Archive | Abundance

Another New Friend


Warning: in_array() expects parameter 2 to be array, string given in /home2/stblake1/public_html/wp-content/plugins/facebook-button-plugin/facebook-button-plugin.php on line 244

Warning: in_array() expects parameter 2 to be array, string given in /home2/stblake1/public_html/wp-content/plugins/facebook-button-plugin/facebook-button-plugin.php on line 246

0314151550Today I walked to the neighborhood grocery store to buy a pie. Usually I walk along the main street, Laurel Ave, but today I turned a block early to walk down a quieter neighborhood street.

About halfway there, I passed an older house with a big yard tucked in between apartment buildings. There was a sign on the parking strip that said “Plant Sale,” but I didn’t see any plants that weren’t in the ground, or any people. So I went on to the store and bought my pie. (Because Pi Day.) (Peach.)

On the way back, I went the same way and when I passed that house there was an elderly woman in the front yard with a handful of weeds she had just pulled. I stopped and asked about the plant sale, and she took me around to the back yard. As we walked along the driveway past a garden that was filled with giant angel wing begonias, various succulents, and ground covers including what looked like a variegated creeping charlie, she explained that she had too many plants and needed to get rid of some.

We went around the corner of the house and there was a fabulous back yard with raised beds with flowers and vegetables, a tiny greenhouse at the back, and planters all over the patio with various black succulents, kalanchoes, and many things I recognized but don’t know by name. She said nearly everything in a pot was available. (Except for the heuchera that she was giving another chance after coming back to life in a new spot.)

I picked out two kalanchoes with bright orange flowers in mustard-yellow oval pots. She said the two would be $20; I said that was perfect, since that was how much I had. I also asked about one of the smaller black-leaved succulents, and she said it was $3. I told her I would give her the $20, take my groceries home and come back for the plants with $3. “No no no,” she said, “you can have that one too for the $20.” She let me take the small black-leaved plant with me. As I left, I thanked her and shook her hand and introduced myself. “I’m Sue,” I said. She smiled and said, “I’m Maria.”

I came home, dropped off the groceries, and took cuttings from my prized angel-wing begonia and dragon-wing begonia. I wrapped them in wet paper towels, put them in a bag, and went back.

When I went around to the back of Maria’s house, she was there with the two kalanchoes in a box – with another small plant tucked in. This one was a vine with dark leaves and bright red tubular flowers. “I thought you’d like this one too,” she said. “It’s so pretty. And I have it everywhere.”

I thanked her and gave her the cuttings, which she loved. When she saw me pick up the box and start to leave, she said, “Wait, are you walking? Maybe I should have my husband drive you home.”

“No, it’s ok,” I said, “it’s just a couple of blocks.” I thanked her again and headed for the gate.

She walked me out to the front and said, “Come by any time. If I’m not out here, just knock on the door.”

I think I will.

Curiosity, Envy and Waxwings


Warning: in_array() expects parameter 2 to be array, string given in /home2/stblake1/public_html/wp-content/plugins/facebook-button-plugin/facebook-button-plugin.php on line 244

Warning: in_array() expects parameter 2 to be array, string given in /home2/stblake1/public_html/wp-content/plugins/facebook-button-plugin/facebook-button-plugin.php on line 246

A flock of Waxwings just arrived in the giant oak tree that shades my patio. It doesn’t give much shade right now, as it has recently lost most of its leaves. I can see them sitting in the branches of the tree, silhouetted against a grey sky. Smaller than robins but larger than sparrows, they are about the same size as the oak leaves themselves. There must be at least twenty of them, and the Waxwings are doing something very odd.

They take turns dropping in waves to the ground. They’re not diving – it’s not quite that intentional. They just sort of flutter to the ground in waves, looking like oak leaves released by a gust of wind.

Then a few minutes later they fly back up to the branches of the tree – which is distinctly un-leaf-like.

They repeat this cycle for several minutes – dropping out of the branches to the ground below, then swooping back up into the branches, only to drop again soon after. In this gloomy almost drizzle, I get only glimpses of their Cleopatra eye-markings, flashes of yellow against buff, and pointed crests.

Up and down, up and down, up and down – to my neighbor’s backyard on the other side of the privacy fence.

I can’t see what they’re doing; I assume they’re eating. But what? What is over there? What have they got that I haven’t got? The neighbors probably don’t even know the waxwings are there, and wouldn’t care if they did. I do; why aren’t they coming to my yard?

Ha! Listen to me. Envy over visiting birds. It’s a fine line between curiosity and envy, between “What is over there that they’re so interested in?” and “What have they got that I haven’t got?” When did I step over the line?

When my ego got involved. Me Me Me. Feeling less than. Feeling self-righteous. Feeling better than. Less Than and Better Than at the same time. How silly is that?

I laugh at myself, then choose to sit back and enjoy watching them and just be grateful for that.

And maybe I will go peek over the fence.

Photo Credit: Ken Thomas (KenThomas.us (personal website of photographer)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


To sign up for updates Click Here.

Still Life


Warning: in_array() expects parameter 2 to be array, string given in /home2/stblake1/public_html/wp-content/plugins/facebook-button-plugin/facebook-button-plugin.php on line 244

Warning: in_array() expects parameter 2 to be array, string given in /home2/stblake1/public_html/wp-content/plugins/facebook-button-plugin/facebook-button-plugin.php on line 246

"The First Thing I Thought Was Beautiful" from Remember to Look Up, Tip #3: Appreciate Beauty

Recently my eye fell on a little grouping of berries and pinecones that I had arranged – one of several still lifes I had composed around my home for the holidays – and I thought about the term “still life.”

I probably first heard the term in 9th grade Art class, when we practiced painting “still lifes” to learn the mechanics of creating the illusion of three dimensions on a two-dimensional surface, experimenting with color, light and shadow.

What an odd term, I thought, “still life.” Technically, the items in a still life aren’t alive, or they aren’t alive now. Flowers. Fruit. But they once were.

Where did the term come from, I curiously wondered. I thought of all the “masters” who painted still lifes centuries ago. The term has certainly existed for centuries, far longer than since I was in Junior High mere decades ago.

What was it, I wondered, that first compelled a painter to capture such a vignette on canvas? Was it composed just for that purpose? Was the artist so moved by something that caught his or her eye that s/he had to paint it? Was it the way the light caught the curve of the apple, the way the shadow fell behind the strawberry, the way the colors of the flowers seemed to glow from within with a vibrance that the artist knew would soon fade? Was it a way of capturing, in a simple vignette, the treasured memory of the loved one picking the flowers, the time spent gathering the fruit, the meal shared? Was it a moment of piercing, unexplainable beauty? Or was it simply an exercise?

Was it something meant to capture the symbology of abundance, of appreciation of the fruits of the earth and of our efforts, no matter how simple?

Or was it simply a place for the eye to rest, to be still in the stream of life?

It occurs to me as I clear away the decorations, the leaves, berries, boughs, and seedpods, simple though they were, to hold the space for the new year and its adventures to enter, that I must remember to create one new Still Life where my eye can rest for a moment before I go on about my way.


Click Here to sign up for updates.

Sound Mass


Warning: in_array() expects parameter 2 to be array, string given in /home2/stblake1/public_html/wp-content/plugins/facebook-button-plugin/facebook-button-plugin.php on line 244

Warning: in_array() expects parameter 2 to be array, string given in /home2/stblake1/public_html/wp-content/plugins/facebook-button-plugin/facebook-button-plugin.php on line 246

Hey!

Hello!

There’s been a lot going on around here lately, which is why this blog has been quiet for a few weeks. That’s no excuse for being out of communication, though. I’m embarrassed to admit it took a friend leaving me a voicemail asking if I was OK and noting that it had been a LONG TIME since she’d gotten a blog post from me to remind me how long it has been!

When I was in college, hanging out with the Music majors (they were way more fun than my fellow Psych majors), I learned about the concept of a “sound mass.” But while Wikipedia quotes Edwards’ comment that sound-mass “obscures the boundary between sound and noise,” there hasn’t been much noise around here lately. Instead, there has been so much going on that it’s like a giant chord with so many notes that it is like a wall of sound with a few themes that have managed to rise to the top like cream. (I know, that’s a mixed metaphor. But I like it.)

So here’s my attempt to share the sound mass with you in a completely different medium, with some of the recurring themes that are weaving themselves together. Lately I’ve been…

  • Working on a big project for a client, requiring a lot of concentrated effort, learning the dialect of that business. I am very grateful for the steady work and an income stream that will help fund the next couple of months.
  • “Vendorized” to work with clients of the state Department of Rehabilitation, coaching them through successfully settling into new jobs and working with my first such client.
  • Talking to an increasing number of people who are comfortable… but uncomfortable. Itchy. They’re thinking, “There must be More… but how do I find it?” There is lots of forming new habits, exploring, guiding, questioning. I am grateful and humble to be a part of their journey.
  • Consulting with several small businesses, providing coaching and consulting. It is awesome fun as they have breakthroughs and golden “Aha!” moments and lots of incremental progress. We’re working on a variety of initiatives, ranging from building new habits to delegating to attracting new customers to articulating core values for guiding the business to building a new framework for employee reviews. Good stuff, and again I am grateful and humble to be a part of their journey.
  • Helping two different friends with big garage/moving sales, paying attention to the dynamics of Letting Go of Things, enjoying the interactions and circus atmosphere of the sales, and enjoying the little community that springs up around a sale and falling in love with people and their stories and blessing them and the money they exchanged for new treasures, feeling gratitude for the friends, the wealth, the fun, the exhausted sense of accomplishment.
  • Wrapping up my tenure as the US Country Facilitator for Sedaa’s Global Brain Trust, a wonderful online community for Organization Development (OD) professionals. I have loved the time I have spent working with the founders and the Global Operations team, and it is time to bring in fresh energies while I focus on building my own practice.
  • Participating in kindred spirit Andrea Lewicki’s launch of her new website, where she explores thoughts about curiosity and its applications. Andrea, like me, believes curiosity can change the world! The Grand Opening was a two day event, with interviews with some of Andrea’s favorite curious people – including me! You can view the recordings for a while longer at Andrea’s site.
  • Launching a Facebook page for Susan T. Blake Consulting, which I’ve put off doing until just recently. But now I have a place I can post short things that don’t quite fit here, and have conversations with people. Come on by and check it out!
  • Working with my friend and mentor, Michael F. Broom, and a small team of cohorts, to create, launch and promote a new series of webinars on managing team conflict. We are looking for someone to take over promoting Michael’s Center for Human Systems via social media on a volunteer or internship basis, so if you know anyone…
  • Noticing recurring themes of balancing friendship and business. Accepting help as well as giving it. Noticing my relationship with money. Noticing what I procrastinate about.
  • Wishing for more time to work on projects I procrastinated on before and have less time for now, chuckling over “Be careful what you ask for.” Wondering, is my procrastination because my priorities aren’t my priorities after all, or am I letting fear get in the way? Fear of what?

And lately I’ve been wondering a lot about abundance, about gratitude, about creating the kind of life I want to live. As I work to grow my practice, trying to make a living and support my clients and the small businesses around me, I count my blessings during these times and abundance is more and more on my mind.

You can see the threads of it throughout my life over the last few years. I talk about the importance being grateful in “Remember to Look Up;” I have been practicing Amy Oscar’s “More of This, Please” for a number of months; I have been reminding myself and others that Everything Is Going to Be All Right. (That’s another story, which I haven’t written yet – stay tuned.) And I have been thinking a lot about the work I really want to do as a consultant and coach, and what I am willing to do to make this little business fly. Thinking about what I really want. How many people really know what they want?

So when Birdy and Mike Diamond invited me to contribute to a program they wanted to develop about living abundantly, because of the synergy between my focus on curiosity and one of the steps in their program (Hint: It’s all about asking the right question), I of course said Yes. And for the last couple of months I have been pondering and practicing and exploring and noticing and writing. We are practicing and exploring not only our material but the practical aspects of teamwork, collaboration, and distribution of duties. Noticing coincidences and synchronicities and being open. Practicing gratitude. Pondering how to invite abundance into my life, developing material with Birdy and Mike and our partner, Nathara, and writing about it over at the Awesome Audacious Abundance website.

It’s perfect, really. Curiosity is fundamental to abundance. There is always more to learn, always more to do. And in our experience, living an abundant life is an interactive, participatory thing as well as a positive mindset. And Curiosity IS an abundant mindset.

So I invite you to pop over to http://www.a2abundance.com/ and peruse the blog posts we’ve been contributing about everything from Time to Money to Courage to Perfection to Magic Carpets and more. If you like what you see, sign up in the right sidebar to receive new posts (or arrange an RSS feed if you prefer). We are in the process of developing a variety of offerings to help people live more abundantly, and you can learn more about those offerings by signing up for the Explorer’s Club at the bottom of any blog post. At the same time, I laugh and am reminded of the proverb, “We teach what we most need to learn.” Come learn with us!

Meanwhile, I’m back at work in the world of Curiosity, and happy to be here! I am looking for more contributors to the next round of Captains Curious posts, so if you are interested please drop me a line at susan @ susantblake . com.

What’s happening in your life? Do any of these themes resonate for you? Please leave me a note below!

Image: digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes