Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New Year's Bugs

Today, December 29th, means the New Year is just around the corner. So what are we going to do about it? Seems like this is an eternal question - how to embrace the opportunity for a new beginning - how to start - where to go?

As I was pondering this question, the bugs came to mind. For me a bug is something that gets in my way emotionally, personally, maybe even spiritually. It isn't always as cute as this little lady bug, but it offers a chance to scrutinize some part of life that isn't working smoothly. When I am brave I can even call the little bug a gift, as she nudges me to work through an issue that I want to ignore. Even though many of the bugs are small, they cause me to stumble and not move through life as gracefully as I would like.

I am going to figure out which bug needs attention before January 1 and plan to do some work on it. When that bug moves on, there will probably be another one to take her place. Imagine how lovely life will be by 2011 if I can systematically tackle my bug problems through this year.

Identifying one of them and working on it seems doable. Looking at the whole nest of them is overwhelming. Picking one at a time is a task I can handle.

Do you have any bugs in your life?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Holiday theme - Snowflakes

December 15 is already here and I am just beginning to think about the holidays. I think I am behind because we are leaving town to be with our children - a first for us - so the decorating frenzy and cookie making seems off the radar.

I was thinking about what I would do to make the holiday interesting for me IF I did something special. What came to mind is to pick a theme for the year. Perhaps a color - have everything red. Perhaps a plant - decorate with holly. Perhaps an animal - reindeer.
I was thinking about snowflakes myself. We have had such a cold spell here in the NW that snowflakes are appropriate this year. I would make snowflake cookies. Snowflake stencils on the windows. Use snowflake paper for wrapping. Wear snowflake earrings. Kids can cut them out of paper. Make sure there are snowflakes on the Christmas tree. Get some of the new snowflakes lights. When you start to think about it, there are lots of snowflake possibilities out there.

This isn't an earth shaking idea. It simply focuses energy and ideas in a playful and creative way for the season. I tend to be a bit intense, so this is a lightening up place for me to be. One can use the idea for other holidays as well. Green Valentines. Peppermint shamrocks. Easter fish. Halloween frogs. Whatever tickles your fancy. If you have some interesting ideas, please let us all know on the comments. Relax and have fun.
Happy holidays to you all.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Birthday Activity

I want to share this story because I feel the parents invented age appropriate activities for a birthday party that were unique and fun for three year olds. By taking time to think about the child, her age, the house where the party was going to be held, the season of the year, the party ideas emerged and flowed into a memorable day for all involved.

Six children arrived at ten in the morning, when all the kids were fresh for the day. Mom set up four activity stations. First they went to a table where each child had a visor to decorate with stickers. They donned their visors and went downstairs to another station where another adult helped them pick out some sparkling temporary tattoos for their hands. They then went upstairs to a box full of pom poms. They danced around yelling and shaking the pompoms until they moved to the garage where a pinata was waiting - the pinata was made ahead by grandma and the birthday girl. Everyone had fun trying to bust open the pinata and see what was inside.

These simple activities gave the children something active and interactive to do. At age three kids need adult supervision so there were grown ups around to help at the various stations. The photo shows the birthday girl working on her visor and you can see her concentration as she is works on it.

Because each situation is different, it is important to clearly look at ideas and details ahead of time before making a plan. Some parties may be out side because it is summer. Some kids may like a pool party. Your child might love animals. Themes and activities help mark the moment. These events need not be expensive - use your creative juices to make your plan, then sit back and enjoy.

Monday, November 30, 2009


You met my new older friend a couple of weeks ago, Vernon. I was over visiting with him today and we worked on my manuscript which is now called

Honoring Beginnings and Endings
How to Enrich Important Life Events

Vernon is a brilliant consultant/editor for me - and the fact that he celebrated his 103rd birthday last week makes the collaboration even more amazing.

While I was there, the staff was telling me about the his birthday party. Vernon has been living at the assisted care facility for about seven months. During that time the staff started to write down some of the clever things he said. The head staff person collected those sayings, put them into a book, and made copies for Vernon's family. At the party she read them out loud, then gave out the little booklets.

Talk about creating a meaningful moment. The caretakers tracked and recorded Vernon's remarkable comments. At the time they probably didn't know what they were going to do with them. They just realized that the sayings were precious. When the birthday arrived and they were thinking of what to do for a man who can't see, they came up with the idea of sharing Vernon's words and saving them for his family. I love this Mark the Moment story.
PS: If perchance my writing is more direct and less redundant, I am learning from Vernon who doesn't beat around the bush. He tells me as he hears it, as I read to him from the manuscript and he gives me his honest evaluation.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Bracelets of Love and Support

About two years ago my lovely friend Teresa was diagnosed with cancer. She lives in Denver and I live in the Northwest. She needed treatment which included surgery, chemo and radiation that would take place over the course of a year. I was wondering how I could support her when I lived such a long ways away.

After thinking about the situation, and talking to a couple of mutual friends, three of us decided to make beaded bracelets for Teresa. They aren't hard to make. They are pretty and fun to wear. I asked Teresa if this was something she would like, and she said that she would. We each made twelve bracelets - one to wear ourselves and the other eleven to send to Teresa to pass out. Thirty three bracelets found new homes in Teresa's circle of friends and family. Everyone wearing the bracelet was asked to keep Teresa in their thoughts and prayers as she proceeded through her treatment.

My bracelet was blue and green. I wore it everyday for a year and half before it broke. I think I was thinking about this story because I miss the bracelet. I had Teresa with me for that entire time as her spirit spoke to me through the little beads. I thought I wanted a replacement, but the energy that came with that one ca't be replaced. My wrist is empty at the moment.
The good news is that Teresa came through all the treatment and is doing fine - maybe our little bracelets helped remind people to think of her - which we know probably helped in her healing process. At least it helped me because I felt like I was doing someting proactive. I am not quite sure how this interconnectedness works, but it is certainly worth a try, in case it makes a difference.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Seize the Moment

Good Morning: My neighbor Janice works at a near by nursing home. She has a resident there named Vernon who is 102 years old. Janice knows about Mark the Moment and suggested that I might want to talk to Vernon. I wasn't sure where this would all lead, but was willing to try. I went over there this morning to meet him.

Vernon is a lovely man whose eyesight is nearly gone but whose hearing and mind are excellent. He is a scientist who has published several books, so knows some about the publishing business.
We talked and I told him about my project. He made some carefully crafted comments. He told me some relevant stories about his past, then got back on track without me having to move the conversation in that direction. I was enjoying our time together.

I wasn't sure where this visit would be going. Suddenly I had an idea. I talked to Vernon about listening to books on tapes but he wasn't very interested in that. And he sits there for long periods of time alone. Maybe we could assist each other. I asked him if he would be interested in being a consultant for me. I would bring over some pieces of manuscript to read to him. We would then have something concrete to talk about. Even though connecting hearts wasn't his subject, he was very gracious about considering it. I think he is quite honest and very sympathetic so will be a valuable resource for me. I hope we will be assisting each other. We'll take it week to week and see how it goes.

This isn't so much about marking the moment, but seizing the moment - noticing opportunity and a win/win situation unfolding. I'll keep you posted on how this goes. We start next week. The Universe provides again in unbelivably creative ways!


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Recently I had a friend who was diagnosed with a rare lymphoma cancer. She is a longtime teacher at one of our local schools. Because of the health issues she needed to take some time away from school. She asked for two quarters off in order to complete her treatment plan, think about what was happening and regroup.

The teachers at the school must have gone through some sort of thinking process about her. It seemed like they wanted to support her through the health struggle and the decision to take a leave of absence. There were lots of teachers and how would they do this?

My friend told me about her last day at school - how she was called into the office at the end of the day via loud speaker. When she arrived all the staff was there, complete with janitors. The group had bought a large basket and every one contributed something to the basket that would feed her, pamper her, entertain her and clothe her. She was overwhelmed, but tickled, at this outpouring of support and concern. She knew the staff was on her side looking toward a good recovery.

I felt this was a lovely and appropriate action to mark this moment. The basket provided a container for all to participate.Each staff member thought about what she might need or enjoy during this time away from school. Each little offering added up to make one smashing basket.

Opportunities for marking a moment abound. Be aware and when you find one, wonders can emerge. Keep your eyes open and savor the chance to create something unique. You can do it!

Monday, November 2, 2009

All Saint's Day

Yesterday in church, we celebrated All Saint's Day - where we honor those who have passed on this last year. Although there is a long tradition of this celebration world wide, our country has not embraced this holiday. Have you ever received a Hallmark All Saint's Day card?

So yesterday six small votive candles were placed on the alter. They represented six of our congregation members who had died this last year. As part of the service, a woman read a short bio of each of them as their candle was lit. This isn't an elaborate or complicated procedure, but it touched me as I had known all the people. I was glad to be reminded of their lives and what they had meant to me.

I have decided to take that model and apply for me. I am going to keep a list on my calendar of people close to me who die this year. When next All Saint's Day comes, I will have this list to refer to, put out a candle for each of them in our house, and spend a few minutes reflecting on what they meant to me. For me it isn't gruesome, as death is a natural passage. We all affect each other and I want to relish the gifts these people left on this earth.

This is one small place where meaningful moments are found. They are tucked away in the cornors of our lives, eager to find their way into the world to make our lives richer and fuller. Be aware and you too will welcome surprising, simple, economic ways to celebrate.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Trick or Treat

Next week is Halloween. I don't have kids at home anymore, but I remember every year trying to decide the candy issues. Everyone knows that parents hate all the sugar. Everyone knows the kids love it. I think the dressing up part is creative and fun, so during the years our kids were home and trick or treating, we made some compromises that worked for us.

We live in a rural community, so finding people off the grid is easy. For those of you in town, you could still use the principle and find people that may not ordinarily get kids coming to their houses.

The week before Halloween we would sit down and make a list of people who wouldn't usually get a trick or treater. We have friends out in the woods who seldom had a guest. We would choose maybe 6-8 sites. Sometimes I would call ahead to warn then to have some treats, as they would be in shock the first time. Then my husband and I would put the kids in the car and make the trek to all the houses on the list. People were thrilled to have a visitor. Our kids felt like they had a special outing and the candy was minimized. Everyone was happy.
We marked the moment in kind of a different way and it was more meaningful to us than going into town and letting the kids roam the streets where they didn't know anyone. Be creative with your children. You will find what works for you and may limit the sugar content and even add something special to the holiday.
Happy trick or treating!

Monday, October 19, 2009

the J and J party - marking the moment

It's Monday morning. I think this will be my blogging day, so here we go.

I want to show you an example of marking the moment. This story hasn't happened yet, but it will and is inspired by the Julia and Julie movie.

When I mentioned in the first blog that a group of women saw the movie together, I neglected to mention that this group has been together as a women's study group for more than ten years. We had never seen a movie together in a theater, as we mostly study books meeting in our own homes. Two of our women have their birthdays in November and they are big ones this year - worthy of a celebration. About thirty years ago I gave Julia's cookbook to one of these gals as a gift. We are now going to refer to that book and design a 'Julie and Julia' party for our friends. We will use the recipes and dress in the 50's. This is the bones of the evening - I am sure more will unfold. We are planning on giving each birthday woman an amaryllis to watch grow through the holidays.
This particular celebration is like a theme party, capturing a moment in time that we shared with the movie and transposing it into our dinner gathering. As this blog emerges I will be offering more ideas for birthday celebrations with your friends and family - as well as holiday ideas that will help you move from commercial frenzy to a more basic giving from the heart. This birthday example is a fun way to get us started. I'll keep you posted as it happens - maybe even get a picture of our feast.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Very First

Hello: My name is Paula Pugh. I am hoping we'll become acquainted as this blog unfolds. At the moment I want to tell you how I finally got the nerve to start this blog project. It is a kind of strange and funny story.

A couple of weeks ago, as I had been thinking about the blog, a group of women friends and I decided to go see the movie Julie and Julia. There were a couple of things about that movie that totally inspired me in finally move into action.

The first was when Julie started her own blog. She just sat down and started. I decided that was what I needed to do - just sit down and do it. The fact that no one even responded to hers for weeks was actually encouraging to me, because I felt that would give me time to get to hang of this commitment. Just about the time I was going to start. my computer went down for a week and a half - go figure! What did the universe have to tell me about this project? The computer is fixed and we are up and running. I even figured out how to add some sketches!

The second part of the movie that grabbed me was Julia's persistence with her book project. She didn't give up. She kept working on it until finally someone understood her passion and picked it up for publication.

I am inspired by her dedication as I have a book project underway that is taking a long time to find its proper expression. This blog is called Mark the Moment, which is the name of the project - a book to help people re-create holidays, birthdays, anniversaries and times in our lives when we need and want to celebration or acknowledgement a special occason As this blog continues, my intention is to show you what people have done in their lives to add meaning, not money, to their lives. Stories, like Julie and Julia's, inspire all of us to do our best, find our passions and act on them.

I am hoping that this blog will help you along the path. Together we will explore ways to express ourselves and honor our friends and family. My wish and dream is that this message will move out into the world enough so that we can share these moments.
As we get going in this informal way, I will tell you more about myself and begin to give you stories and observations about how all of us can add dimension to our lives by being leaders and innovators. Please share your stories, as together we will encourage ourselves and others to make our lives more connected and meaningful. As we move on, you will begin to understand more what this is about. Just stick with me.
We have now started - sometimes that is the hardest part.
Mark the Moment is officially launched!!!