Friday, October 30, 2009

The Joy Diet - Chapter 6 - Treats

Well, today my copy of The Joy Diet by Martha Beck was due back at the public library and that coincided perfectly with my feeling of being finished with it, even though there are few more chapters left.
As I was reading about rewarding ourselves with treats for risks we take and just because we are who we are, I thought that I am way ahead of that. I thought that about the last chapter when I couldn't reconcile her view of taking risks with what I know works for me, and reading this chapter, I realized that I had figured this all out for myself years ago - I just look at it slightly differently.
Here are a few of the things I've learned (for myself) in the last fifteen years or so (and these are not in any particular order):
  1. True happiness has to be cultivated from the inside out - it cannot be made dependent on outside circumstances.
  2. How I feel is always my own decision - nobody can ever make me feel a certain way.
  3. In every situation, I have a choice - not what others should or shouldn't be doing, but: how will I respond to this situation. Will respond from love or fear?
  4. As soon as I make others' behavior responsible for my happiness, I'm in trouble.
  5. Life will continue to bring what it does, but I know that if I have a bad day, it will pass. And I've experienced enough real tragedy in my life that I know I can weather any storm.
  6. When I'm experiencing a difficult situation, I try to find just one good thought (about the situation or totally unrelated). And then another. And another. And before I know it, I'm feeling much better and often the difficult situation resolves itself.
  7. Sometimes letting go and relaxing into life is as important if not more so than working hard and trying to make something happen.
  8. Kindness is a must - toward others and myself!
  9. At the end of my life nothing will matter to me except how fully I've lived, how happy I have been, and how much happiness and joy I have spread to others.
  10. There's probably more, but that looks pretty good for now...
How do I know that this works for me? I've been practicing these things every day for years, really cultivating an attitude of finding the good in everything and everyone, and find that I am now living a joyful life, where my dreams continue to come true. What used to take much discipline has become a way of life and it's changed my life.

I am very aware though that not two of us are alike, and I am sure that this list of wisdom gained from life is different for each of us. As it should be! I like to be inspired in my life and I found that The Joy Diet was more motivational than inspirational, and for me that doesn't work very well. For others this might be the book that changes their lives. Isn't the variety life offers wonderful?!

So, farewell Joy Diet - I've gained some wonderful insights and am happy I participated in this discussion hosted by the lovely Jamie Ridler. Wishing you all continued joy with this book! I am off on my own joyful journey once again...

P.S. I'll have more art to show soon!!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Illustration Friday - Fast

I painted her yesterday, and I painted her FAST, which is why I thought it appropriate to enter her into this week's Illustration Friday challenge.

Painting her was very different and tactile! Even the molding paste, I applied with my fingers, as well as some of the paint. The face just happened very fast and by the joy I was feeling as she emerged, I could tell that I was painting her from deep inside.

That's what I love about painting, not when I plan something out to the smallest detail, not when it looks perfect in the end, not when others like it, but when it expresses that creative part deep within. She's gritty, she's asymmetrical, she's almost a little scary and I LOVE her!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A New Idea Taking Shape...

Here's what's been happening... Lately, I've been busy but feeling entirely uninspired. Yet, by now I know that this usually is a phase when I hatch a new idea. My problem is that I am not very patient, so I decided to fill this in-between time with knitting and crocheting.
I found some ribbon yarn in new colors and finished three scarves already - white with a silver thread (so pretty and festive!), burgundy and copper (luscious!), and light blues and aquas (cool and fresh!). I also crocheted another curly scarf, this time in bright red! I'll let you know if and when I list them in my shop.
Knitting and crocheting is very rhythmic and with easy patterns like these, perfect to let my mind wander on it's own mysterious path.

And then, yesterday, BINGO! An idea started forming and I could hardly contain my excitement! Something new with my art, something fun, something unpredictable and with endless possibilities!
Remember these two ladies? I always had a feeling they weren't finished and now I know why! I won't go into the details of it all just yet (too much to sort out still), but wanted to let you know that these two are about to go on a journey! Let's wish them Bon Voyage...
And when they come back to me, I sincerely hope that they won't be the same, that their journey will have left it's mark.

There's much more to write, but this will have to be enough for's all still unfinished, swirling ideas in my mind.

In the meantime, I hope your week is progressing with wonder and excitement! I promise I will be by to visit your blogs! And I thank you for continuing to visit mine and to leave your much appreciated comments. You brighten my days!!

P.S. I am also working on another painting I hope to show you soon. It's looking quite different!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Speaking of Joy...

I didn't actually see the kick-off party for Oprah's new season, but I've since watched this dance video to I Gotta Feeling by The Black Eyed Peas and every time I watch it, I can feel the joy and energy coming from this crowd. It gives me goosebumps!

Looking at all these people, most of whom probably didn't know each other, but together they created something so beautiful and joyful -- that's how I feel about this blogging experience. I have never met the vast majority of you, yet even though we each choreograph the steps to our own lives, we still dance together, support each other and create joy that circles the earth and changes everything! I thank you for that!

Now, crank up the speakers and dance!!

Today's gonna be a good day!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Joy Diet - Chapter 5 - Risk

Well, this week of "Risk" in the exploration of The Joy Diet by Martha Beck, hosted by wonderful Jamie Ridler, has been the hardest for me so far - not the actual risk-taking, but because I disagree with the concept of doing something that frightens me every day that will lead to the fulfillment of my dreams.
I don't believe in "feeling the fear and doing it anyway." I know that if I still feel fear when I am to launch into action, I either haven't don't enough inner work to calm my fears or the action is plain wrong for me.
Even when I went kayaking a few weeks ago (you can read about it here) and had to confront one of my biggest fears, by the time I was ready to start the lesson, I was ready. I may have been a little nervous, but I had faced my fears internally first and discovered how irrational they were before I started the lesson. And I KNEW that when I was done with the capsizing, I would thoroughly enjoy the rest of the lesson.
I believe in going with the flow of life and when I renamed that chapter "Opportunities," Martha Beck and I were on the same page again.
Let's face it, everything in life involves risk - even getting out of bed in the morning!
But how do I know that I am moving toward the achievements of my small and big dreams?
(All photos were taken by Daniel on a beautiful three-mile stretch along the Savannah River.)

If at the end of the day I have happily taken advantage of all the opportunities that have presented themselves, trusting that going with the flow of life MUST lead to the fulfillment of all my dreams!

Risky? You bet!

Worth it? Absolutely!

Not only that, but it's fun and surprising and will lead to places yet unexplored, joys ready to be discovered, friends waiting to be met and dreams manifesting in front of my eyes...

Seven months ago, I followed the opportunities, went with the flow of life even though it seemed to be going in a new direction altogether, and now I find myself painting, blogging and exchanging ideas with all of you. That's all the proof I need!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Digital Housekeeping and more...

While Daniel took Winslow for a walk......and a little swim... the beautiful area around the Savannah River...
...I finished two curly crocheted scarves in beautiful colors.
I am addicted to crocheting these...
I have also (finally) separate my knitting/crocheting and painting into two separate Etsy stores. You can find my paintings here and my other creations here.

Oh, and before I forget, two of Daniel's beautiful illustrations from an Irish story in Cricket Magazine found a new home in Missouri:
It's always so bittersweet to see them go!I hope you are having a wonderful weekend! I am looking forward to visiting your blogs sometime this weekend!!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Movie Excitement in Savannah - Robert Redford's "The Conspirator"

Well, for some time now, Robert Redford has been filming his latest film The Conspirator in Savannah, a movie about Mary Surratt, who was the lone female charged as a co-conspirator in the assassination trial of Abraham Lincoln. Daniel's students have been keeping him informed about the filming, and tonight we decided to take Winslow for a walk to the set.
You have to excuse the photos, which are not that great as we had to stay a certain distance from the set. While we didn't get any pictures of famous actors, we did get some shots of extras in costumes.
The streets have been covered with dirt, palm trees with "real" bark, horses and carriages have been brought in and everything looked like "old" Savannah. Tonight they were filming the assassination of Lincoln. And it seems that fog is always a requirement for these scenes.
They had set up the fog machine right by the spectators - maybe they wanted us to move...

I love this last shot...
...for a moment we were transported to a different time and place...aside from the giant lights of course!

Art and Awards

(Click on the painting to see more detail)

Finally, I am getting to show you more art! I don't know how some of you do it - you work full-time, you create new art every day, you post about it every day AND you leave comments on other blogs. I admire you!!

I recently bought a Baroque Artist Panel to experiment with. I really loved the wood grain on the panel and decided to mix a lot of glazing medium with my acrylic paints to work more transparently. The result is a very different look. Much more muted, this girl looks quite demure. I think had I sealed the wooden surface before painting, the colors would be a little more vibrant, but I have to say I like how this worked out. In fact, I like her so much, I am offering her in my Etsy shop.

And now two awards I was given recently. This first one I received from the very talented Mary Wadsworth, who is not only an amazing painter and sculptor (she makes the most wonderful creations out of paper clay!), but a dear and kind friend, always ready with an encouraging word!
The rules of this award state that I need to mention seven facts about myself. So, here it goes:

1. I am a recluse at heart, perfectly happy in our own little world, but only because I know I can connect with my dear friends any time I so choose (how lucky am I?!).
2. I can get up in the morning and be chatty immediately. Because Daniel is not a morning person, I talk to the dog and cat!
3. I also talk to myself quite frequently.
4. I have at least three or four very vivid dreams every night - never a nightmare! It's like my own personal movie theater!
5. Some of my dreams have been predictive in nature - nothing grand, but enough to make me pay attention.
6. When I met Daniel when I was 19, I couldn't cook anything, but I could bake the most complicated recipes! Growing up, my mom was the (most excellent) cook in our family, but she didn't like to bake, so that was my job. I learned baking from my grandmother and still, today, even though I've learned to cook, more than anything I love to bake! Especially the old family recipes.
7. I put waaaay too much thought into lists like this...but I want to give you something to read that is somewhat worthwhile!
And now another award from my tireless, amazing, talented, wonderful, thoughtful, kind and beautiful sisterfriend Ces. This one she created in honor of Arija and this is some of what you can find on Ces' blog about Arija and this award:

I am blessed to call Arija my sisterfriend and it is my great honor to design this award to recognize her: A thinking, seeing, feeling, loving person who celebrates life every day. She is an artist, a photographer, a fascinating woman with great sense of humor, wise and thoughtful blogger and a loving and caring friend.

Bella Sinclair had this to say about Arija: "I was reading just a little bit about oaks yesterday. Such a strong wood that it is prized for its strength and density. It refused to be felled for centuries (until the invention of iron tools). That, truly, is Arija, she who offers support and shade, who twinkles in the sunshine and sways with the breeze, and who refuses to be felled."

I feel so honored to have received both of these awards and am passing them on to all of you! After selecting names for the last award, I decided that I cannot do that again. The worry about forgetting someone and that person feeling bad about being left out, is just too much for me. And the fact is that you are ALL wonderful and special to me!

So, if you feel so inspired, copy the awards, post them on your blogs and pass them on. Let's spread the love!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

St. Augustine, Florida - Part 2

I tried to post this yesterday, but I was unable to upload photos to blogger. But today it works, so here are the last few pictures from St. Augustine!
We loved some of the old buildings and how everything was so lush in this warm and moist climate!
If you look at the photo below, the white building in the back reminds me of some of the German barns from my childhood.

This was a church that was built by Henry Flagler in memory of his daughter.
It's amazing how different the architecture is just three hours south of where we live. It was spectacular!!
Here the former Ponce de Leon Hotel for the very rich, also built by Henry Flagler, which is now Flagler College. A magnificent campus!

The beautiful Casa Monica Hotel in the background.
A glimpse at the former Alcazar Hotel, also built by Henry Flagler. It now houses a museum and City Hall. The courtyard was very tranquil.
Later that afternoon, the heavens opened and we waited out the storms at The Bunnery. By the time we remembered to take a picture, my giant chocolate cookie was already almost gone...
After the storm, we walked back by the water and the fort.

The next day, the temperature had dropped into the 50's and it was heavenly outside! We decided to have a delicious breakfast of French Toast (see my profile picture) at The Bunnery, walk through the historic town again. Below a picture of an old school house - it was a little creepy in that there were mannequins in the windows that would talk to you. It really startled me at first...

We then paid a visit to the Living History Museum where we had the most fascinating conversations with some of the people working there. Strangely enough, the most interesting chat we had with the wood worker (who was from England) about Norse mythology!

One more trip to the beach (picture taken with our new snaking tripod) before heading home...
And here a toast to all of you!!
Thanks for traveling with us!