Monday, December 28, 2015

My Girl-ifesto.

As the new year approaches, I decided I should have one. You can call it a mission or vision statement, a business plan, or a mantra for life, but I like having a Girl-ifesto. I think it sounds feisty. And I am feeling a bit feisty these days. 

My Girlifesto 
Speak your mind. 
Tell your story. 
Sing out loud. 
Own your quirks. 
Laugh at yourself. 
Laugh, period. 
Cry, too. 
Be curious. 
Be furious. 
Have fun. 
Break the rules. 
Make things. 
Go places. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015


just future resentments. (Something I read recently.)

This is a mind-blowing concept to me, but I get it. I get why it’s bad to have expectations. It’s really about living in the present moment. When I have an expectation, I am living in the future. My mind has orchestrated a future that is likely not to play out exactly as I expect (or often, not even close). I can honestly say I have done this a million times. I play out scenarios in my head about how something will go. And then I am disappointed or angry when what I imagined would happen, doesn’t. And not only that, what does happen Is fairly lackluster in comparison to my grandiose ideas. And then I resent someone or something that has not lived up to my…you guessed it. EXPECTATIONS.

And resentment is just anger and disappointment that I hang onto and allow to play out over and over in my noisy head, and that is living in the past – in a nutshell. 

Accepting what IS, as it plays out, in the present moment, is the key to happiness, peace, and contentment. 

This is a difficult one for me, and I’m guessing I’m not alone. I mean, isn’t it good to get excited and to anticipate future events? I am guessing that there may be a difference between some healthy excitement and anticipation, and a detailed internal script about how I expect events to unfold. And what about the past? Aren't memories of good times a good thing? They may make us feel nostalgic and warm and fuzzy, but if we are back there -- in the past -- we are not here -- in the now. Which is where we live. And according to the experts, if we aren't paying attention in the now, then we end up missing the point.

So, today, I release my expectations (most of them), and let go of my resentments (some of them) --  take a deep breath, and look around. I am here and now. Always. Well, not always, just until I die. But that’s enough. 

“If you don’t know where you want to be in five years, you’re already there.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

That statement literally changed the trajectory of the past year for me, inviting me to almost immediate action. I’ve been following Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love fame on Facebook for awhile now. I confess, I have not read her famous book. I found the premise of being able to quit one’s job and go on a worldwide soul search more than a little bit unrealistic for me and my circle of friends. Still. I have found that I love her daily insights into finding oneself and living the life you truly want.

Being a writer, she believes in the power of writing down your dreams and plans, and I have to agree. Putting words on paper takes more than ink. It takes thought, energy and commitment. It takes honesty. Admission. So she recommended that you write down the answer(s) to where you want to be in five years. And she went further in suggesting that if you don’t give any thought to the future, you’re likely not going anywhere. And if you are perfectly content exactly where you are, then that’s fine.

She prompted readers with some basic questions -- what do you want your health to be like? Where do you want to be living? Where do you want to be working? How much money will you need, to make your dreams happen? She believes that just declaring these things shakes up the Universe and starts the ball rolling. I wanted to believe this too.

She also posed this question, which for me, was the catalyst:

What are you willing to give up, to have what you really want?

Wait. I have to give something up,? Can’t I just write down my list of wishes, like a childhood Christmas list, and then go to sleep and await their arrival?

But for me, that was the pivotal question. My list of five-year goals included the usual -- more money, more travel, a thriving art business, and a regular daily exercise program, to name a short but lofty list. But another “want” crept into my head. In five years, I wanted to be five years’ sober. And there it was. I admitted it. Of course, I’m sure I was drinking my third glass of chardonnay at the time, but it was a start. Way down deep in my gut, I knew the truth – that none of the other things that I wanted would ever be possible without giving up the thing that had become most important to me. Drinking.

This may sound melodramatic to anyone without a drinking problem, but it takes a lot of energy, creativity and time to have a deep, long-term relationship with alcohol.

But like many long-term relationships, this one had long ago ceased giving me what it had promised in the beginning. And I was ready. Right after I finished that last glass of chardonnay.

Monday, December 21, 2015

One word - 2016

Since 2008, I have been declaring my one-word resolution for the coming year, instead of making a list so specific it was bound to fail. I enjoy the ritual, and I do find it helps to remind me during the year of what’s important to me, even if I am not outlining a specific plan. It’s also much easier to delude oneself into believing one has not failed, am I right?

Don’t get me wrong. Words matter. I have always believed in the power of the written or spoken word, but I am taking this ritual a bit less seriously this year. Still, I hope it serves me well – or better yet, that I do it justice.

So my word for 2016 is... CREATE. 

Now, this word has obvious meaning for artists, but as always, I like it when a word has the ability to work its magic in any number of areas of my life, and this one is wide open with potential. 

So there it is. In 2016, I hope to create ______________!

(And just to re-cap…I do this part more for my own reference than anything else…my chosen words, from 2008 to 2015: Health. Wealth. Believe. Authentic. Power. Discipline. Love. Persistence.)

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Merry Christmas...

and good will to all. We certainly need it these days. Wishing you all a happy holiday season.

I have several blog posts in draft stages, and I plan to publish more consistently in 2016. I am so grateful for those of you who visit, and for your kind words after my last announcement. It's been three months, two weeks, and five days since I took my last drink. I have much to say on the subject, but not just yet.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Persistence revisited.

So, persistence has been my one-word resolution for 2015.

I am an expert flitter and a quitter -- flitting from one project to the next, one art form to another, and then just losing interest. And this tendency goes way beyond art -- I do the same with exercise. And cooking. I start a lot of things, very enthusiastically, and then, I somehow lose momentum.

But it occurred to me last week that I had completely forgotten my yearly word. I had to look through old blog posts to even find it. So much for 2015 and persistence, I thought. But I took stock of this year, and I realized that persistence was working its ass off for me.

I had been thinking of persistence in relation to my art and all of the projects and techniques I abandon just around the time I should be pushing through for some kind of creative breakthrough. But in the rare, quiet times when I took an honest look at my life, I knew the really challenge didn’t start with my art. My lack of follow-through was a symptom of a much bigger issue in my life. My bad habits all stemmed from the same place. The bottom of a wine glass.

So, on August 30, I stopped. 

How is that persistence, you may wonder? Well, anyone who has quit a bad habit knows that usually, prior to quitting are many, many false starts -- or more accurately, stops, and a lot of soul-searching, and promises to oneself before one succeeds. And that is big-ass persistence. 

Of course, clarity of mind brings with it a whole shitload of new issues. My mind is a pain in the ass, truth be told. It won’t shut up. So right now I am doing a lot of reading and listening and hopefully learning, always learning.

Xo Peace and love.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

We are not good OR bad...

We are good AND bad…

Did I blog about this already? Because if I did, I apologize. I am not getting old OR forgetful, I am getting old AND forgetful. 

So if you get a feeling of de ja vu when you read this, that is why. I was introduced to this concept of duality by an artist I've admired for a long time, and it really resonated with me. It has, in fact, stuck with me enough that I want to write about it, possibly for the second time.

In her case, I vaguely recall that she was lamenting to her therapist that she was not good… at several things…she was a bad mother, etc. Sidebar: this artist is ridiculously good at everything, and I mean everything: art, motherhood, business, writing, fencing, boxing, violin, sewing..the list is truly endless (I swear, I am not making any of these up – she does them ALL, very well) -- so after this revelation, I stopped listening for awhile to what she had to say, because being excellent at everything (she is also incredibly disciplined and really works hard at all of these things, by the way) but being awesome at everything and still thinking you’re bad is just annoying.

But back to the subject…
We are not good OR bad. We are good AND bad. What I love about this, is the reminder that both goodness and badness can co-exist within us. Being bad (sometimes), does not negate the good we have done. We are always learning and hopefully growing from our experiences, and hopefully, at the end of it all, if our deeds are sorted into good AND bad, the good list is a lot longer. 

Now where did I leave my pitchfork?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Eternal life

I have been painting again. It started with a “kind of” commissioned piece. For a woman I’ve never met, but who, through this amazing cyber universe we now inhabit, I feel like I have known for years. We have friends in common, and we will get to meet this summer, when she comes up from Florida to visit those friends. And I will get to give her this painting in person. 

I love how it turned out. She chose the words, and the color, and the little butterfly, which is a symbol of someone she lost, and I was surprised at the feelings this painting evokes for me, so I hope that she is equally moved.

This connection to people through art is really an amazing thing. I am so grateful for the creative process and all that it brings with it. 


It is finally here. Spring has truly become my new favorite season. I used to love fall best, but as it is the precursor to seemingly endless winters in the Northeast, all that spring has to do is show up, to become my new favorite. And while I am not fond of extreme heat, the summer is too fleeting for me to grow to despise.

I spent this past Sunday doing garden clean-up. The first day outside after a long winter is always the very best – even the inevitable blister between thumb and forefinger from raking too vigorously.

For one thing, a few hours of work yields such noticeable improvement. Outdoor furniture is dusted off and set up; the last fall leaves are bagged, revealing little green shoots and buds; sticks are bundled in neat little piles for pick-up; all of the ugliness of late winter is gone in one lovely, sunny afternoon.

For another thing, spring is all about the promise of potential fulfilled -- beauty and growth and abundance. The air smells fresh and the earth, loamy; birdsong fills the cool air -- robins chirp angrily at my presence as they use their instinctual artistry to turn sticks and mud and string and bits of paper into a perfect little round nest, hidden in a nearby tree.

The grass is still the color of straw, but just the absence of snow makes its crunch and rustle welcome beneath my feet. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

More digital toe touches

I am clearly ready for summer, with these abstract flowers and vibrant summer hues...

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Artistic calisthenics

Sometimes, as I get ready to tackle a new creative project, my brain needs a warm up to get the creative juices flowing. For me, digital collage has been a great way to stretch my creative muscles.

These summer-inspired postcards are the result of my recent calisthenics. It reached 43 degrees in Upstate NY yesterday, and it made my mind wander affectionately to dandelions, which I will no doubt be cursing in just a couple of months. 

Monday, March 09, 2015

The finished pieces

These are the mini canvasses that I started last week and showed in progress in my last post. 

Plaster, collage & acrylics on canvas

Thursday, March 05, 2015

90 Degrees.

No. It is most certainly not the weather. But last week I glanced at my art table, which had been tucked against a wall in the corner of my living room for a few years now, and decided it was facing the wrong way. I don't like facing the wall. So I turned it...90 degrees to the left, and I  am making art again. Now my table faces into the living room, instead of into a wall. Sometimes that is all it takes. A 90 degree turn.  A new perspective.

In progress...

Friday, February 13, 2015

More digital collage

Sometimes, or more accurately, most of the time, I have an urge to journal, to spill out my fears and frustrations and problems on paper, but at the same time I am afraid of revealing too much. I find it awkward and painful to read my own admissions of struggle or failure. So I find myself hiding the words somewhat by incorporating them into an art journal page, or in this case, a digital collage. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

More digital collage fun...

While impatiently waiting to be able to get to work yesterday, I did a little photoshop play. The primitive nature of the drawings is the result of sketching with a mouse...

Monday, February 09, 2015

Life Lessons - control

There's nothing like two fucking feet of snow at your doorstep (and everywhere else you look) to remind you that any feeling of control you've ever had is an illusion.

I love the illusion of control. I like choosing how I will spend my days, even within the confines of my reality, which of course, includes a job, walking a dog and a lot of other obligations. Still, I choose to work (so that I can eat), and I choose to walk my dog (so that he doesn't poop in the house). I like feeling as though I have choices, that I control the shape of my days.

But right now, mother nature is in control. And she is one miserable, sadistic bitch.

And I am fairly certain that I have written this before. Possibly this entire post, but certainly the theme of control. And my lack of growth in dealing with it.

And now that I am done ranting, I will leave you with image. I think it's called the sun. I am not sure. It's been so long since I've seen it that I barely remember.