Sunday, February 27

Paying It Forward - The Crafty Edition

Kristina over at "A Perfect Dose of Life" always has amazingly sweet and upbeat posts, and today was no different. She shared a "Pay It Forward" idea that is right up my alley since I get pure joy out of creating things with my own two hands. So, without further ado, here it is:

Here are the rules:

* Be one of the first five people to comment on this post.
* You will receive something handmade from me within the next few months.
* Post about Pay it Forward on your blog/social media site of choice and send something handmade to the first five people who comment on your post. Keep the craftiness going!
* You can send anything, big or small...(even a homemade card for those who are less "crafty") It just has to be handmade.

If you are one of the first five people to comment, just make sure you leave your email address so I can get in contact with you!!!

***and please go check out Kristina's beautiful blog! "A Perfect Dose of Life"

Tuesday, February 22

Sharing one of my poems...

I'm a lover of poetry...both reading it, and writing it. Is there anything more romantic than a lover writing a tender poem for you?
There's so much "there that's not there" -- if you know what I mean...not only in the double-entendres, but in the imagery and sometimes endless interpretations to be made.
I love re-reading a poem I've read many times, and finally "getting" something new that I'd never glimpsed in it before. Anyway, feel free to share your favorite poetry in the comments section, either ones written by someone else, or by you. I'd love to see what you like. In the meantime, here's one of mine from 2006:


I see my sanity before me,
a dancing nymph
flitting to and fro,
taunting me-
catch me if you can!

Delicate wings
carry her away
while I give chase-
yet she remains
just out of reach.

When I give up,
weary and broken,
she gently lands
beside me-
as I gaze in awe
at her fragile beauty.

Too quickly
she’s off again,
but she pauses
briefly in mid-flight
and looks at me-
lighting up my world.

With a glance
and a smile
she’s revealed-
it’s the chase
that keeps us both alive.

Michele Chastain ©2006

Thursday, February 17

Finding Balance

Lots of people may not realize that when you sustain a spinal cord injury, you lose all sense of physical balance. In rehabilitation therapy, we're taught to find a sort of "false balance" point when sitting, and then we train ourselves to maintain that balance, even when outside forces try to throw us off.
One of the first exercises I was taught was to throw a ball back and forth with my therapist, throwing and catching with both hands at the same time to strengthen my trunk and improve my sitting balance. But I was slick, (or at least I thought I was) and realized I was darn good at throwing and catching a pretty big ball with one hand, while holding onto my chair with the other. Sure it worked, but it wasn't helping me build my much needed core strength. I was looking at the "right now" and not the future. I just wanted to get through the ball game without falling over, possibly injuring my body, but most assuredly injuring my pride. Thankfully my therapist didn't put up with it for long, and she whipped me into shape...and before long I was catching the ball with my hands out in front of me, and even over my head, which was no easy feat for a newly injured high level paraplegic. But the most important thing here was that working for this center of balance helped me prepare for those times I might be caught off guard...AND, I was proud of myself and had a new sense of confidence to try more challenging feats.
(((For those who know (or don't know) anything about the spinal column, I am a T-5 paraplegic which means my spinal cord was injured at the 5th vertebrae in the thoracic region.))) Here's a picture:
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Anyway, lately I've been looking at the balance in my own life, and how when I plan ahead, balancing things based on priorities, I end up more at ease and life is easier. Alternately, I can look at when I've failed to plan ahead, and done no weighing and prioritizing, I inevitably end up taking on more than I'm comfortable with, and my stress level shoots up...then a whole lot of nothing gets accomplished. Been there?

You know how it is being a woman in this day and age...we're supposed to be a great housekeeper, but bring in some money to help run the household, take care of the kids, make sure everyone is eating healthy meals, do the shopping, make sure your friends and family never feel slighted, and look at least halfway decent at all times. That's a lot to juggle and that's not even all of it. It only takes one foible to make it all come crashing down...leaving us trying to scramble to pick up everything and get it all back in place.
Balance is about making careful choices. If you have a set of scales in front of you, you're going to carefully choose which items to place on either side in order to keep them from tipping. So it is in our lives.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
One way I've found to streamline is to combine things when I can.

•For instance, instead of having to schedule in time for my husband and I to be together outside of work, and my regular workouts, I got my husband to join the gym. Now we spend that time together, and the extra perk is that he's lost weight and has a healthier cholesterol and blood pressure!

•Back in 08 when my son was in high school, our local Humane Society shelter really needed help with office work and adoptions, so I was spending a lot of time there. Instead of taking that time away from my son, I encouraged him to get his required community service hours (for his senior project) by volunteering at the shelter with me.

•Occasionally my friends who also knit and crochet (like me) will get together for a gab session while we do our yarn work. So we're all getting something finished, but spending time together as well. These times with friends also seems to renew my spirit.

Good planning can help us have a more balanced and fulfilling life. Please share with me how you work to stay in balance, both in your day to day life, and emotionally/spiritually, etc...

Sunday, February 13

~Another Year Older, Another Year Wiser~

Saturday I turned 40-something-ish... hahaha! My hubby brought me a dozen gorgeous peach colored roses, and took me out to "wherever I wanted to go" -- but being a 'not so fancy' girl, I chose Sticky Fingers rib restaurant. I was in the mood for some smokey ribs...yum! I was only able to eat 4 ribs, though, since I'd had the flu last week and was still a little green around the gills! Oy! We shared a peach cobbler for dessert...then we went for a drive. I love quiet birthdays with my most cherished people. I'm not big on people making a production, or God forbid, strangers in a restaurant singing Happy Birthday!
Time really flies by fast, doesn't it? And it's true what our parents and grandparents used to tell us that it just seems to go quicker and quicker the older we get. How can I be this age, yet still feel 15 inside my head? Haha! One quick glance in the mirror jolts me back to the reality of my age though, oh my! Those "smile lines" as my hubby calls them -- but I ask him why, if they're really "smile lines" are they still there when I stop smiling? When push comes to shove, I know I'm not likely to go the Botox route (although I don't fault anyone who does.) I'm afraid I'd be one of the people it messes up with, so I guess I'll just wear my wrinkles, sags, and bags as badges...God knows I've earned every_single_solitary one of them!
Anyway...hope you all have a beautiful Valentine's Day filled with peace, love and chocolate!

Wednesday, February 9

28 Random Things about Michele...

I love when other bloggers post random factoids about themselves. It's like a little peek inside of someone's world that you otherwise may not have glimpsed in just reading the "typical" blog posts.
So in honor of the 28 days of February, I settled on 28 random facts about myself. I hope I'm actually interesting enough to come up with 28 things! Hahaha!

1. My favorite TV shows are: Project Runway & Chopped
2. My favorite color is green.
3. My middle name is Anna.
4. My son, Nathan, was born 7.5 weeks premature and weighed 3 pounds, but otherwise was perfectly healthy! Thank God! :)
5. I have green/light brown/gold eyes that seem to change color with my moods...which freaks my husband out sometimes! Haha!
6. I'm only 5'1"
7. I love peanut butter with bacon!
8. I drive a bright blue PT Cruiser convertible.
9. My maiden name is Baumgardner (11 letters, OY!)
10. I cringe when people scrape their eating utensils on their teeth.
11. It makes me crazy when people say "I seen so-and-so at the market..." The grammar-marm in me starts having a panic attack! LOL
12. I lightened my hair to blond for about 15 years before finally realizing God knew what He was doing when He made me a brunette.
13. I write poetry.
14. My husband's name is "Chesty" -- really.
15. I have 1 sister, 1 brother, and 2 step-brothers. I'm the youngest.
16. I lift heavy weights at the gym, and am participating in a lifting competition this April.
17. I handcycle -- here's a picture in case you've never seen one...people always stop me to check it out. :) Image and video hosting by TinyPic
18. Although I've been from Florida to Maine on the east coast, I've never been further west than Clearwater, Florida on the Gulf Coast. I feel like I'd be landlocked and itching to be near a coast if I were in the center of the US. Haha!
19. I crack my knuckles... gross, I know.
20. I have a tattoo on my left inner wrist that has 3 stars, 1 for my son (green), 1 for my husband (red), and one for me (purple).
21. I have 5 tattoos in all. The wrist one, a star of David with a yellow flower in it, a bird with a branch in her mouth, a twisted vine with pink roses, and an Egyptian ankh, which is the symbol for "Life."
22. I usually have my toenails painted some crazy color.
23. I have the right lyrics to thousands of songs in my head.
24. My celebrity crush is Javier Bardem *swoon* Image and video hosting by TinyPic
25. I used to play the trumpet.
26. Before I was injured, I taught aerobics and weight training.
27. I read like crazy...mostly non-fiction.
28. I want my gravestone to read: "Some of it's magic - Some of it's tragic - But I had a good life all the way"

Tuesday, February 8

Can You Feel It...?

Spring is right around the corner, folks! Yay!
For many, that means Spring Cleaning your homes and yards, getting rid of the clutter and dust, making everything new and fresh for the beautiful months of birth and renewal ahead. This year I challenge you to do a Spring Cleaning of your life along with me!

Here's a great list courtesy of Life Coach, Kathy Gates:

1. Clean out the anger, hatred, jealousy, and self doubt. If you need to apologize, bite the bullet and do it. If you’re still angry and waiting on an apology from someone who won’t or can’t give you one, decide to let it go. It’s not contributing to your life -- in fact it’s contaminating it -- so it needs to go to the junk heap at the curb. Only then can you put something POSITIVE in it’s place. Make some room for happiness.

2. Wash away delay and procrastination. Delay and procrastination set you up for frustration after frustration. You’ll find yourself constantly in the past, trying to catch up, scrambling around trying not to get caught. Is that really how you want to live. Get into the present! You’re missing your life by living yesterday over and over.

3. Dust off your attitude.
Paint on a fresh coat of positive. A positive attitude begins with gratitude. For just one day, practice giving instead of taking, practice sharing as much love, help, care, concern, and gratitude as possible. It’ll change your perspective.

4. Throw out misunderstanding, and lack of patience. Sweep out the dirt of gossip or lies. Open the shades and let in the warmth of friendship. True friendships, take work, time, energy, thoughtfulness. True friendships require forgiveness, require understanding. You don’t want to be a doormat to anyone, but you do want to find relationships that are equal and reciprocal. The results are certainly worth it.

5. Lighten up your thoughts with humor and fun. Yes life is difficult and the world can be a scary tiresome place. But in your own world, you are in charge of every day. You decide what to think about. You decide when to laugh, you decide what to read, what to listen to, what to think about. Choose to insert laughter into each day; choose to have a little fun every day.

6. Open the windows of your mind to new ideas and a fresh perspective on living a happier, better, easier life. Change takes action. There’s no silver bullet, no magic pill. But if you’ll open your mind to some different ways of doing things, if you’ll try some new habits, if you’ll work your mind muscles and your organizational skills in a different way, you’ll find that you’ll create the life that you truly want, not just the one that you end up with.

7. Enjoy the person you are. If you don’t like yourself, find out why, and start working on becoming a person you do enjoy and that others will enjoy also. The returns will be worth it.

Wednesday, February 2

It's Never Too Late

No matter how far you go down the wrong road, you can always turn back...

Isn't this a powerful phrase? If you stop and meditate on it a moment, you'll probably be amazed at the profundity of these words.

If you've struggled with a problem, secret, or way of thinking for so long, and feel as though there's no hope for you, you're wrong. If you're alive, there's hope!

I've talked about it once before in my blog that I was molested as a little girl. It went on for quite a while, and it planted an ugly seed in my soul, making me believe I was bad. Such a simple, 3-letter word, "BAD" -- but so powerfully negative. This feeling of being bad plagued me for so many years. When I was 9 and had the opportunity to drink alcohol for the first time, I figured I might just as well, because I was bad. When I was 12 and offered drugs for the first time, I gave in and did them, figuring I had no goodness in me to try and protect. This sort of scenario played out in my life over and over and over, most always with unfortunate results because I was trapped in a vicious cycle and had no idea that I could just step off of the treadmill.
It wasn't until I was in a trauma unit being told I would never walk again that it clicked in my mind that I'd had enough. It was time to take control of the reins of my life and salvage what I could.
I'd love to say it was sunshine & rainbows from there on out, but that would be a lie. If someone ever tells you their life is perfect, you can instantly be sure of either one of two things about them:

1. They're delusional.
2. They're a liar.

Perfection is not a part of the human experience.

Often over the years as I've tried to make the most out of my life, I've looked up only to realize I'm back on that road that leads to the place in my soul where I feel like I'm 'bad.' Most people would never even know this unless I shared it. I've never backslid into substance abuse or any sort of a wild lifestyle, but where I do slip can be just as dangerous. How can we create good in our lives when at our very core, we feel bad? We can't. We project what's inside and create our reality.

The little girl who was made to feel bad, was never bad. Someone did something bad to her, but her soul remained unblemished in the eyes of her Creator. We must never allow negative influences to permeate our beings. Don't let people put labels on you. Don't let lies loop over and over in your head for so long that you end up believing them. Dwelling on negative thoughts contribute to their power.
Peace Pilgrim, an American teacher, spiritual leader, and pioneer for peace said, "If you realized how powerful your thoughts are, you would never think a negative thought."

So when you find yourself on the wrong road, whether it be the road of negative thinking, or the road to bad habits, etc... just turn around.