Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Monday, June 16, 2008
When I first started thinking about gratitude recently, I wrote a long list of things to be grateful for, which seem to sort themselves into five categories:
The gifts of talent and creativity, of imagination, of curiosity and of playfulness.
I think we often forget to indulge in the last three of these ... children are so much better at making the most of imagination, curiosity and playfulness.
The gifts of five amazing, delightful senses and an awesome brain and body.
I think the best ways to express appreciation and gratitude for such gifts is to indulge in them, to thoroughly explore and enjoy them, to use them to the best of our abilities.
It's easy to forget to be grateful for basic needs like food, clothes and a roofover our heads.
Most of us are also blessed with the fulfilment of emotional needs, freedom, justice, human rights ...
A wonderful way to express appreciation for the fulfilment of our basic needs is to respect them and avoid wasting them. Our gratitude is evident when we share what we have with others.
Nature really is boundless in her generosity! She gives us so many things to be grateful for: sunshine and rain, infinitely various light and colour, from the tiniest, breath-taking detail to spectacular, panoramic scenery.
Nature provides food, shelter, clothing ... even entertainment.
Expressing appreciation and gratitude for Nature's gifts is easy ... just enjoy them!
The Gift of People
I have used a picture of a tree rather than a picture of people. Partly because my pictures of people are very few and never very good ... this is something I'm looking forward to working on! But also because a tree is indicative of heritage, of the gifts we receive from ancestors and those we pass on to our descendants. A tree is also an image of growth, of strenth and resilience, all of which are gifts from the people in our lives.
Making a list of all the people who have been a positive influence in your life is a wonderful gratitude-enhancing exercise. Writing my own list has also made me express my appreciation directly to those on my list. Speaking and writing my appreciation enhances and amplifies my gratitude, reminding me how blessed I really am.
There are lots of lovely ways to express thankfulness for the people in our lives: a smile, a hug, a verbal or written 'thank you' or the reciprocation of an action.
The Joy of Learning
Life's many lessons are easier learned when in a place of appreciation and gratitude: mistakes become lessons; weaknesses become strengths; difficulties become challenges.
The happy, humble bee can teach us much about hard work and perseverance, and about making the most of our surroundings. I have begun learning about bees and am increasingly amazed at these phenomenal little creatures.
Sitting on my doorstep, watching then dance in the sage, listening to their hypnotic song, I can't help but be glad to be alive, to have a doorstep to sit on and a moment to take advantage of it, to have an acute sense of sight and hearing ... a simple moment filled with thankfulness.
Today I am grateful for:
Lots of pots to wash: Washing pots is a form of meditation for me. I find it relaxing to focus on the rhythm, the noises, the feel of the water and bubbles, the pleasure of a clean plate being lifted onto the draining board. My mind sifts through any problems I have when I wash the pots, searched for answers suddenly appear to questions that have been lingering all day.
A noisy, messy house: This being evidence of two healthy teenagers in the house, at home rather than out wandering the streets.
Losing my creative flow recently: For a few weeks, I felt unable to write anything at all. Instead, I spent a lot of time outside, quality time with Youngest Daughter and together we created a garden from a jungle.
Losing my focus: I lost my focus too, but this allowed me to refocus on some important things and people I had been neglecting.
Blogger, Twitter and Flickr: Or rather, all the wonderful people I have met through them. I truly appreciate the genuine warmth, the mutual support and encouragement, the inspiring thoughts and wisdom of experience so generously shared.
Thank you! x
Take a moment from your day today, make a cup of tea and put your feet up perhaps, or go for a walk and find a beautiful place to sit. Treat yourself to a little time to contemplate the gifts you have, the gifts you have received and those you have to offer.
Who and what are you thankful for today?
Thursday, June 12, 2008
And Joanna's lovely warm words of appreciation and gratitude have inspired me to think about my own thankfulness. Rosa, Joanna and Amy have all epitomised Aloha and Mahalo for me since I first met them.
They also inspire the values of ‘Ohana (those who are family, and those you choose to call your family ... a human circle of complete Aloha), Ha‘aha‘a (humility and open-mindedness) and ‘Ike loa (the value of learning and of continuous improvement, where life-long learning and the seeking of more knowledge is an on-going passion.)
This post has been written with gratitude and appreciation to Joanna, Amy and Rosa, because it was inspired by you and the values I see you living and sharing.
Well, I have had problems again uploading photos onto Blogger. The one at the top of this post uploaded without any problems but I have spent hours trying to upload some more, which is frustrating as they seemed to fit the words perfectly and I love mixing words and images.
Plus, I'm not sure what publishing will do to the spacing, having managed to upload one picture.
I'm really sorry if the spacing makes it difficult to read!
You can see the pictures on Flickr.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Like life, a garden provides pleasure and beauty alongside sadness and disaster.
Scattering the Seeds
We sew seeds in life every day; seeds of friendship and enmity, of success and failure, of joy and despair.
Sometimes we sew them accidentally.
Sometimes we choose to sew the wrong seeds.
Sometimes the seeds we sew will die or turn out very differently to the way we had expected.
Sometimes seeds grow that we didn't sew ourselves.
Sometimes we sew the right seeds in the wrong place and they struggle to thrive. Or we call them weeds, tear them out and throw them away.
Sometimes we sew seeds and don't nurture them properly. We feed them with worry and water them with doubt. Or we neglect them and the weeds take over.
But when we sew the right seeds in the right place and we nurture them often, with just a little love and attention, the result is incredible. Little seeds soon become flowers of amazing, awesome, powerful beauty. Beauty to take your breath away. Beauty to melt your heart or soothe your soul.
As a flower scatters its seeds to spread beauty through a garden, we can scatter seeds of tolerance and compassion. Or positive thinking. Or creativity. Or justice.
Making the Most of What We Have
Creating a garden is all about working with what we have. We cannot change the location or the weather or the soil, just as we cannot change who we are, where we came from or what we have to work with in our lives right now.
But we can work with nature to create something healthy and happy.
We can work hard to prepare the ground and provide for needs.
We can choose to plant things that will thrive.
We can adapt to changes.
And we can change the way we look at it ...
Choosing Our Perspective
If we don't like the view, then we can easily change it. We can uproot and replant things. We can grow new things. We can take down fences and build benches. (And weave hearts.)
We can change the view or we can change the direction in which we look. We can decide to go and sit in a different part of the garden and appreciate a different view.
We can change the view or we can change the way we look at it. The wider picture, the smallest details; both are as important in the garden as they are in life. Looking at something from a different angle, from closer or further away, can make a big difference to the way we perceive it.
We can change the view or we can change ourselves.
Lessons From the Garden
There is a time for everything. And everything has its time.
Things happen. Not everything goes to plan. (Often, things work out even better than planned.)
Weeds are just flowers in the wrong place.
Hard work in the right place is doubly rewarding. It feels good and it pays off in the long run.
Things may or may not work. But they are always worth trying.
The things we truly love and nurture will grow the best.
Nature As Mentor
Nature can certainly teach us a thing or two!
Flowers teach us that rain is just as important as sunshine. In fact, without plenty of rain, flowers will quickly die. Flowers also look gorgeous in the rain!
Trees teach us how to live alongside each other. Walking through Bluebell Woods and around the Mere last week, I was amazed to notice just how many different trees were happily living side by side. The reason I actually noticed was because I had seen this lovely image, and read Rosa Say's inspiring words:
Birds teach us how to greet the new day with a song. They don't seem to worry much about what happened yesterday, they are simply filled with joy at each new dawn. Joy at having worms to catch and a family to feed. Joy at being alive and being able to sing. And they share their joy with everyone around them.
Wishing you all a wonderful week, filled with riotous colour and jubilant song!
(The links above are all to images on flickr. It's much easier than doing battle with Blogger! I love sharing pictures with you, but still have real problems both with uploading and with spacing. Flickr rocks!)
* Lōkahi (loh-kah-hee) means harmony, unity and collaboration. For more on beautilful Hawaiian values, have a look at Rosa's fab Managing With Aloha Coaching.
Monday, May 19, 2008
The Moon will be Full tonight:
Sydney, Australia - 1.11pm AEDT May 20
Los Angeles, USA - 7.11pm PDT May 19
London, England - 3.11am May 20
(from Yasmin Boland)
There are lots of names for the May Full Moon:
Milk Moon (Colonial American)
Planting Moon (Chinese)
Panther Moon (Choctaw)
Bright Moon (Celtic)
Hare Moon (English Medieval)
Grass Moon (Neo Pagan)
Moon When Leaves Are Green, Moon To Plant (Dakotah Sioux)
Many of these are names that reflect the new growth of Nature. It would seem another great time to plant new seeds, literally and figuratively.
I'm busy planting seeds of all kinds at the moment. I am developing a new Channel on Helium, for Single Parents and designing the Student Mum website, both of which need nuturing and both of which I look forward to watching blossom. (Any suggestions for both would be gladly welcomed.)
There is also a new Mentoring Channel on Helium, another small seed filled with infinite possibilities. If you have mentoring experience of any kind, your insight would be much appreciated and valued.
A Recycled Garden
I have also spent lots of time in the garden over the past couple of weeks.
I am on a mission to create a garden without spending any money. This has included recycling the hedge cuttings. Youngest daughter and I have made little fences for borders in the flowerbeds, wigwams for peas and sweet peas, a bird house and a woven heart. We even made a usable bench from an old bunk bed, a large brick (hammer) and string ... no kidding! I've put the photos and comments on flickr because it's easier than putting them on here!
I'm a bit concerned for the safety of a pair of blackbirds who appear to be on a suicide mission. They're building a nest in the beech hedge on the other side of the path just outside our front garden. Not content with building a home in such a daft place, they've taken to thoroughly harrassing Tizzy!
For some strange reason, they spend most of the day dancing, right in front of her nose as she tries to chill out in the garden, hurling a barrage of abuse at her. So far she has pretty much ignored them, but I'm worried she's just biding her time until they have a nest full of babies to raid. Mind you, if they carry on spending so much time entertaining Mrs. Tizzywinkle, they'll never finish their nest.
I wonder if they're telling her they know she's there and they're not scared of her. But such a strategy is very risky ... all they've done is advertise their new home and thoroughly annoy the ur-cat at the same time!
Moon Phase Gardening
The phases of the moon have long been associated with agriculture and horticulture and are the foundation of Biodynamic Gardening.
The New Moon is considered a time to plant seeds. The waxing phase following the new moon, when the moonlight gradually increases, is said to be good for encouraging foliage growth. The waning moon following a full moon is said to be a time when root growth is encouraged.
So, on both counts I have made mistakes this week. I have scattered seeds left over from last year all over the garden and transplanted a hydrangea (I think) from an overgrown corner into the middle of the front garden. Not the best timing as far as lunar gardening goes, but the only timing I had available ... the results will be interesting.
The Benefits of Gardening
It's so lovely to get back into the garden, the therapeutic benefits are diverse.
Benefits to mental, physical and spiritual health are all available in the garden. Gardening is even used to treat illness or addiction, or to reintegrate people into the community after recovery. A garden is a useful place for teaching and learning. From basic literary and numeracy skills to social skills, horticulture is a useful educational resource.
This is something I know Dave Riddell will agree with. His Outdoor Classrooms projects embody the philosophy of natural learning alongside supporting the environment.
Fresh Air Feelgoods
Feelgoods to start your week, all about spending time reconnecting with nature or simply enjoying the fresh air:
* Buy a bag of rose petals from a florist and scatter them around your house.
* Go hunting for shells on a beach.
* Rent a canoe or kayak and contemplate life.
* Go to an outdoor concert.
* Go to an observation point or scenic overlook and get some perspective.Have a wonderful week!
More from Yasmin Boland:
How long since you read this?
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we subconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
- Marianne Williamson (not as often believed, Nelson Mandela - Mandela read it out at one of his most famous speeches, but the text is from Willamson's book Return To Love)
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
A Woman in the Moon song by the lovely Chely Wright
Another lonesome night
Staring at the sky
But I don't help to ease an aching heart
The man up in the moon
Keeps on talking himself blue
And once again I'm left here in the dark
Let me talk to the woman in the moon
I think I need another point of view
That ol' man up there
Doesn't seem to care
Let me talk to the woman in the moon
Heaven's up above
I just want a little love
Cause I'm so tired of living all alone
Please lend a friendly ear
Cause I need some help down here
Somebody with the heart to be my own
Let me talk to the woman in the moon
I think I need another point of view
That ol' man up there
Doesn't seem to care
Let me talk to the woman in the moon
I can't help but look up there and wonder
Will I ever hold him in my arms
Please help me with this spell I've fallen under
Cause I can't seem to find my lucky stars
Let me talk to the woman in the moon
I think I need another point of view
That ol' man up there
Doesn't seem to care
Let me talk to the woman in the moon
Let me talk to the woman in the moon
Ha! I love the idea of talking to the woman in the moon!
And a few feelgood links for you (well, it doesn't have to be Friday, I'm feeling full of feelgoods and always like to spread them around!):
I have recently learned a new word and new meaning within an old one.
The Hawaiian word Aloha is so much more than the hello/goodbye I had thought. It encompasses the Hawaiian value of love and inner spirit and it means, among other things, "I recognise the same breath of life within you." For more about the values within Hawaiian culture, from the inspirational Rosa Say, have a look at her lovely Managing With Aloha Coaching. Her site embodies a concept being widely discussed online recently:
I'm not sure what to call it, I'm not sure if it has a specific name (though many Hawaiian words express it) but I find it exciting and uplifting. It goes beyond ethical, includes creating (celebrating) the personal within the professional, the moral within the commercial, it speaks of respect and integrity in business life ... it is a holistic kind of approach to business, I guess.
To life, in fact.
And there is a word that sums it up:
Niebu is a newly-created, magical word that holds a whole new world within in it.
A word inadvertently created by James Chartrand of the excellent MenwithPens, by mistyping an early morning greeting to Dave Navarro on Twitter. Dave responded in kind and a new word was born. (More links to Niebu on Life is a Learning Curve.)
A humble typo has since developed into an awesome word/concept/philosophy. A wor(l)d full of positive possibilities, it means hello, goodbye, I hope you have a wonderful day, sending good thoughts ...
So, a very warm Niebu to you all! :o)
And a final feelgood (for today) is the concept of Outdoor Classrooms.
As Dave Riddell explains in his great post, not only do schools (and the environment) benefit from outdoor classrooms; there is a positive effect on the wider community too:
"Beyond the school, the construction of an outdoor classroom also benefits community members by providing opportunities to increase their environmental awareness and knowledge, while offering additional means of participation in both their child’s education and local environmental stewardship."
There has even been a positive effect on the level of vandalism:
"To date, no vandalism or disturbance of either the nursery beds or the native wildflower landscaping has occurred. This is significant, given that the schoolgrounds receive considerable traffic after hours and have experienced defacement and destruction of property in the past."
Tree nurseries, native wildflower beds and proposed constructed wetlands are all fantastic places to encourage the interest of children and their families in nurturing the environment. Such wonderful learning spaces benefit everyone and this idea really excites me, I hope it spreads far and wide like beautiful seeds on a helpful breeze!
Friday, May 9, 2008
I have been suffering from Information Overload for a while. (Forever in fact, having never grown out of the curious child who constantly asks "But why ...?")
But it's increased from a molehill to a mountain this week. Think it might be something to do with the gorgeous weather. I'm finding it hard to stay indoors. Especially as I've been working in the front garden and it's now looking lovely and tidy ... and the house looks like a herd of elephants have been having a party here for a week.
So being outside today is nicer because the sun is shining, but also because I'm escaping the chaos. And I now have a lovely view of my neighbour's awesome cherry tree in blossom, having cut down half my unruly hedge (which took almost two whole afternoons!)
I also created an arch above the gate, and in cutting down the hedge, now have a collection of twigs to weave into a fence like we did last year ... much to Youngest Daughter's delight (Eldest Daughter just rolls her eyes at my 'creativity' in the garden.)
So, lots done this week, but always another job to do in the garden, and I could happily spend hours pottering.
Meanwhile things have mounted up elsewhere.
Things I need to deal with (RIGHT NOW!):
Catch up with posts (on all five blogs)
Respond to perhaps almost 20 important emails (daren't count them!)
Tidy (and scrub) the house top to bottom
Tackle the side and back gardens (still entirely jungle-like)
Get out Summer clothes/put Winter clothes away
Some work for Helium
Reading/commenting on other blogs
Answering comments on Towards 2011
Reading downloaded ebooks
Reading library books
Writing recycling article
Catching up with RSS feeds ...
And that's just off the top of my head, without actually looking at my List Of Things To Do Today!
Sitting with a coffee in front of my laptop this morning, I realised I needed to have a serious word with myself. The problem is that I have too much to do, so I don't know where to start. I've started things then been distracted by what appear to be higher priorities, so nothing has actually been done. Ok, so what to do? I decided that the answer was to just do one thing. Excellent idea! the only problem of course, is that I have so much to do that I don't know which thing to start with ... hmm, that didn't get me any further.
I even wrote a monthly plan last week. I have everything I need to do written in a notebook, so it's not cluttering up my head and making me feel pressured. But when I look at it all in writing, because there's so much and most of it needs doing right now (or yesterday), I feel sick and dizzy!
How to prioritise when everything is equally important?
I was trying so hard to work out which one thing was the most important. And spending far too much time not actually doing anything. Plus the sunshine on my step was calling and further distracting me. A friend turning up for coffee was a great excuse to sit outside and having shared my dilemma with her, she suggested I write a post about it and left me sitting on the step, scribbling some notes for it in a notebook.
Writing a post on here was one of my priorities and after all, in the end it doesn't matter what the priorities are if nothing gets done because of indecisiveness (otherwise known as dithering.)
So, I'm writing this post. Then I'm going to tackle my emails. Then ...
Then, I'll decide what to do next! If I start thinking, "Then I'll do A, then B, then C ..." I start feeling all dithery again.
I start thinking, "But really, C is more important. Or maybe, on consideration, B is more important. Oh, I forgot about Q completely, maybe ..."
Or, of course, I could just go out and potter around in the sunshine again! :o)
Some Friday Feelgoods For You
* Sing loudly to Aretha Franklin in the shower.
* Send someone flowers for no reason.
* Send yourself flowers for no reason!
* Dance to your favourite music (in front of the mirror, with a hairbrush!)
* Make a fruit salad using fruits of every colour.
* Visit the sea, or a lake or a river and dip your feet in the water.
* Go roller-skating in the local park.
The above are all adapted from The Woman's Book of Simple Delights by Kerry Colburn and Debbie Hanley (Running Press: London, 2003).
The following is courtesy of Joanna Young on Twitter. Thank you, Joanna, this is truly lovely:
* Stand in your garden with bare feet, feeling warm earth. Breathe in sunshine and breathe out gratitude.
So, back to my garden ... erm, email inbox!
Because I know If I just get something done, it will likely trigger off a whole load of other things. That one thing done will be one less priority, whichever order they're in.
But how is anyone supposed to resist this:
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Lovely sunny weather in North Yorkshire so I spent most of yesterday in the garden. It feels like Monday today. I'm always a day behind, or a day ahead ... I get very confused after a Bank Holiday!
A Little About the Moon ...
It was a New Moon yesterday, a lovely positive New Moon, as Yasmin Boland explains:
This New Moon takes place on the Angelic Point known as "Creative Genius", no less! It's most certainly a chance for anyone with creativity burning a hole in their brain to start to actually do something about it.
And Conspiracy Planet explains that the New Moon is in Taurus:
It is time to ground and assess your personal goals.
What are your core values?
What makes your heart sing?
These are great questions. Spend a little time today contemplating what makes you tick and what makes you buzz ... sounds a bit like an alarm clock!
And don't feel guilty. At all.
Share Your Song
I saw Iyanla Vanzant talking on the Oprah show many years ago. Something she said about doing what we love, about nurturing our own spirits, has really stuck with me (I'm paraphrasing):
Spending time nurturing ourselves is not a self-ish activity, it's a self-full action.
When we do the things that make our hearts sing, our beautiful song is heard by others. And beautiful songs are catching. When we feel good, we're better at making others feel good.
My very wise Mum has often reminded me:
As a Mum you should always take take care of yourself first. You can't look after the girls properly if you don't look after yourself.
Good advice. Not that I have always followed it, it's not the easiest advice to follow. It's easy to get caught up in the struggle of daily life and neglect the small, important stuff (from eating and sleeping properly to nuturing our own spirits.) It's easy to run ourselves into the ground until we have nothing left to give.
Life today is very demanding.
Why is that?
We have so many time-saving devices, our days are longer, our world smaller ... yet we seem to have less time. Less time for the small things in life, the important things in life, for the people we love, and for ourselves.
Nurture You and Yours
But it's true that our children (in fact everyone in our lives) benefit from our being healthy and fulfilled, from our being able to spend quality time with them in good spirits.
Don't get me wrong, I think it's healthy for children to see we are sometimes sad or angry, confused or frustrated, that humans are not supposed to be eternally cheerful and always in control of life.
But besides all the benefits from spending quality time with us at our best, children also learn from us how to deal with the stresses of today's fast-paced life. If they see us take time out and focus on ourselves now and then, they are more likely to do so themselves.
Whether we have children or not, as individuals we must try to remember that we are one of our most important priorities. And I know it's not easy! But spend a little time on you today. Make a promise to yourself that you will do one thing that you love every day. The people in your life will appreciate it. They will benefit from it.
Another thought from Conspiracy Planet suggests that this is supported by the New Moon in Taurus:
If you work on your own issues with the greater good in mind during this lunation you will be greatly rewarded. There is great potential for a significant collective knowing, a return to caring and generosity among people.
Don't Always Go With the Flow
Sometimes, without us even realising, the flow becomes a raging torrent and we suddenly become aware that we are struggling to keep our heads above water.
Another thought from Iyanla, quoted in Louise Hay's Everyday Positive Thinking:
If you don't make clear and conscious choices, you'll be stuck with whatever shows up.
Choose to step out of the river sometimes and chill out on the bank, just watching the world go by. Soak up some sunshine for a while. Lie among the flowers. Do whatever makes your heart sing.
Have a lovely week!
Friday, May 2, 2008
Some Friday feelgoods for you ...
Welcome to the Magical Month of May
May was named after the Greek Goddess Maia, the mountain goddess "of the lively black eyes." She was also know as Bona Dea, the "Good Goddess," who was associated with healing - the sick were tended to in her temple gardens with medicinal herbs. Bona Dea was also associated with freedom from slavery and her followers were mostly slaves, low-class citizens and women.
In French and German folk tradition, people planted a tree in May to honour someone special. What a lovely idea. I can't afford a tree, but have decided to plant a seed for each of my friends and family. I'm looking forward to choosing something that has special meaning for them and planning making a list as something lovely to do this weekend.
See below for Deborah Ng's fab ideas for the weekend!
In British folklore, May is a generally unlucky month, it seems! Although with some great anniversaries. And thankfully there are lots of great days to celebrate in May:
Note: May 2nd is NOT Autism Awareness Day ... as I announced this morning. On Twitter! (Honestly, I'm not so much Twitterer as Twit!)
Wish I'd written this post first. Somehow I'd fogotten we were in May, and realising it was the 2nd, I posted a link to Autism Awareness Day, which was actually on April 2nd! Oh well, at least it means everyone has plenty of notice for next year. It's not the first time I've made such a public fool of myself (with evidence, in writing, online ... forever!) And it probably won't be the last. It's a good job I find it funny!
Every day in May (quite appropriately in my case) is a day of Mental Health Awareness Month, with this year's tagline: "Get Connected."
At least it is in the US. It seems we don't have one in the UK, but let me know if I'm wrong.
I think it's an excellent idea. Mental health is still such a taboo subject, yet one in three of us will suffer some kind of mental health problem at some point in our life. As someone who suffered from a total physical, mental and emotional meltdown a few years ago, I am happy to talk about it, if only to let people know they aren't alone (mental health problems are very isolating) and that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
May is also New Zealand Music Month in NZ and Celebrate Older Adults Month. It seems we don't have one of those either ... what a shame! I strongly believe we should cherish our elders and feel passionately about ensuring they are heard, particularly women, as you might have gathered from my Crone post! Wikipedia have a list of individuals who became famous in old age, most of whom are, interestingly, women.
The third week in May is Bike-To-Work Week ... another fantastic idea. I don't possess a car, in fact I don't even possess a driver's licence. I currently don't possess a working bike either, but I do walk everywhere or use public transport and really believe it's a great way to help the environment. Easy for me, I know - there are times a car is necessary. Well, we manage without one, but it is very difficult sometimes and we do have friends and family with cars, so benefit from that when we visit them. It must be very hard to avoid 'unnecessary' use of a car if you actually have one!
The second Saturday is World Fair Trade Day, something else I think is well-worth getting involved with.
The second Sunday is Mother's Day in lots of countries.
So, May is overflowing with feelgoodness!
I have a lovely, tiny, pink book covered in gold writing and glitter (would post a pic, but Blogger is being mean again!) It's one of my favourite books. It makes me smile, because it is filled with more than 200 everyday indulgences:
The Woman's Book of Simple Delights written by Kerry Colburn, beautifully illustrated by Debbie Hanley (Philidelphia: Running Press, 2003)
It's not exclusive to women, all the ideas are great for guys too ... although perhaps not these three:
1. Paint your toenails a colour you've never dreamt of wearing.
2. Try on couture gowns at a fancy boutique.
3. Buy fishnet stockings and wear them to a meeting you're dreading.
Then again ... I have a male friend who'd be up for all of them! The thought of a nervous business man with fishnet stockings under his suit makes me giggle, at least. (So it probably counts as an everyday indulgence of mine.)
I'll share a few with you every Friday and try and think up some more. Let me know your own ideas too!
1. Take a salsa lesson.
2. Spend a full half-hour at a florist's or greenhouse (floral smells are a natural high.)
3. Make a list of the best compliments you've ever received.
4. Read your favourite childhood book.
5. Invite a friend over for jump rope and hopscotch.
Does anyone else remember a game with elastic? I think we called it French Skipping. Like a bigger version of Cat's Cradle ... remember that, too?
6. Skip rocks at the beach or riverbank.
7. Let yourself have total stillness for 15 minutes in the middle of the day.
Pass on the Feelgoods
Deborah Ng has posted a wonderful list of 26 Free Things to Do this Weekend as a Family.
My first thought was to share them with you by posting them here, adding one or two then passing it on like a meme. But a much better idea is to share a link to Deborah's Simply Thrifty blog. So you can check out Deborah's post (and the rest of her lovely blog) and leave her a comment with your own ideas, then share Simply Thrifty and your own ideas on your blogs if you want to.
To be honest, it wasn't easy to think of any more, Deborah's done a great job! But here's a few ideas:
1. Make a simple bird feeder or start a Nature Journal.
2. Write and perform a play.
3. Decorate plant pots (or old plastic containers, like margerine tubs) and plant an apple seed in each one ... for someone special.
Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Daniel Scocco of Daily Blog Tips suggests various ways to participate:
1. Blog about it: on May 1st write a post or article on your website about RSS. You can just mention that it is the RSS Awareness Day and link to some RSS resources, or you can explain what RSS is and teach your readers how they can make the most out of RSS. You can even write a poem about RSS, there are no limitations here.
2. Use a badge or banner: We will be hiring a company (if you wanna help with the badges let us know) to produce several badges and banners that you can use on your site. You can use them throughout April or just on May 1st.
3. Help spread the word: see the section below.
There are prizes to encourage people to get involved but they are only available to people involved before 30th April. I'm sorry I didn't realise sooner, so I could have let you all have a chance to be elligible, but I didn't look into it all properly until this morning.
I just wanted to do my bit to spread the word because I think RSS feeds are fab! They've made my life easier and I always like to share things that make life easier.
What is an RSS Feed?
RSS stands for Rich Site Summary or more often, Really Simple Syndication.
For a one page quick introduction to RSS, see here: What is RSS? RSS Explained
As a reader of far too many excellent blogs and websites recently, I have found RSS Feeds invaluable for staying aware of what people are saying, without necessarily visiting every single blog/website every single day.
RSS Feeds are a way of receiving updates to favourite blogs and websites, being able to read them quickly and easily and then connect to the blog or website when I want to look further or leave a comment.
The BBC have a useful article on RSS Feeds and Feed Readers.
How to Set Up an RSS Feed to Your Blog
I thought maybe the best way to start would be to set up a feed from my own blog(s) and I set about doing that this morning. It has taken me all day! But only because I had no idea what I was doing.
Now I've done it, it's Really So Simple after all. It literally takes 5 minutes!
This is how I (eventually) did it, for anyone who wants to try:
(These steps work for a blog on Blogger. See Feedburner for steps to add an RSS feed to a blog on another platform.)
Step One: Burn a Feed
1. Go to Feedburner
* Type: myblogspotname.blogspot.com (without the http://)
* Tick: I am a podcaster (if you are!)
* Click: Next
2. Identify Feed Source
* Choose: Rss (rather than Atom)
* Click: Next
3. Burn Feed
* Type: The Title Of Your Blog
* Add (in box): TheTitleOfYourBlog (no spaces)
* Choose: Username and Password
* Click: Activate Feed
The next page says:
Congrats! Your feedburner is now live. Want to dress it up a little?
(Note the address in blue at the top of the page - it's your feedburner address.)
* Click: Next
The next page says:
Get more gusto from your feed traffic stats.
(There are options on here you might like to try. I didn't choose any because I wasn't sure what they meant!)
* Click: Next
* Open: Publicize (tab at the top of page)
(Note you can also Analyse, Optimize, Monetize and Troubleshootize ... love that! Will check them out after I've been using it for a while and let you know how they all work.)
Step Two: Set Up Your Feed from Your Blog
But for now, setting up your feed from your blog takes just a few more simple steps (you still with me?):
* Click: Chicklet Chooser (in the list on the left)
* Choose: preferred icon
* Copy: the html code at the bottom of the page
* Paste: in Blogger
(Customize/Add a page element/HTML/JaveScript and then paste the copied html code in the big box. Add a title if you like and save changes.)
Subscribe to an RSS Feed
You have now set up an RSS feed from your blog. Check it out, be your first subscriber!
The first time I did this, it was a case of trial and error (as usual!) so I'm not sure this is the way you should do it, neither am I sure how much of the process was decided by my computer's software (I think I had a Feed Reader inbuilt already, but they are easy enough to download, I think, see the BBC Website), so you may find things slightly different but I think it's all pretty well explained as you go along.
* Click: RSS Feed button
* Click : View feed XML
* Click Subscribe to this feed
* Click: View my feeds
I receive feeds in my Windows Live/Hotmail account and read them in the same place as I read my emails.
Some Really Simple Resources:
More on how to set up an Rss Feed from your blog at the Feedburner Help Center
General information about RSS Feeds on the Feedburner Blog
Spreading the Word About RSS Feeds
I'd love to see RSS Feeds from all the blogs and websites I visit, especially those here on Blogger ... it makes keeping up with everyone much easier, so I hope you try it. (And if you do, let me know, so I can subscribe straight away!)
Or subscribe to some of your favourite blogs yourself.
But I guess, like everything, it's not for everyone. It would be great if you could spread the word though, by mentioning it on your blog, or adding a badge, or maybe writing a poem ...
I really do recommend it as a productivity tool. (As long as you're careful not to over-subscribe!)
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
*Update* I posted it, but as often happens when I include a picture, Blogger removed all the line spacing! It was a lot to read all squashed up like that, so I am praticising patience and perseverance (through gritted teeth) and trying to re-post it as two posts.
Hope this works ...
Oh dear! Can't believe it's been a week since I've been on here!
No Woman and Moon post today ... but I'm working on it. Sorting through an ocean of research to make individual posts. Having missed a Creativity/Productivity day and a Feelgood day last week, I thought I'd do a catch-up post, with a little bit of everything:
The Full Pink Moon
(Just imagine a picture of a beautiful pink moon!)
April's full moon (yesterday) is known as the Pink Moon, not because it is pink, but because it occurs at a time when one of the earliest Spring flowers appears. The Farmer's Almanac explains:
"This name came from the herb moss pink, or wild ground phlox, which is one of the earliest widespread flowers of the spring. Other names for this month's celestial body include the Full Sprouting Grass Moon, the Egg Moon, and among coastal tribes the Full Fish Moon, because this was the time that the shad swam upstream to spawn."
April's Full Moon
Other names for April's full moon include:
The Planter's Moon (Colonial American)
Peony Moon (Chinese)
Flower Moon (Cherokee)
Wildcat Moon (Choctaw)
Growing Moon (Celtic)
Seed Moon (English Medieval)
Awakening Moon (Neo Pagan)
Some great names, hey? Lots of names referring to new growth (more fresh starts!) The Seed Moon is a good time to sew your seeds of intention or desire, perhaps by sewing a real seed and making a wish! (Okay, I know ... but it can't do any harm and I think small gestures like this consolidate our intentions, make them tangible and certainly make us focus a little more on them. Nurturing a plant reminds us to nurture our goal!)
Harnessing the Seed Moon
For ideas to harness the energies of the Seed Moon using gemstones and aromatherapy oils, or simply writing a To Do List, have a look at Trish Hoskin's article about celebrating the Season of Spring. It seems now would be a great time to work on creating a Life List.
The Moon of Geese
But I think my favourite name is that used by the Dakota Sioux:
Moon When Geese Return in Scattered Formation
I adore geese! I have always felt a strange connection to them, the sight or sound of them flying overhead gives me butterflies and always makes me stop to look, or listen if it's dark. They make me smile! But I wonder why "scattered?" Geese are usually so regimental in formation.
Full Moon in Scorpio: a time for letting go
The full Moon this month was in Scorpio, a time for releasing harmful attachments (to people, behaviours or thoughts):
"You are being given one more ritual chance this year to release attachment to old pain and arise like a phoenix from the ashes of burned off karma; freed from narcissistic self-obsession and ready to help others heal their own pain. You have the power to change! Visualize yourself as a snake, shedding its dead skin to reveal gleaming new colors."
Creativity and Productivity
Gmail as a productivity tool
I have been busy being productive for the past week. Well, I suppose it was more a case of building the foundations of productivity.
I have followed the excellent advice of Dave Navarro and am getting to grips with a far-too-long list of email newsletters by gradually transferring them to a new gmail account. I've read a lot about how gmail is a good productivity tool recently so decided to try it for myself. There's a post about my first steps on Freelance Writing Curve and I'll post an update later this week when I've had time to play.
Twitter for creativity and productivity
I've also been a busy bee checking out *other* types of social networking. (People often talk about social networking as something distinct from blogging, but surely the blogging community is exactly that? And that's exactly why I love it so much!) I have joined Facebook and set up a profile on LinkedIn but have especially enjoyed Twitter. The possibilities for having a positive effect in the world are amazing! People share thoughts and ideas, ask questions, swap interesting links and have fun. Connections are formed between all sorts of people and conversations are held that span continents!
It's not for everyone, I guess, but I honestly think it's worth checking out. It takes two seconds to sign up for a Twitter account and works just like blogging, but posts are just 140 characters long and you "follow" people rather than add them to your sidebar links. Try it, say hello to me and ask me if there's any way I can help. I may well not know myself as am such a newbie, but the thing about Twitter is that you can find someone who does know very easily!
New people and places I have found and some random thoughts:
These are just a few of the people I have met and the links they have shared. I will do another post about it with some more links, maybe this week's Feelgood Friday post!
1. Joanna Young (on Twitter) and her blog Confident Writing, full of excellent writing tips and virtual coaching from Joanna and some great guest posts.
2. Liz Strauss (on Twitter) and her lovely blog Successful and Outstanding Bloggers, on which there is a great conversation about the power of words.
Another example of a great comments discussion about powerful writing was passed on (via Twitter) by Joanna this morning (thank you, Joanna!)
3. Denise Willms (on Twitter) and the inspiring WAHM Articles, full of articles on a wide range of topics and very useful resources.
4. Maki (on Twitter) and his DoshDosh blog, full of really useful tips about internet marketing and social media (including blogging.)
DoshDosh shared these fab feelgood links on Twitter last week:
The amazing story of Moon (love that name!), a Syberian Husky who travelled home almost 80 miles across desert and mountains.
The inspiring Maria Ruiz and her work with impoverished children in Mexico.
All of which brings me to ...
Feelgoods and Wellbeing
Reasons to celebrate:
1. It's Spring! Why not try starting a Nature Journal to celebrate?
2. It's Earth Day!
3. The lovely Maddie Moon sent me a meme!
I have to choose six words to describe myself:
Honest, optimistic, stubborn, enthusiastic, feminist, writer!
I put feminist and writer because it made me smile, but if I had to choose two more personality trait words, they would probably be 'compassionate' and 'disorganised.'
(Or maybe 'easily distracted!')
Thank you, Maddie, this was fun! As it's taken me while to post this, I expect most of you have already had a go. But anyone who hasn't, is very welcome to!
A final thought ...
See post below (I hope this works, I get very confused when editing in Blogger!)
Monday, April 21, 2008
(Because there's a pictures, it might make the text squashed. I really must try and figure out HTML so I can maybe stop this happening, it's such a pain!)
A final thought ...
Sometimes things don't go as we want them to, don't work the way we meant them to, don't turn out the way we expected them to.
Sometimes this a good thing. Sometimes, what we end up with is even better!
This is the only pic Blogger would let me upload yesterday. I was trying to capture an amazing sunset strewn across the rooves. I took it and was disppointed with the way it looked so dark and fuzzy and totally unlike the original I had hoped to capture.
But it has a different beauty and when I put it on the computer I decided I really liked how the trees look as if they are merging into the sky, like wet watercolours.
But the best example is another evening photo of a tree which seemed to distort the colour, making it very red and as if there was a problem with the exposure. I really thought there was a problem with the camera on my phone and wasn't impressed at all, but it hasn't happened since and I really like the strange result, it's very atmospheric and spooky! (Will try and post that one another day.)
This is me on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn ... if you're on any of them, come and say hello!
If you're not, but want to try any of them, here's where you can set up a profile:
Then come and say hello!
I'm very new on all of them, but if there's anything I can help with, please just ask.
Monday, April 14, 2008
Lets spend today doing a few random acts of kindness and encouragement for our fellow bloggers.
We’re in it together, blogging is about collaboration and together going further than we can by ourselves - so why not help another blogger today by shooting them a word of encouragement, a pep talk, a congratulations, an idea to help them improve or some other positive constructive message. Better still, do it publicly on your blog and tell the world about another blogger who you appreciate.
What a fantastic way to start the new week! And I really agree with Darren ... blogging is a collaboration. It's about community and communication and I know I've said it before, but I consider myself so lucky to have met you all on here.
So, here is a HUGE THANK YOU ... or a few, in fact!
Thank you for every single comment, they really do mean a lot!
Thank you for the inspirational ideas you share
Thank you for the fab tips and advice
Thank you for the warmth and humour
Thank you for 'hugs' and 'smiles'
Thank you for your support
Thank you for your encouragement
Thank you for writing such wonderful blogs!
Some Daffodils for you
(The sun shines when I'm with you!)
Have a lovely Blogger Appreciation Day!
Eldest daughter has had rotten toothache since yesterday, so I have to sort that out before I do anything else, but wanted to get this up and let you know about such an excellent idea.
I'll try and come back later and put some links to all the great blogs I know. And hopefully even call round and say thank you in person, I am making this blogger appreciation day here and having a day off from chasing goals ... my only goal today is to pass on Darren Rowse's lovely feelgoods!
Friday, April 11, 2008
I have finally entered the "Twitterverse" and sent my first couple of "tweets" (one of which was to promote the new communal blog, Towards 2011, though I think I need some more "followers" to do that really.)
I've been meaning to check out the whole social networking thing for ages and have just joined Facebook this week too. I think I may be the last person to discover it all, but for anyone else who has been thinking, "Must try that!" but hasn't got round to it because they are also thinking, "Don't know how to start, far too complicated, got enough to do already!" ...
What is Twitter?
Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?
How does Twitter work?
Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service, allowing people to stay in touch by short posts, known as "tweets." These can be posted by instant messenger from your computer, or SMS from your mobile phone, and are delivered by email, IM or RSS. Messages on Twitter can also be exchanged via a third-party application, such as Facebook.
What are you doing?
Twitter is built around the question, "What are you doing?" Answers vary from the personal to the professional, but everything on Twitter is very short and sweet; posts are only up to 140 characters long and profiles are only one line of text, but you can add a picture and your website/blog URL.
Who are you following?
Like Facebook, you can limit the people who see your profile and posts to your own circle of friends (or "followers") and you choose who to follow yourself. You can choose to follow friends and family, or professional contacts, or people who have the same interests as you, or people who say really useful stuff ... like the first person I chose to follow, SallyQ! Sally is definitely a woman worth following and posts on Twitter about all sorts of writerly things.
How do you start Twittering?
Setting up a profile on Twitter is REALLY easy and includes the option to add any friends who are already on there, then when you log in, your home page includes all the recent posts from the people you are following.
Links for Twitterers
Mark Glaser's excellent 'Guide to Micro-Blogging and Twitter' (dated 15th of May, 2007, but still very relevant and very helpful) includes a beginner's guide, useful tips and advice, a glossary and a great list of resources.
ReadWriteWeb has a list of various articles about Twitter, including Sarah Perez's 'Five Ways to Find More Friends on Twitter' in which she explains five useful web apps to help you find the best people to follow on Twitter.
Kathy Sierra, of Creating Passionate Users, has posted some interesting thoughts on the the problem of interuption (and the disruption to creativity and productivity) provided by Twitter and other social networking such as email, IM, blogs, Facebook et al. In her post, 'The Asymptotic Twitter Curve' Kathy provides lots of links to other musings about Twitter and to some possibly much-needed productivity resources. Along with a warning about how addictive Twitter is! Oh dear ...
Twitter is a form of live commentary and as such, even bearing in mind the possible creativity/productivity challenges, it has huge (and very exciting) possibilities. Consider the following comment from Patrick Ruffini, quoted by Jeff Jarvis at BuzzMachine, in his tribute to Twitter:
"Traditional news operated on a 24-hour cycle. Blogs shortened this to minutes and hours. Twitter shortens it further to seconds. It’s not right for every piece of information. But when it comes to instantly assembling raw data from several sources that then go into fully baked news stories, nothing beats it."
Jason Kottke has written another interesting review of Twitter, which I found very helpful as a beginner. Again, it's dated last year (I'm always sooo behind the times!) but he makes some useful observations and discusses (and provides links to) some of the applications. Here's what Jason said a year ago:
"Twitter is the first thing on the web that I've been excited about in ages. Like years. The last thing was probably Flickr. (Talk about burying the lede.) It's just so damn simple but useful. Again, reminds me of weblogs in that way."
I wonder what he thinks now?
Twitterer or Twit?
Well, I'm off to see if I can figure out how to link my Twitter profile to my Facebook profile ... but that's it! No more social networking for me. While I can see the advantages and am excited about the possibilities, I also recognise the possible pitfalls. And when it comes to time limitations, blogging and article writing are the priorities at the moment. So I'm sticking to Blogger, Facebook and Twitterer (in that order!)
Are you on Twitter?
Who do you follow, who follows you?
What are you doing?
Sunday, April 6, 2008
Well, I've written the first of my series of moon posts, Women and the Moon (Part One): The Crone Moon.
But it's not here.
It's here! (Or scroll down, to the post dated Friday the 7th of March.)
It has posted on the date I started and first saved it, I think. There's probably a way to move it, but I haven't discovered it ...
IWD: Towards 2011
It made me laugh that I now have a post that, besides crones, talks about the new women's blog ... weeks before aliqot and I came up with the idea for it! We started Towards 2011 in response to the lack of information we could find about International Women's Day which was started in 1911.
A blog by women, about women and for women (but not to the exclusion of men), Towards 2011 is a way of promoting the centenary of International Women's Day in 2011.
It's a very new blog, but aliqot has already put up some great posts, one of which triggered a conversation about wolf-whistles!
Check it out and leave a comment, or a suggestion about anything you'd like to see or do on there. We'd love to hear from you!
Aries New Moon: The Freshest of Starts
The moon was new at 4.55am this morning and it's in Aries, the youngest sign, a time of new beginnings and enthusiasm: "Aries asks us to live life fully, to try something new, to love and to be brave and independent."
Maria Vaiana explains why this new moon of all new moons is so exciting:
It’s helpful to view this day each month as your “fresh start” date. The dynamics of each New Moon are astrologically different and every month there will be an opportunity for a fresh start in a different area of your life.
This month, the New Moon occurs in the sign of Aries. Aries is the sign of the zodiac associated with new beginnings and individuality so it’s easy to understand why this lunation has me so excited for everyone. It is the ultimate yearly pass to start afresh! In fact, it's time this month to be a little selfish and focus on you!
I want to encourage everyone reading this to understand the significance of this lunation because you truly have the most amazing energy behind you to begin the new path you’ve been thinking about recently. It’s time to act and this lunation promises to give you the courage and independence you need to focus your actions on deliberately achieving whatever it is you desire.
The most powerful time to act will be in the two weeks following this New Moon and everyone is sure to feel the positive transformational energy in the air thanks to the beautiful trine this New Moon makes to Pluto, the planet of regeneration and rebirth.
What you will find thanks to this lunation is a new-found clarity on what it is you really want. Along with this clarity comes a burst of inner strength and conviction that will prompt you to use your assertive energy to boldly explore the new trail waiting for you.
And Lisa Dale Miller has this to say about the new moon for fresh starts:
Aries is all about adventure and the indomitable spirit of the adventurer helps open us to trying something different; something you think isn’t you… but might just be. Reinvigorate your lust for life. We have all become so fearful and risk-averse. Go on an adventure, be spontaneous, or just do something wild and crazy. There is a time and place for play, and this is the New Moon to remember that all work and no play make us very dull people!
Aries says, “I can!” with a level of faith that only an innocent child who has not yet failed can muster ... your heart and mind must be centered in an open attitude of excitement—“let’s go,” or “I can do anything,” or “I can be anyone,” or “the world is my oyster,” or “life is an adventure!”. This is a New Moon that asks us to take a leap of faith and do the impossible. This a New Moon to come at who you are with a sense of wonder, magic and first-time awe. Go find out who you are and what you want; you might just be surprised.
Have a very Happy New Moon!
On a very personal note, this may seem a little strange here, but ...
A Dedication to an Amazing Woman in my Life
A wonderful friend of mine has just been told she has a very aggressive form of cancer and is unlikely to see the next new moon. She is only just fifty so although barely crone by age, she has always been crone by spirit! She has guided and supported me through many difficult times and shared many beautiful moments with me. She has been a 'second Mum' to my girls since Youngest daughter was born. Wife, mother, grandmother, sister, friend and phenomenal woman, I am dedicating my post about crones to her, with love and appreciation. x
Eldest Daughter thinks I should "wait" to do this, but I know how much my friend wants her life to be celebrated, rather than her death to be marked. She is being incredibly brave and positive, which is why it seemed fitting to include this note here.