Saturday, December 31, 2011

My New Years Story

Last week, I told you how Wookie and I met eight years ago on Christmas after about a week of emailing through I mentioned that he told me that he loved me on that first date.

What I didn’t tell you is that three days later I yelled at him because he kept saying it and I thought it was a little creepy.

We’d been together almost constantly since we met—taking breaks only to go to work. As I said last week, I was not one to believe in love at first site. I was not used to someone being as attentive as Wookie was towards me. It all seemed too good to be true and, though I was happy, I was also waiting for the other shoe to drop.

For New Years Eve we decided to go out to the movies. We both love Steve Martin so we went to see Cheaper by the Dozen. That's when everything changed for me. Sitting in the dark, watching Wookie's face as he laughed, I knew...he was everthing he appeared to be. And I loved him too.
I LOVE how this man laughs!

Later that night, we stood huddled on the Jersey side of the Hudson River counting down to midnight. As the new year rolled in we could actually hear the cheers erupt from the crowd gathered in times square.

"I love you too." I told him.

We've welcomed every new year since, together.

Happy New Year everyone!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

On Throwing in the Towel…Or Not

I think of 2011 as my crash and burn year. I lost my job and my momentum. Our house flooded...twice! After several years of go go go. I burned out. It was also a year of amazing adventures and success (just not financial success). I spoke at the Celebrant’s Collective Wisdom Conference and drove to Arizona, I tried my hand at pottery, became serious about blogging, and started taking my photography more seriously.

This has been a year of cognitive dissonance. The highs and lows of 2011 have been a roller coaster and I often felt as if I was leading two distinct lives with no middle ground. I need a change--actually Wookie and I both do.
I’ve started the last two years with resolutions and plans and failed miserably on most counts.

I’m taking a new tact this year and switching to hopes and goals. I feel that the looser frame actually leaves more room to define success and since we are in a bad place financially—and that does make for a lot of uncertainty, maybe we need to be open to an unexpected future.

After all, I never expected to be married, or a Life-Cycle Celebrant®, or a blogger. In fact, the biggest mistakes I’ve made in life have all revolved around giving up hope of something better and feeling resigned to life as it was at that moment.

I firmly believe that it’s best to always act as though what you want is possible—then you pay attention and prepare for that future. Giving up leads to stagnation and when opportunity presents itself, you’re unprepared. I admit I’ve lost sight of this ideal often enough as things have gotten harder and harder for us—but I have nothing to lose in choosing conscious optimism and plenty to lose by giving up.

So here I sit, nervous about the changes that I am sure 2012 is likely to bring, but hopeful that we will land on our feet, find a way to dig our way out of debt, and get back to a place of some security.

With that in mind, here are my personal hopes and goals for 2012:

  • I hope Wookie and I find work.

    It may seem picky to also hope that we can do work we love, or that I find another job that lets me work from home, but I do hold those hopes as well.

    Wookie would love to get a [paying] job as an EMT and has been loading up on advanced courses since he completed his EMT-B. He also volunteers as the training officer for a SCUBA search and rescue squad. Everything he does is focused on teaching others or helping them in some way. For all he gives, I hope this year rewards him with the satisfaction of a steady paycheck.

    As for me, if I could work from home, it would leave more time for my Celebrant work—and that would mean more money to throw at our debt. I can do a lot with the time I would not be commuting. (My average commute over the years has been two to three hours a day—that’s a third of a work-day!) I also work better without the distractions of an office environment.

  • My goal is to expand my Celebrancy practice. I started my zazzle shop in hopes of bringing in money for advertising. I will be updating my website as well. Realistically speaking, I will probably never be able to afford to retire outright. But I can be a Celebrant no matter what my age.

  • My goal is also to market myself better for freelance work and full-time work. I’ve gained some new experience this year that can take me in new directions. I also need to remember that the work I was doing is valuable—people need the service I provide. With technology touching every aspect of our lives, people need help guides and instruction manuals. I just need to sell my service better.

  • I hope we can keep our home—but if we can’t, I hope we land somewhere safe and comfortable. As long as we’re together and can take care of the cats, we’ll be fine.

  • My goal is to get us better organized in terms of our home and our finances. I confess that things are a mess but if we work together we can figure it out. I just have to remember that if there are things we have to give up, we will be making room for the things we need and want.

  • I still hope for us to have kids. I’m 41 and I have my fingers crossed that we still have time to make that happen.

  • My goal is to take better care of myself and encourage Wookie to do the same. We’ve gotten caught up in our troubles and that makes it hard to focus on eating well and getting exercise. Wookie’s in better shape than I am, but we could both use some tuning up.

Of course, these are all personal goals revolving around my family.  I have wider hopes for the new year as well. So many of the people we love have had their lives touched by loss and illness. I hope for a year of good health and healing. And I know that there are people worse off financially than Wookie and I—I really hope the world gets its act together—that people start to see that focusing on the common good benefits them more in the long run than greed will.  (Okay, that may fall more into the category of dreams, but I can still hope for change.)

So as this year rolls out, I’ll open my heart and my arms in hopes for a better future for all of us. I try to remember that life is an adventure and that rather than throwing in the towel it’s better to always know where your towel is, because it might come in handy.

Get Ready for the New Year with My 2012 Calendars

I'll try not to be too obnoxious with updates about my Zazzle shop, but I am hoping it will provide enough income for me to get some more advertising for Inclusive Ceremonies.  So here's another plug.

I've added several products to the shop recently, but the most timely (pun intended) are the calendars.

These are compiled from some of my favorite photos and will look great hanging in your office or home--they also make good gifts!

San Francisco Up and Down 2012 Calendar

The Beauty of Trees 2012 Calendar

I've also added some note cards.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

My Christmas Story

Eight years ago today, I met my Wookie.

About a week earlier, he had contacted me through when I had become disillusioned with it and was going to quit. We exchanged emails and pictures and stories of the civilizations that were evolving in our refrigerators. We theorized as to when they might develop nuclear technology and the possible consequences. My friend called every SCUBA shop in Manhattan till she found a guy with an Irish accent--she said he sounded cute. I was intrigued.

On Christmas Eve, he called me. I was driving home from work and our conversation lasted till I pulled up to my apartment. The whole time I was thinking, "Ask me what I'm doing tomorrow!" and "Ask me out!" Had he not gotten around to it, I probably would have asked him, but he did.

"What are you doing tomorrow?" He finally asked. I smiled. I had been rehearsing my answer in my head for miles. I detailed my plans--go to my sister's early in the morning for the Festival of Greed--basically, exchanging gifts and watching my baby niece open her presents. After that, I had no plans at all, as my family was heading in differing directions for the afternoon.

He asked me if I wanted to have dinner and I said yes.

Christmas morning flew by and soon I was on my way to meet him. However, no quest is without its obstacles. I followed his directions into town, only to find my way barred by a fire that had closed off my intended route. I called him to say I was having trouble getting there and he talked me through the maze of one-way streets to get me around the fire and to his house.

When I pulled up, he was standing outside, phone still in hand. I jumped out of the car and introduced myself and gave him a big hug. You can tell a lot about a person in the course of a hug and his was wonderful. To this day, it is one of my favorite things.

We went inside and I met his cats, Biggles and Rosie. I gave him a book, only to find out he already had it. I remember chatting for a while, then heading to a local Chinese buffet, because the restaurant he had planned to take me to was blocked by the fire.

That night he told me he loved me.

I don't think I believed in love at first site at the time, but here I am, 8 years later--and this is what I celebrate at Christmas, because back then, at 34, I didn't really believe I'd ever find anyone to share my life with. I had almost given up.

And that is the lesson that keeps me going today. To remember never to give up, because the best things happen quite unexpectedly--especially when I stay open to the possibilities. One day you think you'll wind up the crazy cat lady living in your sister's attic. The next day a handsome Irishman tells you he loves you--and it turns out to be true!

I'm still a crazy cat lady, mind you--but now I have a Wookie by my side.

So in this season when we celebrate light returning to the world--whether it's a divine light, the light of a miracle, or simply the lengthening of days--remember to keep open to the possibilities. You never know, the one thing you've wished for may just be waiting for you around the next bend.

Happy Holidays everyone. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cure for the Common Cold?

There is something magical about soup (or tea or hot chocolate...) from a mug I made myself. I've been feeling better since eating lunch from my latest creation. (Coincidence? Who cares?!)

I learned to do this at the NY/NJ Academy of Ceramic Art

I picked up my 15 pieces from pottery class last night. I will shoot them all (eventually) but I could not wait to use this one.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Corporate Cold

Day three of my cold.  I am whiny, contentious, and after all this coughing, I may be short a lung. Biggles and the other cats have been taking shifts keeping me warm and pinned under a Snuggie. Wookie bought me soup, lots of things to drink, and cold remedies.

The Pop Tarts are purely medicinal, I assure you.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Big Picture

This is not a flag or the pattern for a patchwork quilt, it's a graphical representation of my hard drive.
Result from GrandPerspective 
(Thanks for the recommendation Brian!)
The big golden square is represents my iPhoto library. Many of the other sections are also photos.

I take a LOT of pictures. Years ago, before digital cameras were so accessible, I shot about 30 rolls of 35mm film on a single vacation. Since I went digital, I've been in photo taking heaven. At any given moment, I have between 3-5 cameras on my person. There are cameras in my phone, tablet, and laptop. I carry one or two small digital cameras with me everywhere.

And I very rarely delete anything.

I know people who cringe at my photo hoarding. "Why not edit some out?" is a frequently asked question, but I like to keep them all.* I reuse pictures in part or in whole all the time. Even a bad picture can often be cropped into something useful or interesting. I really prefer to use my own pictures whenever much as possible.

And it's not like the pictures are taking up room in photo albums and boxes--though I have plenty of those and should probably get to scanning them.

As long as there is external storage, I can take and keep as many pictures as I like. A one terabyte drive  holds years of photos in less physical space than a paperback book. So I think I can hoard photos a while longer.

*(I do often delete pictures that are very unflattering to the subject, but that usually happens on the camera.)

Holiday Fun

We received two beautiful ornaments from our family in Ireland.  They are so sparkly and fun and I had to share. We've gotten many ornaments over the years. Since the Tree is has become a constant fixture, we've been able to enjoy them year-round.

These pictures were just taken with my phone. I'll probably take more pictures later. I love the way the light plays off them and in two weeks 52 Weeks of Photos topic will be "sparkles and sparkling!"

I had a lot of fun shooting our ornaments last year with amazing results.

Blogging While Tired

An hour ago, I was sitting in a diner enjoying a late night desert and some lovely memories. Of course I had to blog about it.
After I posted, I realized I posted to my other blog by mistake. So here it is: Midnight in the Garden of Cherry Cheesecake.

Monday, December 12, 2011

New on Zazzle

Magical scenes of winter in miniature and sunset in the countryside...

Winter Scene 1

Winter Scene 2
Winter Scene 3

Country Sunset
Photo Print
Country Sunset 2 Notecard

(Click the caption to view the product details.)

Mandatory Waiting Periods

Over the years, I have instituted some self-imposed waiting periods on certain activities. It's to keep me out of trouble.

Recently, when a friend was facing a decision, I created this chart to share some of that wisdom with her.

  • Eat fries while they are hot
  • Deliver Pizza
  • Return call for job interview
  • Send angry email or write angry blog post
  • Marriage License (NY/NJ)
  • Drastic Haircut
  • Get name of girl/boyfriend tattooed as a sign of commitment 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Funny Thing Is...

It's the end of another very hard year and I've been feeling rather down. There is a lot of uncertainty ahead. We're still out of work. I could list the problems that result from that, but that is fodder for another post.

Wookie always reminds me that it could be worse. His ability to keep his eye on the positive amazes me. He was the inspiration behind my lastest pieces at ceramics class. 

I carved words into the bowls to remind me of the good things in life. The things we have and the things we need make us happy and make life worth living. 

The funny thing is that it never occured to me to list money among those words.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Hail to the Tree!

My tree has been up since 2009.

Sometimes we call it Hal (or whatever name comes to mind at the moment). Wookie refers to it as our boarder--though I can't remember it paying rent.

It makes me happy.

When 2010 rolled in and most people were taking down their trees, I decided it should stay. It's one of those things I thought of as a kid--when I'm grown up I'll be able to keep my tree up as long as I like--and you know what? I was right.

Last year, Christmas came and went again. Hal stayed his ground. I thought of taking it down over the summer but the holidays were only six months away and we'd only have to put it up again anway.

Over the last few years, the stresses and strains of adulthood have, more often than not, outweighed the advantages my childhood self expected a 'grown-up' would have. I'm sure it's the same for families everywhere dealing with unemployment, financial stress, and all that goes with it.

This tree has brightenend our home through some tough times. When our house flooded, not one drop of water touched it, even though it's in one of the rooms that saw that internal rain. This tree, in its enduring cheeriness stands as a constant reminder of the kind of fun I remember as a kid, that anticipation of good things to come and a countdown to a bright future.  It's also a reminder of one of the promises I made to myself as a child--that I might have to become an adult, but I would never be a 'grown-up.'

In fact, now that I think about it, maybe that's the one advantage to being an adult that too many of us neglect to exploit. As adults we can choose not to be grown-ups.

So I say, whatever your symbol of happiness, let it stand year' round. Keep your tree up! BBQ in your backyard in January! Wear white after Labor Day!  Find those little things that make you happy and keep doing them. Because the world can use all the happy it can get.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Because "Happy Holidays" is a NICE Thing to Say...

The whole "War on Christmas" thing really annoys me every year. It's divisive and I don't think the people who promote that idea really care about the spirit of the season at all. 

I live surrounded by a rich diversity of cultures and traditions. I like saying "Happy Holidays" because I think it's inclusive of everyone whether they celebrate Christmas or Yule, Festivus, Chanukah, or Kwanza, or (as Jon Stewart said) "end of the fiscal fourth quarter."

When I saw this vintage Santa on The Graphics Fairy, a number of things went through my head. "Aren't those kids freezing?" "Wait, is Santa on his way in or out?" 

I realized this scene was a great chance for Santa to say what's on my mind every year, so I made a card.  You can get it on Zazzle.

Cards by Lifeat30Feet ©2011 by Cristina Kollet
Original image courtesy of

"Remember kids, saying 'Happy Holidays' just means that you are courteous enough to acknowledge the rich diversity of holidays being celebrated by all the peoples of the Earth at this festive time of year."

Peace and Joy to everyone from Lifeat30Feet!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Holiday Cards for Sale (Take 2)

My last post had a bad link, and though I have corrected it, I thought I should post again since many of you subscribe to the blog via email. So here it is again, with more pictures that link to the cards!

I opened a shop on I hope you will check out my new line of holiday cards.

(The watermarks are for display only and do not appear on the cards.)

Holiday Lights 2

Holiday Lights 1

Holiday Lights 4
Big Holiday 3
Big Holiday 2
Big Holiday 4

Holiday Lights 3 

Holiday Cards for Sale

I opened a shop on I hope you will check out my new line of holiday cards.