Kindness Begins With Me

A check list

From Sweatpants and Coffee.  There’s a lot of great wisdom there.

If you’re anything like me, you’re completely  fed up with the downright ugliness of social media.  To me, what it boils down to is this:

Who I voted for (or who you think I voted for)  does not make it okay for you to insult me. Or anyone else either.  If you disagree with me?  Again, it’s not okay to insult my intelligence, my integrity, or my compassion for others.  If asked for an opinion and I give it?  Let’s just say that STFU is not an appropriate response.  Yes, I’m a woman, but please don’t tell me what I should think just because I am a woman.

There’s a serious lack of filters out there these days and I hate it.  Part of it is social media widens our “circle” to see comments, attitudes, and opinions of perfect strangers who are nothing more than a tiny little box beside their name. For the most part, I think many of these strangers are far too comfortable being rude and insulting to people that they don’t know.  I ask myself this question all the time:  If this conversation happened in line at the coffee shop, would they say this to my face?  Or do they gather their boldness from the anonymity of the on-line arena?  I think it’s probably the latter.  The Pollyanna in me likes to find the good in people but lately that’s been difficult.  And it’s not just with respect to politics that I see the sad decline of civility.  Even on forums dedicated to something as wonderful as sharing the love for our pets, a disagreement over  advice to seek veterinary care often ends up with name calling and nasty comments about the poster’s appearance. (I know.  It’s crazy, right?  And mean.  It’s just mean.)  I bite my tongue on a daily basis rather than get involved in the ugly mess.  When I’m not successful and have lapse in judgment and think maybe my opinion does matter, well, there’s usually someone who comes along to set me straight.  In the end, I’m just not offering up my thoughts publicly all that often anymore.  There’s a lot of toxic comments and as a result, toxic emotions.  Hate is strong word, but there’s an awful lot of it out there these days.  And I have to ask, whatever happened to the Golden Rule?  (And guess what??  It’s not just a Christian thing either.)  This blogger has a great post about it and she is spot on when she says, “Stop for a moment and just imagine the impact it would have if every single one of us throughout the world took the spirit of these guidelines to heart and put them into practice in our day-to-day lives.

Finally, I know that there’s not a lot that I can do about it.  Except this:  I can be kind; kindness begins with me.  And hopefully more people, discouraged by the hate and incivility around us, will eventually opt to be the change they want to see as well.  I fear that without it, we’re sunk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lists. Lists. Lists.

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We all make them.  Or at least many of us do.  The grocery list (which I always leave at home).  The Christmas list.  The weekly meal plan list.  The “honey do” list.  The list goes on and on.  Pun intended.

A.S. Byatt is quoted as saying, “Lists are a form of power.”

I confess that I am a list maker.  I also have a love of blank notebooks and journals.  Not because I’m dedicated to writing down my innermost thoughts, but rather because I write things down that I wan’t to remember.

Quotes.  Books to read.  Books read.  Yarns to try.  Places to visit.  Wines I like.  Gifts to buy.  Brilliant ideas (at least to me).  And all these tidbits are scattered around in various journals.

So it was only natural that about 6 months ago while I was trolling on Pinterest and started to see these journals in my feed, that they caught my eye in a big way.  Lovely, beautiful, filled with doodles, journals that were more like agendas and art all rolled into one.  In case you’ve never heard of it, the phenomenon is called a Bullet Journal, or BuJo for short.  It’s the brainchild of Ryder Carroll, a digital product designer from New York.  I encourage you to look at his website and watch his videos.

THEN go to Pinterest and see what the artsy crowd have done with it. Holy Moly!  That’s what snagged my attention.  I’m a doodler:  I like to play with markers, watercolor pencils, and washi tape.  I admit, that it was a  little overwhelming at first so I started small.  I tiny little notebook that bought at Barnes and Noble.   It’s American-made  (which is a plus) by Gallery Leather in Maine.  I love this little book for its portability.  I used it mainly as a daily log of activities.  Each day I set up the next day’s to-do list and worked from there.  I also added events and such as they happened and played around with some artwork.  It was a small investment to see how I like the BuJo concept.  The only drawback on this one was the pages were lined.

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I used this notebook for just shy of 6 months.  And somewhere along the line I just stopped.  Not sure why or how it happened.  But a few weeks ago I came to the realization that I really was more productive when I had that little book in use.  I decided to give it another whirl:  this time with the “holy grail” of BuJo’s, a Leuchtturm 1917.  It’s a very well made sewn book from Germany that comes in a lot of colors and sizes. And it has lay-flat pages!   I decided to take the plunge and bought the A5 size (dotted pages) in lime green.  It’s a beauty.

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I will start using this journal on daily basis next week.  I’ve only got March set up for now.  I will say that deciding how I wanted to organize it took me quite a while.  Once I’d done a few weekly pages like the one above, they went pretty quickly.

I’m sure as I go along I will find what works for me and what doesn’t work and make some adjustments.   That’s the beauty of a custom notebook.  It’s all YOU.  I saw a somewhat critical reply to a friend on Facebook as she brought up the idea of a BuJo.  Critics will say it’s costly to do, takes too much time, etc.  But for me, like others who enjoy it, the process of making it is part of the pleasure.  As for cost, I only bought the notebook and a couple of rolls of washi tape so I have less than $25 in it.   I had everything else that I’ve used so far.  The pens are a favorite of mine from Staedtler that you can usually pick up at Michaels or Hobby Lobby.  The brush pen I grabbed at Dick Blick in Chicago.  There are few types to choose from online.  And of course, if you check out the website of the creator, his wasn’t artsy at all.  Just functional and tailored to his needs: all he needed was a journal and pen.

And besides keeping you organized. . .journaling has other benefits as well.  Try it!  You might find it’s just what you need.

 

 

 

Alphabet Advice

 

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Ask questions.

Be kind.

Create.  A poem, a garden, a quilt: create what makes you happy.

Doodle often and let your mind wander.

Explore the world around you.

Find happiness.

Go for a run.

Hug your kid often.

Inspire others to be their best.

Jump life’s puddles.

Keep it real.

Love well.

Make a joyful noise.

Never say never.

Open your eyes.

Pick your friends carefully.

Quit whining.

Read a book.  Read MANY books!

Slow down.  Breathe.  Create calm.

Think before you speak.

Use a napkin.

Vanquish negativity.

Write letters – the real kind.  Use a stamp!

X-marks the spot.  Find a place that makes you happy.

Yield when necessary.

Zigzag.  Take time to wander off the path.

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Monday Musings

Hello, peeps!  I’m having sort of a lazy Monday morning to finish off a pretty lazy weekend.  I had an acquaintance (notice how I didn’t say friend?)  ask me what I’d “been up to” lately.  I don’t cross paths with this person often so that’s probably a fair question.  A few answers came to mind.

  1.  Well, I’ve spent the last year recovering from a traumatic accident and surgery.
  2. I’ve been solving all the world’s problems like famine, disease, and terrorism.
  3. Spiritually? Physically? Socioeconomically?
  4. I’m alright, slight bruises here and there, nothing i can’t handle (this is probably close to the truth).
  5. Today I’m a rutabaga, but tomorrow I’m thinking I’ll be a coconut.

But what I actually said was, “Nothing much.  Same old stuff.”  This must not have been the answer she was looking for because after few more minutes she repeated the question.  And then followed up with the zinger:

Haven’t you gotten bored yet since you aren’t working?

WHAT?  Bored?  Me?  She must not know me well at all.  Now, you must keep in mind that I have never in 22 years known this woman to “work”.  She stayed home with her children (which is ALL KINDS OF WORK) but did not have a job outside the home.  Then after the divorce, she lived off support from her ex-husband and talked about trying to decide what to do with herself. She did that for years.  And all of that is fine. Fine for her, but apparently not for me because she was all sorts of judgmental about me not working  for the last 6 years.  Never mind that I put in 25 years teaching science to high school students!  In the end, I just shrugged her off and said, “I knit.  I read. I have hobbies. I keep busy.”

But last night at meditation class, a retired friend said, “We are’human beings’ not ‘human doings’.  The meaning of life is to live it fully in each moment.  Our worth doesn’t come from a job.” She makes an excellent point!!  And she also pointed out that they aren’t hobbies at all; they are passions.  And she’s right again!

So here’s what I’ve “been up to” in the last few weeks.

  1.  Hubby and I put in a no-dig fence for  the dogs.  It’s not a tall fence, but it looks nice and works for our two dogs.  The golden is too old and not a jumper or otherwise we would have needed a taller option.
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Shawzy looking out.  She’s adorable, is she not?

2.  I finished up a few knitting projects.  One,  a pair of socks for the hubby (to be discussed at another time) . The other is a baby sweater for a friend.  I think the sweater turned out quite cute.  Entirely made from leftover sock yarn.  One solid gray and the other a self-striping.  Thrifty and cute both.

3.  Exploring local coffee shops.  I take my dog to Pittsfield, IL to be groomed.  While I wait, I support the local economy.  There’s a gift shop, a diner, and a coffee shop that I love there.  Not to mention a few antique shops.   Free Press Coffee and Tea is a favorite.  Great atmosphere (and it’s attached to a historic hotel), good coffee, and even some gluten-free choices (with more to come).  It was pouring down rain last week when I was there so it was a cozy place to kill some time reading and enjoying a breve.  (We did have snow on Saturday though!)

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Free Press Coffee last winter.

While I was there I bought a cup to add to my hand-thrown coffee cup collection.  I love it.  It makes me happy having my tea in it.  Small pleasures.  Isn’t it a beauty?

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Cup by local artists at Crooked Clay Creations.  

4.  Yoga.  I’ve started a gentle yoga class to help improve my core strength in the hope it will alleviate some back pain.  It saddened me a little to feel like the youngest member in the class, but it’s okay.  I like it.  I love the instructor who’s very helpful at guiding me away from moves that might cause me trouble.  She’s one of the those people that you meet and know instantly that you could be great friends. AND, I’ve flexed my stiff spine in ways that it hasn’t been in over a year.  That’s a good thing.  I pay for it a bit afterwards, but that’s getting better too!   I’m only going once a week since it’s a 40 minute drive, but I bought a DVD to try to add a couple of days on my own at home. I’ve committed to 10 weeks and from there we shall see.  Maybe I’ll switch classes or add another class to the schedule.

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A class at my yoga studio.  Not MY class (notice the “youngsters”).  My class would look much more “mature”.

5.  Reading.  Always a given.  But this time I am reading a book that I have looked at many times but always put it back.  I don’t care for the circus.  Never have.  I’m not sure why either.  I just don’t like them. I’m not sure what kept drawing me to this book but I can’t tell you how many times I read the blurb on the back.   We have a locally owned bookstore that I try to support,  so last week I didn’t put the book back on the shelf.  Instead, Andy wrapped it up for me in brown paper.  (I love that old-fashioned nod to times past.)

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Isn’t it lovely?  Sort of like a living room filled with friends.

Anyway, the book that followed me home is The Night Circus.  It’s very well written.  Reads like a dream. . .both literally and figuratively.  It’s not what I expected.  It’s much, much better.  It’s not a dash to the end, it’s more of a slow contemplating read with stops to imagine the magical circus the author has created.  And I think it may be one of those books that I will be sad to see it end.

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6.  Watching Blackhawks hockey with the family!

7.  Getting my pictures in order so that I can begin the scrapbook of last year’s vacation.  I think I’m about ready to start it.  It’s an overwhelming number of pictures to sort through.  Plus the idea of telling the story which turned out so different than we had planned. I know I’ll cry often while I do it.   It’s daunting.  But soon I will get to it.

8.  Laundry.  Cooking.  Cleaning.  Grocery shopping.  And all the other mundane things we do to keep a house running.

9.  Tangling.  Doodling.  And drawing.

10. Cleaning up the yard and raking leaves.  I love my big trees – but oh my- the number of leaves to rake!

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The front yard leaves.  Doesn’t include the back yard at all.  That’s a ditch under there.

11.  Sometimes I just sit in my chair with the dog on my lap.  Small pleasures. (Again.)

So!  That’s what I’ve been up to.  It’s been pretty damn awesome too.  Part of me wonders if that acquaintance can say the same.

 

New Favorites (and a few old ones too)

Holy cow!  Has it really been a month since I wrote a post here??  I’d like to say I have been really busy.  Really, really, super busy.  But maybe not.  So what little thing triggered the response that led to this blog post?  Well, another blog of course!!!  Which is my first new favorite.

Rubber Shoes in Hell.  Seriously, what a great name!  I love quirky titles on anything.  Yarn.  Books.  Blogs.  Wine, even.  And this one is a gem.  Maybe it’s the fact that we are both women of a “similar age”?  Or that we the share experience of raising a son?  Perhaps a similar sense of humor.  Or that some of the discussions with her husband remind me of the tenor discussions with my own?  Or that we both think Donald Trump is a narcissist? Whatever the reason, I love this blog and encourage you take a peek.


“Captain Serious” kisses the cup.

Blackhawks Hockey.  My gosh, what a long dry summer without hockey to watch especially on the heels of the Stanley Cup win.  But theeeeeeyyyyy’rrrrre baaaaaack…but without a few of my favorites.  Losing Brandon Saad was heartbreaking.  Same with Patrick Sharp.  And there were others.  Several.  The words “SALARY CAP” are definitely not favorites of any hockey fan.  Or player.  Or team for that matter.


Photo credit: Jessfuel.com

Photo credit: Jessfuel.com

Zoodles.  A.K.A. Zucchini noodles.  I’ve been making them for years now using a vegetable peeler for ribbon-like noodles.  But they got so much better when I bought a spiral slicer.  If you want to see how I make them, check it out here on the Against All Grain blog.  She has some great grain free recipes.  I wrote about the slow cooker Moroccan chicken recipe some time ago.  Since then I’ve made it again. . . only not in the slow cooker and I found it to be better.  And the “cauliflower cous cous” is the best stuff for those who’ve given up grain.  But back to the zoodles.  I use them instead of spaghetti and they are awesome!!  Just make to use at least one zuke per person because they sort of shrink down a bit.


I love it so much!!

I love it so much!!

A song from this album came on the radio last weekend and I fell in love with it all over again.


Biscotte Yarn

Now I haven’t actually touched this yarn.  I hope it feels as nice as it looks.  The self-striping colorways are just beautiful and I can’t wait to knit with it.  (If you read the Rubber Shoes in Hell blog post from above, this might make great fin mittens for homeless sharks!)

Clown fish colorway will become a pair of Dory socks!

Clown fish colorway will become a pair of Dory socks!


Fog – A Favorite Poem

FYI. I couldn’t find information to credit this photo. I think it’s beautiful and the photographer (not me) did a great job capturing the mood. And it was perfect for illustrating one of my favorite poems.

The fog comes
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.
– Carl Sandburg

Hair. . . not the musical.

Hair, hair, hair.Flow it, show it,
Long as God can grow it, my hair

Over my morning cup of Earl Grey, I read this blog this morning.  It had me chuckling.  And thinking about my own bad hair days.  So rather than leave one long, long reply to her post I decided to just put it here.  So, without further ado, I give you my chronological tale of bad hair days:

1962:  My parents always laughed about how little hair I had and what I did have was almost transparent and stood straight up.  I sported a lot of spit in my hair in those days to try to get it to lay flat.  Not mine.  My mom’s. Ewwwww.

Spit -optional hair.  Finally.

Spit-optional hair. Finally.

It took a few years. . . but I did grow some nice hair (ok, maybe not those bangs – but I can’t take the blame for that.)

This was nice hair.

Vintage 1967. This was nice hair.

1967:  I twirled my shoulder length hair around my finger one too many times causing  my mother to snatch me up and take me to her butcher beautician for the first of many pixie cuts. (The style haunted me for YEARS to come.)  This prompted one of our neighbors to forever call me “Boy”.  But it was the 1960’s and Twiggy made the style at least somewhat popular at the time.  Maybe on a twenty-something in a micro-mini dress, go-go boots and spidery eyelashes (which are back in style again).  On me it was just a boy cut.

Behold:  The pixie cut.

Behold: The pixie cut.

Thankfully, I can’t locate a picture of the “shag”.   Think Brady Bunch mom haircut.  It. Was. All sorts of awful.  My grandmother thought it was silly and cut it off with her sewing scissors.  My mom actually suggested that I should have stopped my grandma from doing this but she fell silent when I asked if she would have stopped her.  It eventually it grew out but maybe not in a good way.

The awkward middle school years.

The awkward middle school years.

High school and college was a mix of the wedge haircut made popular by Dorothy Hamill and swoopy Farah Fawcett hair.

Why so glum?

Vintage 1978 – Why so glum?

And then the 1980’s happened and bad hair was EVERYWHERE.  Seriously.  I’m not sure why I ever thought perms were a good idea.  But it led to what I call my Olivia Newton-John look. Or at least how she looked in Grease. . . only without the hoochie mama black paint-on pants.  Thankfully, one thing I didn’t do was mess with the color of my hair.

I think the dog asked, "Are you my mother?"

I think the dog asked, “Are you my mother?”

It should be noted that In the late 80’s I broke my hand and had trouble styling my hair for a wedding.  My mom suggested that I go the beauty school and let them do it for me. One of the most awful hair experiences of my life. Both the style AND the fact that the mother and child in the chair next to mine were found to have head lice.  (You’re scratching now aren’t you?)  Let me tell you,  head lice cause quite a commotion at the beauty school.  I cried in the car on the way home.  But. . . my boyfriend at the time did the unthinkable and put my hair in hot rollers for me.  And it looked pretty darn good.  But what it showed me was that this awesome guy (who was actually a cop and not a hairdresser) was a keeper.  Next year we will have been married 24 years.

The 1990’s brought marriage and motherhood.  .  . and the return of the pixie  in various forms.  Our nephew recently saw a picture from those days, looked at me and said, “never do that again.”  Lol.  But honestly, I do love the simplicity of short hair.  It was so easy.  Even if it didn’t look great.   Pictures of cute short hair cuts always catch my eye.  I have to tell myself that I’ve waited too long to have enough hair to actually style.

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Vintage 2004. The pixie revisited.

And then we bought a motorcycle.  And what a helmet does to short hair is unspeakable.  So I started growing it out again.  It’s the longest I think it’s ever been and t’s kind of fun now that I have more time to actually mess with it.

Vintage 2014:  Classic.

Vintage 2014: Classic.

There you have it.  My evolution.

And a parting thought:

Truth.

Truth.

15 Random Facts

1.  I always wanted to be a park ranger.  I majored in Biology, but looking back (because hindsight is always better, right?), I should have double majored in Art.  And what did I end up with as a career?  Science education.

2.  I was supposed to go to college in Colorado, but sort of at the last minute I changed my mind and attended Illinois College.  My mom’s alma mater as well.  And will be my son’s too.

3. Many years ago I received a subpoena to testify hearing for a DUI case involving a local guy. Later I married the arresting officer. We’ve been married almost 24 years despite the threat to find us in contempt of court for the flirting outside the courtroom!

4. I’m an only child and I didn’t mind it at all.

5. My dream house would be in the mountains.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6.  I love riding on the back of my husband’s Harley.

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2013 Headed home from South Dakota.

7.  I can play the violin (but not very well anymore).

8.  I’m a whiskey girl.  Scotch or bourbon.  Either is good.  But Redbreast is delicious.

9.  There are too many books and too little time.  I’m a voracious reader.

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One of many.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10.  I was pretty much ambidextrous as a kid. Teachers made me choose. So I write right handed but do many other things left handed. And am left eye dominant which my eye doc says probably makes me genetically a lefty.

11.  I’m a Chicago Blackhawks fan.

2013 First game of the Stanley Cup playoffs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12.  I think a winery is a perfect place to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Spirit Knob Winery, Ursa, IL

Spirit Knob Winery, Ursa, IL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

13.  Without my husband to keep me in check, I would probable be a “crazy cat lady”.

My "Betsy Boo".

My “Betsy Boo”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14.  I am fascinated by old abandoned houses and barns.

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An abandoned house in Greene County, Illinois.

15.  I love country music and the radio station in my car rarely moves from The Highway.