The Pause That Refreshes: SoCS

It’s time for Stream of Consciousness Saturday, which means I’m also going to get a post in for Just Jot it January. What I like most about this happy coincidence is that I like getting a two for one in a post, AND SoCS posts usually end up being something I never would have written otherwise. So it’s a great surprise. If you’ve never tried it before, you should check it out. It can be really fun! So here is today’s prompt from Linda.

Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: “pause/paws.”  Use one, use both, use ’em any way you’d like. Have fun!

When I saw this prompt, I couldn’t help think of the Coca-Cola commercial with the slogan “The Pause That Refreshes.” (OK, so I date myself.)

Refreshing or not, it’s time for a pause. Following the holidays, and all those reindeer paws and Santa Claus and shopping and festivities, a break is what most of us need. There is something to be said for that week between the holidays when people comment about not knowing what day it is because schedules as we typically know them during the rest of the year simply don’t exist. Many of us can just move through those days and catch our breath. The pause might actually be refreshing if it weren’t for all the hoopla leading up to the holidays, along with the reality of heading back to reality as soon as we recover from our New Year’s revelry (if we partake in such revelry and IF we’ve recovered by the time said reality sets in).

Still, the pause is something we look forward to, often hoping in vain that we will be more organized, less stressed, and full of contentment and good tidings. For many, the pause itself is an illusion, as we trade the crazy schedules and expectations of the holidays for the crazy schedules and expectations of the day-to-day routines we manage through the rest of the year.

One of the great things about Taiwan is that I was able to step out of the holiday tradition as I experienced it all my life. I experienced a different kind of pause because of the cultural differences. Although Christmas will be a holiday of sorts in 2016 in Taiwan, it wasn’t during the six years I was there. I have actually taught classes on Christmas Day, and Christmas Eve, and the days leading up to New Year’s (although that day was a holiday for different reasons). It isn’t until exams are finished and graded, and final grades submitted, that the holiday pause happened.

year-of-the-goat-cartoon_23-2147503522

The semesters in Taiwan are 18 weeks long, and while classes start a week or two later than they do here in the States, they don’t finish until the first or second week of January. Sometimes exams can sneak into the third week. THEN we have our semester break, with a three to four week break before the second semester starts following Chinese New Year. 2015 issued in the Year of the Goat.

In some ways, the preparations for festivities surrounding Chinese New Year are the same as the Christmas season for those who celebrate it. People plan their meals, clean their houses, pick up gifts. But in other ways, there are major differences. Where you celebrate each day of the Chinese New Year is proscribed, depending on how close you follow the ancient traditions. And while many people look forward to Chinese New Year’s Eve dinners based on the male’s family, and the reunion luncheons and dinners the following day based on the female’s family, it’s the same level of stress and activity that we experience on this side of the world.

I was fortunate to be invited to various Chinese New Year’s celebrations of various kinds, and I found that the sense of pause and catching one’s breath wasn’t really there. On the other hand, for someone like me, who only accepts a few invitations and picks up gifts for the hosts of the events I attend, the season is one where I can at least catch up on projects I’m behind on, even if it’s not a true pause. But occasionally, I was able to steal away hours and sometimes a few days to truly pause and recharge my batteries. It was during those semester breaks in Taiwan where most of my quilting time happened. I later learned to sneak it in other places, but CNY worked for me. I suspect though that it was largely due to the fact that it wasn’t MY holiday.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABeing in Taiwan resulted in a huge shift in the way I approach Christmas. During my six years there, I sent greetings to family and friends, but aside from grandchildren, I didn’t do gifts. I invited students over to the house for a meal. I let them put up the tree, and we exchanged small gifts and ornaments, and they asked questions about the way Christmas was celebrated in America. But aside from that, it was business as usual, and we worked these gatherings around classes.

My first Christmas back in the States has been more of a pause than it would have been before my time in Taiwan, but as I reinvent myself in 2016, I have a feeling that Christmas will take on a new look as well, a space in time where I can truly pause and recharge my batteries and live in the moment of the season without getting wrapped up in the unnecessary trimmings.

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This post is part of SoCS and JusJoJan. Join us. You can check out the rules and the other participants for either or both of these events Linda’s blog.

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Chinese New Year’s Eve in Taiwan: Locked in a Coffee Shop

chinese-new-year-2015_23-2147502883Today is Chinese New Year’s Eve. As evening approaches, the majority of businesses, restaurants, and other establishments will close and remain that way tomorrow and even into the following day. Places like schools are off longer. My university, for example, starts back on Wednesday next week. (Technically, the holiday lasts all the way to the 15th day of the new month, concluding with the Lantern Festival.) Now, that doesn’t mean EVERYTHING is closed. But other than the fireworks that will pick up in the next few hours, things will get pretty quiet. Many of the people in this area actually travel south to join their extended family for reunion dinners (on the husband’s side of the family) and then lunch with the wife’s family on the second day.

Now that you know that, I’ll tell you that I’ve spent pretty much the entire day at the coffee shop that I use as my pseudo office during the semester break. Naturally, I was wondering what they were planning for CNY. It turns out, they wanted me to know their plans as well. So through a couple of my students, they conveyed to me that they would close from 5-9 pm on New Year’s Eve for a family dinner. Then they’d reopen at 9 and stay open until their usual closing time at midnight. (We saw in the January New Year here at the coffee shop, so it seemed like a great idea to do it for CNY as well.)

A few days after telling me about the dinner on Wednesday, they posted a sign on the register and had someone translate for me to let me know they were going to go north of Taipei for the day. So they would be closed all day yesterday (Tuesday), but reopen today (Wednesday). They are also going to be open New Year’s Day (Thursday) and on. On Tuesday, while they were closed, my husband and I went to Taipei to meet a friend for dinner and coffee. So not only did we weather their day off well, I’ll be able to come here tomorrow, when most other places will be closed.

So now, back to tonight. I had (almost without thinking) made an assumption that since they decided later to go north yesterday, that they were NOT closing tonight for dinner. But I was wrong. So at 4:50, I had just gotten a new latte when I finally caught on to what was happening, as the last of the other customers were getting ready to leave. I quickly emailed my husband to tell him he should come right away to walk me home, or that I would come myself.

Through the magic of body language and charades, I was able to suggest that I just stay in the corner of the coffee shop and work here while they went upstairs for their dinner. I was half serious and half joking, but what the hell. Then through another kind of magic (smart-phones and translation sites), the owners were able to convey to me that I was, in fact, welcome to stay here while they did the dinner. They closed the shop, put up a sign that they’d reopen later, turned on some music, and I found myself locked in a Taiwanese coffee shop on New Year’s Eve.

Since my husband had packed fruit and veggies for me, and I have a fresh latte, I figure I am good until 9 when they return. At 9, my husband will join me, and we’ll see in the new year at the coffee shop.

As I write this post, I am nearly halfway through the four hours. It’s been productive and relaxing. A nice mix of work and introspection. It’s been a good day, and it promises to be a great beginning to my last Chinese New Year’s celebration in Taiwan.

Coffee, Quilts, and other things that go “K” in the night

year-of-the-goat-with-icons_23-2147502885Tomorrow is Chinese New Year’s Eve. For the first time in my six years here, we will spend most of the evening in Taipei. We are meeting our friend Joe in Taipei at 3:30 for coffee, discussion of a paper I’m helping him with, and dinner. I should say I’ll be doing the coffee and paper discussion part. Dave will wander around that part of Taipei and join us for the dinner portion of the afternoon/evening. To start the festivities, Dave and I will catch a bus from our neighborhood about 2:30 to go to the nearest MRT station that will take us to the Taipei station where we’ll meet Joe.

As most of you know, I have just over a week of semester break left. Once the Chinese New Year holiday is past, we will gear up for back to school. You may also know that during the break from classes, I’ve been putting in most of my “working hours” at a coffee shop about a half mile from our apartment. I do it because it takes care of a variety of goals and objectives in one fell swoop. Or at least on a regular basis without having to put a lot of time and thought into it. For example, my nearly daily trip to the coffee shop does at least four things for me.

  1. 100_0697It keeps me focused on my work without overtaking my home life.
  2. I get exercise walking here and walking home.
  3. I get great coffee!  ❤
  4. I have an interesting social group here, even though we don’t speak the same language.

OK, now you may wonder what the connection is among all of these seemingly isolated pieces of information. Particularly, how does quilting fit into it? (Coffee fits in with everything. Am I right?)

Any other day, if I were leaving for Taipei at 2:30 in the afternoon, I’d come to the coffee shop when they open and work for a few hours and drink coffee. But . . . . .

THEY ARE CLOSED TOMORROW!

Whatever will I do? Luckily, they will be open the following day, New Year’s Day proper. So I can’t fault them too much. They are, after all, only taking one day, when many places can take up to a week or more. For example, the neighborhood near campus will be quite quiet tomorrow.

mystery quilt fabricSo I decided that since they’re having their day off tomorrow, I’ll stay home and do something else that doesn’t contaminate my home space with work. I’m going to work on some quilting projects. Sure I could work on other stuff, but guess what? I’m not going to. I’m giving myself this gift of time.

The reality is I’m coming to terms with the fact that I can never really catch up. That I’m going to have to rethink my commitments and obligations, so that I can rearrange my life accordingly. In the meantime, I can have a nice chunk of sewing time tomorrow. I’ll be sharing some of the results of tomorrow’s escapades here. I actually feel more excitement than I have in a while. I think it’s a good sign.

 

91 days until 60. 

Ten Things of Thankful: The Quick Edition

TenThingsBannerWe left the house at 6:20 am this morning, and got back at nearly 9:30 pm. But it’s been a good day. And that is something to write Ten Things of Thankful about, even if it’s quick. Details about today’s trip (with pictures) will follow, but it’s closing in on my bedtime.  🙂

I am thankful for:

1. The ticket agent who found us seats on the express train. We just had to change seats once we got to Taipei.

2. The lovely view of the ocean on our way to the Luodong train station.

3. The wonderful visit at the National Center for Traditional Art.

4. The puppet show and live theater performance at the NCTA.

5. A husband who takes cool photos for me.

6. A most amazing student from one of last year’s writing classes who invited us for this great adventure.

7. A most amazing iced latte at a local coffee shop.

8. An amazing breakthrough on two projects that I’ve been stuck on. (This could generate its own thankful list in a day or two if it continues.)

9. Getting a taxi with no wait at the train station when we got home.

10. Getting my 400th blog follower while I was checking email and blog comments after we got home. My little orange guy lit up with a new follower. I checked, and it was #400.

Awesome day!

Pictures to follow.

For now, I’m off to bed!  🙂

265 days to 60!

 

 

 

 

I Dreamed Too Small

IMG_0345Sometimes, small is good. Like our great little dog, who is a delight to have around. I never expected to have a dog EVER, but here I am with a dog that was rescued from the street. She may be small, but she’s still awesome in my book. But not all things should be small.

In last week’s Share Your World, there was a question a gift I’d like. As I will explain in this post, I decided I needed to revisit that question before going on to this week’s questions. I was surprised to realize that even when I know better, I still have a tendency to think small.

When Cee asked to consider what gift we would like to receive (anything). Upon thinking about it for a couple of days, I thought it would be great to have a place to pursue my quilting art and creativity for a period of time in a retreat or studio experience. Here is the question and my actual response from that post.

If you could be given any gift what would it be?

A year-long stay at a quilting/art colony with a fully stocked studio and access to fabric, as well as a couple other artists to brainstorm and collaborate with. But I could still be ecstatic with a month or two.  🙂

But then a couple days later, I was out walking, and that’s when it occurred to me that if I could choose any gift, I really should be thinking much larger. And I got caught on that post. Don’t get me wrong. I love quilting and art-making in general. I love making music. The idea of having a place where I could really pursue those activities is awesome. It’s the second part of the “gift” that I really missed. I mentioned that I would like a few other artists there with whom I could interact. Duh!

Many people have memories of doing creative things as a child. But we often put those things aside as we “grow up.” No time. Or we got the idea that we weren’t necessarily good at it. Or as we got older, we might have been told that there was no way to make a living with that kind of thing. Whatever the reason, we may have pushed artistic expression underground.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI have been fortunate to rediscover some of my childhood passions as well as discover several new ones. I sometimes don’t give enough time and attention to these artistic pursuits, but I recognize their importance. As a result, I want to make adjustments in my life that open up my participation in creative expression.

My dream is to help people uncover or rediscover their artistic and creative dreams. I want to help people to want to dream big, whether it be starting a graphic design business, painting, designing clothing, woodworking, writing, illustrating, creating a unique restaurant, or something totally off the beaten track. Even if it can’t be done all at once, we can take baby steps toward getting creative expression in our lives, baby steps that put us in motion toward the big pictures.

When I first answered the gift question last week, I got so caught in the everyday aspects of life that I forgot to look at my big picture. By not having that in my line of vision, I asked for a gift that was nice, but was still limited–both in scope and in its influence.

My new answer to the question?

If you could be given any gift what would it be?

A residential retreat center with room for classes, studio space, and equipment to help myself and others find space to create and experience art in all its forms. And an assistant to help with all the administrative details, so that I can do creative coaching, teach classes, and explore artistic possibilities.

How often I limit myself from accomplishing what I could be doing by thinking small. The Farther to Go! exercises and materials has given me the tools to change that. I just have to keep focused on the ideas I’ve gotten along the way. If I do, I will remember that the path to a life rich in creative expression is to think big and keep moving on those baby steps.

269 Days to 60!

 

Ten Things of Thankful: Tuesday Thoughts

TenThingsBannerI didn’t post a Ten Things of Thankful last week, but I did have a draft nearly completed. It was called the Ironic Edition, because there were many parts of my life that weren’t going that great, and yet I was still able to find things to be thankful for. Unfortunately, I forgot to save that draft, and when I went back to finish it, it was gone. And I moved on. In other words, I didn’t rewrite it at that time. I just posted something else that day. So here we go, with regular saving of drafts.  🙂

1. I am thankful for all my wonderful friends around the world, but today I’m especially thankful for the two young women in the photo below. Between the two of them, they have helped me in countless ways. They are both excellent translators, so when Dave and I get mail in Chinese or we see a posting in the apartment elevator, one of them always helps us out. They also translate take-out menus and the Chinese words in the photos Dave takes at the stores when he wants to know the details about something before he buys.

100_0642Dante (on the left) was part of the fabric play craziness last week. And yesterday, she showed us around some of her hometown (pictures and details in future post). Today, she sent me directions for my appointment (see #2) when I left my map at home. During the school year, she comes over one evening a week to help me with paperwork and odd jobs.

Rena (on the right) was my student the very first year I was in Taiwan, and she and I have been friends ever since. She has spent many working sessions with me at coffee shops. She visited the ceramics museum with me a few weeks back, and she’s my regular partner for The Shen Yun dance performance that I now attend each year (2015 will be our third time).

2. I am thankful for the wonderful health care in Taiwan, that the majority of the doctors here can speak English (as my Chinese is amazingly bad), and that the doctor I saw today made me feel like we were a team in managing my care. And I am thankful to my friend Jean for recommending him.  ❤

routemap2013123. I am thankful for the amazing transportation system here in Taiwan. I knew that it would be a challenge to get to this doctor, and it was: a bus to the train station, a train to Taipei, the MRT (subway) to the part of the city I needed, and then a 20 minute walk. But hey, with the walk each way, I got my exercise in. I am also thankful for how reasonable the transportation is. If I hadn’t taken the scenic route home–don’t ask–I would have paid less than $8.00 US for the round trip. (The map on the left is the for the MRT. They are still expanding this system, but it’s pretty impressive.)

4. I am thankful for my detour today. Even though it cost me a couple extra dollars (and a lot of time), I saw more of Taipei, learned more about how to get from one part of the city to another, and actually enjoyed the process of figuring out my alternate route home, piece by piece. As a bonus, I got extra exercise AND lunch at a restaurant I hadn’t tried before.

5. I am thankful that early on in my adventure (in #4 above), I decided that I didn’t need to worry about being productive today. I decided to view this day as a gift of time. I could take this day and just enjoy the adventure that was unfolding. I decided I only needed to get two things done today: this post and a little research. Which leads to #6.

6. I am thankful for the Internet and the amazing source of information that is available. After today’s appointment, I had a lot to think about, and being able to get reliable information was reassuring and informative.

kite7. I am thankful for the people who sponsor the challenges I’ve been participating in: Green Embers and the Building Room Challenge; Cee at Cee’s Photography for Share Your World; Indecisive Eejit and Mental Mama for the Cartoon Craziness Challenge; and all the people who pass around the If We Were Having Coffee meme.

8. I am grateful to the people who follow my blog, who read my blog, who comment on my blog, and who like my posts. This blogging experience continues to be a great help to me, and I appreciate everyone who interacts with me in some way.

9. I am grateful for the discoveries I’m making in the Cartoon Craziness Challenge about drawing and the need to practice. That it can be developed, and that it can be fun, and that it’s something I’ve kept on the back burner far too long. OK, I actually kept it totally away from the stove. But I’m glad I brought it back into the kitchen.

10. I am grateful the scraps of fun and hope that I am finding in my life, and for the people who join me and support me in the search.

And I am thankful for Lizzi at Considerings and the others who host Ten Things of Thankful.

 

Another Part of My World

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A photo from my last trip to the Yingge Ceramic Museum, just because.

Since many of you seem to enjoy finding out “more about me,” I am joining in Cee’s weekly SHARE YOUR WORLD challenge. 

Here are this week’s questions along with my answers.

Do you prefer ketchup or mustard?

I don’t use much of either. I use ketchup on the rare occasions that I have a hot dog. Ketchup and dill pickles. On occasion, I might have ketchup on a hamburger, but I’m more likely to use mayonnaise with lettuce and tomato.

I like a little mustard on a ham sandwich and as a condiment in potato salad.

If someone made a movie of your life would it be a drama, a comedy, a romantic-comedy, action film, or science fiction?

Most likely a romantic-comedy, but it would be more likely a musical with several dance numbers.  🙂

If you could be given any gift what would it be?

A year-long stay at a quilting/art colony with a fully stocked studio and access to fabric, as well as a couple other artists to brainstorm and collaborate with. But I could still be ecstatic with a month or two.  🙂

For potlucks or parties do you cook it yourself, buy from a grocery store, or pay for catering?

At this point in time, my husband is the one who makes things when we go somewhere. But my favorite potluck story is from the mid-80s, when I rode a bus to my job at the University of Washington in Seattle. Potlucks were a bit of a challenge because I didn’t want to haul a lot of stuff with me, and keeping things hot or cold, depending on what they were could be an issue. So I came up with my bus-friendly go to dish that I took to every potluck we had while I worked there. It was easy, and it was a hit. It involved the grocery store and assembling it after I was at work.

Peas and peanut salad.

1. From home I brought an unbreakable serving bowl, some plastic wrap,  and a serving/mixing spoon.

2. I left about 15 minutes early for my walk to the bus stop, so I could stop at the grocery store (1 block from grocery store).

3. Pick up three ingredients at the grocery store: a bag of spanish peanuts, a bag of frozen peas, a container of sour cream.

4. Catch the bus to work as usual.

5. The peas thaw while keeping the sour cream cool.

6. About 10:30, combine all three ingredients in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap.

7. When it’s time to set food up, remove plastic wrap, stir to mix one more time, and serve.

Bonus: since this salad was a big hit, it would all get eaten. I would just rinse out the bowl and spoon, and bring them home. Easy!  🙂

 

Thanks to Cee for another interesting set of questions. If you want to join in, here is the link: http://ceenphotography.com/2014/08/11/share-your-world-2014-week-32/

 

600 Days to 60: An Update

Image courtesy of fotographic1980 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of fotographic1980 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Several months ago, I began keeping track of how many days it would be until by 60th birthday. I wanted a way to really pay attention to my life–my goals, my intentions, what I wanted in the big picture. I see 60 as a big milestone, and I wanted to use the time leading up to it to accomplish things that could be celebrated at my 60th birthday party. Yes, I’m planning a party.  🙂

 

It was back on September 25, 2013 that I posted my first mention of 600 Days to 60. Here are a few excerpts from that post.

Several months back, I discovered a blog, 400 Days to 40. Even though I found the blog rather late in her 400 days, it got me to thinking that I might like to try something similar for my next milestone. So I calculated (and recalculated) to find the magical day on which I would launch my new blog, 600 days to 60.

In the end, I decided not to launch a new blog. After several months of maintaining a pretty good schedule with Container Chronicles, I started posting less and less. By September, (when it was time to launch), there was no reason to start a new blog, but just incorporate the idea into my current blog. Back to the original post:

I’ve decided that I’m not looking at this 600 days to 60 as a count-down, but rather a count-up! I want to think of these next 600 days as a journey to find the best version of me there is to find. It will be a process of excavation and checking the foundation, and finding new ways to create and decorate. It will be a time of new keywords and of intentions that challenge and revitalize me. A time of decluttering, revisioning, and finding clarity. My intention is that this journey allows me to find what is important and discard the rest as I move forward toward a life full of vibrant possibility.

Well, parts of that have gone ok, but there is a long way to go. I want to refocus my attention on the original hopes I had for such a project. Over the next few days, I am going to review the posts that highlight the tracking I have done. And reconsider and restate the specific activities that I want to participate in during the remaining days until the celebration. 

The moment is now. 600 days to 60!

It may not be as poetic, but the moment again is NOW!

281 days to 60!

 

 

Feeling Trapped HERE: Stream of Consciousness Saturday (Part 1)

Linda’s Friday prompt for Saturday’s Stream of Consciousness post is “hear/here.” I think I’m going to do this in two parts, starting with “here.”

10530768_10202456215468170_2235054169176470936_nI’ve been struggling for several weeks to feel like myself. The one good thing I know is that I have not been dwelling in the past. And I’m only mildly dabbling in the future — though that is part of my “long-range” planning for heading back to the US next summer. My point is that, for now, I try to be in the present. I try to be here.

The unfortunate thing is that at the moment, here is not an especially nice place to be. I can’t seem to get excited about what to do here. I know this is the best chunk of time I’m going to have for the next twelve months. Yet, I can’t seem to enjoy and explore the here and now.

Luckily, there are moments, when I get little glimpses of motivation and wonder here. And I daresay that those moments might be coming a little more often than they did during the last few weeks. This gives me hope because there are things I want to do in my present here, so that I can make a relatively smooth transition to the future.

I’m not looking for sympathy, or even suggestions. I feel like I’m finding my way out of this. It’s just been a frustration to feel like the moments float by me without my participation. I am not usually this passive — therefore, the discomfort is — haha — uncomfortable. I guess the main reason for following this train of thought in this post is that I’ve learned that these little Saturday exercises often move me to the next level if I let this unconscious part come to the surface. So here I am.

Another reason I can recognize that things are improving is that my productivity is slowly returning to a more normal level. Not quite as good as I’d like, but still — it’s significant. The goal setting I’ve been doing over the past few weeks was supplemented this week by a few “concentrated lists” for a particular day and time. That seemed to make a difference. In other words, I like contests, games, challenges. I need to remember and use that to my advantage, even when I think I don’t have the desire to play.

Because that is the other key: making sure that fun and play are part of my here. It’s important to give myself down time and to really give myself over to the playful side, like when I take time out for Zentangle with coffee, of course (as in the picture above) and a couple finished Zentangles in the photo below.

As August gets into full swing, I’m feeling a lot more optimistic about here, and I look forward to having some fun things to show you in the near future.

You might want to check out a whole other angle of this week’s SofCS with my post about HEAR.  🙂

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If you’d like to join in, please do. It’s a great way to meet new people and see new blogs!

Here are the rules from Linda’s page:

1. Your post must be stream of consciousness writing, meaning no editing, (typos can be fixed) and minimal planning on what you’re going to write.

2. Your post can be as long or as short as you want it to be. One sentence – one thousand words. Fact, fiction, poetry – it doesn’t matter. Just let the words carry you along until you’re ready to stop.

3. There will be a prompt every week. I will post the prompt here on my blog on Friday, along with a reminder for you to join in. The prompt will be one random thing, but it will not be a subject. For instance, I will not say “Write about dogs”; the prompt will be more like, “Make your first sentence a question,” or “Begin with the word ‘The’.”

4. Ping back! It’s important, so that I and other people will come and read your post! The way to ping back, is to just copy and paste the URL of my post somewhere on your post. Then your URL will show up in my comments, for everyone to see. For example, in your post you can copy and paste the following: This post is part of SoCS: http://lindaghill.wordpress.com/2014/08/01/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-august-214/  The most recent pingbacks will be found at the top.

5. Read at least one other person’s blog who has linked back their post. Even better, read everyone’s! If you’re the first person to link back, you can check back later, or go to the previous week, by following my category, “Stream of Consciousness Saturday,” which you’ll find right below the “Like” button on my post.

6. Copy and paste the rules (if you’d like to) in your post. The more people who join in, the more new bloggers you’ll meet and the bigger your community will get!

7. Have fun!

CELEBRATION: Involving coffee, Zentangle, and pork dumplings

Away with the deadlines! It’s time for a break!

I know you thought you were going to find out about my quilting agenda today. And I really do have that post started, but something really different and fun happened today, and I just had to take a break from our regularly scheduled program and share some of it with you.

Wednesday afternoons are usually a time when Dante comes over about 3:30 in the afternoon. She helps me with whatever stuff I need help with, normally related to preparing teaching materials, sorting papers, or occasionally something more fun. Then she has dinner with us before she returns back to her dorm.

Before she arrived today, I had made some good progress on the deadline I’m working on. I wanted to get some feedback from her about it. And afterwards, we headed to a local coffee shop. Normally, we take work to do, but today, it was like–WHO NEEDS WORK?  We need a break! I knew I could finish the last little bit of the project in the morning before the office opened, and the other projects would be better served by having a chance to recharge my batteries. It didn’t hurt that I got an email and had a bit of good news. I was ready for something new and different. Luckily, so was Dante. We took some art supplies, and headed out.

10530768_10202456215468170_2235054169176470936_nWhen we got to the shop, the owner was leaving to deliver a few drinks, so we went and got a table first. I was in a festive mood–very unusual for the last few weeks, but I attributed it to the company and the nice email. We decided to order something real special. “How special?” you ask. Well, I ordered a coffee, caramel smoothie, and Dante ordered an Oreo smoothie. Now, THAT’s special!

The picture at the left shows our drinks and our Zentangle supplies and the beginnings of our two Zentangles. I learned about Zentangle last summer when I was in New Mexico, and I’ve done some of it since I’ve been back in Taiwan. This relaxing art form has no mistakes and requires no real art background. Dante had never done it, but I showed her the basics, and she was off and running drawing. You can find out about it here.

I really enjoy Zentangling because it involves small repetitive movements and little thinking. You don’t over plan it. You make small decisions about which design element to use in each section and then you just fill the space with that element over and over. So relaxing, a great way to de-stress (or to celebrate)! Interestingly, this was the first time I ever used colored pens in this process. While I liked the way it turned out, I wasn’t sure about it while I was actually doing it. I also found that the colors led me to do more thinking than I would normally do while I’m making a card.

We had planned to stop at the dumpling shop next door to get dumplings and and some hot and sour soup to take home for dinner, but the shop owners had taken the day off. We walked an extra block and ended up in the market area where we found another source for our dumplings. We brought our food home and enjoyed some traditional Taiwanese dinner.

Afterwards, Dante helped us locate some dog beds online, as Dave hasn’t found what he’s looking for in the local stores. Eureka! He found one that would work, and at a good price to boot. Dante did the ordering in Chinese, and we will be able to pick it up at the 7-11 near us in a few days.

We also did a little fabric sorting, partly because of something that is related to my quilting agenda. So, we’ve come full circle, and maybe tomorrow we’ll get to that quilting agenda. In the meantime, take a look at the Zentangles we did today.

What a great way to spend a few hours. I feel much better. And tomorrow will be a more productive day because of it.

What kinds of breaks recharge your batteries? Feel free to share below or write your own post and link here to tell me about it.  I’m already looking forward to my next break.  🙂

 

 

 

 

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