Archive for March, 2011

March 30, 2011

Wednesday Wellness::Kindness Counts!

by heatherkp

PS...Bonus Be KIND, and I mean to everyone (yeah, I’m still working on this one so that’s why it didn’t make it to this years list…maybe it will by next year!).

Kindness is in our power, even when fondness is not. -Samuel Johnson

There is no need for temples, no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness. -Dalai Lama

Kindness is loving people more than they deserve.-Joseph Joubert

When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace.– Dalai Lama

No kind action ever stops with itself. One kind action leads to another. Good example is followed. A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves. – Amelia Earhart

Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.– Lao Tzu

The point is not to pay back kindness but to pass it on.– Julia Alvarez

You’ve probably noticed that I love quotes, I collect them and I found so  many great quotes directly relating to KINDNESS.  Makes you wonder what so many great writers, philosophers and spiritual leaders know, it must be something important this thing called kindness.

Many a movie and catch phrase have been coined around the idea that Kindness counts, and Paying It Forward and I think people sometimes become jaded and just think these phrases are cliche.  Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about kindness and happiness and what they really mean to the world.  Perhaps there are those out there that feel pursuing happiness or random acts of kindness don’t really mean anything or make any difference to the greater world.

How SAD is that?  Haven’t you ever had a really crappy day and someone just gave you the most genuine smile, held a door for you or gave you a small compliment that really changed your attitude (for a moment or even for the rest of the day)?  I think we’ve all experienced the power of kindness to uplift us and make us feel happier.

Kindness towards others should be secondary only to Self-Kindness. Lately, I’ve been practicing the art of boredom and this is an act of self kindness for me because I don’t usually allow myself time to “be lazy” or JUST BE.  Being honest and facing our own fears can be an act of the highest kindness towards ourselves.  I love what Brooke says about how kindness effects our daily relationships.  Acts of self kindness directly impact our wellness and once we begin by being kind to ourselves other acts of kindness will follow.  I hope you will consider how your kind actions effects your overall wellness.

What was the last random act of kindness you did for yourself?

Kindness is not without its rocks ahead. People are apt to put it down to an easy temper and seldom recognize it as the secret striving of a generous nature; whilst, on the other hand, the ill-natured get credit for all the evil they refrain from. Honore De Balzac

Okay, so now that we are on week 12 of my Wednesday Wellness posts I’m thinking I will be extending this feature.  I’ve really enjoyed it and it’s got me thinking of all the ways we can each bring wellness into our lives.  I’ve got lots more ideas up my sleeve so I’ll be sharing additional wellness tips from time to time but not weekly.  I do hope you’ve enjoyed this feature too!

March 27, 2011

Silent Sunday::Springtime in DC

by heatherkp

Oh, Spring! I want to go out and feel you and get inspiration. — Emily Carr

March 25, 2011

Friday Field Trip::Beekeeping Aprenticeship

by heatherkp

Maybe you’ve read over on my About page how bees are significant to me and their symbolism- organization, hope etc. or maybe you’ve noticed the bee and beehive patterns around here? Well, all my interest in bees has finally led me to learning first hand about Beekeeping!

I’ve been waiting for this day all winter (maybe longer??), anticipating the phone call or email I would get saying OK, it’s time to go inspect the hives and open them up.  Last Friday, since the weather was incredibly warm, it was the perfect day to do this.  I headed to my friends house who has three hives in her back yard (in an Urban NW DC Neighborhood!).

The objective was for her and another new beekeeping friend to get into the hives, remove the food (white fondant-sugar that was supplied for winter feeding which can be seen above) clean them up a bit, inspect for pests, locate the Queen if possible and shut them back up.

After removing both the outer and inner hive covers we took some of the Hive Bodies off and removed frames to check the activity.  All three of her hives were in pretty good shape with no dramatic issues.  We did locate the Queen in one (I found her!) and we spotted enough eggs and brood (the larva and pupae) to know she was active in each.

Above you can see the brood as well as different colors of pollen and some nectar they’ve collected.  This was a good sign since it’s early Spring (well it’ wasn’t even Spring yet then!) it tells us the bees are finding enough food sources on their own already.  Isn’t that cool?

Here’s my view out of the beekeeping Veil.

This frame shows some honey already being capped off by the bees.  We didn’t need to smoke either of the bees in the first two hives.  They were active but remained calm.

Both the beekeeper I was learning from, Laura, and I worked without gloves.  This last hive was quite a bit more active and we did end up using the smoker to calm them.  Nevertheless both Laura and I got stung, on our fingers once we lifted off the Hive Bodies of the last hive.  Why on earth you might ask didn’t I wear gloves?  Honestly, I was really calm and since I was mainly observing I wanted to be able to take photos.  Of course I also wanted to try a few things myself and did get to lift some of the frames out etc. and it was around this time when I got stung.  It didn’t really hurt, just a pinch and I dashed off to put baking soda and water on it right away (and get the stinger out).  I didn’t give it another thought until it really began to swell up about 24 hrs later…apparently this was a pretty normal range reaction to the first sting of the season and one week later my finger is almost back to normal (still a little itchy).

The frame above had a really beautiful formation with mountains and valleys of combs.  We re-assembled the last hive and that was it!  In all it took about 2 hours and would have taken less time if there wasn’t so much “Show and Tell” going on.  I found it completely fascinating to see how the bee’s operate and the inner workings of the hive system.  I left feeling without a doubt that I want to become a bee-keeper sometime in the near future.  It will all depend on how involved I can be throughout the next few seasons.  Perhaps by next year I will start with a hive of my own.  Bees are VITAL to our very existence and I am so enamored of them.  You may have heard about Colony Collapse Disorder and scientists worldwide are researching to find a solution for this mystery disease.  Keeping bees would be my small way of supporting them since clearly they do so much to support us!

Do you or anyone you know keep bees?  To see some amazing images of bees and other pollinators check out the National Geographic site.

If you are interested in becoming a bee keeper yourself there are organizations in every state and most offer classes annually.

March 24, 2011

Textile Thursday::Swap

by heatherkp

I want to share the results of this great swap I did a few weeks ago.  Now that I know my partner got her postcard and I got mine I can post photos.
The 3rd Great Big Stitched Postcard Swap was hosted by Beth Nichols over at Do What you Love and this swap’s theme was LOVE!  I’ve done a lot of swaps but haven’t done any recently and this one looked like a lot of fun and was it ever!  It gave me a chance to explore some ideas I’ve been knocking around in my mind, using my photography, photo transfer on fabric and stitching.My partner, Irina over at “el petit taller“, seemed quite pleased when she got my postcard at least she sounded enthusiastic from her email!

“Hello Heather!

I received my card today and I LOVE it!!!

So much work in it! amazing, what a patience with those tiny beads!!

I’m looking at it closely and just trying to figure out how you did all those stitches.”

That’s a little secret which I will reveal soon, right here on the blog.  You may be savvy and be able to figure it out for yourselves but I was quite happy with the outcome, little fuzzy stitches sticking up and enhancing the “heart” shape of the Bleeding Heart in the photo.

The card I received in the post also did not disappoint (and having done quite a few swaps, I have to say that sometimes they do).  My partner was Lisa Pocklington of Get Smitten and she kept it a big secret from me that she had me as a partner.  She and I have had several occasions lately where our virtual paths have crossed so I was REALLY excited to open her package when I saw her name!

She used the phrase “Do What You Love-What You Do”.  It’s such a positive uplifting message and a joy to look at.  I was also really mesmerized by the technique she used on the back of using photo transfer for text and to “capture” the floating paper doily and stamp.  I just LOVE that idea!  Since I don’t crochet (not very well) I can so appreciate the beautiful signature border and the beautiful little heart fringe she created.  Isn’t it just stunning?  Check out her blog post where she has some better up close photos.  To see other fabulous post cards from this swap, check out the Flickr group.

March 23, 2011

Wednesday Wellness::You Don’t Owe Me For This!

by heatherkp

Eliminate Debt!

A few years ago a friend of mine turned me on to Dave Ramsey podcasts and I would sit at my job (designing carpets-pushing pixels as I use to say) and listen.  All these people  would call in with their crazy stories of debt (I’m mean honestly people?  Some of it was really good for a laugh!) and then there would be the excited calls to announce “I’m DEBT FREE!”.  I’d get a thrill hearing those calls and wished to be right there with them, especially since I was really close.

Well, in 2009 I got there, I paid off my car and my college loan (after 10 years) and it felt so great (but NO I didn’t call Dave)!  I wasn’t using credit cards and had learned some valuable lessons about interest rates and late fees in my early years after college when the thrill of having credit was new and felt so grown up!  I quickly learned there was nothing mature about owing people for stuff you couldn’t afford and most likely didn’t need to begin with.  I made a switch from using a typical credit card to using an American Express or my debit card which forced me to live within my limts (some people still can’t use either of these and remain disciplined enough to stay within their limits).

Today, I am so incredibly grateful that I don’t have the debt that so many Americans are saddled with.  I also don’t own my own home, which I want to one day but we (my husband and I) made a conscious decision NOT to burden ourselves with a mortgage we felt was extending us beyond what felt comfortable.  Thank goodness we didn’t take that on 5, 4 or even 3 years ago.

When was faced with making a decision about leaving my corporate job over a year ago one of the reasons I was able to say no to a job I didn’t love doing anymore was having no debt.  The other was having a little nest egg saved away (that’s another story for another post).  Today, as I begin a new career doing something I feel very passionate about I am so grateful for the lessons I learned from listening to Dave and his callers.  Some people don’t like his personality or his approach and I’m generally not a conservative person but I think a little fiscal conservation goes a LONG way!  In more recent years there are a lot of other financial planners giving out similar advice and we’ve all seen the damage that living beyond our means can cause.  It’s something each person must decide for themselves but it certainly gives you a sense of FREEDOM when you don’t owe anybody anything!

So, go ahead and get that elephant off your back and begin to live DEBT FREE!

March 18, 2011

Clutter Free Friday::Inventory

by heatherkp

If you have begun to do your Spring cleaning and clearing how about stepping back for a few moments to take a little inventory first.

I think it’s important to recognize that EVERYONE has an area of their life that they would like to find more space, less clutter and more organization.

Today I’d like to  be the voice of encouragement to remind you that no matter what amount of clutter you may have in your life you are not alone and you can forgive yourself.  Clutter is an outcome of an overwhelming, over scheduled, overly busy life style (hello most of us who are reading this!).

Starting today, how about just taking a mental inventory to identify the areas of clutter that are in your life. Is it a certain room (s) or a certain category of stuff (ex. paperwork) that stresses you out, or maybe it’s your spouse or kids stuff that drives you nuts?  Do you find yourself feeling guilty, stressed, embarrassed or ashamed about having too much of something?  You may want to write it down and write about how it makes you feel. Writing can be a helpful tool to begin the clearing process and help you identify patterns of behavior so you won’t repeat them.  This process can be so much more meaningful than just throwing away your old junk. 

Clearing and releasing will bring new space into your life.  Why not take a little time before you begin to toss the junk to really give some thought to what you want to create in your new space.  Some questions you can ask yourself:

  • Do you need to save time because your constantly looking for things?
  • Do you have stuff that you feel you “should” hold onto because someone you love gave it to you?
  • Do you have items that are broken, poor quality or you just don’t love for whatever reason?
  • Do you want to create a space for a certain activity you love doing?

All of this information will help you identify what you can begin to release.  This legwork will make the action steps of tossing and re-organizing whats left so much easier.

As we move into Spring this weekend why not take a little time to inventory what no longer serves you so you can make space for new growth!

March 16, 2011

Wednesday Wellness::Do Unto Others…

by heatherkp

Volunteer and help others out when and however you can.  Online is great but in person is even better!  In the wake of the tragedies in Japan the timing of this post is fitting.

A bit of fragrance always clings to the hand that gives the rose.~Chinese proverb

I grew up volunteering my time with people who needed assistance in my church (elderly, single working moms etc) and learning the value of giving of yourself to others.  My grandfather is one person I thank dearly for the life lessons he has taught me about giving.  He was a successful Doctor who decided to give up his practice and move to Africa with 5 children (ranging from 4 to 16-or thereabout) to become a missionary Doctor.  This kind of giving is BIG~HUGE and not something that all of us feel we could ever do.  That’s okay though because it’s not the size of the giving that matters!   The values that this experience instilled in all of his children (my mom, aunts and uncles) was truly inspiring, life lasting and has been passed down through generations.  Every one of his children learned more than I can imagine about helping others and seeing what it means to really have nothing and how much a small act of kindness or service can make a difference in someone’s life.

Volunteering and giving of yourself can be expressed in so many different ways.  I think that the most important lesson to be learned about giving is that it should be done from the heart and with the intention to truly bless the person receiving your gift.   I am beginning to understand that we can all be good givers by setting this intention.  Please don’t give of yourself if you are going to resent it or feel begrudgingly toward the receiver.  It also helps if the things you do to help others are things you love to do anyways.  That way it’s a gift to you as well as those on the receiving end.  In fact a perfect example of this is a smile or the smallest kindness which has the power to change your attitude and in turn change someone else.  These small acts have the power to change the world.  If you want to read more about giving (and receiving) click over to Christine Kane’s Blog for a beautiful post.

Giving in other ways is certainly important as well.  If you are inclined to donate money for the Japanese relief fund please click here.  Some people also feel very comfortable giving to Red Cross which is certainly another very reputable charity for disasters like this.

I know what I have given you. I do not know what you have received.-Antonio Porchia, writer (1886-1968)

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March 14, 2011

Mundane Monday::Bread Tabs

by heatherkp

To continue my post about using “Mundane” items in craft and art I’ll share with you a little project I began earlier this year.

I’m an artist and therefore I’m a collector (I don’t really know any artists who don’t collect SOMETHING odd or beautiful!).  Starting with stickers and stuffed animals in childhood I’ve now elevated some of my collections to things a bit more valuable but sometimes I love to collect the “Mundane”.  These types of collections usually begin with an idea or something that sparks my interest, visually or otherwise and it runs its course, I explore the possiblity and eventually let go of the collection.  Thank goodness for that because I’d probably be considered a “Hoarder” if I held onto everything that ever caught my fancy or sparked a creative idea!

So, I’ve been collecting these little colorful plastic bread tabs (tags, clips, whatever you call them) for about 2 years now, maybe even 3.  My friends and family have also been collecting little stashes of them for me.   They are always asking if I’ve started to use them yet.  “What are you doing with these again?”  “Oh, I’m not sure yet.” I say…”I’ll use them in some art project.”  Well, I finally am!  I was inspired to start playing with them about a month ago.   I love the colors and the shapes and I can’t even tell you where all I’ve found them.  Most recently I found a whole bunch at the county fairgrounds imbedded in the partially frozen gravel and dirt.  No, I didn’t sit there and chip away to get every last one but I got a few.   Like anything, once you begin looking you will see them all around.  I feel I’m picking up the currency of a future piece of artwork when I find one and this series of work is titled “Our Daily Bread”.

Here are a some of the works I’ve created so far.  They are really just studies and play, experimentation with something mundane to see where it will lead.  It may lead to more experimentation and it may lead me to a larger work, design or collection of work.  For now, I’m enjoying the “mundane” possibilities.

I’m very interested in not only exploring the form/shapes and colors but also some more esoteric meaning I’ve begun to associate with these bread tabs.  The title of the series “Our Daily Bread” refers to a Christian passage in the bible (Matthew 6:11) but I’m not really exploring anything associate with religion here.  What I am exploring are the practices of breaking bread, sharing meals and the issues surrounding food and agricultural shortage around the world and found currency.   If you have any thoughts you would like to share or comments about this new project please leave them here!

Do you collect anything “Mundane”?

I’m interested in the

March 11, 2011

Clutter Free Friday

by heatherkp

“Living Empty means we release the things that are no longer in alignment with who we are becoming. The release itself tells us who that is. The emptiness shows us the way.”~Christine Kane

If you have been following my blog this year you may remember my word of intention for this year is Clarity!  In beginning to clear away some of the physical (and emotional) baggage I’ve been dragging around I’ve recently realized that I want to help people find clarity in their own lives.  I will be working towards becoming a Certified Professional Organizer over the next 1-2 years so this will be a subject you will be seeing more of here.  I’m actually surprised I didn’t include de-cluttering in my Wednesday Wellness series!  Living organized is living well!  My objective in helping my clients is to: Cultivate creative solutions for a more joyful home.

Do you hang onto stuff because you think you might use it again one day or it’s simply sentimental or you just can’t part with it because you love it?  There is no right or wrong answer but there are those of us that have a very hard time parting with things.  I am not a hoarder by any means and I also don’t consider myself a minimalist (and I certainly don’t think everyone needs to be) I fall somewhere in the middle, which I suspect is where most people fall.   I think we all have areas in our homes and our lives that get cluttered and overwhelming and sometimes we need a push to get started.  I do think it’s a very healthy process to get rid of things that you no longer need and making even small changes in your home can create big changes in your life!

Every Spring and Fall I go through a period of purging that usually lasts a month or two.  I get rid of things that I no longer need, things that are broken, things I just don’t love anymore and things that I know someone else could use more than me.  I have a rule that I picked up somewhere, whenever I get something new I have to get rid of something.  For example last week I got a new pair of PJ’s but I got rid of a pair (actually like 3) that were worn out and I didn’t really use any more.  I also have a rule that I rarely buy books.  I’m an avid Library user so I get tons of books from them and I consider all the late fee’s I get my contribution towards the library system.  If I can’t find what I want at the library I usually ask around and try to borrow it and if that doesn’t work I may end up buying it myself.  I love books but my house would be filled to the roof if I owned every book I read or wanted to read.

So, what are you doing this weekend?  Why not get started on that Spring cleaning if you haven’t already.  Maybe start with some books and some of those winter clothes you haven’t worn once this winter.  Go ahead, give yourself permission to live a little lighter and find a little more joy in your new found space!

March 9, 2011

Wednesday Wellness::Bringing Home the Green

by heatherkp

Keep houseplants and get out and garden if you can.

Woops, don’t suppose it matters but I should have posted this last week and got things out of order. I think it’s appropriate though as I’m currently starting some seeds for my garden.  It is that time of year when we all start thinking about things turning green, the cycle of growth and spring flowers.

I’m a big fan of gardening and that includes anything from designing landscapes, creating garden plans, choosing plants, starting seeds, pruning, raking leaves etc.  Some people have NO interest in growing anything and for those of you who feel that way, okay fine maybe you could just keep a couple houseplants!  Seriously, houseplants improve indoor air quality haven’t you heard?  They create oxygen and help filter out toxins in the air.  Some of the hardest working houseplants are also the easiest to care for.

NASA and ALCA (Associated Landscape Contractors of America) conducted a study testing common houseplants for their ability to remove indoor air pollutants and below is their list of the 19 that do the best job.  The study revealed that in a home under 2000 sq feet there should be about 15 plants (in 6″ pots or bigger) to have the best effect.
1. Philodendron scandens `oxycardium’, heartleaf philodendron
2. Philodendron domesticum, elephant ear philodendron
3. Dracaena fragrans `Massangeana’, cornstalk dracaena
4. Hedera helix, English ivy
5. Chlorophytum comosum, spider plant
6. Dracaena deremensis `Janet Craig’, Janet Craig dracaena
7. Dracaena deremensis `Warneckii’, Warneck dracaena
8. Ficus benjamina, weeping fig
9. Epipiremnum aureum, golden pothos
10. Spathiphyllum `Mauna Loa’, peace lily
11. Philodendron selloum, selloum philodendron
12. Aglaonema modestum, Chinese evergreen
13. Chamaedorea sefritzii, bamboo or reed palm
14. Sansevieria trifasciata, snake plant
15. Dracaena marginata , red-edged dracaena

If you are more into gardening outside then I think any gardening activity you do is good for your overall health and wellness.  Fresh air, Vitamin D (but use the sunscreen), exercise and a sense of peace and well being are all benefits that come from being out in nature.  Recent research is showing that there are tremendous yet unknown benefits to getting some form of exercise outdoors.  There has even been a term coined recently “Nature Deficient Disorder“, check out this article for more about that concept.  It kind of makes sense to me!

One thing I always try to incorporate into my gardening is growing a bit of food.  It’s fun, it’s easy and it’s healthy.  I’ve done the majority of my food production in one form of container or another over the past  years.  I’ve grown garlic, lettuce, spinach, bok choi, kale, radish, beets, strawberries, peppers, tomatoes, malibar spinach and all sorts of herbs in containers.   NOW is the time to start those seeds for the upcoming season.  If you are interested in learning about how to start your own seeds  check out these great videos.  The Grow It Eat It website is one that offers a tremendous amount of information specifically on gardening for food production.

Whatever you like to grow, I hope your growing something!  It’s good for the soul, good for your health and good for the planet.