Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Kwanzaa Values, Word of the Year and a Story of Holiday Magic...

Hello dear friends,
It's been a wonderful holiday for me this year with a few surprises of holiday magic. I'm still reveling in it, and I deserve to after this year of struggle and challenge, but I've been looking forward to the new year of 2015 since participating in Kat McNally's writing challenge Reverb14, and even earlier since joining in August Moon14.

Following along with such thought-provoking prompts has helped me to discover a few things I need to make my new year a fruitful and rewarding one, but I've been wanting to return to the values of Kwanzaa since I skipped my usual annual post last year. I think that these extra values will help me to stay on track as I move through the year ahead.

So here is my year end post as I review these values and think of how I might incorporate them into the year ahead of 2015.

NOTE: This is a long post as I plan to include my Word of the Year for 2015 in this post, along with a little story of holiday magic, so cozy up with a cup of tea or coffee and let's begin!

The holiday of Kwanzaa was created for the African American community in 1965, which is the year I was born in! However, when I look at the values on which Kwanzaa is founded, I believe they are strong and positive ones that we all can find a way to use in our lives. To start with, here is a list of the values, or principles, behind the Kwanzaa holiday:

Unity
Self Determination
Collective Work & Responsibility
Cooperative Economics
Purpose
Creativity
Faith

From this list, I look at each principle and think of how I can incorporate each principle into my life as I move forward in the new year, and move forward as a creative artist...

UNITY
The aspect of unity I want to focus on in 2015 is COMMUNITY, as I continue to build a community of kindred creative folks (or 'beasts'!) that can support me with what I need in my life at this time, which is laughter, kindness and generosity. I am excited that I have begun to create this artful community that I need and I look forward to finding more members as 2015 moves forward...

SELF DETERMINATION
The aspect of self determination I'll focus on in 2015, of course, is creating for myself - creating a community of fellow artists and creating my career, which I've been working on but I feel it could use some fine tuning, so perhaps 'defining myself' might also come into play this year as I sort out what would work best for ME as I continue to search for a way of working and crafting a career that is a right fit for my needs...

COLLECTIVE WORK & RESPONSIBILITY
The aspect of this principle I would like to focus on in 2015, as I continue to build my creative community, is to find ways to help others discover their own creativity, find the common issues artists grapple with and find ways to solve those issues. I do hope that some of my workshops can help others with creativity and I hope to find ways to help fledgling artists overcome some of the issues we face as we all continue with our creative work.

COOPERATIVE ECONOMICS
The aspect of this principle I would like to focus on in 2015 is to find more creatives with Etsy shops and to shop from them. There are many Etsy vendors providing creative materials to work with, and a few wonderful vintage Etsy shops I've bought from in the past, and I hope to be able to earn more money in 2015 so I can continue to patronize some of these favorite shops, and maybe even a few local ones when I am able to discover them in my own neighborhood. I really want to support local businesses in 2015, however I can, when I am able to find them.

PURPOSE
The aspect of this principle I want to focus on in 2015 is to keep on track with some of my goals for 2015, such as some of the things I'd like to do more of in terms of self care, or the accomplishment journal I plan to make and use to remind me of all that I manage to do as I continue to build my creative life.

CREATIVITY
The aspect of this principle seems pretty clear to me! However, I do want to focus some creativity just for me in 2015, in ways I have mentioned before, such as making myself a few new clothes or a few new pieces of jewelry, and after some of my baking adventures this year, it seems as though a little creativity in the kitchen is on deck for 2015!

FAITH
The aspect of this principle I believe I need to work on in 2015 is to have more faith that things really do work out as they need to. It's not always easy to believe this when faced with a lack of money earnings, but sometimes magic can step in to fill the gap...let me share a little story of holiday magic to help illustrate this:

A Little Story of Holiday Magic!

In early December, I was out on an errand to find some plain boxes to decorate with my style of collage for a potential client who wanted me to collage the boxes that would be used as gifts with decorative glass objects included inside. Unfortunately, I was unable to find boxes in the sizes or thickness needed to pack the glass objects and insure no breakage during delivery.


I was unhappy at the prospect of losing a job that had the potential for some great pay, but on the way home I stopped at a favorite cafe I had not been able to visit since my move to my new home. While in the gift shop section of this cafe, I spied a fun 'piggy bank' and took a picture of it in the store, in case my dear boyfriend just might be able to buy it for a gift:


In truth, money has been pretty tight in this first year of our shared household together, but I posted this photo on my personal Facebook page anyway, knowing he would see it. I made mention of how cute I thought this 'birdy bank' was and how I'd love to have it to save my pennies for a trip to PARIS one of these days...

And my dear boyfriend did see this photo, along with a few other friends on Facebook - particularly an old friend who moved to Paris many years ago...


The next morning, after posting this 'birdy bank' photo, I found an email waiting for me - a gift certificate for the very shop that carries the 'birdy bank' with enough funds to cover the cost of this adorable bird!


And this wonderful gift certificate came from the old friend who lives in PARIS!!


She bought me the gift certificate to use to buy this very bird bank because she thought this bird was too cute and it had my name written all over it! She also told me I only need to save for airfare since she has a spare room in her home that I am MORE than welcome to stay in (with my dear boyfriend included in the invite!) and she provided the best times to come out to see Paris - fall and spring!

I made a call to the shop to insure it was still available and, after telling them the story of how I got the certificate, they got very excited at the story! They made a special online listing for me to buy my bird bank and placed it on hold in the shop so I could pick it up at my convenience and my sweet bird arrived home to be on display before the little holiday party we hosted for some good friends:


And in the end, the client that wanted collage art gift boxes used my creative skills to artfully gift wrap the glass gifts instead, and deliver them, with all tasks to be paid at the original sum that had been quoted for the original project, so I really didn't lose out on a creative job after all!

For a little while there, I lost FAITH that things would work out, but with a little holiday magic from an old friend, my FAITH in magic was restored and everything worked out wonderfully...

***   ***   ***

What sticks out for me in this story is how a member of my Facebook community came forward to give me a surprise gift, something that has been happening a lot since finding a few creative friends through the magic of August Moon. The idea of community has come up a LOT since my writings for August Moon, and they came up again during my writings for Reverb14.

It seems pretty clear now what my Word of the Year should be in 2015, and it is this:

COMMUNITY

A few years ago, I used 'abundant support' as my WOTY and it was hard to let go of this as a guiding principle. Abundant support can come from anywhere, which can be a wonderful thing, but I am feeling the need for a COMMUNITY of people that I can trust to provide support in the years ahead, and I know that I have the seeds of that COMMUNITY with the mail art friends I made this year. I'm sure that more folks will come my way as I begin to focus on building my COMMUNITY of Creative Beasts!

And I hope YOU will be a part of this wonderful new community!

Many thanks to each of you who stop by my blog to read and take inspiration from my creative adventures - I hope that you'll take time to say hello by email or to leave a comment on my Facebook Artist page. It would be great to say hello back to you =)


May the New Year bring Health, Happiness, and Creative Joy to YOU!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

It's Beginning to Look a LOT Like Christmas...

So Reverb14 has come to a close and the holiday is just one sleep away...and it is starting to look festive in this new home of one year, compared to last year, after the exhausting work of moving 2 households into this new one.

Last year we barely put up my dear boyfriends tree on Christmas Eve and only used the lights that are installed with it, but this year I was determined to host a little 'housewarming' for some of our friends, in the hopes it would get some of the unpacked boxes opened and some of the clutter moved out...

I am happy to report IT WORKED! Our friends came out and enjoyed our little home for two and even my dear boyfriend enjoyed hosting a little gathering in our shared home. Here is a little peep into some of the changes wrought in our humble abode...

Usually the dining table looks like this when I'm using it as a 'work table':


But today, after our little gathering of friends, it looks like this:


And this is the corner where I'm often working at the dining table:

One of my 3 little holiday trees is a music box that plays 'White Christmas' when you turn the base of this adorable tree! The ornaments on it this year belonged to my Grandma Betty and the little snowmen were made by her but the hats were knitted by me!

Just so you know, our place was not perfect, as we still have art to hang and electronics to find a proper home for:

The second of 3 small trees I have waiting to be filled with mini ornaments, but it has a topper already!

We have a fireplace in our humble abode but when we moved in it got hidden behind our unpacked boxes, and sadly remained that way almost all year long, but we still had a little holiday cheer last year:

I've learned to store my Christmas goods in pretty decorative storage boxes, which can make for holiday decorating all by itself!

This is how we got our fireplace to look in time for our little housewarming:


My dear boyfriend unpacked a box containing the photo of FDR and we decided to frame it and keep it by the fireplace as if he is about to deliver one of his famous 'Fireside Chats'! And my cheerful snowman is smiling happily by the fireside...I do LOVE snowmen!

While I've made peace with the idea that my studio will always be a bit of a mess, I had my table cleared to share my book art projects made throughout this year and from previous years too:


If you look closely, you can see a holiday themed file folder book!

And here are a few other areas of holiday cheer to share:

My dear boyfriends 'Winter Solstice' tree, since he was not raised with Christmas. Last year we barely got it set up for Christmas Eve, but it was up just the same!

A special gift of the 'birdy bank' on display with other holiday decor...


***   ***   ***

Tomorrow is Christmas and I've been thinking a lot about what the season really means, particularly after reading at the blog of fellow Reverb14 participant Sweet Red Clover, who had some wonderful reflections on what this season has meant to her in the past and what it can mean for her in the future...

I have often shared my holiday story of a 'Christmas Without Presents', which I am linking to HERE, and I have been thinking of it a lot since reading Sweet Red Clover's post about not getting presents for birthdays or holidays, because instead of presents she received the gifts of Kindness and Giving, which have clearly stayed with her since her childhood and she means to continue with having the spirit of GIVING and GENEROSITY within her all year long...

And I realized that I share this 'Christmas Without Presents' story because it has inspired the values of GIVING and CREATIVITY in me...because of course, this story really happened, and it really happened to me when I was a little girl.

It is one of many things that have influenced me, how I live and how I approach my life and I revisit this story to remember the creative goodness of someone who cared enough to spend TIME and ENERGY creating a special letter for 3 little children to make sure they knew that the spirit of GIVING and GENEROSITY had not forsaken them.

And because of this gift of creative giving:

"I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year"
- Charles Dickens, from A Christmas Carol

Thank you all for making time in your busy lives to stop by my blog and take a peek at the creativity I love to share here and may the spirits of CREATIVITY, GIVING and GENEROSITY be abundant in your lives!


"And God bless Us, Every One!"
Charles Dickens from "A Christmas Carol"

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Day 21 of Reverb14 Ends With Certainty...

Today is 21st and final day of Reverb14, hosted by the lovely Kat McNally who blogs at I Saw You Dancing. It has been quite an adventure using these Reverb14 prompts to begin my own end-of-year reflection process and it's been a treat to visit the blogs of the many wonderful participants who are also amazingly great writers!

Here is what Kat has to share with us on this final day:

Today, I'd like you to revisit what you wrote on 1 December on the first day of Reverb14. 

How does that compare to where you are now i.e. what can you say today with certainty?

Then, without thinking too hard about it, grab a pen and some paper and finish the following sentences:


In 2015, I am open to...

In 2015, I want to feel...
In 2015, I will say no to...
In 2015, I will know I am on the right track when… But when I find myself veering off course, I will gently but firmly…
In December 2015, I want to look back and say...

In regard to the first question, I can continue to say with certainty:

I am a highly CREATIVE being and I will ALWAYS be so.

This, I know, will not change much in my life for the foreseeable future!

But as for the other questions, let's see what pops into my head as I look at them...

In 2015, I am open to MORE EASE
In 2015, I want to feel MORE JOY
In 2015, I will say "NO" to people that are NOT a right-fit for ME
IN 2015, I will know I am on the right track when I'm feeling good about my accomplishments...But when I find myself veering off course, I will gently but firmly refer to my accomplishment journal and add to it!

In December 2015, I want to look back and say:

What an amazing year of new friendships and creative income earning opportunities, with a great balance of fun, ease and relaxation combined with LOTS of reading and LOTS of hot buttered popcorn!

***   ***   ***

Many thanks to Kat McNally for hosting Reverb14 and sharing such wonderful and thought-provoking prompts with us all!

And many thanks to YOU for stopping by to read my reflections and thanks to those of you who left such wonderful and encouraging comments! I am really feeling that 2015 will be MUCH BETTER than 2014!

Kat has mentioned one last treat for us, so be sure to stop back tomorrow to see what she has in store!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Day 20 of Reverb14 - Space for Joy...

Today is Day 20 of Reverb14, hosted by the lovely Kat McNally who blogs at I Saw You Dancing. Check out the Reverb14 page HERE to join along and journal to the amazing prompts as we journal our way out of 2014...it's YOUR CHOICE to journal publicly or privately, as we all journal our way out of 2014 and plan for the new year ahead...

Today's prompt is given to use by the fabulous Jen Lee, an amazing blogger and storyteller. Today Jen writes this for us:

One thing I learned in 2014 was how to make space for joy and levity, even in the midst of challenging circumstances or sad times. 

How could you make space for joy in the year to come? How could you protect it?

If you've been following my Reverb14 posts, then you'll know that I've been struggling in my life this past year, which certainly has left much room for JOY. But as I've been journaling along with these thoughtful prompts, there are some things that are becoming clear and focusing on JOY is one of them - how to make space for that, is now the question...

Perhaps a way I could make space for joy in 2015 is by starting that accomplishment journal I've been writing about here. Trying to keep up with my practice of keeping a gratitude journal turned out to be like almost everything else this year - hard work, and I'm ready to let go of all the hard work and to take up the practice of being at EASE, in the hopes that things will manifest more EASE-ily in my life...

Now, I am an individual who relishes ACCOMPLISHMENT and that is something that brings JOY in my life. I think if I begin to practice tracking my accomplishments, it will bring me that sense of JOY I need more of and it can also help me to see how much I am building toward my creative career, so I won't feel as though I am getting 'nowhere' with all my efforts.

And maybe it will begin to trigger my gratitude for the blessings in my life, which will bring more blessings and more goodness...

Which of course will bring me more JOY...

And tracking all the accomplishment and joy will be a wonderful way to protect it all.

I think this is a plan I can manage with EASE as I begin to let go of 'trying so hard'.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Day 19 of Reverb14 - Signs and Symbols...

Today is Day 19 of Reverb14, hosted by the lovely Kat McNally who blogs at I Saw You Dancing. Check out the Reverb14 page HERE to join along and journal to the amazing prompts as we journal our way out of 2014...it's YOUR CHOICE to journal publicly or privately, as we all journal our way out of 2014 and plan for the new year ahead...

For our consideration, we have an interesting prompt from our hostess, Kat McNally. Here is what she shared with us for today:

 Sometimes I feel like an intrepid explorer through the lush, terrifying, vibrant jungle that is daily life. When I am open, I start to notice clues everywhere; clues which guide me to questions that, in turn, lead to answers. I sense the very real possibility that I am not navigating my way on my own

Recently I realised that I had been gravitating to hot pink. This realisation led me to a photo which, in turn, brought back some memories which then led me to understand something about a burden I'd been carrying for a long time. And in that discovery, I was freed.

Today, I invite you to consider: what sorts of signs and symbols have recurred for you in 2014? Think: repeating colours, shapes, people, sayings, music, images, ideas. Where could they possibly be leading you?

As someone who loves symbols and looks for signs of guidance in her life, this prompt certainly spoke to me!

And I've been seeing some signs recur in my life this past year...

As I've mentioned in a previous post, it feels like I've been trying so hard to make certain things happen in my life and one of them is trying to maintain some old friendships, but it looks more and more as though I am doing most of the work to keep these relationships going and all the work is getting to me.

When I expressed my intention during August Moon to find more like-minded creatives to connect with, opportunities dropped out of the sky and into my lap like so many raindrops for a parched soul!

These connections have begun online and they include mail art, something I enjoy and have been wanting more of in my life. After all, who doesn't enjoy receiving colorful mail in the mailbox instead of tired old advertisements and bills?!?

And these connections feel effortless...and fun...and full of art-full joy...

I have been seeing these signs for awhile now and it's time for me to acknowledge them so I can make more space to allow more of these effortless opportunities to enter my life.

As for other signs and symbols, I can say that the color BLUE has been making it's presence known to me, a color that I don't normally wear or have in my environment often.

Methinks the symbology of BLUE is that I could also use a little more CALM and REST in my life, and THAT is a sign I am willing to heed...and so I shall!

Skirt of recycled t-shirts made in various shades of calm, cool blue - I love wearing this new skirt!


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Day 18 of Reverb14 - Nourishment...

Today is Day 18 of Reverb14, hosted by the lovely Kat McNally who blogs at I Saw You Dancing. Check out the Reverb14 page HERE to join along and journal to the amazing prompts as we journal our way out of 2014...it's YOUR CHOICE to journal publicly or privately, as we all journal our way out of 2014 and plan for the new year ahead...

The prompt for today comes to us from Sophie Appleby and here is her offering for us to ponder as Reverb14 continues:

 In the busyness of the everyday, taking time to nourish the soul doesn't reach the top of the 'to do' list as often as it should. 

What nourishes your soul? How would you like to incorporate more of this into your life in 2015?


There are many things that nourish my soul, but the biggest item that REALLY nourishes me is quiet time spent READING...

In the recent posts for Reverb14 I've made a few lists of things I'd love more of in 2015, and you can read the extensive lists HERE, but when I REALLY think about what nourishes me the most, it is quiet time spent reading books, lots and LOTS of different books:

Craft books to inspire creative projects, to inspire art journaling or book making
Biographies of people who inspire me, or who have led artful lives
Books about PARIS - places to see and how people live, where they shop and, of course, EAT!
Books about writers I love
Books I've read as a child that I would love to read again
Books on mail art to inspire me to make more of it!

Now, there are MANY links to the many books I'd love to read and these books are stored in my private wish list at Amazon, but trust me when I say this short list in my blog post is NOTHING when you see the list of books in my wish list, not to mention the books stored in my lists in my online library account!

I have many interests and love to read books to learn more about them all!

Some days, I manage to carve out time to read with my morning breakfast, but it's not everyday. Some days I make time to read with my lunch but, again, this is not everyday. However, I do enjoy starting my day with a book to go with my breakfast and if I can manage to make time to do this at least 3 times a week, I think it would be a very good start to chipping away at my wish list of books...

After all, I'll never get through my lists of books if I don't try to read at least 3 times during my week!

My collection of craft books, which include knitting, sewing, book arts and mail art books, all of them INSPIRING!


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Day 17 of Reverb14 - Don't Be An A$$hole...

Today is Day 17 of Reverb14, hosted by the lovely Kat McNally who blogs at I Saw You Dancing. Check out the Reverb14 page HERE to join along and journal to the amazing prompts as we journal our way out of 2014...it's YOUR CHOICE to journal publicly or privately, as we all journal our way out of 2014 and plan for the new year ahead...

Today's blog title is a BOLD one indeed! But when you learn what is behind today's prompt, given to us by Summer Pierre, it will certainly make more sense, so please read on to what Kat had to say about today's Reverb14 prompt:

 Apologies for the slightly controversial subject line! I stole it with love (and kind permission) from my friend Summer Pierre’s absolutely brilliant comic of the same title.  

I love the way she realises how hard she has been on her ideas, and how little room she has given them to play, make mistakes and evolve.

How can you stop being an a**hole, get out of your own way and make room for more of your magic to happen in 2015?


Well, I sure do know a little something about being hard on my creative ideas, in fact I'm pretty hard on myself for just about everything, but so many of us are, aren't we?

But the question posed here today on how I can stop getting out of MY OWN WAY to make more room for more of MY MAGIC to happen in 2015, hits the nail on the head in one way that I can think of:

I need to stop being so resentful of certain people in my life who don't even give a shit about me, and if you've read my 'biting back' post about them, it's pretty clear who the a$$holes are in this picture...

I have gotten stuck in my resentment about these people, who are not even related to me, due to their behavior, which I'm realizing is SO SELF CENTERED, it's not even about me! But I've let their selfishness get my goat and the lingering rage and resentment I begin to feel when presented with just the prospect of being in their presence is really wasting my precious energy and I really feel that this resentment  has been blocking me from the financial abundance I've been struggling with for the past few years.

Of course it's easy to say that its time to stop letting the a$$holes push my buttons by the very mention of them, but it's something else to really be able to let it all go so I can skip along my merry way and do the work I need to do in MY LIFE...

But it does make me wonder:

Am I really an a$$hole if I let REAL HONEST TO GOODNESS A$$HOLES get to me?? ;)

One other way I can 'stop being an a$$hole' and get out of my own way, is to start acting on the many creative ideas for online workshops I've had sitting on the back burners.

I know I have a lot of experience and expertise to share with others who are just starting to tread the path of creative expression, and its high time I begin to share all of it and its high time I begin to start creating little videos to share here on my blog so folks can stop by for some knowledge or inspiration or a creative idea to start their day.

It's time for me to begin sharing these ideas, even if its done 'imperfectly' with a messy creative studio, bad camera work and bad editing, but at least I'll be sharing my ideas and expertise in a way that I know is more immediate and accessible for others...

...and that is certainly worth something, isn't it??

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Day 16 of Reverb14 - Wonder...

Today is Day 16 of Reverb14, hosted by the lovely Kat McNally who blogs at I Saw You Dancing. Check out the Reverb14 page HERE to join along and journal to the amazing prompts as we journal our way out of 2014...it's YOUR CHOICE to journal publicly or privately, as we all journal our way out of 2014 and plan for the new year ahead...

Today's Reverb14 prompt comes from Tracy Brisson and here is what she has to say:

Like many folks, I picture myself as a modern day Wonder Woman, trying to use my superpowers, to do lists and pure force to get what I want. In 2014, I found that my effort wasn’t often tied to my desired outcomes -- except when it was.

In 2015, is there something you’d like to try harder at because you believe it would make all the difference? 

Conversely, what is something you could stop trying so hard at that might actually help you manifest what you’d like?


IS there something I'd like to try harder at as I move forward in 2015?

To be honest, I'm not sure I want to be trying so hard at ANYTHING in my life anymore. This year I've been trying so hard to make a creative career take form, trying hard to make my new home FEEL like a home for me, and trying hard to maintain old friendships that, frankly, I'm pretty done with trying so hard with every little thing in my life, and this trying so hard seems to spill over into the smaller areas of my life so that it ALL feels like it's just plain HARD.

So I would rather STOP TRYING SO HARD at everything in my life and maybe, just maybe, I will manage to manifest some of the things I've been needing and wanting in my life that I've already journaled about here during Reverb14, and previously with August Moon, such as:

My intention is to continue with my creativity AND to search the company of other creative souls, because I know that those who serve their creative impulses are people of kindness, generosity and humor, things I need in my life right now since I'm having trouble remembering how to treat MYSELF with kindness, generosity and laughter

Plus this list for an 'ideal day' of work AND play:

Hosting a workshop with enthusiastic students who are eager to learn creative techniques
Creating some unique and art-full books that will be bought by excited customers
Having several sewing students I can pass along all my sewing knowledge to
Having a sewing project that is fun for me to work on and makes the client happy when completed
Touching base with blog buddies near and far
A delicious lunch in the company of creative friends
A quiet afternoon reading in my comfy chair and having a little nap!
An evening spent with my dear boyfriend whether having dinner at home or at a favorite restaurant

Of course, I'll add my wish for:

A wonderful creative studio and cozy inviting home

Some new rituals for my daily life, the prospect of which actually gets me excited:

A ritual or ceremony before I commence to work on creative projects
A ritual for bidding unwanted/unneeded clutter goodby
A ritual for deciding what to wear for the day
A ritual for completing creative projects, no matter how long it took to finish it!

And the most recent DO - MAKE - HAVE - BE lists I wrote last week:

Things I would like to DO more often:
Travel to my favorite places such as Ventura, The Huntington Library, South Pasadena farmers market, The Agoura Antiques Mart, bookstores, my favorite thrift shops

Things I would like to MAKE more often:
Recycled t-shirt dresses and skirts to wear, art-full jewelry for myself, hand bound books and journals I'd like to use for art journaling (or accomplishment recording!)

Things I would like to HAVE more often:
My favorite sandwich at my favorite French bistro, salads from Traders Joes, avacados, home baked chocolate chip cookies, lots and lots of HOT BUTTERED POPCORN!

OH! and MORE TIME to read books on my list, MORE TIME to make more hand-bound books and MORE TIME to make MORE ART!

Things I would like to BE more often:

BE organized in my studio

BE productive with my time

BE at ease with money

BE an inspiring creativity teacher

BE happier

Yes, these lists have been making my heart sing as I've been cobbling them together these past few months, but there is one question that begins to nag at me:

 Is it possible to let go of trying so hard yet have things manifest in one's life without effort??

I certainly don't know that answer to that question, but I'm willing to let go and find out!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Day 15 of Reverb14 - Do It Anyway...

Today is Day 15 of Reverb14, hosted by the lovely Kat McNally who blogs at I Saw You Dancing. Check out the Reverb14 page HERE to join along and journal to the amazing prompts as we journal our way out of 2014...it's YOUR CHOICE to journal publicly or privately, as we all journal our way out of 2014 and plan for the new year ahead...

Here is what our lovely hostess writes for us today:

 As you may know, there are many fine reflective writing challenges on offer this time of year, some of which are also called Reverb.

A couple of days before launching my Reverb14, I noticed that a writer and photographer (whom I admire greatly) was about to launch a new program of her own. It was designed to encourage reflection on the year that’s passing. Logically, I could see how this would be the perfect supplement to the annual worksheets she produces that focus on manifesting brilliance in the new year.* 

But, of course, it wasn’t my logical mind that kicked in when I clapped eyes on her smart and pretty product.

It was the gremlins. Why would anyone want to join in my silly little thing when the other offerings are so amazing?

Of course, there was no question of backing out. I already had almost 100 sign-ups and eleven friends who’d gone to the trouble of writing some incredible prompts, just because I asked them.

But also: I’ve learnt over the years that the only way to get anywhere in life is just to notice what other people are doing, hear the gremlins, feel the fear and do it anyway. It never gets any easier but to keep on doing it is the point.

What are you really proud that you made happen in 2014, despite the gremlins? And what will you do anyway in 2015?

* Turns out, it’s a photography challenge! Just goes to show, best not to jump to conclusions, eh?


Well, my friend, I am extremely proud that I finally made a creative workshop (two, in fact!) happen for me in 2014 at my local community college, after two seasons of submitting my workshops and getting virtually no students to sign up for them...

I am extremely proud that I was able to teach a new creative workshop that I developed, and developed especially for a long time colleague and her sewing students this Spring. It may have been a small class of 5 students but it was great fun...

I am extremely proud that I reached out with an inquiry to teach at a venue that I've been hearing about this year and that my inquiry was met with enthusiasm! I am now negotiating a start date for one of my workshop offerings for the new year!

I am extremely proud that I participated in Seth Apter's challenge to share my Studio Table because I learned that almost every artist I encountered felt that their studio was an 'unholy' mess, yet when these same artists visited the studios of others, they were giddy and excited about the look of other studios, despite every one of us feeling that we had a messy and disorganized studio!

And because I learned this, I am going to resume teaching from my home studio, mess and all, as I move forward in 2015!

My studio will always be in need of cleaning and organization but if others can like it 'just as it is' I can learn to like this way too!

I am also extremely proud of the 2-layer cake I baked (my first cake!) for my dear boyfriend's birthday this weekend, which explains why I have been missing from the past few Reverb14 posts, but I am proud to say that it was a great (and DELICIOUS!) success!

Home baked cake with home made frosting and handmade cake decorations, all made by yours truly!

And I think baking more cakes and cupcakes will be something I do more of in 2015! ;)

Friday, December 12, 2014

Day 12 of Reverb14 - A Love Note...

Today is Day 12 of Reverb14, hosted by the lovely Kat McNally who blogs at I Saw You Dancing. Check out the Reverb14 page HERE to join along and journal to the amazing prompts as we journal our way out of 2014...it's YOUR CHOICE to journal publicly or privately, as we all journal our way out of 2014 and plan for the new year ahead...

Today's prompt comes to us by way of Amy Taylor Kabbaz and here is what she shares with us:

It all starts with kindness. Everything I have learnt, everyone I have interviewed, every word I have studied has guided me to this simple but profound conclusion: true happiness begins and ends with self-kindness.
No more guilt. No more shoulds. No more comparison.
And the very best way to give your weary soul some kindness at the end of this year? A love note.
Write a letter from you to you... filled with forgiveness, love, and a big bear hug.


Well, this prompt is a bit of a challenge, but of course as so many of us have trouble looking at ourselves with love, let along treating ourselves with love, it comes as no surprise that this prompt is a challenging one!

But I stumbled onto an interesting blog post by a woman who represents artists and it was a list of things artists should be thankful for. When I read through the list, it felt like a love letter, at least to me.

So I think I will use some of the items on that list and I will sit myself down and write myself a 'love' letter...


My dear beautiful artist,

There are some things you should know as you wind down your path on your journey through Life. YOU have amazing gifts of art-FULL creativity that NO ONE can ever take away from you. They are yours and yours alone to do with as you please. You can please yourself if you wish or you can please others with your gifts, but ALWAYS REMEMBER that your gifts are YOURS to keep, to cherish, to treasure and value.

YOU have AMAZING PASSION for LIFE and for ART that brings you SO MUCH JOY, and sometimes some frustration and angst, but it mostly brings JOY. That joy is something that many people today are lacking in their own lives and many of those people might just try to thwart you in your joy, out of jealousy or spite, but that is only because they are so miserable they can not see how to go out and FIND THEIR OWN JOY, which is the only way one can find joy in Life - by going out to search for it because it sure as hell ain't coming to you and, as you have learned by now, most people are just too damn lazy to pursue their happiness, even though they have been given PERMISSION from one of the greatest documents ever to exist: The Declaration of Independence!

And while this passion might bring occasional angst, always remember:

'This too shall pass'

The angst will pass, the depression will pass (it has before!), the rage and resentments will pass, the frustrations will pass AND they will come back in one form or another, so just remember that your feelings are VALID and they are AUTHENTIC and they are TRUE, which is more than we can say for so many other people out there who are trapped in lives of in-authenticity, and we both know that is no way to live, especially because we have tried it many times and it never really works, at least not for you and certainly not for me!

My dear beautiful artist, always remember that your creativity is with you WHEREVER YOU GO, WHATEVER YOU DO. You take your creativity and fabulous ideas with you and they keep you marvelous company, especially when you are in the company of people who are too self centered to pay much attention to you. And also remember that it's okay if certain people don't pay attention to you becuase it only means they are not your 'peeps', which you've already learned, but what you also need to remember is this:


And beautiful things don't ask for attention because they COMMAND attention, simply by being beautiful, and you know this because you have seen how ugly things demand attention with ugly behavior, which only serves to create more ugliness in the world and that is NOT what you are here for!

My dear beautiful artist - I REALLY want you to take pride in your COURAGE because that is what it takes to pursue your gifts and that is what it takes to share your gifts. It is a lot of hard work but I know you are capable of this hard work since I have been witness to all the hard work you have being doing since childhood. I know it sometimes seems that you are getting very little reward for your hard work but I get a feeling that the big rewards are "comin' round the mountain as she comes" in 2015! And while she might not be "Driving six white horses when comes", she just might be driving that FIAT you've been dreaming of all year ;)

Just start thinking of what color you want that FIAT to come in!!

My dear beautiful artist, you are leaving behind of legacy of artfulness and goodness and meaning for all those you come into contact with and beyond. Like the pebble tossed into the pond, you are leaving reverberations of your artfulness, goodness and meaning that will be felt in ways and by people you may never know, but remember that just because you can not see the effects you have on people beyond that first inner circle, it doesn't mean you are not affecting them.

YOU are an amazing being of beauty and brightness and I want you to always remember that.

Love,
Me

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Day 11 of Reverb14 - Ritual and Routine...

Today is Day 11 of Reverb14, hosted by the lovely Kat McNally who blogs at I Saw You Dancing. Check out the Reverb14 page HERE to join along and journal to the amazing prompts as we journal our way out of 2014...it's YOUR CHOICE to journal publicly or privately, as we all journal our way out of 2014 and plan for the new year ahead...

Today our 'Hostess with the Most-ess', talks about ritual and routine. Here is what Kat had to say about that:

I’ve been getting up at 5am most days for the last few months. It wouldn’t be my preference but that’s when bambino decides the day is starting (and I’ll forgive him, because he’s been sleeping through the night!).

It’s still dark when we get up. Once I have tended to his needs and placed him on his play mat with a couple of toys, I always do the same thing; I switch on the coffee machine. The type of breakfast I make; the extent to which I catch up on my email and instagram feeds; the time that the rest of the family wake up: these things all all vary. But switching on the coffee machine is the one thing I do without fail and without thinking.

What can I say? I’m a Melbourne girl: it’s coffee first!

What tiny rituals signal that your day is starting; help you ease into a creative project; give you closure from an intensive task; or mark other significant milestones in your day? What new rituals would you like to create in the new year?

I touched on this topic earlier during August Moon, but I think it might be a good to look at just what these words mean before I begin to tackle this prompt...

For the purposes of this prompt, I'll take this definition of RITUAL from Dictionary.com:

prescribed, established, or ceremonial acts or features collectively, as in religious services...

And this definition of ROUTINE, also from Dictionary.com:

commonplace tasks, chores, or duties as must be done regularly or at specified intervals; typical or everyday activity

I prefer these definitions for today's prompt as they reflect the tone of what is being asked. We all have actions that we take on a daily basis and while these actions might seem small, insignificant or prescribed, they DO mark the passing of our days or they commence the start of particular activities in our days.

But we can take them out of being small, insignificant or prescribed routine when we turn them into the ceremony of ritual as we take time to be mindful of these daily actions. As a result, these daily actions take on importance, and even meaning, as they become the launching point from which we begin our day. Some need a daily brew of coffee or tea to start their day on the right note, some need exercise and some need meditation, but these little daily actions are important to us, so they move from the idea of ROUTINE to RITUAL as they take on meaningful significance in our daily life.

And with that, I will share some of the rituals I have in my life...

My morning rituals look like this:
  • Morning meditation - I have been doing this ritual for a few years now and if I do not begin my day with my grounding and centering meditation, I tend to feel scattered!
  • Morning walk after meditation - I have been unable to do this for many months since my leg injuries and I miss it greatly. Walking in the morning gets my body moving and awake, and my brain begins to percolate with creative ideas as I look at the nature I encounter on my walks
  • Morning breakfast with a book - I try to read something while eating my breakfast since it is one of the few times in my day that I will have for reading, since I am usually busy with my creative work or housekeeping tasks
My afternoon ritual is this:
  • Late afternoon lunch watching a favorite movie - I like to sit with a favorite movie as I eat my lunch and I let movie play on to keep me company as I begin to work on sewing projects
My evening ritual is this:
  • Hop into the shower to clean the energy of the day off me before my dear boyfriend arrives home - It helps me wind down so I can be in a restful state to relax with my dear boyfriend for the rest of our evening together

These rituals are important to me as I go about my day, but it would be great to establish a few more rituals and some rituals I would like to establish are these:
  • A ritual or ceremony before I commence to work on creative projects
  • A ritual for bidding unwanted/unneeded clutter goodby
  • A ritual for deciding what to wear for the day
  • A ritual for completing creative projects, no matter how long it took to finish it!

The idea to create some new rituals is intriguing me and I look forward to exploring some possibilities for how to create a few new rituals to mark my days in 2015. You can bet I'll share how this develops, so be sure to stay tuned!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Day Ten of Reverb14 - Generosity...

Today is Day Ten of Reverb14, hosted by the lovely Kat McNally who blogs at I Saw You Dancing. Check out the Reverb14 page HERE to join along and journal to the amazing prompts as we journal our way out of 2014...it's YOUR CHOICE to journal publicly or privately, as we all journal our way out of 2014 and plan for the new year ahead...

Today's prompt, given to us through a lovely lass by the name of Kira Elliot, is this:

I am not going to lie, I often dread the holidays because I grew with the holidays laden with heavy expectations of giving. The gifts wrapped in bright colored paper sitting under a tree sparkling with multi colored light were tied tight with invisible cords of what I was suppose to be or do that made it almost impossible to enjoy the gifts.

Now as an adult I strive understand there is a difference between generosity and giving. Generosity is free of obligations; it opens the heart, and creates warmth and connection between the giver and receiver. When I cultivate generosity the holidays become something I look forward to sharing with my loved ones.

Look back at the last year and consider: how did generosity open your heart? How can you cultivate generosity in the coming year?


Okay, I am in TOTAL AGREEMENT with the opening lines of Kira's statement, but this 'dreading of the holiday season' began to happen as an adult, particularly in the face of certain people who are really into 'gift giving' but have no real connection to what the holiday actually signifies for the many of us raised in the faith that Christmas is grounded in...

And I have made the distinction between generosity and giving, since my young adulthood, so when I find myself bombarded by the prevailing attitudes of 'gift BUYING' at this time of year, it makes me a Scroogy* cranky gal!

But on one particularly horrid holiday, when I found myself being screamed at for my generosity to give a gift of sacred TIME, and on the sacred holiday that did not carry as much meaning for the individual I made my offer to, it made me see very clearly that sometimes generosity of spirit is not as welcome as much as the reward of material gift-receiving and, from that day, I limited my generosity to this person...

This does not mean that I have closed off my generous nature in general, in fact, I practice generosity as much as I can, so much so that I believe I deserve a day off from my generous giving, whether in the form of TIME, MONEY or SKILLS, and I deserve this day off, especially on Christmas day! ;)

(Which is why I often prefer to spend the day in quiet solitude rather than spend it among people who have no real connection to the meanings behind this 'most wonderful time of the year')

But after being so rudely lambasted for my gift of sacred time, I am now VERY particular about the recipients of my generosity because I want my generosity received in the spirit in which it is given:

With open eyes, open mind and most of all, an open heart

And being screamed at is not conducive to this openness...

Now that I have learned to be more discerning about who I give my sacred time and energy to, it is easier to spot where and how my generosity will be at most effect.

And due to this discernment, I am glad to say that I have been a recipient of in-kind generosity and giving. I've mentioned the wonderful online connections I've made this year and it gives me as much pleasure (if not more!) to give of myself freely in the monthly exchanges of mail art as it is to be the recipient of the mail art that is generously made and freely given to me. I truly look forward to continuing this exchange into 2015 and hopefully beyond...

I also enjoy giving my time, expertise, wisdom and support to those who are beginning to explore their creativity and to those who are already immersed in their creativity and my recent connections afford me the opportunity to share myself in these ways, not to mention the teaching opportunities that afford me the ability to share my gifts.

However, in order to do be able to do more of this giving, it means I need to close off connections to those who are not so graciously open to my sacred gifts, so that I can build a COMMUNITY of people who ARE open to them.

And it becomes clearer and clearer to me that 'you get more of what you focus on'...
;)

 
* - I once mentioned the book "Scroogenomics" here on my blog before and it is a good read for an overview of how the annual gift buying of the season is wasteful and inefficient in many ways, with wonderful ideas for giving differently that can be much more meaning-FULL for ALL. You can read an overview of the book on Wikipedia, insightful reader reviews of the book HERE, and if you're interested in having a copy for yourself, you can buy it direct from the author HERE.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Day Nine of Reverb14 - Shades of Grey...

Today is Day Nine of Reverb14, hosted by the fabulous Kat McNally who blogs at I Saw You Dancing. Check out the Reverb14 page HERE to join along and journal to the amazing prompts as we journal our way out of 2014...it's YOUR CHOICE to journal publicly or privately, as we all journal our way out of 2014 and plan for the new year ahead...

Today's prompt is this:

As you enter into the new year, what would you like to do/make/have/be more often? How will you bear witness and celebrate the tiny milestones? How will you respond on the occasions when your intentions do not come to pass?

Now, it must said that Kat prefaced the prompt with her own musings, which I will now quote:

Like most humans, I tend to be a bit black and white in my thinking. I have “good” eating patterns or “bad” ones. I have a “good” day with feeding and settling my bambino or a “bad” one. I am “good” at keeping on top of domestic tasks, emails, blog posts, my twitter feed or I am “bad” at it.
As my journey deepens, I see that this way of thinking is not only unfair, it’s untrue and doesn’t allow much space for the quiet but amazing shifts that happen while I'm not not looking.

Aaahhh yes, I remember those days when I saw everything in black and white...it seems like it was just yesterday...

Oh wait! It WAS yesterday!! ;)

I wish I could say I was kidding, but some days, things STILL look black and white to me, but as I've grown older, and hopefully WISER, I do begin to see the oh so many shades of grey that fill the miles of spectrum between the dark black and bright white. But it seems that the prompt is really asking at something else with the question:

How will you bear witness and celebrate the tiny milestones?

All I've been seeing this past year is the bleak darkness of my lack of a steady income, yet if I only shifted my point of view a little bit, I could see how much I have to celebrate in accomplishments, something that I really need to focus on in the year ahead...hell, it's something I really need to incorporate as a daily practice, because if I let the minutiae of:

domestic tasks * emails * blog posts * twitter feed * pinterest boards * monthly mail art send outs (which I was woefully late on this month and beat myself up over, OF COURSE!) * Facebook posts for my artist page...
and on and on and on...

...take over my life it will seem as if I get NOTHING accomplished...but even the littlest things accomplished really do add up and it's time I start to see how much I really get done, whether large or small, whether geared to the home-front or geared toward my business or geared toward personal happiness and personal growth.

Yes, the idea of the accomplishment journal is looking like a must have on my list for 2015!

But let's look at another aspect of this prompt:

What would you like to
DO
MAKE
HAVE
BE
more often?

What a fun question! Hmmm, let me think...

Things I would like to DO more often:
Travel to my favorite places such as Ventura, The Huntington Library, South Pasadena farmers market, The Agoura Antiques Mart, bookstores, my favorite thrift shops

Things I would like to MAKE more often:
Recycled t-shirt dresses and skirts to wear, art-full jewelry for myself, hand bound books and journals I'd like to use for art journaling (or accomplishment recording!)

Things I would like to HAVE more often:
My favorite sandwich at my favorite French bistro, salads from Traders Joes, avacados, home baked chocolate chip cookies, lots and lots of HOT BUTTERED POPCORN!

OH! and MORE TIME to read books on my list, MORE TIME to make more hand-bound books and MORE TIME to make MORE ART!

Things I would like to BE more often:

BE organized in my studio
BE productive with my time
BE at ease with money
BE an inspiring creativity teacher
BE happier

As for the final aspect of this prompt:

How will you respond on the occasions when your intentions do not come to pass?

I think that instead of considering the possibility that the items on my lists might not come to pass, I will instead focus on what does to come to pass and celebrate those little moments as they are happening, because if this past year is any indication, focusing on what is not working doesn't make it magically start working better!

And as I've been learning, you get more of what you focus on =)

Monday, December 8, 2014

Day Eight of Reverb14 - Connections...

Today is Day Eight of Reverb14, hosted by the thoughtful Kat McNally who blogs at I Saw You Dancing. Check out the Reverb14 page HERE to join along and journal to the amazing prompts as we journal our way out of 2014...

Today's prompt comes to us by way of blogger Jen Allen, who writes:

The hectic pace of our lives can make it difficult to remain connected to the things and the people that matter the most to us. We get wrapped up in our work or our busyness and connection falls by the wayside. 

How have you created and/or sustained connections in your life this year?

Oh, my friend, as you well know this has been a challenging year for me. Since moving to a new shared home with my dear boyfriend, I have been beset with challenges of trying to squeeze my old 2-bedroom artist home into a small one-room studio space, along with trying to figure out a housekeeping schedule for 2 people sharing a 2-bathroom space with a larger living room and dining room than my old humble abode had.

And don't get me started on the unpacked clutter that is still littering said living and dining rooms =\

One other challenge, that I actually anticipated, was the possibility of diminished connections to creative friends. This year, two creative friends moved out of state and, despite my best efforts, contact has been greatly diminished. And I see another creative friend less than before as my move means a longer drive for each of us, which has been hard for me to keep up as my meager income does not allow for a large gas budget for my driving very far...and sadly, in the sprawl of Los Angeles, I find most people are less and less likely to drive very far ourside of their local region to keep up connections, leaving me to hold the bag of driving around to maintain friendships.

No wonder I dream of moving to Portland, Oregon - if my connection to my 'local' friends will be maintained by email, Facebook or the phone, then why not move to a place where my soul will be fed daily with creative inspiration, gorgeous nature and a great public transportation system?!?!

This idea has been percolating on the back burner of my brain for a few years now and it is beginning to rise to a boil, but this year, I DID make a few connections, thanks in part to August Moon, and with Facebook, which I've had a bit of a love/hate relationship with for the past few years...

During August Moon, I expressed my need for a community of creative kindred spirits in this way:

My intention is to continue with my creativity AND to search the company of other creative souls, because I know that those who serve their creative impulses are people of kindness, generosity and humor, things I need in my life right now since I'm having trouble remembering how to treat MYSELF with kindness, generosity and laughter

And while reading at the participating bloggers of August Moon, I discovered this lovely new blogger who was looking for something similar, with the addition of a desire for creative work accountability, something I had also expressed a need for. So, I reached out and she responded in kind...

Interestingly, at about the same time, a brave artist in the Facebook group for the Inspirational Card Deck Swap put out a call for anyone who might be interested in a year long mail art tribe. This tribe would be providing positive support and inspiration to put the 'caller' into a positive head space as she was working to make some positive changes in her life. We would form a private Facebook group and have monthly mail art exchanges with the leader, but could extend ourselves to anyone else who joined the group.

When I learned that this group would entail MAIL ART, I was definitely on board!

Finally, I connected with another fabulous blogger through August Moon as many of us wrote about what we had in our closets. This fabulous gal expressed a wish to have a dearly beloved and cherished garment re-made so she could continue to wear it as the original was showing signs of wearing OUT and she didn't want that to happen.

It so happens that I have the ability to recreate existing garments, using my skills in pattern drafting, and I know how important a garment that we love and feel great in can be in a fabulous gal's life, so I extended an introduction of myself to help her with this wish.

After all, there is nothing I love more than to use my creative skills to bring some joy and happiness to someone! And she responded with energetic enthusiasm!

These new connections have begun to form the community of creative souls I really need at this time in my life. Every time I interact with them, it leaves me feeling jauntily uplifted and filled with a sense of creative purpose.

Before this, I had a love/hate relationship to Facebook as many of my 'friendships' in that social media channel were not feeding me in a way I really needed, and the art groups I had been part of had gotten so big that I felt lost in a sea of clamoring self-promoting artists, all jostling for space and time to be seen and heard, with little-to-no real connections happening. As a result, I removed myself from those groups earlier this year with the intention of making space for better connections to come through. 

After these experiences, I did not expect that I could form such wonderful connections using the internet (let alone Facebook!) to do so, but since my community of fellow bloggers began to dwindle as their lives began to change, I lost hope that I could create such a supportive community again through the internet.

Thankfully, the magic of August Moon stepped in to prove me wrong!

I really have to thank Kat McNally over and over for hosting these wonderful annual journaling events and for responding in kind when I left my encouraging comment for a fledgling blogger who had much to share and has become so elegantly eloquent as I continue to watch her writing evolve and she guides these annual writing events with a sure hand =)

***   ***   ***

As 2014 comes to a close and 2015 looms on the horizon, I think I may have found my Word for the Year...HOWEVER, I will continue to ponder before making a final decision, but you can bet that I will share my final choice before the year out when I bring back my year-end Kwanzaa reflections, so be sure to stay tuned my friend!