Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Day 17,828 Gratitude: Second Chances

I traveled to Taos in June with the sweetest little handmade journal. I had high desert daydreams about all that I would capture in pen, pencil and paint upon its hand-folded Fabriano pages. Despite big plans, best intentions and the embarrassing fact that I was there for a sketchbook journaling workshop, I only drew three times in that wee book. By "in that wee book," I mean "total." Three sketches. The whole trip.

Granted, I wasn't there for the purpose of filling my own journal but rather in a support capacity to the students, their teacher and the workshop as a whole. The days were lengthy, luscious and active. All that caught my eye imprinted itself upon my memory rather than within the pages of my book. Treasured all the same, but now, with time, harder to retrieve.

But I'm going back.

The last of the reservations were made today for my next visit to Taos in late October. I'm pinching myself at the prospect of introducing a dear friend to this heart home of mine. She has no idea that conditions are favorable for having her soul furniture rearranged. Our four full days there will be spacious with no firm plans but to savor. So I am taking the liberty of tucking this journal back into my travel bag, because I believe in second chances. (And, for the record, second chances for second chances, as may be required.)

For all of this, I am so deeply grateful.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Day 17,827 Gratitude: Perennially Forgotten

Every year, these flowers triumphantly emerge against the back of the house in a long-neglected plot that the previous homeowners had surrendered to mint. This particular patch of earth gets warmed by the morning to early afternoon sun and then agitated by the rumbling heat pump condenser once the AC wins. This is a spot where the dog is prone to sniff and pee. It doesn't register to me as a point on our property inclined toward overt beauty. I always forget. I forget that these flowers will make their fleeting but showy reappearance when July feels wearying and other perennials have opted to fade. They serve to remind me that there is no such thing as a lost cause. Miracles can arise at the oddest times and in the strangest places. For this truth and the reminder of it, I am so grateful.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Day 17,794 Gratitude: The End is the Beginning

I would like to say that I'm home, but my heart is in two places ... the Ohio River Valley and Taos, New Mexico. Before I wax poetic about my recent journey, I must first give wholehearted thanks to my husband and daughter who not only tolerate but bless this vision quest that I embark upon each June. They've been around this block with me four years in a row and each time they get a new wife and mama upon my return. Not everyone is so flexible with and trusting of the ones they love. I don't take their support for granted.

Going back to Taos each year is the ultimate surrender. Not only do I get to help by holding the space for those who travel to Amy's Illuminated Travel Journal Workshop, but also by bearing witness to their delightful discovery that this trip is about so much more than drawing. I've also learned that I must go into it with the awareness that what needs to be faced, healed, reconciled within myself awaits me. This is big work, beautifully ugly though it may be. It's an annual exam of sorts ... with a no bullshit clause.

I thought I was ready this year. I really did. Joke was so on me. I wasn't ready. I'll never be ready. There's no telling what will come up or how things will go while I'm there. Thankfully, this year, more than ever, things went swimmingly. What's more, what was wholly unexpected, was Amy's and my deep sense of coming home, being welcomed home. We've had the good fortune of making dearest friends at Mabel's. We've put down roots. Our cooties have found their way into nooks and crannies. The history has seeped into our bones. And every single year it becomes exponentially more difficult to leave.

But leave we did (sigh), only to begin again with the counting of days (349 to date). Waiting is so hard, but in this case beyond worth it. Not that far. Not that hard. Right? That's what I'll keep telling myself in the many months ahead. For this, for all of this. What has been. What will be. I am so deeply grateful.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Day 17,745 Gratitude: The Short and Sweet

On this unseasonably warm spring day, gratitude looks a lot like ...

A last minute invitation to take a much needed walk with a friend.

The knowing that I will soon be by the sea.

Letting sleeping dogs lie.

How about you?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Day 17,725 Gratitude: The Power of 100

On the first of December, 2013, I was inspired to create 100 business card sized (3.5 x 2") collages in 100 days. I called it my "The Power of 100 Project" because I knew that, in the process, I would be making art, yes, but also learning about what makes me tick (and tank) as an artist. It's been an interesting adventure and I continue to explore the layers of all that I've discovered along the way.

So here I am now, with a box of 100 collages ... each one with bits and pieces that tell stories within stories. It seems a shame to keep them packed away. I feel like these wee originals need to make their way into the world and in so doing, if they can also do some good, all the better.

Here's the plan, my friends.  Beginning today, these 100 collages will be listed individually in my Etsy shop for $5 each (with shipping and the swanky card-stock easel included).  Of that $5, I will donate $3 to Visionaries + Voices, a local non-profit that provides representation, studio space, supplies and support to more than 140 visual artists with disabilities in the Greater Cincinnati area.

The collages will be available in the shop for 100 days (until July 25), after which I'll cut the check to V+V. I hope to find homes for every single collage and be able to send them a check for $300.

I will post a few collages per day to the shop, so keep an eye out for your favorite(s). The first three are available now. Feel free to spread the word!  For your on-going support, I am so deeply grateful.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Day 17,724 Gratitude: To Every Start, Eventually a Finish

Everything about this project felt like it took forever, but it's finished ... done and dusted ... 100 collages within 100 days ... and each one of them, at long last, uploaded to this Flickr set for your viewing pleasure.  (The first icon of the three at the top right provides a slide show option.)

I don't know where to go from here.  I've no idea what to do with them.  For now, it's enough to be pleased, proud and patting myself on the back.  I finished a sticky project that I started!  For that I am so grateful.

(And to Tina, Beth, Pamela, Cynthia, and Keith, a great big thank you for the fixins contributed!)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Day 17,718 Gratitude: Wellbeing is a Team Sport

The big orange guy of the house isn't feeling well. The mobile vet came over today to look him over and help us figure out what's going on and how we can collaborate to support him in getting better. It got me to thinking about wellbeing teams ... how we each have one and how they include more than just our physician. Therapists, teachers and healers of all kinds can round out our wellbeing team. Beautiful people who prepare us beautiful food. The librarians. The musicians. The sales clerk at the art supply store. They, too, in their own way, can serve to support our wellbeing! Let's not forget our family and friends who are so often on the front line, providing succor as needed. For my own personal wellbeing team and the wellbeing teams of those I love, I am so deeply grateful.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Day 17,717 Gratitude: Behind

I'm behind on a lot of things. Sharing about the completion of my 100 collages project. Sharing about enduring the last leg of winter. Sharing about what's working for me right now and what isn't. I'm behind on making anything new. On eating right. On doing anything that remotely resembles exercise.

The one thing that I'm not behind on is being Alyssa's mom and doing my best to support her through what has been a very challenging sophomore year of college. I've been right on time, without fail and every bit on the spot in that precious area of my life. And for that I am so grateful.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Day 17,679 Gratitude: A Livelihood of Love

Yesterday, I went to the semi-annual Gemstreet show in Sharonville, hopeful to see Ken Harsh, my absolute favorite purveyor of wrappable crystals and stones.  Sometimes he would have a booth there and sometimes not ... which made perfect sense, as sometimes he seemed of this world and sometimes not.  He was an exuberant man with many offerings above and beyond the gems he sold, so I was disappointed when I didn't see his booth, but not particularly surprised.  Yet I wondered.  I wondered enough to do some research. And, sadly, it turns out that what I wondered was true.  He will be sorely missed.

Ken was a generous man.  Without fail, I'd diligently tally my purchases only to have him contemplate my basket and say, "Hmm, how 'bout twenty bucks" ... always significantly less that what I owed.  He was also generous with laughter, information, and stories.  I would come away from his booth uplifted in so many ways and already looking forward to the next opportunity to connect.  Isn't this what each of us should aim for as we do our work in this world?

The photo above is my inventory of gems still waiting to be wrapped.  They are the last from Ken. Bittersweet to let them go, yes, but it's my part in our unspoken agreement.  It's time for them to get to those who need them.  As synchronicity would have it, I recently agreed to participate in the Women Writing for (a) Change Swan Day here in Cincinnati on Sunday, March 30.  Many of these will be adorned and ready to be worn.  I will share more information in the weeks ahead.

For those who so obviously bask in and shine their light through all that they do, inspiring each of us to do the same, I am so deeply grateful!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Day 17,660 Gratitude: In Process

The 100 collages project (The Power of 100, that is) continues.  Nope, I didn't finish in January, as had been the adjusted plan.  I knew this project would teach me things.  The biggest lesson is that an artful endeavor such as this decides upon its own timeframe for completion.  Not silly me.  For now, it looks like it will work out to 100 collages in 100 days ... wrapping up one month from now. But I can't say for certain.  What I do know for sure is that I've made 60 of them so far.  Each one is its own story.  And each one a story within the story of the day that it was created and a snapshot in time of the me who created it.  Several of you have very kindly sent me "fixins" for these collages, which has warmed my heart and ignited my inspiration.  Yes, there IS power in the creation of 100 and there's more for me to learn before the 100th collage is made. For all of this, I am so grateful.  

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Day 17,647 Gratitude: Bullet Journaling

Here we are ... the last week of January.  Although quiet here on the blog, I've been here, um, there, er, in my Magic Beans Workshop above.  Collaging continues.  I'll share more soon.  There are gems that I've been commissioned to wire-wrap into pendants.  Reiki shawls have been in progress.  And, last but not least, there has been a fair amount of brainstorming too.

On that end, Bullet Journaling has been a new year blessing to me.  These daily lists not only capture the things I need to do, but also events, observations and ideas ... the things that might otherwise float away, uncaptured and unexplored.  I've slightly modified the process to suit the way that I'm wired and, as a result, I'm accomplishing things that have been bugging me in their undoneness for months ... if not years.  Why has this system been so successful for me?  Simple.  I get tired of writing down the same undone tasks each day.  Get 'em down.  Get 'em done.  Move along.

What tools and techniques have been keeping you organized and inspired as we move forward into 2014?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Day 17,620 Gratitude: Creature Comforts

In the midst of a winter storm, the things for which I'm feeling most grateful take the form of creature comforts ... the reliability of our furnace, yes, when the thermometer reads 19 degrees ... and soft things, good music, hot tea and nourishment borne of the oven, especially.  I received an essential oil diffuser for Christmas this year.  It's rocking (and relaxing) my world.  I've been enjoying Purification for the better part of the day.  I'm gearing up to crochet beside a blazing fire tonight.

Joy, magic, beauty, pleasures and happy surprises don't always show up in grand form each day ... but they do show up.  Always.  For this I am so grateful.

(Please share with me what you are most grateful for today.  Gratitude begets gratitude, so don't be shy.)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Day 17,619 Gratitude: Bridges

Although quiet here, the second half of December was a flurry of activity that included successfully completing the local 5K race for which I'd been training, fetching the daughter from college for winter break, celebrating the holidays with family and friends ... while continuing to sling gel medium and bits of this-n-that onto business cards.
Up until the last five days of December, I still believed that, with focused effort and the ability to bend time, I could finish all 100 cards.  It was feasible, yes, but it was not practical.  I've learned a lot from this project so far.  One of the biggest lessons has been that determination to finish for the sake of finishing, at the expense of enjoying the process, isn't worth it.  My guiding word for 2013 was "gentle" and the generous application of it was called for here. 
Gentleness aside, I loathe breaking promises and falling through on plans, but had to remind myself that it wasn't as though I'd decided not to finish at all.  I was simply adjusting the timeframe for completion.  That said, as of last night, I have completed 50 of the 100 collages.  You can take a closer look at them on Flickr.  The remaining 50 collages will be made before the end of this month. 
So now, rather than representing closure, this project bridges the old year with the new.  For a girl who so often feels like it's her work to bridge worlds, this makes perfect sense.  For what's been done, what's to come and the bridge between the two ... I am so deeply grateful.