Perfection … ?

NOWHERE IN THIS WORLD WILL YOU find a person that is perfect. Nope. Not anywhere. One can strive for perfection. One can attain a moment of perfection—like a tear drop in the ocean of life—one tiny moment. That’s all. Life is too messy for perfection. Those that continually attempt to achieve the impossible can find themselves very unhappy because it always remains just out of their reach. Does that mean we shouldn’t try? Oh, absolutely not—we must realise it is not something to attain, but rather, something to use as a goal … to continually strive toward.

For me? Well, I think I love the “messiness” of life. It creates challenges, discoveries and life lessons. Of course, there has been only one being that managed to achieve perfection. Only one—and it was not just anyone. I use His perfection is a goal—a goal I know I will never fully manage in this worldly life. But He knows that. We are all damaged goods, but He knows we are worth salvaging … worth saving, if we ask …

The messiness. I’m trying to figure out why I’m writing about this. It’s as plain as the nose on my face, right? My life is messy. Beautifully messy. And since I seem so disorganised of late, is everything around me is too (insert goofy grin). My home, yard, cars, my art and writing … it can be overwhelming. Honestly. But for some reason, it isn’t—once upon a time, it certainly was … but not now. Back when I was incapable of getting out into the yard to do the tiniest bit of cleanup or lacking the energy to do a simple pick-up around the house, or even put words on a page—oh, yes. That was overwhelming. Emotionally and physically. Thankfully, now my energy and strength is returning—finally (aaah, insert Snoopy’s happy dance here!!) I have been in the yard and puttering around the house all the time. Creativity abounds. Words flow. Still messy, but delightfully so.

The mess created over the last two years is mountainous—but I’m finding as long as I keep going (and with the occasional help of a team of gardeners), it gets better looking, which encourages me to do even more. Weird, but it’s the visual accomplishments—improvements—that keep me at it. The pressure is off (but not forgotten)—where fire safety is concerned—rain has quelled that. I’m past the “ugh—I need to get out of this mess (read: MOVE!) and start over”—I’m so glad to have moved beyond that horrible feeling of frustration. And, finally, my mind is beginning to move beyond “what’s next/now what?” to “how can I improve/beautify?” Ideas are pouring into my mind from who knows where. It’s exciting.

My messy life extends into every corner of my creativity. I find myself (finally) back to seriously working on all three of my Writerly projects—book one’s edit (so it can be republished with Inknbeans Press), book four’s edit (so it can finally be published … and book five (I am progressing in it nicely—it is an exciting “chapter” in the series). The life lessons continue through the series … and I still don’t know what the final book will be—book six? Book seven? Only my characters know for sure. They’ll clue me in at some point—hopefully.

Even my Painterly side seems to be re-ignited. I’ve acquired a new, much larger printer so I can make larger pieces of art—that definitely excites me (still have to figure out out to set it up, but that’s half the fun, right?)—I can hardly wait to begin playing with it. The funny thing is, there are only two more events (one this weekend and one the second week of December), so there’s no way I’m going to produce any new material for this year’s events. The nice thing is, that doesn’t really bother me. The important thing is that I’m re-energised … on fire. And I’m loving it!

The end of November and the whole of December are times of renewal for me … I do have personal (fun) commitments—parties, family events and outings with friends, both day and night. I am so ready to get back to being normal … it has taken two long years. God is good … especially when I remember all things can be done and will happen—in His time, not mine. So … I’m not going to waste a moment.

In the meantime, my dear readers, try not to stress over the upcoming holidays … just be in the moment, take in the joy where you can and shake off the craziness that others try to foist upon you. There is so much to be thankful for. Start counting all of those little things that help you get through each day … have a blissful, blessed Thanksgiving with family and friends, and I’ll see you just after Thanksgiving—no Black Friday for me. Maybe I’ll wander around Point Lobos or venture down into Big Sur—it’s opened partway, so it would be nice to see the area again!

And readers—watch out. Keep an eye out for New Things in the New Year.

FINAL EVENTS:
Book Signings and Art at Craft Fairs

Saturday-Sunday 18-19 November 10am-4pm
Aromas Grange, Aromas CA

Thursday-Friday 7-8 December 10am-4pm
Watsonville Community Hospital, Watsonville CA

 

 

 

Phases

LIFE IS INTERESTING. Especially the phases. You know … the phases you go through on the way to becoming an adult.

For example: I’ve always had a fascination with colours. Always. I think the fascination came from my mom—she was forever changing the colour of accent pieces in whatever house we lived in at the moment. Pinks and sky-blues were her thing. I have a lovely hutch that my parents took with them on all of their moves that has layer upon layer of paint (blue, pink … and white layers—I see it in the chipped spots). I’m reluctant to strip down that precious history to the beautiful oak woodwork … and it actually makes me giggle, because my parents (oh, lets be real—my mom) purchased a painted player piano that needed refinishing. Why the giggles? Because there was overwhelming and unsightly evidence of layer upon layer of paint. And when my mom started the stripping process, she couldn’t believe it when she found a few wallpaper layers amidst the layers of paint. Aghast at the thought of wallpaper and paint on a piano, she ranted about it. How could they?? But, I’ll ask how is that different from painting layer upon layer onto perfectly good oak wood?

I don’t think I remember much in the way of colour preferences before middle school—or maybe it was high school. Not sure. I had a phase where just about everything I possessed (even the walls of my room) was lavender. Then, I kept the lavender walls and accented with orange. And I mean bright, eye-blinding orange. Then I mixed a psychedelic checker-board black wallpaper onto a tall dresser (no squares or even rectangles–all parallelograms) with all of that—it was the sixties, after all …

Orange stayed with me for quite some time—even as a young adult. Orange and brown tones dominated my space. Then suddenly (well, it seems that way in my recollections) … pinks overtook and replaced the orange tones. Then purple, then back to pink.

One day, I sat back and looked at the collection of colours around me—pinks and blues—and I developed a serious case of the giggles. Had I finally become the “mother’s daughter”—taking on her preferences? No, I don’t think so, but those colours do dominate my surroundings—with splashes of red, browns … and purple.

My flower gardens blooms are pinks, reds and blues. Pots are blue, burnt red-orange … and green. It has to be the “right” green to set foot in my life. I tolerate oranges, but only little splashes—though I do find I like earthy tones more around Halloween and reds—lots of reds—around Christmas and Valentine’s Day.

So, are my phases becoming seasonal? I’m not sure … and I’m not sure it even matters.

I watch one of my very talented cousins, Elaine Dunham, play so freely with colour—very abstractly—and am so amazed at her final products. I’ve not been a fan of abstract art, but watching how she gets to the finished image has be appreciating it a bit more. And most of them (in my opinion) are lovely! If you are interested in abstracts, here’s a link to her work. There’s some amazing stuff there! 10/11/17 Note: She’s just added another link to her ello account.

So … I’ve started to pay closer attention to what I’m doing colour-wise—I’m still a seat-of-the-pants artisan … whether in Writerly or Painterly mode, but now I see that I need to be more mindful, even when I’m being spontaneous.

This little spontaneous trip down memory lane was fun! I find it fun to walk some of the corridors of my mind and peek through doors and windows to see what’s there. How about you? Can you tell me—and please be honest—what some of your phases were as you navigated life?

Oh … by the way—autumn is here (well, if in southern hemisphere, it’s spring, isn’t it?) and I’ve been glass pumpkin hunting to add to my collection. Enjoy the season!

Waterlogue-Glass Pumpkins

Click on it to see entire image

Investing Time

LIFE HAS ITS UPS AND DOWNS … and my life is no different. I’ve done a pretty good job keeping positive through it all. Through plenty of health issues, surgeries. Some awesome highs, like the birth of my daughter … and definite lows, like the death of family members and friends.

Through it all, I’ve managed to stay positive. Or at least pull myself up by the bootstraps, so to speak, and continue on working my way back to a good spot.

I’ve lost pets before too. As a kid, I had turtles, dogs, chickens … and more—becoming quite close to each. My very first dog—such a sweet little girl—ended up with distemper and was put down, crushing my spirits. Then my friend’s dog, along with a pack of others, managed to tear into our chicken coop—decimating the few hens I had. Crushed again. But my craving for critters kept me going, pouring my love into each animal that came into my life. Pigeons, fish, rabbits, a goose … a pony—plenty of critters.

My previous dog’s final years were miserable with Cushing’s Disease. And now, I’ve finally said good-bye to Kaeli, after she dealt with health issues for the last couple of year.

So now, I am down to a cat and a rabbit. And am already craving a dog again. A critter I can give a bear-hug to without crushing … someone that can “protect” me and my home. (And the “call” to acquire some baby chicks is almost overwhelming …) Oh, my (insert small, mischievous grin) …

My cat and I have spent many quality hours together these last few weeks … I’ve noticed that Sebastian is less aggressive now. The frustration of his old playmate ignoring him appears to be gone. I didn’t realize how much Kaeli’s inactivity and grumpiness had effected him. He’s now more loving, back to giving gentle “love bites” rather than chomping down out of frustration. Also much more kittenish—I’m loving the entertaining he’s providing.

Maybe I need to rethink the idea of “replacing” Kaeli (she, of course, can never be replaced—she was one of a kind …). At least for now—just love on the two that are present in my life. Give my bunny more attention—poor girl has a huge pen—I call it the bunny condo (so she does have the room to zip around and burrow to her hearts content)—in the back yard, but nobody to come visit her except to feed and chat now and then … kinda wish she’d been able to be in the house, but I knew the cat and dog would have been reduced her chances of survival, if ya know what I mean. I once had parakeets (I inherited them from my dad when he passed away) that had to stay outside because of my cat. They flourished for years outside in a protected area (even had a heat lamp set up for really cold days) … until one harsh winter ended up being too much for them.

Invest quality time with my little critters—that’s what I must do! They are, after all, part of the family and should be treated as such. Not an afterthought or an inconvenience. Definitely not throw-away objects, as some parts of society would make you believe.

And, since I’m not traveling this year—oh, yeah … surgery is keeping me from traveling—I can spend even more time with my critters … and my garden. Now, those are two things I can get excited about: pets and plants. Well, those and … well, just about everything in nature.

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.

Each little flower that opens,
Each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colours,
He made their tiny wings.

The rich man in his castle,
The poor man at his gate,
God made them, high or lowly,
And ordered their estate.

The purple-headed mountain,
The river running by,
The sunset, and the morning,
That brightens up the sky;

The cold wind in the winter,
The pleasant summer sun,
The ripe fruits in the garden,
He made them every one.

The tall trees in the greenwood,
The meadows where we play,
The rushes by the water,
We gather every day;

He gave us eyes to see them,
And lips that we might tell,
How great is God Almighty,
Who has made all things well.
~by Cecil Frances Alexander

Look around you. Enjoy what you see. Embrace each day anew. May this day and the week that follows be truly blessed.

Joy


I LOVE LIFE. JOY IS A LARGE PART of me — my natural state. Joy seeps into almost everything I do, think, create. I am the proverbial optimist, with my view on life being half full, rather than half empty. In life, I countered my husband’s “half-empty” attitude. We balanced each other in so many ways: my sometimes impulsive, energetic, adventuresome curiosity to his restrained, analytical reserve. We were quite a pair. To this day, I wonder how we managed to stay together “until death do us part” … but we did.

So, without him as a “governor” to reign in some of that enthusiastic energy, I seem to have higher highs … and lows that I don’t recall being there before. Maybe it’s simply my faulty memory playing tricks.

In any case, I love my half-full attitude. And this week I find my cup of joy overflowing. I’ve got pressures to meet some deadlines, NaNoWriMo is afoot and I haven’t even started … yet, I’m filled with joy.

On November 1st, I decided to begin posting my gratitudes—things I’m thankful about and for. That—and playing with my photography, using canvas to lay the image onto—seems to have pushed my joy button even more (insert giggly smiley face here). I was downright euphoric on Monday when I produced my first image. Some of my images will make their way into the Open Ground Studios show at the end of the month (through mid-January, 2016) … some will be at the book signing/art event that Aromas Hills Artisans puts on annually in November (21-22 of November this year) … and another unrelated event this weekend (Yikes! Where did the time go??). I’m tickled to be involved with both organizations … and finally have something new to show at all events (aside from my books).

So, this post… and the next several weeks (or more)—since Thanksgiving comes near the end of the month—will be about being grateful … and joy filled. We all find ourselves fretting about so much. How often do  you take a moment to think about all that you are thankful for? For me … well, I know I should be spending far more time being thankful. Here’s part of the list I started at the beginning of the month:

I am thankful for …
•met deadlines, with more to come (yes, thankful for even more pressure)
•food in the cupboards and fridge
•my dog snuggled at my feet
•the cat curled up, purring in my lap
•rain rain rain. Thank God for rain in parched California!!
•the sound of rain on my roof, running down the downspouts
•warm dry clothes on a wet day
•muted light from an overcast sky–easy on my aging eyes
•a friend’s relief from pain … and finally after so long, a diagnosis so they can move forward to manage her pain
•hot tea to sip on chilly mornings
•automatic thermostats that knows when to take the chill off the morning air
•that first long rain of the season, when everything around me is painted in deeper, richer colours
•being able to share my abundance with others
•visitations from my local deer. They are so beautiful

May your day … and the coming week be blessed with a multitude of reasons to be thankful and joy filled.

UPCOMING EVENTS (hopefully I’ll see some of you that live locally):
November 1-30 24/7
(starts and ends at midnight)
National Novel Writing Month
Write with abandon all month, aim for 50,000 words by midnight on the 30th
You can still sign-up online: NaNoWriMo.org

November 14   Saturday  9am-1pm
Craft Show w/Book Signing (and some of dj’s art)
dj jameson smith w/fellow author (mysteries), Joyce Oroz
735 Ramona Avenue, Monterey CA

November 21-22   Saturday/Sunday 9am-4pm
Aromas Hills Artisans Holiday Art (and craft) Fair w/Book Signing & art
dj jameson smith w/fellow author (mysteries), Joyce Oroz
Aromas Grange, Aromas CA

December 4   Friday 5:30-8:30pm
Co-Op Members Art Exhibition Opening and Christmas Party
Open Ground Studios, 1230 Fremont Blvd., Seaside CA
dj jameson smith will have her art on display for sale in various forms (framed, matted & unmatted pieces along with note and post cards), plus her books will be available for purchase
(the exhibition will be available for viewing from Nov 25, 2015 – Jan 20, 2016)

 

Wandering Mind…

SOMETIMES, MY MIND WANDERS (no comments from the peanut gallery, please). It’s how my creative side works, so I try to never squelch the process. Recently, I almost posted something on Facebook, but decided to hold it for this weeks blog, because as I contemplated the original thought, the more I thought this would be a better place for it.

The simple post idea grew into one of my ‘personal musings’. So, here goes:

Breakfast finished, sitting on the back porch on a cool, grey morning. It will change. The forecast is for 80 degrees today. I look forward to it. But for now, I will enjoy the still morning.
Listening to the jays calling out between each other, morning doves and rock pigeons (at least, that’s what I call them. They look like ring-neck morning doves on mega doses of steriods with their beautiful grey feathers and white ‘collar’, but sound like pigeons) cooing in the distance and faint—very faint echos of a plane overhead. Off to my right, an occasional ‘chirp’ of a hummer as the buzzing of its wings makes its presence known.

The air fluctuates between stillness and gentle gusts, stirring the cool morning air. My chimes, all over the yard, resonating as the breezes and the chimes play tag.

I bought and hung a new, much deeper toned triangular chime at Costco just before I left on my trip (oh, my—that was over two months ago, already!) It rests under the eaves edge, so it doesn’t pick up just any breeze that passes through. I finally heard it for the first time the other day and cringed at the discordant tones. I even contemplated taking it back. I wanted ‘pretty’ tones, not the harsh, clashing noises it was making. But today, I heard it again, playing, intertwined with the other sounds—the other chimes, the singing of birds and the discordance somehow fit together nicely. Pleasing, even if a bit jagged around the edges.

Isn’t that how life is: all warm and fuzzy, rolling along smoothly one minute, then some jarring life experience blocks our way, making any forward progress nigh to impossible to proceed?

We can choose to give into it—turn around and go back; fight it—ending up bruised and scarred from the battle, losing momentum or even forgetting where we were headed in the first place; or we can go around it—no matter where it may take us, finding the original path just beyond its borders.

Going around it allows for discovery of other things along the way. New experiences to enrich our lives. Lessons learned. Perhaps, even strengthening us for the next obstacle.

A good example (though on the benign side) is one of the many experiences my daughter and I had on our first trip abroad: inevitably, as we drove through countryside into towns, we would get lost. In almost every single town. Without exception. Had my husband been with us, it would have caused him to become extremely agitated, making for unpleasant company. It was just the way he chose to respond to situations. My daughter? Well, she (the navigator) was getting frustrated because it felt like we were constantly getting lost.

Lost. What is it to be lost? The dictionary says, “unable to find one’s way; not knowing one’s whereabouts”. Were we really lost? I think not.

I chose to look at our recurring ‘situation’ differently, in a lighter, more carefree view. In this Old World, so very new to us, everywhere and everything was a wonderful experience waiting for us to discover. Even wrong turns produced awe-inspiring views to soak up. So, why be frustrated? When life pummels you with lemons, make lemonade, right?

Make the most of what you are given, whatever it may be. Incorporate it into your life and enjoy it. Live joyfully. Be thankful.

I lost my husband of thirty-plus years. Devastating. Life-altering. How does one live joyfully with that circumstance?

I could have been angry and/or saddened (well, I was—both—for a short while) that I was now alone in the world, without my life partner to support me, to confide with, to enjoy life with. But I chose to sidestep the grief and anger, to allowed myself to grow. And flourish. Growing in ways I would never have with him by my side. Flourishing, trying things I would never have thought to try while my life-partner was there to lean on.

Creating a new path.

One for me to explore—with all of its ups and downs, delights and challenges, enriching my life day by day. I know, with God’s help (He is always at my side), that I’ll do more than just ‘get through’ each day, I’ll become a better person than I was the day before.

Living joyfully. Thank you, Lord!

Ebb and Flow

AS I WANDER AROUND MY YARD, I am constantly reminded how much effort it takes to keep the balance between Mother Nature’s natural desires to grow — to take over, really — and man’s desires to control that rampant growth.  Maintaining and ‘growing’ a yard, no matter what the size, takes plenty of enthusiasm, creativity…and energy.  Oh.  All of those, coupled with massive funds to make it happen. I have oodles of the first two.

It’s those every-elusive energy and funds that are my nemeses.  I have so many projects that have been started, my mind filled with ideas of grandeur, to make this my little piece of heaven on earth.  It’s the getting it done…finding the energy — and/or the money — to complete the jobs that fail me…quite often.  There are times I feel like chucking it all and huddling in some small apartment with no garden at all.  Let the manager deal with keeping everything green.  But, the itch returns and I’ve got to get out there and dabble.  I love gardening.  I love creating.  I just wish I could win the lottery and have buckets of money to throw at gardeners and landscape designers so they could build what my mind creates!

Don’t we all…

But, it boils down to a simple question.  I may want, but do I need all of this fancy-dancy stuff I’ve created in my mind?  To keep my sanity I need to ask, just what do I need?

A roof over my head (check–a more than adequate roof); money to give back to my church, support my sponsored kids, feed & care for myself and my critters (check, check, check…); a place I can be, whether at home or when traveling, where I can re-energize and express my creativity…both the artistic and writerly sides.  That’s not much of a ‘need’ list, really.  But I keep coming back to the actual ‘need’ — the desire to have so many critters.  I love them all dearly.  Clearly.  But can I care for them they way they deserve?  Probably not.

So, I am slowly winnowing my possessions, both animate and inanimate.  A long, slow, and painful process, to be certain.  But something that must be done if I am to be able to do anything more than just ‘maintain’.  I am looking for a sustained existence.  A simplified existence, where I can focus without so much clutter in my mind and life.

This is what is important in life…to be able to focus on what really matters:  God, family, friends and, of course, my artistic outlets…engaging in life on a simpler level.  It is as simple as that.  But it’s the getting there that is the hard part.

So, I begin.  Right now.

May your days be filled with simple beginnings, blossoming into a meaningful life that is more than just maintained.

Loss and Coping

IT SEEMS, 2012 WAS A YEAR OF LOSS for so many of my friends.  As we headed into the new year, yet another friend was admitted to the hospital…what a way to end the year.  As I write this, I know he has lost his battle to remain with us — and is now home with his Father in heaven.  My prayers continue to go out to his family, for strength, courage and peace for all of them to more that endure whatever lies ahead.

That is my wish for anyone dealing with any kind of illness, whether it leads to a physical death or simply a lingering, chronic issue — even financial issues that threaten to smother — things that one must live with daily.  Strength, peace…courage live beyond it.

There is loss that friends — anyone, actually — find themselves dealing with.  The death, or loss, of being actively healthy, unable to engage in normal activities.  This loss is something that some don’t know how to cope with when the situation confronts them.  Finding strength to carry on, often times with overwhelming limitations can be extremely difficult.  Peace of mind, knowing that quality of life can exist, even with these limitations is so hard to grasp.

Facebook (all those shared posts) — and the internet as a whole — is filled with examples of how people have overcome adversity in their life and not just trudged through life, “getting by”, but embraced and celebrated their life, living it to its fullest extent.  It is a mind-set, to be sure — how one looks at things.  The proverbial “half-full vs half-empty” cup in ones life.  But, it also takes courage.  Strength.  And faith, whether in oneself or in a higher power.

Personally, this soul believes in that higher power as the absolute, main source to draw from to garner the courage, the faith, the strength — and anything else needed to carry on.  That Someone to lean on.   He has helped me through so many problems, carrying me, lifting me up when I am down; opening my eyes to the beauty around me when all I can see is dark shadows and despair.  Helping me to move beyond the pain that I live with daily.  I am so glad that I never have to worry about Him ever leaving me.  He will be with me to help me through each day, unlike some people in our lives that come and go.  Life is ever changing.  He never changes.  He remains faithful to his promises.

My life is richer.  More fulfilling.  Yes, still dealing with pain which will progressively worsen, but there is so much more to life than this pain.  Way too much to let it get in the way.  I’ve decided (there’s that mind-over-matter thing) that I’d much rather live my life to its fullest extent than let life simply pass me by.  To let pain hold me back.  It’s just too darn beautiful out there.  Too many wonderful experiences, people to meet, and interactions to be embraced to let the shadows overwhelm life.

If each of us could do that — engage in life, rather than merely live it, grumbling about our fate, trudging through life from day to day, our lives would be so much richer, whether we have overwhelming odds to deal with or whether it is just the “normal” ups and downs that occur in each of our lives.

May your life be coloured with a rainbow of experiences, creating a beautifully rich, complex portrait, with Light overshadowing the darkness.