Friday, February 29, 2008

Leap dog...

It's Max's birthday today, and although he's four years old, it's his first REAL birthday, because he was born on Feb. 29, 2004. In spite of the 2,500 (or so) walks I've taken him on -- twice a day every day for four years -- in every kind of weather that the Northeast can dish out, it seems like just yesterday he was a puppy, and I was alternately in love and suffering from extreme sleep deprivation. Although he was an adorable puppy, he's an even more wonderful dog, and we have settled into a comfortable routine that suits us both. Most days, we head down to the local bike path at about 6 am and walk for 45 minutes or an hour, meeting up with his other dog friends and their owners, among them Tank, Jet, Bullet, Paige, Zoe, Kip, Scruffy, Buddy & LouLou, to named just a few. Then we return home for breakfast, a few rounds of fetch with his favorite toys, and he settles into his recliner until I return from work, when the routine begins again. He can sit, and he can retrieve most of his toys by name, but otherwise, he's not especially talented, and that's just fine with us. No human can greet you with as much enthusiasm as Max, and when he cocks his head just the right way, he'll make you believe that he understands just what you're saying, and it's fascinating. He is the reason that every day of the year, I go outside, breathe fresh air, and appreciate the miracles of nature.
This was Max as a puppy. Curiously, after his first grooming, all those dark markings disappeared, and he became the silvery charmer above.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I want to be in control!

...and sometimes, I don't get to be, and when that happens, I get all discombobulated...and grumpy...and sometimes, downright mean (mostly to my husband)...who is the reason I am not in control. (this time).

I like to plan and organize and check things off of my list. I like it when things happen the way I expect them to. And while I know that control is an illusion, I live quite happily within that illusion much of the time, until life pulls the rug out from under me.

The events that transpired were not earth-shattering, and in many ways, the change of plans worked in my favor, so I was surprised to find myself floundering. Now what do I do? I actually had a weekend free that was not supposed to be. I should have used that time wisely to accomplish one of the dozens of other things on my list...but instead, I wandered and squandered the time I had -- because I couldn't change gears quickly.

Now I'm wondering if I've always been this way, or if it's because I'm not as flexible and easy-going as I was at 25. I welcome a change of pace and I am refreshed by new opportunities, but I like to plan them, and anticipate them. I don't want them thrust upon me. And that's a problem.

I am reminded of this quote:
"If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans."

I must keep him in stitches.

(Here's a little digital collage I made today, just for fun.)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A sneak peak...

at the altered chinese chess set challenge...
For those who've just stumbled upon my blog for the first time, or those who don't commit every brilliant post I write to memory, I issued a challenge back in November, to the first ten readers who wished to participate. Including myself, the challenge began with ten participants, and nine were able to complete it within (give or take a week) our allotted time frame...

It has been a wonderful month at my mailbox (or more accurately, my front porch), where every few days, I was treated to another amazing work of art that began as a $2 Chinese wooden chess set and evolved into a unique work of art.

Here I have cropped photos to offer just a peak at a fragment of each of the amazing pieces I received. All of them are fabulously creative and entirely different, but I've made a few initial observations...

2 chose to retain the set's original Asian theme;
3 chose to keep theirs as a type of game;
3 went with themes evoking nature or used natural elements;
2 highlighted girls/women in their pieces;
2 are designed to be wall hangings

(obviously some pieces fit into more than one category here)

I want to publicly thank all of the participants for taking on the challenge. I issued it at an absolutely crazy time of year -- the winter holidays -- and everyone jumped in as though they didn't have a thousand other things to do. As I mentioned in my original post about the challenge, my plan now is to write an article about our experience (with the help of all of the contributing artists), as well as to create an art piece for each of the participants that also serves as documentation of everyone's creations.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

My January Ta Da List...

I am continually reminded that the creative flow is a fickle process. Sometimes I have so many ideas for blog topics and art in general that I have to stop what I'm doing to write them all down so the don't forget them....this month has been the opposite. I think that my list of resolutions posted last month left me a bit paralyzed. I was struck with a sudden feeling of regret for having declared so much so publicly...oh no, now I actually have to try to DO all of those things --- otherwise I'm not the only one who will know that I've failed.

The purpose of my "declarations" is not to set myself up for failure, but to motivate myself by making my ideas more concrete and real. I blog a lot about this because I believe it so strongly. So why, then, am I regretting my ambitious new year's resolutions? Because some these resolutions, I've already discovered, are actually a lot of hard work, and that always strikes fear in my heart. Do I really want to work that hard? Isn't my full-time job, and home ownership, and teaching classes, and writing articles enough? Why do I want to add more to that? Maybe I don't. But I think I do...and I know I will not be happy with myself if the next eleven months flies by and I have not at least taken steps in the direction of my ambitions -- there, I said it. I am ambitious. And then I feel guilty that my ambitions are not all more altruistic.

But then I teach an art class, or make something with my own two hands and some paper and paint, and I am reminded once again, that even if what I do is not heroic, it matters.

Art matters.
Creativity matters.
to me, and to those in my classes. I see it in their eyes, and the expressions on their faces as they engage in the creative process.

So, on the creative front this month, I...
taught three "inchies" classes at Stampassion, and they indeed energized me and reminded me why I make art;
I had an artist date with my friend Debbie, which is also always a powerful reminder of how sharing the creative process makes it even better;
I participated in a monthly ATC swap, which is always a fun way to share art;
I had my first session (of three) for 2008 with my creative coach, Sheri Gaynor, and my focus was mainly the children's book I want to write and illustrate this year (which is the main reason for all of my paralysis -- this is major hard work!!!!
...and I worked with my friend (and event planner) Lori on a number of freelance design projects. Lori and I always work so well together, that this too is another really great reminder of why I do what I do.

I will leave you with a picture of Sammy the squirrel, a daily visitor to my back porch. He began visiting when I hung a bird feeder (that my dad made), and originally, I was annoyed because I would find Sammy swinging with wild abandon from the feeder, while my hungry little birds chattered noisily in nearby shrubs. But I also figured he's probably hungry too, so now I leave extra seeds scattered around my deck, and he hasn't needed to cimb into the feeder since. And talk about an ambitious, goal-oriented creature. You have to admire that!