Monday, June 23, 2014

Hello Monday

For those of us in the teaching profession we look forward to Mondays towards the end of June. Because instead of getting bonuses in the form of pay, we get June, July and August. While we don't get a full 90 days off, most of us get between 8-9 weeks.  When I went to bed last night I didn't set my alarm, no need.  I was going to sleep until the sun was fully in the sky.  But. . . . at 5:00am my eyes were wide open and my body was restless.

So I got up and greeted the sunshine on my back porch, one of my favorite places on earth.  With a cup of coffee and a pillow under my feet I started my day making a list of all I wanted to accomplish during my visit home.  It's a long list with lots of household chores, more traveling and many fun events.  But for now I think I'll have another cup of coffee.

Happy Summer Monday to all my teacher friends.  Sorry the rest of you have to go to work!

Pancake as big as my head

Art Spark #11
Battlefield Restaurant, Fredericksburg, VA

Sunday, June 22, 2014

I made it.

The trip was long, but entertaining looking for places to abandon little Art Sparks along the way. Sometimes I'd forget and make my husband stop at the last minute, but I did hit every state!  He is such a patient man.

Crawdaddy's in Madisonville, LA. Yummy shrimp Po'Boy for dinner.

Found this pay phone somewhere in Mississippi. I can't remember the last time I actually used one of these!

If you're ever driving through Alabama and see the sign for Priester's Pecans you have to stop!  Lots of free samples and you'll leave with a bag full of deliciousness!

At a truck stop in Georgia I pulled out the first card I touched and thought this was the perfect spot for it.  I love the idea of both an antifreeze and coolant!  Just the thing for a remodeled life!

We stopped for the night in Anderson, SC and the closest restaurant was one of my husband's favorites. I let him pick the Art Spark to be abandoned.  He claims he loves the place because the beer is cold and the wings are hot!

I just love this giant peach - It always makes me laugh. Does anyone else think it looks like a 
giant . . . . . ?

Carolina Blue.

Finally close to home.  I may be partial, but Virginia really does have the best rest area in the country.

I hope all my traveling Art Sparks have brought smiles to their new owners' faces. I have many more places to go over the next few weeks and plenty of pieces to abandon.  I may not have time to make a large, important work of art right now.  But I can create and release little gems here and there.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


Art Spark Drop #3
Berrytown Produce, Hammond, LA
I was shopping for crawfish bread and produce when I remembered I needed to make a drop.  I reached into my purse and pulled out the first Art Spark I touched and quickly placed in the bin next to me.  The bin happened to be full of bright orange sweet potatoes, some loose and some bagged. This random placement was so appropriate for my day. Some things need to be bagged up and some need to be free!

I'm in the process of helping my husband's aunt go through all of her possessions.  A few items will go with Aunt Ro to help decorate her little room to make it feel more like home.  Other items have been carefully packed and will soon be on their way to family members.  And then there are the things to be donated.  It's been hard going through all of her prized possessions.  I have to keep reminding myself to stop and think about how I will feel when I have to do the same thing.  Value is not determined by of the individual item. Instead it's the symbolism of the treasured keepsake because, as I've been reminded,  everything has a story.

I haven't been looking forward to this packing chore.  I'm tired of moving and we've been trying to get Aunt Ro's house clear for a while now.  But today I've realized this chore was really a gift.  I've learned so many great lessons:

1.  The simplest items can bring great joy to another person.
2.  Dropping donations off at a charity is inspiring knowing your possessions will be given new life.
3.  Never let you closet get too full.
4.  If someone wants to give you one of their possessions accept it with gratitude.
5.  Helping a loved one clean out their home is more fun when they're present to tell you the stories.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

On the road again.

Art Spark Drop #1
Crawdaddy's, near Orange, TX
I never sleep well the night before a trip.  I toss and turn, knowing I have to get up early to complete all of  my checklist.   I've made this long trip from Houston, TX to Fredericksburg, VA many, many times.  It's about 23 hours total drive time and I usually have two overnight stops.  I take other breaks along the way and I'm very picky about the restrooms I'll use.  Several years ago I discovered Crawdaddy's.  It's become one of my traditional stops because it's conveniently located about the time Dasher and I need a break.  The restrooms are clean and beautifully decorated.  I left my first Art Spark there, right under the mirror.  I took Dasher for a walk and I picked up a delicious hamburger, the best in Texas according to the sign.

Art Spark Drop #2
Louisiana Welcome Center
Another one of my traveling traditions is to stop at each state's welcome center.  I don't stop at these for the restrooms, I stop for the maps.  I love collecting these.  I use them in art projects all the time. I tear them for collages, use them in papier mache, and turn them into books.  I also collect them because I fear one day they'll be obsolete.  With GPS technology available in so many forms who really uses actually maps for navigation?  I don't.  As soon as I get in my car I type in my destination because I am severely directionally challenged.   Dasher likes these stops too - the dog walking areas are much better than random gas stations.

I've never been very good at reading maps, but I love looking at them.  The multicolored tangle of roads, names of cities, bodies of water and other landmarks create beautiful patterns on the paper.  I also reminisce about places I've been and dream about new destinations.  I'll keep building my stockpile of maps until they stop handing them out.  And they'll keep turning up in my art.

I'm in Hammond, LA for a couple of days then heading northeast on Friday. I'm looking forward to collecting more maps and leaving art behind.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Traveling Art Sparks

I'm leaving tomorrow for my summer trip back to my hometown,  Fredericksburg, VA.  It's a long drive with lots of stops along the way.  Once I get there I have a full agenda with trips to Maryland, Washington, D.C., North Carolina, South Carolina, in addition to several cities in Virginia. As I was packing up art supplies I came across about 50 artist trading cards I'd created during workshops I taught. Some were complete, some were in need of a few details and others were barely begun. So I took a break from packing and began to finish these little gems. And then it hit me - why not leave these little pieces of art all along my journey?

I was recently introduced to the concept of abandoning art.  I don't mean giving up the creation or enjoyment of art.  Instead it's the practice of creating small pieces and leaving them for someone to find. A gift of art left for a complete stanger.  These art abandoments are happening all over the place and the movement seems to be growing.Starting tomorrow I'll begin to leave my Art Sparks for stangers to find. Some will ignore them, some will trash them, but hopefully some will treasure them.

I'll post Art Spark drops on my blog, Twitter and Facebook.  Serendipity will connect my art with other people and I look forward to getting feedback.

Monday, June 9, 2014

I can do this.

"Every little thing's gonna be alright."        - - Bob Marley

I'm in the process of writing a book.  It's not going to be the next "Great American Novel," although I'd love to write one.  It's a non-fiction book about how to use creativity to improve your life.  I'm not writing alone, I'm working with my wonderful (and very creative) business partner Hobby.  Both of us have other jobs, I'm a teacher, she's a graphic designer and we're often frustrated about the lack of time we have to work on our project.  Today was the first official day of summer break and I had big plans. I was going to finish editing pages.  But. . . .

The day started off early with a 4:30 am "butt dial" from my insomniac sister.  So I got up and piddled away a couple of hours on emails and social media.  I got in my car to drive to the park for my run only to get stuck in commuter traffic.  After completing my run, driving home, showering, and eating it was almost noon!  Where did the morning go?  Looking back I can see I was using procrastination as a self defense strategy.

I opened my computer and was ready to dig in when I realized Hobby and I weren't working from the same copy of the book.  Ugh!  She'd done an amazing amount of work on the layout, but I hadn't given her the latest version of the text!  Being a relative computer knuckle head I still have trouble understanding where and how I'm saving and sharing files.  But my ever patient partner says "don't worry, it's easy to fix."  She's on vacation this week and I refuse to let her come back to unfinished pages.  Her job now is to work on illustrations.
"Listen"                     9 x 12                      Ink on paper

Like many people I sometimes let negative self talk derail me.  I lose sight of my goals and become mired in my own shortcomings and limitations.  But it's time to STOP!! So I typed, cried, struggled and eventually, started winning.  I lost track of time and soon the clock showed 5:00 pm, my self imposed quitting time.  I am tired but proud. I perservered. I started figuring some of the computer things out.  I can do this.  I just have to listen to my own advice.

I didn't finish editing all of the pages, but I made a good sized dent in the project.  I no longer feel like I can't do it and I don't feel paralyzed by doubt.  Procrastination will not distract me anymore.

Tomorrow . . . I'll finish the editing.  I CAN DO THIS!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Happy Anniversary Pete & Sarah

A year ago today my son, Peter, married the love of his life, Sarah.   We spent a week Nags Head, NC preparing and celebrating with family and friends.  There were some glitches along the way,  but honestly those are the blurriest memories.  Here's a list of my fondest rememberances from the day:

"Wedding Day Sunrise"
9 x 16    Acrylic on Canvas
  • The beautiful sunrise as I walked on the beach offering up my prayers for the day
  • Giggling at the hairdressers with MOB and the bridesmaids
  • Walking up to the inn and seeing the beautiful decorations just as Sarah and her mom had planned
  • Spending a few moments alone with Peter
  • Visiting Sarah as she dressed, experiencing her excitment
  • The hot bus ride to the church full of laughter
  • Preparing for the ceremony- adjusting ties and picking lint off the groomsmen
  • The moment Joe and I walked into the church feeling the love of all who were present
  • The look on Peter's face when Sarah walked down the aisle - the definition of bliss
  • The whole ceremony viewed through my happy tears
  • The utter chaos of picture taking - getting my family together was like herding cats
  • Entering the reception tent full of music, laughter and surprisingly very little ice
  • The processional dance of the bridal party
  • Peter and Sarah's first dance to "La Mer"
  • Meeting, greeting, hugging & kissing as many guests as I could
  • The toasts - Eric stole the show!  "Just look at her," he kept saying as he talked about his new sister.
  • Dancing, dancing, dancing.  I remember the floor was overflowing during "Wagon Wheel"
  • Peter's face when Sarah returned from changing into her going away outfit. It was like he'd just gotten the best gift ever!
  • The last dance "Sara(h) Smile".  I cried through the whole song.
  • The bride and groom leaving to a pelting of glow sticks.
  • Returning to the house finding Peter and Sarah there - So I got one more hug before I dropped them at The Lucky 12.
  • Then the day after full of stories and laughter.
  • I know there are more memories, but my cup is already running over! I didn't even cover the rest of the week.
Photo by Genevieve Stewart
Photo by
Genevieve Stewart
Happiness is remembering my little boy married the girl of his dreams.

Photo by Genevie Stewart
Happy First Anniversary Sarah and Peter!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

365 Days

Today I start the count down.

As I've said before living in Texas is a temporary thing for me. My home is in Virginia, as is most of my heart.  Both of my children and most of my family are there.  Many of my closest friends are on the east coast.  Forunatly Joe, my husband, has some family there too.  Jobs are keeping us here for a little while longer, but the end is near.

On June 6th, 2015 I'll be done.

Many times I've said to myself, "I'll be happier when. . . "  You can fill in the blank with just about anything.  But so often when I get to the "when" I'm still not happier.

So it's time to look for some happiness everyday as I count down the days.  I'll spend each day working on my dreams for my when.  Simple, daily, joyful actions and activites to make the jouney as sweet as the destination.

I may not find time to post every day,  but I will commit to daily happiness actions.   I re-discovered the joy I get from daily art creation during my May Journal Project.   I'll continue with those and lots of other activities and adventures.

My Happiness Actions today are:
1.  Sleep until I wake up naturally
2.  Walk with Dasher the dog
3.  Have dinner with Mara, my daughter-in-law's sister.

364. . . .