Saturday, April 5, 2014

March-ing On!

I can't believe I haven't written in a month. One month. One complete and entire month.


As I've said many times before, I'm multi-creatively-challenged. I swear, I need to write a book just on that concept alone. However in doing that, I fear it would bring yet another absence of some other creative task. I started the year off so strong here in blogland, but somewhere got lost this past month. In between starting a new health regimen, Phil's really crazy busy travel schedule, a craft fair, and a whole desire to get in touch with myself (again . . . ), my blog fell to the wayside. Something always gives.

Sniff. Sniff.

My sister is always telling me to stop apologizing for things (I am a frequent "I'm sorry" girl). Actually, she yells at me. "STOP SAYING YOU'RE SORRY!!!!" she'll demand, when I truly deep in my heart express apologies to people for what they are expressing. "STOP IT!!" She gets pissed at me. It makes me feel worse, and has me wanting to apologize (yet again) for saying 'sorry' in the first place. It's a vicious cycle.

So, I won't apologize here for my absence. I will only tell you that I am here, today. And I am glad you are here, too. And then, we shall move on. Shall we?

So, March. Busy. A bit of a blur. Fast paced. Exhausting. March.

Here is a bit of what I did this month, where my energy was focused, and what took me away from here.

My Art 
I had another craft show mid month, so I found myself working on some new products earlier in the month. These are larger wooden decorative blocks made from some of my original art. Most of the art was newly designed and created for the show. The original pieces are mixed media, and three of them already sold! (YAY!) The blocks are about 5.5" square, and came out so beautifully! I will have them in my Etsy shop mid-April, so be on the look out for them. They were a BIG HIT at the fair!

Here is a photo of a part of the table at the craft show. Coffee mugs, spiral notebooks, new magnets . . . it was a GREAT sale with lots of new products to share. I was so proud of all the new work, and seeing it displayed on the table truly, as the artist and visionary of these items, takes my breath away.

My Health
If we happen to be Facebook friends, you will already be well aware that I am really focused on healthy eating and getting my physical self together. This month I started Weight Watchers. It was time. It has been going very well for me, and I am feeling so great about this journey I am on. However, if my mother asks me just once how much weight I'm losing, I think I will hit her. ; ) . .  . my mother is big on numbers. That is what motivates her. For me, it is not the numbers. It's the lifestyle. It's about putting good things into me. It's about making food beautiful when on the plate. It's about inspiring others. It's about feeling good about myself. Here are just a few of the meals I shared this month . . . I am proud of myself.  Look for me on Facebook for this continued journey. It's going to be good, my friends. 

Job Opportunities
I was asked to paint a mural for a friends daughter's bedroom. The request was for waves along the walls of the room. The bedding they are using is a cool tie-dyed pattern from Pottery Barn kids. I loved it the minute I saw it, and I knew exactly the vision I had for the wall. Luckily, my friend was very open to what I envisioned, and let me go ahead and do whatever I wanted. I was so happy with the outcome.

Here is a look at a photo my friend sent me via text this week . . . I am so happy with how it all came together, and hope her daughter loves it!

My word for 2014 is focused. I go back and forth trying to decide if it is the best word for me. But this past week, I realized . . . it is a PERFECT word for this year. Focused. I took a long walk with Phil one day this week. There is a nearby trail that is so beautiful . . . it was at least 2.7 miles (we started the tracking app a short time after we started.) It was cold out, a bit cloudy and overcast, but quiet. Just us walking on this long trail. We talked a little, but most of the walk was spent focused on our task. It felt so good to accomplish it when we were done (even though my knee was killing me afterwards. I slid on a big patch of ice in a grocery store parking lot this past winter, and really messed up my knee. I haven't been the same since then. But, I shall overcome!) This path and I are going to become very good friends this year . . . I can't wait.

So that brings us up to date. I am so glad for the month of quality time with me and my life. I am looking forward to the Spring with great anticipation for some wonderful things . . . and hope to be here sharing with you along the way. Thanks for the peek at my life the past month. I wonder how you spent yours.

Wishing you peace, my friends, where ever you may be today.


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

In His Eyes

I love when you first meet someone and in a short amount of time, they say something so touching that you feel it deep in your soul. I love that this new person in your life, who for all intent and purposes is a stranger, can open your eyes to something that you may have never noticed before. Something that you may have sometimes wondered about. And I love that this person can make you stop and say a silent prayer to the 'Big Man Upstairs" for all he has given you in life . . . and in love.

I spent a couple days this past weekend at a lovely Scrapbook event at a nearby Double Tree Inn. My friend Kim, a Creative Memories Consultant, participates in it with a number of her consultant friends, and I have watched her talk about it on Facebook for years. When she posted about the March weekend coming up, it sounded like a good time for me to take advantage of it and attend. I have never done a long weekend of scrapbooking like that before. And while I did get a lot done, the weekend was more an opportunity to get away and just create, than anything else. I didn't know anyone else other than my friend Kim, and felt a little out of my element when I first arrived . . . but in no time I felt welcomed. I met a wonderful group of ladies . . . and one in particular I am most grateful for.

Phil and the girls drove to the hotel on Saturday morning, and spent the day swimming, shopping at a nearby mall, going bowling and having dinner out. It made me feel less guilty about spending the weekend away from them - since they were really there with me at the hotel, and allowed me to sneak little visits with them here and there. For a few minutes, they tip-toed into the conference room where I was to see what it was all about, and to meet a few of my new friends. They visited with us for a brief time, then went on their way to their next adventure. And when I returned to my table after they left, my new friend Kelli was the one who changed my life. Truly. In a split second.

"Wow,"  Kelli said. "He loves you. Like, he really loves you." 

"I'm sorry?" I asked, totally taken back and not sure if she was talking to me or someone else.

"Your husband," she continued, "you can see it in his eyes when he looks at you. How he looks at you. He is in love with you." 

She said a few more things that I just can't recall . . . but each one touched my heart deeply.

I don't remember if her eyes were starting to fill up with tears, or just mine. But those words . . . those were some of the kindest words ever said to me.

After 15 years of marriage, it would be wrong for me to say I never questioned it. Wait . . .  that doesn't sound right - let me try it again. I know that my husband loves me. I know it. But after 15 years, two children, hectic schedules of comings and goings, busy jobs that lead to frequent business travel, losing a job (me), following dreams (me), illnesses, keeping a house running, countless bills, crazy family ups and downs, and all the other things that everyone else in the world deals with . . . there are times, unfortunately, when you forget about the love.

Yes, it all runs like a well-oiled machine, but sometimes you forget to stop and look at what really keeps that machine going.


It's the Love.

I adore my husband with my whole heart. He is a goofball. It is often very hard to get him to be serious about things that need serious conversation. He's loud. He can really get the girls going (and it's usually right before bed time when I am trying to calm them down). He drives like a Nascar driver (but often forgets that he is really driving a Camry.) He is d.e.l.i.c.a.t.e when it comes to his own ailments, but sometimes still expects me to move mountains when I have one of my own. And can even drive me crazy.

But he is a good man. He has a heart of gold. He would truly do anything for anyone, and he is the very best father I have ever seen.

I love him more than I have ever loved another.

And, he loves me.

It's in his eyes.

For that, I am eternally grateful.

Thank you, Kelli . . . for saying those words to me that afternoon. There really is no telling as to why certain people come into our lives. I have a feeling why you came into mine, and I am most grateful. In those few minutes when you reminded me how much I was loved, I, too, was reminded of how much I love. And that is a very wonderful thing.

Big hugs, my friend. I am glad to know you.

And to everyone else, Peace . . . and Love.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Love & Art . . . A Beautiful Combination

What!?!?! I haven't written since February 14th? Shame on me!! SHAME!! I have written about 100 times in my head . . . but my deepest apologies for not getting it here - to the blog! I have so much to share . . . stories and photos and little updates on life. So let's not waste any more time, shall we? Today, I'm starting with one that I've been meaning to write for weeks.

I want to share a little story with you about a recent piece of art I was commissioned to make for someone, and a few photos of my journey along the way.

It's a little story about love, really.

Love & Art. And what a wonderful combination it can be.

It started with an email and turned into one of the best experiences I had in making art for someone. Truly.

The email came from Meghan, the dearest girl friend to my life-long friend Scott. Scott and I met some (eh-hem) 25 years ago, in high school. We were theater nerds together (yes, most of us in theater were nerds). Our love for the stage grew into our college years, when Scott picked me up and dragged me to my first Community College audition (I was completely scared and was not going to do it - but he wouldn't take no for an answer.) Scott has been a constant in my life - been there to see the good in me, and the bad. He doesn't put up with any of my drama, and has no problem telling me when I am over reacting, which is probably one of the top reasons why I cherish him. He is honest - true - and frank as can be. And I adore him, sincerely.

In the email, Meghan asked me if she could commission me to make a special art piece for Scott in honor of his dear mother, Frances (who passed away March of 2013). Scott means so much to me that I was honored to be a part of making something special for him. I thought this gesture by Meghan was just the kindest thing a person could do for someone, and I was so glad to help. Her idea was to include some of the words from his mothers journal, along with a few photos of her. But other than that - Meghan was open to whatever direction it was leading me to.

And that, my friends, can be challenging.

It is so hard when you are being commissioned for a specific piece of art, to know if the vision you have is the same as the person who is hiring you. After Meghan emailed me photos of Scott's mom and a few of the journal prompts, I was torn. What would make it special? Where do I begin, really?

So, I drew from what I knew . . . and it started with this house.

This was the house that Scott was raised in. I remember driving there once or twice for something . . . to me, it was the coolest house. A red barn. I was raised in a split level. This . . . was a barn. Well, a house that looked like a barn.

And it is there, where his parents loved, worked, and raised a family.

From the journal writings Meghan shared with me, I was beginning to know Scott's mom in a way I never imagined. And I was in awe. In awe of her love for her husband. In awe of her wit. In awe of her way of putting words together that flowed so beautifully. She was an incredible woman . . . I could tell.

And I was so nervous to make this painting.

So, I prayed. To God, and to Frances. For the help to make something special for Scott and for Meghan. To watch over me through the process. To guide me.

I wasn't sure how to start. But I knew that something would lead me . . . and that is exactly what happened.

A sky, the clouds . . . and a special note tucked under the grass in honor of her.

Mrs. Hayes.

I like tucking away little messages in my paintings. I put them here or there, on the back side of a piece of paper or embellishment. My hidden secret message to the receiver, usually. This one was to Frances, in honor of her beautiful life.

And no one will know it's there. Except for me. And the Universe.

I knew I wanted to include the barn. . . and a tree.

It had to have a tree.

Because I remember a story Scott told Phil and I once about the tree on the property of the old barn house. Both his Grandmothers and his mothers ashes were scattered around the tree . . . so I knew the painting had to have the tree and the house. And from the sky and hills, this is where the piece next took me.

The house was so fun to create . . . a piece of corrugated paper it created a great texture for the roof.

The words on the painting are taken from a letter Frances wrote to Charlie, Scott's father.

"You and I will take a whole lifetime doing what these small and simple birds do in a matter of months. I only hope we can be as happy and do as well as they." 

And "Here I am next to you. Here I am to stay."  Truly. Can you feel the love? . . . so beautiful. 

I cried when I finished it.

Upon my completion, I shared with Meghan that this is the time when the doubtful artist in me comes front and center, as I begin to wonder if it is all she asked for - if it is what she intended it to be. It was strange, though, how it felt very much like the piece progressed on it's own. And how connected I felt to Scott's mom while working on it.

I met Meghan for coffee a few days before Valentine's. With cold fingers and sweaty palms, I handed over the art piece. And with tears in our eyes, both hers and mine, she accepted it. I knew at that moment that it was what I wanted it to be.

That very evening, Meghan presented it to Scott.

The next morning, Meghan sent me the most touching email I have ever received, describing Scott's reaction to the art piece. My eyes welled up with tears as I read it - I felt as if I was right there watching him. And just thinking about it right now gives me this shaky feeling inside, when you are so proud to be part of something so special, you can hardly contain it. I printed her email out, and have saved it in a little scrapbook of my art. It will long be remembered.

Moments later, Scott sent me a message on Facebook.

"You and Meghan have touched me deeper than you'll ever know. 
This is the nicest thing that anyone has ever done for me."

That said it all. I knew he meant it. From the bottom of his heart.

And that is my story of Love & Art. It really does make a lovely combination, don't you think?

Thanks for letting me share it with you.

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