Sunday, July 29, 2012

Signs Of Abundance

Our garden was a rich source of insight and inspiration for last week's blog posts, and a week later, it is continuing to provide food for meals and food for thought!  As I've been observing some of the same plants I photographed and shared last week, I'm noticing how these plants are continuing to grow, bloom and evolve, and abundance comes to mind.  I am reminded of how we can feel a such a great sense of abundance when we pause and reflect on what we have, what we're receiving, what we're experiencing and what we're achieving in our lives. 

Thanks to our garden for these little signs of abundance! 

Last week's radish seedlings are continuing to grow...

Last week's green tomato is evolving, ripening...

More dahlia volunteers are blooming and brightening our patio...

New squash blossoms promise another harvest...

   How is your life blessed with abundance right now?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Gratitude In The Garden

A little garden in which to walk,

immensity in which to dream.

At one's feet that which can be cultivated and plucked;

over head that which one can study and meditate upon:

some flowers on earth,

and all the stars in the sky.

- Victor Hugo

This squash was harvested from our garden earlier this week & enjoyed as a fresh ingredient in our dinner minutes later.
As I've surveyed what's growing in our garden this week, I have felt much gratitude for the fresh herbs, vegetables and fruit we are starting to harvest and enjoy as well as gratitude for our garden guiding me to contemplate life lessons and inspiring me to capture photographs of its beautiful, appetizing bounty.  Now more than ever, I am grateful for moments of love, joy, peace, beauty, wonder, inspiration and connection...the simple abundance each day holds when we reach out and grasp it.  I must remind myself, however, to focus on this abundance during those times when stress, anxiety or fear creeps in, when my self-critic raises her voice too loudly, when life hands me a disappointment, when I've temporarily lost my positive mojo or I'm in a blue mood.  Reflecting on gratitude can turn our day, our week, our lives in a fulfilling direction.

Here's what comes to mind as I reflect on the past month and what I am grateful for...

* My husband tending to our garden as I've been busy tending to my creative aspirations.  We are starting to be rewarded by the fruits of his labor!  (I do need to spend more time getting my hands dirty, too!  By doing so, I'll surely be rewarded not only with flavorful, fresh edibles, but also with inspiration for new designs!)

* Last week's trip to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks (photos shared on my Plumeria Papercraft Facebook page) - spectacular views, magnificent trees, beautiful Sierra wildflowers, squirrels, mule deer and a black bear, scenic creeks, rivers and waterfalls, idyllic "fairyland" meadows, sculptural rock formations, Moro Rock, Crystal Cave, a glorious visit with nature!

* The encouragement and support I've received for this blog.  My heartfelt thanks!

* Every time I hear "Mama..." and instead of hearing our daughter ask for something (or whine about something!), there's a sweet pause, then "I love you!"  I love you, too, Melia! 

* Girlfriends, near and far, young and old, new and longtime.  I treasure each of you!  Celebrating my birthday earlier this month with dinner and a movie, a rare night out with two dear friends.  Enjoying lunch, coffee and conversation recently with another dear friend.  Meeting yet another dear, but long distance friend (we hadn't seen one another in four years or so) for a brief, but wonderful visit while soaking up the breathtaking view of Big Sur and spotting whale spouts.  

* Attending another healing arts retreat at our local hospital, monthly "therapy" for my soul.

* More steps taken on my Plumeria Papercraft journey.

* Our feathered friends (despite earning their nickname "Pigs with Feathers" as they devour full birdfeeders in less than 24 hours!) - sparrows, finches, chickadees, juncos, flycatchers, pine siskins, towhees, grosbeaks, mourning doves and more.

* Fresh eggs delivered by our neighbor last weekend and scrambled for a tasty breakfast.

* Watching all the incredible talent on "So You Think You Can Dance" (I watch only a little bit of television, but admittedly this is one of my "guilty pleasures!")

What's on your gratitude list right now?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Teachings Of A Tomato

"Patient anticipation

Up till now I've been hurry up and waiting..."

- The Band Perry

Each summer our tomato crop (thanks to my dad's seedlings) teaches me about being patient and savoring the anticipation before reaping any rewards.  With our typically foggy summer days, the growing season for our tomatoes is usually a tedious one, and we aren't harvesting until late summer into early fall, sometimes well into October!

Patiently anticipating the transformation of this green tomato into ripe red!

I'm learning that similar to our experience with growing tomatoes here, building a small business into a meaningful career requires much patience alongside one's efforts.  Remembering to enjoy and appreciate the "growing season" and savoring the anticipation of successes ahead, both big and small, contributes to a more rewarding process as we work toward any of our life goals.

What are you patiently anticipating? 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Persistence Of A Posey

“It does not matter how slowly you go

so long as you do not stop."

- Confucius

More wisdom from the garden…the other day I noticed this dahlia bloom, a third or fourth generation volunteer, in one of our terracotta pots on the back patio.  This stalwart blossom reminded me how persistence pays off!  If we remain persistent in our endeavors, we can be rewarded in beautiful ways.

I needed this reminder as sometimes I am chided by my inner critic for taking baby steps and making slow progress;  yet, I'm encountering joy and fulfillment along the way, so despite the lurking self-criticism and the slow pace at times, I’m persisting and keeping the faith that I am indeed headed in the right direction, growing and preparing to “bloom.”  May you have faith in your own ability to “bloom,” too!      

Monday, July 23, 2012

Reminder From A Radish

“Dreams are the seedlings of realities.”

- James Allen

Our vegetable garden is beginning to show signs of promise and has inspired this week's posts...

Before we departed on a mini vacation last week (to magnificent Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks), my husband and daughter planted radish seeds in our vegetable garden.  Thanks to a dear friend who watered our garden while we were away, we were delighted to see these little strong seedlings pushing themselves up out of the soil upon our return!

These radish seedlings reminded me that by planting our own dream “seeds,” tending to them and providing them with nourishment, our dreams can grow into new possibilities, opportunities and realities, enriching our lives!
I've planted a dream of earning an entrepreneurial, creative living and am now nurturing my “seedling” by seeking inspiration in nature and in simple moments within the flow of everyday life, practicing daily mindfulness, exploring art, learning, gaining courage and building confidence, designing and creating, connecting with others and cultivating feelings of hope and gratitude.     
What seeds have you planted, and how are you nurturing your dreams?   

Friday, July 20, 2012

On The Shoulders Of Love

Today I'm sharing the third piece (here are the first and second pieces) in my 3-part "inner little girl" / angst art with hope and whimsy series and feeling immense gratitude for what was and continues to be the most powerful source of energy uplifting me through my health battle and subsequent physical and emotional healing.  I am grateful beyond words for all the love in my life, and I am bursting with love in return!  

"Standing on the Shoulders of Love Holding on to Her Spirit and Strength"

Sending love to all of you today and wishes for a happy weekend...

Monday, July 16, 2012

Lifted By Hope

Today, I'm sharing the second appearance of my "inner little girl" (here's the first) and acknowledging the uplifting power of hope.  This was the second of three pieces, my angst art with hope and whimsy, created when I was very ill.  I am deeply grateful to feel like I've been lifted to a higher, brighter place where those dark adjectives are no longer in sight.

"She is Lifted by Hope"

Remember to grab on tightly and let hope lift you when needed...

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Inner Little Girl

You may have already noticed my “inner little girl” included in my very first blog post and another prior post.  She first surfaced in the thick of my illness after my local group of “coworkers” suggested creating angst art as an outlet for expressing some of my emotions at that time.  I struggled with representing only angst as I was trying to focus so intently on positive energy and the optimism of getting well, yet I realized I needed to start addressing some of the unavoidable discomfort and fear lurking in the shadowy corners of my thoughts.  My moment of everything coalescing was when the idea emerged to create angst art balanced by hope and whimsy!
In hindsight, these first appearances of my “inner little girl” were the true beginning of my healing arts journey before attending any classes.  I have always avoided referring to myself in third person, but by representing myself in the form of a little girl within the artwork, I was admittedly viewing myself in third person.  At first, I thought “yikes, I’m playing the third person game,” but in this case, viewing oneself from the outside looking in eased the expression of difficult thoughts and emotions.  I even found it hard to actually write down some of these thoughts in words, so I relied on collaged dictionary definitions (shared with this post) and rubber stamped words (will share in my next post) in order for the words to materialize.
As for the little girl herself, she embodies the part of us that feels like a young child again when faced with an overwhelming situation around which it is hard to wrap our understanding or when we’re traveling in unfamiliar territory.  I’ve come to the realization that in order to place some already trodden paths behind me and continue forward in this healing journey, my “inner little girl’s” story needs to continue, too.  My wish is for more hope and whimsy and less angst in her future appearances!  Here is the piece in which she made her very first appearance...
"Her Life Raft of Love (and Erythrocytes)"

"Her Life Raft of Love (and Erythrocytes)"

Have you ever tried expressing yourself as an image in your artwork?  If so, in what form, and how was it insightful and helpful for you?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Safe Haven

Creativity has become, now more than ever before, my “safe haven.”  When life feels like it’s whirling out of control around me or within me, I find refuge in a creative activity, surrounded by its centering, grounding, calming and often enlightening effects.
When I was under a great deal of work pressure, finding a rare moment to get lost in the process of an art project would always provide welcome relief from stress.  In the midst of fighting my health battle, focusing on the act of creating offered a respite and provided a sense of moving forward rather than remaining stagnant in my troubles.  Even at times when I was too weak or ill to be active at a normal level, I was able to sit quietly, designing images and handcrafting my notecards. 
My treatment (fortunately, only periodic maintenance now) entails a long day at our local hospital, and I often bring along a small case with pencil, scissors and patterned papers, so I can trace and cut designs to occupy my time and my thoughts when unaccompanied.  I’ve learned it’s best to work on simpler shapes under the effects of medication!  On one occasion, I was working on my sewing themed designs, and I remember how meditative it was to quietly wrap thread around paper spools. 

A completed version of my "Spool of Thread" notecard

On another occasion, the RN who leads monthly healing arts classes at the hospital kindly brought me a basket of art supplies when my treatment happened to be scheduled on the same day as the class.  The nurses caring for me that day noticed how my blood pressure came down as soon as I began painting.  (I have a bit of a medical phobia, especially a fear of needles, so all the poking and prodding during tests and treatments typically elevates my otherwise low blood pressure!)

"Seeking Peace" started during a treatment at the hospital & finished at home

As I continue along my journey of physical and emotional healing, I’m expanding my creative “safe haven” to include art journaling and healing arts as tools for further exploration, insight and growth.  I’ll share more of this personal work in upcoming posts. 
I hope you, too, have experienced the powerfully healing, soothing and regenerating effects of creativity.  May its "safe haven" be a place where we can spend time when we need a retreat from the busyness of life, a stressful situation, an illness, fear or grief, but also, a place to visit regularly, simply for the sake of inspiration and enjoyment.   
How has creativity been a "safe haven" for you? 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

My New "Coworkers"

“You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest

waiting for others to come to you. 

You have to go to them sometimes.”

-          A.A. Milne

As I’ve transitioned from working for a company to working on my own, I’ve come to realize that solo entrepreneurship can sometimes feel a bit isolating.  It’s not as though I’m unaccustomed to working alone.  I was based at home for 15 years while working for two of my former employers, but I was constantly communicating with management, coworkers and accounts online, via phone and in person during business trips.  Now my workdays are quieter.  Sometimes I welcome the quiet time to focus and create while other times I yearn for more interaction with others.  I'm deeply grateful for a wonderful circle of family and friends, but working as a company of one, I thought I no longer had opportunities to connect with coworkers until it dawned on me that this wasn't so, at least not in the usual sense!
Thankfully, I’ve been discovering that kindred spirits in the creative and entrepreneurial realm can become, in essence, a new sort of “coworker,” and by reaching out and connecting with like-minded people locally and online, a new circle of these “coworkers” can be formed.  I’ve been building my own circle by connecting with fellow Etsy sellers, creative bloggers, local artists, local and online “mompreneurs” and entrepreneurs, and I feel blessed to be meeting such extraordinary people.  Each time we reach out and make contact with a new acquaintance, we don’t know if we’ll truly connect with that person or not, but it’s worth the uncertainty.  Some of these connections may be fleeting, while others will be long lasting, and some may be more casual, while others will grow into close friendships, but every connection can be positively gratifying!
I am fortunate to have befriended three local entrepreneurs with whom I’ve been meeting monthly for over a year as a small business/social media group.  We gather at a local coffeehouse where we encourage and support one another, share information and ideas as we ride the waves of small business planning and learn how to navigate the vastness of social media marketing and brainstorm, laugh and cry together...we connect.  I express my heartfelt gratitude to these three exceptional “coworkers” with today's post!
Whether you’re working on your own like me, or you’re in a job where you're in the company of coworkers, we can all reap the positive energy and inspiring, motivating benefits of teaming up with kindred spirits and contributing to a greater sense of community.  Wishing you many incredible connections! 
Make a date to take a coffee break with a kindred spirit!


Monday, July 9, 2012

Sand In My Shoes

“for whatever we lose

(like a you or a me)

it’s always ourselves

we find in the sea.”

-          e.e. cummings

My screen saver (a favorite photo I took at Seaside Beach) reminds me to spend more time by the sea...

This morning when some of my own time opened up after I dropped off our daughter at a dance day camp, I enjoyed catching up with a dear friend while walking along foggy, yet still very lovely Carmel Beach.  After walking, talking and warming up with lattes, I shifted into a productive mode, purchasing some needed supplies for my papercrafting business, assembling a new batch of notecards, shipping an Etsy order and tackling a couple household errands and chores.  I was reminded that it is indeed possible to balance responsibility and contentment as I was shaking out the sand in my shoes!    
While driving back to the dance studio to pick up our daughter this afternoon, I began to reflect on how refreshing and healing it has been to spend more time where my soul feels most content…by the sea.  Sadly, the “old” me would often go about my business for several weeks, even months, without stepping foot on the sand.  What a shame when the closest beach is only a five minute drive from home!  The perfectionist and workaholic part of me was shouting louder for attention than the contemplative and creative part of me, and this imbalance coupled with the unrelenting demands of my former job resulted in long hours of work, high levels of stress and exhaustion and a woefully low number of beach walks.  Happily, the “new” me is allowing contemplation and creativity to express themselves with a much louder voice these days, and they are shouting “let’s take a walk on the beach” much more often!
My hope is that you, too, are allowing time to soothe your soul daily with a minute here, an hour there, connecting with nature outdoors or creativity indoors, a cup of tea, a glass of wine, a good read, a deep breath, a yoga stretch, catching up with a friend……a beach walk.  What brings peace to your soul?  Remember, big or small, to include it in your day! 

Sandy soul soothing, Mother-Daughter style!

While enjoying a family walk at Ribera Beach last month... 

While celebrating my birthday at Garrapata Beach last week (our daughter was celebrating the sea, too!)

Friday, July 6, 2012

Child Within

“It is a happy talent to know how to play.”

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Earlier this week, our daughter and I paid a weekly visit to the local public library.  As we were checking out books, the librarian commented that she liked my t-shirt with its “Hello Kitty in the Big Apple” design, a souvenir I purchased in New York City during a business trip several years ago.  I had forgotten it was what I tossed on that morning with a momentary concern that perhaps I’m growing too old to be wearing one of my favorite characters in public…ha ha!  I admitted this concern to the librarian, then joked that I was expressing my “child within.”  Afterward, I started thinking…
Joking aside, there are healthy benefits to connecting with our “child within” – enjoying lightheartedness, relieving stress, uplifting our spirits, simply having some fun and living in the moment.  Parenting a young child, I am fortunate to do so frequently (admittedly whether I’m in the mood or not!)  In recent days, I’ve blown bubbles, watched “The Secret World of Arrietty,” played with dolls and trucks, started rereading “James and The Giant Peach,” chased butterflies and cradled worms in my hand!  Just today, our daughter and I were drawing with colored pencils in our camping tent (which happens to be set up in our backyard right now.)
I also indulged in cotton candy at a county fair!
There are many playful activities we can still enjoy as adults:  finger painting, playing board games, getting lost in a coloring book or mandala or browsing through a book just for its pictures (inspiration abounds!)  What other ideas can you add to the list?
Allow your “child within” to come out and play…      

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Perfectly Imperfect

"Ring the bells that still can ring, forget your perfect offering.

There is a crack in everything; that's how the light gets in.

- Leonard Cohen

One of my personal goals this year has been to liberate myself from a tendency toward perfectionism and its accompanying pressures and constraints.  When working on my designs for Plumeria Papercraft, my approach is very precise, trying to achieve the “perfect” line or curve, the “perfect” placement of an image or the “perfect” blend of colors and patterns.  On the one hand, this approach results in maintaining high standards, but on the other hand, realizing that perfection can never truly be achieved, I experience undue stress and drain my time and energy when I get hung up on trying to be “perfect.”  This is definitely an ongoing challenge!
One way I’m allowing myself to embrace imperfection is through my personal artwork.  I’ve been exploring mediums other than paper (my comfort zone!), experimenting with new techniques and trying to loosen up and go with the flow of spontaneity.  When I silence my inner critic and let go of fear about how my artwork will be judged by others, I’m discovering I can create something perfectly imperfect!
Our daughter and I often work on art projects together, and during a spring break afternoon earlier this year, we were dabbling in acrylic paints on small canvases.  I was painting flower blossoms, but they weren’t turning out as I envisioned, so I gently wiped over them with a paper towel, intending to touch up the flowers with more paint.  Instead, I discovered I actually appreciated the imperfect quality resulting from removing some of the original paint.  I then painted a section in gold, but the swath of metallic color looked too garish to me, and I thought “oh no, not another misstep!”  I decided to try covering a portion of the gold with patterned paper, leaving only a thin strip visible.  The patterned paper and the thin strip of gold paint paired well together, but the paper looked like an afterthought instead of an integral part of the piece.  “How to move beyond yet another misstep?!”  I added a line of seed beads along one edge of the paper and was pleased with how all of the elements finally seemed to meld well together.  Responding to each misstep with acceptance and an open mind enabled my painting to evolve into a perfectly imperfect mixed media piece!  Both of our creations are now hanging in the hallway of our home (and shared below.)  Mine is a visible reminder to myself to embrace the beauty and freedom of imperfection.

"Spring Blossoms and Lichen" by Lisa

"Flower in the Deep Green" by Melia
How do you embrace imperfection?  What's perfectly imperfect in your life?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Inner Compass

"A holiday gives one a chance to look backward and forward,
to reset oneself by an inner compass."
- May Sarton

"Grand Old Flag" by our daughter, Melia

As we celebrate America's birthday today, may you enjoy a fun, relaxing (and safe!) day and time to reset your inner compass...

Monday, July 2, 2012

"Someday" File

"Nothing can bring you peace but yourself."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

It wasn’t until a year later the realization dawned on me that this mixed media collage was actually my first foray into the realm of healing arts.  I created this piece while attending a workshop by artist Delisa Sage (of Collage Gallery in San Francisco) at her home in Marin County.  I had saved a magazine clipping about her workshops and tucked it in my “someday” file where there were many intriguing opportunities languishing while I was immersed in my career and motherhood.  As I was adjusting to life after my job layoff and contemplating my next steps, my husband encouraged me to do something that would refresh my spirit like treat myself to a massage or yoga retreat.  I remember browsing through my “someday” file, coming across the magazine clipping about Delisa’s workshops and thinking “this is exactly what my spirit needs!”  Fortunately, my artist friend Ruby and I caught the last workshop scheduled that spring, and it was indeed just what my spirit needed.
Delisa demonstrated a variety of techniques before encouraging us to push our own boundaries while working on our canvases.  I chose to work on my canvas backward, included pops of color not typical of my style (now they are!) and experimented with bubble wrap.  I had brought along materials from my personal collection of “flotsam and jetsam” – shells, driftwood, sea glass, buttons and handmade paper, and I added materials I found as I rummaged through supplies Delisa offered for our use – a scrap of colorful yarn, a skeleton leaf I tore in half, magazine and calendar images and more handmade paper.  It was a stormy afternoon, and the creative energy collectively generated in the room was so strong that a power outage didn’t deter anyone as we continued to create by dim daylight and candlelight! 
Adept self-critic and recovering perfectionist that I am, I must admit I felt like there were others at the workshop whose work was far more inventive than mine, but what I can appreciate about my own collage is how my creative spirit was renewed when I completed it and how it continues to evoke calming, healing, hopeful feelings whenever my eyes alight on it here at home.

What wish is waiting to come true in your "someday" file?