Friday, April 27, 2007

The hitchhiker

As I turned off the main road on to my street a flash of color caught my eye. It was a butterfly making its way across the street. I carefully moved to the right side of my lane to avoid hitting it.

I didn't hit it, but . . . because my window was open, I suddenly had a butterfly hitchhiker! It rode down the street with me.

As I turned in to my driveway, my newly acquired passenger gently climbed up my arm and onto my shoulder. When I opened my car door, the butterfly startled and flew into the back seat. I caught it and put it on one of the flowers in my garden so it could rest from its adventure.

When I checked later, my new friend had resumed its travels, leaving me with a lovely memory.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The cat who loved baths

When we moved into our house in 1987, I soon discovered that it came with a cat.

She came up from the woods one day as I was looking at the back yard. Since she was orange, I chose to call her "OJ". (Not very original, but she didn't seem to mind.)

As she became less wary of me, she would allow me to approach more closely. What I saw was a scruffy stray cat with cataract clouded eyes. I didn't think she'd be around very long. Luckily, I was proved wrong.

She had several litters in our flower beds and while I made sure all of the kittens were "fixed", I could never get close enough to put her in a carrier.

Her last two kittens were born just before Hurricane Erin. She and the kittens rode out the storm in our garage. After that she allowed me to put her in the carrier and take her to the vet. When she came home, she decided staying in the garage instead of outside wasn't such a bad thing.

One winter morning I opened the garage door and she was just sitting there. Her back legs didn't seem to work. She didn't fuss when we brought her in the house. As she warmed up, her legs began to work again and we decided she was staying in the house.

The longer she stayed in the house the more she loved to interact with us. She would talk and dance when she heard the cat food, and she thought being brushed was terrific. It was a joy to have her with us.

When she could no longer bathe herself, I decided to risk life and limb and give her a bath in our shower stall. The warm water must have felt wonderful to her, because she never struggled or protested.

One day I decided to try bathing her in the bathroom sink. She was a tiny cat and easliy fit in a sink full of warm, soapy water. She loved being in her own little hot tub! This is what she looked like:

While OJ is no longer with us, she lives on in our memories and through the offspring* she left in our care.

*George (see my 1st post) was one of OJ's boys.

PS: I just learned of a "big" cat who loves the water: Odin , a Bengal tiger, lives in California.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


How many opportunities have I missed because I did not see them, did not recognize them, or chose to ignore them?

If I didn't see the opportunity, it was probably because I was distracted and not fully aware of what was going on in my life. I let the past and future block my view of the present. This is best overcome by being conscious of my thoughts, actions and attitudes. (For fun, there is a Cosmo quiz to see if you are "Living in the Now".)

If I didn't recognize the opportunity, it was probably because I didn't know that it would be beneficial for me. I have found that keeping a journal helps me be aware of the things that are very important to me so I can recognize opportunities to achive those things. Julia Cameron recommends Morning Pages. There is a 43 Things group working on Morning Pages for those who would like to see how it works and compare their findings with others.

Why would I ignore an opportunity? Barbara Sher discusses "resistance" in her book, Wishcraft, which she offers free online. Her bulletin board offers advice from Barbara and from those using the board. This is a great resource for anyone who wants to call upon the vast knowledge and experience of others who are also seeking to reach their full potential.

The bad news: there are many ways to miss an opportunity. The good news: there are just as many ways to find an opportunity!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Taking steps . . . or not

Have you ever found yourself sailing through a project only to suddenly find yourself flummoxed by the next step you need to take?

There are times when I'm happily progressing toward a goal and suddenly happen upon something that, for one reason or another, stumps me and stops me in my tracks. Recently I've become aware that it is usually okay to avoid a step that is holding me back from accomplishing something I want.

I am learning to recognize when a step is vital, and when it would be nice, but not crucial to the success of a project. If the step that is holding me back is not truly important to the completion of my task, I skip it.

If the step can't be avoided, I re-examine it and see if it can be approached from another angle, or if a similar action can be substituted.

It seems to be working for me. I'm learning how to complete half-finished projects, or how to pass them on to someone who will enjoy finishing them.

The ghosts of unfinished projects past are slowly leaving my life.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

5 things I do every day to be successful

At the beginning of the month Andy Wibbels wrote about the 5 things he does every day to be successful and invited his readers to do the same.

So, here goes:

I have a daily routine. Routine is often assumed to be boring, but I find a routine frees me to concentrate on my goals and helps keep me on track. I may not be diagnosed with ADHD, but I can very easily find myself distracted by things that will keep me from accomplishing anything if I don't have some way to corral myself and stay focused.

My morning walk helps me get started. My body gets a workout from the walk, my spirit gets a workout thinking about the positive things in my life, and my mind gets a workout as I consider short and long term goals I want to accomplish. Spending this time alone in the morning refreshes and prepares me for the rest of the day. I'm also becoming more aware of my biorhythms and can take advantage of that to accomplish more when I'm at my peak mentally and physically.

In addition to my morning walk, I spend time outside each day. It may only be 5 or 10 minutes, but I stop and really look around at the sky, the landscape and any animals that may be in the area. After a few deep breaths and a stretch or two, I'm ready to go again. Maintaining contact with nature helps calm me, keeps me aware of changes in my environment and reveals the beauty around me, even if it's something as tiny as a seedling popping up through asphalt. If I can't get outside, I can go online for sights and sounds of nature.

I have a ready supply of 3 x 5 index cards on hand to record ideas, lists and anything else that comes to mind. They may be old-fashioned and low tech, but they don't need batteries, fit in a pocket or purse and can be readily sorted and stored. It's easy for me to purge index cards that I no longer need, and that's important to a slowly recovering pack rat.

Last, but not least, I include breathing space in my schedule by alloting more time for each activity than I think I'll need so I don't have to rush and I'm not frustrated when I hit a roadblock, literal or figurative. So many people seem to be rushed and angry; I don't want to be one of them.

I know that none of this is earth-shattering, but I have found that when I include these small steps in my life I am much more productive.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Self-taught musicians

Today I discovered two very different self-taught musicians on YouTube videos.

The first is "Nora, the Piano Playing Cat". Some of the "licks" (pun intended) she plays actually sound quite modern. According to the person she lives with, she began playing on her own. She does seem to enjoy playing, preferring the mid-range notes. Her performance has encouraged many other cats to post their videos.

The second musician is twelve-year-old Conrad Oberg. Born in the summer of 1994, he taught himself to play piano (at age 2) and guitar (at age 10) and has been playing live concerts since he was 4. Quite an accomplishment on its own; all the more so since Conrad was born prematurely (3 1/2 months early) and has no eyesight in his left eye and only 15% of the vision in his right.

What in the world do these two have in common? Music, practice, and following their bliss.

What can I learn from this? Don't be hesitant to pursue the activities that utilize my talents and abilities. I may never be famous, but I'll enjoy my life a lot more!

Thursday, April 5, 2007

How do I want to spend my time?

If I could spend all of my time doing anything I wanted to do, what would I do?

Good question.

What do I do with the "free" time I have now?

I may not have 24/7 to myself, but I do have at least 2 hours a day of "discretionary time". If I really considered what I wanted to do and used that time to focus and aim toward my goals I would eventually get there.

Back to my original question: what do I want to do?

I enjoy reading, learning, and being with green, growing things. Most days I do spend at least some time doing all of the above, so I am doing what I want to do for a portion of each day.

What else? I like to work with clay and would like to fuse glass. I also have several ideas for the piles of fabric in my guest room. What's the roadblock there? Space. Stuff from previous projects (that will not be finished -- ever!) needs to be removed so there is room for new experiences.

I have read numerous books about simplifying and organizing and have gleaned helpful information from most of them. The book I am currently reading, It's All Too Much by Peter Walsh, has been most helpful. He gets to the heart of the matter by asking you to imagine your home the way you want it. This makes it easier to remove the parts you don't need.

I can verify from personal experience that enormous amount of time, energy and money can be spent trying to organize too much stuff (clutter).

The FlyLady also shares numerous helpful techniques for removing the chaos from your life.

Right now, the best use of my time is to spend at least an hour per day "freeing" myself of things that no longer belong in my life. It's time to send them on to people who will appreciate and use them, not just have them stacked up and collecting dust around the house.

Yesterday I pared down 3 boxes of stuff into 1 box. I feel lighter already!


As I was taking my morning walk I reflected on the interesting things happening in the lives of my friends and began comparing them to what is happening in my life.

I know, comparison is rarely a good thing -- you tend to become smug or dejected.

This time I think it was a positive experience.

My friend, Monette, has just published a book -- Knit & Crochet Combined: Best of Both Worlds. It is a terrific book and just one of many amazing things she has accomplished. Here's her website and her blog.

Other friends are in Scotland right now. Their daughter is competing in the 2007 World Irish Dance Championship - Oireachtas Rince na Cruinne. She dreamed of this from the moment she discovered Irish Dance, and now she's there!

Ok, yes, my first reaction was to hold a gigantic pity party and whine that everyone else gets to do fun stuff while I stay at home and do the same old things.

When my brain resumed functioning properly, I had to admit that I have chosen not to do what they are doing. The life I am living is a result of the choices I have made.

They both chose what they wanted to do, focused on it, and achieved it.

So . . .if I want to do "fun stuff", it's up to me to decide what I want to do and take the steps to get there.

Excuse me while I start my list . . .