Merry Christmas Eve!

Merry Christmas 2013
Christmas journal page from Olivia, done in oil pastels
Merry Christmas Eve to you! We've been enjoying the day making brownies for Santa and a birthday cake for Jesus.

Growing up, I spent Christmas Eve at my Nana's with my mom and my cousins.  Nana always made rich, creamy Oyster Stew like no one else could. We lost that Christmas Eve tradition when I lost my mom in 1999 and then my Nana shortly afterward, but thanks to Benny, I'm looking forward to having Nana's Oyster Stew tonight.  We could never get the recipe because Nana never wrote it down, but Benny watched her make it for several years and finally got it right last year.

I wish you the warmest of holiday greetings in whatever way you choose to celebrate. My hope is that at this time of year, if at no other, we can all put our differences aside and share a time of peace, joy and forgiveness.  I've always felt that Dr. Suess said it best ...

"And the Grinch with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came with ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags.  And he puzzled and puzzled until his puzzler was sore.  Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from store? What if Christmas, he thought, means a whole lot more?"

Merry Christmas to you and yours. May God bless you with the richest of blessings that can't be bought at the store.      

iHanna Postcard Swap: Time to Share!

I've finally gotten around to scanning the postcards I received in iHanna's swap! I've only received nine, so hopefully there's one more to come out there. You can see the pile of cards I created to send out here.  Enjoy!
iHanna swap from Brenda Leonard
From Brenda Leonard
iHanna swap from Valerie Kemp
From Valerie Kemp

iHanna swap from Jana Bodin
From Jana Bodin

iHanna swap from Patricia
From Patricia

iHanna swap from Marissa Vidrio
From Marissa Vidrio

iHanna swap from Laura Marschall
From Laura Marschall

iHanna swap from Cathy Peterson
From Cathy Peterson

iHanna swap from Jen
From Jen

iHanna swap from Hagit
From Hagit

Time for December Free Bling!

December 2013 Free Bling

Time for December Free Bling! picked comment number two for November, so congratulations to Jennifer from Orange, California, for winning my November Free Bling.

I can't believe it's December already, and at this point, I haven't even started Christmas shopping. I'll be busy this weekend!  For my December giveaway, how about some pretties for your ears: lovely deep blue glass briolettes wrapped with sterling silver wire, topped with twisted sterling rings and an even deeper peacock blue crystal, all hung on sterling silver french wires.  To enter visit either of my Etsy shops (here for jewelry and here for photography) and leave a link to your favorite item in the comments along with your location and a way to reach you by midnight Thursday, January 16. Want more entries? Tweet, blog or Facebook this giveaway and leave another comment with the link. The next winner will be drawn via Friday, January 17. 

Don't want to miss a single Free Bling Friday? Click here to sign up for free weekly email updates or subscribe in the reader of your choice over there in the right column. And be sure to like my Facebook page or sign up for my monthly newsletter on my website here for specials. Thanks for stopping in!

Hello, 48

Kelly portrait by Kate Inglis
Photo by Kate Inglis, taken on the beach at Serendipity
Today is my birthday. Hello, 48. I certainly don’t feel 48, and I don’t think I look 48, but the calendar tells me otherwise. I see the years pass very quickly through my girls; I can’t believe they are 10 years old and in fifth grade. That simply doesn’t seem possible. But other than a few more gray hairs, I’m not feeling my age just yet. I guess I live that old Jimmy Buffet song: “I’m growing older, but not up.” As I look over this past year and reflect upon what I’ve done and what I’ve learned, I’m happy that I’m still managing to play as much as possible.

Wish ribbons
Wish ribbons on the back deck of the main house at Serendipity
Today I wanted to reflect back on what I’ve been learning through my artful adventures over the last year. I think the main thing I’ve been learning about myself is that I remain simply me, and I think that perhaps I process life’s triumphs and tragedies a little differently than many in my art circles do. I think I’m a pretty simple girl. While I am a creative thinker and feel like I can finally call myself an “artist,” I’m also a grounded, practical realist. I’ve never been a deep-thinking, analytical type of girl. And to me, art is play; it’s neither an emotional release nor an exploration of my deepest thoughts or feelings. At least not on a conscious level anyway. And after thinking about my experience at Serendipity in late October, I’ve decided that I’m okay with that.

mason jar
There were beautiful aqua mason jars filled with flowers everywhere
I’ve held back writing more in-depth about Serendipity because I simply didn’t know what to think about the whole experience. I certainly enjoyed the retreat. My instructors, Melody Ross and Kate Inglis, were very inspirational, and the hosts and all the women I met were completely lovely, and I’d love to have more time with all of them. But still something was missing for me. I think I’ve finally realized it was intense emotion. I’ve read some of the blogs other Serendipities have written and marveled at the depth of emotions that they felt there and have felt since. I’ve struggled with that a bit, as I just didn’t feel those things. I had a nice getaway with a good friend, met some wonderful new people, ate lots of incredible food, and made some art; I did not experience deep emotions. But does that mean I didn’t get out of it what I was supposed to? I don’t think so.
Welcome ribbon
A welcome ribbon on the beach steps
During Melody’s class, we talked early on about the different types of hurts every one of us experiences. Melody broke them down into three major types that made complete sense to me: things others do directly to us, things others do that hurt us but aren’t necessary done to us, and things we do to others. I hope I’m remembering that correctly. I was easily able to think of something for each of those, so they are definitely relatable, and I was fascinated and moved by some of the raw emotion I saw in the room. After a bit more talk, we started on our books, which were to be reminders of all the things that make us feel better when we are having a difficult time with any of those hurts. Later in the afternoon, Melody circled us around for another chat, this time to talk about any shifts in thinking we’d experienced as we’d worked through the day. I didn’t really have any shifts, but I did have a bit of an “a ha!” moment, in that the three things I thought of for those three types of hurts were centered around my parents and my relationships with them. But I also shared that though I’ve been through some crap in my life (haven’t we all?), I feel like I’ve dealt with it pretty well and have moved on. I don’t dwell. I write about things, but then I try to move on…even when others try to keep me from moving on.
Kelly and Melody Ross
Me with the super sweet, super amazing Melody Ross
I shared with my classmates that my parents had five marriages between them, and I had lost my mom to suicide nearly 14 years ago while she was going through her third divorce. But still, even with that, I shared that I’ve been happy with my life; I believe that I have a gift for being able to find the positives in things. Was it hard to find the positives in my parents’ multiple divorces and my mother’s suicide? Heck yeah, it was. There were definitely some very dark times there. But now, ultimately, I think my father is happy, my mother is walking on golden streets, and I have a loving husband, two incredible children, and a happy little roof over our heads. We all make our own choices, and I’ve chosen to be happy. My life is good. I think I wrapped it all up pretty well here.
A little tendril of focus
I know you’re probably scratching your head wondering how the heck I got to this point in this post when I started talking about what my creative endeavors have taught me this year. I’m not sure myself! I think my revelation is I’ve accepted that though I may come across many women who bare their deepest souls and emotions through experiencing art-making, I just don’t. And that’s okay. Both for them and for me. For me, at 48, playing with art is an escape, it’s an antidote to a stressful week at work, it’s something fun to do with my girls. I like getting my fingers messy with paint. But I process the difficult things through putting my feet to the pavement or taking long bubble baths with a good book. That is simply me, at 48, at 28, and hopefully at 88!
Photocraptastic assignment
From my "Photocraptastic" assignment with Kate