Sun Dog

A week ago, Chris and I were making our way back home from a trip back to Virginia. We now know how very lucky we were to make it home.

He had driven back to help his parents move out of their home of 48 years. The home he and his brother were brought to as babies and were raised.  The home where his parents worked endlessly and tirelessly to create the life of their dreams. Almost a half a century of memories made for my in-laws, Pat and Chris.  Birthdays, anniversaries, bridge clubs, garden clubs, woodworking in the barn, gutting fish out back, canning fruits and vegetables from the garden and fruit trees along with endless painting, yard care and maintenance. The house had rhythm created out of the day in day out routine they comfortably lived in. The Giglios’ signature was everywhere. From the birdhouses he built to her formal rose garden by the enormous dogwood tree or her ceramic rabbits sitting next to the gardening boots on the brick stoop.

I have been going to that house for 26 years myself. Chris had some fun parties as teenagers while his parents were off to the beach or taking Pat to college. I remember my first dinner with his parents at the round kitchen table. I was so nervous, I had changed over and over again only to show up with my shirt on inside out AND backwards. She thought it was just the trend. It was the 80s! HA! I helped Chris pull potatoes from the garden, we worked on our wedding decorations in their lawn,we brought our own babies there to visit and now they too have their own memories of the house.

By the time I arrived, most of the house was empty. It seemed so much smaller all of a sudden and  so very tired. On the brick chimney in the kitchen hung Mrs. G’s calendar. She has had the same one year after year. Her distinct handwriting neatly written across the days of upcoming birthdays, Chris’ arrival, and doctors appointments. Did she keep them all? I imagined them all stacked up and tied neatly together with a ribbon. I began my task of emptying out closets and moving the contents over to the new house. It shocked me how intimate it felt. I wondered if someday I would have daughter in-laws going through my closets. I began to wonder where they were now. Time will tell, so I sent good thoughts to all of those who will love my boys.

It was strange to be so aware of standing in the middle of my life… if I am lucky. I could feel it as I stood in my mother in-law’s closet. I was that young girl who fell in love with her son while at the same time a middle aged woman feeling grateful for so many memories but also the inevitable limits of time. And yet, I felt excited that I have so much more to look forward to as my children grow up (much too quickly) and create their own lives and families. How fortunate I felt to be able to look and feel backwards and forward at the same time. It made the present day so much more precious.

The next day due to snow storms from Virginia to Colorado we decided to load up and take off a day early. Before I left, Mrs. G. gave me one of her treasures. It was a painting of flowers done on slate that had hung by her bed for as long as I could remember. It was done by her father in law’s best friend. He had been a barber in Connecticut but loved to paint. I am so happy to have it. I will cherish it always.

Sunflowers on Slate- gift from Mrs. G.


We stopped by the house one last time. I could feel Chris saying goodbye. He took a few more things from the unwanted pile and the old butter-churn his mom gave him.  We left in a mess of snow and worked our way in-between storms. Down the Shenandoah Valley, up and over the mountains of West Virginia and across the beautiful rolling hills of Kentucky. It was so nice to have Chris all to myself. A rarity these days. We reminisced a bit, caught up from the days we were apart and listened to audio books when it all felt too much. The next day we knew we were heading into another snow storm. We managed to get past St. Louis before the snow and work our way beyond Kansas City. It was now dumping snow. We slowly inched along and Chris was nervous as I drove. The steering felt loose, but not knowing his truck that well, I chalked it up to the snowy and icy roads. We finally gave up at 1 as we crept along at 18 miles per hour with almost no visibility. We got the second to last room at a hotel and settled in.  For the parents of three active, loud and spirited boys, being stuck by ourselves in a hotel is not a bad thing! We enjoyed the forced time out and quiet.

Early the next morning, the snow has stopped falling and we took off in the dark.  I called the house to talk to Alex before he headed off to school. Just wanting to say  “I love you.”  The sky in front of us slowly began to lighten. I turned to see the sunrise and to my surprise it looked like there were three suns rising. I had never seen anything like it before. Apparently it is called a Sun Dog.  It was so surreal but beautiful. I felt like we must be on another planet.  I felt giddy.


Sun Dog – Acrylic on Canvas © Catherine D. Giglio

Soon, Chris realized that the steering felt loose and off. Again on bumpy snowy and icy roads and in the middle of nowhere, USA.  We kept going, trusting that Chris knew best.  I dozed off only to wake to Chris pulling off at the first exit he could. His eyes were a big and wild looking. By the time we got to the bottom of the ramp, the steering was completely out. Chris got out in the middle of the intersection and was underneath the truck asking me to pull and push the steering wheel back and forth. He managed to get the pin back in all while cars and semis were inches from him. I caught myself holding my breath. Now with a little bit of steering and a shit load of luck, we made our way to the Dodge dealership just a quarter of a mile away. It turned out, that when Chris had the truck serviced here in Fort Collins before his trip, they put the drive shaft and pin in upside down!!!! We were lucky that it was so long that it had room to bend. The mechanic, a huge man with a gentle face, came out shaking his head and looked at us and said “you two are so very lucky.” One more bump we could have gone flying off of I-70. He suggested that we go play the lottery right then. We smiled politely and nervously. I thought I would throw up.

Once back in the truck and only 6 hours from home, the adrenaline had worn off and I just wanted to be home holding my boys.  Again the clarity of the present by looking back in how extremely lucky we were and forward to the life we don’t want to miss. Talk about a slap of perspective. Later a friend told me that seeing Sun Dogs are a good omen. I agreed whole heartedly!!

We got home right as school was getting out. We loved on and snuggled up with our boys. The best hugs and kisses ever. I didn’t want the moment to end. With all 5 of us piled on the sofa, I felt so at peace and overwhelming gratitude.

Later that night, after they were tucked in bed, I unwrapped the painting of the flowers on the slate that Mrs. G gave me and hung it on the wall. I love it. It reminds me to be joyful, to receive and share love, to follow my heart, to be grateful for the memories, the here and now and gifts of the unknown. Someday I will take it off my wall and pass it on to someone else, perhaps my own daughter in law. It’s lovely to think about but for now I am going to soak up today.


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.



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!




It is early morning of the first day of winter, the Solstice.

I woke up to the echo of the train whistle and found a light dusting of snow had fallen. I can hardly wait for the sun to rise to to see my world covered in the sparkle of fresh powder. A solstice gift of white and bright drowning out the brown landscape.

A year ago we were loading up into the car to head east for the holidays and we watched the sunrise over eastern Colorado. I remember how blinding it was and how Pikes Peak standing one hundred miles to the south, glistened in all of her majesty. It was spectacular. And across the plains, the bright orange train engines rolled pulling what seemed a mile of cars. Here we were making a journey back to the place where Chris and I grew up, met and married  and were looking at the base of the mountain where we called home for 15 years, the place where our children were born. Somehow, it felt all encompassing.

This year, my Mom and Harry have traveled to us and are sleeping a few miles away under my sister Christin’s roof. Here my house, too, is full. With my sister Jenny’s family here there are 4 adults, 6 kids and two dogs snuggled up for the next week. It makes me so very happy. A wonderful gift to have so much family gathered.
This day, even though it is the shortest day of the year, gives me the greatest of hope. To know the light is returning is such a comfort. Tonight, on this longest of nights, we will fill our house with family and friends. Each being a light who shines bright.  They will fill my soul with laughter, cheer and hugs. Our solstice party, is a gift to ourselves. To be surrounded by the community we have and to share it with family is true grace. There will be bonfires to burn pieces of paper with worries and wishes. My sweet friend Rosemary, who is an amazing drummer, is setting up a drum circle. (I can hardly wait!) We will fill ourselves with warm soup and bread and toast one another and all of the goodness. It brings me such joy.

I have another sister who is 2000 miles away in Virginia and I miss her dearly. Earlier this week, a package arrived in the mail with a little box that said to open on the 21st. So like a little kid on Christmas, when I got up this morning, I went and turned on the tree (that sounds so funny) and sat on the floor in the quiet and opened it. Inside was a beautiful beaded necklace. Something she picked up 6 months ago on a trip to Bermuda she explained in her note. I filled with warmth to think that she was thinking of me then. The last line read “Something to make your eyes sparkle as the days get longer. I love you, Chrissy”  I can’t begin to tell you how proud I will be to wear this tonight. It is a long strand with white, golden, green and red beads. It combines the colors of light which means the world to me and the colors of Christmas, which means the world to her. It’s perfect and will feel like a hug and that she is with me too.


Deep breath….

In all honesty, my face is burning with tears right now. First of all, I love that she signed the card Chrissy. I think I am the last one to still call her that. She dropped the “sy” years ago and I just couldn’t break the habit. Second, I can hear her infectious laughter in my head and I love that, too. We met 31 years ago when our parents were dating. So many memories of growing up together are flooding me. She has given me so much laughter. She has one of those laughs that just makes the whole room full of people smile and laugh themselves.But the tears aren’t of just joy. There is no way to escape the sadness and anger that cancer brings with it. It doesn’t define her to me, but stage 4 doesn’t let you forget it’s there for very long. I am grateful for the silly texts she sends me of puppies from work, or cute pics of her son dressed up in his santa hat. It gives me peace to see her soaking up life’s true gifts. Everyday she embraces the light in the darkness. She is inspiring and indeed sparkles bright.

My sweet baby nephew, just woke up crying. Chris is up making coffee now and the faintest of light is beginning to outline the trees on the horizon. This shortest day now begins and I know it will be a great one.



Golden Dreams

I just typed the most insane post about the crazy dreams (belt sanders!) I have been having that surely would have earned me a straight jacket if I had sent it out into the world. As much as I would love to try and process them, I am feeling extremely grateful for the delete button.

So often when I am in this exhausted state, I could use a real delete button to back up time and make better choices of words and actions. I guess that in the world, the word sorry is as close to a delete button as we get.

Fortunately, for the canvas there is always more gesso and primer. I had been working on a canvas for a long while and just couldn’t pull it together… so out came the gesso today. A new beginning awaits the canvas I couldn’t even stand to have in my studio. I can feel my color palette shifting again.. the darkness of the season has me longing again for golds and leaning away from the blues. I need to warm up. It is like I can feel the warmth reach my toes as my eyes soak up the golden tones. I want to stand in the comfort  light and not the long shadows that this time of year brings. My shadow that is so very long, dark and blurry, looking like the ghost of Christmas future from Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, mocks me to try to do better, to be more grateful, to be present and mindful. Not always a bad thing, but I want to find that reminder in the light.

Since my shadow isn’t always there to jump out and scare the sense into me, I have an app on my phone called Lotus Bud. It rings randomly through out the day and asks that I take a minute to be mindful and grateful. I think I need to have one installed in every room in my house, so that we can all stop and remember to be and do our best. Why is it that we are the meanest to those who mean the most? We struggle with that here especially when we are all tired. We take for granted the foundation we are to one another. Yesterday, we all needed a bell to go off every 10 minutes. Our almost teenager’s eyes could not have rolled further back into his head, our 5 year old had glue and paper everywhere and wanted no part in cleaning up, my brown eyed boy was struggling to keep it together and my sweet husband wanted to surrender to the list of house projects that grows faster than the weeds in my garden and I wanted to get on a plane to a hot beach in Mexico… alone and not be the constant referee, who was making bad calls by the way!

But as the afternoon and evening unfolded, homework slowly was done… well this time, a proud kindergardener showed off his latest creation, my brown eyed boy was able to ask and receive the love and support he so needed instead of an all out meltdown, my husband got a fun time out at a neighborhood football party and I went to bed early to confront my strange dreams. They didn’t get much better, but tonight I plan to close my eyes and dream in golden colors, ready to start again on a canvas that has some layers of learning already on it.

Trick or Treat

The past few days have a been a test, my mid-term/mid-life exam of learning to stay in the present. As you may have guessed, I am pretty good at getting caught up in the reflective and I am a pretty good day dreamer, too. But when life is uncomfortable, it is so easy for me to long to be else where. I try to find the grace in the moment. And even if I can see it and feel it, the exhaustion of the constant trying makes me want to run back in time to old friends and places. This week there were lots of reminders of “we just get today”…a friend of Chris’s had a heart attack, our old community said goodbye to a young girl from brain cancer and they were hurting, my sister in law’s friend’s breast cancer is back and I so wish I could take away the worry and sorrow, a nasty divorce where children are being used as pawns and wasting so many todays just infuriates me. It adds up and becomes overwhelming even though I am not directly effected. My life didn’t change dramatically, but  I don’t ever want to take those lessons in vain.

Yet I am human and especially when I am worn out, I tend to lose sight. I am grateful to come here and try to see again.

Yesterday day was Halloween.  After some drama of who was going to be where when and all of the silly energy of miscommunication, I finally surrendered and let the night just unfold. My two older boys are at the point where they want to go off with their friends and to the bustling neighborhoods. My friend and neighbor graciously escorted a herd of boys all over northern Fort Collins. So Chachi and I took off through our quiet, dark neighborhood. Most of the homes here have older people who built here 40 years ago. They were  so happy to see his sweet face swaddled in black velvet as he practically whispered trick or treat. No longer were his big brothers there to do the talking for him. No longer were we in a pack of friends and family. I felt guilty as I longed for the days of our big extended family dressed in theme meandering in our tree lined neighborhood of Colorado Springs. The night full of laughter and generations all taking turns visiting with one another. Now the boys wouldn’t dream of doing a theme with us…. I might have to resort to bribery one of these years!  How are they growing up so quickly?

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine said she wanted a “do over” of last Halloween. True it was great fun, but I remember thinking at the time there are no “do overs.” If only there were “do overs!!!!” We all know we only get today once, but that doesn’t make it always easy to use each day wisely and well. And that is exactly what I wasn’t doing as Charlie and I set out last night. I was feeling sad missing those days… wanting a do over.

But then I watched the faces light up when my son whispered his trick or treat, enjoyed the nice few minutes I got to spend talking to our neighbors because I wasn’t in a group and soaked up the pure joy in Charlie’s voice for yet another piece of candy received. I realized this is exactly where I needed to be. We wandered through the dark, hand in hand. Not often do I get to focus my attention on just one son. I realized for the first time in a week, I felt relaxed. I walked at his pace, let him choose which houses he dared to go ring the bell and we even got to soak up the stars as we went past the greenbelt. I will always be grateful for that time with just him. Trick was on me! It was a real and wonderful treat!

Later we met up with my sister and her family. Chachi now had his cousin Will to run up to doors with. They suggested that we head to old town and walk along the main street. It was just what I needed. Treelined, sidewalks full of leaves, fun people to watch, fantastic decorations and children running everywhere! We returned home where the other two showed up with crazy amounts of candy and sat in the living room swapping stories and inhaling tons of sugar! I was grateful there wasn’t a do over. The moment was perfect as it gets and I look forward to being tricked again next year!

Plaster skies


The sky is not quite white or gray today. It hangs overhead as a solid color with no gradation, completely flat. It feels like I could reach up and touch the center of the sky and that my hand would then look like I had dipped it in a bucket of cold, wet plaster. But below this plaster veil, what remains of the fall leaves is stunning.They pop with extra vibrance. It is as if, they have been plugged in. Chartreuse greens, electric golds and my favorite vermillion sprinkled in-between. There are now trees that are completely bare. They have shed this year’s story. Their bare branches and sticks remain exposed against the cold sky. I am learning, ever so slowly to appreciate the message of fall. I know many who love this season. They are finally getting to me and opening my eyes. I have refused to see nothing but death and sadness this time of year. I have struggled and battled with the sense of loss I feel this time of year. Perhaps since my birthday is this season, I say goodbye to another year of my life, see goals not realized, and vainly when I look in the mirror or down at my hands wrinkled hands with knobby knuckles that time has indeed passed- it is all so very selfish. I am fortunate to have lived to the point where the lines on my face remind me of the fullness of my life- the magical days, the impossible days and all of those in-between.  I am lucky enough to have these old looking hands to turn the soil, hold a paint brush, hug my beautiful children, hold Chris’ old worn hands, pet my loyal and loving dogs  and write to searching for perspective.

It is just so still outside. The Aspen leaves just droop, nothing is moving. It is looks like time has stopped for a brief period. But beyond the white plaster sky, the busyness of the world is tremendously overwhelming. To think of all the motion going on globally, it seems impossible that these leaves can be so still. Can’t they feel the parents’ sobbing for their child who just passed away, can’t they feel the laughter from the playground down the street, can’t they feel the buzz of the highway, can’t they feel the oceans crashing to shore thousands of miles away. Or perhaps they are too tired? They are done telling their story. They will drop to the earth and slowly disintegrate into the soil to feed next years growth. Soon the trees they fall from will be standing with their limbs and twisted twigs exposed. They will look vulnerable but will be lighter and more prepared to take on the harshness of winter. Their time for providing protective shade isn’t needed now. We can see their beautiful lines reaching up to the sky. We can see how they have grown and become their beautiful, unique form even with cracks and knots and scars. As I age, I can see the value of this season. It is still uncomfortable, but becomes more beautiful each year. I am grateful to all of you who have shared your love of this season with me. You are helping my branches grow.

Healing Waters

Healing Waters


Yesterday morning, I went down to my studio to paint for just me. Not for the artisan fair, not for the CF Gala coming up (though I should be and it is fun), and not for the show next spring. I wanted to get back to that place on the canvas where I could find my center. I haven’t been feeling well lately. Like most of us, I am worn down and at times feel like I could shatter like glass. Dealing with craziness and frustration of thyroid and adrenal disfunction is maddening and even though I know self care is necessary, I haven’t been good about it on so many levels… that is a long, internal and boring battle.

So while, still in my pajamas, I turned on some favorite music; Bach’s organ works. I chose my color palette to find some peace in the now. A smokey lilac and a gray blue to start. I wanted to get back to my skies. I have missed them.  Slowly, I tuned out my responsibility as a mother, wife, friend, homeowner, sister, daughter, dog-owner, hostess, community member, “taxi” driver, gardener and eventually got lost in the music and paints. Almost as if in a panic to get rid of that white canvas, my strokes started out frantic began to become more sedate and so did I. And sure enough, there came my water that I crave and miss. I still can’t believe I am so landlocked. I am so grateful to have beautiful Long’s Pond up the road, but I miss the ocean. Someone once said to me “you artists are always doing the same thing over and over.”  Yes and no…at times it is true. For me, it is a form of meditation when I paint in this mode. Back and forth across the canvas, numb in color.  I could feel myself floating over gentle waves, soaking up the blue.. not quite sure where the sky ended and the water began… a faint horizon line. I wanted it blurred so I could feel the expanse of time and space. My heart rate steadied, the music floated through my blood stream and my breath calmed. This is why I paint. It heals me. It takes me to places I can’t physically get to and allows me to escape to a peaceful place within myself making me feel healthy, stable and whole. I can float and find footing at the same time in those healing waters I create and then I am ready to challenge myself again.


The pronunciation of our last name has come up a lot lately. It is an easy one to butcher and get wrong. Our last name is Giglio pronounced  jill- E- o but most often it comes out  JIG- leo

and even on occasion jige-LO ???

Nice, huh?

I remember back to when my mother-in-law was a substitute teacher for my sister and as a third grader called her Mrs. Jello. Chris was called Gigs growing up. (As high school sweet hearts from a small town, Chris and I have these old stories) Yesterday, I overheard the boys cracking up about how and when people have messed up our name. But, when someone gets it right, they are over the moon. The principal at Alex’s school now calls him Giglio (pronounced correctly) and he beams with pride. The name Giglio is one associated with beauty and meaning. It translates to lily, which in Italian is the iris. Read more here. Similar to the Fleur-de-lis, it instead has five petals instead of three. It is great fun to have this icon associated with our name. We have the flag of Florence which appropriately for our family has 5 Giglios on it. Our garden is full of iris of all shades. They are on our plates, glasses, doorstops, jewelry, etc.  Chris and I have been to the Isola del Giglio where we were the only Americans and people there were baffled we were there and in SHOCK that our last name was indeed Giglio. I even had to show an elderly man my passport to get him to believe me. In turn, we were given tremendous service and attention while there. It was a hoot! We dined at Restaurante Giglio in Lucca with Chris’s family for his parents’ 40th and the menu is in our dining room. The name has taken us to wonderful places and given us some favorite memories. But the man who gave us this name is who is really on my mind and heart. Chris’s dad aka Mr.G  is a gentleman to the core. I met him 25 years ago when I was just 15.

Double date to a wedding in Richmond 1993
Double date to a wedding in Richmond 1993

He watched me grow up along side his son and was nothing but supportive and caring as we stumbled along to find our footing into adulthood and eventually marriage. He was Chris’s best man.

Mr G. (the far right) Chris's best man!
Mr G. (the far right) Chris’s best man!

In my studio I have a print of a young girl running with all of her art supplies under her arm that is in a frame that he made. Right now, Chachi sits at a table eating a snack that his grandfather proudly made with his hands. But Mr. G has given us so much more than his woodworking creations. He gave Chris a tremendous sense of what is right and wrong, a ridiculous work ethic, the importance of being a part of a community and an authenticity of being a true gentleman. And to me he always finds a quiet moment to sneak in a wonderful and heartfelt compliment. I cherish those words dearly. Right now he isn’t feeling well and Chris and I feel like we might as well be on the moon. If only we could put Colorado where West Virginia is. Chris will soon be going to lend a hand around their house and hopefully get in some fishing time with his Dad and brother to just enjoy the company and the day. Mr. G. is a great story teller. One of my favorites is that he had to be taken to first grade in a cab and checked in to school or otherwise he would just go roam for the day. He would rather be outside than anywhere, so it makes perfect sense.

Off to fish at Becky's pond
Off to fish at Becky’s pond

I now have three boys who have his name. It feels like a huge responsibility to instill in them those hardworking, genuine, and sweet gentleman qualities that seem to come with the name. I am lucky to have my four Giglio guys here under roof and so fortunate to have had Mr. G lead the way. I will always be grateful that this loving man is a part of who I am and that I have the honor of being a Giglio, too.

with the next generation of Giglios
Mr. and Mrs. G with the next generation of Giglios