Life List

Camp Mighty Pictures: Friday Afternoon by Leslie Fandrich

Last week I showed you Friday morning at Camp Mighty. The rest of Friday was filled with more creative inspiration and practical advice. Margaret Stewart was up next, illuminating us on the reasons why we create. 

Margaret Stewart, Director of Product Design at Facebook

Margaret Stewart, Director of Product Design at Facebook

Margaret's talk was titled, "How I Hurt Myself Knitting." On a flight home from London, she stayed up the entire flight knitting and developed a serious injury in her arm. Her doctor told her knitting injuries are common. Who knew knitting was dangerous? She began to wonder why she was compelled to knit tiny sweaters for her friends with new babies when she could have easily bought something. So she asked twitter, "Why do you make things?" She got a lot of great answers but very simply, we create things for ourselves and we create things for others. We create to hold in our hands the things that we dream. We create because it's fun. Creating gives us a sense of purpose. We create to please others and to show that we care. 

She segued into creating successful platforms on the internet to enable other people's creativity and invite participation like YouTube, Pinterest and Facebook. These sites are open ended and have no story or script. The user gets to decide and tell their own story. These are designs that empower people and amplify other's voices. It's about the people who use it and the power is in the aggrigate view. Margaret played the trailer for the YouTube, crowd-sourced movie Life in A Day, have you seen it? I watched on the plane home from last year's Camp Mighty and it was awe inspiring. It re-enforces the concept that the individual matters, YOU matter, you will be heard and all together we can create a compelling picture.

So, Margaret would like to know, what are you going to make? She told us to find and defend our time to make things. Makers Gonna Make and we ARE what we make.

Jordan Ferney's mother has this great quote on her fridge, "The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want in the moment."

Jordan Ferney's mother has this great quote on her fridge, "The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want in the moment."

Jordan FerneyJihan Zencirli and Philippa Hughes took the stage together to give brief talks about how they made their creative businesses happen. I regret not getting any pictures of Philippa from the Pink Line Project, I was too mesmerized by her story about transforming Washington, DC with art events to pick up my camera. The biggest message I got here is that there is no formula, each person's path to creative entrepreneurship is unique. However, two things these ladies have in common is PASSION and doing BIG things. Figure out what you love and just go for it. Find a need and fill it. Be Bold. Be Focused. Keep your eye on the big picture.

Jihan Zencirli is full of creative energy and enthusiasm, even while walking her dog.

Jihan Zencirli is full of creative energy and enthusiasm, even while walking her dog.

Brittany Gibbons is hilarious. I think she is giving the hand to that voice in your head that says you are not pretty, or worthy of pretty clothes.

Brittany Gibbons is hilarious. I think she is giving the hand to that voice in your head that says you are not pretty, or worthy of pretty clothes.

Brittany Gibbons in partnership with Lands' End talked about positive body imaging and dressing well for your figure no matter what size you are, Natalie Bowman from Bing talked about growing brands with social media and Susan Peterson and Alison Faulkner lead the group in a craft project from their new digital book, A Hip Handmade Holiday.

I love these ladies! They are seriously awesome. Plus, Alison told me I looked famous, so I will love her forever and ever.

I love these ladies! They are seriously awesome. Plus, Alison told me I looked famous, so I will love her forever and ever.

That's  Nathan ,  Holly ,  Heather ,  Brittany  and  Heather  lounging by the pool.

That's Nathan, Holly, Heather, Brittany and Heather lounging by the pool.

The day ended with a beautiful sunset and relaxing by the pool. Some of the best moments at Camp happen in between all the things we are learning and doing. The spontaneous conversations and friendly talks are what make Camp so special. It's a small, intimate group and so you usually have time to really get to know people.


Check out Flickr to see the complete set of pictures. Tomorrow I'm going to show you pictures from the Space party! There were some super amazing costumes, dancing all night and of course, Smilebooth!

Camp Mighty Pictures: Friday Morning by Leslie Fandrich

I took a lot of pictures and I've edited only a quarter of them! Here's the first set from Friday morning. We had breakfast, heard speakers Maggie Mason of Mighty Girl and Derreck Kayongo of the Global Soap Project and got a personalized gift from Bing and Wantist. It was a kick-ass, inspiring morning.

Jordan Ferney , mystery women and  Jihan Zencirli  walking to breakfast by the  Ace Hotel  Pool.

Jordan Ferney, mystery women and Jihan Zencirli walking to breakfast by the Ace Hotel Pool.

Melanie  and  Sheri  looking fabulous.

Melanie and Sheri looking fabulous.

Amber  and  Lindsay  are super fine.

Amber and Lindsay are super fine.

The beautiful  Daffodil .

The beautiful Daffodil.

An awesome collaged sign at the Ace.

An awesome collaged sign at the Ace.

Nicole Balch from  Making it Lovely .

Nicole Balch from Making it Lovely.

Maggie sharing her tips on achieving Life List goals.

Maggie sharing her tips on achieving Life List goals.

Maggie gave a talk on things she has learned over the years as she has been crossing things off her life list. It was the first time she spoke about it and much of what she said resonated with many of us. Sheri felt like Maggie was talking directly to her, and I'm sure many others did as well, me included. These were her lessons:

  1. Your Words Determine Your Happiness
  2. Action is Transformative
  3. Check Marks Don't Equal Happiness
  4. Our Opinions of Ourselves are NOT Fact
  5. Be Rigid Only if You Want to Snap
  6. My Body is a Compass
  7. It's About Who You Love and Who Loves You
  8. You Can Predict the Future

Next up was Derreck Kayongo. I noticed him at breakfast, before I knew who he was, and almost told him how much I loved his "look" but I got shy and didn't say a word. I wish I had.

Derreck Kayongo wowing us with an intense story from Uganda about his family witnessing the murder of nine men and his later success recycling soap from hotels with his  Global Soap Project .

Derreck Kayongo wowing us with an intense story from Uganda about his family witnessing the murder of nine men and his later success recycling soap from hotels with his Global Soap Project.

Derreck is an inspiration. He made us laugh, he made us cry and at the end of his talk he led us in singing an African song about peace. I hugged him afterward, to say thank you, with tears in my eyes. Here were some of his thoughts about how he achieved what he has:

  1. Pay attention to everything around you and connect the dots. You are here for a reason.
  2. The most beautiful thing in life is failure. Learn from it. Fail towards success.
  3. Never underestimate the power of ingenuity.
  4. Allow critique.
  5. Don't define yourself by your situation.
  6. Let your product be a symbol of hope, but make sure people use it!

The  Go Mighty  girls.

The Go Mighty girls.

Personalize presents for everyone selected from our Life Lists from  Bing  and  Wantist .

Personalize presents for everyone selected from our Life Lists from Bing and Wantist.

My gift.

My gift.

Holly Burns from  Nothing But Bonfires  opening a gift from Bing and Wantist.

Holly Burns from Nothing But Bonfires opening a gift from Bing and Wantist.

So many beautiful things.

So many beautiful things.

The Commune, where almost all of the events were held.

The Commune, where almost all of the events were held.

By noon on Friday I could have gone home and felt like what I had experienced was already enough, but there was more!! I was not even half way through the weekend. If you would like to see a few more pictures, check out my Flickr set. More to come.

For now, I am so thankful that I was able to go again this year, I am so thankful for inspiring, creative and amazing friends and I am so thankful for all the amazing things that people make and do. What an incredible world we live in. Have an excellent Thanksgiving. xo

Life List: Set Up an Online Store by Leslie Fandrich

In preparation for Camp Mighty (I fly out TOMORROW!) I am sharing the five goals I will be selecting from my Life List to complete this year. Goal #1 is to write a book, goal #2 is to become an American Citizen and goal #3 is that I want to sell my photographs in an online store.

Bicycle in Nolita, New York City.

Bicycle in Nolita, New York City.

I've been waffling on this goal for months and it's time to do it. The two big service contenders are Etsy and Big Cartel, but before I set up a shop and start uploading my pictures, I need to figure out the work flow. I need to know what I will do when an order comes in for a print, I need to decide how much to price prints at, I need to figure out where I will get it printed, on what kind of paper and how will it be framed, if at all.

The easy part is figuring out where I will sell it, the hard part is figuring out the rest. I wish there were a place that did all the printing, framing and shipping for me, but I guess if there were I would get a much smaller cut of the profit. I'm also wondering whether I should invest in a good printer and print them myself, although my gut is telling me that route might prove to be an expensive initial investment.

I think what would help is if I got a few test prints done, got a few things framed to see how it looks and how long it takes. I have to approach this as if I am making art for your walls. If I can test out a few things and see what I like, then I can have the confidence in what I am selling.

Can I ask you for advice?

If you sell things online, can you share with me what you have learned? What is the most difficult part of the process? Do you use Etsy or Big Cartel? Is there another place I should be thinking about?

If you think you might be interested in purchasing my photographs, can you tell me what you are looking for? Do you want prints framed or do you want to frame them yourselves? What are your price points? What sizes are you looking for?

Help a girl out? Please leave a comment below, or send me a message. Thanks!

Life List: Become An American Citizen by Leslie Fandrich

On Friday, I posted the first of five goals (from my Life List) that I will be sharing this week at Camp Mighty. My second goal is to become an American Citizen. The recent election really stirred a desire in me to vote. I grew up in Canada and voted there a few times before I moved to the States but since moving here over twelve years ago, I have been unable to vote. I had work visas for the first few years and now I am a permanent resident, but only citizens are able to vote. I was eligible to apply for citizenship three years ago but I didn't have the urge to do it until now.

Detail of Jasper Johns American Flag No. 2 by Nelson Lau of Looking Glass Photography.

Detail of Jasper Johns American Flag No. 2 by Nelson Lau of Looking Glass Photography.

I've downloaded and printed out the application and I'm ready to begin the long process of gathering all the paperwork and documents that are required to apply. It's not cheap, the fee to apply is at least $700 and it's similar to the permanent resident process, but with a civics test at the end! I handled the last application without requiring a lawyer and it took about 8 months from start to finish. I hope this one goes as smoothly.

I never really thought I would be doing this. The desire to vote and participate in politics surprised me but I think my oldest son's interest is part of it. I want to show him how to engage politically and teach him that it's an important right that we should take seriously.

I've also been influenced and spurred into action by Heather BarmoreLiz Gumbinner and Kelly Wickham. I may not be ready to start talking politics all over the place here, but I want to thank them for making politics understandable and accessible to a small town girl from Canada who wants to show her boys how to be the best American men they can be.

Jasper Johns: Three Flags

Jasper Johns: Three Flags

I am still very proud of my Canadian heritage and I see this as an addition to my identity, rather than a replacement. I will always be Canadian, and now I can be American too. For a while I worried about having to renounce my Canadian citizenship, but I've looked into and it seems I will be able to hold dual citizenship with no problem.

I won't miss out on the next federal election. Do you think there is a chance a women will be running for president? I really hope so, that would be so awesome. She'll probably have my vote for sure. I look forward to voting in federal elections with Milo when he turns 18 and Quinn when he turns 20. I will be so proud to see them participating in their community and in their future.

Life List: Write a Book by Leslie Fandrich

Camp Mighty is next week and I can't wait! I'm ahead of the game this time and I have already picked the five goals from my Life List that I want to complete this year. If you have a look at my list, they are the ones that are in bold. I'm going to do one post about each of them over the next week and through Camp Mighty. Typically, I don't post about goals until they've been completed, but because of Go Mighty, a related community website where you can share your life list goals, I've been thinking a lot about these five goals and why I am choosing them. 

My first goal, and one that I am just beginning to work on, is to write a book. Initally I had on my list "Publish a Book", but I realized that can come later. Right now I just want to focus on writing it and not worry or think too much about the publishing part, or even the part about other people reading it. If I worry about other people reading it, I might not write the hard stuff that I really want to write.

Writing assignment for Alice Bradley's Practice of Writing class.

Writing assignment for Alice Bradley's Practice of Writing class.

A page from one of my favorite books, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon.

A page from one of my favorite books, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon.

I love to write, and I think I have gotten better at it because of blogging, but blogging is a very different kind of writing. It's more conversational, often bullet pointed and can be more train of thought ramblings. I've dipped my toe in memoir writing, and even published a few things here on the blog for an online writing group  that is now called Write on Edge. It was a great experience and the people who participated were so supportive, but publishing everything online once a week brought some anxiety for me and limited me in terms of what I felt comfortable sharing. I think I just need to do my writing in private until it's bigger than just a few pages.

Last year I purchase a book from Jen Lee called Writing Your Story. It's a fantastic workbook that comes with an audio CD, but it was hard to motivate myself to get in there and do the exercises. As if she knew I needed it, last month Jen started an online workshop called the Story Academy, to work through the book with other people and to delve deeper into personal story telling. Jen is so inspiring and amazing and with this direct involvement from her, I have finally cracked the book open and begun working. I've been learning so much and I have also really enjoyed watching people tell their stories at The Moth. I'd love to go to a Story Slam event in NYC and I'm even considering putting my name in the hat to get up on stage and tell a story! It freaks me out a bit, but it seems there is something (crazy) inside me that wants to do this.

The final thing I have been doing to work towards this goal of writing a book has been Alice Bradley's online class, The Practice of Writing. Alice is incredible, funny, warm and smart and her daily emails, affectionate admonishments and writing prompts have got me finally filling up a writing journal that I have had sitting in my drawer for, oh, twelve years. I think I am really starting to get it. And while I am just at the very beginning of this process, I have hope that I can make this goal happen. 

My first book is probably going to be crap, but I am going to write it anyway and see what happens. I have so many stories to tell, from my own personal experience, but also important messages that I want to share. I'm still not sure what kind of book I want to write, but I feel like I have ideas brewing that fall into the memoir and YA fiction categories. I'm excited at least, to see what I can spin together.

James Gordon Irving in Uppercase Magazine by Leslie

What started as a simple blog post has turned into my first printed article in magazine. Sometimes it's interesting how things happen. You can never quite plan the series of events required to produce a piece of work and many things need to be "just right." 

After I wrote that blog post, I began to wonder about Mr. Irving and the limited information about him online. My husband is amazing at tracking people down, as he did for his book 1950s Radio in Color, and I asked him to see what he could find out about Irving. His secret? Librarians. They know everything.

Initially, I just wanted to interview Mr. Irving for my blog and I thought it would be cool to meet him. It turned out to be very difficult to arrange a meeting though, he was sick at the time and it was hard to talk to him on the phone. The idea kind of faded away, until I met Janine at Uppercase Magazine shortly after ALT Summit last year.

She remembered the Golden Nature Guides and had an issue coming up about the creative side of science. An interview with Irving would be perfect. With Janine's interest, we had a new incentive to make the interview happen. After nine months of trying, we finally met with Mr. Irving in February of 2012.

It was wonderful to be invited into his home and to hear the story about his life and career as a commercial illustrator. He was a remarkable guy who worked very hard and had no grand illusions about himself. Modest, funny and a talented artist, he seemed to have enjoyed his life very much. Sadly, he passed away in August, and while it's unfortunate that he won't get to see the article in print, his son told us that he really enjoyed speaking with us that day about his work and basking in some attention from us. I hope that because of this article, more people will know about the fine work that Gordon did, and that his family will feel it's a fitting tribute.

Janine at Uppercase did an incredible job on the layout, it's really quite thrilling to see words that I have written and photographs that I have taken printed in a magazine! I am so grateful to her for the opportunity to do this and I hope that we can work together again soon.

Visit the Uppercase Blog for some excerpts from the article, my contributor's profile and more information about Issue 15. If you would like to read the article, you can purchase Issue 15 from the Uppercase website, however I highly recommend a subscription. I have one and love receiving these fine magazines in the mail every three months. I always find so much inspiration and information about the creative work that people are doing.

"A great idea can spark from an eureka-moment or it can be the outcome of methodical process. Whatever your method, you will find both the inspirational and the practical in this issue of UPPERCASE

In investigating the creative side of science, we were enthralled with the small bits of matter that assemble and combine to create something greater: on the softer side, coloured molecular orbs of baubles and beads are components of jewellery and art; on the flat plane, pixels, points and grids create the framework for two-dimensional creativity.

Please also enjoy our special feature “Beautiful Bitmaps” in which 26 typographers, designers and illustrators interpret a vestigial component of digital type, the bitmap."

Do you have anything from your childhood that you would like to know more about? I encourage you to research it! Meeting the people responsible for the creative work that we have grown up loving is a remarkable experience, for both sides of the table.

Life List: Spa Day with my Sister by Leslie

When I set my five goals for the year at Camp Mighty, I choose an item off my life list that I hadn't intended to pursue this year. Before our big life listing lunch I had highlighted ten items that I thought I could achieve this year and I was going to select five from that list during lunch. For some reason, "Spa Weekend with my Sister" jump out at me during lunch even though it wasn't highlighted and I added it to my list of five on a whim. When I stood up to read my five items in front of the group, I started to cry as I read this item. And dammit! I didn't want to cry. I was already nervous, and now here I was sobbing in front of the group about how I missed my sister and I just wanted to spend some time alone with her, without my kids around.

It surprised me, the intensity of my emotion about it. Lisa Congdon patted me on the shoulder and Laurie White was nodding her head. People understood that feeling, of missing a sister, and I knew it was time to make an effort to spend some time with Jill. When I called her after Camp Mighty I told her that I wanted to go to Iceland with her. She says I said Japan. She's probably right. To spend a week alone with her exploring a foreign country would be awesome! But also totally unrealistic. I knew that, but I wanted her to know that if we had all the money and time in the world, that is what we would be doing.

We talked and decided that it would be more realistic to plan a day at a spa, either here in New York when she visited us, or there, in Calgary when we visited them. When my parent's decided to move, it became the perfect opportunity to plan a trip just for me, to spend time with her and to help my parent's move.

So, that's the back story. 

We got up early and drove to Banff, a beautiful resort town in the Rocky Mountains just an hour and a half from Calgary, to make it feel a little more like a vacation. The morning was cold and a little rainy, but the mountains were as beautiful as ever. We walked around a little (I'm planning to do a Photo Walk Friday about Banff), we had lunch and a glass of wine together and then we checked in at the spa for a 3.5 hour treatment package.

I've never been at the spa that long, and I spent more money than I'm usually comfortable with, but it was totally worth it to open my eyes during our dual massage and look over and see my sister laying there too. A big grin spread across my face and I just felt so content knowing we were there together. We sipped a delicious caramel tea while getting a pedicure and took mini naps during our facials. It was lovely and relaxing and it made a little happy place in my brain that I can visit again when I miss her.

The day was filled with stories, laughing, hand holding and hugs. We sat on the same side of the table at lunch like we were on a date, because we were. Sisters are great. We didn't really have a deep emotional break through or anything, it was just nice to be with her and talk about things without being interrupted. I wish she could come to all the conferences and retreats that I've been going to. I wish we lived in the same city. There is nothing like a sister, but I will have to be content with visits and time together once or twice a year. Maybe one day we can take an epic trip together, that would be really amazing. Or maybe I can convince her to join me on a retreat sometime. But whatever happens, I know I've got her in my life and I am grateful for her love and positive attitude.

I should also add that I have another sister, my new sister Tracy, and I have a life list item for her too. She has never been to New York and I hope she visits me sometime so that I can show her around the city. She says that she doesn't want me to take her to the top of anything, but I'm sure she would enjoy a little window shopping on Madison Avenue or a nice dinner out somewhere. I'll figure something out. When I was in Canada, Jill and I also visited with her and her adorable kids in their new home. It was so great to see her again. This was only my second time visiting with her, but it's just so comfortable. We made lunch together in the kitchen and I'm so happy that I now have TWO sisters. More love for me.

Do you have sisters? Do you spend quality time with them?

Camp Mighty Reunion in NYC by Leslie

A bunch of my Camp Mighty compatriots and I got together in Brooklyn over the weekend for a little reunion. We were strangely color coordinated, and Amber and I ended up accidentally wearing the identical dress. Identical! What the what? Of all the dresses in the world, we choose the same one. It was perfect. The rest of the beautiful people had on shades of blue and grey and both Margit's husband and mine were wearing handsome tweed-ish jackets. There were 2 Robs, 2 Chris', 2 Marks and it was just all so weirdly MATCHY. I like that kind of thing. It's so lovely when things line up and seem to follow some mysterious logic. It's as if the universe all makes sense for a moment.

Jen and Chris were wonderful to host the get together and had a whole spread of food and drinks to keep us content. They have a wonderful apartment in Brooklyn with a giant balcony that is almost unheard of in NYC. Erica had flown in from Canada with her boyfriend Rob to work on an item on her life list: to see every NHL team play, which they did the next day when they saw the Bruins and Rangers play at Madison Square Garden. It was also their first trip to NYC! We gifted Amber with a new book and a promise to read it with her and chat about it over the internet, to fulfill her life list item of being in a book club. Which fulfills an item on MY life list, which is to help 5 people with an item on their life list. I love how these thing pile up into a big heap of awesome. Rebecca and Robbie had also flown in, from Milwaukee, to come to the party and visit the city. It was quite a gathering of fantastic people.

Surprising Amber with a book club:

Life List progress report for our little group since last November:

Amber: Commissioned a piece of art, made a Baked Alaska with Jen and joined (was forced into?) a book club.

Anna: Training for a triathlon in March, taking swim lessons so she can learn how to swim laps and planning a super fabulous stress free wedding.

Chris: Gave his mother-in-law a big sack of Xmas presents and booked tickets for a trip to Japan.

Erica: Completed NaBloPoMo in November and saw the Bruins and the Rangers play hockey at Madison Square Garden bringing the total number of NHL teams she has seen live to 8 out of 30.

Jen: Got bangs and started working with a fabulous artist/illustrator to redesign her blog.

Jill: Taught herself to knit, started decorating her bedroom with a professional interior designer, began working with a design studio on a blog redesign and has submitted articles for print publication.

Leslie (that's me!): Had family portraits taken, volunteered 20 hours at her son's elementary school, attended ALT Summit, wrote a Photo 101 article and got feedback, started folding origami creatures and booked tickets for a spa day with her sister Jill.

Margit: Travelled to Asia, rode an elephant in Thailand and bought a comfortable couch.

Rebecca: Built bookshelves with her Dad and photographed the Yucca brevifolia of Joshua Tree National Park.

Robbie: Solved Rubik's cube, ran a 5K and planted a tree.

We've been so busy! It's amazing what you can do if you set intentions and goals, write them down, share them and ask for help. These simple principles of Camp Mighty are so empowering.

Below is an outtake from the group picture, which is way more accurate of how the night was going versus the perfectly posed picture at the top of the post. We had so much fun! Check out a few more pictures from Rebecca

I have a bunch of other posts about Camp Mighty, so be sure to check those out too if you want to get in on the action and play along. Just click on the "Camp Mighty" tag at the bottom of the post. Have you written your life list yet (here's mine) and started achieving your (big and small) dreams? It's never too late.

Life List: Origami Animals by Leslie

One of the items that I added to my Life List during Karen Walrond's Pathfinder class was: Fold 20 Origami Creatures. It's in the "Good Things On Repeat" category, but truthfully, it also fits in the "Trying New, Not Particularly Serious, Stuff (Whimsy)" category. This goal was just going to be fun. Last weekend when we drove up to Woodstock for the afternoon I saw an origami kit to make sea creatures at the fabulous toy store Tinker Toys and I had to snap it up and get started on this goal. I wasn't planning on doing this one this year, so I hadn't put it on my five goals list at Camp Mighty, but I really enjoyed it so I think my five goals need a little adjustment. My Life List is totally flexible and always changing and there should always be room to change things if they feel right, or wrong. More on that later!

I love folding paper, it's like doing a puzzle for me, meditative and thoughtful. The key is clear instructions and understanding what the different symbols mean. This kit has very good instructions. Besides the pleasure of creating the sea creatures out of paper, I also loved photographing them. I started out shooting them on my white table, but they were just crying for more of an environment. Our blue anti-slip bathtub mat made a perfect underwater backdrop. Doesn't it look like they are floating in water? I also propped two of them up with toothpicks and then air brushed the sticks out in Photoshop.

I hope you love them as much as I do. Next? I want to find instructions for a set of Safari creatures. I'd love to try my hand at a Giraffe or Elephant.

Camera Settings

Focal Length: 70 mm, Exposure: 1/60 sec at f/2.8, ISO 400

Lighting: Natural Light from my wall of windows.

Old Children's Book Illustrations by Leslie

One of my five goals for this year is to volunteer at my son's elementary school for 20 hours. I've logged 12 hours so far, in various places like the Halloween Party, the book fair, my son's classroom and the library. I always knew I loved libraries, but spending time in one actually working has completely sealed the deal. My goodness does it ever feel good to be sorting, tagging and fixing books.

It's a small school library, so there are lots and lots of OLD children's books and I adore those the most. I LOVE the cover illustrations and the tape and the yellow pages and even the way they smell. Just look at these few examples.

The cover of this edition of the Wizard of Oz uses an illustration from the first edition that was printed in 1900, and look at that fantastic drawing of Puss in Boots (originally a 1697 French Fairytale). The adorable kids and vibrant green cover for Water are lovely and the typography at the bottom of the cover of Are you My Friend? is awesome and it's a bit of an inside joke because my husband's third album has the exact same name. The author George Mendoza is a bit of a mystery though, and might have written a book I had as a child and still own, called Need a House, Call Ms Mouse. Of course Maurice Sendak rarely needs an introduction and this early edition of Chicken Soup with Rice: A Book of Months just makes me smile.

I think I will be spending the rest of my volunteer time, and probably more, in the library. I'll see if I can find some more treasures and share them with you. Any old children's books you are looking for? 

Family Portrait Session with Eric Ferrar by Leslie

We finally got our family portraits done and I love them. LOVE THEM. We had so much fun and everything just worked out perfectly. Deciding what to wear just happened naturally and easily, the weather was beautiful, the kids were awesome and our photographer, Eric Ferrar, was perfect. He guided us a little bit but let the moments happen without trying to pose us too much. He got some amazing shots and captured beautiful, fun moments. When we watched the slideshow (set to music) that he made for us, I was in tears. It was so wonderful to see our family through someone else's eyes. It's that weird thing of stepping outside yourself and looking in and thinking, Hey! We look pretty good together! It's hard to explain, but if you are at all considering having a family portrait session done, you should really do it. It doesn't matter how old everyone is, I've seen extended families with grandparents and babies have portraits done too. It's so awesome to freeze a moment in time so thoroughly and beautifully. A huge thank you to Eric for a wonderful job capturing us. Checking this item off my life list!

Visit the gallery to see all the photos from our session. Eric works on referral only, so let me know if you are in the Warwick, New York area and you would like to hire him. Visit his website to see more of his work.

Five Goals for the Year by Leslie

Gold Rings Necklace - The Quintet by Lemonade Handmade on EtsyThe whole point of my weekend in Palm Springs was to share my Life List (Have you written yours yet? If not, here's a good place to start) and to choose five items to complete this year. It's all well and good to make a life list, but unless you are actively pursuing your goals, it's not doing you much good, is it?

I had highlighted about ten items on my list that I felt I could accomplish this year, but I waited to choose "the five" until I was sitting at lunch and in the moment. I surprised myself by choosing an item that I HADN'T highlighted and it turned out to be the item that I got emotional about. (#4 below) Clearly it is something that I need to do.

Standing up in front a group of 25 people and stating what we wanted to accomplish this year was a very powerful exercise. It was empowering to boldly make these statements, to feel supported in them and to in turn support others. At times like a group therapy session, there was laughter, tears and even hugs. Later that night, at our final dinner, each attendee was given this lovely necklace with five gold rings to symbolize our commitment to these goals. 

However, despite the power of a group therapy session, my most important message is that you do not actually need to attend a Camp Mighty or a Mighty Summit to do the same work. You can write a life list, choose five goals for the year, and BUY YOURSELF the necklace! Share your goals with a close friend, your book club, or a sibling. Post it to Facebook or your blog and ask for help in achieving your goals. Send it to me! You might be surprised by what comes from it. The more that you talk about your goals, the more likely it is that you will achieve them.

I actually chose six items to accomplish this year because one of them, our family portrait, had been scheduled and rescheduled and I knew I'd be able to check it off without much effort soon after returning home from Camp Mighty.

1. Have a professional family portrait taken. CHECK! We did this on Sunday! It was so much fun. As a photographer, my instinct is to just do our family portrait myself, but it's really, really hard to be both photographer and subject. Really hard. I just wanted to focus on being a family and let someone else worry about the logistics of taking our picture. I can't wait to see them! Milo and Quinn were so awesome, jumping and dancing and being fun and cute. I look forward to making this a regular thing every few years.

2. Make a pinhole camera. I love the idea of getting back to the basics of photography. Not only will I shoot film, I will also make my own camera! It's crazy talk in this age of digital gadgets and that's what I love about this goal.

3. Volunteer 20 hours at my son's school. I would like to find a way to be involved where I can make a real difference in the school. I think there is an organisation that meets monthly and I'll be looking into that. I also love the library and the art room and I wonder if there is a way to make a difference those places too. I have already put in about 7 hours in various places, but I'm not sure I have found the place that I can make a real difference yet. If anyone has experience with volunteering in your child's public school, I'd love to hear it.

4. Spa weekend with my sister. I began crying when I said this one in front of the group. I think because it's something I really want and need. We used to spend a lot of time together before I had kids and now it's mostly family time when we visit each other. I would love to have hours of uninterrupted time to just talk with her. We have already discussed a few plans and while I'd love a whole week with her in Iceland or something grand like that, the reality is that we might just do a spa afternoon in one of our home towns during a regular visit. That's ok. It's the spirit of the goal, to spend alone time with my sister in a relaxing, supported environment that I really want and need.

5. Help 5 people complete an item on their life list. Help me, help you!! I have a year to help five of you complete an item on your list. At Camp Mighty I read through everyone's lists and I chose items from my personal collection of stuff, mostly books, to give away in the hopes that these items would help people complete their goals. If you cross an item off your list and I helped you with it in anyway, won't you please let me know? 

6. Write Photography 101 articles. I have plans for this website, in particular offering more instructional, photography related content. I asked for help in developing this content and have received a few offers from people to proofread and test out my instructions. If you are interested in improving your photography skills, please let me know what you are looking for. I am starting with a guide on how to shoot in manual mode on your digital SLR camera.

The next year will be a good one for me I think, setting these goals will help keep me focused. Being the overachiever that I can be, I'm thinking I might even be able to do MORE than this. What do you think? What are your goals for the next year?

My Camp Mighty Top Ten by Leslie

How do I summarize Camp Mighty? It's likely impossible to fully communicate what a moving and epic weekend this was for me and also for many others, but I'll try.

1. The ACE Hotel in Palm Springs is super cool. You will be seeing lots of pictures of attendees in front of the ACE sign you see up above. The food, staff, different spaces around the hotel and details in the rooms were amazing. It was a combination of camping, motels and mid-century modern all wrapped up into a very cozy package.

2. It's mega uncomfortable to be faced with meeting new people, especially people you admire, but sometimes they are so gracious and warm and welcoming that it makes all of the nervous energy and bathroom trips so totally worth it. (Alice? I am looking at you.)

3. It does actually rain in Palm Springs. I was there when it happened. BUT! If you spend four hours in the hot tub drinking champagne punch you will hardly notice.

4. Maggie and Laura are a force to be reckoned with. How they do these events without exploding into a million pieces is beyond me. I loved them both even more in person and I hope they liked me, because they haven't seen the last of my eager face. Oh no. I'm like a Mighty Head now, or something. Look out.

5. My friend Jill is a rock star. I could not have done this trip without her. Driving around in a red Mustang with her was so much fun! Seriously. Everyone should get a cool car to drive around in once in their lives. She made that happen, along with many other things, like helping me take the picture in front of the ACE sign. Whatever she couldn't make happen, I dragged her into. We are a good team like that. I also learned more about her in our four days together than I thought possible. Without the distraction of the combined five children that our daily life entails, we talked more deeply than ever. I also hugged her without any pants on.

6. I totally won at Camp Mighty. There was a contest in which we were supposed to paint our hands with a message for Ronald McDonald House Charities. If 100 people from our group painted our hands and tweeted it, we would win $5000 for the Palm Springs RMHC. Then, they would pick a winner out of those 100 and donate $5000 to that person's home town RMHC. Basically all of us painted our hands and we totally won the Palm Springs RMHC donation. As for the home town prize? It went to me. ME!!! I am still stunned as I write this. It's amazing and I feel so honored. I don't think I've won anything ever in my life. I have to check about all the details but I think my "home town" location is going to be New York City. I have finally arrived.

7. Of course we also raised money for Charity Water. The total amount raised by everyone who participated in Camp Mighty (including the Ace Hotel!) was over $25,000. That's an astounding amount of money!! So we reached our goal and funded a third of the cost of a drilling rig for Ethiopia. The SUPER cool thing was that we raised enough money for 1,111 people to get clean water by 11:11am on 11/11/11. Man, when numbers line up like that, you just know great things will happen. Epic things. 

8. I have, like, 40 new friends. What? I just couldn't help it. The women and men* who attended this event were all so wonderful and interesting that I came straight home and added them all on Facebook, and they ACCEPTED! There were so many interesting stories. Some were immediate connections. Amber is my new photo geek buddy and we are going to shrink and clone Anna so she can live in our pockets. Other relationships will hopefully develop more over time and through the internet, but we got a head start with face-to-face interactions and shared experiences. Everyone was so nice, generous and supportive it was really incredible. Most egos were checked at the door and I'm pretty sure everyone who had a vulnerable moment got a lift up from someone.

9. Speaking of vulnerability, I totally cried during our life listing lunch. It completely surprised me. Not everyone did, but I found for me that it was surrounding something I really wanted and really needed. Now I just need to make it happen. CJB? I am warning you right now that we are going to a spa somewhere for the weekend. Just you and me. We need it. Iceland, or Japan? You pick. Might as well hit two life list items at once. Am I right?

10. My husband. I am so lucky. He's been so supportive of me venturing off, away from him and the kids, to do this. He's the most awesome of everyone and you guys? He totally rocked being a single parent for like FOUR DAYS all by himself. The kids were sick and they couldn't go down to my in-laws, so Chris took time off work and stayed home. I am in awe of his support for me and his willingness to be such a good Dad. Milo and Quinn love him more than ever. I fear I may not be the favored parent anymore, but you know what? That's ok with me. Chris deserves it and I'm proud of him for how great the weekend went while I was away.

* Yes, there were a few, very wonderful men there and most were with their wives. Awww.

So that's my Top Ten. I've got more coming, about what I learned and the themes from the weekend. This is really only the beginning.




⇒ TALES OF CAMP MIGHTY (Go here to read the RECAPS and SUMMARIES from all the other attendees!)

Camp Mighty: Spreading the Love by Leslie

Camp Mighty will be held at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs this weekend.I am counting down the days to Camp Mighty! Today I have last minute errands to run for the trip and tomorrow I am getting my nails done and doing final packing. It's always amazing when you have been planning something for a while and it's finally time to get ready to go. In a way I feel like I have been waiting for this for a year, since I first heard about the invitation-only Mighty Summit. I didn't know how I was going to get myself invited, but they made it easy for me by creating a similar event that I could buy a ticket to. 

If you have looked at the website, you'll know that Camp Mighty is focused primarily around Life Lists. Before the event we were supposed to write our own, HERE'S MINE, and then while we are there, we select five items that we plan to accomplish in the next year, and ask for help with one item. But Camp Mighty can be far more than simply Life Listing our personal goals. We are also supposed to read other people's lists and see if there is anything that we can help them with. At it's heart it is a networking event, where the goal is to meet people and work together to accomplish our collective goals.

Our first collective goal, before we even got to Camp Mighty, was to raise $20,000 for Charity: Water. Each camper is responsible for $200 and we either donated the money out of own pocket or asked for donations. Some of us raised more than our individual goals so we will certainly exceed the $20,000 mark. I raised $550 with my own donation and the help of my generous family and friends! Thank-you Maddy & Jerry, Pauline, Jill B., Keith & Sue, Robin and Kathleen! My team has almost raised it's $5000 share. Do you want to help put us past our goal? Just donate here and put my name in the comment. The money goes toward buying a drilling rig in Ethiopia to bring clean water to villages that are far from their only water source. This is a new type of charity that is focused on a very specific task, and it's run in a way that takes 100% of the donations and puts them to use in the field. It's this kind of new thinking, about how we can help those in need, that the world needs more of and that Camp Mighty is promoting. 

Camp Mighty is new thinking too. It's unlike any other retreat or conference out there. It's community building, selfless and philanthropic. It's the best of what's good about blogging and social media. It's helping others reach their goals, it's teamwork, it's idealistic and non-judgmental. It's about passion and what makes our hearts beat faster. It's about inspiration, living by example and helping those around us. I've come to realize in the last year or so and maybe while becoming a mother and a blogger, that sometimes a really good way to help yourself is to help other people. Through giving, we build ourselves up, we can often accomplish our own goals and we receive help in return. Camp Mighty is at it's best when it's connecting people together to do good things for other people. Sometimes it's as simple as just inspiring someone, but it's also about teaching, giving and sharing. It's about spreading the love, sharing the wealth and building not only better lives for each other, but a better world together.

Of course, it could also just be about renting a Mustang convertible with your best friend and sipping cocktails pool side, right? That in itself is an admirable goal for a stay-at-home Mom like me who hasn't taken a vacation without my family EVER. Just getting together with a few friends and hanging out for the weekend without a care in the world is going to do me so much good that when I return, I'm sure my family will find me more refreshed and energized than I've been in a long time. Obviously we must take care of ourselves first, and sometimes that's all we can manage. But once we get settled with ourselves and happy with our life, it's important to turn towards the world and ask what can we do to make it a better place. Sometimes that means grand gestures, like raising money for a charity but it could also mean small bits of unexpected joy.

You probably won't see a blog post from me until next week while I am off on this adventure, but that doesn't mean that I won't be sharing. Tune in to my Twitter stream or the #campmighty hashtag on Twitter to see what's going on over the weekend. Expect to see lots of exclamation points! And I will be frequently using words like "Awesome!" and "Great job!" and "Amazing!" I will be meeting some of my favorite bloggers and listening to some very inspiring people. If you have contributions, comments or questions for me or anyone at camp over the weekend, please let me know via email (leslie at lightsandletters dot com) or twitter and I'll do what I can to respond.

Have a great week and if you find yourself wishing that could stow away in my suitcase and come with me, see what you can do in your own life to live in some of these principles. Write your own life list. Offer to help a friend. Do a good thing today. Smile. Take a break. And then plan to come with me next year.

Mighty Campers are Raising Money for Charity Water by Leslie

I'll be attending Camp Mighty in just a few weeks with over 100 other amazing people and I am beyond excited. This is going to be an experience of a lifetime. Before we arrive in Palm Springs though, we are teaming up to raise money for Charity Water, a wonderful cause that uses 100% of it's donations to drill wells around the world that bring clean water to thousands of people who would otherwise have to walk long distances to gather dirty water. The cause is amazing, and has accomplished so much in just five years, watch this video:

Watch more videos about the great work that Charity Water has done, including Water Changes Everything, and this shocking 30 sec PSA which imagines what would happen if New York had no running water.

Each of the four Camp Mighty teams is responsible for raising $5000 and all together our entire group hopes to donate over $20,000. I'm meeting one of my life list goals (#10 under Giving is "Find a charity to support") by donating $200 for my personal share, but I'd like to see if we can raise more than our goal.

HERE IS WHERE YOU COME IN!! ⇒ Please go to the Camp Mighty - Team 2 page and donate any amount that you are able to, $5, $10 or even $25. Every little bit helps and every penny goes directly towards the materials needed to drill wells in Ethiopia. If you could leave my name in the comment area on the donation form I would appreciate it! 


Anyone who donates $25 to Camp Mighty's Team Two and puts "Leslie at Lights and Letters" in the comments, will receive an 8x10 print (unframed) of their choosing from my Photography Portfolio.
Contact me to arrange delivery.


Charity Water is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit, so all donations made directly to the organization are tax-deductible.

Additionally, you can also purchase items or services from other Mighty Campers that will go towards Charity Water fundraising:

Lisa is selling this fantastic print for $18, with all proceeds being donated towards Charity Water. (She's on my team! Go TEAM!)

Erica will bake you banana bread if you donate more than $25 in her name. Yum!

Amy of Just a Titch was selling a virtual “raffle ticket.” She raised over $300!! Each ticket cost $2 and the lucky winner got a $25 Amazon Gift Card, Homemade brownies, a mix CD and a few other random goodies.

Jamie is raffling off her first generation iPad. It's a 64 GB 3g + wifi iPad and it comes with it's own case and usb charger.  It was $900 when she bought it last year, and the used versions are going for $400 - 500 on eBay right now. But you could win it for $5! How awesome would that be? (She's on TEAM TWO also! You really want a $5 iPad, don't you?)

Eden is raffling off a beautiful necklace that she made, a camera and an Amazon Gift card. 

Alison is selling greeting cards at Thistle Craft Studio and will be donating $1.00 from every card sold to Charity Water. Go buy 10!

Christine from Boston Mamas and Asha from Parent Hacks are teaming up to raffle off a gift basket worth $350! Whoa. You definitely want some of that.

Andrea of Four Flights of Fancy is selling ad space on her blog with 50% of the proceeds being donated to Charity Water. For $20 you'll get a 200x200 button ad for the month of November and the sponsorship will include a dedicated blog post to you and/or your shop!

Megan sold Dalia pins in her Etsy shop, but they sold out in hours! Darn it, I really wanted one!

Kristen of Rage Against the Minivan will promote your business, blog or cause in a future blog post to her huge daily audience for a donation of $50 or more to Team 4 with her name in the comment.

Leah at A Girl and A Boy is giving away a Flip cam. Each raffle ticket is $5 and will get you a friendship bracelet just for entering. She's only accepting the first 40 entries in the raffle, so hurry up!

Mai is making super cute plush Owls with all proceeds going to Charity Water.

Amber is hosting an open bar in NYC, $5 suggested donation with raffle prizes, drink specials all night, full burger menu and a photo booth that hopefully doesn’t suck.

Finally, and again, I will give you an 8x10 print (unframed) from any photograph in my portfolio for every $25 donation to Team 2 with "Leslie at Lights and Letters" in the comment. So far I've raised $350 in addition to the $200 that I put in for myself! That's a total of $550 for Charity Water!! Thanks to everyone who has donated for me: Maddy & Jerry, Pauline, Jill B., Keith & Sue, Robin and Kathleen. You guys rock.


That's all I can find so far, but if more campers create campaigns for donating I will add them here. If you are a Mighty Camper and have created a campaign that you want me to include, just let me know!

Thanks for all your help and support! Stay tuned for updates about my experiences with Camp Mighty and Charity Water.

Walking the High Line in New York City by Leslie

Ever since I heard about the IDEA of the High Line over 12 years ago, I thought it was the coolest thing ever. It took a few years for the city to support the effort and a few more years to design and build it but section one of the High Line was officially open in June 2009 and section two opened in June of this year. I've been waiting for the day when I got to check it out for myself and check this item off my Life List. Read about the history of the High Line.

Jill at Terra Savvy made a trip there with her family in the early summer and it reminded me that I really needed to go there too. I was finally able to go a few weeks ago when one of our best friends was in town with her daughter. It was awesome. I do wish I had been able to relax a little more though, with the kids and the strollers it was a bit busy, but we did get to sit and just enjoy watching the people walk by the end of the afternoon.

If I lived in the city I would make regular excuses to head over to that part of town so I could walk north or south on the high line. It's really more than a walkway though, it's a destination in itself, a place to go and stay if you like. We spent most of our time in section one because Quinn fell asleep in Chris's arms and refused to go in the stroller, so we had to sit down and missed section two. There is a third section, around the West Side Rail Yards, and it's still up in the air whether or not it will be developed as a park and be continuous with sections one and two.

The design of the High Line is incredible, they have done an amazing job blending nature with the city. Nature is beautiful all by itself, but somehow the contrast of the cement and nature together just heightens the experience of both. I love the cement pieces that fit together loosely around the edges to blend with nature, the remnants of train tracks, the vendors, the water feature, the deck chairs and benches and the private spaces. The amphitheater with the street below as a stage is amazing and the artwork hanging on the walls of buildings for ideal viewing from the path are genius.

If you are in New York, you MUST check it out. I hope to return one or two more times before the cold weather comes. I'm so thankful to our friends L and H for suggesting that we go there and it was wonderful to spend the day with them. We love them so much, aren't they pretty? And I absolutely LOVE how adorable Milo is with H.

Camp Mighty and My Life List by Leslie

Last year I wrote about how I was inspired by the Mighty Summit without even being there. I made my own life list and I promised myself that one day I would either be invited to the Mighty Summit, buy a ticket to a similar event open to the public or I would host my own with my friends. As luck would have it, the organizers, Maggie Mason of Mighty Girl and Laura Mayes of Blog Con Queso have created a brand new, but similar, event for which 150 tickets were available called Camp Mighty. My friend Jill (from Terra Savvy) and I did not waste any time snagging our tickets, which was a good thing because the event sold out in six days. 

On November 10th, we will be flying from NYC to Palm Springs to stay at the Ace Hotel and hang out with some spectacular people! To say we are excited is a gross understatement. I'm already planning outfits and shopping and I need business cards and I made a Twitter list and I can't wait to meet all the talented and inspiring people that are going to be there like Leah from A Girl and a Boy and Nicole from Making It Lovely. It's possible I will embarrass myself with my enthusiasm. I've done that before. I wore a cowboy hat in London, and my friend Regina said I looked like a tourist, and I was like, I AM a tourist. Please forgive me in advance for my enthusiasm! Also, the Camp Mighty logo matches my blog header. How cool is that?

In preparation I updated my Life List. I added some things, took some things off and I decided to include stuff that I did long before I had a life list. I've always set goals for myself and felt proud of achieving them, I'm also a "completist" (that is not a word, but I like it) so I think it's nice to have all the fun things that I've already done on there as well.

If you are also going to Camp Mighty (YAY for you!), I totally can't wait to meet you. Please a comment and your twitter handle and I will add you to my list. We can get to know each other a little before we even get there. If you are not able to make it this year, I promise there is lots to learn from a far if you watch the blogs and twitter streams of those attending. At least you can write your own life list and if you post it, please leave a link to that as well. I'd love to see it and who knows, maybe I will get an idea or two to add to my own list!


Being Inspired by Mighty Girls and My Own Life List by Leslie

Photo: Alexis Bledel as Rosie the Riveter from Glamour Magazine, March 2009.The Mighty Summit was a very inspiring event. I was introduced to almost thirty successful women who came together to share their stories, work on their dreams and help each other meet their life goals. It was amazing, however, I wasn't there.

Laura was though, and here's her run down of the weekend from an organizer's perspective, with links to everyone else's summaries of what they got out of it.

The focus of the event is the "Life List" concept made popular by Maggie Mason. She is the founder of the Mighty Girl web site and she published her list there to try to gain support and sponsorships to complete her goals and dreams. People began to post their own life lists and since then there has been a snowball effect with the idea and women everywhere are talking about their own life lists and encouraging others to dream big and live life to it's fullest. 

I feel like I have a lot I want to learn about the successful women in the blogging community. I want to contribute, I want to do something valuable, I want to be inspired and I want to inspire others. I've been adding all kinds of women with strong voices to my Google Reader and Twitter feed, not just the ones that attended the Summit. They come from all walks of life and do all kinds of interesting things. I've been reading their websites a lot lately to learn more about them. What makes these women special? What do they do that no one else is doing? How can I learn from them?

There seems to be a few common threads in the women that I admire. They live fearlessly. They take risks. They get involved. They are positive and uplifting. They help others out. They are working hard and passionately for what they believe in. They are successful. They are unique. They are modern feminists. They each have a story to tell. They are doing what they love. I want to be one of these women. And I'll start by making my own life list.

I love lists. I've got a running list of things to do, with daily things like "take a shower", to yearly things like "organize all my videos into one format and in one place". But those yearly items rarely get checked off. They are the big goals and they usually take a while to complete. Often they won't get carried over to a new list. The even bigger life goals just float around in my head. I am creating my own life list so the big dreams and goals have somewhere to live.

I've always had big dreams. When I was only fourteen I decided I wanted to live in a big city and by the time I was sixteen, much to my parents distress and disapproval (but that's for another blog post), I had moved from my small home town to Vancouver. While I was there I took a photography class and decided that I loved it and wanted to pursue it after high school. I returned home and at the suggestion of a friend, I applied to art college. To my surprise I was accepted. My parents thought I should be a nurse, but I wanted to be a photographer for National Geographic. I was such a rebel.

In college I realized that I wanted to be more than a photographer, I also wanted to learn about graphic design. I wanted to blend it all together. I was one of the first students in the communications department to pursue multimedia before there was even a program for it. I also set my sights on New York City and two years after graduating I was moving into my apartment on the Upper East Side, with a job at an interactive media agency on Park Avenue South.

Having met my college career goals, I then turned my focus to my goal of having a family. I met the man of my dreams, got married, got pregnant, quit working to be a stay-at-home Mom, had a natural childbirth, breastfed for more than a year, moved upstate into a mid-century modern home, had a natural childbirth at home in the water, and nursed again for more than a year. Now my boys are four and two, I have my happy little family and I'm ready to create my next set of goals.

I've often said to my husband, "We should do ____ someday." or "Wouldn't ___ be amazing?" But without writing it down, these ideas are never real and the years slip away faster and faster. It really helps to say something out loud, to consciously set a goal, to write it down and to put it out into the universe. That is how you make your dreams happen. Other people will help you along the way and circumstances arise to push you towards your goals. Take advantage of opportunities. Dream big. Take risks. Anything can happen.

This summer I decided to take an art class. That would have been on my life list if I had one a year ago. I needed to get the wheels spinning. I needed to have some time to myself. I was inspired by the women I met and the thinking that I did and two goals have come out of that. I am teaching myself how to paint and how to sew.

I got this amazing book called Painting for the Absolute and Utter Beginner. (Books are the very best ways to teach yourself new things!) I am starting at the beginning with color wheels and the basics of mixing complementary colors. Oddly, I have never learned this before. I know about color theory from a digital design point of view and a photography point of view, but never from a painting point of view. It's amazing. I'm mixing paint and painting in these little squares of color and learning so much. I love it. It's meditative for me.

My Mom taught me the basics of sewing when I was a kid but I didn't do very much with it. A few years ago I asked for a sewing machine for Christmas and my mother-in-law got it for me. Since then it sat in the closet completely untouched.  I finally brought it out this summer and was able to get it threaded and working, thanks to those lessons that my Mom gave me all those years ago and the instructions. (ALWAYS read the instructions!) I've been collecting books with beautiful sewing projects in them for the last couple of years and I even purchased fabric a year ago but never did anything with it. Now is the time.

Thank you to Maggie, the original Mighty Girl. I've admired you since meeting you at a wedding in North Carolina. You are an amazing, inspiring women and I look forward to seeing what you will do next. I appreciate learning about all the women who were a part of the Mighty Summit and I am inspired by ALL the women who live honestly and fearlessly and who put themselves out there in the world to live to their fullest potential. Next year will be my year, as they are planning to host a similar event that anyone can come to. Guess where I want to be next fall!

Below is a link to my Life List. I will be adding to it as I think of new things to do and crossing things off as I complete them. Do you have a life list? Have you done things in your life that were long time dreams? I'd love to hear about them. 

Even men can create a life list! I asked Chris about his and do you know what was the first thing that he said? Shoot a machine gun. I love that it's such a manly thing to have on a life list.


Just For Me by Leslie

I started knitting. I know it's kind of cliche, a stay-at-home Mom knitting everyone scarves, but so far I'm really enjoying it (partly because it has nothing to do with a computer). I learned how to knit the basic pearl stitch from my Mom (I think) and I always wanted to knit fabulous things, but I would get bored and discouraged by how long it seemed to take. I finally figured out what works best for me: big needles and big colorful yarn. It goes super fast and it's loose and fun. I made a gorgeous blue-gray scarf in just 5 days without really trying and I am working on my second in hot pink. I have it in my head that I could sell these, but I don't want to pressure myself with producing a large volume until I am sure I won't get tired of it. Chris was as surprised as I was that I knew how to knit. It took me a bit of thinking to remember how to "cast-on" and I had to look up "casting-off" on line, but I think my first real knitted garment is really cool.

Last week I also joined the local YWCA and started going to the pool for lap swimming. It's a great way to exercise and for me it's also very relaxing and meditative to swim on my back, stare at the ceiling tiles and listen to sounds under the water. The only weird thing was that a giant man asked me how I was swimming on my back. Huh? I just stared at him, shocked that he was actually talking to me, and surprised by his ridiculous question. He said, what do you do with your hands? I showed him and then moved to the other side of the pool. Was this a lame come-on, or did he really not know? I'm not sure which is weirder. I will also be taking some fitness classes during the day that I can bring the baby to, and I will hopefully meet some other Moms in the area.

Wishing you all the Best in 2006 by Leslie

Notable things that I did in 2005:

1. Went to see a Christo installation, The Gates in Central Park.

2. Canceled premium cable TV.

3. My parents & sister came to visit.

4. Had a movie party in the backyard with the garage as an 8 foot screen.

5. Went to London and visited Corran & Arran and Fred, Zoe and Leonard.

6. Started mountain biking.

7. Started a geneology project for my family.

8. Started collecting paper money.

9. I turned 30!

10. I got pregnant!

11. Visited the Dia:Beacon and Storm King Art Center.

12. Launched four new Web sites at work.

My plans for 2006:

1. Walk the dogs more.

2. Finish reorganizing and redecorating the house.

3. Become a mother. Whoa.

4. Reduce stress in my life.

5. Grow my hair long, dark and fabulous.

6. Get rid of all the stuff that I don't really need.

7. Love my husband more.

8. Start making books, and filling them with drawing & painting, writing and paper artifacts.

9. Plan a camping trip to either Yellowstone or Utah.

How about you? Post a comment and let me know what your resolutions or plans are for 2006. Remember, think big!!