Thursday, September 15, 2011

Just the Way YOU are.....

Dear most beautiful wonderful you!
It is incredibly easy to let the opinions of others lead you to doubt who you authentically are. We can get so caught up in what other people want us to be that sometimes we forget to be ourselves. We are all on such a beautiful and unique path of personal evolution towards becoming the very best and most amazing version of ourselves....but we will never get to bask in the beauty of our own individuality if we are constantly inviting other people to tell us what we need to change!

Each and every one of us has our own version of what we think somebody else should look like, how we believe they should act, how they should make a living, what color they should paint the walls.....and the list goes on and on! But what if we just took a step back and let people be who they are? What if the next time I wanted to blurt out "oh you should do this...." I just kept it to myself until I was asked for my opinion? (I'm trying....I promise I am)

Unless you're living under a rock with your ears taped shut, then chances are, somebody is going to offer up their version of what they will believe will work best for you. Their hearts are always in the right place and they truly want the best for you, but at the end of the day, don't we all bring our ideals from a place of our own experiences? So, at any given moment twenty five people could offer 25 different opinions of what they honestly believe will work best for you....and in their minds, they would be right! However, what works for yu and me and our lives might not work for "them"......what feels comfortable and right for me might make "them" want to run away shaking their head.....and that's okay!!!

The most wonderful thing about co-existing with billions of other people is that we are all ever-changing glorious works of art. No two canvases the same, no two journeys ever completely mirrored and that's the awesomel thing about it. It would be a boring world if every time you turned around you bumped into a clone of yourself. Yet, it's so easy to get caught up in what other people believe to be true about you. Today, I hope that whatever opinions are offered to you, whatever somebody tells you that you need to change, and however somebody might tell you to make things better, you do not allow them to make you doubt who you are.

You and I are perfectly flawed and oh-so-beautiful human beings who make this world a much colorful and extra-ordianary place because of all the unique qualities that we bring to the party!
I think Billy Joel knew what he was talking about when he said "don't go changing to try and please me, I love you just the way you are...." and that's the ticket friend....we need to love each other and ourselves just the way we are!!!
I wish you a day filled with your own version of fabulous and the confidence to know that you are nothing short of amazing....just the way you are!!!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

There is so much to SEE!

Sometimes I get caught up....wrapped up, tied up.....and just plain distracted. I buzz around hoping to get to a scrap of paper or napkin in time to write down a new idea, a fabulous quote or a random observation I have made. I bounce from facebook to blogs, to my own website and then let the dogs out. I swirl and twirl and make endless lists of things to do, places to go, emails to return......I just plain get caught up! Then I am caught off guard by a random smile from a passerby and as I am consciously smiling back I wonder if I spend enough time paying attention to the people around me. Not the guy I call hubby....not family or friends, but those random souls I pass in the grocery store....the woman standing next to me as I am pumping gas.

Am I paying enough attention? I spend so much of my time with my head down trying to cross things off of lists that I am starting to wonder if I am missing out on fleeting moments that come and go in the blink of an eye. I wonder if the Universe has given me some great gift or generous little wink that went sadly unnoticed because heaven forbid I forget the Ranch dressing in aisle Four.

Regardless of how we are allowing the world to see us, we are, each one of us, such fragile souls....each of us just hoping to be noticed once in a while. A kind word can change the entire course of a day, a smile from a passer-by can lift a somber little random act of kindness has the potential to cause a ripple effect that can ultimately be felt in the tiniest, but most amazing ways by countless recipients.....all because we paid attention.

We notice the girl with the sad eyes who just wanted you to glance her way, but do we really see her? We look at the woman with the magnifying glass who is desperately trying to read the label on a jar of peas but is struggling because her vision just isn't what it used to be, but do we see her? We notice the homeless woman that we have been passing on the street for months now, but do we see her? I can think of so many things I tend to notice on a daily basis, but unless I can stop and actually see what is going on around me, then I wonder what I have let just slip right past me. The true impact of observation is diminished when we don't take the time to feel it, or when something needs to be done and we tell ourselves that somebody else will do it, or when we're just so busy that we don't notice anything special at all.

Every single day I know that I am surrounded by flashes of little miracles, opportunities to reach out to the person standing next to me....snippets of true beauty....and windows of inspiration. But it is only when I slow it all down long enough to see it that I am actually permitting myself to give and receive all of these gifts...

Life is chaos, it is hectic, and dizzying and often feels like a whirling top just spinning out of control. But then, if you're as lucky as I was yesterday you stop just long enough to look outside the kitchen window and see a dozen-ish yellow finches who dropped by to say hello and check out your tomato plants. Teeny tiny little gifts that I would have surely missed if I hadn't stopped to take a breathe from all the madness.

Today is another busy day, you have a to-do list a mile long and 45 things that demand your immediate attention. But I hope that in the middle of it all you will grant yourself time to stop and really SEE. See the people around you who so desperately want your attention, see the changing of the leaves before they completely dry out and return back to dust, see the smallest of miracles...whatever your version of a miracle might be. We are so lucky and so incredibly blessed. We have this big beautiful world in front of us just waiting to be noticed. Today is the perfect day to truly and purposely take a good look around and just allow yourself to SEE.

I wish you a wonderful day of clear and intentional vision!!!


Monday, September 12, 2011

Vintage Girl Living in a Modern World.....

Seriously.....could this day get any more gorgeous? If you're here in the Chi-town area like I am then I don't have to tell you that days like this don't come often! Perfect temp, a beautiful breeze, sun.....and NO humidity! Why can't it be like this all year? Because then we would complain that the weather never changes and we mid-westerners love our variety.

Anyway....I digress (as usual)..... a perfect world where everything was free and I didn't have to worry about earning a living to help keep the lights on, or terrifying my husband by dressing like Lucille Ball, I would be living smack dab in the middle of my own antique shop. I would serve lemonade (with a splash or two of vodka on the weekends...or after five pm), little pastries made by a local girl, and be dressed in vintage clothing from the 40s from head to toe. But alas, instead I became a bit of collector of all things rusty, old, and full of character! Hubby and I love heading out to out-of-the-way antique shops or flea markets in search of the perfect something that we both know we really don't need!

We've been slowly but surely finding amazing pieces that for us, were just the perfect additions to our home! For us, these have become the perfect conversation pieces even if we just wind up only talking to each other! There is something so inspiring and magical about old, weathered items that "brand new" just can't compete with. From the smell to the rust, I just fall in love over and over again! I often find myself wishing I could talk to the people that originally had these items in their homes and find out what life was like for them. I just know that every piece has a story to tell and love the idea of celebrating its history! So, I hope you enjoy the few pieces that I have posted. For us, they are little treasures that make me smile every time I look at them!

We stumbled across this piece at an antique store near the house and first thought nothing of it other than it was beautiful....but then the magic happened! The owner of the store came right over to show us that when you open the lid there is this amazing self contained bar sitting right inside! It even had the original martini top and olive picks.....and the light works! So, I'm not sure how well you can see this, but oh my fabulous and the perfect home for our vintage beverage canisters that we picked up at an estate sale! Hubby loves when people come over and he gets to open the bar and show them this amazing piece of furniture!

Not sure how great the photo is, but from the original mirror to the retro light, we think it's just beautiful!!! All I need now is long cigarette holder, a good martini and some long white gloves....which I'm sure I have in my collection already!

This is another of our treasures! I know you're wondering what is so exciting about an old greasy wheel, but take a look at the photo below of the amazing OLD baggage cart that its attached to! When hubby first stumbled upon this in the back of an old warehouse and called to tell me about me I had no idea I could literally fall in love with a piece of furniture the way I have! He saw it and immediately thought it would make the perfect coffee table, and boy was he right! Our home was built in the 40s and to furnish it with modern pieces just didnt seem like US, so from the moment he dragged it home, it was true love for both us!

It's the perfect piece!!! Flanked by our oh-so-glam long red couch and that corner loveseat we found. I know, I know, nothing matches, but that's the best part!!! We thought about cleaning that cart up and refinishing it, but decided that part of the personality is all of the imperfections that came along with it...kind of like me.....perfectly full of imperfections!!!

Enjoy the rest of this magnificent day and thanks for indulging me and letting me share a few of my other inspirations!!!

Big hugs!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Meet Mad Max!

Good morning everybody! My name is Max....or as my parents affectionately refer to me; Mad Max! Actually, I'm starting to think that maybe my real name is "NO MAX," because I seem to hear that a lot, so I will have to get back to you later on that one! I'm a little Lhasa Apso with a huge personality, I just got adopted by my new parents Gary and Heather about three weeks ago and I just love it here! I now have a furry dog sister named Betsy, and three cat cousins named Jake, Newman and Bella! I love to chase them around the house and torment them as often as possible just so they know that I might be really little, but my goal is to be KING!

I'm only about 5 months old so my favorite things to do are go potty every five minutes on whatever pretty wood and tile floors I can find. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy going outside and running around, but I just don't see that as a good place to use the bathroom when there are so many nice places right here inside! My parents have repeatedly told me that going potty outside is the right thing to do, but honestly, it's just not my scene! I am much happier to get out into the yard and drag enormous sticks around, eat whatever leaves I can shove into my mouth and then enjoy the cool breeze for a second or two before trying to bother Betsy!
So far I'm really loving this place.....there were some really cool toys here when I arrived that I am guessing belonged to Betsy, but even when Heather and Gary say "NO MAX," I can't help but try to hoard them all for myself! They are SO much fun to chew on!! I don't think Betsy likes me too much yet, but I know that eventually she will come to love my wit and humor.....I hope! As for the cats.....Newman is the most fun! I chase him around the house and force him to jump up as high as he can on the furniture and then I try to jump up and knock him down. It hasn't worked yet but I am no quitter so one of these days I will win!
Beyond that I think you can already tell that I use my adorable underbite and huge tail as a way to win people over and if that doesn't work then I really enjoy trying to bite their ankles and scare them! It's really funny to watch them jump and yell my name, "NO MAX," over and over again! Overall I think that once I get used to the rules and these strange parents I have (why are these people always trying to hug a macho guy like me?) this is going to be a pretty cool place to live, so far I give it two paws up..... Now if I just get out into that yard long enough to get those darned squirrels out of here everything would be fine!!!
Have a nice day!
Mad Max!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Are you a Can-Do Girl??

I'm trying so hard to discipline myself and only post once a day....BUT....sometimes a valuable little life lesson comes along that you just HAVE to share! I had this wonderful breakfast meeting today with a woman who specializes in the "art" of positive thinking....she is thinking of joining the network I created as a business owner and was coming to me for some business advice, and before I knew what was happening, she was the one doing all the talking.....and I was like a little girl just drinking up everything she had to say!
I tend to think of myself as a pretty positive sort of girl (we can still be girls in our 40s, right???) but as Pat and I were sitting and conversing, she graciously interrupted me and pointed out that I used the words "can't" and "don't" about 9 times in the course of fifteen minutes. I paused for a split second and then blurted out, "okay, well, there are some things I just CAN'T do Pat.....and other things I DON't want to do....why is that wrong?" So, she got this big beautiful smile on her face and shared with me the fact that every time I use those words I am limiting myself. Limiting my control, limiting my expectations....and essentially closing off my mind to what my abilities and desires truly are by focusing on the negative. She very gently reminded me that it would be far more beneficial to share my CANs and DOs, celebrate the GOOD things versus focusing on how I am working to eliminate the BAD....For a moment or two I was a little lost...and then I realized that she just might be right...and I very quickly responded "I CAN DO THAT."

I think Pat was right on about self-imposed limitations....because her wisdom immediately made me start thinking about all of things that I CAN do, all of the things I say YES to.....and how I really need to make that more my focus versus spending anymore time on what I DON'T want and CAN'T have! I suppose it was easy to get into the habit of paying vast amounts of attention to what I don't want in my life rather than celebrating and inviting what I do want! If whaqt I believe in my heart is true, and the Universe and my Creator are in fact listening and all I've been telling them is what I want to go away then how will they ever know what I am hoping to see more of???
Perhaps not a completely knock-me-down-life-changing morning, but certainly something I want to really pay more attention to....and very interesting in how it relates to what keeps showing up in my world!
So, the moral of the story for me is.....we need to remember to be CAN and DO girls.....or.....CAN-DO girls...we need to pay more attention to what we are focusing our energy on and learn to place an intentional order for what we DO want instead of always telling people and ourselves what we would like to eliminate!
So, I very gently challenge you to spend the day keeping track (quietly) of how many times you say CAN'T and DON't and see if maybe you're sitting in the same boat as me! If you pay very close attention, I think you just might surprise yourself!! The good news is, bad habits are made to be broken to make room for the good habits just waiting to be unveiled! I am looking forward to living in a much more CAN-DO version of my world and hope you'll join me there!
Sending loads of clarity to all my CAN-DO girls!

Be Nice Anyway....

Good morning lovelies!!

I am up at the crack of dawn today because our new puppy Max has decided that it's time to go outside and play. At five in the morning there is a certain sort of still-life peace in the air before all the cars start whizzing by on their way to work. I can hear hubby quietly snoring upstairs, the cats are still curled up in bed with him and for a few more minutes, our other dog, Betsy is content to just lay perfectly still, free from being harassed by Mad Max. All is well in the world just before the sun creeps up along the horizon and real life begins to unfold.

I never used to be a morning person, but for some insane reason the last few years I find that my head is crystal clear at this hour of the day and I have found that all of my best ideas seem to bubble up to surface as I am enjoying my first piping hot cup of delicious coffee. Today, due in part to an on-going challenge I have with an acquaintance in my world, I spend a great deal of time thinking about integrity. I like to think that I am the sort of person who always makes a conscious effort to do the right thing. I smile at strangers. I extend a little extra "nicety" when I can sense that somebody is having a less than perfect day! I make a habit of honestly and authentically treating people exactly the way I hope they will want to treat me....but every once in a while I come across somebody that I like to call my "monkey wrench." These are the people that challenge me the most because I can't really understand why they do the things they do. I know, I's not my job to understand everybody I come in contact with, but honestly, sometimes people really wear me down, and today looks like its going to be one of those days...if I let it!

When I decided to create a blog I spent a great deal of time trying to decide what I wanted it to feel like. I knew I wanted to inspire people by sharing good news....good thoughts and a constant source of positive thinking. I'm not a whiney girl by nature and tend to face every situation in my life with solid footing, the perfect shade of lipgloss and always wearing my big girl happy pants. But sometimes no mtter how hard we try to stay positive, we run into somebody that makes you stop and wonder if maybe they were in the wrong line when INTEGRITY was being handed out....and perhaps this contant "doing the right thing" is over-rated when it would be so easy to cross over to the dark side for a moment just for a tiny bite of instant gratification. In these situations, when it would be so darned gratifying to call somebody out on their bad behavior or dishonest practices I find that I have to work really hard to remind myself that I am a better person than that...

Oh sure, the fantasy aspect of walking up to some people and shaking them....asking them why they can't just be nice and do the right thing might feel good for about 30 seconds, but ultimately I know it's not going to change anything. I know that I will walk away feeling lousy and disappointed with myself for letting somebody get the best of me and the person on the receiving end will just go about their day as they normally would; completely unphased by my insane behavior.

I think the big challenge really is rising above the junk! It gets frustrating and feelings are hurt, but at the end of the day, if we don't have our own unconditional integrity, then what are we left with? Real life is not always about birds chirping, clouds in my coffee and little cartoon rabbits and deer following me around..... but for me, what matters most is not that high school mentality of getting even, or getting my fair share, instead, it always comes down to a matter of personal responsbibilty for my actions, and yes, integrity. I find that a lot of times, doing the right thing is not the easiest thing, but when all is said and done, I get the peace of mind that comes from knowing that I don't have to be embarrassed or disappointed with myself for how I handled something. I get to lay my head down knowing that even when it feels like a constant up-hill climb, once I reach the top of that mountain, and I will reach it.....I will get to look back down the side of that journey and know that I climbed all the way up by doing the right thing and not hurting anybody else along the way. THAT is the sort of victory that matters because it's the good sort of pure satisfaction that only shows up when integrity has been a guide post!

Real life is tricky and not always easy to navigate when there are people around us who don't really have our best interest in mind, but how we choose to handle those sort of situations ultimately lies at our own feet! I hope that if you run into somebody who seems a little short on "nice" you will remember to be true to you and hold on to the knowledge that you would never want to achieve something by hurting somebody else or compromising your own heart and integrity along the way. Isn't there an old saying something along the lines of "give til it hurts?" Well some days it feels like that, but the reward at the end is most certainly worth it!!! You and I might not always get the best seats because we don't push our way to the front of the line, we might not have the biggest client list because for us it's not all about the money, its about the quality, and maybe we will never be featured on Oprah's new network for being Ms. Wonderful, but we will know in our hearts that when it came right down to it, we did the right thing every time.....and you just can't put a price on integrity my friend!

I wish you a day of good decisions made from your heart and the satisfaction that comes from living a really good and heart-filled life!


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

I'll Bring the "Whine!"

Today is one of those days where no matter what I do, nothing seems to be working!! AARRGGhH!! My printer and I are clearly not on speaking terms, my art work that I was so excited to get listed on my website is trapped in some strange realm that won't allow it to size correctly and I am one frustrated bird! So, naturally, frustration for me leads me to wondering how I got here in the first place. Why am I sitting inside on a gorgeous afternoon trying to reconcile with my printer when all I really want to do is go sit outside and pout? Do you have days like this? Days where all of the suddden the things you have not yet accomlished suddenly seem to vastly out-weigh what you HAVE done? If you are familiar with these days, then pull up a chair and join me for my little pity party....I'll bring the "whine."

So, this cranky me is also wondering, in spite of all that I have not done, do we ever really give ourselves the opportunity to appreciate just how far we HAVE come? I know that we judge ourselves for what we don't have enough of, what we haven't accomplished, or the fact that we STILL haven't dropped those last five pounds. We find all sorts of things to silently scold ourselves for, and yet, somewhere in the middle of all that self-imposed negativity there simply MUST be something we can proud of ourselves for......right? So, how about if we allow ourselves to come up with a few things we can shine a big beautiful light on and celebrate today versus our usual focus on the shortcomings??? Maybe you could grab a sheet of paper and some big fat colored markers and write a little note to yourself applauding where you are right in this moment! Something a little like this.......

Dear Self.....I think you should be proud of the fact that although this blog, and this art thing are slow going, you are moving forward. Okay, so it is not happening in the blink of an eye, and you might feel as though you are spending a lot of time talking to yourself, but at least you are doing it!!! You committed to developing this whimsical and colorful inspirational place where you can share your thoughts, offer a little humor and insight .....and you are making it happen. One little post a day, one new drawing, one word a day, and slowly, very slowly, something is starting to take shape. For you Heather, that's no small feat since normally by now you would have thrown your hands in the air and moved on to a new project, right? So two months later you're still typing away, and that's a BIG deal! There is also the fact that though each drawing you finish has scared the be-jebusus out of you, you have completed almost 30 of them!!! Okay, so the printer is not cooperating and you can't get them out there like you would like to, but the good news is, they are done and soon they will be out there for all the world to see....provided you let people find them! So, yes Heather, it's a process and sometimes it's not all wine and roses, but as long as you keep going forward then you are a million steps further then where you were a few months ago, right? That is something to be proud of! Oh....and didn't you lose 4 pounds last month?? Not too shabby if I may say so myself!!!

We are on a constant process of evolution and self-awareness, but if we only ever allow ourselves to focus on the junky junk that is NOT happening, then when will ever find the time to embrace all the things we should recognize as GOOD....FABULOUS....REMARKABLE......and DONE? We owe ourselves a little pat on the back at least every once in a while don't we? I think so! I believe we should be smiling back at ourselves daily and knowing that yes, the road is long, yes, there are some "incompletes" hanging out there in the wind, but there are also all of those things we told ourselves we would do and heck yes, we have done them!!

So, today, or maybe the next time you're having one of those, "I'm-just-not-where-I-thought-I would-be days," you will remember to stop and recognize all the amazing things you HAVE done and you will permit yourself to be wildly proud of exactly where you are!!!

I wish you an afternoon filled with long lists of all the wonderful things you promised yourself you would do and the ability to recognize that you did them! Go forth and be proud of you!!!!