Chasing Inspiration

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

In Which There Is Beauty

Gratitudes:
  1. Gift cards and ebook credit balances - it's the next best thing to free money for a bibliophile like me
  2. Sweet smelling hyacinths in lovely lavender and purple hues snuggled up against 
  3. My orchid, a gift from a dear friend, is growing new roots and new spikes - yay for flowers
  4. Winter appears to be FINALLY over and spring is gaining momentum!
After a long, long, long winter I am delighted that spring is taking root. Quite literally. I saw some rogue crocus spikes in the grass out front, where the rabbits promptly ate the succulent bulbs in a drunken orgy of celebration and dancing with the randy squirrels. Even the squirrels are excited and it's hard to get them excited about almost anything. 

After the dreary and oh so long winter I decided it was high time to stop and look around me. What do I surround myself with? Do those things feed my spirit? 

Let me step back a moment. My husband and I have been living amidst home renovations in some form or another for the last 9 years. And before that, the house was someone else's idea of...something. Let's put it this way, the house did not reflect who I am or who we are. It was a hodge-podge of styles and eras that was less than charming. 

I knew that someday I would have a house I would be proud to call home. Then I would display beautiful things. Then I would have flowering houseplants. Then I would hang our treasured pictures. Then. I was reminded, several times in fact, that there doesn't have to be a THEN or a LATER. It can be a NOW. And for our mental and spiritual health, beauty is important. Not what other people feel is beautiful, but what you feel is beautiful. 

I may not be able to hang our treasured pictures yet or display my mom's beautiful china tea set, but I can fill vases with flowers, nurture the orchids I have gathered to me like wayward children so they grow and bloom. I can drink my tea out of pretty tea cups. I can drink my breakfast smoothies out of crystal. I can listen to magical music. Wear rings and bracelets that make me smile. Bake cookies to fill the house with comforting scents. Burn luscious candles for the same reason. Beauty doesn't have to be expensive or invasive or difficult. 

Beauty is a wonderful thing. I wish for you beauty as you walk along your journey. 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Of Birthdays and Blessings

 Gratitudes:

  1. Gluten free cupcakes with lots of frosting.
  2. Spring weather, which is FINALLY here.
  3. Birthdays
Yesterday was my birthday. I habitually take my birthday off from work so I can do whatever I want on a day that is all about me. Usually, this involves food and friends, and yesterday was no exception. I had great fun with a breakfast date and went out to lunch at a new-to-me restaurant. Dinner was pizza with salted caramel ice cream for dessert.

It's not all about food, however. It's about the people I choose to spend my time with. I have been blessed to have some amazing people in my life, near and far. And spending time with them either in person or via the internet makes a special day even more special. 

Today I'm thankful to be a year older. Maybe not wise, but definitely move blessed. Thank you for being a part of my life. 

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Where Whimsy Meets Responsibility

Gratitudes:
  1. A good mani/pedi is a girl's best friend
  2. Sunshine-y warm weather after weeks of bone chilling cold
  3. Sara, our trusty CPA 
We compiled all the information for our taxes last week and phew, is it ever a relief to have everything in the hands of our CPA. It's a major milestone for the year that's done, crossed off the list, let's move on now. 

In getting our initial estimate (a refund, yo!) we decided to go through our budget for the year and see where we stood financially. Our 20th anniversary is in August and while the house is still under various stages of renovation, we both want to take the time and the money to really celebrate this other major milestone. So we reviewed, revised, shuffled, and it looks like we will have the funds to be able to get me to the Pacific Northwest to visit family this summer AND afford some sort of trip to commemorate twenty years of weddedness. 

This is huge. Not that we can afford such choices, but that we both agree that instead of funnelling all extra funds to renovations or mortgage pay down or vehicle replacement (aka the things responsible adults apparently do), we both agree to not one but two vacations and have decided to set aside the monies to accomplish this. 

If you know my husband, you know his decision making is based in logic and personal responsibility. He's not a frivolous man. He's not taken to flights of fancy and wouldn't be caught dead dancing under starlight in what he terms fits of whimsy. That's me. Or, that's more something I would do. When our ten year anniversary rolled around, we had the opportunity to take our first real vacation that didn't include camping, visiting the family cabin for a weekend, or traveling to visit family. Not that any of these things are bad. They are quite enjoyable, in fact. But we had never had a honeymoon and had instead decided to save for an anniversary trip. 

At this same time we had purchased our first home and were in the planning stages of what would become the renovation project without end. So, instead of that anniversary trip, my husband's logic kicked in and he decided it would be best to move those funds toward the renovations. 

Looking back, I can see a place of compromise in a land that is not either or. Then, however, life was different. I was different. I didn't push back. I swallowed my disappointment and after a single impassioned push for relationship over work, I slunk back and agreed and every time I take a shower, I see that anticipated vacation in our bathtub and tile surround. 

For my husband to look at the budget and suggest not just the annual 'family' vacation but also an anniversary celebration...well it's just not done. I had braced myself for a 'suggestion' that we shove that money into the renovation fund and push hard to complete all the indoor work this summer. Or for the money to make its way to a mutual fund so it could grow and become the replacement fund for our aging truck. When he said 'let's go somewhere for our anniversary' I practically fell to the floor in shock. 

We've both grown in the last ten years. Life has thrown us some curve balls and we haven't always rounded third to make it home with each inning. But we're still here and the experiences, good and not so great, have helped to make us who we are today. And as well as we know each other, there's still room to be surprised and delighted in each other.

And I'm planning on dragging that man of mine kicking and screaming into the whimsy of dancing under the stars cuz right now I believe that anything is possible. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

It's the Little Things

Gratitudes:
 
  1. A working snowblower and a husband who isn't afraid to use it
  2. Great teachers who are able to challenge my beliefs - cognitive dissonance can be a powerful learning tool.
  3. The ladies at the coffee shop I sometimes visit on my way to work - thank you for the extra, extra whip cream today. It was much appreciated. :)
 
I was in line at the post office this week when I overheard a couple of thirty-something ladies ahead of me compare their Valentine's Day experiences. Let's just say they were complaining about what they thought was a lack of extravagence. They wanted more than flowers and cutsie gifts from the men in their lives. They expected to be dazzled and treated like royalty and their lovers had fallen short of the mark, and these women were disappointed and angry.
 
I wish I could say this is not the norm, that most people I bump into are able to find joy and meaning in the little things, in the day to day guestures that friends adn family use to tell us we are loved and appreciated. That we matter. When I was a therapist I worked with couples who getting married or newly married. One of the things we discussed was how we perceive we are loved. Sadly, several of these couples stated they only felt valued and loved if there partner showed them through grand guestures.
 
On one hand, that's very romantic. I think we want to be swept off our feet, but when we rely on grand guestures, what was grand yesterday becomes normal and the guestures need to increase in complexity or weight in order to be considered, well, grand.
 
No one can sustain this. And when we focus on the grand, we miss out on the simple and the honest and the authentic.
 
It's the little things that over time make or break a relationship. Maybe that's where we should be spending our energies, taking care of the little things, noticing the little things, being thankful for the little things.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Of Pyjamas and Tulips

Gratitudes:
  1. My husband's willingness to do the laundry when I'm feeling overwhelmed or sick or generally don't want to
  2. That Canada is doing as well as they are so far in the 2014 Olympic games
  3. Rest
  4. Bonus gratitude - the lovely tulips my husband got me for Valentine's day.
We don't generally celebrate Valentine's Day. It's not because we're objecting to rampant consumerism (if we felt this way, we would also forgo Christmas). We like to go out and enjoy various activities together, but my husband isn't fond of crowds due to a hearing issue and he has quite a bit of introversion running through is veins. So instead of going out for Valentine's Day we usually spend an evening in with pizza and a movie on Netflix.

We also don't exchange gifts on Valentine's Day, though I have been known to slip a silly card in my husband's lunch bag now and again. Or surprise him with a dinner he particularly enjoys. And he used to be in the habit of getting me flowers on a monthly basis. Which is really more impressive than remembering to get flowers for Valentine's.

I decided I was going to take Friday off of work. I've been putting in a lot of long hours and I wanted a break. Just me, the dog. Sleeping in a little. Watching my new favorite show that is no longer on the air (Leverage), and doing some reading. I was going to take myself out for breakfast but decided spending the day in my pyjamas was more tempting. I never spend all day in my PJ's anymore!

I had this nagging feeling that I should let my husband know sooner rather than later that I would be at home and not the office on Friday. And good thing, too! He ordered the tulips for me with a Thursday or Friday delivery. Had they been delivered Friday, I would have had to go in to the office to pick them up. Something I could not do in my pyjamas.

We had our pizza and watched a DVD I purchased for Christmas while snuggled on the couch, my lovely tulips on a table near the TV, and the dog curled up into a ball on his pillow. The perfect Valentine's Day.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

When It's Difficult

Gratitudes:
  1. Sunshine even on the coldest of days.
  2. Good friends who let me vent and gently help me to become a better version of myself
  3. Bras that fit really, really well.
My life is consumed with the day job right now. I find myself stretched in all things work/life balance, in knowledge, and in skills. I can't say I'm very comfortable right now and I'm not quite sure how I landed in this place.

I am a generalist. I'm good at a lot of things but not spectacular at many. This has served me well in that I seem to have good job security. And honestly, I enjoy learning new things. I think I need a challenge in order to maintain engagement at my place of business. The down side to being a generalist is that I get pulled into tasks and projects that don't interest me even though I have shown some proficiency with them. Or I am handed projects that,  on the surface,  look like projects I have successfully tackled, but upon closer inspection are different enough that I find myself at a loss. And feeling slow and dumb.

This is where I am right now, working a project that is similar to work I have done in the past, and done well but took me nearly forever to figure out AND this project contains elements that I am unfamiliar with or, quite frankly, suck at.

When I'm not good at something, it messes with my head. I second guess every decision I make, every action. So I'm doing something that's very difficult for me. I'm waving the white flag and asking for help and guidance because deadlines will not otherwise be met. And I may just dissolve into a pile of goo if I don't get some sort of assistance.

Waving the white flag is hard for me. I don't like to admit defeat. And I really don't like it when skills allude me. I'm a smart girl. Why is this so hard? At least I'm not waiting until I get stress induced migraines and fibro flare ups and develop an ulcer before I ask for help this time. Maybe I have grown. Maybe I've actually learned the value of asking for help. I do know I've learned my health can't sustain this amount of stress for very long. So, no matter the reason for my finally raising the white flag, I'm just glad I am.

It's good to know I can still learn and adapt. :)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Wick By Any Other Name...

 Gratitudes:
  1. An evening to myself where I can catch up on organizing the little things - like iTunes and my ebook collection - without snide comments from the husband.
  2. Gluten free gourmet pizza - a nice cold weather treat for a 'me' evening
  3. Pumpkin nutmeg scented candles with a crackling wooden wick
We don't have a fireplace and I've been dying for a fire ever since the weather turned mean and cold last December. With little free time I didn't hunt down a cozy pub with a roaring fireplace to become my second home. Instead I found these lovely Nature's Wick jar candles at Target. It appears that Target is the only place that sells them. I don't know how you feel about Target's current troubles, but I still shop there.

What makes these candles special, aside from some of the yummiest scents I've ever smelled, is that the wicks are made of real wood and when they burn, they crackle! While it's not as fabulous as a fireplace crackling away on a cold winter's night, they add that sense of ambiance I've been craving. Now my house smells like pumpkin pie and when I'm jonesing for a fire, I get the crackle too!

My husband does enjoy the scents, and he's fussy. Is the man ever fussy! So far the scents I've brought home are all husband approved. He likes the apple pie scent the best. Velcro Dog votes for the spruce because it reminds him of running through the woods at the cabin. Me, I honestly don't care which scent is currently lit, I just care that the candles crackle. I swear, I'm now ruined for life. I can't go back to ordinary pillar candles or votives, or even decorative candles in jars now!  There's something about the, yes, I'm going to say crackle AGAIN! There's something about that crackling sound that makes me smile and all warm and fuzzy inside. It doesn't matter how cold it is outside or how bad my day at work may have gone, I light one of these Nature's Wick candles and everything starts to turn around.

Try it! You may just like it.