Friday, March 30, 2012

Vowing to Live a Life of No Regrets


This girl doesn’t make New Year’s Resolutions—not sure I ever have, really.  For 2012, though, I  established a theme to help guide me for the next 12 months. That theme is simply:  “No Regrets.” 

Based upon these first three months of 2012, this little motto might be allowed an encore in 2013.  Since January, many of my journal entries (both written and art), affirmations, and meditations, have centered upon my focus to live without regrets.  As a result, I’ve found that, this year, a notable number of my actions and decisions mirror my objective as well. 

Two things seem to be in play, here:  intention (affirmations, etc.) and follow through (actions).   My intentions, thus far this year, have been strong and ever present.  So, I have to believe they can take sizable credit for the more abundant, tastier results enjoyed as of late.

Below are my three strongest reflections on living life without regrets.  There is obviously some overlap between all three of them.  Perhaps, some of these will speak to you as well.

Never hesitate to use my voice:  Whether it’s to tell someone how much I appreciate them, to publish my views or hold boundary lines, my voice is a gift I use without hesitation.  Too many regrets in my life have come from not speaking up.  This year, I am giving my voice license to freely practice (mindfully, of course)!  And, I can honestly say, I’ve not regretted doing so.

Make life fun:  No, I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions.  But, I do craft quarterly personal goals (I establish professional ones as well, but I’ve done this without a problem for years.)  Personal goals are the ones that enhance my quality of life.  For example, a quarter’s goals might include reading an autobiography, launching a blog, volunteering for a near + dear cause, spending a weekend afternoon journaling in bed or visiting a newly-opened winery.  Even my journal entries will often include snippets of how I can sprinkle fun throughout the coming day.  Having fun each day is crucial, and should never be something reserved solely for weekends, vacation or holidays! All I can say about 2012 so far is that…it’s been fun!

Choose love over fear:  Fear of consequence has held me back for far too many years.  Do I deserve this (rest, indulgence, time for stillness, etc.)?  What will others think?  Will I offend someone by stating my opinion?  This sort of thinking is purely fear-based.  What I now prefer to do is choose love—self-love that is!  When I make decisions that nurture and benefit me, I select love over fear.  And, I am happy to report that there’s been a whole lot of lovin’ going on as of late!

I would love to hear if any of these reflections call out to you as well.  BTW, how’s your 2012 going so far?  My hope is that it’s been Zen, elegant and laden with pink pride!  T.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Self-confidence: Apply Liberally + No Less Than Daily

I used to think it would be great if self-confidence came in a jar, just like moisturizer, that could easily be applied each morning after waking.  Soothing and light, I envisioned it as being a soft pink hue.  And, of course, its scent would be heavenly! After dabbing on my confidence cream, I would instantly feel results; which would stay with me all throughout the day…

I wish I could tell you that confidence cream exists.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t. 

What I have found and use is a sweet little technique called self-affirmation.  When applied daily, it becomes quite effective over time.  Much like moisturizer, it is something I apply each morning while dressing. 

An affirmation is a brief, action assertion that’s repeated over and over in the first-person (an “I” statement).  For example, I might recite the following to tap into my creativity: “I honor and use my creative gifts.”

As I’ve come to realize, the mind tends to believe what it is told; especially when it hears something often enough.  So, why not tell it great things you want to believe and manifest? 

Although there is much data to support the benefits of saying them aloud, my affirmations are said silently—in my mind.  An added bonus: since I say them in the morning while I dress (something I already do), there’s no extra time involved.  This easy application has become a daily habit.  The focus of my affirmations may vary from day to day.  Summoning extra self-confidence does come into play at times (for example, when I have a presentation to make on a particular day). 

I have seen the benefits of affirmations first hand.  For me, affirmations have become my confidence cream.  Instructions for use are simple:  apply liberally and no less than daily. 

I’d love to hear if you’ve tried affirmations or not.  If so, have you also found them to be beneficial? T.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Let the Bright In!

A bouquet of daffodils on my 
workplace desk=a spot of sunshine indoors.

For now, spring certainly seems to have sprung!  The days have been unseasonably warm and sunny.  Flowers are blooming, trees are budding and birds are chirping.  Yet, a week from now, who knows?  Cool, gray and rainy days could easily settle in for a spell.  Unfortunately, that sometimes brings a shift in spirits...

Here are some of my favorite ways to infuse bright into any day—despite the weather or any other array of setbacks encountered:
  • Buy yourself flowers.  Any variety will do, but for instant shine, you can’t go wrong with yellow (it’s like bringing the sunshine indoors!).  And, this time of year, who can resist a fresh arrangement of bright-yellow tulips or daffodils? 
  • Light candles.  Although it’s not something I am able to do at the 9 to 5, I frequently engage in the lighting of candles at home: while cooking, bathing, housecleaning, creating art, writing, relaxing, practicing yoga, meditating, etc., etc., etc.  Candlelight is an elegant, calming practice that makes any occasion (even mopping the kitchen floor) special.  For years, I’ve established an intention every time I light candles.  It’s my way to welcome in joy, memorable moments, serenity…or whatever else I wish to manifest.
  • Slip into some sparkle.  Even though it’s sunny as I write this, I’ve done this very thing today by sporting a vintage strand of beaded crystals.  Yesterday (also sunny), I slipped on a pair of bejeweled flats to accompany an all-black skirt + shirt ensemble.  Sparkling adornments make any wardrobe selection fun, vivid and festive!
  • Savor something tropical.  Doing so is a yummy way to healthily brighten any day. Add sliced kiwi fruit to your salad.  Sip coconut water.  Drink water embellished with fresh lemon or lime.  Snack on grapefruit. Try something new or rarely-eaten:  star fruit, papaya, mango, fresh pineapple…  Delicious!
  • Sprinkle glitter throughout your world.  No, I don’t mean literally (smile).  Rather, brighten others’ day as well as yours by fully engaging in the conversations you are a part of.  Take the time to thank someone for their efforts.  Write a friend a letter.  Carve out quality time to play with your child or pet.  Slip a card or handmade gift into your beloved’s briefcase.  In essence, when sprinkling the glitter, you are lighting it up! ;)

How will you let the bright in, today?  My shades and sunscreen are already in hand!  T.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

An Artful Read

A few days ago, I finished finished a thoroughly enjoyable read of  Karen Karbo’s “How Georgia Became O’Keeffe:  Lessons on the Art of Living.” My quest to live life tickled pink includes reading to feed my mind, and this biographical account did just that!  Prior to snuggling up with this book, I knew very little about Georgia O’Keeffe, aside from the fact that I loved her artistic renderings of flowers.  It turns out that O’Keeffe was about as pioneering and free-spirited as they come! Which, I find to be remarkably endearing.  Her art was her passion and sole focus in life.  And, she lived her art on many levels.

Always, with the books I read, I seek personal growth.  I gleaned so much from this read; including these inspiring tidbits about Georgia:
  • She overcame many barriers; most especially as a woman seeking to establish herself as an artist about 100 years ago;
  • She was fiercely independent; carving her own career path and subsequently being celebrated for it;
  • She established her own rules for fashion, art and living;
  • She constantly redefined her art (on her terms!), and on some level, herself;
  • Although her floral paintings were the ones I originally knew her for, she painted many things (people, skyscrapers, bones, the New Mexico landscape…).  I even discovered, while reading this book, my personal favorite—“The Lawrence Tree.”  To view it, click here.  

I love Karbo's style of writing. She's uber witty and infuses life lessons into her work (I've read another book she authored, "The Gospel According to Coco Chanel: Life Lessons from the World's Most Elegant Woman" and loved it too!") .  

Has a book(s) fed your mind, recently?  Please share!  T.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Taking a Stand in a Pair of Pink Tights

What connection does a pair of pink tights have with being more assertive, confident, creative and self-nurturing?  Scads!!!

A few years ago, I purchased an adorable pair of white Calvin Klein jeans at a clearance sale.  I so could no wait to wear them, either!  Problem was it was after Labor Day (huge sigh!). 

But, guess what?  After a bit of thought, I rocked them anyway; pairing the "controversial" item of my desire with a pair of black boots, a black turtleneck and black/white houndstooth jacket.  How can I possibly remember this?  It is because this turned out to be a “breakout” outfit for me. 

Wearing that pair of white jeans post Labor Day forced me to be confident enough to do what I wanted; without worry over others’ opinion of me.  Fashion faux pas or not, I felt like a million bucks wearing them!  As a result, I’ve broken a variety of fashion and other assorted “rules” since that time; feeling great about it each and every time!

More recently, I’ve been color blocking with tights (in a variety of hues and patterns—including leopard print!).  No one else, where I work, is doing this, yet. But, that’s fine with me.  I do.! My colorful, patterned tights let me mix up my wardrobe creatively.  They also allow me to make a statement—take a stand on my own behalf—without ever saying a word. 

How can you layer your life with more of what you want to do versus what others might expect you should do?  Would love to hear about it!  T.

Friday, March 23, 2012

On the Joys of Art Journaling

The photo, above, is from an art journal entry I created, last summer, after reading Marci Shimoff’s “Happy for No Reason.”  My art journal is where I go to summarize learned concepts, be artistic, crystallize ideas, visualize goals/dreams, work out issues (smile), gain insight, display information I want to refer to again and again, etc.  I’ve even used it as a quasi scrapbook to celebrate trips taken or memorable artist’s dates I’ve had.  My art journal does all the above and more—including its role as a comfort book that I pull out and savor quite frequently.  A number of the photos included on this blog have been from my art journal pages.  To view these, click here and here and here.

I’ve been art journaling (somewhat avidly) for two years now.  I started out creating seasonal vision boards on scraps of cardboard (now tucked into my current art journal) or file folders (which I now reuse!).  Then, I graduated (so to speak) by treating myself to a $10 sketchbook purchase (with a lovely pink cover, of course).  I’m still using that same sketchbook two years later.  It’s been a worthy investment.  No, it’s not museum-quality art, but it’s turned out to be a priceless treasure to me!

On this blog next month, I plan to launch some YouTube videos providing more details on the joys of art journaling.  The inspiration for this came from a fab reader’s inquiries about my blog references to art journaling.  

In the meantime, if you’d like to give art journaling a try, you might consider starting out like I did.  Gather the following items:  glue stick, scissors, magazines (any containing images that inspire you!), an art journal (or, file folder, folder, poster board or thin piece of cardboard) and any other embellishments you desire (glitter, ribbon, crayons, paints, colored pens/pencils, etc.).  My go-to technique is ultra simple:  I use pages torn from magazines and collage them onto cardboard.  

I vary the subject of my art journal entries based upon my needs.  Sometimes, I will establish an intention for what I wish to manifest.  Other times, I let my wise self intuitively guide me by simply choosing to include items that speak to me on some level. 

The important thing about art journaling is to have fun.  It is your special time, after all!

Please keep your inquires coming.  They so inspire me!  T.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

An Insightful Endeavor

A recent art journal collage=a quasi self portrait!

There are things I am inexplicably drawn to; for example, anything pink.  Time has taught me to take note of these things as they serve to paint a clearer picture of my unique, authentic self.  This is fairly important. Because, by understanding what attracts me, I am able to more fully celebrate those aspects of myself.

One particularly insightful exercise I've found is to journal or art journal on this subject matter; building an uncensored list.  It’s something akin to sketching a self portrait.

Why not give it a try? Consider this a solo date with yourself; setting aside dedicated time to build a list of those things that enliven your spirit.  Make it personally fun.  For me, having a cup of hot tea or java at hand and fave tunes playing softly in the background, allows me to work best.  I also like to carve out an entire morning or afternoon for a project such as this, so I feel unhurried.

Here's a peek at my soul-enhancing list:
  • Quality time (w/myself, my family & friends);
  • Mountains;
  • Little black dresses;
  • Flower gardens;
  • Weekend afternoon artist's dates to quaint, historic villages and neighborhoods;
  • Herbal tea sipping;
  • Art journaling;
  • Writing (my journal, this blog, letters to friends, to do lists, pretty much every aspect of this);
  • Jazz music;
  • Supporting causes near + dear;
  • Yoga;
  • Vintage clothing + jewelry;
  • The scent of lavender;
  • Autumn (the foliage, mums, cold snaps—I love it all!);
  • The moon (full is my preference, but any phase will do!);
  • My purring tabby cat;
  • After-dinner walks in nature.

What’s on your list?  T.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Mindful Midweek Pick-Me-Up

One evening last week, I resolved to make the next day’s lunch break something special—a mini artist’s date of sorts—to boost my mid-week spirits.  The challenge I gave myself was to engage in the experience as fully as possible…

After grabbing a chocolate banana smoothie (I so heart!) from Starbuck’s, I decided to check out our town’s newest thrift shop.  I brought along a few remaining items from last week’s closet cleaning adventures and dropped them off for donation.  While there, I had a pleasant conversation with the woman who manages the shop.  Plus, I picked up another strand of black beads for $1.50 (center strand pictured above). As you can see, I love to layer the strands!

Before I headed back into the office, I decided to treat myself to a java from a great local coffee shop/used bookstore.  And, I gave myself permission to do a wee bit of book browsing there, too (which I doubly enjoyed!).

In terms of the challenge I’d established for myself…  Okay, I’m not yet as mindfully present as I’d like to be, but—all in all, I didn’t do badly! The true moral of the story is that I intentionally bundled a few occurrences that could have been non-meaningful into a treasured experience that truly fed my soul.  And, I sought to do so in a fully-present state of mind.

What’s your plan for mid-week pick-me-up?  And, will you be enjoying it mindfully? T.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Let the Blossoming Begin!

 In full bloom=beautiful!

Ah, springtime…  The season of rebirth, growth, and yes, blossoming galore!

With all this glory comes remarkable change—the type only made possible by the presence of a more nurturing environment.   When pondering the above further, then, applying it to my own life; two thoughts become pretty clear to me:  change (although often unwelcome, initially) can yield luxurious results AND a nurturing environment is one where positive change is most likely to occur.

In anticipation of this new season of splendor, I’ve spent a fair amount of time reflecting on how I can (during one of the busiest times in my professional life) bring about the changes necessary for me to grow and flourish, personally.  This is key because I believe that indulging in the luxury of quiet time and reflection is where needed answers are born.  These precious moments allow me to not only replenish my body, mind and spirit; they lead me to understand what path I must take to make my dreams reality. 

Here is what this budding flower has concluded:  My own self-care must first take precedence before I can bloom to my fullest potential.  As a result, my monthly personal goals (even though some of them are challenging and hefty) have been crafted to be fun, broken into bite-sized morsels, holistically beneficial and sure-to-please when achieved.  This month, my dreams (aka goals) have run the gamut from launching this blog--to buying and reading selected self-improvement texts--to enjoying a spa mani and pedi--to participating in several personal development courses (two teleclasses + one webinar)--to savoring an artist’s date with myself--to tackling a major closet cleaning project.  Yay!

Metaphorically, what changes need to take place for you to blossom?  And, how can you create the self-nurturing environment to make it happen?  Please share!  T.

Monday, March 19, 2012

A Significant Aha: Gifts from the Wise Self

 My home is my haven. My art is my joy. My wise self...she's my guardian.

A couple of days ago, I enjoyed lunch with a friend/colleague.  During the course of our, cool, rainy afternoon get-together, she asked me if I was still writing.  I responded affirmatively; adding that I was also doing lots of art journaling as of late.  She then said something that totally struck a chord within me, “Tina, I am convinced that your artsy side comes from having a job where you have very little room for creative thinking.”  Although I had never given this matter consideration, her statement is, pretty much, true. 

For at least 40 hours a week, I serve as a public grants administrator in the charming, little town college town where I live.  And, even sans the creativity aspect, I feel fortunate to have this opportunity.  This job has taken me to new levels both professionally and personally.  Being responsible for the successful administration of literally millions of federal funds, each year, has made me more decisive, independent, left-brain skilled and, quite frankly, empowered…fulfilled, too, as the programming I oversee all benefits local persons with low and moderate incomes.  This job challenges me daily, and (I believe) keeps my mind relatively sharp.  Much of my actions are mandated, however, by concrete principles (federal regulations); which means there is very little room (aside from my leadership and management styles) to exercise creativity on the 9 to 5.

As a child, I had always been creative.  I loved to draw, paint, write and do crafts (The painting above is one I rendered at the age of 10.).  Art was most definitely a part of my daily life.  Somewhere along the way, though, I lost my art…gave it less focus, actually.  Sure, I’d write a bit, do something crafty every now and again, or begin journaling—all sporadically.  But, seeking to live each day artistically; well, that was no longer present. 

Even though (for some number of years) my day-to-day focus on an art-filled life was missing, there still continued to be some level of creative expression in my life.  Every job I’ve held prior to this time was in volunteer management which lent itself to a decent level of daily creativity (deciding volunteers’ assignments, developing orientation workshops, conducting program marketing, etc.). 

Something quite remarkable happened to me about a year into my present job as a grants administrator (about six years ago).  Like an ignited spark, my world suddenly became illuminated by my own creative undertakings: writing, journaling, crafting art, seeing beauty everywhere, etc., etc., etc. 

After a bit of reflection, my sage friend’s comment became one which took on a deeper meaning.  It provided a likely explanation for my reclaimed creative spirit.  Seeing the gross imbalance my current job created in my life, I truly believe that my wise self understood the important role creativity plays in my life, silently took the reigns and gained control.  Aha!

I’ve had many aha moments throughout my life, but this one honestly speaks volumes to me:  My wise self, she is my protector.  She is authentically me; inherently knowing what I want and need in order to live a healthy, happy, well-lived life.  And, when I allow her to do so, she makes good things happen.  Therefore, I should always seek her counsel and trust her wisdom as its sole purpose is to enrich my life.  Aha, again!

What’s your wise self’s greatest contribution to your life?    T.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Writing Rights

Writing rights. Sketch in your journal, pen a thank u note, email a longtime pal, craft your dreams on paper...and note the healing u feel.

One day last week, I came across a note page in the back of my daily planner.  Dated 12/16/09, it displayed the following hand-scrawled header: “Things I Can Do to Make Tomorrow Better.”  Below that, was this list:
  • Take a mid-morning java break;
  • Buy flowers for my office desk;
  • Take a walk at lunchtime;
  • Do yoga stretches at my desk;
  • Take a10-minute afternoon break to do deep breathing.

I honestly cannot tell you what precipitated the development of this sketch for a better day.  I can only guess on the day it was written, I had rushed from meeting to meeting (or task to task)—without taking any sort of dedicated break, and/or experienced duress over a looming, ever-expanding “to do” list. 

Here’s a probable scenario of what ensued as a result:  During a moment of sheer “Yikes!” I sought to work things out for myself.  My journal, generally, is the place where I do this.  Knowing this would not be accessible to me at work, I found the “notes” section in the back of my daily planner and began formulating a plan to make the next day better than the one I was currently experiencing.

Perhaps my actions were not as beneficial as a journal writing session (This is where I can truly get in touch with what’s bothering me.).  Yet, in a pinch, writing this list served its purpose.  It allowed me to create a solution for how I was feeling on the day my plan was written, AND essentially, (by doing so) enabled me to subconsciously identify the initial problem (culprit=not dedicating needed time to nurture myself).  Not bad!

Never underestimate the power of writing it down.  Writing, after all, rights. T.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Green is the New Pink

Today has springtime written all over it—even here in Northwest Ohio.  It’s warm, sunny and my tulips are growing taller by the day! When I think of spring, the color green often comes to mind.  There are a number of possible explanations for this.  Perhaps, I’m envisioning a fresh-cut lawn, budding leaves or simply remembering the crayon from the big box of Crayola’s labeled “Spring Green.”

Yes, spring makes me think of the color green.  But, when I think of the color green, my mind immediately shifts to being environmentally responsible, a value I hold dearly.  I’m an avid recycler, turn off lights and appliances when I’m not using them, and limit the use of my vehicle where possible.  But there’s more…I shop.

“What?” you ask, “does shopping have to do with saving our planet?”  So glad you asked!  Let's start with my wardrobe and how I shop.  Over time, I have built a wardrobe consisting of well-made, treasured staple pieces.  Much of what I own is black, white or beige.  So, my favorite thing to do is jazz up those staples (say a black pencil skirt and fitted white tee) with fabulous accessories.  Enter silk scarves, vintage jewelry, designer belts, etc.  I also like to mix my staples with interesting separates (mostly vintage); for example, a leopard-print tunic, leather blazer or to-die-for wrap dress.  A good deal of my accessories and add-on separates were secured at vintage, thrift, re-sale and consignment shops (these sources offer the most unique quality buys—often at very low prices). 

Now, onto the green of the matter… You see, when I buy vintage, second-hand and resale, I recycle (It all fits nicely into the whole “reduce, reuse and recycle” theme.).  So, buying second-hand (in any form) is responsible as it supports the market for these items (letting the cycle of recycling continue onward!).  And, shopping (responsibly) definitely brings to mind something we femmes are often drawn to—hence, the color pink comes to mind (smile!).

During my recent closet cleaning adventure, I established two stacks of giveaway items: one for donation to the local thrift shop and the other to take and sell at a consignment shop downtown.  This method of weeding out the unwanted saved the county landfill about three large bags of what could have been throw-away items (all of them quite reusable!).  An added bonus: I gave my once-cherished beauties the opportunity to be loved by another (something this re-sale girl can totally relate to!). 

In closing, I’ll say a bit about the lovely brooch pictured above… While dropping off my unwanted clothing at the local consignment shop the other day, I picked up this fab milk glass brooch for $5!  She had a $10 price tag on her but when the shop owner pulled the little sweetie out of the display case, she informed me, “Looks like this one’s 50% off this week.” Oh, and BTW, did I mention that it’s vintage?!?  Who knew being environmentally responsible could be so fun, and that green and pink could compliment each other so well? ;)  T.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Letting Go of the Need for Others’ Praise

“From self alone, expect applause.” –Marion L. Burton

The above quote really resonates with me.  It is impossible to recount the times I’ve expected (from others) praise, gratitude and acknowledgment throughout my life; only to feel disappointed when it didn’t arrive.  More recently, I’ve sought to shed such expectations.  In doing so, I am discovering applause is as close as my own fingertips—accessible to me any place, any time.  When in need, I only have to lavish it upon myself.

Author Don Miguel Ruiz wrote a book that has begun to change the way I think and react to virtually most every situation encountered.  It’s entitled, “The Four Agreements.”  One of those agreements is: “Don’t Take Anything Personally.”  Ruiz says, “When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.”  Another of Ruiz's agreements is: "Always Do Your Best.”

When I look at both of these agreements in relation to expecting others to react to or acknowledge me in a certain way, all becomes so much clearer!  That’s because I’m learning to realize that my own applause is the praise that truly matters.  And, second, when I am doing my best (and I acknowledge it), no other form of “atta girl!” is needed (since I know in my heart that I’ve done my best!).

What about you?  Is this issue one you struggle with as well?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!  T.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Chic Done Cheaply

In my quest to live tickled pink, I constantly seek ways to creatively exude elegance—yet, do so in the most cost effective manner possible.  Today, I’m sharing with you some of my fave ways to achieve chic on the cheap.  I hope they serve to inspire you!

Wrap a long strand of vintage beads around your wrist and wear them as a bracelet. About a year ago, I purchased these from the gift shop of a local non-profit for $2!  I've done this with a long strand of faux pearls, too, and the effect is quite sumptuous!

Be bold and don plenty of bangles!  They add panache to whatever you’re wearing.  Most of the pieces I own were purchased in the $5-$15 range each, are vintage, and were found at a variety of places including antique stores, vintage clothing shops and Etsy.

For instant chic, wear a scarf.  This silk (Ginnie Johnson) scarf was bought at a vintage boutique for $7!  There are so many ways to wear a scarf: as a belt, tied in a variety of ways around your neck, thrown over your shoulders as a shawl, wrapped into a bracelet around your wrist, or secured prominently on a handbag.  Scarves are one of my favorite fashion “go to’s” as they are very French…

Belt it (blazers, sweaters, cardigans, blouses...)!  I use belts to pull most all of my outfits together.  This sweet little thing is leather (Liz Claiborne), and I purchased it at a thrift store for $1!

Pin up. I love wearing brooches as they are so incredibly elegant.  A couple of years ago, I picked this stunning black glass mourning brooch up at an antique store for $4!  This one I’ve attached to a jean jacket, but it would also look great displayed on a hat, lapel, dress, or scarf.

Throw on layers of vintage glass beads…ooh la la!  I started collecting strands of vintage glass beads about a year ago.  These milk glass lovelies are Monet, and cost a mere $6!  I recently bought them at a cute vintage apparel/antiques shop in Michigan. I especially love wearing this particular strand with black!

Borrow from the boys….shirts, sweaters, jackets; never mind if it’s slightly too big.  If it’s a good, quality piece that flatters you, wear it!  This fab men's Elgin diamond watch was purchased for $8 at a yard sale last fall.  After taking it to a local jeweler for a new battery and resizing (about $20), it was ready to wear!  Amongst the various watches I own, it is truly my personal favorite. 

What are your formulas for chic on the cheap?  I'd love to hear it!  T.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Spring Closet Re-Org…

  “The most effective way to do it, is to do it.” –Amelia Earhart

I’ve always been fascinated with Amelia Earhart, and the quote above sure speaks volumes to me!  Strangely enough, I came upon this quote last week--moments after contemplating the matter of when to undertake my wardrobe closet clean. 

I generally do this twice a year (spring and fall), but somehow, I skipped out on last fall’s scheduled clean.  Hmmm…  Why I’ve put this off for so long is unknown to me.  I fully realize that when I discard the unwanted, I’m metaphorically making way for new, exciting life opportunities.  There’s also a firm understanding, on my part, that I always emerge from reorganizing/de-cluttering projects feeling renewed, inspired and empowered. 

When my daily email message from Pink Magazine (To see an online version of this, click here.) arrived, and it extolled the virtues of de-cluttering, I knew the fates were sealed.  The project I’d put off for far too long became my priority wish for this past weekend’s accomplishments.

To get myself motivated for this hefty “to do,” I crafted an art journal entry (pictured above), the night before.  Art journaling provides me with a fun way to creatively express myself, but there is an added benefit… My art journal has, time and time again, served as the starting point for what I hope to manifest in my life.  Equally important, I decided to treat my closet-cleaning project as a celebratory event--complete with hot tea breaks, an endless supply of sparking water and Pandora tunes galore (I heart the Catherine Russell station!!)! 

I am ecstatic to report that, last Saturday afternoon, the closet doors were thrown open wide, and my swanky soiree went off without a hitch.  Not only have I achieved one of this month’s personal goals, I have emerged feel more refreshed, inspired and, yes, empowered! 

What “to do” have you been avoiding?  And, how can you entice yourself to move forward?  T.

Friday, March 9, 2012

An Invite to Spring

Earlier last week, an overwhelming sense of girlish excitement came over me as hints of spring were sprinkled upon my world: warmer temps, a robin singing from the backyard, a pear tree budding in the front yard, and tulip shoots peeping out from my flower beds.   Yum!

Then, the weekend arrived. Much to my dismay, this past weekend looked and felt much more like January than it did March.  As the snowflakes flew outside my window, I resolved to forget the bleariness before me, and invite springtime in, anyway.   Sunday afternoon, I brought out a basket of colorful marble eggs, listened to some older podcasts focused on spring-inspired principles for living well, and painted my fingernails a delicate shade of pink (reminiscent of dogwood blooms!). 

No, the snow didn’t stop falling that day.  And, yes, it is still cold outside.  Despite it all, however, springtime did end up arriving —in my soul!  That is, after all, where true happiness comes from, right?

Making way for what I want in my life often takes place through tiny, little actions that I carry out one by one.  These small, yet meaningful, measures provide the needed shift that often leads me to actualize my dreams.  In any case, I always emerge from my efforts feeling brighter, more empowered and grateful for having at least taken them. 

Below, are a few of the added ways I plan to invite springtime into my life during the month of March:
  • Reorganize my closet.
  • Consign or donate unwanted items of clothing, footwear.
  • Create an art journal collage about my closet cleaning adventure.
  • Begin running outdoors, again.
  • Buy myself a bouquet of flowers for my office.
  • Secure tickets for August tea event @ museum.
  • Make a date with myself to practice challenging yoga poses.
  • Watch an indie film at the Gish Theater.
  • Replenish my office tea stash.
  • Wear the vintage bomber jacket I purchased last fall.
  • Visit an art museum.
  • Participate in a personal development teleclass.
  • Treat myself to a mani+pedi=sport hot pink finger and toe nails.
  • Read scads of books (no less than two), magazines and blogs to feed my mind.
  • Craft my 2nd quarter goals.

What does your invitation to spring look like?  Please share! :) T.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

No Longer Child's Play

As you can see from the photo above, I loved playing dress up as a child.  More recently, I’ve rediscovered this passion.  In fact, I consider it one of my newest self-care items!

One of my favorite quotes is from author Alexandra Stoddard.  This enlightened femme wrote, “Make living as an art your quest, your personal mission.”  When you subscribe to the belief that life is art, special care is taken to express yourself—through your dress, the causes you champion, the environments you occupy, the actions you take, what you say, etc., etc., etc. 

Not so many years ago, I viewed the task of deciding what to wear, each day, as a necessary chore.  Once I realized that my wardrobe selections offered me another way to live authentically and artistically, playing dress up has become a cherished passion! 

And…believe it or not I’m not a clotheshorse.  One of the most gratifying aspects of crafting my wardrobe choices is creating new ways to pair items in my closet or style them in newly found ways.   

Carve out time, weekly, to try that vintage beige sheath dress on with various types of accessories.  Scarves, belts, and vintage jewelry pieces, when paired with a clothing piece, can give that one item many different looks. 

So, pour yourself a goblet of sparkling water, light a few candles, turn on the vintage jazz tunes and…dress up.  It’s truly an exercise in letting your inner artist come out to play!  T.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Art of Living Well

Today’s focus is on the art of living well, and is based upon chapter 14 of my book, Eternal Presents, which I wrote in 2006.  My Aunt Sue, whose influence upon me has been tremendous, served as the inspiration for this chapter.  She taught me so very much, including the fact that it’s essential to carve out time solely for myself—without experiencing guilt for doing so.  Tragically, we lost her unexpectedly one year ago today, an occurrence that I still haven’t come to fully accept.   The lovely artwork displayed above was painted by my Aunt Sue.  It now hangs in my home, and is one of my dearest treasures.  Today’s blog entry is dedicated to her. 

As a little girl, I loved visiting my aunt at her home. Peacefully situated in a wooded setting, her warm touches were sprinkled all throughout her charming abode. It was there that soft, relaxing background music always played on the stereo, all of the windows opened out onto beautiful views, and each room was a carefully planned sanctuary for relaxation. Her home was unarguably a haven for her and anyone entering it. Many years before Martha Stewart had even come onto the scene, my Aunt Sue had already honed the art of living well.   She also understood that living well included her own self-care; dedicating needed time and attention, each day, to the things that fed her soul like reading, creating art, taking walks in the woods, writing in her journal from her home’s backyard. 

My Aunt Sue mastered the art of living well.  It’s now my turn to hold the proverbial brush in my hand and paint a well-lived life.  Below, are my reflections about this precious craft.

Reflections on Living Well

Define what “living well” means to you.  In doing so, let your inner spirit guide you. The actual definition of “living well” will vary markedly for each of us. For me, it is the establishment of joy and peace all throughout my day.  It’s reflected in how I decorate my home and work environment, the clothing and accessories I wear, the experiences I create for myself, and the thoughts I feed my mind. 

A day lived well includes those things that bring me peace and joy, which could include a walk in nature, reading a favorite blog, expressing myself through art journaling, listening to music, establishing boundaries where needed, savoring a hot cup of herbal tea, or challenging myself with a yoga pose.

Following your own instincts will guide you in your quest to live well. Your idea of living well might be quite different from mine. In order to define it, you must first reflect upon what personally brings you the greatest happiness in your life.  Then, follow your heart’s desire. 

Live well every day in every way.  Living well is a process that affects every aspect of your life.  Infuse enjoyable little touches and practices into your world each day. Perhaps this means that you will take a ten-minute meditation break each afternoon. Maybe you will enjoy reading a good book in the evening after dinnertime or sign up for an art class. Living well is a continuous, life-long practice. Once you begin this journey, however, you will be amazed at your ability to automatically and consistently take a few extra steps to make your life extraordinary and meaningful.

Learn the value of indulging yourself. Certain instances necessitate you do something extra special for yourself--such as carve out a morning, afternoon or fully day and dedicate it just to you.  Sometimes, this need is especially great after a difficult day. At other times, there may be no logical explanation for why an added boost is needed. You simply know that an extra dose of self-nurturing is necessary.

What rises to the rank of being “special” will vary from person to person. Here are things that I find to be wonderful ways to pamper myself:  
                  ·      Take the day to browse antique and vintage clothing shops;
·        Ditch the "to do" list in lieu of a journey to the dollar store to buy stationary, cards and craft items; 
·    Visit a second-hand bookstore and search for items on my “must read” list; 
·     Get a massage, mani, pedi or facial;
·    Art journal in bed with my cat while listening to vintage jazz;
·      Journal from an outdoor café;
·      Read from a scenic spot in a botanical garden;
·      Peruse a thrift shop looking for a silk scarf or leather belt;
·      Purchase a new flavored java or tea, bring it home, brew it, then sit on my backyard patio, with cup in hand and do nothing at all--just relax; and
·      Attend an art exhibit.

Again, let your inner spirit guide you in finding these little treats for yourself. If you spontaneously feel the need to do something for yourself, go for it! Trust yourself, and do not ignore that “little voice” calling out to you. It is your wise self telling you how to live well; advising you it must be done.

When you live well, so do others. You may initially have difficulty dedicating time or efforts solely to your own self care. You might think that others deserve your time more than you do, or that work demands your attention rather than  personal relaxation or hobbies.

Remind yourself that by living well you are also doing something positive for others. How? When you care for yourself, you are happier, more productive and relaxed. This has a measurable impact upon those around you. When you feel better, it is more likely that your family, friends, employees and co- workers reap the benefits of this.

By living well, you model its merits to others—giving them permission to do the same.  My Aunt Sue
ʼs ability to live well certainly affected me in a positive way and undoubtedly many others, also.  You, too, can make that same type of impact upon the people in your life.  T.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Authentically, Strut Your Stuff!

Breathing grounded me. Stretching empowered me. Artistic expression gifted me. Authentic's made my life one w/o regrets.

Wondering what a pair of leopard-print stilettos has to do with my pledge to live life more authentically?  Trust me, there is a connection!

A girly girl from day one, my most prized holiday gift as a child was a Suzy Homemaker vanity—complete with a three-way mirror, mini grooming kit and pink seat cushion.  My teenaged years were complete with Love’s Baby Soft perfume, floral-printed and pastel everything, and layers of highlighted, carefully-coiffed hair (okay, big hair…sigh!). 

Enter (after a few years’ detour) college and later graduate school, the proverbial career ladder climb and ascension into the management ranks.  Like many women, I subscribed to the established standard that I must always look and act the part of society’s description of a “professional” woman in the workplace.  Off came my long, blond locks and on went the most serious-looking (and even androgynous) dark business suits I could find—complete with starched-stiff collars underneath.  My makeup was scant and my shoes were the least attractive, (almost-manly) sensible flats that could be had.  Gone were any aspects of myself that were too frilly or girly, as I truly believed these hallmarks might undermine subsequent opportunities to successfully “make it” in the working world. 

After far too many years of living a totally unauthentic life, I began to embark (bit by bit) upon a personal quest, which included scads of wisdom seeking, self-nurturing, and introspection.  This led to an eventual shift, which has resulted, this past couple of years, in the most productive, successful, creative and self-fulfilled time of my life; for it is has only been in this past few years that I have come to fully realize my own tickled pinkness. 

Living authentically includes wearing my leopard-print high heels anywhere I desire—even to important workplace meetings.  And, guess what…I’m every bit as professional as I was when adhering to others’ ideals!  Now, however, I’m standing in my truth and living life on my terms.  Being authentically me has enriched my life, made me more confident and happier. My pinkness is who I am, and when I am living authentically, that is truly empowering!  

In what ways can you incorporate more authenticity into your life?   Whatever it is, slip it on and strut your stuff!  T.

Monday, March 5, 2012

My Sketch for Living "Tickled Pink"

Welcome!  My name is Tina Bradley.  I am tickled pink that you have joined me, today! My blog was designed to celebrate all things feminine, Zen and graceful--mirroring my quest to live life more pinkly, mindfully, elegantly and authentically. 

After scads of reflection, I’ve crafted a sketch for what living tickled pink means to me. Perhaps some or all of it will speak to you as well.

My Sketch for Living “Tickled Pink”

  • Live my life mindfully, elegantly & authentically.
  • Always establish an intention before embarking on special endeavors (e.g. yoga class, solo moi dates, etc.). 
  •  Affirm daily.  
  • Build community. 
  • Honor & trust my intuition. 
  • Let my creativity come out to play each day.  
  • No less than quarterly, engage in at least one personal growth activity (retreat, class, e-course, teleseminar, etc.). 
  • Meditate regularly. 
  • Read to feed the mind. 
  • Engage in at least one soul massage daily: light candles, enjoy bath soaks, savor walks in nature, write my journal, enjoy my own company, see beauty everywhere. 
  • Practice yoga. 
  • Consistently, put my best foot forward. 
  • In all things, seek quality over quantity.

Treat the time you spend here as a special date that you make with yourself.  With that in mind: pick yourself a bouquet of flowers, light a scented candle, slather on the confidence cream, slip into your favorite little black dress…and, let’s get tickled pink!