Thursday, October 31, 2013

New Ideas on Knotting

Knotting is not just macramé that we used to do so many years ago.  I've dabbled with micro-macramé in the past few years. And now I've found a blog that is just dripping with inspiration:  Are You Knot Aware at  Some of the lace in the Margaretenspitze technique of knotting is amazing!

And the jewelry??

So many little time.....

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Freeform Peyote Jewelry

One technique I haven't tackled yet is freeform peyote.  Karen Williams was at our retreat, so I purchased her book - Freeform Peyote Beading -  and am inspired to start a bracelet.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Vashon Bicycle in a Tree

Having visited Vashon Island many times before, this last weekend was the first time that I managed to make time to "find" the bicycle in a tree (it's unmarked).  So here are the picture and some of the stories....

A rusted, dated bicycle is suspended inside the trunk of a tree, roughly 7 ft. off of the ground. It's as if the towering giant had tried to absorb or "eat" the two-wheeler and quit, defeated halfway through the process, leaving the bike carcass suspended within the living wood forever.
There are many stories and just as many questions about how the bike ended up in its awkward predicament. A boy tied it to a tree before going off to war, never to return. A child chained it there and got busy growing up, so the tree took it into an embrace. Artist, cartoonist and author Berkeley Breathed, who grew up on Vashon Island, wrote his version of what happened in a children's book called "Red Ranger Came Calling", weaving it into an elaborate Christmas story.
While many are enchanted with the tree and its strange captive, some think it's a hoax. Many have speculated that there is no way the tree could have "picked up" the bicycle if it had been left leaning against it on the ground, as trees do not, by nature, grow up from the trunk, but from the top. The less cynical have pointed out that since the bike seems to be from the 1910s, the tree could have easily been a sapling, and a forked branch may have been weaved between parts of the bike and lifted it up over the decades.
Either way, the bike remains, suspended inside the knotted wood, and is a popular stop for hikers and bike lovers alike.

Monday, October 28, 2013

My Little Notebook

Whenever I travel, teach classes, take classes, or simply visit with artists, I take my little spiral notebook with me to jot down new ideas.  I have three solid pages filled from this last weekend at the bead retreat.  Wow!  I feel totally inspired, but before I can even think more about implementing some of them (aside from designing some new earrings in my head before I got out of bed this morning, that is), I need to catch up on emails, pay bills, handle know, the life maintenance issues with which one must deal.

Some images from this weekend might be in order??

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Slower & Simpler - My Right to Live a Simpler Life

My choice to live on an island is often questioned by others when we meet for the first time.  I read an article lately about our unassailable right to live simply:

My husband is 100% supportive of my choice to live on Lopez Island, which is very important to me (and who knows, I just might convince him to retire a bit earlier than planned).  My kids also are supportive, and my close friends as well.  Other than that, I really like what this article says about not having to defend my lifestyle.

And most importantly, that I can care about others without caring about how they think I should live my life.  I'm simply claiming my unassailable right to live a life that makes me happy.  That said, I definitely feel blessed that I even know what makes me happy!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

A Beading Retreat

While on retreat this weekend with 35 other beaders on Vashon Island, I am amazed, as always, with the artistic creativity of these women.  Gathering with like-minded artists is energizing, to say the least.  Already my little notebook is full of tips, techniques that I want to try, and a list of projects I want to make. 

I'm teaching (well, really sharing) a short class on mini-purses that I adapted from a magazine (so it is clearly not my own original design, just the decorative patterns that I added), but anticipate that my students will teach me ever so much more than I teach them.

My goal on retreat:  to finish up a couple of incomplete I'll be free and clear to start some new ones!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Inspiration Quotes

Yesterday, in between beading, weaving and drawing, I gathered some quotes for artists.  These quotes are not meant to be the inspirations themselves, but to remind me not to give up.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Finding Inspiration

One of the reasons that I started this blog was to document how living on Lopez might inspire my artistic self.  The quiet, peace, and calm have certainly created an atmosphere for working and weaving.  The rocks and driftwood have found their way into my creations.  The beauty that constantly surrounds me makes me want to create beauty as well.

But what inspires other artists?  And what about those times when inspiration is as elusive as the fog that has settled on the island these last few days??  A post that I read recently by Marc Moss ( lists a few ways to find inspiration.  Happily, I'm not lacking in inspiration at the moment.  But I'm going to keep this list handy for sometime in my future when things feel forced and new ideas are evasive.

8 Ways to Find Inspiration
        Every day most of us are challenged to use our creativity in some fashion. Maybe we need to become a magician and meet an impossible deadline, or figure out how to make six rolls of sod cover an area that needs eight rolls. Or maybe we’re staring at a blank computer screen, a new text document page open, cursor blinking, awaiting our fingers to touch the keys in a stroke of genius to write that winning proposal, that amazingly heartbreaking poem, the next great American novel or a Grammy Award-winning song. The blank canvas awaiting paint. A glob of clay awaiting shaping. A difficult conversation with a spouse or mate. Whatever creative challenges we each face during our daily lives, sometimes we get stuck, find ourselves in a rut, and allegedly unable to get to the next level. We are uninspired. How do we inspire ourselves? Recently, I received an email from a friend asking that very question. “How do you find inspiration to create?” he wanted to know. He was embarking on a new project and had hit a wall. I thought that it was courageous of him to ask someone like me, an unknown artist on the other side of the country, for advice. I’ve been thinking about it for a while, and I’ve talked with other musicians and artists and asked them where they find their creativity and inspiration when they’ve got a block. I’ll focus this How to Find Inspiration article towards artists, but it can be applied in many different walks of life.

1. Deep Observation. Of self, of your surroundings, your thoughts, goals, successes and failures. I like to start outward and work in. Grab a notebook or sketchpad and head to a place that inspires me. Sometimes it’s out in nature, near a river or up in a mountain. Other times, it’s as an unnoticed face in a crowd as I people-watch. I write down thoughts and ideas as they come to me, and I go back later to reflect on the initial bursts of idea in more depth. I think about how the external themes I’ve recorded may apply to me, and then eventually ask myself how those themes can be expressed with intimate personal depth but still apply as a universal truth.

2. Other Artists. When I feel uninspired, I go to the library and sit on the floor with art books sprawled around me. I always like to choose some favorites, and a few that are unfamiliar. I keep a notebook of ideas that sometimes includes rough sketches of an idea, but always a line or two about a project I want to start. Sometimes, it isn’t the library, but the Internet where I look at inspiring artwork. Drawn!, Flickr, DeviantArt, PhotoJojo, a random Google search, The Wooster Collective, or even a place like Bighappyfunhouse. In the case of my friend, the musician, I’d try head to the record store and browse via the headphones music with which he’s unfamiliar. Ask friends to make mix CDs of new music that they’ve been listening to with which you may be unfamiliar (so that you can use it as a jumping-off point for your own creativity, of course, not to pirate music. And, if you like the stuff on the mix CD, go out and buy the original). Go see some live music of bands or genres with which you aren’t familiar. Always explore the unknown genres of art, music, whatever when finding yourself uninspired.

3. Other Types of Art. If you are a visual artist, go listen to some live music or see a play. Watch a ballet. Check out some performance art. On a budget? Check your weekly independent newspaper, often there are many free cultural events happening around town that you can take in and help fill your creativity cup.

4. Collaboration. Nothing fuels creativity like collaborating with someone else on a piece of art or a project. The major challenge when collaborating is to let go of all expectations, and allow the process to create the art along with you. It’s one of the most challenging things I’ve ever tried, but when it works, it’s a lot of fun and also very rewarding. One of the big problems for many folks when collaborating, including myself, is not only letting go of expectations, but also of ego. When you collaborate, you have to be humble and open to new input and the ideas of others.

5. Experimentation. I work a lot with collage and abstract paintings. A while back, I was tired of the art on my walls that I’d made, and tired of what I was producing. I had some huge canvases that I’d gotten for free, some time on my hands, lots of paint, and no ideas. I decided to try something I’d never done. They reason I think that the paintings were successful is that I gave myself permission to fail. Sometimes in life you may think that you do not have that luxury, but, as James Joyce said, “A man of genius makes no mistakes, his errors are volitional and the portals to discovery.” By experimenting and playing, I found some things that worked that I knew I could apply in the future, and things I didn’t like so much that I likely won’t try again.

6. Deadlines. Sometimes, there is no way around it. You have to git-r-done and you have a specific cut-off point that if you miss it, you could die. Figuratively, of course. The death might be one of public embarrassment, missing a deal at work, or closing doors in the future. Last year, I wasn’t feeling particularly motivated to make art, so I created for myself a deadline. I agreed to do an opening in June with a very short notice. I pulled it off, and the June show lead to a July show, which led to an August show that bled into September. With each show, I learned something about the process of putting a show together, but I also found myself feeling more creative and making more art.

7. Money. There is no way around it, Shakespeare’s got to get paid, Son. There will always be rent or a mortgage to make, car insurance, utilities, groceries. A person needs money to live. And sometimes when I know that I can make money by making a certain piece of art, that motivates me to make the art. If, after I’ve made it, I think it has any less passion or is in any way inferior to my other work, I don’t continue down that path. But money can be a strong motivator and inspiration.

8. Nothing. Sometimes there is absolutely no way I can get motivated or inspire myself. It’s at those times that I “just show up”, as was suggested in The Artist’s Way. Show up at the page. Write. Paint. Collage. Sing. Whatever your chosen art, show up at your specific “page” everyday and make your art. Practice makes perfect, and repetition breeds habit. Habits breed lifestyles, and if you are an artist, it is a lifestyle choice. I met Garrison Keillor once at a reception in Akron, Ohio after having heard him speak, and, at the time, I fancied myself a writer specifically. I was not focused at all on making visual art. I asked him, “What advice do you have for an aspiring young writer?” He said, “Write.” That’s it. Do it every day.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Too Laid Back??

Wow. Perhaps I got a bit too laid back today.  Took a walk in the fog- so very quiet and calm. Had a visit from the wild turkey and her teenagers. And then a buck strolled by. 

Sorry, my readers. I got caught up in the peacefulness.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Humble Beginner

Had the first of four face drawing classes last night...... From master weaver to novice drawer in one fell swoop!
To be a beginner again, having to concentrate on all the little details that definitely don't come naturally (hard to believe they ever will, either, in this medium), makes me appreciate my own students so much more.  And it certainly makes me concentrate and observe (sort of the whole point).
For some reason still unclear, I am intrigued with trying to draw faces.
In the spirit of humility, here are last night's first attempts portraying the basic differences in male and female faces.
Oh yes, there is ever so much farther for me to go. And I apologize for making any artists of this medium cringe. 
As I said...... Total beginner, which should not reflect negatively on my instructor. It's  a step up from cartoon stick figures!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sampler Afghan is Done

Having started this crocheted afghan two years (or more) ago, I'm delighted that it is finally completed! Sixty-three squares in different crochet patterns, but what surprises me most is that the colors, purchased so long ago, perfectly match my island home. 

I must have been subconsciously nesting even then.  What a great feeling to be able to remove another item from the incompleted projects list. And just in time for winter, too. 

Slower & Simpler - Focus on What Matters

Slowing down is all about living in the moment for me, and choosing what I focus on. Truly getting lost in what I am doing makes the rest of the world simply go away.  Obviously, I am not alone in this view!  The comments on transitioning and multi-tasking  (as well as tips on how to focus) in the following article made me pause.  Please read on:

Get Simple and Focus on What Matters Most

True focus requires getting lost. For great clarity, get lost in your work, in love, or in anything at all that deserves your attention. When you have the ability to get lost in conversation, a new project or interest, you can fully engage and discover what matters most. What matters most changes over time and as you move from one thing to another. Spending too much time in the transition of one thing to another can dilute your attention.
You may be a professional multi-tasker but you can work more efficiently and love more deeply with great focus. With focus, you have an opportunity to observe and act accordingly instead of trying to sustain reactionary workflow. If you spend your day only doing what needs to get done, you probably haven’t come up for air lately. It may be time for a change in schedule or a change of heart.

How to Fix Your Loss of Focus

Lack of Priority
When you have too much to do or too many ideas to choose from, it’s hard to determine what comes first. You will find focus when you can discern what demands your attention and what deserves your attention. The demand can wait, the deserve cannot. Understand that better by simply asking the question. When something distracts you or pulls you away, ask yourself, “demand or deserve?” and then act accordingly.

When I was away recently, I was completely disconnected. There was no wifi or bars on my phone. I couldn’t make a call, take a call, check email or text messages. I survived and thrived. Back in the day, we couldn’t answer the home phone during dinner, and today, it’s not uncommon to see phones sitting on the dinner table. Phones have become our biggest distraction and the easiest to remedy. Turn them off when you are doing something that deserves your attention.

If you have babies or toddlers or children of any age, they may prevent you from focusing on other things. Look for small windows of time to devote to other projects and then surrender and give your little loves all of your focus and attention. They always deserve you and you deserve them right back. My little love left for college in August and I want you to know that all of the other stuff can wait.

Fear and Worry
When we are overwhelmed, fear and worry hang out and distract us from focusing on one thing. While we are trying to accomplish one little thing, we worry about all of the things left undone and fear that we will never accomplish anything. This is a result of future-thinking and can be remedied by being in the moment. If that whole Zen idea seems completely foreign to you, set a timer for 20 minutes and commit to the task at hand. If 20 minutes is too long, try 10. When the timer rings you can get back to fear and worry. It will wait. Practice increasing your time for being in the moment a little bit each day.

Like it or not, email is part of our work and life. It’s a simple way to connect with people, but can get overwhelming and distracting. I love email and give it the attention it deserves with the triage approach. Everyday, I go through email and handle it as a triage unit might treat an incoming trauma. I save the least urgent for 1 or 2 days a week and respond to all of it then. The time sensitive email receives a short, direct response. I send it with love and good intentions as I transfer the important information without pomp and circumstance.

When you don’t like what you do, or love who you are with, focus becomes increasingly challenging. A change may be in order, but a hard stop might not be an option. In the meantime, be grateful. Make a tiny list everyday of things that make you smile and warm your heart. Even when things are bad, there is always something that deserves your gratitude. Do something you love. Add something lovely to your life while you try to figure things out. Try a
photography class, bake cookies, read a book, or go for a bike ride. Make your own prescription for happiness in the midst of discontent.
Overwhelm and Overload
It’s time to admit and embrace that you can’t do it all. Instead of getting through, catching up or hanging on, give up on the things that don’t really matter. Less is the answer. If you want to stop rearranging, rescheduling and reorganizing, own less and do less.

Finding focus requires giving up, slowing down and getting exactly what you deserve.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Ecstatic Bird Friends

When I filled the bird feeder yesterday, it took perhaps three minutes for the bird population to spread the word that treats were available.  I think they might have look outs posted that notify the others when this two-legged creature has arrived in her little car.  They were almost sitting in wait.

Immediately after unloading the car, I refill the feeders (which often are not even emptied between trips).  We must have had quite a few visitors fly in on their way south, however, because the local crew was eager for the replenishment.

Rest easy, guys....I'm here for the winter.

Friday, October 18, 2013

My Haven

Came back up to the island yesterday.  In the line for the ferry, even before getting onto the ferry or being on the island, I felt a wave of calmness envelope me.  Really.  I felt totally relaxed, at peace, and centered. That I even noticed indicates what a dramatic change it was from how I had been feeling.

It was as if I was literally moving out of the "busy" life, and into a different reality.  With all of the recent travel, airports, conference to attend and work, show opening, appointments, and traffic (all parts of a normal day), my spirit was more than ready to slow down and simply be.

And it continues this morning, as I look out onto the fog which gently hides my view of the bay but offers calm and quiet.  It's easier for me to make decisions here (I've had offers to participate in four different projects - one which I now realize I need to turn down, accept two others, and the fourth is a maybe, depending if I can garner some assistance). 

Here I can breathe and think clearly. And once again I remind myself how very lucky I am to have found this haven.  So Sophie and I will sit here for a little bit, sipping tea (me, not Sophie), absorb the peace, and then start work on a project. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Thanks to the Women

I don't get involved in politics, and definitely don't usually write about them in this blog.  But I do want to make the observation of the gift that women can bring to the table -  in this case helping to resolve the government shutdown.

WASHINGTON — The male Senate leaders may have tied the bow on a deal aimed at ending the government shutdown, but credit for shaping the package is being given to a group of women, led by Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.
Collins delivered a speech of her own that day, urging her colleagues to work together on a solution.
Two of her sister senators — Republicans Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire — were the first to call Collins and join the effort. "I know my colleagues are tired of hearing about the women in the Senate," Collins said Wednesday, with a smile, as she thanked Murkowski and Ayotte.
Collins, Murkowski and Ayotte even appeared together Wednesday morning on NBC's Today show, calling for an end to partisan bickering and politics.

Peace is only possible, according to Baha'i teachings, once women have been accorded full participation across all fields of human endeavor.  And this recent experience is simply a perfect example of what can be achieved, by women, the peacemakers.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Creative Time with Friends

Today I will be beading with a friend.  Later this week I will be weaving with a group of friends.  A time to crochet or knit with a different set of friends needs to be planned.  Taking a drawing class with another friend starts in two weeks.

Which makes me a take a moment to appreciate my life filled with friendships, many associated with my various creative outlets.  I pause to smile on how my life has changed, from running to catch the train into the city to be totally absorbed with the corporate life, to these delightful days of work that entail weaving and creating amongst like-minded friends.

Oh, I know life may not always be just as it is right now.  How much more important, then, to appreciate what I have right now, creativity blended with friendships.  Lovely.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Drawing Faces and Portraits

In preparation for taking a four-session class in drawing faces and portraits at the Experimental College on the University of Washington campus, which starts in a couple of weeks, I'm gathering my notes from the previous class that I took from this instructor.  Exactly why I'm intrigued to draw faces is beyond me at the moment (both for the skill as well as the desire), but I'm responding to my inner prompting to do so.

It seems doubtful that this experience will be directly useful in my weaving (one never knows).  But it will help my artistic eye to see proportions, improve what limited drawing skills I do have, and help me stretch in many ways.

It's also humbling, to go from master weaver to novice sketcher.  Feeling frustrated and occasionally delightfully surprised at certain outcomes is all part of the package of learning.

Hopefully I will never lose the desire to learn.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Time to Reflect

Back to Washington State, absolutely filled to the brim with new ideas, gratefulness in new friendships, eagerness to record all that I learned and directions I might take my own work.  What an amazing week in Tennessee.  Yes, I'm energized (in spite of the jet lag) - but that's what it's all about, isn't it?

Today my time will be filled with clearing out the accumulated emails (gack!), getting my life back in order (laundry, bills, watering plants), and transferring to my studio journal the myriad of new ideas, techniques, and weaving ideas that percolated from being around so many creative artists. Oh, and yes, letting Sophie occupy a prominent place, either in my lap or desk, as I work.

There are also new directions and thoughtful suggestions important to me personally for both our local guild (collecting resource materials for teaching basketry to children - we need to encourage a new generation of weavers) and for the National Basketry Organization (designing a method to create a resource list of basketry teachers by technique, area, and materials).

So very many gifts from this time away.  I truly need time to reflect, and write, and absorb.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Slower & Simpler - A New Idea

Winding down from the conference started last night by listening to blue grass band out under the stars. 

In the airport I just chatted with another weaver who shared that she carries her own cloth napkin with here when she travels, and totally avoids paper napkins and paper towels at home. 

I do like the idea of carrying a cloth napkin with me. My new idea for the week...,,

Friday, October 11, 2013

Not Quite Finished

Love my little basket. However, there is still a lot if material to weave into it.

The comraderie was special. Weaving three days with these women has been a treat. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Walking to Class

I can't describe the feeling of walking to my classroom each day THROUGH the All Things Considered Exhibit. Everyday I pause in front of a different basket or sculpture. The richness and perfection are staggering. (The door by the exhibit title is where my class is.)

White Oak Baskets

Unbelievable miniature oak baskets by Leona Waddell who is here at Arrowmont with us for a few days, weaving on the porch.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


Karen Gubitz is working on some BaskeTrees on the Arrowmont campus this week to help celebrate the NBO Conference. We are all invited to help in the weaving of these outdoor sculptures out of all natural materials. It will be fun to see how they progress.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Fly Away to Tennessee

Heading out to Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts in Gatlinburg, TN today for the National Basketry Organization Conference.  Finally - I get to travel and TAKE a class, not teach one!!

I'm taking Contemporary Cedar Bark with Dawn Walden, which should be delightful.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Slower & Simpler - Live by Quotes from Mark Twain

Having found a new blog (, I need to share it.  It's the Positivity Blog - Happiness and Awesomeness Tips that Work in Real Life.  Love it.

Mark Twain’s Top 9 Tips for Living a Kick-Ass Life

by Henrik Edberg

Mark Twain’s Top 9 Tips for Living a Kick-Ass Life“It’s no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense.”

“Let us live so that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.”

“When your friends begin to flatter you on how young you look, it’s a sure sign you’re getting old.”

You may know Mark Twain for some of his very popular books like Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. He was a writer and also a humorist, satirist and lecturer.

Twain is known for his many – and often funny – quotes. Here are a few of my favourite tips from him.

1. Approve of yourself.

“A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.”

If you don’t approve of yourself, of your behaviour and actions then you’ll probably walk around most of the day with a sort of uncomfortable feeling. If you, on the other hand, approve of yourself then you tend to become relaxed and gain inner freedom to do more of what you really want.

This can, in a related way, be a big obstacle in personal growth. You may have all the right tools to grow in some way but you feel an inner resistance. You can’t get there.

What you may be bumping into there are success barriers. You are putting up barriers in your own mind of what you may or may not deserve. Or barriers that tell you what you are capable of. They might tell you that you aren’t really that kind of person that could this thing that you’re attempting.

Or if you make some headway in the direction you want to go you may start to sabotage for yourself. To keep yourself in a place that is familiar for you.

So you need give yourself approval and allow yourself to be who you want to be. Not look for the approval from others. But from yourself. To dissolve that inner barrier or let go of that self-sabotaging tendency. This is no easy task and it can take time.

2. Your limitations may just be in your mind.

“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”

So many limitations are mostly in our minds. We may for instance think that people will disapprove because we are too tall, too old or balding. But these things mostly matter when you think they matter. Because you become self-conscious and worried about what people may think.

And people pick up on that and may react in negative ways. Or you may interpret anything they do as a negative reaction because you are so fearful of a bad reaction and so focused inward on yourself.

If you, on the other hand, don’t mind then people tend to not mind that much either. And if you don’t mind then you won’t let that part of yourself become a self-imposed roadblock in your life.

It is, for instance, seldom too late to do what you want to do.

3. Lighten up and have some fun.

“Humor is mankind’s greatest blessing.”

“Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.”

Humor and laughter are amazing tools. They can turn any serious situation into something to laugh about. They can lighten the mood just about anywhere.

And a lighter mood is often a better space to work in because now your body and mind isn’t filled to the brim with negative emotions. When you are more light-hearted and relaxed then the solution to a situation is often easier to both come up with and implement. Have a look at Lighten Up! for more on this topic.

4. Let go of anger.

“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.”

Anger is most of the time pretty pointless. It can cause situations to get out of hand. And from a selfish perspective it often more hurtful for the one being angry then the person s/he’s angry at.

So even if you feel angry at someone for days recognize that you are mostly just hurting yourself. The other person may not even be aware that you are angry at him or her. So either talking to the person and resolving the conflict or letting go of anger as quickly as possible are pretty good tips to make your life more pleasurable.

5. Release yourself from entitlement.

“Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.”

When you are young your mom and dad may give a lot of things. As you grow older you may have a sort of entitlement. You may feel like the world should just give you what you want or that it owes you something.

This belief can cause a lot of anger and frustration in your life. Because the world may not give you what expect it to. On the other hand, this can be liberating too. You realize that it is up to you to shape your own life and for you to work towards what you want. You are not a kid anymore, waiting for your parents or the world to give you something.

You are in the driver’s seat now. And you can go pretty much wherever you want.

6. If you’re taking a different path, prepare for reactions.

A person with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds.”
I think this has quite a bit of relevance to self-improvement.
If you start to change or do something different than you usually do then people may react in different ways. Some may be happy for you. Some may be indifferent. Some may be puzzled or react in negative and discouraging ways.
Much of these reactions are probably not so much about you but about the person who said it and his/her life. How they feel about themselves is coming through in the words they use and judgements they make.
And that’s OK. I think it’s pretty likely that they won’t react as negatively as you may imagine. Or they will probably at least go back to focusing on their own challenges pretty soon.
So what other people may say and think and letting that hold you back is probably just fantasy and barrier you build in your mind.
You may find that when you finally cross that inner threshold you created then people around you may not shun you or go chasing after you with pitchforks. :) They might just go: “OK”.
7. Keep your focus steadily on what you want.

“Drag your thoughts away from your troubles… by the ears, by the heels, or any other way you can manage it.”

What you focus your mind on greatly determines how things play out. You can focus on your problems and dwell in suffering and a victim mentality. Or you can focus on the positive in situation, what you can learn from that situation or just focus your mind on something entirely else.

It may be “normal” to dwell on problems and swim around in a sea of negativity. But that is a choice. And a thought habit. You may reflexively start to dwell on problems instead of refocusing your mind on something more useful. But you can also start to build a habit of learning to gain more and more control of where you put your focus.

8. Don’t focus so much on making yourself feel good.

“The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.”

This may be a bit of a counter-intuitive tip. But as I wrote yesterday, one of the best ways to feel good about yourself is to make someone else feel good or to help them in some way.

This is a great way to look at things to create an upward spiral of positivity and exchange of value between people. You help someone and both of you feel good. The person you helped feels inclined to give you a hand later on since people tend to want to reciprocate. And so the both of you are feeling good and helping each other.

Those positive feelings are contagious to other people and so you may end up making them feel good too. And the help you received from your friend may inspire you to go and help another friend. And so the upward spiral grows and continues.

9. Do what you want to do.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did so. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Awesome quote. And I really don’t have much to add to that one. Well, maybe to write it down and keep it as a daily reminder – on your fridge or bathroom door – of what you can actually do with your life.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

A Dream Within a Dream

I woke up this morning, experiencing a dream within a dream.  Which reminded me a poem studied long ago.  So obviously I had to search for it!

A Dream Within A Dream by Edgar Allan Poe
Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow--
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.

I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand--
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep--while I weep!
O God! can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?

Friday, October 4, 2013

Dragonflies, Too

 Dragonflies have become important to me, as well as hummingbirds.  I shouldn't be surprised that Native Americans had stories about them, too.

 The meaning of the Dragonfly symbol was to signify happiness, speed and purity. The dragonfly also represents transformation and life's ever constant process of change. The dragonfly is a long tailed, four winged insect that inhabit the waters and wetlands of North America, as do many snakes. This symbolism is based on the life of a dragonfly which in first year or more of their lives, they live in the water as nymphs. They then metamorphose, change, into the flying creature we recognize as the dragonfly. The Southwest Indian culture use the term "snake doctor" in reference to a legend that dragonflies follow snakes around and stitch them back together if they are injured. For the Navajo  tribe the dragonfly is the symbol for pure water.