February 5th

Tuesday, February 5th, 2019

I attempted to photograph a self portrait with Colt today and it was just short of a disaster, so here’s one of just him instead.

Colt is a pretty laid back cat. Not much scares him, and if something does he’s quick to forgive and relax again. He’s got about one of the sweetest faces, and in real life he rarely looks alarmed.

…..except for when he’s in front of the camera and then he proceeds to put on his freak face. So add me in the mix and it looks like my presence is pure torture for him. He even looks somewhat terrified in this picture and I’m not anywhere near him.

It’s one of those weird things. Oh well, it adds to Colt’s hilarity 🙂

December 13th

Thursday, December 13th, 2018

I was doing some work on my website tonight when I looked over and basically melted into a puddle.

I love having happy animals, so seeing moments like this are so fulfilling for me. Happy boys, happy brothers, relaxed and content to spend their evening on the couch with me (and each other!).

So much love for these goons.

November 28th

Wednesday, November 28th, 2018

Want to know a funny little fact about Paul and my marriage?

We don’t have designated sides of the bed.

At home, Paul always sleeps on the left, and me on the right. If we’re not sleeping in our own bed though, that isn’t always the way it is.

Paul insists on sleeping on the side of the bed that faces the door. So at home, that means left side. At a hotel or AirBNB, that may mean right side (On top of all other things he is to me, protector is definitely near the top of the list).

Why does this even matter? Well, because that means I always get the window side, and this morning when I opened my eyes to this amazing sunset (with Colt looking on, haha!), I was in awe and thankful that this was what I woke up to.

Quite the way to start the day.

October 10th

Wednesday, October 10th, 2018

So much soul food today. First with a much needed breakfast catch-up with a dear friend, and a rainy afternoon snuggled under a blanket (with a cat), deep in a book.

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If you’ve read any of Brene Brown’s books, you may know what I mean.

Brene is a social psychologist who has spent her entire career studying shame and the effect it has not only a personal level, but a cultural one. Very simplified: The challenge of true belonging in a culture that fears authenticity. She explores how shame shapes us as a society and in turn effects our behavior and connections with one another…or I suppose you could argue the reverse. How shame-shaped behavior and connections impact society.

Either way, I was introduced to her through her book The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be, and Embrace Who You Are. It pulled me in in a way no other book (based on research) ever had. I couldn’t put it down. I wanted to learn more about how I can live in true vibrant delight.

So then I went to the library and placed holds on all of her other books, hungry (maybe even a tad desperate) for more.

The fact that I was numbers 13, 24, and 18 in the que for her books should tell you how popular they are. It was a bit of a wait, but it was worth it.

Three weeks ago, it was finally my turn, and I read Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. It was the book I brought with when I followed Paul to work a couple of weeks ago, and within 5 hours I had read it from cover to cover. I journaled while I read this book, writing down particularly strong messages that I wanted to remember. While taken out of context, and maybe not meaningful to those who haven’t read the book, here are a couple:

“We’ve come to the point where, rather than respecting and appreciating the courage and daring behind vulnerability, we let our fear, shame, and discomfort become judgement and criticism.”

“If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.”

“Vulnerability is about sharing our feelings and experiences with people who have earned the right to hear them.”

“We love seeing raw truth and openness in other people, but we’re afraid to let them see it in us. […] I want to experience your vulnerability, but I don’t want to be vulnerable.”

There were so many challenges posed in this book; it made me uncomfortable at the same time that it set me on fire. I felt understood, but also felt the challenge of owning my own feelings and experiences. She put out the call to set healthy boundaries, and set aside the shame calls of “Dare not! You’re not good enough,” or “Don’t you dare get too big for your britches!” Shame becomes fear. Fear leads to risk aversion. Risk aversion kills innovation.

I returned that book, and was happy to see that her newest book Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone was being held for my pickup. That is the book I didn’t surface from this afternoon. This book spoke to my biggest weakness: my inability to trust my own mind. If you know me well, you know that I tend to take the “Decision By Committee” approach. I like hearing other people’s input to reassure myself that I’m doing the right thing, making the right choice.

I think a small part of why I do that is because I want to “fit in” and make the choice other people would make. Nothing too radical for me. Got to blend in, can’t make waves.

So if we’re talking about issuing a call to action, this book was it. However, it spoke to the very core of why I don’t engage in debates or heated discussions. This line was wholly encapsulating for me: “The looming threat of blowback should we voice an opinion or idea that challenges our bunker mates keeps us anxious.” Or even this one had me doing some deep breathing: “Human approval is one of our most treasured idols, and the offering we must lay at its hungry feet is keeping others comfortable […] I am convinced that discomfort is the great deterrent of our generation.”

But this reaction and mentality is starving us of true connection.

“Of course we’re a social species. That’s why connection matters. It’s why shame is so painful and debilitating. It’s why we’re wired for belonging […] the biological machinery of our brains warns us when our ability to thrive and prosper is threatened. Hunger is a warning our blood sugar is low and we need to eat. Thirst warns us that we need to drink to avoid dehydration. Pain alerts us to potential tissue damage. And loneliness tells us we need social connection – something as critical to our well being as food or water. Denying you feel lonely makes no more sense than denying you feel hunger.”

Woah baby.

On one of the last pages, Brene had this paragraph, which I have two stars next to in my journal, and I think it’s so important, so I’m ending with this:

“Stop walking through the world looking for confirmation that you don’t belong. You will always find it because you’re made that your mission. Stop scouring people’s faces for evidence that you’re not enough. You will always find it because you’ve made that your goal. True belonging and self-worth are not goods; we don’t negotiate their value with the world. The truth about who we are lives in our hearts. Our call to courage is to protect our wild heart against constant evaluation, especially our own. No one belongs here more than you.

(Picture of Colt’s toes because I looked up from my book at one point to him sitting in the window. And I love the way his tail tends to curl around his toes when he sits.)

August 19th

Sunday, August 19th, 2018

When you run your own business, you work on the weekends.

However, when you work from home, your coworkers (in my case) are cats.

That’s a definite perk.

I had to oust this guy off my chair today so I could start narrowing down calendar ideas for this fall. I have about ten that are in progress right now, and I’d like to narrow it down to three, maybe only two.

The positive thing is that with all of the ideas I have for calendars, the ones that don’t make the cut for next years calendars will be an even stronger candidate for the following year. More time to develop, more images to include.

While chosing images for calendars is more difficult than it may seem (what images work best for what month? How do images flow together from month to month? Etc.), it’s always so fun to see the finished piece come together.

I’m looking forward to what this fall brings!

July 23rd

Monday, July 23rd, 2018

I was gone for three nights, Paul was also gone for one of those, and now the cats follow us everywhere.

Today, as we sat at the dining room table eating breakfast, Colt made himself comfortable on our end table by our couch. From there, he could equally keep an eye on us as well as on the birds outside the window.

The light was so pretty on his face that I grabbed my camera. When I took a moment to frame up my shot, I was able to line up the TV behind him, giving me a black background. I did go in and accentuate the shadows and blacks in post-production, but it’s a good reminder that anything can be a jumping off point!

June 19th

Tuesday, June 19th, 2018

It’s been one year since these sweet boys came into our lives.

And what joy they bring!

Although Finn may not look like a bundle of joy in this picture, there’s a reason for that. Our skeptic, Finn questions everything. His sense of self preservation is high, unlike Colt who’ll rollover and show his belly to anyone.

While I love Colt for his outgoing nature and his love for people (ANY people), I also love Finn for his hesitation. Any noise, any new voice, any shadow, he’ll check it out until he’s satisfied he’s safe.

I can relate to that. (If you know anything about the Enneagram, Finn and I are both sixes.)

My camera and the “click” of the shutter is perplexing to him. He watches me cover my face with my camera, obscuring his view of me, and then it makes a very subtle sound. That sound does not come from the lens, so that isn’t where he looks.

And he dons his serious face.

I can hear him thinking: Mom disappeared behind this thing and now the thing is making a noise that I can’t pin down.

Cue the concern.

But then the camera comes down, and his eyes relax again, the purring starts up, and the head bunting commences.

Especially since Christine and I stopped at Fresh Thyme today and picked up some wheatgrass for our respective kitties.  I got extra brownie points for bringing that home today!

April 11th

Wednesday, April 11th, 2018

I worked out in the yard today, and it felt so good.

This is the latest spring we’ve had since being in our house, and it really is a drag. In previous Aprils, Paul and I have been outside prepping the garden (I planted my potatoes around this time last year!), building flower boxes, removing the rock that was in our landscaping and replacing it with mulch – so many productive things. But this year, things are still semi-frozen. In the picture below, look at how brown the grass still is. No sign of green anywhere.

For frame of reference, I mowed our lush, vibrantly green lawn for the first time on April 25th last year. I don’t know that the grass will green up that fast this year.

Anyway, with the temperatures being near fifty, I was going to take advantage; the bushes out in front of our office needed to be pruned, so that was on my agenda today. I also had a large Hydrangea plant near our front steps that I needed to remove last years growth.  Many people do this in the fall, but I enjoy seeing the snow on top of the Hydrangea heads throughout winter, so I wait until the spring.

Here’s encouragement for your Wednesday: the shoots were starting to green up! They want to grow; hopefully as soon as we get warmer temperatures, we’ll see everything take off.

Another sign of spring? The cats came out into the yard to help me today! They absolutely loved it, and I loved having them for company. It was so fun!

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A lot of people ask us why we don’t have a dog yet, and these guys have become one of the reasons. I mean, when they basically act like a dog, but use a litter box and sleep for most of the day…I’m in no hurry for a dog. Especially with Henna at the farm – she gives us more than our fill of pup time 😉

I mean, I opened the door today, and out they went. They wandered the yard, sat with me while I pruned, and escorted me to toss the clippings…basically dogs. And bonus – when I let them back in, they sat by the door and cleaned off their paws. Seriously! They sat there and licked their feet clean.

Such gentlemen!