Chester and Milo enjoying the little tree... (an hour later, they knocked it down.)

Chester and Milo enjoying the little tree… (an hour later, they knocked it down.)

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m trying to simplify a little bit. An emotional sort of simplifying- being willing to let go of things I’m “meh” about in order to make space for the things that I REALLY love, the things that actually make me happy. This is harder than it sounds. But it’s sort of straightforward, too.

Also, I’m always working on letting go of the stuff I think I *should* do because it’s either social tradition or something that used to make me happy but doesn’t anymore. This is a big struggle for me. I’m sort of a people-pleaser at heart, and I’m super sensitive, so whenever I do or say something that isn’t exactly what other people (especially family) want, I sense their disappointment and it sort of crushes me. I’m getting MUCH better at this, but it’s still there, and I still struggle with it.

The thing is that I have to remember that I’m simplifying and working on all this so I have more time to do the stuff that I LOVE to do, or stuff that really appeals to me and that I want to try.

Like… Christmas cards. Oh, Christmas cards. When I was in school, I used to LOVE sending them because I had a lot of time (holiday break from college/grad school was quite long) and creative energy and needed an outlet for it. And it was a way to get into the spirit of the season, be creative (which I had NO time for in college), and just sit down and relax for a few afternoons making stuff and reconnecting.

But now that the holidays are about a certain kid (my daughter, Gracie) who I want to make happy memories with, and I have a ton of creative outlets during the entire year, the whole process of sending out cards in December makes me crazy. But it’s TRADITION, right? And it makes people happy. And people will send us cards, and might get their feelings hurt when there’s no card in return (let’s be honest- there is something very painful about realizing you’ve been cut from someone’s Christmas card list.)

However, I’m really over the holiday card thing. I don’t like designing or choosing the cards, I never know what to write so it sounds meaningful and personal but not too long (I’m clearly VERY verbose when it comes to writing!), and I feel like a heel if I don’t write or add any personal touched to the cards.

So it becomes a big project, rather than a simple way to send some love. And I just agonize over it. AND IT’S JUST A CARD! I have tried to simplify the process, but it doesn’t work. So maybe it’s time to just… stop.

I have to be honest- I’m sort of over the whole over-saturated “HOLY SMOKES AMAZEBALLS HOLIDAY FESTIVITIES” (yes, in all caps) thing, as well. Not that I don’t like the holidays, because I do. But for some reason, in the last ten years Christmas (and December in general) went from being my FAVORITE time of the year to something that I sort of dread.

When I realized how much my attitude changed about the holidays, it broke my heart a little. I think I’m not willing to give up on it completely, because I know there’s still something about this time of the year that I love.

So I’m slowly working on looking at things and habits and routines and rituals and figuring out what brings me/my family genuine joy (having a tree up with a zillion twinkle lights, watching “Elf” for the 400th time, playing Wii Party all the time, going to movies on Christmas Eve, going to a restaurant for our holiday celebrations, keeping things simple) and what does not (creating and writing out Christmas cards, big home cooked family dinners [I know this sounds sacreligious, but my mom is OVER cooking, and I never really enjoyed it- plus Tom & I are vegetarians and I’ve become this super picky eater so family dinners turn into the meal of 5,000 different plates which is so stressful for everyone], doing December Daily, going to a bunch of giant holiday parties, etc.)

Every year I learn a little more about what works and what doesn’t, what brings genuine joy and what we do simply because we feel we’re *supposed* to. And I have to admit, it’s working. Every year I love the holidays more and more. No, they aren’t the sparkly, magic, family-and-fun filled times that I loved so much as a kid, but they are beautiful in their own unique way. I want to honor that, and keep moving towards that.

So far, December has been stressful- more stressful than I would have liked. So right now I’m trying to finish up all the stuff that MUST get done (there are just some parts of the season that cannot be avoided), making my peace with the stuff that WILL NOT get done, and trying to clear out my schedule so I can approach the holiday season as more of an observer than a frenzied participant. I really want to make time for reflection, awareness, peace, quiet joy, etc. I know that if I can find those moments this year, I will remember them *next* year, and seek more of them.

Wish me luck :)

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btlayers

various layers of my current painting…

As I mentioned the other day, I just finished taking Flora Bowley’s “Bloom True” class for the second time. It’s an online painting class that runs for five weeks. It’s fairly intensive if you do all the reading and journal in response, plus do the painting and watch all the videos (there’s literally HOURS of video…) and do the instagram prompts (I never have time for these…) and keep a sketchbook and everything she recommends.

Flora teaches by sharing different techniques in different layers, so as you paint along with her, your painting goes through a LOT of different looks. The image above is just three of the MANY layers my painting has gone through, and since I paint very slowly, and like to sort of noodle around a little, I suspect there will be many more layers to come. But I’m learning as I go, so I don’t feel too bad about all the time (and paint!) I am putting into one canvas, because the one canvas is like a classroom, or like a little time capsule.

When I took it for the first time last year, it was all about the painting. I devoured all the class materials, but I basically spent 90% of my time focusing on the painting. When I wasn’t painting, I was thinking about painting. When I read the class “lectures”, I was basically applying them to painting.

This year it was more about the life lessons that come *with* the painting. I spent just as much time reading and re-reading, and re-re-reading the class materials (and then journaling in response to them) as I did on painting. Maybe even more.

Last year it was all about being brave, and learning about my own painting style, and learning how to trust and paint from the gut. This year I was able to freely paint from the first stroke because I knew from having taken the class that all the first layers on the canvas will eventually get covered up (they are really just “practice”), and everything sort of comes together in a really magical way in the end. So this year I was able to just paint without obsessing over every little thing, which freed up a lot of time and energy.

As far as the life lessons, the big thing I got this year was about SIMPLIFYING. Flora has a lot of amazing information and little nuggets of wisdom that she shares throughout the class in her videos and interviews, but one thing she said struck me:

You have to be willing to sacrifice what you *like* in order to make room for what you love.

What she means is that when you are painting, it’s sort of a dangerous thing to get too “precious” about certain areas of the canvas because by  being careful to not “mess up” a part of the painting you sorta like, you are basically depriving yourself the opportunity to use that space to make something you really LOVE.

You can’t really have creative freedom if you are too busy guarding part of the canvas. You lose out on all that canvas *could* be.

As you can sort of tell from the images above, I am simplifying a lot as I paint. I really hate letting go of all that bright color, all those random marks from the early layers, but I am trying to be brave and just PAINT. Just let go of the stuff I merely find interesting so that I can make room for what wants to come through.

I think it’s very true of LIFE, too- sometimes you have to be willing to let go of what you think you like (routines, habits, “shoulds”, certain relationships, etc.) to make room for what you really LOVE.

It made me wonder about my everyday routines: how much of what I *think* I like is merely comfort, known, easy to do without too much thought or courage? It’s kind of scary to think of it like that, but it’s true.

On the other hand, I know that I’ve been fairly conscious of being honest with myself about happiness and what brings joy for the last few years, and I know that I’ve slowly made progress in moving my life towards things that I know are right for me and actually bring me happiness.

For example- the social thing. I’m shy. And social stuff makes me crazy. Not only while it happens, but especially *before* it happens. I’m fine around strangers, but when I go into a situation where I know I’ll have to make any sort of prolonged small talk (which means being “on”, which means it will totally drain my energy), I start feeling like a trapped animal. I’ve always felt this way, but it’s amplified a lot as I’ve gotten older.

For years I thought I needed to force myself to be social and it would eventually “click” and become easier, but it never did. When I realized that – duh!- I’m shy, and therefore socializing in large groups of people wasn’t necessarily in the cards for me, I decided to stop doing it for a while and see if it made me unhappy to not have it in my life.

And, you know what? It totally didn’t. Instead, it’s been a tremendous relief. Sometimes I get a little twinge of sadness when I see photos on Facebook of a big social gathering with local people, but in general, I know I’m just happy doing my own thing.

To be completely honest, I’d much rather hang out with my family at the movies than go to happy hour any day. Or stay home and take a painting class online. It sounds strange, I suppose, but it’s just who I am. And now that I am 40, I’m getting more and more comfortable with these things about myself, and less compelled to “go with the flow” of what’s normal for a person my age. I’m just not a social butterfly.

Anyway, back to simplifying and “what you like vs. what you love”: I know there’s quite a bit in life that I do because I feel obligated to it, in some weird way, and not because I *want* to do it. Or things that I used to really love to do that I no longer enjoy quite as much. I really want to be conscious of all of that and slowly edit things so that life is more about LOVE rather than “well, this is what I’ve always done…”

I’m *really* thinking about this a lot now that we’re in the holiday season. The last few years, I’ve been on this mission to simplify the holidays. And I will continue to do so this year. Not STRIPPING the holidays of joy and magic and sparkle, but just getting rid of the “should”s to make room for the “want to”s…

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Here are some pages from September (I’m almost done with October and November and will post those pages soon!):

milo_calendar2

Milo and his winning cover shot

Big month for Milo (one of our kitties)- he won a contest to be on the cover of a 2015 cat calendar for our local cat shelter [hey- if you are looking for a great way to help a charity this season, please consider buying one!] and in September the calendars came out. Because it was for charity, a photographer came by and take a few photos of him receiving his “prize”. (No that is totally NOT ME in that photo- there’s no way in hell I’m volunteering to have my photo in the newspaper!! I was in the pool when that happened.)

We figured it would be like a “local interest” story buried in the back of the paper but he wound up making the front page of the paper and all the local news websites. He’s literally a bit of a local celebrity. In fact, after he appeared in the paper, when I called the salon to make appointments to get our hair cut, the receptionist and one other person asked me about him. It was sort of a big deal, very amusing and I made a scrapbook page documenting the whole thing. It’s our 15 minutes of fame, I suppose!

Project Life - September 2014

Project Life – September 2014

 

Project Life - September 2014

Project Life – September 2014

Gracie went into this phase of experimenting with her personal style in September- she started raiding my closet (yes, those are some of my clothes from way back when…) and accessorizing using what she had- some 3D glasses from the movies that she popped the lenses out of, a hat from Disney, etc.

One night I walked past her when she was sitting at the dining room table and did a double take because she looked just like Captain Steve Zissou from the Wes Anderson film, The Life Aquatic.

steve zissou

She’s gone back to her regular “style” but she still wears the glasses. I don’t know what happened to the overalls.

 

Project Life - September 2014

Project Life – September 2014

Just some etcetera stuff- movies we went to see, stuff going on around here, my little obsession with Twinkling H2O watercolors, and super-fresh caramels (fall candy of choice.)

 

Project Life - September 2014

Project Life – September 2014

This is a page about what third grade life is like for Gracie- I just included some random shots of her (two from school- they take snapshots all the time for the Facebook page!- and one from Tom) and listed all the stuff she does every week. Just a way for us to remember what she is busy with and what she is interested in right now.

 

Project Life - September 2014

Project Life – September 2014

Finally, a page about the garden and the weather. September was *seriously* rainy (I think it rained something like twenty-eight days in September) so it was all about trying to keep things dry in the garden. I took a photo of that very blue sky to remind me of what the sky looked like! (And it rained literally ten minutes after I snapped that photo…)

But one thing about stormy afternoons is that they usually bring about EPIC sunsets (if it clears up enough) since the clouds and bands make a setting sun do magical things. So, definitely a silver lining to a stormy September.

But I’m SO relieved we’re done with summer. Oh, the blue skies and cool weather! It’s so blissful after all that rain and heat and gray.

If you got this far, thank you so much for stopping by <3

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sunrise in November

sunrise in November

Ack, it’s been over two months since I last updated.

I do have an excellent excuse for my absence – on a whim, I decided to re-enroll in Flora Bowley’s “Bloom True” class for the second time. For those unfamiliar, it’s an online painting course consisting of five VERY FULL weeks of painting instruction, plus a lot of inspiration on general well-being and creativity as well. Both times I have taken the class, I devoted a significant time and energy into it, and both times there was so much content and information that it wound up filling at least six weeks of my life with painting and journaling and reading and different creative exercises. Classes ended over two weeks ago and I’m still working through the last week of videos and content.

As far as why I took the class again… back in September, I was kind of feeling like I was spinning my wheels. I wanted to start painting again, and wanted some sort of serious project to focus my time and energy on, but I was having trouble finding the right thing. And having trouble committing to anything. I didn’t feel like anything I wanted to do was a valid use of time (which is ridiculous, I know…)

Then one evening I sort of *toyed* with the idea of taking Bloom True again, simply as a way to kind of force myself to start painting again. I knew if I invested the money, and made sure everyone knew I WAS TAKING A LIVE CLASS (for some reason my family is good at giving me space when I’m taking a class), I would paint. And once I started considering taking the class again, I just couldn’t think of a good reason *not* to. So I signed up again, and I’m SO glad I did.

I wound up getting a TREMENDOUS amount from the class. Even though the material is exactly the same as it was last year, it was a completely different experience for me. I’ll talk more about that in another post…

So, the last two months have been mostly about Bloom True and painting and getting my hands on everything and anything related to acrylic painting.

In other news:

Gracie’s in third grade and has started playing soccer this year. She was doing swimming and choir last year, but swimming has always been tricky for her because of the weather- her asthma and lung problems make it really easy for her to catch a cold, and so whenever she’d go and swim at the YMCA with the team in the cooler weather (which we had a lot of last year), she’d get a little sick and then wind up missing a week or two of practice. This year we decided to try the local soccer club and so far (two practices and one game), she’s loving it. She even makes Tom take her to the park every weekend to practice.

I can’t believe HOW FAST fall has gone by. I have to admit, I’m a little melancholy that it’s almost December. Argh! Fall is by far my favorite season and I kinda feel like I missed a lot of it by spending so much time in my art studio, painting. Now that it’s a *bad* thing, but I think if I take Bloom True again (which I am planning on…) I might take it in the summer, when I need something to get obsessed with to keep my mind off the weather. I kinda miss going outside for sunsets and reading out there.

The garden is coming back to life. The summer is always the “down” time for the garden- it’s so hot and wet and dark that the plants basically stop growing and go into survival mode. Even though I’ve been gardening for a few years now, I’m always super surprised when autumn comes and the garden COMPLETELY changes from a few sticks with a few anemic, curled scraggly leaves on them to actual big, bushy, green PLANTS.

There’s a ton to do out there, and I’ve been trying to do it in little increments. And there’s always more to do… but that’s part of what I love about it.

The weather has been sort of crazy this autumn. Usually in Southwest Florida during the autumn, it’s high 70’s in the autumn pretty consistently, with a few days of cooler (or higher) temps and a few days of rain. This year the temperature has been more in the 60’s every day, even dipping as low as in the 40’s. And it’s been gloomy and raining. I think it’s going to be a cold(er) winter, and to be honest I’m fine with that. I like the cold- as long as the pool heater is working and I can swim, I’ll take cool weather any day.

One thing I’ve found myself bracing for is tourist season. I’m literally dreading it with every fiber of my being. I live on an island that’s actually a vacation destination, so from January to May, it’s like a zoo around here.

Normally I wouldn’t care because I live in a residential area, but the new owners of the house next door to me have made it into a cheap vacation rental (especially when compared to the hotels on the island), including a super loud stereo system in the backyard. Last spring it was crazy- large groups of people piling in and out every few days, and then the cleaners coming by to repair the damage. I’m so *bummed* about it. I didn’t realize how much I loved how quiet it was around here until that went away. Last spring was basically living next door to one giant house party that lasted months, just with different people coming in and out and playing different varieties of music and screaming about different things.

I’m praying that this season it’s better (maybe if it’s cold they won’t come!), that the tenants are respectful, that maybe there won’t be as many. Or that the new owner sells the house to a quiet couple or someone who only comes down and uses the house once or twice a year, like my other neighbors.

If that doesn’t work, I am getting my own outdoor speaker and just blasting white noise or ocean waves or bird chirping sounds. Seriously. If I have to listen to Miley Cyrus or bad hip-hop, they can listen to my nature sounds. I want my peace and quiet back, please… (rant over, sorry about that!)

– In happier news, I’m still reading a lot (review books plus re-reading all of Alexander McCall Scott’s Isabel Dalhousie series, which I *lovelovelove*- the reading has been very good this fall!), drinking a lot of excellent tea, swimming, and generally doing my thing.

I am also obsessed with two new magazines- “Sunset” and “Coastal Living”. I love magazines but I’m not in love with a ton of them, but these two magazines are *so* pretty to look at, and so interesting to read. I just love getting them.

- Um, I actually *really* like Taylor Swift’s new album. I listen to it while I swim. I’ve never listened to Taylor Swift before, but I am getting exposed to all this different music via Gracie. I’m also listening to David Gray’s new CD on repeat (since it came out) and Liz Phair and Laura Veirs and Neko Case and Sinead O’Connor and Edie Brickell, which makes an eclectic but fun mix when I paint.

We haven’t seen as many movies as we normally like because things are busy- Tom has stuff at work and karate  and I am still finishing Bloom True (the last week is really, like, FOUR weeks of content jammed into one week). I’m hoping we can catch up in December. We missed “Whiplash”, which was playing for only a week. That I was a little bummed about, after hearing about it for so long. And I didn’t get to see “Big Hero 6″ with Gracie and my parents because I was sick.

I *did* get to see Interstellar and it was amazing. I loved it.

But there’s still lots of great things to see- Birdman, MockingJay, The Theory of Everything, Exodus, Horrible Bosses 2, The Hobbit, Into the Woods, Unbroken, and a bunch of others. I gotta stop feeling like good movies are an obligation (I get antsy when there’s lot of good movies at the theater because ultimately I want to see ALL of them) and remember that it’s FUN and that I just need to go and see what appeals to us and what we have time for. The rest we can definitely catch on DVD.

I can’t even start thinking about the holidays. I’m not freaking out because we’ve been working on paring down the holidays a little bit every year, so I know it’s not some giant “holy crap! so much to do!” thing. But there’s still a bit of planning and preparation that goes into it. But I’m not quite ready to let go of fall yet. So I won’t. 

If you’re still here, you’re awesome. Thank you, as always, for reading :) More very soon!

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Here’s some Project Life/scrapbook pages for August.

Project Life - August 2014

Project Life – August 2014

I wanted to get a page that documented our summer ritual: a movie and lunch. Once a week, we’d go see a matinee at the movies and then go to Counterburger (their veggie burgers are SO GOOD) for lunch. Because it’s so rainy in the summer, it’s like the perfect thing to do in the middle of the week- it’s just something that gets us out of the house and something we all look forward to.

Tom and I do it by ourselves while Gracie is up in North Carolina (she spends a few weeks every summer with my parents- they are snowbirds who go to North Carolina for the summer and then spend the winters down here in Florida) and then when she comes home, we switch to family-friendly movies.

Project Life - August 2014

Project Life – August 2014

Gracie started third grade and I wanted to document that. I took a photo the first morning of school and then her teacher sent us a photo she took so I printed those out and put them on the page.

I decided to let Gracie do the journaling- I wanted to get her handwriting and her perspective. I wrote a few questions on an index card and she answered them on the layout in her own words.

The bicycle is because she just learned how to ride her bike before school started. It was kind of a big deal because she never got the training wheels thing and we live on a busy street so there haven’t been many opportunities for her to practice- when we tell her to go outside and play, 99% of the time it means the pool, not the front yard.

But this spring I read about an alternative way to teach a kid how to ride a bike (no training wheels): simply get them on the bike and let them scoot it around with their feet. As they push the bike forward, and gain speed and momentum, their feet come off the ground naturally, and they learn what it feels like for the bike to be balanced. Then, gradually, you are supposed to encourage them to start putting their feet on the petals and pedaling just a bit while the bike is moving forward, and eventually it all clicks.

It actually worked REALLY well- Gracie was riding without any assistance or training wheels after just an afternoon or two of scooting around on the bike. So she’s really into bike riding now, and she and Tom go on these epic (well, for a kid…) bike rides to the beach and to the park.

Project Life - August 2014

Project Life – August 2014

The boys. I always marvel over the fact that when Milo (our youngest cat, adopted last summer after Delilah passed) came into our lives, we suddenly turned into a male-centric household. We have six males (one human, two cats, two parrotlets, one gecko) and four girls (two humans, one cat, one Caique.) Delilah really ruled the roost, and she had a super-peaceful energy, and Milo brought in a lot of CRAZY, kitten energy, so it’s been a strange shift. But, I love my guys, and I sort of wanted to document that.

This is sort of an example of the weird stuff I think about sometimes.

Project Life - August 2014

Project Life – August 2014

Project Life - August 2014

Project Life – August 2014

Two pages about the garden and the backyard and the weather- I always tend to include at least one page about the garden every month. I like looking back on them- it reminds me what works and what doesn’t. I think I have become more aware of the seasons and nature and the passage of time simply by becoming a gardener than by any other thing I have ever done in my life. I’m really grateful for that- that simple connection with nature has made me completely aware of life on a whole different level.

Project Life - August 2014

Project Life – August 2014

Finally a page of random August stuff: my obsession with watercolors, snapshots from my Instagram feed, a movie poster for “Lucy” (which Tom and I ran out to see right after Gracie started school and before it left the theater!), and an insert from this SUPER COOL set of notebooks I ordered from JetPens.

 

Re: the notebooks…

Kokuyo Campus Smart Ring

Kokuyo Campus Smart Ring

The notebooks are regular, slim, notebooks, but their spiral ring binding OPENS UP so you can move pages around:

Kokuyo Campus Smart Ring

Kokuyo Campus Smart Ring

I am an obsessive list writer, and an obsessive note-keeper, so to have a regular, slim notebook (NOT a binder) that could sit on my desk and in which I could move, add, and remove pages was something I *really* wished for, but didn’t seem to exist. Then I found these notebooks and got two- one for lists and project notes, and one for note-taking. I keep them both on my desk all the time and I’m constantly re-arranging the pages. They are amazing! I wish they had them in sketchbook form, with good watercolor paper. THAT would be a dream sketchbook for me…

Okay, enough of that. If you made it this far, THANK YOU for looking at my pages and for reading my rambling! <3

 

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petunias in the garden…

“…maybe I’m just tired
of thinking that there was one way, only one way out
I was hoping by now,
that maybe I’d have found
Answers to the questions that are keeping me down

Take my life and start it somewhere else
I breathe in the change
The only way is up again…”
– Clean Bandit “Up Again”

It’s September. September means autumn. Autumn is BY FAR my favoritefavoritefavorite time of year, so I get pretty excited when the calendar starts listing the “-ber” months.

It’s not fall yet. Here in Southwest Florida, we still have about a month or so of hurricane season, which means a lot of heat and humidity, and a lot of rain.

But things are shifting- the sunlight is a lot less intense, and is no longer washing everything out, including the blue of the sky. In the mid-summer, even if it’s a perfectly clear day, the sun tends to turn the sky pretty gray. But as we move into autumn, the sun shifts from being directly overhead to being more on the horizon, so it becomes dappled and golden as it’s filtered through the leaves on the trees.

The days are shorter, which I am *so* grateful for. I’m the kind of person who likes the evening to feel like evening- I almost feel like a weird sense of relief when the sun goes down everyday, like “I did it, I go through the afternoon!”  Afternoons have always been tough for me- I get into a weird fun between lunch and around 7pm, and I always have. I remember coming home from school and just feeling “blah” as a kid, and I also remember getting a little stir crazy in college and grad school and just needing to get out of my apartment in the afternoons to escape the heavy feeling. I don’t know what it is- I suppose it’s a facet of my personality. maybe it’s because I swim in the mornings, and after lunch my body is pretty much done for the day.

Whatever it is, the afternoon funk just *is*. So instead of fighting it, I’m trying to approach it as an opportunity to find interesting things to do. A stretch of time that I can do something fun or creative or happy. And if that doesn’t work- because sometimes it does seem like creativity takes just TOO much energy- and it’s a true “how the hell am I going to get through this entire afternoon?” kind-of-day, I just do little tasks on my to-do list until it’s over. Nothing creative or fun, just things that have a set start and end and a set way of going about them (paying bills, editing photos, ordering our dry groceries from Amazon, doing non-creative tasks in my art studio, etc.) so I don’t have to think about it too much.

So, yeah. I LOVE when Daylight Savings Time ends. Just two more months! I don’t love that the sun is brighter earlier in the day (living in Florida, I have to be super conscious about how much dun I get when I am outside gardening and swimming) but I love that the sun sets around 6pm and the day feels like it’s naturally transitioning. For some reason, it’s so much easier to do things in my art studio when it’s dark outside. Maybe I don’t feel that pull to get outside as much when it feels like it’s officially nighttime. When it’s bright and sunny outside, I get super antsy and feel this weird desire to get out there, even if it’s hot and it’s 7pm and I’m in my PJs and not remotely interested in BEING outside. Does that make any sense?

Other autumn things: Gracie went back to school. She’s in third grade now, her last year at the school she’s been in since she was 18 months old. She LOVES it there. I can’t stress this enough- she’s known the same teachers, the same kids since she was just a little toddler, so it’s her home. Going to school is as natural to her as waking up and brushing her teeth. It’s definitely a part of our routine. We’re starting to think ahead for next year, and what school she will attend, and the idea of her not going to the same school (which ends at grade three) is bittersweet. But we still have an entire school year at this current school.

I have to admit, I was kinda hoping that when Gracie went back to school and the calendar turned to September, things would go “back to normal”. When that didn’t happen, I was a little perturbed.

But then I realized there is no normal. What is normal? What was/am I hoping for? I think that’s why those lyrics up top make so much sense to me right now: I’m really tired of thinking there’s just one good way to do stuff, one right way to live, one single answer to all the questions I have going through my mind all the time.

I’m a creature of routine, so I guess I was hoping we’d easily get back into our regular routines. Wake up, school/work/etc., home from school, dinner and family time, sleep. Weekends for adventures. Lather, rinse, repeat.

But it’s been hectic. We’ve been figuring out what activities Gracie might do this year- there’s no afterschool programs at her school this year, which is a BIG change. My parents are still at their summer place, so there’s no Nanny and Papa time for Gracie, which she misses.

And then Tom’s karate schedule shifted (AGAIN). And then he crashed on his bike, and white wasn’t as serious as it could have been- thank God- there’s been a week of him recovering from that.

Gracie appears to have picked up her first bug from school, so I’m holding my breath and hoping she doesn’t get sick.

And I’ve been put on new thyroid meds which are making me more high strung than usual. I have anxiety to begin with, so anything that adds to that is a no-no for me. But I’m taking my doctor’s advice and taking them loyally, and keeping my fingers crossed that it all evens out.

Besides that, I’m kinda all over the place. Besides my regular routine of gardening/swimming/health stuff/home stuff every day, I have no idea what I’m doing right now.

Of course, my “thing” is art. It’s my passion. I still love it.

The issue is that I have totally changed my focus on creativity. For the longest time it was about creative business, about making a “career” from creativity. Becoming “legit”. Validating my interests and my art supply addiction. Figuring out what it took to get a zillion Etsy sales and a million Facebook likes. Blah blah blah.

Whenever I lost my path before, I’d throw myself into rebuilding the Etsy store, finding new things to make, launching stuff. Making big plans.

Now that my attitude has shifted (success is not the only aspect of happiness) I’m sort of spinning my wheels.

I know I want to paint. Right now I’m obsessed with watercolors, and I still want to do the intutive painting I did in the Flora Bowley class last year. I kinda want to combine both. I lovelovelove abstract painting and designing unique abstract patterns.

I’m also really interested in learning botanical illustration, probably as a result of my addiction to gardening. The good news is that a lot of botanical illustration is done with watercolor. The bad news is the whole crux of botanical illustration, at least the kind that appeals to me, is that it’s all about realism. Which ultimately does not interest me.

But the shape of a flower, the curve of a leaf, the colors of a petal and stamen- those seem very “otherworld”-ly to me. And that’s why I am drawn to plants so much.

Anyway, I keep saying “oh, no… I’m all about abstract and I spent all the time learning acrylics and have a bunch of empty canvases and I bought a bunch of classes about mixed media and acrylic and line drawing…” but then I keep finding myself obsessing about botanical illustration and watercolor and studying different botanical art work and picking up different books on different techniques for painting flowers in watercolor and stocking up on watercolor paints in all colors, not just the brights I usually gravitate towards.

I think what I am going to do is go ahead and study it. Take a class (I got one a year or so ago but never actually sat down and took it since it seemed too much of a shift from the Flora Bowley class), and do a series of botanical illustrations. At the very least, I will learn a lot about watercolor, which is something I want to do so that I can go ahead and incorporate it into the painting I have been doing this last year. One of the mixed media classes I took this summer was all about the layering of acrylic and watercolor and it fascinated me. So it can be done. I just feel like I’m a little unsure of myself when it comes to the technical aspects of watercolor.

It’s just that all the art I get the inspiration to do- botanical illustration, line drawing, paisley/arabic design, zentangles, abrstract watercolor, collage, oil pastel… when I finally get the time to sit down and do it, it never seems like a valid way to spend my time.

I try and remember that I felt this way when I started painting. For some reason, committing to the Flora Bowley class made it valid. Then it turned into something that brought me so much joy that the joy alone made it completely valid. And the joy also made it something others respected- my parents were even very interested in my painting progress and what I might paint next. It’s the most we have ever talked about my art, and it meant a lot.

It seems like it’s such a stupid, trivial thing, but when I flip open my little moleskine and open my box of watercolors, I get paralyzed by indecision, by fear. I find other things to do that seem more “valid”. I guess the apprehension to try something new is a total fear of failure, a fear of change. And a whole lot of “why can’t you just stick with ONE thing? You are such a flake!”

But I keep trying to remind myself it’s about creativity, and about joy. And about learning and growing. That’s all that matters at the end of the day. So what is the risk in painting a flower? It might be a game-changer. It might now.

But I think painting a flower is a decent way to spend an autumn afternoon, right?

(Here’s a video of the song I quoted from above- I LOVE this song. I love the whole album, actually.

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I thought I might share something I have been working on fairly regularly throughout the year- my Project Life album.

(Click on the image above – arrows should appear on the right and left to navigate through the photos…)

Since there were thirty pages in this album, I made them into a little slideshow so you don’t have a massive post full of photos to scan through.

I started this particular album (my 11th) in April. It’s close to being full- I think I might try and get another month in it, just for the sake of shelf space!

Some thoughts on the process, in no particular order:

– I’m still using the 8×8″ albums by American Crafts. I do sometimes get a hankering for a larger base page (12×12″ is the traditional scrapbook size) to work on, but in general, I feel REALLY comfortable with the 8×8 page. I know exactly what size photos work on it (mostly 3×4, 4×4, and 4×6) and how many photos I can fit on one page.

And as much as I LOVE “white space” (or unused space) in other people’s layouts, I just can’t seem to let myself leave a lot of empty space on a page. I always wind up filling it up, and then sort of hating all the junk that ends up on my pages. So by staying 8×8″, I don’t leave myself a lot of empty space to be indecisive about. Also, it’s so much easier to work on (takes much less space on my desk when the album is open and I’m working on a page outside of it!)

– I started out this year switching over to the Project Life pocket-style scrapbooking (and buying a lot of page protectors and Project Life-style cards for that format!), but as the year went on, I found myself gravitating back towards using full-size pages. I did a few “full-size” pages after doing a bunch of “pocket” pages and they were SO much more fun to put together. I just found that composing six separate pockets was a lot more time consuming and fussy than composing one whole page. However, I do jump back to pockets when I have a few distinct and vertically-oriented photos to share.

– I dropped my kit club subscription – I was with Cocoa Dasiy (and I can’t recommend them enough!) but a few months ago I decided that I wanted to just buy what I really liked and spend my scrapbooking budget on a box full of stuff that I loved every piece of. So if a line comes out that I like, I’ll pick the pieces I like and buy that. I buy a lot of 12×12″ paper pads (mostly American Crafts, Studio Calico, and Pink Paislee) because I use a lot of that size paper and I like having an assortment to pick from. I have stopped buying 6×6″ pads, for the most part.

– I also buy a lot of wood veneers (use them all the time, every page), enamel dots (ditto), letter stickers (mostly Thickers- again, I use on every page), and recently started buying little assortments of sequins (finding my way with them…) and flair badges. All of these things are fairly inexpensive, but I use them ALL THE TIME.

– I have more or less given up on the goal of making my Project Life/scrapbook “artsy”. As much as I like the idea of combining different interests in one place, I just never felt comfortable throwing in an “artsy” page in the middle of a bunch of pages of Gracie riding her bike, the cats sleeping in the sun, photos of the garden, and movie posters. I’ve also sort of given up trying to force myself to write my emotions/feelings on the pages. As much as I want those things recorded, I find it’s SO much easier to just make the album a scrapbook and not a journal. (More on art journaling in another entry, I think…)

– My process: I take photos all the time with my iPhone, print them out every few days, and keep the stack in a little box on my desk. I keep all ephemera that comes through here- dated receipts, little images, stamps from the mail, movie tickets, etc. I just spend most of the month gathering stuff. And then at the end of the month, I take a few days and spend them putting the pages together. I just find that I get into this “flow” with Project Life and it’s easier to dedicate a few days to doing the pages and leaving the supplies on my desk and then be done for the month, and put it all away and start collecting photos and stories and ephemera for the next month. I don’t know if this will be my system going forward forever, but for right now, it really works for me NOT to work on Project Life on a day-by-day or even week-by-week basis.

But I definitely don’t limit how many pages I make at the end of the month, either. Some months are only two pages, and other months are A LOT more. Whatever. I just want to get the basic story of the month down, have our life documented, and have a good time doing it. Gracie does flip through the albums, and I’m always REALLY surprised and happy when *I* flip through them because I have recorded stuff I completely forgot about, and I’m so happy those little memories are there.

So this Project Life book, which I guess is more like a traditional scrapbook, sort of covers my desire to document our day-to-day life, and lets me use paper products (patterned paper, washi tape, letter stickers, etc.) that I really love.

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photo by Hiroshi Sugimoto

photo by Hiroshi Sugimoto

“Most people think that once they’ve found their purpose, they’ll finally be at peace. Actually, though, it’s only by starting in a place of peace that we find our purpose. Peace is the first step and the final lesson we all need to learn.” – Martha Beck

I really want to talk about Robin Williams passing. I’ve been hesitant to do so because it might seem negative or “dwell-y” and I am worried people will sort of click away because it’s not a happy topic and maybe everyone is exhausted of all the coverage. But that’s really ironic considering that I am really hoping that RW’s death might make us more tolerant of less-than-happy topics of conversation, and encourage more people to feel comfortable sharing their struggles, no matter how serious or silly they seem to be.

The truth is, Robin Williams death really hit me hard. There have been quite a few famous people whose death was difficult and sad, but nothing like this. I had to go into the bathroom and weep a bit, and pull myself together. I just kept seeing his face on the news, and seeing something about his eyes, and I would lose it all over again.

I think the big issue for me is that Robin Williams seemed like someone who was COMPLETELY full of life- excessively so (and I ABSOLUTELY do not mean that in a negative way)- so the idea of that huge of a life being snuffed out was very hard for me to wrap my brain around. That’s my big issue with death- how can there be life one second and then no life the next second?

I’m not a religious person, but I do consider myself very spiritual. Regardless, I have a lot of questions and doubts about a lot of things, and I spend a fair amount of time puzzling them through. Death is something I struggle with a lot. The whole “there one second, gone the next” is almost too much for me to process, especially when someone or something I care for passes.

The second thing that gets to me about Robin William’s death is this: this was a man who had tremendous success, had contributed an enormous amount of JOY and laughter to the world, and had access to great medical care, the latest medicines and treatment, etc. Yet still he succumbed to depression.

For some reason that really got to me. First, it made me realize that however far we think we’ve evolved as a society in regards of acceptance of mental illness (and GOD, can we please find another term for it, because the phrase “mental illness” has such a stigma around it and it’s unlikely the negative connotation- it reminds me of the word “cripple” and those of us who have physical disabilities really don’t LOVE that word, you know?!) we’re not CLOSE to where we need to be. And I don’t think the treatments being offered for depression are close to where they need to be. Maybe what’s on the table for depression (talk therapy and/or meds) just isn’t enough.

People should be able to say that they’ve had a difficult day (or week, or month, or year, or whatever) and not worry that they might alienate someone in the process of being honest. People should be able to seek help without it being a big deal, without worrying that they aren’t strong enough to “get their shit together”, etc. Depression isn’t a choice… I mean, who the heck would choose to be depressed? Who would believe that anyone would choose to feel like crap? It’s a medical condition, just like Spina Bifida, which I was born with. I didn’t choose Spina Bifida, it just happened. It’s part of me. And I learned- and still am learning- how to live with it. It’s a challenge, but I’ve received a lot of support over the years, and I have a ton of people in my corner, a ton of people who really want to see me thrive. The medical community supports me, as does my family and friends. And I believe people with depression or anxiety deserve the same support and encouragement.

The second thing is this- success. Robin Williams had it. Not only career success but also the legacy of having touched MILLIONS of people’s lives personally and in the most positive way possible- he brought joy. Pure joy. That’s a BIG deal. That’s the big shiny dream of most of us- to do something we love and have it make a positive difference in people’s lives, and to succeed at it.

Yet that success wasn’t enough to sustain him.

I wonder if he didn’t give too much, put too much of that amazing energy and creativity into putting himself out into the world. Maybe he didn’t leave enough for himself at the end of the day. I don’t know.

What I *do* know now, as a result of learning about Robin William’s suicide, is that happiness is clearly NOT solely dependent upon success, or money, or popularity, or access to resources, or stress reduction, or even a person’s positive impact on the world. Robin Williams had all that in spades and it wasn’t the answer.

I don’t know what the answer is. What creates happiness? What creates contentment?

Personally, I’ve placed a lot of value in success. For years I thought the reason I wasn’t deeply content was because I don’t have a formal, contract-on-paper, 9-to-5 career. I was “supposed” to be a curator. That didn’t happen and because of that I can’t be 100% happy.

So I decided that if I was going to be an artist, which I LOVE, I love being an artist, but for years I sort of worked forward with the goal being that in order to be a genuine success, my work would have to be accepted and embraced by a wide audience and that a piece of mine would be included in a collection of art in a museum or gallery. The last few years I have been thinking a lot about “brand”, too. Lots of buzzword-y stuff.

A few months ago I realized that none of that mattered. At all. I could get that stuff and the next morning I’d wake up with the same anxiety. That was sort of a blow to me, because that was the direction I was focused on as far as my art went. That was what I came to my desk every day with, and that was the destination. That was the answer to every question. It was like steering a boat towards a lighthouse, and then having the light suddenly distinguished and being in the dark.

What now?

Again, I don’t know. But I gotta tell you, I feel really *interested* in seeing where this goes. I feel different about this “project” than I have everything else, because I know with absoulte certainty that I want to be happy and at peace. I want to be less stressed. I want to figure out how to access a sense of general contentment. I want to learn how to make myself happy and I want to have a concrete set of resources that I can rely on to bring me peace and joy.

I also know it’s available to me. I have had shining, beautiful, amazingly joyful moments, and I RECOGNIZE the astonishing beauty available in life. There are moments when I am literally bowled over by the world I live in, when the littlest thing will send me reeling in awe. Colors, sounds, a sunset, the water, love… it’s magical. I just want more of it.

Happiness is not going to come from having a super-successful Etsy shop, or a popular blog, or even from having my art hanging in a museum (although that last one would be DEEPLY satisfying). At least not for me, personally- I mean, some people thrive on that stuff, and that’s awesome. But after focusing on that for a while and getting some of it, I have come to realize that’s not what’s gonna do it for me. It might be part of it, but it’s not the answer.

Contentment has gotta come from somewhere else. And THAT’s the thing I have to steer my ship towards, even if it seems incredibly abstract and unspecific at the moment. It’s just like this teeny, tiny, barest shimmer of light on the horizon, and I have NO idea what the light is, and where following it will take me. But I do know I have to follow that little light, and trust that it will all be okay.

rwideas2.jpg

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“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute.
We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race.
And the human race is filled with passion.

And medicine, law, business, engineering,
these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life.

But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.

To quote from Whitman, “O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?”

Answer.

That you are here – that life exists, and identity;
that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse.
That the powerful play *goes on*
and you may contribute a verse.

What will your verse be?” (narrated by Robin Williams)

Godspeed, Robin Williams.

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rice paper and ink “peace flag” that Gracie made

Around here:

Outside my window…
it’s sort of a gray day. Because it’s hurricane season, we get these miniature hurricanes almost daily- big storms with torrential rain, black skies, and thunder and lightning that last a long time. But now that it’s August, I can kinda see the light at the end of the tunnel- even though we’re right in the thick of hurricane season, in just a few more weeks the weather will start to shift, and fall is the BEST season here in Southwest Florida. So I keep reminding myself of that!

I am thinking…
that I am SUPER grumpy that my swim was cut short by a storm today. So I gotta make up about 30 minutes tomorrow. I’m pretty regimented about my swimming (five miles a day, no excuses) but I sort of think the “no flexibility” philosophy on it is part of the reason I have stuck with it for the last 22 years.

I’m also hoping Tom gets home from karate soon so we can have lunch!

I am thankful for…
this giant, cool mug of iced tea I am sipping- I feel really thirsty today. I loved iced tea in the summer.

From the art studio…
Right now the art studio is sort of like “Camp Gracie and Chel”- while Gracie is on summer break, we’ve been doing a bunch of little creative projects and trying new stuff out. Last night we were stamping with Distress Inks, and then we tried taking sheets of rice paper, folding them up, and tie-dying them with the Distress Ink. They look like prayer flags, so Gracie and I have been talking about making a whole series of them and stringing them up on some twine. We call them “peace flags”. The best part is unfolding them to see the patterns the ink makes.

As soon as Gracie is back to school (in nine days), I think I’m going to focus on finishing out some online art classes, and maybe starting a series of watercolor paintings. I’m obsessed with watercolors right now. A wonderful friend got me a gift certificate to Jerry’s Artarama for my birthday, and I used it to buy two sets of St. Petersberg full-pan watercolors. Oh my gosh, I LOVE them. They are semi-moist, so the brush picks up color instantly, and I love the way it feels to paint with them. I am adding a few colors to the sets (mostly bright, warm greens and some subtle colors) and I am really enjoying building a little set of watercolors. I am also enjoying taking my other watercolors (Dr. PH Martin liquids, Peerless, and a set of W&N Cotmans) and making color swatches with them, so I can compare and contrast how all the sets work.

I’ll probably write an entire post about creativity soon- in the last few months I’ve had a fairly large shift in my opinions about creative business and art in general, and it’d be good to drill that down through writing so I get a sense of where I’m heading as an artist.

From the garden…
well, the weather contributes to the garden in some not-so-good ways in the summer- the heat and rain really do a job on plants not specifically bred to thrive in this climate. I have a big collection of geraniums and they are really brown now, and all the leaves are falling off. I’m hoping I can baby them until the weather cools down and dries up, because if they can just *survive*, they will explode back to life the minute the seasons shift.

In the last few years I have really come to appreciate tropicals, so my garden has become more of a year-round activity now. I have four plumerias that are doing well, as well as seven hibiscus, and tons of containers with petunias. My succulent collection is also doing well in shade, oddly enough- they get a blast of sun in the afternoon and that seems to be plenty.

I am reading…
I am re-reading Wally Lamb’s book about Columbine. I loaded two new books on my Kindle (“One Plus One” and “The Roie Project”) but neither held my interest so I wound up digging around in my archived books and found the Wally Lamb book and started reading. It was several chapters before I realized I already read it, but by then I was hooked on the story and so I’m just re-reading it. I just finished Twyla Tharp’s “Creative Habit” and it was really good. I’ll talk about it more in another entry. Maybe.

Sidenote: I do think “Rosie Project” would make be good as an audio book, so maybe Tom and I will listen to it in the car..

I am hearing…
Gracie watching something on TV (Adventure Time? Gumball? Who knows?) Outside of ambient noise, I’m listening to David Gray’s new CD “Mutineers” on repeat- it’s REALLY good.

I am watching…
Tom and I are binge-watching “Sons of Anarchy” right now. We started early this summer and we watch an episode or so a day (WITHOUT Gracie, of course!) Holy great TV show! We’re now at the beginning of season 6. I had read about it for years but sort of passed on it because it didn’t sound appealing. But when we ran out of things to watch earlier this summer, we put an episode on “just to see” and now we are completely hooked. It’s *really* good. Brutal, but worth watching.

I am hoping…
the weather is decent tomorrow so I can get in a full swim plus the time I need to make up. That my brain fog clears up after lunch (I feel super-sleepy today…). That I find a good idea for a watercolor project that really interests and engages me. That I have enough yarn to finish the crochet project I am working on.

I am wearing…
pajamas, dude. Seriously- I finished swimming, took my shower, and I’m not going out this evening, so of course I’m wearing my pajamas!

I am going…
hopefully we’ll be going to see “Guardians of the Galaxy” this week. For some reason our favorite movie theater is no longer getting super-popular movies so we now need to find another theater in Naples where we can go and see mainstream stuff. I dislike the theater on the island where we live (it’s a restaurant that shows movies- you have to sit at either a round table or a counter in weird swivel chairs) and the giant movie theater in Naples is sort of a playground for teenagers who text and talk on their phones, so we need to see what other theaters are out there. I’m SUPER bummed about this situation- we have our movie going down to a science, and I hate that one of our favorite relaxing outings is askew. But maybe we can find something as convenient as our regular theater (we can reserve seats when we buy tickets online, so we don’t have to show up until the movie starts…) in Naples and get to see some of the mainstream films we missed this summer. We did get to see a lot of super-cool limited release films, though. THAT was cool.

One of my favorite things…
right now it’s being engrossed in a good book. I’ve been reading a tremendous amount these past few months and I’m so glad I’m back in the habit.

Hope you guys are having a GREAT weekend!

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in the garden…

07 Aug 2014

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morningaug5

sunrise, as seen from our back lanai

“Every day when I open my eyes now
It feels like a Saturday
Taking down from the shelf
All the parts of myself
That I packed away

Like the lift of a curse
Got a whole different person
Inside my head
No more trudging around
Stony eyed through the town
Like the living dead

If it’s Love put the joy in my heart?
Is it God by another name?
Who’s to say how it goes
All I know is
I’m back in the world again
Back in the world again”
– David Gray

I was not intending to take such a long absence from this website. I really thought it was only about six weeks or so, and was shocked to discover it was more like five months!

To be honest, I didn’t have a huge hankering to update until recently, so I just didn’t. And that was okay- in the seventeen years (!) I have been keeping this journal online, there have been periods of ebb and flow. But I always tend to come back.

Sometime in June, I started feeling okay again. I didn’t quite know that I *wasn’t* okay before then, but in the past few weeks it’s like a little tiny spark in me has come back to life, a little bit every day.

As I go over it in my head (and do a bit of research on it), I’m starting to realize I’m coming out of a year of grief/mourning that is pretty typical after a loss.

I’ll be honest- I’m still not over Delilah’s passing. I never will be. But for a long time after she passed, I felt really uncomfortable with day-to-day life because it was just so different. I knew that Delilah was getting older, and wouldn’t live forever, and I also knew that she wasn’t 100% well, so her passing could really come anytime. I steeled myself for that constantly in the months before she passed away.

But what I didn’t prepare myself for was how different life would be without her. That was a complete shock. I’ve lost pets and family before, and it’s always horrible how big a hole it leaves in your heart. But I was NOT prepared for the CHASM I felt after she passed away. Wow. It was HUGE.

And for the greater part of the year since losing her, I really struggled with it. She was one of the greatest sources of peace and comfort I had for seventeen years and to not have that was wrenching. I just couldn’t find my footing, in a way.

I did fine, I managed from day to day and was able to function and be a great mom and live life and have lots of great days, but I felt really weird for a long time. I felt like I was fighting something every single day and it was taking a tremendous toll on my energy and my heart.

Also, the chatter in my head (which is always spinning and coming up with ideas and things like that) stopped after Delilah passed, which was very strange. It got replaced by these really deep feelings I couldn’t make sense of. I’m a VERY sensitive person, so I’m super-feelings-oriented as it is, but in the period from late spring 2013 to a few months ago, it was completely different. It was almost like there was deep, cosmic crevice that was open inside me and all this stuff was going in and out of it on a regular basis. Almost like there was some shift in gravity- I wish I could explain it better, but that’s the best I can do.

I started getting really into astronomy and deep-space photography as a result of those weird feelings- for some reason those images really resonated with what was sort of swirling around inside me. I don’t know if that makes any sense at all, but if you noticed the sudden increase of space-related images on my Facebook timeline (well, space and Iceland photos), that’s where that all started from.

I also think the “feeling” things was why I was so drawn to painting- I’d crank up the music, squeeze out the paint, and lose myself in it for a few hours every day. I pretty much painted over the same canvas 400 times since November (the last time I finished a painting), but I guess I needed to do that because everything came out. It was so healing for me. I’m so glad I did the Flora Bowley class, and so glad I have continued applying the things I learned in that class (not only about art, but LIFE) to my every day. I’m still evolving, but it was a big deal for me.

Anyway, a few weeks ago, I started noticing that the little chatter in my head started coming back, and the weird whirling feelings in my chest started to ease up. I started thinking about little projects and wanting to plan out things rather than just wanting to PAINT PAINT PAINT and work on Project Life. I started getting interested in watercolors again, and signed up for some new classes, and started pulling out some old supplies and making little to-do lists. I started wanting to feel busy again (just not overwhelmed- I’m pretty much OVER feeling that way.)

Then I heard the David Gray song that I quoted from at the top of this entry, and realized that I was more or less “coming back to life”. I’m still in that process- every day it’s a little bit more. But it’s a bit of a relief, to be honest. I know life will never be the same again, but I was a little scared I lost an essential part of myself when Delilah passed that I’d never get back. I’m glad to know the spark is still there, even though it’s different.

For now, I just want to treat myself tenderly and continue sort of exploring everything and following what interests me. Just being sort of quiet and gentle and observant and looking at everything with fresh eyes. One moment at a time, one idea at a time, one feeling at a time.

Anyway, if you’re still out there, reading this: thank you for waiting for me to come back. Thank you for holding this space for me. I appreciate it more than I can say.

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#sunrise

05 Aug 2014

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#rainbow

23 Jul 2014

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#sunset right now

14 Jul 2014

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hello!
I'm Chel (pronounced "shell", short for "Michele").

I'm a painter, writer, gardener, art historian, long-distance swimmer, crochet addict, movie watcher, animal lover, and avid reader.

Random facts: I grew up in New York (Long Island, to be specific), went to college and grad school in Atlanta, and now I live in Southwest Florida. I'm incredibly shy but I can be very chatty. I've been a vegetarian for 25 years. I swim five miles every day. I have an eight year old daughter and a 40-something year old husband. I'd rather eat kalamata olives than most anything, and I'm an AVID tea drinker. I exist with the steady background noise of meows (three cats), chirps and whistles (three parrots), and silence (an elderly gecko).

If you'd like to know more, click here

contact me at:
lists@gingerblue.com

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Find me contributing at:
- Sprout Dispatch
- Bliss Habits
- Craft Critique

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