My Rainy Valentine

I know, I know…Valentine’s Day was three days ago, however, hubby and I are celebrating this weekend, and what better way to keep the spirit of love alive than to extend the holiday just a wee bit.

As I’ve mentioned in past posts, 2010 (and still continuing) has been quite rough on us.  Fortunately, we’re not alone facing the meanness of life.  We have our faith, we have our loved ones, and we have each other.  Even with the challenges we’ve had so many moments of deep, rich laughter, and of course, over the silliest things.  How cool is that!

When thinking about creating my Valentine’s valentine, a particular image and sentiment came to mind — Unity’s Rain or Shine.  I love the sentiment, “through rain or shine, you’ll always be mine” — perfect!  I used Get Sketchy’s GS#74 as my guiding inspiration for the layout, and knew that I wanted to use red, white, black, and yellow (hubby likes those classic colors) so that the card would have a clean and classic look.  Using one of my new favorite tools, the Stampamajig (seriously, all that hype out there — I say worth it!), I lined up my various umbrellies from Unity’s Rain & Flowers set on three panels of cream-colored CS, then layered them on some Me & My Big Ideas B&W polka-dotted DP, and adhered it to Papertrey Ink’s Pure Poppy CS.  I tied a small bow with some red ribbon from Michaels.  For my sentiment, I stamped it in ColorBox Frost White on black CS from Michaels, then embossed with white detail EP.  I then stamped a cloud from Unity & Bella Blvd’s Sunny Happy Skies (using my Stampamajig for layout!) around the sentiment in Frost White, cut it out, and adhered it with 3D adhesives.  On the inside of the card I stamped the image from Rain or Shine in Versamark to give it that watermarked look, and signed around it in white ink.  Then the most important part…I placed the card on top of hubby’s dresser…in perfect view to surprise him after work.

To the one I wanna spend all my “under the umbrella” days with — Happy Valentine’s Day Weekend!

stamps: Unity Rain or Shine, Unity Rain & Flowers, Unity & Bella Blvd. Sunny Happy Skies

ink: ColorBox Frost White, ColorBox PaintBox, Palette Black Noir, Versamark

accessories: Papertrey Ink CS, Me & My Big Ideas DP, Detail White EP, ribbon from Michaels

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Top 10 Cards in 2010

December 31st, New Year’s Eve — the time to reflect, to look back, to bid fond farewell, and then to look ahead and embrace the new.

2010 hasn’t been the kindest year. In fact, life has been downright mean. In response, I’ve been in survival mode, focused on seeking out the good, and thus AWOL from the blog. BUT…I’ve still been making cards, and still reading blogs — my therapy. Good medicine — eeking out creations card by card, and so gratifying to see them in one slideshow together. My cardmaking goal in 2010 was to send out only homemade cards for the various birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and other celebratory occasions. Did I meet it? You betcha! For 2011 — I hope to continue in the same, but to celebrate a few more, and to increase the cardmaking (maybe 5 a week?) — still some reflecting and goal-making to do. Will let you know the final decision.

For now…in following with the tradition of reflecting over the year, I present my top 10 card creations of 2010.

Contemporary white, black, and red "welcome, baby" card

Love the colors, love the flower and tag details, and absolutely LOVED the occasion -- welcome, Lili!

zebra-patterned birthday card with a jumbo elephant

Huge fan of the zebra print, the textured green strip, and love that cutey elephant!

Card with three pairs of high-heeled shoes

Love the swirls, love the shoes, love the sassy!

Card with multiple=

Layers of lovely paper, rich textures, and a silhouetted "love" scrolled across

gray and pink layered card with image of cat shaking a present

Made for a friend of mine with a familiar kitty -- love the colors and layers

a pastel card in layers with a sentiment about creating yourself

Love at first read with the sentiment, and full of rich layers and details

A white card with three colored flowers and the message, "grow love"

For an anniversary...love how the flowers almost glow, love the colors, and love the message

turquoise and brown card with a raised butterfly and the message, "today I thought of you"

Even when friends are far away, thinking of them, and creating their cards keeps them close at heart; love the butterfly, love the colors, love the sentiment

a card with colorful blossoms and the sentiment, "appreciate the beauty in everything"

Using the masking technique for those beautiful blossoms, and gotta love the sentiment -- very personal for me, especially in 2010

a purple and white card with four birdies and the message, so grateful

Loved ones have been so gracious, God has been so good, and I am...so grateful; love the soft colors, the layers, the texture, and the sentiment

Being a Grownup

Being a grownup means rousing oneself from a wonderful Sunday afternoon nap to get ready.
Being a grownup means not snoozing an additional 10 or 15 minutes while hubby starts preparing for guests.
Being a grownup means pitcing in to make the house “presentable”.
Being a grownup means saying “thank you” without being reminded by your mother.


My husband and I have had reason upon reason to express our gratitude.  We have been moving through some horrendous circumstances, and we have been surrounded and supported by so many amazing people.  This is the first of many.  To all of you out there — We thank you with a grateful heart.

Thank you card that reads, "give thanks with a grateful heart"

Thank you card that reads, "give thanks with a grateful heart" with envelope

Close up of "Give thanks with a grateful heart" thank you card

Close up

With a Grateful Heart

Stamps: sentiment – Verve

Ink: Cocoa – ColorBox

Paper: DP – We R Memory Keepers: Nonsense

Accessories: tag punch – Marvy, eyelet – Recollections, white twine

I don’t know…can you?

Remember Uncle Ben?  From Spiderman?  “Remember, with great power comes great responsibility.” There’s big wisdom in those words.  I would also suggest — with great freedom comes great responsibility.

Uncle Ben from Spiderman movie, 2002

(Photo: Cliff Robertson as Uncle Ben and Tobey Maguire as Peter Park in Spider-Man (2002) found at http://markdroberts.com/?p=463)

One of the qualities that I cherish about the Christian life is the quality of freedom.  God has created us in His image, yet He has created us all uniquely — and along with that, He has created us each with our own minds and thoughts — freedom.  When God sent His son to die for our sins, He gave us — freedom.  When we choose to accept Christ as our Lord and savior, we have the freedom to turn our backs on the sins of our past and live a totally abundant life — overflowing with goodness we never imagined.  Sadly, we also have the freedom to turn our backs on God and live life as we please — but that’s a whole other post.  I’m a huge fan of having my own mind.  I’m a huge fan of freedom — of all kinds.  That being said, I realize that with freedom comes a balance of using my freedom responsibly, as well as respecting the freedom of others.  I also realize that too much freedom isn’t always a good thing.

I am a being that requires boundaries.  I need structure.  Parents set boundaries for and discipline their children out of love, but also as a necessity — much as we don’t like to admit it — we crave limits.  I know this logically in my brain, yet sometimes living out a life with boundaries, a life that balances responsibility with freedom is one of those “easier said than done”.

William Bridges in Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes recommends that in times of life upheaval we do our best to build temporary structures.  Read: when your life has seemingly been turned upside down, create some anchors that can help you hang on.  He writes…

When we had our house remodeled a few years ago, we tolerated for several weeks a living room wall made of plastic and canvas.  That temporary construction was ugly, but it provided us with the protection we needed to go on living in a space that was being transformed.  So it is with transitional situations in love and work:  you will need to work out ways of going on while the inner work is being done.  This may involve getting a temporary job while you look for a real job; it may involve agreements at home or at work to carry on in some modified fashion until something more permanent can be devised; or it may simply involve an inner resolve to accept a given situation as temporary and to transfer some energy to the job of finding a replacement for it.

So what do these temporary structures look like in our lives?  For me, it has meant routine.  As my husband will sometimes say in amusement, “you go through phases” — and he’s right.  My routine and schedule has gone through many iterations throughout these past 12 months — I have had periods of focusing more on physical activity, of regular reflective writing, of cooking one recipe after another, of learning all things WordPress, of feasting on my “to read” stacks, of chatting it up with friends over breakfast or tea or flavored steamers…much like Elizabeth Gilbert — in many of my own private “Italy-s”.

Shifts in the routine have mostly been a product of my own whims, but then there have been those grand “mean-life” changes that have required new and different times of rebuilding.  Since late spring I have found that more than a change in structure or routine, I have been without structure or routine.  In many ways, life turned me upside down, all around, and then some that I found myself in more of a free-for-all.  The result: I have felt unfulfilled, purpose-less, and yearning to again do the things I love.  Part of this routine-less time was a necessary element in grieving and healing, but as I have slowly come out of it, I realize that I am again in need of creating structure.

Time to remodel.  Unfortunately (or fortunately) I don’t have cool before and after photos to document the changes in my “inner life”, but I do experience growth in character, greater strength, and the affirmed confidence that I’ve “been there; done that” and can therefore reach into my remodeling toolbox to start building all over again.

As I was thinking about structure, freedom, responsibility I was reminded of a time working with high school students in Central Washington during the summers.  I had the hybrid joy and challenge of working with students who had little access to social capital (i.e. those mentors and positive role models in life helping them get a “hook up” with education), few resources to support a healthy and well-rounded education, and many were carrying way too many burdens for their young teenage years.  Five days a week I lived with and mentored these amazing individuals in the dorms of a community college campus.  By day the students had the opportunity to catch up on missed high school credits, or gain extra credits to get ahead, and by night they participated in cultural events to preserve their heritage (many were Latino, Native American, and African American), and participated in learning discussions.  In these dorms we kept a strict schedule, especially when it came to light’s out.  I remember standing in the hallways (I on the ladies’ side) minutes before the call for lights out, watching these young women scramble to get final notes from friends, brush their teeth, or make the last trip to the restroom.  One young woman came to me with wide eyes, “How many minutes until light’s out?”  “Three.” “Do I have time to use the bathroom?”  ” I don’t know…do you?” Although it may sound as though I was being facetious, that was not my intent.  Instead, I was working to help her understand that it was not I who had the power or control to say whether or not she could use the restroom in three minutes — it was up to her — to learn her boundaries and responsibilities — knowing she had three minutes left, knowing herself and her needs — could she make it in three minutes (I should note that we dialogued about this, but the next day — I didn’t want to take away any of her three minutes)?  A small lesson, but one of many in which I hoped to let these teenagers know that they had great freedom, but also great responsibility.

So, now, as I think about rebuilding temporary structure in my life, I reflect on all the things I want to do (time in prayer, time in God’s word, physical exercise, creating interesting and healthy yummies to eat, stretching my cardmaking and jewelry-making skills, spending quality time with loved ones, finding fulfilling and fruitful work).  Each new day is exciting — lots of time, potential to do almost anything, but I often get overwhelmed and then find myself at the end of the day feeling like I did none of it.  So, first I start with the easy stuff — collect the trash on Mondays, put the bins down Wednesday, bring them up Thursday; check the mail; doctor appointments, etc.  I write lists for myself of the things I want to do, focusing on items that are time-sensitive.  Then I have to ask myself, “Can I do it all?” and then hear my mind’s voice reply, “I don’t know…can you?”  There’s not time in the day to do it all, every day.  However, with the right kind of balance, I can have tastes (and sometimes indulgences) of all those things I love, as well as more of what I am responsible and committed to do — it’s all a matter of building structure and striking a balance.  And if there are a few phases here and there, I won’t complain.

How do you build structure for yourself?  What are your anchors when life turns you topsy turvy?  How do you balance absolute freedom with responsibility?

For Every Purpose Under Heaven

…there is a time!

In Ecclesiastes 3 (I hear The Byrds: Turn, Turn, Turn every time I read this passage!) it is written…

A Time for Everything
-Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (New Living Translation courtesy of http://www.biblegateway.com)

“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.

A time to be born and a time to die.  A time to plant and a time to harvest.

A time to kill and a time to heal.  A time to tear down and a time to build up.

A time to cry and a time to laugh.  A time to grieve and a time to dance.

A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.  A time to embrace and a time to turn away.

A time to search and a time to quit searching.  A time to keep and a time to throw away.

A time to tear and a time to mend.  A time to be quiet and a time to speak.

A time to love and a time to hate.  A time for war and a time for peace.”

I so often forget this.  In a society that prizes productivity, and in a being that has learned to adopt this perspective very well (me), it is so easy for me to forget that taking the time to rest, time to be quiet, time to cry, time to throw away, time to quit searching, time to heal — that taking the time for each of these is incredibly important.

Interestingly enough, the first step that Bridges proposes (in Transitions: Making the Most of Life’s Changes) is: take your time! He writes, “…our lives can change in an instant, but the inner reorientation…takes time.  This does not mean that everything must come to a total standstill while you wait for self-renewal…it means that you cannot rush the inner process…”

journeyoflifetamijo.blogspot.com designed this card and blogged about her struggle with trust and impatience -- what a beautiful Go-to destressor

So what does this look like?  Again — for all of us it’s different.  For me it means being more patient with myself, being more patient with life, and more patient, especially, with God.

True Story.  I recently joined a Women’s Bible Study, and our latest theme is faith.  As an exercise to get us going, we were asked to “blindly” select an item from a bag, pull it out, and take the time to reflect on how that item is an illustration of faith, our own faith journey, or what we currently feel about faith.  I pulled out a clock.  Of course.

In many regards, I have no connections whatsoever with instruments of time.  I don’t wear watches, often don’t pay attention to them when I do, was a horrible History student (all those dates), and even in my own life — can rarely tell you when events have taken place (am pretty good with birthdays and anniversaries — those are the biggies).  As I sat staring at this wall clock in my hand I was seriously thinking, “what in the world am I going to do with this?”  I prayed, asked for some openness, as well as some wisdom.  Then I got to thinking.

I am a life-planner.  This is beyond goal-oriented — this is trying to control with a capital “C”.  I often pictured that I’d graduate high school, graduate college, be married by age 25, having my first child by around 28 at the latest, and graduating with a Master’s by 30.  My 29th birthday was a real shocker — let me tell you — unmarried, childless, and not even enrolled in a graduate program.  Yikes!  Life has thrown me a few curve balls and I’m learning to deal.  So, as I was sitting there, wall clock in hand, I realized, although I am not tied to the clock in the “need to finish writing this post in one hour” sense, I am very much connected to it in the “my life will reach this point by this date in time” regard.  And, obviously, it doesn’t work that way.

Kelly at mybucketoverfloweth.blogspot.com designed this card as a reminder to herself that even when life is in limbo, patience is a virtue, and there are great rewards when we trust

So how does this impact my faith?  It’s at these epiphanous (like my new word) moments in time when I have to take my life out of my hands, move it off my clock, and put it back in the hands of my Creator, and trust in His clock, and in His time.  This does pretty much guarantee lots of uncertainty, many more twists and turns, and life going very unexpectedly, but if the hindsight back on my life is any sign — good things lie ahead when I do so.

So if this means, taking a day to lie in bed and grieve, allowing myself to cry at random moments, ignoring my phone for some quiet alone time, or even spending an afternoon in escape with Drop Dead Diva (thank you, friend, for lending these), then so be it — for every purpose under Heaven, there is a time!

When Life Gets Mean…and the Go-to’s Are Gone

Let’s face — life can be downright mean. Life doesn’t discriminate, it just doles out the ugliness to any and all of us.  Irregardless of who we are, who we were born to, what we believe in, how much money we make, what we look like, where we live, where we’re from, who we do or don’t work for — it does not matter.  At some point we may experience grieving a loved one, losing a job, losing our home, losing our health, financial insecurity,  you name it — at one time or another we will experience the “meanness” of life.

Julie @ stampedinhisimage.blogspot.com created this card to remind us that when life is tough, mean, and ugly - we can choose to seek the beauty in it - beautiful reminder

Confession: life has been particularly mean to me over the past couple of months (yes, this is why I haven’t been writing).  I won’t go into details now — maybe later — but I know that we all experience pain, loss, suffering; I know I’m not alone in this.

JensCupofCreations.blogspot.com designed this lovely and cheery card, but it carries a powerful sentiment (see inside picture)

So, what do we do about it?  How do we manage?  Prayer, exercise, relationships, crying, music, food, sleep, shopping, writing…these are only some of the billions upon billions of the go-to’s that we might use to handle our burdens.  We all know we’re incredibly, delightfully, sometimes-annoyingly different, so obviously we don’t handle life stresses in the same way either.  However, those sage advisors out there do have their few words.  When a former colleague of mine found out that I had been laid off he recommended an author and a couple of titles for me.  One of those is Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes by William Bridges.

Some of Transitions feels utterly obvious, but at the same time sometimes we need to slow down and remind ourselves how to crawl and how to take steps before we can walk again.  Over the next few posts I’ll be sharing some of his words of wisdom, along with some of my own personal go-to’s that I have sought (when my usual go-to’s have been unavailable to me) in this new and nested (read: when life was already mean, it got even “meaner”) time of transition.  I can only share so much of Bridges’ thoughts, I encourage you to visit your local library or bookstore for a deeper look.

"into every life a little rain must fall -- that's what makes the flowers"; Designed by jenscupofcreations.blogspot.com

I hope that by sharing in my journey, those of you out there who might also be experiencing some of life’s ugliness would be able to take heart, find comfort, and be encouraged.  After all, it is often in the most difficult of circumstances that God can shower us with the greatest blessings.

NOTE: Regarding the lovely cards you see — one of my new Go-to’s (and I’ll share more) has been visiting the blogs of lovely UnityStampCompany stampers — I was inspired and encouraged when coming across Julie’s card at http://stampedinhisimage.blogspot.com.  I encourage you to visit both.  At http://jenscupofcreations.blogspot.com I won a set of Unity stamps, and along with the goodies, Jen was kind enough to send me the adorable card “Unity Rain & Flowers” card — the beauty of her design and the encouraging words of the sentiment TOTALLY brightened my day!