Thursday, April 25, 2013


I have had a house with a yard.
And in that yard was the green grass.
And in that green grass were the dandelions.
Those noxious weeds that seemed to take over the lawn.
I would dig them out and apply weed killer to them.
I used home remedies and store bought chemicals.
I cringed when I saw them emerging.
I made sure to mow my lawn frequently so they never had a chance to sprout their "flower".
And if someone happened to get a hold of those little puffy seed heads blow them about...
well, I can't even describe the anxiety I felt over that.
Then one day, when my children were quite small -
my daughter brought me a bouquet of bright yellow dandelions.
I smiled and thanked her and held on to them while I tried to decide how to secretly dispose of them.
She got a very concerned look on her face and told me to put them in water so they wouldn't die.
(Heavy sigh from me) and then with a smile I said OK.
I got out a drinking glass..
"No", she said..."Use a pretty vase".
I had some antique cut glass bud vases and I pulled one of them out of the cupboard.
I filled it with water, immersed the dandelions and set it on the window sill.
"No", she said...."Put them on the table".
On the table?
What would people think if I had weeds on my table???
I put them on my table.
Later, I was sitting at the table all alone.
The kids were probably napping or something because it was one of those rare quiet moments.
I looked at the dandelions.
I mean - I REALLY looked at the dandelions.
And I was caught off guard.
I had seen these little yellow weeds many times before,
but I had never really studied them.
And they were beautiful.
Really and truly beautiful...
Hundreds of perfectly formed petals layered one upon the other.
Straight edges and slightly fringed ends.
Even the leaves were special -
so much more interesting than many other leaves on flowers.
And then there are those magical seed heads.
Puffy clouds of white.
So fragile, yet so strong...
I thought about other flowers that are valued -
roses, carnations, daisies ...
Those are all beautiful, but the intricies of the dandelion was so special and unusual - and in many ways surpassed the rose.
Yet - it took me all of my life (up to that point) to see the beauty in them.
Life lesson here.
How many other things was I taking for granted?
How many other works of intricate beauty was I missing because I had been told it wasn't beautiful or special?
Now I am not an expert in this area.
I do not in any way claim to be perfect in appreciating the small details in my day.
In fact, many days - the details irritate the crap out of me. (Just being honest here...)
But I am trying ...
I try to remind myself to slow down and appreciate the wonders that are all around me.
I try to see things through the eyes of a young child.
Have you ever gone on a walk with a 3-year old?
Then you know what I mean -
I want to appreciate the beauty of the sunrise and sunset -
 even if I just saw one yesterday.
I never want to get tired of the amazement I feel when I watch a hummingbird.
I want to stop and examine the intricacies of a spider web with morning dew still clinging to it.
And I want to appreciate the beauty of the dandelion...
I want to be a participant in the magic of the world around me.
And just as a sidenote -
If my 3-year old grandson brings me a bouquet of dandelions,
they will be placed in the prettiest vase I can find and
proudly displayed on my table.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Work In Progress...

A work in progress...
It's a term that is used in art a lot.
For a piece like the one above I start with a blank surface.
Stark white watercolor paper.
I take a pencil and lightly draw on a design.
Not all of the details - but a general outline.
Then I begin laying in the black lines - not all of them, but some.
Then comes color (my favorite part).
I layer it in.
I move all over the paper - because if you understand how watercolors work, you know they are very unpredictable.
You have to wait until each section dries before putting another color next to it or they will blend.
All on their own.
Whether you want them to or not.
Then once everything is colored and very dry...
I go back with the black and finish out the details and the words.
Often, I don't have a plan when I start.
And throughout the early stages 
the "work in progress" looks very plain and not very special.
But it builds and grows.
I have always believed that as people,
we are in constant motion.
I have taught my children that.
We are either moving forward and growing,
or we are slipping backwards.
But we are never stagnant and still.
We are not the same person today that we were yesterday.
We are "works in progress".
But too often we think that some magical event occurs as an adult that causes us to say...
"I'm done. I have arrived where I want to be..."
As an adult who is ... well, old enough to have experienced many things -
I often wonder where I will be in another year.
Do I still have the ability to grow and learn new things?
Am I moving forward or am I slipping?
Am I "done?"
So I have spent some time thinking about this and I came up with this list:
Ten things I have done in the last year that I was not doing before that...
1. I have returned to swimming on a regular basis.
2. I have started a belly dancing class (which I have always wanted to do and LOVE by the way).
3. I signed up for a choir class at the College where I work and have been singing with a group of 30 other students every Monday, Wednesday and Friday on my lunch hour. I am old enough to be most of the other student's mother, but I am loving having a chance to sing with a group.
4. I am learning to sing in 4 different languages  - which I have never done before. This is definitely challenging my "adult" brain.
5. I have purchased a ukulele and have learned several chords and a few songs.
6. I have become acquatined with new friends ...some in other countries.
7. I have learned to cook vegetarian meals to support my daughter.
8. I have attended several musical performances and have tickets for several concerts over the next few months.
9. I have returned to a habit of stretching and yoga.
10. I have begun to find my balance and each day am finding peace with being "alone".
So I guess you could say that
I am a work in progress.
I am adding multiple layers to my life.
I am becoming reacquainted with things that I had stopped doing (like playing the piano and singing in a choir)...
and I am trying out new things and meeting new people.
My hope and desire is that I will never be a completed work of art.
I don't want to ever be in the position where I just stay in one place and decorate the room.
I want to be an ongoing work in progress for the rest of my days...

Friday, April 5, 2013

Spring Love

I know I grumble about the weather to my friends sometimes.
I believe that Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD) is real.
I have felt the affects of it on many many occasions and it gets worse as I get older.
I fantasize about moving to somewhere in the South where the sun shines year round...

And then this happens in the sky...

And this happens on the trees... 

And this... 

And I step outside and see this...

 And these pop up along the path that I walk on...

And I fall in love with my Pacific Northwest all over again.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Let's Step it Up!

I don't think it is any secret ...
I find a lot of power in words.
And these words really spoke to me today:
"There is a profound and very painful mission we subconsciously embark on right around the junior high school years.
We set out to live a life free of embarrassment. Everything we do is designed to keep us safe from other people's ridicule.
But that strategy becomes a prison hou
se as we try to make adulthood successful, because it limits all the good things we could have done.
To aim for WILDLY SUCCESSFUL is actually more practical and beneficial than to try to be successful. So rise up. Step out. Use your voice. Speak up, and perform daring acts of heroic and creative service." From "Risk Your Safe Habits" by Steve Chandler
I remember my junior high years.
I watched my children go through these years.
It is a very painful time.
Fitting in is the goal...or at least it seemed that way.
I have a very vivid memories...
One day in seventh grade-
I got up in the morning and got dressed for the day.
I was sporting one very cool outfit.
I can still see it in my mind.
And out of the need to preserve my dignity, I refuse to describe it here.
But let's just say ...
It's purpose was to look "cool" and to be noticed.
Unfortunately...I didn't realize how uncomfortable "being noticed" would feel.
I think I made it until about 8:15 (school started at 8:00) before I was ready to melt into the floor.
I spent the rest of the day trying to figure out how to get home and into something more...
But regardless of the excuse - I knew I was stuck.
The day dragged on.
I was mortified and humiliated all day long.
I went home angry at mom.
How could she have let me leave the house in that outfit???
Like it was her choice....LOL.
Junior High was also the time for lovely body changes.
You all know what I am talking about.
It's like our bodies went crazy...remember?
I would wash my hair in the morning and by 10 am it was greasy and stringy.
There wasn't enough deodorant available in the entire city...
We were all going through our "gangly" stage.
Our faces were betraying us with acne...
Oh yeah. It was special.
High School came and I headed into drama.
That choice, in and of iteself, made me stand out.
I was onstage - and I felt at home there.
But there were cerain assumptions about the kids in drama.
Alot of us were "the social misfits".
So I did everything I could to blend ...
but that was a contradiction to what I wanted to do.
The story of attempting to blend in didn't change as I grew older.
But I am done wanting to blend in.
I am done wanting to settle for "ordinary".
Why do we cut ourselves short?
Why do we think it's acceptable to want "ok" for ourselves?
When I read the statement above - I realized just how much I want to stand out!
I also realize how much I have missed up to now because of the limits that I put on myself.
I say NO MORE.
No more limits. No more underestimating.
We are not here to fail.
We are not here to be average.
If we were meant to be average - then we would all be exactly alike.
I want to be WILDLY successful at what I do -
And I am not talking about money here - (Not that a little extra wouldn't be appreciated).
I am talking about being wildly successful so that I can say YES to all of the things that I want to try -
Say YES to adventures.
Say YES to LIVING!!!
And what's more...
I want to be able to empower my children and my grandchildren and every other young person that I meet to be Wildly Successful starting today!
Let's not shrink behind complacency and normal anymore.
Let's get out there and let our light shine!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Talented or Crazy?

This post might be construed as a rant.
Please do not be offended or think that I am being proud or any other unflattering term.
I just need to express something that has been on my mind too often lately.
I promise to get down off my soapbox immediately...

I play the piano.
I sing.
I cook.
I dance (or I used to when I was younger).
I have performed in plays on stage.
I can crochet and knit and do embroidery.
I create "crafts"
I create art.
I learned to do several of these things when I was very young.
Some were passions and interests.
Some were a result of boredom -
For example...
I learned to knit when our family would visit my grandparents in Idaho and there was not a lot for me to do.
I learned to do embroidery because our television died when I was in grade school and my parents didn't replace it for many years.
I learned to play the piano and dance because my mom and dad signed me up for lessons.
At first I was resentful of having to go to lessons after school instead of playing with friends...
but eventually I learned to love these things and can't imagine life without them.
I learned to draw and do "art" because my kids were little, I was a stay-at-home mom and I was trying to keep myself out of the depths of depression.
But the bottom line is...
None of these things came easily.
They all started with nothing more than a desire - sometimes my own and sometimes my parents.
I had a desire and I jumped in.
I didn't come into this world doing what I do today.
I have not ever, and will never, be considered a protege'.
I practiced and practiced and practiced.
Often, many hours a day.
I often hear things like ...
"I wish I could do that"
"You are so talented",
"It just comes so easy to you"
or my favorite...
"Is there anything you don't do?"
I'm never quite sure how to respond to those statements.
I say thank you.
And then I feel a little self-concious.
And sometimes - a little offended and ticked off.
I didn't just pick up a paint brush and start doing what I do today....
my first projects were terrible.
I mean...really bad.
Embarassingly bad.
Not one of the things I do came easy.
And I know - that for many of other "creatives" out there -
their story is very similar.
Here is what my day looks like...
I get up at 5:30 and do all of the "chores" to get myself and my daughter out the door for our day...
shower, get dressed, make something for breakfast and lunch, walk the dog, drop daughter off at school...
Then I go to my day job.
I work my 8-5 job.
I head home and change clothes.
I usually change into jeans or sweats, a t-shirt and a really "pretty" denim shirt that is absolutely covered in paint...
bottom line - I don't look very "pretty" in my evening attire.
I work with my daughter to fix a little something for dinner.
And then I go to my studio and work into the evening ...usually quite late.
When I need a break..I head over to my piano and practice singing.
If I shut down early (anytime before 9:30) -
I head to my room, where I draw and work on art pieces that will become prints until I am too tired to see straight.
On the weekends, 
I generally do marathon painting sessions - for several hours at a time.
Sometimes late into the night.
My reason for sharing this is not to brag or play the marytr but to make a point -
Art is my passion.

Music is my passion.
And those things that I want to do and do well -
I spend a lot of time doing.
 It is the first thing I think of when I wake up.
It is the last thing I think of before I go to sleep.
I make time for it...
Every. Single. Day.
When I was in high school I signed up for drama.
At the hands of my drama instructors,
I learned what it meant to be passionate about something.
I learned about the correlation between work and a superior end product.
I learned that to be excellent - you had to give up other things.
We were expected to practice every day (including weekends).
I cursed my drama teacher for her expectations.
I loved my drama teacher for the lessons I learned from her.
I learned what it meant to be passionate about something.
Every minute I spend doing my art and music is time I feel the happiest.
But there have been times I have worked on my art in tears of frustration or wonder what in the hell I am doing this for...
I do not think of myself as being gifted or special...
but I do think of myself as being driven and stubborn and even a bit obsessed.
My "talent" started as nothing more than a desire to try something new.
And when I learned that I liked that thing...I kept at it.
And continue to keep at it.
It has meant that I have missed out on some things.
For example -
although I love to socialize, I have been accused of being "too busy" to go to events or get together with people; I hardly ever go to the movies or even watch movies at home; I rarely watch tv and had to ask someone what "Duck Dynasty" was; I have missed out on a lot of sleep; I have had to miss various weekend functions because I have been sitting at an art sale manning my booth or I have been sitting in my studio filling orders; I don't drive brand new cars or have a fancy house or fancy clothes; I don't get my nails done anymore (they are always covered in paint anyway) or go on many vacations.

I do not feel like I have missed out because I am doing what I love!
I am LIVING my passion.
I have worked very, very hard to reach the place that I am at with my art.
And I do mean WORKED...
But like, most artists/creatives . . .I still believe that I have a long way to go. I want to continue to grow.
I don't think of myself as being "so talented"...but instead I am obsessed.
I don't doesn't really matter.
This is who am I and I will continue to live my passion.

How about you?
So...what is it that you want to try?
What are you waiting for?
Who knows - you may find a new passion and find something that you are really "talented" at.