Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

A Little Beauty, A Little Puzzle For Your Saturday   Leave a comment

I love Magritte’s paintings. I love Escher’s drawings.  Now, I love Erik Johansson’s photos. . . All of these artists play with perception and make me stop, wonder, and think.

If you are an artist, I imagine this is your goal as well. I know it’s mine.

Enjoy.

What makes you stop and wonder?  An artist? A natural thing? A person? 

Christmas Staycation – A Guest Post by Sharry Miller   2 comments

It all becomes a little overwhelming:  full-time job, husband, daughter, a business making and selling art glass, blog posts, weekly articles for my BellaOnline site…the list seems to just go on and on.

On top of everything else, the onset of winter here in Alaska often causes my energy level to drop.  I find myself craving carbohydrates, especially sweets, much more than normal.  Getting outside for fresh air and exercise helps a lot, but it doesn’t matter that I know this, I still have a hard time overcoming inertia to actually get my butt outside.  I want to just give in to the urge to curl up with a warm blanket and good book and not move for hours.  Unfortunately, there just isn’t time for that.

I’ve been saying for some time that I’d like to quit my “real” job; my husband earns enough money that I could, in theory.  Unfortunately, he’s self-employed, a job that doesn’t come with health insurance or the security of a guaranteed income.  When I talk about quitting, however, he has on occasion said that his concern is that I’d get bored if I weren’t working full time.  Huh?!  I have so many things I want to do:  complete projects already started, begin even some of the many ideas running through my head, write more, read more…heck, I’d even like to clean the house for a change.  Being bored isn’t even a remote consideration.

Because Christmas and New Year’s Day fall on Sundays this year, my holiday days off fall on the following Mondays.  I’ve decided to give myself a Christmas present.  I am taking personal leave on the remaining four days during the week after Christmas.  As a result, I’ll have 10 whole days in a row off.  A colleague asked me, “Where are you going to go?”  With a blissful sigh, I replied, “Nowhere.  I’m giving myself a staycation.”

I assume you’re all familiar with “staycations” since Alaska’s always behind the times when it comes to the latest in trends.  A staycation simply means that you’re taking time off from work, but staying home instead of traveling.  In my book, the time doesn’t count as a staycation if you spend all of it taking care of chores or doing other work, unless, of course, the work consists of things you really want to do – in that case it’s really not work.  (Whew!  That was a complicated sentence.)

Undoubtedly, I won’t get to spend as much of my staycation indulging in my chosen activities as I’d like.  The demands of family and house will require at least some of my attention.  Nonetheless, I look forward to sleeping late, reading good books, writing, and spending time playing with glass in my studio.  I hope to be able to return to work refreshed and with a better attitude, but I don’t really expect miracles.  Regardless, I am quite confident the last thing I’ll be is bored.  That worry is one my husband can put right out of his head.

Have you had a staycation, or, if you took time off from work did you just end up working at home?  If you can’t indulge in a full staycation, what do you do to recharge your batteries when the winter doldrums hit?

Sharry Miller is a beleaguered State of Alaska employee who recharges her batteries through creative pursuits such as glass art and writing.  She writes more-or-less regularly on her blog (sharrymiller.typepad.com) and posts articles every week to the Cycling site at BellaOnline.

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Posted December 1, 2011 by Andi Cumbo-Floyd in Uncategorized

I like where I am   2 comments

I have been home with my children for a year now and it has been difficult and wonderful all in the same moment.  I have always worked and I have been blessed to always love what I was doing but after working full-time in a very demanding ministry and birthing two children in two years I was ready to trade places with my husband the stay-at-home Dad.  So last year at this time we switched places and now he works full-time while I stay home although he does work from home so in many ways we have the best of both worlds.

I have struggled this past year to find my place as a stay-at-home Mom.  I never quite feel like I fit in mostly because I feel so out of my element.  I knew how to work full-time and be a Mom but honestly I didn ‘t know how to be a full-time Mom.  There were so many days when I felt inadequate, overwhelmed, and lousy in my new “position.”  Over the past year I have found a bit of a rhythm that seems to work for me, my kids, and our family although I understand it is always changing because it is a living breathing rhythm of life.

Over the year I have compared myself to others who seem to take to this role so naturally who seem to manage their home and lives with beauty and grace while I felt like a Clydesdale playing with miniature ponies, you know a bit clumsy.   A few examples are twice I have taken my two year old to her indoor soccer without her shoes and she had to play in her socks.  There was the time we went on vacation without my child having shoes and we had to buy some on our trip.  Oh yes there is the time one of my children dumped shovel fulls of sand down my other child’s pants and I had to turn them upside down to empty their pants because I had no diaper bag and several mother’s were cracking up.  Let’s not forget the jelly butt toast my youngest ate recently.  The list of oops go on and on although I can laugh at them as I experience the learning curve of my new role.

I have compared myself to much over the past  year and as I reflect I realize that I am so happy being me and I am content with the Mother I am to my children.  My dear friend reminds me that I am the perfect Mother for my children.  Over the year I have found the things I am great at and they are wonderful.  I am great at playing with my kids I mean awesome wonderful games.  We love to bake and cook together and many nights they help me make dinner.  We laugh a ton either over jokes or silly things that happen.  We do tons of crafts.  I have the time to listen to everything and anything they want to tell me.  I take care of myself.  I take great care of them.  I love them always.  I discipline in a loving yet firm way.  I explain and talk to them.  I treat them with respect and kindness.  I teach them to love others and be kind.  I read to them a ton.  I spend time with them.   I pray for them.  I snuggle them, I hug them, I kiss them.  I love them I love them I love them and I tell them all the time.  Over this year I have a thankful heart for the experiences and the memories and I have come to a place of peace that where I am right not is exactly where I am suppose to be.  I have also realized that being ME as a Mother is the best gift I can give my children.  I have never been a graceful woman who seems to glide through life.  I sort of plod along with a trip now and then, a laugh, a big heart, and a willing spirit to all that life has to teach  me it is never really pretty but it is who I am and these parts of me make me a great Mother.

Posted November 3, 2011 by shelvaleep in Uncategorized

Why Aren’t More Christian Artists Producing Work that’s Excellent?   2 comments

Earlier today, a friend and I were talking about a new film coming out from Live 58:, an organization dedicated to eradicating extreme poverty during this generation.  The trailer for the film is excellent – well-made, enticing, and absolutely inspiring.   My friend said, “I really hope the film is excellent.”

Image by Kathy T. Hettinga

“I think it will be,” I said.  “The trailer looks great, and Jon Acuff recommended it.”   (I really love Jon Acuff’s humor and insight . . . especially his Stuff Christians Like posts, so his recommendation carries a lot of weight with me.  )

“Have you seen the NOOMA films?” my friend asked.  I told him I loved them, and he responded by saying, “I find them extremely powerful; they are SO well produced.  Finally, a product that Christians don’t have to be ashamed of.”

We then began to banter about the Christian bands that are, well, not so excellent. (I won’t name names, but you know what we mean – I know you do.)  Our conversation got me thinking about all the really mediocre art that Christians produce . . . let’s just face it, in many things we don’t excel.

Some of our music is really sad – repetitive, not inventive in score or lyrics, boring, trite, even.  Some of our books are simplistic, shallow, and, again, repetitive.  Our visual art can be kitschy and banal.

I don’t know why this is.  Of anyone, we are called to work the hardest to produce the most profound, inspiring, honest work out there . . . why don’t we?  Why do we settle for the easy and the simple and the shallow?  Why don’t we work until we get our art as close to perfect as we can?

Maybe it’s because we think we don’t have to – we are loved anyway, so why try?  Or maybe our Christian culture has dulled our edges, made us see things as only black/white, encouraged us to look over the complexities?  Maybe we think that being Christian means things have to be “pretty” or “good?”  But that’s not what art is – art isn’t always pretty, and it doesn’t always see the basic thing.  It sees reality and makes it something we can sit with, be taken up by . . . art is what God did when God made earth.

So the Live 58: Film . . . I hope it’s excellent, as excellent as the NOOMA videos are and as Jon Acuff’s writing is. . . I hope it’s as excellent as the writing of Flannery O’Connor and the art of Kathy Hettinga.  I hope it’s as excellent as that famous Mountain Sermon that still lives us all breathless and stupified . . . for we are the light of the world. . . . we should shine with excellent.

Posted October 7, 2011 by Andi Cumbo-Floyd in Life Lessons, Uncategorized

Being jealous   Leave a comment

Jealousy is an ugly thing and part of me wants to keep this post to myself because honestly I it makes me look bad but part of this blog is being real with our struggles and this is one of mine at the moment.  Maybe it is rooted in all the new people I am meeting or just where I am in life with my sense of self that I finding myself jealous.  I know it eats at my heart and causes me to compare my life and my self to others and that is never good.

Most of the time my jealousy is really a private conversation I have in my head where I put myself down for not being or doing like someone else or I have to find ways to put them down so I don’t feel so bad.  It is not a great trait of mine and if I am really honest it has so much more to do with me than anyone else.  Usually this ugliness rears its head when I am not satisfied or content with my life and usually it is an agent of change for me.

I have also noticed in our greater society that many women often talk in the up way of speaking.  We seem to need to point out our successes and another ‘s failures to compensate for something we are feeling inside ourselves.  I like to believe I am not competing with anyone but it does seem on a daily basis I catch myself thinking snide comments or judging another woman friend or stranger which is difficult to admit.

So since this jealousy rooted conversation in my head is usually a sign of some sort of internal discontentment I need to take a little more quiet time to find the true source.  I truly wish I could figure out this itch I can’t scratch without going through my jealousy stage but it seems to be a part of my process one I am not proud of but yet it is an ever present part of me and one of my struggles on this  journey.

Posted October 6, 2011 by shelvaleep in Uncategorized

Who sets the tone?   Leave a comment

I have two amazing children.  One is a morning person and the other is not.  One wakes with singing the other with whining.  One will chat your ear off from the moment they get out of bed and the other might not speak for an hour or so except to say that their sibling is bothering them.  One dances and runs every morning while the other sits and watches stroking their face with the tail of their favorite stuffed animal.  So honestly depending on which child is up first the tone for the day can be very different.

This past week has had its ups and downs like all of life and the reoccurring theme that keeps coming to me over and over is who sets the tone?  Who decides who will have a “bad” day and who will have a “good”one?  The other day one child was ill and the other was in the mood to torment and I was sleep deprived so who was the tone setter that day?  Well I was, since I decided we would have a good day no matter what happened and every time someone broke down or I lost my temper I would take a step back look around and say we are going to have a good day.

In general I feel like I am a pretty well rounded person yet there are days when I let my 2 or 3 year old dictate the tone of our home.  I know if you are a parent you have probably been in this situation.  You know what I mean you wake up smiling ready for a great day of fun and one of your children wakes up in a mood that quickly sends the house into a downward spiral and it is hard if not impossible some days to recover.  Sometimes it feels a bit exhausting to be the tone setter the one who will help others live that day to the fullest and enjoy the  moments, whatever they are, that come along yet it does seem to be my role most of the time.  I am learning to embrace this role and I find that life with all of its ups and downs is better when you take a step back and say this is a good day!

Posted September 22, 2011 by shelvaleep in Uncategorized