9 Decades of Looking Good

Today my stepdad Walter celebrated a milestone birthday. He crossed the 90th Mile Marker, on his life journey. My mom hosted a party at their church and my sisters and I joined in the merriment.

9 Decades of Looking Good

As Walter enjoyed greeting friends and family in attendance, we three girls served up cake and ice cream and oversaw guests as they moved through a buffet that featured fresh fruits and nuts. I watched my stepdad chatting and smiling or sitting quietly listening with a half smile on his face, and I thought of the Ian McKellen documentary that I saw last weekend.

Ian, who is eleven years younger than my stepfather, has already planned out his memorial service. Rather than finding the experience morbid, Ian proclaimed the evening of planning one of the most fun in his life. He wistfully added that it was the kind of celebration he would enjoy attending and he wondered if he should have a trial run of the memorial so he could be there while he still lived and see everyone’s reactions.

9 Decades of Looking Good

9 Decades of Looking Good

Don’t we all long to hear the stories our friends and family have to share, and see our loved ones gathered together in our honor? One of the great tragedies is that we don’t get to hear how much we are loved and appreciated while we are here to be encouraged and delighted by it.

Tonight’s gathering in no way resembled a funeral, however it was a gathering of people who care about Walter Kane. I’m grateful he got to enjoy being celebrated and that he had the opportunity to receive love and recognition, congratulations and birthday blessings.

My take away from the evening? Celebrate the people in my life…old and young, those who have traveled far and those whose journeys have just begun. How precious it is for us to know that we are valued and appreciated.

Happy 90th birthday, Walter. I love you. How extraordinary to witness your life and learn from your journey. May you enjoy continued good health and the warm companionship of family and friends. Nine decades look good on you!

9 Decades of Looking Good

7 Day Book Cover Challenge

I so appreciate that this fun opportunity appeared for me late this afternoon, just as I was considering what to write about this evening. Checking in on Facebook, I discovered I had been tagged by my friend Sara, and invited to participate in a new-to-me challenge.

7 Day Book Cover Challenge

Called the 7 Day Book Cover Challenge, the rules are simple. For seven days, post a photo of a book cover on Facebook or Instagram, without including an explanation or a review. Then tag a friend to play along.

I love to read, and books have played a crucial role in my life from an early age on. If I want to know how to do something, I read a book. If I want to deepen my knowledge, I find a book to take me on that journey. And if I want to be entertained, or transported to a place I’ve never been, or experience a different time period, culture or realm, I lose myself in the pages of a book.

7 Day Book Cover Challenge

Books like Eat, Pray Love, the cover photo Sara posted and tagged me on, have shifted my perspective, and my life. I will enjoy mentally and physically sorting through books, and choosing seven that have impacted me.

Beginning tomorrow I will post a book cover photo daily, on both Facebook and Instagram, and tag friends on those social media sites. At the end of the seven days, I’ll share a follow up post and present the seven book covers that I chose.

Thanks Sara, for the invitation and the inspiration. Challenge accepted!

7 Day Book Cover Challenge

Manga Hair – Girls

I felt the creative urge to draw this evening. My overnight guest, granddaughter Aubrey, was in artistic mode as well. She created a batch of slime…in a soft orange color. This child is a slime making whiz. No recipe is used. She trusts her instincts and achieves perfection. Aubrey in turn watched as I worked in my Manga Artist’s Workbook, offering comments and suggestions and encouragement.

Manga Hair - Girls

Tonight’s lesson was drawing manga hair, for girls. Hair is an important feature in manga. It’s used to add glamour and personality and to increase the size of the head, which also increases the presence of the character. Ponytails are very popular for manga girls, as is long wavy hair.

Manga Hair - Girls

The examples provided for the exercise included four different styles. I let Aubrey select two for me to draw. She chose the pulled back ponytail and the long wavy style. Interestingly, she was drawn to the styles that are most popular on manga girls, without knowing that fact.

Manga Hair - Girls

Using the templates provided in the workbook, I added eye highlights, and a hairline. The round circle for the ear, on the upper head, really bothered me, as I couldn’t do much to make the ear look decent. I had to let that go!

The hair was fun to draw, however. Adding hairstyles does, indeed, add personality and differentiates between the two girls, whose features are similar. The girl with the ponytail looks more youthful. The longer hair, worn loose and flowing, adds age to the other girl.

This was an important lesson, in my ongoing quest to improve my people drawing skills. As always, sketching was fun and relaxed. This felt more like playing rather than work, which is what I desire. And, having the encouragement of my granddaughter and the lively chatter back and forth as I drew, made this lesson the best one yet!

Manga Hair - Girls

You can order The Manga Artist’s Workbook below.

I am an Amazon Affiliate and may earn a commission on purchases, at no extra cost to you. Thank you for considering making a purchase of this product, or any other items, through my Amazon link! 

World Emoji Day

From multiple sources this morning, I received info informing me that today was World Emoji Day. I am one who frequently uses emojis, which are tiny pics of expressive faces, animals, foods and other items, when I text or post on social media. I knew I would have a blast creating a post that celebrates these fun icons.

World Emoji Day

Emojis first appeared in Japan in 1999. The 176 images were created to replace the text-based emoticons people used on their cell phones, to express emotions. As text messaging became a standard form of communication, emojis grew in popularity

Apple, the maker of the iPhone, is credited with making emoji use a global phenomenon by being the first to download them on their smart phones. The emojis, which continue to increase in number and categories, are included now on all mobile devices.

Here are Emoji fun facts:

• An emoticon is an expression of emotion created with text. : – ) is a happy face, : – ( an unhappy one. Emoji, Japanese e for “picture” and moji for “character” is a pic. 😀 happy face, ☹️ unhappy face.

• The most popular emoji is the Tears of Joy face.

World Emoji Day

• July 17 is World Emoji Day because the emoji for calendar shows that date.

World Emoji Day

• Emojis are used on more than 700 million Facebook posts every day. On Facebook the most popular emojis are 😂 😍 and 🎂 .

• More than 900 million emojis are sent daily, without any text, through Facebook Messenger.

• In 2015 the 😂 Tears of Joy emoji was named by Oxford Dictionaries as the Word of the Year.

• By mid 2015, half of all Instagram comments contained an emoji.

• Apple announced Monday the release of 70 new emojis, due out this fall. They include new expressions, hair styles, animals, and foods.

World Emoji Day

I admit, I originally used emoticons in my text messages, favoring : – ) and ;-), and wholeheartedly embraced emojis when they appeared on my first smart phone. Almost every Instagram post/comment of mine contains at least one emoji. My top emojis, in texts and social media posts, are: 😊 ❤️ 😉 and 😃. I’ve only recently started using 😂. The Trekkie side of me loves the 🖖🏼…the Vulcan hand sign for “live long and prosper.”

I’m a Snapchat user, because I have grandchildren on that site and they dragged me on there. Through Snapchat I’ve been introduced to bitmoji. These are cartoon-like figures that you make, avatars to represent yourself. I have to say those are fun to communicate with as well. That’s my bitmoji in my title meme above, sharing space with Sunglasses emoji, and me with Tears of Joy emoji below. It seemed an appropriate way to recognize this celebratory day.

It’s all about fun, and it’s all about communication. Happy World Emoji Day!

World Emoji Day

Documentary Review: McKellen Playing the Part

I took myself out yesterday, on an Artist Date. These solo excursions are for the purpose of engaging my artistic side by doing something I really enjoy. The ultimate outcome, no matter what I choose to do, is that I return home inspired.

The choice for my outing was an easy decision. I caught a matinee showing at the indie theater, Bookhouse Cinema, of a documentary featuring one of England’s greatest actors.

McKellen Playing the Part

McKellen Playing the Part is a biographical documentary presented by director Joe A. Stephenson. Featuring footage of Sir Ian McKellen during a 14 hour interview, the documentary includes candid photos, film and stage clips, and dramatizations, weaving together an intimate look at the iconic actor’s life from childhood until the present day. Young Ian is portrayed by Milo Parker, while Scott Chambers plays the part of the actor as a young adult.

The film is unrated, and has a run time of 1 hour and 32 minutes.

McKellen Playing the Part

Beginning with his childhood, we see Ian as the younger child in his family, with an older sister, a mother who was a teacher and a father who was a lay minister. As a boy Ian had no interest in sports. His imagination was fired up by attending plays with his mother. In school he began by performing bit parts in productions and on the weekends he attended the theater, where he was allowed to interact with the performers backstage.

He recognized at an early age that all humans are playing parts that shift and change, depending on the role they must present to the world. He understood too the complex relationship between the actor on the stage and the people in the audience. After a long work day, the audience arrived with low energy, ready to be entertained but also re-energized. Ian saw that the actors conserved their energy all day so that during the evening performance they had the ability to project powerfully into the audience.

McKellen Playing the Part

McKellen Playing the Part

Moving on from dressing up as characters at home to entertain his family, young Ian began his rise to stardom, gaining admittance to Cambridge by delivering a stirring speech from Shakespeare’s Henry V. He quickly moved through part after part, in performance after performance, working through repertory and West End theatre and becoming a pioneering stage star. His first glowing review in a national publication confirmed the absolute rightness of the journey he had set out upon…acting was his passion and his gift to the world.

Taking on Shakespearean roles primarily, Ian made a name for himself. A young Maggie Smith recommended him for the prestigious Vic Theater, however Ian chose an independent theater to invest himself in, working with other upcoming actors such as Judy Dench. By the 1970s he was performing in two productions simultaneously, Edward II and Richard II. Broadway in NYC called to him.

McKellen Playing the Part

McKellen Playing the Part

During the 1980s McKellen came out as gay and worked as a leader in campaigns for equality. He speaks candidly and openly, during the film, about his sexuality, which was something he hid until he was nearly 50 years old. Suppressing who he was affected his relationship with his father to a certain extent, but it seemed to fuel his acting career. Playing a part, he could step completely into that role and pour his heart into it.

In mid life he moved into films, with a variety of parts and mainstream breakouts as Magneto in the X-Men series and the wizard Gandalf in six Middle Earth movies. However, theater always was, and always will be, his passion. Even at the respectable age of 79, McKellen is still delivering amazing stage performances, playing King Lear this summer at the Duke of York’s Theater in London’s West End.

McKellen Playing the Part

McKellen Playing the Part

I very much enjoyed this charming documentary. Close up camera work during the interview portions, capturing Ian’s rugged and still handsome face as he laughed, or grew thoughtful, or chewed on his lip, made me feel like I was right there beside him, listening to his stories.

I respect and admire this actor. My heart ached for him, and tears stung my eyes more than once, as I realized that he has lived a fairly solitary life, devoted to his craft. For sure, his has been a life well lived…and he has poured it into acting, into playing parts. When he’s not on the stage or in front of a camera, Ian visits school classrooms and talks to children about acting, about being their authentic selves, and about pursuing whatever fires up their imaginations. He loves to share a quote with them, from Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring, in the form of a joke.

Ian to the kids: Do you know what will happen if you do not study? Dramatic pause and then, in Gandalf’s powerful voice…You shall not pass!!

McKellen Playing the Part

During the credits, outtakes from the film were played. In one Ian McKellen, winner of many awards over a lifetime of playing parts, was asked what he would say to his younger self. He crinkled up his bright blue-green eyes and thought for a moment.

“Id say to myself as a young man, You were attractive…you were an attractive man.”

He laughs a bit self consciously over his answer and then adds wistfully, “I didn’t know that I was. I never saw that I was attractive.”

He was. He still is. I cried over his answer.

McKellen Playing the Part

Listen to Yourself

I love a quote I came across this week, attributed to Tiny Buddha. For today’s Sunday Short, I adapted the words slightly and created a meme.

Listen to Yourself

Reading the quote, added below, I wondered why I’ve found it so difficult in the past to listen to myself…listen to my own voice, my own heart, my own intuition, my own instincts. As a people pleaser, I was much more apt to listen to what someone else said was true for me, even when I knew those “truths” ran contrary to what was right for me.

Thankfully, a time came in my journey when I chose not to live an outward life that was out of sync with my inner life. This happened as I got to know myself better, accepted who I knew myself to be, and let go of the desire to please others.

Living as my authentic self required inner work that then allowed my outer expressions of self to shift and come into alignment. I’m at my happiest, most joyful and real self when I listen for Divine guidance and then listen to myself, trust my intuition and act accordingly.

Life has become a magical adventure that began with a simple command. Listen…

Listen to Yourself

Bonnie June’s Birthday

My sisters and my Lauderdale cousins began a tradition five years ago of celebrating our elders on their birthdays, both honoring them and enjoying them while they were still with us. During that time, our family has dwindled as we said goodbyes to aunts and an uncle. The last surviving member among my father’s siblings is my aunt June. We gathered today to celebrate her 83rd birthday.

Bonnie June’s Birthday

Aunt June shared a meal with the family, and shared blowing out candles on her chocolate wacky cake with her granddaughter Callie, whose birthday is a couple of days beyond her own. Her face lit up, with sweet and sincere delight and a hint of mischief, as we all sang Happy Birthday.

Bonnie June’s Birthday

Bonnie June’s Birthday The birthday girls.

This gentle woman with the shining soul lost her husband a couple of years ago, the man she had spent a lifetime with as they loved, worked, and raised a family together. Her world shifted dramatically the day she lost him, and it continues to shift. Memories are swaddled in foggy grayness and some of them are difficult to access. She trusts her children to tell her what she needs to know and to take care of what needs doing. Her faith in them and her ability to live in the present, moment by moment, imbue her with a peaceful, child-like joy that is so beautiful.

My aunt’s birth name is Bonnie June, although she has gone by her middle name for most of her life. I looked up her first name.

Bonnie is a Scottish word meaning “pretty”, and was itself derived from the Middle French word bonne “good” as a way to describe a fair, good and beautiful girl. Bonne was in turn derived from the Latin word “bonus” meaning good.

Bonnie June’s Birthday

Bonnie June’s Birthday

Bonnie is an apt name for this dear woman. My aunt possesses a good and generous heart and her beauty shines forth from a seasoned soul, a reflection of a life well lived. I’m grateful for the opportunity to celebrate her and love on her and show her how much she means to the family.

We all hope that we get to gather many more times, to sing happy birthday and share a meal with Bonnie June Lauderdale Aaron. My sisters, my cousins and I desire to live with grace and gratitude, and without regrets. We are doing that by rejoicing in life’s celebrations, as often as we can.

Bonnie June’s Birthday

Be a Maker

This was one of those rare days where I actually had an activity planned ahead of time, that was to be the subject of tonight’s blog post. So naturally, it didn’t work out. I am always okay when the day shifts and plans go awry. I see it as the way things were supposed to go, rather than a mess up.

My day was full. I didn’t arrive home until 8:30 pm, and I had no opportunity to attempt another activity. I wrote and published a health blog post and then, at 10:20 pm, turned my attention to this blog and considered what story to share.

Be a Maker

I opted to create a meme to share, using a lovely quote from Morgan Harper Nichols, one that touches the heart and inspires further thought.

Morgan Harper Nichols is an artist, songwriter and singer who creates around people and their stories. Her song Storyteller has garnered more than a million plays on Spotify. And you know what’s really important to Morgan? Story.

I didn’t know who Morgan was, until I began writing this brief post. I just saw the quote a week ago and was moved by her words. I didn’t know, until a few minutes ago, that what Morgan values, and my word for this year are the same…Story. My curiosity about Morgan and her story will lead me to discover more about this interesting young woman.

I love how when I’m searching for the right story to share…even late at night, weary and wanting to go to bed…it flows to me in such a beautiful and magical way. It undoes me, this experience called life. It calls to me, this journey guided by the Divine. It makes me realize how incredible the Story really is…

Be a Maker

C is for Cindy…and for Creative

After I shared the Vintage Story a couple of nights ago, featuring the crewel embroidery butterfly and the bean art rooster, I felt inspired by these creative family members to create something new. One of my favorite ways to play and create at the same time is to put together a vignette. Tonight I did just that, creating a fresh vignette in the vintage suitcase in my bedroom.

C is for Cindy and for Creative

There were two items that I knew I wanted to include in this vignette: the Butterfly, embroidered by Leta Moore in 1985, and an old book fashioned into the letter C. The transformed Reader’s Digest Condensed Book, from 1983, was a gift recently from my friends, Jim and Kathy. It’s been displayed in my studio. I was excited to include it tonight in this grouping.

Here is a photographic step by step detailing the creation of this vignette.

C is for Cindy and for Creative

An empty suitcase means a blank canvas to create upon. This battered piece of luggage, inexpensive when it was new, is 80 – 100 years old. Oh, the stories it could tell. I use it now to create fresh artistic stories.

C is for Cindy and for Creative

A beautiful old silk pillowcase, with butterfly appliqués, provides a foundational piece for the vignette. It works for two reasons: it continues the butterfly theme and the blues connect the my letter C.

C is for Cindy and for Creative

The butterfly art piece rests in one corner, while a vintage metal tray in the other corner provides an interesting backdrop and contributes to the orange, green and blue color scheme. The dark red topiary in the white crock adds height and balances the left side of the armoire top.

C is for Cindy and for Creative

I was ready to add the book, fashioned into the letter C. I looked at the spine, curious which books had been condensed in this volume. I laughed when I saw The Suitcases. This clever item rests now next to a suitcase. I looked at the inside cover page and discovered that the book formerly belonged to a couple named Bill & Judy. My next door neighbors happen to be…Bill and Judy! This letter C was definitely meant for me.

C is for Cindy and for Creative

The C and a heavy white ceramic bowl join the topiary, completing the section outside the suitcase. I use the “rule of three” often when creating vignettes or displays, grouping three items together.

C is for Cindy and for Creative

Back to the suitcase interior, I wanted another white ceramic piece, to balance the pieces on the armoire top. I used a simple white pitcher, adding light yellow and orange picks with rusty stars. I achieved balance, and the pick colors work well with the other items.

Finally, I added a cream colored three wick candle. It’s important to me that my vignettes include a light source, and candles are my favorite way to bring the light.

C is for Cindy and for Creative

I am happy with this new vignette. This is a totally unique arrangement of items, with the butterfly art, the metal tray, the topiary and the letter C being used in this artistic way for the first time. This is fun for me, creative playing at its finest. I’ll enjoy this vignette until the season changes and it’s time for fall décor.

I’ve glanced at the new vignette repetitively tonight, warmed by the sight, delighted with the way it looks. The letter C reminds me of Cindy, of course, and it also makes me think of Creative. I am both.

C is for Cindy and for Creative

Cooking Intuitively

I’ve always admired people who cook by the “a little of this and a pinch of that” method. That’s never been me. I’ve always cooked by the book, literally, relying on a recipe for satisfactory results, and even then, success isn’t guaranteed. Besides being a first born with perfectionist tendencies, fear has kept me chained to following recipes…fear of failure and just as strong, fear of wasting food if the results are disastrous.

And yet…as my creative nature has asserted itself, the desire to be free from following a recipe has grown. Creative cooking has made it onto many wish lists the last few years. The turning point came when I adopted a plant based lifestyle.

Cooking Intuitively

Being plant based makes eating out a challenge. Until the Joplin area launches more restaurants that offer healthier options, preparing my meals at home is best for me. I don’t mind. In fact, the desires that I have long expressed, to cook more, to learn to cook more creatively, are being realized because of the need to eat at home.

I have learned much the last two years, about preparing healthy, nutritious meals. I’ve relied on Pinterest recipes, some that I’ve successfully adapted, and plant based cookbooks and publications. And gradually, inspired by the knowledge I’ve gained, I’ve dabbled a bit, throwing a few meals together that turned out well.

Cooking Intuitively

In the last month, something magical has happened, at least, for one who has been recipe bound, it is magical to me. I’m cooking intuitively. My body, which has become finely tuned to what it requires for optimal health, is guiding me.

My first creation was the cucumber tomato salad, with diced onion, lime juice and dill freshly picked from my garden. I realize that’s an easy meal…but what is exciting to me is how I created it. I didn’t look up a recipe. I didn’t search Pinterest. I listened to what my body said it needed, and then simply combined those ingredients. The salad is wonderful! I make it a couple of times a week.

What I’ve noticed is that I’m bypassing my logical brain, and receiving info from the area over my stomach called the solar plexus. There’s a reason we say we have “gut instincts”. That chakra is where we feel energy and sense into situations. My gut is guiding me as I cook.

Cooking Intuitively

Last night I spiralized zucchini, making raw zoodles. I didn’t have any jars of organic marinara sauce. I have a recipe for homemade marinara sauce, but it makes a huge amount and I didn’t have on hand big cans of tomato purée and tomato sauce. What I did have was a cup of left over tomato purée, along with a small can of tomato paste, a small can of whole organic tomatoes and an assortment of fresh veggies and herbs.

I chopped onion and red and green peppers and sautéed those in a little olive oil, along with minced garlic. That part was easy enough and very familiar to me. I had a chopped fresh tomato ready to add, along with the purée and the tomato paste, when an idea arose for the canned whole tomatoes. I dumped them into a mini food processor and blended them up. Voila! I had chunky tomato sauce.

When I was ready to add herbs, my brain tried to intervene. Excuse me. EXCUSE ME! Don’t you at least want to look up a recipe to see how much seasoning to add?? You don’t want to mess up what you’ve begun. I did hesitate for a few seconds. Fear of failure, fear of waste coiled and prepared to strike. And then I merrily dismissed the suggestion and banished the fears with a wave of my wooden spoon. I was having fun. I would add a little basil and oregano and sea salt and figure it out by the taste test.

The thrown together marinara sauce turned out great! It was delicious last night, over zucchini noodles. And it was equally delicious today when I spooned it over a plain baked potato. I added a serving of my cucumber tomato dill salad, for a colorful, healthy and oh so yummy lunch.

I’m ridiculously thrilled over these little recipe free creations. It’s big step for me, to be cooking without a net. I’ll be listening much more closely to my intuition, and less to my brain, when I’m playing in the kitchen. I’m excited to see what I cook up next.

Cooking Intuitively