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....

Artist.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

MERRY CHRISTMAS

I could try and deny it, but it wouldn't change a thing...
the holidays are upon us.
Christmas is just one short week away.
Exactly one week from today, I will be gathering together with extended family to share good food, sing songs, drink Grandma's homemade eggnog, and create new memories.
 
It truly is a time when we reflect and think about what really matters.
 
I love to spend time remembering Chrismas' past.
I use those memories to fuel my rendition of "what is important".
 
 
I remember a few key gifts that I received as a child - but very few.
And usually the reason I remember certain gifts had more to do with their association with other memories.
Like...
 
the year "A Family Affair" was on television.
Our gifts were small that year - things that would fit easily in a pocket or a small bag.
I received a flexible doll of Buffy and Mrs. Beasley from the television show to help pass the time as we drove from Portland to Disneyland the day after Christmas.
But that year was unique - large trips did not happen often.
Our memories were generally created closer to home.
 
I remember gathering with extended family -
the chaos of our family of four active children piling into the old station wagon to drive over to my aunt and uncle's house.
Inevitably, my father forgot something in the house...every year.
As a child I didn't notice.
All I knew was that we opened our gifts on Christmas Eve after we returned from my Aunt's house.
This always concerned me - Santa usually delivers on Christmas Eve.
How was I going to get my gifts from santa?
"he knows", my father always assured me."If you've been good, he will deliver your presents before we get home".
So we would load into the car, dad would hit the steering wheel and announce that he forgot (fill in the blank), go back in the house and return ten minutes later.
Mom would remain in the car and attempt to keep us looking "Christmas appropriate".
When we returned home a few hours later,
the tree was magically full of gifts,
the cookies I had left out were now only a few crumbs,
the glass of milk drained.
 
Magic.
 
And then there is the eggnog.
Grandmas Eggnog.
It tastes like nothing I have ever tasted anywhere else.
It's rich,creamy, nutmeggy, with ice cream floating in the cup.
Other than the year when I lived out of state and could not make it home for Christmas, I cannot remember a year without the eggnog.
The recipe locked in my mother's brain.
 
A few years back, my older brother grabbed me and pulled me aside at our traditional Christmas Eve get together...
"do you have the eggnog recipe???"
There was a sudden realization as to the importance of this recipe.
I made it a point that year to secure a written copy of the recipe and to put a copy in several different places. .. just in case.
To lose the eggnog recipe would be to lose Christmas...
 
well, maybe not - but almost.
 
Christmas, this year, is somewhat different.
My children are grown.
They are joining their lives with others.
They have new families to incorporate into their holidays.
They are having children of their own.
They are having to divide their time among parents who live in different places.
They are beginning to create their own traditions with their own small families.
 
We are in the process of creating new schedules and new traditions.
 
Some things are changing - when we gather to open gifts, how we exchange gifts...
Other things remain the same - gathering with the extended family on Christmas Eve and eggnog.
 
But the most important thing is the memories that we continue to create.
The love that is shared.
The sharing of our lives.
 
Merry Christmas to you and your family.
May your holiday be filled with joy and love.
May we all take the time to recognize that which we have and take the time to suspend worry and anxiety and anger...
May we all be blessed with the MAGIC of the season.
 
 


Monday, November 25, 2013

I Could Tell You...

I could start by telling you how sorry I am that I have been missing in action for months.
I could offer all kinds of excuses.
 
I could tell you about my 50th birthday coming and going and my resolutions for the next 50.
 
Blowing out the candles before the smoke alarm goes off.
 
I could tell you about the items I checked off of my bucket list -
like going white water rafting and hot air ballooning.
 
Watching the large balloon deflate after floating over the vineyards of Oregon.
 
I could tell you about my trip Sedona, AZ where I sat in a vortex and meditated on my birthday as the sun rose.

A woman meditating on the edge of a cliff in the vortex.

The beautiful rocks of Sedona - oh! The colors.
I could tell you about standing on the edge of the world at the Grand Canyon, where I joined with strangers and meditated and sent out a collective "om" across the wide chasm.


an awe-inspiring experience.
 I could tell you about my trip to Ashland, Oregon for the weekend to see a wonderful production at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and to visit with amazing friends.
 
Friends in Ashland, OR exploring the park.
I could tell you about my adventures (or nightmares) in the dating world - in fact, I may even dedicate an entire post to that comedy of errors.
 
I could tell you about the death of my sweet aunt and the effect that had on me.
 
I could tell you about the family dinners I had.
 
Family dinners are a family affair - Uncle and Auntie helping grandson learn how to do the dishes.
 
I could tell you about the beautiful fall we have had here in Portland and how I have enjoyed absorbing the colors of the season.
 
Oh the colors of the leaves this year.
 
I could tell you about new friends that I have met and welcomed into my heart.
 
I could tell you about tears that have been shed and laughter that has been released.
I could tell you about sleepless nights and lazy days.

I could tell you about the phenomenal miracle of welcoming a life into our family with the birth of my sweet granddaughter.
 
Just hours old...
 
Big brother sharing secrets and pledging to protect her...
 
I could tell you all sorts of stories ...
 
Instead, I will just tell you that I have missed spending time reflecting on life and art on these pages and I am glad to be back.


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Belly Art




In 1986, I was pregnant for the first time.
I was 23.
I gave birth that year to a beautiful baby girl.
That beautiful baby girl is now pregnant with her 2nd baby.

 
I remember when I was pregnant.
The enlarging belly was considered something that made us "glow" but was to be covered.
All of the choices for maternity clothes were large and tent-like -
billowing out just below the breast line.
And if we were lucky - you might be able to find something that did not include a large bow tied around the neck.
Maybe that was meant to "move the eye upward" so that the belly was not the focal point.
All I know is that our options were quite ugly.
 
Society had us thinking that our expanding belly was unattractive.
That we were fat.
That we were frumpy.
Or worse - that, although a baby was the ultimate reward, that belly was a reminder to all that we had engaged in ....dare I say it? ...sex.
 
I remember several years earlier, when I was a teenager -
my sister in law was pregnant.
She had the audacity (according to the older matrons of the family) to show up at a family function during a hot summer day and wear a bikini.
Now mind you - it was 90 degrees and we were by a large lake.
But how could any self-respecting woman put that large belly out there for everyone to see?
The whispers went on for days after.
 
When I was pregnant with my oldest, I was anxious to jump into the rite of passage and wear the obligatory maternity clothes.
The irony was - that until I was almost 7 months along,
you could barely tell that I was pregnant.
I was so disappointed that people weren't asking me when I was due.
But beneath the tent of fabric, my tight, compact belly was not even visible.
 
Oh how things have changed.
Thank goodness.
 
I have always thought that the female form, when filled with life, is exquisite.
To watch a belly grow.
To touch it.
To feel the life inside.
What is more miraculous and beautiful than that?
I am so happy that we no longer insist on it being hidden in the name of "dignity".
 
A few nights ago, my daughter came for a brief visit.
I had been working in the studio on "have-tos".
Orders and such.
I wasn't ready to put away the art supplies for the night,
but I was ready for a change.
Something free.
Something mindless.
 
I looked at my daughter and her growing tummy.
I had just been laying my hands on her to feel the movement of my granddaughter.
My box filled with markers were just a few feet away on the floor.
A smile began to emerge.
I asked her to lie down and pulled out the markers.
And I doodled.
It was quick.
It was mindless.
It was free.
 
And we marked the passage of this portion of her pregnancy.
 
Another art session will occur in late October as she nears her due date.
Perhaps with some henna next time so that it can be a part of her as she labors.
 
And I must say that this was truly the most beautiful canvas I have ever worked on.
Thank you JuJu for humoring this grandma.




Friday, August 2, 2013

Have You Seen This Artist?

I knew it had been a while since I had been on here.
In fact, I knew it had been so long, I was feeling embarassed at the thought of writing a post.
And then I realized that I was actually avoiding writing a post.
And then I realized that part of the reason I was avoiding writing a post is that my "writer brain" seems to have taken a vacation.
I don't know what to write about or where to even begin.
 
But - if there is one thing I have learned over the years it is this...
when you don't want to do something that you need to, the best approach is to just
 DO IT!
 
So.
I am.
 
But lest you think that I have been just lying around and eating bon bons for the last,
oh dare I say it...
six weeks!
A brief run-down of what has been occupying my time...
1. I have been attempting to stay cool in my new home. Although the incredible insulation served me well during the winter months - the lack of air conditioning has made for some very warm temperatures during the summer.
2. I came to the realization that I can't really call my "new" home my "new" home anymore since I have been there for 7 months. How did that happen???
3. I have been working on many art pieces including special orders, purchase orders for retails stores and inventory for summer art festivals.
Mirrors lined up and waiting for final touches - words and detailing.
4. I had my work move into a new location of the Made In Oregon Stores.

5. I've been trying to find ways to enjoy the days of summer.

Warm, fresh blackberries...just waiting for me to taste them.
6. I was a vendor in the Salem Art Festival - a large, wonder festival featuring the art of some amazingly talented people. I was humbled to have been juried in.
A new "old" chair . . .heading to a summer art festival. It found a new home that weekend.




I have attended some wonderful summer concerts -
including Prarie Home Companion, featuring Garrison Keillor.
We even got to enjoy him leading the audience in a sing-a-long. What a treat.
 

Garrison Keillor meandering through the audience and leading us all in a sing-a-long.
 My day job has kept me very busy with projects and meetings.
Meeting doodles - it was an all day meeting.

I took time to go "glamping" with friends for a weekend.
What defines "glamping"? Among other things - enjoying prime rib for dinner!
 
I promise I have been busy.
I promise I have been making art.
I promise I have been enjoying the company of friends and family.
 
And now - I have conquered the beast by writing a post on the blog.
Maybe not the most noteworthy post,
but it's done . . .
the dry spell has been broken.
You can stop looking for the lost artist -
Maybe.
Afterall -
summer isn't over yet and there are still more adventures to be enjoyed.
 

Monday, June 17, 2013

COLLABORATION

Collaborate -
Merriam Webster defines it as "to work jointly with others".
 
A few months ago I received a call from a client.
I have done several pieces for her in the past.
When we talked she expressed that this was an odd request.
 
Yes.
It was.
 
She had been shopping in her favorite consignment shop and found a freestanding cupboard.
(Oooh - I began to get excited. I love working on large furniture pieces.)
It was a piece that had originally been unfinished.
(Originally? hmmmm...what does that mean?)
She bought it and had it delivered.
She wondered if I could paint on it.
(Of course!)
She continued . . .
Someone had started to paint on the cupboard.
(What? It's already painted?)
There was some very intricate, detailed artwork.
(So what do you need me for?)
But they evidently gave up before finishing the project and it was only half-done.
(Oh - so I am repainting the cupboard. OK, I get it now...)
She wanted the cupboard painted -
BUT she did not want to paint over the art work that was already there.
(What??? - ok, WHAT?...)
Someone had obviously worked very hard on this and it just didn't seem right to paint over it.
(OK - I can accept that...in fact, as an artist, I respect that - but...WHAT???)
She did not want me to try to copy the artists work or even her style.
But could I finish it in my style, in a way that would compliment the original art.
(I have no way of understanding what I am being asked to do!)
Sure!!!, I say...
But....maybe it would be best for me to come and see the piece before we commit to this.
Oh, she says - I hope you can do this for me. I so love this piece and want to finish it. And I would hate to think I wasted my money on it.
(Well, now I have to do this....)
 
I drive over to look at the piece.
I have no idea what to expect.
What I find is a very basic wooden cupboard.
It stands at counter height.
There are two drawers and three cuboard doors underneath.
The top of the piece is fully painted. The drawers are in various stage of completion.
The rest of the piece is primed with some pencil marks.
This was a huge endeavor that someone undertook and it appears they lost their motivation.
 
The detail was exquisite.
The quality of the paint used ...not so much.
The composition beautiful.
I am fascinated and I look and study and touch and wonder.


A partially completed drawer


A portion of  the "counter" top - or top of the cupbaord.
We spend time talking about who the artist might have been.
Male or female?
Student or professional artist?
What was this for?
A gift? A school project? A special place in their home?
Was the artist of hispanic descent or were they trying to capture a "feeling"? - Perhaps to preserve the memories of a cherished vacation? Or was it to fit a certain decor?
Why did they not finish? Why was it given to the consignment shop?
So many questions - it felt like a great mystery and we so wanted to know the "rest of the story".
 
We arranged for the logistics of the project.
I was only going to work on the cupboard doors and finish the partially completed drawers.
I took the parts I would be painting home.
I brought them into the studio.
I put the undercoat on them.
And then it sat there.
And I stared at it every day.
I was clueless.
What had I gotten myself into???
 
Finally - I picked up the first cupboard board and started to paint. I had no idea where I was going with it.
I was really stumped.
I just started.
I let the brush do the work.
I started with some leaves.
Once I began, the rest began to follow.

 
I deliver it today.
I am anxious to see how it all works together.
New door pulls will be added and it will all be reassembled on the piece.
 
Collaboration...
to work jointly together.
 
An interesting term.
A process of pushing, pulling, negotiating, juxtaposing and coordinating, compromising, creating.
Sometimes easy - but often times rather difficult -
especially at the beginning.
Especially when you don't know who or what you are collaborating with.
But eventually, when you surrender to the process, the collaboration can yield some pretty amazing results.
 
Hmmmm..... 
Once again - ART teaches me about LIFE.
 


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

ROLLERCOASTERS

 
 
I. Love. Rollercoasters.
Ever since I was young.
I remember going to an amusement park  -
a big amusement park for the first time when I was about 15.
We had driven to California for a church trip.
We were going to spend one entire day at the amusement park.
I had died and gone to heaven.
There were three rollercoasters at the park -
one had a full loop in it.
A full loop in a rollercoaster at during this time was a big deal.
 
I remember panicking as I waited in line and I slowly moved forward.
I just knew that even though no one else had plummeted out of their seats to their death -
I would be the exception to the rule.
I was terrified.
But I didn't step out of line.
It was my turned. I climbed into my seat.
The protective bars lowered down and I felt pinned.
I think that bothered me more than anything.
I was trapped.
We pulled out of the gate and started to ascend an incredibly high hill.
The steeper we climbed the slower we moved.
It felt like we would start to fall backwards.
We crested the top of the peak, paused for a brief second...
And then we took off.
Full speed ahead.
It was almost instantaneous.
 
The screams were uncontrollable - the panic consuming.
 
When we pulled back into gate, I got out, steadied my legs,
and ran down the stairs and around to get back in line.
I was scared - but I knew that I needed to try it again.
 
The second ride was truly fun -
I still felt the apprehension at the ascent, but as we descended and gained speed,
I felt pure excitement.
I knew I was not going to die.
I was still startled at the fast turns, the rapid descent down the hills -
and the feeling of being flipped upside down and out of control was a little scary -
but it left me wanting more.
 
This was fun!
 
I rode the coaster over 20 times that day.
With each ride, I relaxed into the experience.
I raised my hands high above my head and closed my eyes.
I loved the ups and downs - the extreme opposites.
 
I felt free.
 
I was flying.
 
Last year for my birthday,
my kids surprised me with a day trip to a small amusement park about 3 hours from here.
My oldest daughter recognized the fact that life for me would never be the same.
My birthday was 3 months after my husband had left.
She wanted me to remember that life could be fun.
The park we went to is nothing like the big theme parks -
but it had a couple of small rollercoasters.
I ushered my birthday and new life in with multiple rides on the coasters.
It felt symbolic and empowering.
I embraced my inner child and let loose.
It was good.
 
So here we are.
June 4.
I am at my one-year anniversary of my new life.
Exactly one year ago, a significant member of my life announced that he did not want our lives to remain connected anymore.
It was as if I was dragged to the front of the line,
me pulling and fighting all the way,
and I was forced onto the biggest rollercoaster of my life.
No engineer could have designed this coaster.
It seemed like the scariest ride ever.
My "screams" were loud and long.
I barely was able to breathe.
There have been very large hills to climb, fast plummeting descents that seem to never end, turbulent turns and spins that left me dizzy and wondering if I would ever be upright again.
This rollercoaster locked me into my seat and it has yet to come to an end.
 
But something has happened...
I am raising my arms in the air.
I am closing my eyes and leaning my head back.
I am enjoying the feeling of flight.
 
I have realized that I don't want this ride to end.
The ride on this rollercoaster had been the greatest gift I could have been given.
I will no longer refer to this as the "anniversary of my life falling apart".
 
Instead...it's the anniversary of me getting on the best ride of my life!
 
 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Crossing the Wide Ocean

 
If you know me at all,
it is no secret that I love the ocean.
I love going to the beach.
I love the sand.
I love to look for treasures that have been washed on shore.
I love the sound of the waves and the sea birds.
I love to watch my dog as he explores the new scents and dodges the water.
I love everything about the beach.
 
Except for one thing...
Exactly one year ago I was at "my" beach.
And the beginning of the end happened.
Without belaboring the details,
the bottom line is -
it became evident that my marriage was over.
The official words were spoken a week later by my ex husband.
 
But while I was at the beach, exactly one year ago -
the realization hit.
I have not returned to this section of coastline since.
I have not spent the night.
I have not reveled in the sound and smells of the ocean.
My sanctuary had been robbed from me.
 
I have been to other beaches -
but not "my" beach.
"My" beach had been taken from me.
It was tainted...poisoned...
It was damaged.
 
My annual Memorial Day Art Sale is at "my" beach this weekend.
I have struggled with an internal battle as whether I should participate or not.
Fear has settled in.
Fear of facing the emotinal demons.
Fear of slipping backwards.
The fear has slipped in and poisoned my self-confidence in this sale and in other aspects of my life.
Not ok.
 
I made a comment to a wonderful friend -
"this is the anniversary of my life falling apart"...
If that is the case - why would I return to the scene of the crime?
 
And he responded back by saying -
"this is the anniversary of you reclaiming your life and becoming reacquainted with yourself."
 
Oh.
Wow.
Yeah.
That is true.
Glass half empty - half full.
 
But this is more than just having a postive outlook.
There is deep truth in that -
This does not have to be a weekend of sadness and regret.
It can - and will- be a weekend of celebration.
Beware all of you coast weekend warriors -
I am headed that direction this weekend.
I will be reclaiming my beach.
I will be taking back my sanctuary.
I will be engaging in some symbolic gestures to mark this milestone.
There may be tears.
They may even be tears of sadness - but there will be more tears of celebration and power and gratitude and humility.
 
It has been a wonderful year.
It has been full of firsts.
A few key things have included:
reacquainting myself with forgotten friends, strengthening long-term bonds, reintroducing music back into my life in the form of concerts, piano, singing, choir, ukulele and just good ole' listening, dance, travel, theater, spontaniety, joy, laughter, guilt-free dinners of cereal, the ability to dream without limits and most importantly....LOVE.

Love for others. Love for myself.
I have discovered what love is over the last year.
And I have discovered what love is not.
And most importantly....I have learned the difference.
 
So yes - I will be at the beach this weekend.
My beach.
And if I am lucky enough to be at the beach - I am lucky enough!
And maybe if I am really lucky...I will sell some art.
 


Thursday, May 23, 2013

CH-CH-CH-CHANGES...

 
 
 
It is time.
Remember that line from "The Lion King"?
Simba has left Pride Rock and gone into the jungle.
He is living with Pumba and Timon in their little oasis.
Life is happy and blissful and then...
Nala returns.
And he begins to feel restless.
He knows that change needs to happen.
He needs to return to his home.
But before he makes the decision,
he encounters Rafiki who reminds him of his true purpose.
He hits him on the head with the stick and "knocks" some sense in to him.
And when Simba finally recognizes what he needs to do,
Rafiki calmly, but emphatically states:
"It is time".
 
Well it is time for me...
almost a year ago - my life as I knew it changed.
I didn't run away like Simba, but I knew that it would never be the same again.
Even though I did everything I could to keep it the same for as long as possible.
But life has changed...
and with that - so has my name.
I have gone back to the name I came into this world with...
Laurie Linn
The day that I made that a reality, a friend of mine wished me a "happy birthday" -
and that is exactly what it felt like.
A re-birth.
At first I was going to leave my business name as Laurie Miller Designs.
I have worked hard to establish myself under that name -
but I am no longer Laurie Miller
and I do not want my business name to reflect that name.
I am now
Laurie Linn Designs.
 
So I hope that you will join me as we move to a new blog. 
This blog will remain and you can still come back and visit old posts...
but all new posts will be at the new location of
 
Thank you for your support through this last year -
and the years before.
I wouldn't be here without you...
 


LaurieLinnDesigns.blogspot.com

formerly Laurie Miller Designs
It is time.
Remember that line from "The Lion King"?
Simba has left Pride Rock and gone into the jungle.
He is living with Pumba and Timon in their little oasis.
Life is happy and blissful and then...
Nala returns.
And he begins to feel restless.
He knows that change needs to happen.
He needs to return to his home.
But before he makes the decision,
he encounters Rafiki who reminds him of his true purpose.
He hits him on the head with the stick and "knocks" some sense in to him.
And when Simba finally recognizes what he needs to do,
Rafiki calmly, but emphatically states:
"It is time".
Well it is time for me...
almost a year ago - my life as I knew it changed.
I didn't run away like Simba, but I knew that it would never be the same again.
Even though I did everything I could to keep it the same for as long as possible.
But life has changed...
and with that - so has my name.
I have gone back to the name I came into this world with...
Laurie Linn
The day that I made that a reality, a friend of mine wished me a "happy birthday" -
and that is exactly what it felt like.
A re-birth.
At first I was going to leave my business name as Laurie Miller Designs.
I have worked hard to establish myself under that name -
but I am no longer Laurie Miller
and I do not want my business name to reflect that name.
I am now
Laurie Linn Designs.
So I hope that you will join me as we move to a new blog.
This blog will remain and you can still come back and visit old posts...
but all new posts will be at the new location of
Thank you for your support through this last year -
and the years before.
I wouldn't be here without you...

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Upcycled Trunk


 
After my last post, which was a bit of a rant -
I figured I would get back to "art". :)
 
This is a piece which I recently completed.
A wonderful commission piece for a co-worker.
It is a box - a mini foot locker.
It measures about 18" square on all sides.
 
This client called me one day and said she had this box...
"it's kind of ugly", she said.
"I really don't want it in my house...but my grandfather gave it to me and I can't bear to part with it."
 
I agreed to see what I could do with it.
When she brought it to me, I was a little doubtful.
It is made of chipboard.
The outside of it had been covered with a heavy paper that was decorated with really lovely blue geese.
Can you say "1980s?" LOL
Not pretty.
Once finished it would be residing in her library room.
 
A good priming coat of black, some bright colors and design and...
it has been given a new lease on life.
A sun and moon and the admonishment to enjoy all that a good book has to offer.
 
And some day - if those lovely geese come back in style -
she can remove the paint and let them come back out to play...
or not.
 


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Happily Ever After...

Recently, my son proposed to his future wife.
My niece also recently announced that she is engaged.
It seems that love is in the air!

These life changing, momentous events are occuring as I am sweeping up remaining debris from my failed marriage.
And it got me thinking...
What did I learn from my marriage and what advice would I give one of these people,
who I love dearly, as
 they prepare to step into a lifelong committment of marriage?
 
1. Love is wonderful - and you need to marry someone that you love with all your heart mind and soul. But more importantly...you need to really LIKE the person. They should be a friend.
2. Marriage is a verb. It is NOT ceremony. In the words of Steve Martin in "Father of the Bride"..."That's a wedding". And wedding's only last for a few hours. Then real life begins. And to be successful, you have to stay actively engaged and work at it.
3. Marriage is messy - you are going to see this person at their best. But more often, you are going to see this person at their worst...when they are overwhelmed, cranky, short-tempered, tired, sick, with morning breath and morning hair,  ... Take the time to let your partner see you at your "best" as often as possible. They deserve it.
4. There are no guarantees. For years, I heard all sorts of "formulas" that were supposed to guarantee a successful marriage. I have learned that there are many marriages that I thought were "perfect", only to find out that they were not. They were far from perfect - in fact, they were downright disfunctional. Bottom line...you have to remember to keep the marriage and your partner high on your priority list. Pay attention to them and forget the formulas.
5. Do not divorce your friends. Too many people I know decided that once they were married, they were no longer allowed to work on their friendships. I think that is a big mistake. We still need our friends.
6. Do not give up on your dreams. Life is going to get crazy. You may or may not have children and once you do, they will become your priority. That is how it should be. But we all have the ability to keep pursuing our dreams. Even if it is only for 5 minutes a day.
7. Keep growing and trying new things together - My oldest brother and his wife just started taking guitar lessons together. A friend of mine and her husband started contra-dancing. Find those common things that bring you together. Keep the sense of wonder and adventure alive. (Refer to #2)
8. DATE - Yes you are married. But you still need to go on dates. Make it a priority to reacquaint yourself with the person you fell in love with...get dressed up for each other; treat it like something special.
9. The old standby rule is still true - do not go to bed mad.
10. Play - Be silly and have fun.
11. Talk about everything - even the hard stuff. Share your feelings when they are small and manageable.
12. Say "I love you" everyday.
13. Say "I love you" - and mean it.
14. Laugh together.
15. Cry together.
16. Share secrets.
17. Call each other through the day...just because.
18. Take the television and the laptop out of the bedroom. And the smart phone.
19. Remember the "first 4 minutes of contact rule" - The first 4 minutes of contact in the morning or when you come home sets the tone for the rest of the day/evening. Make sure it is good.
20. Remove certain words from your vocabulary ... like divorce and hate.


I am happy for my son, my future daughter in law, my niece and her future husband. Regardless of where I am - I am still a believer in the dream of "happily ever after".
And I wish for both of these couples their own fairy tale.

 


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Weeds


 
 
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.
 
Hmmmm....
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...
bland.
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?



Warning...
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"
or
"You are so talented",
or
"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.

BUT...
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 know...it 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.