Moving Day!

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I finally decided to move my blog to my own domain, which allows me much great control and flexibility where the blog design is concerned. This has proved to be both a fun and useful learning curve for me. I’m still tweaking a few things, but I could be doing that forever. So without further ado, here is my new site. Come visit and remember to update your feedreader or resubscribe.

Happy Birthday, UT

It’s still hard for me to realize that my uncle is no longer with us, having passed away suddenly this past June. It just doesn’t seem right. He was just too young, even in his late 60’s.

He and I had a running joke over the years. Every year when August rolled around, I was faithful to acknowledge his birthday – usually with a gift card to Amazon or one of his other favorite places. And every year, I would get a thank you from him, reminding me that while the anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood fell in August, his birthday wasn’t until September. And yet I continued to make the mistake several years running. After a while, I just did it on purpose, and he always got such a kick out of the fact that I remembered both dates.

Oh yes, UT, I remember. I remember lots of good conversations, good meals, hilarious emails and much more. And I remember TODAY is your birthday and today we celebrate your life!

A Gift of Geraniums

I was gifted today with this beautiful picture of geraniums by a very sweet and encouraging friend. She thought it would go well with my yellow room, and indeed it will.

Not only is it beautiful, but it reminds me that we do not create in a vacuum, that our journey is linked and intertwined with others as they affirm and encourage us and as we seek to do the same.

And did you know you can overwinter geraniums? Not that I’m garden-savvy enough to ever make that happen, but it speaks to me of the resilience of life. It reminds me of this past winter, when I fanned the flame of dying embers in our woodstove, endeavoring to bring it to life again without a match. And I did. Even when on the surface, life and growth appear to be waning, we can hold on to hope; we can pray with the psalmist, “Do it again, God!” (Psalm 126, MSG) and we can trust that God is at work in all the seasons of our lives!

The Accident Clause

My husband, aka Mr. Safety (and quite proud of his role as safety captain in elementary school), have an ongoing discussion about safety and accident prevention. He subscribes wholeheartedly to “all accidents are preventable,” an idea that is fed by and supported in his corporate work environment, and with good reason.

I, on the other hand, tend to shy away on this one. In theory, it sounds good. But in my opinion, what matters most is what happens if an accident actually happens. Above all, I think there needs to be a focus on forgiveness and grace rather than faultfinding, which is how I perceive the “all accidents are preventable” idea.

Last night, I made a late evening grocery store run. As I drove down the dimly lit back road that runs behind the local park, I caught my breath as I became aware of a giant buck poised at the edge of the road. A wave of gratitude washed over me as I drove by, thankful that we did not meet in an unpleasant encounter. The thought occurred to me, what if I had hit him?  I was not driving fast, and always attempt to stay alert on that road. Would it have been preventable? Yes, I realized; it was preventable. Mr. Deer could have paused to look both ways before darting into oncoming traffic on a dark night.

I know it’s silly, but in that moment, I realized I’d been hearing the accident clause completely wrong. Through my personal filter, I’d been hearing, “I can prevent all accidents.” Suddenly I understood. Perhaps all (or at least most) accidents are preventable. But I am not responsible for preventing all accidents! How freeing.

And then I realized this probably extends into other areas of my life, where I tend to assume way more responsibility than I need to. I can’t prevent every accident. I can’t ward off every problem. And I am not responsible for the responses of others. I don’t mean this in a
“throws up hands, it’s not my problem” manner. It’s just a growing awareness of what I can control – my actions, my attitudes and my responses. And letting go of that which I have no control over. Again, how freeing.

So what do you think about the “all accidents are preventable” statement? And do you tend to assume more responsibility than is warranted at times? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

White or White?

Did you know how many shades of white there are? If you’re looking for updates on “the room,” well, join the club – so am I! And it’s white of all things that has me stuck now. Should I paint straight out-of-the-can white, or a tint (still white but with the edge taken off). If I use the tint, will really white shelves on the walls look bad? THIS, people, is why projects take me weeks (or months, but let’s not go there!)

I finally found some unfinished furniture – cubes that I can mount on the wall and some other pieces that will work well, so I’m going with the tint. Magnolia Blossom – doesn’t that sound wonderful? I wonder who comes up with the names for paint colors? I might want in on that opportunity.

In the meantime, we’re planning one of our little jaunts where we just get in the car and go. We have a destination in mind, had to because we’re taking our dog. Wonder what he’s going to think – he is not a great traveler but it’s time he get used to it. He doesn’t get sick; he’s just a little bit neurotic. Not sure he’s going to love being crated in the hotel room while we swim or get dinner but again, he has to get used to it. The majority of the time we plan to spend exploring a new little town, hit a state park and take a driving tour. I finally got a camera that takes really great pictures . . . ones that will be great for manipulating with software, so I’m looking forward to trying it out on this trip.

No room updates but I’ll leave you with a few pictures from my new camera. And with that, I’m signing off of this oh-so-cheesy post!

And It Was All Yellow

Finally! The transformation is starting to be apparent now. The room no longer makes me want to puke when I walk in there. After agonizing way more then necessary over paint color, it’s pretty much in the books now. A little touch up and I can move on. (And no – you’re not seeing things. The walls are intended to be two different shades of yellow.)

I love the colors I picked. The more I read about yellow, being a great color to both absorb and reflect the light, the more I realized how perfect it would be for a place where I hope to create beautiful things. I too want to both absorb and reflect the Light! Although I will mostly be the only one using this room, except for the occasional overnight guest, I want it to be inviting. And I want my life to be inviting as well.

The temptation certainly exists to hole up by myself for days on end, but I know I can’t do that. Part of me struggles with reading other’s poetry and viewing their art, because on the one hand, it makes me feel extremely inadequate. But equally so, I feel like it’s cheating, to expose myself to the creativity of others. As if my own ideas and reflections materialize out of nowhere!

I’m learning that art and creativity are, by nature, a give and take process. We need art and beauty, and we need to regularly expose ourselves to the art of others. Receive it as a gift. Drink it in, let it wash over your soul and don’t worry how it will affect your own ability to create. We shouldn’t feel constrained by the way others do things, as if their way is the only way. But as we receive it, and recognize where it resonates with us, it somehow changes us and we have more to offer others. Life is about both the receiving and the giving, the breathing in and the breathing out.

And as always, when I talk about art and creativity, it goes far beyond just visual images or words. If you cook, how much richer is your experience when you watch the cooking shows, or spend an evening browsing foodie magazines, and then you cook for some friends! Even if your creativity is limited to your parenting efforts right now, isn’t it easier when you share the experience with others via playdates and learning from other moms?

Wow, all that from a can of paint! Must be the paint fumes. I amaze myself sometimes, but then I hate when I do silly things like let paint dry on rollers, forget to cook Mike dinner, etc. so I better move on. Lots of new things in store for Unfinished Work, I think – some to be revealed very soon. In the meantime, I’m now ready to tear out the carpet and hang a few curtain rods. Stay tuned!

(Song lyrics excerpted from Yellow, by Coldplay)

New Music

I would tell you I’m not musical at all. The truth is, I have no desire whatsoever to sing or make music (well, except for my secret little itch to try the drums), but like I’ve always said, someone has to listen and appreciate the music others are making. I contribute in a big way in that respect.

My collection pretty much runs the gamut from worship to new age instrumental, and a whole lot in between. I’ll even confess to being a Barry Manilow fan. Growing up, we pretty much only listened to classical and a few “Christian” groups. Then I married Mr. Music, and my husband, who loves the music of the late 70’s and the 80’s, began to expand my musical horizons. This was primarily done by him flipping the radio dial and quizzing me – “who sings this.” I’d baffle him by pulling a name out of my limited knowledge (Olivia Newton-John? Linda Rondstadt? REO Speedwagon?) To this day, I still lose the game most times but I am constantly adding to the list of possible answers!

Music is surely what got me through this long, strange summer, especially during my love affair with paneling. So I thought I’d share what I’ve been listening to and I’d love to hear what’s in your iPod or CD player.

Sara Groves – Her latest album, Fireflies, has some surprisingly deep songs about relationships. Her voice is easy to listen to, and although she falls into the category of “Christian” music, much of her music is done in a ballad style, or reflects her insights into life.

My pastor turned me onto Jason Poe a while ago, knowing I’m always looking for new (and free) music. I downloaded this EP and started following him on Facebook. Several months ago, he announced that he was taking on a challenge to write seven songs in seven days, and offered a free download of that as well. He is working on an album now, to release in September. I think this guy is going to leave his mark on the musical world in a unique way.

I was sitting in Barnes & Noble this past spring and the music that was playing just spoke to me in an inexplicable way, which says much since their music selection is usually underwhelming, just not good music to read by. The clerk in the music department informed me it was probably Josh Ritter. I’m glad I resisted the urge to buy the CD on the spot, because I was able to download it for about $5. Worth every penny, I tell you! It was the tunes that grabbed me at first but the lyrics are equally compelling and brilliant. (You can also download some songs from his previous works on his web site, and while you’re at it, check out this video of The Curse – amazing!)

I can’t remember how I came across Sanctus Real, but some of their songs were just what I needed to hear recently. I actually downloaded a mix of songs from different albums but mostly from this one, We Need Each Other (also a great song which speaks to the power of community).

So that’s pretty much what’s been running through my MP3 player the past few weeks. Good company for long days spent with a crow bar and paint brush! What’s in your music list?