a tickle of words to create smiles

Archive for April, 2012

Nature Notices

It was a mild April day when my husband and I decided to take our puppy-dog Sasha for a car ride to the nature trail behind the local library for an extended walk. The temperature could not have been any more ideal. It was not too hot and not too humid. There were hardly any clouds in the sky and just the right amount of breeze.

As we walked with Sasha, we noticed an empty, discarded pack of cigarettes on the side of the trail. We could have left it there and take on the attitude that it belonged to someone else; or, the recreation department will pick it up later.

No, we decided to take ownership of the garbage and be good stewards of our little part our Mother Earth. We picked up the trash. A few more yards away, we picked up a discarded soda bottle.  Funny thing is that with a little effort on the part of those who left the garbage, there was a trash can 100 or so feet away that they could have utilized.

Overall, the trail was mostly litter-free, which made our adventure quite pleasant.  And, for our effort, my husband and I were rewarded by nature. As we continued down the trail an elusive cardinal peeked through the branches teasing us with its presence. It was like it was playing hide and seek with us. It’s beautiful red plumage was quite a sight to see in contrast to the spring greens of the trees and shrubbery.

Further down the trail, 2 squirrels were chasing each other in a playful game of tag or so it seemed.  The scampering of their feet created such a hubbub in the understory of the woods the trail cut through.  It was a delight to see them acting so carefree without a worry in the world.

Then a mallard duck made a brief appearance when a cacophony of 4 young boys on their bikes came rushing past us like a scene from “Stand By Me.” I wondered where they were rushing off to see (maybe a dead body like in the movie).  The boys voices carried through the trail; so at that point we did not see as many creatures except for a variety of butterflies and other flying insects.

Today it felt like Mother Nature noticed us taking care of her and in return she gave us a gift of seeing the best of Mother Nature.

Thorns have Roses

My amazing sister shared the following recent true story about herself with me. I felt compelled to share it here. She is spreading love the best way she knows how…with her empathy, her compassion and her divine listening skills.
 

Thorns have Roses

I was driving home after a long day of work, packing items for Salvation Army at the condo after work, did not have dinner yet, and was experiencing a long, stressful, and overwhelming month. As I was exiting off I-295 N to Old St Augustine Rd, I noticed the light at the bottom of the exit was still green. I slowed down a bit anyway to be safe and to make sure the intersection was still free and clear of traffic. Although the light was still green as I approached, I did not feel comfortable rushing through the intersection and about that time the light was starting to change to yellow so I stopped.

I was the only car in sight until a white Mercedes SUV pulled up to the left of me and I casually looked over to see a lady driver, alone, and crying.   I immediately wanted to  console her, but did not want to get out of my car, scare her, or get hurt myself at this intersection.  So I decided I would follow her and to my pleasant surprise she was headed in the same direction to my home.  She turned onto Old River Road and then turned into Lowe’s.

I was certain she knew I was following her so when she parked I deliberately parked a full row away so she wouldn’t fear I was a stalker. I waited a few minutes and noticed she was still in her SUV crying so I got out and approached her vehicle. I let her know that I noticed she was crying, I didn’t want her to be alone, and would she like to talk about it. She initially attempted to minimize her situation stating it was some medical issues and that she just saw a little girl in a wheel chair and shouldn’t be feeling sorry for herself.  I told her she had ever right to feel sad and grieve about the additional medical complications she now has.

She asked me, “Where did you come from? Where are your wings and halo, you angel . ”    I did inform her I was wearing a white shirt that day and we both chuckled.  She said she needed to buy plants at Lowe’s to fill up empty pots on her patio  for her horse farmhouse in Jacksonville she was attempting to sell for the past 6 months and the real estate agents were coming through with brokers the next day.

She was currently renting a place in Ocala to be closer to her daughter and closer to her horseback riding coach.  She said she already did some “shopping therapy,” but still needed to buy flowers.  I told her I could shop with her because I needed to find plants for my two empty flower beds in front of my house.  She asked me my name and I said, “Monique” and found out she was, “Liz”. Then she thanked me and asked if she could give me a hug.  We made small talk about flowers and shared a few personal stories.  A Lowe’s sales person asked if we needed any help and I asked (for Liz) what type of plants would do well in direct sun and could survive without daily watering (since Liz informed me that she would not be in Jacksonville to water or nurture her plants).  He recommended, “knock out roses” and Liz remembered them as well.

When Liz went to make her large purchase, that same sales person was now at the cash register and he asked, “how did you get roped into this?” When Liz attempted to share the story that I was a friendly stranger who saw her crying, he ignored it, laughed, and thought Liz was joking. He viewed us as close friends instead of God’s children brought together by circumstances (and synchronicity). Liz asked me where I was parked and I showed her explaining that I didn’t want to scare her or have her think she was being stalked. She smiled, walked to my car, and placed the beautiful “knock out rose” plant on the hood of my car and said, “when my life felt like thorns YOU were the rose.”

I thanked her through my tears and told her she helped me too!  She did not know it, but when I had been so emotional about my life, it REALLY helped me to step outside myself and just be EXTREMELY THANKFUL for ALL the BLESSINGS I TRULY HAVE!!!!!  We parted only knowing each others first name and that we were brought together at that very moment in time for a reason larger than ourselves.

Wow! This brought tears to my eyes as the last line stirred my emotions, “…we were brought together at that very moment for a reason larger than ourselves.” That reason is LOVE! Love is all about how we act, react and connect in the world, especially with people we do not know. Love is being true to your heart, honest, open, generous, compassionate and authentic. My sister is truly an amazing woman! 

Today you are You…

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” – Dr. Seuss

“Do not wish to be anything but what you are.” – Saint Francis de Sales

Many people are not comfortable with who they are. A bombardment of advertisements and marketing schemes scream at people telling them they need to wear this and that, eat this and that, use this and that product, go here and there for this and that, and so on and so on!

It is no wonder why so many people have self-confidence issues, are searching for themselves/their purpose and/or are taking medication. Madison Avenue executives have people brainwashed that if people do not use, eat, wear, etc. what they are selling then they are not good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, successful enough! How does one break free from this nonsense!!!! People need to embrace who they are.

How? Great question. How, indeed? That is one of many questions each person needs to ask of themselves. What brings joy to your life? Embrace all those things you cannot change, like your height and  your freckles. Those are the parts that make you who you are! Do and be what feels right. Why squeeze into a “mold” that does not fit? If long hair is how all the pretty women are wearing their hair; and, you look and feel fabulous in short hair, why change? We need to be who we are and nothing less! Do not let people steer you into what you are not!

Time for Time

Time for most can be a fleeting thing. It flows from the future to the present and into the past in a blink of an eye. People can hold on to that moment when they hold onto the thought or emotion of that moment; however, when it is not memorable, it is disheartening. Where did the time go? Was the time ill-spent on worry or trivial matters? Or, was it spent on a joyous event with loved ones?

Time is one of the most precious commodities, resources and gifts that a person has to treasure, to offer and to share. The best moments are those that make a deep impression upon people’s minds. Those moments where a mind is totally undivided and filled with intense focus or profound emotions. 

Time has a way of being fast or slow in my mind depending on the event. Anticipated major events in people’s lives never seem to arrive, yet when people get closer and closer to the time of the grand event, time flees in a blink of an eye. Project deadlines have a way of doing that. Why does time seems to go by so slow when waiting in a doctor’s office reception area, waiting at a traffic signal, sitting in a dentist’s chair during an oral examination, or while engaged in physical activity like fitness walking where one needs to do something for a certain amount of time. How often do children (and adults) wonder during a long trip and often vocalize, “are we there yet?”

It is all a matter of perspective. How does time feel to you when you are doing an activity you really enjoy? Have you been so totally enthralled in an activity that you lose your sense of time? Time passes by quickly when people do not pay attention to it. Time is not the focus of a person’s thoughts, the activity in which they are engaged has their undivided attention. 

Savoring the moment with loved ones should equally be memorable. To attend to them and really focus on their presence, attentively listening is really important. It is one of the most loving gestures a person can do for his or her loved ones, friends and family. It would be a loving gesture for people to extend their time to people they do not know such as taking an extra moment to hold open a door for someone or to take a moment to assist someone with packages. There are countless ways people can share their time with people they do not know (yet). 

The world would be so much better particularly in an individual’s immediate community, if a person simply gave an extra moment of time to everyone he or she interacts. Let it not be divided with thoughts and technology (mobile phones and other electronic devices). Some of the best experiences can be obtained when a person goes out and runs errands where he or she engage in meaningful conversations with other people in the store, in the check line and with store attendants. Everyone is truly a potential friend. It is within each individual’s power to make someone’s day (or not). 

Consider marking those times in your life by paying close attention. Make it memorable by focusing on the people you are with us at that time and on what you are doing. Take notice with all your senses to mark that moment in time. Time is too valuable to be allowed to fleet away without complete awareness. It is time to notice time.

Today, the book Creating Time by Marney K. Makridakis was launched on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I am delighted to share with you that I am a contributor to Creating Time. You will find my artwork and a few of my quotes in it. Creating Time is a beautifully laid out, interactive book with lots of thought shifting exercises around the concept of time. I invite you all to check it out: http://www.artellaland.com/time.html 

Expression of Heart and Soul

What is poetry and art, really?
Does it have to have rhyme and reason?
Or, can it simply be an extension of me.
My soul’s expression of this season.

Expression not perfection.
That is the key.
To be in the moment…
Creatively.

Why worry?
Permit yourself to be happy.

Allow the words and colors to flow
on the page in front of you, below.

There need not be any haste.
Take your time…do not waste…
any moment with fear.
Embrace the now, my dear.

The page is our own
to make, create
and decorate.

With our words we can weave
anything upon one’s mind to leave…
an impression…
our own expression…

Of our heart and of our soul.

Gifts of Love Update 6

Friday night I gave away 2 more Gifts of Love. Both Brittany and Bridget were delighted to receive them. Brittany really, really liked the art work on the gift bag. I am looking forward to hear how these wonderful women will pass the Gifts  of Love forward. Brittany is a more recent friend whom I met through Bridget as we all get together to indulge in Karaoke now and then. 

Yesterday, I accompanied my parents on a trip to Richmond, Virginia to visit a long time friend. This was a good visit and a great reminder to stay in touch who have touched our lives. Too many years have passed since the last time we connected, and unfortunately, time has taken its toll on her. I am grateful that I was able to spend some quality time with both my parents and our long time friend. These times we spend together are our Gifts of Love to each other as the memories imprint upon our hearts. 

Today, I spent much of my time away from home and later outdoors (after taking some allergy medicine). First, I went to the Poquoson Library’s Spring Used Book Sale. This annual event started Thursday evening for the preview sale for members of the Friends of the Poquoson Library. Then, on Friday through Sunday, it was open for the public. The variety of books was phenomenal. I am certain they had thousands of books. There was fiction and non-fiction books for adults and children, audio books and video tapes. 

I spent the rest of the afternoon in the garden and seizing the gorgeous day. It was very summer-like without the humidity with the temperatures getting into the eighties Fahrenheit. I pulled out some potting soil and planted seeds for Beefsteak and Roma Tomatoes, Summer Squash, Cilantro, Sweet Basil and Cayenne Peppers. I am looking forward to seeing sprouts in the next week to ten days. I love seeing things grow, whether it is seeds and plants, or hearts and people.

 

IF YOU WANT TO CHANGE THE WORLD.. LOVE A WOMAN

Below is a poem written by Lisa Citore that was shared on Facebook by one of my friends. I felt compelled to post it here in my blog because it fits with my desire to change the world one heart at a time. Above is an art piece I painted inspired by her words. Tomorrow, I will share my latest update on my Gifts of Love campaign, which is progressing and unfolding in its own Divine timing, one heart at a time bring love and joy to each person who has received one so far. 

IF YOU WANT TO CHANGE THE WORLD.. LOVE A WOMAN – by Lisa Citore

“If you want to change the world… love a woman-really love her.

Find the one who calls to your soul, who doesn’t make sense.

Throw away your check list and put your ear to her heart and listen.

Hear the names, the prayers, the songs of every living thing-
every winged one, every furry and scaled one,
every underground and underwater one, every green and flowering one,
every not yet born and dying one…
Hear their melancholy praises back to the One who gave them life.

If you haven’t heard your own name yet, you haven’t listened long enough.

If your eyes aren’t filled with tears, if you aren’t bowing at her feet,
you haven’t ever grieved having almost lost her.

If you want to change the world… love a woman-one woman

beyond yourself, beyond desire and reason,
beyond your male preferences for youth, beauty and variety
and all your superficial concepts of freedom.

We have given ourselves so many choices
we have forgotten that true liberation
comes from standing in the middle of the soul’s fire
and burning through our resistance to Love.

There is only one Goddess.

Look into Her eyes and see-really see
if she is the one to bring the axe to your head.
If not, walk away. Right now.
Don’t waste time “trying.”

Know that your decision has nothing to do with her

because ultimately it’s not with who,
but when we choose to surrender.

If you want to change the world… love a woman.

Love her for life-beyond your fear of death,
beyond your fear of being manipulated
by the Mother inside your head.

Don’t tell her you’re willing to die for her.

Say you’re willing to LIVE with her,
plant trees with her and watch them grow.

Be her hero by telling her how beautiful she is in her vulnerable majesty,
by helping her to remember every day that she IS Goddess
through your adoration and devotion.

If you want to change the world… love a woman

in all her faces, through all her seasons
and she will heal you of your schizophrenia-
your double-mindedness and half-heartedness
which keeps your Spirit and body separate-
which keeps you alone and always looking outside your Self
for something to make your life worth living.

There will always be another woman.
Soon the new shiny one will become the old dull one
and you’ll grow restless again, trading in women like cars,
trading in the Goddess for the latest object of your desire.

Man doesn’t need any more choices.

What man needs is Woman, the Way of the Feminine,
of Patience and Compassion, non-seeking, non-doing,
of breathing in one place and sinking deep intertwining roots
strong enough to hold the Earth together
while she shakes off the cement and steel from her skin.

If you want to change the world… love a woman, just one woman .

Love and protect her as if she is the last holy vessel.

Love her through her fear of abandonment
which she has been holding for all of humanity.

No, the wound is not hers to heal alone.
No, she is not weak in her codependence.

If you want to change the world… love a woman

all the way through
until she believes you,
until her instincts, her visions, her voice, her art, her passion,
her wildness have returned to her-
until she is a force of love more powerful
than all the political media demons who seek to devalue and destroy her.

If you want to change the world,
lay down your causes, your guns and protest signs.
Lay down your inner war, your righteous anger

and love a woman…

beyond all of your striving for greatness,
beyond your tenacious quest for enlightenment.

The holy grail stands before you
if you would only take her in your arms
and let go of searching for something beyond this intimacy.

What if peace is a dream which can only be re-membered
through the heart of Woman?
What if a man’s love for Woman, the Way of the Feminine
is the key to opening Her heart?

If you want to change the world…love a woman

to the depths of your shadow,
to the highest reaches of your Being,
back to the Garden where you first met her,
to the gateway of the rainbow realm
where you walk through together as Light as One,
to the point of no return,
to the ends and the beginning of a New Earth.”

by Lisa Citore

Superstition

What are superstitions, really? Most of them (if not all) have their basis in fear. Today is Friday, the 13th. Slasher movies have been made around it, where the terrifying Jason in the hockey mask with a chain saw set at a summer campground. Or am I mixing it up with other movies?

According to Wikipedia (I almost typed in wicked – pedia, LOL): Friday the 13th is a 1980 American slasher horror film directed by Sean S. Cunningham and written by Victor Miller. The film concerns a group of teenagers who are murdered one-by-one while attempting to re-open an abandoned campsite and stars Betsy Palmer, Adrienne King, Harry Crosby, and Kevin Bacon in one of his earliest roles. Lucky break for Kevin Bacon, I would say.

Friday the 13th, inspired by the success of John Carpenter’s Halloween, was made on an estimated budget of $550,000. Released by Paramount Pictures in the United States and Warner Bros. Internationally, the film received negative reviews from film critics, but grossed over $39.7 million at the box office in the United States, and went on to become one of the most-profitable slasher films in cinema history (Wikipedia). You could say, Friday the 13th was a lucky movie in its ability to gross so much money from a smallish budget. 

Besides the slasher movie and its sequels, Friday and the number 13 are simply a couple more things people fear put together. The number 13 has been notoriously considered an unlucky number. Here are numerous of examples of how this has been demonstrated: More than 80 percent of high-rises lack a 13th floor. Many airports skip the 13th gate. Airplanes have no 13th aisle. Hospitals and hotels regularly have no room number 13.  And, then there is the ill-fated mission to the moon, Apollo 13.

Friday has been considered an unlucky day since the 14th century’s The Canterbury Tales, and many other professions have regarded Friday as an unlucky day to undertake journeys, begin new projects or deploy releases in production. Black Friday has been associated with stock market crashes and other disasters since the 1800s (Wikipedia). Here are some wives’ tales: A bed changed on Friday will bring bad dreams. Any ship that sails on Friday will have bad luck. Never start to make a garment on Friday unless you can finish it the same day.

If you have major surgery scheduled, it has been suggested that you may want it earlier in the week, and to avoid Fridays. If complications arise from the surgery, these can be taken care of more quickly if you have surgery scheduled earlier in the week. Also, too often, people are tired by the end of their work week. They are looking forward to their weekend and are less focused. It makes no difference what a person’s field of expertise is (medical or otherwise), at the end of a work week there is a tendency to be less focus on the work at hand. 

Why has Friday the 13th been regarded as bad luck? One explanation is that both Friday and the number 13 were once closely associated with capital punishment. In British tradition, Friday was the conventional day for public hangings, and there were supposedly 13 steps leading up to the noose. In numerology, the number 12 has been regarded with completeness: 12 months in a year, 12 signs of the zodiac, 12 gods of Olympus, 12 labors of Hercules, 12 tribes of Israel, and 12 apostles of Jesus. In exceeding 12 by 1, 13’s association with bad luck has to do with just being a little beyond completeness.

Ultimately, we make our own luck by what we choose to believe. Of course, if something unfortunate happens today, we can blame it on being Friday the 13th.


Gifts of Love Update 5

Sometimes the best wisdom comes from Dove’s chocolate wrappers: Remind yourself to relax and Dare to dream. So, I am heeding that advice. I am taking time to relax and I am daring to dream. I dream of a world where everyone loves each other. There would be no such thing as greed as everyone would have what they needed, which ultimately stemmed from love. If my little campaign can make a dent toward my dream; then I am twice blessed.

I am taking time to really enjoy the process and put love into the artwork on each gift bag. I was able to complete 2 more Gifts of Love (#24 and #25). I might have the opportunity to give bag #2 away tomorrow and bag #3 away on Saturday. I am not going to rush this campaign. I believe the distribution of these Gifts of Love needs to be done with deliberateness, with mindfulness, and with agape love.

This campaign has brought my faith in God to a more profound level; and, it is teaching me not only patience, but also openness to new ways of seeing the world and my spirituality. As I paint each bag, I have been in communication with and praying to God. He is guiding my hand as I lay down each color with each brush stroke. It is an awesome experience. 

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Gifts of Love Update 4

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)

Today was a day filled with activity. I spent 4 hours volunteering time at the local library helping to prepare for their annual used book sale. All the proceeds will go to enhancing our library and it programs. I could feel the positive energy that we had in sorting the books, setting them out, and arranging them.

Teamwork was abundant and it felt great to be part of it. We used our time effectively and it looks like everything will be ready for the preview sale for the Friends of the Library tomorrow night and the kickoff sale for the public on Friday morning. 

Later, I prepared my materials so I could teach my Art for the Creative Heart class. Unfortunately, enrollment was too low at this time and it will need to be postponed until I can have a full class to make it worthwhile for everyone involved. I have so many wonderful activities planned that will allow the students to explore in a nurturing way their creative spirit with joy, free of fear and anxiety of not being good enough. Art is not about perfection, it is about expression. Art is an extension of who we are and allowing our creativity to flow in that very moment we hold a pencil, pen, paintbrush, marker or crayon.

I used my extra time this evening to finish 3 more Gifts of Love. The images are shared below.

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