Monthly Archives: April 2014

living in an ashram

For the past few years, I have been living in an ashram. ashram Or I have kept that mindset anyway.

Let me explain.

A few years ago I decided I didn’t really like my life, and I decided to do something about that. I decided to create a life I really liked and felt good about/in. So I began experimenting with what felt right/good. It took a while, too, b/c it took a while to figure out what worked and what didn’t. From that starting point, nothing really felt right/good.

You know how we get entrenched into the old stuff and even when new, and maybe even better, stuff comes along, we resist change. And how if we dare to try something – anything – new, it just doesn’t feel goodmeditation until we give it some time, until we grow into it, until we feel comfy in that new thing. Well, that was me a few years ago: Determined to change something to feel better, but just not sure what that was or how that would look… or what to do…

After a while, though, I settled into a routine that I began to describe as “living in an ashram.” It went like this: I got up at 5am every morning to the gentle sound of monks chanting themonks chanting Eternal Om as my wake up call. Three days a week I would work out cardio-wise – usually on my rowing machine. It made me feel good – while I was exercising and afterwards too. Twice a week I did yoga. I loved the soft, meditative Hatha flow of the yoga on my mat those mornings. In the warmer months, I did all this on my back deck, taking in the morning splendor. I rode my bike everywhere, loving the freedom, the air, how healthy and ‘green’ it made me feel. I ate healthy foods, and a lot of 100% dark chocolate. I still worked my ‘real’ job, still saw clients. I meditated every day. I looked at it like this: In an ashram, you get up early, you meditate and do devotional prayers/etc., you also have to dark chocdo work to keep the ashram running – wash clothes, clean the floors, prepare food, weed the garden, etc. You also, in an ashram, sometimes have to go out into the ‘real’ world and interact with those not on your same path. All the things I was doing in my life.

It worked marvelously. I was happy. My life felt wonderful – maybe it was just all that chocolate, but life was good. For several years.

And then right around May – June 2013… it wasn’t.

I began to feel, again, that something was wrong. Nearly every morning, upon waking, I felt sad. Many mornings I cried in frustration as I woke up. Or I was angry – so angry that I cried and cursed. I did more of what I had been doing to makeashram2 myself feel better: I meditated to try and come up with why this was; I exercised; I did yoga; I ate healthy foods. I asked the Universe to tell me what this was and how to fix it.

I happen to believe that those first few seconds upon waking are some of the most vulnerable, truthful, Real moments we get about ourselves, our lives. We haven’t had time to put on our social face or our spiritual face or whatever ‘face’ that is gonna keep me from hating life and crying. I tend to respect those few seconds and pay a lot of attention to them – they tell me volumes about me and my life – about my subconscious.wake up

About the same time as things shifted, I began to explore the dfDivine Feminine (DF) energy I knew I had always had access to. I have been doing energy/light work for years. I always taught it the way I lived it – which is: The Divine is the Divine. It doesn’t matter if it’s Masculine or Feminine; it is pure. redhotandholyBut I found I really wanted the Divine Feminine energy; I wanted to explore that, and so I kept searching, kept researching. I read several excellent books on the subject, among them Red Hot and Holy by Sera Beak and Powerful and Feminine by Rachel Jayne Groover.

Everything I encountered about the DF told me the same thing: Your way of connecting powerfulandfemwith the Divine may shift. You may not want to sit quietly and meditate any more – a very masculine way of reaching for the Divine, by the way. I thought I was listening for that call, the call of the Goddess. I thought I was ready to shift as needed. But apparently not, b/c I did not recognize it as that until just today.

Last week I began to think about experimenting again – duh! What took me so long to figure that out?! Now don’t get me wrong – I’m not happy about this experimenting. I didn’t just skip along and laugh merrily and decide to play with my life, happy to be changing everything about me and my life again. No, remember I said this had been going on for months. Months of frustration, anger, depression, anxiety – feeling powerless to figure out what it was and how to fix it, even though I was constantly trying to figure it out.

I think maybe I got to the point of just giving up. The “Oh, fuck it – whatever,” stage – said without any energy behind it.

So last week I didn’t exercise every day. I let the monks begin their chanting every morning at 5am, but I didn’t necessarily get up and do anything. A couple of mornings I reset the monks and went back to sleep – and smiled while doing it. One morning I just stayed in bed, listening to the monks, smiling, wallowing under the lizblankets, talking to the weenie dogs, just spending time languishing.

This morning at my sunny bathroom sink, after, once again, not rising and ‘sticking to the schedule.’ I had an “ah-ha” moment, when I realized I’m tired of living in an ashram. Even Liz Gilbert didn’t do that for more than a few months, for fuck’s sake! And I realized I would much rather live at a spa now.

I am currently changing my mindset to “living in a spa” – you know, spa3the fancy, I-deserve-to-be-here-languishing-in-being-pampered type of spa. The one where you realize you want things to be really easy and fun. Where someone brings you things and you eat some ‘forbidden’ foods and might even gain some weight (gawd forbid!). I realized that I don’t want to be called out anymore by, what now feels like, my innerdrillsargent Drill Sergeant at 5am every morning to hit the road/rowing machine/yoga mat/etc.

I want to rest. I want to be pampered. I want to have fun. Don’t misunderstand: I loved “living in a ashram” for a few years. I was happy and had tons of fun doing that. It felt exactly right.

And I still love riding my bike everywhere – 7 miles a day, or more, on most days. I still work out, and I still love to meditate – to sit in the most excellent silence. But I’m not regimented about it any more. And if I need/want to skip something, I don’t freak out that I’m not adhering to the ashram’s schedule, somehow.

Fun is starting to look different than an ashram now. And for the first time in months, I feel hopeful and the beginning blush of happiness again.

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dress clips – before and after

This is the place for my Etsy customers to see the effects of using a dress/shirt/jacket/vest clip.

dress clip pink dress7 beforedress clip pink dress5 afterdress clip pink dress2If you have an outfit that every time you put it on you stand in front of the mirror and cinch the waist in at thedress clip vest2 before back with your hand to make it fit correctly and look better, then this is the thing you need! It’s like a miracle. 🙂

Dress / shirt / jacket clips can save an outfit! Tdress clip vest1afterhey are made to hold a shirt, dress or jacket in at the waist at the back. And they can be used over and over for different outfits. Using a dress clip can make that loose dress or top fit and give it some curves. I love mine!

The crocheted ones come in lots of colors.

I have a BIG color chart1stash of lace, so I’m sure we can get you the color you need. I also make metal bling-y ones.

Clips come with either silver or bronze (I can’t find gold ones anymore!) metal ends – your choice.  2017-03-10 15.02.26

dressclip blueblkmaydressclip1    

how to make your own journal / appointment book

journal19I’ve been making my own journals, notebooks and calendars for years, b/c I could never find any I liked. I simply take pretty paper that I like and put them together to form my journal/calendar. I have been collecting pretty paper for years, but your local print/copy, scrapbooking or office supply shop will have some selections.

For a Journal

I choose the paper/pages I want (I like pretty floral stuff, obviously), journal4mix them together in my preferred order – or random – and have my local printing/copying store bind it for me with a plastic coil. You can, obviously, make your book as thick or thin as you want by choosing how many sheets of paper you use.

Samples of books I have made (my copy shop used to offer these nice white coils.)

Samples of books I have made (my copy shop used to offer these nice white coils.)

Some shops have different colored coils – the one I use only has black, although you can see in the photos that they used to offer white coils too. I like the coil better than other binds, b/c I can not only lay it out flat, I can also fold it all the way back. I always have them give me a coil that is big enough for a fold back. If the coil is too narrow/small, the pages journal5will be too tight to fold all the way back. I choose my cover page and have them put a clear plastic cover on the front and a plain white cover on the back. You could use clear for both, although I like the clear journal2on one side only, so I always know which side is front by just looking at it. You could also do some artwork and use that for the covers – I’ve done that before too.

You could use all the same type of paper /pages for the inside; you don’t have to mix it up. I find I get bored if it’s all the same, but that may totally be what you want – or maybe just use your favorite colored paper. I always include some solid, colored pages without designs on them too.

It is also possible to cover a light weight compressed journal9cardboard cover too (you know, like the stiff cardboard back of a legal pad – they come in all sizes – cut it to the correct size – maybe just a tad bigger?). Use paper, though, and not fabric, to cover it, as the print/copy shop won’t bind ones using fabric – they say it will clog their machine. 🙂

Cover the outside first, folding the edges over to the inside like wrapping a gift. Use a bone folder to get very crisp folds (or the handle of a butter knife will do). You can use paper that already has adhesive on it (like “contact paper”) or you can use spray adhesive (messy but effective) or a combo of both. Then you cut a piece for the inside that doesn’t quite go all the way to the edges but that covers the folded over edges. I usually press the two covers overnight between heavy books to let it dry well and make sure it stays flat. Sandwich your pages in between and take to be bound. B/c the copy shop I use usually wants to keep it and have me come back and pick it up later, I always mark the edge I want bound with a stickie note on top with an arrow – don’t want all my hard work being ruined by confusion over which edge to bind.

Think about doing little sketches in the corners and margins and/or leaving margin messages/quotes/poems randomly throughout to personalize it and make a gift of one for someone.

but put the ribbon on BEFORE you adhere the inside cover (the floral print, in this photo) down to hold it

but put the ribbon on BEFORE you adhere the inside cover (the floral print, in this photo) down to hold it

Also consider making it possible to tie the journal shut by placing a light weight satin ribbon mid way down the open edges – front and back (remember to do BOTH sides!). Lay the ribbon perpendicular to the opening edge on the inside journal11of the folded over outside cover paper (remember, the inside cover paper will be adhered down over it to hold it in place), facing out, before adhering the inside cover. So that the ribbon is sandwiched between the two adhered papers and is held in place.

For a Calendar / “Daytimer” / Appointment Book

journal18Years ago I gave up the frustrating search each year for the type of calendar I wanted and started making my own. First I made a computer document of the inside pages of what I wanted by turning the layout to “landscape.” journal17I created the week on one regular, 8.5″ x 11″ page the way I wanted it (it just took some trial and error – pretty easy) in landscape layout and then printed it off to test it to make sure the coils in the middle wouldn’t cut into my printing. I then print (or copy) on front and back of the pages (27 pages x two weeks – one on front and one on back = 54 weeks = one year, give or take) I want (again, I usually choose floral prints – meaning that unless the paper has designs on both sides, some pages will just be solid white), cut the pages in half using a paper cutter (copy/printing shops have these for your use), write in the month and dates (the days of the week are printed on each page) and have it bound journal15with a clear front and white back – again, with a coil big enough for a complete fold back. So my calendar ends up being half the size of my journal. I leave a few blank pages front and back for notes. I do this every year and love the creative process of preparing my year. 🙂 I use a colorful paperclip to mark the current week, so that I can always turn to the correct week easily.

For either one, you could cut the pages and make them any size you want. The photos show one full size, one half size and the smallest one is 1/4 size. journal20Just remember to test your pages first by cutting a page or two to see how it will really present itself: Letter-sized pagesjournal21 with a top and bottom design will, when cut in half and turned in the correct book form/layout, have the those designs on the right and left sides and not the top and bottom, etc.

My quilt book made out of pastel cardstock.

My quilt book made out of pastel cardstock.

I have also used card stock instead of paper to use as a sketch book, photo album or design book (onto which I taped or glued photos or magazine cutouts).  You can print on pages before assembling and make a ‘real’ book too – or just title pages.

Sketches for embroidery patterns for baby quilts.

Sketches for embroidery patterns for baby quilts.

With the scrapebooking stuff available these days, the sky is the proverbial limit in creating books of all sorts for yourself and as gifts for others. Think about copying blank/pencil designs onto pages to make someone a custom coloring book. Have fun! 🙂

wildflower yard & a gift from a little Angel

Day 6 – Install rustic twig trellis

trellis3A few days ago I tilled up my entire front yard to make way for wildflowers and then put down soaker hoses to water them once they get tall.

Today I finished and installed the rustic twig trellis at the edge of the yard to mark the grass path that leadstrellis2 to the front door. I love the way they look like they are dancing together. I planted a few cucumbers, some morning glories and a couple of pea vines underneath it.

I just wonder if it will hold up to some of the wicked winds we get here – especially once it has vines growing on it. I love it.trellis1

While I was working on it, a young girl and her mom walked by and stopped to briefly ask me about my project.  The young girl then offered me 2 amazing gifts that were so sweet I about cried. She asked her mom first, her mom said okay, and then she came giftfromanangel1over and handed me a little dandelion flower. “I want to give you this,” she said. I thanked her and tucked it into the headband in my hair. And then as if just thinking of it, or maybe making the decision right then, she handed me a beautiful little rock with, “and this rock.”

It felt like a sign from the Universe – a gift from a little Angel – telling me to just be my quirky, weird self and to keep weirding-up the neighborhood, and my house and my life and the World in general. giftfromanangel2

She looked back a couple of times as they walked away down the road. I bowed to her in gratitude. Only she and I saw that exchange, her mom had already turned away and was walking. I don’t know your name, little Angel, but thank you for the message. I heard it loud and clear.

yard into wildflowers

Day 5 – Putting down soaker hoses

If you are following msoaker1y yard/lawn into wildflower garden journey, then you know I tilled up most of my grass in the front yard a few days ago.  On day 5, my friend Bonnie brought over soaker hoses, and we laid them allsoaker3 down over the seeds. The weather was chilly but good and we had lots of fun and got them all in place.

I led the charge in laughing at myself about this project and feeling too weird for my own life. We did a lot of laughing – thanks Bonnie!soaker5soaker4

in which I replace the entire front yard with wildflowers

Day One – Installation

I’ve been struggling here lately with my own quirkiness/weirdness. I found I was ashamed of my creativeness and the way I live my life. I think my neighbors must hate me and my yard and the way I have ‘trashed’ the neighborhood. When I explained this to my daughter, she asked, “Yeah, but could you be any other way and still be happy?” And the answer is: No.

So there has been this constant struggle to let out all the wildness, the quirky creativity and live in my constantly evolving, unfinished house/yard/life as they continue to change and be born. I feel kind of too weird to claim my life, my house, my yard – but also am driven1.front yard before.April2014 to continue to be me and do all those weird things. So the Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde show continues, b/c as I was telling my friend Bonnie about this problem, she began to gently chastise me, goading me back into myself. Telling me, sweetly, that these were the things she liked about me.

Okay, so I let her talk me into doing something that I have always wanted to do: turn my front yard into a wildflower garden. She did this years ago in her own yard. And b/c I knew it was supposed to snow/rain on Sunday, I wanted to get it done Saturday. So Friday night I called my friend Stephen to ask if he would help me by using his truck to haul a rented tiller over to my house from Home Depot on Saturday morning. He said yes, so I made him go get it at 7am – yikes! And I subjected my neighbors to the noise of a tiller at 7:30am in the morning – sorry! 2.front yard before. april2014

I tilled up most of the grass – except for some paths I kept, raked up all the grass, smoothed it out (more raking), put the sprinkler on it for a while to moisten the ground, broadcast Beauty Beyond Belief’s local wildflower seeds (along with a few I had collected), broadcast some mulchy, dried grasses over the top of it. Gently watered it down. Cleaned up my messtiller and then trimmed some tree and juniper branches to be able to use the grass paths I had left. I can totally recommend the Barreto hydraulic Tiller! That thing kicked some serious ass in no time at all.

So this Spring, wet snow is the very best thing that could happen, as it will stick all those seeds right where they are! Bonnie will be over on Wednesday to help me set up some soaker hoses so that I can put the water on a timer and save water and time, too.

It’s a good thing I started so early, b/c I did not get back in the house until 8:15pm at night. I will post updated photos as the process continues. Right now I am praying to the fae to watch over those seeds and get them started.

And so today I can’t even move, I am so sore from all that work! But soooo excited! Someone tell my bees how happy they are gonna be with all these flowers this summer!

it’s a wrap

I’ve always wanted to be that woman who is rockin’ the cool hair wrap! So I’ve been experimenting for a few weeks (months!) with hair wraps and scarves, etc. Today – and mostly b/c my hair was just doin’ it’s regular ol’thang (going crazy), I did the fe??????????m-up thing (the feminine equivalent to “man-up”), grew some lady-parts (feminine equivalent to “grew some balls”) and actually left the house wearing a hair wrap. Now, I won’t claim to be “rockin” a hair wrap, but did I mention I left the house with it on? And kept it on all day? And really loved it. Just hoping b/c it is a cranberry, watered silk scarf that it prevented it from looking too gangsta – or chemo-related. 🙂