Roller Coaster of……

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Yesterday was such a roller-coaster ride.  Not on one of the new fancy ones, but the old wooden ones that rumble and creak convincing you that all of the rivets are going to pop and the whole thing is going to come crashing down. The ones that are older than I am, with no padding or extra bars to hold you firmly in place, instead you slam side to side with the person next to you. The ones where decades of chewing gum seem to hold the seats together.  It’s loud, a bit fearful, exciting, stomach churning, and for some reason you just have to laugh.

It is now noon and I am still in my pajamas… or jjs as they are called in this house. I just came in from moving my car off the street and into the driveway so I wouldn’t get (in all fairness) a nasty note from the postman.  When I put the car in park,  the sun was just beaming in and I couldn’t move. It felt like the greenhouses of my childhood. Warm and quiet. And for a bit I realized nobody knew where I was. I felt invisible. I sat there are stared at my gardens frozen into the ground, looked at the trim that needed to go up, noticed where I missed a spot painting the downspout, smiled at the little gnome happily keeping watch over our beautiful vegetable beds that Chris built and listened to the birds that were out soaking up the sunshine, too. I tried to process all the ups and downs of the 24 hours prior, but it felt too much to make sense of. I was saved from my thoughts as I watched in my rearview mirror one of my favorite families out for a walk, make their way up the street.  They were happily enjoying one another’s company. It seemed so simple; so connected…….so lovely.

I continued to sit in my muted world. I closed my eyes and turned my face towards the sun. I felt completely alone. Soon there were tears running down my face. It use to be pretty easy for me to tear up, but a few years ago, I felt like I used up my well of tears, so it caught me completely off guard. Where were they coming from? Exhaustion from a week of being sick and taking care of a child, thoughts of an old friend’s child going through cancer treatments, that the sky is so beautifully blue here… here was the roller coaster again. My brain and heart slamming side to side against one another as I went for this ride. Do other people do this? Or I am in denial my need of a padded room? (please don’t answer that!)

Soon, I heard the rumble of Chris’s truck approaching on his way home from the grocery store. I sat still as his truck pulled up alongside my car. He got out and loaded his hands up with the colorful bags and walked right along side my car. His face a foot from mine. He didn’t see me. Couldn’t he feel me staring at him? I was still invisible. I watched him walk through the front yard with his familiar gait. I wanted to call out and have him come sit in the warm car with me and enjoy the quiet, but I didn’t. I just watched his broad shoulders disappear into the house. I sat awhile longer now melted into the drivers seat thinking about how he and I have sat side by side for over half of our lives now, slamming into one another on our roller coaster ride. Sometimes laughing because it’s easier, sometimes screaming because the height is too high and the curve is too sharp, and yes, sometimes sitting alone in the seat and taking a few of the ups and downs alone.

I think I am going to go get dressed now, take a break from the ride and see if he wants to go for a walk.

Necessary layers

I couldn’t stand it any longer. I had a big, ugly canvas staring at me every time I walked into the studio.

It was haunting me.

It was too big and costly to throw away, so there it sat week after week, month after month tormenting me…. defeating me…. laughing at me.

Tired and sick….and ill-tempered, I walked into my studio this morning and was greeted for the last time by the beast. I guess I was feeling indignant enough to take it on. I couldn’t stand it another minute. So I made room on the floor, spread  a drop-cloth, retrieved my bricks  and slammed that sucker down on top of them. I got out paint cans and my big brushes and just obliterated the intense colors that stung every nerve in my body. I wiped them out. Back and forth, and back and forth some more.

AHHHHH~~~ gone. Why? Why had I waited so long to rid of that monster?

Slowly I began to make some sense of my brush strokes. I grabbed my water bottle and let gravity and the brush reveal a bit of the intensity underneath. A pops of red, greens and golds began to ground the new landscape that was emerging. I so delicately began to paint the hints of clouds.. wisps fading in and out. How calm I felt. No longer was I standing in a place of agitation and fury, but I now stood in setting of peace and calm. I turned on my music and got lost for awhile in the subtle shifting of the piece. I thought back to where I was when I first began the painting and how I struggled constantly with it; the expectations I had for it. Foolish, I know.

In some ways, I have changed a lot in the past year. I know I have learned a lot. As I have expanded more towards this path that I have dreamt of for as long as I can remember, I am aware of the boundaries that I have established to protect this dream. I am consciously aware now that I have precious few hours a week to spend painting and expanding my business. And, I have learned to safeguard that time while working on not feeling guilty for not volunteering as much, not having as much time play time with friends and not keeping up with chores and laundry piles. I realize that when I was first painting this piece, I was trying to do it all. Of course, I couldn’t. I let people down, myself down and wasn’t doing anything well, especially this canvas! This angry canvas was my mirror of exhaustion and frustration.  Those first layers were necessary so that I could recognize how off course I was. I can see that now.

As I continued to paint, I realize that I can feel myself letting go of the little things and working on setting better priorities. I can feel myself letting go of the expectations of others and focusing on giving of myself the best I can. I can feel myself letting go of anger and embracing happiness. I can feel myself finally settling into my trueness. And just like this piece, I am adding layers upon layers of  intention to become a more peaceful me.

Tomorrow, I will go back to it with new eyes again and get to see what the new layers bring. If only we could reset all parts of our life with some layers of paint.


Daffodil January

Monday morning came much too quickly for me this week. It was all I could do to put my feet on the floor. And, then to hoist my almost 6 foot frame to standing felt nearly impossible. Obviously, I am not much of a morning person, but that day the gravity force my bed held was formidable. After a fun weekend celebrating Chachi’s birthday and ignoring all reality, this Monday was hard on all of us. With Chris and Alex out the door (fortunately for them they are both morning birds) the two younger boys and I stumbled around grumpily getting dressed, lunches packed, breakfast packed, teeth brushed and finally locating and stuffing backpacks for their days. It was all a blur but the tasks are so sadly mechanical, that it is possible to pull off on a dark, winter morning.

Finally, ready to load up in the car, we headed outside. Much to my surprise in the handle of my car door, there was a bunch of daffodils waiting for me.  In a flash, the bright yellow of these happy flowers surged to my core. They looked almost neon against the gray landscape and sky and ignited a smile that I am still carrying with me. There wasn’t a note or hint of who left them. It was such a lovely act of kindness that brought pure joy and turned my attitude 180 degrees. I was so moved that someone was thinking of me, so grateful that I could imagine a number of friends who would have done something so nice and enjoyed wonderful memories of planting and picking daffodils for as long as I can remember. Isn’t it amazing how far an act of love can carry someone? Isn’t amazing how a pop of color can make a difference? Isn’t amazing how many beautiful little things are all around? I feel like I notice and feel them often but I am so very grateful that there are people who share their hearts and make everything brighter and better when I can’t see clearly.

After I dropped off the boys, I placed my joyful gift in a favorite lapis glass vase and carried them down to my studio. With thankfulness, I placed them on my work table and reached for my brightest yellow paint.



I slowly open my eyes and not sure I can feel where my toes are and yet I feel completely whole in the moment. The room comes into focus again. In my mind, I paint the serene blue walls with clouds… wisps from my breath make the stratus clouds appear all around me. The gift of shavasana’s meditative state is immense.  I have been coming to this room for three years to practice yoga. I know the knots on the floor that look like eyes staring back at me, where the wood grain flows like ocean waves, and the patterns of the metal on the exposed vents. However the greatest part of this room is my teacher, my guide as he so humbly prefers. Mike is without a doubt the kindest and most giving person I have ever met. He shows up with the purest heart, tremendous gratitude  and greatest perspective I have received from a yoga instructor. He truly shows us what it means to be in that private and sacred space on your mat all the while making everyone’s energy and spirit a collective world of good. Yesterday, I went to my yoga class for the first time in over a month. How I have missed it!! It was just the reset I needed.

Like many of you who give yourself the gift of yoga, you know what the tremendous benefits are.

Flexibility and strength for both your mind and body,

the power of breath,

the calming of the mind,

the importance of balance,

and yes, the greatest gift of meditation bringing a wash of peace and clarity in shavasana. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh……………..

but it requires showing up. How had I let that go? How did I make it less of a priority?


The other night I went to a monthly get together with a small group of local artists. It helps us to brainstorm, get perspective, share resources and ground us in accountability. Having to verbalize what you will be working on for the next couple of weeks is tremendously powerful. After all of the chaos and fun of December, I lost so much momentum and inspiration to move forward with putting my art out into the world. The dark voices of doubt from exhaustion and being at the beginning of this journey rise bringing uncertainty on so many levels. As I sat and listened to these brilliant, talented, interesting woman offer up advice, talk about the books they have read, the opportunities and resources they are knowledgeable of, my doubt grew and began to swallow me up. I could feel myself shrinking and wanting to disappear as I didn’t feel like I had a thing to bring to the table. At the same time, I felt such gratitude to be sitting there, overwhelmed by the amount of information. I wanted to soak it all up like a sponge. My nervous funny came out and I felt like the gangly freshmen I was decades ago, but there was no back of the classroom in which to go disappear and hide.

During the meeting, one of the artists said that she had sat down and written all of her successes of 2013. So when I got in the car, I decided I would start making my list when I got home. That was something tangible I could grasp in my moment of such apprehension.  I thought it would be short and sweet and not much to write home about.

I was wrong.

I walked in the door and the first thing I saw was the pile of thank-yous I had written to all of those who bought my work this past year, hired me for decorative finish work or commissions, my teachers from Evolve, some local artists who have been so supportive, welcoming and inspiring, a friend who spent time helping me kick off a business plan, my coach,who I can’t wait to see again in a few weeks and Mike, who kept bringing me back to center time after time. In each one I put a mini print of the first painting I sold last year. The one that started a year of doing and focusing on what I love to do. I sat down (okay collapsed onto the sofa) and began flipping through all of the names.

Here was my 2013 “list”on the stack of envelopes….. the names of the beautiful and amazing people who were in my life on account that I had spent a year following my heart. People who shared their stories with me. People who lived across the country as well as down the street. People who I had known for years and people I still have yet to meet face to face. People who are all a special part of  my red-thread tapestry.
What a grand list! How very fortunate I am.  I knew right then, that I hoped to have a list like this a year from now and the year after that. Lists with lots of wonderful memories and faces that have made me grow more into my true self. How could I doubt my journey when I have gained so much? To do this, I have to keep being vulnerable, keep learning, keep painting, and keep showing up.

I sat in the quiet of the house and soon began the normal spinning in my brain of what a new day would bring. I realized that Mike’s class was first thing in the morning. I felt a sense of calm and composure begin to build even at the thought of just being there. So the next morning I headed off to his class for the first time since November. I thought I wouldn’t be able to touch my toes, that my legs would shake as I tried to hold warrior poses and that I would fall over during a balance posture. There was that doubt rising it’s ugly head again. But I surprised myself (just as I did this past year by putting myself out there) and managed to have a practice that made me feel strong, open and even graceful. Mike had done it again. At the close of his class he often offers his gratitude along with  “the true light in me, honors the true light in you when I say… Namaste.”

Another gift.

I just need to keep showing up; to the yoga room, to my studio, to those meetings and to all the places that push me outside of my comfort zone and keep me moving forward. From my list I can see how great the rewards will be…..all of you.

Now, on this snowy morning I am off to yoga again and then I am heading to my studio. I have a big year ahead and an important list to make… it’s time to show up!