Thursday, September 24, 2009

And the Winner of the Gratitude Journal is...


Amy! of "Keeping up with the Schultz Family!" She was the second entry in the responses to the original post, and good old random.org picked "2" for our winning number. Amy's list of what she's grateful for is really lovely - do stop by and say hello if you get a chance. Her family is gorgeous and their love for each other beams from all the pictures she posts. Here's her list:
1. I'm Grateful for my loving and hard working husband. It is because of him I can stay home with our little one.
2. For loving daughter who I love very much. She is the joy of my life.
3. For my friends and family for always being there for me.

I have to say I was totally blown away by how uplifting and wonderful it was to read the list of what everyone was grateful for. Thank you for posting and sharing, everyone :) It continues to be really affirming; so please take a moment and read them, if you haven't and read the responses. I know you'll come away with a smile.

I want to thank all of you readers (and especially those 25 followers! wow!) for making this last year so special. It's been fun finding friends and finding my voice. I'm grateful for each of you who come and read, and who participate. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Big blog hugs to all of you! Are those called "Blugs"?!?! :P

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Get Away to Olema - Cheese, Chickens and the Ocean

As some of the regulars know, I left my job for a new one. I'm gonna be honest here, I originally gave two weeks, but then decided I wanted more time off between jobs. And, I'd totally had it with my old job. So I cut that down to about seven days notice.

To celebrate the end of something and the beginning of something else, I've decided to be a "woman of leisure" for a couple of weeks. On Sunday, my guy and I went up to Olema to eat some cheese, drink some wine and take in the sites.

We stayed at the adorable "Olema Cottages," which is an old farm house turned inn, complete with chickens. I totally loved the chickens and we started fondly calling them "The Ladies." We also went to the somewhat famous "Cowgirl Creamery" and got some local cheese. Our favorite was the "Mount Tam" (short for Mount Tamalpais, a local mountain in Marin County) - it was buttery and delicious. I'm on a mission to get more tomorrow at the Ferry Building when I'm downtown.

On Monday we also went to an oyster farm, on Tomales Bay. This whole idea got into my head when my friend Antonio mentioned he'd been up there and had oysters. Then suddenly I was kind of obsessed with finding a way to get up there myself. I'm going to admit, I didn't love the oysters as much as I thought I might. But the views of the bay and the surrounding area reminded me a little of Scotland, and it was gorgeous. Thanks for the tip, Antonio!

Monday included a stop at Point Reyes Seashore National Park, and a walk along the "Earthquake Trail". On this path, you get to see the a fence that was split by 20 feet in the 1906 Earthquake. Totally fascinating.

Here are some pictures of our adventure. Up for tomorrow's day of leisure: a hair appointment, I officially become a "lady who lunches," and then I have an evening meeting to talk about our next retreat. I will also be doing some shopping.



Me, feeding the chickens at Olema Cottages
Feeding Chickens at Olema Cottages

The main building at Olema Cottages
The main house

Our appetizers: tomatoes from the inn, Mt Tam cheese from Cowgirl Creamery, and Fume Blanc by Ferrari Carano
Appetizers

A shot of a barn across Tomales Bay
IMG_0838

Fog coming in over Tomales Bay
Where the river meets ...


Want to see more? Check out my Flickr photostream!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Bible Study: The Book of Ruth

As the first Bible Study, I've decided to go with the Book of Ruth. A heart warming tale of friendship, faith and dedication, this is one of my favorite books of the Bible. As you may know, I am a huge fan of the Old Testament, so I thought it would be only appropriate that we start back in the "OT."

The Book of Ruth is small, only four chapters. It's the story of two women, a daughter and a mother in law. I assure you it's a quick read!

You can find the Book of Ruth here, at Crosswalk.com. I generally use the NRSV (New Revised Standard Version) as my translation of choice. If you're looking for a good study Bible, I highly recommend it. However, I know that many people have preferences so I encourage you to use whatever version you love most. (I feel a post coming on about the various translations of the Bible, because it's great topic.)

For this month, take a look over the Book of Ruth. Give it a good read, noting what passages and portions speak to you.

To help consider the story of Ruth more deeply, here a few suggested topics to consider:

- Most of us know the passage "Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God." (Ruth 1:16) Have you heard this passage before? What does it mean to you? Does the context of the larger story give the passage new meaning to you?

- There are many historical social and gender roles at work in this story. How do you interpret what is going on? What is most striking about Ruth's decisions and actions? How is this very different from modern social and gender roles?

- Ruth's faithfulness is noticed and she is held in high esteem in many ways in this story. How are her decisions noted, and what is remarkable about the end of this story?

- How is God and the role of one's faith portrayed in this story?

The next step is for anyone who'd like to join the Welcoming Spirit Bible Study to post about the Book of Ruth in the next month. Once you've posted your reflections on Ruth, you can post your link below, or send me an email at welcomingspirit at gmail.com - and I can add a link to your story from this blog.

I can't wait to see how this turns out! I'll also be making a post or two about Ruth in the next month. Email me if you have any questions :) welcomingspirit at gmail.com

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Big Swap Reveal

Don't forget to sign up for my Gratitude Journal Give Away!

So, my swap buddy was Shannon from Welcome to The Nuthouse! As a reminder, here is what Shannon sent me.

I must say, she wrapped everything in lovely wrapping paper, and the whole package was such a treat to open. I got the note from our front desk person at work, and hurriedly opened it all in my office.

OK, this packaged rocked. I love stationery. Shannon picked two of the cutest packs of note cards ever. I've already used some of them :)

She included Ghiradelli chocolates. I also included those as some of my favorite things. These went out on the dinner table when we had my sister and her hubby over and were eaten right up! Delish!

The candle ... it's a cinnamon flavor that Shannon picked out because she loves fall scents. Wow, it's amazing. A nice, light flavor that warms up the apartment. It's become my new favorite.

And, I got a great movie (Sense and Sensibility), a cute makeup bag, and some nice lipgloss, and anti-bacterial gel! Packaged up with a sweet note, I just was beside myself with how lovely, thoughtful, and nicely put together the whole thing was.

Shannon totally made my day, and I thank her from the bottom of my heart for being my swap buddy. It's been so fun participating, and great meeting two new bloggers!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Give Away: A Gratitude Journal

As part of the ongoing one year anniversary of Welcoming Spirit, I'm having a happy give away!

The other day, after work, I stopped by the Chronicle Book Store. I love looking at all the books they have, so many craft books, journals and unusual things. Something special caught my eye and made me think of all of you.

It's a Gratitude Journal, and it encourages the journalist to jot down the things they have been grateful for that day. I loved looking through it. It reminded me that it's hard to be angry or down when you approach things from a departure of gratitude. When we are grateful for what we have, it's hard for the ego to sneak in and try and tell us that we want more.

As my one year give away, I'm giving away one brand new Gratitude Journal. All you need to do is tell me three things you're grateful for in the comments, and you're entered.

Here are the things I am grateful for:
- Having had a wonderful job with people I really love, and knowing that I have a new adventure ahead of me.
- Having an amazing family who stand beside me through everything. I'm grateful for my parents, my sister, and all of my extended family.
- My home. It's cozy, happy, and has a loving vibe. I love having people over, and I love having a nice place to hang out with my guy.

So, the details. Leave me a comment below with three things you're grateful for. Please leave your email address so I can contact you if you're the winner. The give away will be open from 10pm PDT on September 16, 2009 and close at 11:59pm on Wednesday, September 23, 2009. I'll be using random.org to pick a single winner. Only one entry per person. Good luck!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A Blog-aversary and Other Celebrations!

This week marks the one year anniversary of Welcoming Spirit! Oh my! And to think that the one year day was actually the same day I was offered a new job... wow.

I've got a houseful of college friends coming over tonight, but in the next week, in celebration of so many good things in this life, I'm planning:

The first of the Blog Bible Study group posts

A give away in celebration of the blog's first year

I can't wait - thank you to all of you who stop by and visit and comment. This year has been amazing, getting to know so many new blog friends :)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Breaking the Silence on My Day to Day Job

As some of you know, I work day to day in advertising. Specifically, I'm a project manager that oversees builds of big websites. I usually love my job, and have been in the field for eleven years. I joke that I'm a WWW Veteran and seriously, I can't imagine doing anything else for a job.

I mentioned that in July they let my boss go, let a dear dear friend go, and let another woman in our department go. Another two coworkers left within two weeks. Another two have left since then. And this week, I announced my own departure.

What ultimately helped me in making my choice of where to go next? Some very inspirational people, who have been in the business for fourteen years. They are a small shop who has had their best year ever this year. This year. I see that as an amazing feat, and see it being something that happens when leadership is focused on people, on doing the best work, on being inspiring, and on taking risks.

I simply can not wait to join them.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Some More Views of The Coast

A few weeks back I posted pictures taken from my phone on the way up to one of my favorite places in the world. It's north of where I live, at The Sea Ranch, California. My family has been going there, renting houses since I was about 11 years old. It's a mellow place, with little to do other than walking the bluffs, checking out tide pools, seeing lots of wildlife like seal lions and deer, and soaking in the sun. It's also a wonderful place for people to gather together and spend time catching up.

After Bodega Bay, you hit famous Highway One. This picture is still the wallpaper on my phone.


At The Sea Ranch, there are lots of homes perched for a great view. Check out the homes on the cliff in the upper right.


There are tidepools with starfish and sea anemones.


And, when we were sitting watching the waves, this big boy popped out of the water and started barking at us. Don't worry, we weren't this close...


Here he is, striking his "Little Mermaid" pose. What a gorgeous place to call home:

It's easy to be inspired when you're close to so much nature.

Friday, September 4, 2009

A Bible Studying and Blogging Group?

The comments on the Old Testament Course post I made earlier this week from Tabitha and Rae got me to thinking.

What if I posted either a passage or a writing prompt once a month, and then during that month, some of us wrote about it? It sounded like there was some love for studying the Bible. I think that we often learn the most about the Bible from other people and their experiences.

I think free form would be the most open, allowing people to give any reflections they wanted about the passage or the prompt. Could be researched or personal, anything would be welcome.

Leave a comment if you might be interested - I think this could be a lot of fun!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

And the Swapping Continues

I'm not altogether sure we're supposed to reveal our prizes, but I'm so excited that I just couldn't keep it to myself...


I totally love everything that was in the package :) I can't believe how some of the things in the package are also some of my favorite things! And it really made my day when it showed up at work today. So I'll leave you all with a cliff hanger... who was my swap friend?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A Course in the Old Testament

In the past few months, I've been looking for "what's next" in my love of Religious Studies. A dear friend has been emailing me about a fantastic class that she's taking next quarter, and has been lovingly asking me if I'd join her.

Initially, I emailed the admissions people to see if I could take the class as a special student. The costs are high. $2000 is a lot of money for a single class. (And of course, it shows my age when I find myself thinking "It cost less than that for a whole quarter of classes back when I was at UCSB." Then again, I'm realizing that this years' freshman at college were born the year I graduated from high school.)

My friend IMed me again today and asked what I was thinking. We chatted and she asked why I might not audit the class.

In a crazy turn of events, I've just emailed a professor at UC Berkeley's Franciscan School of Theology asking if I can audit his course. I'm thrilled and can't wait to hear back.

I'm crossing the "do at least one thing a day that scares you" line item from my list now.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Few of my Favorite Things: a Blog Swap!

Kathie at My Net Finds is hosting a blog swap, and the theme is "A Few of my Favorite things." The idea is that you pick out a few of your favorite things and send them along to a randomly drawn blogger. In turn, you also receive a package from another blog. Like a Secret Santa! Check out this clever and hysterical button Kathie made to promote her Blog Swap. ->

So, I can't tell you WHO my swap-a-rooni buddy is, but I'm sure as heck going to show you what that lucky lady is getting in the mail in about two days, and I thought it might be nice to share why I picked each thing. So here goes:A Gingerbread Candle from 5 B & Co Candles, in Westin, Missouri. These candles are my favorites ever. I love the lasting, fun scents and I really love Marsha, the owner and founder of the company. She invents her own scents, pours her own candles and is as funny and charming as anyone I've ever met.

Watermelon Soap from Goat Milk Stuff in Charleston Indiana. I first found Goat Milk Stuff on another blog, and decided to give it a try. My skin had been itchy and dry, and I think that was related to my recent fructose and gluten intolerance. This soap has made a huge difference. PJ and her family own the goats and make the soap, and I love it!

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. Seriously, this is one of my favorite books of all time. I first read it about 9 years ago. It is a historical fiction around the story of Dinah, found in Genesis 34. While the story in the Old Testament is one of revenge and some carnage, Diamant turns that on its head to be a story of a woman's strength and love. I could write more, but suffice to say this book actually changed my life.

Ghiradelli peanut butter and chocolate squares, from San Francisco! I had to add at least one item that represented my City, and peanut butter and chocolate are a true favorite indulgence. I love Ghiradelli, love the square and that part of the city, and I have a high school friend who now works there!

A couple of Burt's Bees treats and some lavender blotting papers, because everyone needs to carry those things in their...

Handmade Dahlia Purse! that's right, the last thing in the package is a purse made by me! The print includes dahlias, which are my favorite flower. It has two internal pockets, black lining, and was made with a lot of love on my new sewing machine.

So, what are some of your favorite things?

The Meaning of Work

My friend Katey posted this gem today, and wow, it's good:

Unser Leben währet siebzig Jahr - Sethus Calvisius (1556-1615)

Our life lasts seventy years,
and if it's exceptional,
then it's eighty years.
And if it has been valuable,
then it's been weariness and work.
For it goes past as fast
as if we had fled from it.

As reader Simon points out below, this is Psalm 90 (thank you Simon!). I've done some very basic research (so it's from Wikipedia...) and German composer and choir director Sethus Calvisiusput Psalm 90 to music, and created a choral piece, which is quoted above. He was also one of the genius types, it seems and introduced a new kind of calendar, which never took root.

What's fascinating to me, looking back a little on this "poem" being posted, is that it's validity and impact remain. It is timeless. People are reposting it on blogs today. It's as amazing now, thousands of years after it was written, as it was then, and it was meaningful to people 400 years ago. Humanity's fascination with the meaning of our lives here, and the imminence of death is steadfast, and goes beyond languages, time, and country.

It also reminds me of the more modern quote about "no one will ever look back on their life and wish they'd spent more time at work." Every once and awhile, we need to take a little inventory of where we spend our time and why. Yes, we need to pay the bills. But what happens when work takes away more from a person than it should? More time, more energy?

I'm happy to put in my fair share of work, and like to be a team player. I am an idealist, though, and want my work to matter. The hours here in this life are limited. We each need to make sure we're making the most of the time we have. It's just a good thing to think about from time to time.