Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Cookie & Some Bugs

Coming home from the Hye Farmers Market, where consequently I did not sell one Hattie Bag . I did give away one to a very happy 10 year old boy who put his name in my drawing to win for his mom for Mother's Day (so happy he won), and met a ton of great people with lots of great feedback.
When starting a new thing getting feedback is almost payment enough for a while.  I had one photographer tell William, "This lady should not be in Hye, TX.....she should be in NYC"  I was blessed by that comment.  William said she was not your typical photographer.  She was "artsy".  I had many more men think my idea for the hats into purses, imaginative and innovative.  Great, so please buy one for your girl......please.

In Frederiecksburg, every year, a group of Volkswagen Bug and other VW model owners get toether at LBJ park by the airport.  They swap cars, parts, show off thier prize Bugs, tell stories and award prizes.  They also take over the campground and its like a three day Bug fest.  Its very colorful, great cars to photograph and interesting characters that go along with the cars.

The new thing is to put different vintage travel things on top of the Bugs, on luggage or surf racks.  And it was all vintage to match the age of the car as if what they had it on top like they were on their way, back in the day.

So, back at the Farmers Market I bought a dozen chocolate chip cookies from Kadi Bakes and was dying to taste one.  I wanted to stop and shoot with my new camera at the Bug fest so thought that would be a perfect excuse to have a cookie and shoot some pictures.  Nobody cared and welcomed you to shoot pictures, so I parked and walked around a little.  With my cookie in one hand and my camera around my neck.  Just in case.

A self portrait holding the cookie.
One of the owners with his built in alarm system in the back.
Here an owner converses with an onlooker describing the renovation.
Another little self portrait and you can see me holding the cookie.

I took my first bite of the cookie and it was like biting into cookie dough cake.  It was really thick, crispy on the outer layer but soft almost like cake on the inside.  And the chocolate was melting under my fingers.  It was the perfect combination and accompaniment, like coffee and a scone or whatever you put with your Starbs.......I walked around the campground, chewing my liciousness, enjoying the color, sounds and people I saw, watched as the lighting became more and more perfect for capturing the romantic side that has captured the owners.  As the sun went down I felt the cool air after a long day.  It was only about 15 minutes, but it was in those 15 minutes that I saw all this......

This red van is probably my dream car.  Love it.  Was dreaming about how I could convert a lime green one, that was El Camino style, with drop down sides into a mobile kitchen.  That would just be incredible.  

Did you notice in my last shot......no more cookie.   Of course I found a few Love, God photos, but will reveal them after I have them watermarked.  I am learning that my work has value and I should protect it with a signature.  I have the smarts of this lady helping me get my act together, cleaning up my blogs, getting my stuff out there into main stream and taking the next step past the "starting line" as Jon Acuff calls it.  I am devouring his book called START.  A must for people getting going in what they love to do recognizing the steps and editing process that comes with it.  I told someone the other night that the next 10 to 15 years could be my most productive years as far as contributing to the family.  That excites me.  More people between the ages of 54 and 75 have reinvented themselves and have start up businesses than ever before in history.  I can see now more clearly the process I have been going through, I go through every day and the process I will continue to go through.

Most people tell you to stop and smell the roses ( you still need to do that).  
Well I say have a cookie and look at some Bugs.  Enjoy.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Blissdom 13 Recap: 7 Divine Appointments

Every year I go to a little 'ol conference called Blissdom.  What started in a small hotel bar with 30 women is now taking up Gaylord Conference Centers with 1000 women.  It is something to aspire to if you ever want to host a conference.  They've got it down pat.  It's like conference in a box, conference 101 and speed dial conference.  With sponsors and brands like Maytag, Ducktape, ConAgra Foods, California Raisins, Johnson n Johnson, National Honey Board, Famous Footware just to name a few of the feathers in their cap.  These three ladies, Alli Worthington, Paula Bruno and Barbara Jones have a unique networking system that works for them.  When you can find people who have the voice, the pull and the brains and can work together as beautifully as they do, it is an awesome wonder to watch.  I know its a ton of work, but the draw they must get from the energy of all these people coming together because of what they have created in a word, and not to be corny, bliss.  One of the sweetest moments for me was seeing Barbara Jones.  When she recognizes me she throws open her arms, comes running towards me, gives me this huge hug, tears up and says, "Look, you've got hair". Yep!  What a dear.

I have had almost a month to recover. I literally stayed home for a week and did nothing. It was that intense, that much fun, and took that much out of me.  Now, I am a bit older than some of those ladies and I am still recovering from breast cancer treatments, so I think it just wiped me out.  This years host was the Gaylord Dallas and it was spectacular.  The inside of the hotel was tremendous, the convention hall really nice and the service really great. Being close to Old Town Grapevine is a plus with unique shopping and restaurants.  Also a big draw are the speakers.  With author/speakers like Scott Stratten and Jon Acuff, Tami Heim and Jeff Goins, Danielle Elliot Smith and Lisa Leonard how could they miss.   And workshops in Life Development, Photography, Business, Social Media, Writing and anything blissfully worth talking about were at our beck and call of choices..  Then of course you have the nighttime activities flanked and studded with stars like cast members from All My Children, Suburgatory, Glee and The Voice.  So all in all its a pretty awesome bang for the buck.  On top of all that,  I always go anticipating some divine appointments.  In past years I have met people that could have only been orchestrated for me to meet by God.  You can read my recap from last year, click here,  when I went to Blissdom bald from chemo and determined not to let it slow me down.

Blissdom 2012 Bald complete with wound vac and pump
This year was no exception.  I counted seven encounters that had me blissfully thanking The Lord and in awe of how they unfolded.

The first evening I am there I run into a friend I had met the year before, Scotty Reiss, with Shebuyscars.com and she introduced me to two women who are very well connected in the One2One Network and have a company called Office Candy.  We connected on many levels, but again it was very special with Scotty.  She mentioned what she is doing now with Shebuyscars and began to encourage me to write two stories about how I bought two of my cars.  I shared with her about an idea I have for a car product (more on that later) and gave me bullet point instructions on how to get it going again.  Divine #1.

Next I meet Amy and Jen two friends that start talking to me as we stand in line to go into the kick off party.  Once we go in we all sort of go our ways, but then we found each other again and decide we are hungry.  I had already grabbed a bite so just sat and visited and listened to their stories about their lives.  I asked them if they had gone to Blissdom before and they said yes they had gone last year.  I said, "Well you may have remembered me last year, I was bald and wore a hat".  Both immediately said, "Yes we remember you".  Amy piped in and said, "You made me cry last year with what you said in Tami Heim's session".  I said, "I did. I am sorry, wow".  She said, " No it was a really great and powerful thing what you said cause our table was just sitting there not knowing what to write and you stood up and shared and it silenced the room and our table.  Once you sat down we all looked at each other, some of us crying and started writing.  As if what you said helped us know what to write".
I thanked her and was glad the Holy Spirit was able to use me.  What are the odds that they would be the people I would stand in line with and be linked up with for the rest of the conference?  2 in 1000?  I don't know cause I am not good at that.  That was Divine #2.

The next day I treat myself to breakfast room service and it was amazing.

The Handmade Market Place was all day, so I did not get to really enjoy too many of the speakers, but got to walk around to some of the vendors.  One of the vendors was Famous Footwear who was promoting "Your Victory Story".  They gave us shoes last year.  I loved those Keds tennies and would wear them to treatments, in my backyard and sometimes on walks when I felt good enough.  They were sort of special to me cause I had them on when I was going through quite a bit.  I remember the guy who interviewed us last year to tell our story.  This years person working the booth was no exception either.  I walked up to the booth and she welcomed me.  I asked what they were doing this year for swag and told her how special the shoes were for me last year and why.  I could tell it struck a chord in her.  Her mother had breast cancer when she was 16.  She shared that she was doing well and a survivor x amount of years.  I told her that my daughter is 16 and the struggles she was having with the day to day seeing me get weak and look pretty sickly.  I could see tears well up in her eyes.  I took her little hand and said how I was sorry she had to go through that with her mom, that her role as care taker and giver I was sure played an intrique role in her recovery.  I told her that so much of  the focus in on the patient sometimes the sacrifices the family makes goes unnoticed.  It was like I was reading her mail.  She just stood there shaking her head, "Yes!".  I gave her a big hug and told her I was glad we shared and that everything would be fine.  Divine #3.  Again what are the odds that vendor worker among three others would come to me?  I don't know you do the math for me.

So I spent all day in the Market and I was wiped out, but so thankful for the feedback I got about Hattie Bags.  I did not sell one thing, but did not care.  The people I met and the exposure I still am getting is tremendous.  I met one of the photographers, James, who leaned over and gave me his card and said, "You really should call my friend at Paper City in Houston, your bags are something she would flip over.  It is right up her alley."  I said, "That right there was worth coming and being here all day, thank you."  Divine #4  I say I did not sell anything, Jen, remeber her, she fell in love with one green beauty.  She was reluctant to spend the money on herself, so I made a deal with her.  I told her if she would pledge money for my daughter who is a missionary in Uganda at $10 or $20 a month, then I would give her the bag.  She said she would think about it.  I said fair enough.  She handed me a check later that evening. Divine #4-5

The next day I am excited cause I was going to get to hear some speakers that day, but I was also meeting some family for lunch.  That was really fun too.  So when I got back from lunch, I wanted to just hang out in the One2One Network's booth and get to know the Office Candy ladies better.  I got my head shot taken, I signed up to win prizes and they had some good snacks.  So I was standing in the doorway of their booth, just talking to one of the ladies and she asked where I was from and I told her and she said, "Really, I only know one person from there and I have only met her ONCE cause our husbands go hunting."  She told me who it was and yes I knew her.  Small world again or divine, that she would walk up to me and chat.  Then her room mate came up and we later talked about how she wanted to move to Nashville and what she wanted to do.  I told her that not only do I have family there that know people who could help, but I actually know some artists.  Divine #6.

Even though all those appointments were divine and deemed recognition I think the last one that kept giving well after Blissdom is #7.  And wouldn't you know it would be #7, one of God's favorite numbers.  One2One Network launched a campaign called Strong Mom's Empower to share our examples of mom empowerment through social media.  If your name was picked you received a donation gift card to a charity of choice off  DonorsChoose.  I thought why not, its not really costing me anything but a little time and effort and someone gets to benefit from that.   So I filled out the deal and sat in front of a monitor and shared.  It was a moment in time when I judged someone that definitely was a pivotal moment that changed the way I approach people, the way I look at others and the way I felt about others.  So I was chosen and won a $50 gift card to donate.  I went online and found a young teacher in Louisiana who was raising money for her class to teach them about gardening, a passion of mine, so I picked her out of hundreds of others.  In fact she was like on the third or fourth page of the list.  Who goes that far down on the list?  I know on bing and Google I don't.  But something, i.e. God, kept me digging for just the right match for me and what I would be passionate about giving to.  So boom, I entered the gift code, and off went the $50.   A few days later I received a thank you note via email from the teacher. Her name is Rebekah Ellis.  I thought for a second wow, that's interesting I have a daughter named Rebekah (unique Old Testament spelling) and my other daughter's married last name is Ellis.  You see when I donated it did not have her name, just the name of the school, class and what they were asking for.  But wait, it gets better!  In her email she says, ( mind you this is a public school teacher), "I love your Madre Minute's .....it is beautiful and touching!  I just wanted to let you know that I believe God sends us signs along the way to let us know we are on the right path at the right time, just like your gorgeous garden path.  After reading about you on your site, I wanted to share that I am the second of seven sisters and I was married on July 7th.  I thought it couldn't be a coincident that you have six daughters and July 7th was such an important day in your life as well."  Well I was so filled with joy that God had led me to this particular recipient that I could hardly contain myself.  July 7th is when I was diagnosed and I have six daughters and one named Rebekah and Ellis.  Really God?  Yes, and thank you God!  As only God can do, He maps out those happen stances in our lives, when we least expect it.  So, wait on Him with great expectation.  Rebekah goes on to say, "I know that God ordained our paths to meet. I can not wait to share the story and your story with the students when we return from spring break."
Blissdom 2013 w/ Danica Kombol @BeEverywhere Girls Night Out

So there you have it.  My blissfully appointed times at Blissdom that once again affirmed in me that I should probably go to this conference every year to keep my God appointments and not expect anything more from this conference.  Like I need anything else.  Sign me up now.
I never come away empty handed or empty hearted.
What a joy it is always to attend, reconnect and learn new things.
See you next year!

If you would like to give to Mrs. Ellis' gardening project you can contact her at:

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Les Miz

As most of us know this classic film by its shortened name, Les Miz,  but it is by no means a film that will be short lived in our movie libraries, on Netflix, on Hulu Plus or on paid per view.  I was asked by Universal Studios Home Entertainment to review this film.  I had not seen it in theaters, though I heard on the big screen it was even more spectacular.  My 16 year old daughter had not seen it either, so we made it a point to see it together.  I really did not know much about the storyline, plot or the characters accept that it was set in wartime France.  I never saw it on Broadway or any of the other films made from the adaptation of Victor Hugo's novel.  The tale of good vs. evil, man vs. woman, God vs. devil, weak vs. strong, rich vs. poor, clean vs. unclean, truth vs. a lie, light vs. dark, loyalty vs. revenge, bravery vs. cowardess, peace against war are just a few of the storyline themes you will encounter while watching the film.
Many people found and thought it a long movie, I never felt like, "when is this going to be over".  It kept me gripped into each moment that stemmed from the scenes before and if you missed any you might be a little lost.  It did take me a few minutes to really hear and get the singing of the lines, but they popped just a few spoken lines in there to warm you up to it.  I felt like the acting was over the top with regards to the depth of emotion they all had to show at one time or another.  The characterization of each person was intently and intensely thought out and made known to the viewer, so you became close to each character.  It was as if you knew them for a long time and had not just met them on the screen.  The acting is superb and all three main characters did an outstanding job.  It was the multiple supporting actors who also gave this movie its fabric that cloaked you with honor, distaste or truth depending on their character.  The struggle to stay above the struggle played a big part of the inner struggles going on within each character.  And yet they all struggled with one another and for one another.  I loved the priest who depicts the Love of Christ who gives Jean Valjean a second chance which really defines who he becomes in the movie, doing what is right and finally owning up to his sin and false identity.  Javert the ruthless policeman wanted to believe and trust God, but also wanted things done his own way.  Not willing to give up his control he fell victim of that pride and control ultimately ending his life.  Fantine the factory worker trusts and believes to a fault of naivety, that leads to her death.  She sees the good in Valjean and entrusts her daughter to him to raise and take care of.  It truly is a testament of the human spirit with a timeless and epic message of hope in that human spirit.  I love how the candlesticks follow Valjean throughout the movie like a cornerstone.

I can not say enough about this film except you should see it.  I would not have younger children watch it only because of its length and subject matter.  Teenage children are much more likely to understand and follow along with its challenging storyline and musical lyrics.  I know it will be a film we will watch over and over from time to time, never gaining too much dust on its jacket.  I appreciate Universal Studios Home Entertainment for giving me the opportunity to review this film.  I hope you will enjoy it as much as we did, we are, and will to come.
Here is a link to a discussion guide for more information about the film:

You can also go to  http://www.lesmiserablesfilm.com/  for a film clip of the film.