This week I got caught up on reading blogs and discovered Zen Habits blogger Leo Babauta had an e-book called Zen to Done available for only $1! The book takes his Zen approach to David Allen's Getting Things Done method. I am committing to implementing the first two habits, Capture and Process, in the next 30+ days. I already have the habit of writing things down (capture), but processing my inboxes is going to require a little more focus. Looking down the road at setting life goals and long-term goals, he suggests you only set a single yearly goal. I know I have too many irons in the fire right now (a photography course, building my own business, planning for Morocco next year) but I don't know how to pare it down -- it's difficult for me to focus on one thing for extended periods. The answer, for me, might behaving a yearly go that can be approached many different ways. Say, for instance, that in 2009 I want to quadruple my income. I can do this multiple ways -- by setting up niche blogs with affiliate programs, selling stuff on etsy, getting more photography in my portfolio and some weddings under my belt so I can start charging to cover events, signing up for more mystery shopping jobs, doing some mechanical turk HITs, and any other number of income-generating projects.
I got two books today that will help me fulfill two other life goals -- the first to be a conscious business owner, the other to live joyfully and creatively. For the first, The Seed Handbook: The Feminine Way to Create Business -- I'm already in love with the look and feel, and the intuitive, high-striving commitment pages at the very beginning.
Just made my first-ever French Toast, sprinkled with confectioners sugar, with blueberries and real maple syrup. It is amazing how long I have lived without having any clue about how to get around in the kitchen -- aside from simple baking and the Christmas Sweet Potato Casserole.
I found the perfect "tool" for my fledgling cooking skills, a podcast over at StartCooking.com. Check out this video, simple enough, but I like the idea of making my fruit snacks look lovely and the idea of using frozen grapes for ice cubes? Genius!
There's also a blog you can follow, which sometimes has videos but also has recipes and instructions for those who'd rather not watch a video. Learn how to make Baked Macaroni & Cheese here!
I'm currently watching New England Cable News' Dream House and am mesmerized by an Asian inspired home furnishing store in Boston called Devi Home. I want to stock up on the Indian fabrics they have for duvet covers!
Earlier this week I was watching NH Chronicle and discovered a woman herbalist who is fairly local who takes on herbal apprentices and teaches at the farm Misty Meadows.
Speaking of local, I cannot say enough nice things about etsy seller rusticlanesoaps. Currently the store only has bar soaps, but often there are lotions and sugar scrubs as well. Wonderful work, smells good and makes me want to learn how to make them myself!
Signing off -- I'm full of yummy food, and smelling good, too!
Today I am pondering gratitude and its importance. There is so much talk of how the Universe will reward your richly if you maintain an attitude of gratitude. That may well be, but what about how great it feels? To me, gratitude is close kin to forgiveness. It becomes so much easier to forgive someone when you can find the gift they have brought you, hidden in the pain of whatever it was that required forgiveness, and be grateful for it. With pain sometimes it is nothing else but the reminder that I am alive, that I am human, that I feel. We take the pain and transmute it into blessing. A beautiful alchemy, a softening, an authentic experience of who we are.
I recently revisited a Tori Amos song and was almost knocked over by the bridge; "Give me life, give me pain, give me my life again.." I am often reminded how we can be grateful even for the difficult things. I believe when Leonard Cohen wrote "Hallelujah" it was not so much about a bitter and broken love affair as it was the expression of gratitude for having had the experience. The word "Hallelujah" itself is poetry that cannot help but express gratitude for life itself. How can we not be thankful for that?
Today I am grateful for:
• The opportunity to state my intentions and guide my day; it was a productive one! • My two furbabies and their unconditional love. • That I am about to have my car fully paid off! • The chance to cheer up one of my sisters over the phone! • Photographs of purple sunsets, twinkling stars, spooky black trees against a harvest moon, and Leonie's amazing wedding photography. • Galadarling's Quote of the Day by Erica Jong • meeting new friends on Blogger! • the opportunity to watch the seasons change; the brave and wondrous aliveness of a leaf at the end of its life should be an inspiration to us all -- I hope I get to tango into my own sunset like they do.
1. Love (otherwise known as that wonderful space of light others can hold for one another)
2. Respect -- or to learn the secret to quietly commanding respect, and that secret probably lies in having respect for everything and quietly expecting it in return, without judgment. I have not figured it out yet. Thoughts?
3. A space that FEELS creative to me -- that encourages my juices to flow (better feng shui). I find that I have great ideas at work (in my now-clean cubicle), but when I go home all the wind in my sails disappears. I have yet to pinpoint why.
Last night I read a great deal of How to Learn Any Language by Barry M. Farber, which has inspired me. After my current intense concentration in Spanish (though I am still a wee fledgling), I am going to take on French as well (early next year) and learn that in addition to a little Arabic -- preparation for my trip to Morocco (can't believe I just said that out loud!).
I am hoping to spend 4-6 weeks there, and I have not the slightest idea how it will come to be, but there you have it. Once I have my date chosen and my deposit down, then begins the fun of fundraising. I have a year to do it -- quite reasonable, I believe! Cross-Cultural Solutions is a great organization and I have traveled with them before. In 2006 I went to Costa Rica where I spent two weeks in a transition home with children who had been taken from their parents due to abuse or drugs and had yet to be placed elsewhere. The photo on my Blog Action Day post was taken in Costa Rica.
I thought I would write about three organizations I have supported through the years that are working towards eradicating poverty on a global level.
The first is Women for Women International. The organization uses funds from sponsors (like me -- I have sponsored two women in recent years) and uses them to help women from war-torn countries get much-needed education that helps them to be self-sufficient. In most cases, this is by helping them build up their own businesses so that they can better care for their families and provide services and skills to their communities as well. It's a win-win. As as sponsor, you get to exchange letters with your sister.
Kiva is a microlending program, also geared toward helping people become self-sufficient by loaning small amounts of start-up capital which the recipients then use to launch or expand their small businesses. The money then gets repaid, and, as a regular Kiva lender, I usually roll the money right back into another micro-loan waiting to be fully funded. Kiva recently introduced the ability to fund credits as individual payments are made (previously, you got the disbursement after the entire loan was paid back), so if you have several loans you've already invested in, and they get paid monthly, your credit is eventually enough to lend to another micro-loan while your money is STILL helping the first individual you funded!
The filmmakers who brought you Born Into Brothels began a wonderful organization called Kids With Cameras. Zana Briski brings cameras and the magical world of photography to impoverished children the world over. Having a form of creative expression gives the children confidence and hope. Currently they are working toward building a Hope House for children in the red light district of Calcutta (where it all began), so that they can get proper education and care.
These are all organizations I care deeply about and have contributed a good deal to over the years. They are well-run and do incredible, important work, shining their light in dark corners.
As a child she was a glorious Girl Queen of the Raven Haired, with skeins of light pulsating beneath her alabaster skin, and shining eyes. Once crimson red lips always curled in a smile to match her dancing eyes. Always she moved lithely across gardens and over plains of light and rainbows.
So it is no surprise that now she is an artist, photographer, writer, dancer. Tossed into the fire, she became what she has become, smoothed out by cascades of tears and the yoga of an authentic laugh. She believes in a world where we all remember joy is our birthright. And love is why we are here.