07 November 2011

Unexpected Blessings...

As of Friday, I am officially an artist and art teacher!!  Official is such a funny word... I have been creating art my entire life, but I never would have called myself an artist.   It is taking someone paying me to teach art to feel like I am a legitimate artist and teacher.  Silly, perhaps, that my heart registers a distinction...

My favorite and most memorable gifts growing up were always art and craft supplies-- I remember my first set of Prismacolor colored pencils in the pretty black box... I remember the sewing machine that still sits in my studio... I remember the white plastic box filled with tubes of watercolors-- who knew that watercolors could be liquid instead of solid?! 

My parents were always supportive of my passion, but when I got to high school, there were only so many classes you could take, and I had to choose between my arts.  I had played the piano my entire life, I sang in the choir, and I loved dance and theater.  Thus went visual arts as a regular part of my education-- and thus went my image of myself as an artist.

I took a painting class in college during my last term at Dartmouth.  I begged my way into the class because I didn't have the prerequisites, and honestly, I was NOT talented at painting.  My professor, recognizing my passion (if not talent), told me a story one of the last days of the class about a friend of hers.  Her friend, like me, went to law school, becoming a solid, successful lawyer.  Throughout her profession, she continued to paint as an outlet and a hobby.  But when the woman turned 40, she decided that she simply wanted to paint full time.  So she quit her job and became an artist.  People didn't understand, and her friends and colleagues thought (and said) she was crazy to give up such a lucrative career.  The woman ignored them all, following her passion and, of course, has had an incredibly successful career as an artist.

My teacher, my professor, left that with me just before I graduated and went to law school.  The idea that even though you have chosen a path, even though you have worked hard to get to a certain level of success, even though people might think you are crazy to give up what you have worked for... ultimately, you choose your life.  And if you love to create things-- if you get excited at the sight of a box of colored pencils or tubes of watercolors-- perhaps you should consider why you are not doing what you love...

I have complained to the high heavens (and many of my friends!) for years about having to move to Miami, but I am here today to take that back and express my gratitude.  I am grateful for being in this beautiful part of the world.  I am grateful for my amazing husband and children-- they have kept me sane and brought me peace and joy that I have never known in my life.  Today especially, I am grateful for being forced here, forced to let go of many of my time commitments, forced to consider that I have a choice in how I spend my life and remembering the lesson my professor taught me.  

So my posting today is about unexpected blessings.  When I went through high school and gave up my visual arts classes, when I went to law school, intent on becoming and attorney, when I spent 30+ hours a week volunteering in the nonprofit sector, expecting that I would translate that into a career in the nonprofit world once my children were grown... My life was set for me, and art wasn't a part of it.  This life I am living, thanks to the patience, support and love of friends and my family, is such an unexpected blessing.  So thank you to all of you who have contributed to this gift of allowing me to become an artist.  I hope I can return the favor someday. 

Hope you all have an amazing week...

01 September 2011

I have all these posts that I started and haven't finished!!  Shame on me!

This is one actually from today, though!  I have to give a plug out to a couple of my FAVORITE online papercrafting retailers!  They are like crack to me-- I wake up in the morning and the first thing I do is check these three websites for their daily deals!!

PeachyCheap.com:   Totally addicted to this one.  Quick, reasonable shipping always.  I received a mystery grab bag today from them, and I have to say that if you DON'T order them when they come up, you are crazy!!!  I got amazing Cosmo Cricket papers and embellishments, Basic Gray rubons, most adorable owl brads, Sassafrass Lass flowers, and a ton more stuff!  Love, love love them!

CraftySteals.com:   This is my hands down favorite for American Crafts collections (LOVE American Crafts!) and so much more!!  They have a new daily deal every day, but they also archive things that didn't sell out.  So if you missed it, you can still get it!  They have more larger packages ($18+), but the deals are to die for, and those kits include everything you need. 

ScrapbookSteals.com:   This is a relatively new addition to my other two daily deal sites.  The prices are very good, if not quite as good as the other two.  But the best part about these is that they have TWO steals per day!  At 9am and 9pm Mountain time. 

Speaking of which, time to check the later ScrapbookSteals.com steal!!!  Happy crafting and hope all two of you who read my blog become as addicted as I am to these great deals every day!

Twitter, Twitter, Fo Fitter...

Last month I moved into the 21st century and got a Twitter account.  Honestly, I have to say that I am still unclear about what twitter is or does.  But it seems the in thing to do-- like tapering and rolling up your pants in the late 80s... (an eternal mystery of fashion to some of us!!)-- everyone does it, even many of us who couldn't tell you why!!

I have been mulling the relative pros and cons to public life on twitter and a blog.  I mean, why HAVE a blog if you don't publicize it?  Why bother writing for the world to see if you are going to write your message and then sink it to the bottom of the sea without even a bottle to float in and a chance to get to shore?!?

I am crazy about privacy.  Or at least my husband has made me that way.  His job is such that I can't be out talking about him or he'll have problems at work.  And he's paranoid that I might expose our children to some crazy pedophile while posting a pic among friends on Facebook.  And he's right-- the world can be scary, and my mother taught me never to talk to strangers.  :-)

I am curious about how other people perceive privacy and the internet.  On the one hand, connecting with a zillion other people through common interests is amazing.  I am all for finding friends, mentors and kindred spirits through whatever means you can find!

On the other hand, the relative anonymity (which I am, of course, utilizing to my advantage at this moment!) also leads to many questions about the people with whom you are connecting.  Without seeing a person and looking them in the eye, how can any of us be confident that we are sharing with people worthy of our inner thoughts?  

I get that my cards and random thoughts perhaps aren't terribly personal, but they COULD be.  They might be.  Maybe some day they will be...

07 June 2011

Been a long time...

So my quest for blogging hasn't been as successful as some other quests.  :-)  It fell the way of Weight Watchers, and, as I return to WW, I am back on my blog as well.

This week has been a challenge.  My youngest child, who has been home with me for three and a half years, went off to camp (aka school) on Monday.  We worried for months that he wouldn't be able to do it with the potty training.  And then we panicked because we realized that he had zero interest in going to school and we worked on finding creative ways to get him excited to go. 

In the midst of worrying about him, I forgot to mourn that those would be my last months with him as my constant companion.  So pretty much I spent my three hours of "free" time on Monday crying, and today I spent most of it shopping online because, well, that seemed better than crying for a second day in a row. 

I know that by next week, I will be gearing up and psyched to have this time (*finally!!*) to catch up on life, on our home, on family commitments and, of course, on my papercrafting... But in the meantime, I am still feeling out of sorts.

I've done quite a few projects since I last posted, so I will throw a handful into here for your viewing pleasure (or critical comments!).  I am headed to bed momentarily, as I figure that the least I can do for myself in my temporary and mild crisis is to get a bit of sleep.  I hope you are well and are finding time for the things and people you love...

21 March 2011

The Art of Organization...

Well, a week has passed, and I have done less crafting, less reading and more eating than I would like.  :-)  But I moved a lot of boxes and kids toys around, and I can officially say that I am one load of laundry away from clearing it ALL OUT, which is a huge feat for me!!

I went to Weight Watchers on Thursday, and had the delightful surprise of having Erin as our subsitute leader.  Erin is married to my pastor, and she has a little boy the same age as my youngest.  And she's lost something like 40+ pounds and kept it off.  She is one of those amazing people who seem to have such control over their lives-- or perhaps peace in them-- that you just want to be like them.  I watched her, as she spoke at the meeting, drinking out of a thermal mug, with a tea bag tab hanging out of it, and I just wanted a cup of tea.  I proudly left the meeting and spent a solid hour at the grocery store, purchasing all varieties of vegetables and fruits and whole grains.  Eating those things is another story, but, as we yelled to our hockey team this weekend-- you can't score if you don't shoot!!  So I am shooting for more veggies and less cookies.

As for reading... I have been reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, which I know, for those of you who read more than I do, is one of those classic books that you are supposed to read as a younger girl.  I have loved it nonetheless.  It is poignant and a little heartbreaking and hopeful and just full of the grace of innocence.  The book is long, and it is one that is great for me because I can linger in it, reading a little here and a little there and never feel like I have lost the pace of the book. 

Despite my love for this book, however, I am putting it aside (along with Red Queen, for which I waited for 5 months from the library and have now held out for two months unread!) to go back to Time Management from the Inside Out.  If you have never read any Julie Morganstern and are a normal person who doesn't have enough time in the day for all the things you need or want to do, I highly recommend her!!!  I have listened to the CD version of this book, but it is abridged, and I find that I need the whole thing.  :-)

So I sit here, exhausted and just finishing preparing an agenda for a conference call tomorrow night that may not happen because I forgot to send a reminder until now (yikes!), and I am hopeful.  Hopeful that Ms. Morganstern can help me find a way to fit things in that I want to do.  I am convinced that my lack of time isn't so much a lack of time as a lack of direction.  When you spend 90% of your waking life on demand for whatever your kids need at that moment, it feels a bit futile to organize the other 10%.  But I am telling you, that 10% can make or break the overwhelmed (or not!) factor!

I am off to bed!!  I did do my first full finished page for my best friend's baby scrapbook (she'll have one done before I will for my own kids!), and I am so very excited about how it turned out.  I don't want to post it here because she might be reading this, and it would spoil the surprise, but maybe when I get a few pages done, it will be okay to give a little teaser... :-)

Sleep tight!

14 March 2011

Monday Blues...

Not much to report today.  I spent no time doing anything creative-- and let me tell you how much less fun my day was!! 

This is the perfect example of what makes me happy and what does not.  I had such a wonderfully content day yesterday and would have been happy to stay here in my little craft room world forever.  Today, I spent my time following up on volunteer work that I have neglected over the last month or so.  Awful administrative and petty-seeming stuff--she didn't do this and they didn't do that and how are we going to handle this miscommunication...  UGH!!!  Making cards and scrapbook pages is SO MUCH MORE FUN!!!! 

I did get some exercise in today, though.  Kind of embarrassing when the lady swipes your card at the gym and notices is that it is the first time you've ever used it, despite having been a member for about 4 months!!  Either way, I am sore and tired and feeling good about finally getting off my behind and moving it a bit. 

And now I am headed to bed... I considered doing a quick card, but it is just too darn late for that!  Hope you are sleeping well...

13 March 2011

Sunday Funday...

This flower is spectacular.  One of the great things about living in south Florida is that it looks like this in March.  I didn't take any pictures today, but I was sorting pictures from a family "nature walk," and I wanted to share...

I have decided that writing a blog is substantially harder than I thought it would be.  I mean, I could write about every detail of my day, but who the heck wants to read about that?!?!  So forgive me as I get the hang of figuring out what you might want to read about and what you don't want to read about!!  Feel free to comment...

Today was full of creative activity.  I made about 30 Anna Griffin cards, which are my staples for most occasions.  Then, as I was cleaning up my craft room and putting away my most recent HSN shopping spree, I decided to "fix" a horrible card that I started a month or so ago that has been sitting there, bothering me with its ugliness.  It's still not perfect, but it is SO much better than it was...

Then my oldest son wanted to play with my brad setter, so I showed him how it worked.  I couldn't just stop with showing him how to set the brad, but what the brad does.  So we ended up with a piece of a card that I will finish another time and a birthday card.

Then, just before bedtime reading, I was reminded that I had promised that I would make a bookmark for my oldest, as he has just started getting fascinated with chapter books.  (Flat Stanley is revered in our home these days!) 

Finally, as I watched a little TV, I tested whether this 1-hour album by SEI could actually be completed in an hour.  It took me closer to 2 hours, but that is including getting the photos picked, cropped and placed.  But TA-DA!!!  I have a honeymoon album in just a few hours, and it's beautiful!!!!  I will put a little journaling (and by a little, I mean a little!) tomorrow, but I am thrilled that I have one album done from my wedding celebration (almost 7 years ago)!!  One of these days, I will work on the actual wedding... :-)

So no exercise again today and no reading, but WOW was it a fantastic day!!!  I could totally spend my days doing art if someone let me...

On to spring break tomorrow!!  Hope you had a gorgeous weekend!

12 March 2011

It is 4:30pm, and I am still in my pajamas.  :-)  It is a little piece of heaven, I think, to be able to be in one's sleeping clothing after 8 hours of being awake.  I know (and if I didn't, my husband has mentioned!) that I could take a shower, and it would probably feel all good and clean and refreshing.  But the luxury of not having to envelops me, and I just don't want to take my comfy clothes off until I get ready for our date tonight tonight. 

I realized something interesting about my creative process today.  I have several Anna Griffin card making kits.  I love them.  I love and collect her papers and kits.  The cards are easy to make beautiful, and I am always thrilled to send them to someone.   For a special event, I have occasionally sat down and picked my prettiest paper and a great image from my Cricut and made something gorgeous.

But MOST of the time, I work from a challenge.  I pick something I don't like much, with the idea that I am just practicing and learning how to do this.  Then I see whether or not I can make it better.  It is as if I am competing to see if I can actually improve something ugly.  It's silly, I know, to keep up this process, as half the time it turns out icky-- and it probably wouldn't have if I had started with materials that I liked more.  I do it nonetheless, and I have about a 50% success rate...

It took me until I was almost finished with the card I made today to realize that it would have been easier-- and maybe prettier-- if I just used the good stuff.  I am actually pretty excited about how it turned out... But still, it begs the question of why I would set myself up to fail??

So I will ponder that while digesting the Cup o' Noodles and chocolate I just ate (awesome Weight Watching, I know!), and I will let you know another day...

First Blog...

I spent the first 32 years of my life goal-setting, achieving and performing.  For the last 4.5 years, I have tried to adjust to being "Mom."  I have two beautiful little boys, and my life is devoted to them.  I have the world's most amazing husband--truly-- who has patiently and lovingly watched, aided and abetted as I tried to find my way from a highly educated, competitive, perfectionist woman to a flexible, engaged stay at home mom.  

I thought I could find balance through volunteer work, figuring that keeping part of my life in professional mode would do it.  What I have found is that volunteering has not made me a better mom or a better person.  A better management professional, if I ever go back into a corporation, perhaps... But I can worry about that if the day ever comes!!

A year and a half ago, by the act of hard work and talent (on my husband's part) and ill fortune (on my part), I was uprooted from my beloved life in the midwest.  We moved to Miami for my husband's dream job.  MIAMI.  The land of half-naked beach bodies, couture fashion and a disturbing focus on labels!! 

After a year of trying to figure out how to have a life here, in a moment of midnight-wondering-how-I-ended-up-here, I flipped through HSN where Martha Stewart was selling paper punches.  VERY cool paper punches.  I was mesmerized by the beautiful things she was making, and I bought them all, hoping that the act of buying would bring some of that beauty to my life.  That purchase began a life-changing shopping spree that still hasn't quite ended. (yikes!)

Since last summer, I have taken what was my "office" and replaced the laptop and printer with a Cricut machine (which I owned but never used), my sewing machine (re-emerging after 15+ years of being in a box), an ATG, a Xyron and my new Cuttlebug.  [If you are reading this and have no idea what any of these things are except the sewing machine, I feel your confusion and would be happy to explain what these crafting tools do!]

I have learned about this amazing community of people who find time to create art.  I have been inspired and have learned techniques and have seen a world I never knew existed. And I want to be a part of it.  Heck, I have at least a small craft store's worth of stuff here, I might as well use some of it!!  :-)

So this blog is about the things that I hope will bring balance, and make me a better mom and person. And, even if it doesn't, at least it will be fun to try!!

I have three things I really want to do that I am hoping you will help me with...

1.  I want to spend a little time every day doing art.  Whether it's making a card, taking photos or scrapping those photos into books, I want to spend my time making things beautiful (or at least as beautiful as I can!).  It makes me happy to create, so why in the world would I watch TV instead??

2.  I want to read every day.  I love to read, but it seems like such a luxury that I don't do it except on vacation.  I want my boys to be readers, and I want them to see what that means...

3.  Last, but definitely not least, I want to get healthy.  The women in Miami are spectacularly beautiful.  I am finally past the point of that intimidating me and am at a point where I want to achieve better health for myself and for my family.  I want my kids to grow up with an active mom.   I want them to know how to eat healthy and take care of their bodies.  And, of course, I want to be able to put on a bathing suit without dread.  :-)

I am writing a blog to keep up with these three things that I hope to create as part of my daily life.  I am hoping that you all will help keep me honest and remind me of why these things are important.  I will post pictures of my art, thoughts I have about things I am reading, and will *yikes* keep an account of my weight loss and exercise successes and failures.  I also hope that you will share your art, literature musings and health suggestions with me also!!

So that is all I have today... I will try not to be quite as wordy in my next post, but those who know me know that brevity isn't my strong suit.

Enjoy and thank you in advance for helping to cheer me into a balanced life!!