Archive | February, 2012

Indulge in Life

27 Feb

Indulge. It’s the latest theme for WordPress Photo of the Week. (Love the constant challenge!)

I don’t know about you, but when I hear the word indulge, I see things in my mind that look a lot like chocolate fudge loaded with whipped cream. Or a lazy afternoon on the beach with a shallow book (purely for entertainment) and a tall glass of fruit shake. Loads of laughter and long tight hugs from my kids. That sort of thing.

But indulge can mean different things to different people. Heaven knows, the dictionary itself defines it in various ways:

  • to gratify
  • to yield to a desire
  • to engage or to take part in, especially freely or avidly

Sounds good enough, except that as I’m going through the rest of the definitions in the dictionary, I start to get the feeling that the act of  indulging might not be something I’d want to admit to, too often… especially when the additional entries in the big book define it as yielding to the desires and whims of, especially to an excessive degree and allowing oneself unrestrained gratification. Eep! Sounds like that might be a mite too unrestrained and maybe a wee bit too risky for my taste…

Except, I think, when it comes to living life.

Indulging in life: now that, to me, means living life to its fullest, and that can’t be anything else but a good thing, right?

But how to represent that in an image captured through a lens? For that I’d need a metaphor, and this is what INDULGE looked like through my lens today:

That’s actually just part of the story. Here’s the full monty, the big picture (poster?) that gives the complete story that lies behind the final cat-who-got-the-cream SLURP! shot:

(Click on the image to view a larger size)

And speaking of indulging in life and all it has to offer, here’s Andrea Bocelli to remind us of what we need most in order to do that as best as we can:

Hope you have a wonderful day filled with love-filled indulgences!

Shifting Views

22 Feb

I love windows. My home is filled with them. I love that they let light in, and I love even more that they allow me to look out, up, and down.

To me, windows—and the views they allow—are a great metaphor for wisdom. If we look, and look well; if we look and take in different views, odds are we’ll eventually find the answers we’re seeking. Only when one is able to see things from different angles can complete understanding, often even true wisdom, walk in.

Speaking of wisdom, one of the wisest things I’ve learned came from one of my past relationships in my late-teens / early-twenties (yeah, that time when you think you’re an adult but you’re not really there yet, so there’s still a spattering of angst and a tendency to brood over things that don’t quite go the way you want them; that kind of thing 🙄 ). I don’t even remember what I was moping about, but the lesson I have kept well and have practiced all the time since, and it is one I have passed on to my kids:

When things don’t go the way you want them to, or something makes you frustrated / depressed / angry et cetera, ask yourself this question:

Can I do something about it?

If  the answer to that is Yes, then go do it. If the answer to that is No, then laugh. That’s right: laugh! You can’t do anything about it anyway, so you might as well keep your sense of humor and get on with the rest of the business of living… of living a happy, good life. Right?

We can be down, honey, but we’ll never be out. 😉

Which brings me to the WordPress Photo of the Week theme (Down) and my take on it:

And extolling the wonders of looking at the world from a different viewpoint, here’s Jack Johnson:

I want to turn the whole thing upside down
I’ll find the things they say just can’t be found
I’ll share this love I find with everyone…

Have a wonderful day loaded with amazing sights and views, and much love too, my friends!

Stop. Right. Now.

18 Feb

How does your usual day go?

Do you hop out of bed when the alarm clock shrieks? Do you run to the sink and splash water on your face while brushing your teeth and slipping your feet into your shoes, or do you amble toward the bathroom door with a quick glance at the clock, mentally calculating how many minutes you have before it’s time to rush out the door?

Do you walk, run, drive to your office, park your car or jump off the bus, walk briskly to the door with a brief nod at the doorman and a “Good morning” that fades just a beat behind the echo of your footsteps as you make your way to the elevator, sliding your shoulder in between its rapidly closing doors and nudging your way through the rest of the suited and coated crowd?

Or do you bundle your children in their school clothes, hastily dump the dishes and flatware in the sink as you quickly buss the kiddos before dropping them off at the bus stop or the school grounds, then whip out your To-Do list (with items pending from yesterday) and get yourself to the nearest grocery store to pick up necessities that can’t necessarily be delayed any longer before you drop off the week’s clothes at the dry-cleaners and rush off to that Parent-Teacher meeting that you’re already running two minutes behind?

(Phew! Are you panting yet?)

At the end of the day, do you drop dead on your bed feeling like a totally squeezed lemon, reaching for sleep the way a starving man reaches for a grain of rice after a month-long fast?

Or do you have the gift of time?

Are you freakin’ kidding me?, you might ask incredulously. And I would understand; I would get you completely. I often feel like I’m riding on a speeding train too, one that won’t stop long enough for me to catch a breath of fresh air or to insert a skip and a hop between the brisk steps I have to take to get from Point A to Point B, double-time. Yup, I know what it’s like, my friend.

But I hope there are for you, as there thankfully are for me, routines throughout the day that force us to stop a while, to take stock and be silent and pray (and I kid you not, I have to make an effort to make sure those routines are kept in place because, tempting as it is to throw them aside in favor of what seem to be more pressing matters, I have discovered that the moments of silence are precisely what ensure that the rest of my day goes as best as it can, rush-hour and trips galore notwithstanding).

Thankfully, I have five children, three of whom are under the age of 10, who are courageous enough to ignore the daily rush and speeding time in order to stick their face in front of mine and say, Mom guess what happened at school today? or to lay a hand on my arm and quietly whisper, I love you, Mama.

And thankfully, sometimes, someone gets the brilliant idea of performing some experiment that will test whether, when given a chance, really busy people will stop long enough to recognize beauty in the middle of mundane everyday routines. To focus on what really counts. To appreciate the glorious that hides behind what is so commonplace and easy to overlook.

Because in this crazy, hectic, busy world filled with an insanely huge amount of musts and to-do’s,  it is so, so, so important to do this. To take the time to simply

STOP. And pay attention. Seriously.

Beauty, miracles, amazing discoveries: they’re all around us. In sights, in sounds, in touches. The only thing we need to do is to halt long enough to uncover them. Then we are rewarded with gentle reminders of why it’s good to be alive, why there’s so much to be grateful for, why we are so lucky that we continue to be blessed by a loving Father who showers gifts on us abundantly, even if we are often remiss in stopping a while to appreciate and say a silent prayer of thanks.

I came upon this while surfing the web today, and it was/is one of those amazing stories that one could easily overlook… or that one could stop (perhaps, being fated to do so?) and pay attention to and be reminded once again to smell not just the coffee percolating, but the quiet fragrance of the grass outside the kitchen windows and the sweet morning scent of the kids just risen from bed and the freshly-shaved skin of the hubby who (thank goodness) takes the time to hug you warmly before he goes off to work.

This story certainly drives home that point in more than a couple of ways.

It’s a story of a regular Friday-rush-hour January morning at a DC metro, when a very regular nondescript white man takes up his violin and starts to play. In the 43 minutes that he plays 6 musical masterpieces, only a handful stop to listen, and the first one to do so, only after the man has played for six minutes. And despite the amazing gift of beautiful music that fills the station, it is just a few (you can count them on one hand) who are “awake” enough to take notice of the gift of music that they happened to pass by on that morning, among them a three-year-old toddler who had to be pulled away by his rushing mom, an Au Bon Pain waiter busing tables nearby, and a USPS supervisor who once dreamed of being a violinist but did not recognize, either, the man who was playing before him.

It was Joshua Bell, one-time child prodigy, internationally-acclaimed yet refreshingly humble violin virtuoso (who plays to standing-room $1000-ticket-paying audiencies in symphony halls, whose audience in those halls are so respectful of his talent that  they postpone their urge to cough till he’s done playing, and who has been described as one who “plays like a god.”). On that January day, he played not easily-recognizable classical music but those masterful, majestic, difficult-to-play pieces, Bach’s Chaconne and Schubert’s Ave Maria among them. And he played these on a $3.5 million Stradivarius violin.

It was an experiment done by Washington Post to investigate “context, perception and priorities,”  to see what would happen if a great musician played great music in a banal setting at a time when leisure is an unheard-of commodity; would beauty transcend? Would people actually stop to listen? To appreciate? To realize the beauty unfolding in the most unlikely place and time?

Here’s a clip of the actual event (thank you, Youtube ):

And here’s the full story, Pearls Before Breakfast, by Gene Weingarten of the Washington Post.

It is one definitely worth taking the time to read. One that possesses little nuggets of wisdom, hiding between the lines, not least of which is this strikingly astute observation that Weingarten makes:

If we can’t take the time out of our lives to stay a moment and listen to one of the best musicians on Earth play some of the best music ever written; if the surge of modern life so overpowers us that we are deaf and blind to something like that—then what else are we missing?

We might not ever find ourselves in a metro on a rush-hour morning, but certainly the basic ingredients will be there: modern life and its incessant demands; the rush, the hustle and bustle, the never-ending many-paged priority lists. But yes, we can and yes, we should stop and look, listen, smile. And be thankful that we remembered to simply be thankful. 🙂

May your day be full of glorious stops and discoveries, my dear friends! xox

* Shared with Just Write.

Wednesday Highlights

16 Feb

It’s a Wonderful Wednesday at JessicaSprague.com again! You know what that means, right? We’ve got products in our shop that are half-priced just for this day, and here’s what you can grab from my shop at 50% off:

This is a humongous set of 200 outliners and highlight tints and shades, perfect for focusing attention on your wonderful words! This set comes to you in five soft, gentle colors and includes circles, oblongs, boxes, underlines and double-underlines. Together with this pack, I’ve also included simple instructions for getting the best highlighted effects.

Now that’s a great deal, especially at 50-off, right? If you don’t have this pack in your stash yet, all it takes is a click on the image above to fix that! 😉

And these super-inspirational layouts created by Sarah and Monica are sure to tickle your creative juices today:

This one, by Sarah:

And this one, by Monica:

Have a totally wonderful Wednesday, my dear friends!

Home Again

14 Feb

He is my best gift from God. He is my greatest treasure. He is my home. (Uhm… along with our five home-lets 😉 ).

From me and “my home” (and Adele) to you and yours – may today be filled with abundant love and laughter in a very special way!

Whenever I’m alone with you
You make me feel like I am home again …
Whatever words I say
I will always love you 

Happy Valentine’s Day, my sweeties!

So Krafty!

14 Feb

Just a quickie post today, as it’s Monday once again (phew, time flies, doesn’t it?) and I wanted to let you know that I’ve got some krafty madness going on in my shop!

Kraft paper is awesome, and kraft tapes push that “awesome” a notch higher. And they just happen to be the the newest product in my shop (wink, wink!):

This pack brings you 28 real, ready-to-use krafty tapes: 14 simple tapes (so you can add your drop shadows as you wish) and 14 pre-shadowed tapes (so you can simply slap them on to your projects nice and easy!). These have been torn by hand (and boy, did I have fun with that!) and then carefully and lovingly extracted with their rough, torn edges and crumpled areas preserved.

Mmmm, don’t you just love all that krafty-ness? And mmm, this whole pack happens to be 25% off till midnight of Monday Pacific time!

If you’re raring to grab this while it’s on sale, just click on the image above and you’ll find it ready and willing to jump into your shopping bag. 😆

Let’s not forget the wonderful eye-candy, right?

This one, by Sarah:

And this one, by Reeta:

Yummy works of art, aren’t they?

Big hugs to you on this wonderful, creative, kraft-y Monday, my dear friends!

{No} Regrets

13 Feb

When you think of regrets–that is, if you have any–what is the first thing that comes to mind? Love (unrequited, lost, or still unknown)? Words (spoken or left unspoken)? Decisions (made hastily or not made early enough or not made at all)?

In case you’re wondering why I’m suddenly wondering about this, you can put the blame on WordPress’s Photo Challenge for the Week (I say this tongue in cheek, of course :)).

The theme, no surprises here, is Regret… and I have to admit it was kind of difficult to think of a way to interpret regret visually (especially since I don’t really make a habit of whipping out my camera and capturing someone caught in a moment of remorse… it somehow feels too invasive, if you know what I mean).

Also, I must confess to a certain discomfort with clicking the shutter and freezing a moment loaded with sorrow (for doesn’t regret always bring sorrow along in its wake?). While I do think that most, if not all, of us have had at least one regret, huge or miniscule, in this life, I also personally believe that these pangs of grief must be long in wisdom and short in memory. In other words (yes, the very ones which I often use to counsel my sons), learn the lesson that pain brings in its wake then move on. Perhaps that’s a natural offshoot of my firm belief that negativity and wallowing in gloom are a waste of energy. 🙂

Which, I hope, explains my interpretation of this week’s challenge:

And here’s a song (from the new, proudly Filipino-made musical: The Ateneo-La Salle Rivalry) that demonstrates how it is possible to go through regret and pain and still come out of it full of hope and optimism.

PS. I just saw Mamma Mia with the hubs and our two older boys yesterday, and we enjoyed it a lot (was especially thrilled when the stage actress performing the role of Donna said “Mabuhay, Manila!” during the encore <heehee> ). Next on the “Want to Watch” list is this musical for which the song above was written and composed.

For my friends who are not from this side of the world, Ateneo (de Manila) and La Salle are two of the all-boys schools that are institutions almost as old as the mountains and seas of this country. I don’t know too many people who cannot claim a connection to either one of the schools, often even both, either from generations past or present. To wit: my dad studied at the Ateneo for grade school and high school then went to De La Salle for university. My brothers went to La Salle for grade school and high school. Two of my sisters went to Ateneo for university. My husband (and his brothers) went to the Ateneo. My two older sons are Ateneans. I have a niece at the Ateneo university and another niece at De La Salle.  And that’s just family… the list goes on and on. See what I mean? Haha!

So the Ateneo-La Salle connection is truly something that many in my country can relate to. I certainly can and am thinking that seeing this musical is very much a “must.” After watching “The Making of Rivalry” my interest in seeing the musical grew even greater! Here it is:

Have a happy week ahead filled with loads of happiness, wonderful music, and absolutely no regrets!

Oops, I did it again.

10 Feb

It’s that kind of day. The kind that makes you want to slap your palm on your forehead. The kind that makes you think, “How could I have fallen for that… again?”  The kind that magnifies the volume of that incessant chant in your ear that goes, “Silly, silly you. Silly, silly you. Silly, silly you.”

I keep saying Yes when I should say No. I keep giving in when I shouldn’t. I keep giving my all when I’ve had that gift handed back in my face without a backward glance.

It’s that kind of moment. When you know you shouldn’t have. When you tell yourself, “We’ve been down this alley before; what were you thinking?” When you know that you’ve been taken for a ride yet again, but have no one to blame but yourself for getting into that rocking boat with your own two feet.

I wonder why I bother. I wonder why, even with a history of the absence of gratitude, I set aside perfectly legitimate reasons for not helping out and yet again expend time, effort and sacrifice to do “just this one last favor, please?” I wonder where I can buy the courage to just put two letters together to form one word: N. O.

It’s that kind of sudden realization. The dawn of insight tearing its way through the hazy gloom. The emergence of sunlight pushing its rays through thinning grey clouds. The  relief of that first gulp of breath after having flailed under water for a minute more than you thought you would.

I realize it’s okay. That it’s never a mistake to keep giving, even when it seems your gift isn’t valued. That you may feel like a real schmuck and a total dodo for doing a perfect imitation of a doormat, but at the end of the day, you are better for having given than for not having given at all. And that what has been often said before is really true: what doesn’t break you will only make you stronger.

It’s that kind of freedom. The kind that makes you lift your chin up and break out the biggest smile you can muster. The kind that brings back the bounce in your step. The kind that brings you quiet comfort in the knowledge that you aren’t less for having given more.

Oh yes. No. You aren’t less for having given more.

NOTE:

I must confess to vacillating quite a bit before hitting the Publish button on this post, because this is a far cry from usual posts that I make. I am (and take pride in being) a voraciously cheerful person, always ready to spread sunshine and hugs and feel-good vibes wherever I go. This post isn’t that kind of sunshine-y usual post. But it’s where I am right now, right where the Just Write challenge HERE has found me. And I figured, hey, real life doesn’t get more real than this: there are a kajillion ups in my life and I am grateful for all of them, but yes, I do have some downs too (thank heavens, not too many of those) – and I am just as grateful for them. Because, really, without the black, where can one get perspective for seeing the white? Right?

So here’s today’s version of Real Life, my friends. I hope it sits well with you, even if it isn’t the “usual serving” on my blog plate. 🙂

To find out more about Just Write, which is a fabulous way to get your thoughts written out in the right here and right now, go visit The Extraordinary Ordinary here

Love on a Wonderful Wednesday

9 Feb

Whoa, time flies! It’s the middle of the week already (how did we get here so quickly?)… but it’s wonderful because on Wednesdays, certain stuff goes on sale for half the price! 😉

And what’s on sale in my shop today is perfect for this month’s layouts (and throughout the year too!):

My EZ-PZ Template collection is a fully-layered template in .psd format with various pieces that you can use when you create your other projects and layouts too. Because they’re so easy to use, they’re perfect for preserving those precious moments even when you have just a few minutes left at the end of a hugely-hectic day.

You can use the plain template as it is: it comes complete with clipping masks and adjustable shadows. Just add your photos, your own embellishments, your own background paper, and voila! OR if you want to take it further (we’re all about versatility here 😉 ), use the easy-pieces that come with this template pack!

This one is packed with more than the usual goodies that come with the other templates in the collection! (Yup, this is love indeed! 😉 ). It comes with one large grungy photo mask, one painted grungy photo mat, one torn-paper photo mask, one brown-bag paper, labeled and plain grosgrain ribbons, horizontal and vertical stitches in plain and pre-shadowed versions, one highly-textured 12×12 background paper, optional text paths for journaling and title, and a really cool grungy love sticker in plain, pre-shadowed and lifted (Curled) versions. Phew! That’s a whole load of product there! 🙂

And it’s at half-price this Wednesday till midnight Pacific time! (Click on the image above to grab it from my shop if you want to include it in your stash).

Oh, let’s not forget the delicious eye-candy created by these awesome creative ladies! (They do a terrific job of showing the many different ways you can use the template!)

Here’s a layout by Miki:

Miki’s layout also uses my I Heart Doodles Rub-Ons & Brush Set and my Needs+Wants: Eyelets Galore Vol.1.

Here’s another layout by Jenn M (who changed the orientation of the photo mask to fit her portrait-photo):

Here’s a layout that uses the template in a pretty straightforward way (I’m sneaking this one in, it’s by me, heehee):

Here’s a layout by Meg:

And this one was created by Jana, who did some recoloring to bring out the soft peachy skin of her adorable grandson:

And yes, it totally works for hybrid projects too! Here’s proof, a wonderful hybrid layout done by Camille:

And that’s it for this Wonderful Wednesday, my dear friends! May yours be filled with love!

Bring It On!

8 Feb

I love the word ready because it denotes a willingness, an openness, to jump into adventure, into learning, into life.

It also happens to be the theme of this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge, and here’s my take on it (a triathlete standing on the shore of the beach at dawn, stretching before jumping into the cold waters for the swimming event):

And here’s U2’s singing People Get Ready!

May you be ready for all the adventures this week has to offer! 🙂

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