Saturday, January 25, 2014

Manifest your gifts.

Some people have known since they were children, what gifts and talents make them unique. Others, spend most of their adult life, still trying to "find themselves". For some, getting and education, finding a career, and maintaining a family overshadows talents buried deep inside. The details don't matter. What's paramount is tapping into the power within to manifest our gifts, making them come to life with tangible results.

Our gifts and talents come in all types of packages. There are packages wrapped in colorfully ornate shiny foil with elaborate silk bows, while others have solid colored paper neatly attached with a carefully placed tag. Some may be wrapped in scraps of plain newspaper barely secured together.  It doesn't matter what the package looks like, but rather, the gift inside the package, that counts.  A brilliant gift may be the ability to draw a person's face so realistically that it looks like a photograph. Someone may play a composition on the piano so beautifully it elicits tears from the hearer. A more subtle and hidden talent may be the ability to actively listen to a friend so intently as to make them feel special and loved.

Once our gifts manifest, we can meet the needs of others.  Other people's needs present themselves so we may have opportunities to exercise our talents and gifts.  Helping one other, uplifting one another and giving to one another is a way to cherish and honor humanity. Let us search ourselves to identify our unique gifts, give birth to them and share them with the world.  We are all uniquely made creations with limitless potential. The universe has immeasurable energy to manifest ALL of our abilities.

If you think to yourself, "I don't know what my gifts are?" A simple place to start is to ask yourself.
"What do you do that makes others feel good?"
You could be a chef and have a favorite recipe that always fills a belly and puts a smile on someones face.

Please share with me YOUR unique gifts.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Cleanliness is next to....a refreshed mind.

I was recently inspired by the writings of Booker T. Washington.  "Up From Slavery: an Autobiography"
One of the topics he spoke on was the simple pleasure of bathing.  A daily function, we can take for granted, its healing properties.  It is one of those luxuries we don't realize its importance until we are deprived of it. Booker wrote about the value in bathing. How a refreshed body leads to a refreshed mind and self respect.
"I sometimes feel that almost the most valuable lesson I got at the Hampton Institute was in the use and value of the bath. I learned there for the first time some of its value, not only in keeping the body healthy, but in inspiring self-respect and promoting virtue.  In all my travels in the South and elsewhere since leaving Hampton I have always in some way sought my daily bath" (Washington, p.53)
During my year of Esther in 2007 I took on redefining my life. One of the areas I focused on was that of personal health and hygiene.  In my experience cleanliness brings about renewed thinking. So, I approached cleaning ones surroundings and body as a serious matter.  Many of my closest friends joke about me having OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), however there is a thread of truth about my wanting things in order. I just find that if my surroundings are cluttered, so is my thinking. I am visually motivated and I enjoy a fresh, clean space devoid of clutter.

Many of the lessons learned during my year of Esther I carry on to this day. The following are some of the practices I added to my life to help keep my mind clear and refreshed.
I begin by simply cleaning the bathroom. I try to keep the environment free of visual distractions.

A recipe for pampering my body to nurture my mind:
* ---hot bubble bath with scented oils
* ---a good book
* ---soothing music
* ---no time restraints
* ---a snack and beverage
* ---candles for the scent and ambiance
* ---incense
(I've been known to take a two hour bath)

Then: BE IN THE MOMENT! Take care to thoroughly and consciously wash every part of the body. Consciously considering each part and its specific function. Thinking about the job of my legs and feet to get me around, my arm and hands for every good work, along with my all my sensory organs. Acknowledge every part of my body and thanking it for being my unique vessel. Notice the feel of touch. As humans we crave touch.  Notice how buffing the skin sloshes off dead skin, leaving the skin soft and new.  Consciously touching and cleaning my body, knowing every curve and turn. Caring for every follicle and cell.
After bathing I use oils and lotions on my body.  I tend to face and nail care. Teeth and mouth hygiene are vital. Finally putting on fresh clean clothes helps keep me feeling refreshed and ready.

This is the body that is the tool to perform whatever task you ask of it. From eating breakfast to driving to work, running errands, manual labor, sitting is school or just lounging about! This is the body that will get it done. Honor it! Tend to it!

From washing your hair, shaving, cleaning under your fingernails, cleaning your ears,  facial health, feet care, massaging your muscles, to moisturizing and dressing.  Tending to your body will lead to self-respect, which opens you to respecting others and becoming more community minded.

What are some of your best practices to refresh your body and mind?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

My hope is simple.  I want to share whatever talent I have with other women.  Anything that I have learned that can be helpful to another woman, I wish to share it.
I have observed over the years that all of us have so much to offer others by way of our personal experiences.  I have had isolated, stimulating conversations with different women.  However, the conversation only benefited the two of us and the power in the information was lost once the conversation was over.  There is a need for us all to own the knowledge we have, share it and feel the obligation to uplift those around us for the betterment of mankind – womankind!
I want to call us to action! We need a way to harness the power in this valuable information and share it between us to help improve our lives.
My plan is to write about various topics that affect women.  Things we may take for granted.  Topics will cover a variety of areas such as finances, health, eating habits, care of one’s body, physical fitness, intellectual stimulation, meditations, industry, stress relief, spirituality, sharing talents and any topic you would like to hear about.  I will post any writings on my blog as a way to share information.  I invite you to share your experiences, lessons learned and best practices.  We will share this information to learn about others, ourselves as well as pass this information on to other women.  We can all stand to improve our characters and situations.
I will post entries, ask questions and request your input along the way.  I would like this to be an interactive way of sharing valuable information between women.

I envision compiling all this information into one document called,
“From Soapbox to Soap!” Don’t just talk about it -  Be about it.

What is the next step?
First, please join my blog,  this is the first step in reaching out to all types of women.  I plan to use the blog as a central location for sharing information.  Once you become a member, all posts will generate an email sent directly to you.  You will also be able to add comments and share your experiences so others can benefit from your experiences.  
Please join the blog even if you do not wish to write anything.  Maybe through reading what others have learned, you will realize your own potential of being a beacon of light for someone else.  
Please pass this on.  The more women involved, the more stimulating the information.


Saturday, January 11, 2014

New Year--- New Purpose!

Another year has flowed through our fingers like water rippling through the rocks of a stream.  Now, another year presents herself like a radiant bride full of hope and possibility.  Once again, I am seized with delight in taking on yet another yearly challenge.  At the beginning of each year, I assess where I've been and create new goals to cultivate opportunities for growth in character and as an artist.

2007 -- Year of Esther, complete overhaul of my life with a paradigm shift.
2008 -- Year of the Geisha, rebuilding the temple and loving myself.
2009 -- Year of the Artist, building of the physical studio.
2010 -- Retired from the Military (needed to shed the mechanical rote routine of the military)
2011 -- Year of Silence, awakening the artist within.
2012 -- Gave my body to Surrogacy for Shelly
2013 -- Year of the Showing Artist & Applied to UCONN Masters in Fine Arts Program
2014 -- "From Soapbox to Soap! --Don't just talk about it, BE about it.", taking action to benefit others.

My footing is sure as an artist. My path is before me.  It is fitting that things are coming full circle.  In my year of Esther (2007), I dissected every aspect of my life to make major changes for the purpose of becoming a better person.  My focus then turned inward to address loving myself from the inside out (2008). This set the stage to follow my passion as an artist and be true to self.  This energy created the tangible art studio where I work today (2009).  After working very hard for 21 years in the Air Force, it was time to close that chapter in my life.   I retired from the military in 2010.  I was in desperate need to strip the tough veneer of strict routine I developed out of necessity.  Drastic measures shocked my system to awaken the complete artist within--emerged, the Year of Silence (2011) where I literally stopped talking for a year.  This fully engaged all my senses, making me aware of the present moment. This was like leaving a dark cave for the first time while the sun lit up my face and warmed my soul.

I was strong in spirit and physically able to make an extreme sacrifice. In 2012 I gave my life completely over to my stepsister Shelly and became a Surrogate for her and her husband.  All aspects of my life centered around this endeavor. With a year and a half, two attempts and a painful miscarriage physically and emotionally behind me, I was ready to return my spirit to the reason I was created--to create!

In 2013 I decided to apply to UCONN's Masters in Fine Arts Program.  My desire to further my education sat and waited like a cheetah hiding in tall grasses waiting for the optimum time to explode with jaw-dropping speed taking down its prey. The application process for graduate school took the entire year to complete.  I presented a solid package that represents my abilities as an artist.  Now all I can do is sit and wait for UCONN to make its determination on whether I will be a candidate to enter into its gates.  I shall have my answer in February.

2013 also kept me busy establishing myself as an active showing artist thanks to my membership at the Canton Artist Guild, Gallery on the Green.  My spirit was filled from the ability to engage in art production on a daily basis.  Many hours were spent in the studio painting and creating art.  A major critique of my inventory took place to analyze what I have been saying as an artist.  This set in motion a fresh new direction for my art.  It is time for the messages imprinted on my heart to reach canvas!
Alicia Keys "This girl is on fire" rings in my ears...

My character was strengthened. However, growth and change are never ending and I find myself once again looking inward to assess what character changes are in need.  With Mind, Body and Spirit being the past focus it is now time to turn toward the outward man--Humanity!  I believe the greatest good comes from helping others.

January 2014 -- Taking Action!

I just finished reading the autobiography of Booker T. Washington: Up From Slavery.
The book is so inspiring and hopeful it would call anyone to action! I encourage reading it.  My notes are extensive from his writings. My next move is directly influenced by Booker T's perspective.  His collective efforts to create so much from nothing is amazing.  Be encouraged, for we can do the same. I am ahead of the curve....I got a whole lot of nothing to start with too!

My charge for 2014 is "From Soapbox to Soap! -- Don't talk about it, BE about it." 
I am setting an intention. Through a collaborative effort from every woman I know who cares to participate, I plan to compile writings on various topics that are of interest to women. We will write about our experiences, give advice, share lessons learned and best practices.  The goal is to share this knowledge with any woman within earshot for the purpose of improving our lives, helping others along the way and contributing to the world in positive ways.

My next blog entry will set this intention in motion.