Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Soul's Peace

At a dinner, one of the diners, an atheist, asked the christian sitting next to him:
- How do you know your God forgave your sins or that He listens to your prayers, when you can't see anything of that sort? 
- How do you know your tea has sugar?, asked the christian
- What do you mean? I taste it!
- So you know there is sugar in your tea, even if you can't see it. Just the same, I feel God's love in my heart. My sinful soul feels delivered by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Divine Liturgy, Holy Confession, prayers, make my spirit soar and find peace in God. You can't see love with the eyes of your body, but with the eyes of your soul. 
"When we came to love, we came to God" (St. Isaac the Syrian).
Thoughts before Easter :: All Pretty Things

Liniştea sufletească
La un dineu, se găsea, printre musafiri, şi un ateu – om rău, lipsit de credinţă – care l-a întrebat la un moment dat pe creştinul de alături:
- De unde ştii tu că Dumnezeu te-a iertat pentru păcatele tale sau că îţi ascultă rugăciunile, când, de fapt, nu vezi nimic din toate acestea?
- Dar tu, îl întrebă la rândul său creştinul, de unde ştii dacă este zahăr în ceaiul pe care îl bei acum?
- Cum de unde? Simt gustul zahărului.
- Deci ştii că este zahăr în ceaiul tău, chiar dacă nu-l vezi. E, tot aşa simt şi eu dragostea lui Dumnezeu în inima mea. Sufletul meu îngreunat de păcate se simte izbăvit prin puterea Sfântului Duh. Sfânta Liturghie, Sfânta Spovedanie, rugăciunile îmi înalţă sufletul ce nu-şi găseşte liniştea decât la Dumnezeu. Dragostea nu o vezi cu ochii trupului, ci cu ochii sufletului.
“Când am ajuns la iubire, am ajuns la Dumnezeu” (Sfântul Isaac Sirul).

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Color of Dreams reveal

Rita of Toltec Jewels put together a lovely blog hop: Color of Dreams. She sent 50 (fifty!) of us an orphan, ooak bead by Patricia Handschuh: colourful bits of dreams, indeed! Look at them:

Mine is not in the picture, I came late to the party - and I believe Rita purchased more beads after taking this gorgeous picture.

Being far, far away from Rita (across the border), my bead came in about 10 days ago. That was my luck, I believe, I didn't have time to think too much, I had to create something. But... what? The beads are charming and tiny, about 1/2 "... How can I make it into a focal, without overpowering it?

Then I started to think about dreams - I have so many, and they are all colourful... just like my charm. Purple and violet, with yellow blossoms, and green sprigs of hope. I always dreamed in colour, consciously or not, vivid, bright dreams. When I was young(er) I once was afraid that once a dream come true, there is nothing else to follow it. I believe for a while I stopped trying to follow my dreams, out of this incoherent fear. Then I grew up and I realized that once a dream is completed, your life continues, and you make more dreams. We are dream factories, each of us, isn't that a nice idea?

So I started to complete dream after dream, in no particular order, as opportunities arrived - and something fabulous happened: the more dream I could 'check off' my list, the more dreams appeared :)

Along these lines of thoughts, while still searching for a perfect solution for my bead, an idea presented itself: how about a frame?! ah, now we can talk!

I must admit it has been a hard one. I now know why - I chose the wrong size for the frame's wire. But I left the house with just half of my bag, so I had to make it work as it was. The enameling went OK per se - it's not as stellar as I wanted it in this composition (I had a hard time getting the frame to stick to everything, skill-learning in progress :) ). Bottom line: it's a beautiful idea, the implementation is not perfect. Dream still in progress - and it already gave birth to a couple of other ideas (which I promptly drew on a piece of paper).

Here is my Exotic Dream:
Exotic dreams: ooak polymer clay, copper, enamel, metal work, ooak pendant :: All Pretty Things

Exotic dreams: ooak polymer clay, copper, enamel, metal work, ooak pendant :: All Pretty Things

Exotic dreams: ooak polymer clay, copper, enamel, metal work, ooak pendant :: All Pretty Things

Thank you for checking my colourful dreams - thank you, Rita, for the lovely opportunity, and to a wonderful artist, Patricia, for creating such gems! It was a pleasure working with it!

Please make sure you check the other artists' dreams - it will be a colourful Sunday!

Honorary Artist: Patricia Handschuh
Patricia's blog:            The Color of Dreams      
Patricias Etsy:             The Color of Dreams
Hostess: TJ                Jewel School Friends

Kay Thomerson           KayzKreationz
Audrey Belanger          Toki No Hourousha
Alicia Marinache          All the Pretty Things
Terry Carter                TappingFlamingo
Lori Schneider             Bead Addict
Jenny Kyrlach             Wonder and Whimsy
Asri Wahyuingsih         Asri's Beadwork
Dini Bruinsma              Angaza by Changes
Karla Morgan              Texas Pepper Jams
Debbie Rasmussen        A Little of This, A Little of That
Veralynne Malone          Designed by Vera
Kathy Stemke               Vintage Memories Jewelry Design
Mowse Doyle               Mowse Made This
Heather Richter             Desert Jewelry Designs
Lori Poppe                   Adventures in Creativity with LorilliJean
Jayne Capps                Mama's Got To Doodle
Andrea Glick                Zenith Jade Creations
Kathleen Breeding         99 Bottles of Beads on the Wall
Becky Pancake             Becky Pancake Bead Designs
Karin Martinez              Fairies Market
Miranda Ackerley          Mirandack
Penny Houghton           Smelly Nelly
Carolyn Lawson           Carolyn's Creations
Chris Eisenberg            Wanderware
Christie Murrow          Charis Designs Jewelry
Monique Urquhart        A Half-Baked Notion
Eve Shelby                  Raindrop Creations Jewelry by Evelyn
Cryss Thain                 Here Bead Dragons
Jasvanti Patel               Jewelry By Jasvanti
Nan Smith                   NanMade Handmade Jewelry
Sue Kennedy               SueBeads
Jean Yates                   Snap Out of It, Jean! There's Beading to be Done!
Debbie Rogers             Debbies Treasures
Marybeth Rich             A Few Words From Within the Pines
Shirley Moore              Beads and Bread
Shaia Williams             Shaiha's Ramblings
Kathy Lindemer           Bay Moon Design
Linda Anderson           From the Bead Board
Judy Turner               Silver Rains
Gloria Allen                Gloria Allen Designs
Regina Wood              Ginas-Design
Robin Reed                Artistry HCBD
Mary Goovars            MLH Jewelry Designs
Marlene Cupo             Amazing Designs
CJ Bauschka              4 His Glory Creations
Robin Showstack        The Crazy Bead Hoarder
Cynthia O'Toole          Sparkles and Sweets
Jael Thorp                 Jael's Art Jewels
Renetha Stanziano      Lamplight Crafts

Friday, April 4, 2014

Focus on Life: Week 14 ~ Moments :: Morning

Sally Russick of The Studio Sublime is hosting the 2nd year of 'Focusing on Life'; for 2014 Sally is providing a monthly theme, with a more fine-grained focus each week of the month.

We have entered April, with its theme 'Moments' ~ I love it! The first week of April our focus should be on 'Morning'.

Routine? Unfortunately so much so... The child goes to school Monday to Friday. I go to school Monday to Wednesday, plus the odd extra day (that doesn't mean I party the rest of the time, you know those 'what your mom / friends / family / you think you're doing' pictures? I have an acquaintance who said something along the lines 'so cool, you have so much free time!' err... not really... I am back to a max of 5 hours of sleep a night, but I am full of energy, so no complaints here). Husband goes to work Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. What does that mean? I get no break, no sleep-in, every single day of the year I am up and ready to run :) Again, no complains, really.

So what's my morning routine? Up, get everybody ready, check and reply to business emails, make tea, and dash through the door (or see others dashing through it). When I go to school I get my short ride on the GO bus, and most of the time I read the newspaper, others I chat with my Peruvian driver.

This week it was nice and warm most of the week. Blue skies and a brief feeling of spring being right across the corner. While not in my routine, I saw this as soon as I got off the bus:

Focus on Life: Moments ~ Morning :: All Pretty Things

Yes, a cute little nest in a cute little still leafless tree. But I have high hopes I'll see the leaves soon. Maybe the occupants of that little nest too, who knows?

On Sunday, another moment, still in the morning, and very much part of the Sunday routine. I go to a studio in Hamilton, where I do work on my jewelry design and making skills. I figured out it's better to have company, and if I go, I'll make something (or work on something, at least), for sure! Otherwise, at home, I'll be tempted to do so many other things that are waiting for my attention :)

This past Sunday I took William with me and since it was very early (long story), and very nice outside, we decided to have a walk through the park. The studio is very close to a beautiful park in Hamilton, Gage Park. Walking back toward the studio my eyes were attracted to a surreal image - it took me a short moment of intense watching to put it in the proper perspective.

Focus on Life: Moments ~ Morning; Incredible mural on a building across Gage Park, Hamilton, ON :: All Pretty Things

Anything strange?!

Maybe the complete picture will help you:

Focus on Life: Moments ~ Morning; Incredible mural on a building across Gage Park, Hamilton, ON :: All Pretty Things

That incredible old Victorian street is *painted* on the side of the building! It is truly amazing and in real life is makes you stop for a moment and watch it intently. Which we did, while chatting about who the artist might be.

These are my moments of the week - please make sure you visit everybody else. The theme is lovely and I'm sure we'll find out many adorable moments.

P.S. An update on the Lego competition: we had the 'cheer-me-up' ice-cream :) But the kids had fun, worked very well together, used incredible problem-solving skills and enjoyed the day. We all learned valuable lessons, and I have now a clear plan on how to approach the competition next year. Plus a few extra ideas!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Happy birthday to a special person :)

This is a blog entry which I am "borrowing" from my personal blog (made for family and written mainly in Romanian) and posted in 2008 (!) after the Great Lakes Grand, in Mason, Michigan. Mason is my second most preferred place to be (after #1: Elysburg, PA) and we love competing there.

It is mostly about trapshooting, but also about a special dimension that has added to our family and relationship.

While translating it I realized it could have been written as well any year: everything in there holds as much truth today as it was the past few years.

I'll add one more idea to this: Happy birthday, honey! To a lovely husband, great father, and amazing coach: may your day be full of sparkle and joy!

Happy birthday, Florin! ~ All Pretty Things
Happy birthday, Florin!


Any athlete with an ounce of self-respect (and entertaining some thoughts of winning) must have a coach.

Sometimes the coach is one of the parents - at least until the 'offspring', having displayed some talent, either surpasses his 'coach' or starts having an attitude. At that point a new coach should be found.

Sometimes, especially when the athlete starts later in his life, the coach is a friend with good intentions (but usually with zero coaching skills) - this friend will come with lots of advice that might or might not make any sense. When we add a husband-wife relationship into this unfortunate mix, the disaster is imminent, because the athlete will feel now he/she can answer back to the 'unofficial' coach. In cases like this one it's preferable to find a new coach. In the majority of the cases, in fact, what gets dropped is not the coach, but the actual sport.

And every now and then, it happens that the coach is, in fact, a skilled one and knows what to tell his/her student. Even in this case we have quite a few ramifications: the athlete has both talent and passion; the athlete has only talent, and no passion; the athlete has no natural talent, but lots of passion.

In our case God gave us an ideal situation: the skilled coach and the athlete with some natural talent and tons of passion.

I, being for the past 3 years (I can't believe there have only been 3 - it seems like forever) the student with open ears and no mouth (meaning: listening and not answering back), had only to listen to his advice: smile to all and do only what I tell you - and today we have a coach very happy with his student and a student very happy with her coach. And both very happy with the results.

In our case I have to be honest and say that he knows not only what has to be done, but also how to tell the student what has to be done. The ones that know me can tell right away it's pretty difficult to make me do something that's illogical (or only seems illogical or if I don't understand 'why' it has to be done). And somehow he managed to make me advance, to improve my technique one step at the time - up to today's performances.

It's next to impossible to explain what these trophies [note: the trophies where my first ones, won at the Great Lakes Grand in the spring of 2008] mean for me, for us.

It's not about the win, it's about the climb - the exposure, the recognition I (and we) won in a blink.

It's not about the trophies - it's about opportunities: to know you can do something that puts you on the top is an incredible feeling. In this specific case, the performance is even more special: it is equally distributed between Category (Lady) and Class. I wasn't only the top Lady in a couple of events; I was also the top shooter in my class in a couple of events. And hearing a nice gentleman asking his friend: 'who's this girl that beat me?!' is not only funny, it is purely amazing.

It's not about the results - it is about performance: and in my quest to climb to the top of the mountain there were always at least 2 people involved: the coach and the student. The ones that think they can achieve high performances without any help whatsoever, just by themselves, are either not very smart, or extremely arrogant. Without my beloved coach I wouldn't have started in this sport, I wouldn't have advanced as much as I did, I wouldn't have performed as well I did. The advice right before entering the line were precious to the last sound - especially his calming advice before Event #6, Doubles, when I found myself in a double 'peril' situation: sudden squad leader (nobody took position 1) while shooting with one of our own legends, Paul Shaw. [P.S. I won that event - I forgot if it was as Category or Class]

If today I can take my post and subconsciously prepare myself - the merit is his for knowing what to tell me and mine for listening and doing exactly what he told me to. If today I can look at the targets and know how to adjust my eye/gun hold - the merit is his for going through different scenarios with me and mine for asking questions and storing his answers. If today I can clear my mind for long enough to focus on the main task (one target at a time) - the merit is his for knowing how to get me to this phase and mine for getting there.

And if today I am proud of myself and my own performance I am equally proud of him, my coach.

And my pride is triple: he's not only the best coach I ever met, but he's my better half and an amazing father.