Surrender 81: March Mad…Hatter

It’s been a long day. This late in the evening I’m in the middle of a real estate offer, as I also create my blog post. I chose to write a brief post, and have fun. March Madness is going on in the world of basketball. I decided to go more into the world of the Mad Hatter! 

   

While sorting through treasures in the Arkansas house today, I carefully wrapped up this unique vase, painted by Leta Moore. This porcelain head sports a colorful flowered hat. 

Which reminded me…

…I had previously come across a bright pink flowered hat in the closet. I have not been able to toss it yet. The former wearer of this work of art was most likely Leta’s mother. 

 

Which reminded me…

…earlier this year I stumbled upon a fun new tradition for this year…a black and white picture each month of me wearing a different hat.  I wore a stocking cap in January and a gardening hat in February. I suddenly knew what to do with the pink Easter-type hat. 
 

Which reminded me…

…of the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland, who is actually quite wise in his observations about the world. I can identify with his character and his witty remarks. And he appreciates tea time. 

Which reminds me…

…I’d like a cup of steaming hot tea, right now. And I still have work to do!

    

Surrender 80: Spring Vignette

The first day of spring in Joplin, Missouri was, ironically, one of the chilliest days we’ve had in quite some time. However, periods of intermittent sunshine revealed signs of the season everywhere. I decided to bring spring inside and create a fresh vignette. 

  

I transformed my little entryway table, using an assortment of newer and vintage pieces and a couple of flea market finds. This is a fun activity for me, that allows my inner artist, my creative child within, free reign. 

 

The tabletop features vintage hankies formed into no-sew rosettes. The porcelain rabbit, the little white and yellow flower pot, and the artificial pansies are treasures from Greg’s mother, as is the crocheted doily. I bought the birdcage two years ago at Michaels and the glass globe candle holder and shallow white bowl are flea market finds. 

I love using stacks of books in vignettes. From my collection I have an assortment of colors and sizes to chose from. They are great for adding height and creating a perch for candles or keepsakes. 
  


On the lower level of the table, every item is from the Arkansas house, except for the hand blown glass pitcher, which I purchased years ago. I love the way the cloth balls look, nestled within the pitcher. And why use one little brass basket when two stacked together looks so cute? 

My children will recognize the butterfly painting. It always hung in their grandparents’ spare bedroom. I thought I’d never be able to use it, as that bedroom is where it seemed to fit best. However, I like it right there, on an easel on that lower shelf. The brass baskets and the cloth balls bring out the colors in the painting. 

The artist is R. Styles, who was with Avante Studios, and painted in the 60s and 70s. I haven’t been able to find out anything further about him. The painting has a certificate of authenticity attached to the back. I like the butterflies, which were my symbol four years ago. 

The day has been overcast, and cool, but that hasn’t stopped spring from arriving, in the northern hemisphere or in my heart. The vignette is a creative expression of renewal and hope, of life, and the return of color in my world. That little table makes me smile when I look at it, which is a worthy accomplishment. Welcome spring. 

  
  

Surrender 79: Weston’s Birthday Party

The family joined together this afternoon to celebrate Weston’s birthday. This adorable little boy, the grandson of my sister Linda, turned three on March 16. He chose to have a Minion/Paw Patrol party theme, and why not? He enjoys both sets of animated characters. That combination made his party as unique as Weston is. 

 I love that this hand crafted minion has hair and eyes that are the same colors as Weston’s!  

 
Although these birthdays seem to roll around quickly, I can recognize the passing of time by observing the birthday boy. Last year, he was a toddler, leaving babyhood behind. This year, Weston is an active, smart, curiosity driven boy, with the role of toddler being assumed by his younger sister, Lola.  

He knew what this celebration was about this year, and he was eager to get his party underway. Told he had to wait for his daddy to get home from work, before he could open presents, Weston was content to play with his cousins…until his daddy walked through the door. The moment Daddy was home, Weston was selecting his first gift to unwrap. 

 

 
 

I laughed at Weston’s no nonsense approach to opening gifts. He carefully removed all the paper from each present and wasn’t distracted by the cheerful ruckus going on around him. As he tore the paper away from one large gift, his mom asked, with enthusiasm, what he had received. Without pausing in his gift reveal, he held up one hand and said firmly, “Not now, Mom.” It was a polite response meaning, Don’t bother me right now Mom…I’m busy!

 

 
  
  

I loved what his mom and dad surprised him with. Like many young children, Weston enjoys watching YouTube videos in which small mystery packages are opened, revealing the surprise within to the audience. It sounds strange to adults, but kids love these videos. The mystery packages are often placed in a huge plastic egg and then covered with playdoh. Weston is blessed with parents who understand their child well. He had fun experiencing the egg full of surprises. 

 

 

  

What a special day, celebrating an amazing little boy. Weston is intelligent and wise, playful and mischievous, and a peacekeeper in the making.  If his cousins are being too rambunctious as they play together, it concerns him. He wants his mom to sort the situation out. He has serious brown eyes that perceive deeply. And a dashing cap of riotous red curls. He loves his family. And his family loves him. 

Happy birthday Weston! I love you. 

  
  

Surrender 78: Mad Max: Fury Road

Tonight it was time to watch the 2nd of the eight Best Pictute nominated films. I chose Mad Max: Fury Road. I was a fan of the original Mad Max trilogy, featuring a young Mel Gibson, that released 1980-1985, and I looked forward to checking out this reboot. 

  


Mad Max: Fury Road stars Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Zoë Kravitz, Riley Keough, Courtney Eaton, Abbey Lee, Hugh Keays-Byrne and Nicholas Hoult. This action packed adventure film was written and directed by George Miller. It has a 2 hour run time and carries an R rating for intense sequences of violence. 

Mad Max was nominated for 10 Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, and in technical categories such as sound, editing, make up and costuming. Although it didn’t win for Best Picture or Best Director, it garnered six wins. 

  

Years after the apocalypse, a tyrant called Immortan Joe (Keays-Byrne) rules the wasteland, building and maintaining his motley empire with ruthless rules and slave labor. One of his warriors, Imperator Furiosa (Theron), makes off with Joe’s wives (Huntington-Whiteley, Kravitz, Kepugh, Eatin and Lee). The young women are used as breeding stock, and Furiosa seeks to liberate them. 

Furiosa flees toward her childhood home, called the Green Lands, with Joe and his War Boys in pursuit. She forms an uneasy alliance with Max (Hardy), who has just escaped from Joe’s Citadel, and a young War Boy (Hoult) who inadvertently finds himself switching allegiances.  

  

It’s a mad, intense, perilous chase across desolate lands, with Max and his group maneuvering in a massive War Rig that needs frequent mechanical adjustments. They encounter deadly storms and pockets of survivors scrabbling to live, while their relentless pursuers gain on them. 

This was a wild and fun two hours of movie viewing! I wondered how this version of Mad Max would live up to the original…and it certainly did. In my opinion, it’s a difficult task for any actor to top the brooding, manical performance of a 1980s Gibson. But Hardy gives a great performance as well, relying primarily on facial expressions and well timed grunts and groans. He plays Max as a man of action, with few words. 

  

The real hero of this story is Furiosa, played brilliantly by Theron. She perfected “the look” that can stop a truck or silence a War Boy. She has purpose, and a plan, fueled by the desire to get her charges to a safe place and return home. And I was pleasantly surprised that the five wives became so much more than eye candy, forming an effective female guerrilla band. 

Having last watched The Martian, I found it interesting that both of these movies deal with survival. One man, alone, must use ingenuity to survive on a hostile planet. The other struggles to survive among hostile people on a planet that has become almost inhabitable. There are lessons to learn from both films. 

After two hours of nonstop action, Mad Max: Fury Road ends nicely set up for a sequel. I look forward to the next adventure featuring Max Rockatansky. Let me catch my breath first! 

  

Surrender 77: The Drinking of the Green…Celery Juice

I was intrigued when I came across an article by Anthony William, the Medical Medium, about the health benefits of drinking celery juice. I normally add celery to my green drink, however, I’ve never used celery only to create the juice. With today being St. Patrick’s Day, I decided to try the celery juice this morning.

According to Anthony, drinking 16 ounces of celery juice every morning, on an empty stomach, can powerfully transform digestion and health in as little as a week.

Anthony goes on to share the following info:

“Celery juice has anti-inflammatory properties which makes it extremely beneficial for people suffering from autoimmune conditions such as Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Migraines, Vertigo, IBS, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriasis, Eczema, Acne, Lupus, Guillain-Barre, Sarcoidosis, Raynaud’s, Meniere’s, GERD, Bursitis, Restless Leg Syndrome, and Gout.

This green juice is also very alkaline and helps to prevent and counteract acid reflux, acidosis, high blood pressure, joint pain, ringing in ears, tingling and numbness, hot flashes, blurry eyes, headaches, heart palpitations, edema, heartburn, fatigue, dizziness, muscle cramps, sleep issues, constipation, and bloating. It also helps to purify the bloodstream, aid in digestion, relax the nerves, reduce blood pressure, and clear up skin problems. Celery contains compounds called coumarins which are known to enhance the activity of certain white blood cells and support the vascular system.

Celery juice is rich in organic sodium content and has the ability to dislodge calcium deposits from the joints and hold them in solution until they can be eliminated safely from the kidneys. It is also an effective natural diuretic and has ample ability to flush toxins out of the body which makes it excellent to use on any weight loss program.”

That’s a lot of health benefits from this one green vegetable! I used almost one bunch of celery, processing it through my juicer, to obtain 16 ounces of juice. The bright green juice was refreshing and light. What did it taste like? It tasted like celery…without cheese or peanut butter!

If the taste is too strong, cucumber or apple can be added. However, Anthony says those additions dilute the juice and lessen its effectiveness somewhat. I didn’t mind the taste at all. And I often crave alkaline foods, which is my body’s way of taking care of itself.

My intention is to drink celery juice every morning, after my warm lemon water, for a week. I’ll share later any changes or improvements that I note. It was a great St. Patrick’s Day kick off today. Cheers!

Surrender 76: Vintage Handkerchiefs  

I confess I have a fondness for old linens. Vintage doilies, tablecloths, kitchen towels, pillowcases and hankies catch my eye at flea markets and yard sales. I have a delicate handkerchief that belonged to my great-grandma Cynthi that I cherish. And an assortment of old linens that Greg’s mother gave me years ago. 

 Grandma Cynthi’s hankie 

Image my delight recently when I discovered a stash of vintage handkerchiefs tucked away in a dresser drawer in the Arkansas house. They most likely belonged to Leta’s mother, as I never saw Mom Moore use a hankie. 

 Freshly laundered vintage hankies 

I was excited to bring this find home. I’ve been pondering what to do with them. I enjoy having vintage items on display. I appreciate the beauty of the pieces and I love the connection that I feel to the previous owners. I may temporarily store items or move them around the house, but I don’t like to keep them out of sight for long. 

 

Tonight I turned to Pinterest for inspiration and tried a few ideas. I tucked the handkerchiefs loosely into a ceramic pitcher, creating a frothy bouquet. 

 
Next I made simple no-sew rosettes. I liked the look! And they were easy to create. 

  Fold hankie in half, creating a triangle. 

 Roll up

  Starting at one end, wind into a circle 

 
I tried displaying the hankie rosettes in a vintage hand-blown glass pitcher. The handkerchiefs looked lovely. I think I need at least 8-10 more rosettes though. I feel sure I can find more old hankies this summer, to add to my collection. 

For now, I like the rosettes in the shallow white bowl. Over the next few days, as I have time, the vintage hankies will be featured in a new vignette on my little entry table. I’ll have fun trying out different items together, many of which have come from Arkansas, to create a fresh look for spring. Stay tuned!

  
   

  

Surrender 75: Power Poses

My book club met tonight, and we tried something different. We are in between books, and rather than dive right into another tome, we decided to all watch the same TED talk and discuss it this evening. 

Karen suggested Amy Cuddy’s talk, “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are”. There’s a link to the talk at the end of the blog post. I’m familiar with the nuances of body language. I’m an observer of people and read them well, studying body language, words, subtle energy and using my intuition, which truly does serve as an extra sense. Amy’s talk, however, inspired new thoughts and confirmed some realizations about myself that I  uncovered as I’ve journeyed. 

  
Amy Cuddy is a social psychologist, author and lecturer known for her extensive research on stereotyping and discrimination, emotions, power, nonverbal behavior, and the effects of social stimuli on hormone levels. She is an Associate Prof of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, in the Negotiation, Organizations & Markets Unit. Her TED talk, delivered at TEDGlobal 2012 in Edinburgh, Scotland, and posted in October 2012, has been viewed more than 27 million times and ranks second among the most-viewed TED talks. 

  
Amy delivers a fascinating 21 minute talk focusing on the strong or weak poses we adopt as we interact with others. As shown in the graphic above, high power poses are open, making the person appear larger than they are. The low power poses close off the person, making them appear to shrink and grow smaller. Amy discovered that in job interviews those exhibiting high power poses were much more likely to be hired than those in low power poses. 

 

I especially appreciated what Amy went on to share. Not only does our body language affect others, sending a signal, it affects how we perceive ourselves. Scientific studies revealed that when a high power pose was held for as little as two minutes, changes occurred in the body that could be measured chemically. In males and females, holding a high power pose increases testosterone, decreases cortisol (the stress hormone), increases appetite for risk, and causes better performance in job interviews. Holding a low power pose has the opposite effect. 
 

I know I adopted using low power poses early in my life. I held a pillow in front of me if I was seated anywhere near one. I crossed my arms in front of my chest, held a hand in front of my throat, curled up tightly on the sofa. All these poses were intended to make me small, invisible, unnoticed. 

I see how these poses enhanced or minimized at an energetic level. Holding a pillow blocked and protected my solar plexus chakra, which is my main sensing center and where my feelings about myself are housed. Shielding the front of my neck cut off my throat chakra, silencing my voice. Crossing my arms over my chest closed off my heart chakra. I’ve had to unlearn that behavior the past seven years, opening up, allowing who I am to be. 

 

In sharp contrast are my grandchildren, who naturally display high power poses. I spent a couple of hours with my granddaughter Aubrey today, and having listened to the TED talk earlier, I noticed how often she throws wide her arms, or places her hands on her hips in the “Wonder Woman” pose. She is confident, and comfortable with who she is. My grandsons are equally confident in themselves.  

Amy concludes her TED talk with a touching personal story about how she learned to see herself differently as she became aware of her body language. Power poses are not intended to overpower others. They are a way to shift our thoughts, which then changes our behavior and our beliefs about ourselves, which in turn affects outcomes. 

                              Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk

I’m looking forward to striking a high power pose, and holding it for two minutes, the next time I need to make a difficult call, before I stride into a room full of people to give a talk, or even when I’m feeling beat up upon by others and find myself shrinking into smallness. Wonder Woman? You bet. Hand me a cape. 

 

 

Surrender 74: Putting the Keep in Keepsakes

Today was another Monday spent in Arkansas. While Greg worked outside today, doing some needed repairs, I had the inside of the house to myself. The children have taken the items that they want, or tagged the bigger pieces for later delivery. Greg and I have also picked out the mementos that have significance for each of us. 

Today I started the task of the final pass through. Beginning in the spare bedroom, I once again sorted through boxes of items, creating three stacks: sell, keep, throw away. By far, the two largest piles were in the throw away and the sell categories. 

In the still house, in this stripped down room, I felt a mix of emotions. Is this what’s left at the end of life? Piles of stuff that no one wants or needs? I threw open windows and let sunshine and warm fresh air in, to dispel the gloom and chill, of the room and of my thoughts. 

 

I know, in my heart, that Bob and Leta Moore leave a much greater legacy than these boxes of knick knacks, piles of papers and stacks of photos. And those memories and stories and character qualities are passed on to their surviving son, their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  

I sorted through the items, hauling out four more large bags of trash. From that room, I only toted home one small box. But, what interesting items I found. The tiny gold ring, a baby’s ring or a pinky ring, pictured above, obviously belonged to someone. The little wooden frame is handmade. Unfortunately, there’s nothing written on the back to tell the ring’s story. And now, no one to ask about it. Into the Keep Box it went. 

 

My grandson Dayan helped me properly identify this cow bell! I sent him a pic and an inquiry about the country of origin. I was thinking Peruvian. It’s Swiss. He’s such a smart young man. One of Peterson’s world traveling sales reps must have brought this piece home to Leta. Her home is an international bazaar of goodies. I kept this quirky bell too. 

 
This cute little chick, made from modeling dough allowed to hardened and then painted, brought a smile to my face and a tear to my eye. On the bottom is scratched “EM”…Elissa Moore. There’s no date but she was a just wee girl when she made this for her Mimi. And Mimi loved it and kept it. This big-eyed guy went into the Keep Box, to be given to the artist. Elissa was happy that I found him. 

 

I found this unusual item, made of brass, that I had never seen before. I picked up the duck head, wondering where the rest of him went!  On closer examination, I discovered it is a pencil sharpener. That made me laugh. I can use this conversation starter with my colored pencils, and think of Leta every time I use it. 

 

As I was finishing up in the spare room, I picked up one last item. I didn’t want it. The kids didn’t either. It had no value at all. The beach ball, still inflated, had been hidden away, in the closet, for at least 25 years. That’s no exaggeration. My children are all in their thirties. It has been many, many years since they have batted this colorful ball around. 

As I held the somewhat squishy ball, a thought struck me. Papa Bob, or perhaps even Mimi Leta, blew this ball up for the grandkids, long, long ago. I was holding their breath, literally in my hands. Breath…air exhaled from the lungs…synonymous with life. 

In that quiet, now sacred space, I slowly pulled the plug on the ball. Hesitating for just a moment, holding my breath, I squeezed on the beach ball, releasing the air within, releasing so much more. Fearing the air would be stale, I nonetheless directed that pent up breath into my face, inhaling deeply. The air was cold, sweet, with no hint of staleness. 

I stood there, eyes closed, breathing in the air that Bob or Leta used to inflate that ball for my kids. Their beautiful grandchildren. What fun and loving grandparents they were. What precious people who enjoyed life. I breathed in the essence of their lives, spent now as this ball was spent, an empty shell. 

The tears started. I surrendered to them. Releasing tears. Cleansing tears. Grateful tears. It was time to go home. 

  
  

Surrender 73: Wakey, Wakey

It seemed appropriate, on this first day of Daylight Savings Time, to putter in the garden. The weather continues to be warm, and even with the threat of rain and thunderstorms, I surrendered to the call of the outdoors. 

 

This time of year, as spring nears, there is much tidying to do in the garden. As plants die back in late fall, I leave the dry, brown stalks and leaves in place, to mark the locations of plants. Today, armed with long bladed shears and a white utility bucket, I moved from clump to clump, cutting down last year’s remnants and dropping them into the bucket. 
 No need for a garden hat today! 

I love being in the garden. Today I was delighted to see more plants pushing through the ground, waking from their long winter’s sleep. I glanced around occasionally, to make sure the neighbors weren’t watching, as I crooned to each tiny plant, “Hello! You are awake.” I touched the plants, smoothed mulch around them, cleared away debris. I’m very sensitive…to energy, to scents. These little herb and flower plants responded, I’m sure, by releasing their delicate aromas into the still, humid air. 

This is bliss, that I’m willing to share. 

Come with me, on a walking tour of my awakening paradise…

 Clematis 

 Coneflower 

 Lavender 

 German Garlic

 Bee balm

 Iris

 Sedum

There were many more plants stirring in the garden, than those pictured above. I’ve quit being concerned that spring has arrived too early. It has. I’m trusting these little beauties know what they are doing. Like children who sometimes pop out of bed earlier than expected, these plants are awake. I’ll take care of them, joyfully.  

Fat drops of rain plopped onto my head, signaling the end of my garden puttering. I was content with what I accomplished today. I snapped a last picture, of the pair of metal cranes near the meditation area. I love having the cranes in the garden. They are, unexpectedly, a connection to Thirlestane Castle, in Lauder, Scotland. The castle has a pair of cranes that grace either side of the massive front door. 

I suddenly realized that my cranes did not have names. What an oversight on my part. I decided to give them Scottish names. Calder is a Scottish word that means “stream”. That fits a crane well and ties in with my word for this year. And the other crane is now called Ainslie, which means “meadow”. That’s close enough to a garden! 

Calder and Ainslie, thus christened, stand watch over my garden. Cranes are symbolic of happiness. How perfect, as sentinels of this place. 

  
  
  

Surrender 72: The Martian

It’s time…post Academy Awards…to watch each of the Best Picture nominated films. There were eight movies up for this top award in the film industry. I haven’t seen any of them. With great anticipation, I selected The Martian as my first 2016 Best Picture nominated movie. 

  
The Martian stars Matt Damon, Sean Bean, Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Kristen Wiig. Ridley Scott directed this drama/adventure/sci-fi, which is based on the novel by the same name, by Andy Weir. The movie has a run time of 2 hours and 24 minutes and has a PG-13 rating for strong language, injury scenes and brief nudity. 

The Martian was nominated for seven Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor in a Leading Role for Damon. It did not win in any category. 

During a severe storm on Mars, the crew aborts its mission, leaving behind astronaut Mark Watney (Damon), who is presumed dead.  Mission Commander Lewis (Chastain) is devastated by her decision to leave a crewman behind, but she must protect the rest of her crew. 

After the spacecraft Hermes has departed, Mark awakens, injured and abandoned, the sole inhabitant of the planet Mars. To survive, he must use all of the knowledge he has, plus ingenuity and strength of will. He is initially unable to communicate with Earth. He must come up with his own survival plan. 

  
Back on Earth, NASA realizes that Mark is alive, after studying satellite pictures that show the Mars Rover moved from its last known position. An international team comprised of Teddy Sanders (Daniels), Mitch Henderson (Bean), Annie Montrose (Wiig) and Vincent Kapoor (Ejiofor) must come up with a way to keep Watney alive until he can be rescued. 

From rationing supplies, to growing food on a hostile planet, to learning how to communicate, to running possible rescue scenarios, Watney and NASA discover that it takes a world united to bring a man home from Mars. 

 

This was a great, edge of my seat movie. The nerd within me loved all the science in the film. Watney is a botanist. And I enjoyed the use-the-resources-on-hand-to-survive plot that showcased brains and logic and creativity.  
Matt Damon gave an excellent performance as a man faced with impossible odds. The majority of his scenes were acted alone. He played the character with the right blend of seriousness over his situation, and humor in facing the inevitable and making the most of life anyway. Matt deserved his Best Actor nomination. 

  
Having had a year of firsts, I appreciated Watney’s remarks about how everything in his  Mars experience was a first. How true when you are the only person on an entire planet. True as well, for anyone who desires to move beyond his or her comfort zone and experience life in fresh ways. 

I also loved the reference to The Lord of the Rings, especially since Sean Bean, who played Boromir in the Fellowship of the Ring, was not only in this movie, but in the scene when it was mentioned. I tried to catch a smirk on his face. 

I have to admit that I was very on edge watching this movie. I deliberately avoided learning much about the storyline before viewing, and I didn’t know how it ended. I could see several possible outcomes. I really only wanted one. I won’t spoil the movie for those who have not seen it by revealing the ending. 

I can, however, highly recommend The Martian to anyone who enjoys a great mix of science and sci-fi or appreciates Matt Damon and the directorial skill of Ridley Scott.  Can they bring him home? Find out!