Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Best is Yet to Come!

We are all awaiting it, aren't we?
  The best of the holidays is upon us.  The times when families get together, enjoy and celebrate things both new and old.  We all eat & drink too much, give to each other and say abundant grace.  I absolutely adore the holidays.  I am sure I always will.  I consider myself lucky.  I know some folks don't have fun and loving memories of this time of year.  I count this time of year amongst my greatest blessings!
This is the first year in ages that I haven't documented 30 days of thankful things on my blog.  But I have been saying thank you for the glorious blessings I have.  And not writing them in a blog doesn't mean they aren't felt, appreciated or documented.  This year has just been different in all kinds of ways.  It didn't seem necessary to blog about it all.   Honestly, I'm looking forward to 2015 and its new beginnings and continuous blessings.  

This Thanksgiving was enormously fabulous, as we were able to spend time in Atlanta with family and friends.  It was so incredible to be inside the bubble with my kids, grand kids and friends whom I only see every once in a blue moon.  As I said, I adore the holidays.

So, here in photos are what I've been up to ... if I don't post today, the month will roll over and I only have two posts in the whole month! Yikes!

 I am still working on this gigantic mosaic! It is in an old mirror frame off of a dresser I found at a garage sale for a few dollars.  It's about 2 feet wide and 3-1/2 feet tall.  I am enjoying watching this little scene come to life.  But it is one time consuming project!  Stay tuned!

Company dancers are such sweet rewards for some hard work.  They are always happy to dance, always wanting to learn more and always lovely to work with.  I have 23 girls in this dance I am choreographing.  I am so proud of each and every one of them.  I cannot wait to see this piece finished and on the stage! 

Sometimes there are peacocks in the neighborhood on our morning walk.  They are strangely comforting and absolutely stunning to see.  I enjoy those walks the most. (so far)
I'm in major production mode.  Hoping to get in the zone for a couple of solid weeks beginning tomorrow.  Many orders to fill ... so much creativity to conquer!  Cannot wait!!  
I love making these sketchbook covers and journals.

 Paul hung the pallet on the back wall.  I love opening the door in the morning and seeing this happy proclamation.  Life is so good!

Sarsaparilla has (re)appeared! 
 Here and there ...
The decorations have begun and it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here.  More on that later!  And so it begins.
'Tis the Season!
I hope it is a Season of great happiness, peace and good health for you and yours.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

All about the Art

It's about time!  Life keeps moving on, sometimes at a very rapid pace.  Often times, it makes sitting down to write a blog post seem impossible.  Actually, it IS impossible! So this morning, Spartacus and I have decided to put writing a post first and foremost!  He is such a dear to help out. 

 I am taking various painting courses (e-course style: my favorite), teaching dance, choreographing a company competition piece, sewing journals for both orders and donations for various causes I very much believe in, and trying to finish some works in progress (w.i.p.s)  Also, there is the house, the laundry, the cooking, the cats, the yard - not to mention work, relationships, friendships, family, children, grandchildren and having fun!  So ... it's busy!  But busy is my favorite!
I finished up my Paint Something e-course with the amazing Jenni Horne.  I loved it! Both times I took it!  She is so very helpful, filled with passion and teaching mojo.  Her method and style for whimsy and fun filled work is just right up my alley!  So ... in addition to the scooter, which I showed you last time, I also managed these paintings in her style during the class.

This piece already sold!  And the sweet purchaser is not a family member or someone I knew - and she still purchased it!!  No words for how grateful and appreciative I am about that. 

This painting started out saying "grace", but after looking at it and seeing the menagerie of flowers, I decided it was anything but graceful! So abundance is what spoke to me and I just went with it!  Might be the first time in a while (or ever) my art has spoken to me! That is something I really feel Jenni taught me through the course!  Yay!
I am taking a course from Mystele Kirkeeng ( entitled "Gut Art".  It is designed to expand the horizons of one as an artist.   She suggests other artists' work to study.  Mystele gives images to inspire us to paint what we feel the images are suggesting.  It is really all about finding your own style as an artist.  Although I am open to accepting what I find through this course, I am mostly overwhelmed.  But honestly, that has helped me understand where I am in the great scheme of things!  Mystele is amazing, so I've enjoyed every minute of her instruction and simply watching her create is a gift in itself!
I am taking another one of Tamara Laporte's courses ( in hopes of designing our Christmas cards this year.  The course is designed to draw/watercolor a girl on ice skates with a very mixed media background.  On my first try through with drawing a girl ... I ended up with a whimsical rabbit.  I adore her ... but not quite Christmas Card material yet!!  I previously have taken her whimsical "Quirky Bird" course.  I love her style, her genius. 

Yep - long way to go! But you have to start somewhere! ;-)
I have signed up for the Life Book 2015 course.  That should keep me busy enough!  It is a course offered by  It includes a number of wonderful artists who take turns instructing throughout the year.  I am very excited and humbled to be able to participate in this class! Yay!

One of THE GREATEST blessings recently is having my sweet and beautiful friend, mosaic mentor, Chrissie Grace come over for a "play date" or two!!  It has been such a gift!
She is in my kitchen!  Sometimes I have to pinch myself to make sure it isn't just a dream when I have such lovely friends visit me!  This woman is so filled with grace and love, and she exudes creativity from her every cell!  It is such an honor and a delight to know her!  Her art is hanging all over our house.  That is also delightful! Yay!
AND, as an absolute bonus, Chrissie has inspired me to once again work on my glass piece I started last winter/spring here before I went back to NC.  That trip kind of knocked the wind out of my sails for finishing this piece.  But now renewed,  I love where it is going!  It is such a huge piece, and I really think it has potential!  So, I have now become dedicated to it once again.  I am SO excited to see it finished.  (And to get it off of the kitchen table so we can use said table once again) ... I originally was making this piece to place in a gallery, but if it keeps going the way I see it going, there is no way I'm going to want to give it up right away.  :-) Each piece is a 1/2 inch glass square.  With the exception of the house on the hill, which is made from polymer clay,  and the little glass flower millifiore pieces.  I have a fortune invested in glue in this piece! HA!  I will post more as the scene on top of the hill emerges.

I have made journals for donations to two wonderful causes.  The instagram community puts the donations up for auction, the community bids on the auction pieces and the proceeds go to the cause.  It's such a loving, wonderful support system.  And I adore being able to give to it. 

One like this, the other opposite with the flowers on the outside and the chevron inside.  Both of them have sketchbooks inside for the participant to journal in.  They are mixed media paper weight, but can always be switched out for whatever the owner wants inside.  
I also had the opportunity to make one of the inspiration journals that I adore making for people.  So fun to include fabric from the grandmother's cocktail dress!! I love it when the people who want the journal are open to adding fun and different things to it!

Since I began this post, this is what has transpired on my desk top!
 I have had to relocate to a different surface all together!
Today is rehearsal day for the company competition tap piece I am setting.
So I must sign off for now as to concentrate a bit on a genre of a different color!  I leave you with these precious images of some of my students during Halloween costume wearing week.  They are simple adorable.  I am a very blessed and fortunate woman to be able to do the things I am so passionate about for a living.  And I am counting all of those blessings carefully, and of course, during this wonderful season of gratitude, I continue to give thanks.

Aren't they ADORABLE?  Oh my gosh!
Do hope you all are well, filled with joy and have more blessings than you can count!
I love November.  Feels strange not to be doing my 30 posts of gratitude in 30 days.  Changing it up this year.  Balance.


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!!