Monday, September 30, 2013

Some thoughts...

Dear friends! I've been thinking. A lot.

And while I share some of my thoughts with you all, let me treat you to a few pictures of my studio that has officially made the move from creatively messy to just plain messy! It's a colorful mess, but it's still a big, big mess!

I have begun the very gratifying task of de-cluttering and organizing (some of the piles on the floor are a result of that process). I hope in a few days I can show you the "after cleanup" pictures...
So, here my thoughts and also a question for you. Do you care what others think of you? I do! I try not to as it really is none of my business, but I can't help it. On a daily basis. Do others think I care enough? I am kind enough? I am generous? I am of value? Do they think I'm weird? Am I reacting appropriately to whatever situation?
The strangest thing about this is that I find myself daily trying to fit in, but I don't know what the criteria are. It's like trying to win a game, but you don't know the rules.

Growing up I always felt severely different from everyone else - my interests, my thoughts, my feelings - I always felt like I was somehow not measuring up. To what I didn't know. My most fervent wish was to be "normal." And I'd find myself trying to conform so that I'd be accepted somehow. I still do that, but now I can catch myself in the act.
What is "normal" anyway? There is no such thing, is there? We are all unique and all different - it's just that I feel way more different much of the time. And that, too, is construed in my mind only.
It's just through what I observe and how people act and think. I often don't think the same way. I try to be very deliberate about my thoughts as I am quite certain that our thoughts do create our reality. I don't often talk about this though because it's so not "normal." And somehow it's important to me to not seem weird. There it is again - trying to not stand out.
I don't like to complain even though that seems to be a favorite past time these days. I like to focus on the positive. I don't like to watch the news as it seems to be synonymous with "bad news." I don't like to discuss the bad news either although many seem to love to tell the latest sensational news.
I recently started listening to the CDs by Wayne Dyer and Eckhart Tolle called The Importance of Being Extraordinary. Now that would be the opposite of trying to be "normal," right? Or is "normal" simply being oneself? And if we are all unique, aren't we all extraordinary? I think maybe so.

So, why do I try to hard to fit in? To conform to some standard I have no idea what it is? What is so scary about standing out and being extraordinary? Even this blog is already a stretch for me. Sharing these thoughts is a stretch. I've spent a lifetime trying to blend in somehow, not very successfully, but I was trying.
I admire those of you who are able to be completely "you" without apologies. I'm working on it. Or - more accurately - every day I am trying to relax into just being myself (not doing myself, not proving myself, not explaining myself), just  BEING myself and have that be enough. To seek my approval only. To conform to my own standards only. To care what I think of myself more than what others think.

And in this I've come a long way! And maybe some day I don't have to be so consciously aware of it every day. Maybe some day I will just be "me" all the time. I'm looking forward to that...

In the meantime, I so appreciate you all being here in blogland. I have learned so much from you and keep being inspired by your lives, your posts, your creative projects and the comments you leave here. Thank you!!


Sunday, September 29, 2013

European Beauty - Amsterdam (Part 1)

Dear friends, we are enjoying the most amazing fall weather at the moment and it reminds me of our vacation in Europe. So I thought it was time to share some more photos.

We spent two days in Amsterdam, one of the most beautiful large European cities. And we were lucky in that the weather was gorgeous!
We went to visit one of our dearest friends who now lives in Amsterdam. Raina and I sat next to each other in statistics class in San Jose, CA, 24 ago, which really is ironic considering the non-statistic creative lives we both live today. She, Daniel and I quickly become great friends, a friendship that has lasted all this time... It was wonderful seeing her!
The other treat was that my cousin was able to take time off work and come with us. It's always wonderful being able to spend a little extra time together as my time in Europe is usually so packed and limited!
Now, just enjoy the photos from our first day in Amsterdam on a perfect summer's day!

We played tourist and went on one of the boat tours, which was fantastic! Amsterdam is crisscrossed by canals everywhere and taking a boat tour is one of the best ways to see much of the old and new buildings.

Above is the EYE Film Institute.  I love the architecture!

 And here the NEMO Science Center. Another great building.
Stay tuned to Part II.

Wishing you a gorgeous Sunday!! May it be relaxing and fun...


Friday, September 27, 2013

Godspeed, Dear Friend!

"Goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes. Because for those who love with heart and soul there is no such thing as separation."
~ Rumi
Yesterday, my dearest friend Anne passed away peacefully after living with cancer for many months.
Through it all, she never lost her incredible sense of humor, her zest for life and her loving concern for her family and friends.
She continued to make art when she had the energy,
to knit and read when she needed to rest,
and to inspire the rest of us all the time!
Yesterday when I was focused on my loss, I felt great sadness.
Today I am able to focus on your journey, Anne, and your new adventure and I can feel your joy!
Fly free, dear friend! And so long.

Until we meet again....


Thursday, September 26, 2013

New Painting - Together

I finally finished a large painting that I started before we went to Europe on vacation. At least for now it's finished... I'm calling it "Together."
It's square and 2.5 x 2.5 ft. (76 x 76 cm) and was really fun to paint! I painted it right side up (there really isn't a right side), upside down and sideways.
The colors make me happy!
And the faces speak to me, but then they always do!

It might make it to my Etsy shop, but I'm not quite sure yet. I might want to keep it.
2.5' x 2.5' gallery-wrapped canvas

I'm entering this in this week's Illustration Friday! Head on over to see lots of great art!!

Wishing you a wonderful Thursday.

We are having a cool (yes, COOL in September in the South - it's amazing) and rainy day. Tomorrow the sun will shine again. I hope it's sunny in your part of the world...


Monday, September 23, 2013

Busy, busy...

Dearest friends and readers, I've had a hard time getting back into blogging (as you have probably noticed), not because I have lost interest, but because I have been very busy with lots of fun things.

Here's the reason:

Fall has started making an entrance, even if only very cautiously here in the south. It's still quite warm out, so how can I tell?
Well, the first sign in our garden is the fig tree losing its leaves. The first years I thought it had some disease every time, because it is the first tree to lose its leaves every fall. By now I know it is the signal that the long summer is coming to a close.
A few leaves have started turning color (although the real gorgeous fall colors don't arrive here until November) and our beautyberry bush is producing the most intensely colored berries.
But...summer hasn't left yet either and I have been indulging my zinnia love every day! Daniel just threw out some seeds in June or July and our garden is filled with them now.
 So many that I can have beautiful bunches of flowers in the house all the time.
These photos also show a few of my favorite things. The tiny blue vase we got at an art fair, the dragonfly fetish we bought on the Zuni Indian reservation, the beautiful green ceramic piece Daniel brought from Minneapolis a few years ago,...
... a pretty little candle holder we brought back from Oaxaca, Mexico and my new favorite tea cup my sister-in-law sent me for my birthday.
Speaking of fall, it makes me want to make things. Every year I get this urge to be über-creative around this time of the year and this year I've been indulging fully. Daniel will spend a couple of months teaching in the south of France this winter where it can get very (very!) cold. So I knit him a hat and scarf to keep him nice and toasty with gorgeous wool yarn I bought in Münster on our last visit. Turned out nicely, don't you think?
I've also been trying some new things such as making pickled okra and bread & butter pickles.
The pickles are delicious and the okra I just made yesterday, so we have to wait a little before tasting it. Canning things has always intimidated me, but this year was the year to just forge ahead and do it. It all went perfectly!

My inspiration? My dad who decided he was going to learn how to preserve all the different kinds of plums in his garden. He made enough jam to last him through the entire year until the next harvest! And then some...
Also yesterday, I sewed my first pillow complete with piping around the edge. It turned out beautifully. I'm going to make another one this week. Sewing always seems like such a big deal to me until I actually sit at the sewing machine - then I just love it!
I promise there will be more pictures of Europe, but for now I had to show you all the things that delight me around here. Life truly is good!

Wishing you all a most wonderful week!!