Archive for the ‘Inspiring’ Category

7 Small Happinesses

February 21st, 2010 by Jane

In spite of illness, in spite even of the archenemy sorrow, one can remain alive long past the usual date of disintegration if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things, and happy in small ways.
– Edith Wharton, pictured above

The above quote is my second favorite quote ever. If I had to choose a personal motto it would be the famous quote from Ghandi about being the change you wish to see in the world and this one.

Really, I think about this a lot. My life, as most, is full of irritations that I could let grow from minor to excruciating and to be honest, on some days I do.  But, as a student of yoga, I have learned to be a little more aware of everything and that means the good stuff as well as the squeaky parts. It is extremely easy for me to focus on the squeaky, because there is a genetic disposition for this in my lineage. I’m trying to stop the cycle, but that’s another post.

I really believe that what you think about informs your behavior and your attitude. Amy says that what you do every day becomes your life. So. Today I thought about how I am happy in small ways, and I have shared a few with you below. Let me know what your small happinesses are, if you want to share!

1. The Olympics
I have been a fan of the Olympics since I watched Mark Spitz win his 7 gold medals in 1972, when I was in second grade. I have not missed watching a summer or winter games since. They are a complete source of joy for me. I wrote an exuberant post in tribute to my love for the Olympic Games and I was ready to publish it on the day of the opening ceremonies. But, I just could not post it when I heard about the death of Georgian luger, Nodar Kumaritashvili. I hope that his family know that there are many around the world who are heartbroken about his death.

In spite of the tragedy, I have caught myself standing and cheering, grinning ear to ear when the winners cross the finish line, crying with their parents who are jumping up and down in the bleachers and sobbing when the national anthem is played for each athlete. Two weeks of joy and hope, that’s what it is.

2. Magazines
I have posted about my love of magazines before and that has not dimmed, even as the choices of shiny publications continues to diminish. I got to read a few this weekend.

3. Chocolate
Again, you already know about my love for dark chocolate. I have been cutting back on it lately, so I have been making a few chocolate-covered strawberries a few nights a week to get my fix. I don’t use very much chocolate (in the form of 60% cacao chocolate chips) and I melt them in the microwave. Dip strawberries (washed and dried) into the chocolate, put them on some wax paper and place in the fridge. You get fiber, vitamin C, anti-oxidants and a chocolate fix all in one.

4. Lotion
I am out of my favorite lotion and now I cannot find it anymore.  Any one know anything about TeaSpots Lotion? My favorite was the Chai. I kept the bottle for a while, just to smell it occasionally, but that seemed pathetic.

5. Sensory
Can you name something that makes you happy in each of your senses?. Visually, there are certain colors I just want to live in. Literally, I want to move into the color or painting and take my belongings with me.

Singer songwriters with a way with words and a rasp in their voice make my ears and my brain happy: Bruce Springsteen (you knew that, didn’t you?) Kasey Chambers, Bob Schneider, Jon Dee Graham, plus a few others. The happy sounds of my children drifting from another room, the nightly hooting of the owl that lives on our street, cicadas in the summertime, the sound of my husband’s voice when he is teaching one of the girls something; all good sounds to my ears.

The smell of soup simmering on the stove makes my nose happy. So does the chai lotion mentioned above. The scent of my children when they are clean. The scent of my children when they are dirty. Old roses and fresh herbs. The smell of salsa, pretty much any kind. The peculiar scent of lipstick. The scent of welding flux always reminds me of my dad. The overpowering smell of garlic reminds me of my grandmother, who took garlic pills everyday before you could buy the unscented kind.

I have a lot of tastes that make me happy, but I will narrow it down to one for today. A few days ago, I went to my favorite Vietnamese restaurant and I ordered a Soda Chanh. This is a limeade soda, made fresh to order that has lime, soda, sugar, salt and sometimes mint in it. It is sweet, sour, salty, bitter and bubbly at the same time. Yum.

When I am shopping for clothing, bedding or furniture I am attracted to an item first by its color. But before I buy it, I have to touch it. Nothing that is scratchy comes home with me. My husband has some twenty-year old t-shirts that I like to wear. They are just about right.

6. Writing
I love writing. Really.

7. Little Surprises
This morning, our twins woke us up with a puppet show. Their ten-year old sister got in bed with us and the three of us watched the two of them put on a show at the foot of the bed. Good stuff.

7 Words

January 26th, 2010 by Jane

I mentioned last week that I was planning to do the “one little word” exercise that Brenè Brown and Ali Edwards wrote about on their respective blogs. Well, I worked on this for an hour or so the other day and I came up with a long list of words that I love. Words that have meaning and resonance for me. Words that seemed to define or illustrate my plans for the year.

I usually make a few resolutions each January, but felt overwhelmed by the idea this year. This exercise was just what I needed to put some direction and meaning into my new year.

Those of you who know me will not be surprised that I could not narrow it down to one word, but instead, have three little words that are my theme(s) for the year. Ali made a wonderful list of all the words that people sent in to her. Let me know if you try this, I would love to hear from you!

The above quote is from the fabulous brains over at Quotable Cards. I buy a half dozen of these at a time. Some I give to friends, and others I glue into my journals or put on my fridge. Instant wisdom and inspiration for the day!

Here are my seven favorite words from my original list of twenty-six. I have italicized my three words for the year.

1. Abundance

2. Aware

3. Blossoming

4. Becoming

5. Cherish

6. Prosperity

7. Content
I love that this word can mean “satisfied with what one is or has; not wanting any more or any less” and “significance or profundity, …volume or substance contained” in a piece of work. Or a life. That’s what I’m hoping.

7 Tidbits

January 20th, 2010 by Jane

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines the word tidbit as:
1) a choice morsel of food and 
2) a choice or pleasing bit (of information)

Well, here at 7OF, we are all about the tidbits, tasty or informative. So, get a taste of these!

1. Stay-At-Home: Not just for moms!
One of my favorite friends has started a blog about staying home and being the primary caretaker of a baby daughter. You’ve read all about that, you say? Well, not from the dad’s perspective, I’ll bet. Take a look at DadSolo and see if you can relate! What makes this blog especially interesting is that my friend is a first-time father at the age of 45, so he brings a wonderful, witty, poignant perspective to the process.

2. New Addiction
I have another new favorite blog about personal style. I have mentioned here, my love of  the wonderfully serious fashion blog The Sartorialist, but paper artist Elsa Mora, brings some vintage quirkiness to the subject in The Hidden Seed. She is currently on hiatus for a few months, but read her back entries for some stylish fun.

3. Mulling
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have not made any resolutions for the new year, yet. For some reason, this year it seems to be a daunting task. I have not reached a state of perfection, so it is not for lack of personal material to mold and hone. I am captivated by the idea in Brenè Brown’s blog Ordinary Courage. She was inspired by Ali Edwards to choose one little word for the year, as a personal theme or inspiration for 2010. I’ll let you know what I come up with for mine!  How about all of you? What word would you choose?

4. Drinking
A friend gave us a bottle of homemade kahlua for Christmas and I have enjoyed this mixed with ice and Bailey’s Irish Cream a few nights this month. I have curtailed that for now, because it was obliterating the progress I have been making in the gym!

5. Books!
I just finished The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger and I liked it very much. I didn’t expect to, but I found it to be more complex and serious than I anticipated. I am now reading Nick Hornby’s Juliet, Naked. Anyone read either of these books?

6. Hummus
I have been making a big container of hummus each week for my family to eat with veggies. Want a cooking demonstration and some history on this yummy dip? Listen to Dede!

7. Jicama
My favorite vegetable to eat raw! It is perfect with a healthy dip, like hummus! Now that is a tasty tidbit.

7 + One Wishes for the New Year

January 7th, 2010 by Jane

Happy New Year everyone, a little late, but sincere, nonetheless. I hope you ushered in 2010 with fun and frolic with someone you love, or at least like a lot.

I am behind on my resolutions this year, so I thought I would just send out a list of wishes for myself, for you and for our beautiful blue planet.

1. Health
A few people I know are going through a some health issues, nothing major, but enough to give one pause. May we all have a healthy ‘10. I have recommitted to my gym routine and I am feeling happy about that. My plan is to download some interesting interviews every Sunday, enough for the entire week, and then head out every morning.  I’ll keep you posted on my progress and any good downloads!

2. Happiness
In 2010, may we all have what makes us happy and be happy with what we have. Can’t find anything to be happy about right now? Watch this and today will be a good day, guaranteed! I LOVE Wil.I.Am!

3. Be Present
I believe the ability to be present in the moment is key to achieving the above. If each of us could do that, the whole world would be a happier place, in my opinion.

4. Fun and Friendship
What do you think is fun? Well, go do it! Take a friend who is willing to make a fool of herself with you and you will significantly increase the fun potential. I think I will take a friend up on rolling skating and another one on an art day.

5. Giggles
Laughter will surely result from number four, but just to be sure check out this video. Or watch Jon Stewart every night-he’ll crack you up whether you agree with him or not.

6. Music
May you have wonderful, heart-stirring music to act as your personal soundtrack to your year. I have Kat Edmonson’s Lucky (available on iTunes or watch it on youtube) on repeat right now. Dreamy!

7. Peace
This very small word is filled with reverence for me. I say it almost everyday. I try to draw it into my life each day. I use it in my signature on my emails. A friend of mine used to say “Do you want to have peace, or do you want to be right?” Think about that. May we all have an abundance of peace this year. In yoga we say “Om, Shanti, Shanti.”

8. Prosperity
Many people in our country have struggled financially over the last few years. Tonight will be an extremely cold night in my area and the church down the street from my house has opened its doors to people who have nowhere to escape the frigid temperatures. It is a very humbling thought that while I am sitting here by a fire with something yummy cooking on the stove, four blocks away families are spreading out sleeping bags so that they and their children won’t freeze to death tonight. May we all have a very prosperous Twenty Ten.

7 Raw Spots

November 13th, 2009 by Jane

My dog has a raw spot on his butt. We tried some home remedies, but we are going to have to take him to the vet. Of course, he will have to get moved to the top of the list above a host of other unexpected expenses we’ve had the last few months. Children who needed Tamiflu took precedent over a dog with a red heinie.

I started thinking about the word raw. The word even sounds raw and is not one of those words that feels good to say. Not a good mouthfeel, to use a food term. Raw. One meaning is “unnaturally, or painfully exposed,” according to Webster’s. Another is uncooked. Unaged or unprocessed. Crude. Inexperienced. Harsh or unfair. Nude. Uncultivated.

A lot of “un-ness” to the word. Seems like there has been a great amount of that going around of late. Raw.

1. Ft. Hood
I live in the Central Texas area and the impact of last week’s shootings will be felt around here for generations to come. Words fail. If you or anyone you know have been directly affected, please know that there are many people hoping that you soon can find comfort and peace.

2. Economic Survival
By most reports, Texas is managing the economic downturn better than other states. However, many people have had a hard year. I personally know several families who have had to close their businesses, change careers or the stay-at-home spouse returned to work before the family had planned. It seems there is pervasive weariness. Everyone I have talked to is optimistic that things will improve, but feel that the trick is to hold onto what they’ve got until that happens.

3. Raw Minerals
It seems that some celebrities are surviving the sour economy by hawking raw mineral make-up.

4. Raw Food
I know someone who is following a raw food eating program. This is a way of eating in which nothing is consumed that has been heated above 116ºF in order to preserve the natural enzymes in the food.  I like  cruditè any time, but I really, really like hot soup. My friend just completed a marathon in Spain, so maybe I should reconsider!

5. Raw Milk
There is a movement among natural food enthusiasts to drink unpasteurized, or “raw” milk. I need to do more research on this, because in general, I like to have as few germs as possible in my food. Does anyone out there drink only raw milk?

6. Growing Pains
My sweet nine-year old daughter is about to be a 10 year old. I took her to get her ears pierced a few weeks ago so that they would be healed in time for her birthday in December. She has waited a long time for this and I am glad that I stuck to my guns on this one because the minute the little gold studs punctured her ears, she looked like a twenty year old. Ugh. Need I say whose growing pains to which I am referring?

7. Stretch Marks
After delivering twins who weighed a sum total of 13 pounds, I have reached dètente with the web of silver lines which cover a lot of my torso. Now that the girls are kindergardeners, I find I am developing some stretch marks on my psyche and intellect.

I am no longer the person I was before I had three girls and my life is opening back up after the semi-claustrophobia of mothering tiny children. They are no longer so small and neither is my life apart from them. Now, the work is to find what to expand, what to explore and what to leave behind as I move into this new phase.

On some days, the choices seem endless and exciting. Others, it seem scary and overwhelming. On yucky days, I swing from one to the other with frustration and anxiety. I know I will find my path and all will be revealed in time.  My job now is to listen, work, think  and be open. If only someone made cocoa butter to rub on the psyche.

7 Things I Would Rather Be Doing

November 2nd, 2009 by Jane

I was sick last week and my children the week before, so today is a catch-up day. I need to sort piles of paper, laundry, socks (yes, this is separate from the laundry) as well as do some writing and marketing work for my paying jobs. After being prostrate for the better part of a week, I seem to have lost my motivation. I realize it will return, but not without some deep digging on my part.

Here is a list of things I would rather be doing-maybe I will reward myself after I finish sorting through piles!

1. Getting a Massage
It has been waaaayyyyyy too long!

2. Going to a Movie
Maybe Good Hair or Coco Before Chanel. The Men Who Stare at Goats releases on Friday and I can’t wait to see it. I laughed so hard during the trailer that I embarrassed my friend who was with me. Besides, two hours with George Clooney is never a waste. Or Jeff Bridges.

3. Getting My Hair Cut
I desperately need a hair cut and possibly an overhaul. I am considering a new style, but I am lazy when it comes to styling my hair, so my options are limited. My hair tends toward the Roseanne Roseannadanna style and I just don’t have the facial shape to pull off that look.

4. Reading and Lingering at a Bookstore
Although, I did manage to finish a book while I had the crud last week. I am now hooked on the dark thrillers from Sweden by Steig Larsson. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played with Fire were great reading, in large part because of the compelling title character. There is only one more book in this series (to be released in May 2010 ) because the author passed away after turning in the three manuscripts.

5. Chillaxing at a Yoga Class
Chillaxing is my 9 year old daughter’s new favorite word. My regular yoga class is 45 minutes away, so it is not an activity to be done on impulse.

6. Eating Yogurt
We have a new frozen yogurt place in our area and it is fabulous, if a little pricey. The raspberry is the best I have ever tasted. They don’t have a website, or I would tell you more!

7. Nothing
We all get so caught up in making sure that every minute is productive that we forget the intrinsic value in doing nothing. Go ahead, give your brain a rest for fifteen minutes! Watch the clouds or trees move with the wind. Put your head back on your chair and listen to your breath. Stretch. There, isn’t that better?

7 Things to Know When You Have a Baby

October 15th, 2009 by Jane

I have been reminiscing about early parenthood because an old friend just had his first child and my neighbor is due with a little girl any day now. My eldest daughter is nine, the twins are five and I don’t know how we got here so fast. People warned me of the speed with which the universe propels you through parenthood. I guess, in the early days when it seemed that the days were an endless loop of diapers, sleepless nights and breast milk-stained clothing, it didn’t occur to me that they wouldn’t always be infants. Or that I would barely have time to enjoy it.

I think it takes an incredible amount of grace to be a baby born into this world. Think about it, what if we, as adults, were dropped somewhere that we didn’t know the language, we were forced to live with people we didn’t know and we depended on them for our every need. I believe this is why we do not remember our infant hood; it would just be too painful. And yet, each baby looks at her parent with utter trust and eventually unconditional love.

I certainly don’t have many answers, but I’ve learned a few things. I have assembled the seven best pieces of advice, in my opinion, for new parents.

1. Lower Your Standards
I ‘m not kidding. Do not expect to have a clean house, clean clothes on your body or your teeth brushed, for at least the first three months. Your life will be much more enjoyable if you consider these things to be more like delightful hobbies you will resume when the baby is older, say around fifteen.

2. Follow Your Instincts
Everyone has some sort of parenting instinct, even those who say they don’t. If it seems wrong to take your newborn to that family reunion-listen to that voice. Then do not apologize for it.

3. Honor Your Baby’s Birth Story
In current pregnancy books, women are encouraged to write a birth plan to give to their doctor or midwife. This is a fine idea, but save yourself some grief and be flexible. Babies do not take anyone’s plans seriously. Especially their parents. Babies get here however they can and I will pretty much guarantee you that there is not one on the planet that has arrived according to plan. The birth story of your baby is the first of many wonderful stories your child will give to you and should be honored, not lamented.

4. Pay Attention
Isn’t it interesting that the phrase we use is “pay” attention? You give something to get something. Paying attention costs you some time and probably some patience, but here is what you might get: noticing the exact moment the eyelashes on your baby become lush, learning what makes  your child’s eyes light up, watching your child discover her toes. In other words, the good stuff.

5. Find Friends Who Keep It Real
If all of your friends with children arrive at a play date with perfect hair and clothes on their person, as well as their children-keep an eye on them. It is entirely possible that they cannot be trusted to have a real relationship. If their homes are in the same state of constant perfection-run! These are not people with whom you can build a nurturing, supportive friendship and they will wear you out in the interim.

Instead, seek out the moms who have other interests outside of motherhood, the moms who tell you when things aren’t going perfectly, the ones who feel no shame in taking store-bought cupcakes to school. They will become your support system.

6. Make No Plans
After the twins were born, I was commenting to someone that every time I made a plan to go somewhere, someone in my house started throwing up. This woman, who happened to have a set of 30 year old twins, very gently put her hand upon my arm and said “Jane, stop making plans. You will get back to that one day, but not right now. You will feel better if you just take it one day at a time.” Her words were like an elixir for my battered being.

7. It Doesn’t Last Long
Each stage your child goes through seems like it might be endless. Colic. Teething. Potty-training. Learning to drive.  One of my favorite quotes about parenthood is “The days are long, but the years are short.” When I was able to step back and view my children’s stages in six month increments, I could look at all of those frustrating moments with perspective and grace.

My favorite aunt (also a mother of grown twins) once said to me after I recounted a terrible day with toddler twins,  ”Sweetie, I don’t know if anyone has told you this, but you will never again expend this much energy.” That gives me hope, how about you?

7 Scraps Of Praise For Messiness

October 8th, 2009 by Amy

Ever notice the fact that Jane and I have over a hundred entries in “Appreciating” and barely a dozen in “Organizing?”


That’s just the kind of gals we are.


Today I came across the book A Perfect Mess online and while I haven’t read it yet, I’m already in love.


Mostly because it seems like it will be validating.


Suddenly all this messiness on my desk and in my home has the potential to be recast as functional.




Here’s an unorganized collection of seven catchwords and sentences I found insanely uplifting from A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder – How Crammed Closets, Cluttered Offices, and on-the-Fly Planning Make the World a Better Place:



1.  “Chemist Stephen Berry, a recipient of a MacArthur “genius” grant award, works among a landscape of 18-inch-high piles which have harbored individual documents for as long as two decades.”


2.  “beneficial mess”


3.  “In general, a messy desk tends to end up so that the more important, more urgent work stays close by and near the top of the clutter, while the safely ignorable stuff tends to get buried near the back–which makes perfect sense.”


4.  “A messy desk can be a highly effective prioritizing and accessing system.”


5.  “Actually, messy homes can provide a far more inviting and nurturing environment than highly ordered ones.”


6.  “pointless home neatening”


7.  “A Perfect Mess shatters the myths and misunderstandings about messiness and disorder that have led to an often pointless, counterproductive and demoralizing bias toward neatness and organization in our society.”

7 Thoughts on Arts & Culture

October 6th, 2009 by Jane

This week, someone asked me if I thought a community could have too much art and culture. When I picked my jaw up off of the ground, I gave this matter some serious thought. My answer is no, a community cannot have too much art or culture. I have lived in places with innumerable opportunities to immerse oneself in the arts (Santa Fe, New Mexico and Houston, Texas) and I have lived in places (which shall remain nameless) that have been referred to as cultural wastelands. Believe me, the former is utterly preferable.

Having said that, I think it is crucial that you do not overburden a community with more non-profits than it can reasonably support. However, building infrastructure for arts organizations takes time, patience, planning and money. Making the effort to bring art and culture to a community is good for the citizens, as these programs bring a chance to see beauty, to experience something larger than oneself. as well as inspire interesting thoughts and dialogue. Art and culture are good for economic development because business leaders look at what communities can offer employees in terms of quality of life experiences before they develop a business in that city. And finally, art and cultural opportunities are imperative for the intellectual development of children. But we do not have to convince them of that, children already know. Ask a child you know to attend a play and see what she says.

Here are some further thoughts on the matter. Thanks to the Kennedy Center’s Artsedge for the great quotes.

The beautiful painting above, entitled The Road to Awe, is by my compadre Dan Zinno. Call him up and buy some art-you won’t be sorry.

1. Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one.
-Stella Adler

2. Good art is not what it looks like, but what it does to us.
-Roy Adzak

3. Where words fail, music speaks.
-Hans Christian Andersen

4. Any museum can invite you to look. A great one changes the way you see.

5. There are shortcuts to happiness, and dancing is one of them.
-Vicki Baum

6. The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.

7. In the end, art outlives politics.

7 Features Of Friendship

October 1st, 2009 by Amy

Yesterday I spent a couple of hours sitting around with some gal pals laughing and trying to keep from peeing my pants.


To the untrained eye it didn’t look like much – a little gaggle of 40-something moms lettin’ it all hang out – but if you looked closely, it was the of picture of friendship.


Seven Features of Friendship:


1.  Understanding

Appreciating complementary skill sets, realizing you have much to learn from one another, and brainstorming together are all hallmarks of a flourishing friendship.


2.  Self-disclosure

Give some, get some. Not necessarily secrets, but hopes, dreams, and opinions. Even if they differ, you’ve traded something important.


3.  Reciprocity

This give and take allows both friends to wear all the hats in the friendship. Sometimes you get to be the one scraping a friend off the ceiling and sometimes you are stuck there yourself. A good friend makes sure the mess-to-cleanup ratio doesn’t get skewed.


4.  Trust

The exchange of sympathy and empathy create trust … as does honesty.


5.  Social Identity Support

Sounds heady, but basically the best of friends are those who understand and support each other not just as individuals, but also understand and support each other’s role in society. Otherwise known as being a mom … to another mom.


6.  Interaction

Good friends write, call, email. No matter physical proximity, good friends take the time to catch up. Turns out that the content’s not important, it’s the act of communicating itself that creates the closeness.


7.  Pleasure

Sharing the ups and downs of life is what friends are for and In my book, keepin’ it real isn’t necessarily being negative. That said, the net gain from a relationship needs to be pleasure. While there may be little storms along the way, good friends ride it out together, trusting the clouds to clear and the sun to come out again.

© 2008 7of