Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Special Day

Whether a li'l bunny

Or a princess fairy

She will always be my angel.

Happy Birthday my little child.

Three years passes all too fast.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Dance & Enjoy The Sun

We visited the Indianapolis Zoo a couple of weekends ago.  It was a gorgeous day - ample opportunity for laughs and learning for the kids and the adults, and of course, for photos. 

Taking photos leads to opportunities to view moments in ways differently than I might otherwise view them.

This "little" fellow was amazing.  He was standing with his eyes closed, swaying side-to-side.  He was dancing to his own music and we were allowed the privelege of watching.

And what of this guy?  Do you think "yuck" as you see him (as my daughter proclaimed) or perhaps think of what he might be experiencing - a blissful moment feeling the warmth on his face?

Perhaps we are fortunate to be human because we can re-member the true nature, simplicity, and beauty of life.

Or perhaps we are unfortunate because we can (and all too often, do) forget. 

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Bit 'O Inspiration

Just a few things that have recently been brought to my attention...things that might benefit you as well.


First, for those of you not yet aware of Karen Maezen Miller, I cannot stress enough how important it could be for your life to check out all she has to share.  (Nope.  Not being overly dramatic.)

My words don't do it justice.  Check out her blog at: and this stunning video for her upcoming book, Hand Wash Cold.

PLEASE, if nothing else, take just a minute after you finish reading this to jaunt over to her site.  If you allow yourself just a few minutes to look around, I promise you'll find a seed (that if you allow it to grow) may just change your life.


Second, this workshop (Handmade Writer) was recently brought to my attention - and what perfect timing!  The workshop "is about exploring the world and looking for inspiration around you".  Honestly, we could ALL benefit from taking that beauty that is all around us, soaking it in, then using our own voice to share it back with the world.  (The course starts on April 12th and runs for 6 weeks)

Amy has a beautiful site at (and a blog at is worth checking out, along with the course!


Finally, I love those posts where I am just SO glad I happened to read it.  Kelli Russell Agodon at recently posted one of those.  She shared a YouTube video, The Fairy Scientist.  I could post it here, but I want you to visit her blog, too. :)

Check out the video and her post here.

So much more to share, but I don't want to over-inspire you. ;)


Friday, March 26, 2010

Evening Art

Created late last night:

Watercolors (background), stamps, markers....and a little bit of oil pastels around the edges. (Colored stamps achieved by using markers to color directly on stamp, then stamping image on paper.)

Late night, being surrounded by a plethora of materials, and simply moving lead to a deep insight: 

Creating stuff is fun.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Don't Be Afraid. Be Board.

I love books.  I adore them.  Always have.  New books, old books, used books, small books, big books. 

My heaven?  A bookstore.  That offers chai.  And comfy chairs.

So you can imagine my interest when I first discovered mixed media work where typed words crept around the edges of an altered book or scripted fonts in a foreign language whispered around soft, muted bits of worn paper in a collage.  This was quickly followed by a horror, though:

They PAINTED and GLUED in a BOOK?!  They TORE the pages of an OLD BOOK?  *Gasp*

However, my fascination kept growing with each work of art I discovered that incorporated actual books.  This past summer, at a Red Cross book fair, I came across several old books that were falling apart...and only $.50 each.  Fifty cents?  With a big, anxious sigh I purchased a large grouping and knew I was about to do something that I'd either love...or regret and cause me to go to therapy.

As I prepare to unleash the big project at which I keep hinting, I thought I'd revisit some of the journeys and projects that got me to this place.  This particular sucker was a doozie.  I started and completed it back in January.

WARNING: This is a tad long & photo-laden.  I decided to share most of my steps for a few reasons:
  • I know we all start somewhere...and keep starting, and starting, and starting.  I'm trying to share my "oops-es" and foibles to encourage every single reader to be honest with your work...and most importantly, to enjoy the process and not fret over the final outcome

  • I have learned a great deal from other kind souls who have posted their processes on their blogs & websites.  I want to continue to pay forward the kindness...hopefully at least one reader will find at least one helpful tip in here.

  • It's a nifty way for me to document my own process.  (admittedly selfish!)


I had a great amount of distress ripping that first page out of that first old book. Seriously. There should be a psychology group for artists. But I remembering reading somewhere (see how valuable reading is?!) about the lack of good an item does just sitting on a dusty old shelf. The value comes in how it is loved and shared. How better to honor this lovely book and preserve the work of its author than to breathe new life into it through infusing it into more art? (At least that's how I've come to terms with it.)


I had collected a variety of scrapbooking papers in the colors to both complement and enhance the beauty of the old pages. I played around with the layout (knowing I wanted to keep a few of those lovely French words visible) and just snipped away.

One tip?  I'd let the paper hang over the board (just a rectangular scrap of plywood) knowing I'd cut it after.  Silly me, I tried to use my craft knife and cut with the board facing up...ever so delicately trying to follow the unseen side of the board.  (You can see I made a slight error up there.)  I figured out about halfway through to turn the board over and cut the paper from the back.  The craft knife can just trace along the side of the board, leaving a nice, clean cut paper edge.  Just call me Mrs. Obvious.


The final board, covered with the papers and the beloved bok pages.  I believe I had inked the sides of the pages (take a distressing ink pad, such as the Ranger ones, or a matching ink color, and press the ink pad along the edges of the paper) before adhering.

I used good old Mod Podge and a foam brush to adhere each of these.


Speaking of Tim Holtz / Ranger inks...I used this ink pad to randomly stamp the top and edges of the board.  I literally just pushed it down on the top...I wanted a very worn look.


Heh heh heh...

Ok, I want to quickly explain.  As with my longing / fear dynamic with ripping old books, so too do I have a longing / fear of drawing faces / human figures.  I knew I wanted to incorporate one here.  I sketched her on a regular piece of copy paper and decided to use chalk pastels to color her in.

First, I'm not happy with the face.  She looks too out of proportion, too cartoony...but she is the work I had drawn and I knew I just had to keep going.

When I pulled out the pastels, I simply could not get the skin tone right.  (I've since learned that if you are going for Caucasion, pink seems to be the color with which to start)  Seriously, she looks totally jaundiced here.  I kinda freaked out when I saw this color.

But, I knew that once I started to let JUDGEMENT speak up, my art was done for.  So I kept playing, kept moving.


I finger-tore the drawing from the copy paper, Mod-Podged her to the board (no turning back now!), and started inking the heck out of her using my finger....hoping that with enough distressing she might look "normal"...or at least blend in enough to not look too out of place. 

Fingers are funny tools...sometimes they can just be too big and squishy to work.  In this case, I think I was trying to provide shading for the side of her neck and ended up giving her a 5-o'clock shadow.  S/He eventually glared at me that enough was I moved on.


I found this stamp awhile ago and couldn't get the quote out of my head.  "The artist's duty is keeping awake the sense of wonder in the world." - GK Chesterton. 

Here, I stamped the stamp in clear ink, stamped the board, poured gold embossing powder over it, lightly tapped off the excess, and used the heat gun to heat emboss the remaining powder on the phrase.  (In case you haven't done this or can't tell, the embossing leaves a gorgeous raised image.)


I repeated the embossing with letter stamps (to spell out "I am") and stamped a few more images (a bird in gold, the white "adore" and red flower you see here).  I decided the letters didn't stick out enough so I took a black brush marker (I think I found these in the kid's section of Hobby Lobby) and provided shadowing/outlining for the letters. (fairly easy since the embossing raises the can just trace along the side)


My poor little girl (whose 5 o'clock shadow I had worked into more of a scruffy "I've just been playing in the dirt" type look by rubbing with my fingers) was still looking a bit lost. (I had used some markers to outline her shirt and add some lowlights to her hair...ah, if only beauty were so easy.)

Since I had the black brush pen in my hand, I decided to try and enhance her eyes at the least.  Unfortunately, this pen/marker was a bit thick...she ended up looking like she was trying a bit too hard.  I've apologized but she's still a bit I've agreed to be a good friend and totally over-do my makeup if we ever go out.  80's night anyone?!?!

Never one to turn away from bling, I decided to add a small jewel to the center of the red flower I'd stamped.  (It helped divert a bit of attention from the mascara, too.)

I used my fun CropADile Big Bite (with which I have a love-hate relationship...) to chomp a hole.  (This tool pops 1/8 and 3/16 inch holes through massively thick materials and sets eyelets and grommets with a simple push of the handle.  I love it when it works...but have had numerous occasions of ruined eyelets.  We're still learning how to get together.)

I then added a crystal brad through the hole.  (Hey!  With a 5 o'clock shadow and oodles of mascara, that could be my girl's name...Crystal Brad!  Wow.  *groan*  And yet, I'm not hitting backspace to delete that.)


Once I was at a comfortable stopping point, I figured it might be a good idea to have a way to hang this little piece of art.  Again using the big bite, I put eyelets at the top corners of the board.  (This is the back side of the eyelet that gets flower petals secure it to the board.) 

I used a piece of twine through the eyelet holes for a method to hang it (if I ever choose to).

(Prior to doing this, I gesso-ed the back of the board, drew a few flowers back there just because, and put a coat of Mod Podge over both the front and back to protect it.)


In case you are interested, here are all of the materials I used to create this.  (There's a better picture of the finished board further down in this post.)  If you have any questions about the materials, I'd be happy to answer.  For those new to art-ing, please know that even this small pile of stuff was collected over several months...much of it using coupons and found on sale.  I love having a wide variety of materials and tools with which to play, but also don't have oodles of money to spend!

See the book in the corner?  It is missing a page.  It sacrificed it for the greater good of ART.  *sigh*  May we please take a moment of silence....


Speaking of that lovely book, I had to use every single bit of the page I tore from it.  (Kinda like certain cultures respect a killed animal by using every bit of it for food or shelter or clothing or the like?)  I had a remaining scrap, so I Mod Podged it to the back and reminded myself that I created it (and when).


The final piece of art.  (You can click on it to see it larger if so desired.)

I was so happy that I literally carried it around with me - I even put it on my nightstand that night.  While the girl on the side still taunted me (I'm not done!  I've too much around my eyes!  Shave my chin!), this whole thing represented a huge leap over a few giant fears.  It was part of the beginning of this wonderous journey I am on ...

Might you leap over a few of your fears and join me?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Back On Track

I found my way back on the train!!  Thanks for the helping hands lovely visitors!  I can still see Mr. Sick sitting a few cars back, but we've come to terms.  And...WHEW.  My energy is off the chart.

Because of this newfound energy, many projects I've had in the works are actually now getting worked on. (Go figure.)  And because of THAT, I don't have a lot of time to write about them.  HOWEVER, I wouldn't leave you hanging.  Never!

As a heads up, you may notice a few odd things over the next few days while visiting this blog.  If things look a little different, don't fret.  You are in the right place.

You are always in the right place.

I'm finally getting around to implementing this big project I've been discussing (i'm such a Tease...tee hee) and it may cause things to look a bit abnormal on this site.  Ah, but the final results will be worth it.

While I work on that, here are some photos of what's been keeping me busy over the past few weeks in between coughs:

Amidst working through Shona's book & among the many others I still have scattered around...I made my way through this one.  I LOVE IT.  I cannot speak highly enough.  I'll probably revisit it during a later post.

I've pulled out my yoga mat a few times over the past few weeks.  Dilana is always right there beside me - literally.  She has her own mat, but prefers to use mine...particularly if I'm on it.

This is usually what Savasana (the peace at the end of practice) usually looks like.  Hey, this is what yoga is all about.

Aw, look at that sad face.  I decided it was finally time to get that hair cut.  Too many times of tangles, too much trouble every morning.  And just Blah.  It is spring - time for change.

Ahhh! Much better.  (Yea Indiana University!!)

Artistic photo of my Artistic Journal and Artistic soul.

My new discovery! 
(Paint pen.  Ok, not that exciting, but doesn't the photo make it look like it?! 
Admit it.  You're excited.)

The art journal page on which I used that snazzy paint pen.

This reads "Enlightenment for the wave happens when it realizes it is the water", and was taken from a sign outside a Unitarian church here in town.

The background is a random mixing and play of acrylic paints, watercolors, & oil pastels.

The pocket is ....get ready for it....Wax paper!  I just crinkled it up and colored it with oil pastels (on the backside so I wouldn't get it all over myself every time I opened the page).  The pocket is adhered on the sides & bottom with double-sided tape.

The words are written with that lovely new paint pen and outlined with some other nifty glittery paint pens I had lying around.

Inside the pocket are little cards detailing who I know I am...once I allow myself to realize it.

And these babies?  Carried me NINE POINT THREE MILES yesterday.  I ended up having to walk muscles still aren't up to par after being booted around by Mr. Sick.  I'm cool with it.

What I'm kinda bummed about?  My path leads me to a halfway point at a local Starbucks.  (Yeah, I torture myself.)  I learned after my run that it was FREE pastry day at Starbucks!! 

You better believe I would have stopped to take advantage of that goodness had I known.

Silly faces for the sake of being silly.

I've been taking some photos of the kids partly under the guise for the Artistic Mother's Group projects but honestly...I take oodles of photos of the kids anyway.  I hardly ever pose them - I like to remember times like this because this is who they truly are.  *sigh*

We've also visited parks, the zoo, cooked (ok, my husband cooked), rearranged the house, get the idea.  Life stuff.

I'm fumbling for words now which means it is time to get busy moving

A little humorous think-able for our parting:

I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.” -Robert McCloskey

(Try throwing that one into your next disagreement with someone.)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Temporarily Off Track

Please forgive my absence.

As most of you know, I've been doing rather well at training (my body, my mind, and my creative self). I've been quite enjoying my ride!

Well, at the beginning of the week, as I was watching the beautiful scenery during my ride on that Training Train, that mean old time robber, Mr. Sick (Boo, Hiss!), pulled me out of my seat, dragged me towards the open door, and kicked me in the tooshy...sending me flying. I landed face first in a pile of dusty laundry and prickly whines from those still needing me while tumbleweeds of projects I've been meaning to tackle bounced silently on by.

My friends, if I've learned anything over the past several months, it is that it is the gettin' up and doin' that makes the difference.

So in my perceived absence (from blogging and most certainly from training), I've been running alongside the train...grabbing on again and again to those friendly hands that keep trying to pull me up (oh, you lovely commenters, you!) and smiling right back at friends and family who know I'll jump back on any minute.

I'm using the well-deserved rest that Mr. Sick inadvertently allowed me to re-discover a stronger me than the one that was booted off of the train. I simply keep my eyes on the train as I chug right along side it, slowing when I need to in order to let my health catch up, but never letting the caboose pass me up.

It's funny...while I've been trying to catch back up and find a way to jump on, I've noticed several little goodies alongside the tracks.

I've picked up some fun techniques that I'll be sharing with you through art journal pages, some delicious ingredients for that project I keep promising to share with you, oodles of inspiration from blogs I've still been able to catch, and even a few books blowing along in the wind that I can't wait to recommend. That is, once I catch my breath.

I see an open door coming up behind me and can feel the strength coursing up through my legs as I prepare for the jump. I'm tucking those last few tissues in my pocket (...I'm not going to litter for heavens sake!) and taking a last few scans to make sure Mr. Sick isn't hanging out ready to push me right back off.

And baby, I'm jumpin' back on with an energy the likes of which the passengers on this train have never seen.

Chugga chugga CHOO Ch.....Ah CHOO! Pardon me.

Ok, I'll be back soon.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Mindless Strength

Over at WishStudio, Darlene Kreutzer wrote a recent post about the unity of the mundane and the "other" (spiritual, mystical, glittery world that is all we perceive not to be mundane). She is offering a give-away of these adorable garden books...hurry over to her post to enter.

Part of what she asked us to comment on was "how do we find beauty in the seemingly mundane?". My answer seemed to just discover itself, "Through Mindless Strength".

Though notably ironic, I have been thinking a lot recently about not thinking.

(You may have noticed that trend in recent posts.)

I was brought up to think. I was taught logic, that everything had a "right" answer that could eventually be discovered...and that success came through finding it. Much to my mother's dismay, my dad and I used to debate for hours...just because we could. Much to my husband's dismay, I can now logically debate almost any argument -- playing the devil's advocate for either side of the story.

This has provided me with some strengths I'm glad, at least for right now, have not weakened. I enjoy being able to see all sides of a story, to understand where anyone is coming from even if I don't agree. I thrive on being able to think through a problem. Yet, some of these very strengths have been my worst weaknesses.

Put simply,

I think too much.

(Background Image courtesy of The Graphics Fairy, Image copyright LWilson)

Only the past few weeks have brought a fervent effort to change this, but every day before that occurred like this:

I wanted to workout. I would think about getting out of bed to start my workout, then think about the actual process, then think about the other things I could do and how good it would feel to do them, then think that working out could wait a day...and I would never workout.

I wanted to create
. I would think about all of the things I could buy, I would think about the websites I was visiting and the books I was reading, I would think about what colors might go together, I would think about how I could cut a particular shape out of a photo and after all of this thinking I'd either run out of time and I needed to start dinner or I was simply too tired. I'd never create.

I wanted to organize the house. I would sit in a room for hours and think about how it could be arranged, I would think about the lists I had in front of me of the steps I could take to categorize the items, I would think about the HGTV shows and the advice they offered, and I would organize all of my thoughts. But I never organized the house.

I could go on. But honestly, I'm tired of thinking about it.

The process of running, art journaling, yoga, creating, and of taking one small step with my right foot without thinking where the left foot might land has freed some part of me that was bound by link after link of mental chain.

  • I realize that if I simply move my legs in a running motion and stop thinking about why, I run.

  • I realize that if I don't make a list about organizing the house and instead spend that time organizing the house, I will have at least a partially organized home.

  • I realize that if I just create instead of worrying about how or why or for whom I'm creating, I will have created art.

And then I forget.

Such is the process.

There are little reminders that I think my soul built in to trip up my mind if it ever starts to completely take control again. For example, there is a quote, "Sometimes it's better to be kind than to be right" that chimes up quite frequently. There are the countless words I've read in delicious books that run through my head like those by Karen Maezen Miller - simple words that blanket a thick wisdom. There are hidden traps everywhere to nip at my mind's nimble feet, secret weapons I keep to allow my spirit the chance to survive.

There are the external reminders that I think the ever-present energy, in her infinite wisdom, keeps serving to me, like a flick in the head. A perfect example?

The other day I was angrily cleaning off a stained white towel - the kind we use for fluffy bath towels that I adore just being plain white like the new fallen snow - the kids had used to wipe up paint. (Not one of my prouder moments). My almost 3-year old daughter sauntered up, leaned down to me, and said, "Mommy, I'm going to give you a smile." And she did. A big one. My heart and my lips couldn't help but smile back.

I have the Strength within me to be kind, to be joyful, to not be snippy, and to take that next running step when my legs feel like jello. I train with my mind to find that strength. It is an invaluable tool, one that I am terrified of ever losing.

Yet it is only when I release the incessant grip of that mind - when I find my Mindless Strength - that I am truly strong.

Think about it.

Or don't.

My First Guest Post!!


The lovely KATHY at EVERYDAY BLISS (Doesn't even saying that make you smile??) asked me to be a guest on her insightful blog...and my post is up TODAY! I got to write about "Surprise"...seriously, how fun is that?!

Kathy is a fellow mommy who "ponders cosmic questions" and "generally fumbles around in her pursuit for fun, fulfillment and everyday bliss". Kindred soul indeed!

Her blog is her year-long pursuit of 13 Bliss Virtues (YUM, eh?!), modeling efforts made by good ole' Ben Franklin (whose name also keeps popping up in my research and reading...hmmm). Learn more about the background of her path here.

I have had great fun ever since I discovered her blog following her admirable and human attempts to fully live these beautiful virtures. I've tried the wonderful suggestions she offered and learned about myself in the process!

I'll keep this post short so you have plenty of time to visit Everday Bliss and discover the virtues yourself! (Oh, and of course, my guest post. :) Ok, so humility is one of those I apparently need to work on.)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Go Here Tomorrow

I can't say much more just yet,
but I encourage you to visit the lovely Kathy's blog, Everyday Bliss, tomorrow (Tuesday) at .

Surprises await!

Oooh, don't you just love it??!!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sneaking Up On Myself

I had no intentions of following through.

I convinced myself that breaking my plans wasn't the end of the world.

I slogged through the have-to's, grudgingly doing only the things that would create more hassle for me if they weren't done.

I kept breathing, although shallow, kept debating with myself about what I should be doing.

I can be quite nasty with myself, so to quiet the bickering I did one teensy eensy little thing that required almost no effort but that didn't have to be done.

Surprisingly, I felt a bit better.

So I did one more ever-so-slight tweak of my plans, took one deep breath amidst the shallow ones.

Each time, I snuck up on myself.

My spirit kept giggling like a child anxiously awaiting to be found in a game of hide-and-seek.

And when the game was done, I discovered I had won.

Amidst all of the complaining and over-thinking and fatigue and groaning....

I found the strength to just move.


What will you find the strength to do today??

(I hope that amidst your journeys you take a moment to visit my sister's new blog, "Kaizen"! She's a lovely mommy starting to sing with her own beautiful voice ... I know if she finds half the love I have through blogging her voice will only get stronger.)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Artistic Mother: Week 1

What an interesting start!

For those not familiar with this, I will be posting weekly updates as part of the Artistic Mother's Group (see the link on my sidebar) which is hosted by Trudy Callan and following Shona Cole's book, The Artistic Mother.

As part of copyright laws (Eww. Laws.), I have to limit the details I share as far as the steps go. (Honestly, I really want you to by Shona's I wouldn't share it even if I was allowed. If you need encouragement, think about this: I RARELY pay full price for a book. Half Price Books is my favorite store. I use Borders' store coupons whenever I possibly can. I am an open cheapskate. For her book - I paid full price. I would have even paid more had I known all that I'd get out of it.)

I have a deliciously fun group of background papers that I'm pretty sure are going to get torn up over the next few weeks (part of the process in the book...not because of my own frustrations).

However, I'm still working with my fears of messing with any of my original materials (old books, rub-on transfers that can't be re-used, etc!) that is going to be a BIG step.

The backgrounds - without finished edges:

(These are using only the limited acrylic colors I had on hand and the blends I could make with those. I'm anxious to purchase some more paints but wanted to see what I could do with these before I went crazy at the store! As mentioned, these are also without the oil-pastel finished edges, which I have since completed.)

For now, I've scanned the backgrounds I've created so I'll at least have a digital copy. (Yeah. I know it's some deep issue I have to deal with. One thing at a time.)

And I'm still quite (ok, somewhat) happy working on the dining room floor. It keeps the materials where I will be reminded to use them and allows me a huge amount of room to spread out. (And the basement has a very light colored carpet....that strikes fear in my heart even thinking about painting around that.)

I'll admit to leaving materials out but I have a very loving and understanding family. The only part I don't look forward to is picking them back up when the mess gets too great for me to even find things! Creative space is a whole other post....

Finding time hasn't been that difficult BUT my hubby has been on vacation this week....and the house is TRULY a mess. (And I'm behind on reading my poetry, but I don't feel so bad about that. I know I'll read oodles of them once I sit down to do so.) We'll see how things progress from here!

AND -- my endeavors inspired our kiddos too, which is one of the greatest benefits of this whole thing.

In keeping with the spirit of the Artistic (+) Mother, I created a sheet for my son. (Ironically, he saw the background sheets I'd painted lying on the floor this evening and asked if he could hang one up in his room. Everyone together now: "AWWWW!" I'm still melting.)

If you've been reading the blog you know we've been having some troubles with his behavior. He's only in Kindergarten, but it has been enough to warrant concern. In the past month or so, he's been drastically improving...but little reminders can't hurt! (And I don't think you can ever tell or show your child enough that you love her/him.)

(This is a scan of the painted/stamped background, then text added in Photoshop CS2. I have since printed this out and used decorative scissors to trim the edges, and have plans to further color/embellish it.)

I am so happy I joined this group because it, along with Connie's workshop, is keeping me accountable to my creative work. And that work is keeping me tied to that bigger project which is getting ready to boil over...gotta figure out how I'm going to serve it, and SOON!
For now, I need to quiet my thoughts if I have any hope of falling asleep tonight. Aren't these lovely, quiet evening hours just delicious?!

Movin' Right Along

(Training Update)

As a reminder, I post these for anyone who is "training" or might even consider taking one step on the road to a healthier self....physically and/or otherwise. Keeping that in mind, know that the details I provide are to encourage us to remember the trials - and therefore, accomplishments - that come along with this journey. They are not to discourage anyone from trying to start...or continue.


I ran SEVEN miles last Sunday. Seven. Honestly. And my sister, my lovely, lovely sister, ran the whole thing with me. We went at a slower pace (as she had only run a max of 4 miles before and I was kind of concerned about her pushing it), but both finished with ample energy. My hubby joined us at four miles - I'm so proud of them both.

For anyone who thinks this is impossible, allow me to remind you where we started by referencing this post back in Oct 2009. For those who don't want to visit the link, I was absolutely thrilled to have run (jogged) for 25 minutes. (Which I STILL think is an accomplishment!) The seven miles? We ran for 1 hour and 20 minutes.

I started off as a of those who would joke about other runners. And yet, here I am.

What I've Done:

*Ok, I've neglected to keep track. I admit it. Here's what I remember:

*Tuesday: Dropped my son off at school, left my car there, and ran home. 2.7 miles with some WICKED hills. (Seriously, one is an incline for 7/10ths of a mile.)

*Wednesday: Weight training. Biking (indoors) for 15 minutes.

*Thursday: Ran 3 miles ...outside. In the rain. tee hee.

What I Learned:

*There is simply too much to keep incorporating in these "What I've Learned" sections. Every step is another lesson. All I can recommend is to take that first step...and find out for yourself.

*One thing I will add: Humor is INVALUABLE.

It wasn't raining today when I started running. At around a mile, the rain came in...and the wind was FIERCE. I rounded one corner of the track where the wind was constantly stronger and was PELTED by rain.

I just cried out and then laughed - out loud - for as many breaths as I could. All I could think was,

"I'm doing this! My god I'm CRAZY but I'm DOING THIS!"

How can you not laugh at that?!

Lighten up. Take a step whether its into the sunshine or the rain. Keep your face up and smile.

Be strong and joyful and mindful with every moment....

Monday, March 8, 2010

Opportunities Abound...

As spring shows its lovely wings here in Indiana, I find myself hoarding the strength and grounding that winter brought. It is so easy to get carried away on days like this - sunshine-y, warm, full of energy.

I thank those who have provided (and continue to provide) me with those ties to myself, my soul, so that my spirit doesn't get to flitty.

I recently purchased an AMAZING piece of art from Rachel Awes at I (and others) have long admired her work online...luckily, she just opened her Esty shop! lucky am I to have this inspiration facing me every day:

I'd go visit her Etsy shop're bound to find one that calls to you.

And WOW - want to know about hidden gems? I've followed Sara Ortiz at her blog ( for a bit. She recently offered a FREE (yup, free) 30 minute "Idea Jam Session" to the first 20 people who replied. I jumped on it because, well, who doesn't need a good jam session?? (That, and her idea of being a Renaissance Soul really called to me!)

We had our session this morning and I left feeling SO energized. I filled out a questionnaire for her before the call and she just zeroed right in on some ideas that could get me more centered, productive, and moving forward from this point. (Displaying my completed research & art for tangible motivation and reminders that I'm progressing? Love it!! I don't want to give away all the ideas, but she has so many more...) I've already picked up a book from the library that she recommended, "The Renaissance Soul: Life Design for People with Too Many Passions to Pick Just One". Hah - I bet that ressonated with some of my readers!

There is absolutely NO reason not to jump over there right now and email her for a session. You have NOTHING to lose and SO much to gain! (Really. Ok, read the rest of my post and then go. The link is right HERE.)

AND - Trudy Callan is hosting the Artistic Mothers Group, based off of Shona Cole's amazing book, "The Artistic Mother" starts today! Check out the link at the top of my sidebar! This promises to be an AMAZING journey.

(I ADORE the advice in Shona's book, which I've already been through...and am excited to have some accountability to get some of the projects done! Really, I can't imagine that I will really be holding some of my own creations in my hands soon.

This, on top of the deep messages, fascinating techniques, and stunning insights I keep getting from Connie's Art Journal Love Letters workshop...WHOA.

Given all of the above, I'm trying to come up with a different term for what I "do" than "stay-at-home mom" 'cause, oh my, that just doesn't do it justice. Ah, my friends, but that is another post.

(Ok, now scroll back up and visit those links. You'll be happy you did.)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Journaling Into My Past

I have (yet another) new passion.

Last weekend we stayed at my mother's house and ended up pulling out a huge box of documents and old family photos. Holding those frail photos in my hands and reading profound thoughts that my ancestors shared rekindled an interest in researching my family history.

When I get into something, I REALLY get into it. Last night, I was up until 1 a.m. following one lead after another, trying one more search term in Google. This is an addictive treasure hunt.

In hopes that I don't get too caught up in this, I'm trying to integrate this fascination with my ongoing life.

For example, I shared the art journal page with the grid that I originally intended to house photos of the different aspects of me (mother, wife, yogini, etc.). That grid is now going to combine some of the magnificent photos we uncovered of those who created and remain in my soul.

I'm still working on it, but here's a more updated version (I added chalk and oil pastels and did some outlining with charcoal pencil):

I have yet to decide which photos will be included, but am so excited to share just a few:

This is my great-great grandmother on my father's side, Carrie Deffaulx. (We believe her name might have been "Marna", but we're not sure if that is a first or middle name.)

Isn't she just lovely? Those eyes are captivating.

This is her husband, (my great-great grandfather), Louis Deffaulx.

I LOVE the moustache and hat. We have record that he was born in France and became an American citizen sometime during his life. Apparently, his parents owned a vineyard...ooooh, how I would love to learn more about that!!

One more photo to share that really speaks to me. This is Carrie's daughter, May, who would be my great-great that right? (May's sister is my great-grandmother.) (I never met May.)

This photo draws my heartstrings together. She is me, and I am her.

I'm just giddy about all of this but am really trying to maintain balance....thus, I'm off to play with my daughter and her legos. :)

Do you have any tips for researching family history (for free?!)? I'd love to know them!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Finding My P(L)ACE

I am ever so slowly refinding my energy for training.

This post was a lot longer originally, but I realized I should just get to the point.

I am fortunate that my body is in shape to do all of this. I am blessed to have the time and resources available to run, strength train, swim, and bike, and to have the support from friends and family to make the most of those resources.

For anyone who is on a training path and looking for specifics:

*I ran 6.5 miles on Monday (walked for a total of 2 1/2 minutes during that - not totally pleased that I couldn't run the whole thing or do 7 total - but am reflecting on the afore-mentioned blessings)

*I strength-trained on Tuesday (and felt yummy afterwards - nothing like a little muscle action to make you feel strong!)

*I did intervals on the treadmill this morning for 27 minutes total, following a program mentioned in Runners World (and was pleasantly surprised that I didn't fall off of it! Seriously - had nightmares last night about running too fast and flying off backwards as the treadmill kept right on going)

I am learning so much from this process that I'm having trouble finding the words anymore.

Take a minute and admire your blessings, your strength. Drink it in. It is an amazing feeling to feel the strength that is inherent in your soul, and even more so to radiate that throughout your body.

Whether you run a marathon, walk a path in the park, or find yourself sitting on the front step of your home silent amidst the world around you, breathe in that miraculous beauty that is around you, on your skin, inside your cells, and vibrating in your spirit. "Live Strong"

Inhale Peace and Joy. Exhale your doubts.

Find your own pace.

Be strong with me.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Artistic Mother!

I'm so excited - I finally got a copy of Shona Cole's new book, "The Artistic Mother"!

I picked it up this afternoon, came straight home and dove right in. Funny enough, her writing did its job: I was so inspired after chapter one that I put the book down and started making a card! I'm anxious to read more tonight.

Butterfly bookmark courtesy of my daughter who kept flitting around as I was reading on the couch.

Shona mentions in the first chapter to imagine we (she and the reader) are having a conversation while all of our kids are playing. I truly appreciated this...I felt ok from pardoning myself from the book to dance around with my daughter! Bizzare, I know...but mothers - you understand.

For those who haven't picked it up, I would highly recommend it. Check out the reviews on Amazon if you don't believe me. Though I'm obviously still at the beginning, I would guess this book would apply to anyone with a hectic schedule - not just mothers. (Hectic schedule - geez, who doesn't that apply to??)

I'd also recommend you check out Shona's blog, An Artful Life, at: She is an amazing woman - one who inspires me to keep creating - a meal, a craft, a moment - even when the kiddos are at their whiniest.

Artistic Mothers Group

If you do have the book (or are interested in getting it), Trudy Callan at Artistic Creations With Trudy is putting together an Artistic Mothers' group (starting on Saturday, March 6th)! I am so excited to be a part of this community, following the techniques in Shona's book, and finding like-minded souls and support along the way. This is exactly the kind of discipline I need. :)

It would be a thrill to have you there with us! Just visit her blog and join in....

Speaking of discipline, I need to get back to my quickly-being-neglected Art Journal!

Wherever your day or evening takes you from here, Enjoy!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Art Journaling In Progress

Please excuse our mess.

We are currently updating our Art Department to give you the best possible experience when visiting LifeUnity!

For you, our special guest, please let us share with you a sneak peak into what we've been doing:

(That all sounds way fancier than, "This is what has been keeping me from sleeping, neglecting my husband and kids, ignoring the housework, and otherwise leaving me in a state of constant excitement and wonder." Take it whichever way you'd like.)

These two pages are foundational works - playing with color, texture, stamps, and oh-so-wonderful gel medium. Acrylic paints, secret tools for texture (didn't I tell you that you should sign up for Connie's workshop??), stamps, glitter stuff. They will serve as a base for something more....

(That's just glare on the right side page...)

The following two pages are using printed photos. The color was removed from the photos before printing (except for the skin tone...I haven't yet figured out how to add that back in with the colors I have), then added back in with oil and chalk pastels. As before, there will probably be more added to these pages.

I took these photos during an amazing visit to the Indianapolis Butterfly Gardens. I had been walking past these plants when suddenly the wind picked up. I felt as if my entire body were in flow with the wave of the arm just became an extension reaching into the vastness. I love looking at these as I am transported back to that feeling of flow....

I added some bling back into my bracelet with some red glitter.

The following is work with a grid...I just haven't gotten around to completing it. Thus far, it's just a pencil drawing (I used a grid from one of my children's card games to create the drawing on the left).

The idea was spawned from another of Connie's assignments - using a grid. The premise is that the divided areas of my life (I'll add photos into the grid sections) are melting into a pool...becoming unified. That wonderful unity is evaporating (becoming one with the spirit) into a free, wild, "Mist"-ical being.

This is related to Connie's foundation of doodling...taken to an extreme I didn't even expect. I printed the picture in the middle (that wonderful image was done by a woman I believe is named Charolette - it is of the Temperance Tarot Card. It was the result of a Google search, and the image can be found here: ). The original image is black and white - I used pastels to color it after adhering it to the page. The lines around were drawn free hand with a black photo marker.

The picture has a huge deal of significance - enough to warrant another post. The doodling around it is meant to be representative of stained glass...and will look much more like it once I get around to coloring them all in!

(Li'l bit of Art Journal Lovin', amidst oh-so-many other projects!!)