his skills to use! He can make just about anything, the challenge for him is time. Funny I can make the time, I don't always have the necessary skills. I guess we do make a pretty good team!
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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Bag It!


I don't consider myself to be overly crafty. I am always on the lookout for great ideas and I can whip out a few easy crafts but I know my limitations. If I am going to make something it HAS to be easy and I prefer that it not involve a lot of precise measurements or sewing (although I do want to learn how to operate a sewing machine!)

One look in my closet will tell you that I am a recovering purse and shoe addict.I have enough that I will never wear out what I already have and have enough that I can continue to switch through the seasons. Part of my purse swtiching was based on the fact that none lived up to my standards. I want a purse with lots of compartments to easily find phone, itouch, lip balm, sunglasses, keys, etc. Though I has sworn of any further purse purchases,a search turned up a Haiku to-go bag. It met my list of requirements of more than adequate space, plenty of pockets, durable, stylish and not too heavy. I've used my Haiku bag daily since June. No other purse has stayed with me this long! Its a keeper.

In addition to a good purse, I usually walk out the door with a larger bag. This is essential for hauling around the necessities that come with having children. On any given outing I pack a camera, tissues, water, food/snacks, reading material, gloves, caps, sunscreen toys and always one or two stuffed animals for my daughter. We live pretty far away from conveniences so I like to be prepared. This spring when I came across a DIY bag making book I was hooked. Though most of the patterns are advanced for my simple skills, there is one that I managed to knock out and after three trials I am starting to get the hang of it!

The picture above is my latest creation. I always seem to have a steady supply of old t-shirts around. I wasn't wearing this one any more and as you can tell, its made a lovely bag. A little duct tape and staples were the only other materials used! (This is my kind of craft!) I've tested them out and amazingly enough, they seem to be quite sturdy; I've hauled my lunch, taken supplies to the caynon on horse back and used it as an overnight bag.

I come up with a Christmas Craft every year, something simple, fun and (hopefully) non-tacky! I spot ideas that I most like and the winner is made into several versions for friends. Previous winners were placemat organizers, fork recipie holders, wire ornaments, and welcome signs to name a few.

Would you like a t-shirt bag? I'll host a drawing for anyone that reads this! Send me a short description of your favorite Christmas craft, either that you make or that you've received. I'll put the names in a hat and let Pryce choose one and we'll whip up a bag just for you. We can provide the t-shirt of if you have one that you really love send it my way and I'll "bag it" for you!
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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Robyn's Requirements for Gift Giving


That's 8. Count 'em 8 catalogues in the mail today. Ok. The one in the middle is PSN. It got mixed up with the Land's End selection that was promptly tossed to the side to capture this moment in history. But still?!

I belive the season has arrived. The question is are we buying into this part of it? My personal quest this year has become to buy intentionally. That means my requirements for gifting are as follows: 1. It has to be thoughtful and meaningful to the person that I am buying it for 2. It has to in some way fill a need/use. I have been know to buy beer and it was well received. And yes, books count, especially when buying for younger children~they NEED to learn to read! 3. It should be fitting and something the receiver will enjoy. For example don't make a scarf just because you can and send it to a cousin living in Hawaii! 4. It has to be Non-tacky (and we should add non-toxic, so maybe the beer is out this year?) Everyone knows what gifts I am talking about here! I love sincere gifts, even if it is a simple kiss and a hug! As bad as it sounds, I'd rather go without than receive something just because someone felt obligated to buy for me. 5. Ideally it should be a reasonable price. It probably would be if I started my shoppoing early in the year. I have a few gifts found, not all though. My ideal would be to done in July. Is that too early?!

I am all about a good deal but I am so tired of receiving coupons for "free shipping with any $50 purchase". Please. I have no intention of spending $10 (unless you are Prarie Berry Winery.......I welcome your wonderful little note cards and just wished I lived closer). In my effort to tightent the purse straps I am becoming keenly aware of marketing strategies to get me in a store where I will somehow loose consciousness and blow my budget. Nope. Not this year. Sorry for all the folks whose name I drew! Don't worry though, with the aforementioned requirements, I assure you that the gift you receive will have been researched, searched for deliberately, pondered, prayed over, and purchased with love. It may not have a name brand but you can bet it was hand-selected or hand-made just for you.

And just out of curiousity............what is the tackiest gift you've received?
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Something About That Glow


One of my favorite rituals this time of year is to light my oil lamps. Though it is a small flicker it reminds me of summer campfires, past and future. The days are cooler and nights are certainly coming sooner. Lamp lighting marks my official retreat, a turning inward. I LOVE summer. I love hot days and warm night. I think I could sit by the light of a campfire every night and still feel an appreciation for those flames, the crackling and popping and delicious wood smell.

I know a lot of people are talking about the economy, saving money, cutting energy expenses, "greening their homes and cars." I'm happy to do my part. I recycle, I try to be consicous about what I am buying and where. I shut off lights when I am not in a room. I am a chronic "un-plugger" and very committed to living a simple happy life. I also appreciate luxury of modern appliances like the fridge, washing machine, diswashwer and vacuume cleaner. Let's not forget the convenience of running (hot) water and indoor plumping! I use oil lamps not because I have to, or because it may cut down on electricity I use them simply because there is something magical and deeply comfortable about that glow.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Is it Going To Get Worse?


Yesterday while running my marathon of errands in town, I heard an interesting comment. In my effort to shop locally I am distributing my wealth in as many locations as I can rather than just that one stop-convenience place that has a ton of cars in its parking lot and even longer lines!

I don’t mind this place early in the morning, I even have some friends that work there but I am really clear that I want to support those in my community first. This is a matter of choice over convenience. Sometimes it requires willingness to make several stops, to enjoy the journey not just the feat of getting everything found, bought, loaded and unpacked at home.

So back to the comment: in this store that shall remain nameless, one very sweet employee shared that the Halloween isle was 90% off! I only came to this store to grab a package of name brand yeast that I had a coupon for and flavored coffee. Two things,that was it. Of coarse I was curious so I checked it out. What I saw surprised me. It was as if nothing had been touched! The isle was full of trick-or-treat goods. As I was looking around, the only other shopper in the isle said, “It must be going to be really bad if no one is out here buying this stuff.” Lightening Bolt!

Her comment zapped my attention and like it does in movies where the screen zeros in on a frozen second in time, my thoughts ceased. There was no panic, no fear it was simply an observation. Hummmm.

And so the questions is here? Do others think things are going to get really bad? What will happen if they do? My initiall thought was would be so bad if people aren’t spending money on useless Halloween items that are made so cheaply that they’ll last for a few sword fighting sessions and then end up in the dump? Would it be bad if we were to go back to our roots, doing and making more things for ourselves and our families? Would it be so bad if we spent quality time instead of money? Could we be more cre8tive with our lifestyle and entertainment choices and ways of meeting our needs? What if we were “forced” to change our ways and spend less? Silly question that one is, huh? I guess the difference for me is that I’ve always looked at where I am as a matter of choice not because I feel that someone or something placed me in this situation. I don't blame the economy or anyone in it. I am where I am due to the past choices that I've made. If I don't like how things are, then it is up to me to change that. Blame does nothing.

My income varies anyway but I can tell there’s been a drastic reduction in the number of clients that contact me. As a Licensed Spiritual Health Coach, I am in the business of helping others find their way. The exchange for my services, insight and guidance is secondary to the amount of disposable income that someone feels he/she has. I am deeply grateful that there are people who value what I offer and are willing to make that exchange. The work we do together creates a vital foundation for getting through rough times such as the one we are already in. I encourage everyone to look at what is being presented to us as a choice, an invitation.

Our parents, grandparents and previous generations knew how to survive. I believe that we are here to take it one step further not only survive but to thrive! Countless men and women have made sacrifices on our behalf. Faces and names we’ll never know personally. Yet the foundation of truth, hope and peace are still present. Perhaps this is a time of redefining our values and our goals. This has certainly been the case in my family. We've deleted a lot but instead of feeling deprived and lacking we feel abundantly blessed. We don’t look at all we’ve given up instead we look at how much we already have in front of us.

So what if we are headed for leaner times? What does that really mean for us? If we are connected to our truth and we still have the freedom to choose, it may just be ok. What some of us forget is that there is and always has been a natural ebb and flow. Nothing stays the same, it’s impossible. The bad times may not last if we can change how we look at uncomfortable situations. Yes, we know it can always get worse but it does go the other way too, things can always get better! Good times and good things can arise out of adversity. We have the power to change. We just have to remember it!

Did I buy useless Halloween items? I’d love to report that I just walked about but gosh, who can refuse a cute shirt for an adorable little girl for a buck? I paid 25 cents so that each kid could have his/her own pumpkin carver, threw in another 50 cents for leopard headband, tie and tail (bb game mascot and future costume) and 25 cents for face paint that can be cre8tively pulled out when we get a little bored this winter (remember we don't have cable!) Who knows, maybe I saved a few of these items from an early landfill death? By the way, does anyone know where the excess stuff goes when it doesn’t sell for 90% off? I’d love to know!
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Monday, November 9, 2009

Note To Self


Well this pretty much sums up my evening! If there were a place where I could have plucked my head in the ground I just may have. We had a full afternoon of back-to-back appointments which, by myself would have probably have gone off without a hitch. However, I had my three wonderful children along and they were hungry. I had a fleeting thought that I should pack some snacks but alas, I did not! I didn't take the time and just passed the idea with "oh we'll just grab something in town." Wrong, very wrong. In the summer time we seldom leave the house without a snack bag, but its fall, and I'm out of practice.

I am not a huge McDonalds fan, that's no secret. It doesn't mean that I don't occassionally pull in to grab something quick, but it is always against my better judgment and this is supported because I rarely leave the drive through in a speedy manner or with all the items that I ordered. I've lost count of how many times this has happened. Today I learned a major lesson. We sat in line for a very long time. I ordered and then silence. No explanation of what happend, here's your order here's the total, please full forward. Silence for an unreasonable amount of I pulled ahead. Ok. I get it. Thanks Universe, fast food isn't always fast, especially when I am in a hurry! I don't blame anyone; not the girl with the blank look that answered now when I pulled up and asked if she got my order, not the kid at the next window that asked me to pull forward it would only be about 10 more minutes to get those nuggest out. I asked for my money back.

I was frustated but I got it. I needed to listen to that little voice and pay attention to it. I should have packed a lunch! I sometimes rely on the convenience of a drive through when I'm in town, even though I had food at home. I don't have a drive through in the canyon, I take food and drink for everyone! I learned something here tonight; if we leave the house for more than two hours, we need to have backup beverages and treats! Since this was a teachable moment, I clued the kids in too, they just as well help me remember. A team effort will go far. Had we gone to the grocery store we could have possibly spent a load!

Had I listened to this simple insight, we would have had enough time to have a little car picnic and would have had healthier options. It would have saved us from sitting in a drive through for nearly 30 minutes and still have nothing to eat! The kids were troopers I tell you. They did not whine at all as they waited for Pake's apointment. I was very proud of them.

My patience has been fully tested today and though I completely feel like exploding I haven't. My head is still on my shoulders so that is good news. We had a bit of a melt-down on the way home when Pryce realized Shamu had been left behind, though we hope to recover on the next town trip. Nights like this it is easy feel like a tattered leaf trying to hold on to a tree. I feel stretched trying to meet the needs of three beautiful beings, each with his/her own needs and styles. Diversity is nice sometimes not convenient for one tired mother! Tonight was not comfortable but it was a teachable moment. I hope I modeled the importance of listening to one's inner wisdom and how we can look at challenges as opportunites to change. We'll definitely be packing food with us next time!

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

"Green Decorating"



I have a strong love for decorating. I’m pretty sure it’s genetic. I remember my Mom Grandma Ruth and decorating their homes in accordance to the season. This is possibly what led me to discover Feng Shui (the art of placement) nearly 10 years ago. This philosophy has done great things in my life and I’d like to hope in those of my clients as well.

The premise of this concept is to create a balance, harmony and wholeness in every environment. Clutter is simply not part of that equation, though very few homes escape it! When we began our home transformation last year, I had no idea the amount of clutter that we housed. Its very easy to toss it in a room, storage container or some other out-of-sight-out-of-mind location (my kids prefer the dark zone between their bed and the floor!) I’ve become keenly aware of how easy it is to collect too. One has to keep a very watchful eye otherwise those empty spaces are ready to breed and multiply again (toys are the worst!)

This year, I set a clear goal for myself, no holiday decorations no matter how cute or how fun they appeared in the store. Oh, and nothing PLASTIC! I’ve tightened the strings and changed the ropes on the way I do a lot of things. Everything from my shopping/spending habits have been up for review, everything. The tendency to buy, buy, buy is always present and I am learning not to act on it!

In my personal war against useless spending, I’ve counted a major coup! The only store-bought decoration item brought into our home this fall was…………….ribbon. Drum roll please! I incorporated the “use what you already have” with a few natural pieces gleaned from the outdoors; my favorite new item………milkweed pods! The gourds, pumpkins and cornstalks came out of our garden.

The best thing about these decorative items is that when we done all I’ll do is roll up the ribbon to use next year. We’ll then eat the pumpkins, make the gourds into candleholders compost the corn stalks and viola………..we’re done!

What creative decorations are in your home this season? I’d love to hear about them

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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Jack-O-Lantern 09 Edition




I am a crafty kind of girl but not when it comes to carving pumpkins. My creative carvings haven't evolved past second grade. The traditional triangle eyes, upside down triangle nose and crooked mouth are funky as I get with these orange orbs. However, the children in our house are not to be pitied. Their father posses a rare and unique talent.........he can make just about any design just by looking at a picture (I am so in awe and so jealous of this talent!) He's carved bats, wolves, spiders and a cat face.

It is know in our house that if you want a cool pumpkin you do not ask mom to help you. (She takes care of the clean up and seed cooking) If you want a cool carving you have two options 1.) wait until dad comes in the house, which could be late or

I am happy to report Parker and Pryce took the later choice (which I fully supported!) Parker's artistic talents have surpassed my own; he's 8. He carved the word boo in his pumpkin and mine! I did go a little wild this year and totally varied from tradition, I made a J; tough, I know! Pryce's pumpkin got a little help from the Carving Master, she requested and received a kitty face.

We are just about ready to put on our costumes now. We have snow on the ground and in some places 4 ft. drifts. I remember cold Halloweens before but not ones with mud soup in front of our barn and drifts beside the house. I love those warm fall nights when the kids and parents don't have to bundle up and wear coats over their costumes! We won't have that this year though it is a balmy 42 degrees presently.

We'll be taking Iron Man, a Pirate and an adorable, fire-breathing dragon to glean treats soon. The excitement is about to begin. Oh the joys of being a mother!!!!

How creative do you get with pumpkin carving? I'd love to hear and/or see fabulous creative designs! Feel free to post below, email me at or friend request me on facebook! We'll be posting the rest of the pumpkin carving pictures and trick-or-treating pics there! Happy Haunting!

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Friday, October 30, 2009

Enjoy It Now!


These used to be my dishes. I was so careful, I didn’t want to break them. The other day, as I got them down from the top shelf for my little daughter, I had “break through”. I’ve saved these dishes all these years and protected them but I never really got to enjoy them, even when I was a child!

Yesterday as Pryce and I were having a delightful tea party I realized that I wanted her to have a different experience; I want her to use and enjoy everything!

I’ve recently discovered a great blog, The Non-Consumer Advocate, written by Kate Wolk-Stanley, . Her motto,“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.” Those words were certainly ringing in my ear as I joined Po and Jag at the tea party table. It made me think how many times, we as adults “save something for later” and then we never really get around to enjoying it? I've saved things becuase I thought they too good to use for everyday and by the time I got around to using the item is was past the expiration date, out of style or not longer any good.

I hope to share this invitation with my daughter. Granted she is only four and right now, she could care less about any of my concepts. Her goal is to see how much she can get into, what all she can drag out from the treasure trove of mommy’s cupboard and the wonderful delights that await her. I really should thank her because her sleuthing has excavated jewelry I had forgotten that I had, shoes and bags that were tossed in the back of my closet, candles, kitchen gadgets and other items too numerous to mention. (yes, I kept the can opener from my great-grandmother's house, it was just too cool to let go of!) I continue to take steps to reduce clutter to repurpose and recycle whenever I can. I am good at getting rid of most junk but this day I realized I am not so good at using things up and enjoying them.

Although I've teased my mom about keeping so much stuff, this experience also made me appreciate my mother’s hoarding skills. Although I don’t advocate saving everything, I am really glad that she saved this precious little tea set. It does affirm my belief that older items are just as good as brand-spakin’ shiny new ones. (I am hoping to steer the males in our family to seeing this way as well. This could be an interesting journey.)

How many times do we save something "for good" when we miss the opportunity to get the good out of it right now? What is something that you've been saving for later or saving for a special event? Why not let today be that special day? Celebrate the ordinary simplicity that is here, right now.

And most importantly.........what words do we save for later? Maybe there is someone that really needs to hear how much you love, adore and appreciate them? Maybe there is an old grudge that is ready to be released or old an would that wants to be healed? Say what needs to be said, wear those clothes that you've been saving for "good", splash on that expensive perfume, use those tantalizing lotions, wear your grandmother's wedding ring, play with your kids, give out hugs and lots of smiles. Find your passion and share it with others. Live the life that you have always wanted, no excuses! We get one shot, let's use it!
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Friday, October 23, 2009

Notes about my tattoo

The image that I see

The image that others see

The close up!

For Paige, Lenna and anyone else who is interested!!!

I’ve always wanted a tattoo. I have a bit of a different view when it comes to this form of "art". I waited until I was in my 30’s to have something so permanent and wanted to make sure it was an image that I would love and want, not something that I came home after the bar with, looked in the mirror and went “Oh shit, what have I done?” I’ve had those oh shit moments, it’s just that most of the time it wasn’t something as permanent as a tattoo!!!

This isn't my first tatoo, but is the most prominent one. The first tat came in celebration of my 35th birthday. It is an ancient symbol that depicts the moon phases. It represents emotions, feminine energies, water and my three children. I have two small yellow stars just above the moon symbol to represent Chad and myself.

The tat of the dolphin was a celebration of my Accreditation as a Journey Practitioner. It is an intensive training in self-discovery, cellular healing, and really getting to the core of issues so that you can really live the life you want. After one goes through the training or experiences the powerful sessions there’s a lot of realizations. It becomes hard to hide behind walls, descriptions, labels, and games and old patterns that have kept us locked in place. We go through the training to become a facilitator, to assist others but really we work on ourselves first. I knew that I wanted to do something to commemorate the accomplishment. After the intense training we are required to do 45 case studies with documentation and follow up. I completed my training and case studies in less than a year. Throughout that time, several images kept coming to me. The first was a dolphin. I’ve always loved them and whenever I am around a living one, I seem to be transported into another realm, one of sheer peace. It’s hard to describe because it is so not what I experience in my daily vibrations! I was also listening to a recording of dolphin sounds (Jon Goldman’s Dolphin Dreams CD) when I had my first breakthrough, one that really opened those inner doors of my being!)

In the Journey we work with wonderfully relaxing music. I absolutely fell in love with the voice of Deva Premal. She has an amazing collection of songs, chants from Sanskrit. My favorite was Om Shanti. Om is the ancient primordial sound and the symbol includes the levels for physical, mental, spiritual and enlightenment, which is in integration of everything. Shanti means peace.

The realization that has emerged with me is that everything I need to be happy, free, confident and fulfilled is already within my being, everything. Everything I seek on the outside is simply a reflection. When I shared this with my friend Todd (best damn tattoo artist ever!) he showed me an image that he drew a number of years ago, which is the image that you see on my foot. Notice the Dolphin is jumping INTO my own skin, into my inner paradise (yes, my version of paradise is a warm sunny island, sparkling blue water, waves, beaches and palm trees, a.k.a heaven!!!)
Interestingly, he originally drew the image for my friend Alicia, who at the time, happened to be Parker’s 1st teacher!

The tattoo was done in two settings. The first was the dolphin and water scene. The second was the Om and Shanti. Though the foot is supposed to be painful, this one didn’t hurt all that badly and healed very, very quickly. The moon tattoo was deeply painful. IT is on the inside of my left ankle. We used purple ink and I had a reaction to it that caused a nasty infection. It took a long, long time for it to heal. I will eventually change colors and add to it someday but even after two years, it is still quite sensitive! Compared to the ankle tat, the foot was a walk in the part (no pun intended, but on reread and edit, it works!)

I knew that I wanted it to be on my foot because when I am stressed, angry, etc. I noticed I have a tendency to look down and I am usually holding my breath~ now, as soon as I look down, I breathe, relax and go within to my inner paradise.

There is not a day that goes by that I don’t look at it and love it. I have no regrets, despite the reaction/upset that it caused in my marriage. Chad isn’t wired this way at all. He’s not a fan, nor will he be and that is another part of the realization and freedom that I have experienced. Though I don’t purposely wish to make anyone angry, displeased, mad or upset, I am also no longer willing to compromise my truth and not do something, just because it will upset someone else. And I know that his love for me goes deeper than the ink in my skin………….

Tattoos are not for everyone and everyone seems to have an opinion! Chad didn’t think it was a very good example for our children and in some ways he may be right. I wouldn’t want my high school child to get one that he or she wouldn’t love later in life, or an image that they would “grow out of”. I explained this to my three kids after I got the first one. I wanted them to know my reasons and why I did what I did. I never told them they could or could not get a tattoo, I just requested that if they decided they wanted one, to come to me and I would help them choose an image that they would want to have………forever. When I mentioned the word forever, Parker totally backed off! We’ll see who is the first one to get one?

So there’s the tattoo story for anyone who wondered, anyone who might care and anyone who was curious or bored enough to read this!
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Monday, October 19, 2009

I wouldn't look like this if I had an office job!


Though you can't tell clearly by looking at this picture, my jeans are a mess. I look like I've been in a food fight with tomatoes, my hair was falling out of its pony tail and I was covered in dirt and leftover corn shucks. I need to look at this picture often though. On days like today when I have a lot of things to do, (how could I think I got caught up on Friday????!) and I don't know which project to start first. I need to remember that the only person who can signal a time out is ME. This is the life that I've always wanted, one where I can make up my own schedule and work hours. Oh I'm not making three firgures but I am making five figures (myself included) very happy. Yes, I get to play in the dirt, grow things, organize, shuffle, prepare, conference, schedule, type, consult, design, create, craft and communicate for a living. I have the luxury of doing the majority of my paid hours via phone and computer. The rest of my work is done right here at home too, with my family and my animals.

I've long ago given up on the latest fashion trends, I don't try to keep up with the times or styles. In fact, I'm quite fond the quirky, strange and outdated. I love finding a new purpose for an old something. I realize that it would be very hard for me to work consistently in a traditional career. I'm glad I made the transition when I did. It wouldn't be proper to show up in bare feet and dirty blue jeans to teach a class, (unless it was one on organic gardening!) I chuckled when I sat down to this view yesterday and realized how far I've fallen from my formerly "dressed up and professional self"!

This was taken on the bench beside my garden shed. I'll be posting pictures of it too, with the idea of repurposing in mind~an excellent practice for practical decorating and upcoming holiday seasons. The garden spot is where I love to hang out, catch my breath and air my thoughts. The world seems a lot more peaceful when I am sitting here, gazing at the beautiful landscape, the rolling hills and amber waves of grain. Though my garden work is at a standstill with the harvest season, I'll still visit this location throughout the fall and winter. It is a good place to relax, to dream and to escape to when the "real world" becomes constricted.

Finding time for ourselves can be tricky. We have to be especially creative with our time these days as there is so much to do and seemingly no time to do it all in. I think the greatest gift we can give ourselves each day is a bit of solitude and tranquility. Quiet moments, even those we have to steal away, are where we reconnect to our truth. Nothing on the outside can give us peace, everything we need, everything we search for, everything we want is already, right here, within............
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