CC Weekly Challenge: Dog Days and Letting Go

The dog days of summer are upon us, and the leaves of my gerbera daisies have browned along the edges, having long given up having the energy to bloom. These dog days bring about the start of Fall term in my world, which usually brings about a renewed sense of energy for me. Yet this year, it has not. Today is the first day of Fall term, and instead of feeling invigorated and ready for the start of a new year, I’m tired, hot, overscheduled and, as I set up a tent and lugged around 30 cases of water and drinks for Welcome Back at 7:30 this morning, sorely missing my staff person whose position was recently eliminated.

I spent a good part of the weekend doing what I so rarely do: absolutely nothing but sit on the couch and watch movies (well okay, in between six loads of laundry and a few updates on my website). I really needed that down time. The girls lounged around with me, and DH took some good long naps, not feeling well. Over the course of the weekend, I did a lot of thinking about what’s important and what’s not…what’s needed to keep me happy and what just weighs me down. Being overscheduled is nothing new in my world, and as a working mother, much of it is out of my hands, but I’ve hit the point where I need to take some things back to make the required parts of the juggle a little more manageable. I find that I probably spend a little too much time online, and while some of that is necessary to manage my online business presence and keep up with good friends who are far away, some of it is voluntary. It’s those voluntary parts I need to let go of to make room for those more important things…like more time with my kids and more time to make art just for me and no one else, the kind of art I don’t have to worry about keeping an inventory of for the Riverside Arts Market and my juried shows…the kind of art I can make with my girls…the kind of art that just lets me play without feeling the pressure of a deadline.

One of those voluntary things I’ll be letting go of is my role as team leader for our North Florida Craft Revolution Etsy team. I’m proud of the blog I created and manage for the team, but I’m also tired of having it all rest on me; I spend more time on the team blog than I do marketing my own work, and that seems a bit backwards, don’t you think? Another of those things is this Creative Construction weekly challenge. I’ve enjoyed keeping it going, yet submissions have dwindled without that $10 Amazon prize carrot, and it’s become a struggle to make sure there’s at least one entry each week. I do this with a catch in my heart because I’ve gained much through this community, but my time is becoming more and more precious. So with this, I bid you adieu, weekly challenge. Should someone else want to take over the coordination, I’ll participate when I can.

It’s scary to let things go sometimes, isn’t it? I know it is for me. Since I’ve started blogging I’ve come across more and more blogs that talk about being true to your authentic self. I have to admit, at first I thought that was a bunch of baloney. I’m very much a “what you see is what you get” and “it is what it is” kinda girl. Yet there are pieces of that authenticity movement, if you want to call it that, that have hit home with me. And maybe the biggest part is taking charge of your life, doing the things that mean the most to you, letting go of the things that don’t matter, and finding that balance between managing your day-to-day real life while still reaching for your dreams. It’s in my nature to juggle, so I know that won’t change, but I am working towards not having quite so many balls in the air at once.

More Art Journal Pages...

Here’s another spread from the art journal I’ve been working on. I must admit I still haven’t actually written anything in it yet. I think I’ve decided to get the whole thing done art-wise first and then go back and to the journaling part. It’s starting to take shape in my head, and I think it’ll most likely be done in a “notes to a friend” type fashion. That’s how I’ve tended to “journal” in the past…long letters to friends, sometimes mailed, sometimes not.

Things are getting busier than normal for me with the start of Fall term coming on Monday. In addition to my Student Life role during the day, I’m teaching two classes on Tuesday evenings, one English Composition and one Student Life Skills. I’m teaching them both in a hybrid format (half in-class, half on-line), the English from 5:00pm-6:30pm and the SLS from 7:00pm-8:30pm, so that’s the new learning curve for me. I’ve never taught hybrid courses before. Since I can teach in two areas, the idea behind that scheduling was to give evening students an opportunity to take two classes on the same night….but both of my classes are full and I don’t have anyone who’s taking both! Oh well, we tried. Maybe it’ll catch on better next time. I was writing up my journaling prompts for my English class this afternoon and I kept thinking about my art journal, but, alas, I guess I can’t assign them visual art assignments in an English class.

Bear With Me...

Mama’s got a new toy! My camera collection has now grown to include a fun little Nikon CoolPix P80. Why did I need yet another camera, you ask? Well, because this one takes videos, silly! I admit…my dad bought us a camcorder about three years ago. We’ve used it several times; I think we’ve even filled up two or three cassettes worth of video. However! We have yet to figure out how to get the video off the cassettes and onto something that allows us to actually watch and share the videos on something other than that little camcorder screen (I will fully admit to being technologically challenged). With this little thing, all I have to do is pull that little camera card out and upload the video to my computer just like my regular pictures. It’s Kelly proof! Now, we’ll see if I can actually upload the video to Blogger…cue dramatic music….

CC Weekly Creativity Challenge: Grade School

Today is my girls' first day of 1st grade. Where has this summer gone!? This morning I've been thinking about that and realized that the older I get, the older my girls get, and the more scattered-brained I become. I suppose it’s the constant juggle of full-time-work-outside-the-home mom, wife, creative artist, friend, sister, and every other role I have in this crazy life of mine. I’m forever losing and misplacing things these days. Last week it was my wallet. After a day and night of panic, I finally found it under my desk at work. I must have missed my purse when I was trying to put it back in there, and it just ended up on the floor. DH has found the peanut butter in the fridge and the milk in the pantry on many occasions (well, okay, I’ll admit that I’ve had that strange form of dyslexia for as long as I can remember…I’ve also been known to sleep walk and move furniture in my sleep but that’s a whole other story).

Car keys are also a big thing for me. I’ll leave them in the typical absent-minded professor places like on top of my van, in the front door after unlocking it, or in the bathroom sink. But I must admit that the strangest place I’ve found them is probably the freezer. And no, it’s not the girls putting them there; I’m quite certain it’s my missing brain. A few weeks ago, walking out to my van after having lunch with a friend, I couldn’t find my keys yet again. I finally found them…in the van…with the van still running. I should have just left a banner in the front windshield that said, “Free van! Here for the taking! Already started and nice and cool for you!” I’ve caught myself almost doing that same thing more than once. I guess my brain is just thinking about other things when I park and I just get out… Thank God for OnStar. It’s a little creepy the things they can do, but their service is one of the main reasons I drive a Chevy.

I don’t remember being this scatter-brained before I had children. But then I guess my life is far fuller and far richer than it was before I had children. Funny that I didn’t decide to take on a creative business on top of my full-time job until after I had children. Though I’ve always been creative, I do know that having children has brought out even more creativity in my day-to-day life. These top two pictures are two of my favorites from this summer, and they seem appropriate for today…almost like the girls are saying goodbye to summer vacation. The bottom one I took this morning, saying hello to a new school year with their new teacher. Yes, where does the time go? Those tiny little babies that were born no longer than the length of my forearm are getting taller and taller every day. Any first day of school memories you’d like to share?

Girls Night Out at Yes You Canvas

We had a Jacksonville Chi Omega alumnae girls night out Thursday night at Yes You Canvas. I had a great time my first trip, but it's even more fun to do with a group of friends, especially since Aubree brought wine. :-) I’ve decided that either my paintings are really, really bad or David simply likes what I do…because he rarely suggests any changes to me when he’s walking around looking at our progress. I'll choose to believe the latter, right? Mine are definitely big and a bit messy, and I’m discovering that when it comes to painting, I am most definitely not a perfectionist. I think I like the messy look! Here’s my first painting. Our next month's get-together will be a happy hour at The Grape, but I'm thinking we'll be back at YYC soon.

A Little Bit of Belated Thanks

I wanted to catch up on a few thank you’s today. Three other wonderful bloggers sent me blog awards and I have been remiss in thanking them! I can’t remember how I stumbled across Roben-Marie Smith’s blog but her work is just beautiful. I was so honored when she mentioned me on her blog! And she just told me today that she is also taking DJ Pettitt’s class at the Artful Journey retreat! Yeah! Roben-Marie is currently having a giveaway on her blog for these beautiful tags she created. They are also available as a digital download in her store. Go check them out! Her online store is filled with all kinds of fun goodies.

Secondly, my thanks to Rose, the artist behind Recreational Art. Rose lives just down the road in St. Augustine and is a fellow member of the Florida Etsy Street Team. Isn’t this ring she created the cutest? She has dozens of fun rings like these in her Etsy shop. Visit Rose’s blog here and her Etsy shop here.

And all the way to Ireland, I'd like to send a big thank out to Alana. I met Alana through Creative Construction and she is a writer and mother with the interesting background of having been the Deputy Director of UNICEF in Ireland. Please visit Alana’s Mummy Mania here!

I’ve met so many wonderful people since I started this little blogging adventure of mine. It’s amazing how many connections you can make with people all over the world through a keyboard and a screen.

Little Blessings...

Livvie found this on her bed, all nicely made up by her sister. Speaks for itself, don’t you think? What sweet little things I am blessed with. What have you been blessed with today? I bet you can think of something if you try. :-)

Passing Down Family Creations

Well, let’s just say I now have a huge new appreciation for the three dozen Christmas balls I have of my grandmother’s. These are what we learned to make this weekend. Nana and Aunt Livy used to make them by the dozens, as evidenced by this picture of one tray of Aunt Livy’s creations (above). And now after lots of cutting, many fights with a rotary cutter, one nasty cut on my finger from said rotary cutter, and one very numb index finger from pushing in all those pins (oh, nearly 200 per ball), I know how to make them. This week anyway! I think I need to make one a week to fully etch the process into my brain.

These balls are 3”. For a 3” ball, you need 42 2 ½” squares of fabric. Aunt Livy cuts her fabric by hand, but my cousin Susan showed me her “short cut” for cutting them with a rotary cutter. Susan made it look so easy, Kim and I figured we’d just get up the next morning and whip those squares out in about 15 minutes. Yeah right. Apparently mastering the rotary cutter without slicing off your finger takes years of practice. It took us nearly an hour to cut enough fabric for one little ball. Then came all that folding and pinning and pinning and folding and folding and tucking. And then there’s that little trick to get them all lined up so they meet in the middle. I, at least, added a little to the method there. I decided to rotate from side to side and then work towards the middle from both sides instead of doing one side and then the other. We managed to finish two balls before our pin-pushing fingers gave out. We did the first in traditional Christmas-color fabric that Aunt Livy had already cut for us, and then our second in our more colorful fabric we brought with us.

Learning the process itself really wasn’t the treat though. Learning the process from Aunt Livy was the important part. She really enjoyed walking us through each step, so encouraging, while helping me and Kim juggle keeping the girls entertained making their own versions of the balls, above. Though I think they probably could have handled the folding, the rest was far beyond what their little fingers can do at six years old. (My creations below)

This was a long drive, but well worth it. I try to make it up to see Aunt Livy once a year around her birthday, and each year I leave with tears in my eyes praying I’ll have the chance again the next year. She’s pretty darn healthy for an 88-year-old, and she decided to move into an assisted living facility last month. She said she wanted to do it while the choice was still hers, not when Ray or Darlene (her children) were forced to make the choice for her, and though I see a little wistfulness in her gaze, I think she’s at peace with her choice. I hope I’m that strong when I’m 88 years old, and I hope my girls remember this day. (Kim's creations below..that one with the green and coral is my favorite of all of ours.)

CC Weekly Creativity Challenge: Old Friend

This week's entry for the Creative Construction weekly creativity challenge...Though I’ve weaved in and out of various art mediums for as long as I can remember, the one thing that has remained a constant for me is photography, my old friend.

I took my first “real” photography course my freshman year in college. This one didn’t include darkroom techniques, just shooting techniques, so I just learned the real basics. My instructor still teaches adjunct at the College that has been my place of employment for the past 16 years! It was for this class that I got my first “Big Girl Camera”, a Pentax A3000, on the right in the picture above. When I transferred to Florida State I was able to take more photography classes, including two that taught me dark room techniques. I can still remember sitting in that little black booth, learning the feel of taking my film out of my camera and prepping it for development in that pitch blackness.

I worked as a professional photographer in college for a company that photographed all the sorority and fraternity functions on campus as well as 90% of the high school and college graduations in the state of Florida. The sorority and fraternity socials were actually the most fun….nothing like being the center of attention at a large party simply because you had the camera! I have to admit, I knew a LOT of people at Florida State (or at least a LOT of people at Florida State knew me) simply because of my camera. I was one of only two female photographers on the staff for quite some time, so you can imagine Evie and I were often requested by the fraternities. Summer always meant grad season and, since Jacksonville was home, I was usually scheduled for all the Jacksonville schools….long days in the old Jacksonville Memorial Coliseum photographing grad after grad as they walked across the stage to shake their principals' hands.

Shortly after DH and I got married, I upgraded to a Pentax Z7 with built-in flash so I could finally get away from that cumbersome top-mounted flash. When the girls were born, I bought my first digital camera, my trusty Fuji Finepix A-210. To this day, I use my little Fuji to photograph my jewelry for my website. Three years ago, I finally coughed up the cash for my digital SLR, a Nikon D40, near the top of the line at that point! Now Nikon has shot on up the line with the D700 and D3000, waaaay out of my price range. My D40 suits me just fine.

Somewhere along the way at a random antique shop, I picked up the Zeiss Ikon Ikoflex you see pictured on the left here. It’s in pristine condition short of one little part I’m searching for. The Ikoflex was made in Germany between 1939 and 1951, and best I can tell from the body and case, mine was manufactured in the earlier part of that span. I keep it on a shelf in my bedroom to remind of my quest for that missing part.

I have a large camera bag in my closet that contains all my cameras, including all the little point-and-shoots I’ve had along the way, some functional, some not. Just can’t bear to part with them. When I picked up the bag to prepare to take this picture, the weight of the it struck me as quite heavy yet very familiar. All my old friends happily tucked away together, just waiting for me to find the right time to break them out again. Kodochrome may no longer be in production, but the images he left behind will be timeless. Paul Simon said it best; take a listen.

Stories and pictures from my weekend trip coming tomorrow!

Off to Visit Aunt Livy!

Happy Wednesday! We are heading out tomorrow morning for a four-day visit to see my great Aunt Livy for her 88th birthday! Just a girls’ trip: me and the two little redheads and my sister, Kim. We’re picking Kim up at the Atlanta airport (she lives in DC) and then heading on up to North Georgia. Aunt Livy lives just south of Chattanooga, TN, in Ringgold, GA. Very much looking forward to the trip, very much not looking forward to the eight-hour drive, but with the DVD player in the van and a little help from the Man upstairs, we’ll survive! If all goes as planned we’ll come home with a few things made from this fabric. I won’t tell you what they are other than to tell you these are things Aunt Livy and our Nana, her sister, always made together, and Kim and I decided we needed to learn before no one was around to teach us! Wish us luck! See ya Monday.

CC Weekly Creativity Challenge: Sprout

The girlies and I had an art-filled afternoon yesterday, creating pieces for this week’s Creative Construction weekly creativity challenge. Our theme was “sprout”. Below is my piece, Sarah’s piece and then Olivia’s piece. Guess who the diva in the household is?

August Free Bling Time!

It’s Free Bling Friday time! Congrats to July's Free Bling winner, Ellie B. from Orlando, FL. Congrats, Ellie! Your long-time readership of my blog is much appreciated! You can visit Ellie’s art blog here.

Here’s my August giveaway. I actually created this pendant as a demo while teaching a friend of mine how to create a glass tile pendant with a picture of her grandson. I thought the colors were perfect to represent August! The paper I used is cut from the gorgeous paper collection I've been using for my art journal. I’ll send this pendant along with a silver ball chain cut to your preferred length. To be eligible to win, simply email me or leave a comment in the comment box by midnight Thursday, September 3, with the subject line FREE BLING and include where you're from. The next winner will be drawn via Friday, September 4. Don't want to miss a single Free Bling Friday? Click here to sign up for free weekly email reminders or subscribe in the reader of your choice in the right column over there. Click here for the Happy Shack Designs website.

Flying Anyway...

Okay, I’m doing it. I’ve sent in my 50% deposit. I’m looking at flights. I’m telling myself and telling myself again that it’s okay to do this thing just for me, so here I go. February 18-22, 2010, I will be participating in An Artful Journey, taking DJ Pettitt’s class. I am incredibly excited and incredibly terrified at the same time. I’ve wanted to do something like this ever since I started playing around with mixed media. I’m very much a kinesthetic learner; I have to learn by doing. And what better way to learn by doing than to actually be there learning and doing with an incredibly talented artist and instructor? This will push me past just marking all the wonderful projects in Somerset Studio and Cloth Paper Scissors with my “I must try this soon” sticky notes. This will make me sit down with a group of other artists (I still hesitate at calling myself that) and do. This will force me to face my fears and my doubts and really put myself out there for all to see (well, at least all in the class anyway…) I talked with DJ via email earlier today and she’s incredibly gracious and incredibly encouraging and incredibly unaware of my sheer terror. :-) Have I said incredibly enough yet? This photo is a sample of DJ’s beautiful work.
I actually registered for this class about two weeks ago, but I had been hesitating sending in my confirmation deposit because I was having a hard time justifying spending the money on something this self-indulgent that would take me away from my family for five days. This is definitely a “want to” do, not a “have to” do. Times are tough all around right now economically. I have friends who’ve lost their jobs, I have a husband who’s had to lay off employees and is concerned about the amount of work he has, and I have children who need school clothes and supplies. And then there’s me: full-time-working, bust-my-buttin', family-care-taking wife and mom who yearns to ditch her day job and play with paint, paper and beads all day long. What pushed me to finally send in my deposit was a discussion (read the comments) we had over on Creative Construction on “flying anyway”, prompted my Miranda’s "fly" photo and comments. Thanks for that push, Brittany. “Work every day but fly when you can.” I’m working my butt off so I can fly to California in February. Maybe I’ll even work enough to bring the family along so they can walk through a giant redwood while I sift through a pile of beautiful papers. Either way, California, here I come!

CC Weekly Creativity Challenge: Fly

For this week’s Creative Construction weekly creativity challenge, themed “Fly”, I thought I’d share another spread from the art journal I’ve been working on. I’m definitely loving creating the “art” part of this journal, though I’m still very hesitant on the “journal” part. I have mapped out things in my head that I’d like to write in there but have not yet had the courage to put pen to art! Who knows? I may just end up with a journal full of pretty pictures. :-)

Mama's Tired....

It’s been a fun-filled, incredibly tiring five days! Wednesday started with the girls’ birthday activities. Thursday, we spent the day with their summer camp class (all 76 of them) at Adventure Landing Water Park. Friday, I had the morning to get the house cleaned up before DH picked the girls up early from camp. Saturday was the BIG birthday bash with slumber party from 2pm Saturday-10am Sunday morning. And then we finally wrapped up the weekend back at Adventure Landing this afternoon for a friend’s birthday party. Here are couple pictures from the party Saturday. The girls are front and center (Sarah) and back right (Livvie) on the swing, and Livvie is second from left on the slide (believe or not that other little redhead up there is not related!). Okay…Mama’s going to bed now. I have to go back to work tomorrow to get some rest. :-)