Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Happy 90th Birthday, Mom!

My beautiful Mom turned 90 years old yesterday. What a gift for all who know her. She devoted her life to raising, encouraging and loving her husband and five children. I love listening to stories of her life experiences growing up in Poland and tales of raising her rambuctious bunch of creative kids. To hear her side of various adventures I remember from childhood has sometimes been quite surprising (just like she's surprised when we tell her now, as adults, about things we did growing up that she and Dad never knew. We had a joyful gathering on Sunday for the whole family with delicious food and a great feeling of celebration. This enabled family from farther away to celebrate her birthday with us before going back to work after the Thanksgiving holiday. We all wish her many more years of health and happiness and thank her for surviving the many challenges of her life and for all the love she's given us. God bless you, Mom! Sto Lat!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Lincoln's Thanksgiving Message

Hope you're having a wonderful day with family and friends. I saw this wonderful post about the history of this holiday on my friend's blog and wanted to share it with you (click on my post title). I took the photo during a wonderful weekend at Earthgate, PA.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving: Counting my Blessings

The summer and fall were lived as adventures and changes that were chronicled in the handwritten 'morning pages' of my private journal, but it's time to say hello to my friends in blog-land.

My Mom and sisters traditionally share Thanksgiving with me and we use this wonderful occassion to count our blessings. The deepened introspection resulting from my continued job search has allowed me to recognize, more so this year, the daily blessings around me: a cozy home; being able to take healing walks on my neighborhood beach to watch inspiring sunrises that give me courage or soothing sunsets that have offered a hug in color as another day ended; visting caring friends, old and new, who've offered such generous support and my loving family whose words have bouyed me repeatedly. And to my blog friends who've stayed in touch by email, I look forward to continued sharing. Thank you all! Yes, thank you, God! My heart is filled with joy, for I know I'm truly blessed! Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Rug Hooking Delight

I had the pleasure of meeting a wonderful multi-media artist whose primitive hooked rugs and a selection of other work are part of the current show at Flinn Gallery inside Greenwich Library. The show is called "Little Treasures" and runs through June 24th. If you're in the area, do stop by!

You can see more of Leslie's work on her website and several of the pieces in this show on my Flikr page: Olenka5.

I happened to notice that a demonstration of this hooking art form would take place this past Saturday, so I zipped down and was delighted by the work and the artist.

I sat in the 'guest' chair and had the opportunity to learn how to hook the wool strips through a burlap backing. Fascinating. After doing a straight line for a couple of inches, Leslie suggested I try making a curve. Not as easy as it looks when just looking at a piece that's finished! As in so many art forms, the technique is simple, but still takes lots of practice to develop the skill to convey ones vision in flowing lines and rhythmic color changes.
Wishing you fun explorations of the primitive figures you imagine!

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Reunion with Liz Gorski

The soul-hugging view from my sister's property in the Catskills. It is very similar to the place I spent wonderful Summers as a teenager, camping with the Polish Girl Scouts (ZHP). Most of us went our separate ways into adult life holding memories of those special days that shaped our life.

A few months ago I received an email from a woman asking whether I was the same Olenka she remembered from camp, when she was 12 and I was 15! She was doing internet research on mosaics and had found my blog. It touched me deeply to hear her speak of a simple kindness I had offered her at camp which had made an impression that lasted all these years. After several months of exchanged emails, Liz invited me to attend a chamber music concert at the Morgan Library with her. This past Friday we finally met in Manhattan. What a treat!

It's amazing how deep are the connections forged by childhood experiences. It felt as if she was a friend I simply hadn't seen in a few months (instead of decades!) and we were catching up over a cup of coffee. Thanks for reaching out, Liz, and for the concert and the walk down memory lane. I look forward to our next visit!

The little girl I met in yesteryear is now an accomplished musician, artist and crossword puzzle creator. Do visit her website at and her blog

Tuesday, May 05, 2009


Came across this drawing I did in pen back in 1987. I've always enjoyed black and white line art and have considered using this as a sketch for a mosaic. The original drawing you can see is damaged by mold from the basement flood a few years ago. Yesterday I found a file folder filled with copies of many of my old graphic works. It was like seeing old friends again.

Went to a wonderful Sales & Marketing networking meeting this morning sponsored by Schegg Group up in Shelton, CT. Wonderful company! The energy of the participants and enthusiasm of the leader was very encouraging. It was also the first time I came across fellow musicians (two, disguised as top level executives) at one of these corporate networking meetings. May we all land a good job soon!

Monday, May 04, 2009

Soothing Nature

These last days have been intense as the job search continues. During the weekend I managed to get outside to walk on the beach and through the park, allowing the beauty all around to soothe the tension and remind me to trust that God is in charge. I took these photo's after driving over just in time for the rain to strengthen as I arrived, so I sat in the car, facing the water and read my book to the sound of the rain falling all around. It was wonderful. There were people walking around the circuit, only a few with umbrellas.

Then there was silence and I looked up as the heavy clouds lightened. Everything was wet and clean, the fog so thick over the water you couldn't see past our island rocks, the horizon soft and gray. I walked to the beach and along the water line as the clouds let through more light. The flock of seagulls which had been sitting on the grass field during the rain then suddenly took off and flew around me toward the water. I loved being surrounded by all these flying birds! They circled back and landed further down the beach, all facing toward the filtered sun, sitting and standing totally still as if nothing had changed. The clouds knit together and the rain started again. I was glad to have captured the moment and left refreshed.

Wishing you moments of wonder amidst the rain!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Reach Out

"If we are wondering whether we have enough jobs to go around, perhaps the reason there is a scarcity is because there is such a withdrawal from doing what you should do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Everything is wrapped up in "me" and "mine" and possession, and what you have are people and worlds in need."

Kenneth G. Mills,
The Key: Identity, Freedom is Found pg.222

Remember that every gesture has an effect; what you think is a small, unimportant way to help someone could be a huge, uplifting show of support that someone needed that day. This time of struggle for so many is a time for all of us to open our hearts and share what we can. We all know the big things: food, shelter, money, but everything counts: hugs, smiles, words of encouragement and new ideas are especially welcomed.

I went to a wonderful presentation at Greenwich Library last evening, given by Kathy Caprino, carreer and life coach [ ]. It offered the women who attended new ways of looking at our current position of being caught in this economic vortex and suddenly finding everthing we've worked for and saved disappearing with no relief in sight. Every woman's story was different yet the same in the final analysis, with huge changes seemingly thrust upon us out of the blue.

That's really a key point: out of the Blue -- I believe the Universe signals our need to grow when we've become too comfortable or are afraid to move toward our secret dream jobs by forcing us out of the situation holding us in mental-bondage. OR we think we're in our dream job, but our soul has a different plan for this life and we're not seeing it, so, suddenly we're outside and asking ourselves, "if not this, then what?" That's good. It's scary, it's difficult, but if we choose to grow, to reach in for the answers, our prayers will be answered.

Winds may blow in the darkness

And make our light seem small,

But together we shine in knowing

The Light within us is All.

- Olenka /(C) Alexandra Philippas

Friday, April 24, 2009

Budding Glass

Stained Glass (C) Alexandra K Philippas

That's an altered image of a stained glass panel I made and gave to a friend as a wedding present. The best part was seeing her delight when she opened the gift, as she'd never received a hand-made artwork from the artist before. My pleasure!

The bud also symbolized the hope budding after yesterday's meeting with a new recruiter. There were three job listings with this agency that were of great interest and I got the call to come meet with the recruiter in the afternoon. We had a good discussion and she will take the next steps. All you readers who have a job, be grateful. It's been a challenge to keep looking, networking, sending out the resumes, interviewing and yet have no results YET...I wonder what will open now? Birthing anything new always follows a time of living with the unknown. The challenge is keeping the perspective of excitement and trust in the right opportunity coming in its right time, without getting caught up in all the thoughts that start to creep in, each one dragging along some aspect of fear. Like the garden, I daily clear my mind with meditation and prayer, so the weeds of doubt can't take hold.

There was a row of beautiful daylillies along the fence beside our previous house. It was a joy to come home after a busy day at the office and go into the garden to deadhead the flowers and pull up weeds. I clearly remember the day I was on my knees, working along that daylily row, when it occurred to me that the garden was actually weeding me. I had started out stressed and tired, but halfway down the row felt calm and tuned-into the beauty of the garden. Another affirmation that what blesses one, blesses all.

It's a beautiful sunny day outside and the trees are blooming -- time to get out there and take some photos (more?! never enough!)

May your day blossom into a joyful weekend!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Plants Refreshed

While visiting my friend Harriette this weekend we came upon these flowers growing in her friend's garden, but none of us know what they are. Do you? They looked like lotus blossoms floating in the garden, but grow from tubers or rhizomes. Very lovely flowers. If you know them, please leave me a comment with their name. Thanks!
Above are the two refreshed pots holding the miniature maple and the grapefruit tree which has lived indoors so far. Two days of rainy weather are helping it aclimate to the outdoors -- I hope!

And these are a few of the pots by the entrance, Bleeding hearts on the far left survived the winter, though coming in a smaller size than last year. The hosta in the middle will grow into a huge bouquet and I was thrilled to see the miniature rose bush on the right not only survived the winter but is covered in buds and many budding leaves. I trimmed it back and cut away many inner branches so it will fill out nicely.
The Coral Bells didn't make it through the snowstorms and had to be tossed. The ferns are showing several clumps of tightly wound fronds and of course the varigatted and large hostas on the other side of the stairs are all several inches high already. Welcome back fellas... I love you all!
I wish you a day of happy surprises!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Inviting Opportunity

It's a cold, blustery, rainy day today so I chose a photo taken a couple of days ago during my walk in the sunshine of a beautiful Spring day. My heart always fills with joy when buds starting bursting open all around me -- it really is a wonder to watch all the bare trees come alive with renewed vigor. They give me hope that after these many months of searching, a new opportunity for work will bud in my life, despite the gloomy forecasts heard on the news. I am grateful for all the goodness in my life...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Laughing is Good

Tulips dancing with the changing light always elicit a smile.

Since laughter helps relieve stress and my goal during the current job search has been to keep breaking through various mental barriers by also doing things that interest me but have been suffocating in the 'someday' corner of my mind, I decided to try something new last night by attending my first Comedy Improv Class, which I found through the MeetUp website. The games/exercises/skits were done in the style of the TV show "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" (which I had enjoyed watching and greatly admired the actors' ability to think fast and improvise on the spot).

It was a blast! The core of professional improv actors were warm and welcoming and kept us all participating in each exercise. Even though I felt nervous as a beginner, themes and actions kept changing so quickly you just jumped in and did whatever came to mind in the moment. For the most part, each person managed to come up with at least one hilarious moment. We worked together for two hours and laughed from start to end. Can't wait until next month's meeting.

Wishing you laughter and sunshine today!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Storytelling Event

(I love photographing magnolia blossoms -- so graceful!)

Darien Library held their first Storytelling Event last night. We met in the spacious conference room and the circle of people grew to fit the room -- didn't count the number but it looked like about 20 people attended. There were several folk tales (eg. White Crane, Black Prince); the 'love affair with basketball' story; how Andrew Carnegie gained his wealth and a true life adventure story of boys saved from a python attack. It was wonderful! Several of us (including me!) were ready to speak, but time ran out so, next time, more time will be allotted to the "open mic" portion. There really is an enchanting connection when people sit together listening to someone telling a story...

If you're in the area, you can listen to the best story tellers at the 28th Connecticut Storytelling Festival which takes place on April 24-26 at Connecticut College, New London. More info at

Every day we add a story to the book of life -- aim for a loving adventure!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Relax and Start Again

Jade and forsythia reveling in the sunshine!

Had a wonderful, joyful time with family on Easter Sunday, then had to return home and finally submit my tax returns (done yesterday online -- hurray!). Today it's Spring clean-up time; will have to balance the indoor work with some 'gardening' -- I have plants only in pots at this location. It's cloudy and cool, which is good for cleaning up last years dead leaves and revealing the new shoots coming up on the perennials (hosta, bleeding hearts, ferns, coral bells). My bonsai maple on the little deck has buds on the branches so it looks like it make it through another winter -- amazing! Leaving now with a photo of some of this years holiday table which was taken before all the food was set out -- we had a feast for the body and the heart!
Though the day's half over, there's plenty of time to enjoy!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

Wishing you a joyful celebration of renewed faith, hope and love. I rejoice in the opportunity to start fresh, and count my blessings...

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


"Order never comes out of chaos.

It is so wonderful to note
that when chaos is present,
you are perceiving it because
Order is the Law of your Being.

That is the trick that very few people ever realize."

Kenneth G. Mills,
Be The Star, The Key: Identity, pg. 132

The quote of the day (above) in my email this morning is very apropos the reorganizing that is taking place in my life. A job search stirs up many different feelings which I then filter so that only those that are supportive are allowed to linger, otherwise fear and sadness start to creep in which only drags me down. Being bombarded daily with news of closings, layoffs and plunging numbers gives me plenty of practice in staying focused on the truth of God's infinite abundance. I pray we all find the path to joyful expression of our unlimited possibilities!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A New Start for the USA!

Despite being cozy and warm watching today's celebrations in Washington D.C. on my TV this morning, I felt compelled to clear the snow off my car and drive to downtown Stamford and join fellow citizens at the public library where the inauguration ceremony was being shown on the auditorium movie screen.
The room was full--standing room only and everyone appeared moved by the event. We listened in attentive silence, clapped and cheered as history shifted its axis, then stood and sang the national anthem together as the ceremony came to a close. It was a wonderful way to experience this day. Several shared their story with me and enjoyed hearing a snippet of mine as we recognized how clearly we come from such diverse backgrounds yet all our heart's desire peace, opportunity and community. God bless President Obama and give us all the courage and wisdom to work together toward needed changes that will heal our nation.

By the time the ceremony was over, the snow had melted off this statue of Abraham Lincoln which stands in downtown Stamford's Veteran's Park. It is a replica of a statue by artist Borghlum which was donated to the city over 20 years ago. It represents the quiet moments President Lincoln was known to spend sitting alone in his garden after reading the lists of fallen/wounded soldiers during the war. When the statue was presented to Stamford, I was invited to sing at the press conference gathered for the unveiling. I sang "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" and then "God Bless America" as the statue was revealed.

Very special moments. Who knew then that this day would really come? Thank you God!

Monday, January 12, 2009


Since I received several cards today with roses for my birthday, wanted to share a colored pencil rose I drew many years ago. I was laid up on my stomache at the time, recovering from a car accident, and decided to draw the rose I'd received that day. Painting kept my mind focused on beauty instead of the pain and brought back memories of the hours my sister's and I had spent in childhood drawing pictures with crayons and colored pencils. Treasured memories.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Embracing 2009

"Seeds of Promise" glazed, fired, ceramic tile 6"x6"
(C) 2009 Olenka Designs - AK Philippas

This moment's full of promise
exploding from within;
rejoicing in potential
no matter where we've been.

Rejoice in all the goodness
that's found in every day;
be glad, for we're just passing
along Life's endless way.

Happy New Year!