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Zendala Dare

Loud, Messy Family Love

tangles used: poke leaf, perfs, and lots of flowers and variations of crescent moon.


It's Mandala Monday at Heart Connected. Here is today's mandala...the template comes from Erin at Zendala Dare. I decided to try a little color this week. I love the stark contrast of black and white, the Zentangle standard, but I have some new pan pastels that I wanted to dig into. The tones of the colors are more muted than I expected. I am okay with that though. I almost ditched the thing at one point. I wasn't liking the way it looked. But I remembered... it is about the process and I just changed my direction. I cannot say enough how much I love the fact that tangling, the method used in my mandala, mimics life in that way - not loving it, don't ditch it, change direction.

Over the weekend I spent a night with my cousins and aunties and my mom and sister. It is a tradition - the gathering of the Secret Pals! It all started with a gift exchange, but now I think the gifts are just a cover for a night of crazy family fun.

Through my mandala making process, my wandering thoughts kept making their way back to family. 

I read this blog post today, by Glennon of Momastery. I really love her and her message. The gist of today's post was that the family we see, on Facebook or on a person's annual Christmas card, isn't the whole family. There is the family we see, and then the family that exists beyond the picture. The family that can be messy and loud and sad and angry and not always clean and smiling for the camera.

That loud and messy family is CERTAINLY my family, even though I do enjoy our annual photo shoot for our Christmas card. My husband and I figured out that the secret to getting our kids to smile all at once is to make fart noises. It works every time. It only took us about 8 years to figure out that little gem. He stands over my head making fart noises and I snap like crazy. I take a ton of pictures for the photo shoot and then we narrow it down to the one that says LOVE the loudest. It's hard to depict love, of course, but we can usually find one picture that captures the sparkle in each child's eye and the endearing look that says, "I love my dad. He makes the BEST fart noises!"

Shortly after I read Glennon's post, my mother-in-law called. She had seen a few pictures of my aunties and cousins and me on Facebook and said, "It looks like you had a good time this weekend!"

We were all smiles. I did have a good time with my cousins and aunties, my mom and my sister. We laugh a lot when we are together. It is lovely to spend that time with them and beautiful to capture our joy in being together on camera. It is fun to post the pictures on Facebook for the rest of our very large and spread all over the country family to see.

While we had fun and we are indeed smiling for the camera, and without a doubt, there is so much the camera can never capture. That's the stuff I kept thinking about today as I tangled within the bounds of my mandala. I kept coming back to the fact that in the near future my aunt will undergo a stem cell treatment. The fact that the oldest auntie, my Aunt Maryann, has already passed on and her absence is always obvious at our Secret Pal gatherings. And, of course, that my grandma, who was there when it all started, isn't with us either. That in the group of ten of us, we have experienced many, many losses, divorce, anger, lots of anger, heartbreak, devastation, tough times... all that loud and messy, sad and angry stuff that life is made of.

And yet, we smile. 

We have a great time. We laugh and we love each other, even though we are a loud mess sometimes. Okay, in my case anyway, we are a loud mess a lot of the time. 

Today, if you do these things, take a minute to look closely at the mandala... look closely at the round boundary of this circle, and consider it a warm, sweet hug around your neck. Feel the hug and know that whatever is happening in your life, whatever it is that the rest of us cannot see, it doesn't change the fact that you are loved. Loved like family.

Take care! xo

What it Really Means to Keep it Simple

tangles used: Fife, Fescu/Opus variation, and Socc (sort-of)

This morning I was thinking about everything I need to do to prepare for Thanksgiving Dinner at my house on Thursday, and Pierogi Day (an Oginsky Family tradition) here on Friday. The list is a little daunting. I have been resisting the whole thing and having flashbacks to the sheer exhaustion I felt last year after this series of events took place at my house. It is all delicious, glorious, joyous fun, without a doubt, but it is exhausting.

I thought about my vow to keep it simple this year. I thought if I can just get through this weekend, THEN I will keep it simple. I took a deep breath and I kept moving. I noticed something strange. Even in the midst of my resistance and fear of exhaustion, I wasn't feeling even a little bit nervous about the coming days and my list of things to do to get through them. This is odd for me.

Then it clicked. When I vowed to keep it simple, I thought about taking it down a notch or two in the volume of what we do...what I buy, what I wrap, what I bake, what I prepare... What I realized today is that while those choices play a part in keeping it simple, the beauty of keeping it simple, lies in my ability to SIMPLY BE. No nerves, no worry, no fear of not meeting everyone's expectations, just showing up to stuff the turkey and put it in the oven. With my intention to keep it simple, I must have let myself off the hook a little. I gave myself the gift of being different this year, in addition to doing things differently. Being. Doing. There is a difference.

So it seems that keeping it simple has less to do with all the variables, all the stuff that gets in the way of really enjoying the holidays, than it does with SIMPLY being present. The turkey essentially takes care of itself. Why worry? What matters most is not what we eat or how the table looks, or even how I look, but who shows up to share it. For me, keeping it simple means showing up as-is and pouring myself into the people who showed up with me. My people. My sweet little, lovable people. Now, I am even MORE excited to keep it simple!

For Mandala Monday (which is actually Tuesday, I know), I invite you to take a minute and think about the plans you've made and all the variables that those plans encompass. Now take a deep breath, and blow it all out the window. Think about your loved ones and what they care about most this holiday. It is not really what you do or how you do it, but that you are there with them. No worries. Simply show up.

Happy Thanksgiving!
xoxo

p.s. I LOVE this Zendala. I wasn't going to participate this week, but when I saw Erin's template, I knew I just had to do it anyway. I tried the tangle, fife, which was inspired by the Flower of Life and I think I might have experienced some enlightenment. Wow. More about that some other time...

Tangling: Food for My Soul

tangle used: a variation of Pixie

Mandala Monday was almost Mandala Tuesday at Heart Connected.

I had one of those days... I woke up late, which was very unfortunate because I had no time to wake up late. Fortunately, my husband took my oldest to his bus stop. But then, my two little ones and I were late getting out the door, making them late for school. I was late all day. And, there was an emotional tornado of sorts striking at my heart today, stirring lots of muck right up. It wasn't a bad day, I just felt heavyhearted. And late.

Early this evening, before dance class and Cub Scouts and kind-of in the middle of dinner, I began to tangle. With each stroke, my heart rate decreased and by the end of my Zendala, I felt brand new. I kept it simple with the tangle. It is some variation of Pixie that I concocted. It looks like a poinsettia to me. Could it be the influence of the holidays fast approaching? Maybe. One thing is for certain though, tangling is good for my soul.

For Mandala Monday, I wonder, what might be good for your soul? What could you squeeze into your day - something little that might make a huge impact on your mood or your state of mind? Could you whip up a colorful meal? Bake some cookies? Tangle. Figure it out. Then, fit it in. You deserve it.

Have a great week!
xoxo


Practice, Practice, Practice

Zendala Dare #30, tangles used: pinwheels, intersection, eke, poke pumpkin, and ennies

For this week's Zendala Dare, the challenge was all about Thanksgiving...PIE! In my opinion, along with the stuffing, cranberry-apple crumble, corn casserole, and bread with real butter, the pie is the best part. I'm getting a little hungry here now. In the name of PIE, the challenge is to use tangles that start with the letters P, I, and E. Plus, a tangle we have never used before.

Easy as... pie!

Well, not so easy, actually. I am not in love with the way my Zendala turned out. I'm not loving the tangle - Intersection, the one on the sides that comprises a bunch of lines intersecting. I tried to embellish it with a swirly tangle, but I don't know, there is just something about straight lines that rarely appeals to me. But, I tried something new and in the process remembered the importance of seeing tangling as a practice. The point is to try new things, to fall into the process, and to practice, practice, practice.

For the last several years, I have practiced gratitude each day for the 30 days of November by posting something I am grateful for on Facebook. When I first started it, in 2009, I was in the midst of a bad news storm. It seemed like all I was hearing from friends and family was bad news. I decided to bring some positivity into my life by focusing on the things that made me happy. I was amazed by the response. Several of my friends joined me by doing the same thing through November. This year, so many of my friends are practicing gratitude on Facebook and I love hearing what people are thankful for each day. It is always a great reminder that no matter what is happening in my life, there are truly so many things for which to be grateful.

For Mandala Monday, let's all reflect on the ways in which we practice gratitude. A real shift in energy occurs when gratitude plays a part in our daily lives. Practicing gratitude is like medicine for the soul. It heals our hearts. And, there are no adverse side effects! If you haven't already begun a daily practice of gratitude, I highly recommend it.

Thank you!
xoxo

Afraid of the Dark?

Tangles used: Twilight Zone, Flying Geese, Flutter, Flora, Fescu, Nipa Droplets, Yincut, Printemps (variation)
Sakura white Gelly Roll pen on black card stock, with white charcoal pencil


Here it is! My second official Zendala for the fabulous Erin's Zendala Dare! This is Zendala Dare #29.

I did it on black because it is Halloween week, after all. As I began to tangle, I started thinking about what this week's Monday Mandala might invite us to think about. Because of Halloween, I think, I went straight to fears. In addition to fears like snakes and creepy spiders and ghosts on Halloween, our deepest fears can paralyze us. They keep us from moving forward. They keep us from moving altogether sometimes. What are your deepest, darkest fears? 

Darkest fears.

Our fears keep us in the dark. What I love about this mandala is the white ink coming out of the darkness of the black background. White symbolizes the LIGHT. In the midst of darkness, just a little bit of light can guide us out and into a brighter place. So, let's not dwell on fear. What lights you up? What moves you from the darkness into the LIGHT?

Today is a gloomy, windy day in Michigan. I am thinking about my east coast friends and Hurricane Sandy, praying that she spares the coast from disaster. Weather can be so scary. At the same time, there is a shooter on the loose in my area. He has been shooting cars at random on the highway. Whaaaaat?!?! Scary.

I am trying to keep my eyes toward the light today. For me, that light is my family - my husband and our three children, our extended families, and my sweet friends who lift me up and carry me out of the dark. At the center of my mandala, I used a tangle called The Twilight Zone, it seems to be swirling. I imagine the swirling effect could launch us right up and out of the darkness, into the safety of the light.

I love the way this simple dare turned into something so much more meaningful for me. I think that is the power of the mandala + Zentangle. It is the Zendala at work.

Wishing you safety, peace, love, and light today. xo

For my tangling friends, oh my gosh! The Gelly Roll pen was driving me nuts with its thick tip. It was fun to try something different though. Thanks for another great dare, Erin! I can't wait to see everyone's creations!