Springtime Tallahassee

Though I didn’t get my fried pickles, I had a great day at the Springtime Tallahassee Arts Jubilee on Saturday. The weather was perfect, if a bit windy in the morning, and the crowds were happy and plentiful. This is always one of my favorite shows of the year, simply because it’s in Tallahassee and I get to catch up with old friends. And my sales are usually great too! I took this shot standing in front of my booth; it’s the top of the courthouse. I just thought it was really pretty through the trees. Tallahassee is such a beautiful city.

I’d have to say a highlight of my day was meeting Jackie. She came into my booth twice before talking with me about my photos. Turns out she’s a designer and thinks some of my pieces would work well for some of her clients. She also gave me some good tips from a designer’s perspective. And to top it all off, we learned we are sorority sisters! She graduated from Florida State as a Chi Omega in 1979. I graduated from Florida State as a Chi Omega in 1988 and then from grad school in 1991. We shared what our days in the Chi O house where like when we were there, including the major sadness that enveloped our house particularly during her time there. She was the president the year Ted Bundy broke into the house, murdered two Chi Omegas and severely injured two more. I was still active in 1989 when Bundy was executed and the news media rehashed the story. I clearly remember sitting in my living room floor in January 1989, watching the news that confirmed Bundy’s execution, tears streaming down my face. Sisterhood bonds you, but sharing that particular history bonds you even more. I very much hope to stay in touch with Jackie.

Spreading a Little Thankfulness

It’s been an incredibly busy couple of weeks around the Happy Shack but I wanted to pop in today and send out a very overdue thank you to two wonderful ladies, Jill and Kirsten, who awarded me with the Sunshine Blog award. It’s kinda funny…I had been thinking about writing something special for my 600th post and it snuck up on me and scooted past without a notice. I just noticed that my 600th post was my Sea World post. I least I shared something particularly meaningful to me! Even though it wasn’t about how meaningful this blog has been for me. Over these last 600 posts, it definitely has become a part of my life, and it’s opened me up to so many new things, from new friends made to new art discovered to new techniques learned to new outlooks on life in general. I so appreciate all of you that take the time to visit, and I truly hope that I do add just a little bit of Happy Sunshine to your day.

Thanks again to Jill and Kirsten! Please take a moment to visit their blogs as well. Tradition calls to pass on this award to 10 more bloggers, but I have so many favorites that it’s hard to choose! Visit all my friends over there in my Friends and Inspirers list in the left column. They are just a smidgen of the ones I try to keep up regularly!

The Perfect Weekend

A weekend visit from The Granddad. Dinner at Ted’s with friends everywhere. Enjoying a beautiful spring day. Chasing two little bicycle-riding redheads around the backyard. Letting Molly and Isabelle love all over me while I laid on the deck in the sun. Lots of cleaning and reorganizing of my studio and workshop space. Finally unpacking all my supplies from Artful Journey. Reliving fun memories. Laundry. Picture hanging. Making jewelry with the girls. More laundry. Making more jewelry with the girls. Finishing five bling bracelets for Springtime Tallahassee. Watching Sarah make bracelets for Jensen and Olivia. And pretending not to watch while Olivia made a bracelet for me. Don’t you just love the dog bone? It came off of Isabelle’s collar. So how was your weekend?

A Little St. Paddy's Green...

A little luck of the Irish for your St. Patrick’s Day! I finished this piece recently and thought it was perfect for St. Paddy’s green. As for us, luck is currently not with us. I’m at home today with Livvie, who battled a stomach flu all night last night. We’ll keep our fingers crossed that it doesn’t catch the rest of us! I hope you and yours are having a happy day.

Dolphins and Whales and Magical Things

The family and I went to SeaWorld this past weekend. I can’t begin to tell you how much I love SeaWorld. I love the shows, I love the touch tanks, I love the aquariums, and even though I can’t ride the roller-coasters anymore, I love watching the lucky riders go screaming by. Sure, I love the Magic Kingdom and all that is Disney as well but… The Magic Kingdom doesn’t make me cry. Yep, there you go. I admit it. I cry at SeaWorld. The dolphin show and the Shamu show get me every time, and the dolphin show in particular turns me into an emotional waterfall. I’ve lived within 30 minutes of the beach my entire life, and I’m currently ten minutes away and have a river in my backyard. I’ve felt an emotional connection to dolphins for as long as I can remember.

Growing up, I wanted to be a marine biologist/oceanographer. Even getting close to college, that was still my goal, yet I let my parents talk me out of it for something more “practical.” They said, “What are you going to do? Work at SeaWorld?” Yes! I wanted to work at SeaWorld! And I wanted to go out in the ocean and do research and swim with dolphins and sea turtles and humpback whales and right whales and finback whales and all those other wonderful, fascinating, breathtakingly beautiful creatures that swim in our seas. Surfing through television channels, an ocean-themed documentary will suck me in every time. And every time I catch a glimpse of a dolphin in the river (we are so close to the beach that the river is salt here), everything stops and I go outside to watch. And wish. And dream.

We are blessed to have dolphins pass by our little stretch of paradise regularly, almost like clockwork in the spring and summer. We don’t see them quite as often in the fall and winter. Shortly after DH and I bought this property, the first thing we did was build a dock. One night, we had eaten dinner at Chowder Ted’s, long before we even started building the house, and came over to the property to sit on the dock. It was November. DH had installed down lights on the dock for fishing, and we had those on and were just sitting on the dock with our feet hanging over the side, quietly talking. We heard a dolphin surface somewhere in the distance and strained to see it, but we couldn’t see anything in the dark distance. Moments later, a mama and calf popped up less than ten feet from us, did a little spy hop to check us out, looked at us as if saying, “Hi! Welcome to the neighborhood!” and then submerged. I guess they were attracted by the light and got curious. DH and I both held our breath, hoping they’d come back. After a few moments of silence I said, “Well, that’s worth the cost of the mortgage right there.” It was magical.

I’m not sure what it is that gets me. I tried to figure that out today when we went back for our second day, wondering it if wouldn’t hit me as hard. But sure enough, as soon as the dolphins entered the pool, the tears started coming. By the time the trainers really started interacting with them, I didn’t even bother trying to wipe the tears away because it was useless. DH even quit picking on me about it because he realized how emotionally affected I was by them. The dolphin show was incredible both days, but the first day the whales just weren’t in the mood. The trainers took the opportunity to talk to the crowd about how the training happens and how important it is to work with the animals at their own pace. I was really impressed with the way they handled the recent death of one their trainers. Before the beginning of the show, they showed an “Ask the Trainer” video, with kids asking questions about the whales and trainers answering the questions. The trainer that was killed was in the video several times, and I’m glad they didn’t pull her portion. After that video, they segued into a brief tribute to her, showing pictures of her interacting with the whales and dedicating the show to her memory. It was really beautiful.

The second day, the whales were far more into the show, and I saw that the girls enjoyed it much more. Sarah had been sitting in my lap for the whole show so she could see better, and towards the end of the show, she turned around with big tears on her face and told me that the whales were making her cry. I could tell this upset her, because I don’t think she understood why she was crying. I asked her if she was scared of the whales, and she said, “No, Mama. They’re really pretty and really funny, not scary.” Then I took my sunglasses off so she could see that I was crying too and told her, “Sarah, sweetie, those are happy tears. See how Mama gets them, too?” She just gave me a big hug, buried her face in my neck for a minute, and then turned back around to watch.

When I was putting the girls to bed tonight, we talked about the weekend and I asked each of them what their favorite parts were. That was tough question! Livvie’s two favorites were the dolphin show and the sea lion and otter show (it really was very funny). Sarah said her favorite was feeding the dolphins and the whale show “today.” “Today was better than yesterday,” she said. “And I think I know why I was crying now. The whale and the girl were having a relationship, Mama. That was really neat.” Yes, sweetheart, it sure was. Maybe one day you can grow up to have a relationship like that too. You can be anything you want to be. Dream big dreams and your wishes will bloom.

Memory Making for Mermaids

I was out for lunch today when I pulled up next to an old Ford Pinto. Wow, what memories. I couldn’t help but smile. And I also couldn’t believe that there was still a Ford Pinto on the road! When I was growing up, my mom had a red Ford Pinto just like this one.

Two particular memories jumped out at me. When I was 12, my sister two, my parents divorced, and Mom, Kim and I moved to Orange Park to be near my Nana and Granddaddy. We were driving down Blanding Blvd (which was three-lane at the time…one northbound, one southbound and one turn lane…today it’s seven lanes), and Mom hit a dog that was following a little boy riding his bike. I remember her being devastated, far more devastated than the little boy. She stopped and picked up the dog, put it in the trunk of that Pinto and followed the little boy home on his bike. Kim and I stayed in the car when we got to the little boy’s house, so I don’t remember what happened from there, just that Mom cried for quite some time that day. She would have been 32. Years later, I learned how she felt. A few years after DH and I got married, I hit a kitten coming home from class one night, and I cried for days. I was right about 32.

The second memory was far more fun. I think I was about 13, so Kim would have been three. Mom was trying to take me to school and Kim to Nana’s for the day so she could go to work, but the Pinto wouldn’t start. She got out of the car, beyond frustrated, and Kim and I followed. She kicked the car and said, and I remember this soooo clearly, “This f*#%ing car isn’t worth a s*^t!” Kim looked at Mom and then kicked the car and repeated word for word what she said. That was the first and last time I ever heard my mother cuss.

Isn’t it interesting what memories stick with us? I honestly don’t have a lot of early childhood memories; I wish I did. Most of the memories I do have revolve around my Nana since I spent so much time with her, like the time we visited Aunt Livy and Uncle Wilbur in Key West when I was seven or eight and Nana discovered that I was a sleepwalker. I went to the mall that night, sitting on the end of the bed pretending to drive and then walking down the hallway to Sears, Nana told me. (I still sleepwalk and now tend to move furniture and groceries in my sleep, go figure.) I also learned how to play penny ante poker that week. My Nana and Aunt Livy were card sharks, and I still love to play poker today. DH is a very sore loser and says Aunt Livy and I cheat. And at 88, she just grins at him and hands me a card under the table…naw….just kidding…sort of. ;-)

Before my parents divorced, Mom worked all day as a nurse, and Dad often worked two jobs, one of which was at Sears selling appliances. I know they did their best, and I’m thankful for the determination and independence they created in me. I want to create determination and independence in my girls as well, and I’m hopeful that I’m also creating lots of memories for them. I want them to remember these days. Maybe that’s one of the benefits of blogging; hopefully they’ll be able to go back and read these stories and they’ll spark memories.

Right now, the girls and I are taking an online class together called Mermaid Warriors. It’s with McCabe Russell, and we’re loving it. McCabe works with young girls, using art to help build self esteem, and she’s taking us through her class with wonderful videos and a discussion blog. One of the things I want to do with the Purple Cottage is mother/daughter art retreats combined with lessons in self knowledge, self esteem and good citizenship, and when I stumbled across McCabe’s blog and class that teaches you how to do just that, I knew the Universe was speaking to me! (I’m slowly learning to listen to her.)

This weekend, the girls had a friend sleep over and we created our first Mermaid Warrior project together, these fun little journals out of scrapbook paper and ribbon. We had so much fun! DH even pitched in where we’d let him. It was a girls’ only event after all. ;-) I took some video of the girls creating their books and talking about what they wrote in them. If I can ever figure out how to create a movie, I’ll share it with you (anyone point me to a good tutorial?). They’ve since continued to write in them and add stickers and drawings. They even created journals for their primary teacher and their art teacher and are so proud of their work. I know we’re on to something here. :-) More Mermaid Warrior projects coming. Don’t you just love that name? Perfect for us, don’t you think?

A Little Monday Happiness

This little note was waiting on my towel for me when I got out of the shower this morning. It was from Olivia. The second page says, “I love my mom because she makes fun stuff with me and says she’ll love me forever and ever and ever.” And, “I love my dad because he makes really good pig butt and gives me little pieces while he’s cooking it on the grill.” True love.

Baby Blues for Spring

Oh look! Jewelry! You’d never know I started this little blogging adventure with my jewelry designs, would you? :-) I’m finally getting around to updating my website and my jewelry Etsy shop with some new pieces. I will admit I’ve had quite a few new pieces done for quite some time. I just never get around to photographing them! Sigh. There are always more fun things to do. This weekend, my girls and I have been making books together. I’ll post a video if I can figure out how. Leah and Lori, I now officially have that book-making bug, but I still have so much to learn!

Time for March Free Bling!

Random.org picked number 3 out of 21 entries for February’s Free Bling winner, so congrats to Ellie from Orlando, Florida! Ellie is a long-time reader of Artful Happiness, and I so appreciate all your support and encouragement these last few years, Ellie! Congrats!

March’s entry is a glass tile pendant featuring my “Light My Fire” photograph. To be eligible to win, simply visit either of my Etsy shops (here for jewelry and here for photography) and leave a comment in the comment box below with the link to your favorite piece along with a way to reach you and where you are from. Or email me with the subject line FREE BLING and let me know what your favorite piece is and include where you're from by midnight Thursday, April 1, 2010. Want two entries? Tweet, blog or Facebook this giveaway and leave a second comment with the link. The next winner will be drawn via random.org Friday, April 2, 2010. 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. Be sure to join my Facebook Fan page over there in the left column for Fan specials! Thanks for stopping in!

An Artful Journey: Day 5, The Journey Home

I’m a few days behind in posting about my last day of my Artful Journey trip. It’s been a busy week! Monday was a great wrap up to a great weekend. Leah and I lingered over breakfast not wanting to leave and shared one last hug before we left. I had some time to kill before I had to be at the airport, so she suggested I go into Santa Cruz.

What a nice little end of trip bonus that was! The boardwalk was utterly charming in a Kelly explosion of color kind of way. Leah must have known I’d love it. And I guess it’s true. If I was THAT close, I had to at least dip my toes in the Pacific Ocean (cold….February cold…).

The boardwalk wasn’t officially open but I managed to sweet talk my way in to take some pictures. I absolutely fell in love with the swing and took several dozen pictures of it. The detail on it was just extraordinary.

I loved how all the rides and the old fashioned ticket booths and the signage there meshed into one big happy color scheme. I’d love to bring the family back here to see this. My girls would absolutely D-I-E for it, as they love to say. :-)

I gathered a handful of shells and some sea glass I found and put them in my coat pocket. I had forgotten about them when I went through airport security, but luckily they let me keep them. Seaweed and all! I have them all in a little glass jar now here at home.

I have to say God must have been watching out for me on my flight home. On the San Jose to Vegas leg, the flight was overbooked and the crew was looking for volunteers to step off. One of the volunteers just happened to be in a choice seat on the first row and stood up just before I got there. Score! Leg room! That flight was late taking off, so I barely made my connecting flight (and I mean barely as in I was the second to last person to board the plane on this very full flight.) Yet, there again…three rows in was an aisle seat, next to a four-year-old little girl and her mom. A motherhood bonus! I’m quite certain most everyone else walked by that seat because they didn’t want to sit next to a young child for four hours on a plane. Fine with me! I have twin six-year-olds! The little girl’s name was Ava, and coincidently enough, her mother’s name was Kelly. Early into the flight, Kelly and Ava traded seats so Kelly and I were sitting next to each other, and we talked the entire flight home. Ava was a complete angel, as was Kelly. I thoroughly enjoyed talking with her, and to top off a wonderful trip, she even gave me a ride home so I didn’t have to call a cab! How sweet was that!?! We’ve exchanged cards so I hope we’ll get together with our girls soon.

Now that I’ve been home for a little over a week, I’ve had a little more time to reflect back on this whole experience, and I’ve really enjoyed reliving every moment as I’ve shared it all here with you. This experience truly did change my life. That may sound a bit corny or cliché, but that’s the only way to explain it. When I got home, I immediately told DH that I will be going back, and I’d love for him and the girls to come too. I’ve been wanting to make some changes in my life for a while now, and this experience really crystallized that for me. I have a clearer focus on what’s most important, and I’m working on ways to more integrally combine my two biggest loves…my family and my creativity. Life’s too short to spend it doing something that doesn’t totally fill your soul to the brim, right?