Rocketing out of ones comfort zone

Change-if it were easy (or fun) we would all be “making changes for the better” continually. But it’s not. Most of us don’t have strong “change skills.” As humans we differ from our pets (or at least my pets) only in scale to our aversions to change. The furniture moves, or the dog gate moves, and one of my dogs is a bit concerned about it. Luckily I am more flexible than that! We all know that change can be a good thing. Usually, we feel better about change when we choose it, not much feels good when it is thrust expectantly upon us. So, the tricky part is knowing you have the power and choose! We all know the saying, Want new results? Then you have to change something!  

In doing some internet research for this post, I found what I think is a good article about change. Most of you readers (I assume) are not looking at immediate grand changes, but I think these are useful tips for us all. Since I am indeed facing many changes, I find these concepts helpful. I hope you do as well.

7 reasons embracing change can be a good thing.” Is the name of the article and it is from a website I never heard of before today, but I do love their name- Attitude is Altitude. 

“1.   Change helps you grow
2.    Change teaches you to be flexible
3.    Change can challenge your values and beliefs
4.    Change reveals your strengths
5.    Change makes you more compassionate.
6.    Change breaks up routines
7.    Change offers opportunities”

If you want to read the whole article

But wait…there’s more!

The other piece of important stuff in my head today are words from Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook COO and the widow of Dave Goldberg) who gave a powerful speech at UC Berkeley’s commencement about resilience and loss. I think, change, resilience and loss are all often closely connected. Change is nearly impossible unless you have resilience and loss makes you face it all and forces change.  Here are a few snippets from her words.

“…After spending decades studying how people deal with setbacks, psychologist Martin Seligman found that there are three Ps— personalization, pervasiveness, and permanence— that are critical to how we bounce back from hardship.”

“….Because today marks the end of one era of your life and the beginning of something new…”

“I learned that in the face of the void—or in the face of any challenge—you can choose joy and meaning…”

“Lessons about hope, strength, and the light within us that will not be extinguished…”

“The easy days ahead of you will be easy. It is the hard days—the times that challenge you to your very core—that will determine who you are. You will be defined not just by what you achieve, but by how you survive…”

“…live with the understanding of how precious every single day would be. How precious every day actually is…”

“Option A is not available. So let’s just kick the shit out of option B.”

“So what do we do next?…Lift each other up, help each other kick the shit out of option B—and celebrate each and every moment of joy. .. ”

and now back to my own words…

Easier siad then done-but good words all around.
Look for the good and the positive-then let the changes begin!

It’s raining now but that will bring flowers…

…or at least that’s the plan!
Perseverance, change, on the move, and All that Jazz.

“I hear that Father Dip
Is gonna blow the blues
And all that Jazz
Hold on, hun
We’re gonna bunny hug
I bought some aspirin
Down at United Drug
In case you shake apart
And want a brand new start
To do that-
Jazz”

 

All sorts of interesting stuff in those words.

“Gonna blow the blues.” Clearly they are referring to the music, but it is significant here as well about some sadness. Packing up a whole house tends to have a bit of that effect on me. Hence, some aspirin… but here’s the cool part to hang on to-“a brand-new start.” … And then, there’s that very catchy rhythm and beat to the song! Never underestimate the power of the rhythm and beat to your day, week, year and more!

“Don’t worry Roxy-it’s all taken care of” – I’m counting on it! Here’s to chin up, change, new beginnings, hope, some faith in “the universe,” family, and friends. Lets paint the town and have a new start. Want to join? …Want to paint the (your) town?

…and All that Jazz. Do it my way, your way, or maybe we can collaborate. Whatever, for me, it’s time for a shakedown and some high volume rhythm! How about you?

Putting on a new hat and starting again.
Putting on a new hat and starting again.

 

Shredding…not the snow kind but the detox type.

Izabella Spring Cleaning
Izabella Spring Cleaning

The temps have warmed, the sun is shining, birds are outside my open window, and it feels like the N.E. is trying to burst forward. Spring always brings up the topic of renewal, change and spring cleaning. In our more modern times spring cleaning has also become synonymous with ‘detoxing’ (i.e cleaning/decluttering) not only our home but also our body and life. As we all know, not easy.

I am in the process of sorting papers-somehow I still have “papers” from 1998-it’s time! Two piles, one recycles which is easy to dump it into the very large bin. The second is the shredding pile. Clearing-shredding-decluttering pieces of the past. Memories are often attached to these strange pieces of paper. I know that shredding the paper does not shred the memory, sometimes that’s a good thing, and sometimes pieces of the past are indeed better off shredded. I mean really, no-one has a perfect past! At times, it’s a strangely satisfying process to add these papers to my shinny new big black plastic box called a shredder. Other times, it’s not. I think I will call my shredder Egor-a name with Norse origins meaning “archer-soldier.” Egor seems to eat up everything-more like a warrior, but isn’t a warrior just a super strong soldier? His archer instead of a bow is blades, and instead of a dead something at the arrows end, Egor produces a new ‘product’ at the end. The odd thing to me is that the new ‘product’ is a whole new beast, it’s tiny bits that are almost soft, and surely could fly and flutter if let loose. So, that’s how I am trying to look at shredding 18 years of papers…my warrior Egor and I are on a mission to march on and try to fly.

The first step in simplifying our lives is to rid ourselves of unnecessary complexity. In order to do that, we need to ask ourselves, “Is this activity or possession bringing me joy and peace? Is it reducing the complexity in my life?” If the answer is no, then we need to either find a way to minimize its effect or discard it.-http://powertochange.com/life/springclean/

“Hope is the thing with feathers”—and so goes Fuddles, full of life and dreams.

‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers—
That perches in the soul—
And sings the tune without the words—
And never stops—at all—

And sweetest—in the Gale—is heard—
And sore must be the storm—
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm—

I’ve heard it in the chillest land—
And on the strangest Sea—
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb—of Me. 

a feather
The real life model for Fuddles.
HOPE – this seems a well-deserved topic and timely poem for many reasons right now.
  • It is a poem dear friends shared with me, and I think of often. It is a poem to remind me of both of them, and I love that.
  • It is a poem about a thing with feathers! Have you met up yet with Fuddles? Fuddles is my feather and is the Feather of Wonder and Awe. I’m not even sure how but somehow wonder, and awe, is tied into HOPE!? Fuddles is the main character of my up and coming first children’s picture book. I am getting closer to the “magic” that just may sprinkle some of its dust on me. That’s all I shall say for the time being-other than there is lot of HOPE right now around it.
  • Hope lives in our souls and speaks to a future with a promise. It is hope that not only sheds tears of despair, but can help us realize that things will somehow get a little bit brighter. Somewhere, somehow, a star will shine. I surely can’t say it better than Emily Dickenson so elegantly states …

“Hope…perches in the soul—
And sings the tune without the words—
And never stops—at all—”

  • Hope is that silent partner that at times keeps us going, trying, working, struggling, soaring, dreaming, and moving forward. Big choices and small, often it’s hard to keep hope at levels that don’t demand our  nervous systems, our minds, and our souls to do somersaults in our insides. If we are lucky, the metaphorical cartwheels manifest on the outside!

Dream on and keep your hopes alive, it keeps life interesting and much happier.

Nature is blasting – What’s your blast, do you use it?

Fuddles in the snow
Fuddles amongst the snow flakesI found this TEDTalk wonderful. Caroline McHugh is indeed talking about your personal blast.

The weather forecast for this weekend along the Eastern Seaboard is a bit dismal (unless you are a fan of big  nor’easter storms.) It’s true, perception, needs, attitudes, and consequences all come into play here. For me travel is in my plans, a big storm is not good news. However, nature does her blasting with no apologies; she does what she needs to and she lets it roar!

That brings me to letting your self “be” and do as you need to. Blasting your unique talents and views. Taking up your space in this big wide world. In my rambles around the internet and  TED Talks I stumbled upon the talk embedded below. She talks about seeing yourself in a true mirror – “where you look AT yourself,  you look for revelations not reassurance.”

She goes on to talk about folks who are “larger than life” and what makes them so? They take ALL the space the universe intended them to and so they “shine, glimmer, and glow, …it’s as if they swallowed the moon.” I love that statement! It’s all about INDIVIDUALITY! Your job is to be you. To be the best you can be, to do the best job you can at being you.  Caroline MCHugh is “dedicated to helping individuals and organisations be fully deployed, original versions of themselves.” (more)

BLAST out your individuality, your talents, your glimmer and let it shine!
(Even if its under a snow blanket this weekend!)

http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/The-Art-of-Being-Yourself-Carol

Ask the hard questions

IGordyQuestion read this article which I thought was pretty interesting….

You probably know to ask yourself, “What do I want?” Here’s a way better question….A more interesting question, a question that perhaps you’ve never considered before, is what pain do you want in your life? What are you willing to struggle for? Because that seems to be a greater determinant of how our lives turn out.

I found it on http://qz.com/584874/you-probably-know-to-ask-yourself-what-do-i-want-heres-a-way-better-question/
They found it on: http://markmanson.net/question

It’s an unusual way for me to post but I think this is a very interesting concept and thought pattern. So, not my words…the words of: MarkManson.net.

 

Those pesky doors…..

“When one door closes, another door opens; but we so often look so long and regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.” – Alexander Graham Bell

Here’s to keeping your eyes open for the cracks and cranny’s of new doors. That we all see the new with joy and excitement.  May 2016 bring new adventures, new friends, new smiles, good health and many magical  doors. 

Goodby 2015 Hello 2016
Milly waves 2015 Good Bye…and a golden 2016 arrives. (BTW- Boots Designed by Birdelli)

Happy New Years!

End of Year, an opening and a closing.

One door opens as another closes
One door opens as another closes

As so it fades… 2015 closes and 2016 opens up with new possibilities. Attitude must rule, for the magic of change and possibilities are only available when you first dream, then think, and follow with doing everything you can to start the engine and keep it running. Yes, I know, at times it is very hard to keep going, to keep the steam puffing, and even not to stand in front of it and block its way, but…we all know that does no good. I have to keep reminding myself,  I’ve got to at the very least keep chipping away at the big dreams, now and then take a big bold whack at it, close my eyes and JUMP. I suggest that to everyone, the choice to stay static or chisel and jump so… why not!?

As 2016 is peaking its head around the corner I am hopeful that this will be the year that my giant revisions of my book may be in the background and that finally I am on the right track. This book looks nothing like where I started and I’m ok with that, it’s a prosess I keep telling myself-Hope so! It is now a book for the “wee ones” of 2-6 years and it is called  Awesome (at least right now that is the title!) It still features Fuddles, the feather that spreads awe and wonder on planet Earth. That is who you see above but that is not an illustration from this upcoming book. The plan is that Fuddles will be on a farm in a sequence book. In the meantime, Fuddles is peaking out the doors into 2016. He does indeed look a bit shocked, maybe a wee bit scared, but time will tell the whole story.  Temporarily that’s all I will reveal. Partly, because it is very much still a working copy, and partly for I am just not ready to “put it out there” yet.

I am not one for resolutions, especially public ones, but I will proclaim my intent for this to be the year of my first book to finally come to be!

Meanwhile….Merry, Bright, Treats, and Joy …Happy New Years

 

Courage. Have you got it?

In The Wizard Of Oz one of the iconic characters is the Cowardly Lion who is looking for his courage. Frank Baum (author of the series)  describes the Cowardly Lion as ‘being grandiose, handsome, and nearly as big as a full grown horse in size. He is a rather cuddly animal despite being so large, and also is a gentle giant at heart. He is said to have golden colored eyes that sparkle like fool’s gold and are full of wit and loyalty. He is warm, plush and soft, having a fluffy, bushy and curly mane that is often adorned with a brightly colored bow of red or green silk.” An image proably easy for most of us to conjure up.

In the film adaptation the Cowardly Lion says…

Courage! What makes a King out of a slave?
Courage! What makes the flag on the mast to wave?
Courage! What makes the elephant charge his tusk, in the misty mist or the dusky dusk?
What makes the muskrat guard his musk?
Courage! What makes the sphinx the seventh wonder?
Courage! What makes the dawn come up like thunder?
Courage! What makes the Hottentot so hot? What puts the “ape” in apricot?
What have they got that I ain’t got?
All Four-(i.e Dorthy, The Cowardly Lion, The Scarecrow and the Tin Man) Courage!
Lion-Then you can say that again!

I’ve been thinking about vulnerability, exposure, the courage to follow ones convictions, and how to balance it all in ones day/life. A year or so ago, I was once powerfully drawn  to The Wizard of Oz, the story, the movie, the original illustrations, and the message. Today, I found a very interesting article from Smithsonian.com called Frank Baum, the Man Behind the Curtain: The author of The Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum, traveled many paths before he found his Yellow Brick Road.

It seems that Frank was a man who had many trails and it was not all smooth sailing. He wrote The Wizard of Oz “in the spring of 1898, on scraps of ragged paper…” He was 40. The book was published in 1900 and “Baum became not only the best-selling children’s book author in the country, but also the founder of a genre…”  For me there is something very encouraging and heartfelt in those facts. Clearly he followed his own creativity and imagination. He had the perseverance to follow his conviction to write it all down and it obviously turned out wonderfully.  He was a man of courage as best I can tell. The article states “With The Wizard of Oz, the power of self-reliance was colorfully illustrated.” … Self-reliance, heart, brains and courage is still a good mix for modern life. I will now go gather my courage and step forward. And you?

Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/frank-baum-the-man-behind-the-curtain-32476330/#3r7pxi3SpjxpY5jA.99

 

Cowardly Lion
The Chapter drawing for The Cowardly Lion.
Inside Cover Wizzard
Book Cover Wizard of OZ Middle: the Inside title page  of the original Book                 Bottom: The Cover of the original book

 

What do Civil Rights, the Blues Music and Poverty all have in common?

The answer is all in the new book featured below.

I am very pleased, and proud, to announce that my friend, Ray Uzanas, book Faces and Places of the Deep South is now out, published and fantastic!

Why is this on the Botanical Beauties and Beasties blog you may ask? Well, it’s for two reasons. The first is that it is truly a lovely book, quality in all ways. The second is that I was personally involved by doing all the book design, layout and cover work. We are both very pleased to be able to present it and share it!

The words from the author are as follows…

In “Faces and Places of the Deep South,” Raymond Uzanas takes the reader on his 2015 journey through America’s rural south where he visits towns mired in poverty and those infamous for their role in the civil rights movement of mid-20th century America. Uzanas explores the vast Mississippi Delta that gave birth to the Delta Blues sounds; traveling to its smallest desolate towns as well as to Clarksdale and its annual Juke Joint Blues Festival.

Interviews and shared stories with people he meets resonates across racial and economic lines as he profiles the lives and times of today’s Deep South. It is a book mostly about the people–what Ray calls the human wealth of the region. His photographs capture and convey the mood and character of the land and its people. Come along for a ride through a half century of southern history.

You can purchase the book at Amazon or Blurb, or if you are very lucky you can see it/read it at a few select local Libraries.  FYI, the book is costly as it is a high quality, 120 page, full color “picture book” filled with beautiful images as well as amazing stories of civil rights, the extreme poverty and life in the generally unknown Deep South, and the great Delta Blues Music originating from the Deep South. Incidentally, Ray does not mark the books up, the cost you see is truly the raw cost of printing each book and of no profit to the author. If you are interested in purchasing one, the Blurb site is a little less money than Amazon  (since Amazon adds some for themselves.)

The link for Blurb: http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/invited/

The link for Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Faces-Places-South-Raymond-Uzanas/

We both hope you get a chance to enjoy the many Faces and Places of the Deep South.

Magical Places – Take One. The Center Pompidou

First, you all need to meet my traveling companion. Her name is Elsa, and she will be joining us for the next few postings.

Meet Elsa!

Elsa, a world traveler.

I wrote early in the summer that this season is often a time of journeys. Nobody offered where they were going this summer, or of any other journeys that you all may be on. (I was a little disappointed by that.) Regardless, I got to take an amazing and wonderful journey. I got to go to PARIS FRANCE!  Ooh la la doesn’t even come close to saying how extraordinary it was. I spent my time with an amazing woman I am very proud to call my friend.

Elsa, my traveling sidekick for The Botanicals, will be joining me in showing you bits and bytes of the trip. This series will all be under the umbrella title of ‘Magical Places.’

Elsa took out her magical wand, danced around the floor with it, and POOF, we ended up at The Center Pompidou. Lucky us! First, the building itself is loads of fun. The design came from an international competition, which for some reason absolutely delights me. Of course  it is reminiscent of the world fair and Eiffel Tower competition so many years before.

We met and followed a fun family though a bit of the museum. Their daughter was often in her stroller, rolled in front of a piece of art, given a piece of paper and a drawing tool. She picked one out one element and drew it. Everyone was enjoying. It was absolutely fascinating to see what she choose and how she represented it. What a joy to see parents exposing, challenging, and engaging a child in art this way. We last saw her in this large room where one could take a piece of chalk and add your own part/art to the greater collection of the wall. Elsa joined in on that one!

Chalk wall
Interactive wall art

Below is a small assortment of images from our visit to The Centre Pompidou. Click the arrows to click through  if yours are not cycling through automatically.

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