Needing sunshine and less stuff

Hi Everyone,

Happy 2019! 

Hopefully this won’t read as delirious as I feel right now. My day started at 2:30 am today. Why? Because my son had to be at the airport (two hours away) by 5:30 am. Once again he is off to places tropical to spend the winter. At least this year he will only be one time zone difference instead of four!


Did you have exciting New Year celebrations or like us, stayed home? D. brought in the new year with a nasty cold and we have had, what feels like, endless cold rain. New Year’s Day was a rare, dry, warm day that allowed us to get outside and get some cleaning up of muddy horses, stinky chicken coop and the leftover ruins of the garden. The next day…the rain came back and is still going. Yuck. The mud.

So how are those goals and resolutions going three days into 2019? If you need some motivation, I’m going to put in a shameless plug for my daughter’s podcast, Find Reality. I just finished listening to her New Year’s Day episode and she has some good realistic tips for sticking to your goals. Tell her that her Momma sent you. 

Normally I am a resolution setter every year and I often don’t follow through on my goals either because they are just too much. This year I have one big one that I REALLY need/ have to achieve and one that isn’t too crazy. The easy one is to join one or two artist groups. Ideally one regional one and one national one. I have a national one in mind, but am open to suggestions if any of you know of some good ones. I want to up my game and start entering competitions/shows. 


I finished this drawing over the holidays and am finally pleased with the outcome of some experimentation that was depressing me for awhile. Also this week I took on another commission. I had planned to NOT do any commissions at all this year, but this one will be a good challenge. Since I have to get it finished by the end of February due to the impending arrival of my first grandbaby in March, I can’t let myself get bogged down in the overthinking that plagues me sometimes. 

The biggie goal is to clean out one of the THREE (long story and most of the stuff came to us when D.’s sister died) storage units. If you have been keeping up on here you know we are planning a new house and a move in the near future. Six years ago I sold the four bedroom house that I raised my kids in. The buyers only gave me a month to move and at that time rentals were scarce and I knew I wasn’t going to buy anything yet. Things got down to the wire and I wound up stuffing the majority of the “stuff” in storage. I AM NOT moving all that “stuff” again! 

Here’s my plan, and you get to help keep me on track…the 30 day minimalist challenge. Whatever the date is, I have to part with that many things. For example, today is January 3 so I have to find three things to donate, trash or sell. They have to leave my life! Now I know that there are days that I am not going to have time to clean out stuff. Mine is going to be more of a weekly plan. This week I am supposed to declutter 21 items. On New Year’s Eve I went to the storage unit and filled up my car with boxes. Ok, I cheated a little because I already had one box labeled Yard Sale that contained 12 items. Now I gave up yard sales when my friend Wendy moved away. A yard sale just wouldn’t be any fun without her or her husband’s boat she sold at one of our yard sales…without completely clearing it with him!

As of today, January 3, I have a box of 34 items ready to donate, three items to sell and a box of trash cleaned out. Some of the “trash” is actually a large bag of my son’s artwork from preschool to high school. No I’m not heartless. I have hung on to it for 20 YEARS. But now he was here with me and we sat down and looked through it together. We laughed about his abstract phase and I kept his little hand prints as well as took a few pictures of some pieces. The rest just had to go. 


So, what is overage from this week (37-21=16) will carry over to next week for the days I might not get anything cleaned out. By January 31 I should have cleaned out 496 items! Sounds like a lot, but trust me, there is a long, long way to go. You can get an amazing amount of stuff in a 10 x 16 storage unit. Since I write this blog each week I will report my progress here and possibly on Instagram. Before December 31, 2019 I WILL HAVE one, if not a second, storage unit cleaned out. We will be keeping one of the three to store boxes that we plan to move. In this process I am already boxing items we don’t HAVE to have right now such as decorative items, canning jars or art supplies I can’t use until I have a studio. 

Friends, this girl is pooped and it’s not even noon yet. I need to accomplish a few more things before I work in a nap. Have a great first week of 2019!

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Rhythm & Routine

Hi Everyone!

Yes, I’m back and hopefully will be back on my weekly schedule now. No guarantees, but the near future looks promising!

I had a lovely visit with my daughter and son-in-law last week. I will fill in details of their visit next week, but it also included getting a brief visit with my son who was house and pet sitting for my sister and brother-in-law. I have to squeeze in every opportunity since they do not live close. 

Summer is winding down here. This morning the air had a hint of Fall. I am NEVER ready for cold weather so I am trying to soak in all the heat I can. Yes, people think I’m crazy, but it is not unusual for me to be wearing a long sleeve shirt in the air conditioning. 

School starts back in two weeks. Woo hoo! I am ready to get back into a routine around here. Miss L. cannot complaint about her summer. I’m pretty sure she has only spent a total of three weeks at home. After next week, one month. We have packed, unpacked and packed again. 

Speaking of routine, I thought I would share some info that might help some of you out there. I feel like I blab every week about the crazy stuff out here and bless you, you keep reading. But in the spirit of giving and sharing I really should pass along useful stuff occasionally.

By nature I am an organized person though it might not always look like it to the causal observer. There are times life is organized chaos. When I moved out here to The Middle of Nowhere in 2016 I left a totally different life that I had lived for almost 20 years. I had virtually every convenience within a ten minute drive. I had daily interaction with other human beings. Now I have moved many times over the years, but this move was not just a location change, but a lifestyle change. One that I had no way of preparing for. The nearest grocery store is now a 30 minute drive. I now go DAYS where I only have the company of my husband, niece and various and assorted animals of the domesticated and wild variety. Let’s just say that the transition has not necessarily been easy or pleasant all the time.

For two winters now I have struggled through my usual winter blues but with the addition of a lack of routine that left me unmotivated and rather disheveled. Winter One I was just out of my element and hadn’t found my rhythm yet. Winter Two was spent recovering from the high level stress of eight months of a family crisis. My almost daily uniform consisted of yoga pants and a t shirt or pjs. I work from home and just couldn’t find the motivation to get properly dressed unless I had to go out in the world. Add to this state of affairs, Winter One, D. and I had combined 30 years of household stuff and were sorting out what to keep and what to get rid of, then Winter Two we were buried in family stuff that landed on us in literally trailer loads. It was all just freaking overwhelming and depressing! 

Blessed Summer 2018! Spring always makes me happy and this year as the rhythm of the season settled into my bones, I started to make some progress out of the confusion.  My first hour of work has been in the garden and with the animals each day. The sunlight and sounds of just nature and the company of goofy, loveable critters has been wonderful. It has been slow progress, but the house is beginning to rid itself of boxes and piles. The yard, though fringed along the outskirts with weeds from the over abundance of rain, does not have the look of a jungle that it did last summer when we barely had time to eat or clean. I no longer want to cry when I pull into the driveway. 


I have begun to find a routine again for the domestic affairs that have to happen daily and my biggest goal is to get regular hours for my artwork once school is back in and the garden is put to bed or at least down to manageable Fall levels. If you happen to be in the Land Of Overwhelmed, let me suggest the Flylady.net website. YEARS ago I found her when I was juggling a family business, four bedroom house and yard and two non-stop kids. She had a manageable and sensible way to keep house that my ADD squirrel brain could handle. I did not osmosis the domestic gene from my Mom because I much preferred to help my Dad with the outside chores. I needed help. I never got all the routines down pat, but learned enough to keep house reasonably well. 

Recently I found both “A Better Life With Flylady Kat” and “Diane In Denmark” on YouTube that refreshed my memory about the routines and I am back on board. I have only been at it for two weeks but can already see a difference in the house and my schedule and my squirrel brain. The two HUGE boxes of paperwork that piled up last year is cut in half and I will soon have all that filed and put away.  I suggest watching Kat for very detailed instructions on how the system work and Diane if you need some wardrobe improvement (I will not ever be as well dressed as she is, but I have upped my game to decent shorts, tshirt, mascara and earrings!) and want to see what life is like in Denmark. 


One more important tool for Life Reboot is my new planner from my daughter and SIL. I needed to go back to paper and they did so good. It’s cute but not too froufrou and has STICKERS. It makes those daily lists much more fun. 

Ok, there are my tips for the week. I have to get going and finish laundry and tomato canning today. Get out of the grungy sweatpants and rock your week! 

Fixin’ it

Hi Everyone,

I hope life is grand in your world. Now that it’s Spring and the flowers are blooming and the bees are buzzing it’s pretty grand here. 

We have half of our garden planted and half of the garden fence that we have had plans to put up for three years finally underway. The rascally rabbits will have to find food elsewhere soon. I helped D. plant 56 tomato seeds a few weeks ago, then, unbeknownst to me, he planted another 50! We have 84 in the ground with the others on standby in case we lose some of the 84. Every year he is convinced that we are going to lose half of the tomato plants and we NEVER do. Brace yourself for lots of complaining from me in July and August when every waking moment is spent canning tomatoes. Oh, and the whole row of cucumbers that will have to be pickled if they all come up!

Since I can once again only show you a small detail of the two portraits I’m working on I thought I would talk about something I have decided to do and my guess is that I am probably not the only one who needs to do this. Can I get a show of hands from all of you who have items in your life that you love and/or use constantly but either need repairs or tweaking to make them better? I see you. It’s a life thang. 

Now that I have tweaked my work life a little more to have some more time and space, I have decided that at least once a month I am going to fix something that needs fixin’. I have jewelry that I love that needs repairing, my binder of “most used recipes” that needs to function better, a planner that I REALLY need to use but needs some tweaking of the pages to fit my life better, clothes that need mending, etc. 

I have been making do for years and it’s just pitiful. I’m surprised the recipe binder is even still holding together. You would think that I would fix something that I use several times a week! I decided to start with this necklace though instead of the binder first. Why? Because for about a year I have reached to wear it and realized I need to replace the wire that holds it to the leather, then I mentally fuss at myself.  I got this necklace on a trip to Charleston SC with my daughter when she had a job interview and didn’t want to make the long drive alone. On that trip I got to catch up with a friend from college and, along with her daughter we went to a craft fair where I got the necklace. Not only do I really like cool rocks, this one goes with almost everything in my wardrobe and I have good memories attached to it. To me (and I know my taste is a bit quirky) this is one of those William Morse things that is both beautiful and useful. 


Ideally I would like to fix about one item a week but some of them are going to take some time. Just for kicks and grins I will share the before and afters. I suspect this could easily be a year long project. I have been making do for a long time with many things and in the season of self-care that I have declared for 2018 this could cut down on my frustration level. 

Here is a detail (and boy, are these portraits detailed) from one of the portraits (it’s sideways, sorry) and the other is a sketch I did this morning. More self-care. I gave myself 45 glorious minutes out in my garden to just draw and enjoy the sights and sounds before I started my work day. 


 

Have a lovely week and give yourself the time to fix that one darn thing that is driving you nuts. 

The Devil is in the details

I believe last week I said that one of my resolutions was to limit my limitless interests so I can focus in on just a couple and give them the attention they require.  One of my other resolutions is to follow the K.I.S.S rule.  KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID!  If I ever get a real office/studio I am going to paint this on the wall in large letters.

Are you familiar with the saying “the Devil is in the details”? That phrase has been running through my mind all week.  I decided to look it up and see if my personal use is correct and where the saying comes from.  Here is what I found:

The idiom the devil is in the details means that mistakes are usually made in the small details of a project. Usually it is a caution to pay attention to avoid failure.

An older, and slightly more common, phrase God is in the detail means that attention paid to small things has big rewards, or that details are important.

The devil version of the idiom is a variation on the God phrase, though the exact origin of both is uncertain.”  Reference link

My personal definition of “the devil is in the details” means that I get so caught up in the details of a project that I can lose sight of what I am supposed to be trying to achieve.

A few recent examples would be:

  • While working on a logo and researching what the company does I find myself in a rabbit hole of interesting information that wanders far away from my project.
  • In the current phase of house remodeling I need to be focusing on the main priority, big ticket fixes.  What do I notice?  The small chunks of dented wood on the quarter round molding in the smallest bathroom that needs the least amount of work.  Now I see it every time I go in there and eventually I will have to fix it before something else so I will quit obsessing over it.
  • While working on this drawing of a seashell my goal was to loosen up my drawing and focus more on the mood than the technical details.  As always, I got so caught up in the tiniest of details I finally just had to put it away.  shell drawing

I agree totally with the above definitions of good and evil in the details. Many times I have seen projects derailed because someone did not take into account the details of a project.  I also know that my attention to detail in remodeling a house will make all the difference in the finished product.  My biggest issue is getting caught up in details that are not important at that moment and trying to tear myself away from them to focus on what is important.

There is this little voice in my head (oh, we won’t even get into that problem) reminding me of my tendency to procrastinate on things that overwhelm me or scare me or just flat out bore me.  Maybe the Devil has been wearing a different costume this week.

 

In the near future…

I thought I would give some insight into some upcoming projects.  It’s really an accountability factor if I throw out into the world my plans.  It pretty much forces me to not procrastinate.  I’m a stickler for follow through when I make a commitment and have years of deadline anxiety embedded in my DNA.

Project(s) #1 – this will be a ongoing, long-term series of projects.  Why? Because I have committed to using up my HUGE pile of supplies in my quest of downsizing and simplifying.  This will not just be drawings and paintings. I have piles of yarn, scraps of fabric, inks, markers, specialty paper, antique books, junk drawers, etc.  There are a couple of baby blankets planned, glass/mosaic projects and some mixed media artwork on the horizon.

I have been schleping a few pieces of slate around for about 20 years.  I did manage to use a few of them, but I have three remaining and intend to make them into finished pieces to sell at my Etsy shop.  This will be my first project (ongoing with the baby blankets) to get completed before Christmas.  Hopefully by the time you read this post I will have finished them.

slate

Project #2 – Ahhh, this one is rumbling around in my head and will be my biggest project/commitment yet.  I don’t have all the details fleshed out yet, but what I’m thinking will involve twelve (one a month) largeish paintings to be put up for sale on Ebay.  Hopefully in my next post I will have most of the details worked out and explain why I’m taking this on.