Turning Over a New Year 🎉🎊

Only one day left in 2018.

I’m sitting here thinking about the past year. So many changes yet a lot has stayed mostly the same. I lost a lot of extended family, close and distant friends, and friends who were as close as family; I mean lots, more than a dozen. It seems I’ve said, “Sorry for your loss” at least monthly this year. Just odd, but it really caused me to think about my own life a lot. I felt more conscious of time. I remembered my dad, now in his 80s, always saying when in his 50s, “I have more years behind me than I do in front of me.” I was in my 20s then, now I’m in my 50s. I can sincerely say I have more years behind me than in front of me; the death of so many friends and acquaintances this year brings those words to the forefront more than ever.

So, what does that mean for my life decisions? In short, it means I want to focus on the things that are important to me. What are those things?

In no particular order:

Portraiture / Art – For most of this year, I contemplated returning to school to obtain a doctorate degree. It was just a matter of nailing down what I wanted to study and where. I reviewed/applied to a few schools and interviewed with one, in the Technology field. In the end, I decided to pit it on hold, if not nix it. Why? Because as a middle-aged woman I discovered I had a talent for art, specifically, drawing portraits. It has changed my focus more than I thought. I like my job a lot, it suit my skill set, and personality. … but I love drawing! At this point in life, I need to focus on what I love. None of the schools I reviewed sparked my heart; I was not wanting to do it even before I took the first course. Apparently, getting a doctorate was a goal, but not a heart’s desire; if that makes sense. Nope, I don’t plan to go to art school, I just plan to use my years left doing something that makes my heart happy and makes others smile! Simple. 🎨

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Family/Friends – I have a small immediate family but a pretty large extended one. Thanks to social media I can keep in contact with many of them much easier than I probably would have otherwise. I also have many friends from all the schools and churches I’ve attended, and neighborhoods I’ve lived in. I’ve been thinking about the friends who are like family a lot… because I lost some this year. I have a very small group of friends who are like family to me. They know me more than anyone else really. It is important to me to work hard to maintain these friendships, keeping the air clear between us, sharing time together, and making memories.

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God and His Son Jesus…and children and widows. – I would have said ‘religion’ but I’m lowly interested in religion actually. … but boy, what a bone of contention the name of Jesus has become in the past few years?! My belief has been a foundation for my life though – there is no shame in that for me. I will not disparage you for what you believe but I want to be a light, a reflection of Jesus, in a dark world.

The Bible says, “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” (James 1:27)

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Health/Wellness: If you’ve followed this blog, you know that I strive to be as healthy as I can. This year was a challenge after losing a significant amount of weight, but I plan to keep working at it. I want to be strong in my mind, body and spirit in order to face life boldly.

This also includes keeping an orderly physical space. I don’t know about you but clutter around my house, also clutters my mind and thought processes. For some it doesn’t matter I know but I want to minimize where necessary keeping “junk” outnof my space.

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You might want to call these four things New Year resolutions, but I don’t. I like ro call them Life Discoveries. One of the best things about being an adult is that you can make your own decisions about your life and you can live out the consequences; good or bad.

Hello 2019! Thank you Lord for breath, life, peace, salvation and hope!

HAPPY NEW YEAR! ❤️🙏🏽🎊

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Christmas Cleanse

For the most part, this is the season where folks are typically enjoying the joy of giving and getting gifts. It’s a happy time for sure, especially for little ones who’ve had their eye on a specific item all year.

 

I’m old(er)… and I like gifts too! More-so though, I like cleansing….or purging. In addition to gift-giving, the end of the year signifies a time to go through my house, life, stuff and purge things that take up physical space and mental space. I love doing this. People think of Springtime as the time to clean and purge, but I like to do it in December so when the New Year rolls in there is physical and mental space to either add … or not add new things. Sort of an ‘out with the old – in with the new’ process.

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against acquiring a lot of unnecessary stuff, but me personally, too much stuff messes with my mind and thought processes.

Even as a child, I was this way. At Christmas time, Mom would hand me the Sears Gift Catalog (remember that?) and tell me to mark what I wanted. I was an only child then so I could have gone bananas picking out things… but I didn’t. I just never wanted many ‘things’, and most things I chose had a function, purpose or learning quality, i.e. a desk, Operation Game, a microscope, art supplies, small jewelry box… things I needed or wanted to learn about.

I’m still that way somewhat. I’m not one to have ‘stuff’ sitting around on tables, shelves, etc. if it doesn’t fit on the mantel, then it usually ends up in the donation box. Knickknacks, a.k.a. dust collectors, are just not my thing.

So, with some days off from work, I got busy.

The purging process is completely overwhelming for lots of folks but I take it in

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chunks; garage, closets, storage box, spare clothes closet, shoe rack, etc. No way would I attempt this all in one day; and I don’t set a hard ‘finish’ date – the only real plan is to make time in 2 to 3 hour sessions and just DO it. Here is an example of the process:

1. Garage: The mess of it was starting to bother me. Cardboard boxes, old shoes, empty yard care and insecticide containers, just stuff. I started here so my hard work could be seen each time I left or returned home. I cut down all the card board boxes to take to the recycle bin; I saved one box though and designated it for things that could be donated. I sorted thorough all things that were just sitting in the garage over the year and tossed a lot of stuff. I swept out the garage and VOILA! Garage done. ✔️

2. Shoes: All that I said above holds true, except when it comes to shoes. I’m embarrassed to say how many pairs of shoes I own. I love them all! 😂…. But I do wear them out quickly it seems. I used to keep them around just because I liked them; it was like I had some kind of emotional attachment to them. Well, I’m over that now – if they are run-over, skinned up, have worn heels, or in my case after losing a bunch of weight they are simply too big (yes, feet lose fat too), I throw them out or donate them if in decent condition (I don’t donate stuff that I wouldn’t even want). Shoes done✔️

Greeting Card Box: For some reason, I keep most cards I receive, in a  ox decorated with shoes no less, lol; I’ve got 20 years worth now. 😳. I decided to see what was in the box because it was overflowing and new cards were being stored on top of, in,  and beside the box, rather than IN the box. Time to purge. 69FACD06-D0D8-4E98-B821-C7CF19A80AA3I had the best time reviewing my life in greeting cards over the past two decades but some of them had to go. I started by determining who they were from. Cards from insurance agencies, or car dealers, etc. were tossed; probably should have been on New Years day. Cards from my closest, dearest friends were kept. Simple.

Then there were cards from people who used to be really close but our lives have drifted apart; I kept some of those. A29A45BE-5C1D-4A7C-AC64-7F11E93EFBAFTHEN, I ran across cards from friends who are now deceased! Boy, did I keep those. Just seeing their handwriting, and hearing their voice in my head as I read their card warmed my heart and made me smile. It also reminded me to cherish my family and friends…. And to keep on keeping cards.💕 Greeting Card Box done. ✔️

 

 

4. Art Supply area: I’m a portrait artist so I have a stash of needed art supplies for my commissioned pieces. I don’t toss anything here but I must organize and take inventory regularly. This isn’t really a purge of things, but a purge of clutter; I stacked and grouped and rearranged. Art Room done.✔️

This is just an example of how I go about the purging process. Seriously, getting rid of clutter, unnecessary junk, etc. feels like it clears my souls. I wouldn’t

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consider myself a minimalist but I do like keeping life simple. My Christmas mantel includes these two little plaques that pretty much sums up my thought processes about life. … Be Thankful and Keep it Simple.

Peace, love, and joy to you! 😘❤️

Life is Precious

It’s a joyous time of the year for the most part …but for some it will be a difficult time. Many people have lost loved ones this year.

I know of a wonderful family who recently lost their father/son/husband, late 50s, diagnosed with a rare cancer just a few weeks ago. I was reminded again how life is so fragile and is but a vapor. Psalm 144:4 tells us this… “Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.”

I am often at a loss for words during difficult times; in spite of deep feelings I have. I am thankful for an outlet in art to express myself and share my heart.

I saw this sweet, special moment in a photo of the gentleman who passed with his only grandson and wanted to do something with it for his wife. As I studied it, I felt I wanted to convey the time, place, mood, feeling, and memory of this photo rather than the exact replication of the faces. So, I attempted to do a pen and watercolor wash to capture all the things the photo revealed to me. When I presented it to his wife, she immediately recalled the week the family was together at the time this photo was taken. It’s just a quick sketch, not my typical style, but I think it fulfilled what I’d hoped to accomplish.

Say a prayer for those who are hurting this season… and go hug your people! ❤️

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Hi …It’s Been a While

It has been a while people! Summer rolled on by as I was trying to ‘get things done’ around here. Now it’s Fall.🍁  And just like I wasn’t paying attention to the calendar I haven’t been paying much attention to my food choices.  Sooooo, 11 pounds later I sitting here like … what exactly did I eat that equates to 11 extra pounds?🤨🧐😞

Really, it’s all good, well, not really good but … I’m trying to say I reacted so differently than I had in the past… which is growth in more than just my weight. Back in the day, those 11 pounds would have sent me spiraling but this time I KNEW I just needed to readjust and be aware…. stop the mindless grazing…but doesn’t this look goooood?… Warm Peach Cobbler from Brookwood Grill 😊.  Tasted good too!  Happy Birthday to me.💕

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Warm Peach Cobbler!

…for the record, I shared this with another person….too much for me.

I did readjust… and have lost 5 of the 11 pounds so far. I had to change something though. For the past 2 years I’ve used the My Fitness Pal app, which I really liked…. just got bored with it and slowly stopped using it, which means I wasn’t tracking, and therefore was eating more. Uggghh!  For me, logging my food, not necessarily every morsel but keeping a general idea of my calorie intake, is a GREAT HELP!

I switched to the Lose It! App.  I LOVE IT! It’s colorful, engaging, lots of little tips and applications to play with…and it rejuvenated my desire to log. I only have the free version too.  If you want to pay…there are lots of additional things to help you.

I have been eating fun stuff that I love to celebrate my birthday month.  That’s over for now…. back to lots of water, lots of veggies, lots …OK,  ‘some’ exercise 😂. I do feel better, less dense. I actually did a bit of a detox to get back on track… it helps a lot. I did start eating these….they are healthy, easy, delicious and not too caloric. There are a few different varieties  all of them are good.

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Well, that’s all for now.

Lesson learned: The road to healthy living has U-turns, potholes, traffic violations, and sometimes a broke down vehicle but road side assistance comes along in various forms; a motivational article, an encouraging friend, and sometimes just a fun new app. 🤗

Peace and Love! 😘

 

 

 

Mending Fences and Building Relationships

Earlier this year I decided I was going to write more about life in my blog posts.  Vessels and Vittles started as a way to share my food-diet-health adventures, which are ongoing but as we all know… life is more than food.

Only problem, my life feels pretty nondescript, and rather average most days; I have a basic cycle of eat, sleep, work, church, draw, fixing stuff… lol… not necessarily in that order always…so I wasn’t sure what I was going to blog about…. until now.

“Come and listen to my story ’bout girl named Jan…”  [Sung to one of my fave oldie shows… the Beverly Hillbillies… lol…. for you youngsters.]

So, a few years ago, what attracted me to the little foreclosed white house on the corner with the overgrown trees and shrubs, was the 4′ white picket fence.  For some reason, it gave me feelings of nostalgia; which is weird because I’ve never lived in a house with a white picket fence. I guess I had sweet visions about a little white house on the corner with the white picket fence and all the wonderful things that would happen inside; like a tv family or something.11A58F99-07A3-4075-9A77-3370F7D89C82

Well,  I now live in this house that I saw … except, over the years, the white picket fence had become mulchy, wobbly, and Picket Patrol was my newly acquired role …. counting how many pickets had just fallen off as I drove to and from home each day.  With any bit of rain, or wind, I could be assured that at least some were hanging, dangling or flat-out on the ground.

One Sunday in December, out of sheer frustration, I took a quick picture of fallen pickets and when I got to my Connections class (a.k.a Sunday School) I asked the class teacher if he had ideas of how I could keep these pickets in place until Spring when I’d planned to have the entire fence rebuilt.

Stan, the teacher, had some ideas, he then asked another couple of guys in the class and before I knew it, they had decided to set up a time in the Spring to come rebuild the fence!  Yes, rebuild the fence for me.  I know… I was sort of stunned too. Really?  OK.  Since it was December, it wasn’t on the top of my list of things to do at the moment.

Let me stop here to tell you about this Connections class before I finish the story.  Anyone who knows me, knows I am an Artist, a bit of a Writer, I like to dabble in computer technology a bit, and more than all I am a Christ follower.  These days, that is enough to gain much slander and disdain, but that is not my concern.  Anyway, a little over a year ago, after visiting/attending several churches in the area, I decided one Sunday morning to just go to one that was closer to my house than the others I’d attended… that happened to be Summit Baptist.

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Honestly, I had all kinds of preconceived notions about its size, cultural make-up, preaching, etc. etc. but when I walked in there and sat down, I immediately knew something was different.  My strategy when going to a new church was to get their much earlier than the service start time so I could go into the sanctuary, before the buzz of members, while it was quiet.  I’d go and sit, and pray, and basically see how things seemed, spiritually.  I’d say within 5 minutes, something in me just said this is where you belong. Seriously, I hadn’t felt that in a long time. As people started arriving, I waited to see what kind of response I’d get.  I was shocked.  Not only were they nice, but also friendly!  There is a difference you know.

By the end of the service I’d met a lot of people, and as I drove home I thought I really like it here…. but I hadn’t planned to go again right way. There were other churches near me as well. Then, I thought about this lady I met that morning with a bright smile and a kind face (my now dear friend, Mary Ann) who greeted me, asked about me, and invited me to her Connections class – they are called the Encouragers.  Long story short (too late, I know)…. I went back the next looking for Mary Ann and that class and that was it. I’ll blog more about this group and the church on another blog.

Back to the fence. A little more than a year later, this fence party is being planned.  I didn’t know what to expect, but I’d learned that several of the people in the class were participants in an organization called Builders for Christ where they go all over the country (and maybe world) helping to build buildings for churches and individuals in need of a structure. That was cool… I had no concern of their skill level or ability to do this project. I figured if they could build a church building then a fence should be a piece of cake.  It was a relief for me… as I had run into several ill-equipped contractors in my day.

Step 1:  I purchased all the pickets and my friends Mary Ann and Corky met me at the retailer and hauled all the pickets to my house, then they came a few weeks later and brought a friend, Sarah, and they painted all the pickets ( I pitched in when I could… I was working that day).  I was amazed by how they did that… .still amazed.

Step 2: Cliff, Corky, Lewis, Clark and Lynn showed up a couple of weeks later and they started building sections of the fence.  I was still amazed when I looked out there and saw the set up, and the precision.  I still couldn’t believe they were all putting in time, effort, and sweat to do this for me.Photo Aug 16, 9 32 41 AM

Step 3: This was fence building day.  Early Saturday morning… trucks and cars started arriving at my house.  I could tell, these were people on a mission, for real.  Folks, I can do a LOT of things but building a fence ain’t one of them. I felt so inadequate; I really wanted to know what I was doing and chip in but no skills here…so I provided the Chick-Fil-A mini-chicken biscuits. 😎

Neighbors stopped by, and even Quincy the dog came to see me.. along with is owner of course.. It was a great time for my neighborhood to meet some of the wonderful friends and see the Encouragers in ACTION.

Well, let me tell ya’ … about 3.5 hours later, the new fence was complete …. and it is beautiful (and sturdy) as ever.

Now, I mentioned Summit and the Encouragers class previously because as I watched this team of people working in my yard (from 9 years old to 80 years old) I almost felt like it was a dream.  I mean, who does that for you?  Really?

I can almost say, this is a life-changing experience. I know, it’s only a fence, but in a world, where division, altercations, hatred, negativity, racism, etc. is rising, I stood amazed by the amount of love that was being poured out that morning. It reiterated and reinforced my belief that family isn’t only the ones who share your physical bloodline, but it is also those who share the bloodline of Christ, which causes once complete strangers to not only worship together, but to share, work, serve, eat, weep, laugh, agree and disagree together in a broken world. These wonderful people are not only ‘the people I attend church with’ but they are brothers and sisters in Christ, these are people I serve alongside to minister and be a witness in a tough world.

Yes, I am a changed person because…. after all the hard work my brothers and sisters put in this past weekend, I can only say one thing….it looked liked a fence but it felt like LOVE. ❤️

Thank you Encouragers! 🤗  Love Overflowing!💕

Peace and Love to you!🌼