Gift in Wind, Water, White

Monday’s March Joy Dare was to find a gift in wind, in water and in white.  I have to be attentive to the present moment to find God’s presence in gifts as diverse as this.  And I did!

Sunday, I took a long walk at the woods with dog #1.  It was cool and only a moderate breeze, unlike the extreme windiness on Friday that blew grit in my face during my lunchtime walk.  It was nice having the wind die back and getting some fresh air with one of my favorite puppies.  And there’s the beagle going hey, hey, hey.  Don’t worry, they’re all my favorites.  The beagle was not happy getting left behind, but with his back and his weight, he can’t walk for very long anymore.

As I walked around the pond, a mallard drake flew in for a landing.  What a marvel of engineering for that little stout body!  He wasn’t flapping his wings – he shaped them into an oval and picked up speed for a straight shot to the water.  The wind offered no resistance to his flight plan.

Monday was the first workday (for me) after the time change.  It is so hard to get out of bed when the clock springs ahead an hour.  Thankfully, I got up only 15 minutes late and I didn’t need a shower – no water needed.  My hair looked fine and my exercise the day before didn’t leave me well, uh, smelly.  My favorite boy toy slept soundly through my getting ready for work, so I went out by myself for breakfast since I had enough time before work.

During lunch I checked some of the blogs that I follow.  Melissa, the coordinator of Six Words Friday, used last week’s word of “wish” to write that she wished spinach tasted like cupcakes.  I laughed and wrote her back that I wish they did too!  And shortly after lunch, some small cupcakes showed up on the file cabinet – chocolate with white frosting.  I was a good girl and only had one.  It was so yummy and tasted nothing like spinach.  [Do I need to hold up a card that says LAUGH here?]

And the parkway trees that started turning white last week?  They were even more open on Monday and I took a picture of them from my desk window.

© 2012 dogear6 llc

A Daily Life

March is Women’s History Month, making it a good month to blog about “the contributions of notable and ordinary women“.  See this post for a challenge in writing about this topic.  Other blogging ideas can be found by clicking on the tab, “Idea Jar“.  Not sure why you’d want to use someone else’s ideas?  See this post about using prompts.

Something Old, New & A Re-Do

Today’s February Joy Dare was to find a gift nearly worn out, a gift new, a gift made-do.  The Joy Dare’s really help me to see God in the small things of life and to appreciate the many gifts that are around me.

A gift worn out – my old black T-shirt that I wore today.  It wasn’t quite warm enough and later I put on a heavier sheet as we went from 80 degrees yesterday to barely 50, complete with high winds most of the day.  I used to wear that black shirt to work years ago.  It’s faded, a little pilled, but oh-so-comfortable.  I’d wear it all the time if I could.  I love it when clothes better as they get worn out.

A gift new – we got the dogs their new beds – all three of them.  Yes, the little guy got one of his own too.  He’s been using it!  He still likes to sprawl out on the big dogs bed, but he’s enjoying having one of his own.  So far, dog #1 has not tried to stuff himself into it like he did the cat bed.

A gift made-do – my favorite boy toy recently completed a big job.  He struggled with his iMac.  It kept bogging down, taking precious  minutes to complete a task.  He made enough from the job to get a new computer with a faster graphics card, more storage and more memory.  The same tasks are now done in a few seconds.

It’s possible his old computer is having a hardware failure, but he got it scratched and restored and now it’s mine.  So in addition to my laptop, I have a full size iMac with the latest version of Lion on it, plus a copy of my Photoshop Elements, Topaz filters, and Apple’s Pages.  I love the big bright screen.  Even if the hardware eventually fails, it’s nice having a computer up in my office instead of dragging my laptop all over the house.

I also have one more gift from today – actually, I read the dare wrong and had recorded this before realizing my mistake:

A gift re-do – a few days ago I mentioned that I was no longer swimming due to the time it took.  After thinking it over for a few days, I realized the time commitment to swim 3x / week, including driving to & from plus showering would be roughly the same was walking 4x / week.  My cardio workout from swimming is much better, I catch less colds, and swimming makes me feel really good after I toughen up to it.  So I re-upped my gym membership for another year and started swimming again.  As I get back into a routine swimming, I will probably spend my lunch time either taking pictures, writing or reading.

I thank God for my nice clothes that last long enough to be worn on weekends, that I can afford to buy new beds for my boys, for an answer to my prayer for a regular computer, and for exercise that agrees with me and improves my health.

It was a good day today.  No wandering though, but I did enjoy reading and cuddling a dog.

Over at A Daily Life are two new posts on getting blank lines into your blog post as well as changing your E-mail address in WordPress.

© 2012 dogear6 llc


Joy In The Outside

The February Joy Dare earlier this week was to find gifts in three things outside.  Easy peasy, I thought.  And it was.  I found more than three gifts, which made up for the day I couldn’t find three gifts when bent over(!).

  • The brilliance of the full moon shining into the skylights in the early hours of the morning.  The backyard is so bright, there are shadows.  I find it beautiful and mysterious and could look at it for a long time without thinking any particular thoughts.  The beauty of a bright night is enjoyable just as it is.
  • A heavy frost on the cars and roadways.  I’d rather not scrape the frost off the car, but the roadsides were pretty for my morning commute.  More heavy frosts (and some sustained cold) would also help kill some bugs before summer comes.
  • A pale and delicate sunrise, with tints of silver, orange, and lavender.  The sun was behind thin clouds, giving it a translucent yellow appearance.  I was driving and had to pay attention, but this is something else I could look at for a while simply to enjoy.
  • A clean car!  My favorite boy toy showed me the new car wash in town – very nice!  It was well worth the money and I had a nice waiting room as my Honda Civic was vacuumed and wiped down afterwards.
  • Gorgeous clouds all day.  They were very wispy and curly, not what I usually see during my lunch walk or from the windows during work.  Something else I could stare at for a long time.
  • The full moon again at night, shining from behind thin, filmy clouds.  The clouds were moving quickly.  Even if I’d wanted to photograph the moon, the clouds would have made it all a blur.  I’d love to have recorded it though.

The Psalmist tells us:

When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human being that you care for them?
Psalm 8:3-4 (NIV)

When I look at the moon and the stars, the clouds and the frost, I do consider God’s graciousness in caring for us and providing for us.  I thank him for a day of beauty and that everywhere I looked, it was good.

Over at A Daily Life, a new post links to The Simple Woman’s Daybook.  The daybook has prompts to use in recording your life at the moment, making a mini-time capsule in your diary / blog.  There is also a post about why a field trip can help your blogging and photography.

Here’s one of the cloud pictures that I talked about in today’s post.  Double click it to get a better look at the sky.

© 2012 dogear6 llc

Gifts on the Hours for February 1

The February Joy Dare has been posted and for today, it was again looking for gifts on the hours – or half-hours as it were.  I was looking for gifts at 11:30, 2:30 and 6:30.

To be honest, as much as I enjoy celebrating the hours, it seemed that there would be little to look for during the work week.  11:30?  Working at my desk.  Thank you for the new computer and double monitors.  2:30?  Working at my desk.  Staring at the computer monitors.  Looking out my nice window view of downtown.  6:30?  In my zippy little Honda Civic driving home after dark.

They are all wonderful things and worthy of my gratitude to God.  Absolutely worthy.  But I couldn’t quite feel the passion I needed to write them up and share them.

Shows how little I know!  In fact, I found very nice gifts at each marker.  They were small, but still nice gifts to be enjoyed and appreciated.

11:30 am – The dark, heavy gray clouds cleared up to bright sun and white fluffy clouds.  I guess I’m going for a walk during lunch after all!

I just finished reviewed a big stack of amended tax returns that were prepared by an outside vendor.  Each time a tax audit is done that changes federal income, I have to amend all the state returns to pay in their portion of the changed income (all the state tax returns start with federal income).  This was the last batch for this audit cycle – now 2004 to 2006 is done, done, done.

2:30 pm – I took a brief break and read some articles that were in LinkedIn.  I found this quote that I really liked.  I will write more about the topic at some point, but I have to mull it over for a while.  The article was called, “The Top 4 Reasons Why Most Career Dreams Fail” by Kathy Caprino:

A job and a calling are very different.  They require different things of us.  Many people think their career dream is to have a “calling” and they yearn for that.  What they don’t know is that a calling is a vision so compelling that you can’t stop yourself from wrapping your entire identity around it (even if you don’t want to),  even to the detriment of your bank account, your relationships and your health.

People romanticize about a calling, just as they idealize “love.” A calling is not something that you choose – it chooses you. And when it does, it exacts a large price.

Neither a job or a calling are better than the other; they’re just different. There are costs and benefits to both. But you can’t fabricate a calling out of thin air, so longing for one is a fruitless endeavor.

The key to creating a fulfilling career is to find the right path for you that makes you feel passionate, powerful and purposeful, and motivates you to be all you can be. Stop wishing for what others have, and start creating the best version of you — your authentic self.

6:30 pm – I was on the phone with my mother as I drove home from work.  For Christmas, I’d given her the book by Andy Andrews called “The Traveler’s Gift“.  I’d not read it myself, but my sister had and thought our mother would like it as a gift.  She has and I’m thankful to my sister for speaking up to give it to her.

The great thing about leaving early for work today was seeing the sunrise across the street and all the shades of color.

There’s a new post over at A Daily Life about the No Comfort Zone Challenge to stretch and grow you.

© 2012 dogear6 llc

Paper, Person, Picture

Today’s January Joy Dare was to find a gift on paper, in a person, and in a picture.  One of the things I enjoy about the Joy Dare is finding God’s gifts in the small things of life.

Gifts in a person and in a picture turned out to be the same event.  One of the young women who works for me had new pictures of her baby.  I can’t believe he’s already six months old!

Some of the pictures were of a ceremony at her house from her native India.  I enjoyed her describing to me what they were doing and why.  She’d made the baby a very elaborate headpiece using sugar candies.  He didn’t know why he was getting all the attention, but he had big, big smiles for the camera as did his older sister!

So did his mother, my employee.  That was my other gift – seeing how happy she was in the pictures and how happy she was that I took a few minutes to be interested in her family and traditions.  I’ve had a number of young women from India work for me and they’ve all been patient in explaining their customs and sharing their photos.  I’ve learned a lot from them as they have from me.

The gift on paper – and it took me a while to realize this – were the new covenants for our homeowners association.  The board has been working on them for the last several years.  I’ve reviewed them each time and provided comments.  Tonight was the almost last draft.  The board did a really good job on them.  I was really pleased to see what a good job everyone did to make them fair and enforceable.

Our subdivision is nice and these covenants removed unforceable language and outdated requirements.  In its place is a shorter, streamlined set of requirements that may give us more leverage against problems such as unrelated renters trashing a house and neighborhood and changes being made that bring down property values (garish paint colors, outbuildings that don’t match).

It’s also a gift to get home late and your husband has homemade spaghetti sauce made up for supper.  Thanks honey!  Another gift is the dog offering you a new toy for play that he found shopping in the kitchen!

Running dry on ideas to write about?  Has the muse taken a vacation?  Check out the daily / weekly prompts and idea jar at A Daily Life.

© 2012 dogear6 llc

Gifts On The Hours

The January Joy Dare for today called for observation of gifts before 9 am, noon, and after dark.  I’ve always enjoyed activities that call for a remembrance on the hour, whether praying a short prayer every sixty minutes to the opening the small gifts of cheering up from my sister to books that give inspirations to read.

The gifts were not at all what I expected.  I don’t know what I expected the gifts to be, but these wouldn’t have been on my list in any event.

Before 9 am – I got such a good night sleep last night!  I felt so good this morning – awake, alert, enthusiastic.  I wasn’t achy or congested.  I remember when my daughter was a baby and I’d get a rare night of six or eight hours straight of sleep.  That felt so good!  That’s how I felt this morning.

As I drove in, the sun rose high enough over the horizon to be seen.  It was wrapped in a gauze of silvery clouds and shone with a bright yellow that caused the sky to light in delicate shades of yellow and orange.  I couldn’t get a picture of it, but I enjoyed it for the several minutes that it lasted.

Before noon – I ran into a former co-worker in the bathroom.  She’s young, my daughter’s age.  When I started working with her four years ago, she was madly in love with her husband and had a cute little house out in the country.  She loved her life.  A few months later, her husband announced that he was moving in with his girlfriend and didn’t want her anymore.  She wasn’t making a lot of money, being new in her career, but he wanted alimony too.  And the cute little house?  He dumped it on her to sell and cover the losses from it.

She was devastated.  He did everything he could to ruin her, not being content to just break up their marriage.  It was hard to watch what she went through and how she struggled to not cave in to his endless demands.  The days were long and hard.

She moved on to another job in the company.  One day last year, she came in with an engagement ring and a big smile.  She married soon after to a guy who loves her as she is.

I chatted with her for a few minutes today when she told me her big news – she’s pregnant!  I said – you never thought you could be happy again.  No, she replied, everyone kept telling me it wouldn’t always be like that.  But I didn’t think it would ever get better.  Are you happy, I asked?  Yes, very much so.  Then she smiled and went back to her desk.

It was a gift to see her content and happy.

After dark – my last gift today came right as dusk turned to black.  The garage doors at work roll down at 6 pm as an added security measure.  They only take a few minutes to roll up and I use that time to dial my Mom so I can chat with her for a few minute as I drive home from work (using a handfree headset).  I left work early enough tonight that the doors were still up!  And yes, it made me very happy.

Were the gifts big?  Probably not to some.  But for me, I enjoyed them very much.  They made me smile as I thanked God for them.

I don’t think these are the only gifts from today.  As I considered whether to write tonight or skip it, I felt strongly that for someone out there, they need to see this.  I don’t know why.  I don’t know what’s in here that will be important, but for someone, these stories needed to be told tonight.  And that is my last gift from tonight.

© 2012 dogear6 llc

Joy in Blue Things

Today’s January Joy Dare is to find joy in three blue things.  As with the three yellow mercies, I had to think that over a while.

Blue sky – that one was easy!  It’s easier to be cheerful when the sky is blue.  When I’m cheerful, it’s easier to be hopeful, encouraged, productive, joyful and grateful.  There’s something about a blue sky (and getting sunlight) that  helps my mind and body.

Blue travel mug – this is an extension of my breakfasts at Cracker Barrel.  This travel mug is fairly new; my beloved Caribou travel mug had a glass liner and eventually met the fate of thermos’s everywhere when it fell on the floor and broke.

I received this as a gift from the partner of a consulting firm that I use, so their name is on the side.  I don’t care.  It’s the right size and my iced tea stays cold for most of the morning.

Cracker Barrel has a wonderful policy of offering coffee / tea to go.  By using my own mug, I save a cup, lid & straw from the landfill.  Because we’ve gone to this Cracker Barrel for so long, the staff asks where my mug is when they don’t see it on the table during a last refill.  I appreciate that they make an effort to make sure I have my tea when I leave.

Blue Araucana eggs – I buy these at the farmer’s market.  Araucana eggs are slightly smaller than regular eggs on the outside, but they must have less air.  When I crack them open, they provide as much volume as any store bought egg, but with a much creamier texture and taste.  It’s like the TARDIS on Dr. Who – bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.

Others know how good they are – I go to this farmer as my first stop.  If I wait too long, they’ll run out.  A different farmer has started raising them, but last year the eggs were very small due to the hen’s immaturity.  I didn’t care – I bought them anyhow.  He was surprised – he knew they were worth it, but he was having trouble convincing his customers to buy a substandard small egg even with a marked down price.

Here’s a sky shot from mid-December.  This tree has since lost more of its leaves, but is still pretty to see in downtown when I take my walks during lunch.

© 2012 dogear6 llc