Running to catch up

Hi Everyone!

Yes, once again I’m running behind. This week has been full of deadlines, deliveries, paperwork and the dreaded taxes. 

Hopefully I can get back on schedule in the next couple of days. 

Until then, go be more organized than I am right now. 
Photo credit Tim Gouw

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Regeneration

Hi Everyone!

I hope you had a great week. We are about half way through January now. How are those resolutions going? Are you one of those folks who pick a word for your year? You know, one word that signifies what you want to accomplish or hope to bring more of into your year. Something like, Health or Focus?  I have been thinking about what word I would pick for 2018 and decided on Regeneration. 


So why Regeneration, you ask? Well, last week, right after I posted to this blog, I walked over to my computer and hit SEND on one of the most difficult emails I have ever sent.  It was an email to my clients informing them of my decision to retire from 30+ years in the graphic design/ printing industry. 

The thought behind this decision began about February of last year as I looked at my profit & loss statement while doing my taxes. I realized that my expenses were about to overtake my profits. There were several factors for this including higher costs for software and a great deal more travel time. D. and I discussed what would I do to replace the income if I closed my business but to be honest there were not many feisible options where we live. 

Fast forward about seven months and I find myself a parent again and beginning to fall into a different part time business while still running my main business. It was obviously a little too much on one plate. Without going into all the boring details, once again God was telling me that a change was in order. I’ve been through this enough times now to know not to fight it. If I fight it things will get much worse and I will still find myself exactly where He wants me to be eventually anyway. I learn hard, but I do learn!

Also in all the crazy that was going on, D. and I realized our health was suffering. We both were struggling with insomnia, were mentally and physically worn down, not eating right and not getting proper exercise. Once again we were responsible for someone else’s well being and we did not have the option of a major health crisis. We had hoped to get a lot more taken care of at his sister’s house before it went up for sale, but exhaustion was setting in and things at our home were falling apart. We had given it our best but it was time to stop the insanity. 

When D. retired last March, we had visions of travel and much more time for our many hobbies. Well we all know how those best laid plans go, but at our age we don’t have unlimited time to do the things we have been putting off. Roll all these factors together and you will see that we have to adjust, renew and grow into a new and unknown direction now. 

What we do know is that we have a lovely young girl who needs stability and guidance. We know we have to look after ourselves to give it to her. No more working two and three jobs like both of us did when we and our other kids were younger. But we both deserve and desperately need some time to chase some dreams and enjoy some things that we have put off for a very long time. 

I am probably right now more than a little jealous of some of you and my close friends who are traveling to awesome places that I have always wanted to go. It’s a very real struggle. We had some cool plans in the works. We aren’t writing them off, but they will be delayed and different now.  To deal with the disappointment and to be sane and pleasant people we have to give ourselves the gift of time instead. Time to rest, renew our energy, find our new normal and grow in ways we didn’t know existed. A REGENERATION of our lives. 

I have a new and interesting part time income stream that does not include hours of driving every week or rushing to make sure I’m back in time to pick up Miss L. Those two things alone relieve a huge stress load and I have more time. More time that I can finally give to my artwork that has slowly but steadily been bringing in more income as well. It’s pretty much now or never. I don’t have any guarantee that I have until the age of 80 to start an art career like Grandma Moses and the desire to make stuff has been the one and only constant of my five decades. I think I owe it a higher ranking for its consistency and perseverance if nothing else…like the fact I need it like oxygen. 

So there you have it.  REGENERATION in 2018 in whatever form it takes. I expect an interesting year. 

I don’t hear from many of you, but would love to.  Share your goals, resolutions and/or words.  Have an awesome week!

Happy 2018!

Hi Everyone!

Happy New Year! I’m running a little late this week thanks to a round with the trending crud/flu that took me out of commission completely for about three days. I am rarely sick so it drives me crazy to not get all of my To Do list done. I think one of my goals this year is to not be so hard on myself. I am often my own worst enemy. 

So do you make resolutions or set new goals at the beginning of the year? I always do. I like the feeling of a fresh start. About November I start pondering what did or didn’t happen that year and what I want to accomplish in the new year.

In 2017 life happened and most of my plans had to be put on hold, but I had set a goal of improving my knitting skills and learning how to knit socks. Little did I know just how important that seemingly little goal would be in 2017. I ended the year with two good pairs of hand knit socks and my first knitted sweater. That doesn’t sound like much but honestly I think my sanity was saved by knitting.


My actual amount of knitting included four prototype socks until I found two patterns I liked and managed two finished pairs of socks. So how did my knitting goal save my sanity? I am a born maker. I think with my hands more than my brain alone. All through school I got in trouble for drawing in class. It has now been proven that students who draw in class retain information better. Unfortunately back in my day, the teachers didn’t believe me when I told them that. 

I had already started working on socks when my sister-in-law died and I had yarn on the needles. When Miss L. came to live with us, our newly painted and remodeled guest room/office/studio became her room. Suddenly my life line of creative endeavors got packed up and sent to storage. I was left with just my drawing pencils, paper and my knitting. I no longer had my paints that I had enjoyed so much in the previous year and was making vast improvement with. My easel is a big, complicated travel easel that would not fit anywhere in the house now. I will be honest. I was heartbroken. Anyone who has a creative drive will understand. It’s like oxygen for us. We HAVE to do it to be a tolerable, stable human being. 

Knitting became my only outlet. There was so much going on during the past six months that I rarely had time for anything more than a row of stitches in stolen moments or in the middle of the night during weeks and weeks of insomnia as my poor brain tried to solve some great big problems. I’m very thankful for the two commissioned drawings I had this year. They gave me the opportunity to keep my drawing skills fresh and something to focus on besides what was going on around me and feel a little more normal.

When I say that knitting saved my sanity, I mean that the rhythm of the needles calmed me when the stress was overwhelming, the beautiful colors and texture of the yarn fed my soul, the difficult parts of the pattern focused my mind on something away from the frustration I was feeling and I could escape the world for a little while with my earbuds, some music and my knitting. I will forever be thankful that the simple act of making something got me through such a difficult time. The people that live with me will also be thankful! 

To top it all off, I now have the MOST cozy, comfortable socks and sweater that I have ever owned.  Now I know why some knitters get addicted to sock making.  


So, what is on my 2018 goal list?  Lots and lots of making!  I already have a new project on my needles but it will be a gift so I can’t divulge more than that right now. There are actually several gifts on my list. Miss L. and I will be sewing some gifts and hopefully some clothes for ourselves.  I am IMPATIENTLY waiting on my new table easel that was delayed by the snow storm. THERE WILL BE PAINTING DONE THIS YEAR! I will fill in details as I go along in the year. 


2018 is starting out with a feeling of relief of surviving 2017, a settling into the new normal for us, an appreciation for the simple, everyday joys and a looking forward now. 2017 involved much looking into the past and though it wasn’t my past, it was hard to watch the sadness and pain that those near to me were suffering.  It’s good to see smiles, hear laughter and sense peace in them now. 

I wish you all a beautiful 2018. Go make something good. 

The Untangler

Hi Everyone,

Hope you are well and all is right in your world today.  I made the Executive Decision (I’m self-employed so I get to do that) on Thursday to take next week off to, well, get Christmas stuff done and take a little break. The week before and after Christmas are always my slowest of the year anyway. I did have to wrap up a couple of projects first thus the delay in this week’s post and the fact that the pictures I wanted to upload just won’t.

Today’s subject is something I have been pondering for about two and a half months now.  It started purcolating in my little brain while D. and I were at the beach in October.  He was wanting to go fishing, but had a big, tangled mess of fishing line. After a few minutes of watching his frustration in trying to untangle the mess, I took it, sent him off to make lunch and in about 15 minutes presented him with the separate pieces of line. It reminded me of my early years in retail where the jewelry department would bring me boxes of tangled up necklaces to sort out on slow nights back in my area of the home shop. I seemed to be the only one with the patience to work at the mess until each piece was free. Little did I know that this tiny talent would be tested time and time again.


If you have the blessing of several decades under your belt, I’m sure you have recognized patterns and recurring themes in your life. If you are early in your journey on this earth maybe not, but if you pay attention, you will too. One of mine is The Untangler evidently. Physically and metaphorically. 

In my recent middle-of-the-night knitting sessions I realized that as I made hundreds of little loops to create a garment, my brain was tediously un-looping one problem after another in this tangled up mess that is my late sister-in-law’s estate. I also realized that over the years I have been given the task OR had forced upon me the task of straightening out  messes of increasing complication and they were usually created by OTHER PEOPLE. I have made my share of messes all by myself but either they were not so bad or I’m more proficient at fixing my own messes. 
As I knitted I tried to think of the names I would give to the subtle talents of other people I know. These would be people I know very well because these are not obvious talents nor are they the professions of these folks though elements may be involved. The Healer would be one of the first. Not doctors or nurses, but those glorious people who, through the almost lost art of listening and attention, help you heal from life’s wounds. The Connector would be another. They know EVERYONE and make mental connections that bring different people together to accomplish goals, big and little. There is The Mediator that has probably been helping their people work out differences since the first playground incident. The Warrior comes in to decide and end a dispute The Mediator has given up on. I haven’t seen an abundance of The Warriors, which is good, not because they are bad people, but because to end a battle there is often a high personal and emotional price for The Warrior to pay just like in any war. 

This brings up another observation. These ingrained “gifts” are not chosen and are often a source of high stress. For me to untangle a big mess takes enormous energy, time and frustration. Time away from what I want and need to be doing and looking at the list above I think that would be true in each category. To live as a society and it could be argued, to even survive as humans we need each and every one of these abilities as well as any I have not mentioned.  I guess we should look at them as a part of our contribution for life on planet Earth. 

Have a wonderful week and bless you for THE GIFTS you bring to ease the difficulties of humankind. 

Photo credit…if one shows up its mine but there seems to be an uploading issue today. I gave up waiting on it to load.

I see Normal!

Hi Everyone,

I’m running a little late this week but better late than never. I hope you had a great week!

As we are winding down this last week of October, off in the distance is a glimmer of light. That thing called Normal Life is coming into view!

Now of course Normal is as subjective as Olympic ice skating, but we all have our own normal. Our normal has forever changed, but we have a good idea of what we want it to be now.

This week we end the weekly and sometimes twice weekly trips to my SIL’s house. There is still more to do but the worst is over and what needed to come out will all be out tomorrow. We get our Wednesdays and Saturdays back!!!

Miss L wraps up her soccer season this week so we get our Tuesdays and Thursdays back!!!!!!!  If we weren’t so far behind on all the things that need to be done on the farm and house I might think we would be bored. Nope. Never happens around here!

Tonight kid# 1 is helping with her National Honor Society Club chicken stew and won’t be here until late, kid #2 has a bonfire/dance/chicken stew at her school (like I have explained in previous posts, chicken stews are a BIG thing around here) and the two exhausted adults are going to enjoy a do nothing evening.

Soooooo, hopefully you all will not have to hear me whine and complain much longer and I can get back to doing the fun, artsy, creative stuff I’m supposed to be writing about. I can tell you that those creative things are going to be taking an interesting turn by the first of the year. I’m so excited to start some new stuff!!!

Have a NORMAL week!

Photo credit Matt  Kochar

No good deed…

Hi Everyone,
I hope your week has gone well.

Mine has been, uh, difficult…no, hurtful.

I write this blog every week for several reasons. It’s a way for me to look back and track my progress with my artwork, it’s a journal of sorts about my life in particular and it is a place to speak to experiences we all have as human beings.

This week, this quote came to mind.

“No good deed goes unpunished.”

by Clare Luce Boothe

Why does it seem that when life is at its most stressful people take the opportunity to be the most hurtful? You try to do the right thing in life and take on monumental responsibilities while trying to carry on semi-normal life and what you find coming at you is not support, but arrows of criticism, gossip and actions taken behind your back that in no way help the situation?

I was raised to be a nice person. In spite of all the good I was told it would do me, I cannot truthfully say that it has. Often while I have been trying to take into consideration other people’s feelings those very people have not returned the courtesy. My trust is betrayed by those I thought I could trust. It has happened time and time again. I should know better by now.

Danny and I are in a row boat in an ocean of complication that has a history and backstory the depth of the Mariana Trench, yet people who have only a cupful of knowledge about the situation keep gossiping and throwing stones and making waves. It does not take our focus off our true priority which is the well being of another human being, but it makes the journey cold and miserable.

I am truly and deeply thankful for real friends and family that regularly call, text or hug us and tell us we are doing a good job and they are there for us. Those are the rays of sunshine that mean so much. We are navigating difficult waters. Decisions we make that people might not understand very well may be for a long term reason, not the short term.

I find some peace in simple things right now. Picking beans in the cool morning, watching Danny training a horse, knitting a pair of socks and laughing at someone’s silly joke over dinner as we forge a new family. We are tough people. We have survived worse. All of us.

May you find yourself surrounded by those who shine light, not cast shadows.

 

Photo credit
Tim Marshall

Current state of affairs

Hi Everyone,

It is 3:30 am and that should tell you something right there. I’m here laying in bed tapping away on my iPad with a dog draped across me. The hubby is in the living room trying to find a movie on Netflix.  Life is currently out of whack. Seriously out of whack. 

He has had a full blown case of the flu since Saturday evening. All weekend plans got skewed. Things haven’t been right really since the time change. Our schedules have been thrown off, I have had ongoing insomnia and our to do list is bearing down on us. 

My 100 day project is in jeopardy. I did ok during the week for the most part, but the weekend not so much. I may have to modify it some more and skip the weekends. There are too many things going on at the moment.  I may have to try this again in the winter when there are not so many farm demands. 

I am going to try and get back on schedule here this week. I cannot figure out why we seem to be having so much trouble with the time change this year. Personally, I wish they would stop with the whole daylight savings thing. It seems unnecessary and throws off human and animal schedules. 

I apologize for this crazy post but it is where we are at the moment.  Just in case you might be suffering from a shift in your universe, know that you are not alone. 

Hopefully by Thursday things will have stabilized.  

Wishing you a steady week! 

Tiny little steps are better than no steps

Hi Everyone,

I am going to make this short and sweet today because the Spring allergies have set in and I can barely see the computer screen.

By the time I write my next post next week, I will be on The 100 Day Project.  To be honest, it’s a little scary staring at the 100 days ahead.  I am not prepared yet.  Well, about half prepared.  I have 30 canvases and 5 x 7 sheets of paper prepped.  I have about that many items on my theme list.  Oh, I forgot to mention what I decided on for a theme.

I knew I wanted to work on my drawing and painting skills in the hope of coming closer to my personal voice in my work, but I felt like I needed a theme to have some boundaries and not go off on some crazy tangent as I am likely to do.  I wanted the theme to be something positive that I looked forward to as well.  Finally, I decided to focus on thankfulness/gratitude.  It’s positive and sometimes I get caught up in a life problem and slide into only seeing the problem, not all the good that surrounds me.  Hopefully this will sustain me on those days when I just don’t want to touch a paint brush.

I also challenged myself to not do conventional images, but to try and express my gratitude in unique ways.  Spending extended time with something I am thankful for should also imbed my appreciation for it more deeply I hope.

So, join me starting on April 4th, through July 12th on either my Bloomtown Studio Facebook page or on my Bloomtown Studio Instagram page to keep up with how I am doing. Links are on this site somewhere. Please feel free to cheer me on.  There are going to be days I will very much need it!

Oh, and did you notice I made some changes to my website here?  Check out my updated portfolio page.  Tiny little steps are better than no steps!

Have an awesome week and take a tiny step toward your goal.

Back Story – Fulfilling a Promise. Part Two

Heavens! I am freezing right now.  Did anyone else have another visit of winter this week?  I hope this is the last of it.  Before I could start writing I had to run water out to the chickens.  Theirs keeps freezing overnight and we bring it in to thaw in the morning then take it back out to them.  There may be a water warmer involved next winter!

If you just dropped in this week and need to catch up on my story, check out Part One.

So, here I find myself, 50 something, empty nest, new husband, new home, new community and down to only one job for the first time in at least a decade.  I have truly been a little bit lost for the past nine months with all the extra time on my hands.  You would think it would be an easy transition, but it has been a shock to my system.

Here is the real kicker.  After all these years of yearning for creative time, now that I have it, I feel guilty for indulging in it.  What the heck??  I no longer have kids here to put first for their survival, my husband is fine with my art time especially since he also now has time to enjoy his horses and other interests. I take care of all my design/print clients first every morning and we have adequate income.  Why do I feel guilty for taking the time to do what I have always wanted to do?  If you have answers, please fill me in.  I want this whole guilt thing GONE!

Are there other roadblocks to fulfilling a promise to myself?  Yes, indeedy.  Procrastination, that I’m pretty sure is another word for fear is one.  Right now I am fighting the urge to throw myself into two un-art related projects.  Those two projects did not show up until I committed to a big ‘ole, heavy duty art project (more on this below) this week.  Life in general also pretty regularly stops my artwork with family obligations and home/farm maintenance.  There is a reason that artists and writers and musicians run off to cabins in the woods with no phone or wifi.  Sometimes that is the only way the good work can get out. Constant starting and stopping interrupts necessary concentration and the work gets watered down from the original inspiration.

One more big hurdle to fulfilling my promise to myself is the simple fact that I don’t give myself the priority required.  It feels very selfish to put my own WANT (I would argue NEED) before so many of the other things listed above.  More than once I have said that girls of my generation were raised to be TOO NICE.  There I said it.  We were raised to put everyone and everything above ourselves.  It is ingrained throughout our cells and extremely difficult to erase or even temporarily lock away.  Hummm, I think this is related to that darn guilt thing.

Soooo, what have I been doing and/or going to do to fulfill my promise?  I started this process almost four years ago.  When my son (my youngest) pulled out of the driveway for his first year of college, I literally took over his room.  Yes, it seems cruel.  Yes, he reminds me of it occasionally, but I did it and he doesn’t seem too much the worst for it.  I set up three big tables and had my computer/work stuff on one, art supplies on another and sewing machine on the third.  For the past four years I have let myself play.  Not consistently, not with serious intent, but I have played.  I have tried out all sorts of creative endeavors in my attempt to find what I really like best and my “voice”.  I have made lots of messes, bad art, bad craft, some good art and good craft.

Now I feel like it is time to drill down.  Recently I read or heard (can’t give you the source because I don’t remember it) that it takes about ten years for an artist to find their “voice”, that thing that makes their work unique to them.  My sporadic art making over the last several decades should count as about one year total and add the past four years of playing around, I figure I’m five years in.  Now, I’m not getting any younger here and I have no guarantee that I could pull off a Grandma Moses by making it to 80 years old.  My butt needs to get to work.

I had been playing around with doing an extended daily project when I ran across The 100 Day Project. By now I know myself pretty well and I suspect that just left to my own devices, I would start out pretty strong on a personal project, but without some accountability, I would soon find excuses to skip days here and there and there and here until it fell apart.

Yep, you guessed it.  I have signed up for The 100 Day Project.  This is totally out of my comfort zone.  I have done a thirty day project, but the work was very small and thirty days is NOT 100 DAYS.  The project itself asks you to post on Instagram your daily project.  My plan is to do a daily 8 x 10 painting or drawing and also post on my Facebook page and offer the work for sale.

What do I expect out of this?  First, it takes what? Thirty days to ingrain a habit?  For me, one hundred days would be more likely.  I will have to follow through with this during THE busiest time of the year for us.  It starts April 4th, which is right after I finish Bee School (Did I mention Bee School?  I will come back to that in a later post.) on April 1st.  The garden starts going in mid-April and my bees arrive then as well.  My son graduates the first weekend in May.  Before he graduates and sends all his stuff home, I have to get the bedroom that I use as an office painted and rearranged to fit his furniture.  We will be out of town for his graduation so I have to figure out how to paint or draw while in the midst of family and celebration.  The 100 days does not end until mid-July.  Who knows what else will test my determination in that timeframe.

Second, the whole “voice” thing.  My unique style and interests cannot evolve without consistency.  I have not had consistency.  I have had stops and starts.  I am hoping to hone my skills, discover that uniqueness and what I want my art to say.  Big order!

Third, income.  Here is the honest truth to this art thing.  I HAVE to make stuff.  It is in my genes.  Unfortunately, I cannot pay for endless supplies or store all the stuff I make.  To support my habit/addiction I have to make some money to buy more supplies AND I would really like people to enjoy what I create.  I have given away many, many pieces of my work over the years and I like to do that, but it is not a self-sustaining process.  Art supplies are expensive and we are not wealthy people.  Animals have to eat around here as well as ourselves.  So, what I make on this project will be for sale and I am going to ramp it up a little with some advertising investment to see what happens.  My goal this year is to replace my income from my last PART-TIME position.  You got that, right?  Not outrageous expectations, but bigger than anything I have ever asked of myself before.

I think I have given you enough to read this week.  You have the link above if you would like to join The 100 Day Project.  I am not going to bombard this blog with my work every week during the project, but will let you know how it’s going.  I will post links to my Instagram and Facebook pages for you to check out.

If you want to go ahead and start following those here are the links.  I will be updating information on them in the next couple of weeks as I prepare for all this.

Instagram  and Facebook

I am off to prime canvas.  Have an awesome week!

 

Back Story – Fulfilling a promise. Part One.

I don’t make promises lightly.  I take them very seriously, put a great deal of thought into them before I commit and at this point in my life I only know of one promise I have been unable to fulfill due to events beyond my control.  A promise may take longer to fulfill than anticipated, but it is always in the back of my mind and will nag at me until I can follow through.

Starting this week I thought I would give you some back stories about why I write this blog, why I do some of the things I do and what is behind some of my artwork.  What goes on here often feels random to me so I imagine it does to you too if you take the time to read this craziness, but there is a constant thread running throughout.

From my earliest memories I only remember wanting to do one thing consistently and that was to make art is some form or fashion.  The smell of crayons still invoke memories of mark making by my tiniest self.  There were complaints from my family members when I would ask them not to move while I drew them watching TV in the evening.  I spent hours hiding under a tree making tiny stick villages and stories about the people in the village.

It was always in my head that this is what I would do all my life.  Keep in mind that I grew up in a rural community and art was not accessible except in books, so where this ability or notion came from had to have been genetically installed somehow.  I did not have artistic family members to learn from.  As my Mom has said of me, “she was born with a pencil in her hand”.

I am not one of those people who will say that they had supportive people surrounding them.  Quite frankly, I had very little support.  I had a couple of teachers that encouraged my work, but otherwise I was expected to shoot for a practical career, so for a compromise I got my art degree, but with a concentration in graphic design instead of the studio art I would have preferred.

After college, life kicked in full force.  I got a job as a designer/illustrator with a newspaper and eventually was an art director at a small ad agency.  There came marriage, kids, a printing company we owned and eventually a divorce and a life reboot.  All this time I squeezed in drawing, painting, making of some sort wherever I could.  A couple of large sketchbooks full of future paintings were often my only art. It was not unusual for me to sell a piece of work here and there or get a commission on a fairly regular basis if once a year is regular.  Trying to keep two kids in food, clothing and shelter often required me to work two jobs and I was too darn tired to pick up a paint brush.

Try as I may, I could not find any regular time to do what I loved to do the most.  I can’t tell you how many times I almost threw away all my art supplies because I found it so depressing to see them and not use them.  At some point when my kids were young and busy, busy, busy I realized that I had to quit beating myself up for not being able to create lovely artwork while sitting in a minivan at an hour of soccer practice five days a week.  Trust me, I TRIED!

I couldn’t tell you the date, but somewhere in that era of time I made myself a promise.  I promised my exhausted, stressed, often depressed, over worked self that I would do everything in my power to raise these two lovely humans I gave birth to, into good, kind, productive members of the human race and THEN, God willing, I would let myself have the time to draw, paint, make, whatever my heart desired.

And that, my friends, is where I find myself now.  I would love to tell you that it is easy and perfect fulfilling this promise to myself, but I am finding that a promise to myself may be the hardest promise I have ever had to fulfill.

I will leave off here to continue next week for Part Two of the story.

Have a wonderful week!

Photo credit