Sunday, June 30, 2013

30 Days of Beauty-Day 30: Writing

It is June 30th!  That means that this is the last post for 30 Days of Beauty.  As I sat down to write on this final evening in June, I went back to read my post a year ago on the last day of 30 Days of Joy.  I had learned a lot by completing that exercise.  That is also true this year.

Each of us creates our own circle;
Make yours a Circle of Joy.
In writing about beauty, I found that it is closely related to joy.  In looking around and identifying the beauty in my life, I often felt tremendous joy.  I hope that these posts have helped you to see the beauty that surrounds you each day.  I hope that this created a lot of joy for you.  Even more, I hope that you shared this joy with others.  After all, my intent with this blog is to create Circles of Joy that create ripples in the fabric of life; thus spreading joy to those around us.

When looking for beauty, I realized that, while nature is truly beautiful, the people I encounter each day provide the sources of beauty that are most meaningful.  It is just a matter of taking the time, looking for it, and treasuring its gift to you.  Please know that you are beautiful, and take the time to tell someone you love that they are beautiful to you.  You will experience and share great joy in this way.

Thanks for reading this blog!
I set out to write every day during June equaling 30 days of writing.  I didn't always get them done on time.  Life, power outages, and travel sometimes got in the way.  However, I made sure to write 30 posts, and each one reflected what I was experiencing that day.  I really like to write.  I hope that shows in my posts.  I greatly appreciate those who commented or "liked" my post on Facebook.  I knew that people were reading  these writings, and it meant a lot to me.  Now that the 30 days are over, I will go back to writing weekly.  I hope that you will continue to read my posts.

Have you found your joy today?

Saturday, June 29, 2013

30 Days of Beauty-Day 29: Family

Victoria-The Graduate

This has been a very busy month of Open Houses.  Many of my friends have children who graduated from high school.  We always try to attend, because we want to celebrate this major accomplishment.  Today we attended our last graduation open house of the season, but it was a special one.  Our niece's daughter graduated from high school with honors.  We definitely had to attend to be a part of this celebration.
Proud Dad and Grandma

We have enjoyed all of the Open Houses, but this one was so much fun because of all of the family members who were there,  It was a great opportunity to catch up on everyone's lives, give and get hugs, and congratulate the new grad.  There was great food, but my favorite thing was looking at the pictures of our great niece that chronicled her life since birth.  She has always had a smile on her face.  It was so much fun to see all of the years caught in pictures.

Our Beautiful Family

Victoria and Connie
Victoria and Dawn
Family is a beautiful and interesting thing.  Many of our family members aren't related by blood; however, they are very much our family.  I don't always get to see them but they are very important to me.  They have watched my children grow up and enjoy watching my grandchildren as they grow.  They are always there if I need them.  I also enjoy time with my nieces.  They have become such wonderful young women.  I am so proud of them, and this was an occasion to celebrate one of the most important accomplishments of a mother-seeing her child graduate.  Proud parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles abounded!  There was so much joy in their faces and in the hugs we all shared.  I'm so lucky to be a part of their lives.

Have you found your joy today?

Friday, June 28, 2013

30 Days of Beauty-Day 28: Outdoor Dining

I love outdoor dining!  There is a beauty to being a part of nature and its elements.  When I was young, we lived in Miami, Florida.  We ate outside a lot of the time, and many restaurants had outdoor dining.  I love that about warm, tropical areas.  There is something invigorating about dining al fresco, enjoying the sunshine, sharing good conversation, and relaxing with friends and family.

Living in Minnesota has made me appreciate this experience even more.  After months of being indoors, I crave being outside for dining.  I know this is true for many other Minnesotans as well.  I meet a friend for lunch every week, and our choices for dining are governed by which restaurants have outdoor dining.  This week we had to eat indoors after my eye appointment.  My dilated eyes couldn't take the sunshine even though I was wearing sunglasses.  It was truly a loss to have to be indoors on such a gorgeous summer day.  I know that she is really a friend since she was willing to forgo the outdoors for me after being cooped up in an office all day!

Many Fridays you will find my husband and me at our neighborhood D'Amico's restaurant.  They have a lovely outdoor dining area with flowers and a fountain.  We know many of the servers and managers since we regularly go there.  We chat about their families and catch up on their lives throughout our evening.  When I was working, we often went there, bought a glass of unlimited wine, and talked about our work week.  It gave me a chance to dump work issues before the weekend so I could relax.  We would sit for hours talking, eating, and drinking.  We would often close the evening with a trip to the Starbucks next door.

Abbey and Cousin Mya
at the fountain
Tyler flirts with Audrey
at the next table
Today we went to D'Amico's with our family.  There were 9 of us.  My sister-in-law and her 2 girls came to visit for the day.  So the 3 of them, my son and his family, and my husband and I went out for dinner.  We had a large table under the umbrellas outdoors.  It was a great time!  My granddaughter loved being with her cousins and throwing pennies (provided by Grandmum) into the fountain.  My grandson flirted with the little girl at the next table.  We all talked, ate, and enjoyed the Minnesota evening.  It was a wonderful, relaxing evening!

Have you found your joy today?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

30 Days of Beauty-Day 27: Tomorrow

Have you ever had one of those days?  From the time you wake up in the morning, your day just doesn't go right.  It could be one catastrophic thing that soured the day, it could be lots of little things that didn't go well, or it could be the final event (think straw) that broke the cumulative camel's back.  Today was one of those "broken camel back"days.

It's not important what today's event was.  Let's just say that it was not welcome after all we've been dealing with as a result of our wet basement.  We have all been trying to stay positive even though we feel devastated that all of our hard work is damaged.  The good news has been that our personal belongings are all fine; it's just the new carpet, flooring, and walls that have to be replaced.  It has been so sad to see our fine work gone and to face months of renovation before we have that space to use again!  So today has been a struggle as another event gets piled on.  I don't think it really matters what the event is.  It's the fact that there is one more thing to deal with.

Our way of coping was to get out of the house and keep busy.  We did errands and managed things that we could control.  It helped to recreate some semblance of order.  This return to everyday matters helped a lot, but what really helps me is to remember that there is always tomorrow.
Tomorrow holds so much promise.  There is great beauty in that promise.  The future has a lot of potential for change, and I am someone who appreciates change in small doses.  Without change, we get stale and life can be boring.  I also think that time truly does heal as it takes us further from the initial shock or distress of an event.  I am looking forward to the joy of tomorrow.  I know that it will be better.  So, I am much like that other red-haired person, Annie, as I sing quietly in my head, "The sun'll come out tomorrow!"

Have you found your joy today?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

30 Days of Beauty-Day 26: Dove

Since my topic for the month is beauty, I would be remiss if I didn't write a post about Dove's Real Beauty Campaign.  I applaud this company for trying to promote beauty of all kinds as a counter viewpoint to the beauty often promoted by mass media.  For most of my life, I have seen stick-thin, young, Caucasian, tanned models on TV and in magazines held up to us as the optimal beauty for women.  It has only been as I got older that I started to see, value, and appreciate the beauty of the strong, diverse women around me.

If you read about Dove's campaign, you will find some interesting information.  They began this campaign in 2004.  It has changed and evolved throughout the years.  In 2010, Dove took a new direction: a new vision with the Dove Movement for Self -Esteem.

In 2011, Dove found that only 4% of women around the world described themselves as beautiful.  Only 4%!  How appalling!  What has the media done to us?  Dove found that 72% of girls feel pressured to be beautiful.  This pressure is universal and tends to decrease girls' confidence as they grow older.  Dove's campaign is designed to provide an opportunity for women throughout the world to mentor the next generation.  They want to celebrate real beauty and break the cycle of the past.

When you next look into the mirror, don't focus on your flaws-we all have them!  Look at your good traits, the natural beauty that is in you, and tell yourself that you are beautiful.  After all, that is what I see when I look at you.

It doesn't matter how old you are or how much you weigh; you are beautiful, and there is a great deal of joy and power in recognizing that in yourself.

Have you found your joy today?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

30 Days of Beauty-Day 25: The Written Word

My very favorite thing to do is to read.  There is nothing as relaxing as sitting down with a good book, a cup of coffee, and a biscotti to immerse myself into a story.  I am fairly eclectic in my book selection.  However, I tend to go with science fiction, fantasy, romance if well written or with an interesting twist, and mystery.  Once in a while, I will pick up a biography or thriller.  I like books with good character development that move the story forward quickly.  I am not into detailed descriptions of backgrounds and scenery.  Good dialog, interesting people, and a bit of unpredictability will always draw me into a book.

I have a particular admiration for authors who are skilled crafters of the written word.  There is a certain beauty in words; especially when a story is so well written that the reader is lost in the book's world.  Have you ever read a book where you were so involved in the world that you felt bereft when it was done?  There is a lingering sadness that this world is over.  This is a sign of a great author who knows how to use the written word to maximum effect.

I am always reading a book.  Sometimes I am even reading 2 at a time.  I have some books that I read on my Kindle; others that I read in actual book form.  This is because I have collections of books by some authors that I continue to buy the physical book so that I can add to my collection.  I also have a lot of ebooks on my Kindle.  I often try new authors when they offer their ebooks on specials.  These are usually books that are interesting and enjoyable but not books that I necessarily love.  Once in a great while, I stumble across a new author or series that become favorites.  I love it when this happens!

I hope that you have an opportunity in the near future to sit down with a good book, a beverage of your choice, and discover the joy of reading and the beauty of the written word delivered by a great author.  If you have any reading suggestions, please comment on this post.  I am always looking for new recommendations for books.

Have you found your joy today?

Monday, June 24, 2013

30 Days of Beauty-Day 24: Water on a Hot Day

Hooray for Water Fun!

When we woke up today, we still did not have any power in our house.  It was hot and humid inside.  I ran to Starbucks for caffeine and breakfast sandwiches for all of us.  When I came home, I decided to sit outside to enjoy my breakfast since it was much cooler outdoors.  That was when my daughter-in-law, Claire, had a brilliant idea.  Let's fill the turtle sandbox with water since we haven't put sand in it yet!

We filled it up with water, and Claire took Tyler, who is one, out of his walker to let him splash in the water. However, Tyler decided to just step right into the pool-clothes and all!  Now this water was straight from the hose so it was cold, but he loved it.  When his sister, Abbey, saw that she stepped right in as well.  Claire and I were so surprised.  She was laughing so hard!  Who needs swimsuits?

I found the water toys that I had saved from when my kids were little.  They had so much fun playing in the water.  It was a stroke of genius.  What a lovely way to spend a hot summer morning and what a great reminder of the beauty of water play!

Have you found your joy today?

Sunday, June 23, 2013

30 Days of Beauty-Day 23: Power

While Don and I were in Milwaukee, our two sons, Dane and Drew, and our daughter-in-law, Claire, were dealing with a power outage at our house.  There was a major storm that went through the Twin Cities Friday evening which took out power in over half a million homes in the Twin Cities.  Not having power is certainly an inconvenience,  Unfortunately, since the sump pump didn't have power, we had flooding in our newly remodeled basement.

This is the tree that took our the power lines  
Since we were gone for the weekend, our children had to take care of dealing with the power outage.  They have done a wonderful job!  They dug out the generator in our garage, hooked it up to the sump pump and refrigerator, and rigged a system to siphon the excess water while working on these solutions.  They stayed up throughout the nights to monitor the sump pump and generator so that further damage was mitigated as another storm moved through.  Dane also managed to work throughout the weekend at Canterbury Park.

It is also no surprise that Claire managed to keep everyone fed (hunting and gathering) while entertaining 2 small children.  Dane set up a system so that they could charge their electronics which helped a lot.  Claire resurrected radios so that the grandkids could dance to music in the living room.  Drew moved to our room at night so he could listen for his kids since the monitors weren't powered.  They all managed to share flashlights,  pool batteries as needed, and use lanterns for bathroom visits.

This has taught me the beauty of power: not just electrical power but also the power of family and of intellect.  I am so proud of how they took care of everything while we were away and so grateful that they were here to resolve issues so quickly.  Their combined problem solving was pretty amazing.  How lucky we are to have such wonderful young adults in our family!

Have you found your joy today?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

30 Days of Beauty-Day 22: Accomplishments

This weekend we made a quick trip to Milwaukee.  Normally I wouldn't go for just a weekend, but my brother, Rob, received his black belt today.  This is such a wonderful accomplishment, and I wanted to be here to help him celebrate.

Rob has been working toward this day for 3 years.  Unfortunately, while nearing his last year of training, he injured his knee and had to have surgery.  He has fought hard to get back in shape and to succeed in meeting his goal.  I'm sure there were times when he wasn't sure that he would make it, but he did!  He had a wonderful teacher, trainer, coach, and friend in Mr. Quirk at Karate America.  He was truly instrumental in encouraging Rob to keep training to reach his goal.

Rob and Mr Quirk
Before actually receiving his black belt in today's ceremony, Rob had a 2 hour test to determine if he passed his black belt qualifications.  He says that it is one of the hardest things that he has ever done, but he feels like he has really earned it.  Mr. Quirk put him through his paces especially in the final sparring that was a requirement.

While it is a major accomplishment for anyone to achieve their first degree black belt, I find a particular beauty in Rob's accomplishment since he had to come back from a major injury.  I am very proud of him, and I am so happy that I am here to witness this celebration of his accomplishment.

Have you found your joy today?

Friday, June 21, 2013

30 Days of Beauty-Day 21: Road Trip

This weekend we are taking a quick road trip to Milwaukee, WI.  While this is a long way to go in a very short time, my brother is receiving his black belt, and I want to be there.  I also find myself excited about taking this trip!

Even though I have traveled the road between Minneapolis and Milwaukee many times, there is still beauty in traveling in the car, seeing different sites, and cranking up the music as the miles go by.  It is well worth the time spent packing and the monotony of the same road traveled.  I really enjoy the conversations that my husband and I have while sharing the ride.  We have hours alone in the car. 

We are hoping to take a longer road trip to see new sites later this summer.  I am looking forward to visiting new areas of our beautiful country.  Now that summer is here, many others will be taking vacations.  I hope that you will find the time to take a road trip and experience the pleasures it brings.

Have you found your joy today?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

30 Days of Beauty-Day 20: Theater Performances

Last night we went to the Guthrie Theater to see the play, Clybourne Park.  I wasn’t really in the mood to go, but we went anyway.  As usual, I enjoyed myself.  I knew very little about the play other than that it had won the 2012 Tony Award for Best Play on Broadway.  As a result, I was surprised how much I liked it.

Clybourne Park was written by Bruce Norris in response to the play A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry.  I have always liked that particular play although I have never seen it in person-only the movie version on TV.  Clybourne Park is a powerful  play about race and wanting a better life set first in 1959 and then, in contrast, 2009. 

I am a great admirer of the Guthrie Theater-one reason that we have season tickets.  I particularly enjoy many of the actors in residence.  The performances in this play were incredible.  There was a beauty about the spoken words of the play and the emotions revealed as characters and their history are unveiled.  The strong language is integral in eliciting an emotional response from the audience.    

Bill McCallum

 I especially enjoyed the beauty of Bill McCallum’s performance.  He is one of my favorite Guthrie actors.  I would compare his performance to his performance in God of Carnage.  He is excellent at showing extreme emotion. 

I highly recommend that you see this play if you have a chance.

Have you found your joy today?