Tag Archives: patchwork

Christmas Tree personality Quiz

In case you didn’t already know, your Christmas tree is the mirror to your soul.A blank canvas of green where you paint your very own self-portrait in tinsel, baubles and lights.

As you make all those decisions involved with both choosing and decorating your tree, you’re actually oozing your personality all over its branches

Your Christmas Tree is your inner self-portrait.

For every year this Christmas tree,
Brings to us such joy and glee.
Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree,
Such pleasure do you bring me!

So what does your Christmas Tree say about you?

Well, I’d be curious to know and perhaps if I show you mine, you might even find the courage to show me yours!

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Our Christmas Tree is cluttered with memories, meaning and love.

 

  1. Is your tree real or fake? Why?

All my life, we have always had a real Christmas tree, which we’ve bought from a local fruit shop. We have always loved the fresh pine scent of a real tree. That is that distinctive smell of Christmas. That said, I’m not so keen on the pine needles which constantly fall on the floor, reminding me of that other scourge which is dog hair.

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2) Do you have matching ornaments? A colour theme?

No, we do not have any theme or style for our Christmas tree. Rather, we have a mish-mash of ornaments which date as far back as my childhood. There’s a patchwork Christmas stocking which I hand-stitched back when I was 12 and it shows. Made with enthusiasm, rather than precision. We have an ornament which we bought in New Zealand on our honeymoon and a beaded star from South Africa bought to support an orphanage. I have also cleaned off the piano and that’s where I’ve put our nativity set and more Santas than I care to mention. I’m a real sucker for Christmas ornaments.

Each shining light
Each silver bell
No one alive spreads cheer so well

Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree,
You’ll ever be unchanging

3) What is at the top of your tree?

We currently have an angel who is playing the violin at the top of our tree. I did buy quite a lovely star to go up there but it really looked like it needed to sit on top of a broom handle and was probably designed to go on a fake tree.

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4)Do you have any hand-made decorations?

We have quite a few hand-made decorations. There are decorations I made when I was a kid and by our children as well. Christmas craft, for me, is an important part of the lead-up to Christmas. Or, at least it used to be. I seem to be too busy these days to even get to the essentials.

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Miss and I made this angel together in 2010. We traced around her hands to make the wings.

5) Do you have any Christmas traditions?

My mother’s family has German heritage, although some of my German roots date back as far as the first shiploads of Germans to arrive in South Australia in 1838.

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Handcarved German Erzgebirge Christmas tree, which I bought in my grandfather’s home town, Hahndorf, in South Australia. I handpainted the teddy bears.

My mother’s mother used to make Honey Biscuits each Christmas, which is also known as Lebkuchen. These biscuits were round and had half a blanched almond on top. I really loved those biscuits. However, it has been difficult to replicate them myself. For many years, I made an alternative recipe but then tried her recipe. Unfortunately, she’d left out much of the detail as i think it was only there to jog her memory. The only time I made them, they made great rocks. I’ll have to have another go.

We go to Church ideally on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Growing up, we had the Church Christmas Tree Service where the kids got all dressed up and recreated the birth of Baby Jesus in the manger. Such nativity services aren’t as common here as they used to be and unfortunately I fell asleep and missed ours last Friday night after a busy week.

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Of course, I’d like to acknowledge those with different faiths and the importance of their celebrations and traditions at this time of year. I liked what Dale wrote in her blog which covered this well:

“Merry Christmas to those of you who do celebrate it and Happy Holidays to those of you who celebrate something else!”

Love and Best wishes,

Rowena , Geoff, Mister, Miss, Bilbo and Lady!

What Is Your Idea of Perfect Happiness?… The Proust Questionnaire.

Working on character for the “Book Project”, a few weeks ago I decided to run through the Proust Questionnaire: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/08/25/in-pursuit-of-character-the-proust-questionnaire/

However, progress has obviously stalled at Question 1: What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Needless to say, pursuing this question has evolved into quite a challenging and thrilling journey, resulting in multiple stepping-stone posts and even devouring precious wisdom from:The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living.

You could well say I covered my idea of perfect happiness in my last post: By the way, you can read that post here: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/08/29/the-dna-of-happiness/

However, I really wanted to nail it down.

Be specific.

Write something succinct.

Yet, of course, I’ve failed. After all, how could I ever encapsulate happiness in just a few words?

Thread and Thrift: Crazy Patchwork Appliqued Birds by Mandy Pattullo http://threadandthrift

Thread and Thrift: Crazy Patchwork Appliqued Birds by Mandy Pattullo http://threadandthrift

Finally, getting straight to the point, my idea of perfect happiness is something like a crazy patchwork quilt. Fabrics with a diversity of colour, pattern,texture, age and origin are all sewn together with a multiplicity of threads to make a truly eclectic life. It would also have to include something of a rainbow because even in my state of supposed “perfect” happiness, there would still have to be sun and rain. Otherwise, I’d stagnate. After all, flowers need sun and water to grow.

I love this sense of diversity, leading a varied and eclectic life because I thrive on that tension of yin and yang.

For example, consider intimacy and solitude.

Footprints in the sand.

Footprints in the sand.

There are times where I thrive on and really need my own space to write, think, eat my chocolate and simply breathe in peace. In other words, I can find true happiness basking in solitude and being completely alone and I can ever feel annoyed when someone enters that sacred place.

Cartwheels in the sand.

Cartwheels in the sand.

However, as a people person, I prefer to be with my kids, my husband, family, friends and being an active part not only in our local and now global community.

Yet. I love, appreciate and find happiness in both states.

Mister painintg himself.

Mister painintg himself.

Another way I’d describe my idea of perfect happiness would be to embrace life the way my children used to paint. Carpe Diem seize the day is definitely my mantra. While my kids still enjoy painting, they were really in their element painting as toddlers. I’d turn my back for just an instant and those thieving little hands would be squirting and smearing “Mummy’s paint” all over the page, their bodies and the house with exuberant delight. Even their cheeky little grins and their precious toothypegs were covered in paint. No holding back. No fear of making mistakes or not being good enough, there was only joy!

Love that paint job!

Love that paint job!

So often, we as adults have lost that joy, becoming too inhibited to spread our wings to fly or perhaps to open our lungs and truly allow ourselves to breathe and not hold back.

As I mentioned in my last post, for many poets and philosophers, happiness and sorrow are inexorably linked. You can’t have one without the other. That as opposites, that “yin and yang”, they help define each other. This would suggest that happiness is also identified and appreciated only by experiencing its opposite. This means no tears, suffering or frustrations, you also miss out on happiness…even if that doesn’t make sense.

A few years ago, if you’d asked me about happiness, I know I would’ve said: “getting my books published”. Indeed, even getting one book published would be a thrill. However, I’m not so sure that fulfilling that goal would bring enduring happiness. Sure, there would be such a sense of achievement, accomplishment and that “FINALLY”!! But I’m not sure that this would guarantee happiness. It is very tempting to think so but I’m not that sure. Of course, one suspects if it’s a best-seller, you’d never turn back but….?

I also don’t want to put too much weight on something that will happen in the future because I also need to be happy, content and excited about getting out of bed right now. That means right here, right now…NOT tomorrow!

That means that my idea of happiness currently has to involve NOT having the book(s) published.

In addition to all these more creative representations of my perfect state of happiness, I have also taken a more systematic approach.

A few years ago, when I first started working on writing my motivational memoir about living beyond a chronic, life-threatening illness, I came up with a list of things, seemingly out of nowhere and I wrote it down and have pondered that list for years now. A few items come and go but the list is essentially:

Mind
Body
Spirit
Community
Environment
Work

They stayed in this linear list format for a few years until I discovered Mind Mapping and then I put them into this format. I really didn’t know what happened when you put all this things together at once and just left it as a question mark…an enigma. It might be happiness. It could be self-actualization or resilience but I do believe it is a very powerful, life changing force…a bit like shaking up that bottle of Coke and taking off the lid.

The Keys To Happiness or Contentment?

The Keys To Happiness or Contentment?

However, these musings didn’t stop there.

When I started to work out the next level of the mind map i.e the things that I could do to develop these areas, a surprising thing occurred.

Or, at least it surprised me.

There was considerable overlap between categories.

For example, playing my violin managed to tick off mind,body,spirit and community because I not only play by myself but in an ensemble. It might even get a half tick in the environment category because at least I don’t think playing the violin is doing any harm.

Walking my dogs at the beach ticks off everything except work. Well, actually as my writing is my work and I write about dogs, I guess that’s also ticked off.

So, you see, if you are clever, you can activate many of these areas through a single activity, although you’d probably want and need more diversity than that.

I have been living quite consciously to this road map of sorts for a few years now and I am pretty sure it’s helped. For example, when my violin teacher and I discussed my future goals, I said that violin was a form of therapy to me. I know that it’s actually rewired my neuropathways quite significantly taking me from being unable to listen to music and finding it annoying due to a noisy brain, to someone who now attends concerts regularly, listens to CDs and plays an instrument. Indeed, I’m becoming a musician of sorts.

Unfortunately, all of this hasn’t resulted in perfect happiness. My health continues to be a serious concern and as I’ve mentioned before, while I’ve been exploring happiness, I’ve simultaneously been battling a nasty bout of bronchitis and am only just avoiding a hospital admission.

Our family also lives under a lot of stress and more often than not, this all boils over and it’s not all happy families, despite the photographs. However, what does perhaps give us a boost is our tenacious perseverance. We don’t give up easily. My husband is up at 6.00 AM every morning to go to work in Sydney no matter what. He did work from home on Friday because I was that crook but that doesn’t happen often. Geoff arrives home around 7.00PM and that’s the beginning of another day. Our kids are also fairly intensive and have some time-consuming medical issues.

So with all this going on, how could we possibly be happy? How could I be happy?

Well, despite how I come across, I’m not happy all the time but I am optimistic. Moreover, after all I’ve been through, I feel like I’ve been living on borrowed time for quite awhile and I am incredibly thankful. I consider myself very lucky. I carpe diem seize the day, which doesn’t just mean living for myself and our family but also being active in our community. I do the publicity for the kids school and can be seen running around at events taking photos, even when I’m not particularly well. I do the same for there Scout troop.

So, once again, I haven’t manged to answer this question in a nutshell but I think I’m getting close.

I hope some of these thought might also help you further along your journey towards happiness, contentment and along with it that sense of peace. It’s not about having all your ducks lined up and having the perfect life, but somehow seeing beyond all that to something for less tangible. Something you might not be able to see and touch but you know it when you feel it in your heart.

Love & Blessings,
Rowena