Tuesday, December 31, 2013

December And Year End Reflections

Although I wrote about dropping a few balls again this holiday season, there was quite a bit of successful juggling in December!  As I reflect on this past year, much of what was most important for the entire year has also turned out to be what I was best at juggling this month.

Journeying along creative pathways, both personally and professionally… 

   I was very grateful for an enjoyable, successful holiday fair at Bella’s Studio earlier this month (despite the comedy of errors which unfolded that weekend - husband out of town, child care challenges, car trouble!)  I was also so very grateful for friends coming to my rescue and helping me clear all the expected and unexpected hurdles.  Whew!

   Making time to make a special Christmas gift for our daughter was a top priority.  She had asked me for a scarf handmade with upcycled souvenir t-shirts, similar to one I made for myself with old Monterey Jazz Festival tees.  I designed our daughter's scarf with her toddler tees from the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Yosemite, The Living Desert in Palm Desert and Ten Thousand Waves in Santa Fe and embellished some of the panels with sweet flowers from my button collection.  I had enough leftover scraps to make a mini scarf for her favorite “stuffie,” too!  Because sewing doesn’t come as naturally to me as collaging and papercrafting, this project was a positive way to challenge myself and work on sewing skills while creating something meaningful in the process (and whittling away at our daughter’s cluttered room!)

   I've had fun stepping into a brand new role as an after-school enrichment teacher at our daughter’s school.  I’m in the midst of an 8-week session, teaching a papercraft class for 3rd through 5th graders, and it’s such a treat to offer creative inspiration to children.  This month’s lessons included winter/holiday notecards and gift tags as well as butterfly and heart bookmarks. 


   I was thrilled when custom order opportunities arose this month with individual clients as well as a new wholesale partner, The Quail And Olive, a rustically elegant olive oil tasting room in Carmel Valley.

   Participating in a fellow blogger’s (Dawn of Candidly Clyde) ornament swap was a fun way to make another connection in this vast online world while enjoying handcrafting ornaments for my swap partner, Meagan.  We were obviously on the same wavelength as we exchanged mittens, Meagan's with a festively filled bauble and mine with a button and jingle tree which I decorated in one of Meagan's favorite holiday color combinations, teal and silver!

Healing, physically and emotionally…

   As mentioned in my last post, although improving, fatigue still hovers over me.  As I work on becoming more in tune with my body and its needs and better self-care, I’m trying to make more room in my schedule for slowing down, relaxing and sleeping, even in the midst of the busy holiday season.

   The sacredness of “me time” during CHOMP’s monthly healing art retreat was a welcome respite for my body and soul during this fast paced month.  (One of this month's directives was illustrating ourselves as a tree created upside down, then positioned right side up against a background representative of a healing environment.)

Volunteering and helping others…

   My December responsibilities in the classroom and as the 3rd grade “Picture of the Month” art docent at our daughter’s school ranged from “place value” bingo and gingerbread houses to Winslow Homer’s 19th century American art!


  I wish I had the power to banish serious challenges facing some of my loved ones, but since I’m not a “superheroine,” I’ve been trying to do my best as a mere mortal with a listening ear, an encouraging voice, positivity, healing energy, comforting pots of homemade soup and much love.

Spending time with family and friends...

   Beach walks are always on the calendar, even in months like this one when the calendar is extremely full!

Each celebration this holiday season, whether lively or low key, has been a wonderful opportunity to savor time with loved ones.

As this year comes to a close, may we each take with us into the New Year the memories, experiences, emotions and gratitude that warm our hearts and fuel our souls. 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Shedding Unwanted Weight

Christmas afternoon at the beach...where any weightiness is easily shed

Today’s post hopes to find you enjoying this holiday season merrily, joyfully and peacefully!  I’ve obviously been absent from blogland for the past three weeks, and although I’m very grateful our Christmas season has been filled with love, happiness and time to celebrate with family and friends, I’ve admittedly battled some frustration with and disappointment in myself.  I’ve been weighted down by resulting guilt while trying to keep up with December’s busy pace and feeling as though I’ve done a poor job. 
Seven months beyond my last chemo treatment, my head thinks I should have fully bounced back to my “normal” energy level while my body lets me know this is not the case.  My stamina has improved, but fatigue still sets in when I push myself too hard.  After each set of late nights pulled, I’d barely be able to keep my eyes open and would need to go to bed earlier for a few nights in order to recuperate.  I’m also not the adept multitasker I used to be and am more easily overwhelmed, adding to bouts of tiredness.  Trying to juggle too much all at once is definitely more challenging, and as shared in a past holiday post, I now have a tendency to drop a few balls.  For the second year in a row, I dropped balls on mailing Christmas cards (which I’ll be transforming into New Year’s greetings) and long distance gifts (which will finally be making their way to the post office this week) and remaining active in the blogging community and other online communities.  Hopefully, friends and relatives can still sense deeply heartfelt sentiments despite my tardiness, and hopefully, those of you who journey with me on Paper And Ponder are still here!
Last night, the thought that popped into my mind was the common goal of shedding unwanted pounds after indulging during the holidays.  I must focus on shedding the weightiness of frustration and disappointment in myself and the accompanying guilt!  I doubt I’ll ever return to my former self, the ultimate organizer, planner and multitasker with a seemingly endless supply of stamina, and I'm realizing what’s better is to aspire toward a more reasonably paced schedule (when possible!), a more manageable list of expectations and a greater tolerance of my own imperfections and shortcomings. 
Rather than squeezing every last thing into the already crowded nooks and crannies of my December calendar, this year I tried my best to focus somewhat limited energy on fulfilling commitments, both personally and professionally, devoting time to creative projects, savoring family time and being more present in the here and now.  I’m assuring myself that the balance of my list will eventually be accomplished, and all will end up well.
By shedding this unwanted weight, my spirit will surely feel lighter and reenergized.  What burdens do you wish to shed?  May we all feel lighter and brighter as we head into the New Year!







Monday, December 9, 2013

From "Brrr" To Bright

Today’s garden observations ranged from “brrr” to bright!  Temperatures here have been dipping down unusually low in the past several days.  Our fountain rarely freezes over, but has done so twice in the past week, prompting chilly memories of the two severe winters we endured in Minnesota while my husband was attending graduate school.

Our vegetable garden has also been frosty.  Icy crystals lingered on some of the kale leaves this morning. 
Meanwhile, a couple new calendula blossoms were as perky and bright as those which bloomed in much warmer weather, their colorful petals an unexpected, but welcome contrast amidst this strange cold snap of ours.   
A bright spot amidst the "brrr!"