Saturday, December 29, 2012

Simply Love

"Abundant Love"

I was working on Valentine and heart themed designs this week in preparation for an upcoming workshop on February 9th at Bella’s Studio as I needed to provide Bella with a photograph.  It’s hard to believe that we haven’t even rung in the New Year yet, and February is just around the corner!

As I was creating these new designs, what came to mind was the pure, beautiful power of love.  Love…energizing, calming, uplifting, soothing, inspiring, healing…the greatest gift we can give.

"Blooming Love"
As our family grapples with a loved one’s very serious illness, there's been a cloud of melancholy over this holiday season, and I find myself focusing on and feeling grateful for the comfort of love.

May your life, too, be filled with beautiful, powerful love during this holiday season and always…
"Collaged Love"

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Dropping A Ball Or Two

At the end of another quiet week here on Paper And Ponder, I must confess that I’ve been feeling like I’ve dropped the ball on blogging.  Last week when I only posted once, it was the first time I had failed to achieve a (self-imposed) goal of posting a minimum of three times per week.  This week I’ve obviously missed the same goal, but rather than feel a sense of failure, I’m trying to view these past couple weeks of minimal activity here on the blog from a different perspective.  After all, is the number of posts per week really that critical in the grand scheme of life?  Of course not.

In my “pre-mompreneur, pre-cancer survivor” life, my typical tendency was to run myself deep into the ground in order to keep juggling all of my to do’s, to avoid dropping any balls, to prove I could always be a Superwoman.  Now I can no longer juggle so adeptly, I am prone to dropping a ball or two, I am definitely not a Superwoman on most days…and I am learning how to be okay with all of the above. 

This holiday season, I dropped one ball on mailing cards and another on mailing packages in a timely manner.  We didn’t decorate our Christmas tree until a couple nights ago, and the balance of decorating remains on this weekend’s agenda.  Despite this “slowly, but surely” approach to the holidays this year, most cards and packages will still arrive at their destinations, perhaps a day or two (or three) after Christmas, but the sentiments attached to them will be no less heartfelt.  Our home will be festive in time for Christmas, so although these balls have dropped, they haven’t fallen all the way down (except for the brand new Yoda ornament which lost an ear when accidentally dropped by my hubbie two nights ago…he kindly retrieved a replacement yesterday!)    

Today on Paper And Ponder, I’m picking up the ball and will continue to write, to share, to express, but with the realization that there will be weeks ahead when I may not be able to manage three posts.  When the ball drops again, it will be because there are plenty of other balls I’m keeping up in the air, and the one I’ve let go will rejoin them soon.  
During these past couple weeks, some of the other balls I’ve kept in the air:
* Achieving one of my goals to translate some of my notecard designs into simple little works of art and introducing a few frame-able collage pieces on mat board

* Participating in last weekend’s local Artists Equity’s holiday gallery which was, admittedly, disappointing in sales, but extremely uplifting in experience (connected with some wonderful fellow artists…will share more soon)

* Participating in The World Needs More Love Letter’s “12 Days of Love Letter Writing” by writing and contributing letters to twelve people in need of some love

* Directing love, compassion and hope for healing toward the community of Newtown…my heart has been heavy

* Agreeing to an extra day of volunteering in our daughter’s classroom to assist the students with decorating ornaments to bring home to their families

* Delivering a few local gifts (handmade with love) in person along with hearty hugs
* Going to bed at a reasonable hour (after recently admitting to my physician that I hadn’t been clocking enough hours of sleep…yes, still learning how to be better about self-care)

* Continuing on my quest to ease up, slow down, avoid overdoing and accept a dropped ball or two



Thursday, December 13, 2012

When To Do's Become Not To Do's

I’ve come to the conclusion that sometimes the best “to do” is “not to do!”  As I’ve admitted before, my tendency is to over commit, over plan and overdo.  Combine this tendency with one of the busiest times of the year (for most of us!), and I presently find myself feeling overwhelmed by and barely keeping up with my to do list. 

New for this weekend, collage on mat board
I’ve been consumed with a few large custom orders and preparing for a local holiday gallery this weekend, determined to create several new pieces for this event. Allowing sufficient time to prepare and create has been challenging with so many other commitments to juggle.  To stay afloat, several of this week’s “to do’s” have become “not to do’s,” at least until next week.  Our house is messy, our Christmas tree has been procured, but remains unadorned, Christmas cards have yet to be written and gifts for out of town friends are yet to be mailed, and as difficult as it is to leave them undone for now, I’m realizing it’s the best decision in order to maintain a reasonable level of sanity and maximize this weekend’s success while minimizing stress and exhaustion. 

If you’re experiencing that “crazy busy” feeling that often comes along with the holiday season, is there something on your own to do list that you can choose not to do for now and reschedule?

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Out Of Season Gratitude In The Garden

As I entered our vegetable garden to pick a handful of fresh Italian parsley (to toss in with this evening’s dinner of turkey meatballs in blue cheese sauce…mmm!), I was pleasantly surprised to see most of the greens, after a recent rainstorm, looking healthy and robust.  As winter nears, there isn’t much time to spend tending to the garden, and it typically looks dormant except for a few low maintenance greens like lettuce, kale and Swiss chard.  I was also surprised to see new blossoms and more peppers on our stalwart bell pepper plant (which just last week provided a fresh pepper for our Sloppy Joes!) and even a new blossom on a lingering zucchini plant.  I found myself smiling while thinking here it is in December, and I’m noticing fresh new blossoms on old summer plants and still harvesting a few (extremely late!) tomatoes.  It was refreshing to experience an unexpected moment of "out of season" gratitude in the garden this afternoon!
This zucchini plant doesn't realize it's December!
This little bell pepper plant is a big producer!
I see many salads in our future...
Romaine seedlings are happy!

Happy chard, too!
Did gratitude sneak up on you unexpectedly today?  Hope so!

Friday, December 7, 2012

In A Serener Bright

In a serener Bright,

In a more golden light

I see

Each little doubt and fear,

Each little discord here


-         Emily Dickinson


Yesterday I found out that the monthly healing art retreat I regularly attend was shifted from next Friday to today.  Despite a full list of other to do’s, I decided the most important “to do” today was to go ahead and attend the retreat.  As I have shared in previous posts, these retreats have had a tremendously powerful impact on my healing journey.

Today’s directive was to collage on both sides of a torso form, one side representing our illness (or personal challenge) and the other side representing healing.  Prior to starting on today’s project, each member of our group was asked to voice the first image that came to mind to describe ourselves.  Mine was a “sunflower turning its face toward the warmth of the sun.”  It seemed serendipitous that as I tore images out of magazines for my collage, I came across the above words by Emily Dickinson.  I found a home for those words in the center of the healing side of my collage.  I haven't named this piece yet, but I thought I would share this "to do" I completed today!

Wishing you “a serener Bright, a more golden light”… 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

From Broadcasting To Fashion To Creative Entrepreneurship

Yesterday afternoon I was reviewing my notes in preparation for volunteering to be a guest speaker in the fashion business class at our local community college today, an opportunity to share experiences and insights from my former career and hopefully provide helpful information and guidance as these students identify and pursue their career goals.  At an unrelated moment, also yesterday afternoon, our daughter happened to comment that when she grows up, she’s going to be a singer, a dancer and a “horse rider and teacher!”  With my past goals and our daughter’s future dreams on my mind, my thoughts turned their attention toward aspirations and how they often evolve and change along the course of one’s life.

As a young child, one of my aspirations was that universally popular childhood dream of becoming a famous performer!  Singing and dancing weren’t in the cards for me nor was acting, but by the time I was in high school, I had decided to pursue a career in broadcasting.  I interned at radio and television stations while in high school and college and earned a B.A. in communications with a broadcasting emphasis.  Upon graduating from college, I veered off the broadcasting path (when I realized most entry level opportunities were located in the Midwest, but I was too apprehensive to move there) and accepted an offer as a management trainee in the retail industry.  My original intent was to explore this career alternative temporarily until I could find a way to enter the broadcasting field here on the West Coast.  That “temporary” career in the retail, and later wholesale, fashion industry ended up lasting over twenty years!  Obviously, I never became a news anchor or an actress (ha ha!);  however, my communications and broadcasting background still served me well in numerous situations throughout my career and continue to do so in a variety of public speaking situations like today’s guest speaker appearance, my monthly “Picture of the Month” art docent lessons at our daughter’s school and the recent addition of creative instruction (papercrafting workshops) to my small business portfolio.

As I spoke to today’s business class, I elaborated on what I believe to be an important characteristic for success in the fast paced and constantly changing world of the fashion industry - the ability to translate and adapt past experiences, knowledge and skills to new and different circumstances.  Not only does this apply to career success, but I’ve learned it also applies to life in general as I’ve “reinvented” myself from broadcasting to fashion to creative entrepreneurship.  Our dreams and goals may meander or change course, but our past experiences and the strengths we’ve developed along the way can help guide and propel us forward if we tap in and utilize them.  We need only remember that when our aspirations are transformed, we hold the power within to successfully transform ourselves, too!    

Saturday, December 1, 2012

From Deprived To Rewarded

Sigh…I missed the beach this week!  Between volunteering at school, preparing for participation in today’s Holiday Open Studio at Bella’s Studio in Monterey and rainy weather, I didn’t fit a beach walk into this week’s schedule.  As you may know from past posts, I’ve been trying to visit my favorite place to unwind at least once each week, and without that visit, I usually feel a bit deprived.  I’m reminding myself tonight that my reasons for not visiting the beach this week offered their own set of rewards.  Considering those rewards, I really wasn’t deprived after all! 

On Monday, I met with each of the three third grade classes at our daughter’s elementary school for which I am an art docent for a program called “Picture of the Month.”  Classes learn about different periods of art and a variety of artists, and lessons and discussions center around a print of a work of art which remains in their classroom during the month ahead for further observation and contemplation.  This is my third year participating in this valuable program, and every month when I meet with the children, I feel excitement as they express enthusiasm about art and hopeful that perhaps I’m helping them to build a long lasting appreciation for art.  At the same time, I’ve been expanding my own knowledge about art history as I study and prepare for these monthly lessons and discussions.  This month we focused on 19th century American art and Winslow Homer.  Homer was a realist and a naturalist, and some of the children noticed the realistic quality of the scenes in his paintings even before I mentioned this was his signature style.  What an amazing experience to interact with young children who are so observant and insightful!  At the end of each session, the teachers typically remind the children to thank me, and I, in turn, end up thanking them for participating and sharing their observations.

Despite a very busy schedule of preparation and feeling exhaustion afterward, I am so very grateful to my friend and mentor, Bella Lofaso Brancato, owner of the beautiful sewing and creative center, Bella’s Studio in Monterey, for inviting me to be part of her Holiday Open Studio today.  The day was filled with a steady flow of friends and new faces, and I enjoyed connecting with local fellow artisans and reflecting on how often I am now offered the wonderful opportunity to interact with an ever widening circle of kindred creative spirits.  These interactions are inspiring and invigorating to one’s soul!  Although my progress continues to move forward in baby steps, and my achievements are modest, I feel a tremendous amount of fulfillment and gratitude, especially on days like today when I realize my “back burner” dream has now moved to the forefront in my life.

Tonight I feel hopeful in the short term for a return to the beach soon and in the long term for a future shining brighter and brighter…