Thursday, December 20, 2012

New Year . . .New LIFE . . .New Changes



The clock is ticking . . .
The end of the year is nearing.
This has been a year of big dreams, a lot of love, a lot to be grateful for,
a lot of laughs. . .
and a lot of change.
I mean - a lot of change.
 
I am going to be somewhat missing in action for the next few weeks.
There are holidays to be celebrated.
Friends and family to spend time with.
And . . .
a move to happen.
Yes it has happened.
I have found a new place for my daughter and I to move and we are going to jump in head first beginning the day after Christmas.
At this point, I have no boxes packed.
I am in no way physically prepared for this.
But . . .mentally.
Oh yes. I am ready to go.
 
I am trusting that it will all work out.
I am taking everything one day at a time.
Checking off one event at a time.
 
And by the new year, I will be officially starting my new life in my new home.
Here is to change!

Friday, December 14, 2012

My Prayer in the Wake of Tragedies

This is an older painting.
But the intent had been that, as women, we are all connected.
However - the truth is - that connection is not limited to women only.
And after not one, but two horrific tragedies this week -
I feel the need to remind myself of the fact that we are all in this together.
 
I live in Portland, Oregon.
Tuesday, December 11th was a difficult day for me.
To help you fully understand my emotions at this time -
I must share what that day looked like to me. Not to have you think - "oh, poor Laurie",
but to convey my emotions in an honest way.
I woke that day with the knowledge that my ex-husband - who has only been my ex for a few months, 
was going into surgery to have cancer removed from his body.
This discovery had been made after he had left me.
I found myself struggling with a multitude of conflicting emotions for several weeks associated with this.
My children were struggling with their emotions.
Any time the "c" word is mentioned and associated with a loved one -
you can't help but feel that your world has been rocked.
And I felt worry and was distracted.
Later that day, I went to a counseling session.
My divorce has brought up a myriad of issues that I have ignored for too long.
And although, the counseling is helping -
each session feels a bit like the hornet's nest of emotions is being stirred up.
And those angry hornets are swirl all over the place.
But that is for another post on another day.
And as I was dealing with attempting to stable my emotions associated with the counseling and the surgery -
 
The most significant event of all occured.
On December 11th; a gunman entered 
 the local mall and began shooting at Clackamas Town Center.
This mall is right in my back yard.
It is the place I shop at.
It is the place where my family members shop.
It is the place where friends shop - and work.
This tragedy rocked me to the core.
My nephew was in lockdown in one of the stores, my friend was working in the store that the gunman ran through - she witnessed it; my other friend was in the foodcourt having lunch and was huddled under a table praying for her life.
This was too close geographically and personally.
My evening was spent in pain and sorrow.
The weight of the pain I felt for those that were involved in this was heavy and all-encompassing.
 
Today, another tragedy has occured.
A senseless shooting in an elementary school in Conneticut.
Small children. Teachers.
Terror and tragedy and violence in a place that is supposed to be safe for our little ones.
And even though it is, geographically, on the other side of the country -
it is too close for comfort.
And again - the weight of the sorrow I feel is so very heavy.
 
I have done my best today to ignore the emotions today.
I am not saying that I wasn't paying heed to the event - but I was choosing not to watch the news and become overly obsessed with the event.
I have stayed busy and distracted with work.
But I can ignore it no longer today.
 
My heart is breaking.
My soul is aching.
I have no words of wisdom here.
My prayers are actively going to God to hold the families affected by these tragedies in His arms.
My prayers are begging that we remember that we must lift and support and be there for one another.
My prayers are that each of us will reach out and connect with those around us -
lend that listening ear; pick up the phone and call them;let others know that you care; hug them; hold their hands; be their friend -
share your love without reservation and tell them of your love.
Together is the only way that we can survive.
 
If you are so inclined - take a moment and listen to this beautiful rendition of "Amazing Grace",
and bow your head in thought, meditation and prayer for all of us. . .
 
 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Modern Day HERO

A little over a year ago, I received a phone call from Joyce.
Joyce and I had met at one of the festivals I was participating in.
Joyce works at a local elementary school
and I must admit -
has become a bit of a hero to me.
She teaches fourth grade.

In Oregon -
like many other states,
funding for schools continues to dwindle and schools are forced to make budgetary choices.
Translation: CUTS!
Cuts of teachers; cuts of supplies; cuts of programs.
Now don't get me started on this topic.
It is one that is near and dear to my heart.
I have led letter-writing campaigns, attended board meetings and lodged more than one complaint based on the types of cuts that have been at my children's schools.
I'm going to make a few statements here - and they make some people angry -
but I'm going to do it anyway. . .
Why does it always seem that the first programs to get put on the chopping block are the music, theatre and arts programs.
Never the football team or basketball teams.
Because, for some reason, we seem to think of these arts classes as "fluff".
I have worked for private schools who offered none of these classes.
In fact, if the students wanted to participate in an arts related class- they were offered only after school and the parents had to pay a significant extra fee.
I understand the costs associated.
But - not every child fits in to the "sports" box.
I sure didn't.
By the time I was in high school - I have no problem admitting that my participation in the drama department was the primary reason I got out of bed and went to school every day.
And I know that I wasn't the only one -
For many of us, the drama department and the drama room was our refuge from the rest of the school.
In fact for many of my friends - the drama department was a refuge from their homes, where they were subjected to ridicule and abuse.
In the arts department, they were accepted.
And then, don't forget the life lessons that a student learns through participation in the arts.
Problem solving, thinking in a more dimensional manner, self-discipline, cause and effect . . .life skills.
I could on and on.

But I digress . . .
back to Joyce.
Joyce watched the art program get cut in her elementary school.
She believed that the students needed art -
so she took it upon herself to organize and implement an art program.
By herself.
In addition to her regular teaching.
Like I said - Joyce is my hero!

I was asked by Joyce to come out to her school and do an assembly presentation on my art.
She wanted me to share why I do what I do -
where I get my inspiration from -
why I use words in my art -
to share how words have influenced me and to talk about the POWER of words.
WOW! I was so humbled to have been asked to that.
I mean - who am I?
I'm just a person who doodles - I'm no expert.

I accepted Joyce's invitation and went out to the school on a dreary Wednesday morning.
I used to teach private lesson and classes for private schools and home school groups.
I have never been able to teach in a school as a "teacher" because I don't have a College degree.
But I have been able to share some of my love of the creative arts through more "unconventional" approaches.
And I love to teach.
I love working with kids and helping them gain a love of the arts.
But more than that - I love seeing them develop and navigate through the rough world of adolescence by learning coping skills with their creative processes.
As I stood in front of the children at this assemble, it all came back to me.
I was asked to speak for 45 minutes.
I started to talk and got excited.
We talked about words and how they can affect us.
I talked about finding a passion for something you love.
I talked about dedication and perserverance.

It was so wonderful.
But the point of this post -
to commend Joyce - and all the other people out there who see the importance of the arts programs in their school. For those people who are working tirelessly, often by footing the expense out of their own pocket, to keep the arts alive.
I look forward to the day that we put the arts on the same pedestal as sports.
I am sure I am not alone when I say . . .
Thank You Joyce. The world needs more people like YOU.



UPcycled Table

I met Mary Jane over 2 years ago.
She came to one of my shows and picked up a few items.
She then called to have me help her with a project -
To redo an old chair that had been her mother's.
The idea was to cover the chair with images that reminded her of her mom as a tribute to her.
 
Several months ago,
she called again.
This time to do another chair - but for her sister.
The chair was just like the first one - it had come from the same set that had been their mothers.
We covered it with images that reminded her sister of her children.
 
Then came the table.
The table had been mom's as well.
However, it had been subjected to quite a bit of abuse and didn't look very nice.
The finish was peeling off.
There are a few cracks in the wood.
It had been left out on a porch and exposed to the elements a bit too long.
But it was moms and Mary Jane could not bear to see it tossed out with the trash.
 
So she brought it over.
She wanted it to have the look of the outdoors since it will eventually live in their mountain cabin.
Mountains, a river, fish, a cabin, ferns -
 all of the things that they love about their cabin were to be included on the table.
 
A little sanding.
A little priming.
A lot of color and . . .
Mary Jane's sad and unloved table has been given a new lease on life.
 
 


This little table is still a work in progress.
There is still some detailing left.
And of course - a good finish to protect it for years to come -
But I think I was able to capture the feel of the love and joy that they experience at their mountain retreat!

Monday, December 10, 2012

DANCE

When I was five, my mom put me in the car one day and told me she had a surprise for me.
We drove for a while - really just a short distance - but to me it felt like forever.
We arrived at an old school and went inside.
I was confused and nervous.
What were we doing?
We stood in a really, really long line.
And then it happened - she signed me up for ballet lessons.
We then went and bought tights, and leotards, lots of bobby pins and the best part of all . . .
ballet slippers.
I went to dance lessons and learned to plie, and releve'.
I learned about first position and all of the other positions.
To this day - over forty years later - I tend to turn my feet out when standing.
I learned about working at the barre.
We practiced during each class to a live piano player who spent her afternoons playing classical music for us to point and kick to.
And then in the winter - the best thing of all happened -
we got dressed up in our costumes, had our hair pulled back into a tight bun, had our faces smothered in thick make-up and performed our routine on a large stage in downtown Portland.
This was the same stage that the best theatrical performances were given on, and concerts and all the best talent in our City performed on.
And I got to do my simple ballet routine on it.
The lights were so bright and hot.
The audience applauded for us.
It was magical.
And I became instantly addicted to performing.
 
I continued dancing for years to come - all the way through college.
Besides ballet -
I experimented with jazz and tap.
I played around with ball room.
If it was performed to music - I tried it.
And as I grew - I discovered my love of theatre and my favorite thing of all was to perform in musical theatre.
There, I was able to satisfy my love of acting, music and dance.
There I found my bliss.
To this day - If I hear wonderful music, it is next to impossible not to move in some way.
 
But somewhere along the way -
I stopped dancing.
I had children.
The family came first.
Money was tight.
Time was short.
Patience were stretched.
I gained a few (ok maybe more than a few) pounds.
And I stopped dancing on stage . . . in public . . .even in front of my family.
The few times I danced, I confined myself to the safety of my own home when no one was around.
 
Recently - I watched a movie on dancers.
It was a documentary about young ballet dancers who are driven, and passionate and desperate to dance every minute of their lives.
I watched as they stretched and practiced.
I watched as they extended their legs.
They made it look so easy and fluid. Yet - having been a dancer, I understood the dedication and hard work involved. The ultimate athleticism.
I found myself longing for the bloodied toes and the aching muscles. Those things were almost like "badges of honor" to us dancers.
My heart and muscles almost ached for the feel of dance while I watched the movie.
And the feeling lingered for some time afterwards.
 
We all have that thing that makes us ache inside -
maybe for you it is music, or a sport, or writing or . . . .?
It was that thing that you loved to do more than anything else when you were young.
It's that thing that makes you feel restless when you ignore it.
It calls to you. It drives you.
 
Do you answer the call?
Do you still do it?
Do you still pursue that passion on a daily basis?
Why do we let these things go as we become adults?
Somewhere along the way, we become convinced that working on those passions is a sign of immaturity.
Or worse yet - it's a sign of being selfish.
 
Really? Being true to ourself and doing that which makes us the best that we can possibly be is selfish?
As I have grown and changed, I have developed new passions - my art and writing. These
 are passions equal to performing and music and dance.
Does that make me greedy to have more than one?
And if I have such strong desires for my art and writing - am I being greedy to want to pursue the old and forgotten ones?
Does that make me selfish? Or self-absorbed?
 
I am beginning to challenge that thought in my own life now.
I am wanting to reclaim those lost passions.
I want to DANCE!
 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Fearless Warrior?

 
 
"For the warrior, the experience of a sad and tender heart is what gives birth to fealessness. Conventionally, being fearless means that you are not afraid or that if someone hits you, you will hit him back. However, we are not talking about that street-fighter level of fearlessness.
Real fearlessness is the product of tenderness." Chogyam Trungpa
 
A short time ago, a friend gave me a book. . .
 a self-help book, which normally I would run away from.
I'm just being honest.
But this one is different.
It's written for a real person. By a real person.
It's full of wonderful life experiences and I have found myself sucked into it -
reading little bits every day and feeling uplifted, inspired and stronger.
In fact, it is full of little sticky notes where I have read passages that jump off the page at me.
 
The above passage jumped off the page at me today.
 
I have a another very good friend - who teaches martial arts.
He refers to this craft as being a "peaceful warrior".
 
Peaceful warrior.
 
Now normally, I would have heard that phrase and I wouldn't have given it any attention.
But the word "warrior" is not one that I think of or use in my daily communications.
It has a connotation of someone who is fierce and scary and who likes to fight.
Some like the street fighter that Trungpa refers to.
Someone who gets pleasure out of fighting.
 
Or it conjures up images of Melk Gibson in Braveheart.
And if you know me very well . . .you know that I have never watched that movie because, again -
the idea of a warrior makes me uncomfortable.
In fact - it scares me a little.
 
So why am I hearing this word so often lately.
Seriously - it seems like I keep hearing and seeing this word.
What I am supposed to learn from this?
 
Hmmmm -
Then today, I read the above quote in my book.
And there is that warrior word again.
And Chogyam Trungpa states that a true warrior is tender.
A true warrior has experienced sadness and has a tender heart.
 
And as my friend stated - a warrior is peaceful.
Wow!
OK - obviously, I meant to learn a lesson here.
 
 
I have expereienced a lot of sadness this last six months.
I feel like I have been in a battle every day.
 
I have also experienced a lot of joy.
Big, little and medium sized victories -
 
I like to think that I have a tender heart.
Heaven knows - if I am in your presence and you begin to weep over something that is weighing you down . . .
I can guarantee I will be sharing your tears with you.
I tend to be very empathetic to others.
And as I continue to emerge from the experiences I have had over the last year,
I find that anger is one of the few emotions that I am NOT feeling.
Oh don't get me wrong - I have moments of being upset . . .even mad.
But anger is not an emotion that is dominating me right now.
I'm not angry with my circumstances or my ex husband or the universe . . .
quite the opposite.
I am curious as to what I can learn and share from this experience.
I am filled with compassion for my ex husband for the struggles that he is going through.
Does that mean I am being a doormat and am willing to not hold him accountable for his actions?
NO.
But I am filled with compassion and empathy.
I am filled with tendernes.
Through this experience I am learning a deeper sense of compassion and tenderness . . .
and I am learning to be more compassionate and tender to . . .
wait for it . . .
-
to MYSELF.
 
Yup.
Me.
Myself.
I.
 
Oh boy - is that ever new for me!
Compassion and tenderness and empathy -
those are emotions you have for other people - not yourself? Right?
I mean - as a wife, a mother . . .a woman -
we have a tendency to put everyone elses needs before our own.
To not do that is selfish.
But how many of us keep doing that and then one day we wake up, look in the mirror and find that we are no longer in there?
We have lost ourselves.
I have looked back on all of the things that I removed from my life in order to be the perfect, selfless woman -
I gave up on friendships, interests and passions.
But those were all things that made me who I was.
So - I became lost.
 
It's almost a new year.
And I have never been one to spend a lot of time lamenting over resolutions.
I don't really see the point in looking at ways to improve myself based on a date on the calendar.
But this year is different.
And I have already been working on those resolutions.
And my number one resolution? -
to put myself first.
 
Not in a selfish way - but in a way that allows me to be a better person in order to give those around me what they need.
To allow myself to continue to grow a more tender heart.
And I can't emotionally do that without caring for myself first.
I will be more tender with myself.
I will forgive myself for my faults and take responsibility for them so that I can improve.
I will learn to say no to those things  and more importantly - those people -  that make me feel like less of a person - or who seperate me from my true purpose.
 
I am going to work on becoming FEARLESS.
 
And - here is where I am going to go out on a limb -
I am going to work to become a WARRIOR!

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Power of Angels

Late night phone calls.
Dinner with friends.
Spontaneous visits.
An unexpected note in the mail.
A text message.
A hug. A tear. A laugh.
 A shared joke or experience. . .
 
With my new life, I have found myself in circumstances that I have never experienced before.
Being alone.
Remember - I was married for 26 years.
But beyond that - I have four children.
Over the years we hosted over 10 long-term foreign exchange students.
We have had, over the years - 4 dogs, an iguana, a guinea pig, too many cats to count, 5 chickens, and we  fostered hamsters and rabbits for school projects.
We gave refuge to a young girl who was struggling to find her way, a nephew who needed a stepping stone and others.
For almost my entire married life,  there was always, about 7 people living under the same roof as me.
(And that does not count the animals.)
And growing up - my childhood home - was very similar.
 
A little over a year ago, things began to change.
the oldest daughter and grandson moved out, my son moved out, daughter number 3 moved out.
That left the husband, the youngest daughter and myself and the dog.
Then he left.
Now it is the daughter and myself and the dog.
And that means . . .this lady is left with a lot of time in a big house alone.
With the quiet.
 
Now this is not a whine session or plea for sympathy . . .
this is a realization.
 
For years - my life has been noisy and chaotic.
And I like chaos.
In fact - I kind of thrive on it.
 
But in the midst of the chaos, it is important to find those quiet moments to stop and listen.
But sometime - when we stop and listen,
we begin to hear the messages that we have been avoiding for a very, very long time.
And that is where I am right now.
 
I am on a personal quest to answer and acknowledge some issues that I have kept buried for too long .
And this has found me, on more than one occasion, needing the connection of others.
And that is when the angels seem to appear.
 
They come in the form of amazing friends and family members.
 
It continually amazes me -
I will be struggling to work out an issue, feeling alone -
and the phone rings.
Or a text message comes through . . .
or some other form of contact is made.
And the other person is responding to a need to reach out to ME.
 
And that has made me really stop and appreciate those amazing connections that we have with each other.
A friend recently commented to me that everyone comes into our lives for "a reason, a season, or a lifetime."
I liked that statement -
many of the people that are in my life are just that . . ."lifers".
I am reaching a point where very few are here for a "season" only.
Some were here for a season years ago - but they have returned now.
And I know that now - they will remain for the rest of my life.
 
We are not meant to go through this life alone.
We are meant to have connections.
And with the upcoming Christmas season, I find myself reflecting even more on the importance of these connections.
I have found myself feeling so much gratitude for these special people, that my heart feels as if it willl burst.
I feel like the Grinch when his heart grows and grows . . .unable to be contained.
 
And to these special people - I say thank you.
Thank you for following those prompts and for helping me fly during this time.
Thank you for loving me regardless of what is going on and teaching me the lesson of unconditional love.
Thank you for being my angels.
 
Who is in your life that needs to be reached out to?
Who reaches out to you?
Are you taking them for granted?
Have you told them you love them and appreciate them?
 
My hope, this holiday season, is that we take the time to slow down and acknowledge those special angels in our lives.
And I don't mean with "gifts" of things - although, I admit -I love gifts.
But I mean, with those all important words of "i love you" and "thank you".
I pray that we take the time to listen and follow through on those prompts.
I pray that we share our wings so we can all fly to our highest potential.
 
 


Friday, November 30, 2012

GRATITUDE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nj2ofrX7jAk&feature=share

 
Today is November 30th.
It is the last day of the month.
Many people on Facebook took the month of November and expressed one thing each day that they were grateful for.
I participated . . .some.
I was very inconsistent and probably only managed to make a "gratitude" comment about 1/2 of the days.
But that doesn't mean the thoughts were not being felt by me.
 
I saw this video today and it brought tears to my eyes.
(Of course, that happens a lot to - I am a first class boob - but regardless . . .)
 
Take the time to watch it.
Listen with your heart.
The poignancy of it speaks to the soul.
 
 
I spoke with a friend recently -
He had helped me with a task that for him was very easy.
For me - it was a struggle.
It was not that I couldn't have figured it out -
but time was tight and I had been unable to complete the task.
I said thank you. . .many times over.
He was surprised and wondered if I was sincere.
I asked what I could do for him - the answer was nothing.
Why did he want to help me?
What did he want from me?
Was this possible?
 
Have we become so jaded in our lives that when we express gratitude it is not believed?
When someone steps in to help us or gift us with time or service -
are we so jaded that we are looking to find out what they want from us?
I know that I am frequently more than willing to extend a hand of support to others and I expect nothing in return.
Why could I not believe that someone was willing to do that for me?
It made me stop and think.
 
Gratitude.
So often - we relate our gratitude to big things.
Or to big events.
And yes - it is imperative that we are grateful for the big things.
But what about the millions of little miracles that occur each and every day.
 
Yes - MIRACLES.
We are surrounded by them.
 
The simplicity of gratitude is often overlooked. . .
 
The changing of the seasons.
The feel of the rain as it falls.
The sound of my windchimes as they sing their song on the breeze.
The smell of my home.
The ability to see.
The ability to hear.
The ability to breathe.
The ability to read and learn and grow.
The ability to get up when I have fallen.
 
 
As life continues to change in my world, I want to remember to remain grateful.
I vow to notice the little things. . .
The simplicity that creates this thing called life.
I vow to remain in the moment.
I vow to reflect my gratitude to those who are in my life -
and to those that have returned to my life . . .
who have supported me;
laughed with me;
cried with me;
lifted me; held me and
loved me.
 
I will honor those things and those people that have participated in the journey that has brought me to this point.
 
And to each of you I say . . .
Thank you.
 


Thursday, November 29, 2012

CHANGE



Change.
Does any word create such a wide range of emotions?
Excitement. Fear. Dread. Fear. Happiness. Fear.
Anticipation. Fear. Pressure. Fear. Joy . . .oh and don't forget FEAR!
 
Yet - how often do we avoid the change -
and often the wonderful rewards that come as a result of change?
 
Right now -
I am going through all kinds of change.
Some of it by my choice.
Some of it as a result of other's choices.
Most of it very exciting -
All of it scary.
 
But the main lesson I have learned from this is to be open to the change.
Overall - change can be very good.
 
Years ago, I remember learning that life is constantly in motion.
We are either moving forward or we are moving backwards -
we are never stagnant.
If we aren't changing and growing for the better . . .
well . . .we are going in the opposite direction.
 
And the only way I can find to make sure that I am going forward is to keep dreaming . . .
keep reaching. . .
keep changing.
 
Which, of course, then brings us back to the subject of fear.
 
Right now
my art business is going through a major change.
It will be good.
I feel confident that it will be great!
It started as a dream.
And the dream is beginning to become a reality.
But it is scary.
Because it has caused me to make some decisions to let go of things that I feel confident about.
Things that I am comfortable with.
 
But I am choosing to let go of the comfort and continue this journey forward.
 
Stay tuned - I promise to share details when I can.
But in the meantime - I will keep dreaming.
And envisioning where this journey of change will take me.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

What Is Enough?

What is enough?
Who gets to determine what is enough?
Is it a particular quantity?
When it comes to our personal lives -
our needs to do, to be, to accomplish . . .
Who determines what that looks like?
Is there a particular income, height, weight, accomplishment, number of hours worked in a day, number of hours slept at night, hair color, eye color, fashion sense, belief, moral code, etc., etc., etc,
that help us reach the point of saying . . .
that's it.
I've done it.
I'm good enough.
 
As a woman -
I struggle with this every day.
I open a magazine and I am met with the images of young teen girls made up to look like adults with tiny little bodies and perfect skin and hair.
I go to the movies and see women who manage to do it all, who look perfect, who wake up with perfectly combed "bed hair" and manage to keep it together.
 
Where is the sense of reality?
 
I have spent the last several months identifying who I am.
Who I was as a teenager.
Who I have become today.
Am I enough?
 
I talk with my friends and hear the tales of their journeys as they struggle with the same thing.
I go to social events and listen as everyone talks about how perfect everything in their life is.
I greet a friend or acquaintance and ask "how are you?" -
they answer by telling me they are "great", "just fine", "really good".
 
But are they?
Do they feel as if they are enough?
 
Recently, as I have been processing my divorce, I have found that many issues have emerged for me.
Issues that I have buried.
Issues that I didn't even realize I had.
Issues about self-worth, self-esteem and purpose.
I'm not going to go into the whole mess and process that has been wrapped up in this part of my journey -
but let me just say . . .
I'm beginning to believe that I am enough.
Just as I am.
I may not have the perfect body.
My hair may not be thick and full and lustrous like the commercials tell me it should be.
I have stretch marks, and scars and imperfections.
Some days I am happy and driven and positive.
Other days . . .I am not.
 
But regardless -
this is me.
In all the good, bad and ugly -
and I am enough! We all are.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Dream Big . . .Give Love

 
I don't know that there is much to be said here -
the words are pretty straightforward.
Follow this - and life is good.
 


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Change Your Heart . . .Change the World

How many times do we think . . .
what difference can I make?
These last several months, we have been bombarded with political ad campaigns, messages, slanders, accusations, promises and more.
People have become angry and emotional.
The tension that surrounded me was very uncomfortable.
Good friends were not speaking to each other because of differing opinions.
 
Combine that with other issues and it became a rather stressful situation.
 
The election is over - and I am not going to talk about my feelings on that here.
They are my feelings and my opinions and that will be reserved for other venues.
But I heard some people talk about their decision to not vote -
they stated that their individual vote would never make a difference anyway. . .
 
And that did bring up a lot of feelings about the difference a single person can make . . .
 
Years ago, I was at a leadership conference.
One of the speakers had been instrumental in changing national laws on the education of children with disabilities -
His child had been diaganosed with autism and he fought for the rights of his child.
He said he had been asked, many times, what he was bothering and fighting so hard.
People told him he would never make a difference and he was just wasting his time.
He answered them with the following quote:
"if you think you're too small to make a difference, you haven't spent the night with a mosquito." (african proverb)
 
That quote resonated with me
.
How many nights had I laid in bed hearing that unmistakable high pitched squeal that only a mosquito makes.
I throw the light on and look like a crazed woman as my eyes dart around the room trying to find the beast - like it is huge and easy to be seen;
unable to go to sleep because of the anxiety of it all.
Good grief!
 
But it confirms the truth of this statement.
 
We spend a lot of our life wishing for change.
And we try to change things within our control - our haircolor, our hobbies, our address . . .
But the bigger issues - we tend to wait for someone else.
We figure we are too small and unimportant to make a difference - it's someone else's responsibility.
We tell ourselves we are not good enough; we are not qualified enough; we are not important enough.
 
When I heard the quote in this piece of art (which was shared with me by a dear friend),
it resonated with me as truth just as the quote about the mosquito did.
It reminded me that by doing what is important to us -
by following our individual passions and our individual heart -
by listening to that inner voice -
we have the power to create change . . .
Change in ourself; change in our home; change in our community; change in our world.
And by moving forward in a positive direction, we have no idea how many lives we can influence for good.
In fact - when we stop and really thing about it, it is kind of awesome - isn't it?
 
So what is your heart trying to tell you?
and more importantly . . .are you listening? 


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

What is Fear Preventing You From Doing?

 
Remember when we were kids?
We would sit in our grade school classes and the teacher would ask us -
"What do you want to be when you grow up?"
I don't know about your class -
but in my class, the answers were BIG things.
No one said - I just want to be ordinary.
We had BIG dreams. BIG hopes. BIG desires.
We didn't think about how much money it would make or what others would thin of our choices -
We lived by our dreams.
 
As for me. . .
I fantasized about being a ballet dancer.
I wanted to twirl on my toes and wear flowing skirts or sparkly tutus.
 
I wanted to be singer - not with a rock band -
but with a big, full swing orchestra.
And even when I was young, my dream would have been to dress up in 40's style vintage dresses and sing classic American dance standards for a band like Duke Ellington or a jazz band like Ella Fitzgerald.
(Truth be told - I still have this fantasy!)
 
I dreamed of being a Broadway actress.
Doing that meant I could combine all of my passions together.
I wanted to perform in classic musicals like West Side Story or 42nd Street.
The more dancing the better -
and I did get to perform in some amazing musicals when I was younger - just not on Broadway.
But I miss that part of my life and will find a way to return.
 
I dreamed of working in the Peace Corps -
living a life of poverty in a remote village in a jungle and selflessly helping others.
 
I dreamed of being a police woman like Angie Dickinson was on tv.
Or a lawyer like Perry Mason.
I dreamed of being the perfect mom who had a whole group of children and never got ruffled like Mrs. Brady.
I dreamed of being a cool, hip musician mom like Mrs. Partridge. . .
 
But I never, ever dreamed of being an artist.
I tried art in grade school.
I tried it in high school.
I thought I had no talent whatsover and that feared stopped me from even taking a class.
If I drew something or tried to be artistic, I would cover it up and not let anyone see.
I would only try if I was hidden in my room - and it almost always ended up in the garbage.
I didn't get the courage to try to really explore art or painting until I was well into my 30s.
And even then - I was scared to really try.
I used patterns or only painted in solid colors and let someone else do the detailing for me.
 
I didn't even utter the phrase
"I am an artist"
until 10 years ago.
It took me that long to say to myself,
"I don't care what it looks like - I am going to paint for myself."
And when I lost the fear - life began.
 
What is preventing you from trying to do . . .?
It's time for a fresh start.
It's time to explore those dreams and make them happen.
It is time to LIVE.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Fall, Autumn . . .Beautiful

Regardless of what you call it-
fall or autumn -
I call it beautiful!
My favorite time of year -
I love it!
And I think we do it pretty well in Oregon.
 
Sometimes, the rain that comes in this time of year is a little tough to take.
But it also seems to wash everything clean -
and then when the sun peeks through,
the colors are more intense and glisten.
 
And the colors - oh the colors!
Once again,
God and Mother Nature prove that they are indeed the best of all artists!
 
 
This picture was taken at about 10:00 pm while walking the dog. The street light cast an ethereal glow . . .so pretty.

This color of gold warms my soul!

My view every day as I walk into my day job. . .

A favorite tree of mine - year round. Such a beautiful shape and color.

Even the shrubs are putting on their best.
Beautiful berries on the dogwood tree.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Be in AWE

"In awe -"
 
a google search of the defininition of the word awe states:
"a feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder"

or another definition . . .(by the way - I really, really like this definition):
"an overwhelming feeling of reverance, admiration,  fear, etc.,
produced by that which is
grand or sublime or fearful . . ."

How can you argue with something that is grand or sublime?
Those are such good words.

And each day that I awake -
I try to think of all that I have.
All the blessings that I am fortunate enough to enjoy.
And I don't mean the things.
Although "things" are wonderful -
and I am lucky and fortunate to have the things I need to be comfortable.
I have a roof over my head, comfortable furniture, clothes to wear, food to eat, a car to drive.
And I am grateful for those things.

But I am more grateful for those things that are "unquantifiable".
My ability to hear music - all sorts of music and to feel the rhythm to dance and my ability to raise my voice in song;
my ability to see all of the colors and miracles around me;
my ability to read and grow;
the miraculous movement of the earth - the growth - it's lifecycle;
my children and the miracle of life;
my family - near and far;
my friends and my support system.

I am in AWE.

Yesterday - hurricaine Sandy wreaked it's devastation across the East Coast.
And I find myself, once again, in awe -
 but this time the awe created comes more from fear.
The feeling of helplessness for friends that are far away and that were in its path.
To my knowledge - these friends are all ok.
But there are those that are not.
And some of the comforts of life have been taken away from many.

But I feel awe as I reflect on the power of thought and prayer.
And I am sending prayers out to all that were affected by the storm.

And although, the awe I feel over this storm is based in the more "negative" side of awe -
I choose to feel the "awe" that is based in the feeling of reverance and admiration.
For aside from the devastation - many have been spared and the power of the human spirit has once again triumphed.

Prayers and thoughts go out to all . . .


Amen.



Monday, October 29, 2012

More Upcycling

It's late Fall.
The weather is changing.
What I cook for dinner is changing with the seasons.
It's time for comfort food.
And in my world -
that means soup.
Lots of thick and hearty homemade soups.
 
Now when I make soups,
I use a lot of things like
stewed tomatoes and beans.
And because I am a lazy cook at times -
those items usually come in tin cans.
 
Depending on the soup,
once it is all assembled and simmering away
I look around and find my kitchen counter covered with tins cans.
Sometimes just one or two -
sometimes a lot more.
And although Oregon has a great curbside recycling program for all those cans -
I still feel a little guilty when I throw them out.
 
After a trip around pinterest and the web -
I found all sorts of upcycled ideas for tin cans.
TIN CANS!
Seriously - these are some awesome projects!
 
And now - I find myself wondering what other ways I can
upcycle tin cans.
I'm in trouble now . . .
I LOVE these - I mean really, really love these! Especially the contrast of the cans with the bling!

You know you've been looking for a more efficient way to store your yarn.


What a great desk organizer . . .
But this organizer is my favorite. I could so use something like this on my work table - although i would probably paint the cans rather than cover them in fabric!
Another great organizer. Love!

No need to explain - it's a great idea.

Who needs to buy an expensive cake plate? Make one out of recycled can and plates.

Finally - a way to store plastic bags, or tissues, or ???

And do these not make adorable planters? And talk about affordable. I love this idea, too.
 
So there you go -
 
Now before you throw away that next tin can -
take a minute and think about how it could be upcylced!
And if you have any other ideas - be sure to share!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Dream big with god nothing is impossible

 
When I was a young girl,
I learned a song that I sang at church.
I don't remember much of it - but I do remember a line that said,
"And with God, Nothing is impossible."
 
I believed this, I think.
But at that age -
I just took life as it came and it all seemed good.
My goals were pretty basic -
graduate from school, have a date to the prom (and there is a good story with that), get to sleep in on Saturday mornings,
 
As an adult -
the desires are a little bigger.
But as I put this theory to the test -
I'm beginning to think that there is some truth here.
 
So I am going to keep dreaming BIG.
Because I have decided that little dreams don't really suit us.
 
So what are you dreaming about doing?
What big, giant, momentous things do you think about and want and desire?
 
Let's all make a pact to keep our dreams big  -
but more importantly - Let's choose to believe that we deserve them. . .
 
Just a little thought that helps me keep going these days.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Work In Progress

After yesterday's whine fest . . .
We now return you to our regularly scheduled program.
And just in case you were wondering -
although many of the looming questions I am dealing with have not been answered,
I am feeling much better today.
I am back to feeling strong (sort of) and believing that I will make it!
So, it's all good.
 
And now to the real purpose of today's post -
here is a sneak peek of a work in progress.
 
Last Christmas, I had a table set up at a local business for a Holiday sale.
A lady bought a small piece.
OK - that's great.
And that is all there is to that story . . .
 
until -
about a month ago.
I received a phone call.
The lady on the other end told me about purchasing the small piece at the holiday sale.
She was remodeling and expanding her family restaurant.
Would I be interested in doing a painting for the restaurant?
Of course!
 
We made an appointment for me to drive to the restaurant and see the space.
I was somewhat unclear as to what she was wanting -
but was excited to work on a new order.
 
I arrived at Chennai Masala in Hillsboro, Oregon.
They were undergoing a major remodel and expansion.
I looked at around at the colors and the space.
When we spoke - she let me know that she was looking for 12 paintings.
12!
This was a much bigger job that I thought.
12- 3 ft x 3 ft paintings to hang above each of the tables.
And the other catch?
They all needed to incorporate traditional East Indian motifs with my own personal spin on them.
And lots of bright colors!
OK then -
 
This is a big project.
And if you paint at all - you know how long it can take to complete a 3 ft x 3 ft painting.
So the pictures you are seeing are definitely a "work in progress".
Detailing is still needed -
but this will give you an idea of where this project is headed.
And maybe, when these are delivered -
I can treat myself to some chicken tika masala and some warm naan.
 
 
Soon to be a brightly embellished peacock

Cool flower design

leaf motif
 
Stay tuned - I will post more pictures as this project advances - including some of the finished designs with all of the detailing.

Namaste

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Change

Warning: a whine fest is coming up.
Come on - come all!
She's up. She's down. She's all over the place.
She is the human emotional pretzel.
 
I am at a significant crossroads.
Decisions have to be made.
Changes have to be made.
I know this is for the best - but I am struggling with emotions and grief.
I have done great at getting control of my emotions - but this last week I have felt it all starting to slip a bit.
OK - more than a bit -
a lot.
I know I am strong.
I know I can do this.
I know I will be so much better off in the end.
But . . .
 
One of the consequences of my divorce is the fact that I can no longer remain in my home.
It is a good thing.
My home is full of issues that need attention including gutters that need to be replaced, molding that is not completed, floors that need to be replaced, walls that need to be painted, a back yard that is so overgrown a person could get lost in it, a front yard that is unfinished -
Most of these projects are reminders of all that was really wrong in my marriage.
We could talk big about things - we could start them -
but the follow through and finishing of said things rarely happened.
Much like the marriage itself -
we talked about forever -
but the follow through didn't happen.
 
Once the decision was undeniable that the marriage was over, I contacted a realtor to list my house.
The value of my neighborhood has dramatically fallen over the last few years.
The only option was a short sale.
That, in and of itself, was difficult enough.
But I proceeded.
And I expected that things would be finalized and I would be moving around the first of the year.
 
A week ago I received a phone call that things are moving faster than expected
and I now realize I need to be out of my home before Thanksgiving.
 
I went looking for a place this weekend.
I found one - it will be great.
But there will be changes and things to adapt to.
I will be in a "complex" in a lovely town home that has everything I want and need -
but it is in a complex.
I have never lived in a complex where I had to fight for parking or share walls.
I am not sure if I will be able to keep my dog.
I am leaving my home.
 
With all of the bad - this is the place where I have raised my children.
It is the place of birthday parties, holiday celebrations, family dinners, evenings spent around the outdoor fire, movie nights, making music together, laughter, tears . . .Family.
A move will allow me the chance to start over.
But I am saddened at the cost.
My family is forever changed.
And although I feel my wings sprouting and I know that I will be brighter and happier -
I mourn for the loss.
This move will symbolize the final point of "the end".
There is no going back.
And although I do not want to go back . . .
well, I'm sure you understand.
 
I have so appreciated this blog and the support I have felt through it.
The strength I have gained from putting this all out there.
And although most days,
I feel strong - today, that is not the case.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Taking Care of My Bamboo . . .

Ted Talks.
I love them.
A while ago a friend turned me on to a talk that was delivered in Portland.
It was called "Watering the Bamboo".
It's about twenty minutes
- but seriously -
take twenty minutes and watch it.
Go on - click on the link above and watch it.
Then come back and finish reading.
You will not regret it.
It will inspire you.
It will make you feel hopeful and full of purpose.
It will give you a new insight into this crazy thing called life.
 
So now . . .
about the drawing above.
This is not one of my best.
I get that.
But remember - I work an 8-5 job in an office.
I attend a lot of meetings.
I suffer from a little condition I call AADD -
Artists Attention Deficit Disorder.
I have a hard time sitting still during meetings.
I get fidgety. I get anxious. And then I miss everything that is being said.
So I doodle.
I am a bit of a joke around the office -
everyone wants to see my "meeting notes" because they are usually filled with all sorts of drawings and doodles with a few notes, words and reminders scattered about.
 
I was in a meeting the other day.
 I had just watched the Ted Talk on Watering the Bamboo the day before.
And it was still swirling around in my head.
This is the doodle that came out.
 
It was obviously still sitting in my sub-concious.
And I really spent some time thinking about my situation.
 
A few days ago, I received notice from my realtor that the deal on my house was nearing completion.
Where I thought I would be moving out of my home after the first of the year -
I discovered that it would probably be before Thanksgiving.
I hung up the phone and instead of happiness and relief I felt anger, panic and sadness.
I cried.
Where am I going to go? How am I going to move 16 years worth of stuff?
When am I going to get all of this done?
How much change can I person deal with in a short period of time?
 
But the words of the bamboo analogy came back to me.
Now - to understand what a profound effect this had on me - you will have to watch the video.
Just suffice it to say -
I was reminded, by my very wise father, of  all the things that had been taking place over the last few years leading up to these very important moments.
And it's good.
It's very very good.
And since the day that my life was thrown off kilter -
I have had some absolutely wonderful things take place.
Many that I can't even talk about here yet.
But dreams and wishes are beginning to come true.
And the thing is -
I don't think they would have happened if things had stayed the way they were.
 
So basically -
I have spent the last several years watering my bamboo.
And now - it has sprouted.
And watch out -
cause it is starting to grow!
 
Here are a few other silly office meeting doodles . . .
Nothing to do with the bamboo, but I figured I share them just the same!


A little Halloween doodle . . .

Patterns and designs doodle . . .