I've always been a bit of an overachiever. For example, in 5th grade. We had this assignment to draw the state flag of all 50 states. I had to be an artiste extraodinaire, even on flags like New York's, which are just impossible. I stayed up to all hours of the night working on that assignment (OK, maybe 10:30, but that's late for a 10-year-old) to get those flags just right. Then my teacher made us start in on the state birds ... good grief.

The point is, when I set my mind to something, I just can't let it go. If I want to draw a perfect New York state flag, I will. If I want to run a half marathon, I'm will run a half marathon. If I want to live in Asia, don't doubt that I'll pack my bags and board that plane.

Not only am I a compulsive overachiever, I like achieving things. I can't thrive without a goal. Even if that goal is as mundane as getting out of bed the first time the alarm goes off. Setting that goal, especially past where you think you can reach it, and then actually reaching it is the ultimate exhilaration.

This may sound silly, but my goal for the moment is to be content with living my life. It sounds like an achievement oxymoron, right? At first thought, it's like saying: Make it your goal not to have a goal; don't work toward anything. But think again. What's the hardest thing for a goal-oriented overachiever to do? Not have a goal. It's totally out of my reach!

At the start of 2011 I didn't make any resolutions, and I'm letting myself live life. It's been kinda great. I've done yoga and gone to dance classes when I want to. I hardly run at all. I cook only when I want to (even if it means making two meals at the same time). I started up a craft, but only work on it when the mood strikes (twice in three weeks). I clean just enough to keep my apartment from spawning mystery smells. I stay up late reading books I enjoy. ... And I even joined a marching band.

The fluidity of life right now is throwing me a little off kilter. I really want to hang on to that buoy and not let go. But at the same time, the ability to just live life just as I want to right now is freeing.

OK, I'll admit I'm secretly getting by on mini goals, like turning lights off when I'm not using them and feeding the cat every day. I even let some big ones, like making new friends, slip through. (I'm an overachiever, after all.) But what do you think: Can I achieve my ultimate goal of contentedness and just enjoy living my life?


Love is Cornbread

Last night, I celebrated Valentine's Day by stepping into a new community, one different than any other I've been a part of before.

Every week, a couple in town hosts a Cornbread Supper. They open their house to their neighbors and the surrounding community to share in good food and good company. Friends and strangers alike are invited to bring a dish to share (but if they can't, it's OK), and each week a group of anywhere from 15 to 55 people assembles in the kitchen of this home. Although you never know what's going to be served (though, if last night was any indication, it's always something yummy), there's always some form of cornbread gracing the table. The hosts say their cookbooks are filled with variations on this hearty recipe and it's a Kentucky gustatory staple that shouldn't be ignored.

The mix of people who attends Cornbread Suppers is an eclectic yet delightful one. There's the young woman who opened the town's only bikram yoga studio, the pastor with two kids who is getting ready to write his second book and the nearly retired professor who is a pioneer in sustainable architecture. There's the young guy who opened the town's only shop that serves fresh, Italian pasta, and the older gentleman who plays violin for a group that practices a traditional form of English country dancing. Kids run around with carefree pleasure while the wiser, more experienced generation listens fondly to those of us living our adventure somewhere in between.

The open hospitality of this community is one that is rarely shared in our bustling self-centered society, and I'm so grateful to have been welcomed into the house where the smell of cornbread baking matches the love extended to other human beings--warm, comforting, fulfilling. The evening got me to thinking, can something as simple as cornbread change the world?

Photo thanks!


Smile, Valentines

Hello lovelies. How are you celebrating your Valentine's Day? Will you have a romantic dinner with a new flame, or will you cuddle up at home with your dearly beloved. Maybe this year you are your own Valentine.

Whether or not true love is in the air around you today, take a moment to put a warm smile on your face. Wouldn't it be great if we could capture carefree joy found in "Silly Runnings" this Valentine's Day and every day?


Hug for the World

I can't believe it's already Friday! Where has this week slipped away to? All week, I've been faced with crabby, cranky people who have something to complain about. Is cabin fever setting in big time, or what? As one of my co-workers put it, "I think the world needs a hug."


So here's a hug for you. Pass it on and maybe the love will spread.


Bollywood and Yo-yos

Hi lovelies! How was your weekend?

Lately, I've been trying on a new wardrobe of activities to find out what "looks good on me." It's sort of been my unofficial theme for 2011. This weekend, I picked up some new finds:

Bollywood Dancing
As my mom says, I was dancing before I left the womb.  But as much as I like to cut a rug, never would I have thought the moves of Bollywood would capture my intrigue. This weekend I took a workshop to learn the dance that has taken the Hindi-film industry by storm, and I loved it. It incorporates many forms of international dance with Indian classical and folk into a bouncy yet expressive dance form. We learned a simplified version of the choreography above. I can't wait to learn more!

Sewing Yo-yos 
I've been bursting at the seams for a craft project lately, so this weekend I headed over to Hobby Lobby and picked up some fabric and a yo-yo maker. Sewing has always been a frustration for me, but right now, I'm drawn to the needle and thread (even if I did get the thread tangled and lose the needle a couple thousand times). I'm hoping I'll get the hang of things quickly, so I can start making cool necklaces like this.

I've been experimenting with lots of new things lately, like crafts and music and dance and yoga. I think this is because I'm afraid of my life becoming boring. Or worse, complacent. Do you think this is a healthy outlook? Have you tried anything new lately, and why?


Testing Testing ... 1, 2, 3

I'm trying out a new "look" for the blog. I switched out some fonts and played with the banner? The background is really busy, but I really like it, so I decided to leave it for now. What do you think? I beg of you, be brutally honest.

If you can't remember, this is what the blog looked like two days ago, take another peek:

I'm sure there's more morphing to be done, so weigh with your thoughts in now!


Imperfect Prints, Perfect Memory

A few weeks ago I dusted off my mom's 35mm camera that she used during her college years. I popped in some black-and-white film, and I set out on a hike. Through the viewfinder, I took in the winter wonderland that was Lexington, Ky., and basked in the silence of freshly fallen snow.

There's something relaxing and freeing about re-embracing a film camera. Forget instant gratification: Anticipation and eagerness build as you wait to develop the film. Will the photos turn out? Will they not? If you didn't get the perfect shot, oh well. The soothing action of setting up a pleasing shot, the rhythmic shutter of the camera and the hope of the image to come all combine to make the perfect memory.

I thought I'd share with you some of the imperfect prints from my 35mm adventure. My exposure time is a little rusty, and sure, the prints aren't as sharp as their digital counterparts. But these imperfections seem to add to the whimsy of the images and the peacefulness of the day. I rather like them.

Send me a link to photos you've taken recently.