Saturday, June 22, 2013

In A Quiet Place

"In A Quiet Place," magazine images, acrylic paint, ink

In the quiet places, I am





Yesterday I shared my meditative “Gerbera Still Life” collage created during this month’s healing art retreat.  Another piece created at this month's retreat resulted from a directive to select a magazine image that illustrated one of our current emotions and work it into our choice of medium.  I was drawn to two images which I paired together in a piece with acrylic paint and ink.  These images evoked a sense of stillness, a moment of calm in a quiet place.  As much as I used to thrive on a “crazy busy” schedule in my old life, in my new (and hopefully, improved!) life, I often yearn for quiet and calm to regain my bearings and find my center again.  We don’t have to fill every nook and cranny of our lives…slowing down and allowing some space and stillness can actually reenergize us and give us the momentum to move forward, invigorated and motivated!

How does pausing for some stillness in your life contribute to your well being?     

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Flow Of A Still Life

"Gerbera Still Life" mixed media collage
Tissue paper, origami paper, seed beads, plastic bead

The Gerbera daisy is one of my favorite flowers, so during this month's healing art retreat when the directive was to create a still life inspired by a flower or arrangement of flowers, I selected the cheerful beauty of a yellow Gerbera as my subject.  I knew that what I needed most last Friday was to dive into the flow of creativity.  I also knew I could best achieve this flow within my artistic comfort zone of collage, so I chose to create a collaged still life.  As crazy as it may seem, the meticulous process of cutting small petals out of tissue and origami paper and patiently layering them to form my Gerbera daisy was very calming and centering.  I was fully in the moment, focused and enjoying the bliss of being immersed in creative flow….going with the flow and finding my way back to center!

What’s your favorite way to dive into creative flow?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Shrink And Expand

Sunset view from our back patio earlier this year

I haven’t stepped foot on a plane in two and a half years.  I used to fly frequently for business trips, sometimes once or twice a month, for many years.  My travel took me to countless locations across the country, but most often from coast to coast, California to New York.  In the earlier days, I enjoyed much of the travel and always appreciated the positive experiences of visiting different cities, meeting interesting people, socializing with friends, savoring delicious food and indulging in a bit of sightseeing during off hours.  Some of my favorite memories include exploring New York City’s art museums, attending Broadway and off-Broadway shows (and admittedly, a little shopping here and there!)  In the later years, however, and especially after our daughter was born, I grew very weary of all the travel.  Those who viewed my trips as “glamorous and exciting” weren’t aware of what I dreaded most…quietly, gently kissing our sleeping daughter’s cheek in the wee hours of the morning as a cab waited outside, dealing with missing (and once stolen!) luggage, forcing myself to eat airplane/airport food when pickings were slim and unappetizing, facing seasonal headwinds that elongated return flights home, encountering numerous missed connections after desperately running from gate to gate, huffing and puffing with my heavy carry-on (and sometimes in heels!), forfeiting moments with my husband and daughter, extended family and friends.  Last week I awakened from a nightmare that I was still in the midst of my old career at its “break neck” pace, about to leave home on another business trip and felt such an intense wave of relief upon realizing it wasn't reality.  Whew!
To some, my life has probably appeared to “shrink” in the past two and a half years (my income has certainly shrunk!), trading frequent flier miles for local commutes, big city performances and outings for small town events and activities, corporate presentations for elementary school programs.  In many ways, however, my life is actually expanding rather than shrinking.  As I aspire to lead a more simplified life and continue to work on my small business, I feel like I'm expanding creatively, intuitively, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually and even socially (reaching out into the creative community locally and online.)  I’m learning that by simplifying our lifestyles, we can actually expand our life experiences.    
I’ve always considered myself observant, but as I’ve focused on slowing down and becoming more attuned to simple, mindful living, I’m growing more adept at becoming immersed in the moment and paying fuller attention to the details.  By doing so, encounters with life’s small wonders are expanding and multiplying.  This is especially apparent in nature, whether it’s in our own backyard, out on a hiking trail or on the beach.  In the last couple years, it seems as though I’ve witnessed more daily wonders than I can recall in the past.  Is it just that seasonal conditions have become peak for wildflowers, that our garden is attracting a greater variety of creatures as it grows and changes, that the tides are shifting and depositing a different assortment of the sea’s trinkets along the shore?  Perhaps to some degree, the cycles of nature are playing a role...but perhaps many of these wonders have existed all along, and I was too consumed with an incessantly hectic schedule and the distractions of stress and fatigue to see them.  These little discoveries…

Finding new shells, rare colors of sea glass, oddities on the beach for the first time

A rare find of yellow sea glass last month

Observing birds, insects and animals in our backyard that we haven't seen before (like our recent "friend!"
Noticing colors, shapes and textures in the sky, in the garden, along the trail, on the beach as if viewing them with a new pair of eyes


The sunlight on this pristine dandelion captured my attention the other day
while hiking at Garland Ranch Regional Park

…these small wonders represent a profound and positive shift.  I may be more of a homebody these days, yet rather than shrinking, I believe my world is expanding in amazing ways!

Have you ever felt that as a part of your life began to shrink, another started to expand into something more fulfilling?  May your life expand in many wonderful ways!



Monday, June 10, 2013

A Thing For Thistles

I have a thing for thistles!  During our wildflower hikes, a blooming thistle always captivates me, how beauty emerges from such a prickly and at first glance, seemingly unattractive plant.  I have learned that the lowly thistle is actually revered as Scotland’s national emblem.  In the language of flowers, the thistle expresses nobility, and in other symbolism, endurance and fortitude.  With fortitude, the thistle becomes another fitting symbol in my own life.

Saturday, we enjoyed another family hike at Garland Ranch Regional Park (a section of which was a springtime Fairyland several weeks ago!)  I was pleasantly surprised by how many wildflowers were blooming despite the drier conditions there and how many thistles were displaying their striking beauty.
What unlikely beauty in nature catches your eye?

Saturday, June 8, 2013

A Place In Which To Dwell And Celebrate

Last month I began revisiting (and sharing here) my “Journal Journey” art journal, discovering its continued relevance in this process and further utilizing its pages for current inspiration, thoughts and ideas.

This page was created during last summer’s quarterly workshop with artist Alana Puryear, and the focus was on celebrating what we had already accomplished and contemplating accomplishments we wished to celebrate in the near future and in the long term.  This celebration and contemplation was written across a page, then covered by gesso, paint, transferred images (magazine clippings transferred to packing tape) and other embellishments.
In reviewing this page a year later, I’ve been thinking about how I tend not to give my creative accomplishments ample credit in my own self-critical eyes.  I perceive that I am merely a “fledgling” artist and “fledgling” small business owner, and this perception sometimes prevents me from fully recognizing and acknowledging the skills I actually possess.  I would never want to brag or boast, but I do believe we can gracefully take pride in and celebrate our talents and accomplishments.  This page has reminded me that by taking time to celebrate, we are motivated, energized and gain confidence for what we'll accomplish next!

each leaf

each blossom

unfurling opening blooming

nourished by a newfound belief

in dreams transforming into real life

beautiful exploration

discovery experience growth

opportunities unfolding into accomplishments

designing nurturing tending

to my creative garden

inspiring motivating fulfilling

blissful joyful abundant

a place in which to dwell and celebrate


May your accomplishments lead you to a joyful place in which to dwell and celebrate!


Saturday, June 1, 2013

Saturday Night Gratitude

It’s been a while since I shared one of my gratitude lists, so in the hope of perhaps inspiring some of you to reflect upon (and share!) what you’re grateful for, here’s my current list:

*          A surprising number of nature’s wonders up close in our own backyard…

Our young visitor
Sighting Mama Skunk and her magnificent plume of a tail a couple times in recent weeks, observing one of her youngsters who’s been visiting our garden every evening for the past week and watching that youngster forage and play together with a sibling who joined him/her earlier tonight!

Enjoying the beauty and graceful choreography of violet-green swallows.

Spotting June bugs arriving at dusk this evening on June 1st seemed very fitting, flitting around our almond tree as they make their brief annual appearance (our daughter noticed them after dinner and excitedly exclaimed “The June bugs are here!”)

Always being fascinated by the flutter of bat wings (our daughter was again the first to notice one this evening.)
Sand underfoot, surf in view and shells in pocket (not in our literal backyard, but nearby!)

A few new beachtreasures, including a triangle of rare yellow sea glass

*          Participating in month three of author and motivational coach Gail McMeekin’s creative coaching group, interacting with an impressive group of talented, creative women and feeling that this experience has been tremendously valuable in my quest to nurture and grow Plumeria Papercraft.           

*          The support and patience of my husband as I, baby step by baby step, work on building my creative small business.  It means a great deal to me that he believes in my dream and my ability to bring it to fruition.

*          My new partnership with our hospital’s gift shop as well as my existing local partnerships. 

A sampling of my first order for the gift shop at Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula


*          Meeting a new friend, a fellow cancer survivor, to walk and talk at Garland Ranch…a few wildflowers still in bloom despite the warmer, drier weather, a king snake slithering across the trail (I find snakes fascinating!) and a beautiful yellow swallowtail fluttering by.

"Otter Bliss #1" mixed media collage,
handmade papers, printed cardstock, kraft packaging, burlap
*          Attending last night’s opening at Pacific Grove Art Center with our daughter and a dearest friend and seeing my donated “Otter Bliss” mixed media collage exhibited as part of the miniatures show/fundraiser for the center.  This was my first experience as an exhibiting artist (except for last year’s healing art exhibit at CHOMP’s cancer survivor celebration.)

*          Such a strong sense of community at our daughter’s elementary school.  As I volunteered during yesterday’s 2nd grade end of the school year celebration, I was reminded of the wonderful connections between children, parents, teachers and staff.  I’m so glad our daughter is able to attend there, and I’m also very glad that I have a flexible schedule and can contribute there as well in the classroom and as an art docent.

*          Sweet, loving moments with our daughter…always precious.

*          Simply, deeply, wholeheartedly grateful for life each day, for family, for friends old and new, for living life with much more passion, for feeling more alive than ever before.
What's on your gratitude list right now?