A woman who works with her hands is a laborer;

A woman who works with her hands and her head is a craftsperson;

A woman who works with her hands, her head and her heart is an....


Thursday, September 27, 2012


This past weekend, my daughter and I took off on an adventure.
Armed with a need for inspiration, we headed to the Seattle Center to take part in the Dale Chihuly Gardens and Glass exhibit.
Stunning displays of colored whimsical glass.
Light reflecting and dancing throughout the room.
Creations out of an imaginary world inspired by plants and nature.
Come and enjoy with me.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Raising the Bar

Warning - this is a post about my dog.
If you are a cat person, you have been warned ;)
Almose two years ago,
there was a hole in my heart that reached an unrepairable proportion.
I had always had a dog in my house.
And when it was time to say goodbye to our long-time family member, Murphy,
I had made a pledge that we were done with dogs. It was too hard to say goodbye.
I didn't need the mess, the responsibility, the work . . .
I was done.
No more pets.
Murphy at about 14 years old.
Then about six months after Murphy's passing,
 the pangs started again and then the hole opened up.
Then the hole became so evident that I knew I needed another dog.
My husband was not convinced.
We talked and debated and argued.
Then one day he said - yes, we need to get a dog.
I didn't want to go through the puppy stage, so we opted to look for a rescue animal.
This scared me.
But through patience, and looking at several dogs -
we I found the perfect one.
In fact, when we met him, it was like finding my long lost friend.
Redford has been with me for almost a year now.
Redford came to me when our family was "whole".
Redford spent his days at home with the man of the house while I went to work.
Then the earth stood still and my world changed when the man of the house left and never came back.
Redford and I were both a little lost.
But we have spent many hours together.
We go on walks.
We talk.
We love. We snuggle.
We play.
We laugh.
He listens, He feels, He comforts.
He knows when I need that extra emotional support and comes to my side.
He lays his head on my chest and looks deep into my soul and I feel unconditional love.
He smiles at me.
He makes me feel like I'm someone special.
He listens for my car to come home at the end of the day and is waiting right inside the door.
He never complains if I am late or if I'm a little cranky.
He just greets me with a big smile, a happy tail and great spirit.
And then he remains by my side for the rest of the evening.

Now I am not now - nor will I ever be - one of those pet owners that dresses up her dog and makes them special meals and carries them in their purses.
If you are - no judgement from me- I just won't be like that.
I don't let him sleep on my bed or be fed from the table.
But I have to take this moment to thank RedFord.
I don't know where my life is going to take me this next year.
As I prepare for an eventual move and I continue on my final approach to the ultimate end of this life altering journey - a divorce,
I am grateful that Redford found me.
I do not believe that he was a coincidence.
I believe that God knew I was going to need him and guided our paths together.
He was supposed to be with me to support me through this time.
Thanks Red!
And - let it be known -
the bar has been set pretty high.
Should a "man" ever come a calling and want to enter my life on a more permanent basis -
he has some pretty big shoes to fill.
Four to be exact!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Natures Miracle

As an artist -
I can't help but be amazed and marvel at a sight like this.
This occured on a night when I was feeling a bit sorry for myself.
I had come home from work and had a very long list of things that I needed to do.
I wanted to go and work in my studio.
But my dog needed a walk.
He REALLY needed a walk.
And there was no one else to take him.
"Why do I have to do everything when I get home?"
These were things that my husband used to do - and I have been left with.
Grumble grumble grumble.
I huffed and puffed to myself and grudginly loaded the dog in the back of the car.
I grabbed the leash and his ball and the poop bags.
Grabbed my keys and my wallet and my phone -
Good grief - am I going to walk the dog or moving out for a week?
How much stuff does a person need to walk the dog.
I get down to the dog park.
I haven't decided how I feel about the dog park.
I love my dog - I love to walk him.
But I have a life.
There are these dog owners that come down there every evening and the bring a suitcase filled with toys and water and dog treats. They have collected a bunch of chairs that they stack in the corner of the fenced area and pull out so they can sit and socialize for hours while the dogs do their thing.
I don't know these people because I rarely stay long enough.
I don't know their dogs names and they all know Redford's name.
They talk for a couple hours every night.
I don't have that much time to spend at the dog park.
When I see them and stand in their midst - I feel like a bad dog parent.
It's like when I used to stand at the playground or the community center and compare myself to the other parents of toddlers.
My theory is -
get in, run him hard and move on.
That is what I was doing.
Rushing the dog. Rushing myself.
Feeling anxious at everything I still had to do.
And I stopped and turned my head.
The sun was poking through the trees and I was greeted with a sight that demanded to be acknowledged.
And once again I was reminded -
Slow down and breath or you might miss the magic.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

I Think I'll Fly

I have a confession to make.
I am a junkie.
I love live theatre.
More than that - I love, love, love live musical theatre.
My ultimate fantasy would be to live in a world where everyone breaks into song when they are happy or having an emotional moment.
But alas - I live in the real world.
So I have to be happy with the option of going to watch live musical theatre, listening to soundtracks and singing at the top of my lungs when I love the music.
In college - most of my music collection was made up of musical soundtracks.
That's not so much the case now.
I download favorite songs off iTunes and just have "selections".
That way - I don't seem like I am such a nerd :).
So the other morning, I was out walking my dog.
 It was a beautiful fall morning.
Crystal clear skies, the sun was coming up, no one was around (because they were all smart and still in bed, I'm sure), and I was enjoying the moment.
My headphones were in and my playlist was on shuffle.
I had been giving myself a bit of self-talk about taking chances, trusting the process of this new life, achieving new things, and finally giving myself permission to take flight.
The next song began to play and I stopped in my tracks - it was "Defying Gravity" from the musical soundtrack "Wicked".
I have seen this musical a few times. And I love this song. It occurs as the finale of the first act.
It is when the misunderstood "wicked witch" character takes off in flight for the first time.
And I have always associated this song with the scene in the musical.
But this time, standing in the park, contemplating my future - I stopped, stood still and listened to the words.
Really listened to the words.
WOW! Was this song written just for me?
Something has changed within me - Something is not the same
I'm through with playing by the rules Of someone else's game.
Too late for second-guessing - Too late to go back to sleep;
It's time to trust my instincts
Close my eyes: and leap!
It's time to tryDefying gravity
I think I'll try Defying gravity
And you can't pull me down!

I'm through accepting limits''cause someone says they're so;
Some things I cannot change
But till I try, I'll never know!
Too long I've been afraid of losing love I guess I've lost;
Well, if that's love It comes at much too high a cost!
I'd sooner  try Defying gravity
Kiss me goodbye I'm defying gravity
And you can't pull me down.

 So if you care to find me
Look to the western sky!
As someone told me lately:"Ev'ryone deserves the chance to fly!"
And if I'm flying solo At least I'm flying free.
To those who'd ground me Take a message back from me -
Tell them how I'm Defying gravity
I'm flying high Defying gravity
And you can't pull me down!
I mean - seriously?
Was hearing that song at that moment a coincindence?
I think not.
Now go and turn on your speakers and listen to the version at the link below.
And keep an eye out - because I think there will be an new art piece coming out of this sooner than later.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Chapel of the Trees

A Bucket List item -
To see the California Redwoods.
Magnificent, old, enormous tress that can't be seen anywhere else in the world.
As we prepared for our trip to California, I decided early in the planning process that the drive would be a signifcant part of the journey.
That meant taking Highway 101 -
right through the Redwoods.
We spent 1 1/2 days in this area -
Gorgeous? Of course.
Enormous? Ummm - yeah.
But what I didn't expect -
the feeling of reverance and spirituality I experienced while standing in their midst.
As I stood at the base of these magnificent trees and looked up into their branches -
As I walked on the spongy earth, covered with years and years of needles that had dropped -
as I touched the barked and breathed in the air -
I found myself in a state of wonder.
Some of these trees have stood for hundreds of years.
Those that have fallen (like the one seen above) have become the host to new and vibrant trees.
Caring for and feeding them.
While in this area, I found it difficult not to talk in a hushed voice.
I felt that sense of reverence that one feels in a beautiful cathedral or church.
This was one of those "moments" that occured on my journey.
I felt a sense of resiliency and amazement.

We all need to experience this type of wonder and awe at the world around us on a regular basis.
It serves as a reminder as to what a miracle this life is.
That no matter what may come our way - we have the ability to continue on.
And when our time is done, our legacy can continue to nurture those we have left behind.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Happy Birthday To Me . . .

Yes! It is my birthday today.
A hard day during a normal year.
Particularly different this year.
Not only is today my birthday - a day that would normally be spent celebrating with my (soon-to-be-ex) husband -
but tomorrow is our "legal" anniversary.
However -
I am surprisingly happy and filled with hope and excitement.
Yesterday was a hard day.
It seemed that everywhere I went and everyone I talked to led me down a path of dredging up unhappy thoughts.
I admit - I shed some tears last night.
But then I called a friend.
We talked. I vented. I cried some more.
And then we laughed.
And by the time I hang up - the cloud was starting to lift.
And today, I awoke to the sound of birds.
I felt as if I was moving in the right direction.
I felt light and happy.
I sang songs and danced in my room as I got ready for work.
I am looking forward to festivities planned for the weekend with friends and family.
I feel joy.
Not just happy - but JOY!
Something I have not felt in many, many years.
Ironic, right?
The way we adjust our version of normal.
And then when the change happens - and we see and feel the change - we recognize what we had been missing.
It has taken one of the most emotional, hard experiences of my life to lead me to joy.
So here's to me and a new year. New routines. New adventures.
My first started with my trip to California that I have just returned from.
My next adventure will come later in this month - a road trip up into Washington for a weekend to see a concert of my all-time favorite vocal jazz group.
Other things on my horizon -
I WILL sky dive.
I will engage in a zipline adventure somewhere.
I will go white-water rafting.
I am starting the planning process for a trip to Italy.
All of these will be first time adventures.
I want another road trip - this time to Yellowstone - a place I lived in my early 20's and haven't returned to since.
I am working on changes for my business - new changes that make me excited.
I am looking for ways to take care of myself and giving myself permission to let unimportant things go.
I am moving forward.
So watch out world - Laurie Miller is back and excited!
Here is to a new year. And new adventures.

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Go back in time with me.
Approximately 10 years ago -
Imagine a woman.
She has been a stay-at-home mom for almost half of her life.
She has dabbled in the creative world of music and theatre.
She has dabbled, even less, in the world of tole painting.
The young children have all reached an age where they are foraging their way out into the world.
She is feeling lost.
She needs a change.
She needs a purpose of her own.
She wants to pursue the art that she feels inside of her, but feels clueless as to where and how to begin.
What should she paint?
How should she paint?
Where does she begin.
What makes her think she is an artist and capable of painting?
Really - who does she think she is?
A good friend watches her struggle.
The friend goes on a trip and she returns with a special book and shares it with her friend.
"Look at the art in this book. It reminds me of you," the friend says.
The woman looks at the pages.
She is drawn in to a new world.
Color. Whimsy. Beauty.
Her soul leaps and is excited.
The woman studies the book for days . . .weeks . . .months.
She looks at the book as she creates new works of art on her own.
The woman finds bliss.
The woman finds her own voice.
The woman finds peace in her art.
The woman is happy.
Yes - the woman is me.
The artist? Jessel Miller of Napa, California.
One of her books was loaned to me by a dear friend ten years ago.
And through that book and Jessel's website - I found inspiration and my own artistic voice.
I have dreamed and tried to plan many trips from my home town of Portland, OR to Napa, CA to meet Jessel over the last ten years.
The trips were always thwarted until I finally just gave up.
Such a trip was never going to happen for me.
Over the last year, I decided to try again. I began to plan a trip for my husband, daughter and I to visit family in Northern California.
As I planned the trip, I decided I couldn't get into California without visiting the gallery.
I talked about the plans with my husband and he found all kinds of reasons why the trip was not going to be possible.
 I kept pushing forward.
Then the rug was pulled out from under me and it became evident that the impending divorce was going to happen.
My world was shattered and I cried. The trip wouldn't happen.
But then I woke up one morning and decided that this trip WAS going to happen and it would be a catalyst for change in my life. It would be my daughter's and my opportunity to find myself again and claim my independence.
I could go and on and on about what my recent vacation meant to me -
but I will save that for another story and another post.
Now - we will focus on meeting my inspiration.
My friend who originally shared Jessel's work with me now lives in Napa, CA. I called her two months ago and told her I wanted to come for a visit and go to the Jessel Gallery.
I just wanted to see Jessel's work in person.
But my friend took this one step further than I had hoped and arranged for a private meeting with Jessel.
I journeyed to Napa with my daughter. I went to the gallery. I met Jessel.
I cried tears of joy.
I felt of her warm and loving personality.
We talked of art and process and life and change and inspiration and challenge.
There is much more to our journey that we recently took - I will be dedicating a few posts to it because of the life lessons that were learned.
But I cannot describe the joy and empowerment I felt at finally accomplishing something that I have yearned for - - -ached for - - -for over ten years.
Thank you dear Amanda for introducing me to Jessel's work - and introducing me to Jessel.
And Jessel - thank you for your inspiration and your gift to the world of color and for your warm spirit and for allowing me to meet you.
I look forward to more conversations in the future.
Now - you must go and visit Jessel for yourself via her website.
I have arrived.

One of the rooms in Jessel's gallery.

Jessel Miller and Laurie Miller - I finally meet my inspiration.