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

 

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Hello 2017!

Hello Everyone,

Welcome to 2017. Did you send 2016 out with a bang, or like me, with a whimper?  Sorry for the delay getting this posted on time.  I wrote it way back on Tuesday, but things came up…like a big snow storm…that required attention to little details like getting deliveries to customers before the roads were slick, fighting the crowds in the grocery store before we ran out of food at our house. img_3800

I did, however, start out my 2017 pretty darn well. Historically, I spend my New Year’s Day in my pj’s, curled up on my sofa, under a blanket with a good book.  Admittedly, this is not a bad way to start a new year, but this year it is not in line with my pursuit of Hygge. I am trying my darnedest to foster a better relationship with Old Man Winter.  You will find throughout this blog, my whining and complaining about winter, the cold, the grayness of it all.

In the U.S., our state parks have First Day Hikes lead by Forest Service rangers. I now live very near Hanging Rock State Park that includes a couple of nice mountains and good hiking.   Yes indeedy, yours truly, managed to drag herself out of her nice, warm, cozy house and out into the chilly morning air of January 1, 2017 to go hiking 4.7 miles with approximately 20 people she did not know.   Uphill, no less!

It honestly took extreme will power to overcome my aversion to cold AND my introvert personality. Guess what! It was awesome!!   Perfect not-too-cold weather, considering the number of layers of clothes I was wearing.  The views were magnificent even with some cloud cover.  The company was friendly and the rangers had lots of information and a good sense of humor.

Any Andy Griffith Show fans out there?  Notice the mountain in the distance with the big rock formation on the top?  That, my friends, is Pilot Mountain.  Below it is the town of the same name except in the show it is Mt. Pilot.  Yep, there really is a Mt. Pilot and I have known a few folks, who move to North Carolina from other parts of the country/world, call the town by its fictional name.  There is also a thriving little tourist business there thanks to the show.

So, yes, I felt like I rocked January 1st this year and gave myself a big ‘ole pat on the back.  The hike was over by noon and I quickly got home, changed back into my pj’s, settled in on the sofa with the dogs and a good book and all was well with the world.  For the record, D. had to work and probably was not convinced that his winter hating wife would actually go hiking until he saw photographic evidence.  

This year my goal is to add meat to the pitiful bones of have existed on this blog for a while now as I got through some big life changes. More creating, more thinking, more exploring.  MORE than what I have been giving you.  Thank you for hanging in here with me if you have been here a while.  Welcome if you are just landing here and wondering what goes on.

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago about a book I found and promised to write about it. I’m going to try and not make this too long or you will never come back.  So here is my book story…

From the time I read my first Dick and Jane book (for younger readers, these were our first grade reading books) I have been a voracious reader.   For years and years I normally had three to five books going at once and would panic if I started getting low.   Up until my mid-twenties I generally read novels and then somewhere after that started reading primarily non-fiction.  I noticed a phenomenon happening.  It seemed like I often had just the book I needed to work through a work or life problem virtually fall into my hands.  It could be fiction or non-fiction.

Now I know that I am not the only one to have this experience. Yours may be a podcast, radio show or a person who shows up. God, the universe, spirit, whatever your word for the mysteries of life, shows up just when you need it.  If this has not happened to you, then you need to slow down a little and pay attention.  You are not being ignored.  You are doing the ignoring of what is around you.

This happened so often to me that I got in the habit of wandering around the library saying a little prayer of “God, which one do I need to read today.” Not every trip to the library was life changing, but it made the search much more interesting.

I had strangely gotten away from reading books all the time for some reason (uh, ipad maybe), but I stopped into the local library to find reading material while I am stuck at our shop without wifi. Now, I’m not going to tell you the name of the book that I picked up.  In all likelihood it wouldn’t do a thing for you because you aren’t dealing with the same stuff I am.  But, I picked up a book by an author I had read before.  I thought it was about organizing and downsizing into a smaller home.  Yeah, we still have lots to minimize yet at our house.

What I discovered it was about was clearing out your mental and emotional stuff! Nah, I wouldn’t need that.  Cue the belly laughs from off stage here.

For a couple of months I had been getting crankier and shorter tempered by the day and for the life of me couldn’t figure out why.   Life is good!  What the heck?  As I started reading the book it started talking about how to change old patterns.  Old emotional patterns set up when life held different circumstances and people.  Old coping skills that are no longer working.  Well smack me in the head!  It began to dawn on me that I was trying to use old coping skills for entirely new situations.  I no longer needed the defenses and walls that served me well a decade ago.  I no longer had to pretend to be tough and completely in control like I did when I was a single parent with teenagers.  Thank you Lord!

We get so stuck in our thinking and reactions. The brain gray matter makes these patterned grooves that seem permanent, but they aren’t.  We just have to pay attention to what we are thinking and doing and dissect it down to the roots.  It’s not necessarily easy, but it makes all the difference.  I’m pretty sure D. would tell you that I have been much easier to live with the past couple of weeks.  I haven’t completely broken old habits and patterns, but when I feel a strong reaction coming on I take the time to figure out why instead of just blowing a gasket.  Breathe, breathe, breathe.

So now you have my book story. I would love to hear yours.  Seriously, I think they are some of the coolest human stories when solutions present themselves in mysterious ways.

Have an awesome week!!

Photo credits…all taken by yours truly.

She tells it like it is.

Since our last visit we had a major snowstorm. Well, major for my part of the world anyway. Five to six inches.  Everything came to a halt and it gave me enough time to read a book that I have had on hold for months with our digital library. Big Magic

If you haven’t heard of Elizabeth Gilbert, she wrote Eat, Pray, Love, and it was on the Best Seller list for ages.  That was my introduction to her and I have read the book twice.  The first time I read it I was smack dab in the middle of a divorce and single parenthood and still working with my ex in our business.  Life was not particularly good and I found an escape with Eat, Pray, Love.  I was not in a place where I could up and travel the world to recover from a bad life situation, but I darn sure wanted to! I read EPL again a few years later when the dust had settled and still loved the book.  I think it is Elizabeth’s honesty that I relish and found the same honesty in Big Magic.

You can also see Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED talks on YouTube as well as an interview on Marie Forleo’s, Marie TV, YouTube station. Oh, and as a side note…I do not have any affilates with Amazon or anyone else for that matter. Now back to our regularly scheduled post.

If you need/want some honest advice about what it takes to live a “creative life” read Big Magic.  Ms. Gilbert has the street cred to give it. She doesn’t tell you to quit the day job and live your passion.  Instead she tells you to wait tables or make coffee. Not what most people want to hear. She also has a charming name for the not so great stuff that comes with life and how to decide just how badly you want to follow your dream. It is a short read, but packed with practical, down-to-earth advice.

One side note from personal experience…don’t go into a creative day job thinking it will be helpful in your creative after hours pursuits or close enough to your dream job to be fulfilling.  From someone who has done and is still doing it, eight hours of being creative for someone else doesn’t leave much left after dinner is cooked and the kids are in bed.  Some folks are made of hardier stuff than I am and can pull it out after all that, but I am pretty much at the zombie stage by 7 pm.  Wait tables or make coffee if painting, music, writing, etc. is coursing through your veins.

“Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures

that are hidden within you?”

After my major downsizing purge a few years ago and having hauled nine boxes full of books to donate to our library, I am very particular about what hard copy books come to live with me.  I try them out first from the digital library.  Big Magic was worth the wait and is now sitting on my wish list on Amazon. It will reside beside EPL in my office and I foresee frequent return visits when not-so-creative frustration sets in.

My plan was to give you an update on what I have been doing lately, but I got a little carried away here and suspect you are ready to move on to other things in your day. Remember hand dyeing, kitchen cabinets and invitations for next time.

Have a lovely week!

Some of my favorite podcasts

Monkey w ear buds

I had a request a while back to post some of my favorite websites, blogs, etc.  I am finally getting around to it.  My apologies for taking so long.  I’m sure I will forget something, but that will give me another blog post in the future.  Today I am focusing on podcasts. I spend more time listening to podcasts than I do reading blogs or visiting websites (Pinterest being the exception and that merits a blog post all its own).

For years I was fed up with paying for cable tv because I rarely watched anything regularly other than HGTV. When my last kid left for college I almost immediately dropped the cable (and saved $50 a month!) and got a Roku to watch Netflix or Amazon Prime (neither of which I watch very often either and will probably drop one of those eventually).  What I discovered instead were podcasts.  I LOVE podcasts because I can work, knit, paint, sew and still keep up with what is going on in the world or learn something or just hear a great story. Here are some of my favorites:

Craft Sanityhttp://craftsanity.com/

This is actually my most recent find and obsession.  I discovered Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood’s podcast just a couple of months ago and have been binge listening to her ever since.  I just this week listened to the most recent episode.  She has been podcasting for years now.  I don’t know how I possibly missed finding her until now.  If you  like crafts of any kind there will be something for you to enjoy.  She talks to a wide variety of crafts people at all stages of life and craft.  I think what I have enjoyed the most is realizing that my people are out there in the world, I just need to connect with them.  I am not the only person who jumps from one form of making to another, sees the world differently, can’t function well in a “normal” job, etc.  I am not as alien as I have often felt!

I also follow Craftsanity on Instagram.

Etsy Conversationshttp://convome.com/

As an Etsy seller, and still a novice one at that, I have learned so much from listening to Ijeoma Eleazu and her guest Etsy shop owners. If you have an Etsy shop or are considering starting one you need to listen to this podcast.  I have actually taken notes at times for things that I need to do, improve on, try, etc. I also follow her on Instagram.

Ijeoma, thank you for putting in the time on the podcast!

The Savvy Painterhttp://savvypainter.com/podcast/

Antrese Wood hosts this podcast. Focusing on fine art painters, she interviews artists about their life, work and process.  Even though I have been painting and drawing for years and years now, I have been out of the fine art scene since I left college.  Eventually I would like to get my act together and start showing my artwork.  I consider this podcast as my classroom.

Good Life Projecthttp://www.goodlifeproject.com/radio/

Jonathan Fields offers up an alternative to the negativity of the media.  Through thoughtful interviews with people from all walks of life who are making things better out there in the world, Jonathan opens up a window of light and encourages us to make a better life for ourselves and others with whatever abilities we have.  It beats the heck out of watching the mainstream news!

This American Lifehttp://www.thisamericanlife.org/podcast

If you just want to get lost in another place start listening to This American Life.  I get so caught up in the stories that I forget that I’m knitting or cooking or driving (not necessarily a good thing).  I never thought I would be mesmerized by the process of selling cars, but one episode had me on the edge of my seat waiting to see if the salesmen made their monthly quota.  Lovely storytelling.

There are some other podcasts I check on occasionally and I would love to get some recommendations from you.  Let me know what you are listening to.

I will have a list of websites, blogs and books coming up soon.  Have a wonderful week!

Photo credit – photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/42329213@N00/1216468104″>Ipodular Monkey</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;