Monday, December 28, 2015

The State of My Tribal World

Beautiful weekend it was. It turned out nothing like I would have expected. I've learned to hold the reigns in my life very loose, even dropping them sometimes just to see which way it goes.
I spent Thursday with a good friend who helped me navigate the mall for some last-minute buys. We made some oil paint art on canvas at my kitchen table followed by candy making until almost midnight.
We got up Christmas morning and left the house just before 6:00am on a four hour drive to Portland to spend the day with family there. The day was full of laughter and a few tears.  
Some good friends came over Saturday night for dinner and some great, thoughtful conversation. Note to self ... must do that more often.
On the trip home from Portland, hubby and I had a great talk about the state of the world. He's the kind of guy who listens to news from all around the world throughout the day. My news comes in snipnets on my stupid FB roll and quite frankly, it has gotten me so down I could hardly speak about it without crying. I'm appalled by the hatefulness being spewed from every outlet I turn on, including friends and family. I don't want to believe this is the world I'm living in. I'm Pollyanna, remember? I said, please explain to me how this happens. He said, "it's tribal".
Long story short, I like that explanation and I'll be doing some reading on tribes this next year.
More will be revealed ...
love, susan

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

2015 ~ A Creative Year in Review


I've come to love reviewing my year and coming up with a new word theme for the new year. Never in 56 years have I been so excited to take a look back and see what has worked and what hasn't in my life. I have been looking through my albums of photos for 2015 and I am amazed at the number of images I have taken of friends and family this year. I opened up a photography page on FB in late 2014, a place where I share favorite photos along with an open invitation to anyone who wants family photographs taken, all for fun and for free (that's a post I'll write soon).  So many good things have happened as a result of suiting up and showing up for free shoots. I was invited to photograph a friend's wedding which I swore I would never do again after the last one. It is nerve-racking to be the documenter of such an important day. What if you miss the great kiss? But I said yes. It was so much fun!

They were happy with my work and from that I was asked to take their annual Christmas photos (pictured here). Nothing makes me happier than having a reason to charge my battery and head out the door on any given Saturday.

I've met new friends through my photo page who trust me to take their family photos. They can't really know how much it means to me to be able to focus on bettering my skills. It isn't about the camera. It's about people. Learning to be comfortable from behind the lens.
Last year when I chose the word create, I didn't think of it as a word in terms of art only. I wanted to create time and space to do the things that really turn me on as a human being ... every day. I feel like I accomplished that, and more. Here are a few highlights of what I can remember of this year: 
  • I photographed families and friends May through December.
  • Read 22 books (a bit short of my goal of 52 but I'm not beating myself up about it!)
  • Took Remi to an agility class (BIG FUN!)
  • Traveled to Spokane with life-long friends and visited my new favorite Manito Gardens
  • Got creative in the kitchen -- made homemade tomato sauce from scratch for the first time ever and tried a summer squash alfredo recipe with a friend
  •  Started emailing my son and step daughter on a regular basis to keep in touch
What didn't work well in 2015? I can think of nothing. Weird. Okay, if I have to think of just one thing it would be indoor shoots. I hate harsh flash lighting, especially when there are children to photograph. I will be studying and finding ways to improve this over the next year. There. I said it.

So here is the part where I choose my theme word for 2016. I've learned to listen to that voice in my head that comes from a good place. The voice that wants me to do well and be happy. It's been telling me to improve.  Improve on what I already know. Improve in areas that need attention. I know what those areas are. Writing, reading, better eating habits, better housekeeping, better communication, better relationships, better time management, better dog training.

In the past, my theme words have been minimize, develop, focus, create. I think improve is a great word to add to these life-changing ideas.

Here goes!

Do you have a theme word? What is it? Tell me!

love, susan

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Reading Challenge Update

I've made it almost half-way to my goal of reading 52 books this year. I am not sure I've read 20 books in a year since high school.

Here's how I did it:
  • I attended a one-day seminar in August and there I was exposed to a few titles and authors I had never considered reading before. How have I gotten this far in life without ever reading anything by John C. Maxwell? I simply cannot stop reading his work.

  • I make time every morning to sit with a cup of coffee, my little devil dog, "Remi", a favorite blankie, and my Kindle. Depending on what time I get up, I read at least 30 minutes and if I can squeeze an hour, I do it.
  • I don't give up. Sometimes my mind will wander while I'm reading. When I recognize it happening, I say the word FOCUS and bring myself back to the book.
  • I turn my phone to silent and leave it in another room.
  • I protect my reading time by closing my office door if my hubby decides to watch the news or turn on the radio. I'm one of those freak people who cannot have any other noises in the room when I've reading.
I love reading from my Kindle but I also read a few hardbound books this year. I like the highlight feature on my e-reader. It allows me to go back and see my favorite lines. I want to share a few with you here:

"It was like having more candy than other people, or getting stars on homework papers--to have the mother who looked the best." -- Olive Kittinger by Elizabeth Strout

"I try to do certain things every day to help me in this area (focusing on the present). I read daily to grow in my personal life. I listen to others daily to broaden my perspective. I spend time thinking daily to apply what I am learning. And I try to write daily so that I can remember what I've learned. I also try to share those lessons with others." --Talent is Never Enough  John C. Maxwell

"All this could have been avoided if I were less pretty." --Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

How about you? What are you reading?  Do you have special times set aside for reading? Any reading goals?  Favorite lines from your books?  Tell me!
love, susan

Thursday, December 3, 2015

So Far, So Good

We had dinner last night with good friends for a 3rd annual dinner for my hubby's birthday and our friend's birthday. Ironically, the waitress seated us at the same table we've shared the last 2 birthdays. So sweet!  I made a bucket list for December in my last post and so far I've been able to cross off a few things.  Day 3 and I have made it onto the treadmill every day in December.  Haha! Got an appointment for Gene for new eyeglasses. I have two family photography shoots lined up for Saturday. I have not baked a single cookie or sweet thing.  Hey, ya gotta take successes where you can!

What's on your December bucket list?

love, susan

Things I'd Do If I Had An Endless Bucket of Time: Part 1

I have a good friend who works in the trades which means she works when there is work and she sits it out when there isn't work. I thin...