Sunday, January 27, 2013

Afraid to Dream Big

“What if your fears and dreams existed in the same place?
What if to get to Heaven, you had to brave Hell?
What if everything you ever wanted cost you everything you ever achieved?
Would you still go there?”

The source of these questions is attributed to Anonymous, one of my favorite people to quote. I used the first and last lines (in the form of a Tim Holtz Stamper's Anonymous stamp) to finish my journal page for week four. Well, it’s actually more of an insert than a whole page.

insert 4.2 (0112 10)  week 04 page (0123) 
week 04 I have a dream (0123)  week 04 finished (0126)

Here is the brief progression of this particular project. I started out by covering a small insert with red, yellow, and green cardstock. It’s a companion piece to the journal page opposite it, which is a tribute to my little sister, who really likes Bob Marley/Rasta and rainbows. (The other half of this two page spread, as well as the other side of this insert, deal with rainbow colors, spectrums, etc. Some thoughts on Autism. You’ll get to see more of that in future I’m sure.)

The top left is the original insert. The top right is my response to the first week four prompt, “big,” with a colored photo of Bob Marley and some lyrics from one of his songs. I believe it’s called “Wake Up And Live”. This quote says:  “Life is one big road with lots of signs. So when you’re riding through the ruts don’t complicate your mind. Flee from hate, mischief and jealousy. Don’t bury your thoughts, put your vision to reality. Wake up and live!”

The bottom left photo is my response to the second week four prompt, “dreams,” that I wrote about yesterday. I used a photo of Martin Luther King, Jr., and an excerpt from his famous “I Have A Dream” speech:  “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed:  ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’” I was going to stop here, but then I came across the quote on the stamp.

The bottom right is obviously the finished page. I don’t know that I’ll add any of my own journaling; I wanted it to have a message all its own, to provoke thought and cause whoever reads it to pause for a moment. Just glancing at the images, if you know who the men are, should warrant a double take. It almost seems wrong in a way to have Dr. King next to someone who has become to so many a symbol for getting high. I don’t know much about Bob Marley, but I did take some time to research the Rasta colors when Anne first mentioned them to me; I used that knowledge to create the art journal page that follows this insert:

27 rasta pride 1

Whether or not what I found is completely accurate doesn’t really matter to me; I loved what it said, and I wanted it (and her) to be part of this art journal process. I found references to the countries of Africa and their culture:  that red represents the blood of the slaves taken against their will; yellow represents gold and the wealth of the people; green represents the prosperity of the land; and black represents the skin of the people, a marker of their culture and heritage.

Bob Marley wrote that song about freedom from the complications and drama that always accompany “hate, mischief, and jealousy.” Dr. King literally gave his life in the fight to have equal rights for all men, despite how they looked or where they placed their family roots. Though each man found self-expression in different ways, both had big dreams for a better world. And those dreams really did exist in the same place as their fears – the place of the unknown – the future.

I can’t help but see a connection to my post earlier today called I AM, and it’s in that message that I find my answer to the question “Would you still go there?” I can dream about the future, and I can be afraid of the unknown it holds, but I choose to live with I AM; He is here in this moment, and it is not hard.


I was regretting the past
And fearing the future.…
Suddenly my Lord was speaking:
He paused.
I waited. He continued,




This is a poem called “I AM”, written by Helen Mallicoat. I thought of it earlier today as I was taking a hot shower, I allowed the steam to clear my sinuses, and the heat to relax my muscles. As I was sitting in the back of the tub listening to the sound of water, I let it clear and relax my mind as well.

Today began like many others, with a reluctance to get out of bed, and a mental list of what I might want to accomplish. My first thoughts were of working on my novel at Starbucks, then doing some laundry while I worked on my latest mini album project. I soon decided to skip Starbucks and go straight for laundry.

It didn’t take me long to get everything gathered – hamper, detergent, milk crate full of creating supplies, laptop – and head to my preferred laundry facility (the washer and dryer in the FES Resource Room). I started a load of wash, and decided to go over to Moscow to look for a few things at WinCo.

This turned out to be a bad decision. I made it there with no problems, having put some oil in at Franklin before I left, and some fuel in at Safeway. I went into the store and looked around but couldn’t concentrate – too many people, hadn’t taken my Adderall yet – so I didn’t end up buying anything, but it was a nice diversion. It feels good to just drive sometimes. When I started my car there was a bit of white smoke from the back, but that happens on occasional cold days.

Well, about the time I was turning out of the parking lot to head back to Pullman, I noticed the white smoke hadn’t disappeared; in fact, it was now pouring out of my exhaust. I pulled over and checked it out, turned off my car, opened the hood (what I was looking for I couldn’t tell you, to be honest). I called a friend who happens to be a mechanic and asked if he thought it would be safe to drive back to town. He said probably not but I could try it.

So I did. I ended up pulling over two more times, texting a friend for help, and eventually stopping in the Moscow Wal-Mart parking lot and calling a tow truck. This very kind friend met me there, took me to the ATM in Pullman, then to the Auto Repair to pay the man, to Franklin to get my stuff, and back home to my cozy apartment and adorable little hamster baby. All it cost me was almost $100 that I don’t have, a great deal of tears (of frustration), and some stress.

Which brings us back to the hot shower. As I was relaxing and clearing I thought about walking to work this week, about how I would pay for whatever is wrong with my car, about how close I came to being caught up enough that I had money left between paychecks – about how irresponsible I can be sometimes, which only brings needless stress (and doesn’t help my high blood pressure problem). That’s when I heard it, that voice, quietly whisper….I AM.

I realized that I have been neglecting this most important of all love relationships, the one with my Creator, Savior, and Best Friend. He never left, never gave up on me, never stopped waiting for me to give up and let go – let go and let God. I have no control over the future, or the past, and to be honest, not a lot of control over anything in the present right now either. At least that’s how I feel. There are only a few things that make up my life – a job, a home, family, friends, art, and God. No family is nearby, so I depend on friends, who have families of their own, and that’s hard for me; hard to ask for help, and hard to be so isolated.

My job is stressful because I don’t know how to help one student, but I also can’t seem to figure out how to ask for help. Every time I try, the responses I get show me that I’m not asking the right questions. My apartment is a mess because I come home feeling exhausted and overwhelmed, meaning I zone out or turn to the one freedom I desperately cling to….my art. Here’s where the missing piece becomes glaringly apparent:  where is I AM in all of this mess?

Like I said, He’s right here beside me, waiting for me to turn to Him and say….yes. Yes I need You, yes I want You in my life every day, yes I love You and I want to know how it feels to be loved by You. Remind me. Some days I forget. Yes I know You are leading and guiding. Yes I trust You with my life. Yes, I have been living in the past, but….no buts. Yes, I have been fearing the future, but….no buts. Just yes. Yes….I am HERE, right now, in this moment. With You.

Saturday, January 26, 2013


“Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.”
- James Dean

week 04 card

I don’t often remember my dreams much longer than maybe a day after waking. If I tell someone about it I can hold onto the images a bit longer, but that doesn’t happen often – with one interesting exception. There’s a dream that I had when I was eight years old that I still remember quite vividly (twenty-four years later). It was a bit of a nightmare at the time, though I’m not clear on the difference between dream and nightmare. Some dreams can be scary; when do they cross the line?

In this particular dream, my mom and  brother were in a car without me. I don't remember the car, or a lot of the specific details. They left our apartment (I believe they were called “Cheney Gardens Apartments” – something with garden in it) and drove down the hill to the stop sign. There was a McDonalds on the left, and Anderberg Chevrolet on the right (this was back in early 1989, I'm not sure what currently resides there). From here you could go left or right onto First Street, which ran through town, State Route 904.

Just as they turned, the car was hit. My mom got out and was bleeding, my brother (for some reason) was in the trunk (it was a dream, weird stuff happens). He climbed out and was also bleeding. They had cuts all over. I went running down the hill to them and all of a sudden we were back at our apartment and an Avon lady was trying to sell me makeup out of her car. No idea where that came from, but again, it was a dream. And I was eight. I remember she was definitely selling Avon though.

Now, I don’t subscribe to dream theory; I believe that our minds are vast, largely unused masses of information and power. Our subconscious continues to work and process while we sleep. It also combines and reconstitutes and takes artistic liberty with anything and everything we’ve ever experienced.

Another way to look at dreams, and the direction that I took with my page, is in the way of having goals, or hopes, for the future. More on that tomorrow. For tonight, you may consider keeping a “dream journal” to see what kinds of madness rises from the depths of your mind. Would make some great art journal pages!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

It’s All About Layers

16 eye with brick wall 1week 03 finished (0122)

On the left is page 16 from my first “completed” art journal. What I mean by that is simply that I finished (at minimum) the background layer of 14 sheets of watercolor paper, for a total of 28 pages (140 lb., front and back), and bound it all together with metal rings and art board covers. On the right is my response to the week three prompts.

I know I’ve mentioned this a few times, but I think it’s worth repeating:  these prompts are not strictly for art journal pages, that’s just how I’m choosing to use them. I may create other projects with them in future – ATCs, canvases, themes for a mini album or a layout within an album – there are no limits.

Getting back to this page, I decided to keep it simple this week, stamping the quote I shared in the Wednesday prompt post onto a shortened manila shipping tag, and later attaching my own “message in a bottle”. These are simply the newest layer, leaving room for several more to be added if I feel so inclined. This is one of my favorite aspects of art journaling. Each time I add to a page, it’s just one more layer; when I’m finished (meaning ready to journal), it’s possible some of the layers will no longer be visible. But I’ll know about them – and if I’m diligent, will have a photograph stored on my laptop that shows them – and I think that’s fun!

To quickly review the art challenge so far, week one was “symmetrical background” and “practice drawing” that resulted in my “Superhero Ninja Skills” page. Week two was “footprints” and “hand-carved stamp” that resulted in my “xplr” page. Finally, above is week three, using “vision” and “message in a bottle”. Today begins week four, and I already have a few ideas for incorporating “big” into one of my pages. What have you accomplished so far? Comment or e-mail me a photo and I’ll post it!


“Don’t use words too big for the subject.
Don’t say ‘infinitely’ when you mean ‘very’; otherwise you’ll have no word left
when you want to talk about something really infinite.”
- C.S. Lewis

week 04 card

C.S. Lewis was a great author and philosopher who wrote many provocative, insightful, and often entertaining works of fiction and non-fiction, including The Chronicles of Narnia series. I love his advice regarding the use of “big words”. Part of my plot for world domination involves humanity speaking in more specific, literal, and therefore accurate terms. This week’s prompt is a great example of how lazy we have become in our descriptions:  it was “big”.

As part of my exploration of possibilities this month, I decided to explore this small word (I love the irony that something denoting such great size would only contain three letters). The results of this exploration left me with some quotes I would like to share with the intent to inspire you to greatness.

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.” So said Steve Jobs, the co-founder, chairman, and CEO of Apple, Inc. (producer of Mac computers and all the “I” technology – iTunes, iPhone, iPod, iPad, etc.

Another name you may have heard mentioned, Winston Churchill – who ruled over England during WWII – offered another piece of wisdom:  “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” You may also have heard the story of how his father paid for Alexander Fleming’s schooling after Fleming saved young Winston’s life. Fleming later discovered penicillin, and is said to have saved Winston’s life a second time. (All of that is false – except the penicillin part of course.)

One final thought before you begin your week four project:  President Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.”

Monday, January 21, 2013

Message In A Bottle

First let me start by saying, to anyone who is participating in this art challenge, that I’m sorry this is two days late! I drew the card Saturday morning, and then spent most of the day at Paper Pals co-teaching a mini album class. When I got home I had a wicked migraine growing from not eating all day, so I didn’t do much of anything aside from eat dinner. Yesterday I finally got this photo uploaded, but couldn’t find the right words to ramble about it. So here it is:


There have been a few times in my life when I’ve considered sending out a message in a bottle – while riding on a ferry from Mukilteo to Whidbey Island, or from the Island to Port Townsend; I’ve also contemplated attaching a small one to a helium-filled balloon and letting it float away.

The reason I did neither of those is simple:  I have no idea what message to include! Should I write a brief synopsis about myself – name, rank, and serial number? Hahahaha just kidding. I’ve been watching Hawaii Five-0 and JAG the past few weeks. Anyway, I could include some basic information about myself. I could write some details about where I live in case the message traveled out of the area. Perhaps I could send a poem, a quote, or a profound thought.

Something else I’ve considered is what kind of message might I find if a bottle washed up on shore in front of me. I’m not often presented with an opportunity to visit the beach, and so far haven’t found any bottles when I have. But since this month I’m exploring possibilities – I’m going to explore this one and get back to you.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Explore Possibilities

We all want to feel as though we’re part of something bigger than ourselves. We want to know that we’re making a difference in the world, that we have a purpose for being here, that we’ll be remembered when we’re gone. Every day we impact the world around us; sometimes we are even blessed enough to see it happen.

If I’m honest with myself, I would say that I have moments every day when I make a difference, live out my purpose, and directly impact the future. Moments that remind me of why I accept the challenge of teaching Special Education children. Although I don’t always have what I need to invest in them as much time or direct instruction as I’d like, they continue to push themselves to be better readers, writers, thinkers, and/or mathematicians. Some struggle to learn the ins and outs of social situations (an area that I can relate to on a very personal level). All need to be taught, with patience, what’s expected, what’s acceptable, how precious and important they are.

I have to show up every day willing to offer a safe place, to remember that every step forward, no matter how small, is cause for celebration. I also have to let go, every day, all the frustration, stress, sadness, and physical abuse I’m confronted with; if as teachers we neglect ourselves, who will be left to educate the future?

I must confess I’ve been failing in this. Lately I’ve begun to question the path I’ve chosen to follow. Perhaps it’s because I’m not letting go, or perhaps it’s a natural rhythm of my life. Whatever the reason, I know that I am coming to a crossroad, and soon a decision will need to be made.

With this in mind, I begin “one little word”. I wrote about this new adventure in my post One Little Word. That was really just a brief introduction as the excitement of having made something consumed me. The past couple of days I’ve spent far too long simply staring at the cards, not sure how I would begin to live them out.

Yesterday I was able to participate in the beginning of a great change in the life and business of a friend. Her excitement was encouraging and contagious; she was stepping out of the familiar and daring to believe that she would land on something greater. She was doing what I’ve pledged to do this month – explore possibilities.

face lift

This is a photo of that change – it’s the new clearance wall at Paper Pals. Karen let me help her arrange stuff, which was like a giant puzzle – so relaxing! It represents a sort of cleansing, a clearing out of the old to make room for the new, letting go of the past so the future is more clearly seen.

Soon this amazing little “scrapbook” store will have a new look. The outside (the store itself) will more closely resemble the inside (the owner’s journey deeper into her own creativity and artistry). The transformation has already begun, with more classes and supplies for those experimenting with and learning mixed media and paper crafting beyond the more “traditional” scrapbook. It is a great honor and privilege to take part in this journey of exploration.

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord. ‘Plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future’” Jeremiah 29:11 (or at least how I remember it). One of my favorite promises! And so true, if only we’ll step out on nothing, expecting to land on something.

As this month quickly fades away, I hope to share more about this intention to explore possibilities, and begin to answer “What if….?” In fact, tonight I’m going to answer it by working on my art challenge page for week three (vision) and see where it leads me. Let inspiration find me working!

(Sometimes I feel like I’m talking to myself in this blog! I would so love to hear about your “one little word” and how you intend to act on it.)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.”
-Helen Keller


When I was a child, I would often wonder if I saw things the same way other people saw them; when I looked at grass and thought “green” was it the same color everyone else saw as “green”? Or were we just taught that “grass is green” even though we all saw it in different colors?

My mind was often a tiring place to be! However, it’s a profound and interesting concept I stumbled upon. Do any two people ever really see the same thing in the same way? No. We each have a special lens over our eyes, invisible to all, unknown to most; this lens is called “experience.” The sum total of my days thus far stays with me, carried forward with each breath I take, coloring how I perceive my world. And the truth is, my perception is my reality.

This has been studied in the realm of criminal investigation, as one eye witness will see certain details another may have missed, and vice versa. Although if you want to get technical about it, they both saw the exact same things, but that which their mind held on to is different, sent first through the filter of their pasts.

Of course, there are literally hundreds of millions of commonalities within those perceptions and “sights” that allow us to communicate and thrive. As human beings, the vast majority have immediate, subconscious access to five senses, as well as basic knowledge and skills to interpret, translate, and reproduce what those senses find as we explore our world. Therefore I can talk about grass being green with almost complete certainty that you will understand exactly.

For those who can’t access their sense of sight, the world they know and experience, their reality, is quite a bit different from mine. And finding the words to express and compare those differences can be a frustrating task. While I don’t know for sure, as I’m not blind myself, I think perhaps I can relate on a deeper level than someone else who has sight, but no autism. My “blindness” has no affect on my eyes (although I am near-sighted with astigmatism), but rather its impact is on my brain, and my ability to communicate in certain social situations. Even now, as I’m realizing this similarity (literally as I write this), I find it hard to explain.

I love my position at this new school, and I have met some wonderful people this year, students and staff. And yet, something isn’t right. I honestly don’t know if it’s even related to my job, but I know for sure that my ability to do that job is being affected. The problem is, I can’t even find the words to explain the problem to myself, let alone try to find an answer from someone else. When I have tried, I feel like I’m describing the beauty of a sunset to a person who was born blind and has no concept of “color”. Being stubborn, I continue to try. How do I know I’m not being understood? By the responses and suggestions I get back.

It’s no one’s fault but my own. I just don’t know what I can do to fix a problem I can’t even identify. Perhaps my project for this week will help open a window into that unique vision that is mine, colored by my life and times and all the experiences I’ve collected in thirty-two years.

Meanwhile, I want to add that many things in life are taken for granted, including life itself. While I agree that it’s a noble, sometimes important, endeavor to attempt to rectify that fact, it can easily consume us. So rather than dwell on the idea that I take for granted my ability to see, I’m instead going to celebrate it.

Monday, January 14, 2013

One Little Word

I was talking with a friend the other day, about our art goals for the year, and she told me about a class she’s taking online. It’s hosted by Ali Edwards, “One Little Word.” I don’t know many of the details, but the idea intrigued me:  you choose one little word to focus on all year, and she provides various “assignments”.

The word I chose for this year is “explore”. Along with that, we have to choose a connecting word, and some intentions for each month, and make cards:

explore cards
These are mine. I used shipping tags, number stickers, and alpha stamps. I haven’t written any notes on them yet, and I’m not sure if I will.

Here’s the January tag. I’m interested to see what comes from it; I know God blesses our good intentions when we center our decisions on His plan for our lives. What possibilities does this year hold? How many ways can I answer the question “what if….?” Come along friends, let’s explore together.

Sunday, January 13, 2013


week 02 finished
Here is my finished page for Week Two (footprints and hand-carved stamp). Other than journaling I probably won’t add any more layers. The background is a collage of four maps I took out of a local phone book and pieced together. Next I stamped the “license plate” outline in response to prompt #2 for the week:

week 02 stamp     week 02 stamped image
On the left is the stamp itself, which I carved out of a flat piece of Styrofoam (about half an inch thick). The green parts are the raised areas coated in paint, the white part is where I carved out the insides. On the right is a close-up of the stamped image on the page. I used green Staz-On Ink and Stampabilities alphabet clear stamps to write “xplr” inside the “license plate”. After that was done, I basically dug through some paper scraps for travel-themed embellishments. I also used a few shipping tags for journaling, and a 3 3/8”x6” coin envelope. I finished by stamping a quote with some small letter stamps and black Archival ink.

I hope you all are giving yourself a chance to break thru the walls of your inner critic and do some artistic exploration of your own. Week Three Prompt #1 will be posted Wednesday; if you’re following along, we’re off to a great start! And remember, I’d love to share some of your own creations, so send them on over!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Hand-Carved Stamp

Happy Saturday fellow journeymen! (I use that term broadly, especially since most of my artist friends are women haha) How many of you have decided to join me on this 2013 art challenge adventure? I haven’t yet heard from anyone who has finished their first project, although I’m sure there are several of you who at least find the idea interesting, and are possibly making your own version. Don’t be shy my friends! Share your photos, or ideas, or inspirations - or all of the above! I love seeing what other people are creating!

Wow, three exclamation points in three sentences. I love how a simple mark can convey more emotion than I am capable of feeling most days [smile] One of the many blessings of the written word – being able to communicate in ways that are otherwise unattainable due to my autistic superpowers. I find that encouraging!

Since I don’t have anyone else’s art to share today, I will commence with the red deck (layer two) prompt for week two:

week 02 card

Although I won’t be posting the second prompt until Saturday (to give everyone who wants to join me a couple of days to work on the first one), I will be drawing the card as soon as I’m ready to incorporate it into my own project. Last week, that was Saturday; this week, it was Friday, and I must admit I was a little disheartened that it was “hand-carved stamp”. I had only a vague idea of what the “footprints” prompt would become, and this didn’t help very much!

To make this week's card, I took an ink blending foam pad (I use them with Tim Holtz Distress Inks) and cut out a puzzle piece shape. I recommend getting these, they’re great for many things. I’ll be writing about them (and other tools I use) in future posts; also, the foam pad applicator, refills, and inks are all available at Paper Pals in Pullman (and I would even be willing to purchase and send them to you for free if you paid me cost and shipping – I love Paper Pals!)

For my “footprints” page, however, I decided to go a different route. I drew the card Friday morning so I would have the work day to figure out what medium I wanted to use for carving; I also asked my friend Karen (owner of Paper Pals) if she had any ideas. It became clear through our discussion that it depends in large part on what design I’m wanting to carve. My first idea was a footprint, but that didn’t really fit with my inspiration for prompt one:

week 02 page

I’m sharing the background with you today, although I actually completed the entire page (other than the journaling) last night; I’m hoping to post a picture of the finished project tomorrow, but no later than Tuesday night. I drew my inspiration from the quote I shared Thursday in my post called I, Explorer, and the idea of “travel/journey/exploration” – a more abstract take on a footprint. Again, I’d love to see (and be able to share) what you’ve come up with!

Getting back to the hand-carved stamp, I considered a raw potato (but it wouldn’t last long, and I might want to re-use it in future), cardboard (not thick enough for my idea, though a possibility for certain shapes), and a larger sponge (too messy for me in this instance) before landing on Styrofoam. I have a few thin strips I salvaged from some electronic purchase from who knows when, and it turned out to be a great size for what I wanted.

There are dozens of great mediums to use when wanting to make your own stamps. If you have the money and inclination, you can even buy materials specially designed for such endeavors. To find out more, just type “how to hand carve a stamp” in any search engine and you'll find articles, blogs, videos, etc. (Isn't the internet great sometimes?!)

Of course, I don’t have either the money or the desire to do so right now, and in a lot of ways, using random found objects is more my style. Plus they can add some great textures, and as you get more comfortable with mixed media art, you’ll come to appreciate the great value in that. (Just as in fashion, it’s all about the layers my friends!) Other than what I mentioned as my own considerations, does anyone have some suggestions they’d like to share? Leave a comment and I’ll publish it!

Now that you have your second prompt, I will leave you to it; I hope inspiration will find you working on something today. Happy crafting friends!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

I, Explorer

“We shall not cease from exploration;
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”

from “Four Quartets”
-T.S. Eliot

My friend Julie loaned me two books today; one is called “Creative Awakenings:  Envisioning the Life of Your Dreams Through Art”. This quote was part of a “travel tip” about leaping into voids without a parachute. In other words, just going for it when it comes to art.

Like all good quotes, it has many layers of meaning, which means it will quickly become one of my favorites. It was taken from one of four poems, which make up the “Four Quartets”, and which you can read here. I know there aren’t many people who enjoy poetry anymore, especially when it was written almost seventy years ago. However, I would definitely recommend reading these four poems. A few tips to make it a more enjoyable and meaningful experience:

1. Read out loud, slowly.
2. Don’t pause at the end of a line, but rather at the end of a sentence, meaning read until you reach an end mark (period, question mark, etc).
3. Stop at the end of each sentence, or stanza, and let the images float around in your mind, forming a picture – you may be surprised what surfaces!
4. Most importantly, go into the experience with an open mind, no expectations.

Now back to the quote. It’s comforting to me to think that I will “not cease from exploration”. I have always loved the idea of my life as a journey; this metaphor of travel and exploration, of discovery and adventure stirs something deep inside all of us. Our God, after all, created us to long for and enjoy these things. It’s up to each one of us individually to wake each morning and decide that today will be one of exploration and insight.

I also love the notion that “the end of all our exploring/Will be to arrive where we started/And know the place for the first time.” This can mean the end of our life’s journey, or it can mean the end of each smaller adventure we endeavor to undertake across the different seasons of our lives.

Right now I’m somewhat immersed in my “wellness journey”. For those of you who have followed this blog for a while, this term will be familiar. It started last summer (June 2012, you can read it here) when I finally emerged from the cave where I had been living, and began to explore and experience life. As I lay this quote over the idea of this particular journey, I can’t help but wonder if there will be an “end” at which to arrive, and how I will know it.

Perhaps right now you’re in a season of partnership (in marriage) and parenthood. The end may come when your last child leaves home to begin their own season. On that day, will you find that you have arrived where you started, two become one, but that you know it now for the first time?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


Today is Wednesday, and it’s time for the first art challenge prompt of Week Two. Here’s the card:


This card was made with a photo of actual footprints, belonging to my little sister, but the possibilities go way beyond this. There’s the old familiar poem “Footprints” for example. Or anything involving walking, taking a stand, a journey of one kind or another. I would encourage you to try to think “outside the box” when sifting thru different ideas; also, experiment with various images, mediums, or meanings and see what you get. Play. Relax. Make a mess. Have fun!

Sometimes we have to lay down a few extra layers of thought before we can really get to the heart of our inspiration. Don’t be afraid to draw several pictures, or do a Google image search for “footprints” and play around with a few. You might come up with three or four ideas before you find “the one” that really speaks to you.

As for me, I’m not sure which direction I’ll take, other than I’m using these cards for art journal pages. This will be the background layer. I’ll post a picture of what I create in the next couple of days. Be watching for the next card on Saturday, and meanwhile, remember this:  inspiration will come, but it must find you working!

Highs and Lows

So today I had my semi-monthly ADHD check up. First one since October after two cancellations by my doctor. In the last two and a half months I’ve gained a little weight, and found out that my blood pressure has been high every time I’ve come in. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m at the Doctor’s office, or physical reasons, but if it’s still high when I stop in a few weeks from now I’ll have to start taking meds for that, too. Fortunately, one simple answer:  exercise.

This wasn’t exactly news for me, but it turns out exercise – the cardio kind, that raises my heart rate (which unfortunately is already kind of high) – will help with all kinds of things. Not only is it very possible that my blood pressure will go down to a more healthy level (today it was 133/110 and then 120/100), it should also help me sleep better for a longer amount of time, lose that weight I gained back, and be able to handle stress at work more effectively.

In addition to having high blood pressure, my energy level has been more low than usual, I’ve been having migraines more often, and my moods have been staying in the not-so-great area. Exercise will help all of this as well. So as long as I get more active, and make sure I take my meds on time every day, I should start feeling more like myself again. Last summer was a very relaxing, self-reflective, growing time for me, and I’d like to get back to that place!

I also had a chance to talk to my doctor about Asperger’s, so I asked about a local support group. None that he knows of. He does see adults with autism, but his main avenue of assistance with most is to prescribe Prozac or some equivalent. We talked about my own issues being mainly in the social realm, and that perhaps taking one of my Adderall prior to a social situation would be of benefit. I have to admit, I’ve never considered that option, but it makes sense. I’m definitely going to try it, and will hopefully have more opportunities to get out and be around people in the near future! Getting back into church is a top priority, and my home group.

So I have some work to do, inside and out, but what’s new? We should all be taking time to examine our lives from every angle, and making adjustments as they become necessary. We should be growing and improving every day. This is just another step on my journey, and I love having you along for the ride!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Superhero Ninja Skills

Today marks the beginning of week two for the year 2013; however, it’s also the end of week one of my new art challenge. In case you missed it, I’m going to draw one card from each of two decks, one on Wednesday and one on Saturday, and the two cards drawn for this week were:
week 1           week 1
The cards themselves were done in a way that helps illustrate the prompt, but there are no rules or limits to what can be done. Here’s what I came up with:

week one background

That’s my “symmetrical background” made with blue and red cardstock. My pages are 9”x12”, so each square is cut to 2.25”x3”. I just glued them down.

week one drawing one          week one drawing two

For the “practice drawing” part I drew two things. The Superman logo using directions from this website, and the ninja from this website.

week one finished

This is the page put together. It’s not finished yet, but one of the great things about making art journal pages is that you can keep adding layer after layer until you’re happy with the result. I’ll post pictures of it as I add to it, but for now, this is my response to this week’s prompts. New one from deck blue tomorrow!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Practice Drawing

I am still excited about this idea deck weekly challenge I’ve created for myself. I’ve been having fun creating the cards, and making the “symmetrical background” for the first page was relaxing. Today we add the second layer, using a card from the red deck. Here’s what I chose (at random):

week 1

It’s a little harder to see because it was drawn in pencil. I found this image on a “how-to draw” site online. There are dozens of great sites with free images of all kinds, walking you thru the process step by step. The best way to learn is to pick one image and practice it over and over (every day if possible), until you’ve got it mastered. I chose a teddy bear for the card in honor of Oliver; this one is supposed to look “well loved”. I'll be using a different image for my page.

Now, just to clarify, these cards only serve as ideas or prompts for projects. Mine will begin as art journal pages, and then may progress into a mixed media canvas or other project. Of course I’m open to all possibilities, and I would LOVE to see what other people come up with!

Since this is a weekly challenge, it's my goal to post the first card (for the initial "layer") on Wednesday, the second on Saturday, and hopefully the completed project Sunday; however, you have until Tuesday to finish, before the next week’s prompt comes up. Don't forget to have fun, be creative, and make art every day! Happy crafting friends!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Deck the Halls

Another one of my goals for 2013 is to create art every day. It doesn't matter what it is, or how much time it takes (I have lots of time). And even though I only have a few people following my blog, I’d like to tell others about it, and have them join me in this pursuit. So I’ve come up with a fun way to offer ideas and inspiration on a bi-weekly basis.

As you probably already know, I find odd numbers disturbing, and have a need for structure. So I tend to impose it on things by way of something already existing, such as using the alphabet as a template for a list, or the four seasons to inspire a project. Well, as I was sitting on my bed in the living room yesterday morning, I was thinking about things that have an even number that would be high enough to accommodate a long period of time. My train of thought eventually looped around a mountain to realize the fact that each year has 52 weeks. I could do something weekly. Then it hit me:  a deck has 52 cards!


Here’s my idea:  I took two decks of cards (you can get a two-pack at the Dollar Tree), and I made them into idea/inspiration cards for art journaling and/or other mixed media projects. The blue deck is for the initial background layer(s) and I’ll draw one every Wednesday to share with you. The red deck is for the finishing layer(s) and I’ll draw one every Saturday. My goal is to use them to make pages or some other project, one a week, and post pictures on Sunday. I’d love it if others joined me, especially if you could share photos in the comments section or send them to me to include in my posts. It's always fun (and inspiring) to see and hear about what other people are creating.

This idea isn’t a new one, I’m sure many people have done the same, but I didn’t copy it from anyone so I don’t have anyone to credit. The images I use on some of the cards were found online, others were taken by me or someone I know. Not all cards have photos, though. And each has the prompt glued on it.

The first week of the year started yesterday, which makes today the first Wednesday, so here’s the first prompt:


I’ll post the red deck prompt on Saturday, and my finished project on Sunday. Have fun creating and don’t forget to share!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

My White Whale?

I love the idea of new beginnings, and January 1 is a big one, for everyone. Last year it was even better – it was on a Sunday, the start of a new year at the start of a new week. Tuesdays are ok too, I guess; you never know what will happen on a Tuesday. Just not quite as empowering somehow.

This is, of course, the time for “resolutions” – those lofty goals that people set and almost never attain. Something in the symbolism of the new year beginning gets us motivated to make important life changes; until the realities of every day living creep back in and we realize maybe things can’t really change overnight after all.

So this year I’ve decided to set for myself some “goals”. No resolutions. No promises. Just some goals that I would like to accomplish this year, or work toward accomplishing in the next couple of years. I figure this way I have a better chance of success. Also something I don’t usually do is write them down, which seems silly, since having a written notice of what I want is a great way to keep me focused on getting it. And I'm a writer. This time around I’ve decided to make a list. I love lists, so it’s a win-win.

One thing on that list is to read at least 100 of the books I own but have never read. I believe I counted 103 or so in total, but since I don’t remember for sure (and that’s an odd number), I’m setting my goal for the big one double zero. Starting tonight in fact, with Herman Melville’s classic Moby Dick.

I chose this book for two reasons:  it was an important part of the plot on a tv show I was watching on Netflix the other day, so I got interested in it; and it’s all about symbolism. Everything means something else. And new beginnings, resolutions, all of that great “new year” stuff is full of symbolism as well. Perfect fit.

Moby Dick
is a tale about a man who is searching for his obsession, the elusive white whale. I don’t know yet what my own white whale is, but we can take this journey together and you’ll discover it alongside me. So what do you say? Should we pack our bags and tag along with crazy old Captain Ahab? Who’s with me?