:: Balance ::

image: thayer allyson gowdy

Today I designed something I haven’t designed in ages. A form. A printable form. To print. On actual paper. A financial management form. Much different from the picture above, but financial management guarantees a yield in more time for doing what I love most.

Years ago, beginning in early 1993 I worked in office administration for a member firm of the Pacific Stock Exchange. I worked my way up quickly from Temporary Receptionist > Administrative Assistant > Administrative Manager aka Executive Assistant. My first tasks on the first day was to station myself at the front desk, answer phones, sharpen pencils, greet customers, and log cash transactions. Those were easy enough to master. What I didn’t expect three weeks later was the offer to manage the upstairs operations with an exhaustive list of responsibilities I won’t bore you with here. Needless to say, learning everything lickety split quick and then devising new organization systems was the name of the game.

When I think of that time and how organized I was I can get frustrated because I don’t feel so organized now. Instead of feeling overwhelmed or dwelling on my glamourously organized life pre-children, I went back into the past and grabbed my tool belt and my big girl panties.

Here is a link to the new daily cash spreadsheet I’ve designed complete with updating formulas. You’re welcome to use it. Just send me an email and I’ll send you a copy for your own use. In addition, I’ll be using this to get my future in order.

How do you balance?

I’ll share favorite apps and tools for business and personal in a different post.

Thanks in advance for sharing!




Memorial Day Weekend

image: gena perdue handmade

Memorial Day Weekend is an interesting holiday. Wiki gives a comprehensive description of the holiday’s original intended purpose here. I once remember Memorial Day being a holiday where the banks, post office, and mostly everything were closed save for a nearby 7-11. Do you remember those days? Today everything but the banks, library, and post office is open, and on nearly every holiday. Twenty years ago, when friends and I would decide to have a cookout or a BBQ, we found ourselves out of luck if not planned in advance. Everything would be closed day of. It was a bummer, but we didn’t complain. We made due and went to the beach or park with another plan. Coming from a military family, it is interesting that Memorial Day seems like National Barbecue Day. But honestly, every Memorial Day, all of the friends of my parents and our extended family seemed to gather at our home and have a giant barbecue. And there was usually sports on the tele too. So really, it seems that even military families can behave as though the day were meant for something else. Most years, I take it as an opportunity to let everyone else who wants to be on the road for a three day weekend get out of town while I enjoy it with a little less traffic.

Yesterday morning was a strange blessing. The kidlets were at their grandparents’ home overnight. Enjoyable peace, though admittedly there is an odd emptiness in the absence of early morning song of sibling rivalry. Hubby and I took the opportunity to catch up on our work and grab coffee at a local spot. On the ride over, we had a discussion about the purpose of Memorial Day, if we knew anyone lost in the many wars of the world, and even discussed draft dodgers a bit. I had no idea I was so passionate if not defensive for those who chose to join the US Armed Forces. It was surprising actually, but it shouldn’t be since most men in my family were once enlisted men.

We arrived to the coffeehouse having survived no traffic, no lines, no wait. Everyone had their own table and we ran into a friend.

Returning home, I finished the above summer themed quilt square which I learned here. Afterward I sat down to think of my grandfather and the many amazing stories I learned about him in my 20s. He lost his best friend in one of the wars, witnessing the man get his head and most of his upper body blown to smithereens. How does one recover from that? I don’t believe Grandpa ever  did.

An assortment of images and memes reminding us of the true purpose of the holiday here.

What was your holiday like?

Skate Date + Ham = Best Mother’s Day Ever


image: {gena perdue handmade}


image: {gena perdue handmade}

We walked and walked. And talked and talked. From the parking lot through the dell, through the grove and past the carousel, in Golden Gate Park. The weather was fair, our arms were bare. So perfect, nothing left to say. We were even home quite before dark.


You Are What You Eat

image and placemat: genaperduehandmade

Two and a half weeks ago, I walked into an FA meeting. FA is Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous. I walked in because I wanted change. I walked in because I had known about the program a few years through a friend who was going through changes. I walked in because I was ready to change how I was living. I walked in because I knew that FA was not a diet or temporary change in foods. I walked in because I want to be healthier and yes, thinner. And perhaps, dare I say it: less miserable.

What I didn’t expect when I began was to walk into a room of thin, happy people. What I didn’t expect was to see anyone I knew. What I didn’t expect was to feel light and airy and have that blissful wind in my sails for a whole week. At the  second, third and fourth meetings I attended I saw even more familiar faces, some which I am intimate with. I was both surprised and relieved to know I was not the only one struggling with this particular which is so important in life.

When I found a sponsor and we created a food plan for me, I was amazed at how similar I had already been eating. The only difference is that now I eat three consistent meals a day at regular intervals and eliminate all flours and sugars. Ounce for ounce, all of my food is weighed. When I know I am going to be away from home during meals, I bring my food with me. This may sound complicated, but I have been amazed at the peace and tranquility that living this way has brought into my life.

It’s about honesty. What I didn’t know about honesty is that honesty isn’t a selective behaviour. When I decided to become honest about food, everything in my life was up on the chopping block. Speaking up for myself and being brave, loud and proud of who I am and what I want from life is new. Am I sad to say goodbye to cocktails? Not really.

The next step is the hardest. Telling my extended family I am changing and letting them know that even though I am changing, I don’t expect them to change and I don’t want them to pity me because I don’t eat whatever it is I’m not eating. I don’t need my friends or family to behave differently around me. And because I’m not doing or eating something doesn’t mean that I’m judging someone who does. I’ve never felt braver and happier and life is becoming more fun and free by the day.

In my bowl above is 8oz. of nonfat Fage yogurt, 6 oz. mixed organic berries, and 1 oz. uncooked organic steelcut oatmeal. This is very similar to the way I would [sometimes] eat when I was doing triathlon. In twenty pounds I expect to be running comfortably again. In September I’ll be going on a Recovery Retreat that I was recently invited to, with amazing friends, amazing food, ziplines, and in one of the beautiful places in the world.

The upshot of all this: Currently: I have more confidence. I have more time. At 43 I feel happier and more balanced than ever before. I love my life. I am incredibly grateful.

Enough and More

image: { gena perdue handmade }

laptop sleeve?

ipad cover?




“I will become something,” said the green circle fabric. “I can be all of these things and more. For today, I will be a panel that separates a studio and a bathroom, and that will be enough.”

Do you ever find yourself out of focus? Overwhelmed by the tidal waves of to do lists? Wish lists and aspirations? Only to later discover an entire day has gone by like a dream?

It can be difficult with job pressures, family needs, and the burden of expectation with a sometimes unidentifiable source, to remember that we are enough.

We don’t have to accomplish everything today. We can instead choose what to accomplish today.

Choosing one thing to accomplish everyday (be kind and make it manageable at first until you get into the swing of things) and be amazed at your list of accomplishments after 7 days and then after 30 days.

Recently after reading this book, I have taken this approach and have been amazed at how much I accomplish in a week. As compared with my state of overwhelm awhile ago, which looked something like this:

1. Have my coffee to get energy for the day, 2. take kids to school, 3. clean up breakfast mess, 4. tidy up rooms, 5. make a long to do list of things, 6. check facebook to see what my friends are up to, 7. check my email and respond to anything necessary (or not), 8. pick up the living room and fluff up the couch pillows . . . you get where this goes. By the time I finish these things and barely begin to look at what’s number 1 on the giant to do list, it’s half hour before I pick up the kids and I haven’t eaten lunch yet and don’t even think about what I look like.

Do you have a list? Will you participate in a daily challenge with me to accomplish just one thing a day? Link back here and let’s continue the conversation and share our [small, but grand and amazing] victories.

Thanks for the visit.

Illin’ wid a Brass Monkey


image: consequence of sound

Even if I have never met them, when a public figure passes I mourn and reflect a bit, appreciate much. Though they weren’t interwoven into my personal life by way of their presence or a personal relationship to me, there are some that keep finding their way into my everyday. This one is particularly hard.

During the notoriety of Licensed to Ill, I lived with my combined family in the ugliest naval housing to date: Alameda, California. My combined family in a 4 bedroom apartment meant my brothers shared a room, my sisters shared a room, my parents shared a room (obviously), and lucky me, the oldest. I had my own room. Passing my brothers’ room was unavoidable since it was first down the hall. Thank goodness they were adorable and always good for a rib and guffaw.

During this time, 1987, I had just moved back home after living alone in San Diego a bit. My audio preferences were more Tones on Tail, Cocteau Twins, Siouxsie, Squeeze, Elvis Costello, and sometimes Madonna. My first experience with the Beasties was while passing my brothers’ room, hearing music and witnessing my brothers goofing off: dancing I think. And then every time I passed, it was the same activity and same music. Something had struck a chord because before that, one of my brothers had never expressed himself that way. This was when I fell in love. With a band. And their sound. For what they did to and for my brothers.

To this day, when I see my brother’s facebook posts or their photos come up when my iPhone rings or their photo icons in skype or photos I often browse through, a tune plays. And I see my brothers again, in their room in that crazy apartment, their new adolescence marked by faint odors of BO. It is 1987, when I moved from San Diego to live with my family again. I hear Brass Monkey. And I am 19 all over again.

Thank you for your musical genius. RIP, MCA.

Getting Personal

photo: Deirdre Hanlon Jones

Often I wonder if it might be a good idea to have a blogging schedule, calendar, come what may. When I think about it, it feels somewhat like a dissection. While I do love a good dissection, it starts feeling complicated and I get more self conscious than I am comfortable admitting. { i have a blog – whatever, right? }

Fact: I have a lot to say, don’t know where to begin, become overwhelmed, so I just say nothing.{ It’s the blog cliche, right? You wanna blog, you don’t wanna blog. Make up yer mind already! } Then, last week I met someone. We couldn’t stop talking. About everything. San Diego, Sonoma County, wine, good skin care regimens and who has the best R&D department, UCSD, Biochem, cosmetic chem, the real meaning of SPF, living in Europe, raising families, the high price of petro [no, not really!] ,social work, foster children and the system, and that of course led to neurobiology.

I was wide open and strangely comfortable. But, wait for it .  .  . then I was nine years old again and feeling vulnerable. What have I done? I sat with a complete stranger and in a matter of minutes exchanged lifetimes worth of extremely personal information. What if I see them again? What if I don’t?

At nine years old, something happened to me that changed my life and how I viewed myself forever. Yes, the photo is me, circa 1992. It’s old, but I’m not. 😀 Wait, did that emoticon thing just make me old?

To be continued . . .

Mayday! Mayday! Ostrich Leaving Sand Post

Suddenly firmly embracing a love of high quality material goods again. What the hell happened to me? It’s like I had kids, sent all the good Italian design stuff to Goodwill and did my best to become some effedup version of Mother Teresa. Well, look out . . .wait, doesn’t this happen every summer? Stoopid fire sign.

This and this and this are exciting me write now. Yes, that was intentional, since writing this and writing that are what have eaten holes my brain during the new blog absence. If this thing were a child, it would have definitely withered away by now, having no mother to feed it and no loyal fans to tend it in my negligence.

But seriously, look out.  /Asskickingfirebreathingstorytellingfreakmakinglife ON

Changes are taking place. Sometimes that’s scary and exciting all at once. I think I can handle it.

In the Spring of Things


image: gena perdue handmade

This WIP is about seven years old, made from dress scraps and other quilting and craft scraps. The feelings are warm and happy when I look at it, making it the perfect demo for one of my summer sewing camp sessions this year. Also perfect that it’s a straight stitch project and that the cutting and piecing part was mostly finished. This demo will be used for my Hello Dolly! Dolly Quilt session.

New Beginnings

This is my diversion in between writing, marketing and organizing my sewing camp. It isn’t as long as it looks once stitched up.

So far I have two students. Yay!