Wednesday, July 20, 2016

My mandalas in Mexico

Oh my goodness, the yoga retreat I took to Mexico at the end of April seems like it was ages ago! Finding this post saved in my blog drafts really took me back. Today I give you mandalas I drew in Mexico...
I loved having the opportunity for some down time on this retreat. I spent plenty of time practicing yoga, shopping with friends and visiting Mayan ruins, but there was also plenty of time for relaxing. I had taken a few books to read, but every time I picked one up my mind just wouldn't stay on task. So naturally, mandalas for me!

I noticed something about my mandalas while I was on the yoga retreat in Tulum, Mexico. My colors were all beach-y and sunny and vacation-y feeling.

Oh, that light that shined through my cabana window... Swoon!

True. Love.

This next mandala never made it to completion. This is what happens when I force something. I wanted to draw a mandala with harder edges so I started out with this:

And then I lost interest. I tried to add some color but just wasn't feeling it so I figured, "Meh. Life's too short, turn the page..."

And then I went back to what comes naturally...

Side note from mandala talk: The first couple of mornings as I walked along the beach I was surprised to see no shells for collecting. How could that be? Then I thought of my sweet hubby and how he is always finding little trinkets and stuff - because he really looks for them. So the next morning I decided to be more like Doug. I looked a little closer, and what do you know? I found shells! The shells on the beach at our resort were always buried just a little under the sand, with the very tops poking out. I was tentative with the first couple I dug out with my finger, expecting a little critter to climb out from underneath, but that never happened. I found shells every time I walked on the beach from that day on.

One of the participants in our group had a birthday during the week of our retreat, and my Alaskan friends suggested that we make a card for him that we could all sign. "I have nice paper with me!" I volunteered, and we agreed to meet later and construct a card. When we gathered we decided that I'd draw a mandala base, and a couple of other friends gathered beach items to adhere to the front. I loved the addition of the beach finds and the ring of sand inside! We were able to borrow a bottle of glue from the resort office, and we were all so happy with the way the card turned out. The recipient loved it too.

I drew the next one for my mama. Her birthday was at the end of the week during my retreat.

Last but not least, imagine my surprise and gratitude when I was presented with a birthday card made just for me at the end of our week. (My birthday fell on the day after our return home.) I had taught a couple of the ladies in my group how to draw mandalas, and they made this card for me that everyone signed. I love that I have Kat's first mandala as a keepsake! I will treasure it for always.

And how cool is it that they found a heart shaped ocean piece for the center?
Mandala love.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Around here this weekend

Hey there, blog friends.
Welcome to the beginning of a whole new week. What a lovely weekend we had around these parts! We were productive and also had time for time for relaxing and spending time with friends. Come on in...

You may recall that I reduced my corporate work hours to have Friday's off in order to pursue yoga and hospice work. I completed my hospice volunteer training in June and have been waiting to receive my first assignment. Well, Thursday afternoon I got the call, and Friday morning I visited my first hospice patient.

I had a moment Friday morning as I was getting ready to go where I wondered what in the world I was doing. I called Doug and he soothed me - reassured me that I could do this... And I did.

Turtle Town
The patient I'm assigned to is so lovely. And as "luck" would have it, she has a great deal in common with my mom. They were both born in the same year, born in the same state, worked the same profession all their lives, and my patient even has a daughter my age. When I first walked into her room I was struck by her lovely appearance - she even resembles my mom in a way. Petite build, impeccably groomed, at the end of her life yet still a grace about her.

It was awkward for both of us at first, but by the end of my visit we were connected. Hospice is sacred space, and I'll visit her every Friday until she's no longer there for me to visit.

In the meantime, life rolls on. I've managed to stake my sunflower sprouts to keep the turtles from plowing them down. The ones in the photo above are doing so well in their habitat.

Doug and I had friends over for brunch yesterday. Doug's friend is also our electrician, so he's seen our house remodel in progress, but his wife hadn't seen it since we first got our keys. It was so fun to show her all of the changes around here. I made baked French toast with blueberries, a fruit tray, deviled eggs, and stuffed mushrooms. Yummy!

And after brunch, I made art.

I've been wanting draw mandalas with a Sharpie pen on canvas and it felt so good to get this idea out of my head and out through my hands. I've been collecting words cut from magazines, and though these aren't glued on yet, I'm thinking they will be...

After the orange hues, I went blue...

Ah! Looking at these photos makes me want to stay home on this Monday and create more! It was overcast yesterday, and we had a big thunderstorm and lots of rain during the night. Bam! Woke us up at 3:00 a.m. with some crazy thunder. But alas, there's yoga to be practiced and corporate work to be done, so here I go.

Ahhh...a whole new week awaits.
Wishing you a great one, sweet friends!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Healing the past by writing stories

The online writing class: Heal Yourself with Writing, at

Their tag line: "Our lives may be determined less by past events than by the way we remember them...a step by step journey of discovery and re-visioning through focused journaling."

The writing prompt: A dream

My initial reaction: Oh dear Lord, not the dream...

When I was eight years old we moved to the town of Hisperia, California. The move came not long after my dad had returned from his second abandonment stint. He'd left without warning and was gone for a month (maybe longer?) before he came back home. I imagine now that perhaps the move to Hisperia was meant to be a fresh start for my parents. My mom was still deeply hurt by my dad's most recent betrayal - the sting of his actions still so raw and unimaginable. Their discord was unspoken but palpable in our family's makeup.
Right from the start, I hated living in Hisperia. I missed my Grandma Bessie, and I hated the ugly desolate desert, all the dirt and tumbleweeds, and the bus ride to school with the mean kids who rode it. We’d get on the bus and they’d point and chant, “That side! That side!” meaning, “Don’t sit on our side…” There was a crazy little girl on the bus who had a tiny dangly thumb. She would shake it at us and say that her daddy was going to chop it off for her birthday.
I had ringworm in my hair while we lived there and I remember going to the doctor for treatments. He would turn off the lights in the room and look at my head with a lamp that glowed purple. My mom washed my hair with special shampoo and I remember that she was really upset about the whole thing. She was worried that my head would have to be shaved, worried that my younger siblings would get ringworm too, and was probably grossed out by the whole thing though she never said that part to me.
There was a large old man who lived next door. He sat in a chair by his front door and always wanted us to sit on his lap. My mom kept a watchful eye on us and we weren’t allowed to visit him.
One time while we lived there, my dad got his guitar back from "a man who had been keeping it for him.” I’m guessing now that he got it out of a pawn shop. That makes sense. I remember him being so happy that day – how he lifted it out of the case and strapped it on and started playing as soon as he got home.
There was so much tension during our time there. I don’t remember my parents arguing or anything, but I knew on some level that my dad was seriously depressed and my mom was struggling to hold it all together. I had the worst dream of my entire life while we lived there!
In real life my dad had a very hairy chest, and in my dream he had completely given up hope. I dreamt that he sat shirtless in his chair, took a large knife in his right hand and slashed himself from the front of his left shoulder, across his collar bone to his right shoulder. Then, as if he was an animal being skinned alive, he peeled the front of his hairy chest downward. He had given up all hope.
I woke up with a jolt in our dark bedroom, my sister Valerie asleep in the bed beside me. I was frozen with fear and my heart felt like it was going to pound right out of my chest.
I remember crying and telling my mom the next morning that I’d had a really scary dream about Daddy, but I was so frightened that I couldn’t describe it to her. “What was it about?” she pried. But I just couldn’t. In fact, I didn’t talk about that dream for years – it was just too graphic and scary for me to speak of out loud.
I do the math in my mind and realize that my mom was 27 years old at the time. She was taking care of four children under the age of 8, dealing with the emotional wounds of an unfaithful husband, ringworm on her little girl's head and a dirty old man who lived next door.
All these years I've sat in victimhood with my mother. I've cursed my dad for his lack of...whatever. His lack of everything. His inability to protect us and provide a safe and stable family circle. The sting of my dream had always represented my dad's inability to be someone he could never be for us - a steadfast and trustworthy husband and father. Then I wrote this story and there came a shift in perspective.
This post has been saved in my blog post drafts for a while and I've revised it a few times now. Each time I've read it I have healed just a little bit more, and the last time I read through it I found a crucial missing puzzle piece. I've been missing the piece that held compassion for a 29-year old man - the villain of this story. It's true that my dad's choices were irresponsible, that he made selfish decisions that affected all of us, but he was so young and ill-equipped himself. As I read my own words, for the very first time I imagined how hard those times were for him. The dream I'd had that once symbolized his weakness, now became an opportunity for me to feel compassion...for him.
On some level as an 8-year old, I already knew the pain my dad carried and how hard that was for him. I'd been so consumed with blame and resentment toward him all these years, that it was impossible to see it any other way. I no longer felt the need to be "on my mom's side" because there were no sides. Through writing, I became the observer of my own story.
This is how we heal, my friends - by shifting our perspective of hurtful memories and seeing them in a different light. Writing stories for my blog has healed me in countless ways, and this one is no exception.
I'll always remember that bad dream I had, but now when I recall it I see it at face value - just a dream that bubbled up in the mind of a little girl who was concerned for her daddy. I don't have to carry that burden anymore, thanks to a simple writing prompt.
What hidden lessons do your old stories hold for you?
How can compassion {for self and others} play a role in the way you heal past stories?
Can you remember your stories differently by re-writing them?
"Re-perceive your past as something helpful to
change the perception of your future."
~ Jeff Martens, Inner Vision Yoga Teacher Training

Monday, July 11, 2016

Around here this weekend...

Happy new week, blog friends!
And just like that, it's Monday morning! Come on in, I'll tell you about my weekend.

I'll have an assignment for hospice volunteer work soon, but until then my Fridays are free to do what I choose. Pretty much loving that right now! Carrie had a webinar to listen to, so she brought her laptop to my house and we listened together while we drew mandalas. A perfect Friday afternoon!!!

Doug was off scouting/camping with his brother this weekend, so I called my own shots. ;o) I attended a yin yoga class on Saturday morning at my favorite studio, and I made Mexican quinoa for dinner that night...

Doug is not a fan of quinoa, and I love this dish! So that was my dinner for Saturday night, and I froze the leftovers for future lunches.

Then, Saturday night, baby...

I had the Food Network on as background noise, and I sat on our couch (in Doug's spot - ha!) and drew a mandala. Gosh, time just slips by when I draw mandalas!

Sunday morning:

The flower bed at the corner of our patio was half-over-grown and half-almost-dead, with a healthy dose of unwanted grass spouting up. I was outside by 7:00 a.m. and spent the next three hours playing in dirt. Bliss.

I also might have gotten a little carried away with succulents. We'll see how they fare on our patio in the shade. Yesterday's high temp was 109°. Bla.

And now, a new week on the horizon. There's my usual schedule of yoga teaching mixed with corporate job duties, and fun stuff on the calendar for the upcoming weekend. Ha - living weekend to weekend these days. Maybe I'll get my first hospice volunteer assignment this week...I wonder...

Carry on and keep sweet thoughts.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Meanwhile, in Turtle Town...

Today I'm sharing a bit about our habitat where our two box turtles live.
♥ ♥
Casper with a little crusty dirt on her face. Also, ice plant starts I set out last week that are taking root as I type.
You can see what this space used to look like by clicking here and taking a peek at the first photo on that post. That was last September when we were just starting to clear this space for our shelled friends.

So, that photo above is a sight we see quite often when we look into our turtle pen. Rex on top of Cas, though usually not in a side position. Eh-hm. On this particular morning I gently moved him off of her and this next picture kind of makes me laugh. Cas looks happy - she's off and running - Rex looks annoyed. If you can read turtle expressions, that is...

As soon as she was free, Cas headed my way and went straight for my toes...

Just checking out whether the red was strawberries or toes. For the record, our turtles have never bitten us. They do this little thing with their nose where the push against potential food to smell it first and maybe to test the texture? I'm guessing. Anyway, she did nudge my big toe and then made her way on to other things once she discovered I wasn't food.

If you look closely, you can see dichondra grass sprouting in the photo above. I've sprinkled seed on the little hill where their food hut is, and also around their pie plate water saucer. The dichondra I planted several months ago is really taking off now that there's a regular watering schedule from the drip lines Doug and I installed.

I also have a few sunflowers sprouting and you can see a couple of them in the photo below. I'm going to have to do something to protect these sprouts from being plowed over by clumsy turtles. Need to protect them until they're big enough to make the turtles go around them.

The turtles do climb through the hollow log on occasion, but they really prefer hiding behind and slightly under it most of the time. It's a fun piece that Doug found on a wood-cutting road trip we took last year.

The little saloon building used to be a birdhouse before I dropped it and the bottom fell out. Then I repurposed it as a mess hall for the turtles. There's a little turtle plate inside where we put their food every morning. Sometimes that keeps the birds from seeing and taking their food before our turtles reach it. And yesterday morning it was covered in ants, aka live turtle snacks.

The deer antler is a shed that Doug found years ago. It's dried out from being in the sun - Casper loves to nibble on it. And those little red marbles serve no other purpose but to make me happy. ;o) I do love when the sun hits them just right and they light up.

Rex on the move

It's so fun to have this space arranged for our turtle pets, and I'm so excited to watch it fill in and take shape. Rex and Casper seem to enjoy it too, as they are out and about more often, strolling around and checking things out. Plus, now that there's a regular watering schedule, there are more bugs for them to scavenge. I think they love it here.

PS: If you're curious about why I love turtles, I did write a blog post several years ago called, "Why the Turtle." You can read it by clicking here.

Monday, July 4, 2016

4th of July weekend

Happy Independence Day to my USA readers.
And happy heavenly birthday to my sweet mother-in-law, PJ.
Doug's mom was red, white and blue through and through. PJ was born on the 4th of July, married a US Marine, served her community through countless hours of volunteer work, and wore our country's colors every chance she got. If she was still here with us there would surely be a birthday celebration today, but alas, we carry on and remember her fondly.
It's been such a great holiday weekend for us! We hosted a small get together at our house Saturday evening so we spent our day preparing for guests.

My SIL, Meta, gifted me with some patio lights for Christmas a couple of years ago. At the time we were planning on relocating, so I kept them in the box until we had a more "permanent" patio to hang them. Saturday morning while Doug played golf with his buddies, I set out to hang my Meta lights. I LOVE the way they look and am so happy to finally have them installed.

I had to make a quick grocery store run before our party on Saturday afternoon and was walking along thinking, Why does my step feel off? Turned out to be something I've heard others confess to and I've always wondered, "How would that happen..."

I couldn't get out of that grocery store fast enough! Lol. Oh, me.

Our party was so much fun! We had Doug's dad and siblings + significant others + friends-who-feel-like-family, and Carrie and her crew stopped in as well. I made meatball sliders for dinner (made the meatballs early in the day then finished cooking them in the crockpot) and a yummy green salad. Each of our lady guests brought an appetizer and as always, we had plenty of food.

Our friends-who-feel-like-family arrived with this beautiful bouquet of flowers:

After all the party prep on Saturday, Sunday was a day of clean up and then rest and relaxation. We snacked on party leftovers most of the day, and I made a simple quesadilla dinner for us last night.

And there was some mandala drawing in the mix...

And now it's Monday and day three of our weekend. I love Monday holidays! :o)

We're having Carrie and Andrew over for an early dinner, then the four of us have tickets to the Diamondback game this evening. There will be a big fireworks display after the game, a great way to cap off an awesome holiday weekend.

Wishing you all a safe and happy 4th of July!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Rinda's Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt 2016

My blog friend, Rinda, is hosting her annual summertime photography scavenger hunt for the sixth year in a row. Of course, I'm participating again! There are a total of 21 items on the list of things to find, and today I'm sharing eight of those items that I've found and photographed so far.

I'm sharing my finds on Instagram, so these shots will be repeats for my readers who follow me there. Only difference is that here, on my blog, I'll include some stories where I can.

Item 1 - A "wild heart" - a naturally occurring heart

Long-time readers of PaperTurtle will know that I have a really nice heart-shaped rock collection, thanks to my sweet hubby, Doug. I figured that if, by the end of the summer, I hadn't come across a heart in nature I could always use one of my heart rocks as a fall back. Alas, I won't need to do that because I found this sweet little perfectly heart-shaped leaf early in the season.
Item 8 - A drawing, art project, artistic photograph,
scrapbook page,
greeting card, or art journal page
created by you.
Mandala art by me. Surprise (not).

11 - Fresh produce

There's an international market close to my workplace, and also in the same shopping center where Carrie and I meet from time to time for Thai food on my lunch hour. This photo was taken after one of those lunches. Baby bananas. So cute.

13 - The moon

Man, it's tough to photograph the moon. I thought I might find a clever alternative and use a little play-on-prompt with this one, but the prompt does read, "THE moon." Not just any moon. I was actually fairly pleased with the shot I got, taken the night before the second full moon in June which was actually called the "strawberry moon." Perfect.

16 - A map showing a trip taken during the time period

It just so happens that we have an old Arizona roadmap in the glove compartment of my car, so when Doug and I took a little road trip to Tucson earlier this month I captured this photo.

17 - Twins

So, we were sitting at our table during a party to celebrate my nephew and his fiancĂ© when I noticed my niece Savannah sitting at another table with her friends. Carrie mentioned that the boys she was sitting with were twins! I watched for a few minutes as the kids laughed and were thoroughly enjoying each others company before I risked embarrassing my niece by approaching them for a photo. I explained why I wanted the photo and my niece announced, "Well, they're fraternal..." and I said, "I don't care! They're twins and they might be the only ones I see all summer!" The boys scooted close to each other and their happy, fun and goofy demeanors promptly vanished as I took a few photos. Haha. This photo just cracks me up though, and I put a check mark by item number 17.

19 - A seasonal cocktail or beverage

I'm not sure a margarita is a "seasonal" cocktail because I live in Arizona where margaritas flow year-round, but this one was taken at Carrie's birthday celebration during the month of June so I'm calling it item 19.

21 - A photograph of you with a newspaper or
calendar page from the time period covered in the hunt.

Item 21 of Rinda's photo hunt always involves a self-portrait and it's usually the last item I ever check off the list. This year I randomly checked it off first, before taking any of the other photos above. I love that it's for the month of June (Carrie's birth month) and also includes sunflowers (my fav) and I don't have to worry about item 21 for the whole rest of the summer. Bam!

Rinda's hosting a link-up party on her blog today. Click here to visit her blog and have fun clicking around and visiting some of the other bloggers who are participants in this photo hunt. There are blog friends from all over the planet participating, and it's always so fun to see the different takes on each of the prompts.

Big thanks to Rinda for hosting this fun event for the sixth summer in a row!
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