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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Buddha's Hand

Long before Big Daddy and I reconnected I did a lot of praying about the kind of man God would choose for me. One time when I was imagining Mr. Right, I imagined someone who would show up for a date and knowing I am a little quirky, he would present me with a bouquet of asparagus which we would then put into a teapot. It was a funny little thought that has stuck with me for a long time.

Yesterday Big Daddy called to tell me he had a surprise for me as we built up to Valentine's Day. He set my expectations by explaining that he got it at Whole Foods so "just think about the kind of thing I might find there..." When I got home, there was a funny card and this was waiting for me:

It's called a Buddha's Hand and it's this very fragrant citrus...thing. And here's the cool part--I love it. I have been obsessed with drawing and painting lately and while I'm not very good, it brings me a lot of joy. Big Daddy brought me this amazingly weird thing and today I got to take a break from hours of work in the kitchen to draw it. Uh oh. I just realized I spelled Buddha wrong on the drawing. Oh well. That's why I practice. I hope you have someone who gets you. I hope you love yourself enough to know that the weird stuff is what makes you special. Peace, love & crazy surprises.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Random Thoughts by Jennifer Kelley...

Here are some things I've been thinking about for the past week:

10. I love looking in my fridge and seeing two full produce drawers. For most of my life I didn't bother buying produce because it seemed it would go from the grocery bag to the crisper rotter, to the trash. Ever since I met the chef, we have bought and have actually eaten waaaaaayyyyy more fresh food and that goes up even more when we're eating the slow carb way.
9. Sherlock on PBS is awesome even though Benedict Cumberbatch sounds like a Dickens character's name.
8. Big Daddy and I are going to the rec center to work out some but it isn't a habit yet and I feel guilty when I don't go.
7. My couch potato niece spent the night Friday night and we enjoy her so much. She loves to sit on the couch and play on the computer too. We played Terraria as team with one of us working the keyboard and the other controlling the mouse. She was mad when her mom called and wanted her back. I kinda was too.
6. When you eat breakfast and dinner at home every day, you have to wash dishes a lot!
5. I am more excited by the Superbowl commercials than I am by the game. I think the last time I really cared who won was back in the Elway days.
4. I have started doing the dollar a week savings plan only I started with the biggest numbers on the chart because I've had some cash on hand. I think I'd rather pay the smaller amounts closer to the holidays and the larger amounts now.
3. Mopping the floor does wonders for my self-esteem.
2. Coconut oil is a really good skin cream. I slather it on in the shower so it's like the wax setting at the car wash.
1. I am really enjoying my online art class. I keep picking new ones I want to sign up for and then I force myself to wait until I've finished one before I start another.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Plan? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Plan!

The photo is of an exercise I did for my "Draw Your Awesome Life" class. It's a contour drawing of my hand and while I've done those in every art class I've ever taken, the exercise has always driven me crazy--until today.

The rules to the assignment are to stare at your hand, not the page, and to draw using a continuous line. Not surprisingly this produces some weird results and that's the part I have had a problem with. Who wants a picture of a blob hand? What is the benefit of an exercise that produces something freakish by design?

Today I had that light bulb moment, when I looked at this picture and thought, I love this! This is my favorite piece so far! In that eureka moment, I knew that the point is to let go of expectations and enjoy the experience.

My friends and I often complain, sometimes playfully, sometimes not, about the way life has of deviating from THE PLAN. For example, Big Daddy has been working a temp job that we thought would go permanent on Friday. Today he got a text asking if he'd like to extend his contract two more weeks. Say what? That was not THE PLAN. (After further investigation, there is no need for concern, it turns out this is good news rather than bad, but it still wasn't THE PLAN.) I recently heard a story about a family who bought a Roomba to combat the pet hair in the house. All went well until the dog pooped on the floor while the family was out and the Roomba rolled right through it over and over and over again. I'll let your imagination take over from here. That wasn't THE PLAN either. Certainly there are unexpected moments that take us off course and steal any illusions we might have of control and I would never propose that one could or would want to skip and whistle through them. What I am suggesting is that there can be beauty and surprises in the detour.

I don't know about you, but I know my life has taken some sharp left turns--the kind where you duck and pray that you won't get mowed over. The kind where your purse flies into the floorboard and pukes out all the contents. In those times I shook my fist at the sky and questioned the meaning of everything but over time when I look back I can see that the sharp left was exactly what needed to happen and I can see the blessings and changes that came as a result. THE PLAN, might have been more comfortable, but it wasn't more beautiful.

In 2006, I got dumped by my boyfriend via email. I got fired from my job. I lost my condo and my car blew up. I had to downsize my life and I needed to do it immediately but instead I cried a lot and prayed for a miracle. The miracle was THE PLAN. It didn't come.

I talked to my spiritual adviser and she kept saying, "One way or another, you will be okay."
I cried and explained to her, "I want one way and not the other."
"THAT'S your problem," she said.

When I finally gave up, I moved into one room of a friends house. I took a job as a maid. I got kicked out of the one room of that house and moved into another house. I got to learn (quite painfully) how to live with some of the most patient and persistently loving people I've ever met (some of whom I consider family now). As a result of that move I met some young ladies who helped me far more than I helped them and they introduced me to social networking sites. That's where I reconnected with my old friend Big Daddy...

I've gotten some pretty amazing gifts from letting go of control and tearing up "THE PLAN." Sometimes it's more fun to just fly by the seat. Sometimes it's alright to not know what you're doing, that's where the adventure begins.

 Peace, love, and adventures!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Muzzling the Know-it-All

Today is the day! Got out of bed, made a slow carb breakfast and mopped the kitchen floor. I'm convinced that productivity is all about getting some momentum going and keeping it going. After two months of eating anything and everything I wanted, it was nice to get back to something healthy that will fuel my body the right way.

In my last blog post I mentioned that I was going to sign up for an online class and I did, and I love it. After some deliberation, I chose the Draw Your Awesome Life workshop by Joanne Sharpe. It's fifteen lessons for $38 and her style and mine are very similar so it seemed a good fit. I went to Asel and spent $20 and I was ready to roll! I've done three pages so far and even though I'm not in love with any of them, I like something about each and more importantly I learned something from each lesson. 

I have a condition I call closet perfectionism. I have pretty low expectations about my housekeeping and my appearance but there are certain areas that I zoom in on and at times I can get so critical that I no longer enjoy something that should be fun. One of the symptoms of closet perfectionism is the delusion that I am supposed to be good at things without trying, learning, or practicing. To that end, the ugly little know-it-all in my brain can sometimes get her red pen out and scribble all over things I've made. In this class we do pencil drawings that we then cover with permanent ink and then add a watercolor layer. For one of my drawings, I used a pen that said it was permanent, but when I added the watercolor, it ran a little an muddied the colors. The results weren't bad. You could almost look at it and think it was intended but the know-it-all knows it wasn't and she's been trying to get me to tear that page out and start over. I'm leaving it in my notebook because it is a lesson, and because the only way to shut up the know-it-all is to stop playing by her rules. The joy is in the process not the product. 

If you happen to have a case of closet perfectionism, here are my suggestions on how to muzzle the know-it-all in your head:
1. Remind yourself that you are playing. Singing, painting, writing--creative pursuits of any kind, are supposed to be fun. 
2. Practice isn't supposed to be perfect. Practice is a process to improvement. Progress not perfection is the goal.
3. Buy affordable supplies to learn with. One of the ways my know-it-all beats me up is to criticize how much money I have spent compared to the product I create. When I buy a leather bound journal and an expensive fountain pen (hypothetically of course) I expect myself to write a journal worthy of those materials. The first time I misspell something or have to cross out a word, the know-it-all assures me that it is ruined. When I switched to gel pens and composition notebooks, I found I was more likely to use the notebooks and not worry if there was a phone number or a shopping list in the midst of my creative writing exercises. 
4. Don't start tearing out pages. If you want to try again, try again on another page. Document the process. When the know-it-all convinces me that I have to hide my mistakes I am playing right into her hand. Mistakes are part of life. 
5. Set process related goals. I will draw something every day. I will write 7 pages a week. I will learn a new song every two weeks. If I set a goal based on the product, everything that falls short feels like a failure. If I set goals based on process, the product will improve on its own. 
6. Fight the know-it-all by exposing the lies to the light. One of the best practices I've established is to let something sit for awhile before analyzing it. A little time and distance will remove some of the emotional attachment and allow me to look at, listen to or read things in a more productive manner. We should look at our work with a critical eye provided the motive is to improve but there is a difference between an honest critique and bullying. Part of the process is to learn the difference.

I'm off to get stuff done! Peace, love and creativity!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Out with the Old, In with the New

I hope the holidays didn't do you in. We survived, and sometimes even thrived during this season. My dad's health both mental and physical continues to be a huge challenge especially for my mom who is making hard decisions daily for someone who is angry and uncooperative most of the time. He can't help it, and she can't help but be hurt by it. It's a rotten situation all around for people who deserve so much better and I talk about it as little as possible because it makes me so sad.

My sweet husband is starting a temporary position tomorrow as a private chef. It's a great opportunity that we'd love to see turn permanent but for sanity's sake, we're setting our expectations at temporary. We catered food for an open house on New Year's Day and that went well. I am working on new menus and a more viable website for Yes, Chef! Catering, so all in all things are headed in a positive direction on the work front.

I have been fretting over the new year thing. Big Daddy and I were supposed to start our healthy living plan on December 26, but that didn't happen and then I thought we were going to start on the first but we were out catering and then went to 5 Guys for dinner after that and then today we got out of bed and ate bagels. I am quite literally eating peanut butter off a spoon as I type this.

This morning someone on Facebook mentioned One Word 365 and I've been mulling that over all morning. The suggestion is that I choose one word to guide me through 2014. No resolutions, just a direction for next 365 days. The first word that came to mind was love and while that's good, it was a little too broad. Next, I pondered on health (physical, mental and spiritual) for an hour or so. That gave me a little more structure with out being confining, but it didn't resonate the way I think my one word should. Then as I was getting into the shower, my word picked me. COMMIT. In every area of my life I struggle with inconsistency and I drive myself crazy with the fits and starts across the board. I want to take an online class, but I can't decide which one, so I do neither. I want to spend time with friends. I talk about it. I think about it. I haven't scheduled it. I should go to more meetings...maybe next week. I miss my bicycle, but heck it's already one o'clock. I used to be pretty regimented and then I wrote myself a pass for awhile, and the weeks turned into months and the months turned into years and now this habit of leaving myself a loophole is so ingrained that I don't even notice it anymore. Make a decision. Use a calendar. Make it stick. Commit. Commit to love. Commit to health. Commit to change. Commit to friends. Commit to accomplish.

Now, if you don't mind, I have an online class to sign up for. Peace, love and commitment!