Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Day 44. Know What You Want At Writers' Conference


Here's the second part to yesterday's post about what I wanted to get from the recent writing conference I attended. Although it wasn't until our keynote speaker asked the question in her first session that I really thought about it, in that quiet moment of reflection, I knew what I wanted.

It was to have connection at the heart level. Yes, sitting in the workshops and listening to the speakers was going to be good, and yes, I was sure I'd be inspired and would gain knowledge about my writing, but mostly I wanted to connect with the other writers.

Not in a 'networking' capacity or to find someone who could help me in my writing journey, not just to ask the usual questions about where you live and what you write. But to have real conversation and to watch for opportunities to meet with writers who seemed to need encouragement in their writing journey. I wanted to notice and appreciate in some small way an aspiring writer's particular talents and interests, to affirm her dream. I wanted to watch someone's eyes brighten as he shared his story with me.

Looking back now, that's exactly what happened. I felt blessed and had great fun connecting with so many interesting and gifted people. You know, I don't think I would have had quite the same experience if I had not first declared that was what I wanted to happen in the first place. Mmm... there might be a wee lesson in that, if you think about it.

A desire accomplished is sweet to the soul. And I met some beautiful souls as a result.

'Tis a beautiful life,
Brenda

PS. Yep, that's me with my lime-green wallet on my arm.
Permission to use photo granted by Ruth L. Snyder
 

Monday, September 29, 2008

Day 43. What Do You Want This Writing Conference?



I had such a good time at the Writer's Conference I attended this past weekend.

Not only did I have the lovely pleasure to connect with some talented fellow writers, I feel more anchored in my own mind, as if longer roots have developed beneath my seedling dreams to earnestly take up writing in my life.

Our keynote speaker, Jane Kirkpatrick, a well-known author from Oregon, shared her stories and writing experiences with such inspiration that she made us laugh, she made us think, and most importantly, she made us believe in the gifts that we have within us.  She made me believe it too.

In our first session, Jane asked us a simple question: "What experience do you want to have this weekend? What do you want?" She wanted us to think about and become clear on why we had come to this conference and what we wanted to experience.

Possible barriers - wrong beliefs, bad attitude, fear

As the wheels of our minds started turning, Jane began to share possible barriers that we might encounter, and how we must strive to overcome them.

Things like diminishing or comparing our writing abilities and successes with others; discounting the nurturing that can happen in a place of like-minded people; being critical of the event, speaker or venue; not being able to receive the inspiration or encouragement coming our way because we think we don't deserve it.

Then there is the fear involved. Some people might be afraid to actually say what they truly desire, especially if they are not used to expressing it out loud or their voice has been silenced in the past. Or, there's the fear to give a name to what we want, because doing so indicates a need for us to move to action. And, ofttimes that action means we must leave our comfort zone. Oh-oh!

Have the courage to name what we want

So then Jane encouraged us... stressed that we must have the courage to name our desire, to say out loud what our heart really longs for. I'm thinking, how will we know when we get it, if we haven't identified the 'it' we want? And, how will we know when it's time to be joyfully satisfied if we don't know when the goal or desire's been met?

In the past, I have known times of satisfying sweetness when a want or goal has been realized. It feels good. I feel happy, complete. So, I was glad that our speaker gave us time to consider our reasons for attending this particular conference and what we hoped to gain from spending time at it.

Tomorrow I'd like to share what I wanted from this conference and how beautifully it was met.

Inspiration-ly yours,
Brenda


Link to Day 44





Sunday, September 28, 2008

Day 42. Love In Working Clothes


Sometimes it's hard to love people--especially when they are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered.

But a familiar saying, apparently engraved on the wall of Mother Teresa's home for children in Calcutta, reminds me to love people anyway... because that's what Love does. A vibrant picture of what Love looks like in working clothes.
 
LOVE THEM ANYWAY

"People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people may accuse you of selfish motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you may win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable.
Be honest and transparent anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People who really want help may attack you if you help them.
Help them anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you may get hurt.
Give the world your best anyway.


May your day be filled with much love!
Lovingly,
Brenda




Saturday, September 27, 2008

Day 41. Keeper of the Springs by Ingrid Trobisch

Today I want to give you a peek into a favourite book of mine.

Keeper of the Springs
Making Home the Place for Which You're Longing
by Ingrid Trobisch

In this beautifully written book with lovely illustrations, the author shares her thoughts about the beauty of homekeeping and the value of  cultivating beauty, preserving tradition, and creating atmosphere in the midst of one's hectic family life.

Here's an excerpt from the inside cover...

"Gatekeepers, innkeepers, timekeeper -- each understands their task and is devoted to preserving the important things. Using as a metaphor the springs on her Ozark property, Ingrid Trobisch offers time-tested inspiration for tending the spiritual center of house and home.

These springs, an earthen bridge, and a rushing stream are powerful pictures of Ingrid's homekeeping on three continents: in a mud hut in Africa, a Bavarian cottage in Austria, and a hand-hewn rock farmhouse in the American heartland. Come sip lemonade on her front porch, stroke her grandmother's worn patchwork quilt, take in the aroma from a thousand village fires in an Ethiopian wooden pillow. Draw courage and inspiration from Ingrid's joyful reflection as a keeper of Shelter."

In our post-modern world, there is even a greater need for the art of home-keeping, for cultivating beauty and preserving traditions that make our lives meaningful, not to mention creating a loving atmosphere in the midst of our hectic lives.

This book by Ingrid Trobisch reminds me that no matter that we're in the 21st century, no matter that life is filled with so much technology or world-wide horrors, there are some things that are worth keeping and passing along to the next generation.

Gracefully yours,
Brenda






Friday, September 26, 2008

Day 40. The Gift of Compliment


Sometimes it's hard for us to accept compliments from other people. Especially when they refer to something we're uncomfortable about for some reason...for example, our hair isn't the way we like it, and now someone says, "Hey, I like your hair today."

It's so easy to respond with, Oh but it's such a mess. Imagine for a moment what we're actually doing when we give such a reply. We're sending the message that our friend must have poor taste or bad judgment. When she gives the compliment, she's saying she noticed something about us she likes. With our moaning response, we may be unintentionally rejecting both the gift and the giver.

We've undoubtedly all experienced a time when our own generous offer was 'thrown back' at us. It doesn't feel right, does it? There's a pause in the air, we feel slighted, and even if we don't take offence, that moment, which could have been so beautiful, has been marred.

It's as important to be a generous receiver as it is to be a generous giver. We need both givers and receivers to make any giving 'transaction' complete. Our mothers taught us to say thank you when we receive a gift. A simple thank you in response to a compliment is also good manners. It's a gracious way to acknowledge the gift and its giver.
"Everyone wants to be appreciated so if you appreciate someone, don't keep it a secret." -- Mary Kay Ash

Sincere compliments may be free, but they are not cheap. They affirm us, encourage us, and lift us up. The gift of compliment...it's a beautiful way we can all live our lives more beautifully.

On that note, I want to take a few more words to thank my dearest mom for her gift of compliment to me all these years. For years, she's been encouraging me to write, telling me I have a way with words. I'm finally having the courage to write more.

Wishing you a beautiful day,
Brenda




Thursday, September 25, 2008

Day 39. At Least Make Time For This

 

Some days are just busy, busy -- today was such a day. Which means there wasn't much of a chance to create a nice post for you on this Day 39.

It's my hope that the quote ascribed to Johann von Goethe will give you a little something to think about and will have made your visit somewhat worth your while.

Here's wishing you a beautiful day!

Busily yours,
Brenda



Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Day 38. Hello Beauteous One!

   "I can live for two months on a good compliment."
~ Mark Twain


"Hello, Beauteous One." That was the way Min, a woman with whom I became acquainted in my early twenties, often greeted me when we met.

At first I thought she was just being kind... or cutesy. Yet whenever we'd meet in our social circle, she'd offer it with such grace and sincerity I began to think she meant it. I even started looking forward to bumping into her, just to hear those delightful words again.  I don't recall anyone ever calling me beautiful before, at least not so that it registered on my heart.

I often wondered if Min knew I needed such a message at that time in my life. As I was growing up, in my heart of hearts, I never felt beautiful. But, here was this woman who kept 'watering' my heart, reinforcing her positive message time after time; I began to blossom under those affirming words. I became a little more confident and less shy. The 'ugly duckling' feelings began to recede. 

We want to know we're beautiful

It seems there is something deep within the feminine heart of each woman that needs to know she's lovely in someone's eyes. Could it be that's why we can obsess about how we look? We hope against hope that, yes we are attractive, alluring, beautiful.

Author John Eldredge confirms that in his short book You Have What It Takes, What Every Father Needs to Know. He believes that, within the heart of most every girl as she's growing up, is the desire to know that she is captivating and worth fighting for. She wants to know she is a 'princess'.


When he says you're Beautiful, believe him

I will never forget the time when I said something to my husband (we were married about ten year at the time) about not feeling beautiful. Wonderful man that he is, Hubby so often affirmed that I was beautiful to him. Yet for all that, I never felt quite sure if he was just saying that to be nice.

That day he was surprised I still felt unsure about it. I saw myself in a new light. First, I realized I had not been taking him at his word; I wasn't really believing him. He's an honest man, he has integrity, so why would I not trust him in this instance? Second, I decided that I could trust him -- if he said that I was always beautiful to him, then I would accept and believe it. I'd take the man at his word. 

I want you to know it made a difference in how I saw myself. I stopped obsessing about how I looked. When I accepted the compliment as true, my attitude towards the woman in the mirror changed; I began to accept myself -- just the way I was. I began to see myself through his eyes and it was enough to set my mind and heart at ease, once and for all. Even on bad hair days.

Beautiful Challenge
 
Mark Twain once said he could live two months on a good compliment. I, too, flourish on genuine compliments. Even after all these years, Min's salutation still warms my heart. Her carefully chosen words beautifully changed how I saw and felt about myself -- they changed my life.

So much so that I began to watch for opportunities to pass along this gift to others. Offering compliments and noticing the beauty in the faces of those I meet.  

Today, I set before you a little challenge. Why not look for ways you can lavishly hand out compliments to the people around you -- compliments you mean, of course -- and then remember to deliberately believe any generous words you receive from your family, friends, and other acquaintances.

It's another way to live our lives more beautifully,
Brenda



Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Day 37. Evening Reflections

 
Lately we've been chatting about Autumn being our favourite season of the year. 
 
Which reminds me of something Nancy Lindemeyer, former Editor in Chief of Victoria magazine, wrote in the September 1995 issue regarding a running discussion she has with her son about the seasons. His favourite season is Spring and hers is Autumn.

He asks, "How can you like misty mornings and falling leaves instead of clear spring mornings and trees in fresh green?"

She replies because she is a romantic... we romantics love rainy days and fall afternoons because they give us time to reflect. In spring we're too busy observing everything simply to sit back.

Yes, I think that's why I, too, like autumnal twilight, evening shadows, and cozy sitting rooms aglow with lamp lights. They provide an opportunity to sit quietly, to observe, reflect, dream, listen.

As I sit here at my desk writing this post, it's 7:30 in the evening. Dusk hovers outside my window. The sun has set, leaving a softly-tinted sky. My regal bell-shaped desk lamp now fills the study with a sense of golden tranquility. And I feel a peace settling around my shoulders, as the burdens and cares slip away in the quietude of the moment.

I hope you're having your own amber moments.  I'm wishing you peace.

Tranquilly yours,
Brenda


PS. You might enjoy watching to this peaceful Evening Prayer video.




Monday, September 22, 2008

Day 36. Ambiance



I didn't always recognize that the ambiance -- or atmosphere -- of a certain place or experience plays a key role in how well I enjoy it. If it evokes the sense of beauty, festivity, adventure, creativity, coziness, or camaraderie, I feel my emotional and energy levels rising. If it's dismal, dingy, and dreary, I can feel my energy and interest draining away. I can get the same emotional triggers from reading a book or watching a movie.

Perhaps that's why, when I woke this morning to find it rainy and overcast, I got the urge to watch the wonderful Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks 1998 movie You've Got Mail. Especially that scene where Meg's character, Kathleen, is decorating her bookshop with lights and seasonal decorations. It's autumn, and you can feel the contrast of the blustery weather on the outside with the warm cozy ambiance inside. The scene draws you to come in out of the elements.

I've also come to recognize another interesting aspect -- ambiance is also a frame of mind and I have the ability to create my own ambiance if I need to. One way I do that is by envisioning in my mind's eye what I want. For years I called it 'getting into my pretty world'. From that frame of reference, it has coloured how I feel and how I see what's around me.

For instance, having coffee in a paper cup, sitting on a hard plastic seat in the local mall does not evoke the same ambiance as when I go to a cozy cafe, where people, relaxing in big slouchy chairs, are enjoying their conversations as they drinking lattes from nicely-shaped mugs. But even on those occasions, when I find myself in a less amiable setting, I can still choose to create an ambiance through my imagination that's fun and a little adventurous.

For many people, rainy, blustery days evoke the emotional 'blahs'. For me? I choose to find the 'romance' in the day. I think of misty days in England and lots of green grass. I think of lamps that cast golden glows in gloomy corners. I think of freshly baked cinnamon buns and homemade soup simmering on the back burner.

And, I think of movies like You've Got Mail! Somehow its ambiance reaches past the TV screen and permeates my own environment. A warm contentment washes over me. Maybe that seems strange, but different things stir the imagination for each of us. I wonder what stirs you and creates an ambiance that makes you say, "Ah, this is the life."

Cozily yours,
Brenda
xox


PS. Here's an interesting article I just found on-line.




Sunday, September 21, 2008

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Day 34. Getting Organized

thegraphicsfairy.com
 
When do you like to get your major house cleaning done? I favour autumn cleaning over spring cleaning, because in spring I want to get outside after the long winter, whereas when summer wanes and autumn falls around us, I love the idea of nestling nearer to the heart of the home and getting ready for the cooler days.

Some years ago now, I found a great website created by Marcia Gracia called Get Organized Now!. If you want to know something about organizing, this is a site to check out. There are ideas galore and Maria posts a monthly chart which has tips and ideas for each day.

Organizingly yours,
Brenda
xox







Friday, September 19, 2008

Day 33. The Clutter Bugs Show Up Too!



Remember the Dust Bunny Conference I was telling you about the other day? Well, on closer inspection, it turns out that there's more to that story. It seems the Clutter Bugs showed up at my house the same time, so between the dust bunnies and the clutter bugs, I'm sure you can guess what I need to do for a couple of hours today.

Focus on how good it feels when you're done

When it comes to cleaning the house my first response is not always as enthusiastic as it could be. Sometimes I have to remind myself that setting things right in my home is part and parcel of creating a little heaven on earth. Order is part of what makes any setting feel more beautiful. It sets the soul free to think more clearly... and creatively too. If I only focus on the mess, I feel the negative ugg, but if I refocus my thoughts on the end result of my labours -- the beauty and comfort of a clean and tidy space in which I can enjoy alone or with others -- that changes everything.

Add something pretty or fun to the task

Plus, if I include something pretty, fun, or creative in the task as I go along that goes a long way too. For example, with a tidy house in sight, I suddenly feel like calling a friend to stop by for coffee later. Abandoning my feather duster for a moment, I run out into the garden with my snippers to gather a posy of late-blooming roses or cheery marigolds for the kitchen table. There, that looks lovely! Setting out the cups and plates along with those pretty seasonal napkins I've been longing to use -- for me, these all turn a tedious chore into something more luxurious and joyful.

So dear beautiful friends, I'm sending special 'heart of the home' wishes to you and hope you have a beautiful day!

Domestically yours,
Brenda

xox








Thursday, September 18, 2008

Day 32. Ducks and Rainbow Trout


"Certainly it was a lovely autumn morning;
the leaves were fluttering red to the ground."
~ Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own


My joy is brimming this morning! Yesterday's outing to the countryside was a feast for the senses... autumn is falling off trees everywhere and fields are ripe unto harvest.

I met my friend at a lake resort. Resorts in the summer time are usually buzzing with activity and people and noise. But yesterday there was a languid peace hanging over the town and lakefront. Mommas with babies strolling on gravel pathways, young lovers setting up a picnic in the sun, ducks puddling in the water. The lake was calm and still, and it wasn't long before our own thoughts and minds mirrored that same stillness. Our conversation over the afternoon drifted easily as we caught up on two year's worth of living.

If you will recall, I've shared before about the value of taking time to restock our inner wells, filling the pond, as it were, with fresh 'fish'. Even as my joy is overflowing today, I've also noticed my inner pond is teeming with new zest and creativity. When I got home last night, I could barely put down my pen; thoughts flowed as effortlessly as those ducks in the water and new ideas were jumping out all over like rainbow trout.

No doubt we would agree that holidays and rests are good for us. It's not that we don't like or enjoy them, but sometimes it's so easy to put them off, thinking we'll do it when it's more convenient, and       when we get all the urgent stuff out of the way.

The day I spent with my friend Betty, hanging out by the lake and later at her home deep in the countryside, made me see again how necessary it is for our health and well-being, as well as our joy and creativity, to plan times away from our usual activities.

September offers so many beautiful and colourful opportunities, I hope you will have the courage to sneak away and enjoy a tiny respite during your week. I hope you'll find yourself pleasantly and creatively surprised!

Blissfully yours,
Brenda
xox







Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Day 31. Off On A Ramble!


Source

I meant to do my work today
But a brown bird sang in the apple-tree,
And a butterfly flitted across the field,
And all the leaves were calling me.
And the wind went sighing over the land,
Tossing the grasses to and fro,
And a rainbow held out its shining hand ~
So what could I do but laugh and go?
~ Richard Le Gallienne


What a gorgeous autumn-y day. The trees in the neighbourhood are absolutely resplendent as they stand like massive bulbs of brilliant sunlight in people's front yards.

How can I possibly stay indoors on such a day! Like the author of the poem above, I have to laugh and go out into it. It's a good thing I've actually scheduled a ramble out to the country -- shortly I'm heading down the road south to visit a dear friend I haven't seen in two years!

If you hear the wind sighing through the leaves today, or you catch a flock of fat birds nibbling away at your feeders, why not laugh and let go... take a moment to enjoy the gifts that have been given to you this day!

Joyfully yours,
Brenda






 

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Day 30. Books I'm Enjoying

Source

Reading and books remain a constant joy in my life. Ever since I can remember, curling up with a good book has been my all-time favourite activity. If my mom asked me what I'd like for a treat from the city, the reply always came, "A book, please."

I enjoy a variety of genres -- fiction and non-fiction -- and I'm often drawn to authors that stir and motivate me to think new thoughts and envision a better world or life. The stories touch my heart where it yearns for clues to live my life more beautifully, lovingly, and purposefully.

Today I'm sharing a short list of books that have spoken to me in some way. I hope you will discover nuggets and treasures for your own life, should you decide to read them.

I'm always interested in finding out what other people are reading for inspiration or fun. If you'd like to share a current or past favourite, I hope you'll leave a comment.

Blissfully yours,
Brenda




1,000 Marbles, A Little Something About Precious Time by Jeffrey Davis. This one makes you stop and take notice. If you knew you only had 1,000 Saturdays left to live, would you spend them as you do right now? Or change what you do? Let Jeffrey Davis inspire you to get on with doing what makes your life more meaningful and fulfilling.

A Short Course in Kindness by Margo Silk Forrest. A little book on the importance of love and the relative unimportance of just about everything else. Ms. Forrest says her mission in life is to "add love to the world--to change the world, one heart at a time." She shares some lovely stories and ideas on living life more kindly.

The Generosity Factor, Discover the Joy of Giving Your Time, Talent, and Treasure by Ken Blanchard and S. Truett Cathy. Based on the teaching 'it is more blessed to give than receive', this little story reveals five key principles, including the recognition that wealth is not just about treasures in the bank. The information may not be new, but its allegorical presentation shines a new light on the definition of success.

The Shack by William P. Young. I loved this book. Although it starts out with a tragedy, if you stick with it, this story takes you on one amazing journey, which leaves the reader marveling at God's love and healing in the midst of a world that is filled with so much hardship and sadness.


Monday, September 15, 2008

Day 29. Dust Bunny Conferences

Source

I've been busy dusting this morning. You see, while I was away at an inspirational Women's Conference this past weekend, it appears that the local Dust Bunnies Society used my house as its venue for their own meeting place. As the sun streams into my living room, I can see that a good time must have been had by all -- very visible signs of their presence are in every corner!

I'm reminded of Dorothy Cannell's musings on spring cleaning in her mystery novel entitled The Spring Cleaning Murders:
"Oh, the joy of routing woodworm from the back-bedroom bureau! (What a recharging of the female batteries at discovering enough dirt under the sofa to plant pansies!)"

I can relate. I, too, feel a great satisfaction in discovering layers of dust and erasing them with a stealthy swipe of the hand. The thicker the layer, the more recharged and satisfied I feel!

There's a certain beauty in getting rid of the excess clutter, putting things back in their places, and adding a gleam of polish to furniture pieces. For me, bringing order out of chaos in my cupboards, closets and corners plays a key role in making my life more beautiful...I'm happier when things are in place, and I find I'm more creative and energetic too.

Here are Five Beauty Tips for your home
1. A place for everything, and everything in its place.
2. Keep only what you believe to be beautiful or useful.
3. Don't spend dollar time on penny jobs.
4. Don't just wait for 3-hour slots to clean; use 5- and 10-minute time spots too.
5. Clean one at a time--one drawer, one shelf, one cupboard, one set of files, one bathroom.You can carry on, if you're so inclined.


On that note, I'm off to round up more dusty bunnies... it seems those rascals used every room in the house!
Wishing you a beautiful day,
Brenda
xox









Sunday, September 14, 2008

Day 28. Prayer of Peace

 
 
Sunday is often a day of rest and relaxation for many people, and for some, including myself, it's a time to reflect on God and our relationship with Him. So when I thought about what to write today, the thought of sharing a prayer with you kept going through my mind.

I have always loved the beautiful prayer by St. Francis of Assisi. Although it's almost 800 years old, its inspirational message continues to echo in my heart as I, too, long to be an instrument of peace and love in a world that hurts so much.
 
 
 PRAYER OF PEACE

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Amen.

St. Francis of Assisi (1181-1226)


May you enjoy blessings of peace, joy and rest today!

Prayerfully yours,
Brenda




Saturday, September 13, 2008

Day 27. Need An Artist's Date Today?

Source: Olu Eletu / unsplash.com


Ever get bogged down on an idea for a new article or blog post that seemed clear enough when you started, but now it's not working as you try to develop it? Seems that me today. The ideas feel stuck and there is no flow. Yesterday everything was fine, yet today it's not.

Maybe it's time to take Julia Cameron's advise and head out for an Artist's Date (see more on my post here). To go somewhere other than sitting at one's desk pencil chewing and cleaning the dust from the top of the computer.  To go look at something else, touching or tasting or listening to a new sensory experience. Just going for a walk helps to get ideas flowing again.

If you've been putting all your effort into a project this past week and suddenly you're unsure of where to head next, may I suggest planning a little Artist's Date.

Wishing you a beautiful day,
Brenda



Friday, September 12, 2008

Day 26. Just This Once!

 
 
"Just this once." Have you ever said that phrase to yourself? For instance, just this once I'll have fries with my meal; just this once I'll skip my weekly success meeting; just this once, I'll leave my purse in the car. Often we hear the phrase used when someone is choosing to compromise something like a decision, an attitude or promise.

Now, what if we take that same phrase and use it in a new, more positive way. What if we want to cut down on the coffee, and we say, Just this once I won't have a second cup. Of if we want to cut down on our snacks, just this once I say no to a second chocolate chip cookie.

Looking at it this way has really helped me. It's not a forever decision. 'Just this once' doesn't commit me to a new pattern for life, so I have no reason to feel overwhelmed. Yet when I continue to make that choice several times in a row, it's not long before I'm on a path to a new habit. Personally, I've been able to make some significant changes, over time, without feeling defeated before I begin.

To say no to coffee or chocolate bars forever -- no, I can't do it, believe me I've tried -- but I have found I am more willing and well able to say no 'just this once'.

I'll never forget an incident that happened to a colleague years ago. She went into the school to pick up her young son, and decided since she was going to be gone for just a minute, she'd leave her purse in the car. When she came back, the car was broken into, and yes, the purse was gone! Talk about the rigmarole of trying to cancel credit cards and get new ID, she worked on it for weeks.

I decided at that time never to leave my car unlocked or my purse in the front seat. So often over the years I've been tempted, but I'm always reminded...don't do it, because you never know when 'just this once' will cost you.

Don't talk on your cellphone just this once either. I heard yesterday that a friend of a friend got hit turning onto a highway, and apparently she was on her cellphone at the time. I don't know if she talked regularly, or just this once, but either way it's cost her and her family of four. Now the car is totaled and she's in the hospital with serious injuries.

Habits, good or bad, happen one choice at a time. I want to make choices that bring me closer to experiencing my life more beautifully, with less hassles, and good health. So, Beautiful Readers, do you develop positive habits... or deal with the consequences of bad ones?
 
On that note, just this once, today I'm going to exercise and go for a 30 minute walk around my neighbourhood.


Making new habits one choice at a time,
Brenda


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Day 25. Blogging Is Great!




It's time for a mini-success celebration! I have arrived at Day 25, which means I'm a quarter of the way to my goal to write 100 postings in 100 days.

I never realized how much impact creating this blog would have on the rest of my writing life. I can't seem to stay away from the computer. Not only am I posting on my blog every day, but I've corresponded with other bloggers, written an essay and submitted it to my favourite magazine, entered other writing contests, and have dusted off dreams of writing a book or two (before, as my mother says, she's too old to read them).

The best part is my continued enthusiasm and commitment to write every single day! The practice that many of my favourite authors have said is a must to be a success at writing.

When Ann Vertel asked me to share my blog address with her three weeks ago, I had only a couple of rough drafts and my profile started. I had "met" Ann in cyberspace a while back when I signed up for her weekly e-newsletter regarding motivational coaching. As fellow bloggers, we'd been in touch on occasion. Now she was asking for my blog address.

Well, I couldn't send it with so little content in it...so I went to town and wrote and designed like mad (learning as I went, as this was all new to me). By the end of the day I sent Ann my address and I've never looked back. So Ann, I owe you a huge thank you...your motivational gift was even working in that simple request!

This blog has been the catalyst of getting me out of the 'one of these days' mindset to doing something in the present, from feeling like the Dead Sea (where water only flows in) to feeling like a gently flowing river, where incoming water that has refreshed my soul is now flowing out to refresh and encourage someone else! Loving that feeling of flow.

Joyfully on a roll,
Brenda



Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Day 24. MultiTasking Can Make You Absent

 
Women have become queens at multitasking. For years, it's been touted as a good way to 'manage' your time. Although we've mastered the ability to juggle numerous tasks simultaneously, I've come to realize that there is a downside to it all. While I may be getting lots done, I've become aware that most times I am not completely present to any one activity. Half here, half there.

Living in the present is being totally aware of your activity with all your senses. It's enjoying the moment in the moment. It's also being aware of what you are thinking about, and how you are feeling. Your whole being is present.

I have on occasion browsed through my mail or a catalogue while chatting on the phone, only to realize that in zoning out for a few seconds, I've missed part of the conversation. It's a little hard to respond with heart-felt enthusiasm or empathy when I don't really know what's been said.

My friend, Leila, once commented, "When we don't give full regard to the moment, it's cheating the hearts of two people." It's true. Both come away with less.

When I realized that, I decided to make a change, even if I get less done in a day. In my desire to walk in kindness towards people wherever I go, I've been working at developing the heart skill of 'being present' to the moment, to be with the person in spirit as well as body.

Even in the grocery store, I want to leave a fragrance of kindness by noticing the whole person, not just the hands packing my purchases. I try to make eye contact and smile at some point during the transaction. It makes me feel connected, and I often see a smile on the cashier's face too as I'm leaving.

I am reminded of Mother Teresa's words, "Don't worry about numbers. Help one person at a time, and help the one nearest you." To me, that also means being present to the one that's in my presence. When you are talking to me, I want to listen with my whole heart, not just with my properly-smiling face. I don't want to be thinking about the meeting I have with someone else in 15 minutes. It's choosing to love the one nearest me right now.

"Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do...but how much love we put in that action." I like this thought, also by Mother Teresa. It's not about how much we get done, it's about how much love we've put into it.

Here's to being present... to our work, our lives, our loved ones. It's a more beautiful way to live!

Gracefully yours,
Brenda
 
 
 






Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Day 23. Warm Fuzzies at the Vet

 
 
I took Miss Kitty to the vet yesterday morning. With Kitty having been diagnosed with hyperthyroid, and requiring medication, you'll appreciate how we've been stressing about getting the little white pill down one furry escape artist. Fortunately the medication can also be administered in a cream and rubbed on ear tips, so while she's not thrilled, Miss Kitty's struggle isn't quite so fierce anymore.

So there we were at the clinic, Kitty not being impressed to be there yet again, especially when the big dog in the waiting room realized there was a nice little kitty in the carrier. Oh my! Such a to-do with loud barking! We sorted that out by putting Missy and carrier in the other room.

That's when I noticed the owner of the big dog had a little toddler with him -- maybe a granddaughter. Her conversation started with 'puppy goes bowwow' and from there we were friends. Together we examined all the pet toys on display as she pointed with her finger and asked with her eyes what were they named.

The time came for her to leave with the man and his dog... and if she didn't run over to me and wrap her little arms around my knees in a big hug. Then her tiny, beautiful face looked up at me, lips all puckered to plant a kiss on my cheek!

Now I've received warm furry welcomes from friendly pets in vet waiting rooms, but yesterday my special treat came wrapped up in a spontaneous hug from a sweet little girl dressed in pink.

I just love how God seems to dream up the neatest ways to add special moments to our days. You never know what warm fuzzies you'll encounter at the vet... or anywhere for that matter. Best be on the lookout for them.

Warmly yours,
Brenda



Monday, September 08, 2008

Day 22. Is Your 'Should Do' Button Stuck?


Has this ever happened to you? You wake up refreshed. You're enthused, energized, and ready to begin your exciting project -- whatever it may be -- and then something shifts and your motivation level slides down somewhere around your ankles.

My inner critic thinks she's got the scoop on everything, always thinking my two or three items on a list aren't nearly long enough to be considered a 'real' to do list. She asks, "Don't you think you should be doing this too? Why are you wasting time on that? You are having way too much fun, it can't be right! You need dis-ci-pline!" (huffed out like a drill sergent)

As soon as the word "should" shows up anywhere in the vocabulary mix, that's exactly the time when my heart disengages and stops being connected to the project at hand. And, that's also when the day starts to feel heavier, harder, even 'should upon'. What's a girl to do?

Here are four ways that help me:
1. Turn a deaf ear to my inner critic. I turn the 'button' off and just quit listening. If guilt shows up, then I know for sure it's something to ignore. For my heart to remain engaged in the activity or relationship, it needs to operate from a love standpoint. Hearts are meant to work out of love, so my heart tends not to function correctly when guilt, shame or should get mixed up in it.

2. Look for the one thing that I am excited about right now. I've learned that wherever my passion is hanging out at the moment, that's where I need to hang out too.

3. Whenever possible, short-list the 'to do' list. If I've jotted down 17 things I think should be done, I pare it down and keep asking myself what really needs to be done today? (Now we all have those extra-high energy days when 17 things won't phase us, but this is for times when we're trying to boost our sagging motivation.)

4. Use this technique. I learned this from Mary Kay Ash. It's call the "Six Most Important Things" list. Each evening put down six items that need to get done the next day, and stick to that list. For me, the trick is to not add more to the list...or I start to bog down.

Turn off the should-do button. Live your life out of your heart, out of love for what you're doing, and you'll find yourself enjoying your life with more fun and enthusiasm.

That is what I call living the beautiful life!

Gracefully yours,
Brenda


Sunday, September 07, 2008

Day 21. Simply Sunday

source

Happy Sunday!

I was thinking about what I would share today, when I got an e-mail from my sister, Kathy. She forwarded a quote by T.L. Osborn. It fit so perfectly with the theme of this blog that I thought I'd let his words give you the thought for the day:

"Surround yourself with things that bring joy and peace and you'll always be creative. Tranquility produces creativity."
Wishing you a Sunday filled with many moments of tranquility and creativity

Peacefully yours,
Brenda




Saturday, September 06, 2008

Day 20. The Golden Rule -- Always In Fashion



I write a monthly newsletter for business women. It has a short column entitled Lead by Example in which I highlight a principle or characteristic upon which Mary Kay Ash built her life and company. I recently did a piece about her simple belief in the Golden Rule -- Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Or, as we'd say it in our modern vernacular, treat others the way you want to be treated.

Mary Kay believed if we will truly live by the Golden Rule in our actions and even in our thoughts, then our lives will take on new meaning, as will the lives of those around us. She felt that this way of life brings people, dreams and things into proper perspective, and she made it the framework for all her actions and decisions, even her possessions.

It has been said that Mary Kay Ash was a role model par excellence. She used to say, "God first, family second, business third". She lived authentically from her heart -- bringing light and hope and beauty to others. That's a dream I have for my own life. Not to build a business in cosmetics, but to be a role model for other women who may struggle to find their own path of beauty and purpose.

As women, we can spend a lot of time wondering about whether or not our wardrobe is in season. Fortunately, we never have to worry when we live by the Golden Rule... it's always in season and it's a beautiful way to make a beautiful fashion statement.

Wishing you a beautiful day,
Brenda




Friday, September 05, 2008

Day 19. Thinking Pink Thoughts Today

 
 
I'm in the throes of completing this month's issue of the newsletter I write for several Mary Kay directors in my area, so please forgive me if my mind is filled with many pink thoughts this week. 
 
The more I learn about the woman herself Mary Kay Ash the more I admire her for the vision she had for enriching women's lives, and the more I desire to catch some of that vision for myself. Here are a few of my favourite quotes by her. I hope they add some 'pink' inspiration for living your own life for others more beautifully today.

 


ON BEING KINDER...
"My goal is to live every day as if it were the holidays --
to be kinder, more gentle, more loving than ever before to everyone I meet.
If you will pledge with me to do this,
then we can indeed change this old world for the better."

***

ON CONSTRUCTIVE ACTION...
"Be careful not to confuse mere activity with action.
You can put in a lot of miles running in place --
but you will stop right where you started.
The secret is constructive action.
(Place) a value on your time and (learn) to balance
and budget your time.
Treat it as if it were gold, which it is."

***
 
ON TEAMWORK...
"Teamwork allows each person to be valued and
appreciated by others while contributing to the Company's success."

***

ON SHARING...
"We are the recipients of countless gifts from friends of the past.
We remember these friends with gratitude and try to
pass on to others something of what we have received."

***

ON HOW TO TREAT OTHERS...
"I have learned to imagine an invisible sign around each person's neck
that says, 'Make me feel important!'
I never cease to be amazed at how positively people react."

***

Wishing you a glimpses of heaven in unexpected places,
Brenda









Thursday, September 04, 2008

Day 18. Starting Fresh: Five Questions To Ask Yourself


"As you begin to live a more positive life, it simply makes sense that you take a look at your dreams and goals to see if you are living in a way that will best allow you to accomplish them." Chris Johnston, 101 Greatest Life Lessons, Inspiration and Quotes From Joel Osteen

With September being the time of year that often inspires me to start fresh on new projects or re-start old ones, I will often ask myself these questions to rekindle the spark of inspiration and to help me organize the work I want to accomplish.


1. Have I gone on an Artist's Date recently? (see my recent post about the Artist Date) When life feels a little uninspiring, I look around at my week's events only to realize I haven't done anything fun or creative for a while. So I plan a date with myself to re-stock my inner well of inspiration -- maybe take a walk in the falling leaves, visit the local greenhouse or flower shop, stop in at an art show, or the local library to browse. It's all fodder for stimulating the creative juices.


2. Have I included something on my list to which I look forward working on? Yes, there are things we need and should do, but there's nothing worse than staring at a list of not to inspiring have-to projects to kill any joy or eagerness to get started on the day. Make sure there is at least one thing that you are eager to start.


3. Have I layered my days with a variety of tasks, places, and people to help keep my interest? Just doing one project all day long gets dull and tedious. I don't know about you, but I need variety to keep me sparkling with enthusiasm. (See my post It's All in the Layering for a closer look at what I mean.)


4. Have I gone out? When I feel a little sluggish in my efforts to get going, I get going ... right out the door for a walk in my neighbourhood. Or, sometimes I head to the local stationery store for paper and a new pen -- I chat with the clerk and smile at other customers, I see something new for my desk, and suddenly I feel revitalized and ready. It's sounds funny, but it works for me.


5. Who is sharing the journey with me? I stay in touch with people who inspire me or encourage me. I have a number of people in my life who do that for me, but I have to give stars to my friend Vaun. She's vivacious, keenly motivated, and energetic, and whenever I need a boost of inspiration, I touch base with Vaun; I'm sure she has enough energy and bubbling ideas to booster start a whole army of world-weary soldiers.


“Throwing away ideas too soon is like opening a package of flower seeds and then throwing them away because they’re not pretty.” ~ Arthur VanGundy, Ph.D. (Idea Power, 1992)




Here's to new beginnings and fresh starts,
Brenda



Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Day 17. September And New Beginnings


It happens every single year. No matter now many seasons pass, when September rolls around with its hints of crisp, cool mornings and falling leaves, there comes with it a feeling that a brand new year is about to begin ... a year abounding with wonderful possibilities.

I used to love heading off to school armed with sharp pencils, pristine scribblers, and new crayons. I would feel a shiver of delight as I'd reach for the new reader and textbooks being handed round to everyone in the class. Even though I felt a little nervous on those first days, I loved finding out where I was going to sit amongst the neat rows of desks and to know it was my desk ... my place for the coming year. Along with that, there would be the secret hope that maybe this year my clean scribblers would stay neater, tidier, and less dog-eared longer. And, maybe this year math wouldn't be quite so scary, and the boy I liked would like me too.

Of course, we're not heading off to school anymore, but for me my inner clock is still tuned to September as the start of a new year. I often still celebrate this first week by gathering up new notebooks and pens, picking up the routines and schedules I'd thrown to the wind back in July, and I begin to dream and plan for my 'new term' of creative work, abuzz with renewed motivation and energy.




School,
Effort, and
Play.
Trying your best
Each hour of the day,
Making new friends,
Being good as you can
Exciting discoveries,
Reading books with a friend."
Boni Fulgham 


I like this little bit of poetry by Boni Fulgham -- seems that not that much has changed from our old school days -- we still try our best, make new friends, explore new discoveries, read books.
 
Does September indicate a new year for you? What kind of plans do you have for this fall?


Wishing you a wonderful September,
Brenda



Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Day 16. Book An Artist Date

Photo by Luke Brugger / unsplash.com


Julia Cameron, author of her popular book The Right to Write says that she often has writers and other creative artists come to her wondering why their work dries up just when it was all going so well. She says:

"Very often work dries up precisely because it was going so well. We have simply over-fished our inner reservoir without having taken the time and care to consciously restock our storehouse."

My dad used to enjoy going fishing. He'd load up the truck with his fishing gear and spend a day by a quiet lake reeling in his quota. And my family would enjoy the fruit of his labour -- a fine feast of fried trout or perch or pickerel. But then, as the years passed, he'd often come home empty-handed, and disappointed, even though he'd been fishing all day. The lakes were being over-fished and so the fish had become scarce.

Sometimes that's exactly what has happened to our inner lives; they are like over-fished lakes. If we keep dipping into our inner ponds -- giving and giving and giving out -- but never taking time to restock, our imagination and source of inspiration eventually dries up too.

How Do We Restock Our Inner Wells?

One way is to go on what Miss Cameron calls an Artist Date, a once-weekly solitary expedition away from the usual routine and do something festive that interest us. To find a place that lets us experience lots of sensory images. For instance, in the middle of winter, one of my favourite places to visit is a greenhouse or conservatory to take in the fragrance, colours and seasonal displays. I always come away rejuvenated.

Updated link added March 2015: Here is a link to a blog post Julia has recently written that further explains The Magic of Artist Dates.
 
The next time you feel your creativity drying up, why not schedule an Artist's Date and restock your inner reservoir.

Creatively yours,
Brenda




Monday, September 01, 2008

Day 15. Labour Day Celebrations


Happy Labour Day!

I must admit I've never really questioned why we have such a holiday. It was a day off from the office, to spend it doing something fun with family or friends, what more was there to know? But today I thought I'd click onto Wikipedia.org to see if I could find a nutshell sketch of the history of Labour Day here in Canada.


Historical Tidbits About Labour Day

The celebration of Labour Day has its origins in the eight hour movement, which advocated eight hours of work, eight hours of recreation, and eight hours of rest. (aka as the 40-hour week movement)

According to National Union of Public and General Employees, the historic parade for workers' rights was held in Toronto, Ontario on April 15, 1872. I share an excerpt from this site regarding Labour Day:
"Today, Labour Day is often more associated with fairs and festivals, and a last summer weekend at the cottage, than with what it was meant to be -- a heartfelt celebration of workers and their families...

Today we take paid holidays, safe work places, medical care, unemployment insurance, fair hours, union wages, and 'the weekend' for granted. But how many of these advances would have happened if it were not for the long-forgotten heroes who fought so hard to to make unions, and Labour Day, a reality in the first place?"

Because of their vision and sacrifice, decades later I can still enjoy these benefits. Now that I know, I'm happy to express my thanks and gratitude to all those people over the past century who helped pave the way to improve the lives of working Canadians.

Hoping you can enjoy a day off from your usual labours,
Brenda