Monday, January 31, 2011

Alphabet Soup - J is for JOY

Alphabet Soup Sunday is growing and evolving. I think they would be more aptly named Alphabet Soup of the Soul now, as they share a little insight into me, are often somewhat cathartic, and tend to appear a lot closer to Monday than Sunday ;)

I woke up this morning happy, no, excited. I woke up excited this morning. Kind of like this:

I woke to the birds and the best of intentions.
I will try every way I know to express them.

Adapted from Breakthrough
by Isaac Dust

What a fabulous way to start a day!

For starters, today is the last day for submissions to the JOY photo challenge. I will be posting them up for you to indulge in first thing in the morning. That means you still have one more day to grab your cameras, or dig through your photo boxes and media files!

There will be a week of voting to decide the winner, and then? Following that, there will be a week of voting on my potential B.F.A. application/portfolio submissions. I need your help! (insight, feedback, gentle critiques). So exciting!

Ok, so let's talk about Joy! Here's the plan. I'm going to pour my heart out a little, and share with you what's been going on the past week and a half. Then I'm going to have a bit of a creative projects show and tell. Then I'm going to give it up to you to share some Joy, since it's my favourite topic!

Here's a little something to listen to while you're reading this :) One of my faves, from back in the days...

If you've been reading along with me lately you will know that I've been having a grand ol' time! Conferences and day trips, gaining and gifting blog awards, two excellent days at my dreamy new part-time job, my very first ever guest post and a super fab and swanky date with my sweetie. And, on several occasions I was told that I had made someone's day! All of that crammed into the past 9 days.

It was probably one of the most rewarding weeks I've had. It was also one of the most challenging. That's the beauty of Joy. It carried me through, and I was still able to share it with you.

What you probably didn't see through all this triumph, was me in some wicked Serotonin Withdrawal. If you, or someone you know, is taking, or considering taking, an SSRI (anti-depressant and/or anti-anxiety), please listen up, then go online and do as much research as you possibly can. I thought that I had done well, and was reducing mine carefully. I could have done more to avoid this incredibly intense roller coaster I've been riding for 2-3 weeks.

The first couple of days were great. Then I turned into the Hulk with PMS and a constant low-grade migraine. It started out as a tight head and dizziness, and a slight edge of nausea. Then we threw in some sucky-ness, whiny-ness and the easily weepies. Which could quickly turn to irritability, rage, and explosiveness. Oh, and the self-doubt, unforgivingness and extreme sensitivity to even a whiff of perceived control. (Those last three were a lovely combination with my excellent timing of trying to implement more structure and scheduling into my life!)

Thursday was the worst of it. That moment on the roller coaster when you're slowly click, click, clicking to the top of the biggest hill, and you look down and think, how am I ever going to survive this? Thursday I had an I'm not leaving the house day, well, more like an I'm not leaving my bed day. I couldn't even tolerate light. These are the types of days I had plenty of when I first fell to the mercy of this breakdown. I hadn't had a full cocoon day like this in months. (The quiet also helped me realize that I was also experiencing brain-zaps (paresthesia) which can be best described as a pulse-like shock or shiver).

This is the point when many people coming off of anti-depressants/anti-anxieties give up. They think that maybe they weren't ready. Also, one of the things you might read in the online forums, is people in the middle of withdrawal, swearing that they never would have gone on them in the first place if they knew what it would be like to get off of them. I want to add a little balance to that perspective.

Disclaimer - I am not a doctor, I don't play one on tv, and I'm not sleeping with a drug rep.
  • Choosing to go on an anti-depressant/anti-anxiety medication to deal with the Post-Traumatic breakdown was a tough decision. I used to work in mental health services, and I knew logically that they could help get me to a place where I could benefit more from other treatment options, like counselling, art therapy and group work. I am grateful that I was able to see the potential of this first line of defense for myself.
  • If you or your doctor feel like you may need to stay on your SSRIs for life because you're "addicted" get a new doctor, asap. Seriously. I have heard this and I have read this. This was never where I was at and I am so grateful. The doctor handling my medication assured me that we would work together to get on them, and off them when the time came.
  • Feeling like you haven't made progress, when you're in the middle of a withdrawal, is common. The symptoms are similar. Work with your doctor (one who knows they're stuff thoroughly) and stick through it. If the timing is right, you will get to the other side!
  • Eat well. This can be tough if you would rather eat nothing at all, or if all you want is carbs and sugars. Three meals, and snacks in between, that are high in protein and complex carbs and low in fat and simple sugars. This will help keep you balanced as your body is flushing the stores. Acupuncture can help with this too.
  • If you can, get your prescriptions filled at a smaller pharmacy where you can build a relationship with the pharmacist. It helped me a lot to know that I could talk to mine whenever I had questions.
  • Even if you have reduced to the lowest dosage available of your medication, you can still go lower! It is often suggested to reduce to every second day, and then every third. Have patience. Take your time. Going slowly means a happy transition. Otherwise, the alternative is putting a huge strain on your loved ones, and having to buy new shirts when you tear them apart to flex your big green muscles!
At the end of it all, the good news is that I'm medication free. If taken back in time, would I go through it again knowing that the first med would wire me up like a kid on Coke and candy? That I would get incredibly lethargic and irritable whenever I was in the midst of a dosage transition? That not working through the withdrawal as carefully as I could would make we want to hide like a werewolf on the edge of a full moon? Absolutely!

So let's keep riding this Joy train! Next stop - The Happy Monday Photo Challenge

This is my first week participating and I was really excited about the theme. Sunrise/Sunset. Unfortunately, and understandably, I was melting down a little after a day of errands and country roads yesterday, and needed to be home, instead of out playing with sunsets as I had planned :( Boo. However, keeping on the theme of this post, I am excited to share with you a picture I took in the summer that was an absolute moment of Found Joy.

It was early in the morning, my sweetie was out of town, and I had just woken up from a particularly unsettling nightmare. I got out of bed, restless. I happened to look out the window and was greeted by this wonderful sunrise.

Waking dream
It made my day okay :)

Here's something a little more recent. I started this on Friday and promised myself I would work on it for 3 days.

The first stage was the most fun! Ribbon, cotton batting, white paint smeared on with a kitchen spatula. Green paint layered on with a fork, yep, a fork, then detailed with rosemary. Yep. Rosemary.

Added some water colour tints. I thought I was done at this point. Until I came out of my poorly lit art space and realized I wasn't :)

Ta da! The finished product. It took guts to go bold with the next layer!

Three pictures, three stages, three days. I'm grateful that I stayed committed to it. I'm gaining a lot more depth through layering, and patience :) All it needs is the dates written into it, and a title. Perhaps, JOY 2011? :)

Okay, now it's your turn! Please share with me in the comments a quick snippet of something that brings/has brought you Joy! It doesn't have to recent, or it could be something that happened today :)

This video brings me Joy. Ari Hest is my new favourite voice, and watching/listening to him sign with his mom is like being hugged.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Happy Saturday!

Six Word Saturday. Want to play?

JOY photo challenge closes on Monday!

(Click the JOY button, top left)


Had fun playing at Cinderita's yesterday!

(Read my very first guest post!)

Date with my sweetie tonight. Ballet!!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Gone to the Neighbour's

Made sure to leave a note so you could find me :)
Visiting at Cinderitaville.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thursday 13 - For Starving Artists

Over the past year or more, my ability to work dwindled slowly, until it ultimately became non-existent. I've had to get very creative with little money, and I wanted to share some of my tips and tricks with you!

1. Volunteer - I know, it doesn't seem to make sense right away. Work for nothing? Yes! This has let me continue enjoying the luxuries I would have had to give up. My YMCA membership? I volunteer for two hours a week and in return my monthly gym fees are waived. Every shift I volunteered at our local Fringe Theatre Festival equaled a ticket I could use at one of the shows. My spot on the volunteer registration team at the conference this weekend, gained me access to my workshops and a snazzy t-shirt. Yes, it feels great to give back to my community, and it also feels really good not to feel limited.

2. Paint samples - I love wandering through the water colour aisle at the art store. Daniel Smith often puts out little swatches with a couple dabs of some very gorgeous colours. Warning - you will want to buy them at some point, they are so lovely.

3. Thrift Stores - Yep, we all know they are great for cheap clothes and housewares, hallowe'en costumes and probably some questionable "vintage" or "retro" items. They are also wonderful for some unique art supplies. That painting no-one in their right mind would buy even though it's been marked down to a dollar? Grab it. You can prime the canvas and re-use it. And repurpose the frame if there is one too. Same goes for funky fabrics and textiles. A shirt you might not wear could become your next journal cover. Curtains into pillow covers, you get the idea.

4. Classifieds Online - craigslist,, etc. I like to keep an eye on these for art supplies that are being given away or sold ridiculously cheap. Moving sales, giving up a failed hobby, all things that I could benefit from. These sites are also great if you want to get attention to classes you are offering. Photo artists, you know how expensive all the equipment is. Buy used! It is still out of my price range, though my sweetie picked up his camera body this way at an incredible price, and is often seeing drooling over the next flash or lens he's waiting to find a good deal on.

5. Clothing swaps - I can honestly say that I have not bought a new, and probably not used, piece of clothing in at least a year. Arranging clothing swaps has been so fun, and women are extremely more friendly and generous in these situations than you would expect. They are also very eye opening when it comes to your own self consciousness. That skinny girl in your group you always compare yourself too, might have larger legs than you. And we all celebrate when something looks fabulous on someone. It's like going shopping with a gaggle of your besties, except the joy you get is from watching an item you love find a better home, not from slashed price tags.

6. Grape Seed Oil - Okay, this is going to sound weird. This yummy and antioxidant laden oil is a fabulous beauty tool. I have used it to effortlessly remove heavy make up from my face, and boy was it soft the next day. I use it to lotion my arms, especially after having them waxed. My esthetician tells me that she also uses it as a lotion and adds a little bit of sugar to it. Yum. I've been meaning to use it make my own salt glow too... 1/2 cup of oil, and a cup of fine sea salt. Seriously, that easy.

7. Beauty schools - There are groups of eager students out there willing to offer you their services at ridiculously low rates. This applies to hair and esthetic schools, massage and chiropractic schools, acupuncture and chinese medicine, you name it. You get the comfort of a salon/clinic, and a watchful supervisor.

8. School notice boards - Same thing. Need a website designed so you can promote your new business? Someone is looking for a real live guinea pig. Students trying to build up their skills or portfolios may offer their services for free, and recent graduates looking to build up their clientele means reduced rates for you. Graphics, marketing, accounting, if it's a service you need, someone is out there training in it right now!

9. Bartering - This gets you into gear, in the motions of "selling" your art work and getting it out into the world. I know an artist who has painted a salon window, and traded an art piece for hair cuts. Maybe your dentist needs his daughter's wedding photographed, and you need the fillings and the practice? Talk openly about your art or services, people are the greatest resource.

10. - There is probably a photography group in your area that could translate into some very affordable marketing for you or your business. At their events, photographers, models and stylists come together to build their portfolios, all at no or low cost. If you are a photographer this means great practice with models and lighting. If you are a clothing or jewelry designer, offer your stuff for a shoot. If you get the permissions, you can use the photos to promote your line. And it will look like you paid a fortune for a professional photographer. Groups could probably also appreciate large art pieces to help change up the background, and practice lighting.

11. Displaying - Some towns have art circles that rotate the art of a group of cafes and restaurants. See if you can get into one. Or, talk to someone at every one that you go into. You might hit on an independent who's desperate to change up their walls. Same goes for business offices. The boring art on your dentist's wall, may be boring to them too and they simply don't know where to look for new material. Perhaps a friend of yours is tired of staring at the Ikea apple triptych in their office lunchroom. Make sure you have wall tags displaying your name, and perhaps a stack of business cards at the counter or nearby. Heck, give framed pieces to all your friends to display in their space at work. I'm sure they would love to talk about the hot new artist the work is from.

12. Groupon - This company is taking the world by storm. Many things I wouldn't be able to afford or experience are offered up at an average of 50% off. The deals come up daily in the city you sign up for, and don't have to be used up immediately. We have tickets sitting at the ready for the Butterfly Gardens. They were half off, which basically meant that my sweetie didn't have to pay for me too.

13. The Dollar Store - What a wonderful place filled with incredibly useful stuff. (Though I try really hard not to think about the small children and families who probably manufacture it, and are the reason the prices are so low). I digress. Yes, it is great for the every day stuff. Did you know you can also find art supplies there too? Tracing paper and sketch paper, paint brushes for gluing, tissue paper for collages. I even picked up a couple of mini canvases at the one near me. You can grab photo boxes and plastic baskets for storing your supplies, or gifting your treasures. Small vases for having at the ready your paint brushes and pencil crayons. And, of course, cheap glasses and mugs you can use to enjoy your wine while you're creating your art. No sweat if they get covered in sticky acrylic finger prints :)

What are your Cheap Tricks?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

So much to Enjoy!

Before I tell you some new good news, I want to share something with you. Yesterday was my first day at a new job, in a completely different field of work. It was bliss. There were no children tugging on me, demanding my attention, or sneezing on me. I was able to choose my clothes for the day based on what I felt good in, and looked good in. I didn't have to worry about whether or not my toes were protected from being stomped on, or secure enough to take chase at a moment's notice. My earrings dangled deliciously and my ears were not strained from being on alert for the earliest signs of unrest.

I popped over to Jamie Ridler's site while I was contemplating this, and how apropos that the wish for this week is:

What do you wish to enjoy?

  • more of this physical freedom in the workplace.
  • being in a positive work environment.
  • learning new skills and tackling new challenges.
  • teaching people who are eager to learn.
  • meeting deadlines.
  • asking for help and being supported.
  • having my input and ideas respected and sought out.
  • being creative and the appreciation of my creativity.
  • having energy to live a whole life outside of work

Here's a visual interpretation of how I felt about my work day yesterday and the potential of this new job :) [I was water colour painting with my fingers when I came home from work! You can click through to see the full size on flickr, and the other painting I did with it too].

On top of the world

Okay, one more picture, before I move on to the good news. I was just so excited that I had the energy to art journal after work yesterday. My 365 picture was influenced too :)


Without further ado, drum roll please...
I was given another blog award!

Noel over at French Christmas, the queen of sharing her perceptive perspective in beautiful prose, gave me the


Wow! Thank you Noel. You've always been a supportive cheerleader of me and my writing and I really appreciate it! I'm really looking forward to that moment when you're ridiculously rich and famous from all the books you've written and published, and I can say, I knew you when... :)

The rules. Share seven things about myself. Then pass it on to five other stylish bloggers.

Things about me, huh?
  • I love playing board games. Especially creative ones. And ones where a little competition adds to the fun.
  • I once left the house without any pants on. I was about 9 or 10 and it was a lazy summer morning and I had wandered downstairs to the tv to watch cartoons in nothing but my fave Disney World sweatshirt, and my undies. My sister had to run an errand within walking distance and I distractedly ambled out the door with her. Sadly, I didn't notice until we were on our return. Luckily we hadn't gone back the same way, since that would have meant a second pass through a parking lot full of cute young boys playing road hockey, and giggling. Blush.
  • I am the youngest of three children.
  • I didn't finish high school.
  • If I could have a free pass to eat whatever I wanted for one day without the fear of having a reaction, I would want baked macaroni and cheese, a butterscotch sundae and peanut butter cookies.
  • I wear earplugs when I sleep
  • I can build a wicked camp fire.
That's my seven, now on to my five.

Five fabulous bloggers. I'd love to give a nod to a collection of bloggers who are not in the eye of this blogger award tag storm that's been circling

Sweet Limes - who I met at the beginning of my blogging journey and immediately connected with. Everything she does is stylish. A beautiful, artistic, creative soul.

Cowgirl Red - I've only just met her, and I love the way she shares her innermost thoughts. It makes me feel so much less alone in what I experience. Her fabric creations are stunning, and I hope she doesn't mind if I show up one day at her breathtaking ranch and play cowgirl with her.

Pieces of Me - Jen's photography is just gorgeous! Another fellow reverber who is chasing after their creative dreams. Follow along for some adventures in New York City.

Mujerzen's Blog - At some point during reverb I found my way to this blog. Now I know whenever I stop by I can count on a hit of the most delicious poetry.

Live, Love, TRAVEL - I don't know Jaymi very well. I do want to thank her for sharing not just her beautiful photos. I love that she always explains her photo experiments and projects, making it a great place to be inspired to try something new.

Hope you find one in there that you enjoy as much as I do.

And remember... 5 more days until the JOY photo challenge closes!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Alphabet Soup - I is for Inspired

Wow, what a weekend!

Saturday I attended the every WOMAN 2011 conference. What I thought was going to be simply a day to be physical active, with like minded women, and a chance to try some new types of fitness classes - was so much more than I expected. I've been inspired!

Here's what I learned from the conference:

  • I love conferences! When I was a teenager I became involved in leadership conferences, and other youth conferences. The energy was so incredible. I'm realizing that I love it when large groups of people come together to learn (especially when it's about themselves) for a short and intense duration of time.
  • I like to be directly involved. It meets my need for belonging and my love of knowing how things work behind the scenes. ***Here's a big tip for all you starving artists - if registration costs are a little too much for you, find out if you can volunteer!*** That's what I did, and it granted me entry and a place on the team. And I am so glad I did. I was able to pop into a dreams to goals workshop that wasn't on my schedule, and it created some wonderful shifts in my perspective!
  • Visualization exercises make me teary.
  • I want to be an artist. Not quietly in my own space. Like out there on other people's walls, loud and proud, using my eventual BFA for professional gain, not just personal.
  • Everything I need is inside of me!
  • Hula Hooping is an amazing form of exercise that works muscles that I haven't been able to get at before. And so much fun! We were all laughing and cheering each other on. Even when a couple of us got hit in the face :) Want one, now!!
  • Creating more structure in my life will leave me feeling like I have more freedom!
  • Feeling controlled still triggers me big time.
  • Art Journaling every day is possible, and probable, and can have a valued space in my schedule.
  • I'm cute, and I'm okay with it. Cute in the sweet, and adorable way. Like an energetic puppy.
  • I like being sexy, and I'm learning to enjoy it and be more refined in how I am. Being sexy isn't something I need to be known as. It's an underlying part of me, and there's a time and a place to vamp it up, and boy do I know how now. Even something as simple as enjoying the way my arm feels to me... is very attractive.
What an amazing experience! So, 5:00 hit that night, and I got right down to my art journaling. Thanks again Emily, for sharing yours and inspiring me. Here's one side of my first entry, using some of the doodling techniques I've been playing with, that captures a bit of what inspired me at the conference...

First (of many) Art Journal page

The amazingness didn't end there. Yesterday, the sweetie and I went on a day trip adventure. As we were preparing everything the night before, he suggested we bring the Drawing Lab book for the ferry ride, since we missed our weekly assignment. Seriously!? I hadn't want to suggest it. Drawing is something he's still getting comfortable with. Sure enough, we whipped it out as soon as we got settled on board. (I forgot our supplies, though I was able to dig a pen and pencil out of my computer bag, and improvise with what I'm hoping were snack bags). The assignment we chose was left handed portraits of each other, which had us trying to keep our volume down while we were giggling. I was so inspired by him and his portrait of me that I wanted to share his along with mine.

Left handed portrait
(Yep, that's right. He's a rightie, and drew this with his left!)

You know what else inspires me, and makes me super teary... when he told me, on a couple of different occasions now... that just being around me makes him more creative.

Wait, the story doesn't end here. There's more! While I was at the conference on Saturday I got an email that my place on hold for a book at the library (that I've been waiting patiently and eagerly for) had finally come up. The library was right around the corner from the conference so I was able to pick it up on the way home. It came with on the ferry ride yesterday too, and Gretchen Rubin's Happiness Project is exactly what I need to carry the energy from the conference forward and turn my plans into actions. She's right. Some people really do learn from reading others' experiences, even if they are not monumental. Similar to Noelle Oxenhandler's Wishing Year, it seems, so far, to be a great blend of personal goals and triumphs, supported by well researched and enlightening information. I've only made it to the end of January in her journey, and I am already incredibly inspired. Following suit, I'm going to make a monthly chart to track some of my daily goals too :)(I'm actually looking forward to it!) I'm also looking forward to my new early bed time, because built in with that is a half an hour of indulgent reading in bed before lights out. Is it bed time yet? I super excited to see what happens in February of Gretchen's Happiness Project

Oh, I almost forgot. One more thing that I want to share with you. I'm guest blogging on Friday, over in Cinderitaville, the land of inspiration. I was a little stumped what to write about, until my current favourite foliage gave me a nudge on Saturday. Y'all know that I've been completely inspired by our Christmas tree. It became the subject for my camera again, and made it into my 365 project, appearing on day 22. :)


Now on to Monday's Music Moves Me! Yesterday it was recommended that I check out Explosions in the Sky. I've been in need of some good instrumental music to inspire me while focusing on school work or art adventures, and I think I've found it!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Friday, January 21, 2011

Back in Gear

As I mentioned on Tuesday, I kind of hit a bump in the road - with the art course I'm taking online. Partly because it was a bit busier around here... and partly because of one of my assignments.

The first step was ridiculous fun. Staining with coffee grounds, and rolling blueberries down my journal page. I could be heard from the other room giggling. I even dribbled beeswax from a candle.

Then I got a little stuck... where to take it from here. I focused in on the clusters created by wax dribbles, which I had removed, and attempted to turn them into flowers. Kind of like a reddish/purply sunflower - I used water colour pencils and oil pastels.

Not happy with how it turned out, I washed over it with blue watercolour paint to create a kind of Under the Sea theme, playing up the blueberry stain.

Finally, (many days later) it hit me what was missing. Bubble wrap and paint splatters :)
Ta dah - the finished product!

Under the Sea

After that adventure, I figured it was time for some minimalism. A paper tearing exercise did the trick.

6 is better than 5

Created very quickly, from scraps left over from my most recent Art Trading Card creations. (Which went in the mail on Wednesday!) This was so fun and liberating to just rip, glue and stick - just like that, no plan, no analyzing :)

Some other exercises appearing in my journal the past couple of days... (Click through to see the full size image).

Blind Contour Palm - Take 1Blind Contour Palm - Take 2
Upside down PicassoSelf Portrait

Happy Friday!

p.s. 10 more days to send me your photos of joy (what brings you joy, experiencing joy, representing joy) Click here!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wishcasting - Full Wolf Moon

As the wolves of January howl their hungry, I will howl mine here, in wishful words. Jamie Ridler asks us this week What hunger do you wish to feed?

Plain and simple. I am ravenous for more travel. Places I can't get to (reasonably) by car. Yes, we are planning to hit New York on our trip to see family out east. Yes, I am trying to find a way to make San Diego part of my August. What I hunger for is to get off this continent. It's dawning on me that it might have been eight years since I have. What the?! I want to explore this world. I want to spend time in the International departures and arrivals terminals. I want to find a way to make it work with my food allergies.

This is what I wish for! Now boarding...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Creative Distraction

Wow, where did the week go? Things have been pretty busy around these parts, as I slowly take on more commitments. I realized yesterday that I'm an assignment behind on my experimental art course. Well, let me rephrase that. I have two new assignments to delve into! Fun :) Ooh, and I'm starting to get photos and requests for the two Creative Challenges I have on the go! Wanna play? Click here.

The one thing that I have been staying on top of is my photography. My homestead has proved useful this week, for my daily Project 365 photos and MCP's Project 52 shot.

The trees outside my apartment (the same ones I dreaded their leaf losing in the fall) have been fun subjects. A sparkly sun shower and moody sunset caught my eye and were caught in my lens.


Some natural light and a blank wall made for a fun silhouette adventure...


Now, for my two faves of the week. I was driven to distraction by some cheap tulips picked up at the grocery store (Is it spring yet?!).

Some bright tints in this macro wonder.


And the soft tones of this sepia sweetness...


Sweet Shot Day Shutter Love

Monday, January 17, 2011

Creative and Expressive

This post is a lovely mishmash of many wonderful things.

1. It is a reminder of the creative challenges going down over here in my hood :)

  • An expressive photo/art challenge. I am accepting photos, or photos of art pieces, that express or capture JOY! They can be emailed to me until Jan.31 at I will post them up for your viewing, and voting. The winner will receive... drum roll... one of my photos! (I've received two photos so far!)
  • Creativity Forward challenge. I signed on for a Pay it Forward program through Jodi at Living Life Photographically. The ideas is that the first three people who contact me and request to be involved, by comment or by email, will receive something hand made by me. They then create something handmade for three people, and so on. (There are still two spots left on my dance card!)

2. It is a share of an amazing project I found in my blog wanderings today. A year of expressing and spreading love. Check it out! The Love Project. Super excited! I have a feeling it's going to get ridiculously big!

3. It is my Monday Music Moves Me share. Staying on my theme, of course! :)

Had to Share

I found this video today through Kind Over Matter, and I want the world to see it. Extremely moving. What courage. A sign of hope for many. The line that stuck with me the most: Don't assume you know anyone's problems because you never know how badly they are broken.

Here's the link

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Alphabet Soup - H is for Hoping

Hope: the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.

This is the epitome of me and what I believe. Now. Up until two or three years ago, I could easily have been described as the exact opposite.

I can remember as a teenager describing myself as a pessimistic optimist. I figured that if I planned for the worst, than whatever did happen would at least be better than that. Sad. I couldn't count on anyone, not even myself. I expected people to let me down.

We are constantly bombarded with the message that as long as you know what you want anything is possible. Well, how can you even imagine what you want if you didn't believe you could have anything? If things did turn out, it was just a fluke, or luck. When things were going well, it scared the pants off of me. It meant that something was just around the corner to balance it out. I was always waiting for that other shoe to drop.

Then I moved across the country, because I wanted to. Got a job that I purposely picked and succeeded to secure. The manifestation movement was kicking up a big stir around this time. It made things so simple and concrete. Know what you want, commit to wanting it and let it come. And it worked. It had nothing to do with who you were as a person, or how much you suffered for things. Just clarity.

An amazing book I read a couple of years ago really helped to push the door open further. The Wishing Year by Noelle Oxenhandler spoke to me, and I could relate so well to her history and journey. She too felt like suffering was the standard. Her story gave a lot of weight to wishing and hoping. I think I took myself on a trip for my 30th birthday shortly after I read it. Lovely train ride and B&B with a hot tub and wine under the stars. I even took myself out to dinner and bought myself a beautiful turquoise ring. I started to make lists, particularly what I wanted to find in a partner.

This past fall, I read the book again. This time out loud to the most amazing man I have ever shared my world with (who is 90-95% of everything on my list). It opened my eyes even wider.

Here's an excerpt of an email I wrote at that time to the author:

The manifestation movement is what sparked my realization that I could bring to me what I wanted, but I loved that you found a way of doing it holistically. That you embrace abundance for yourself, and for others. The balance. I had a breakdown at the beginning of the summer, and am now dealing with things I wasn't prepared to 15 years ago, and, in general, 32 years of hurt. (I told * this morning that I wanted an ice pack for my heart!) As we travel through the months of your year, I'm reminded that I can want for myself. I have the classic tendency to put more effort into meeting and attending everyone else's needs. What I am beginning to truly believe is that I can wish for them, and wait for their requests for help, and that it's okay to ask of others to give to me (gulp).

Without a doubt, your book and experience are what helped me become comfortable with being optimistic. To maintain positivity and not fear what's around the next corner. And this what I wanted to share with * when I started reading it to him, and almost everyone I know! That we do not need to suffer or prove that we have earned what we ask for, or receive. We are all deserving, which I believe now more than ever.
There you have it in writing. I am an optimist, loud and proud. When things are good, I embrace it and know in my heart that there is more to come. The dips and bumps are not the baseline. If you want to focus on the negative, I will not join in. I am a creative problem solver and I know that there is always a way through, or over, or under, or around.

Happy Wishing!

For Me?!

I won my first blog award!
Okay, so it's from a friend of mine. Still. She is a part of my sweetie's large friend group that I have adopted. We didn't know each other very well, until recently. I've been getting to know her through blogging. First by reading hers, and then through the shared experience since starting mine. She is such a shining example of how to live your life fully. Like every space full, right into the corners, and then stretching, and overflowing. Thank you for inspiring me Rita. Now on to the obligatory questions, and then I will pass it on...

Q1. If you blog anonymously, are you happy doing this? If you aren't anonymous, do you wish you started out anonymously so that you could be anonymous now? I blog anonymously. Finding safety has been a big theme in my life recently. The fact that I've been healing from PTSD, caused mostly by sexual assaults in my teenage years, is not something I'm ready to talk about with every person in my real world. Yet.

Q2. Describe an incident that shows your inner stubborn side. Which one do I pick, really? No has been a word that I've been holding onto very tightly. (I'm learning to give way much more now though).

Q3. What do you really see when you look at yourself in the mirror? I usually think that I look like a boy. Sometimes, I laugh or play in the mirror and I can see the beauty that my sweetie sees.

Q4. What is your favorite summer cold drink?
A big glass of water. Not too cold.

Q5. When you take time for yourself, what do you do?
Read, draw, paint, blog, daydream.

Q6. Is there something you still want to accomplish in your life?

Q7. When you attended school, were you the class clown, the class overachiever, the shy person, or always ditching? All of the above. It depended on the class, and my level of stimulation or frustration.

Q8. If you close your eyes and want to visualize a very poignant moment in your life, what would you see? The first couple of days after the Breakdown. Being curled up on the floor in tears, not wanting to talk or eat. Because even in that lowest moment I felt such great relief. I knew then that I would finally be able to live my life to its fullest potential. No more half living.

Q9. Is it easy for you to share your true self in your blog, or are you more comfortable writing posts about other people or events? This is all me. Talking about my life and experiences out loud, so to speak, has helped me to understand myself better, and to become more comfortable in myself, and with expressing myself.

Q10. If you had the choice to sit down and read a book or talk on the phone, which would you do and why? If I've got me time, and I'm feeling social then I love to catch up with my people back east. Otherwise, I will curl up with a book and wander off.

Wow, those questions were quite soul baring!

As far as I can tell, I am to pass this award on to someone else. Well, if Rita thinks that I am strong and inspiring, then she would be completely blown away by Emily. She writes over at Broke Down Artist. Her life makes mine look like a cake walk. Challenged by severe chronic pain and a decision to give custody of her son to her ex-husband as a result, Emily stills keeps moving forward. She is a beautiful and honest writer, and an extremely talented artist. Her mixed media paintings are stunning. Emily has turned into a supportive new friend, thanks to our time spent journeying through #reverb10 together. Emily always maintains a positive tone, and reminds me that Life Is Good.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Six Word Saturday

Yummy day of socializing and possibility.

(I had meatballs in my soup!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thursday 13 - Scent-sitive

It's that time of week again. Thursday 13, and today it is actually on the 13th! I think that also means I've been on this train for two months now :) [I changed the design a little to celebrate. Who knows what I will get up to next month!]

Now, on to the task at hand. Y'all know that I'm super sensitive to a lot of foods, alcohol and scents. Well, my super sensitivity, and my super sniffer lead me to wonders too. Foods that I can't eat, I've come to realize, I can still really enjoy the aroma. I've been known to inhale the fragrance wafting from a plate or two when out with friends or family. The same goes for all the yummily fragrant things I used to drink.

So here is a list of thirteen fabulous scents I do enjoy. The idea was brought on by number 13, which led me down many memory paths.

Aromas I partake of through others:

1. Soft baked chocolate chip cookies

2. The chicken curry that my sweetie's dad made for his birthday this year - fragrant coconut, ginger, cinnamon... very satisfying.

3. Freshly roasted coffee

4. Many beverages of the fermented kind: sweet double-casked single malt scotch, vanilla-y cognac, Christmas morning Carolans, Sea Cider's Pommeau that smells like candy apples at the fair, wine - bright whites and deep reds. Thankfully, my sweetie has very good taste in his bevvys. It's funny - I think I actually wrote that on my wish list when looking for him. Appreciates good wine and scotch. Originally, it was so we could enjoy them together. I don't miss them anymore because I have the aroma. And that trip to Napa, was not just for him... such good wines means such good smells - blissed me out too believe it or not.

5. Cigars - something else I use to enjoy. Being allergic to smoke does this one in too. I caught a whiff of one yesterday, and it still mellowed me right out.

Aromas that come from things I do partake in:

6. Roast chicken - this one makes me drool, like Pavlov's dog. My nose knows when food is done cooking.

7. Breakfast foods - pancakes, baked french toast and bacon - the bacon would have to be the turkey bacon I found on our trip to Oregon that I didn't react to. Can we go back to Oregon now?

8. Earth after a rain, especially in the spring

9. The ocean

10. Campfires - almost as good is the smell on your clothes the next day... mmm...

11. Christmas trees, cedar, and the rosemary that grows like hedges along peoples lawns in California

12. My sweetie's skin - curled up falling asleep, first thing in the morning, freshly scrubbed after a shower - I will take it all

13. A freshly opened box of Crayola crayons - the smell reminds me of art and creativity and possibility laden new beginnings.

There you have it. You've just learned something new/interesting/quirky about me?

What is your favourite smell?

[I (heart) Hoops and Yoyo!] :)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wishcasting - Renew

Jamie Ridler at Wishcasting Wednesday asks: What do you wish to renew?

There are a lot of things I'm working on developing in my life right now. Except most of them were never really there to begin with. So today I am wishing to renew my physical strength and energy.

I have been in a sort of state of hibernation since the marathon at the end of July. It's been wonderful. Probably the most kindest and accepting I've been of my body, since... ? I'm ready to start being more active. Ease my way back into training. It will be more rewarding this time around, because it will be balanced with that acceptance and appreciation.

The part that requires wishing power is the energy. I'm like a well that has run dry. It replenishes just enough to draw from it again, which then leaves it barren once more. (It's interesting that I used to describe my emotional energy the same way). I want to be active, and not have to compensate with eight o'clock bed times, or a full day of rest. I want my energy to be renewing, to feed and nourish itself. I want my desert to grow a damn garden.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Creativity Check-In

Hi! What a wonderful day (1-11-11) it's been. So productive. Knocking things off the check list. The past few days I have been feeling pretty fabulous actually, now that I've got my energy back.

Yesterday, the mister and I picked up our fine point sharpies again for our weekly drawing exercise. Blind line drawings of giraffes. What fun!

Here's a fun photo I posted for MCP's Project 52. I love their themes, this week being song lyrics. Oh potted Christmas Tree, how much you grow and make me happy.


I've been working away at my January Art Trading Cards. The assembly and finishing touches on the front came together today. All they need now is the back attached. And then I will have to let them go - rather, give way to their flight to their new owners. :) I wish I could show you the pictures now. Except that would ruin the surprise.

How about some pictures of a doodling exercise I did today for my experimental art e-course. I cracked open my art journal for the first time in over a month, and I am so not afraid of it anymore.



I really got into this, and I'm very happy with how it turned out. How everything turned out today, actually. Oh! Did I mention that I now have a dedicated work space for my art? I've been moving everything on and off the breakfast nook table (frustrating) - and my desk desk in the office, which was meant for school work and computing has been getting none of that action. So voila, desk is now art table and all of my supplies can sit out and be free. Everything is always right at my fingertips. Happy sigh.

Happy creating to all of you. And remember to check out my 365 photo project here, and some creative challenges/giveaways here.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Alphabet Soup - G is for (pt.2)

G is for Giving Way, and Giveaways!

In part one of this two-part mega post, I mentioned giving way, referring to the space we allow people when making decisions. Room to breathe. So we don't accidently step on their oxygen and choke them, oops.

I realized today that there is another way we give way. Just as we give way to the choices others make, we give way to the choices that seem to be made for us. I don't think I believe in fate or destiny. I do, however, believe in things that fit us and that sometimes we are slower to see and realize them than we are to experience them, even as they're happening. By giving way to my artistic passion and creative ability my life is becoming simpler. Tasks that I would struggle with when I was forcing myself down paths that didn't quite fit right, have become easier. I whipped off a resume last night for a potential part time position in record time. No hair pulling, cussing, or name calling. I actually enjoyed writing the interests section, because I had them :)

It's kind of like Michaelangelo and the marble that became David.
"In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it."
Giving way, is an active process. It's more than just letting go, or letting things be, or appear. We need to be directly involved - listening, watching - allowing.

And here are two things you can be directly involved in :) Giveaways!

First, a photo challenge. Which I've decided to expand to be an art challenge. I am accepting photos or any art pieces that represent JOY! They can be emailed to me at I will post them up for your viewing, and voting. The winner will receive... drum roll... any one of my photos on Flickr.

Second, I signed on for a Pay it Forward program through Jodi at Living Life Photographically. The first three people who contact me and request to be involved, by comment or by email, will receive something hand made by me. All I ask is that you make something handmade for three people, and so on.

Alphabet Soup - G is for (pt.1)

G is for Going Away and Giving Way

The past two weeks have felt like two months. In a good way, of course :) Jammed packed and full of wonderful twists and turns. The last week of December we packed up and headed off, twice. Going away brings me much joy. It's the combination of adventure, plus change of pace and change of scenery. Simply being at the airport makes me giddy, and I frequent the country grocery markets here just so I have an excuse to wander the back roads.

As I've mentioned before, my recent travel has (so far) been limited to Canada and the US because of food allergies, and the inability to eat in restaurants. For me, this means a place with a kitchen, and access to decent groceries. I am always open to hearing feedback on how other people manage. My one piece of advice to you, is having your own kitchen gear. No matter where we go, we always have a large ziploc bag filled with safe mini-spices, mini dish soap and grape seed oil, hemp and chia seed, a couple of portions of buckwheat flakes for porridge and some coffee for my sweetie. It's always at the ready in our cupboard at home, just in case of spontaneous trippage.

If we're traveling by plane, I stash some staples in my suitcase, like rice cakes, cashew butter and pancake mix. For the plane rides, one night hotel trips, or long road trips, I usually load up a small travel cooler with a dinner, and snacks. (I've just nailed a muffin recipe which I will attach at the end :) Speaking of travel coolers, we're on the hunt for a classy looking one on wheels. Any leads?

Now, if it's a multi-night trip by car (truck), I also throw in our two kitchen bins from our camping equipment. One includes pots and pans, mixing bowls, dishes and cups. The other has cutlery, utensils, tin foil, parchment paper, ziploc bags, knives and cutting boards, measuring cups and spoons, dish cloths and towels. If you're staying in a place that is half stocked, like our first trip at the end of December, you can rest easy knowing you have everything else covered. If you're staying with a large group of people all sharing the same kitchen, like we did at New Year's, then you can create a lovely uncontaminated buffer around you with your safe wares. The added bonus of heading off to a destination within driving distance, and lacking border crossings, is that you can fill up your cooler and car with all of your familiar groceries and staples before you leave home. Otherwise, you kind of just have to wing it when you arrive.

Which doesn't seem to be an option in struggling countries like Cuba, where I'm told the freshest and most varied foods can only be found at the resorts, already cooked and in chafing dishes. Our friends are planning a trip there in February, and it's frustrating to be restricted this way. Yes, money's a factor, but ultimately I'm not going because of food. I tried to suggest other venues, Las Vegas, Arizona. Still hot enough to lay out by the pool, and with the added comfort of a Trader Joe's or Whole Foods around the corner? No, oh. I tried to convince my sweetie to stay. Wouldn't he just spend most of his time missing me, and not enjoying himself? You can do both... oh. He stopped bringing it up because my pouting face was reflexively triggered at any mention of it.

And then I gave way. I'm not a fan of the term - giving in, or letting go. Giving way feels more empowered. I wised up and realized that a week away for my sweetie would be so good for him. On a beach, with his friends. Especially if he wasn't worrying about me, and could eat and drink with careless abandon. I would have the apartment, and the bed, to myself for a week. And maybe, I can start saving up for a girls trip this spring, all my own. He and I will have our time at some gorgeous beach villa, with full kitchen, somewhere in our future. I'm sure of it.

This video is for him. Not generally my first choice of music. It's one of his faves though, and it seemed fitting.

Blueberry Muffins
*gluten free, dairy free, corn free, soy free, nut free

In a large bowl combine:

1/4 cup each rice, tapioca and buckwheat flour
1/2 cup of buckwheat flakes
3 tsp baking powder (allergy safe)
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp hemp seed

In a blender combine:

1 cup coarsely grated carrot
1 pear, peeled and coarsely grated
1 egg
2 tbsp grape seed oil
3 tbsp pure maple syrup

Puree, then pour into dry ingredients. Add 1/3 cup water to blender to loosen remaining ingredients and add to dry ingredients as well.

Stir to combine.
Add 1/2 cup frozen blueberries.
Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners.
Divide batter into the cups.

Bake for 30 min at 400 degrees F.

[ I just wrote this into my new Moleskine Recipe Journal that I got for Christmas! Yay, no more scraps of paper floating freely :) ]

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Six Word Saturday

Grabbed this before the hail started :)


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Thursday 13 - Paying it Forward

Today started off as a bit of a wash. I was woken around 4:30 this morning by a pretty nasty nightmare. I've been feeling a little run down this week already, so when I did go back to bed around 630 (which was just to wake the sweetness up) I ended up falling back asleep, and didn't get up again until 230 this afternoon. I missed a good chunk of the day. Sigh.

Thankfully, when I was conscious enough to check my email, I found a reminder from Jodi at Living Life Photographically about a pay it forward program I am now involved with. Then I remembered that I hadn't missed out on everything today, because today is Thursday 13. My newest fun blog activity. So I spent what was left of my afternoon resting, and digging up some interesting information for y'all.

13 ways to Pay it Forward

1. Creativity P.I.F - Jodi posted this and I am paying it forward here:
  • I promise to send something handmade to the first 3 people who leave a comment request here.
  • To be eligible, you must also post this in your blog, offering the same thing to 3 other people.
  • The rules are that it must be handmade by you and it must be sent to your 3 people *sometime* in 2011.
2. Love Bomb

Another lovely thing I found in my mailbox today was this week's Love Bomb.

Love Bomb is a project of
ItStartsWith.Us. Once a week we come together to drop hundreds of love bombs (in the form of blog comments) for those who need it most. Subscribe via email & join us in our missions. It only takes 5 minutes a week!

3. Heal with a Meal

Brooke, at Learning the Language of Brooke Farmer is the driving force behind a new and upcoming project called Heal with a Meal, in California, and hopefully much farther.
The premise of Heal With a Meal is that if we each took a few minutes once a month to purchase a meal for one homeless person, shake their hand and get to know them a little bit- as a person- then we could have a huge impact.

4. Narayanan Krishnan

This guy blows my mind. You can watch a video about him here.

5. Get inspired by "Pay It Forward" the Book, written by Catherine Ryan Hyde, and the Movie based on the book.
Since the book was released in January of 2000, a real-life social movement has emerged, not just in the U.S. but worldwide. What began as a work of fiction has already become much more.

6. Visit Catherine Ryan Hyde's foundation. You can apply for grants or invite them into school based projects and get free wrist bands and bumper stickers.
The Pay It Forward Foundation was established ... to educate and inspire students to realize that they can change the world, and provide them with opportunities to do so.

7. Share your Pay it Forward story, or read others
Pay It Forward Foundation board member Charley Johnson has introduced a new web site, a great location where anybody and everybody can submit their PAY IT FORWARD stories and also post comments, visit the website here.

8. Celebrate Pay it Forward Day. Their website claims it is only 111 days away :)

Thursday, April 28th, 2011.

9. Watch people in action on YouTube

10. Grab a Smile Card from - I read a lovely story of them in use here

11. Get a trackable card from Jenny Sims movement Quality of Life Foundation.
You can hear her in interview with KPCW here.

12. KPHO Arizona - CBS 5 News series "Pay It Forward". If you're in their neighbourhood, get involved. If not, see if your local station will do something similar.

Here’s how it works: Each week we give a viewer $500. That viewer has just 60 minutes to give the money away to someone who needs a little boost in life. So what's the hitch? You can't give it to a family member, and our cameras must be able to come along

13. Free Hugs - This is one of my all time fave videos. Enjoy!