Inspired by Life

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Steinway Series at The American Art Museum

One of the things that Aaron and I share in common is our love for the arts, especially, theater. It was one of the first things we talked about when we started dating, and we were happy that we had found each other, so we could continue to enjoy the things we liked to do. As a result of this passion, I am always scouring the internet for neat events to attend, discount tickets to plays and concerts, and even free events, which happen quite often here in the Metro DC area. One such free event happened on Sunday.

 In my search for free or local events, I came across the Steinway Series at the American Art Museum. This concert consisted of Pianist Ya-Ting Chang, violinist Peter Sirotin, and cellist Fiona Thompson who return for the Mendelssohn Piano Trio's Mother’s Day tribute. This year's concert featured works by J. Haydn and C. Saint-Saëns, as well as the celebrated Dumky trio by A. Dvořák.

We were thrilled to attend this very fine classical concert, absolutely FREE, along with quite a crowd of older people, who came to enjoy a Mother's Day tribute. We had second row seats, closer to the cellist, who was from London. Each of these musicians was professional and they are incredible soloists in their own right. But when they came together to perform, the effect was breathtakingly beautiful. I fell in love with the cello and its deep, rich sound, The talent of these three performers was incredible!

We spent a lovely two hours, listening to some beautiful music. The pianist was outstanding. It sounded humanly impossible to play the pieces she did, and yet, she played them, with such passion, power and really felt her music. The violinist was equally talented and brought a pristine, clear addition to the overall performance. It was the sound of angels, and we were so glad to "seek after anything virtuous, lovely or of good report or praiseworthy." Truly uplifting evening!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Mark Twain's Thoughts on Life

I don't quite remember the first time I fell in love with quotations, but ever since I can remember, I have collected quotes. I have attempted to memorize a few but there are a plethora of great quotes, it could take me a lifetime. Quotes have given me food for thought, allowed me to be inspired and to introduce a new perspective to life.

I hope you enjoy a few of Mark Twain's thoughts on life.I sure did!

Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.
- Notebook, 1898

Let us endeavor so to live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.
- The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson and the Comedy of the Extraordinary Twins

We recognize that there are no trivial occurrences in life if we get the right focus on them.
- Mark Twain's Autobiography

He had arrived at that point where presently the illusions would cease and he would have entered upon the realities of life, and God help the man that has arrived at that point.
- Jack Van Nostrand speech, 1905

There was never yet an uninteresting life. Such a thing is an impossibility. Inside of the dullest exterior there is a drama, a comedy, and a tragedy.
- "The Refuge of the Derelicts" - 1905

... life does not consist mainly -- or even largely -- of facts and happenings. It consists mainly of the storm of thoughts that is forever blowing through one's head.
- Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 1 (University of California Press, 2010)   (I can totally relate to this quote!)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Wallflowers: A Thing of Beauty

Our plans for bowling with a group of friends this evening fell through. So there we found ourselves, sitting in our living room, me on the couch, Aaron on a chair, contemplating how we were going to fill up our evening. While we discussed the news (constant topic of discussion) and debated why some things were more interesting to us, whether it was because it was new or because we really liked that particular thing, I decided that I would catch up on reading some of my favorite, fun blogs. (multi-tasking!)

I am not sure how I came upon this blog but I love it! And you will soon see why.

One of her blog entries had to do with making Wallflowers - not the shy kind that fade into the background - but the ones that are bold, fun, and a splash of color. These days, I am more creative in my cooking attempts, and it has been a long time since I have tried painting, or anything else that was artsy and crafty. But this was so simple, that I could do this while I was chatting with Aaron!! So I followed the instructions, and it took me all of 10 minutes to create this breathtaking masterpiece - not because I made it, but because it is a thing of beauty that cost me nothing, since I had the stuff in my linen closet. I truly impressed myself and hope to impress some of my friends who will be seeing these pop up in their parties or baby showers : )

You may now enjoy the fruits of my labor and creativity thanks to this lovely blog!

I really loved learning how to do this, and I hope you enjoy the pictures :) Have a lovely weekend!

These flowers match my duvet cover and pillow shams perfectly! So I am going to make a few more and put them up on the wall - hence making them Wallflowers :)

Stop Thinking. Start Moving.

I wake up and think:

Today, I am going to clean the house, make some bread, do some research on my business, finish the spreadsheet I had started, sort out some pictures on Picasa, and maybe even read a book, and go for a run. All great things and I should be able to get all of this done today.

This is how that day turned out:

I woke up after hitting snooze a few times, scrambled to get my husband ready for work; dropped him off at the Metro, came home turned on my computer, still dressed in the sweats I had on, sat down to check my emails, and before I knew it, it was noon, and I had not moved from my laptop!!!! Arrrghhh! I had so things to get done, and even some things that I love to do - like reading and sorting pictures (I know, I love taking and sorting and editing pictures), and now, I can't get it all done, because I spent MORE TIME THINKING and LESS TIME DOING!

Do you find yourself in similar situations? Do you have the best of intentions that turn into the beginning of a guilt cycle - you feel guilty that you did not do what you told yourself you were going to do; that guilt leads you to think that you should not set goals for yourself because you don't want to feel bad if you don't achieve those goals, which in turn leads to procrastination? See, I am again, thinking too much!

Yesterday, while I was in my browsing mode, I realized that there was ONE thing I could DO that would prevent me from sinking into my cycle of guilt. If I did NOT TURN ON my computer until I got dressed for the day, I could have a third of my tasks completed already!! Wake up, go for a run, take a shower, get dressed, meditate/pray, have breakfast, drop off my hubby at the Metro, and THEN turn on the computer!!!!

 (when I am MOVING, these are some of the things I get to see and appreciate!)

As I was in the mode of discovery, I read one of the fun blogs I follow ( ) and guess what?? The blog post was about the exact same thing that I had been musing about for the past hour or so!
And I could not have said it better, so check out her post at:

Wasn't that a great way to motivate yourself? Thanks, Maaike, for the honest blog entry about procrastination and a way to kick yourself out of it!

Seriously, it is not as hard as you think to kick the habit of procrastination. Once you STOP THINKING and START MOVING, you will find that you actually LIKE moving, and will want to get another thing checked off your list, and feel motivated to do another and another. Like Beyonce says: Move Ya Body!

Oh yeah, and don't forget to reward yourself, too! (C'mon, it can't be all work and no play :))

Monday, May 2, 2011

Alexandria Waterfront Walk

On Saturday afternoon, Aaron and I had planned to go to the city and explore. But knowing that we had to be back at church for a conference, we decided not to risk it and just continue to explore Alexandria. It is amazing to me how much there is to see and do, how riddled with history and culture my surroundings are and I am never left with a boring day. So we drove into Old Town, parked on Queen St, and started strolling. As we walked around, we suddenly decided that we should walk along the waterfront, along some trails and enjoy the lovely weather.

As we walked over, there were people everywhere and some of them were happily slurping on their ice cream cones. Hmmm, now shouldn't we be one of those people with the ice cream cones - of course, we should! So we armed ourselves with an ice cream each - I had Black Raspberry (Yum-O) and Aaron had something with chocolate and caramel and nuts, etc. We strolled down to the waterfront, happily slurping on our ice cream cones, observing all the people, peeping into the stores, and basically enjoying ourselves.

At the waterfront, we came upon the Harborside Ship Yard Park, found a lovely little bench on the edge of the water, where the sun was shining on it and warming it up. We finished our ice cream, pulled out our large map, and plotted our next couple of hours. Well, Aaron did while I took some pictures :) We walked around for three hours, and covered a bit of ground that included the ShipYard Park, The Windmill Hill Park and Ford's Landing. We also walked part of the Mt. Vernon Trail towards Jones Point, but it is all blocked off due to a restoration project. So we turned around, and stumbled upon the Wilkes Street Tunnel, and the pretty neighborhoods surrounding it.

Here are some photos of our Waterfront Walk:

Aaron reading his massive map on a park bench.

Our immediate view.

This little guy flitted about for too long that I could not resist taking his picture before he flew away. I love that he posed for me!

In someone's open yard, taken during our stroll along the waterfront.

Meet Turtle & Myrtle - sunbathing.

Along comes Ducky Lucky, but this does not deter Turtle & Myrtle from their sunbathing. In fact, Turtle was trying to climb up on Myrtle's back. Ducky Lucky, not too impressed with this public display of affection, turned his head and swam right past them. 

Gorgeous flowers on someone's balcony overlooking the Potomac. Beautiful views and grand townhouses.

On the Mt. Vernon Trail. Beautiful sunlight streaming through the trees.

A heart-shaped leaf. How neat!

They give the term 'falling asleep on my feet' a whole new meaning. 

Wilkes Street Tunnel: It was inaugurated on May 7, 1851 and began its long run till 1975. Impressive! Google it to learn more about it :D

Back in Old Town, we came across a gathering of bikers or all kinds. Colorful and crowded. Lovely!

I realized at the end of the photos, that it looked more like a nature walk. I guess it was partly that too :) Each time I go out in our neighborhood, I am amazed at all things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small and I am grateful for the good Lord who made them all.

Take time to appreciate your surroundings. Go for a walk with your kids. enjoy nature. It is the single most uplifting thing that costs not a penny. It is an essential part of living a balanced life.