Thursday, December 24, 2009

What I Really Want for Christmas...


a corner of my holiday decorated play-room - the first time I've decorated this room for the holidays and I love it!

begin the day with a walk in the quiet morning light
stretch my body, mind and soul with yoga
have a favorite breakfast in my favorite breakfast bowl
then spend time in my creative play-room doing the following:

  • work on a Completion Ritual for 2009, as wonderfully suggested by Andrea Scher of Superhero Journal
  • work on goals/resolutions for 2010, with help from Gretchen Rubin's fantastic tips at her blog The Happiness Project
  • work on a way to incorporate the values of Kwanzaa, a wonderful African-American celebration that begins on December 26 and lasts 7 days; I hope to incorporate those values all year!
  • work on my personal "Treasure Map", recommended to me by my own wonderful Life Coach, Pete Lee
  • create a 3-d 'tool kit' to go with my personal treasure map, mixed with elements of the "Happiness Kit" I read at the blog of The Craft Gypsy; it's a great 'happiness kit' - go check it out!
  • bake a quiche for my lunch-break - working on one's goals/resolutions for a whole year can make one hungry!
  • create an extra 'tool kit' to give a dear friend for a holiday gift - I'll be sharing the elements of the 'tool kit' here soon!
  • create a special house-warming gift for another good friend
  • have holiday movies/music playing throughout the day
  • watch my creative play-room transform, as the sun goes down, into a sacred space where magic is made...


what my play-room looks like at night with twinkle lights shining in the window...

  • conduct my recent nightly ritual of "Abundance Meditation", recommended by my coach Pete - it feels SO right to do this ritual in this space...

another corner of the play-room at night; an old wire dress form like the one my granny had...

  • close the day spending time with my very dear boyfriend, who has agreed to make my first "Retreat of Solitude" possible on this very special holiday...


Many, many thanks to the most understanding boyfriend a Creative Beast could ever have!




May you all have a wonderful holiday, however you choose to spend it!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Glitches gone...for now!

I was having the darnedest time accessing Blogger yesterday and I worried that the last Mercury Retrograde for 2009 might have arrived earlier than scheduled but I am able to access Blogger today - WHEW!

Many thanks to those of you who commented on my post regarding special gifts. I was particularly struck by Mel's comment on different cultures having different ways to decorate for the holidays so I'm very glad that I was able to show a glimpse of what a Mexican holiday can look like. Perhaps next year I'll divulge more about the Mexican culture at the holidays - unless I decide to do a French-themed holiday!

Holiday movies I like to watch...my very favorite is "The Bishops Wife" - Cary Grant is so dashing!

Some of my personal traditions for the holiday includes my Annual Movie Matinee with my dear Wise Woman, Janet. Janet is Jewish and does not celebrate Christmas, but she does love the time that the holiday allows for visiting friends she does not get to see often during the course of the year. Janet and I started our Annual Movie Matinee a few years back so I could show her favorite moments of my favorites movies. We start with delicious foods and there is always goat cheese since we share a love for it! Then we settle in as I show her favorite highlights or funny moments from some of my favorite movies. It is one of the things I look most forward to all year...


Another annual event that I look forward to is the Los Angeles Holiday Celebration. This amazing and FREE* event has taken place every Christmas Eve since 1959, making this year the 50th Celebration. I remember watching it at home as a little girl since it's simulcast on my favorite local public televison station, KCET. One year, I finally went in person since many friends (and a future boyfriend!) were performing in the Celtic Arts Center Choir and I wanted to lend my support. It is an amazing show of amazing and diverse talent that is a real treat to see live. In the past few years this fantastic event has been nationally telecast on PBS stations and KCET is planning a webcast for Christmas Eve! Do try to tune in if you can - you won't be sorry, I promise!


I love "A Charlie Brown Christmas" and my dear boyfriend bought me this gift knowing that - they actually skate to the tune "Christmas Time is Here" by Vince Gauraldi, a great jazz musician


I may be working on a new tradition regarding the new year coming which I may share soon, so stay tuned!



* - have I ever mentioned that FREE is my favorite 4-letter "F" word?!?!?? ;)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Technical Difficulties...

I seem to be experiencing strange technological glitches today but hope to have it solved in the next few days...

I do hope the last Mercury Retrograde for 2009 has not arrived early...

Friday, December 18, 2009

Special Gifts...

I thought I'd share some special gifts I've received from "Christmas Past"...
*** *** ***
One year, my friend Margarita made some really wonderful ornaments for me, with a Mexican flair; not surprising since she is also a Latina like me! She used images from 'loteria' playing cards and light weight tin to re-create the look of hammered silver which you can see on the angel tree topper below...this is what my "Mexican" holiday tree looks like this year.


this tree is currently in the office I work at...

I was really touched when she presented me with this gift of ornaments. I went looking for other ornaments that are used in Mexico during the holidays so I could have a full "Mexican" holiday tree when I'm feeling that vibe. I live in Los Angeles so I made a drive to visit Olvera Street and located many miniature tin ornaments that are common in Mexico during the holidays and I thought miniature sombreros and pottery pieces would be a fun touch. I also located bright colored flowers made from corn husks, which are also common...

I love the detail on these ornaments - Margarita has a great eye!

The following year she and worked on making a batch of ornaments together and I gave away some of the ornaments as gifts. I will always treasure these beautiful ornaments Margarita made for me...

I just couldn't believe the amount of work and detail Margarita put into the ornaments - look at the beading!

*** *** ***
One year I received a candle gift from an individual* who will remain nameless. My boyfriend saw this gift I received and wasn't very impressed by it until we checked it out at his home later that evening since it's a candle that makes noise.

Imagine the two of us cuddled together on the sofa at the end of Christmas Day, in front of his little apartment fireplace and listening to...well, you really have to listen for yourself so I made a little video for you all...I hope the sound comes out okay!





My dear boyfriend was rather horrified by what came out of this candle and I was not the only person to receive this gift!! I keep this gift for the value of humor it brings every year - it really is a gift that keeps giving!!


What are some treasured gifts you've received in the past? What are some not-so-treasured gifts you've received?? I'd love to hear your stories!!!


Many thanks again to the participants of the Donation Giveaway! I may have to do another giveaway like that again soon!


* - To be fair the giver of the candle did redeem themselves the year they gave me this lovely 'holiday treasure chest'; I now house many special ornaments in this lovely chest...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Donation Winner!

Many thanks to the readers who left their favorite charities in my post where I offered to donate $20 to their favorite charity. I am donating on behalf of ANNA who left her favorite charity of the YWCA, East Cherry Hill location. Anna, please e-mail me with your last name since I will be making this donation in YOUR name!! You will find the e-mail in the side-bar of the blog =-)



I'm still having trouble getting into the spirit of the holidays but I was glad to see that ChunkyChooky has been writing about similar feelings - now I don't feel like I'm the only one!


I really liked her post about whether to tell her children about Santa or not. I know it can be a tricky thing and some people have been traumatized when they discover there is no actual "Santa Claus"!



What I find interesting is how the Giving Spirit of the season goes by the name of "Santa Claus" at this time of year, but goes by the name of "Charity" for the rest of the year, as if the Giving Spirit undergoes a gender transformation!! What is that about??!?!




Since it seems that giving has been making me feel better during this crazy time of year I'd like to share something I discovered...



I came across this fantastic e-book at the blog of Seth Godin, when reading at Brazen Careerist the other day. Both blogs can be very interesting and often provocative reading, but this FREE e-book is filled with great little essays. I haven't made my way through the whole collection but I really appreciated one of the essays from the man himself on the topic of Generosity, which you can find on page 5. But here is what I loved in the essay the most:




"Art can't happen without someone who seeks to make a difference.This is your art, it's what you do. You touch people or projects and change them for the better.

This year, you'll certainly find that the more you give the more you get."



I think this may be a resolution for the next year!


here's a favorite treat i love at this time year: hot chocolate! mugs from my personal collection

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Saturday...

I will finally get my overlock sewing machine back TODAY!!! It took longer to repair than I wanted, but at least I will have it in time to make some clothing alterations for a possible holiday outfit...


I will also be getting my hair trimmed in time for my dear boyfriend's birthday which takes place tomorrow! Goodness, that reminds me I've got wrap those birthday gifts!!!


While I wrap gifts, remember that the deadline to submit your charity of choice here on the blog is December 13. Did I forget to mention that the donation will be made in your name??


Thanks so much to those who have already left comments here on the blog about organizations that mean something to you
! I hope I see a few more... =-)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Humbug to Holiday Card Stress!

Sometimes I send holiday cards and sometimes I don't - but I always have some on stock so when I have the urge to send cards, I have them handy. And I try to have my cluttered little home decorated by the first weekend of December so I can at least enjoy it until January 1, when I sometimes 'break down the set', as folks in the entertainment field say. For me, though, there are two homes to be decorated: mine and my dear boyfriend's. Thankfully he has an awesome train-set to go around the tree! But really, I try to pace myself so I don't fall into the trap that it seems many people fall into at this time of year...


There are a few folks who are writing about this "most wonderful time of the year" and some of the stress that it brings. I really loved this post by Brene Brown - please go and read it now! Her book, "
I thought It was Just Me, But it Isn't" on guilt, shame and shame resiliency is one of the best books I bought and read this year and I highly encourage you to get yourself a copy!


I also appreciated this post from MagpieGirl since she talks about the things she stays focused on to keep the stress of the holiday season down to a minimum. I love it!



How do YOU deal with holiday cards and decorating at this time of year? Do you go for it all or pick and choose?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Humbug to Consumer Christmas!

In the past few years I've definitely worked on keeping the Christmas Consumerism down to zero, when possible, since I tend to make gifts for my nearest and dearest, with the exception of my dear boyfriend due to the fact that he is a bit of a computer nerd and I know a techno gift is what will bring the most joy. I try to do any purchasing BEFORE Thanksgiving day and avoid shopping malls on Black Friday and participate instead in "Buy Nothing Day", though I actually made it more like 'Buy Nothing Weekend' this year - YAY! I also wait to make any online purchases until the day after Black Monday - I hate the idea of being part of the holiday statistics!! But I generally have most gifts ready for wrapping by the first week of December.

"The Spirit of Consumer Christmas" reappears every year...DANG!


Imagine my surprise when I discovered the book "Scroogenomics: Why You Shouldn't Buy Presents for the Holidays". Written by economist Joel Waldfogel, he does get into some economic lingo but essentially discusses the waste (or dead-weight loss as he calls it) that buying presents can produce at this time of year; and he does so with a great sense of humor! It is a very eye-opening read and the most interesting take-away I got from this book is this fact:

If people had more money at their disposal, they would donate to charity MORE OFTEN

Which of course leads me to ask:

Why don't people fore-go gifts in lieu of donations made in the names of friends and family?



If I did have more money* for donations here is my list of charities of that I like and would donate to:

KCET - my local public television station; I don't have cable so this is what I watch when I'm not watching movies on DVD. It's intelligent and informative, there are great shows like "History Detectives", "Great Performances", "American Masters" and "Charlie Rose" for great late-night talk show. I love my KCET! (they also broadcast an amazing local holiday show, but I'll talk more about that soon..)

KCRW - my local radio station that has some of the coolest indie music going and they play my favorite radio show of all-time...

This American Life - great stories and great storytellers coming out of Chicago, which leads me to another charity from Chicago...

Inspiration Cafe
(now called Inspiration Corporation) - I love the story of how this non-profit serving homeless and jobless has grown out of a little red wagon to their own building, where they now have a culinary school to help people learn a trade that will get them work

And of course, my favorite arts organizations:
TEADA Productions, which I've mentioned here

Highways Performance Art Space and Gallery - this is the place where I got my start in creating performance art and met so many amazing artists


Now my question to you, dear readers is:

What charity would you donate to if you had more money and why?


Leave a comment about your favorite charity by midnight Pacific Time December 13 and I will choose one worthy cause to donate $20 to! I will announce the charity winner on December 18. I'm determined to turn 'Consumer Christmas' on it's head!!!


* - unfortunately, I'm working with a non-profit organization that depends on the state budget for money and if you are aware of what has been happening in the state of California and the budget issues happening here, well you get the idea!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Confession...

an effigy of "The Spirit of Consumer Christmas" I made and burned at a bonfire in November...



I admit it:

I'm a Scrooge at Christmas...



...but I think I'm actually the flip side of Scrooge because I love the decorations, the lights and the music. I love spending time with my very dearest friends and my dear wonderful boyfriend. I love most holiday movies. And I just can't live without viewing one of the many versions of "The Nutcracker" that I own, especially "The Hard Nut", choreographed by Mark Morris - it's so much fun to watch and a great spin on the classic versions.




But I do NOT love the CONSUMERISM that takes place during this time of the year =-(




WHEW! I'm feeling better now that I've gotten that off my chest...



There are a few other things I don't particularly like about this time of year, but I will not discuss them all at once. What I will do is write about certain aspects of this time of year that trouble me, ask for various view-points and then follow-up with what I DO like about this time year, in the hopes it will move me out of my yearly holiday funk*...



Is there something you don't particularly like about this time of the year? How would you change it if you could? I'd love to hear your thoughts!




This idea came about from reading at the blog of Pepper Stitches, who is writing down the things she is grateful for until she reaches 1000, in the hopes it will increase her happiness - I think it will =-)

Friday, December 4, 2009

A Grey Area...

I've been in a bit of limbo due to the onset of the holidays, stuck between the black and white of it all...experiencing the murky shades of grey in-between...




Maybe I'll move out of the black area if I decorate my home this weekend...???