Weekend Percolations:07/18/2015

flowersHere are some favorite websites and ideas percolating this week:

DharmaComics has a new animation that is cute.

I love this story about feeding your inner wolves. Which wolf do you choose to feed?

I discovered the Cozy Minimalist through a friend this week. Join me in simplifying your home and living space!

I’m trying out lots of new salad recipes this summer, with the abundance of greens from our local CSA.

I’m enjoying our hydrangeas. Ever wonder the trick to making them change color?

I discovered a new book, thanks to my niece’s blog. If you want a fresh reading of the Psalms, try this re-duxed version by Carla A Grosch-Miller.

Here is a list of 10 things resilient families say to each other. Check out the PDF to download for kids.

I’ll end with one of my favorite animated videos, called The Misguided Monk.

Have a great weekend! Enjoy!

Windchimes stir my heart’s song

19302581775_00f92d6614_cI love the sound of wind chimes. They make my heart sing. I have several that have various pitches and tones. I like the harmony they create as the breeze gently blows through them.

Why are these tones so deeply satisfying to me?¬† I’m not sure. I did not grow up having wind chimes on the farm. I can’t even remember when I first started collecting them. I just know that I feel a deep satisfaction internally when I hear the chimes singing in the wind.

My favorite set of wind chimes are from Ten Thousand Villages, my favorite Fair Trade store. They have deep tones. The finch feeder is hanging next to it, on the corner of our sun room deck. I enjoy hearing the chimes and watching the birds in the evening.

Perhaps the chimes are a reminder of the elements. Earth. Wind. Fire. Water. These elements help me feel connected to something bigger. I am connected to the Creator through these elements. So when I hear wind chimes, they become part of my heart prayer to the Creator.

What makes your heart sing?

Mind mapping my thoughts

Image courtesy of Celine Paul 6 Feb 2014

Mind maps came up this week in my blogging group. I love using mind maps and go to this tool whenever I need inspiration or get writer’s block. I was first introduced to this tool when my boys were in grade school. Their teachers taught them various ways of organizing information. This was one of our favorite tools.

A mind map is a diagram consisting of keywords or phrases connected with lines, shapes and colors to visually organized information. This process of mapping out a subject is another way of creating an outline of a project. For those of us who are visual learners, mind maps are a useful tool. When I prepare a presentation or written material, I often use this tool to help me focus my thoughts. It gives me small chunks of material to focus on, so that I can small step my way through what I originally thought was an overwhelming task.

As I begin the process of mind mapping, I begin to see other threads of thought that I might not have included in the original thought process. It helps me visually brainstorm new ideas. Sometimes I make multiple mind maps to flesh out one line of thought or add new ideas into existing branches. Sometimes the mind map looks like branches on a tree. Sometimes it looks like a row of prayer flags or a kite with multiple tails attached. Sometimes it is symmetrical like a wheel, and sometimes it is unbalanced with large amounts of words on multiple strands while a single slender line of thought contains only a few single words as if it were an unwanted shoot sprouting from a developed branch of the tree.

How do you start a mind map? I like to start with a question or subject in a center circle, and then think of all the different ways I might describe that subject or answer that question. Each of those ideas becomes a line of thought with it’s own circle. Sometimes I organize things by color or with different shapes for different topics. Occasionally I doodle pictures. Each topic can have additional branches, like branches of a tree, with a line for each separate thought. Many times, I start to see connections and decide to redraw the mind map with slightly different lines coming off the main topic. Search on Google or Pinterest for “mind maps” for visual ideas of how you can use mind maps.

Image courtesy of Learning Fundamentals

Let’s use the example of “Who I am?” which can be mapped in many trails of ideas. I can start with places I’ve lived, people who influenced me and books I’ve read. I might focus on just a few key areas such as body/mind/spirit, but flesh that out in more detail. I can focus on things that occupy my time with branches for passions or hobbies, roles or jobs I have, volunteer positions, social groups or other daily tasks such as self care, care for my home and family. I can look at themes of how I came to believe the things I believe, the disappointment and painful parts of my life (which probably have had the biggest influence on shaping me) or my dreams. Each of these trails of ideas could be a chapter in my memoir or a series of blog posts. It could be a way to see larger themes or roles in my life such as a helper, an artist, a caregiver or a leader.

Courtesy of John Glanvill, http://calmnessinmind.com

It takes courage sometimes to name those parts of myself I’m afraid to expose to others. I find it hard to say “I’m an artist” when I compare myself to others, but the reality is that I enjoy art and creating things, so I am learning to call myself an artist. In fact, I believe that I am becoming an even better artist every time I create something and affirm that I am an indeed an artist. Part of naming it is also claiming that dream or desire to develop those skills.

So who are you? Can you take a few minutes right now to draw a simple diagram and name the ways you or others would describe who you are? Sit with this diagram for a few moments, noticing what is missing or new lines of description that are missing. Try making multiple versions of this mind map. What do you discover about yourself!

I’d love to hear about what you discovered in this process.

Be present in the moment

“God is a God of the present. God is always in the moment, be that moment hard or easy, joyful and painful.”¬†Henri Nouwen

One way to be present in the moment is to take a Photo Walk each day. I discover all sorts of things to pause and savor. When I am busy with my “To Do” list, I miss the little bits of beauty and insight around me. Photo Walks cause me to slow down and notice the ever-changing world around me.

flowersThe hydrangea bushes have burst into full bloom. They form an impressive wall behind the house. They look like powder puffs. My husband brought in a few clusters and added bright orange Tiger Lily for contrast. He rarely buys me flowers. Instead, he cuts and arranges the flowers and decorative grasses from our property throughout most of the year. He often takes flowers to work for patients to arrange as part of their therapy session.

Each day, the garden changes. Today, a blossom opened on a lone squash plant in the upper garden. Will it will escape the notice of the hungry groundhog and deer? If it doesn’t, we have other squash and tomato plants that appear to be thriving in the side garden. The side garden is fenced in as a deterrent to hungry animals. The plants are much taller there, with multiple blossoms. I will look forward to cooking the squash later in the season.

My favorite time to walk around our property is early morning, before the sun escapes from behind the trees. There are all sorts of interesting shadows and patterns the sun makes throughout the morning. The grass is still wet from early morning dew, highlighting spider webs on branches and slug trails on the sidewalk.

When I take these early morning walks, I forget about the things that occupy my mind at other times. The joys and pains fade. I set aside the easy and hard moments. I look for the artistic evidence of the Creator in nature. God is present. God is in the moment. And when I return back to my routines and the things on my “To Do” list, I remain aware at some deep level that God is part of the easy and hard moments, as well as the joys and the pains.

Photo Walks are an important part of my “To Be” list. What is on your “To Be” list?