The Ponder Days

I am just a sojourner, an artist wandering through life with a sense of wonder about it all. Come ponder with me. This year is about observation and perspective.

This blog is interactive and is at its best when comments are left and opinions shared, lively discussions generated, and perhaps with your favorite beverage.

I would love to read your comments. Please, don't be shy...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Living Your Spirit #35 ~ Nothing

Take time to do Nothing.

"Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky is by no means a waste of time."
                                                                                                                         ~ J. Lubbock

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Free Printable Planner Page Hot List

I used to write my Hot List (see previous post) on an index card because it is cheap and convenient and I can fold it in half to pretty much fit any pocket. I was doing some designing one day and made some printable lists for myself that I found I really enjoy using. As I have to print them, I am also more careful not to waste them and use them more efficiently. I sometimes used too many index cards at one time and pretty soon I didn't know which was which.

I like making my own fillers for my planner because I can tailor them to fit my needs. I also enjoy designing attractive pages that make me want to use my planner on a more regular basis. Creative types like me tend to get bored with plain lines. I am working on some sets now and hopefully you will be able to see them soon.

I'll be putting my printable lists on Etsy in the near future. For a FREE printable of my Hot List, just link to this post on your blog or website, and add your email address in the comments section here along with a link to your blog or website and I will email you your own printable version in PDF format. Please note that you may use this as much as you want for personal use, but not for resale (that's a copyright no-no). This Hot List is part of the River Cottage Collection, which will soon be available as printables and scrapbook set.

There are three lists on an 8.5 x 11 sheet. I just use a paper trimmer to cut them (or you can use scissors). I also have a seven hole punch for classic size planner that I just love. They run anywhere from $10 to $50. I have a Franklin Covey that works very nicely that I bought for about $25.00. has it listed right now for $20.10.

Note: I do not make any money from companies that I recommend here. I am only passing along my own preferences.

As always, I'd love to know what you think.
Peace and light.

Living Your Spirit #34 ~ Bringing Mindfulness to Life

I awaken...and immediately beging to mentally list all of the things to do, then I stop, and remind myself to be aware of the light. I look out the window and look at the day. It is bright and beautiful and I make a mental note to make sure I allow some outdoor time today, even though it is still cool and crisp.

As I go through my morning routine, I find my mind starting to wander again to the day's list. This list is usually comprised of more things than I can reasonably accomplish. Once again I remind myself to be in the moment. "You are brushing your teeth," I tell myself. "Be in the brushing."

I wend my way through the hall and downstairs to prepare coffee, my morning indulgence, although without caffeine, and I enjoy the aroma of the grounds and the sparkle of sunlight through the window. While the coffee brews, I wipe the sink clean and take a moment to enjoy the shine while I pour my coffee.

I settle at my desk with pen and pad and my previous day's list, adding anything I think may be of importance. Then I give myself just a few things to do. It's my hot list for the day and contains only what absolutely must be done and a small number of other things I'd like to accomplish. Once this is done, I carry the hot list in my pocket, and refer to it as the day progresses. I do not even look at the Master List again until the next morning. If anything occurs during the day that needs my immediate attention, I write it on the bottom of the hot list. As I think of other tasks or appointments I write them on the back of the Hot List and will add them to the Master List the next day. Choosing only a few things that have to be done and looking at the Master List each morning while enjoying my coffee helps me to prioritize which allows me to "be in the moment" of whatever else it is I am doing for the day.

As my mind's natural bent is to race forward, this has taken some practice. Slowing down is not what the world preaches today. We are encouraged to be fast-paced multi-taskers, and there is a cost to that. Our stress levels are sometimes off the charts, and unrelenting stress can cause permanent health damage (a post for another day).

We do have lives that are full, and usually have a lot to accomplish. It needn't be overwhelming. We don't have to go full speed ahead all the time. We can do one thing at a time and enjoy the moment for what it is, be it work or pleasure. Even an unpleasant task can be made more tolerable by looking at it with new perspective. Putting the unpleasant things at the top of the list will get them out of the way first, enabling you to better enjoy the rest of your day.

Being aware of our surroundings...on the drive to the office, for example, can give us bursts of joy to carry us through a day. Instead of trying to think of all the things you need to do when you get there, be in the driving and be aware of your surroundings. Notice the sun rising in the sky, maybe the smell of the rain, or that chocolate factory you pass every day. Witness the fact that the lady that lives in the farmhouse that you don't even know has planted flowers, and you get to enjoy them too. Oh, and in the driving!

Part of being mindful is to organize those potential distractions early in the day so they don't keep interrupting you. Some people I know like to do this before bed so they can start the next day fresh. I admit as nice as this sounds to me, by the end of the day my brain sometimes doesn't want to play. You'll find a system that works well for you, I'm sure. If you already have a system, please share it with us.

Peace and light and joy to you in your moments! I'd love to know about them...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Housecleaning Files ~ Folder Tip

Spring cleaning and taxes - time to reorganize the files. Don't you just hate it when you have to tear off a label and put on a new one and either it won't come off at all or it tears most of the folder away? I bought a box of recycled folders a few years ago and didn't like that it was difficult and messy to reuse them and still have them look neat.

My solution? I placed a piece of clear packing tape in the labeling area and then used blank address labels (the kind you buy for your printer) to place on top of the packing tape. When it comes time to change the label, it peels off the packing tape nicely and a new one goes in place just as easily. It takes just a little time to put the packing tape on your folders, but saves time, money, and frustration in the long run. If you don't want to buy labels, any piece of paper with a strip of scotch tape on top will serve the same purpose.

Plus factor? Everything stays relatively neat, and your folders last longer.  If you mess up a label, it's easy to change it...

Happy organizing!

Please share any tips you might have.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Living Your Spirit #33 ~ The Important Women in Our Lives

On the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day it only seems fitting to recognize, remember, and think about those women who have affected our lives in large or small ways.

Famous women, of course, have made an impact by the things they have done and the things they have said. There are many heroes among them, and I applaud their intelligence, courage, creativity, and all the things they have accomplished. I have learned much from learning about them. There are many women, however, that remain unsung. These women who have made an impact on our lives, but have never gained fame or recognnition, are the women I would like us to think about today. Here are but a scant few from my own life.

My Mother.
     I learned from her example never to be afraid of hard work. She worked very hard all of her life, often at more than one job, and never once made us feel like she was sacrificing anything. Among many other things, I can thank her for a strong work ethic.

My Grandmother.
     She taught us not to waste anything. She lived through the depression as a widowed mother of three and "Waste not, want not" was her mantra. The verse of the day was "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without." My fondness for recycling and repurposing surely comes from her.

My High School English Teacher
     She made us learn the words in the Reader's Digest feature every month and stressed the importance of good grammar. Her joy in words was so evident, and she was definitely a positive influence in my love of language.

My Sister
     She taught me grace. She was loving and good and as far as I know, never said an unkind word about anyone. During her terminal illness she was the epitome of grace and dignity throughout. The continued presence of those elements sustains me often in troubling times.

My Daughters
     I have experienced pure love and joy through their mere existence, and found delight in accomplishments that were not my own. I have savored every moment of their differences and their similarities. To observe a child grow is one of life's greatest mysterious pleasures. I am grateful to them for having been born.

My Granddaughter
     It is everything they say and more ~ being a grandparent. All of a sudden you are willing to risk your life, and very possibly someone else's, to protect this child. You can find pleasure in the moments you might have missed as a mother because you were busy taking care of your children's needs and being totally responsible for their welfare. My granddaughter just makes my life sparkle!

There are many others. Aunts and cousins and friends and teachers and grocery store clerks and co-workers and strangers on the street have all made a difference. I thank all of the women who have passed through my life, and cherish all of the women who are still in it.

Who are your special women? We would love to know...

Friday, March 4, 2011

Just Too Cute Not to Post

Little Bucky Foo Foo
I don't want to see you
Chewing up the cushion
And pulling out the fluff

Looking innocent

Acting nonchalant

Thinks I'm not watching

Planning the next move



Little red-eyed devil

Good thing he's so cute!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Most Extraordinary Story

Just a story about luck, and other-worldly things.

My father was the one with the Irish heritage, but my mother had all the luck. She never had a lot of money, but always had a positive attitude and was always winning things...not usually big things, but door prizes, raffles, and on one plane trip to Las Vegas, she won on the slot machines in the airport before she even got there! So...she got the reputation as the lucky one.

She had a hard working life, but a nice, simple retirement that was full of pleasure for her. She lived until 92 years of age and smiled every day. I was her youngest child, and we had a special relationship. In her final two years in a lovely nursing home, I always felt that my brother looked after her financial and physical needs and I looked after her emotional ones. My sister had passed on years before.

On the evening of the day she died, I took a long walk around my brother's neighborhood, enjoying and needing the solitude. On that walk, I found six four leaf clovers. Count 'em, six!  It took me some time to process, but what could it be but a message from my dear mother sending me her love, and maybe her luck.

As if that wasn't extraordinary enough, for weeks after, I found at least one four leaf clover a day, often more than that. It seemed that they were finding me. At first, I pressed them between pages of a book, but then I started giving them away, usually to the first person I saw after the finding, for I already had so many.  I put one in a painting, gave them as baby gifts, even finding them on my way into the hospital to see the newborn child. I keep very few now, and don't find them nearly as often, but I still look, and once in a while, find a happy surprise.


These are just a few. The two tiny ones in the lower right hand corner I found on my birthday. The pretty one below them is one I found on her birthday, and the one to the left of the tiny ones I found on Mother's Day.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Blind Sketching 2nd Day

Same blind sketching process, done quickly. On this, green was done blindly first, followed by blind pen. I then deliberately (and sightedly) accented what the blindness brought me in red. This is fun and I sometimes have an idea where it's going. It does allow me the freedom that I usually have trouble giving myself, so it is a good exercise.

Sketch Wednesday 2nd

no...not blind.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Tuesday ~ Blind Sketching

Today I started a week of blind sketches. I started with the blue, my eyes closed, and just let my hand do what it wanted.  I then took the pen, closed my eyes, relaxed, and did the same. I then used the violet, eyes open, to accent what the blindness brought me. I did this last step quickly, not wanting the result to become elaborate or deliberately representational. This meditative exercise has brought my spirit to the surface on many occasions. It was interesting to note the circular patterns my blind steps took.

Tips for Eating Raw

I enjoy eating raw foods and "uncooking" all of the wonderful recipes out there, and coming up with my own concoctions. One of the things that I have noticed though, is that just as in the standard american diet (SAD), there are a lot of sweet treats, however raw and natural they may be. It is a good idea, if we are going to embrace raw eating, to balance these as we would in any other healthy eating regimen. I don't prepare too many elaborate sweet recipes. I am happy with the Chia Bliss Pudding (below), a piece of fruit, or one or two medjool dates if I want a sweet treat. I find that the less I include sweets in my day, the less I crave them.

Another thing about eating raw is that many of the recipes are nut based, which means that they have a high fat content. While they are good fats, and are unadulterated by the heating process, it is easy to consume a diet that has a higher fat content than is desirable. I love nuts, so this is something I try to watch.

Adding plenty of fresh vegetables and greens is a great way to bring balance. I'll be posting some salad and salad dressing recipes (some nut based, some vegetable based) later in the week.

This is my cabinet of basics. Although I do have some nuts and seeds stored in these jars, they are usually used quickly. For things stored for a longer period, I refrigerate or freeze. This is especially true of macadamia nuts and sunflower seeds. I also refrigerate hemp seed and ground flaxseed, except for small portions that will be used within a few days.

Have a glorious day!