It’s November, I have Much to be Grateful For!

The First Thanksgiving Jean Louis Gerome Ferris

Image via Wikipedia

 

It might be that because Thanksgiving is celebrated this month, whatever the reason, it’s November and I have much to be grateful for.  And I know it!  Sometimes it seems I’m not as aware of gratitude at other times.  What I believe is something about November brings it all rushing to the front of the line.

Blame it on the weather or the shortening of daylight hours.  Something about it being November causes me to pause and reflect on people, places and things I’m grateful for in more depth than at other times of the year.  Sunshine and warm weather invite activity and other distractions.  November, especially the early part of the month, seems to invite nesting and contemplation of the joys of simple things.  Hearth and home, hot soups and stews, warm drinks with spicy aromas.

Thanksgiving has been my favorite holiday for as long as I can remember.  So many good smells coming from the kitchen.  People gathered at tables displaying abundance and variety.  The “good” dishes, flatware and crystal seen in use, not just on display and gathering dust.  More people “dressed up” than usual.    There seems to be an unspoken agreement that this is a time for appreciating life and sharing in the wealth and abundance of it.  It’s a party, just not the same kind of party as Christmas, New Years or a birthday.  It doesn’t seem to have the raucousness those events bring up.  Subdued isn’t the right word.  There’s a quiet peacefulness to it.

Once the holiday rush starts this mellow time comes to an end and doesn’t seem to return for another year.  Yes, there are definitely moments from one November to the next.  We all have to take time out occasionally to reflect and absorb.  Something about November seems to concentrate it all.  October seems to involve finishing things, maybe some preparation for the nesting ahead.  I’m just guessing at things here.  Trying to tell if there really is as much of a pattern to things as I suspect.  I like things to make sense, as much as possible.

This year has been totally jam-packed.  So much has changed since last November.  Some friends have moved away, some new friends have been found.  My attitude and outlook on life has improved dramatically.  I’m not sure I would recognize the person I was last year and I’m pretty sure she wasn’t thinking these kind of thoughts.  Gratitude, quite likely, just, differently.  I don’t know if I can clarify.  Wonder if grateful is different from thankful.  Are the underlying motives different?  You know, like the difference between suggestions and advice…strings attached.

Gratitude is a way of life.  A way of thinking, feeling and acting that recognizes the many graces in each and every day.  Not just acknowledging them, giving them active attention and notice.  Looking for them, cause you know they are there, no matter what is going on.  A smile from a stranger.  A green traffic light where it has “always” been red.  Money in a pocket you had forgotten was there.  The way the sunlight hits a tree or a crystal prism or creates silhouettes in the distance as it sets.  A friend gets good news that lightens his or her spirit or heart.  Choosing exactly the right thing for a meal.  A chance to do something you’ve wanted to for a long time and “everything” falls into place and you do it!  And it’s grand!  SO many daily graces and because we’re not looking for them and at them they just go by, not recognized for what they are.  I kinda think we start out just saying thank you at the odd times we happen to notice.  The more we notice and say thank you, the more we notice.  It seems to be self feeding.  Before we know it, we are living gratitude.

I don’t think it happens  over night.  It starts slowly and gradually and we do have to participate in order for it to begin building on itself.   For as long as we fail to notice the variety of daily occurrences of grace we slow the process.  There are other things going on at the same time and we can get bogged down in the stuff we don’t like to such a degree that we don’t give much, or even any, notice to the stuff we do like.  When we only see grace every other day or week or month or year, life looks hard and tedious and rewarding.  It’s as if gray days are twice as gray and sunny days are dimmer than they could be.

It is altogether too easy to overlook grace unless you actively start paying attention.  We have become so accustomed to being worried and stressed that more than a few of us start thinking not only that’s all there is, we also think, that’s how it’s supposed to be!  We get a lot of encouragement in that direction; however unintended.  Parents, bosses, spouses……the press, books, movies….even some churches.

Noticing daily grace has a kind of Pollyanna flavor to it and may be seen as superficial.  Something.  It’s rarely what you hear people conversing about.  I guess that mostly depends on your usual contacts, more than anything.  Most of my friends, now, don’t just notice daily grace, they talk about it.  Sometimes with a quiet smile, sometimes in total excitement, sometimes with a sense of awe.  Hanging around with these people has definitely rubbed off.  I’m encountering more people in different situations and circumstances who also notice and acknowledge daily graces.  I no longer think it is limited to people who have chosen a particular set of life principles.  It’s like, they are living the principles without having them literally spelled out.  Interesting!

Looking forward to each new day as a surprise and an adventure, the good kind, is still pretty new to me.  If you’ve never lived any other way, none of this will make sense.  If you have lived another way, I hope this makes sense and offers encouragement that different good is possible.

One of the daily graces I have discovered and been paying close attention to is how much joy there is in writing.  Putting thoughts into words and sentences and paragraphs is my idea of a good time!  I do have other ideas of a good time, it’s just that writing is almost always available.  Between starting the blog and NaNoWriMo, I am definitely in seventh heaven!  It’s like a walk through continuous scenic country and I always have just enough light to see obstacles ahead.  Putting things in black and white (unless I’m in a rainbow mood) shows more choices than just thinking and worrying ever do.  Seeing the obstacles means I can avoid them, work around them or work through them.  The biggest difference is actually “publishing” thoughts and musings and opinions and such.  Might be that it forces me to look upside down and inside out; more than one way.  However you choose to express it.

So, it’s November and I have much to be grateful for.  How about you?

Preparing for the challenge!

Katie

How many NaNoWriMo participants do we have here?  November first is sneaking up, rather more quickly than I expected.  I’m feeling some chills that have nothing to do with current weather.  What HAVE I done?  What was I thinking? WAS I thinking?  It’s a crazy blend of excitement and fear.  I dread 11/01/11 and I can hardly wait for 11/01/11.  This might be even more fun than blogging!

A fiction novel of 50k words in thirty days!  They even did the math for me.  If I can write at least 1657 words a day, it’s possible.  And they don’t insist that the words make sense!  Seems to be a challenge I’ve given myself.  And those are the challenges that give me the most trouble.

The staff at the site suggest turning off spell check and other machine installed editors and also……………the internal editor!  It will be interesting to see if that happens.  I mean, who do you know that corrects a journal?  It is written specifically for private use.  No One else is going to read it.  Who cares if words are misspelled, punctuation is misplaced or missing altogether?  That would be me.  It only bothers me when I compose on computer.  I just CANNOT leave those squiggly red lines unattended to.  When I’m writing in pen and ink, that’s another story altogether.  Total abandon, seriously.  There is no little red squiggly nagging at me so, I just write on.

Has anyone ever disabled spell check?  How do you go about it? Is it easy to enable again?  Things I have to look into in the next couple of weeks.  Bet I can Google search it!  A friend of mine does it all the time, often her first thought when she comes across something for the first time.   The day may come when I do that as well.  It could happen!

When I went to the web site for the first time I momentarily considered just dropping the idea right then.  They were asking for a title!  In October!  And the request for that information followed me and posted itself at the top of every page I visited.  I’d swear it got there before me!  Like the light in the refrigerator.  Which I’m fairly certain is off when the door is closed, I’ve seen and played with the gizmo that controls it!

I gave my novel a title and a couple of opening lines, phew, that was easier than expected.  The synopsis, however WILL have to wait.  I have a whisper of an idea and a potential second character.  Not too bad.  I won’t be starting totally clueless.

I have been writing three pages long hand each day and have been fairly consistent with Postaday2011 throughout October.  That is encouraging.  Don’t know if it amounts to the daily word requirement, although I suspect it’s a good beginning.

There was a questionnaire on the site and one of the things asked was, musical preference when writing.  Huh?  people play music when they write?  I’m not sure I’ve ever tried that.  I can block out routine noise and activity, but, somehow I think I’d be paying more attention to the music than to words on the page.   Seems I’ll have to try it and find out for sure.  It probably doesn’t matter unless I go to a write in.  Right?

The other matter to run through the mill is a novel isn’t going to be as freewheeling as a blog.  And I haven’t yet needed to consider character development here.  Okay, plot lines  probably shouldn’t be all loosey-goosey either.   Well, we won’t know until we try; will we?

I’m thinking the story will be at least a little bit autobiographical. ( Must be a word, spell check didn’t even blink.)  Obviously, haven’t disabled it, yet.  I promise to any friends reading this, names will be changed, among other things.  This will not be a new century Peyton Place.  I like a good soap opera as much as anyone, if there were such a thing. As a good one.  Really, staging, acting, directing, wardrobe can all be superb, if the characters don’t learn from one day to the next, week to the next, month to the next…….it’s a guilty pleasure at best.  Almost as much fun as watching revenge movies.  There’s a word I’m looking for here and it escapes me at the moment.  Cathartic might apply, but, it’s not the one I’m thinking of.  We’ll come back to it.  Possibly MUCH later.

I seem to have run out of steam on this topic.  For now.  For the next couple of weeks, practice, practice, practice.  Subjects will most likely vary, as the have in the past.  The goals are word count and post. TTFN

I got my first ping back!!!!

That’s a good thing, right??? I was a little shaken when I saw the words “terms of use”!  Uh, what?  I freaked in for about 24 hrs. while I thought over what I was supposed to do.  Truth is, I got four of them, all at once!

As I mulled it over, while vigilantly keeping eyes and ears open for blogging police, I heard the calm voice of reason whispering, “it’s okay, they just referred to one of your blogs somewhere”.  I know i read that somewhere the other day.  I’m at least 95% certain I did.  How is it that 5% got most of the energy?  Oh well.

I gathered up my courage and approved all four.  Hope I did the right thing.

And be assured, it’s not going to my head.  I have come to learn that sometimes we are examples of what not to do.  My next mission is to attempt to backtrack and see what happened.  One thing at a time.

And just in case I have the ping back idea right I’m going to attempt it myself.  Part of the joy of blogging is reading what others have written.  I have found much joy among the bloggers on Word Press.  I especially enjoy Sweet and Weak, it’s like a visit to a neighbor you really like.  Just a brief visit, not an all day event.  I came across him a couple of weeks ago on the Fresh Pressed page.  I really like that page, it leads to so many discoveries!

It was actually something he said about getting his first spam that stuck in my head.  It is fun experiencing firsts.  Spam is kind of amusing in it’s own way, when it’s not annoying.  Kinda like the meat product it’s named for.  Good maybe once a year or so, less enjoyable more often.  It’s like I forget why I don’t get it more often, until I get it again.  Odd, I never thought of Spam as painful before.  you know, like childbirth….if women didn’t forget the pain, the world population would be much less than it is now.  Like that.

So, I got my first ping back and have attempted one going in the other direction.  The adventure continues!

Morning thoughts; as seen in the afternoon

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Image by Walter Rodriguez via Flickr

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Image by ztephen via Flickr

I had a couple of ideas for opening sentences when I woke up this morning, but, in the cold light of day I just don’t know.  Let’s run them up the flag pole, see who salutes.

  • Opinions are like a_______, everybody’s got one; here’s mine.  (I tend to favor this one cause I can”t type it without laughing)
  • Stop me, before I Post again!  (this would be about my current fascination with posting stuff on Facebook, I’m incorrigible)
  • We see the world as we are; not as it is (some stream of consciousness thoughts about attitude and how it effects our choices and relationships)

 

This is the type of thing that runs through my brain at 3:30 a.m.   Before coffee.  If I didn’t have a routine I’m pretty sure I would give in to the compulsion to grab my handy-dandy Netbook and just type ’til my fingers locked in place.  What did i do before blogging?  I come across so many things that just get the wheels rolling and I have found myself thinking in blog!!!

For better and for worse I have coffee, morning meditations and morning pages before I even look  for Netbook.  Almost keeps me on an even keel and I get some practical stuff done, most days.  It’s really a very loose schedule and does bring some focus.   I can continue to believe AD/HD is not an issue for me and have some sense that I am not in denial.

Here’s my theory and I’ll say up front; I could be wrong.  I’ve been wrong before and fully expect to be wrong again.  These are just thoughts and opinions, nothing carved in stone.  I spent the first 58 years of my life keeping my thoughts and opinions to myself.  And then….I found blogging and the floodgates open and mama save the children, there is a massive flow of thoughts, ideas, opinions and possibly some good old fashioned blarney headed our way.  Probably just as well I didn’t find this sooner.  I’ve become very good at laughing at myself.  There is much to be said about not taking yourself to seriously.

I come from a family of pontificators, on my father’s side mostly.  The blarney comes from Mom’s side.  I have a genetic predisposition to run off at the mouth and have denied my birthright for too long.  The fortunate aspect of this being in writing is that with one little click, you can shut it all off.  I really like that part best.  Don’t you just hate being stuck in a conversation or a meeting with someone going on and on and on…….Not many people have the courage to just get up and leave.  I’ve known of one person who could sleep with his eyes open, sadly, the snore gave him away.

Morning thoughts, when seen in the afternoon, still have potential.  This is not a legal document or intricate procedure or anything.  I hope I have clearly stated that these are my opinions.    For me, it’s writing.  Fact or fiction, I just love words on Paper…..sort of.

The Blending Experience

Just a few suggestions for making essential oil blends.

Lavender flowers
Image via Wikipedia

Evidently I must do this without pictures!  Okay, here goes!

Last Wednesday my friend Denise and I pooled our resources and spent a fun afternoon working and playing with essential oils.  Not quite a mad scientists‘ lab, much more fun.  Doubt that we were ever in any danger of blowing ourselves up or gassing ourselves.  We had plenty of raw ingredients and containers to put them in.  Plus, we had recipes we were curious to try, not to mention our own imagination, creativity and curiosity.

Set up took a little time.  Denise already had her act together, impressively organized and ready for blending.  You think I’m kidding, maybe.  She had her oils all in alphabetical order, carrier oils grouped together and bottles with stoppers; all ready to go.  Books and recipes were also close at hand.  Did I forget to mention tags?  She had ’em.  We have talked about doing this since last May, I think.  It was easy to see she was ready to work/play.

All my materials were more or less neatly transported in this cool wooden box that looks like a treasure chest.  My first task was to make an alphabetical list of my collection.  I was amazed how quickly that was done, I’d put it off for so long… can’t say why anymore.  Doesn’t matter now, does it?  When the list was finished, next was carrier oils and other blending ingredients.  As we didn’t plan specifically, I came prepared to blend cosmetic, perfumes or cleaning solutions.  The only thing I was sure of was we were going to blend something.  Last from the chest were my books and recipes, or, and some containers for finished product.  Denise definitely had the better choices, she has been doing this much longer.

The excitement of Finally! doing this was harnessed and we went to work.  We both made a kitchen cleaner deodorizer using lavender, eucalyptus, bergamot and tuber rose in distilled water.  The proportions of oils are determined by the amount of water.   Goes like this:

2 oz distilled water

8 drops lavender

10 drops bergamot

5 drops eucalyptus

3 drops palma rosa

I believe we each did a double batch.  We’re coming into cold and flu season and it’s a good idea to clean the kitchen well.

I made something called Insomnia Buster and neither one of us was sure, just exactly how it is supposed to be used.   A good lesson in gathering info.  It’s a really good idea to gather complete info, or at least note the source in a handy place to ask questions later.  The plan at the moment is to use it diffused.  Could be added to a carrier and applied to bottoms of feet or ear lobes.  Perhaps added to a hot bath.  It smells great!!!

6 drops Clary sage

12 drops lavender

4 drops roman chamomile

12 drops geranium

It is currently in a tightly capped blue-bottle and I think the blending process will have reached peak in the next couple of days.  Once you decide what you are going to blend and then do it, remember to roll or shake the bottle at least once a day for the next week.  The scent alters.  I’m pretty sure it remains the same after that.  I’m learning as I go.

Denise made a blend for trigger finger and, sorry, forgot to get it.  I can if anyone wants to know it.

My third blend was a perfume.  Perfumes are something of a mystery to me and I thought it would be a hoot to try making my own.  Just this once.  If it turns out well, I’ll let you know what is in it.  Too iffy right now and there are still a few weeks before the aging process is finished.  I like it so far.  You do the same with a perfume that you would do with other blends, store in dark glass tightly capped bottle and roll or shake up at least once a day.  Mine is oil based, did I mention that.  I could have use vodka or I think, brandy.  I’m sure the results would be different.  Since I was anxious to try making a perfume and didn’t have alcohol handy, I went with the oil option.  Time will tell.

I am embarrassed to say I’ve forgotten what Denise’s  third blend is!!!!  I took some pictures and was all excited to get this blog written and posted.  Got the pictures to the media library and thought I was all set!  There I go thinking again.  I WILL figure out what I’m doing wrong, until then… As if that wasn’t enough, my handy-dandy little Netbook has been balking at some things lately, or it was a full moon, or Mercury was retrograde, or_____________; end result, I could get to my blog page, just couldn’t do anything but admire it and say, yup, that’s my blog page!  Hurray, today I can do stuff!!!  Not everything I was hoping to, like include the photos from Wednesday.  Oh well, the writing is done!

What a Wednesday!

Description from Whitehouse.gov: "The Whi...

Image via Wikipedia

This is going to be a hurry up kind of thing cause this has been a full day.  Mostly fun, a decision to mull over keeps it from being an all star Wednesday.

Day started out cool, attitude and weather wise.  Activities pretty much according to schedule.   A ” situation” developed relating to work and that’s what the mulling over is about.   Doing things differently and hoping for different better results.  Don’t mean to be cryptic, hell, maybe I do.  Just not ready to spell things out yet, need to verify the alphabet.  Any way, work done, all was back to smooth again.  Had lunch and called my friend.  We had a tentative plan for today and the gods smiled on us.

I don’t want to go into too much detail now, but,  we finally got some things organized and sorted and succeeded in making three blends each using our stores of essential oils and etc.  Hope I haven’t given it all away, cause I’ve got pictures too!  Did I forget to mention, it’s for tomorrow’s blog!

 

We had a very pleasant meal together with her husband and all in all, it was a great day!

What a Wednesday!

 

Essential Oils…how can they help You?

Glass vial containing Neroli Essential Oil

Image via Wikipedia

 

I have delayed talking much about essential oils for a few reasons.  I believe it is very important to be clear and accurate on any information I give out.  Since I first became aware of them I can sometimes, hardly contain myself.  What worries me about talking about them is that in my excitement I may leave out some important bit of information.  The other thing about being so excited is I want to say everything at once and that sure does garble the message.  Here is my attempt to present the information in some kind of order.

The best oils are in dark glass bottles and labeled with the name in Latin as well as English, list country of origin and whether or not it is blended with a carrier oil.  For instance, lavender essential oil is usually  pure, whereas rose absolute will be in a carrier oil, like jojoba.  There are various ways to make an essential oil (draw it from its source), some ways are better than others, depending on the level of purity sought. Cold press is reputed to be best and there is a chemical process that aroma therapists suggest Not to use on skin.  I haven’t attempted this on my own, yet, so I can only report things I’ve read.  Once you have the oil it is best stored away from light and heat.

If you are going to use an essential oil on your skin, most need to be blended in a carrier oil.  The lighter carrier oils, like grapeseed oil, apricot kernel oil, sweet or bitter almond oil are all good choices for massage or bath oils.  If you choose to create your own skin care products you’ll want things like olive oil or jojoba oil.  These two are dense oils and should be used proportionally with the lighter oils.  For instance a TBSP of almond oil+1/2 tsp of jojoba and about three to five drops of essential oil.

Next, especially if you are going to apply them to your body remember that if one drop is good, use ONLY one drop.  More is NOT better!!!!Some of the oils have opposite effects if you use more.  Like lavender.  One drop is relaxing, two keeps you awake and alert.  I am speaking of applying it “neat”, straight from the bottle, no carrier oil.  You can’t do this comfortably with all essential oils.  Citrus oils, if used neat ,tend to produce a burning sensation. Another thing about citrus oils, they produce photosensitivity for some people.  If you already sunburn easily keep looking until you find an oil that will produce the outcome you seek without this side effect.  There are probably several.

I just recently learned that there is such a thing as essential oil poisoning.  If you live with curious, fast moving little children, keep essential stored out of reach.  If you are following a recipe, measure carefully.  If you are using a blend topically stop after about 5-7 days.  Oddly enough the oils seem to continue to work for a couple of days after the last application.

Some authors say don’t take any essential oils orally.  Some suggest adding a drop or two to cold water, or, hot water as a beverage.  I’ve done this with peppermint oil and lemon oil and enjoyed a treat.  I hate plain water.  Had no physical discomfort or alarms as a result of having done so.  What I would say is, try a drop in an 8oz glass of water…if you re curious.  Then you decide.

If you are using oils for pain relief, topical application works best.  I’ve made blends for myself and blends for others.  The blends got used up and each person reported that it worked for what it was designed for.  As a proponent of alternative medicine I find it difficult, yet necessary to refrain from saying too much.  The FDA doesn’t back anything I would say.  And sometimes it’s hard to find suggestions on web pages and magazine ads; what with all the disclaimers required.

Whole Foods has a small section of their stores devoted to essential oils.  Sniff a couple of the testers.  Always keeping in mind any allergies you might have, the scents are intense.  If you really enjoy a specific oil and it is within a price range comfortable to you, try it.  If you don’t like the scent, no matter who told you it’s the best in the world, save your money.  It’s possible you may like it at a later date, then again, you might not.  Meanwhile, there are probably any number of others that you will like.  Those are the ones to try because they are the ones that will give YOU the best result.

Always do a patch test with an oil you haven’t used before or when you blend oils.  I use the inside of the elbow bend. Apply a small amount of the oil or blend and wait 24 hours.  If no itching or redness or other type of reaction my experience has been that it is safe to use.  I believe this is especially important if you are taking prescription drugs.  As a matter of fact, if you are taking prescriptions, find a medical source who has knowledge of both oils and pharmaceuticals.  Better safe than sorry.

There are plenty of books about essential oils.  Read, study,experiment, learn.  Actually, that’s another reason I backed away from the topic.  I’m only a very curious and persistent novice.  My goal here is to offer highlights. I’ve only been actively pursuing the subject for a couple of years.  People have spent entire professional lives in this field.  I feel graced to have found it at all.

There are so many reasons  to use essential oils: health, grooming, gardening, housecleaning, candle making, perfume making, cooking and baking.  They are great to have when travelling.

I find simplicity of use a big plus.  Open the bottle, take a whiff.  If I’d rather not carry the bottle around I put a drop or two on a tissue or cotton ball.  Easier to carry around than a diffuser and always as close as my pocket!  That’s just one example.  So many more come to mind, without effort.  I love essential oils and I’m always finding new ways to use them.

My introduction to these gifts of nature was, most likely, one of the strongest oils for physical wellness.  Oil of Oregano.  I read about it first in a book titled The Cure is in the Cupboard.  It first struck me as a book long advertisement, until I used the product.  Words do not express my delight at the results I got.  I have kept a bottle handy ever since.   The book is available in stores that feature organic products.  I hesitate to say health  food stores, cause I don’t go in them.  In Annapolis, MD there is a store called Earth and Sun; in Severna Park there is a store called Sage.  I’ve seen the book and the product described in both stores.

I just recently started using Zemanta and so there are plenty of places for you to look around, if you are interested.  If you’re not, thank you for your kind attention.

P.S.  the oil shown on the side is Neroli, a citrus oil.  Smells great.  Clear bottle shows color of oil, not good for storage.