Sunday, February 18, 2018

The View This Morning

This is what I awoke to today:

It was so quiet and still and beautiful outside. Today I am grateful for nature's beauty.  (*All unedited iPhone photos).

Friday, February 16, 2018

An Attitude of Gratitude

The month of February seems to have a Gratitude theme in many areas of my life. 

In Cathy Zielski's FIT class, we were asked to document 10 things we are grateful for.  This is what I came up with:

 I've been reading this list every morning just to remind myself that I have so much to be thankful for in my life!

Gratitude also came up in our Life Book class.  Here's my "Heart Full of Happiness" art:

An earlier week had us working on a project called "The Custodian" working with texture and using pastels which were totally new to me.  I struggled with it, but was satisfied with the result in the end and learned a lot about shading:

In the background texture, I've included words like "Play" "Joy" "light hearted" and "healthy" and she now gets to guard my intentions for the year.

I'm also keeping a daily log of something I'm grateful for that day.  The beautiful sunsets I got to witness thanks to traveling to California for work this month definitely made the list!

What are YOU grateful for this month???

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Hello 2018! Let's PLAY!

It has not escaped me that we are already 2 1/2 weeks into 2018.  But it has taken me a little longer to really wrap my arms about what I want and expect from this year, what my goals and dreams are and how I want to approach the year.  I'm starting to feel a little organized... not all the way yet... but getting there!

One Little Word - PLAY.  
What I know for sure is that I don't want this year to be all about work like last year was.  I'm still going to be traveling at least once a month for work, but I don't want to feel all-consumed by it. So I'm committed to MAKE time to play.  I joined Ali Edwards' One Little Word course again this year - turns out I really missed it last year although I doubt I'd have had time to keep  up anyway!
These are my initial pages for my One Little Word/ FIT album for 2018.  Not much in the way of art or decoration - I was trying to keep it simple and just get it done!

I also joined in Cathy Zielski's 2018 version of FIT again.  I'm carrying my theme of PLAY through the FIT exercises as well.  I want to approach fitness / wellness this year with a more lighthearted playful manner - just moving my body in ways that brings me joy and making healthy choices in what I feed my body and my soul!

I took photos and measurements but I'm keeping that private for now.  It's not about the numbers - it is all about how I FEEL this year!  Of course, I no sooner started tracking steps again and hitting my goal of 6000 steps per day than I somehow injured my foot and ended up with posterior tibial tendonitis.  But it is a temporary setback!  I'm still in a brace and probably won't get back to walking for a couple of weeks.  But I'm not letting that get me down.

In order to keep motivated to PLAY, I also joined Tamara Laporte's Life Book 2018 class.  Life Book is a year long mixed media art class that also incorporates bits of yoga, aromatherapy, mindfulness, and other wellness activities.  So far I'm thrilled with this course!  Here's a bit of what I've been making:
 This was our "warm up" exercise.  Which honestly took me an entire week because I wanted to do it justice.

This one was a week two "bonus" exercise.  Created while I was in Rockville for work.  I had only brought some neocolor II watercolor crayons and a couple of gel pens with me as supplies.  I bought the stamp and a super cheap black stamp pad at a craft store.  I used a coffee cup sleeve from my hotel room to stamp the texture.

This "compassion bear" was also a week two "bonus" exercise and created at the hotel room with very limited supplies.  I think I'd like a second go at this guy, but he'll have to do for now because I'm determined to keep up with the class!!!

What I really want to cultivate this year is a sense of lightheartedness, joy, freedom, space, and adventure.  I want to laugh more, move more, create more, and feel gratitude for all of life's little pleasures. I want to nurture my body, my soul, and my relationships.

I've chosen the hummingbird as my symbol for the year.  It is said to represent enjoyment of life and lightness of being.  That seems to sum up what I'm hoping for and working towards in 2018!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Goodbye 2017!

I had an unintentional seven month break from blogging.  I thought about all my blog friends - a LOT. I wrote posts in my mind.  I never quite made it back here to type them out and hit publish.  I'm hoping to do better this year.

Here's my 2017 recap:

January -   We opened a second shop in Phillipsburg NJ.  I traveled to Baltimore for the Board of Director's celebration dinner for our big merger.  I saw Menopause The Musical with my friend Rachel Riordan.  My daughter Rachel was diagnosed with a melanoma and underwent surgery to have two moles removed. One on her arm and one on her back - just above the bra line to the left of her spine.  The arm healed well.  The back did not.  The sutures ripped and the wound completely opened - a round hole about the size of a quarter.  To add insult to injury, after the surgery, Rachel was let go from her job at a real estate office - the agent decided he would rather have someone with experience than train her.  Cue drama and a new job search.   The non-healing surgical wound lead to a frustrating year of doctors visits and many different kinds of medical techniques to try to close the wound.  Not a single doctor was able to give us a reason why the wound wouldn't heal on its own as she is otherwise healthy, young, and not diabetic.

February -  Saw Postmodern Jukebox at Lehigh University with Sarah.  Travel to Rockville MD for work, followed by a three day scrapbooking trip to the shore with Sarah - I spent the whole time at the shore sick. 

March -  I attended two local day crops, attended an all day seminar at Lehigh University, but didn't travel outside PA a single day thanks to Snow Storm Stella cancelling our scheduled meetings!  Rachel got a job offer and began working at Entercom.  Jay got a job offer at RCA and gave his notice to MedDecision.  Becca got accepted into the PTA (Physical Therapy Assistant) program at Lehigh Carbon Community College.  It was a fantastic month! Good news times three!

April - On the 1st we moved Rachel to her new apartment in Manyunk.  Travel to Rockville for work meetings. Jay began his job at Recovery Centers of America. Travel to Belize with Deanna for a girls vacation.  Becca was let go from her job - the owner wanted to put his daughter in her position.  Cue more drama and another new job search.

May - Travel to Rockville & Baltimore for work. Had a bunch of doctor appointments.

June -  Sarah started seriously hunting for a house so she wouldn't have to continue renting.  We went to a few showings with her.   She also started her MBA program at Lehigh University while continuing to work full time.  Becca got a summer job nannying.  Travel to Rockville for work.

July - Travel to Rockville & Baltimore for work. Jay had surgery for melanoma on his cheek. My mother, Sandy, was diagnosed with metastatic soft tissue sarcoma that has invaded her liver.  Rare enough that they can't give her a time frame but it is terminal.  So far she is not sick and still doing well.

August - Family vacation in Ocean City, NJ.  The downtime was fantastic!  Becca started her PTA Program and got a part-time job in a PT office.  Jay finally gave up his 2003 Honda CRV with 315,901 miles and got a new car.  Travel to Rockville for work, but had to cut that trip short and fly to Memphis to deal with my sister Deanna's near-death experience after a fall from her horse.  She ruptured her spleen and had to have emergency surgery.  Spent 8 days taking care of her while trying to keep things moving at work remotely.  Flew home August 31st but thanks to weather almost didn't make it in time for ...

September -  Sarah's closing on her condo on the 1st.  There was a lot of drama with the mortgage company and appraiser in August and it almost didn't happen. But it did!  Sarah is now a homeowner.  Moved Becca into her apartment in Emmaus on the 9th.  Travel to Austin Texas for a work conference and from there straight to Hawaii, meeting up with Jay and my parents.  The trip was very enjoyable, but we had at least one snafu/mishap per day.  Kept things quite interesting.  Came home to find our cat Ashley near death with kidney failure.  Lots of vet visits, IV hydration, antibiotics, and a diet change and she is doing well again, but it was quite scary for a bit.

October -  Sarah and I attended the PA Women's Conference in Philadelphia.  Travel to Washington D.C. for the ACC Annual Meeting (days of sitting through continuing education seminars).

November - Sarah and I took my mother Sandy to New York City for a long weekend to fulfill a bucket list item.  Saw The Lion King and Book of Mormon on Broadway, took a carriage ride through Central Park, saw the 911 Memorial and Statue of Liberty.  So fun!  Rachel had skin graft surgery to close the surgical wound on her back and lived at home for a week during recovery so I could take care of her.  Travel to Rockville for work.  We celebrated  a quiet Thanksgiving here at home.

December - Lots of shopping online and prepping for Christmas. Travel to Rockville for work.  Came home and got sick.  Two days before Christmas I took myself to urgent care to deal with URI and bronchitis.  We had a wonderful Christmas at home and I took the week between Christmas and New Year's off.  As a family, went to STOMP at the Merriam Theater in Philadelphia.

If you are still reading, you can see that 2017 was a real mixed bag for us with both good news and bad and a LOT happened to my little family.  I was away from home a total of 78 days last year which is unprecedented for me!  An average of 6.5 days a month, with the fewest days in one month being 3, the most being 19.  Work was crazy busy and I had almost no time to myself or to work on any creative projects.

I'm happy to say goodbye to 2017 and see what 2018 brings! 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Checking In

Here it is, the last day of May.    How did we get here already?  This year is going by much too quickly for me.

Mail was good to me last week.

Two hand-made cards arrived to celebrate my birthday - the one in front from our very own Karen.  And the package from my sister contained a book from my Amazon wish list
along with a very sweet note!

Thanks to the Memorial Day holiday falling just right this year, I actually had my birthday off.  Sarah gave me the gift of her time and came over to help me start cleaning my craft room.  It's a big job and is going to take a lot more time than we had together, but a solid start was made that resulted in this:

  Yes, we "found" my craft table under piles of stuff!  It is now set up and ready for me to play.  Which will be my goal before the week is out.  To actually go play.  And then clean up the mess when I am done so it will be ready to play the next opportunity I get!

For those of you who have done serious craft space purging and decluttering... how do you decide what stays and what goes?  I can be ruthless with my clothing, jewelry, kitchen stuff... but when it comes to my craft supplies I freeze.  Everything has multiple potential uses.  I can't get rid of anything.  (Says the woman who before Monday had FOUR Fiskars 12" trimmers!  I did thin that down to two - gave one to Sarah and put one in the donate pile).  But I don't have room to store it all which is why so much ends up in residence on my table and then I have no space to play and create.  I seriously need an intervention!  Any thoughts????

Monday, May 8, 2017

Memos, Mail & Me: On The Road Again

Linking up with Sian and all the Mondayers...

I went to Belize with my sister Deanna

- we both were desperately in need of...

... some away time

... some down time

... some disconnected time

and Belize was just what the doctor ordered!
Visiting the Mayan Ruins at Xunatunich

It was fantastic! We spent most of the time just chilling and getting to know the staff at the resort. Except for the one day that we did a day tour to the mainland - hiked the mayan ruins at Xunatunich, zip-lined through the rain forest, and went water tubing through a cave, and came home physically exhausted but emotionally exhilirated.

And could barely walk for the next two days! We exercised muscles that have likely gone long unused. But it was what my spirit needed to refresh. Just what the doctor ordered.

But the doctor would have advised against this....

Got this my last day at the resort while sitting in the shade, under an umbrella... not just a sunburn, but some kind of rash on my legs and tops of my feet... possibly an allergic reaction to the kelp we waded through for all of about 30 seconds... itched, burned, stung for days.  I came home May 1st and the rash is finally gone, just sunburn remains, waiting to peel...

And now it's May 8th and I'm on the road again - back to Rockville and Baltimore for work.  And suddenly I'm not dreaming of away time... can you believe I'm dreaming of just staying home for a bit?

Mail?  Just bills and sales flyers. 😒

Monday, April 24, 2017

Memos, Mail & Me - Life is Full

Yes, I've been noticeably absent again.  😞

March went by so quickly.  And then I blinked and we were 3/4 of the way through April.  How did that happen?

I've written to you all dozens of times in my mind. Somehow making the time to get here and post just doesn't happen even when I have stuff to say.

I miss blogging.

I miss YOU.

I can't make any promises that I'm really back... but I'm trying.

March was a banner month at the Andrews household.  Really and truly.

Rachel found a new job at a really good starting salary for a recent college grad working for Entercomm in Bala Cynwyd.  An honest-to-goodness full time job with a salary and benefits!  She started March 6th. After her first day driving into the city and back, she came home and announced that she was OVER the commute.  Three weeks later, on April 1st, we moved her into an apartment in Manyunk.  An eight minute commute to work. She has her own bedroom with a private bath, but shares the common space with three other young women.  It's a nice place - not great parking, but she's happy to be in the city and that's what matters.  She is now really on her own for the first time and it is scary and exciting and frustrating and fun all at once. And her support network is a mere hour down the highway.
My orchid plant blossomed - which seems to happen every other year.  But the flowers are gorgeous this time!

On March 17, after FOUR. LONG. YEARS. of searching (while employed at a soul-sucking slave labor IT job for a company that makes a practice of purposefully demoralizing their employees), Jay was offered a new job which he started on April 10th.   It is similar work and similar pay as what he was doing, but so far the new job is super laid back and his boss seems pretty nice.  So yay!

Then, on March 23rd Becca FINALLY got her letter from Lehigh Carbon Community College and she was ACCEPTED (YAY!!!) into their highly competitive Physical Therapy Assistant program. They get like 200 applicants a year and only accept 35. She will start in August. And we are breathing a collective sigh of relief ... because Becca has both A.D.D. and generalized anxiety disorder, the waiting for an answer so that she knows where her life is head next was stressing her out big time. The girl absolutely requires routine, consistency, and long-term planning to stay sane. But now we know and she can move forward. She is so excited and we are all pleased and so proud of her.
I bought myself sunflowers for Easter.  

We had unseasonably warm temperatures back in February (yes, it has been that long since I chatted with you all), but then along came snow storm Stella in mid-March and dumped nearly a foot in our neck of the woods.  Our very confused daffodils, which had started shooting up way too early, were buried.  And yet...

After the snow cleared, they still managed to flower, although the heads were laying on the ground.  April 14th.

We also have a profusion of these:

I don't even know what these are, but they came up on their own several years ago and have multiplied each year.  Now they look like an intentional planting, in big bunches in the front shrub bed.

Over the last week, Spring has really taken over.  All the trees are leafing out, the flowering trees are filled with blossoms, it is all so pretty and green... and yet, I've felt oddly disconnected from it all this year.

I leave on Wednesday morning for a girl trip with my sister Deanna.  We are headed to a tropical island.  We are planning to sit in the sun, read books, walk the beach, and generally just take it easy. As a plus, there is truly limited internet access and I won't have cell phone service as I'm not activating an international plan.  So I'm hoping this will be just what my soul needs.