Advice Feed

Never Ready, Never Done

Bowl on table

This morning, I listened to a "Love Letter" from Meghan Genge, cohost along with Jamie Ridler, of Love Letters, a series of 32 messages on creativity and more. I have to confess that I've gotten really picky about these free events, since way too many of them end up promoting what they have to sell more than anything else. Jamie is a different story...she generously shares so much good stuff.

Meghan's video chat drew me in immediately; her message one that I've heard many a time in one form or another. But, it never hurts to hear it again, to be reminded of what I know, but I too often forget. 

"You're never ready; you're never done."

I can be the master of excuses at putting creativity off. My mind has so many tabs open: photography, writing, slow stitch, mixed media. I can't begin to tell you how much I've created - in my mind that is. I wake during the night composing a blog entry, working out a photo, and more. Trouble is I'm way too good at finding reasons that I'm not ready. I need my dslr, not my phone. I need my "To Do List" to disappear, because what's on there is way too important and really should be done first, done before I sit down to create. I get in my own way. 

Never done. I do this one well. I love to learn, to research, to explore. As I finish up something, another idea pops into my too many tabs opened mind. It might be a "better" way to do what I've done. It might be something brand new. I'm not idea challenged, but when I sit down to write, the little gremlin, aka inner critic, whispers, "Really? Why bother?" and then gives me a laundry list of why I shouldn't bother, and oh, yeah, remember all that stuff you need to do? Like laundry?

Meghan's advice: Just begin. Just take one step. Then, take another. Yeah, I know this, but again, it's just good to hear it, to be reminded.

I've been working through a mindful photography course with Julie Fischer MeCarter, whose work never fails to inspire. One assignment this week asked us to take a meaningful object and photography it outside of its normal surroundings. I chose my mother's blue bowl, aka the "Cookie Bowl."

Bowl on path

Julie asked us to go with whatever popped into our heads, that it would be the right choice. 

And I thought, that cookie bowl is too big to be lugging around. Besides, it's too cold to go outside.

Sigh. That damn inner critic.

So, yesterday, I woke up to a gorgeous sunrise and the most beautiful light outside my window. Out I went in a fuzzy blue art making stained bathrobe, my phone, a pair of slippers, and at the very last minute grabbed the bowl. 

Exiting through our back room door, I stopped dead. 

Well, crap, it's morning rush hour and I live immediately off of one of Virginia's busiest roads. Not only are there thousands of commuters driving by, but the middle school busses passed by as well.

And, I was the crazy lady in her bathrobe making photos of a bowl. Well, if nothing else, I'd provide a bit of conversation for a lot of folks. 

Bowl in leaves

It's not pretty outside right now, not unless you happen to love brown. I happen not to, finding it a pretty depressing color. Looking around I spotted a grungy looking moose (dog toy), also brown. A few tennis balls, the toy car the twits drive, but not one thing I could see to do with the bowl.

I wanted my dslr (never ready!) but knew if I went back inside, I probably wouldn't come out. I knew I'd get some great shots if I laid flat on the ground...uhm, no. Not going to happen. Virginia's commuters and middle schoolers already had enough to talk about. Besides, that ground is cold!

Leaves. I had lots and lots of leaves. I also had a meandering stone path that would make for great leading lines. 

I went for both, and quickly at that. When I'm shivering, it's hard to get things focused the way I like.

In the end, despite the not readys, I ended up with some cool shots. I can only imagine what my mom would be thinking. You filled the cookie bowl with dead leaves? Girl, you need to see the doctor. 

I love this bowl; it holds memories more than leaves. 

I love my shots; I know what I'd like to try next (never done!), and it will involve lying on the ground and my big girl camera. 

I love how I learned to look at the bowl differently; placing it out of context does that.

I love the stories my photos tell.

I like that I did some thinking "outside the box." 

Most of all, I like that I didn't just write this in my head.

 


Old Men Talking

Brunswick, MD 021

Puff, puff.

Chug, chug.

I think I can. I think I....

Well, maybe if I just stopped to admire this porch, a wonderful wrap around porch, the kind you sit on and watch the world go by, well, maybe I could. Brunswick, MD's hills provided quite the workout.

Just then, a quavery voice rang out. "Hello there, it's a beautiful morning."

I grinned at the elderly man rocking away this February day.

"Hello," I answered. "Hello. I'm just admiring this wonderful porch: I love it. " I didn't go into the specifics of needing to catch my breath.

"Yes, I've been here 8 months now. When I was looking for a place to stay, I saw this porch. And, I thought, this will work. Yes, this will work." He continued on, sharing a bit of his story, and I listened contentedly, whispering a pray of thanks for this elderly man wanting to talk.

At the end of it all, he wished Phil and I  a good day, and we responded likewise. I love small towns for this reason; everyone enjoys a good visit.

Making our way up the rest of that dratted hill, and loving the fact that the return trip would be downhill, Phil and I reached Beans in the Belfry. We'd found quite by accident one winter's day, hoping to visit a nearby rail museum.  Despite its website stating it would be open, we found the building shuttered and dark. In search of things to do, we'd found this coffee shop. Intrigued by the name, and the obvious fact that at one point in history, it had lived its life as a church, we wandered into an eclectic mix of various tables, sofas, chairs, and the most wonderful aroma imaginable. Sounds of a blue grass band mingled with conversation and the clanking of dishes.

And, here we were again, hoping for more of the same.

Phil grabbed a menu, and just as we began to figure out what we'd eat, another elderly voice inquired, "What sort of photos do you take?"

I looked up into steel blue eyes and a very wrinkled face. Leaning against a walker, he went onto tell me he photographed all sorts of things, but mostly trains. He collected them, you see, and he'd been a worker on a train once.

I happen to love old people, and full disclaimer, I happen to be well on my way to being one. Despite my 60 plus years, this gentleman obviously had at least 20 on me.

Phil and I put down our menus, both being well trained in manners, respect, and both of us, lovers of stories. We didn't have a firm agenda, and well, how long could a man, dependent on a walker, stand and talk?

It turns out to be a very long time.

I saw my dad in him - the somewhat rumpled mish mash of clothes, funny tufts of hair in odd places, and the crazy meandering threads of conversation.

Where were we from? Did we come here often? He came every Sunday; he'd been coming for years now, ever since the place opened.

Gesturing toward a chair, he explained he'd written most of his novel there.

What trains had we ridden? He'd been on one that traveled across most of Alaska, a special train just for his group. It reminded him of when he worked on a train, supervising the dining car. He had to get there early, to begin breakfast and have it ready. The bosses got to know him, let him ride in the engine, but he couldn't stay too long. So much of his help was teenagers, you see, and they required close supervision.

His voice often got lost in the din of cutlery, the sounds of nearby conversation, and the live music. My mind kept flitting back to my dad and his love of stories, to all the times he'd converse with anyone and everyone. He wanted to make someone laugh, often reminding us that if you made someone laugh,  you'd done good work.

Most of all, I knew this man needed to be heard; Phil and I took delight in obliging.

A worker walked by, asking where he would like his order. He pointed to the chair he mentioned earlier, explaining that the person seated nearby would be sure to watch it for him.

I think the conversation continued for a half hour before he left us, stopping promptly at the next table with another opening conversational gambit.

Phil and I just grinned at each other; I pointed out that he would be that same type of old man, talking to everyone.

His response? "I already am!"

As we ate, I'd turn around now and then, to check on our new friend, always finding him engrossed in conversation with someone. As we left, Phil reached out to shake the old man's hand and thank him for his conversation with us.

With a twinkle in his eye, he smiled and reminded us that he'd be here every Sunday and would love to talk with us again.

Much to Phil's delight, we found the train museum open, and lo and behold, volunteers wandered about in the form of little old men, anxious to share the place. They firmly corralled us, along with a few others, and new conversations began.

I have to admit, after a few minutes, I excused myself.

I can talk cameras and photography. I can also talk train rides.

Scale and layouts baffle me, and headaches follow as I try to make sense of it all.

So, I left Phil happily engrossed in it all, followed around by said volunteers, chattering away.

Instead, I wandered the second floor, admiring bits and snippets of the past and indulging myself in playing dress up in the kids' corner.

And, I thought a good bit about the elderly and their love of stories, their wanting to be seen, heard, and valued. It costs so little to sit and listen, a bit of time mostly.

I thought about all the wonderful folks who'd given my father that time, and I said a quick prayer for all those who had no one to listen to them.

Old Men Talking.

Probably Old Women as well, but for some reason, I seem to come across the men more often. I've heard wonderful tales told of days growing up as a slave, and how proud one man was to be a house slave after growing up picking cotton in the fields. It brought history home and made it real.

Old Men Talking.

Stop to listen; they tell the best stories.

IF you and I are lucky enough, we'll be the ones telling the stories someday.

And, hopefully, someone will stop to listen.

 

 


Don't Let the Noise Stop You

IMG_3992

We all have stories to tell and art to make, and it's so very easy to let the voices inside and outside of our heads stop us.

But these stories, these pieces of art...collages, paintings, batik, potholders, and more...well, each and every one deserves to come into to being. And, yet if we listen to the naysayers, to the "let's be practical" folks, to everyone who wants us to toe the line in some way, well, most of what lives inside our heads and hearts never comes into fruition.

Last weekend, I listened to Jon Katz and Tom Atkins talk about creativity, most especially writing. Commonalities emerged, and they emerged when I listened to Maria Wulf and Carol Law Conklin as both worked with fabric in some way. These precious bits we need to internalize run right across the spectrum of living creative, not substitute lives.

We need to remember to create for ourselves and to keep creating whether folks approve or disapprove. We are gathering the bits and pieces of our lives for us, to make ourselves whole, and a part of us ends up in anything we create. How could it not?

What we create is important; we need to acknowledge this - well, more than acknowledge it. We need to honor it, make it central to our days. It doesn't need to be huge, it might just be 20 minutes as we can grab them.

It doesn't need to be a huge finished project, but we need to do it, to trust what we have to say. We might go astray, even produce something we think should never see the light of day. (Although, others might just disagree!)

So many of us, myself included, find all sorts of reasons to not sit down and write, make art, sew, etc. Sometimes we're afraid of those external voices judging us, judging what create, or judging how we spend our time. They create so much noise in our head, that we just want to clap our hands over our eyes and give up.

More importantly, it's really the internal voices that stop us. Maybe we don't feel that what we have to say or create is anything new. All of it seems to have been done before, right? So, little old normal insignificant us - well, why bother? It's all been said and done before. I heard this over and over as our groups met.

But, as we began to listen, to talk, to share, we found out that we had unknowingly touched each others' lives in so many ways.

Sometimes, it's okay to put ourselves first, to claim what's important to us. Easier said than done, I know, because you see, I know I've apologized for taking my time to be creative.

We all need to stop this apologizing; we just need to stop. Everyone in our group love how being creative made them feel; we felt joyful and complete. Creativity nurtures our souls.

We need to push the judgemental voices, internal and external, right out of our heads. As Jon told us over and over, "The space inside your head is very very precious."

I'm lucky; I've found my safety nets, as Tom would say. I have so many supportive people in my life: a husband who understands that dinner might not make it to the table at a prescribed time because I lost all sense of time as I worked in my studio. I have Jon and Maria, who gently push, prod, and encourage me to claim my creativity, and even more so, to share it. I have Tom, who listens and then reminds me to invest in me. I have a wonderful sister, Denise, who reminds me over and over to let myself soar. I have family who tells me that what I create is pretty darn cool. I have the Creative Group, who leave positive reinforcement and gentle suggestions about what might make something better.

Plain and simple, these are the voices I need to listen to.

Photo of Mary Kellog and Jacqlyn Thorne, members of "The Creative Group at Bedlam Farm." Both ladies write beautiful poetry, and I am so grateful to know them.

 

 


Not There Yet

Jan16 329 copy

I've been thinking a great deal about the word "criticism;" it evokes such ugly reactions from most of us. We see it as something ugly, harsh, and a putting down of someone else. And, it can be; we've all experienced that sort of criticism.

In fact, when I googled its definition, the first meaning was almost always something along these lines: the act of finding fault with someone, expressing disapproval of their faults and mistakes.

Ouch! No wonder we shudder and shy away from the idea of it.

It was the same deal when I googled quotations, even when I put in the word "constructive" along with the word criticism. Nearly every quote said that I should avoid anyone who criticizes and the fault lies in the criticizer and not in me.

You have to dig long and hard, both in the dictionary definitions and the quotes to find anything else.

But, I really truly and firmly believe that there is a difference between criticism and constructive criticism, and the difference is huge. Henry Weisinger put it this way, "Criticism is information that will help you grow."

One of the tricks is in how you do it, the criticizing that is. It needs to be sandwiched between bits of genuine praise, rather like a sandwich. It needs to be done gently, but if we want to grow, to get better at whatever it is we're doing, we need to open ourselves up to the idea. It might be uncomfortable at times, but it generally won't ruin us for life or kill us. Norman Vincent Peale said it well: "The trouble with most of us is that we'd rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism." Makes sense, doesn't it? Praise always feels better, no matter how well the constructive criticism is given.

Maybe the word  or the act of receiving criticism doesn't bother me so much because I've been in education such a long time. My job was to offer constructive criticism when needed so that my students became better. My bosses evaluated me formally at least twice a year, and they also generally did a weekly walk through to see what was happening in my classroom, again with the idea of my becoming a better teacher. But, always, the good was noted, and then the areas for improvement followed, often with a suggestion or two to help me get from here to there. I participated in many a class or a seminar that touched on this idea, and I know that you don't try to list every single "fault" you might think you see. You chose one thing to work on - maybe using better descriptive words, maybe sentence structure, maybe grammar, and always, always in between several examples of what was "good."

I so often told my students, "Everyone of us can get better. None of us is perfect. And, we're going to get there together." They knew that I liked them, that my words weren't personal attacks on them or their ability. Not that things always went perfectly, because let's face it. My suggestions to them equaled more work! A wise supervisor often repeated that the idea that if everyone of my students made the honor roll, chances we're my standards weren't high enough. I needed to raise the bar, for them and for me. I made sure to bring in before and after examples of my photography. After they finished telling me how good the first photo was, I'd show them the new and improved version. I told them how I struggles with learning new software, and that I sometimes wanted to settle for photo number 1. They knew

We live in a world where it seems like you get a trophy for just showing up. The trophy might vary in its appearance from the sport trophy to the academic honor roll, and its another reason that some of us might fight the idea of criticism. After all, the world seems to tell us, we're all special, we're all wonderful. And in many ways, we are, but none of us are there "yet." We can all be better - better photographers, better writers, better artists. Always, always, always, we can be better, and constructive criticism helps us to get from where we are to where we want to be. And, always, if we open ourselves up to the learning, we get better than what were yesterday.

I know it's uncomfortable to do, especially when you've not had the practice. Trust me when I say that it's still uncomfortable to do, even with lots of practice! I knew that certain parents would need calming down when a grade wasn't the almighty "A." I even knew they might attack me verbally, and most of the time their kids took the criticism in a much better fashion, because I had taken great care to build a room where they felt safe.

And, I know it's work. It takes thought to figure out why we might like something, or maybe "dislike" it for lack of a better word. We have to stop, think, and maybe we're so tired, we just don't want to. I've certainly been there.

So...uncomfortable? Yes, at times. Work? Almost always.

Worth it? Not a doubt in my mind! I love the process of getting from here to there...and as the quote at the top of this entry says, "I may not be there yet, but I'm closer than I was yesterday."

 

 


On the Road You Travel

Ontheroad

The Love Notes are on their way!

For quite awhile now, I've participated in Jennifer Belthoff's Love Notes Project. To quote Jenny, all you need is:

  • 3 postcards
  • 3 stamps
  • An open heart!

Each Sunday, participants get their prompt and messages can written. By Thursday, the postcards are in the mail, and everyone is watching their mailbox.

So much fun - I love snail mail!

Sunday's prompt? "On the road you travel, you will find..."

Postcards can be bought, can be hand created, or anywhere in between. It's the message that counts.

I enjoy creating mine, using my photography, and my unending stash of supplies. I really am working very hard on buying little and instead, making what I have work.

I found the photo first; it's one taken at Luckett's, a favorite place of mine. There are always odds and ends of all sorts on the grounds, including the poor rusted car you see above. That car is now down to one door, which I, of course, photographed! I do love rusted stuff...it's the mixed media artist in me.

I sized, printed, and glued my photos to cards. (I enjoy sending notes to previous Love Notes' partners as well.) Then, I looked at the glaring empty space at the bottom. There was always Washi Tape, but I wanted something different, so I started to dig.

Found it...one rather dated "Manual for Drivers and Compendium of the Motor Vehicle and Traffic Laws" as published by Trenton, NJ. (I do pick up the oddest things at flea markets, and how do you like that for a title?)

You can see some of the illustrations above. Cool, right?

And, as I glued them down, and I burnished them well, I got to thinking how perfect they were, as was the photo I shot.

Flat tires...yes, there are going to be some of those in life. You need to be prepared if you're going to get moving again.

Old people should be given special consideration. Yes, yes, yes. Lots of wisdom there, folks, if we just stop to listen. (And, I am not just saying that because I happen to be heading in the direction of "old.")

Signal your intentions. Oh, for sure. How many arguments and misunderstandings occur in life because we "THINK" we know what the other person/driver is going to do?

Keep your parts in working order. We too often take our bodies for granted, right? Nourish them well, and they'll be far more efficient.

Steer into the skid. We all end up in life's skids. In fact, life has dealt me more skids that my car ever has. Steer with the skid...go with what life is dealing at the moment. Eventually things straighten out.

Always stop for certain vehicles (cop car, ambulance, etc.) Yup, sometimes, we are dealt some "stops." Death, illness, or on a far better note, our kids wanting our attention. Quite simply, we have to stop. Our life, our plans get put on hold for the time being.

And, there are more wonderful little clipped illustrations piled next to me. But, you get the idea, I think.

So, thank you Trenton, NJ, and thank you, Jenny Belthoff!

 


As Good a Day as Any

Day 1

Today is as good a day as any to spend time with a child or with a grandparent...borrow one of either if needed! Both have so much wisdom to share, if we only take the time to listen. It's as good a day as any to begin to understand, and appreciate, another's view.

Today is as good a day as any to slow down and be mindful of life's tiny little ordinary moments that make up the backgrounds of our lives. It's as good a day as any to unplug and to pretend that we've never heard of "multi-tasking." It's as good a day as any to simply do one thing at a time and give our whole attention to that one thing.

Day7

Today is as good a day as any to take a look around us and to check to be sure that we are surrounding ourselves with things and people that give us joy.  It's as good a day as any to scatter reminders - a favorite photo, some fresh flowers, a quote we love on a brightly colored post-it note - reminders that create thankfulness and contentment. It's as good a day as any to spend time with those that bring us joy.

Today is as good a day as any to try something new, to read an author whose work we've never read. It's as good a day as any to taste something new, to take a new route on our way home from work, or to chat with someone new as we wait in line.  It's as good a day as any to reach out and grab onto life's possibilities.

Day9

Today is as good a day as any to pay attention to the dreams in our lives, to think about how we are spending the moments of our days, and to be sure we are honoring our passions. Today is as good a day as any to remember to be patient with ourselves, and that we are works in progress.

Today is as good a day as any to to stop and count our blessings, to look around us and see how many gifts life has given us.  It's a good a day as any to stop and thank those who have been blessings in our lives, and then to turn around and bless others.

Day4

Today is as good a day as any to go ahead and make a huge mess - to bring out the paints, get our hands deep into the dirt, or to have flour and sugar everywhere in our kitchen. It's as good a day as any to not worry about how something should look or should come out. It's as good a day as any to just create what we need to and to realize that the messiness of life is beautiful in its own way.

Today is as good a day as any to stop listening to the crazy monkeys in our minds that keep shouting "You're not good enough!" or "You're crazy to even try that!" Today is as good a day as any to hush those voices and tell them that we are more than enough, and that in fact, we are beautiful beings. It's a day to tell the voices to go take a hike already.

Day8

Today is as good a day as any to be alone, to take ourselves out on an artist's date, something just for us. It's as good a day as any to fill our souls with what ever it is that we need. It's a day for creativity or take a long walk.  Maybe, just maybe, it's a day to take a nice long nap!

 


Hands Out of Your Pockets!

Springsky

Here's to Day 4 of walking! I've been needing to move this body of mine. I know it and friendly advice givers have reiterated it...several times. Mother Nature's provided glorious weather, so no more excuses. I'm hoping for enough of this weather to create the habit; knowing my own inclinations, let's just say that things will go much more smoothly if Ma Nature continues to co-operate. Even though I am thoroughly enjoying it, I can come up with excuses to not walk far too easily.

So, I'm walking. A few more minutes and a few more steps each day. I'm a bit sore, but it's nothing really. Just the devil on my shoulder urging me to "Rest a bit. Take a day off."

And, I'm looking for color, looking for spring. I've spotted a few crocuses, a few snow drops in a world of brown. But the sky has been stunning, inviting me to look up, relax, and breathe it in.

Most days, I meet one or both parts of a lovely elderly couple. Yesterday, they were both out walking - rather slowly, tentatively up a hill. I stopped to chat for a bit; they both smiled beautifully, and the woman grinned at me and said:

"I keep telling him - hands out of your pockets. Stand up straight and watch where you're going so you don't fall down."

Not bad advice on all counts.

Stand up and pay attention; look at the beauty that surrounds you.

Hands out of your pockets; look alive!

And, oh, yes, always watch where you're going. In my case, stop looking up, even though the sky is simply gorgeous.

Or, at least, stop and then look up!

I grinned at the man and advised, "Better listen!"

He grinned back, rather cheekily, and I sensed she had a bit of a losing battle on her hands.

I'll keep walking, and before I know it, spring will throw at me all the color she possibly can. So much so, that I really won't know where to look.

In the meantime, I'm bringing the color inside.

Springabstract

A few fallen tulip petals next to an old blue mason jar. I'm not scooping them up, not just yet. They still have beauty to share, to make me smile.

And, do you remember Annie, my ever so slightly confused Christmas Cactus? Well, she's in full bloom...

Annieinbloom

...gloriously, fully in bloom, alive with color. Thanks, Mom!


IKEA Catalog Wisdom

Oct14 004

The rain is tumbling down, the skies are gray, and I'm sitting here clipping words and images from magazines before they hit the recycle bin. These bit and pieces will find their way into journals, collages, and the like. An old Ikea catalog sits front and center on the stack of soon to be tossed periodicals, a catalog used mainly for backdrop for gluing purposes.

And, as the pile of snipped bits grew larger, it hit me that there seemed to be quite a bit of life wisdom here hiding in the advertising come on, you need this, pile of words. Just take a minute and study the photo...

All of it seems good advice to me; each bit could spark a blog post of its own, and I suspect they just might do so in the future.

But, it's rainy, and I'm feeling utterly lazy, so I'll pick just one.

Inspiration can strike at any time.

Yup - even in the pages of an old IKEA catalog.

P.S. I am working on the cluttering bit by the way. Goodwill and I are excellent friends, seeing each other frequently.

 


I'm a Cover Girl...and a Give Away!

CreativeImageTransferBook

I'm a cover girl...now how much more exciting can life get? Check out the bottom row, smack dab in the middle. Those photo cards and quotes? Mine!

I am so pleased to be in this book; Lesley is a fantastic artist, a superb teacher, and just a wonderful woman. She's been published several times, for her transfers, her gathering of illustrated quotes, etc. I'm lucky enough to be in this round, and I find my work alongside some pretty amazing artists.

Never forget to play and to ask, "What if I....?" because that's how this got started. I had my TAP out to work on another project (art journaling) and thought, "What would happen if I tried TAP on an index card?" So, I sized and edited a few photos, and the fun began.

 

May 13 001

Here are a few photos that I used, and you can see the index card lines on a few of them.

Each card had a quote on the back...a recipe for a good life!

May 13 009

Go visit Lesley's blog here for a chance to win the book. She'll be giving away copies over the next several days.

And, please, just "PLAY!" You never know where your "What ifs?" will take you.


Find a Corner

June14 148 copy

I didn't know he was there. A rather loud "Harumph" stopped me in my tracks, but a quick glance around didn't bring any results.

So, I turned my attention elsewhere, the water lillies and their reflections captivating me.

"Harumph!" he continued.

"Over here," Phil whispered. "Look, he's right here."

Sure enough, he was, sitting there, eyeing me dolefully, seemingly rather disgusted with my inability to immediately spot him. A few more disgusted "Harumphs" sounded.

By this time, on my hands and knees, crawling around, trying to get a good shot, it occured to me to just study him, watch him.

So, I did just that.

He continued to croak; I continued to watch, allowing my macro to act as a sort of telescope.

He just sat there, not doing much of anything, simply resting...just being. He had his own little corner of a rather large pond, leaves offering shade, and tourists walking by to harass.

In the grander scheme of things, he didn't have much, but he had enough. I imagine that by his point of view, he had plenty.

A tiny little Yoda in a rather large pond, he had lessons to teach me.

Stop and look. Really look.

Pay attention - don't be distracted by the first pretty thing you see.

Realize you, too, have enough. In fact, you have plenty.

Rest in the cool shade, but be close enough to the sun to get the light.

Watch the word go by, and just be.

And, then, he smiled...or was it a smirk? Kinda looks like a smirk to me.

Got it?

Yeah, I got it. Thanks.

Harumph!