Sunday, October 19, 2014

A New Chapter

Last weekend looked a lot like this!
Road tripping between the puffy clouds and the cotton fields all the way to Atlanta and back inside of 36 hours!  Paul's little iron business took us there for an installation.  It was awesome!  A wonderfully successful trip. ;-)  The absolute best kind!

 Here's the master at work!  And the railing looks fabulous.  Yay!

 Then, there was this amazing moment in time ...

 It was awesome!  I may have put a call out to my amazing kids to please come by if they had a minute.  Just so I could squeeze their necks and kiss the kids. We were trying for a lunch gathering in a local restaurant, but it just wasn't quite working out. There are NO WORDS to express how touched I was/am that they all did, indeed, stop what they were doing and came over to see us. In spite of their exhaustion, plans and etc.  I felt so honored and blessed as they walked up one by one and dished out love.  Pure love! and they all let me hug them and shower them with momma/nana love, even the preteens and real teens!  I don't know how to say it any more plainly than, they took the time to come over and show us love and respect and I felt SO VERY special.  It is a blessing I will never take for granted.  I am so much stronger than I was before their arrival!  There is nothing like love for healing.  I am so thankful to each and every one of these beautiful human beings. Thanks, ALL y'all.  You are each amazing.  My heart is so full. xoxo Thank you! 
I didn't get a close up of Jenn & Victor, but I got a long shot.  And I even caught Teresa in there!  Better than no shot! ;-) 
Melissa took some photos of Ms. Tessa Jane and I on our walk.  Sneaky photographer! So sweet.  
Then ... the week was filled with art!  One of my most amazing art dreams came true when my mosaic mentor, Chrissie Grace came over and we sat side by side working on glass mosaics.  Dreams really do come true, y'all!!  I felt like there was magic in the room.  It was incredible to be in her wonderful energy.  Yay!  And I finally rekindled my interest in a piece I started last winter ... I cannot wait to get it reworked!  It's a big glass piece on an antique mirror frame.  With a bit of a whimsical scene coming to life.  ART IS MAGIC.  Photos to come.

I finally got the studio sorted into stations so I can work more efficiently.  Whoo Hoo!! So helpful!
I am again taking the Paint Something E-Course that I took this past summer.  Between being ill and moving, I missed a good portion of it.  So, practice makes perfect, right!?!  Jenn Horne is an amazing, gracious and brilliant instructor.  If you get the chance, check out her course. 
I am also looking forward to the LifeBook 2015 course coming January 1, 2015.  It is being hosted, as always, by Tam Laporte at Willowing.  I am wet my pants excited about it!  I take a lot of her mini workshop paint courses, like those birds I drew last spring.  But this will be a year long adventure!  She's also amazing and brilliant.  Check her out too. 
There is SO MUCH art goodness at our finger tips now with the internet.  I am giddy with the whole thing! 
Another thing that makes me giddy ...
 Last week happened to be the 15th wedding anniversary for us!  Paul & Cheri, 15 years married. How many blessings can I get into one blog post!  I feel so very special.  So very grateful for it.
 I made this for Paul, in my e-course.  He seemed quite happy with it.  Yay!

It was fun!

I am currently choosing costumes for the June 2015 recital.  Short of pulling out my hair whilst trying to make all these decisions ... while Mercury is retrograde ... I will be finished with this humungous project by 3 tomorrow.  Whew!  Good to be busy again. :-)Life is good!
Our dear friend, Paul Maskus passed away last week.  Yvonne held his memorial service this past Friday.  He was honored by a lovely service, dear friends and family, and a beautiful fall day in the mountains.  Rest in peace, Paul.  We will miss you ~ until we meet again.  And take care, Yvonne.  We love you.

Now, y'all go and hug those you love if you can!
Blessings to you all!


Monday, October 6, 2014

Sorting through the Rubble

Sometimes I don't blog because I haven't found the energy for it.  I did not run out of energy until about 2009, but I didn't realize it until 2014.  So many heart breaking things began to pile up back then.  And I found myself having to budget my energy, and my emotions.  There were horrifying things to deal with: death of friends and family, job loss, economical downturn, loss of savings and jobs, learning how to live without an income, being cold and hungry even, terminal and tragic illnesses ... it has been an awful lot to deal with.  My cup runneth over...and right into my guts.

And still ...  it is life.  The experiences and adventures that make us grow and mold us into the humans we are.  Sometimes people turn bitter, sometimes they give up, sometimes they move on with grace and dignity and sometimes they get sick.  And sometimes they do all of those things.  And I have.  And I'm still holding fast to the silver lining that keeps my heart and soul safe from the ugliness that can come of years of life's harder lessons.  

 Paul & I during his birthday dinner last week

Silver linings like the gleam in my husband's eye as he entertains me while I struggle through it, the children's giggles of glee that spew forth from the 3 & 4 year old ballerinas while they are belting out "Let it Go", the smiles of love and light from my sweet "Olives" and other precious friends as they offer their beautiful support and friendship, my children's health and happiness, the existence of my grandchildren and their zest for life, color & art, my cats ... just some of the silver linings I can raise my hands up in gratitude for.  Life is so precious, so amazing, so WONDERFUL.  And life is good.  All. the. time.  Even when the situations are not.  Even when it is super hard.  Life is a gift.  I have always found gratitude with that.  I just ran out of energy to power through it all. 
So as my health diagnosis came in, and I've been on the mend now, I am investigating what in the world put me in that shape in the first place.  And it all points to stuffing my true emotions way down in my guts because I just didn't know how to deal with them.  Then it became overcrowded in there.  Sometimes being Southern is a lot of pressure ... always looking happy & being "proper" no matter how upset you might be on the inside.  All of those things put me in a heck of a mess.  And now I am sorting through the rubble.  It is a new way of life for me.  And it has me in a very introspective place in my life.  Made more so by the fall being upon us, I am sure.
I have an unshakable faith.  It is what guides me, keeps me and makes me who I am.  Also, I live through my heart ... I listen to and follow my heart.  And I "go with my gut".  Therefore I am fairly slow at coming to conclusions on matters that are unbecoming.  But since I just spent 4 months in a very fragile state of health, I have learned so much about taking the time to sort things out, and being o.k. with what the outcome of those situations are for me.  Even if they cause the boat to rock. 
I vacillate between sadness and anger, frustration and shame, victory and defeat.  But I know for sure I am better now.  I have come through the worst of the storm.  And I am once again ready, with re-newed energy to move forward and stop fueling my fire with what makes everyone else alright before my own health.  Hard, hard lesson.  I really never even thought about it before.  But did you know that "No" is a complete sentence? Yeah, how about that?!? 
I have had such hurt feelings and a wounded heart.  There is a particular phrase that has been prevalent in this healing (as well as in my business), "what you think of me is none of my business".    But what I have learned right out loud is this: What I think of me IS my business.  And I am clear on that, now.
So, here's to healing, fully recovering and being in balance with myself once again.  And that means actually processing the things that upset the balance in the first place.  And keeping the rubble sorted out.
And as the chains that have bound me are evidently being released, I am reminded to sing out loud, laugh, enjoy life and never quit.  It is a choice to be free, after all.  It is my choice.

 And now I'm working on happy art, like this pallet. :-)
This will likely be the last time I speak to this subject of rubble.
Now, I let it go.  And move on,
To bigger and better things.

I hope this beautiful autumn weather brings clarity to you all.  And goodness, lots and lots of goodness!!


Thursday, September 25, 2014

A New Season!

It makes sense, in an odd way, that all the answers to my summertime questions are being answered in the fall.  Changes are here and now!  And it's what my autumn season is ALWAYS like.

 I made an autumn wreath for our door.  It needs more gold and orange; and a little purple, too.  Guess I better get to hobby lobby this week! ;-)
For a brief catch up: (sigh)
I became ill in May and have been in a heck of mess since! (As one friend said, "no wonder you've been so quiet lately". HA! Yep.) Lots of tests and time later, I finally have a diagnosis!  Hip, hip, hooray!  And although it is a chronic illness, it is not unmanageable.  I'm not going into details here, but trust me, the celebration has begun!!! 
Another thing I've been schooled in, besides how to endure illness, is how to deal with the insurance companies on what they will/will not cover.  And more specifically, how to make sure they are helping pay these outrageous charges!  OHMYGOSH! An art unto itself.  So for all of you out there who have been dealing with these things for years and years ~ blessings, my friends.  And you deserve a new crisp, colorful super hero cape!

So within the next month or so, I hope to be back to myself.  Running around like a mad woman, doing my art in copious quantities, visiting my children in Atlanta, and teaching with all the passion I have in my soul!!  I am looking forward to my return with great gobs of spirit!  And let me say right here, my gratitude runs so very deep for what the doctors and specialists have found is treatable! And as a bonus, there is no horrid treatment, to deal with.  I just swallow some pills.  And I add a new diet.  I'll take it and be grateful my whole life long!

 SO ... s far as what I've been up to in between naps:

In September I was part of a parcel exchange that the IG (Instagram) handmade community often does.  It is so much fun!  You get to find out who your swap partner is, stalk them on their media feeds to get a handle on what they might like, and then fill a box full of happy goodies for them.  Usually the hostess of the swap creates a theme to go by. Our theme was "Rise & Shine" ... so one of the gifts was obviously coffee or tea! My favs!  My swap partner was ever so generous and it was a great bright spark in September!  Here is what I received!

Such a lovely, fun filled, loving swap parcel.  I love the IG community.  So much fun!
The piece in the back is a memo board on a large embroidery hoop - so clever!  And the necklace hanging on it is made from magazine papers!  It is also so clever!  The coffee is my favorite in the whole world (Caribou).  The Happy Day journal is designed by one of my favorite artists, Katie Daisy.  And the mug!  The mug is perfect and filled with honey sticks. 

 There are other goodies, too ... a handmade "rise and shine" key chain, pancake batter that is straight from heaven, a darling pen inside of a kitty and a pocket sized note pad.  All things perfectly suited to moi!
Thank you Gail!  I still smile every time I see a piece of the goodness.

I am teaching and loving most every minute.   I have the honor and pleasure of teaching some amazingly talented young people. And some precious little princesses!  I simply adore it.  All of it.  I am currently setting a competition number I did in 2003!  Instead of using 12 tappers, I have 24.  It's loud!  And awesome!  And a Capella (no music)!  I am beyond excited to work with these kids again.  Whoo hoo!
 Tappers!  I love this!  I am one lucky dance teacher!  And one of our alumni students, Lauren Kleiman (who has actually started a tap company of her own - Stomp the Swamp) has come back to help me with this piece as she was in it when she was 11.  She is now a college graduate with an engineering degree and a heart for dance.
Thank you, Lauren!  Don't know WHAT I would do without you!
 ballet class, of course
I love these dancers ... they try so hard and learn so fast!

These Princesses are so cute it hurts!
 a new meaning to the phrase, "dance like no one is watching"
They are ALWAYS precious and make my week start off just right!  I often hear myself thanking these precious tiny beings for coming to my class.  They simply delight and inspire me every single class.

One of our sweet teachers silently did a stealth ninja maneuver into the back of the dance studio last week and took a few photos of me teaching.  It is rare, indeed to have photos of yourself teaching.  Thanks so much, McClaine!
 How is it that the 10 year olds are almost as tall as I am already?  CRAZY!  This class is filled to the brim with tap dancing whipper snappers.  They are amazing and like little sponges with what they absorb from week to week.  I am in heaven with these kids!  Whoop!

Paul and I judged the company auditions for the Leesburg Dance Center last weekend.  Such great fun!  The kids were so very well mannered and dance their hearts out!  A great experience for all of us.

 Someone went into the costume closet to find a Halloween costume while the rest of us were working.  I promise you, this man keeps me laughing no matter WHAT else is happening.  I adore him. Always. Even when I want to squeeze his neck (very hard).  ;-)
 My own personal Penguin, Paul.
 I started some pallet art a few weeks ago.  Hoping to get back to this and finish it this weekend.

It is my "walking on sunshine" reminder.
As I am sure it is beginning to get chilly up in the mountains, I am reminding myself to be grateful for the warmth, the sunshine and yes, even the rain.  I will not be freezing this winter.  There are no words to even write how thankful I am for that.  The extreme winter was hard for me.  I know there are people who love it, and I commend you winter wonders!  I cannot love it.  I really tried! So, sunshine walking ... that's what I'll be doing!
(Ch ch ch changes ... )
And of course, what would a blog post be without a shot of these guys.  Please take note, they are all on the sofa together.  This is a very uncommon occurrence.  Mostly, the big boys DO NOT play nicely with the Siamese kitty, and visa versa.  But lately they are all hunting moles together in the back yard and it has served as some kind of binding thing.  Who knew?!?  Notice Spartacus (the far right kitty) has his rm around Artemis (the black kitty in the middle) ... They are a duo, to be sure.  And Sulu, the Siamese is half the size of those two, but twice as aggressive.  And a fabulous snake hunter.  (Oye)  Yep, we are those crazy cat people.  But, just for the record, we love dogs, too! 
Meet Marle (pronounced Marlee)

Marle is my friend, Mandy's 14 year old beagle.  Marle and I hang out quite a bit together.  He is the sweetest fella, and he loves to talk about art and crafts and he's a great napping buddy.  So see, there is a dog in my life!  He just doesn't get to live at my house.  (Good thing for the cats' sake).

There are more things to come.  I have some great recommendations for hand made stuff now that we are getting on toward the holiday season.  I am going to take Jenni Horne's ecourse again next week, Paint Something eCourse.  AND my art studio has undergone yet another modification!
I AM STILL UNPACKING BOXES.  Where DO they all come from!?!

  But for now, I need to go plan some dance classes, download some music, wash some dishes & get some laundry going.  Sound familiar?

Many, many thanks to everyone who has offered their kind support and love during this crazy summer of "what the heck is wrong with me" ... and to all who have encouraged the patience and endurance it has required to get the diagnosis.  My appreciation and gratitude runs deep ~ in your direction. How will I ever thank you all? xoxo

And just like that, it's AUTUMN!
Time for change!  All things pumpkin and spice!  Social activities, and many more happy heart beats!

And to those of you who are struggling, ohmygosh, hang in there!  It is SO worth it!Sending great gobs of love your way!! (You know who you are!)

Blessings to you all!!



Monday, September 22, 2014

Someone Turned One Year Old!

Tessa Jane

While we were busy with life, the most precious Princess in our world turned ONE! 
On September 10th to be precise.

There are no words for how this beautiful little girl makes me feel.  So much love for Tessa Jane!  She is growing so fast.  Sleeping through the night, walking around, taking it all in ... slow down, little one!!  Anyway, some photos for you to ohhhh and awwwww over ... 

Love this board idea!  

 Tessa with her big brother, Austin.

 Awesome! It's her cake and she knows it!

 Momma & Tessa having a BIG laugh. So adorable.

See what I mean!?!  Our precious blessing.

Blessings to you, too!


Friday, September 12, 2014

Summer of Magic

I've been doing a lot of dance instructing!  I am grateful for that, because it has rekindled my "knowledge base" for dance and put me back in the saddle.  Glorious ballerinas!  Most of these gals were my students when they were 3-6 years old.  Then I went away.  I came back and they are beautiful and on pointe! What!?!?!

And although I LOVE every single minute of teaching dance, it has been nice to do some other things, as well.
Like, I finally got to sew! I made a happy little journal cover.  It was great to sit at the machine and create something!  Happy fabric in my hands again.  I simply love it!

Every once in a while, life delivers such a gift that there are no words to describe it.  This past weekend, the hubz and I were fortunate enough to spend time at the beach.  Just the two of us.  No hustle or bustle, no obligations, no interruptions in our "bumming around", just sheer unrelenting bliss.  I pinched myself often to make sure it was real.  Paul got a t-shirt to prove we were there, and of course, I took a zillion photographs.  Our friends, who are generous beyond words, just gifted us a 3 day weekend at their beach villa!  Dave & Lisa, there aren't enough words in the universe to properly thank you.  But because I am southern and must write thank you notes, I will certainly try!

  We were on Melbourne Beach.  I have truly never seen a cleaner, less populated beach.  It was gorgeous and lovely.  And fun!  Yes, we boogie boarded, walked along the water's edge, gazed at the horizon and studied seashells, watched birds dive for fish, and just jumped in and out of waves and I watched the waves come in and go out over and over again.  Oh yeah, and I got knocked over a lot ... by the waves.  They are bullies sometimes!

 We took some selfies.  Grandparents should really practice these things.  We have not practiced enough, obviously.  But we had fun anyway.
In fact we laughed right out loud.  It was such a happy weekend!
The second beach day we went to Sebastian Inlet.  We were gifted with a pair of manatee out for their Sunday swim in the ocean.  We have been with plenty of manatee, swimming and observing and etc., but NEVER in the ocean.  WHAT AN AMAZING SITE!  There were lots of folks fishing off of the pier ... but they would kindly pull their lines in when the manatee got close.  So nice to see the kindness in people's hearts.  Such a sweet confirmation that people really are kind.  And the grille served the most delicious grilled shrimp on skewers with french fries I've ever tasted!  It was such a lovely day.  And there are no words to even touch the tip of how grateful and blessed I feel.

There were lots of turtle nests on the beach.  Some of them had been covered up waiting for the eggs to hatch ... but this particular one had been abandoned ... egg shells scattered all around as evidence.  What a miracle these journeys are!  We did go down to the beach in the moonlight trying to either witness the laying or the hatching.  But we ended in fits of giggles at the crabs scurrying on the beach, laughing at our night vision (lack of) and enjoying the night air.  Gosh, what beauty!


And the sky!! oh my gosh!
 But the sweetest of all was when Paul took the chairs up to the car and came back to a beautiful sunbeam spray burst.  There was a couple on the beach who had been in an obvious photo shoot frenzy.  He mentioned to them to look at the sky, saying they'd photographed everything else and it would be a shame to miss that.  It turns out the lady was having some very serious cancer surgery the next day and they were documenting the day with extreme faith and joy.  It was a precious moment.  And truly added to the magic of our beach trip.  I'm telling you ... it was extra, super duper special.

 There is no way to tell you how gorgeous this was in person ... the sunbeams went on forever!
None of my photos are touched up.  Takes too much time!

I returned to the north - North Carolina
 The easy way! Thank you Allegiant Airlines.

I went from this
 to this

in one hour and 15 minutes! 

And I had a jam packed weekend!  And it was delightful!  I went with the exclusive mission to surprise my sweet friend, Patti Connor Greene for her wonderful art exhibit opening reception for the Crossnore Fine Art Gallery, where we both proudly display our work in hopes of helping the children.
Such true joy!  I LOVED being there.  And Heidi Fisher (the Director of the Fine Arts Gallery) did an exquisite job of having the gallery in pristine show shape!  As Patti, says, Heidi is a genius at hanging shows and using space.  Perfection!

And help the children Patti did!  Her show was such an over whelming success!  Just like Patti, AMAZING!  And it was such fun to see her surprise, and get to hug all of my NC friends.
 Clearly, there was NO standing room left during the reception.  It was such a fabulous turn out!

Patti's brother Bob and his beautiful wife, Robyn came down from upstate NY for the event.  I couldn't resist capturing brother and sister together.  They were just so precious.  You can almost see Robyn hovering the the left hand corner (above) with her camera, too.  It was such a lovely evening to document!
Virginia Greene was there, too!  Although I failed in my photographer role, I have everything and everyone etched in my memory.  It was truly a lovely, unforgettable evening.  I have such a grateful heart that I was able to attend, and hug all the olives who could be there, and the other lovely and wonderful friends, both new and old.  We attended a delicious dinner at some of our sweet friend's gorgeous cabin afterward, and I felt so very FULL of love, and goodness. Thank you so much, Ellis & Barbara!  I really feel like it has been such a magical summer!  In spite of some rather intense challenges!

Another ABSOLUTELY GLORIOUS part of visiting NC was seeing MY BABIES!!! And their mom, of course.  She won't let me photograph her, so you never see her ... but she's there!  I cannot believe how much the twins have matured.  They are saying everything!  And so very cute, sweet, precious, perfect, you know.  And they still just melt my heart with every motion.
Like when I walk in the door and one of them lifts their little arms up like this:

 Everly & Stephen with their wonderful Nanny, Brie.  I LOVE her and obviously, so do they!
 Stephen likes to climb up the furniture ... see him in the green shirt going for it!
(Almost caught mom on the left!)
 Everly would much prefer NOT wearing any pants.  Thus shedding them.
Everly also likes to climb on furniture.  The table in this instance ... and it makes her giggle!  That girl is never still - always blurry photos!

 Stephen wanted a close up

and a selfie ... which as you know, is my expertise! 
 Everly wanted a close up but would not be still for it

The window sitter

 Now they are serenading me with the most popular "Let it Go"
 and they TOTALLY get in to it!
SO Adorable!!

I cannot fit any more of our past few weeks into this blog.  So Sunday I will try to write again an share some other stuff, like my grand daughter's first birthday! This blog post has been in the works since Labor Day! Enough!
I am going through the paces.  And I know I will get there.  Stand by!
Many blessings to all,