Day 210: Paper Making

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One of the most amazing benefits that I’ve experienced during this year of firsts has been making new friends. These wonderful people have so many gifts to offer to the world and it has been my privilege to learn from many of them. Tonight, I had fun with Cate as I made paper for the first time.

Cate is the first new friend that I made this year. We hit it off right away, having similar views on life and the world, and it is a joy to be traveling companions. Cate is resourceful, creative and lives life at a high level of awareness. I always love spending time with her. This evening, she invited me to her home for dinner and a lesson on paper making. We enjoyed a healthy and delicious dinner, that included Noosa yogurt and fresh peaches for dessert, easy conversation and much laughter. We caught up on what was going on in our journeys. And then it was time to make paper.

We walked around outside first, looking for natural finds to include in our paper. We snipped red and pink dianthus flowers and orange trumpet vine blossoms and dropped them into a glass bowl. We added bright green blades of grass, fuzzy seeds from a tall weed, purple and green poke berries and delicate silvery leaves from a dusty miller plant.

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Back inside, we each selected a piece of paper and tore it into small pieces. Cate saves scrap paper, tissue paper and other left over bits to reuse in her paper making. I thought that was an excellent idea! I picked out a blue scrapbook paper with white dots and added a small piece of lime green tissue paper with silver sparkles imbedded in it. The pieces of paper were dropped into a blender and about three cups of hot water added. I blended the water and paper until the pieces of paper had disappeared and there was a blue liquid in the container. I sorted through our nature finds and added blades of grass, an orange trumpet vine blossom and a couple of purple poke berries. This time I only blended for three or four seconds….just enough time to coarsely chop up the added material.

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This lumpy mixture was poured into a box that had been placed in water and to which a mesh screen, support grid and cover had been attached. This provided a mold for the paper to form in. I stirred the mixture with my hand to distribute the materials evenly and then carefully lifted the box straight up. The screen, support grid and cover unfastened from the box to allow the newly formed paper to rest on the table. I removed the screen and the support grid and began the blotting process, flipping the damp paper and removing the cover so I could blot the other side. I used a sponge first, to absorb as much excess water as possible, and then used blotting papers.

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Lastly, the paper was placed within a fold of material and I used a hot iron to complete the drying process. The procedure was simple but so interesting. I loved the surprise of seeing how the paper turned out, both in color and texture, as I moved from step to step. Cate did a great job of instructing me while allowing me to do it all myself. I enjoyed watching her create her own sheet of paper next, using scrap white paper and a dianthus flower, blades of grass and a dusty miller leaf. As I watched her work, the song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams popped into my head. I snapped a pic of Cate just as she embodied that song, a huge smile lighting up her face.  I failed to get a picture of her finished paper, but it was lovely!

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What a delightful evening and I got to take home my new creation. I’d like to purchase a paper making kit and experiment with colors and textures, using flowers, grasses and leaves from my backyard garden. I appreciated the paper making lesson from my friend Cate this evening and the shared meal and the great conversation. I intend to frame my beautiful piece of paper as a memento of this evening’s first. And perhaps include a quote from Jim Henson that seems so appropriate: “There’s not a word yet, for old friends who have just met.”

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Day 181: Six Month Celebration & Reflection


January 1, when I began this journey of experiencing something new each day, I wasn’t sure if I could find enough firsts to make it through the year. I made lists. I hunted for ideas. And there was nothing wrong with planning ahead! I still check the newspaper for upcoming events and I always have my “antenna” out, picking up suggestions. As June draws to a close, I have made it half way through the year! Today marks six months gone in 2014. If I go by number of days, noon Wednesday, July 2, marks the halfway point. Today seemed like the day to celebrate one of the greatest years of my life!

It has been an exciting year thus far. These new experiences have taught me much about life and stepping out there and being okay with being uncomfortable. Firsts like handing out flowers to strangers on Valentine’s Day and using power tools pushed me to go beyond the fear of being misunderstood and the fear of hurting myself! Many of my firsts have involved family members such as my sisters, mom, children and grandchildren. Aubrey and I sang our hearts out at the Disney Frozen Sing a long, while Joey and Oliver got to have their first outing with me at the Jasper County Sheriff’s Day. My grandson Dayan moved beyond his own comfort zone when he helped me put encouraging notes on random cars in a large parking lot. We laughed as we darted from car to car.

I’ve appreciated how supportive my family and friends have been as they journey along side me while I experience this amazing year. They’ve not only been willing participants, they’ve come up with suggestions and ideas for firsts and they’ve been open to experiencing and sharing firsts of their own.

The new friends I’ve made and the people I’ve had the privilege of connecting with have so enriched my year. I love that the act of moving beyond has brought opportunities to meet people I never would have met otherwise. It has been a pleasure to email with Lu Ann Cahn, and do a guest blog for her. Lu Ann’s book, “I Dare Me” inspired my own journey. I’ve also met another blogger who is having a year of firsts as well. Betty has been fun to correspond with and I often check out her blog to see what she’s doing that day for a first. Although we’ve had a few similar experiences, for the most part, we are doing very different firsts. A link to her blog is provided at the end of this post.

The most amazing lesson I’ve learned so far this year is not to over think or over plan what each day’s first will be. Many times the planned first has shifted or been postponed, for a variety of reasons. And yet, when that happens, another first always appears, and it is always the perfect first for that day! I’m seeing how life flows, and how being in that flow not only makes life easier and more joyful, but more opportunities show up for me as I stay in that open space. It has been exciting, also, to experience so much synchronicity and see the connections that are everywhere.

This afternoon, I had a delightful time catching up with two of my dear friends, Garen and Cate, at Blackthorn Pizza & Pub. We shared about what was going on in our lives and encouraged each other in our journeys. We each had a drink. I normally have a hard cider, Angry Orchard being my favorite. Today, however, they were out of cider. Jason, the bartender, disappeared and came back with a deliciously tart, fruity drink he made just for me. He called it The Cindy. How appropriate, as I celebrated the halfway mark in my year of firsts, to have a drink I had never had before, named after me. And how fun! Here’s to an incredible rest of the year!

Check out Betty’s blog



Day 169: Giving Jars


Today’s first was inspired by my facebook friend, Marva. In several of her posts she told the story of her neighbor and her exchanging a mason jar filled with various goodies. One would give the other a gift in the jar, such as soup, and the other would soon return the jar, filled with something new. Marva didn’t know she was inspiring me….she was just being her delightful self and as a result, goodness went out into the world and sparked creativity in me.

I adapted the idea. Today I created two giving jars, using pint sized mason jars. I filled each one with blackberries and blueberries and tied a burlap ribbon around the top of the jar. They looked cute and they were filled with a healthy snack. As the recipients of the giving jars use up the gift, they can then fill the jar with whatever they want, when they want, and pass the jar on to someone else. This is an act of paying it forward.

The first person I dropped a jar off to was my younger daughter, Adriel. This hard working child is currently taking two summer classes and then has one more semester of nursing school. She has persevered and continued down this path without wavering. She has worked while going to college and then nursing school, so this has been a long, slow process for her. I know she’s dealing with stress, with school and work and life. I also knew that today she was home studying for an online exam this evening. I wanted her to know I was thinking of her and quietly cheering on her. She knows I love her, but sometimes it doesn’t hurt to show that love in a very concrete way.

The next person to receive a giving jar was my friend, Cate. She invited me over for dinner tonight, a lovely, healthy meal prepared with my diet in mind. How incredibly thoughtful! Cate and I enjoyed chatting and laughing before, during and after dinner. She is a new friend, but it feels like we’ve known each other for a long time. We have very similar views of the world and what fun it was to toss ideas and stories back and forth. I know Cate will surprise someone else with the giving jar, and enjoy doing it.  I look forward to our continuing friendship as we journey together. I found out as I was leaving that tomorrow is Cate’s birthday! I love how things work out.

This was such a fun little project, that I think I will create more giving jars to give away.  Steve Maraboli says, “Give freely to the world these gifts of love and compassion. Do not concern yourself with how much you receive in return, just know in your heart it will be returned.”  That captures the essence of giving, doing so without a thought of receiving in return and yet knowing love and goodness will flow back to me in some fashion. It’s not up to me to think about the hows or whens. I am to give freely out of who I am. I am open to give, open to receive, open to life.