I have been very busy in the studio. I work every single day even if I only have a short amount of time. My goal is to constantly improve, to make work that is meaningful and to stay true to the inspiration that I feel in my heart and my head. I have found that I am happiest and most content when I am doing what I love. I am a better mother, wife and friend when I give myself this time to express my creativity, it has become an integral part of who I am.
These are the latest pieces I’ve been working on.
As a reminder, my work can now be found at Art Resources Gallery in the IMS Design Center, Minneapolis.
“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As long as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.” –Anne Frank
I went for a little run in the Minnesota snow today and I remembered something. I remembered telling you that I would check back in with you in February to let you know how we are surviving the Minnesota winter so here I am.
We are definitely surviving. For the most part, it’s been fun. Don’t get me wrong, Minnesota winter is NO JOKE. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart. And by all accounts, it’s been a pretty mild one this year.
I’ll put it like this: winter started off super fun with the first snow and I believe it’s going to end fun with the first signs of spring but there were a couple of moments in between where it was… well… touch and go. There were 3 moments to be exact. I’ll give you the highlights.
- That First Time It Dropped Below Zero: I don’t know how many of you have experienced below zero weather but it’s brutal. It takes your breath away. It’s like a slap in the face. Seriously. When we first walked out into below zero weather, we were only going a few feet but it hit me like a ton of bricks. Even after we got inside, it took me like 30 minutes to recover from the stupor I was in. My husband Greg kept asking me if I was okay as if he were afraid I was gonna jump on the next plane to LA. Luckily, we’ve only had a few days where the temp has dropped so low so I think we’re gonna be okay.
- That Time My Car Slid Across 3 Traffic Lanes in the Snow: Okay here’s the thing, I probably should have asked someone how to drive in snow before I drove in snow. The snow was coming down so hard I could barely see the cars in front of me and everything was slippery. I was on my way to pick up the kids from school, Greg was out of town and sliding across the road threw me for a loop. It was at this moment that I decided I should call my neighbor and ask him how to drive in snow. Per his advice, I slowed down, left lots of space between me and the cars in front of me and I pumped the brakes when necessary. Now I’ve got it.
- That Time I Dropped My Daughter Off To School While She Sobbed Uncontrollably About How Heavy Her Backpack Was: The biggest thing about winter in Minnesota is the gear you need. There’s no easy way about it, you have to gear up before you head out. And for my little California kids, this has been an adjustment. They have to put on coats, gloves and hats while carrying their snow pants and snow boots in their backpack. If you throw some books and a lunchbox in there… we’re talking 20 pounds. So for a little girl who quite frequently wakes up late and on the wrong side of the bed, this can be overwhelming. That morning of crocodile tears taught me that she needs to wear her snow boots to school and buy a hot lunch. Again, live and learn.
All that being said, here’s the good news: we have added so many fun winter activities to our lives. We have been ice skating, snowmobiling, tubing, sledding and skiing. We have embraced the winter and in so doing, we have learned how to love it. And then there will always be those days where you just bundle up, make some hot chocolate and watch a movie, which is nice too.
As I was out in the cold weather this morning, I tried to connect with the beauty of it. As the quote above says, being out in nature is a lovely remedy for everything and I could feel my mood instantly lifting.
To sum it up, winter in the far north is not totally easy but there are ways to get your arms around it, roll with it and learn as you go.
And if all else fails, plan to spend your spring break in the Caribbean! Hey we’re not stupid!!!
“That’s f@#&ing amazing!”
Those are the words my husband said to me when I told him about an email I had received.
But I should back up and start this story from the beginning.
A new Minneapolis friend of mine (whom I had only met briefly) graciously went out of her way to invite me to a book launch party in November. I had no idea what the book was about but in the interest of getting out there and getting to know her better, I quickly accepted.
It turns out the book was “Infinite Purpose: Care Instructions For Your True Calling” by Liv Lane and Lori Portka. As the program started, I immediately felt that it was no accident I had been invited to this event. It seemed as though the message of the book was speaking directly to me.
I went home and dove into it head first. There’s so much to say about this book but in order to keep this post manageable, I will just speak from my own experience and say that it found me at the exact perfect moment.
At the end of last year, I started to feel ready to move forward with my career as an artist and a teacher. I felt a bit stuck though, being in a new city and not really knowing how to go about getting back to it.
There’s a point in the book where it encourages you to start sharing your truths and dreams. It says for you to imagine “every positive force in the universe coming together in harmony, in your honor, and in service to your mission.”
So I started voicing it a bit. And then I even posted about it on social media hoping that just saying the words would help get some momentum going.
And then I reached out to a few people to tell them I was ready to move forward with my art and to start teaching art journaling again.
And then it happened.
Literally within two days of each other I received two emails that were to propel me in the right direction. One email telling me that a Minneapolis gallery was interested in my work and another email offering me a place to teach.
Let me just say that I have always been a big believer in fate and I’ve always known that things happen for a reason but this just confirmed it in a monumental way.
So here I am to tell you that you can manifest what you want. It’s completely and totally within your grasp. Setting intentions, talking about them, keeping open to the signs and perhaps even getting this book.
Go out there and do it folks!
I started the year off with a renewed intention to work on my art every single day. Things have been in full swing and an exciting new opportunity has come my way which I will share as soon as I know more details. Until then, I wanted to post several new pieces at which I have been hard at work. Hope your new year is starting off with a bang as well!
Living in Minnesota has given me such a wonderful new appreciation for Mother Nature. When you’re a visual person and you are surrounded by ever-changing scenery, there is no shortage of inspiration. I wrote about summer’s illumination here and I documented the awakenings of Fall here.
Today I want to talk about Winter.
There is something silently magical about snow. It’s not like rain which hits you with a crash and a boom and makes its roaring presence known.
Snow comes down in a whisper and you awake to a world transformed. It’s a pristine blanket that wraps you in sparkly light and gives everything a fresh, flawless look.
This is the time of year that I, like most people, start to think about the year that has passed and start setting intentions for the one ahead. The snow outside has inspired me. Like a fresh page and a clean slate, I’m ready to venture forward.
A great way to set an intention for the new year is to pick a word that will be your touchstone. I do it every year and my word for 2016 is “Renew”. This past year has been a year of tremendous change and while it has all been positive, I have found myself a little out of sorts and not quite feeling balanced.
In 2016 I want to renew my commitment to myself, to my family, to my art and to my health. I’m excited for the next chapter.
What are your intentions for 2016? Do you have a word?
“Those paintings remind me of Mom.”
We were sitting in my living room and my brother was looking at three of my paintings that were hanging on the wall. It was so touching to hear him say that because in that very moment I had a huge epiphany.
“Yeah they do look like Mom.” I said. “I think I’m always painting Mom.”
Wow. I have never said those words before but they suddenly were the truest words I’ve ever spoken. I am always painting Mom.
People ask me all the time if my paintings are self-portraits or they ask me who the woman is in my paintings and I never have a good answer. No they are not meant to be self-portraits and I have no idea who she is. But I paint her over and over.
I’ve been thinking about my mother a lot lately. We lost our mother in 1999 to Alzheimer’s disease and she had been suffering with it for about 10 years. So in essence, I lost my Mom when I was 19.
If I’m being honest, I have to admit that I had a tricky relationship with her. She was older when she had me and also was a little old-fashioned so I always kinda wished I had a younger, hipper Mom. The Mom who goes shopping with you and gets manicures with you and chit-chats with your friends. But that’s not what I got.
So I was bratty and pulled away from her. I was a moody and sullen teenager and then suddenly she was sick. Maybe that’s the way all teenagers are but the part that is the most difficult for me in retrospect is that I never got to rectify that. I wanted to know her and love her and make it up to her but I couldn’t. She was no longer there. If any of you have experienced Alzheimer’s then you know what I’m talking about. That person is still there, but they are no longer THERE.
It’s only been recently that I’ve come to realize all of this. I have a giant Mom-sized hole in my heart. No one else can fill it. I guess that’s why I paint. I have so much to express and painting is the best way I know how. I wish I could talk to her. Tell her that I’m sorry I was such a crappy teenager who didn’t appreciate her. But I can’t, so I paint.
My mother was a beautiful, spiritual person. I’m told sometimes that I look like her and that makes me proud. I know I have her hands so when I look down right now and see my fingers typing on my laptop I am grateful for the woman that brought me into this world. The woman who sacrificed everything to raise her kids and love them without condition. She was funny and silly but my memories of her are fuzzy.
She’s in my heart. I know her spirit dwells within me. I hold tight to that. It’s all I have. And I will continue to feel the spectrum of feelings that come when I think of her. That’s how life goes. Sometimes painful but it’s those gritty parts that make up who we are.
This is a hard post for me to share but I’m realizing more and more that it is only through the sharing of our truth that we are truly able to connect as human beings. My paintings and my writings are my meager offerings to the universe. And as I write this, I realize that it is all part of my healing process. Approximately 26 years of healing and every day is one step forward.
Sometimes things happen in life and you wonder about the reasons. You look for the lesson.
It happens to everyone. Sometimes you are looking for change and sometimes change forces itself upon you and you hastily have to adjust.
I can’t help but think of change when I look out my window each day and see the green leaves turning into a coppery gold. I stand, coffee in hand and watch them flutter and dance as they drift to the ground. The beauty is astounding.
Sometimes it makes your heart leap and ache. A lump forms in your throat. You know change is the one constant that you can’t avoid.
It is inevitable. Just like the seasons. Every day I live surrounded by these beautiful trees that magically morph and change and I know in the deepest sense that I am exactly where I need to be. Magically morphing and changing myself. I know that change, while we sometimes fear it, is the loveliest and surest path to growth.
(I snapped these shots in my neighborhood this morning.)
This time, I’d like to tell you a little bit more about the workshop itself. Orly is a remarkable art journaling teacher whose workshops have a way of leading you on an introspective journey.
This workshop was no exception. The theme was “Standing In The Ruins: Arms Outstretched”. As inspiration for this theme, we spent our first full day in Mexico at the abandoned Hacienda Jaral de Berrio.
This hacienda which belonged to one of the biggest landowners in Mexico in colonial times, has been left in ruins for the last 80 years or so. I’m a little fuzzy on all the details of the hacienda and why it was left to ruins but that wasn’t the important part of the visit.
We were there to soak up its energy. To let the place inspire us. To feel the solitude, the despair, whatever feelings arose from being in a place so beautiful and yet so achingly desolate.
When we approached our journals, Orly led us to examine the ruins of our own life. By the end of the week, we could see the beauty in these ruins. The faded bits of life that weave the tapestry of who we are and what we’d like to express.
I snapped so many photos, really trying to capture the emotions we encountered in this grand space. Faded beauty, crumbled elegance, and yet, so very powerful in its tattered majesty. The experience will stay with me for a lifetime.
Words fail me.
I just spent a week at an art journaling retreat in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico which was led by the remarkable Orly Avineri and organized by the lovely Rebecca Brooks (part two will be about the workshop).
I’m not quite sure that words will adequately convey the journey I experienced. If I had to boil it down to one simple word that might help you understand it would be this: color.
The color of the light as it bounces off the sun-drenched buildings and stings your eyes.
The color of joy that can be witnessed in the whimsical street art.
The color of inspiration found in the people who roam its streets.
The color of love so evident in the traditions and spirit.
The color of the soul-stirring light I bring home with me in my heart.