Entries from: October 2007

Wellness Wednesday: Challenge Yourself

October 31st, 2007, Comments (6)

November seems to be a big month for personal challenges. I'm aware of people challenging themselves not to complain, someone else is writing a book in 90 days, there's Nanowrimo and Nanoblomo and NanuNanu (just kidding on that last one!), and there's my Art Every Day Month Challenge and the ongoing challenges of sites like Illustration Friday and Inspire Me Thursday. Should be a wild and wooly, creative and productive time! I'm predicting a lot of messy houses around the blogosphere. :-)

Every once in awhile I feel the need to push myself. I'm not talking all the time. That would be exhausting. But when the waters get stagnant and you need a boost, finding something you're passionate about or even just somewhat interested in and then making a commitment to it, is a powerful exercise. Here are a few tips for personal challenges that have helped me along the way:

1. Tell other people what you're doing: There's nothing like having told other people what you've committed to do, to keep you on the path. Saying it out loud, writing it down, and/or sharing it can be key. It works wonders for me. There are loads of online groups where you can make commitments of this kind and plenty of face-to-face options. Show others what you're working on. And if you can, join with a group doing the same thing. It's so helpful to have the support of others and you'll find yourself feeding off the energy around you. Amazing things happen in groups.

2. Give it a beginning and end: Sometimes a personal challenge can seem way too daunting if it's never ending...like a diet. I'm not a fan of dieting or rigid rules that can't be broken, so it helps me if I know my challenge has a start and end date. Knowing there's an end in sight, helps me stay focused.

3. Push the boundaries of what you think is possible: One of the best things about challenging yourself is that almost always you are far more powerful, creative, strong, resourceful, and capable than you think you are and challenges often push us past what we think our edge is. Why is it that we set our sights so low? Could be a fear of failure or of rejection or perhaps we were told once too often that we weren't good enough. Whatever the reason, a challenge allows you to truly go for it. If you don't cross the finish line, you can be proud of yourself for trying. You can't reach those dreams if you never give it a go, right?

I had a dream of running a marathon back in my 20's. You might think, "Are you crazy?!" or "Oh, I'd like to do that." But the thing was, I wasn't a runner. In fact, in elementary school I *hated* running. But in college I had started exercising and I liked working out alone and the idea of running a marathon for charity gave me chills. So, I went for it.  I had to tell everyone I knew what I was doing as I raised money for the Leukemia Society (friends and family thought I was nuts) and I also knew that I was running in honor of a little girl from my state with the disease. Talk about motivating! I started from scratch...running a quarter of a mile, then half, then a whole, then 2, then 3. I had some set-backs. I twisted my ankle while training on a slushy day and thought maybe I was out. But I let it heal and did other things and was able to continue. I ran in rain, in snow, at 5 in the morning. I didn't drink alcohol before a long run. I dove into the challenge headfirst. And I still wasn't a great runner, mind you. I was slow, but I had stamina and my long runs were getting longer and longer. On the day of the race, the start time was delayed and other issues on the course made things a bit more challenging; around 16 miles in I got a wicked cramp that I just couldn't get rid of and I wondered if I could make it to the end. A tall man, a former marine, (running for the same charity) limped up to me and told me how to get rid of the cramp. He had injured himself in the race and couldn't run at his normal speed (otherwise he would have been at least an hour ahead of me most likely). He had decided to speed-walk the rest of the way and with his long stride (and my short one), his power walk was a lot like my slow jog.  So, we kept going and going. I was starting to feel fried towards the end and this kind stranger told me funny stories to make me laugh and then in the end he told me to go ahead and run the last bit out hard. What a wonderful experience that was to run those miles with such a kind person. Which leads to...

4. Support often appears when you need it most: and it often comes wrapped in a package you weren't expecting. Now, this long tale of running a marathon is a little extreme perhaps, but so is writing a book in a month, right? The thing is, with big personal challenges, they'll often kick your butt, challenge you in ways you weren't expecting, and end up being one of the more rewarding experiences in your life. I know I felt like I could do anything after I ran that marathon. It expanded my idea of what was possible in my life. When I started Art Every Day Month 5 years ago, I had challenged myself to create a piece of art every day for the month of November. I thought it would keep me honest to post my art on my blog and it did. But it also provided me with amazing support and encouragement. And in the following years when others joined in, the group support has been simply amazing.

5. Celebrate your successes and don't beat yourself up over your weaknesses: After the marathon, I felt like my time was much slower than it could have been, but I chose not to focus on that. I had accomplished something huge! The same could be done for any personal challenge. You can always pick apart the things you could have done better, but for what purpose? Take some time to revel in whatever success you have, even if it seems super tiny. Give yourself kudos. Do something nice for yourself. Focusing on the negative instead of enjoying your success isn't good for anyone, including you!

6. Commit but don't over-do it: Sometimes a lot of options come up and you may want to do them all. I fall into this trap a lot. So, be careful not to get so excited over-challenge yourself. Sometimes, one challenge at a time is plenty. :-)

Happy Wellness Wednesday!

Updated List

October 30th, 2007, Comments (18)

So, I've got what I think is a current list of Art Every Day Month (AEDM) participants in my sidebar. If your name isn't a link it's because I don't have your blog address (please send your blog address along if you have one, but a blog is not required to participate!) If your name is not on the list and you'd like it to be, send me an email or leave a comment on the blog and I'll add you as soon as possible. And if you're on this list and you'd rather not be, you can tell me that too.

Just a reminder, that AEDM is a very open and flexible challenge with the goal of bringing more creativity into your life in whatever form that takes. I'll be posting my art for the day on the blog and in a photo album in my sidebar. Participants can feel free to do the same on their own blog, but it's not a requirement. If you want to post your art once a week, that's fine. If you want to just write about the incredible cake you made, that's fine too. If you miss a day or a week, no guilt, just keep on going. Of course, I encourage you to try and make something creative every day, but I understand that that may not be possible. So, just do what you can, in whatever form tickles your fancy, and have fun with it!!

What ways can you be creative? Perhaps you can make a design with fall leaves and take a picture of it? Or you could crochet something new and colorful for yourself? Or sketch those dreams you've been having? Or embroider a pattern into that tote bag you carry around? Or pull out that blank canvas that has been sitting there for ages and just start painting? The options are endless. Have fun with it. Just two more days til the start of the 5th annual Art Every Day Month! I'm so excited to get started and to see what you will all create and to feel the energy this group always provides and to meet all the new bloggers who are participating this year!  TTFN, Ta-ta-for-now!

Entering the Chaos, I mean the Office/Studio

October 29th, 2007, Comments (10)

The air is apple crisp today. Definitely feeling more like fall. I was in a bit of a fog over the last 4 days or so as I was having some serious issues with falling asleep. But today, after sleeping a good portion of Sunday, I woke up and felt much more refreshed than I have in awhile. Ahhh. I also felt motivated to tackle some tasks that have been weighing on me, little errands, nothing major, just stuff that needed to get done and I'd been avoiding. It was a great day to be driving around doing errands, sunshiney and cool, loads of gorgeous foliage to peek at. Now I'm back home with plenty more to do, but feeling good about checking some stuff off that never ending to-do list.

Tomorrow, the best friend and I are going to start tackling a big one on my to-do list...organizing my office/studio space. The best friend is home this year with her new baby and we spent a lot of time working on wedding related projects this fall. We've got some other projects to work on now that the wedding has passed, such as scrap-booking a baby album for her, but we're also going to work on one of my biggest weaknesses and her biggest strengths...organizing. While I tend to get overwhelmed and run in the opposite direction, she actually enjoys the organizing and tossing and straightening out. She told me not to feel bad about her helping out with it, because it's actually fun for her. Ack. I know there are people in life who enjoy this cleaning and organizing stuff (my step-dad and step-mom for example are this way...notice how neither are the source of my genes!) and while I like an organized space, I really don't enjoy making it that way. But it's really time. I know I'll feel fabulous when it's done...sort of like exercise or eating my vedgies. Plus, all the purging will be quite helpful when it comes time to move. And it will be nice to have a fresh, clean space to work in...that'll probably help me with all sorts of things such as self-respect.


I've been cutting out pictures of ideas for my studio space for months and one of the things that keeps appearing is this awesome table/bookcase thing from Pottery Barn. So cool...I'm loving the shelving on the sides, the big surface of the tabletop, and the height, but it's a bit pricey.  Searching around, I found one here for cheaper and at Target for cheaper than that. The cheaper ones are the same size, but made of wood veneer instead of real wood.

At the moment there's barely room to turn around in my studio, so some things would need to get cleared out. Maybe it's time to move out the gi-normous bookcase and replace it with something more long and lean. And it's quite likely that I have more plastic drawer thingamabobs than I actually need. I've started tossing, making piles of things to give away, throw away, store away or sell, but it's going to be a long process.

I've been in a holding pattern with the wedding on the horizon and a big business deal of the hubster's that has us both very anxious. But I'm snapping out of my limbo state and getting back to living in the present.

Wellness Wednesday – Be Silly

October 24th, 2007, Comments (19)

Oooh, combo post. I get to show the whimsical drawings I mentioned earlier and do a post for Wellness Wednesday at the same time. Woohoo! I'm big on multi-tasking.

Artonthetable_2So, I'm a big proponent of silliness. I encourage it. I need it. Heck, I even inserted some silliness into my wedding. Our wedding vows were a perfect combination of sweet, heartfelt words and silliness that made us and our guests laugh out loud. Among the things we promised to each other were to love and support each other's dreams and  goals, to encourage and honor our unique beings, and to accept (among other things) an abundance of cat hair. :-) Those weren't the exact words, but you get the idea. Actually the part about the cat hair was word for word.

I think laughter and general goofiness is essential to wellness. And this post was inspired by standing up on my coffee table to take a picture of these lighthearted drawings.  So, the drawings already had a a sense of playfulness, but when I looked back at this picture, that I snapped quickly and randomly by standing on the coffee table, I was struck by the silliness of it and decided to post the picture with my feet in it instead of cropping them out. Sometimes you just need to stand on your coffee table, preferably while watching the Stephen Colbert Show. :-)

PaperbagartIt's important while being silly to not care what anyone else (including your critic...even for just a moment) thinks. This comes in particularly helpful when making art. I included a doodle on a paper bag (from tonight's sushi takeout) to illustrate this. I think sometimes it's easy to take art too seriously, like it all has to be a masterpiece or something incredible or why bother? Well, if we wait for this masterpiece to arrive, it's quite likely we'll make nothing at all. It's important to play, to let loose, to allow yourself to be silly even when making something so serious as art. Hehe. So many ideas will spill out while mindlessly doodling. Try it and see. It's a wonderful release and if you decide to draw in your sketchbook or on a paper bag or the back of your junk mail or wherever, you'll find the ideas start to flow. Sort of like stream of consciousness writing, doodling will show you where your mind is at. As you can see by the two ladies in flowing dresses, my head is still in wedding land.

  I was starting to feel a little sad earlier. I'm not exactly feeling that whole wedding let down that can happen after the event, but looking over the pictures I got this sense of reaching a certain life milestone and feeling that sense of my own mortality. And then the pictures of my parents, who looked wonderful, but also looked sort of like...grandparents. When my mom was my age, she had three kids under the age of 6.Bride Yikes. So, I talked about all this with the hubster tonight and talked about how we're going to do holidays now that we're married (how we'll split the holidays between our families) and we've been talking about starting our own family. O my. And once we talked about all that, that which was there in my brain, but I hadn't quite put words to it yet, I felt a release and I decided not to focus on sadness any longer, but on all the good, and then the hubster ate my toes and I laughed and we snuggled up until he fell asleep. Feeling better, I doodled, took the picture with my toes showing, watched some silly t.v., and laughed at my cats' antics.

So, in summary, my wellness tips for the week:

1. Be silly.
2. Make paper bag art.
3. Ignore your inner critic.
4. Stand on furniture to change your perspective. 
5.  Laugh loudly and often. 
6. Doodle.   

Read and Regroup

October 22nd, 2007, Comments (7)

So, despite my best intentions, I did not have a very productive week. Tammy kindly asked what silly parental tapes I have playing in my head that say I should be cleaning and getting back to work right after my wedding after working so hard leading up to it. Well, I kinda wish I'd just reveled in a week of relaxation instead of feeling slightly guilty about it because I was exhausted and did little, but rest and read. My brain said, "get to work!" But the rest of me, plopped down on the couch and squarely refused to budge. Looking back, I know I needed it. My introverted being was on pure overload after all the social time, the anticipation and lack of sleep leading up to the big day. So, I'm glad I got some rest and I'm feeling refreshed and also a little anxious about all there is to do. Baby steps. Deep breaths.

One of the wonderful things I did last week was to read for fun. On Monday, while dropping off our marriage license and doing errands in town, the hubster (testing this out on whim) and I stopped in a cute local bookstore and we picked out a few fun reads. I devoured both of mine during the week, first reading A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore and then The Devil, The Lovers and Me by Kimberlee Auerbach. Both fun, frivolous reads and I enjoyed them both, but I absolutely adored Christopher Moore's book. I love his twisted sense of humor and wacky characters. It's a story about a man, who discovers that he's "Death" and while the story may not be for everyone, it was so up my alley. I think my favorite book by Moore may still be Lamb, but this one comes in for a close second. I think I need to read some more now. If you've read any Moore and like the weird sense of humor and wacky stories, check out books by Tom Robbins (I've read them all) and also Fool on the Hill by Matt Ruff  are awesome reads. The second book, by Auerbach, was something I saw first at the library and started to read it there. It's a quick read, non-fiction, about a woman's experience with a tarot card reading (each card leads to flashbacks about her life). I find the tarot fascinating, so it was a fun way to read about another woman's journey and learn more about the meaning behind some of the cards. And oh, it was just good fun to devote long, drawn out periods to reading some page-turners.   

Hey, I actually made some art this weekend! I've been doodling in my sketchbooks like crazy, sketching my kitties and my dream studio space and mermaids. This weekend I pulled out some watercolor paper and worked with caran d'ache and later just pen to make some whimsical drawings. It's too late to be taking pictures, so those will have to come later. And oh, my office/studio looks like a tornado/tsunami/earthquake rolled through it. It's frightening. So, I've got to attend to that tomorrow as well. At least so I can see the floor again. Oy. I'm feeling a major cleaning/purging coming on and woah nelly, is it time for it. I started my rampage in the bedroom today in a corner that had been taken over by wedding magazines and registry info and random books and paper and shoes and oh dear, it was scary (and dusty!) I'm amazed how long it took to conquer this one corner, so the office project may be a very long, ongoing one, but now that the wedding is over, I'm ready to begin. And seeing that corner all clean was quite satisfying. 

Well, the wedding planning is over, but I'm still sorting through and dealing with the remnants of it...wedding cards, and supplies from the day, crafting tools scattered over the apartment, leftover programs, and two suitcases full of clothing that I haven't touched yet. I guess that's why I haven't opened the other gifts yet. We still have wedding presents, that were sent to my mom's (due to lack of space here), to go open and loads of thank you notes to write, but it's all good. Gotta try to tackle it one piece at a time. Life is wonderful. Gotta try not to stress myself out over details.

Oh and the Red Sox are going to the World Series! Again! Woohoo!

Art Every Day Month – Coming Soon!

October 17th, 2007, Comments (39)

It's amazing to me how fast this year has flown by! I'm a bit flabbergasted by the fact that 2007 is quickly coming to a close. Eeks! And with this, we are quickly approaching the 5th year of Art Every Day Month. I started out this project five years ago as a challenge to myself to create some art every day for one month and post it on my blog. I was inspired by Nanowrimo and wanted to do something similar with art. and thus Art Every Day Month was born. Posting my art on the blog every day helped to keep me accountable and it was fun to share my creations. The following year, I invited people to join in with me and each year since I've had great groups of creative people committing themselves to more creativity for the month of November with me. I've met some fantabulous people through AEDM and I'm thrilled to have anyone who is interested, join in this year!

I keep the rules for AEDM really simple and very loose. I encourage people to make something every day, but my goal is to foster more creativity, so if you make just one piece of art per week or just one for the whole month, that's fine with me. The idea is to bring more creativity into your life, not to make you feel overwhelmed, pressured or guilt-stricken. Art is also loosely defined here. I mean art in the sense of anything creative, whether that be painting, drawing, knitting, sewing, cooking, decorating, photography, clay, jewelry-making or whatever! Because my focus is on mixed media art, I tend to work on drawing, painting, and collage and I challenge myself complete a piece of art or do some work on a larger piece every day and post an image of what I'm working on on my blog. You can see what I've worked on in past years by checking out the photo albums I have in the left-hand column of this blog. I'll start a new one for this year on November 1st. I'll also keep a list of bloggers participating this year in my sidebar, so that you can check in on what others are up to. And if there's an interest, I can also set up a flickr group for people to post their art for the day in a common space.

If you've already commented that you're interested in participating, thanks! I'll post all the links at the beginning of the month. If you've decided to join in, then leave a comment or pop me an email and let me know.

I'm still unwinding from wedding madness. I used the word husband in public for the first time today which nearly made me giggle. Heh. I need to come with a good name to replace fiansor now. I've been playing around with "hubba-bubba" in person, but that feels a little long. Hmm, maybe the hub-bub or the h.b.. Oh, I don't know. It'll come to me. :-)

Some non-pro pics of wedding bliss

October 16th, 2007, Comments (46)

What a whirlwind this weekend was! And it was truly lovely. I'm super excited to see the professional pics, but in the meantime here are some pics from friends and family. Enjoy!

We’re Married!

October 14th, 2007, Comments (22)

It was beautiful, wonderful, romantic, amazing, everything I could have asked for and more. Enjoying our mini-moon now, I'll be back during the week with updates and maybe some pics! :-)

Wellness Wednesday: Drink in the Love

October 11th, 2007, Comments (17)

I'm getting married in less than 48 hours. Eeeeeee! I'm wired and tired and very excited. Everything that's going to get done is done. I dropped off all sorts of stuff at the wedding venue today...programs and seating charts and guest books, oh my! I'll be away for the weekend, but back shortly thereafter as our honeymoon is slightly delayed because of a big business deal that could lead to very exciting things for the fiansor and I.

I've been so very busy tying up wedding stuff that I've hardly had room for anything else. I'm looking forward to being able to visit your blogs more regularly! If I owe you an email, I apologize. I'll get back to you as soon as I can.

So, today is Thursday, although I thought it was Wednesday for awhile there, so here's my slightly delayed Wellness Wednesday thoughts:

I got some good advice regarding my wedding recently. My best friend told me that I was going to be told all day long how beautiful I am, how amazing and glowy and all that. And she advised that instead of cringing or shrugging it off like I might feel inclined to do, that I should just take it all in; just drink up all the praise and love.

It's odd how difficult it can sometimes feel to accept, to receive praise and love and compliments. I know I have this issue and over time I've been learning how to take praise with a simple thank you, instead of responding with a dis-qualifier. For example, if someone says, "Wow, love those pants!" Instead of saying, "Oh, thanks. I should have had them tailored. They're way too long.", just say, "Thank you!" Or , if someone says, "I love that new painting!" instead of saying "Really? I'm not sure it's done. I could have done better.", just say, "Thanks so much!" Practice accepting love in all the forms it comes your way. Let it fill you up and see how wonderful it can make you feel when you stop trying to push it away. See what happens when the love stops bouncing off of you and starts sinking into your pours, lifting your spirits and storing itself away for rainy days.

So, in a couple days, when I'm all prettied up and glowing with happiness after our ceremony and people start showering me with love, I'm going to smile and say "Thank you, thank you!"

so impressed

October 4th, 2007, Comments (16)

I'm so thrilled and impressed with Jessie and those doing the Be Brave project. It's such a cool and exciting idea. I've committed to not committing myself to more projects until after the wedding (in order to keep my sanity in tact), but it's so tempting to jump in! In some ways I'm doing all sorts of things that scare me leading up to this wedding, including dealing with vendors on the phone (I really avoid this kind of thing normally), writing vows, making decisions, asking for help, and saying no...not to mention the whole planning to get up in front of 150 people and expressing my love for my soon to be husband. Eek! So, I'm participating in spirit. And I actually have a whole list of business related tasks in mind for after the wedding, which would be great for this bravery project.

This post from Christine Kane I think is quite relevant to the Be Brave project and to anyone whose fears include rejection (like me!) It's all about how not to take things personally. One of the tips was about how you need to just keep at it. One rejection or failure is not a cue to give up. Think of how many times J.K. Rowling had to submit her book before it picked up and now the Harry Potter series is huge! Another tip was about how not everyone is going to like your art/music/whatever, but there are people out there who will, so again, just keep creating.

Checking things off the large wedding to do list has been keeping me quite busy and I'm afraid that's where all of my creative juices have been used up lately. I'm itching to get back to art-making, so hopefully that will come into play soon.

Off to shower and then a wedding mtg. Ciao for now!