Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wishcasting: To Read!

You know, I'm still trying to take that much needed break from productivity, so when today's Wishcasting asked What do you wish to accomplish? I have to confess, I am setting my sights low. I am feeling in a bit of a muddle about where it is I am heading and what it is I want to focus my energy upon. Frankly, I am having too much fun just dabbling, exploring, playing and soaking in sunshine.

Yes, Sunshine!

But what has been nagging at me is the pile of books sitting unread by my nightstand. I am close to the end of Women Who Run with the Wolves, have started the sequel to Chocolat and The Last Station just came in from the library and I have more books received as holiday gifts and ordered on sale from Amazon awaiting my affections.

I have always devoured books. One summer when I was a preteen I would walk every other day to the public library and check out an Agatha Christie murder mystery. I would spent that day and the next curled up with the book, a glass of super sugary lemon iced tea and read until my head spun. When the last page was read, I walked back to the library, returned the book and begin the cycle again.

Lately, it seems my reading habit has been stalled. I manage to cover a few pages before my eye lids drop but that is it. When I find myself with a chunk of time, I been busy crafting, cooking, cleaning or playing with Cowgirl. I realized today that I have been suffering under the delusion that time spent reading is unproductive time. I do not believe this, but I have been acting that way. Reading is a way of filling myself up; gathering new perspectives, new insights, and inspiration. Reading affords me the chance to live in a different world, ponder how my life might be in other circumstances and to try on new attitudes, fresh ideas. To take time out to read is to take time to water my emotional and intellectual gardens. It is a necessary balance to action for it allows me time to reflect and digest my thoughts and my feelings.

So I what I wish to accomplish is to read those all those books that have been calling out to me. They've been patiently waiting for my attention. I wish to visit their worlds and come back to mine refreshed and perhaps armed with some new attitudes, my viewpoint enhanced from exploring other experiences.

Now, if I only had a hammock ...

And no real reason for the Moose shot except perhaps as added inspiration to sit still ... I can hold a book in one hand and easily scratch some spaniel ears with the other ...

Monday, March 29, 2010

Baking Madness

Here is my version of the chicken or the egg:

Which came first, the apron or the baking?

I am not a baker ... I am not patient nor do I enjoy being precise which seem to be rather important character traits for a good baker. But for some reason, I have been stirring up a storm in the kitchen. In addition to checking out new recipes from for banana nut muffins (secret ingredient - olive oil! - makes these velvety smooth) I also made a raw desert comprised of 5 ingredients: raisins, walnuts, dates, lemon juice and strawberries.

Yes, I was a bit skeptical and concerned since I was making this dish for a gather of friends later that afternoon. All I can say is OH MY GOODNESS!

Incredibly easy and yummy. Only one small bite of this date torte survived the afternoon and I ate that while cleaning up. I am off to check out more recipes from as both these offerings were gobbled up by family and friends.

Meanwhile, I ask you: what is up with me and my new fetish for aprons? I dug out this one which had been an engagement gift from a family friend.

And I have a new flower power apron from this Etsy vendor (see my previous post for a picture.) I cannot say which is true - the apron inspired the baking? Or the baking created a craving for aprons? Just don't you dare call me a domestic diva!

Weekly Reflection (week 13): Mother

What does kind of mother do I aspire to become?

isn't this apron great? it is from GreatGoods on Check out her other beautiful prints and designs.

I suppose if I were being more precise, this topic is not really a reflection but an ongoing investigation. In order to be the mother I want to be - to define in the first place what that may be - I have to understand how I was mothered.

Relationships between daughters and mothers is a sticky one. Past wounds, hopes, and fears are all too easily and mindlessly gifted to our children. Talking with a group of my women friends, we got onto the topic of mothers' expectations and demands upon daughters and how we were fearful of perpetuating the cycle of inappropriate boundaries. Okay, so that's my spin on it - inappropriate boundaries: placing upon our children emotional demands that are not theirs to shoulder. The work of my adult life has been to create and maintain healthy boundaries. I was making pretty decent progress so the Universe decided to thrown in a challenge: I became a mother.

A magazine article posed the question: when did you first recognize yourself as a mother? I've been pondering this question. Certainly the first time Cowgirl threw up on me and I didn't care - in fact, I was proud of my instincts and catching prowess, not a drop spilled! - I thought to myself "I really am a mother now!" And the feelings of intense protectiveness and the sensation of falling in love with my daughter while we were bonding in China are definitely stand out moments in my life. But the moment I understood myself to be a mother (and maybe parent is more appropriate term, I cannot speak for what my husband has felt) and the moment I began to understand my mother and what she must have gone through, was the first time I had to be apart from Cowgirl.

In the world of adoption, attachment and bonding are The Issues that occupy the new parent. It's all you read about, think about and try to enact in those first moments, days, weeks and months. It is presented as a fragile baby bird that must be kept warm, safe and secure at all costs. So when I had to take an unplanned trip away from home barely a month after birthing our family, I was overwrought.

We had been home from China barely 2 weeks when my father somewhat unexpectedly passed away. Clue number one that things had changed for me was my reaction the morning my mother called me to let me know the ambulance had just taken him to the hospital and that things didn't look good. Cowgirl and I had been getting ready for our weekly trip to the zoo when the call came in. After hanging up the phone, I was pretty shaken but I felt an overwhelming compulsion to spend the morning with my daughter at the zoo. Life goes on, she is my focus and it was a beautiful day. It was a bittersweet outing, more for my benefit than hers.

When time came for the funeral, it was decided I would go alone rather than risk disrupting Cowgirl's acclimation to her new home. I had an early morning flight and left while she was sleeping. I crept into her room to kiss her goodbye and dissolved into tears once I got to my car. I think I actually heard John Denver singing "I'm Leaving on a Jet Plane." I cannot accurately express how I felt other than total wretchedness. My guilt over leaving her consumed any grief I might have felt over the loss of my father.

Of course she survived the separation much better than I did. I had been so mindful of her need for me - to be there to mother her - but in my absence I became aware of my need for her.

What is this need? I am chewing on this idea and what I have so far is this: our children help us to complete a cycle. As I parent, I am coming to face with my past and how I was parented. I am also discovering a new place of understanding and maybe even forgiveness for the mistakes of my parents. I recognize now that my mother did not have the models of healthy relationships or family to draw upon. Her parents divorced when she was young and she was sent to live with her grandparents. Separated from her brothers and her parents, she had to raise herself. Both her parents died before she met my father and so even our relationship - adult child and parent - is an uncharted one for her.

Both of my parents grew up during the depression and their attention was consumed with basic survival. There was little energy or time available for deeper reflection. As the saying goes, they did the best they could with what they had available to them, and that included limited emotional resources.

I have the luxury of time and resources for self reflection. The trust and love my child gives me is healing, but it is not her task to heal me. She is the inspiration and source of my return to wholeness but I must do the work. The gifts my mother lavished upon me include a strong sense of independence, a passion for learning, stubborn determination, a belief in expressing my voice and an unflinching commitment to those I love. Raising my daughter, I am finally learning to use and embrace those gifts. My hope is to pass these on to my daughter free of any strings or unnecessary emotional baggage.

Yes, being loved by my daughter heals some pretty deep wounds from feeling unworthy. In continuing to understand and heal myself, my prayer as a mother is that my daughter will never question her worth.

(The image of my daughter writing on my chest and the issue of self worth were inspired by Tracy Clark's I Am Enough Self Kindness Collaborative and Brené Brown's blog Ordinary Courage.

Friday, March 26, 2010

It's all practice

I do not understand the mystery of grace - only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us. ~ Anne Lamott

Each day requires me to

show up

Sometimes it is nothing more than that –

a declaration of my desire

my intention

even when follow through seems


or impossible

in that moment

Each day is a

stepping into

the worn shoes

of my life

and moving forward

believing in




As many times as


self criticism


pointless comparisons

cause me to pause

or even step back

I can catch myself

And even trick myself

into moving on


“Who’s watching me?”

“Who cares?” and

“Why not?”


I do

and that is


enough –

In the darkest moments

when all seems

destined for disaster –

the paint globing, light fading, paper ripping, pen bleeding

fractured moments in the flow of my design –

there is a small


into place

one miracle

one tiny bud of beauty

that birthed itself

while I was busy

being distracted

by myself.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A mindful moment

Take a break and enjoy:

On Break

Today's Wishcasting is a trick question in my opinion. What do you wish to take a break from?

I had to sit with this one for a bit. My initial responses - comparison, self criticism, negativity, worry - well, these are things I want to abolish from my world, not simply take a break from them. To take a break implies I will be returning to whatever it is I am abandoning for the time being. See? Trick question!

With that in mind, what I wish to take a break from is Seriousness. There is an appropriate time to focus one's attention, roll up the sleeves and get working and there is a time to relax, be silly, be ... dare I say it? ... unproductive. By nature I am a pretty disciplined, focused and intellectually weighed individual. All of which is a way of saying I think and do too much. And maybe it is just that this challenging Winter has necessitated nose down, plowing forward in my life but now it is time for Spring. Time for the poncho twins (see previous post) to head outdoors for some serious - oops, I mean unabashedly gleeful swing and slide and sandbox action.

Time to get lost in an afternoon of painting, dancing, milk and cookies kind of meandering through the day. Nature trails to explore, tea parties to invent, spontaneous dinners out. Oh, yeah, truth be told I want a break from meal planning, grocery shopping and dinner cooking! Actually, I think I am staging a strike on that one.

So maybe I'm wishing for a break from the routine? A break from feeling the need to be busy and productive all of the time. A break from taking it - or rather, Me - all so seriously. I mean, we have fairy houses to make people! We have ice cream to eat and mud pies to bake. And a bike with a new bell and horn to dust off and ride. I think I am wishing to allow myself to steep in the juiciness of my life as it is right now. At this moment, nothing more is needed except for me to relax and just be with it all.

foot painting - i dare you to try it!

I am reminded of a line from Oscar Wilde: Life is far too important a thing to ever talk seriously about.

Yeah, I'm taking a break. It feels good. Even the bee stops for a moment to taste the nectar.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Knitty Momma and other Projects

We had a little preview of Spring last week. One glorious day of sunshine and warm temperatures that had Cowgirl and I skipping outside the shops of a pedestrian mall, our arms filled with pussy willows, flowering bulbs for my mother's 85 birthday and honey scented blue flowers selected by Cowgirl for the dining room. After visiting the florist's shop we dashed into the yarn shop as that morning I had the wild impulse to knit Cowgirl a poncho. That weekend. As fast as possible so we could be poncho twins while the weather still holds.

The sunshine didn't last - we had snow the next day and blustery conditions the day after that. But the poncho got made! It was super easy and fast as I knit it on large needles. Now, I knit like I bake: I think I've read through and understood the directions, but always some not-so-minor detail escapes my attention. Like how I was supposed to knit this in the round (using circular needles, not straight ones.) Not wanting to run out and buy the right needles, I figured I could adjust the pattern and just sew up the one side. Well, not exactly. And I still ended up having to dash by the yarn store for the right needles when the blasted thing would no longer fit on my long but not long enough straight needles. Sigh.

But here's the thing: I realized this weekend that what I may lack in skill, I make up for by pure determination and commitment. Somewhere along the line, I let go of the need for perfection which usually halted me from even starting anything new or unfamiliar. My style may be home-made rather than hand-crafted, but things do get made. And I am beginning to love the signs of imperfection that reveal the story within the piece. This poncho will always be my Spring Fling poncho, filled with the exuberance of me rushing madly to embrace the new season.

Other exciting developments include a new space for me to make art. I had been using the kitchen and dining room areas for my projects, large tubs perpetually lining the kitchen island with all my art supplies. Every day I would pull out my supplies and then frantically tidy everything away in time to make a late dinner. (Or rush out to buy pizza!) Reading The Artistic Mother, I realized I really do need a space I can call my own. (Seems like I am requiring more and more space; I already have my yoga room which I am vehemently defending from clutter which now can flow downstairs to the art space.) We have lived in our house for 2 years and the finished basement/play area is rarely used. Cowgirl will not go down there unless someone is with her. My drafting table was down in a corner of the room, transformed by blankets and pillows into her doggy den and I decided it was time to reclaim my workspace.

Once I decided to make the move, I realized how much more practical this space will be. I have a bathroom with empty cabinets and drawers to stash all my materials; an empty chest for pads, papers, stamping materials and books; and a large table that I can use to lay out pieces as they dry. And the stereo system and all our cd's are downstairs. I let Cowgirl pick out a wild sari patchwork curtain for the window and after moving things around a bit, I moved in. I still want to get a bulletin board and hang more pictures, but I was able to start working this weekend and finished the background papers for week one of the Artistic Mother project.

I am loving these pages! So much fun to make and since they will be cut down to scraps for collaging, I can really go wild and experiment. Having seen the work of others (I know, no comparison, but how about inspiration?) I think I can go a little wilder with the stamps. And I've spied many cool stamps that I would like to add to my collect ... ahem ... not that I need encouragement in adding to my stash of art goodies. This week we begin working on a poetry journal which I am really excited to make. One of the goals in my Goddess planner was to write and to read more poetry - two exercises suggested as part of a weekly schedule for Artistic Mother. And here is the schedule form I created as a way of making myself more accountable to my art:

We'll see how much I get to ... the sunshine is finally back and the poncho twins are ready for action!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Weekly Reflection (week 12): Past and Present

What would the me of one year ago think about the me of today?

I am fascinated by memory - what pieces and scraps the mind chooses to hold onto and what is tossed away. Recently, my mother and I were recalling a trip we took after I had received my master's degree. Actually, I could not immediately remember why she joined me in Ann Arbor for a drive across the Midwest to Colorado. She knew it was after my uncle had died, which was 23 years ago. We were going to visit my aunt and I stayed on for a month to keep her company. What I vividly recall from that road trip is a picnic lunch in Iowa and how taken I was by the lush, green, rolling hills of that state. We were going to stop over at my fiancé's (now the Husband's) mother's house for a visit and as we made better time than expected, we lingered at a truck stop for coffee and a piece of extra syrupy pie. That truck stop is 5 minutes from where I live now and every day when I pass it on my commute to work, I marvel at the fact that back then, I never would have believed my life would be what it is right now, never mind that I would be calling this corner of the world my home!

Just last week Cowgirl informed me she wanted us to go "back to the place with the snow and where they gave me Scooby snacks." For the life of me, I could not fathom what she was talking about. Snow and biscuits? I thought it was some preschooler's dream version of a play park. Then she said we drove in the snow and I realized she was talking about a trip we took over her Spring break last year. We were wanting to adopt a springer spaniel through a rescue group and we had to drive 4 hours to the home of the family that fosters the majority of springers here in Nebraska. My vision of a road trip, complete with a picnic lunch I had packed, was snowed over in one of the worst driving scenarios I never hope to repeat in my life. We were in the middle of the state on deserted snow covered roads totally unprepared for the inclement weather. The dog we went to see turned out to be too overly enthusiastic for our family (I was reminded of my encounter with a Greek in Athens when I was much much younger, showing more skin and single) but there was one new foster dog, Moose who seemed like a possibility. I was too addled to contemplate much and that drive home in a storm that had truckers pulled over is very fresh in my memory and my nervous system. But the journey led to Moose becoming part of our family and our one year anniversary is quickly approaching.

All that to say, I've been thinking recently about where I was one year ago and how shocked the me of then would be to see the me of today. Shocked and pleasantly surprised. Certainly disbelieving of the turns my life has taken and most likely the 2009 me would have been a tad skeptical that so much change and growth could have occurred. For the me of today is a more integrated, balanced, and full color version of the me previously known. For much of my adult life, I have felt like a fractured being; that there were all these different facets of me but that all the parts did not come together into a whole. There was work me with work friends; the academic/intellectual me with acquaintances from that realm; yoga me and my yoga circle; and then there was my family. I felt the strain of the separation but could not seem to manage pulling all the strands together and I always felt like I was repressing one part of my persona to fit into another.

I cannot even recall how I first stumbled upon all the creative blogs that seem to fill my days now. What I have is the first images from my flickr photo pool. First, there was Mermaid Warrior Camp, joined in the whim of the moment:

We started making art together and a door was opened.
One month later, I began to Unravel, the journey of a thousand miles beginning under these feet:

I was just learning how to use our point and shoot digital camera and knew nothing about Photoshop or even how to crop or adjust an image. I could rotate and that was about it! What I discovered that Spring was a way of being engaged with my life, looking intently at all the details and celebrating the moments of play, creativity and insight that seemed to be frothing up all around me. I also delved into my past and began to heal from wounds buried underneath layers of scar tissue.

If I had to sum up the past year I would have to say I discovered myself and I found my muse.
Taking on the self portrait a day challenge has forced me to step into the space of being a Subject and it has given me the energy and the courage to recognize I am the protagonist in my life. I returned to my first love, the camera and I have discovered some new passions in art journaling and writing along the way. Every course I took - yes, I have taken many! - has helped me to have stretched myself in ways I would not have believed myself capable of. But I also found each piece completed this larger picture of myself. All of a sudden, I realized the statement "my life is my practice" is my reality. My yoga practice, my writing practice, my art making, my relationship with my daughter and my husband and my mother, all feed and inform and support each other. I can no longer distinguish where one begins and another ends.

Yes, this has been a rich and wild year! I have Unraveled, swum and made art with Mermaids,

danced as a Creative and a Radiant Goddess,

written myself Art Journal Love Letters and blossomed into the teacher, student and woman I was not capable of envisioning a year ago. Reflecting upon where I have been reminds me my future is wider and more amazing than anything I could have actively searched for. That's not to say I do not dream big, but I know to leave the details up to the Universe.

(i doubt anyone realizes this, but i try to do a journal page for each reflection. today's page is a work in progress ... still searching for just the right text to add and waiting for the paint to dry! but in honesty to my project, i wanted to include it.)

I mean, how could I have ever envisioned this crazy tribe?

The past year is still vibrantly alive in my memory ... and even when memory fades, I'll have lots of images to remind me of all the adventures I have had.

What new you is being birthed this Spring?

Friday, March 19, 2010

New perspective

You are all my Blue Lady ...

[T]here is always a way to be truly free. And that is by expressing the essence of you, and being true to your own heart and talents and powers. Stay strong, stay true, and do not waver. Call on the Blue Lady, and she will gently guide you ... finding others who can mentor you through the "impossibles" will also be of great assistance ... take time to clarify your own conditioning, and make a renewed commitment to come from your talent and your gifts and your truth each and every day. Small, powerful moments of courage create a life fully lived.
(from Lucy Cavendish, Oracle of the Dragonfae)

A ritual I have been able to maintain for awhile now is to get up early before I have to walk the dog and make my way down the hall to my yoga room. I light a candle on my altar, wrap myself in my iris blue meditation shawl, and sit down on my buckwheat zafu, scrunching and adjusting it until it feels "just right." I begin my day with a centering practice: a little reiki meditation, just breathing and checking in with myself. On the days I do not take time for this practice, I tend to feel rough around the edges, more likely to react negatively and impulsively and less organized in my thinking. Even though I know these benefits, it is still a struggle to resist the lure of my pillow, the temptation of the snooze button.

After my meditation, I take some time to draw a couple of oracle cards, reading in the booklets that come with each respective deck, and then allowing a few minutes for the messages to sink in. Often on my predawn walk with Moose, I ponder the teachings offered in each card. Some are pretty dead on - "um, yeah, I know ...still working on it!" while others are just plain perplexing. Messages about time, strength, new beginnings have been the main themes these past months. And today I drew the other card that has frequently appeared in my life lately: Abundance.

Of course, the cards all speak of abundance not being limited to material wealth, but prosperity in terms of friendships, time, ideas, and opportunities. Today when I sat down for a little catch up time online, I was reminded of this new wealth in my life. What has materialized in my life in ways I never would have imagined is an abundance of support and encouragement for this life of creative exploration.

In spiritual practice and in creative work, there is a natural element of isolation and loneliness. These paths force me to return again and again to my center, digging deeper through layers of accumulated ideas and beliefs, shifting through and weighing the truthfulness of each attitude and deciding what to cultivate and what to cut loose. I can read books, go to lectures, ask questions, compare my experience to another's but ultimately I have my experience and you will have yours. They may have similarities but they will certainly have differences. It is those differences that I tend to obsess over and which open up space for doubt.

But what I have discovered since blogging is a generosity on the part of other writers, readers and creators to affirm my path. It's funny, my word for the year is Fearless but Connection seems to be the theme I've been experiencing. Yet for me to reach out to others, to present my ideas and my work - okay, my Self! - is an act of immense fearlessness. I excitedly post an image or a poem and then I always, ALWAYS cringe on the inside and worrying I am being self indulgent, childishly naive and full of myself to assume anyone would care.

And ultimately, even if no one else did care, I still would. I think what everyone is so excited by and eager to support in this rather large/little blogville we socialize in, is the expression of individuals embracing their lives and interpreting their worlds. It is not so much the What that is being created (although it all is magnificent) but the fact that we feel emboldened to create in the first place. This is what I find so exhilarating and intoxicating. Witnessing someone trying spin magic and meaning out of their day, that is worth cheering and supporting. To be led to a point where I believe I can also jump on this crazy creativity bicycle and actually ride it - that is a huge gift and an even larger shift in perspective.

Thank you all for showing me nothing is impossible when I follow my heart. And most of all, thank you Cowgirl who is my original Blue Lady (this was the first card you drew, and how appropriate for you a lover of blue!) The lessons of this card remind me to take care when listening to your dreams and to be mindful when fear may prompt me to try and protect or re-direct you. My role is to support you in dreaming big and to provide the tools to help you discover your strengths and talents and the courage to move towards those dreams.

not a grumpy shot; just showing us her Dog snarl :)

Acknowledging abundance (Aparigraha), we recognize the blessing in everything and gain insights into the purpose for our worldly existence.
Yoga Sutra 2:39 (translation by Nischala Joy Devi)

Our worldly purpose? I would say, to shine forth our brilliance and our love. But that's just my perspective.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Holding onto the Details

What do I wish to pay attention to? The details, all of the details. Every juicy, sticky, overwhelming, boring, awe inspiring, stomach clenching, heart racing, mind numbing, thrilling and mundane moment that constitutes my life. Love is in the details. Love is paying attention and honoring each moment as part of the larger whole. A few details that make up my love mosaic are:

Peanut butter on the corners of your mouth

Salty tears anointing my lips

Insistent pats waking me from the fog of sleep

Sweat fevered forehead steaming under my cool palm

Warm solid mass of you curled up against my side

Giggles shared under cupped hands

Noisy tippy toes sneaking up to startle me

Paint stained hands offering me a masterpiece

Laughing ghost hiding behind closet doors

Girl-pup scampering around my knees while I cook

Turning kola bear and hanging on, refusing to say goodbye

And then, a solid kiss on the lips before I depart

The heft of you upon my hip

Troll child snarling at my feeble attempts to jolly

Proclaiming me “Sweet Angel”

And you, a chick, I am to hatch

Warm whispered secrets in my ear

Small hands stroking my cheek with praise - “good mommy”

Our names, together, on school artwork,

Beneath two misshaped happy faces holding hands

Bathtub mermaid calling me into the water

Nonsensical knock-knock jokes

Infectious exuberance of accomplishment

Cries I pray I will always be able to soothe

Showing up every day even when I am worn out, despondent, afraid, uncertain, doubtful, empty, overwhelmed …

And loving me, because that’s you

I wish to remember all these moment and to pay attention to the ones about to happen.

Happy Wishcasting Wednesday!

Monday, March 15, 2010

New project: the Artistic Mother

(Warning: Long post ahead. Gather necessary provision (coffee, tea, water) and take bathroom break if necessary ...)

Excuse me while I multitask here ...

I had an incredibly revitalizing, fertile, and nurturing day on Sunday. A reminder that rich gifts come in those moments in between the this's and the that's of the day. I had an art journaling workshop to teach Sunday afternoon and for some reason, I scheduled it 2 and a half hours after I finish teaching my regular yoga class. Armed with my Goddess Planner sheets, To Do Notebook and a new treat - a book by Shona Cole called The Artistic Mother - I headed next door to the coffee shop for a little me time.

It was the perfect day for some internal sifting and examining: cold, cloudy and quiet! I finished up the pages to my planner (dreams for my creative life, home life, career and finances and 10 things I want to celebrate about myself in 2010) and then wrote out a list of things to tackle in the coming week. It all seems so commonsensical to take time to verbalize what I want my life to be, but do I do it? Words, dreams spilled onto the pages and I found myself flipping between pages listing new ideas and projects and then adding steps to existing plans and back over to another page for snippets of poetry. Yes my friends, it felt pretty sweet.

And then ... I opened up The Artistic Mother and discovered a dear friend and mentor residing in those pages. The day before I somewhat cavalierly tossed my hat into the ring with a group that is working together through the projects in this book. Check out the button on the right hand side bar - they just got started and the more the merrier! What I am finding in all of my obsessive online challenges is an accountability for my goals and my growth. Left on my own, I know I would not do all of the projects in the book, but knowing I will be supported and inspired by others with practical and creative advice, well I am jumping up and down like a kid with a new pencil case, freshly covered school book and 3 subject binder! I am ready to go!

I have to admit, I had glanced at this book through the preview feature on Amazon and decided it looked a little "basic" for my needs. What I have discovered after devouring the first 4 chapters in one night is how richly packed each sentence and every segment is in this book. The introduction itself is a manifesto for the power and the need to create. Shona Cole writes "Creating art leads to a glorious sense of personal fulfillment. When we have a project germinating in our minds ... we experience a surge of motivation, anticipation and excitement." This is the love affair I experienced in Art Journal Love Letters! And for anyone questioning the time taken out of an already busy schedule for one's art, here is the truth I've incoherently babbled about on this blog and which Shona so succinctly states: "The sense of well-being and fulfillment our creativity generates often spills over into other areas of life, including our mothering."

Yesterday I started in earnest working through the book. I cluttered every available flat surface with painted papers that will be used as background pages for future projects. Amid all the chaos, I created yesterday's "Mistakes" journal spread and decided if the sun was not going to cooperate, well then, we will have our own sunshine!

I also want to introduce the newest members of our household, our Flower Fairies inspired by McCabe's Mermaid Warriors workshop that Cowgirl and I are currently taking. And I am declaring this another one of my 52 Projects as it entailed the purchase of a glue gun and oh, lord-have-mercy am I in need of glue gun mentoring!

Doesn't our Gnome Fred look happy with his new lady friends? (And yes, the husband is nervously looking about as he sees the home swelling with more and more decorations ... they have yet to wage an assault upon his inner sanctum, his office, but they are rallying the troops!)

Did I mention this was a bit of a housecleaning post? Phew!

But wait - there's more!

Reaffirming my commitment to getting my photographs out there, here is my entry for Best Shot Monday which asks for my favorite face. You guessed it:

Cowgirl napped through all of the chaos and awoke in time to check out our sun.

And because I tend to do things in splurges, here is a project I wish to share from The Artistic Mother - my Artistic Vision statement. Even though there is talk of additional snow on the first day of Spring, I am feeling my pulse strengthen, a sense of ripeness in the air and a strong desire to declare my commitment to this path of creativity that has dovetailed beautifully with my spiritual/yoga practice (can you sense another topic in the making?) The task of defining my vision, stating my intentions and aspirations is incredibly empowering and energizing. I would love to see your artistic manifestoes publicly declared for all of our support and inspiration.

My Artistic Vision Statement

I am a creative being who requires a regular outlet for expression. Art is my way of replenishing my energy levels, nurturing my soul and giving voice to the truths of my life.

Art is the means by which I explore and express my love for my life, my world and most of all, for the complex and lovely messiness that is me. Every day I choose to create in some form as my way of showing up for my life.

I am a loving person who chooses to shine love out through artistic expression. Art is my way of expressing my truths and I share my work in the hope that it will encourage others to come to know and embrace their experience and their voice.

Every act of creation - be it writing, painting, photography, cooking or nurturing engagement with my family and friends - is a declaration of who I am and of my right to be.

I use photography, poetry, painting and journaling to celebrate my life and all of the gifts that the Universe so lovingly offers to me in any given moment. My art is a path for self discovery and an expression of celebration for all of the gifts and lessons I have received.

Art is my practice. I commit to showing up every day and accepting the teachings that come my way. Even when I am besieged by doubts, negative comparison, frustration or feelings of lack, I continue on. My practice is to embrace learning and growth. I believe in art's power to heal and to mentor me in the experience of knowing myself as complete and whole.

Do tell: how are you going to make it an art-filled day? ♥