Entries from: August 2008

Head to Toe. Or Toe to Head.

August 28th, 2008, Comments (7)

I haven't been feeling very bloggy lately, so I'm a bit behind in blog reading and responding to emails. Enough of that, how bout we check out my new sneaky sneakers:

Nikeshoe_3 I've been focusing a lot on yoga and walking and exercise in general lately. As the days get darker, I need to focus on these things. They make a huge difference to my mood and mindset. I've been in desperate need of a new pair of sneakers for awhile, but wasn't interested in picking up the same style of sneakers I've been wearing for the last 10 years. I originally started wearing this particular brand and style when training to run a marathon. I wore them because they're made specifically for people with flat feet and feet that roll in (motion control shoes). They served me well as a runner and just in general as a good sneaker, helping my feet feel all sorts of secure. Unfortunately, they were also hideous (and they're pretty bulky and heavy too.) While reading an article about sneakers for different foot types recently, I was excited to read about a Nike shoe that utilizes Nike Plus. Now these new shoes may not be winning me any fashion prizes, but you'll have to trust me that they're ten million times better looking than the last pair. They're sort of silvery and blue and very comfy. And the cool part is the little hidden pocket within the shoe where you can put a sensor that communicates with your ipod nano and facilitates your workouts if you like to walk, jog, or run. On your nano, you can keep track of the times of your workouts, the distance traveled, and the speed and then upload it all to Nike Plus. On the website, you can post your workouts (if you want), join challenges (the website seems more geared to runners, but they have walking challenges too), or just use it as a place to keep a record of what your feet have been up to. Pretty shnazzy, I think! I saw on the Nike website that they have a line of customizable sneakers called NikeiD. This wasn't an option for the shoe type I was going for, but how fun to make your own funky sneaker design!

Speaking of funky customizable shoes, have you seen Keds customizable shoes? You can choose the colors, pick a design they supply, OR use your own imagery. Imagine a shoe covered in your own artwork? I may have to get myself a pair of these. I think they'd make for very happy feet!

Christine_large And just so your head doesn't feel left out, I just ordered this beautiful feather headband from Pluma. I've had my eye on these feather headbands for awhile, but was afraid it would look silly on me, so I was unsure about spending the money on one and not liking it. Well, I tried on a small one in a shop the other day and totally loved it, so after some looking around online I found Pluma and ordered the "Christine."  Yay! I'm planning to wear it to a wedding I'll be attending in San Fran in just a couple weeks. Ack, where has the summer gone to? Time is flying and I feel behind. I'm most definitely behind in emails and hope to be all caught up in the next few days.   

Who Do You Think You Are?

August 25th, 2008, Comments (12)

I wait too long to blog and I get this major build-up of things I want to share. Ack! Where to start? Well, I hope you all had a lovely weekend. I've been really loving taking yoga classes combined with some at home yoga courtesy of Yoga Today. On Saturday morning, I went to a class I've been going to this month, but the regular teacher has been out of town, so when she got back yesterday, I was new to her. She had everyone introduce themselves at the beginning of class and let us know she was bad with names. I'm awful with remembering names as well, so I could certainly relate and understood when she called me by the wrong name. By the end of the class I was cracking up though because she had called me just about every two syllable name starting with "L" except my own. I was Lyla, Lulu, Laura, Lily, etc. I'd correct her each time, but she just couldn't remember it! At the end of class she repeated my name, three times, "Leah, Leah, Leah!" (which reminded me of "Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!") and then asked what my name meant. I told her that in Hebrew it meant, "weary one." I laughed, but I've never liked that meaning. So later that afternoon, I decided to put my mad searching skills to good use and find out if that was the only meaning for my name.

What's in a name?

In the bible, the name Leah references her eyes as being "weary" while her sister is far more beautiful. The interpretation is unclear, so it could also be read as "delicate", "sad eyes," "beautiful eyes" or it's possible the "weak eyes" referred to "blue eyes." The story of Leah in the Bible is not the happiest of tales and I won't recount it here, but I very much enjoyed Anita Diamant's version of her story in The Red Tent. However, prior to the Bible, the name Leah in Assyrian meant "ruler" as in a queen or princess. I like this meaning combined with my middle name's meaning (Melisssa = Honey Bee in Greek) which would be Princess Honey Bee. Heh. My favorite meaning though was the Irish Gaelic meaning of Leah which is, "Light of the sun." Now, that's lovely. I've always loved my name, without much thought to what someone a very long time ago decided it meant. But at the same time, I feel like I've somewhat embodied that weariness in the past and I'm wanting to step into that light-of-the-sun type of being. If you don't like the meaning or have no meaning attached to your name, why not create something that suits you?

Who do you think you are?

My sweet friend, Ruby, sent along a link to the site of the movie "Who Does She Think She Is?" There is a very powerful trailer at the start of the site. I definitely want to see it. Here's the synopsis I pulled from their site:

Who Does She Think She Is? focuses on five particularly bold women artists, each radically different in background, race, religious creed and choice of artistic field.  But they all share the common challenge of making careers in various art worlds.  Simultaneous to their creative existence, they are pulled in different directions as they try to answer the competing demands of artistic fulfillment, marriage, motherhood and economic survival.

Have you ever heard, "Who do you think you are?" or some version of that? I know I have. It's always good to hear how others deal with that, especially other creative women like the ones featured in this movie. There's such a twinge of shame involved when I hear that or feel the question implied. But I can always pump myself back up and rebound. This quote from Marianne Williamson is particularly helpful when rebounding from the energies of those who wish us to be small or less than:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

I know I've posted that quote before, but good quotes are worth repeating! I read the funniest story in Loving What Is this morning. In it, Byron Katie talks about a Darth Vader toy she's given to her grandson. After dropping in a coin it says, "Impressive, but you are not a Jedi yet." Her 3 year old grandson felt so disappointed that he wasn't a Jedi and no one could convince him otherwise. When Katie had a pilot announce over the loudspeaker that he was in fact a Jedi now, he went home and checked with the toy again who still said, "...you are not a Jedi yet." And he believed the toy. It's so easy to let someone else's story or more likely our own false story dictate who we think we are and therefore how we act, how we dress, what we think we are capable of. Do you have a nasty Darth Vader voice in your ear telling you that you're not enough yet? Who do you think you are? And who are you really? I'm still figuring it out for myself and I feel like I'm shedding layer after layer or false story as I go.

The above pics are pages from a sketchbook swap I'm doing. Well, there's always more to write, but I'll stop here for now.

Creative Every Day: August 25th – August 31st, 2008

August 25th, 2008, Comments (13)

CED2008 participants! Feel free to leave a comment here with a link to post(s) about your creative activities during the week of 8/25/08 - 8/31/08.

Happy creating!

The Many Faces of Creativity

August 20th, 2008, Comments (22)


I've noticed a lot of "Creative Every Day 2008" folks mentioning that they haven't been creative lately and they'll get back to making art soon. My guess is that they have been plenty creative, but maybe just didn't recognize it as such. Creativity isn't just about making art. We work in cycles, like the cycles of the seasons, the moon, life in general. And if we don't panic in the quieter phases of the cycle, we can actually enjoy the other faces of creativity.

Yesterday, I listened to the Craftcast podcast featuring Kathleen Carr, a photographer, author, and teacher. At some point in the talk, Kathleen mentioned a book about the "seven stages of creativity." I made a note about it because I felt like it would speak directly to this post that I had in my head about the many ways in which we are creative. The book is called, The Widening Stream: the Seven Stages of Creativity by David Ulrich. The author has a website where you can find an overview of the book as well as an outline of the seven stages as he sees them.

I consider the various stages of my own creative cycle to include times when I'm searching and collecting, when I'm soaking up inspiration, when I'm empty, when I'm bursting with ideas, when I'm in the flow, when I'm stuck, etc... I don't think they fall in a particular order for me, it's more like the rolling waves of the ocean. The waves may vary, but generally they are up and down and up again.

(Some of) My modes of creativity:

Walkwater Search and Gather: When I'm not creating, I'm often in search and gather mode. If I'm being self-critical, then I might see it as procrastinating, but it's all part of the process. Searching and gathering for me might be a walk with my camera, snapping pictures of what inspires me (like the river to the right), perusing blogs or online shops, reading a novel, organizing my art supplies, or wandering the aisles of the library and seeing what catches my interest. Letting your imagination roam can also be fabulously creative! Let yourself daydream from time to time. If I can let go and enjoy this stage, it's immensely fun for me. This is a great time for what Julia Cameron calls "artist dates" where you go out on your own to "fill the well" with inspiration. I enjoy going to greenhouses in the colder months.

Play: It is possible to get stuck in any stage and sometimes I need a push to the next. The super talented artist, Tammy Vitale, recently posted about how she uses playful art-making to get her going when she's struggling. For me it's the same way, play will always bring me back. Maybe not as quick as I'd like, but it always does the trick. I also liked that Tammy mentioned how these down periods don't bother her as much now because from past experience, she knows that they will pass. This is so important. The "dry spell" will pass. So why not enjoy it with some fun creating with no other purpose than to let loose? O.k., now that I think about it, I can see that I enjoy all the modes of creativity. Play, is by definition, a lot of fun. Drawing with crayons or markers like Tammy does is a great way to go. Sometimes, if I need help getting past my inner critic, I'll make art on the floor (see pic below.) This nifty little trick helps bring out my child-like adventurousness. Use whatever works for you, whether it be play-doh or coloring books. Inspiration often comes through play, no need to force it, just relax and enjoy.

Artpicnic Sketch/Write/Get it Out: When the inspiration does start to flow, it often comes in big bursts. If you have an incredible memory, then perhaps you'll be able to contain it all, but if you're like me, you may need to get these idea sparks down in some form. I keep multiple journals at the ready to capture ideas. I have a moleskine type notebook in my purse and various sketchbooks and journals (I've tried to consolidate in the past, but I'm o.k. with multiple journals now.) In these journals I capture dreams, quotes, lists, sketches, and free-form doodles (some sketches from a couple months ago are at the top of this post and below.) I also find myself doodling on junk mail, paper scraps, and receipts which can easily be taped into my journal later if necessary. Ideas often come to me in that lovely time between wakefulness and sleep, in the shower, while driving, on a walk, etc..., so it's good to have some paper and a writing utensil handy. It depends how you work, for you it maybe important to have a voice recorder handy or a portable camera (a camera phone can help capture inspirations when you're on the go!)Sketches1

Just Do It: A lot of people think that the creating stage is the only part that's creative, but it's not true! All the things that led you to this point are essential and immensely creative! Even when I think I've just jumped into creating without the previous stages, it's often things floating around in my subconscious from my times of searching, gathering, playing, daydreaming, and doodling that have led me to create what it is I've started, seemingly out of nowhere.

It's true that many of us get stuck just before the manifesting stage, myself included. Oftentimes, the hardest part is beginning. When I'm feeling resistance, sometimes it helps to jump back into the playing stage until I'm feeling more confident and ready to tackle something. Or I may simply give myself permission to fail or make gloriously bad art.

Next time you're feeling like you haven't been creative lately, take a look and see if you've been doing any of these things and recognize the creative acts your doing every day!

Sunny Day, Sweeping the Clouds Away

August 18th, 2008, Comments (10)

Woo, I got totally pooped out by the sun today. It's amazing how much some time in the hot sun can zap my energy. I met up with my super, totally rockin' bff, Judean, and her adorable little girl for lunch and walking around town in the middle of the day, which was a lot of fun. I can use Judean's first name now that she's put herself out there with her own blog. Woohoo! Remember that post I wrote a few days ago about magazine envelopes? The picture in that post is of some of the letters that she sent me during her first year of college in NYC. That post inspired her to dig through some of her old letters and she found a whole bunch of letters I'd sent to her during that time, which she posted about here. We traded them today, so we could both read our own late teenage writings. Oh my, too funny. The drama, the boys, the hatred of calculus, the loneliness of the first semester of college. I loved reading our old inside jokes (even though I don't remember what they all mean) and seeing our little doodles and poems. It's so interesting to see how we've developed and how we've stayed the same and how are friendship has grown over the years. I luf you, Luf!

I've been working in little bits on that big painting on paper that I started awhile back. Her name, I believe, is Melissa. She's a work in progress. I've been doing a lot of painting and then walking away, painting and walking away. With a bigger piece, I seem to want more perspective, whereas with a smaller piece, I often finish them fairly quickly. I've always intended to have some bees flying in this painting, but they will be one of the final touches, so they're hanging out in their hive until I get to them. Right now, "Melissa" is about 19"x27" with acrylic, ink, and pencil on watercolor paper.

Popped a print in the mail today. I need to do some major updates on my art website, adding some art and prints. I want to get that done shortly along with my newsletter. I'm doing a later newsletter this month because it will cover both this month and next, since I'll be on vacation during the second half of September. If you're interested in winning a free print, do sign up for my art website newsletter (see the lower left corner of my web page, here) and you'll be eligible for the free print drawing I do each month.


  • Happy, snuggly kitty cats
  • Pink lemondade with ice in a tall glass with a straw brought to me by the handsome hubster
  • Fun times with my bff
  • Making the bff's little girl laugh
  • An "I love your blog" award from the super sweet, Paula of HappySnappy. The feeling is mutual, Paula! Thank you!!
  • A fantabulous package in the mail from Lucy of Sweet Repeats. I won a print in Lucy's recent etsy shop 1 year anniversary drawing on her blog and I was so excited by the box of treasures she sent! There were little envelopes of stamps, an atc, a Starbucks card and glass, and some of Lucy's beautiful artwork. Thank you, thank you, Lucy!
  • A lovely surprise from Tammy from Maine who sent me a sweet card and an old photo she found that she felt belonged to me. I think she's right. I already know how I'm going to use it. Thank you, Tammy dear!
  • Snail mail rocks. Much more fun than the replacement air filters I got in the mail the other day.

I've got more to chat about, but I am so tuckered out (and all over the place), so g'night! Sleep tight! And don't let the bed bugs bite! It's more like, don't let the damn mosquitoes bite! Ack! I'm getting nearly as good at catching the little buggers as the cats are at hunting moths. The hubster calls me "the hunter" now. Hehe.

Creative Every Day: August 18th – August 24th, 2008

August 18th, 2008, Comments (9)

CED2008 participants! Feel free to leave a comment here with a link to post(s) about your creative activities during the week of 8/18/08 - 8/24/08.

Happy creating!

Recycled Envelopes and Weekend Links

August 16th, 2008, Comments (11)

When my bff gave me a handmade journal made of magazine pages for my birthday, it reminded me so much of our snail mail correspondence when we were in college (which seems like a lifetime ago! yikes!), that it made me want to make magazine envelopes again. Back when my bff headed off to college and I was a still stuck in high school as a senior, she started sending me letters wrapped in magazine pages, with the colorful magazine page acting as the envelope. At the time, they were a cheap and creative way to send mail. But with going green being so big right now, they're also a great way of re-cycling. I don't know about you, but I love snail mail. Why not get creative and surprise a friend with a handwritten note, wrapped in used wrapping paper, catalog pages, contact paper, paper you've drawn or stamped a pattern onto, wallpaper, or magazine pages? You'll have fun putting it together and your recipient will love getting something so fabulous in the mail.

Above are some of the letters my bff sent me. I pulled down a box of old letters from my closet to look at them. I often wonder whether I should be keeping all these old notes and letters, but I do enjoy reading through them every few years. In one of the letters above, the bff wrote to me about a boy she met at a party who asked her to go home with him, but she said, "no way" because he was way too old for her and she wrote, "He's 26! Scary!" Haha!! Can you remember a time when 26 was old? Oh my. Good stuff. I only wish I could read the letters I was sending on the other end. It would be fun to have both sides of the story.

If you want to make some magazine envelopes for yourself, simply find some magazines with some fun images, tear out a page and fold the page around the letter so that the front contains an image that pleases you. Or if it makes it easier, you can use an envelope template. There are free templates that you can download online or you can take an envelope that you like, take it apart carefully and use it as the template for an envelope. You can trace the taken apart envelope on top of a magazine page and then cut it out to make a unique envelope of your very own.

So, what else have I got to share with you. Well, some links of course!

  • First off, many thanks to Meredith Cutler, a fellow boston artist and writer for Artscope Magazine, who spotted my "Subway Stories" pieces on etsy and posted about them on her blog! Meredith has her own fabulous shops on etsy, here and here. I love these mixed-media earrings she's created!
  • Claudine Hellmuth has a video posted on her blog with a very cool faux batik technique using her new line of paints and mediums.
  • Hanna sent along a link to this great article by Jill Badonsky about two of my favorite things, yoga and creativity. I liked this quote, "The key is practice for both yoga and creativity without concern for perfection. Practice just naturally turns into excellence but if we think too much at the beginning of either yoga or creativity, neither may happen." and this one, "Often we pay more attention to the discomfort in our bodies, our creative process, and our lives than to the bliss. When you are in a yoga pose, focus on what feels good about it."
  • The multi-talented Jennifer Lee has an an article, "10 Tips for the Creative Entrepreneur," on the Ladies Who Launch site. It's sure to be interest to you all you creative business folks out there!

I hope you have a wonderfully creative weekend!

Creativity, Sacredness, and Bravery

August 13th, 2008, Comments (7)

I love the project that Kelley of Dragonfly Reflections has created for herself. She decided to combine the essence of Creative Every Day 2008 and Sacred Life Sunday and do 100 days of sacred art. I mentioned to Kelley that the whole Creative Every Day project has made me much more aware of how the act of everyday creativity is a sacred act, as is art-making for me. It's all about slowing down, connecting with your still small voice, becoming aware of your surroundings, tuning into your life, and creating something from it. That something doesn't have to be grand. It might be farm fresh tomatoes that you sliced with care on a cutting board lined up with bits of goat cheese that you put together for a snack. When you can slow down enough to notice the blood red tomato, it's tight, but fragile skin, and pulpy interior, it connects you to life itself. You create an arrangement on the cutting board that is pleasing to the eye, you enjoy the taste and texture and feel grateful, you make some small impact on the day, which may be simply pleasing to you, but may ripple outwards in its effects in untold ways.

just waking

Every awareness and bit of creation seems to remind me of our impermanence. Is that the point? I certainly know that it is helpful for me to be reminded of my own and my loved ones mortality. Sometimes life can seem endlessly long. Life is full of mundane moments, each piled on the next and it's so incredibly easy to get caught up and lost in them. Another bowl of cereal for breakfast, the laundry needs to get put away, the litter needs cleaning, you have some family bbq to go to, you forgot to get stamps, you stub your toe, it's raining, you can't find your keys, someone is rude to you, life speeds by like this.

In the past, it's often things going wrong, some kind of crisis that wakes me up and reminds me how short and precious life is. It's a beautiful realization that can often lead to changes for the best, changes that were hard to make when stuck in the should's and have to's of a life that seems infinite and linear. The trick is to remember. It seems that once the crisis blows over, it's all too easy to fall back into old patterns and ruts. Perhaps life can't be lived full tilt, 24/7. I don't know. I've not managed it long term. But I wonder. Is it too much pressure to live each moment as if it were your one and only? It certainly takes a certain recklessness, abandon, and big time bravery. But the rewards are amazing.

050608_1842 One way I've used to wake myself up in the past is to imagine what I would do if I had a year left to live, and then do my best to do those things. It's a good exercise to think about and if done honestly can help direct you towards those things that make your heart sing. In my early twenties, my answers included that I would travel to the Caribbean and swim in crystal blue waters, spend more time with family, tell those I loved how much I loved them, and make lots of art. I did those things and I'm so glad I did. I've been considering doing this exercise again because of Patti Digh's challenge to think about what you'd do with 37 days left to live. This is the premise of her blog which led to the book, Life is a Verb, that has just been published. I think many of my answers would be the same now as they were in my twenties. I'd still want to spend lots of time with loved ones and express to them how much I love them, I'd still want to make lots of art (though I probably wouldn't be nearly as concerned about wasting materials or conserving paint or canvas. I might get a bit bigger and looser and more experimental with my brush strokes. I might paint with more abandon. I might paint with my whole body and soul and I'd certainly not give a crap about what any one else thought about it. Now, wouldn't that be liberating?), I'd also want to finish up, in some format, my book about living a creative life, which has been floundering a bit. I think I could pull out a handwritten version of the book in that month. Something collaged together to leave behind for others on the creative journey. 37 days wouldn't be enough time to have children. But that's something else I'd like for my life.

Wow, 37 days seems incredibly short. I know I'd be very sad. I'd want to sit by the ocean at night and look at the stars and write notes to my loved ones, give away my art to people I think would enjoy it. I'd cry and kiss the hubster and sleep in his arms with the kitties around us. But I'd also laugh and dance and sing and be silly. I wouldn't want to spend those 37 days depressed. I'd have an ice cream sundae for lunch and french toast for dinner. I'd draw on the walls. I'd take a long bath and walk around in my underwear or whatever was comfortable and freeing. I'd get my body painted and take cool pictures. I'd go on my favorite roller coasters and scream. I'd to on a whale watch. I'd visit the hollow tree near where I grew up and stand inside it, tuck a note into its branches. I'd cry some more and laugh some more and then leave this life in peace. What do you think you'd do with 37 days left to live? Is there anything unexpected that comes bubbling up when you think about it. Sometimes we don't know when our 37 days has started. Life is unexpected like that. What will you do with the knowledge of what having 37 days left means to you?


Well then, I wasn't expecting to go off on this when I started this post. I write posts like I make art, letting it flow. For more on this topic, I'd highly recommend Patti's book of course, and also Mark Nepo's Book of Awakening, which is excellent. It seems like all our challenges, being Creative Every Day, Sacred Life Sunday, Be Brave and many others are all about the same thing in a way. Living. Being. Creating. Outrageously, fully, with all our heart and soul, drinking it all in, and expressing all that is within us while we're here.

Above is something I was working on last night that ended up far away from what I originally imagined. I had started with the idea of sea creatures within an oval, but once I did the pattern in the background it was clear it was a face! I think I'll cut the face out and use it in a future collage, maybe the face of a mermaid.

Kitty Cat Dreams and Mermaid Drawings

August 11th, 2008, Comments (7)

Ah, after being home for the weekend, I'm feeling much more rested. I was amazingly exhausted after sleeping a week at my old boss's house. There's something magic about your own bed and I felt like I couldn't get enough rest when I got back to it. All the gray weather we've been having and the abundance of napping fuzz balls, like Tabbers above, is enough to make anyone sleepy. Fortunately, today I felt energized and ready to tackle some things.

I've been drawing a lot in the last week, including these two. The mermaid (above) developed from an image in my sketchbook of a mermaid with waves, a whale, and ship in her hair.  The image below was done on a whim, doodling whatever came to mind.

Last night, while watching the Olympics, I grabbed what was handy, a few mini sharpies that came in a box of new golf balls and some index cards, and did some little drawings. I find mini drawing like this to be oh so relaxing and fun. Sometimes, it gives me ideas for paintings. Other times it gets my creative juices flowing, like a warm up exercise. And sometimes, it's just nice to get some of that creative energy out onto the page, even if it goes absolutely nowhere else.

This afternoon, I spent some time sorting through neglected paperwork. It's odd how you can procrastinate about something for so long and then as soon as you do it, you have immediate relief. Must remember this!!

Well, the snuggly kitties are finally getting to me and I'm feeling a strong desire to curl up with a book and some cute meows. Sasha, is letting me know it's time for bed too. (That's her yawning, even though it looks like she's yelling or laughing hysterically. Hehe)

Wishing you a night full of beautiful dreams.

Creative Every Day: August 11th – August 17th, 2008

August 11th, 2008, Comments (14)

CED2008 participants! Feel free to leave a comment here with a link to post(s) about your creative activities during the week of 8/11/08 - 8/17/08.

Happy creating!