Monday, July 22, 2013

On My Nightstand

Summer is the time when I usually load up on novels and spend as much time outside, reading, as possible.  This summer seems to be unusually busy, but I've been been able to squeeze in time for a couple of great books so far. In both, the main characters are artists, but that's where the similarity ends.

The first book, The Art Forger, by B.A. Shapiro is sort of a mystery based on a real event.  On March 18, 1990 two men dressed as police officers bound and gagged two security guards at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston and stole 13 works of art that today would be worth more than $500 million dollars.  The people responsible for this crime have not yet been caught and the art has never been recovered.  But what if...

Shapiro carves out a possibility for this scenario.  What if a gallery owner and a fine artist work together to pull this off, but one of them has no idea of what they're involved in?  I'm not going to spoil the story for you, but I will tell you that this is a really, really good book!  I didn't want it to end.  I felt as if I was curled up on a couch in the artists' studio and witnessing the whole thing first hand.  It's THAT good!

The next book has been sitting on my shelf for awhile.  It was recommended in one of my art groups at least a year ago.  I grabbed it yesterday and started reading, and reading, and reading!  I can't put it down!

Broken Colors, by Michele Zacheim chronicles the life and career of Sophie Marks, an artist born in England in the 1920's.  It marks her heartbreaking struggle to survive during World War II and the after-effects of a life torn apart by war.  This is no fluffy English romance novel; it's a gritty and emotionally charged account of a fiercely independent and very stubborn woman who survives trauma only through her passion for art.  Zacheim's writing is strong and her voice is unique.  I'm completely absorbed and will probably be up all night reading.  I can't wait to see what happens next!

What are YOU reading?  I'd love to hear!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Mary Mary, Quite Contrary, How Does Your Garden Grow?

When we were thinking about purchasing a home last year, our original plan was to buy a piece of land in the country (but near the city limits -- entirely possible here), build a house, grow our own food and raise small farm animals.  Unfortunately financing got tricky and the cost of our dream made it out of our reach.  We "settled" for a small home in a small neighborhood just outside of town.  Undaunted by the scant 1/4 of land that we now reside on, my husband is determined to be as self-sufficient as possible in the suburbs.  In early spring, before the snow was totally gone, he started building garden beds.  He started seeds (heirloom) and placed them in our newly purchased portable greenhouses.  As soon as threat of frost was over, everything was carefully planted.

Now we have a thriving garden.  Squash, zucchini, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and a plethora of herbs are all sprouting and thriving.  We are even able to supply some of our neighbors with food.  Bliss.

This man I love is determined to be an organic farmer.  This first crop in our tiny yard has won me over.  I dream of the day we can buy some land, build a home, raise chickens for eggs and goats for milk and cheese.  We want to produce our own electricity and heat (Roch has a friend who is selling us his un-installed woodstove this summer), and live a simple and abundant life.

We will do this one garden at a time.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Goddess Makes Her Debut

After weeks of working on this painting in Flora Bowley's class, The Goddess has emerged.  I had so much fun using Flora's painting techniques, and I have to admit that I'm pretty amazed at how she turned out.  I've never done a painting quite like this before.  She's very bright, very bold, and really makes a statement.  What was really cool was that she actually emerged from the painting.  Flora taught us background techniques but urged us to make the end product our own.  I painted for 4 weeks without having any idea of where this was going, but on the fifth week The Goddess called to me from the colorfully chaotic background.  I had no choice but to bring her out.  Pretty cool stuff.  She now holds a place of honor in my living room.

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Art of Lawn Mowing

Yes, you've read that right.  I'm thinking about starting a movement.  Creative lawn mowing.  This is my story - you can thank me for my brilliance later.

I hate mowing the lawn.  I have spent the last 10 (post divorce) years avoiding it.  I've either lived in apartments or homes with sand dunes for lawns, minus the view of the golf course.  I have also had child labor, for which I'm very proud.  Alas, said children now have outgrown the $10 per week for completing 10 chores thing.  Now they have jobs that allow them to pay to put gas in the car (mine), so they can go to the mall and buy things they don't need.  New hubby works full time and allows me to stay home and pursue my dreams.  Cool, but I have to mow the lawn while I'm dreaming.  Ugh.

So this morning I was out there, bright and early, to get the job done and out of the way.  I was mowing along, when I noticed my neighbors beautifully cut grass.  Those nice clean strips of lawn, mowed in perfect lines.  Yeah.  My lawn doesn't look like that.  When I'm finished with mowing, my lawn looks more like aliens landed in the middle of the night and created crop circles.  I can't mow straight to save my life. It's not in my skill set.

So, and here's the brilliant part, I thought "What if I mow my lawn artfully.  Create flowers, birds, that sort of thing?"  That way, my haphazard mowing style can become art.  People will be drawn to the inspired, completely green, lawn art.  The press will show up at my door -- I'll be famous!  I can patent the idea and become rich!  "How innovative," I think.

Now, if I can just convince my diagonally-mowing neighbors that "different" doesn't equal zoning law violation...

Friday, June 7, 2013

Working large and intuitively in Flora Bowley's Bloom True e-course.  Trusting that something beautiful will come out of this (insanely fun) mess.

Oh yeah, LOTS of trust going on here.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Sharing Deeply

I thought of putting up a "Gone Fishing" sign on my blog this week, as I had made a promise to myself that I would post happy, inspiring things here.  I am breaking that promise to myself and my readers (badly), in the hope that my openness will help others who are hurting.

This week sucked.  In fact, the past couple of weeks have pretty much sucked.  You see, we have a loved one who suffers from addiction.  Addiction sucks.  Anyway, our family member's latest fall came the Friday of Memorial Day weekend.  We received a call that he had been found in pretty rough shape in a motel room 500 miles away from home and was taken to the local hospital for emergency care.  We dropped everything and drove, praying the whole time that we would find him alive when we got there.  By the Grace of God he survived, but it was several hours before we could find appropriate care for him.  We left to drive home at 3 a.m. Saturday morning, having gone more than 30 hours straight without sleep. It was trying, to say the least.

Although I handled the immediate crisis quite well, once home I began to crumble.  I was worried, anxious, exhausted and depressed.  I was completely worn down from living the past several years in constant crisis mode, and sadly, I know some of you can relate.

Yesterday I listened to an interview with Dr. Judith Orloff on the Hay House World Summit.  I felt as if she were speaking directly to me.  She described Empaths as those of us who are more than just empathetic, we actually absorb other's emotions into our bodies.  In short, we are emotional sponges.  We can be among strangers and sense that someone is angry or having a hard time, and that will affect us for the rest of our day.  We can't seem to shake things off the way others can.  This is not a healthy way to live (well, it can be if everyone around you is happy and positive, but seriously, how often does THAT happen?).

So how do we cope with sadness, with pain, with negative energy?  The answer is boundaries.  In my case, it's telling my loved one, "Look, I'm here for you and will support you on your journey to wellness.  But please know, if you continue to make poor choices, you will have to face the consequences alone.  I cannot save you."  Not an easy thing to do when you care for someone deeply, at least not without some degree of guilt.

The best advice comes from the airline industry:  In case of emergency, put your oxygen mask on first.  Because really, you will be of help to no one if you, yourself, cannot breathe.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Overwhelm & How I'm Dealing With It

Lately I have been completely overwhelmed by my never-ending to-do list:  housework, laundry, meal planning and preparation, lawn care, family care, repeat.  In addition, I'm trying to nurture my creative practice of art-making and writing, with the goal of starting a small business.  There are never enough hours in the day and I've been feeling frustrated by the lack of time available to do the work that needs to be done in order for me to reach my goals.

See, here's the problem:  I love to learn.  Thanks to the plethora of courses offered on the Internet, I've been  to indulge in my passion without so much as getting out of my pj's.  In the past year alone, I've learned about Buddhism, mindfulness and meditation.  I've read English novels, American novels, learned how to look at and appreciate fine art and learned the basics of composition theory.  I have also learned to paint and have greatly expanded my repertoire of mixed-media techniques.

Is it any wonder I feel overwhelmed?

What I've discovered is this:  While self-growth and development is a grand and noble pursuit, it can also serve as a distraction, a form of procrastination, and a cover for fear.

"I will start my next painting as soon as I learn this one more technique..."

"I know I can write my blog/article/book just as soon as I take that course offered by a published writer and read those three books..."

Anyone with me here?

So this is what I propose, and feel free to join me:

Instead of enjoying my morning coffee in front of the computer, I will do my morning pages and work on my own stuff for a set amount of time (I'm thinking 2 hours to start).  This is kind of like setting a toddler in front of a candy store and telling him that he can't go in, but I am strong.  I can do this.

And, like a toddler who has dutifully obeyed his parents and been "good", I will then reward myself with computer time, email time, reading time, and fun project time.

Oh, and housework?  That will have its proscribed time too.  It will be done at 3 pm, one hour before hubby gets home from work.  There's nothing more motivating than a deadline!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Soulful Saturday

Today I am:

Watching:  Storm clouds rolling over the mountain, the leaves on the trees turning their silvery backs in warning.

Listening:  To wise and gifted teachers on The Hay House Summit.

Reading:  Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter.

Making:  Chocolate chip cookies for my son and his friends.

Thinking:  How blessed I am to have so many wonderful people in my life.

Feeling:  Blissfully relaxed.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Practicing Extreme Self Care

This has been a very stressful week for me and my family.  Last weekend, my brother-in-law was stricken ill while travelling home from Canada.  We got the call Friday morning and drove across the state, frantic to be with him and make sure he was getting the type of care that he needed.  All told that weekend, we drove more than 1,200 miles and went 30 hours straight without sleep.  Confident that our loved one was where he needed to be and recover from his ordeal in time, we came home and tried to resume some sort of normality.  My husband threw himself into work, and launched myself into a painting marathon.  As of yesterday, I had completed two paintings and have 4 more in progress.

And then I hit the wall.  Too worried to paint, I shifted gears and turned my attention to the small, practical details of everyday life.  I went grocery shopping (it was time, the refrigerator was looking kinda bare), and passing the floral department, I spied the most beautiful roses, 20 for $10.00.  Our budget is tight, and the extra travel last weekend didn't help, but I knew I NEEDED these breathtaking flowers as much as I need air.  They brought me such comfort, cutting and placing them in a vase (actually 2, 20 is a LOT of roses!), then setting them on my vintage, flea market purchased table cloth on the kitchen table.  They were a small extravagance, but they have done wonders in perking me up.

I spent the rest of the day sitting in an adirondack chair in the shady part of our lawn, enjoying a good book. Some days are like that.  You need to put the pause button on life, ignore your to-do list, and recharge your batteries.

This morning I woke up fully rested, and ready to get back to doing that which needs to be done.  I don't regret taking the time off or spending money on what some (my husband) would consider frivolous.  If I don't take care of myself then I will be of use to no one.  Some pretty flowers, a good book, and a few hours to relax -- sometimes that's all it takes to recover your equilibrium.

What do you do to practice self care?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A New Painting to Share!

When we bought our house last summer, I was determined to fill our home with  only art I had created myself.  We painted the walls semi-gloss white in anticipation of showing off the vivid, bright paintings I love to create.  Here we are, 9 months later, and only 3 pieces are hung -- one in each of my children's bedrooms and a watercolor in the kitchen.  My living room, hallway and Master bedroom have remained, well, barren. The time has come to remedy that situation!  I have just completed this whimsical, folkarty painting today, and I must say, I love it!  It's acrylic on a 16x20 stretched canvas, and it will hang over my sofa, surrounded by several of its similarly whimsical, folkarty buddies, who have yet to be created.  I'm so excited!  I have been yearning to paint since we were bitten by the house-hunting bug last spring.  My time has been so consumed with hunting for and buying the house, renovations, decorating and just plain trying to locate our STUFF (I knew exactly where everything was in the old place!), that painting has taken a backseat to the practical stuff.  No more!  I am on a roll now, and nothing can stop me!  Now if I can only find the rest of my canvases...

Monday, May 20, 2013

Yummy New Papers!

Whenever I travel, I try to seek out unique art supply/stationery/paper stores.  A few years ago, wandering the narrow alleys of Rome, I stumbled across the BEST little art shop owned by an elderly Italian couple.  They did not speak English and I did not/do not speak Italian.  They were friendly though, and somehow we were able to communicate enough for me to walk out of there 100 euros lighter and with some gorgeous handmade paper.  I readily admit the fact that I'm hoarding it, and that I may never find the perfect project for it, but I cherish that paper and all the memories that are attached to it.

Back home, I discovered the lovely Paper Source chain while visiting my sister in Boston.  Those of you who have this lovely resource in your community, I'm envious.  The closest store to me is the one in Boston, 400 miles away from where I live.  At the time of my visit money was tight, and I only bought a couple of sheets of Lokta paper.  I had to make a journal for a handmade journal swap in one of my Yahoo art groups.  I had, as usual, procrastinated, and the mailing deadline was looming.  I made a very simple pamphlet stitch journal, using one of the Paper Source papers for my covers.  The journal was a hit!  I received so many complements on it and I have to admit, it WAS beautiful.  It was the paper (rather than the technique) that made it so.

Thanks to the Internet, I can now shop the Paper Source in my pajamas, and have just received the papers you see above.  They are handmade-books-waiting-to-happen, and when they''re done, I'll let you know.  A few of them will be available in my Etsy shop.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Right to Free Speech and Knowing When to Shut It

This is NOT a political commentary.

Recently, I went for my annual eye exam.  Since our insurance changed late last year, this meant going to a differrent eye doctor.  After the usual pleasantries, I sat down in the dentist-y looking chair and the eye doctor began asking questions. "So what do you do?", he asked.  This is a question I loathe, as I do not have a traditional job that can be easily explained.  My own job description would sound something like this: I am a dreamer, a seeker, a wonderer and an artist.

I replied, somewhat confidently, "I am an artist."
Eye doctor:  "Oh, so what do you paint, landscapes?"
Me: "No, I'm a mixed media artist."
Eye doctor:  "So you're an abstract painter!"
Me (less confidently):  "Um, no. I do collage, painting, that sort of thing."

By this time my ego was deflated like a balloon in a lightening storm.  I decided to change the subject.  I asked him where he was from (he had a distinct Long Island accent). He told me the name of the city he was from, how he came to live in my part of the state, and a little bit about his family.  Then, noticing that I was a good listener and not likely to budge from my chair without having my eye exam completed, he launched into a tirade about how alzheimers was eating away at his elderly father and how he had no qualms abut putting a pillow over his head and putting him out of his misery. He was dead serious (no pun intended), and reiterated his statement many times.

It was one of the few times in my life when I've been completely speechless.  Although I was decidedly uncomfortable with the turn our conversation, did I leap out of my chair and shout, "You want to kill your father???  You're a bad person!"  Nope, I kept my mouth shut.  I sensed that something had happened recently, perhaps even that morning, and his father had taken a turn for the worse.  Or maybe he was stressed out.  As inappropriate as the conversation was, this man had a right to express his opinion.  I stayed silent while he ranted on, and eventually he settled down to give me my exam.

One of my virtual mentors, Danielle LaPorte, says that we should all have opinions, and I agree.  That's what makes Danielle so successful, she shoots straight from the hip and doesn't give a damn if you like it or not.  However, I also believe in manners and being sensitive to others.  This is not the same as political correctness, which is just plain bullshit.  This is about knowing when and where to express your strong, and perhaps controversial, opinions and when to keep your mouth shut out of respect for others.  A little discernment goes a long way.

Now I'm off to work on my elevator speech!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

International Soul Art Day, Part 2

After a very happy and busy Mother's Day weekend with Roch and the kids (thanks guys, it was great!), I was finally able to grab some time for myself and work on my Soul Art project.  Using brightly colored pages torn from magazines, I collaged the entire background, isolating the tracing I did of my outstretched arms.  I didn't try to get too fussy about it, I just worked intuitively and fairly quickly.  Although my original intent for creating this piece was to discover the gifts I have to share with the world, something shifted as I worked.  My outstretched arms, instead of giving, turned into receiving mode (Notice a theme here?  It's all about me, me,me.  Hey, it's MY project!).  I felt drawn to being open to all the wonders that are manifesting in my life, and to those that are sure to come.  I know, I know.  I'm becoming all woo-woo on you.  I've recently been studying the power of Intention and Manifesting, have been taking it for a test-drive, and whaddahyaknow? It's WORKING!

Once the background was covered, I painted my arms and hands a yellowy-orange, and rubber stamped "Now Manifesting" on the large blue block in the center of the piece. Scattered around on the other collaged bits, I hand wrote the things that are either manifesting in my life right now, and those that I would like to see more of in the future.  I filled my outstretched arms and hands with inspirational quotes and affirmations.  I am ready to call this piece done.

While this collage is never likely to gain anyone else's attention or acclaim, it was a project well worth the work.  The fun, the intensity, the payoff was in the process, not the end product.  I learned a lot about myself and my own personal happiness while I was creating it.  I felt energized, inspired, and even downright FULFILLED by all the cutting and pasting, letting my mind wander freely as I did so.  That, my friends, is the power of creativity.  Now go on and make something!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

International Soul Art Day!

Today is International Soul Art Day, a day-long live event hosted by Laura Hollick, for the purpose of "carving out time and space to express your creativity and make a connection with your spirit.  You can join in here.  My intention for the project is to clarify the gifts I have to offer the world, but hey, any opportunity to cut, paste and play with paper, I'm IN!  Check back throughout the day and see my progress.   Why don't you join in too?

I've collaged a large piece of water color paper with colorful pages torn from magazines.  I've chosen both solid colors and those with subtle prints for texture.  I'm finding that my color choices are bright and vivid, because I'm feeling particularly happy and in the flow!

Next, I've defined the tracing I did of my outstretched arms this morning with a black sharpie. I haven't yet decided if I'm going to collage, paint or doodle my arms.  I still have more background to fill and will add washi tape (because honestly, doesn't everything look better with washi tape?) when I'm done.

I'm a little disappointed that I couldn't wrap this project up today.  It's taken me longer than I expected to get as far as I've gotten, but I have to say, it's been one heck of an enjoyable way to spend the day.  I can see the value of this exercise and think it would be great for teachers, therapists, or anyone in a helping profession to do with their students or clients.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

What Rock & Roll Can Teach Us About Passion

A few months ago, Roch surprised me with tickets to a Ted Nugent/Styx/REO Speedwagon concert at our local Civic Center.  I will admit that my first thought was, "Ehhhhhhhhhhh, I LOVED those guys in high school, but NOW???", followed by, " Geez, if these guys are coming to our town (it's a small town with a very small arena that's mostly used for hockey games), their careers must really have hit the skids."  Don't get me wrong, I was really grateful that Roch surprised me by planning a "date night" all on his own, but I was feeling a little underwhelmed about spending our money on something that didn't involve a quiet dinner and a bottle of wine.

The night of the concert arrived.  Once I got over the shock of having a full-body pat down at the entrance, the first thing I noticed about my fellow concert goers was their age.  Heck, we were no longer a crowd of rowdy teenagers in ripped jeans and concert tee shirts. We were an old and tired looking bunch, and the 7pm start time was scarily close to our weeknight bedtimes.  This observation did not add to my enthusiasm for the event.  I couldn't help but feel sorry for the performers.  They, who were used to BIG CROWDS at BIG VENUES "back in the day", were surely going to be disappointed at the sorry lot they were going to be performing for, in an even sorrier arena.

Then Ted Nugent hit the stage.  He ROCKED.  Styx hit the stage. They ROCKED.  Ditto REO.  And the most surprising thing to me was that none of them looked the least bit sorry that they were there.  In fact, they looked THRILLED to be performing.  We were sitting close enough that I could see the light in their eyes, their happiness at being able to do what they love.  Let's face it, these guys are no longer young.  Most of the band members are in their 50's and 60's.  They all have made it big, and (I'm assuming), have made enough money to no longer have to go out on the road.  It was exciting to see that they were doing what they were doing because THEY LOVED IT.  They were PASSIONATE.  Their age didn't matter and ours didn't either.

Bottom line:  There is no expiration date on passion.  When you find something you love to do, DO IT.  Do it exuberantly until your last breath is drawn.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Living in a State of Gratitude

I first read about the idea of keeping a gratitude list sometime around 2009-2010 when I purchased Sarah Ban Breathnach's book, Simple Abundance.  While I thought the concept of writing down a list of at least 5 things you are grateful for at the end of each day was kinda cool, I found it very hard to practice.  It was about that time that my marriage took a nosedive and life really sucked for several years.  Not only did I feel I had nothing to be grateful for, but it was painful just to open my eyes each morning and face a new day.  A few months ago I revisited this practice and started noting down things during the day that were good - the sun shining through the lace curtains on my window, a particularly insightful and supportive comment from my  partner, diving into a really good book.  Let me tell you people, this practice is LIFE-CHANGING! On the outside my life may seem very ordinary, even boring perhaps, but through this practice I have found that my internal life is extraordinary.  There is beauty in my everyday life that is breathtaking.  I have a feeling that it's been there all along but I've never taken the time to notice.  Committing to this practice has held me accountable for paying attention to my life, to the small, simple things that make up my day.  This makes me happy.  Very, very happy.  Try it. You'll see.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Hello Spring!

I've been seeing beautiful pictures of spring all over the Internet for almost two months now.  In my neck of the woods, winter lasts from late October through the end of April.  May is spring and June begins the summer season.  Sure enough, today it is decidedly spring-like, so I decided to work outdoors.  I'm working on a series of mixed media paintings (there's a fourth painting, but it's on its way to a publisher), and am loving working out in the sun!  The only drawback I'm finding is that the paint dries really, really fast.  That's great on the canvas, not so great for all the paint I've poured on the palette.  Live and learn.  I think I'll just take a little break and continue my work later this afternoon as the sun starts to set.  Ah, creative freedom!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Holding onto wonder

"  The success of a creative venture lives in the wondering, not in the outcome.  So long as we have breath, there is the possibility - the inevitability -  that we will create again.  There is no such thing as a make-or-break outcome to creating."   Molly Gordon

Saturday, April 27, 2013

10 Things you should know about me...

  1. I took this photo because I had just had my hair done and it looked AWESOME.  I am un-apologetic.
  2. I have a Master's Degree in English, yet struggle to spell the easiest word.  The other day I tried to spell the word "went" "whent". Seriously???
  3. I was a cheerleader in high school. That explains a lot.
  4. I'm too cheap to get a pedicure, yet am willing to pay hundreds of dollars (which I don't have), on a handbag.  Rationale:  The handbag lasts much longer.
  5. I have much better things to do than cook.  Like sit on my ass and read a book.  My fiance will verify this.  He frequently goes to bed hungry.
  6. I have broken almost every good wineglass I own.  I swear it has nothing to do with the wine...
  7. I consider walking to the mailbox at the end of my driveway a verifiable exercise.  It's walking, isn't it?
  8. It makes me a little crazy when people say, " I should have went." I warned you I'm an English major.
  9. I read so much that I can't remember the plot line of the last book that I read, or that I own the book, which explains all the duplicates on my bookshelf.  They looked interesting at the time.
  10. I don't get social media.  Who cares what I'm doing every moment of time?  I don't.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Having fun with your journal

For many of us, the journalling process feels a little bit stiff, a little too Important.  Often a chore we feel me must do.  Bah, I say.  Make it fun!  Last August, my honey and I purchased our home and began a month long process of intense renovation.  I knew I wouldn't have the time or energy for regular journalling, so I made myself a little calendar, colored in the days with marker, and recorded little snippets of my day.  Simple things like, "Put first coat of paint on the living room", and "New furniture delivered today."  Nothing terribly exciting, but my days were recorded and they are fun and interesting to look back on now.  On the few days that we took off from packing, cleaning and renovating, I recorded our days with photos.  We enjoyed a warm summer day at the pool, a hike up Prospect Mountain, we took our dog to the park.  It's all there, my whole month recorded, a month-at-a-glance.

Another thing I like to do in my journal is record my real life in bits and pieces.  On this page I've recorded things like "What I'm watching", "What I'm cooking", " What I'm reading", and "What I'm making".  You get the picture.  Again, nothing profound, and yet it's another fun way for me to look back and say, "Ah, THAT'S what I did that month."

This page (or spread) was begun on New Year's Day 2013.  I made a grid, colored the sections in with different colored markers, then listed the best memories I had of 2012, wrote about how we spent New Year's Eve, and reserved the rest of the boxes for journalling about the various thoughts and struggles I had throughout the month (January is ALWAYS a tough month for me.  I struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder).  Even though the words on this page aren't all fun and cheery, the colors make me happy and it is interesting for me to read.

So you see, journals don't have to be boring.  They don't have to be profound.  The most important aspect of a journal is that it's YOU.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Journalling, Oh How I Love You!

I have kept a journal almost all of my life, mainly in fits and starts.  A month ago I revisited this practice by taking Susannah Conway's Journal Your Life class.  Now, it's no secret that I am a HUGE Susannah fan -- that girl has a gift for sharing and teaching.  Diving back into a daily writing practice has been both a joy and a challenge, but oh so enriching!  In just a few weeks I have gained clarity about my life's purpose and am journeying down the path I was meant to follow.  I know this all sounds Profound and Grand, but it's all been done in tiny snippets.  A captured moment of my day, a note here, a list there.  It's all in my journal and those little pieces, those snippets, are coming together like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.  I'm starting to figure stuff out, to plan, to take action.  It's simply amazing.

In addition to our written journals, Susannah has had us keep a Creative Dream Journal (in the green binder to the upper right).  This is our visual journal for our daydreams, night dreams, life dreams (insert anything-you-want-it-to-be-dreams here).  Think vision boards and mind maps, a place to figure stuff out visually when the words just aren't there.  It makes this cut-and-paste girl really happy!

So what about you?  How do you journal?  How do you record all the little snippets of YOUR life?  I'd love to know!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Do you pin?

When I logged onto my computer this morning and was and saw more grim news from Boston on my MSN homepage, I became determined to find a more cheerful way to start my day.  After all, I would much rather look at this :

Than this:

(Please pardon me while I learn the technicalities of blogging.  The photo of the journal page was by Wendy Cook on Pinterest)

And so two hours were passed joyfully as I found funny quotes, inspiring art, and beautiful clothes I will never be thin/young/tall enough to wear.  I feel much better now, and as a public service, I am recommending that you now go Pin!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

To the people of Boston

It has taken me two days to recover from process the horrifying events that took place in Boston on Monday.

You see, Boston is a city that is near and dear to my heart.  I attended college near Boston, and my friends and I would take the train in on weekends to hang out and shop.  I have family there. We visit often.  My daughter hopes to attend college there soon.  It has, in many ways, been our family's' home away from home for years.

The bombings on Monday have rocked our world.  The moment I heard, via text from my local news station, that something catastrophic was unfolding at the Boston Marathon, I called my sister who lives in the city.  She had been on her laptop, tracking friends who were running the race.  She learned of the horror via a banner flashing across her computer screen. When she answered the phone, she could hardly speak.  Despite the shock that left her unable to complete full sentences, she was able to let me know she was safe  Her husband, who ran the Marathon almost every year of his adult life up until a few years ago, was at The Boston Running Club, waiting for their friends to come in after finishing the race.  He too was safe.  But so many were not -- women, children, visitors from places far and wide, will never feel safe again.

What has struck me about all the horrifying news I have seen and read since Monday, is the kindness, the generosity  the SELFLESSNESS, of the people of Boston.  Amid chaos, first responders, police, citizens and other runners, ran to help those in need of medical attention.  They ran TOWARD the chaos, not away from it.  Later, people who lived nearby welcomed strangers into their homes, offering clothing, shelter, food and phones.  Business offered shelter and free food to the displaced.  In short, the same New Englanders who have a reputation for being reserved, cool and sometimes a little snooty, opened their hearts to the injured, the shocked, and the lost.

From the bottom of MY heart, I say thank you, THANK YOU Bostonians, for showing the world who you really are.  You are kind, you are caring, you show your true colors when it counts.  You have shown the world that humanity still exists, in a world that is becoming increasingly inhumane.  You give us hope.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Cute project alert!

For several years now, as my art has been developing, I have fought against Cute.  If you want to be taken seriously as an Artiste, you can't do cute, right?  Well, the minute I stumbled upon Megan Suarez's Whimsy Girls Workshop, I just had to join.  Her art is just to darn adorable!  This painting was inspired by the class:

For the painting, I found the coolest paper from My Graffico and printed it onto cardstock.

Since I have an inkjet printer I had to take the papers outside and spray them with a couple of coats of workable fixative so they wouldn't smear when I laid them down with gel medium.

The next day (to allow drying time), I collaged both the papers onto a gallery profile canvas, colored the girls skin with copics, and stuck her on. I painted her hair and added more paint to the background and, voila!, a pretty Whimsy Girl!  I sealed the collage with another coat of gel medium and sprinkled on some glitter,'cause you know, every cute girl needs some glitter.  What a fun project!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Let's start at the beginning...

I cringe a little bit every time I hear someone say "I'm not creative."  We are ALL creative in our own way.  My sister, for example, can throw together the best meal you have ever tasted and present it beautifully without cracking a cookbook.  She can also wrap presents worthy of a Neiman Marcus window at Christmas.  My honey took a debilitating back injury in midlife and transformed himself into a strong, healthy (and hunky) bodybuilder by changing his diet and joining the gym. To me, these two people are supremely creative in ways that I could never be (read: I'm too lazy).  I, too, believed I didn't have a creative bone in my body until I was in my mid-30's.  So how did I do it?  How did I find that ever-elusive quality in myself?  Let me tell you...

I remember vividly being in art class in Junior High and HATING it.  I couldn't draw a straight line with a ruler, much less draw anything that looked recognizable.  I swear, the only reason I passed the class (barely) was out of professional courtesy to my mother, who was also a teacher in my school.  I decided then and there that I could be anything I wanted to be when I grew long as it wasn't an artist.

Fast forward twenty years:  I was the mother of two children under the age of 3 and caught up in the daily frenzy of motherhood and running a household. In the rare (and I do mean RARE) moments when both children were napping, I needed something to do that would calm my nerves and didn't require too much concentration.  Someone invited me to a Creative Memories party, back when scrapbooking was easy and only required you to cut your photos into cute shapes and slap some stickers on the page.  I thought, "I can do that." So I did. Then another friend invited me to a Stampin' Up party (we were big on parties back then. Any excuse to drink wine and shirk our responsibilities for a couple of hours.).  Stamp an image on paper and color it in? I could do that. And so it went.

Eventually I ran out of parties to go to and money to buy more pre-made stuff.  By then I knew that I enjoyed making things and had a little bit of confidence that I could do it.  I started playing around.  Discovered art journalling. Then altered books. Then mixed media painting.  It was at that point that I realized that I LOVED art, and that what I made counted as art even it would never (and I do mean NEVER), hang in a museum.  It was art because I said so and I'm standing by that decision. I highly recommend you do too.