Same tour, different itinerary

print of gratitude
I’m honored to be tapped again to participate in this blog tour.  I answered these questions in mid-May in this post, just after (coincidentally) my daughter was sick.  Why go on the same trip yet again three months later? I imagine there’s new sites to see! I was curious to see how my projects have changed.  Any time there’s an opportunity to examine my life or habits, sign me up. Tat from Mum in Search nominated me with such lovely compliments! It also seems that the rules have relaxed. Tat didn’t ask me if I wanted to participate and I almost totally missed even seeing that she nominated me because I’m rarely on Twitter. nomination Without further ado…

1. What am I working on?

Just like last time, I’m coming off of my daughter’s illness and my own.  We also had both a birth and a death in the family this past week.  And sweet girl begins kindergarten today (so excited!!!).  I made my new niece these letters for her room:

letters

Besides the work in progress shown in the very last photo, I am doing a few commissioned mixed-media pieces and filling my Etsy shop with artwork.  I also have some photography gigs lined up.  I’ve been trying to print out a few photos to enjoy them.

Prints

Mostly, I think I’m in one of those periods where you incubate more than you create.  I am reading a ton, trying to rest here and there, and working on lesson plans for my fall religious school class. I’ve done a little guitar song leading, a little traveling, and played lots of board games with my daughter.

let to artworkI am behind in all my classes.  Gosh it feels good to say that and be ok with it! Perhaps now that school is starting, I’ll get back up to speed.  Honestly, it has felt like an accomplishment just to read all the emails I receive every day.  (I do love keeping up with everyone’s blogs!)

Oh and my craft room is a disaster.  I’ve been working on organizing all my unmounted stamps.

stamps

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I’m told it’s got a child-like innocence and whimsy to it.  I got this lovely compliment recently which is so encouraging:

compliment

3. Why do I write/create what I do?

I really can’t NOT.  I always feel like I write to know how I feel about something.  I notice the same with my photography and artwork.  It’s a process of discovery, uncovering who I am beneath the surface.  I’m almost always comforted by the artistic process and what arises for me.  I love the feeling of flow that comes when I’m immersed in something artistic.  My type-A mind shuts off and I can express myself intuitively.  It’s a way of simplifying.

4. How does your writing/creating process work?

In my mixed-media pieces, I begin with an intention.  What is the message or feeling I’m trying to convey? Usually there’s a phrase or quote that I’ve come across that inspires me, so I will envision what would visually make that come forward best.  I sketch it on paper or canvas in pencil and then start playing with paint and background layers.  Then I add ephemera, rub-ons, stamping, and doodling until it’s delightfully busy while still balanced as a whole.

Works in progress…

work in progressIn photography, I just feel it out.  Once I’m snapping away and looking at nature or people through the viewfinder, I sense where to go next.  I love nature macro work from different/unusual perspectives and candid photos of people when they are naturally being their beautiful selves.

For this blog, honestly the words just flow out of me.  I have always loved writing as a method of communication much more than speaking, which is why I hardly answer the phone anymore.  :)

Since I already passed the baton in my first post, I’m letting myself off the hook for doing it again.  Plus, I have to go make dinner…

Posted in Behind the Art, Creativity, Photography, Writing | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Let’s put on our perspectacles

JOY(This woman is meant to be jumping for joy – print and original available here.)
(Quotation by Richard Wagner)

I must tell you that being healthy again after being under the weather for a few days has really given me an opportunity to love the life I live.  (OMG being feverish and ill as a mother is dreadful.) Mr. B was laughing as I told him about my trip to the grocery store one morning this week.  I could not walk slowly enough to take in the marvel of it all – the colorful flowers, the fresh fruit, the magazines at checkout.  Amazing the choices we have, isn’t it? And there were so many people to exchanges smiles and greetings with! I really believe 99.9% of people are good eggs.  We’ve got out outshine that other 0.1% that are getting lots of attention lately.

This shift has carried over to everything.  Getting dressed in the morning, I am so happy to not be wearing my pajamas and to be moving my body! I choose comfortable clothes.  I reorganized my closet.  (Yes, again.  Sssh.)  I enjoy doing laundry, loading dishes into the dishwasher, holding hands with my daughter as we go about our day, snuggling her to bed at night.  I am just having so much fun being alive and healthy!

This post on Momastery says it all.  And I am completely adopting Glennon’s word “perspectacles.” I, too, feel grateful for everything we have and get to do in this first-world life of air conditioning and Target stores and ice cream and friendships and books and medicine and enough of everything we need.

I just feel so JOYFUL all of a sudden! I want to smile and sing and hug people.  Lol.  I had a delightful shopping trip to get a pair of khakis yesterday.  I was humming along to myself when picking out some things to try on and laughed about it with another lady when she starting singing my song.  In the dressing room, I literally told myself out loud, albeit quietly, “No judging allowed” and someone a few dressing rooms down said, “Amen sister!” It was so fun! And then the check out lady and I had a lovely chat as if we were in a small town and we knew each other, all about school starting and her job and wishing for a break in the humidity and heat.  It was so fun, I tell you, and I do not for the life of me know why I made shopping for food or clothes or even just brushing my teeth into such a dreadful burden before.

I think this attitude is how we are meant to feel about being human beings, living in our sensory bodies.  We are meant to delight in the wonder of things.  I am sure of it.  I am keeping my pair of perspectacles and wearing them proudly!

artworkWhile I was making my artwork yesterday, my daughter made a canvas too and she said she wanted me to share hers here also “so [she] can be famous too.”  I had a good laugh at that one! She probably will be famous someday, but I am famous only in her eyes.  :)

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From the archives: My ideal bookshelf

I’ve been under the weather for a few days, so today I’m sharing this “oldie but goodie” with you from Feb 2013.  A bit more rest and I’m sure I’ll be good as new.   I hope you all are doing well.

* * * * *books canvas header

* * * * *

My Ideal BookshelfI requested My Ideal Bookshelf (cover at left… I can’t remember where I first read about it) from the library and IT. IS. AWESOME! Cleverly edited by Thessaly La Force and creatively illustrated by Jane Mount, this book features more than 100 leading cultural figures who “share the books that matter to them most – books that define their dreams and ambitions and in many cases helped them find their way in the world.”

For each, there is a two-page spread; one side for their reflections and one for a graphic representation of their ideal bookshelf picks, amazingly illustrated by Jane Mount.  Here’s a random example:

books page spread

So I started wondering… if I had to select a small shelf of books that represent me – the few that have helped shape my life – which would I choose? Which ones are my “favorite favorites?”

I pulled out my list of everything I’ve ever read and started to flag ones that could be contenders.  I have hung on to my copy of Einstein in Love: A Scientific Romance by Dennis Overbye because I remember that I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.  That huge volume of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare? It was an amazing experience reading most of his plays in a course my senior year of college and it did teach me a great deal about how to read a text explicatively, but that doesn’t seem so important to me right now.

And that’s just it… the Preface of the book states that “what you select today may be completely different from what you would assemble tomorrow.  It’s a snapshot of you in a moment of time.  You could build an ideal bookshelf every year of your life, and it would be completely different.  And just as satisfying.” So I don’t feel terrible that I’m more drawn to a book on how to get your child to sleep through the night than a literary classic these days.

So I chose my favorite favorites from my shelves and arranged them.  Then for some reason, I decided to try to paint them on canvas.  I’m so glad I did! I used a 10×20 canvas board and pared the books down to fit that size too.  I marked how thick the spines are and how tall with pencil and sketched it out.  Then started mixing colors and painting.  I should tell you that I had no idea what I was doing but I just dove in anyway.

books drawing

books color

The detail of the spines I tackled with fine and extra fine point Sharpies and 05 Microns mostly.

books detailIt turned out way better than I expected! It looks so real from across the room.  Time seemed to fly by when I was making it too.  It took a few days, but I would drop my daughter off at school, begin working on this, and 5 minutes later it was time to pick her up.  But it was really 5 hours!  Here’s the final canvas.

books final canvasAnd here it is next to the books.  I just love it!

books canvas and real

What are your “favorite favorites?” Are they different now than what they were 5 years ago?  Do tell!

(No books were harmed in the making of this canvas.) (And to all the awesome books on my shelves and in my heart that I did not select, I still love you… it was so hard to choose!)

You can see more “Behind the Art” posts here.

Posted in Behind the Art, Books, Creativity | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Boo boos and the power of mom

IMG_0566Her: (running into the kitchen) Mommy, I was pulling out my construction kit and I accidentally kneeled on the hammer and now my knee really hurts! (tears falling from her scared eyes)

Me: Let’s see.  (kissing knee)

Her: Thanks.  Now it doesn’t hurt.  (walks away completely fine)

* * * * *

Disclaimer: This post has nothing to do with photography, art, creativity, or spirituality.  I have sincere doubts that 154 people want to read about my mundane, first-world struggles. But, hey, it’s what’s going on in my life.  And there’s a giveaway at the end!

 * * * * *

Last week, my daughter was within feet of me every day and night.  She had a high fever and an ear infection and felt miserable for days.  I was compassionate and took care of her as most parents would, nursing her back to health day and night, providing cuddles and medicine and soothing reassurances.

But everyone has limits.  I’ve been called the most patient mother on the planet (which is pretty funny to me), but when I’ve had enough, I just can’t give any more.  And this mama was tired! I’d rearranged my schedule every day… putting off the little things I do for myself here and there.  After the sweet sickie refused to take her antibiotics (that I’d been to the pharmacy three times for, the final time to add a yummy flavor) and Mr. B and I had to physically hold her little straining body and force them into her, I wished her luck in getting better, in growing up, and in college and then I slammed my bedroom door and cried myself to sleep.  I knew Mr. B would step up and put her to bed that night and so I crashed.  (She does not willingly go to sleep with anyone but me next to her.)  (Since mommy does not often get mad, after that night she has been taking her medicine.)

This week, it was to back to camp with her and much-needed quiet time for me.  She is making it difficult as only she can.  Every morning, she whines that she doesn’t want to go.  I say whines… there are tears and dramatics worthy of an award.  Each afternoon, I play games or do an art project with her, we watch kids shows together, I try to get her to eat something healthy, and every evening, it’s bath and bedtime.  I have been much better at valuing this 5-hour chunk of time recently, but this week is a deviation from the norm.

Probably I am tired from last week.  My little missy is really frustrating me! She shows completely different behavior with me than she does with my husband, friends, teachers, babysitters, or family.  While I know we have a different relationship and she is most comfortable with me, I must be allowing her to be a little wimpy or she wouldn’t be behaving  like this, clinging to me so desperately each morning (as if I’m taking her to a strange or dangerous place every day).  She won’t even let me answer the front door by myself, let alone leave her to play something on her own.

My mom suggested that maybe she stays up at night reading parenting books in an effort to thwart all our plans and ideas.  This little darling simply does not follow any typical developmental trajectory.   She spans the extremes: still needs my physical presence but wants to do things on her own and fights interference; still will not sleep all night in her own room but has been sweetly agreeable at bedtime; smart and funny and creative but also defiant and manipulative.  Extremely sensitive but also physically brave and daring.  Or maybe she’s a mix of everything.  She is pure spirit in the best and the worst way.

I do not know the appropriate response to these big emotions of hers.  I have read a literal ton of parenting books and blogs in the past six years and I feel like I’ve asked the opinion of everyone under the sun.  My usual M.O. is listening and acknowledging.  Today I tried working together with her to find solutions.  Tomorrow I may just hide.

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The Conscious ParentIn complete seriousness, though I do realize the irony, I have an extra copy of The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children by Dr. Shefali Tsabary to give away.  I saw Dr. Tsabary on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday and was greatly impressed by her gentle approach to healing the parent in order not to harm the child.  Children indeed are mirrors of what we have unresolved from our own lives.  If you’d like this book, please leave a comment below within the week for a random chance to win.

Posted in Books, Motherhood | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Comments

Energy and the illusion of substance

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 12.49.23 PMTaken from this excellent article in Goop Magazine.

I am sharing this with you because I took my first ever Reiki class on Saturday, which consisted of an attunement and some instruction on how to perform Reiki on myself.  So much more to learn, but fascinating stuff!

Posted in Spirituality | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Sensitivity as personal power

Introverts.PNGI’m conducting my own personal introvert revolution over here.  I am a get-r-done, high-energy perfectionist and I sometimes go go go and then I tend to crash.  As a highly sensitive person, I should know my limits.  The issue seems to be living within them in a better way.

I can’t handle too much of any one stimuli or I physically start to rebel.  I have been noticing more and more that when I listen to my body and spirit telling me to take a break, I am far more resilient and happy if I listen.

I am easily overwhelmed by things like bright light, noise, extreme temperature, or violent TV and movies.  Sometimes there’s so much to process that I need to incubate in a slower environment for awhile, and that is ok with me.  Carving out the time to let this happen proactively is the difference I’m trying to make.  That way I don’t have to back out of things at the last minute.

Time for Stillness

Stillness print available here

Sometimes these subtle nuances are there to remind us to take care of ourselves.  Last week, my edges were especially frayed and so I let myself cancel phone calls and meetings, curl up and take a nap one day, not follow my usual schedule.  The shift was immediate.  There’s a physical basis to this as well.  I learned from reading The Highly Sensitive Person’s Survival Guide: Essential Skills for Living Well in an Overstimulating World (Step-By-Step Guides) by Ted Zeff, PhD, that the HSP’s brain wave patterns are more frequently in a theta state. In this state, a person is more open to intuitive feelings and to picking up light, sound, and other subtle vibrations more deeply.” And that “HSPs have to learn to ignore or protect themselves from unwanted stimuli.”

Being your own caregiver is a huge lesson for most of us.  We are so good at looking after everyone else, but often we don’t know how to give ourselves a break. I am doing an experiment with myself.  I’m trying to plan my day around my intuitive needs and where I am in my physical hormonal cycle, and generally trying to simplify where possible.  Today we have some A/C repairmen banging around in the attic and also a sick child at home with me, but to make it easier, I’ve got some soothing music playing and am sitting somewhere very comfortable.

Stillness detailGoing forward, I am going to plan my outings into noisy or crowded environments carefully, with built-in breaks or in limited quantities.  I am no longer going to feel that there is something wrong with me that I can’t handle something.  I’d rather meet you for a quiet chat over tea than come to your birthday party.

Instead of feeling like an odd duck, it dawned on me that maybe being this tender is a strength.  Isn’t this the very quality that helps me sense other’s vulnerabilities and moods, connect to my own and others’ feelings, truly see what others sometimes miss, let alone be creative and intuitive and artistic? I can’t do this if I’m tired or hungry or exhausted.  I can only tune in to these traits when I take care of myself.  It’s almost like I have to guard this special quality and not let it get too overwhelmed that it runs and hides.

Stillness clock“The highly sensitive person has an important mission, which is to serve as a balance to the more aggressive behavior of some of the non-HSPs who advocate a less than nurturing policy toward humans, animals, and Mother Nature.”  (This is not intended to be a slight against “non-HSPs.”) 

So others can go to the large gatherings and the crowded restaurants, the baseball games and the concerts.  I will go only when I know I can handle it, when I “can anchor myself to a ship of tranquility, [when I] won’t be tossed about by the waves of stimulation.”  And when I don’t think I can, I’ll know I’m not missing out because I am protecting something special.

Treasure Each Day

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Posted in Books, Creativity, Spirituality | Tagged , , , , , , | 25 Comments