Sunday, December 6, 2009

Holidays With Heart

I'm poring over my finds from the One of a Kind Show today. Love it all. An entire floor of the Merchandise Mart in Chicago filled with artists doing what they are most passionate about. Oh what fun.

Here is my Vintage Sculpture heart that will find a place on my tree -- but a more permanent place after the holidays because I won't bear to wrap it in tissue and pack it away.

Next stop: Weener Ware. Found a red cardinal in flight to wear on my lapel.

Thomas Mann had lovely pretty things. Bought a tiny pewter heart to string on a necklace as a remembrance.... but will check out his catalog often!

I could go on, and on. But I'm too inspired with thoughts to capture while the ideas are fresh in my brain. Got to get my hands dirty and be creative.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Attracted To These Holiday Magnets

The urge to paint has come upon me. Seems my most productive hour is between 11:00 and midnight.

These are sets of glass pebble magnets -- and they make great little hostess gifts.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Reeling From It

A smart woman told me the other day, "The universe always knows what you need, and gives it to you."

Well, excuse me while I recover from being bitch slapped by the cosmos. I'm not even sure what happened, which is I think at the basis of any good bitch slap.... you never see it coming.

It's not any one particular event, but a series of whirling dervishes set into motion by work / family / onset of the holidays / general conflict and over scheduling. I think my body started to shut down, because it started to rebel.

Then I had to resort to something I never do: ask for help.

The outpouring of kindness has overwhelmed me. It also kicked off an emotional upheaval that is like trying to stop the Mississippi River single-handedly. These days I can usually be found not more than arm's length away from a tissue box and people walk by doing double takes, wondering if they should say something. But what? "Here's another tissue"?

In retrospect, I probably don't cry enough. I'm probably too layered with self-imposed responsibilities that any minor infraction would seem cataclysmic. A better woman would take it in stride and say, "So what? This too shall pass."

Or maybe this is what is supposed to happen. Time to reach out to others. Lean a little weight on shoulders of those who care, love, and stand steadfast while I falter.

A sweet surprise showed up at my desk today, through a series of friends. It had a heartwarming note and a few sentiments -- and a book of positive affirmations. Page 164 says, "Allow others to give you loving care. Receive without guilt or apologies." -- Doreen Virtue, Ph.D.

I love you, my friends. I'll reel it in and be back to my old self shortly.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A "Break All The Rules" Day

Today my little boy turned 5.

I awoke this morning and forgot what day it was. My eyes opened, I looked at the clock, and my first thought was: it’s 6:30 and I’ve overslept. No, wait. It’s Saturday. As usual on a weekend, the two males in my household who are morning people were already awake.

“Is it my birthday today?” I heard Grant ask from the other room. He has been grappling with days, hours, weeks, and minutes to understand which is his special day. “Yes,” replied his father. “FI---NAL--LY!” said Grant, with all the bit of energy a fresh five-year-old could muster.

And so it is. Five years ago he was born. I remember the moment when he was placed on my torso, a completely warm, moving, lovely baby who has just made me a mother. It was like a dream sequence. I circled my arms around him and looked up at whoever was near and asked, “Is it real? Is he OK?” My mother shook her head yes, and then the whole rest of the world fell away and I was holding my child. At 6:59 p.m., after weeks and months or waiting and 26 hours of labor, my sweet baby boy came into this world and changed my life forever. Yes, it was your birth day. Fi---nal---ly.

When he turned one, I made a solemn vow to myself to spend “just us” time with him on his birthday. With the pace of life, and the fact that he would be more mobile at some point and not want to spend time snuggling with me during quiet time, it occurred to me that a loftier goal like a whole day together might not be reasonable. But a quiet moment to let him know he is completely loved on his special day would be a promise I could keep no matter what.

And so he sped off. Learned to walk; hit the milestones. He was a toddler when we first learned about his sensory integration issues (see He has normal days, and then there are days when his need to interpret the world in a tactile or physical manner is not socially acceptable, or welcome. He spends a lot of time being told “no” and “listen” and “don’t do that” and “you can’t eat that.” So today, I wanted to allow as much “yes” into his universe as possible. Starting with a donut with sprinkles on it for breakfast. Sugar and flour first thing in the morning, Mr. Gluten Intolerance? Sure. Followed by bowling with every plastic bottle he could pull out of the recycle bin. Play ball in the house? Terrific. Stay in his pajamas and not run errands with Daddy? Mighty fine. And a snack out of a large bag of Doritos that turned his fingers and lips completely orange a half hour before his birthday party? Go ahead. Fingerpaint with the nacho cheese for all I care. It’s his day; he gets to decide.

Next was the party. You would think that a birthday at Rainforest Café with animatronic animals, thunder and lightening, music, shooting stars, and friends would spell disaster for a kid with sensory issues. Surprisingly, it was perfect. Just when the little ones were getting impatient for the food to arrive, the apes would launch into their routine. Or a storm would pass. It was a fine environment for a boy with a short attention span and sensory overload.

We kicked more rules to the curb. Don’t wanna nap? Okay by me. Play with two remote-controlled toys while watching a video? That’s multitasking at its best. A second piece of birthday cake? Answer’s yes.

If you’re really lucky you can give your child all the basics – clothing, shelter, food, predictability, safety, and a few fun diversions. But if you’re really, really lucky you can give your child memories that are fond capsules of love, outrageous laugher, a sense of belonging, and a reason to look forward as well as glance back.

“I like my birthdays,” said Grant, with a yawn. In his honor, make tomorrow your “Break All The Rules” day. And may it be outrageously fun.

***Grant's drawing: He traced his big boy hand, and then drew a picture of himself with an M&M cake. About 6 months ago he didn't draw much more than a frantic scribble because he was being criticized in daycare for not holding a crayon correctly. So he never wanted to color. After some muscle therapy and a new daycare provider, this is what he can do.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Spontaneous Art That's Not So Spontaneous

This artist, Joshua Allen Harris, creates impromptu street art -- and makes it look so simple!

Watch this:

Amazing what a plastic bag can do if given the opportunity.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Big Cheesy Grins By Creative Folk

The chill outside coupled with a cast of colorful leaves turning crisp has put me in the mood to scout for Halloween inspiration. Found some great stuff, but one discovery rises to the top.

Folk art has always caught my eye. It's whimsical. It's humorous. It's got personality. It's art. Have some fun with this site:
Personally, I think Tim Burton doesn't have much on David Everett. I'm adoring his creations and can't wait to see more in the Christmas motif. And look here:
What would Pumpkin in the Box say to you if he were to spring to life?

I don't see a witch among the characters, but I am reminded of a storybook that was read to me quite often this time of year: Old Witch and the Polka Dot Ribbon by Wende and Harry Devlin. Old Witch is a devilish old tart with layers of petticoats under her black skirt, striped red and white stockings, and wooden heels. Out of a smack of jealousy, she decides to foil the cake contest:

"A big green moon,
A toad's blue eyes.
I'll make nut cake
And win first prize."

...and so she did. But not before comic mayhem ensues.

I grew up in a baking family, so there was not a chance in hell we were going to miss whipping up the recipe for Old Witch's Magic Nut Cake on the back of the hardcover storybook. It's a luscious cake filled with pumpkin, nutmeg, cinnamon, raisins, and walnuts -- frosted with cream cheese icing. The instructions are to bake the cake in three buttered one-pound coffee cans, which I remember held a special place in the cupboard 11 months of the year until October rolled around so we could make the Old Witch's cake once again. The cake I remember from my childhood yielded completely round slices. It became an autumn tradition. When I baked the cake many years later, I couldn't track down the old seasoned coffee cans, but chose a bread pan instead. Similar results.... with the taste of nostalgia.

Can't subdue the big grin that creeps onto my cheeks as I read Old Witch to my son and enjoy the reverie around baking her Magic Nut Cake. Jumping Jehosaphat! It's almost Halloween.

Monday, September 28, 2009

A Newfound Respect for Glass

My aunt and uncle from Grand Junction, Colorado were visiting this past week. I was introduced to photographs from their travels through Arizona and various parts of the west.

They visited a desert museum which features work by the artist Dale Chihuly. So I had to look more into this talented artist whose medium is blown glass. It is easy to marvel at the explosive color and intricate shapes that compose his glass sculpture. The interplay between art and nature are entwined in such a way it makes complete sense out of evolution and creation. But at the same time, you're delighted at his beautiful touches to supplement an already exquisite space.

There's Chihuly, an artist who is living out a passion for his craft and leaving quite a legacy for many generations to appreciate. Then there's my family tree of folks who appreciate "junque." Relatives who bend wire and bang metal into something other than its original shape, but still functional as art and craft. More about that in a later post.

Meanwhile, stop here and enjoy:

Monday, September 21, 2009

Why I Make Things

Creating art has been a part of my life from the time I was about 3 or 4 years old. Some of my earliest memories are drawing with crayons on a big sketch pad as my mom spent afternoons oil painting at an easel. She was taking a night class at the time, and painted portraits. I have dabbled in all kinds of arts and crafts thoughout my life, including pen and ink, acrylic paint, watercolor, needlecrafts, graphic design, clay, and most recently, jewelry.

Art is as necessary as breathing. Whenever I'm feeling antsy or off-center, I want to get my hands dirty and create... something... regardless if the creation turns out particularly well. Artists create because they are passionate about life. The creative process can be as different for everybody as the end product they achieve.

Lynda Lehmann wrote, in Art and Power, "...We see glimpses of beauty and wonder in places where other people may fail to look, unearthing it at every turn. We see new relationships, both visual and metaphoric, sociological and scientific." (See And thank goodness for artists, who transport us from our everyday lives to momentary greatness through their creations.

Now that the seasons are shifting into autumn, my thoughts turn to Christmas and the wonderful bins of remnants collected in the attic, waiting to be turned into handmade gifts. And the urge to create is upon me.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"Servitude" -- Dig It?

Today I had the opportunity to connect with a favorite trainer, friend, and downright awesome person and watch him in action: delivering a speech at a luncheon. He always speaks from a place of love and serving others in a way that's very present. I so appreciate people who have come to a point in their lives where they realize that connections are an integral part of life. People who make a conscious effort to respond to others with a tone of love and support are amazing.

“After all this is over, all that will really have mattered is how we treated each other.”

Gosh, why don't I have more reminders in my day to alert myself to the opportunities to lift people up? Where in the world do we find positive energy to keep us going, like a gentle unexpected breeze at our backs that helps move us along? To deliver a nice word or lend a hand when it's least expected?

What would change a simple word into a heartfelt exchange?

Some people deliver a speech to a roomful and touch every soul. Some of us have time to make a difference to just one. Whichever the case, it's making a difference that counts.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Approach each day with....

love. A gentle reminder that I have thought of most often over the past year or so. I was first introduced to Og Mandino's Scrolls through a LifeSkills Leadership 1 training. See for the scroll that has been top of mind and a guiding force in my life:

"I will greet this day with love in my heart."

Many of us have a daily perception that has been shaped by old disappointments, hurtful interactions, crass indignities. Each day, however, is a chance to decide which attitude will guide our thoughts. Shall today be clouded by insecurity and distrust, or can I search for positivity and light?

I have found that with love at the core of interactions and intent, many approaches end (happily) with surprising results.

Many questions will be posed; some may never be answered. But this blog is intended to explore the many aspects of love as we know it here on earth.