dreadlocks [day 1]

Totally loving them! It’s nice to have something fun and different, without the commitment of having to cut them out when I’m tired of them.  I plan to keep them for a week or so.  I slept with them pulled into a loose ponytail on top of my head.  I think they look better after sleeping on them for a night.  They’re a little looser and look more like real dreads, just a little thinner.

Reactions from people I know…

“I have to live with them for a while before I can decide how I feel about them.”

“Oh, that just rocks.”

“I dig it.  Glad to be dread-spiration. ;)”  (from Rhyanna, my inspiration)

“Oh my gosh. I think you’re the first in the family to have this, but it so suits you. What do the boys say?”  (My kids have not seen them yet)

“That is so you Jody!!! I am just surprised you were able to sit still that long to get it done!!!”

“You should make it permanent. Its a good look for you.”

“Cooollll doo. Miss Jamaica Island girl 2010 :-)”

“Make each dread a different color…NOW we’re talking.”

“you got dreadlocks?!?!?!?!?!”

“i wanted dread locks when i was in high school…i didnt know there were temp ones i would’ve totally done that…that’s awesome :)”

Over lunch today, I was saying how awesome it is that I work in such a great environment where self-expression is allowed.  More tomorrow.  🙂


dreadlocks [temporary]

Okay, they’re temporary dreads, as I have commitment issues.  LOL  Here they are!  46 of them, took about 1.5 hours.  Steve rocks!  My hair started at 4 days unwashed.  Yeah, I know, some people can do that, others, not so much.  I can go a week and nobody would know.  I will do daily updates on the maintenance.  🙂

waffle iron hitchhiking?

Vodpod videos no longer available.

This is my first video, footage taken with my DSLR (Nikon D5000) and edited with Premiere CS5.  I still have a lot to learn, but I sure had fun making it.  And thanks to Elizabeth and Steph for putting up with me!

a new set of paint brushes…

My light painting endeavors have stepped up a notch.  I made a new set of paint brushes.  No, I didn’t pull out chunks of my hair and attach it to wooden sticks, I’m talking about light painting brushes.  Never heard of light painting?  Here’s how it works…

If you have an SLR (digital or film), place it on a tripod and set the camera on manual.  Set the aperture on F8 (works well for most simple light painting, although you might have to adjust) and the shutter on the ‘bulb’ setting.  If you can get a cable release for you camera, most of them have a lock feature that will keep the shutter open until you close it, that way you don’t need to be at the camera holding the button down the whole time.  Hold the shutter button down and have people ‘paint’ with the flashlights.  Oh, and this process must be done in the dark or in extreme low light.  Anything that has light on it will show up in your photo.

Now that you have the details on the camera end, let me tell you about the art tools.  Your flashlights are your brushes and color gels are your paint.  You can do this without the color gels, but I like using them, well, because I love color.  This photo is of my new set.  I had a set of color gels leftover from my pre-photoshop days.  These are the same as theater light gels.  Cokin makes the photography set and a company called Roscolux makes some as well.  For the new flashlights, which I made to take down to Casa Hogar Elim for the kids to play with, I used duct tape to attach the gels and color coded them with the duct tape.

The black cards on the left have a set of colors I made from gels and photo mat boards.  They have velcro on the back so I can attach them to a flashlight easily.  And no, you don’t have to get that fancy with it.  You can just hold a gel over the light.  Simple.  I do a lot of this so I have an entire suitcase of flashlights, from pen lights all the way up to my Cyclops.

Cyclops is a very large flashlight… 15 million candlepower.  The light bulb in it is a car headlamp, if that gives you a reference point.  I have some color gels that fit over Cyclops.  This ‘brush’ comes in handy for light painting buildings or any really large spaces.  Cyclops is rechargeable and cost about $40 at Costco.  You can also get some nice 1-2 million candlepower lights at any retail store.

Some other types of lights that work well are pen lights for drawing, LED lights are good, but make sure to get the very bright ones.  I prefer the warm light color of the incandescent type bulbs versus the new LED’s.  Not as energy efficient, but if you’re picky about the warm tones…

Okay, let me show you some examples of light painting.  I did a series for an art gallery showing a while back.  The show was called ‘excessable’.  It was photos of how we have so much excess in our culture and the entire series was light painted.

These were all painted with several different types of flashlights, each exposure lasting anywhere between 3 and 10 minutes.

Here’s a photo from light painting with the kids at Casa Hogar.
You can also do light painting using black and white.  This is from a film camera, my Nikon 6006 with Illford B&W film.  You can also get the ghost images with the light painting by painting a person or object, then moving it and painting the space where it was.

This is one of those art things you have to experiment with a lot to get a feel for what your final images will look like.  It is a lot of fun though!

free stuff

When we arrived to the Mission Arlington conference Saturday morning, Tillie was quick to put us to work. What better way to see what is going on there than to experience it first hand? Works for me, I’m ready! She quickly found drivers for the three buses filled with garage sale leftovers. She then asked for volunteers to go with the drivers to take these buses to specific apartment complexes to give it away. I have no idea what other jobs she had, as Christine and I jumped on this one.

We headed out to our bus with Mark and Joan. Mark was driving and we figured we would just get in the bus and go. The bus, an old handicapped city bus, was packed so full there was no place to sit, much less get in. We decided to sit on the steps of the bus and ride along. Probably not the safest thing, but it’s God’s work and to me, it made perfect sense.

None of us had a clue that MA did this kind of stuff. They go to garage sales that are over and pick up all of the remaining items. What an awesome way to get this stuff to people that can use it, not to mention it’s a great way to be green and help others.

When we arrived, we found a grassy area by the office and mailboxes to unload the bus. Storm clouds were rolling in however it was not raining yet. Our instructions? Unload the bus, knock on doors to let everyone know that we’re there with free house wares, clothing and other free stuff and give it all away. Honestly speaking here? I did not want to knock on doors. I quickly offered my services of unloading the bus. Turns out we all started unloading the bus before knocking on the doors.

I’m not sure what got into me at this point… well, it was obviously God, but after about ¾ was unloaded, I said, “I’m going to knock on doors.” I quickly ran off to spread the word: free stuff. It was about 10am? Not a lot of people answered their doors, probably one in four or five. I was also reminded yet once again that I don’t speak Spanish and should really learn just a little bit.

As I was going door to door, my brain was on overdrive. This is not a world I am familiar with, yet it felt very comfortable, like I was meant to be there. Some of the million thoughts running through my head… I didn’t plan on doing this today. What was I planning? I need to learn some Spanish. These people can cook, that smells good. I wonder how many times this building has been painted? These doors are heavy and have a lot of locks. My knuckles hurt. I wonder what these people are thinking when they look through the peephole and see me? It’s chilly in these hallways. I wonder how many people are over there getting stuff from the bus? How do we do something like this in Frisco? I live in a palace. I have a lot of stuff. How can this world be a 40-minute drive from where I live? Why haven’t I been here before? I worked for a low-income property management company, could I have done something to help people? Can I still contact them now and do something? Wow, many of the apartments that opened the door have a picture of Jesus on the wall, some with candles. Okay, you get the picture, through my ADHD eyes.

Mark came looking for me, apparently I just kept going and knocking. Well, I hadn’t gone to all the doors yet, right? I knocked on a few more and went back. The area was swarming with people! How incredibly cool is that?

As people were shopping, or as I like to call it, treasure hunting, it began to rain. Just a little bit at first, but that didn’t slow down the hunters. Tillie had told us before we left the we might have to do the rain plan since it was going to rain. So what was the rain plan? It was the same as the dry plan. Always was, still is and will continue to be that way. Helping others doesn’t stop with a little rain, or even a lot of it. I’m guessing when we have a few snowflakes and all of Texas goes into an unnecessary panic-shut-down mode, Mission Arlington does not.

While I was knocking on doors, a gentleman that sells taquitos came by and left a food package for us. We didn’t have anything to drink, but they smelled so very good. As the shopper traffic died down, we sat in the bus and ate our food. There was a baggie of green chili sauce that smelled so good, I could have just opened the bag and ate it all by itself. Without drinks, if it was spicy, we were all in some trouble. I decided to try it. It was not too spicy, but it did have a little kick to it. The others declined the green mystery sauce. I had some left over, and yes, I packed it up and placed the green liquid gold into my backpack to finish later.

It started to rain much harder, so we moved all of the stuff onto the sidewalk under an eave. The few shoppers that were there stopped to help us. We moved everything right in front of the mailboxes so we were hoping the mail person didn’t come anytime soon.

We got a chance to talk to some of the later shoppers before we packed up to leave to go back and be assigned to our next adventure. We only brought back maybe a fourth of what we had. As we were about to drive away, the mailman showed up. God’s timing is perfect.

There are so many lessons to be learned here, and this was only the beginning of the weekend. I suppose besides the obvious lesson of always helping others, it was weighing on me a lot of just how wasteful we be. I’m not judging anyone here because I can be wasteful too, purchasing things I don’t need, getting sucked into the strategically placed retail ‘impulse’ items and buying things to make my life easier without thinking of the consequences.

After this experience, I’m even much more intentional about shopping at thrift stores, not retail stores. I’m trying to be better about not being wasteful and teaching my kids that as well. And don’t get me started on impulse purchases. My kids and I have a plan. If it’s something we didn’t plan to buy when we went to the store, we walk away for at least 24 hours. If we remember the item and we still want it (and can afford it), we can go back and get it.

I’m not sure what the shoppers were thinking about this whole process, maybe a subconscious appreciation for the people that bought the stuff in the first place. Maybe they were happy to get some free stuff, needed and wanted. Maybe they didn’t even think about it at all. Either way, I hope they felt loved.

‘excessable christmas’ book orders

Wow! I’ve had lots of questions about how to order my self-published book. If you would like to order one, please go to http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/1124341, or shoot me an email that you want one, as I have ordered some extras.  Here’s the book info:

ISBN: yeah, not so much.  Self published and I’m not famous… yet.

Price: blurb.com $26.95 + shipping.  From me, $26.00 and I’ll pay for the shipping. **All book proceeds go to Casa Hogar Elim**

Softcover: 120 full color pages (like I would ever do black and white)

Language: English, I think.

Book Dimensions: Square, I like squares, 7″ x 7″

Thanks to all of my friends for your encouragement on this crazy little blog project.  It has inspired me to follow my four year old dream of writing a book, to hopefully get published by someone other than me.  The research begins NOW and you can check out the details at trashsociety.com or become a fan on Facebook at facebook.com/trashsociety.

the book is DONE!

Here’s a preview…

Christmas -4 days.

Christmas is done for the year.  We took our tree down, hauled it up to the attic and all the evidence of Christmas is gone, as if it never happened.  We each left an ornament out to remember the changes we want to make this Christmas and throughout the next year, but in our house, that’s not really out of the ordinary.

What is out of the ordinary?  Choosing to help others and live differently in a way that changes life as we know it.  My kids really didn’t seem all that bothered by the lack of gifts they got from me.   They still received the mandatory 27+ gifts from my mother, gifts they will never give a second thought to once they are put away.  They were both on board with the plan of donating money to their favorite charities, but I just wasn’t so sure come Christmas, they would still feel that way.  I was pleasantly surprised.  Christmas evening, after the kids came home, we rented a few movies and enjoyed some time together.  After all, I had not seen them for almost a week.

Yesterday we ventured into the stores, only for the purpose of grocery shopping and finding a small rug for my closet floor.  No store was exempt from the typical long return lines and post-holiday sale events.  Seriously, I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

I decided yesterday to clean out my closet and get rid of the mountain of unused linens.  Why do I feel the need to hang on to stuff that I will never use again?  I made the compulsory closet purge, filled up the Infiniti sleigh and headed for the thrift store.

After unloading our surplus of worldly possessions, we went treasure hunting.  No, not shopping, treasure hunting.  Shopping is buying overpriced new ‘goods’ at large chain stores.  Treasure hunting is finding something special, previously owned by someone else at a price that doesn’t break the bank.  My kids quickly made their way to the toy section, disappointed that it was mostly baby toys.  I headed for the crowded book area, my kids not far behind.

I found a Man Ray photography book for 50 cents, which in the bookstore, was probably closer to $50.  Man Ray is one of my photography inspirations, mostly for photograms.  My photogram ‘Coffee Addict’ is one of my favorites… not that I have coffee issues or anything like that.

Cole found a Star Wars picture book, which he kept directly in front of his face in the entire time we were there, miraculously not walking into anyone or anything.

As we were making our way toward the front of the store, I stopped to see if there were any jeans or sweatshirts for the boys.  I guess everyone has been doing their Christmas purge, as the racks had three times the amount they usually do.  I found this t-shirt that pretty much sums up what society is teaching our kids.  “WARNING: allergic to lame gifts.”  I wanted to buy the shirt just so I could destroy it and take it out of the clothing circulation.  I would have saved the small candy cane skull icon though, as it seems appropriate to use as a symbol of our cultural Christmas consumerism.

As we neared the front of the store, Joe didn’t seem to bothered that he didn’t find anything.  That is, until he turned the corner to find a kid-sized guitar, complete with stand and strings.  His little face lit up and I knew that guitar would be coming home with us before he even asked.  I don’t know much about musical instruments, but just the stand alone probably would have cost $19.99, which was the price for both.

We stood in the very short line at the checkout, quickly making it to the register.  The lady at the counter was very nice, talking to all three of us as we were paying for our purchases.  The last item rung up was Joe’s guitar.  The lady asked who it was for and I pointed to Joe.  I explained to her that he has been wanting to learn how to play, but the full size guitar I bought a while back, still has no strings and was really too big for him.  She told me, with a very sad face, that this guitar belonged to her son… her son that had passed away six years ago, and she finally had the courage to part with some of his things.  I promised her that it was going to a home where it would be appreciated and loved.

As we were leaving the store, Joe asked me if the guitar belonged to another kid, as he overheard part of our conversation.  A little uncomfortable with his completely appropriate question, I tried to shuffle him out of the store so I could explain about the previous owner.  The lady heard him and said, “It belonged to my son and he’s in heaven now.”  What does anyone say to that?  There are no words that could have lessened her pain or brought him back.

As we climbed in the car, there was grief-stricken silence.  A silence broken only by discussion of the young boy that we never knew, yet felt so attached to at that moment.  Both kids had many questions about the boy, “How did he die?  Are you sure he really died?  How old was he?  What happened to him?  Why did his mom still have his guitar?”  They were asking questions I would never have answers to, and questions I’m not sure they thought would be answered.  I had the same questions in my head, but speechlessly saying a small prayer that the lady would have some peace around her son’s death, a situation where I cannot comprehend a peace could possibility exist.

We tend to surround ourselves with things we like, stuff that entertains us or makes us happy.  Material things are not evil, that is, unless we order our lives around them instead of people and relationships.  I don’t see a problem with a bound portfolio for artistic inspiration, a book for imagination and fantasy or a guitar to learn self-expression through music.  Inanimate objects are visual triggers for remembrance, things that pull memories from deep within our minds, surfacing them as current thoughts for enjoyment, reflection and sometimes necessary action.

Are all of my non-essential possessions useful or meaningful?  Not entirely, but I can honestly say that most of them have some meaning or story behind them.  I don’t do new year resolutions, but I will challenge myself to be more aware of my attachment to belongings.  I guess belongings is a good word for this, as it is broken down to ‘be longing’.

Christmas day.

Here it is.  A recap of the 25 days of Christmas… in tweets.  All are 140 characters or less so copy, paste and share!  Merry Christmas.  Come back in January to see my next blogging subject.  It’s a good one.

25 days until Christmas…

SUPPORT SMALL BIZ: purchase gifts at local discount & hole-in-the-wall stores #shopsmart http://wp.me/p7CAn-3b

SUPPORT an orphanage: http://casahogarelim.com I love these kids & mama lupita #che #casahogarelim

SUPPORT locally in frisco: http://friscocenter.org volunteer @ the food pantry or frisco resale #friscoresale #tinselectomy

look 4 ‘symmetrical hazy plastic people nativity scene with flying peanuts’ in ur area. #sillyyardart #fun #embracechaos

make darla bluetooth your friend on FB. @luvplasticpeople @embracechaos #mannequinsneedluv

read 25 days until christmas http://wp.me/p7CAn-3b #25daysofembracechaos

24 days until Christmas…

take the pumpkin out before putting christmas inflatables out there. #christmas #halloween #dontmix

put ur cell phone in ur pocket b4 going 2 the attic 2 get the tree out in case u get stuck. #stuck911 #noanswer

strip away the social expectations of christmas. #tinselectomy #noshopocalypse http://wp.me/p7CAn-3g

appreciate retail workers, be nice to them, retail sucks during the holidays #benice #putawayanitemoffthefloor

if shopping, make funny faces in the security cams. take a pic of ur face & post on fb. #yourfacewillsticklikethat

use fb for ur christmas card nxt yr. it’s the card that gives all yr long! #facebookrocks #holidaysmadebyhallmark

in the words of rod p. ‘merry christmas or whatever’ #donttalkonstagewithcoldmeds http://wp.me/p7CAn-3g

christmas? i’m going to watch nightmare before christmas so I can find it. #jackskellington @embracechaos http://wp.me/p7CAn-3g

read 24 days until christmas http://wp.me/p7CAn-3g #24daysofembracechaos

23 days until Christmas…

the frisco sign nazi hasn’t found a ‘clause’ to ban inflatables yet #takedownthatsign #deflate #frisco http://wp.me/p7CAn-3r

mutli-purpose inflatables.  buy the biggest 1 so it can b used as an exterminator tent. #deadyardart #nobugs

rudolph has a condo in florida and only helps when the weather is bad. #plasticpinkflamingos #beach #skelemingo

there’s no $ in reindeer games. dasher & donner r unemployed. #reindeerjobs #recession http://badecono.me

i hope santa delivers basic necessities to those in need. #besanta #volunteer #helppeopleinneed #ursanta

read 23 days until christmas http://wp.me/p7CAn-3r #23daysofembracechaos

22 days until Christmas…

God is awesome! #godrocks! http://wp.me/p7CAn-3A

our new family tradition… santa shooting. with a camera! #shootsanta #lightpainting #getoutofmyyard! http://wp.me/p7CAn-3A

‘hired’ lights: spared no expense in purchasing lights & hung by professional elves #hiredlights

‘i have lights on my house because it’s a christmas expectation’, sometimes hoa required. #lightconformist

‘bountiful jumble’ lights: random sets of non-matching lights, replicated walmart’s sample light displays. #led&incandescentDONTmatch!

read 22 days until christmas http://wp.me/p7CAn-3A #22daysofembracechaos

21 days until Christmas…

i miss my cousin jim. He was awesome, opinionated & passionate about his beliefs. #ripjim #betterplace http://wp.me/p7CAn-3K

pause in ur busyness and make a phone call 2 someone u haven’t talked to in a while. #justcall #uhaverolloverminutes

stop & talk with an impoverished person. buy them lunch & learn their story. meet tom: http://wp.me/p7CAn-3K #listen

when an opportunity presents itself, act on it! #iwishihad… #stopdrop&listen #2010challenge

his sign said he was broke and hungry. aren’t we all? matt 22:37-40 http://wp.me/p7CAn-3K #homeless #impoverished

read 21 days until christmas http://wp.me/p7CAn-3K #21daysofembracechaos

20 days until Christmas…

INSPIRED BY: hank stuever & ‘tinsel’ if this book doesn’t give u food 4 thought, then find something that does. #tinsel #tinselectomy

INSPIRED BY: allison harrell & her amazing writing skills. #allisonharrell #letterjacket4typing

INSPIRED BY: jackson robinson & http://thepaintingexperiment.com #dudehasmeupat5am #gotpaint? #m&ms

INSPIRED BY: robert leahey who will take on any artistic challenge! #macgyverofmusicalinstruments #legoking #canplayanything

“what did we ever do before wikipedia & google?”  pete replied, “we argued.” http://wp.me/p7CAn-3U #debateisgreat

CHALLENGE: go treasure hunting for old, used meaningful books. look for personal notes inside. #usedbooksrawesome #books

my face leaks about once a year, just to clean out the cobwebs in my tear ducts. @embracechaos

admire people’s uniqueness and understand what an important role that plays in our lives. @embracechaos

the most important christmas icon of all is jesus, and I don’t mean the plastic one. @embracechaos

if ur planning on turning christmas upside-down, u better put on ur seatbelt.  It will turn ur life upside-down. #ptcc @embracechaos

read 20 days until christmas http://wp.me/p7CAn-3U #20daysofembracechaos

19 days until Christmas…

CHALLENGE: google ‘christmas spirit’. spend less time in cognitive contemplation & more time in the affliction/spirit of ur heart

ehow.com: instructions on how 2 get christmas spirit. it doesn’t tell u what it means, but u can get it in just 11 steps. #11

I’m searching for something big, something life changing, not season changing. @embracechaos http://wp.me/p7CAn-4f

I’m still looking.  I want to know more about the ‘invisible something’. @embracechaos http://wp.me/p7CAn-4f

”santa claus suit sales are up demonstrating that christmas spirit is recession proof” #consumeristchristmas #santaspirit #wwsd

if we rename the ‘spirit’ w/o the word christmas, but keep christ in, we can keep it all year w/o feeling like the tree was left up all year

the dead santas. no, it’s not a new band I’m starting, it’s the 25 day blog inspiration. @embracechaos http://wp.me/p7CAn-4f

kids will need therapy after seeing dead christmas stuff everywhere. #sillyyardart #deadsantas #christmasnightterrors

start the kids therapy fund, then they’ll be well adjusted enough to pay for their own college expenses #linwoodson

read 19 days until christmas http://wp.me/p7CAn-4f #19daysofembracechaos

18 days until Christmas…

beer keg tree, funny yard art, peppermint candy rugs… http://wp.me/p7CAn-4L #crazychristmasart

upside-down christmas tree. newest fad in christmas decor, much controversy about the symbolic meaning. #urthoughts?

turning something upside-down makes a mess @1st, but the reorganized pieces might b put back together differently & better @embracechaos

my stylist, #stevehodges, agreed 2 bleach & color a peace sign into my hair. #goseehimforgreatstyle! http://wp.me/p7CAn-4L

make christmas ur own self-expression, depicting what’s in ur heart, not what society is promoting. @embracechaos

read 18 days until christmas http://wp.me/p7CAn-4L #18daysofembracechaos

17 days until Christmas…

ACTION: make 30 sack lunches and bring them downtown 4 the daylaborers. #frisco #feedthehungry http://wp.me/p7CAn-5a

got long hair? donate it to locksoflove.org or pantene. @httpsdh is an expert at these haircuts!  #stevehodges #thejodysdidit

on my heart 2 start a prgm in dallas, like http://chicagoshares.org, a voucher-based way 2 give. #wanttohelpme? @embracechaos

ACTION: join our photo group! @embracechaos #photosafari #e #crazypeoplewithcameras

how do we find these people in need and how can we help? #ffs #homeless #impoverished http://wp.me/p7CAn-5a

read 17 days until christmas http://wp.me/p7CAn-5a #17daysofembracechaos

16 days until Christmas…

i want to use flamingos as reindeer & a lawn chair for a sleigh. i need a crappy, vintage lawn chair. #needalawnchair http://wp.me/p7CAn-5r

skelly is on vacation… at the abandoned motel. http://wp.me/p7CAn-5r #skelemingo #abandonedmotel #iloveabandonedplaces

CHALLENGE: christmas BOO! someone. read more @ http://wp.me/p7CAn-5r #christmasboo! #santaghost

when my ADHD & OCD collide, that means events happen spontaneously, but everything is more than prepared for it. @embracechaos

busyness, no matter good or bad, takes away from the christmas spirit. is slowing down to experience the joy really possible? @embracechaos

read 16 days until christmas http://wp.me/p7CAn-5r #16daysofembracechaos

15 days until Christmas…

Santa’s requests, not asking for typical toys & electronics, asking 4 basic necessities. #krld #badecono.me http://wp.me/p7CAn-5K

u know the economy is bad when kids r happy 2 get socks & underwear 4 Christmas. #happyunderwear @embracechaos

HISTORY: st. nick gave generous gifts 2 the poor, esp to daughters of poor parents so they didn’t have 2 become prostitutes. #wikipedia

SECRET: i could never keep 1, told the whole kindergarten class that santa is not real. #5yroldbrat #startedchaos@anearlyage

tell r kids @ dinner tbl there r starving kids in other places, eat evrthng, & if they behave, santa will bring everything they want? #no!

if santa has resources 2 give us anything we want, then why doesn’t he help out with poverty? http://wp.me/p7CAn-5K #ridpoverty

cole’s response to no santa: “so, let me get this straight. you’ve been lying to me this whole time?” #b&wcole @embracechaos

it’s time to go from believing in santa to being santa. @embracechaos http://wp.me/p7CAn-5K #besanta

i was people watching and secretly snapped this, but I just can’t help myself. http://wp.me/p7CAn-5K #backwardsanta

read 15 days until christmas http://wp.me/p7CAn-5K #15daysofembracechaos

14 days until Christmas…

…everything on my plate is attached to bungee cords… @embracechaos http://wp.me/p7CAn-6b #prioritize #maketime

look for the magic word we all crave: BALANCE. #balance #morebalance #wheresbalance? #whatsbalance #whitebalance (oh, cam term) J

read 14 days until christmas http://wp.me/p7CAn-6b #14daysofembracechaos

13 days until Christmas…

i got a glimpse into a new world, one I had not experienced before. ??? wrestling. http://wp.me/p7CAn-6l

i don’t get it. where are the decoder rings?  i never found one in my cracker jack box. @embracechaos #surpriseinside

let me just say that i don’t get organized exercise. @embracechaos #kickballflashback http://wp.me/p7CAn-6l

i finally experienced the crazy parents at sporting events. http://wp.me/p7CAn-6l #insaneparents #imustbeasuckyparent

…kids and parents pulling out their electronic pacifiers to deal with the boredom… #oursociety #usaculture http://wp.me/p7CAn-6l

our competitive nature has spilled over into Christmas. @embracechaos #sociteysaddness #ihavemorestuffthanyoudo #materialism

christmas is suffering through the repetitive motions of the season.  #:( #changeneeded #ditchthetraditions #christmasrobots

r we celebrating christmas 4 the right reasons? @embracechaos http://wp.me/p7CAn-6l

i hope i can feel the christmas spirit on christmas day… without my decoder ring. @embracechaos #surpriseinside

read 13 days until christmas http://wp.me/p7CAn-6l #13daysofembracechaos

12 days until Christmas…

after visiting a few restricted areas in the hospital, I talked to a friend that gave me the correct info. #bettersignageneeded

chateau cinema showing of it’s a wonderful life. My favorite movie. @embracechaos #itsawonderfullife #iloveb&wmovies

CHALLENGE: spontaneously invite people somewhere on your FB & twitter status. #performanceart #seewhoshowsup@lastminute

WARNING: stay away from the dark angel house. @embracechaos http://wp.me/p7CAn-6F #creepy #scary #keepout

drinking hot chocolate and toasting the giant pillow-sized marshmallows brought back from mexico. @embracechaos

…just moved us 2 the pediatric waiting room maybe bcuz we act like children & they don’t want us disturbing the grown-ups. #:P #E

i went inside to my warm, cozy house & was immediately overcome with sadness. @embracechaos http://wp.me/p7CAn-6F #homeless

just 4 the record, if “keep out” or “no trespassing” is posted, then we don’t go in.  that doesn’t mean we stay out of trouble. #photosafari

read 12 days until christmas http://wp.me/p7CAn-6F #12daysofembracechaos

11 days until Christmas…

if there’s a poster child for the love we feel for casahogarelim.com, it’s candy. #che #love #imissallofthekidsatche!

mall or maul? #tonychavez #ihatemalls #dontshopthischristmas

one would think getting a passport might be a simple process, but like everything else in our bureaucratic, complex society, it is not.

…i have no desire to give them a tv anymore… @embracechaos http://wp.me/p7CAn-78 #theyhavesomethingwedont

i wish i had never been spoiled by all of the materialism & possessions of our american culture, because now I’m addicted. @embracechaos

burdened with my knowledge, shackled with electronics and locked in a cell of selfishness and greed. @embracechaos

read 11 days until christmas http://wp.me/p7CAn-78 #11daysofembracechaos

10 days until Christmas…

my favorite Bible verse, Romans 12:2.  it’s so applicable to christmas consumerism & might b a clue in finding the christmas spirit.

‘excessable’. Yes, it’s a word, it’s my word. I made it up. #excessable @embracechaos checko  out the art: http://wp.me/p7CAn-7n

…cookie cutters symbolize our current culture and represents the expectation placed on us to conform to our society.

random acts of kindness: ppl don’t want 2 b boastful or prideful, but we need 2 get their stories told as an inspiration 4 others

look closely around u, through the lens of kindness & mercy, and u will c things you’ve never seen before. @embracechaos

read 10 days until christmas http://wp.me/p7CAn-7n #10daysofembracechaos

9 days until Christmas…

tick. tick. tick. #timeflies #annoyingclock #imbusy #snooze #theresneverenough http://wp.me/p7CAn-7P

i’m forgetting something. @embracechaos

time, our most valuable commodity.  time, our best friend and our worst enemy.  #timeismoney #timeislove http://wp.me/p7CAn-7P

the eagles understand the meaning of time. in their words, “…you can spend all your love making time.”

i don’t send christmas cards anymore, mostly because it’s an expectation. @embracechaos #anditcostsalot

do we even notice if one of our friends doesn’t send the obligatory christmas wishes? #nocards

LIMIT: one paragraph per person please. #christmascardfamilyupdates #urfamilyisbetterthanmine #childprodigies

reality cards: my kids r struggling in school, I lost my job & oh, btw, u can take his name off the card.  He doesn’t live here anymore.

who chose the jones family to represent our portrait of success? @embracechaos http://wp.me/p7CAn-7P

words are great, but we don’t take enough time to use them. http://whydidyougivemethis.wordpress.com @embracechaos #magneticpoetry

maybe we all need a visit from the ghost of Christmas past.

read 9 days until christmas http://wp.me/p7CAn-7P #9daysofembracechaos

8 days until Christmas…

aren’t ghosts just people spirits in 32% transparent bodies with a 78% vivid light outer glow? #photoshop @embracechaos

the ghost of christmas past is a vintage poloroid camera… http://wp.me/p7CAn-88 #ghostofchristmaspast

it looked nice, felt warm and seemed surreal, yet i had no idea what ‘it’ was. @embracechaos

the ghost of christmas present. get it? christmas ‘present’?  i crack myself up! http://wp.me/p7CAn-88 @embracechaos

let me just say that i never intentionally bought a pair of mismatched shoes. @embracechaos

i met the ghost of christmas future last night and her name is Flo. http://wp.me/p7CAn-88 @embracechaos

her walker, with tennis ball feet, must be jet propelled. #cuteoldpeople #alzheimers #capturedmyheart http://wp.me/p7CAn-88

the nursing home filled w traces of personal artifacts, arranged into a beige shell, a colorful painting spoke loudly… http://wp.me/p7CAn-88

the christmas spirit? yep, it’s a ghost, & I think I’m a little closer to it now. @embracechaos

read 8 days until christmas http://wp.me/p7CAn-88 #8daysofembracechaos

7 days until Christmas…

‘you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family?’ i beg to differ. @embracechaos http://wp.me/p7CAn-8F

…i noticed a house that had some fun yard decor, more specifically, ‘little skeleton girl’. http://wp.me/p7CAn-8F #littleskeletongirl

i guess God knew I needed some siblings, but decided to bring them in under different circumstances. @embracechaos #jo #selena #ryan #erik

u may not b able to choose ur genetic family, but through love & friendship, u do choose ur ‘preferred’ family. http://wp.me/p7CAn-8F

1 definition of a family is “a group of people who are generally not blood relations but who share common attitudes, interests, or goals…”

…a lady at church who accidentally door dinged my beat-up car. #greatwaytomeetpeople #godiscool http://wp.me/p7CAn-8F

read 7 days until christmas http://wp.me/p7CAn-8F #7daysofembracechaos

6 days… no, wait, 5 days until Christmas…

whatever.  i can’t count! @embracechaos http://wp.me/p7CAn-8Q

although I may not know my love language, I know what it’s not.  it’s not gifts. @embracechaos

the 2009 christmas gift giving guide aka jody’s list. @embracechaos http://wp.me/p7CAn-8Q #jodyslist

what was the coolest, most mind-blowing gift you received as a child? #whirlywheel #krazykar

hat is the most meaningful or creative gift you have ever received? #skelmingo #bouquetofpaintbrushes

Anyone can go 2 a cookie cutter store, buy mass produced material goods take it home, wrap it in a bunch of fancy paper & call it a day.

CHALLENGE: if you are supporting thrift stores with your old stuff, please continue! #thirftstores #charity

judge a book by its cover. @embracechaos

at the risk of offending someone, I have found a whole new level of ridiculousness to gift giving. personalized wine bottle etching.

CHALLENGE QUESTION: what are your resources and how can you use them to help people? http://wp.me/p7CAn-8Q

don’t get sucked into the vortex of materialism and meaninglessness. #christmasconsumerism http://wp.me/p7CAn-8Q

read 5-6 days until christmas http://wp.me/p7CAn-8Q #5-6daysofembracechaos

4 days until Christmas…

A friend asked an interesting question: he asked, “would you still be blogging everyday if you were married?” http://wp.me/p7CAn-9e

holiday balance. where is it? i have no idea. @embracechaos #balance #iwouldlosemyheadifitwasnotattached

i’m intrigued by the name moving colors. i forgot to ask how they came up with the name. http://movingcolorsband.com

maybe I don’t need to leave anything out of the christmas storage box. http://wp.me/p7CAn-9e #dontforget #rememberchange

read 4 days until christmas http://wp.me/p7CAn-9e #4daysofembracechaos

3 days until Christmas…

someone found by blog with the search words ‘why do people choose chaos’. @embracechaos http://wp.me/p7CAn-9m

So do people chose chaos, or is chaos a result of human actions? #choices

cultural chaos: result of masses of ppl coexisting on a planet, development of r interactions & outcome of r participation in society.

cultural chaos is not only having too many choices, but the expectation that we are to participate in all of them on some level.

i’m glad sonic still believes in peppermint wheels. @embracechaos http://wp.me/p7CAn-9m #sonictoys #cherrylimeade

Can anyone copyright a smiley face? #walmartsucks #harveyball #70’s #whatsthefirstthingyouthinkofwhenyouseeasmileyface?

adbusters.org, a radical & thought provoking publication, addressed the christmas chaos in one of their issues a few years ago. #readit

Civilization creates icons, placing in r subconscious, the type & location of where they want u 2 participate in their piece of chaos.

we choose chaos because it’s what we know and it’s comfortable, even if we don’t like it. @embracechaos

read 3 days until christmas http://wp.me/p7CAn-9m #3daysofembracechaos

2 days until Christmas…

i get the distinct feeling people are ready for this to be over. @embracechaos http://wp.me/p7CAn-9u

ah, the blissful haven between life’s pandemonium and the inescapable reality of a final destination. @embracechaos

…the red push pin & the pulsing blue dot have finally come together.  For a brief moment, the purple cloud of excitement is overwhelming.

did I turn off the iron?  No, because I don’t have one. #noiron #turnitoff #whydopeopleiron? http://wp.me/p7CAn-9u #seriously

i have learned something about christmas this year though, it’s about the journey, not the destination. @embracechaos

read 2 days until christmas http://wp.me/p7CAn-9u #2daysofembracechaos

1 day until Christmas…

…and found a small package on my front porch. @embracechaos http://wp.me/p7CAn-9Q #whatwasinit?

i wasn’t prepared for the non-accidental, odd collection, depicting my life. @embracechaos http://wp.me/p7CAn-9Q

pcs of life on tiny scraps of paper, some mocking happiness, others evidence of existence, carefully arranged in2 a loose album of heartache

transposing my insights, perceptions and visions into comprehensible words is so incredibly challenging for me. @embracechaos

…it’s the juxtaposition of an important birthday and our cultural creativity. #mergechristmas http://wp.me/p7CAn-9Q

we’re all quirky in our own ways and I’m simply pointing out that christmas exaggerates these peculiarities. @embracechaos

my expression of negative feelings is necessary, manifested through aesthetic, tangible pieces of art, not crying. @embracechaos

if you’re looking for warm-fuzzy-happy stories, you won’t be reading my stuff. @embracechaos #realitychk

with my treasure chest of words, i can only hope 2 make a tiny impact in this large cultural crater. #changetheworld #trashsociety@christmas

read 1 day until christmas http://wp.me/p7CAn-9Q #1dayofembracechaos

Christmas day.

merry christmas from @embracechaos https://embracechaos.wordpress.com

1 day until Christmas…

I came home late from work last night and found a small package on my front porch. The package was not a surprise. I was expecting it and I knew what I would find inside. I picked up the vintage gray, mottled paper envelope off the ground and carried it inside.

I had received a phone call a few days ago from my mom, telling me she’s coming to see her grandkids. I had to let her know I don’t have the boys this week, they’re with their dad and I won’t get them back until Christmas day. A day later, she left me a voice mail that she would see the boys over there and she would leave some photos by my front door. My mom came to town yesterday, left the photos, just as she had planned. I suppose she saw the kids too, just as she had planned.

Although I was expecting the package to contain photographs, I wasn’t prepared for the non-accidental, odd collection of them, depicting my life. On one end of the spectrum, photos of my parents before I was even born, at the other end, my pre-divorce family photos. What was I expecting? Some snapshots of my kids from her last visit to Frisco. What should I have expected? Anything but some snapshots. What did I get? Pieces of my life on tiny scraps of matte paper, some mocking happiness, others simply evidence of my existence, all carefully arranged into a loose album of heartache. Merry Christmas.

Enough of that. Wow, only one more day of journaling the 25 days of Christmas. Although the countdown is over, I plan to push the digital pencil one final time for this project, a summary of sorts, on Christmas day.

Transposing my insights, perceptions and visions into comprehensible words is so incredibly challenging for me. Images, no problem. Words, easier said than done. Also, there’s the fear of writing something that nobody will read. I realize I’m somewhat opinionated and can be a pushy activist when I’m passionate about something. To some people, that makes me interesting, to others, I’m probably just plain annoying. For now, we’ll say I’m interestingly annoying.

So many have asked, “Why are you writing? What’s the purpose of blogging the 25 days of Christmas?” I have many reasons.

I want people to see the fun, humor and creativity in everyday life.

Remember, this blog started as a way to showcase silly Christmas yard art. Why do we have plastic Santa statues and hang several strings of tiny bulbs all over the place for Christmas? Even though Christmas yard decor seems to be caricature representations of the Christmas spirit, it’s the juxtaposition of an important birthday and our cultural creativity. The evolution of the Christmas story is like hearing a story through a large circle of people. The story is told by each person in the circle, one person telling the next what they just heard. Once the story has made it’s way around the circle, there might be some small resemblance to the original story, but with personal and cultural embellishments, and sometimes, and element of fantasy.

We’re all quirky in our own ways and I’m simply pointing out that Christmas exaggerates these peculiarities. Let’s enjoy this! Not just around Christmastime, but all year long. I’m throwing out a challenge here. In the next week, take one photo of something amusing, creative or just plain weird. Upload it to your Facebook page, write a couple of sentences about it, then tag me on it. This exercise will change the way you see ordinary, everyday sights. And don’t blame me when you start finding ways to take secret photos, like pretending to talk on the phone while snapping pics. Of course, I would ever consider doing such a thing.

I want to challenge people to think differently about Christmas, including myself.

If you’ve read my previous blogs, this doesn’t require much explanation. Think outside yourself, don’t get sucked into the cultural Christmas entropy and keep making positive changes after Christmas is packed neatly away in the attic. I know I will fall back into my old ways, those of being too busy, but not busyness with a good purpose. I don’t want to forget about meeting Tom on the highway or forget about Flo, the ghost of Christmas future. I want to remember Christ’s birth all year long and be mindful of God’s wonderful gift.

Self expression and personal growth.

Some people cry to express feelings of anguish and sorrow, or some might even show displays of anger. My expression of negative feelings is necessary, however it is manifested through aesthetic, tangible pieces of art. I must convey my pain and pleasure through art, to the point that if I don’t fulfill this need, it will pull me down into the depths of depression. Until yesterday, I thought I was the only person on the planet that deals with emotion this way. I’m not. Just last night, I met someone that has the same affliction.

My writing, as well as my art, tells a story. When I take the time to read my written words and gaze at my own artwork, I learn things about myself that I didn’t know. This is my self-awareness process. Now don’t get me wrong, I have many issues, and some I’m sure many I’m not aware of (which I’m sure will be pointed out by my friends reading this), but it’s helpful to me. Sometimes it’s painful, like looking at the envelope of photographs last night, sometimes it’s helpful, gaining an understanding of why I do things so I don’t repeat the same mistakes.

If you’re looking for warm-fuzzy-happy stories, you won’t be reading this, as you would have clicked away long ago. If you’re looking for some thought-provoking, realistic stories with obscure personal views, then you’ve come to the right place. Christmas is hugely important, and I’m not talking about the stock market implications. The birth of a savior has been overshadowed with the cultural Christmas. I don’t want to be in that shadow.

With my treasure chest of words, I can only hope to make a tiny impact in this large cultural crater. Whether you stumbled upon these blogs by accident, found them through a subject search or you know me and I pestered the crap out of you to read them, my hope is that there might be one tiny little piece of meaningful wisdom that means something to you. If not, this has still been a great experience, as I can use it to better my own life journey. The tattered gray envelope and its contents may represent my past, but does not predict my future. Merry Christmas.

%d bloggers like this: