Friday, May 29, 2015

Summertime!

Even though it's only May, summer has definitely arrived in Georgia! Daniel is finished with teaching for the school year and we are looking forward to long days spent relaxing in the backyard, painting, reading, enjoying good food, spending time with friends, going to the beach, and much more. It'll be a time to take care of ourselves, unwind, renew and recharge!
And I'm doing something I have not done since I started this blog in 2009 - I'm taking the summer off from blogging. I may check in with a post here or there as I feel inspired, but then again I may not. I am planning to simply follow my joy and see where it takes me. 

I wish you all a beautiful summer with time to play, weather to enjoy and plenty of whatever makes you happy! 

With love and gratitude, 


Silke

Saturday, May 16, 2015

My Summer of Choosing Joy

I am currently taking a class from the fabulous Kelly Rae Roberts, called "The Wear Your Joy Project." When I signed up, I thought it was about finding your own unique style in clothing, something I had wanted to explore ever since I became a full-time artist and found that my outside no longer matches how I feel on the inside.
Well, the class is about that, but about so much more. It's about connecting with what brings us joy on a daily basis, starting first thing in the morning with how we treat our bodies and how we choose to get dressed so we feel good about ourselves all day.
That got me thinking about the rest of my life and how I often don't choose what brings me joy, but rather what is practical or what I think I should be doing. But there is no reason why things can't be practical and joyful at the same time. Or why those things I really need to be doing cannot somehow be infused with something that also brings me joy.
So, with that in mind, I have decided make a practice of that this summer and am calling it My Summer of Choosing Joy (everything seems more fun and official when you give it a name...). Making that decision already prompted a few changes that I am implementing right now:

1. I am taking the pressure off my blog and am turning off comments. It's not that I don't love hearing from you (I do!), it's because with every comment I feel guilty that I don't visit your blogs more often and that I don't usually respond back to you. No more guilt. I am going to keep blogging because I love how it helps me think and how it keeps track of all the important moments in my life.
2. I will no longer do commissioned paintings. I will finish the few I have lined up and then I will delve into the joy of allowing paintings to surprise me again. While I have loved working on commissions, I find that I stop doing my spontaneous paintings and that is where they joy lies for me. Daniel and I are planning a joint exhibition toward the end of this year (yeah!!!) and I want to paint my heart out between now and then.
3. I will do some major weeding out this summer. There will be a sorting out of my clothes in conjunction with the Wear Your Joy class - everything that doesn't bring me joy or makes me feel bad in any way will be sorted out and donated if it's still in good shape or gotten rid of if it's not. I have a feeling that this will spill over into other areas of my life.
4. One major source of joy for me lies in the kitchen - cooking, baking and good food in general. The same goes for Daniel, so I am foreseeing us making some excellent meals this summer with him being on summer break. I will share recipes here of the really outstanding ones as we try new things.
5. Of course, I'll continue to share photos of our garden, the wildlife around here, and anything else that inspires me. A lot of my joy is found in the daily photos I take and share here, on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
Thank you so much for your visits and I hope you'll continue to find something of value in my ramblings about my life and the photos and art I share!

With much love and always in joy,

Silke

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Love Languages

Last week, I had an epiphany of sorts! It's amazing to me that I can be almost 50 and am still getting to know what makes me the way I am. I've been thinking about this all week and have to write this down, mostly for myself, which is why I am posting some beautiful garden photos for you to enjoy while I ramble on.
I always love when the amaryllis bloom on the side of the house.
They were one of my mother's favorite flowers and always seem to bloom on Mother's Day. 
Last week, Andrea Scher (you can find her Superhero Life Blog here) mentioned on Facebook how she is really bad at giving gifts and that it's not one of her love languages. What?! Love languages? How had I not heard about those.
Our jasmine in full fragrant bloom! 
I could so relate because I am absolutely horrible with gift giving. Always have been (I think most everyone in my family is challenged that way). The finding of something appropriate, the feeling good about what I've chosen or made, the wrapping of it, the sending it off on time if I have to mail it, the card that should be included - it is and has been a super stressful thing for me my whole life.
The oak leaf hydrangeas are magnificent right now. 
Not that I don't like to give gifts or receive them, it just doesn't come easily to me. That's why my favorite holiday is Thanksgiving - all the joys of cooking and getting together with family and friends and NO GIFTS! It is the only holiday I feel completely relaxed about.
A new hibiscus. 
So, when Andrea mentioned Love Languages, I took the test (you can find it here).  And guess what "receiving gifts" (and the flip side of that: giving gifts) is at the very bottom of the list of what's important to me. It is not one of my love languages. No wonder I have never felt like I knew what I was doing when it comes to giving gifts. It is not a language I speak well at all.
The gardenias are starting to flower. They smell so wonderful! 
What was first on my list? Acts of Service! And isn't that the truth?
The other morning, I walked into the bedroom to make the bed and came to find that Daniel has already done that for me. To me, that spells love! Or he'll clean the kitchen for me while I am at the store to get groceries. No gift would mean as much to me as that.
Last week, we were visited by a rare albino raccoon - it was amazing to watch!
Almost as high on my list was "Quality Time." And again, that rings so true.
And here a "regular" raccoon moving around in one of our trees. 
I love nothing more than to spend time with Daniel. Of all the people I know, he's the one I most love to be with. It was that way when we met 30 years ago and it is that way now.
That, too, is more important to me than any gift he could give me.
I'm knitting a summer top for myself with some stretchy yarn and a fun pattern. 
Somehow knowing about my love languages has brought me great relief! And it has made me truly aware that we all don't speak the same language when it comes to expressing love and affection. It's also wonderful to know that there are others who are terrible at the whole gift giving thing. That said, I do have friends and family where I suspect that giving (and receiving) gifts is one of their main love languages, which means I'll always keep trying hard when it comes to gifting because they are important to me.
A favorite moment from last Sunday - one of those that was just perfect in every way! 

With lots of LOVE,

Silke

Friday, May 8, 2015

First Steps

It's been a while since I posted and I've been thinking much about the last topic of planning vs not planning. There's another aspect to it that painting has revealed to me. I don't know about you, but I learn so much from the creative part of my self.
When I think about things in the future: projects, travel, home improvement, paintings or anything else that could potentially be big and important ... I instantly feel overwhelmed.
I'm hesitant to start because I don't want to mess it up. Sometimes I don't know how to start because all I see in front of me is the totality of the project and it's too big. I see the end product in my mind and have no idea of how to get there. And how to not mess it up on the way.
This has been something I have experienced my whole life and painting is finally teaching me how to go about these things. Like with this fun, fun, fun commission I worked on recently of a team of incredibly therapy dogs. I had no idea how to paint it so that the client would like it. I wanted it to be colorful, beautiful and soulful.
But at the same time I have learned through the way I paint that all I need to do is start. To not think about the totality of the painting, but just about the colors I want to start with and let those flow and mix into shapes. And those shapes will tell me where to go next. And finally I start "seeing" the outlines of whatever it is I am painting.
It's the same with anything really. Just start. Find the beginning point and take the first step. And that step will either get your energy flowing so you can get your project on the way, or it will show you the next step to take or the next decision to make.
And suddenly a huge and overwhelming thing becomes not only manageable, but fun. And that's what it's all about, isn't it? To enjoy the process, the journey whether it is painting a piece of art, cleaning house, planning a dinner party or preparing for a big trip. So, what first steps are you thinking of taking?

With much love and appreciation for you all,

Silke
P.S. Linking to the ever wonder- and colorful Paint Party Friday

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

To Plan or Not to Plan

For years I have envied people who can make a plan and then stick to it. It's a no brainer for them. They make a plan so that they know exactly what to do when. I finally, finally realized that I am just not wired that way.
I love making plans but when I try to make myself stick to them, I feel trapped. I suddenly want to do anything but the thing I had planned to do. The funny thing is, I grew up in a planning society and in a planning family. And I realize that a good plan gives many people a sense of security. Not me. Mostly, it just takes the wind out of my sails.
Then it dawned on me: I make plans to get inspired. To brainstorm. To see the possibilities. To get my thinking unstuck and organized for a minute or two.
And once the plan is made, I may or may not follow it. The older I get the more I realize the importance of letting go of control and going with the flow. When I paint and I try to control the outcome, it never works. So when I get stuck, I get out the paints and paint with my fingers and hands, fast and without a plan - that connects me to the creative flow and always gets me going again.
The same is true for me in life. I don't like to know exactly what the year is going to bring. I don't like to make plans too far in advance. I need to have room for surprises, for changing direction, for play, and for inspiration.
If I had planned my life too strictly, I would have never started painting. I didn't know I could paint, so there was no way to plan for it. It was one of those happy surprises and I am so grateful I had room for it in my life!
Life it delicious and it moves and changes fast. And the most amazing moments I find are those that I didn't plan for, that aren't predictable. The ones that are easily missed when I follow a plan too strictly. Plus, when life does bring a surprise, it can completely throw me off kilter if I didn't leave room for flexibility.
And yet, I still plan because I love how a good plan organizes me for the moment and gives me a general direction in which to expand. But beyond that, I might change everything around the next moment. And that's quite alright!

Here's to a week full of delightful surprises for us all!

With love and gratitude,

Silke