Author Archives: ljexplores

Follow Your Passions

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Life presents us with many opportunities.  The problem is we often don’t have our eyes open and they slip by unnoticed.  I said that this blog was going to be about living life fully and I have come to the conclusion that the people that are living their lives fully are the ones that are following their passions.  It isn’t always easy to follow your passions, sometimes people think that that kind of life is very self-centered, or sometimes they don’t respect the things that impassion you.  It takes courage to stay the path and be true to yourself.  I have many passions in life, I have loved journaling and reading and history and I have had a Camera in my hands since I was 13 and my Dad first started teaching me about taking pictures with a 35mm range finder…all manual nothing automatic, not even a light meter.  But my most recent passion is learning about the world I live in and the people that share this time and space with me.  I love to hear people’s stories the joyful and the sorrowful.  I love to observe and be a part of the lives of people that are doing what they love.  I respect the ones that stand tall, walk their talk and live life.

I have a cousin that has collected comic books for his entire life ( he is 50+ now ).  He has remained strong in his passion about comic books even in the face of people who made it clear that they felt comic books were a lesser form of writing.  My cousin has amassed a collection that I am sure is worth its weight in gold not to mention the historical value.  He is an artist in his own right and has through his passion collected and preserved a piece of our history.  We often take for granted the little bits and pieces that make up the fiber of our lives..like Superman, Spiderman, The Fantastic Four…The battle of good against evil.  The immortal and the mortals fighting the good fight.   The lack of tolerance and understanding that our superheroes have often had to live with.   I have another friend that has collected for many years of his life, Coca-cola memorabilia.  Again he is a person that has amassed and preserved a part of our history.  Coca-cola is a huge industry that has always been on the cutting edge and because of the creative talent in the company they have often shaped our lives in ways we may not even recognize.   Their advertising campaigns through the decades have shaped the way we have fun.  The present image that we all take for granted of Santa Claus was developed and promoted by Coca-cola.  Their logo and beverage has traveled around the world and taken our culture to the farthest corners of our planet. This friend has put together a piece of history and is now looking for a way to make it available to others and share the fun of looking at our lives through one piece of our pop-culture..pop as in Popular 🙂  I have a nephew that has worked hard following his passion and has recently achieved his Doctorate in Medieval Spanish Literature.  He preserves a portion of history through his study and teaching, helping others to see how much and how little we humans have changed over the centuries.   In the time that I have been here in my home town, I have found people that are following their passions.  It seems sometimes that they are everywhere!  I know someone that is my age and has joined the local women’s Roller Derby Team.  I know someone else who loves to collect and restore old cars.  My father has collected antique clocks over his lifetime and he is a virtual fountain of information regarding the history of ” Time”  he also happens to be one of the few remaining WWII veterans and has found that their seems to be renewed interest coming from people who are anxious to hear Veteran’s stories before they have all left our presence.  I have a sister that is passionate about horses.  She always was from the earliest years of her childhood but it wasn’t until the second half of her life that she had the opportunity to build upon that dream.  What happened ?  She built a horse farm that is beautiful and charming and a joy to go to..because she is there and because she is so fulfilled by this passion that she shares it freely with all around her.  We have all benefitted from her following her dream.   Each person’s passion is different.  But when they follow it, it seems to filter down to the rest of us and we all benefit.

When our passions are not popular and we feel the need to defend them from people who try to diminish them, we have to remember that we are not alone.  Many before us have had to defend what they love.  The impressionists that have come to be so beloved and popular to recent generations, were at their time terribly disrespected.  Their art was considered  ” low ” art  in contrast to ” high” art.  High art followed the elements of design and composition and had acceptable themes, like Religion, Mythology and Politics and State.  Art that chose subject themes like nature, still lifes, and quiet moments of life such as the impressionists chose, not to mention their tendency to push limits regarding light, color and composition was considered of lesser value both in money and artistic talent…but thanks to these passionate artists we moved from having art that was completely contracted to having art that was created through inspiration and personal experience.   Today we create freely because others were passionate and defended their passion.

People that follow their passions are happier and healthier.  They don’t wonder why their lives are missing something because they aren’t missing anything.  They are being true to themselves.  These are the people that others want to be around because their enthusiasm for life is contageous.  So my hope for myself and anyone and everyone is that we all find that which makes us feel passionate and follow it with every fiber of our beings, this will lead to us all feeling happier and more generous in our dealings with others.

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Spotlight: The Journal Ladies Unexpected Surprises

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Sometimes unexpected pleasures come along and the feeling they bring is one of inner joy.  I have been journaling for 25 years.  I love journals, pens, colored pencils, really anything that I find that I can have fun with in my journal.  I love to draw things and stick and paste.  This is an exercise that has helped me along in life for many years.  And as much as I love to work in my journal I also love finding new journals.  I love leather most of all and I love the moleskin style journal for its size, line spacing or blank page and the flexibility of its soft cover.  Besides a moleskin journal feels and looks like a journal should.  🙂   However, having said that, I do love to find unique journals of all kinds and varieties.  This past weekend was what is called here in Decatur, The Decatur Celebration.  It is a very large street fair event which brings a carnaval to town as well as many craft and art vendors.  They set up 6 or more large stage areas all around the downtown and have bands performing on all stages for 3 days straight.  I enjoyed this event for many reasons, the first is probably because I am back in my home town and enjoying becoming familiar with all the goings on here.  Secondly, Decatur like so many small cities/towns in the USA is trying very hard to promote it’s downtown and keep it alive.  The huge superstores while convenient in many ways, are taking their toll on the small businesses of small town America.  So I am happy to involve myself in the activities that make survival possible for all.    As I was wandering the downtown area, visiting the food vendors and listening to music and feeling one with the crowd, I began to wander down the streets where the crafts were displayed.  There were many things to see, some were more interesting than others but one stood out in my mind and heart.   The Journal Ladies.  When I stumbled upon this I almost walked by without looking but then my eyes spied all the vintage book coverings that they use for their journals.  The sentence that popped into my head was ”  What a GREAT idea !!! ”   The journal ladies are a mother and daughter team that work together, the daughter in Georgia and the mother here in Illinois, to create unique and beautiful books using recycled vitage books.  They use the cover and select some of the interesting pages and excerpts from the book and sprinkle in blank acid free pages for journaling.    Well I couldn’t praise them more.  How many journalers will enjoy looking at pictures or reading excerpts from well loved books, while they consider what to write that day?  Really the proverbial ” sky is the limit ” phrase hits my mind when I think of all the ways one could adapt and enjoy journals like these. 

I of course got 2.  The first one I picked out, hits home with the moment I am living.  It is an 81/2 x 11 size journal made from an old Time Life book on ”  The Age of Exploration ”  Really !!!  It is so perfect I am at a loss for words.  The text and picture plates these women left in the book inspire one to explore their world.  What more could a journaler ask for ?   Well I would like to promote the work that these women are doing and to give them my two thumbs up on the creative niche they have found.

http://www.thejournalladies.com/Home.html

Go take a look at their web site to see the beautiful work they do and to see where they will be selling their wares next.   And to all my fellow journalers, I guarentee you will love their books/journals.

Reach Out To The World

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I love technology.  This is a true statement.  I use technology as the tool that it was meant to be.  I blog, I Facebook, I eBay, I surf.  And while all of this is true and I get a great deal of enjoyment from it…it is equally true that whenever something new comes into our lives the pendulum of balance swings hard and we find ourselves indulging in excess.  This goes on for a while until we feel the strain and imbalance of it all and then we try to even things out a bit.  I work in a museum and therefore I enjoy preserving the past.  There are all kinds of ways to preserve the past and the one I want to address here, is the fast dying habit of letter writing and post cards.  I just have to say that while technology beats the snail mail in terms of efficiency and speed, it cannot replace the fun experienced when you find something tangible and beautiful in your home mail box.  I hate to see the nations postal systems relegated to the service of fun only but every little bit counts.  I discovered a web site, actually through a book that I was reading, that is trying to preserve the age-old tradition of the postcard.  Many people collect both the post card and the stamps that usually accompany them.  What better way to reach out and touch the world then by sending and receiving beautiful and unique pictures.  The web site I am referring to is :  postcrossing.com  On this site you can register yourself and sign up to be part of a postcard swap lottery.  They provide you with addresses of participants all around the world and when you have sent off your post cards and the recipient has received them and enters your ID number to register the receipt of your card, then your name enters in the lottery to be a recipient.   I am new to this and have sent off 4 postcards and now I am waiting for my recipients to register them..I have sent postcards to Russia, Germany, California & Taiwan.   You can even do direct swaps with those that choose that option which allows you to enter into a more pen-pal type experience.  This is a choice not an obligation.  I can’t wait for my daughter to get back from her vacation in Spain, so I can sign her up and get her Reaching out to the World.  And as I sit here writing this I am struck at how technology is also helping to preserve the old ways.  After all we couldn’t have this same kind of postal swap without the internet and the web pages that help us get things going.   So there you go, internet holding hands with snail mail.  🙂  I like it ! 

Dreamy Me

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Some days seem made for day dreaming.  When worries seem far off and the sun is shining and you let yourself just enjoy being wherever you are at the moment.  Today I left work and had my lunch in the park.  Fairview park to be specific.  There is a pond there called Dreamland Pond.  I  was born here in Decatur and grew up here.  I have spent many afternoons in this park over the years and yet I never knew that this pond had a name until recently.  Now I find myself gravitating there for lunch on sunny days.  Today I actually took some self portrait pictures because I was enjoying the moment so much I wanted to see what I looked like.  Did I look as relaxed as I felt ?   About a year ago a very good friend was coaching me through some hard times.  He suggested I take self portrait pictures to help see myself more clearly.  Over the past year I have taken quite a few and the results have been more than revealing.  Some of those pictures  show a woman going through a major life struggle, I hope I won’t be seeing too many more of those.  But todays pictures show a more thoughtful and yes ” dreamy”  Laura….which seems appropriate since I spent my lunch hour at Dreamland Pond. 

Life’s Messages

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Have you ever been wandering around town or someplace new and been confronted in bold type with some message that seems put there especially for you ?  This seems to happen to me quite often and since I always have a camera on me, I always snap a picture to remember what I am supposed to learn.  Sometimes I think of this as God speaking to me through the objects that cross my path.  Sometimes the messages are up-beat and sometimes they are more solemn.

Here in my hometown I have places that I have referred to as my personal Meccas.  There is one in particular that I use when my heart seems intent on feeling sorry for itself.  I go there to wallow in misery and cry if I need to.  I use this place to purge my soul of all the down emotions so that I can move onto something better…This place I go is actually a beautiful place to sit and wallow, or just think.  The only reason it became my place to go to and purge my soul is because it’s name is so appropriate.  I think the name Mud Flats is perfect for the kind of feelings that I often go there to purge.  I just kind of stumbled upon this fact one particularly sad night.  The whole concept of mud or mire just seemed to fit the feelings that were weighing down my heart.  The curious thing is, is that mud flats is actually a beautiful place to sit and enjoy the lake.   So by the time I have loosened all the mire in my heart, I can then sit back and repair the spiritual damage before I get up and leave.  I leave the mud and the mire there on the flats and go home pounds lighter then when I got there.

Sometimes the lessons are more direct.  No messing around.  They just go straight to the point.

This moment is what we have.  Yesterday is gone and tomorrow isn’t here yet.  Today, this moment is the one we are living.  I try to keep that in mind always.  Life is full of stumbling blocks and challenges, some cannot be solved in that very moment.  Some have to be allowed to grow, age and mellow and then the answer just sort of reveals itself.  For those times, I try to remember that This Moment is the one that counts, it is the one that is here and now and will be the lesson that serves me tomorrow.

Lastly, when all the thought is thought and all the living is lived….what is left is simply this…

Road Trip !!! To Paducah KY

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I had the opportunity for a spur of the moment road trip.  I had to take my Mom down to southern Illinois to meet up with a friend.  I decided to go a little further south and re-visit one of my  favorite museums.  The National Quilt Museum.  This museum I would qualify in one sentence:  ”  A Feast For The Eyes ”   You do not in any way need to be a quilter, or even interested in quilting to love this museum.  The quilts on exhibit here come from are genres in quilting and can be categorized as works of art.  They are like exquisite paintings in fabric.  The quilt museum displays men and women quilters both as well as quilters from other countries.  The building itself is delightful and if you are interested in quilting you can sign up for one of their many workshops with master quilters to guide you.

The Quilters Museum is not all there is to see in Paducah.  There is a beautiful historic district with many interesting eateries and antique shops. 

And if there is one thing the city of Paducah knows how to do well it would be the creation of the most astounding and decorated floodwall.  The city of Paducah sits on the banks of the Ohio river, one of the nation’s main water ways. The Ohio river along with rivers like the great Mississippi and the Missouri were the roads for westward travelers in a time when there were no roads.   Like most river towns Paducah lives with the threat of the river overflowing and flooding the historic downtown.  In response to this on-going threat the city has built a floodwall and this floodwall they have decorated with beautiful mural depicting scenes of national interest, technological advancements, scenes of life in a river town and local monuments.  The effect is both astounding and charming all at the same time.  The floodwall is visible both from the National Quilt Museum and from the Historic Downtown. 

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