trust

Last year,  I spelled out the word “Steward” with our  Scrabble letters and set them upon my kitchen windowsill to guide my intentions throughout 2014.  When I chose the word “steward” as my focus, I remember thinking that I really needed to be a better steward of my time at home, as I had lots of aspirations for my creative business, but often became derailed too easily.  This was the year that I would not allow things like Facebook and internet surfing to steal precious time.  I would set business hours and art hours and stick to them!  I even bought Julie Morgenstern’s book, Time Management from the Inside Out, to give myself an added boost.

By mid-January; however, it did not take me long to realize that God had a different vision of what it meant for me to be a good steward of my time last year.  The power struggles between my girl and me had reached an all-time high and I was failing miserably at being the calm, loving mom that she needed me to be.  The anger I felt inside felt a little scary some days and I knew it was time to ask for help.  My time this past year was meant to be spent in healing.

I spent a good 4-5 months working with a counselor,  just healing my spirit.  Allowing myself to grieve parts of my life journey, my boy’s autism diagnosis, and my girl’s unique struggles.  As I released the trapped feelings from my brain, their physical grip on my heart loosened, as well.  With a new found sense of calm, I was then able to move on to other aspects of our current situation that needed attention.

As a preschooler, my girl had been diagnosed with sensory processing difficulties, an anxiety disorder and ADHD.  I often describe all these diagnosis  as the “leftovers” of autism.  While we sought interventions for my girl when these things first became apparent, the symptoms lessened over time and I guess I just pushed those very real struggles to the back of my mind, as we were still heavily in the throes of addressing my boy’s autism. That said, it was now time to better understand and address my girl’s needs.

So, my husband and I began meeting with a counselor together to hone our parenting skills.  While we share a number of strengths in our marriage, we also made the realization that we needed to communicate and be more assertive about our own individual needs.  We both felt like “martyrs” for our family, working somewhat independently to survive.  Recognizing the importance of validating and supporting each other so that we can function better as a unit has been big for us.  And, as you can guess, a happier, calmer Mom and Dad sets the tone for a more loving, peaceful household.  Apart from our counseling, my girl is now receiving occupational therapy each week to address her sensory needs and we are in the process of completing some educational evaluations to see if there are any other areas that we might be missing.  Lots of hard work going-on here!

As our family continues to heal and move forward together, I have decided that my word for this year is going to be “Trust.”  Trust the process.  Trust that life will reveal itself and unfold just as it supposed to.  And while I keep dreaming and setting goals for myself, I will hold these things loosely, allowing God to gently guide my path.  He’s got this.  I just need to trust Him.

If you want to stay close to Me and do things My way, ask Me to show you the path forward moment by moment.  Instead of dashing headlong toward your goal, let Me set the pace.  Slow down, and enjoy the journey in My Presence.                                                                                                                                                                                                                             -Sarah Young, Jesus Calling

artroomevening

With October and November passing all too quickly, I feel like I am coming home after a long trip as I write here.  My head and hands have been working steadily, preparing for my very first Dandelion Studio Open House which took place in my home last Friday.  Having had December 5th planted in the back of my mind for weeks, I am enjoying just being in the present now that my deadline has come and gone.

I worried bit last week.  I worried that I did not have enough variety to sell.  And, as several friends called to express their regrets over not being able to attend, I worried that the turn-out would be small.  That all my preparations would be done in vain.  I worried about not being a “success.”

I have learned a lot in my 40+ years of living, though, and one of the biggest and hardest lessons learned is that worry is nothing but an energy vampire.  That said, I willed myself to focus on what I could control and began the process of surrendering “success” to God.  I sat down with my “to do” list and plugged everything that needed to be done before Friday into my planner.  Items priced.  Bathrooms cleaned.  Floors vacuumed.  Food prepared.  Displays arranged.  And when my head hit the pillow each night, I prayed.  I prayed that God’s presence might be felt in my home and that each person who walked through our door that Friday evening would feel loved and welcome.  Because  love always wins.  Every. Single. Time.

The turn-out did end-up being smaller than I had hoped; however, it was okay.  A steady stream of friends arrived with smiles on their faces and joy in their hearts.  And, as our friend, John, began to strum his guitar fireside in the background, I knew that God showed-up, too.  With tears in her eyes, one friend gently held a handmade ornament in her hand, saying that it touched her heart when she read the tag, “Love Wins.”  In a necklace pendant, another found a talisman of hope to offer a hurting friend.  One person felt drawn to a piece of my art only to find-out that it was inspired by her favorite place to stop and meditate in the woods, which happens to be mine, too.  Family connections were discovered between my girlfriend’s father and my dad.

As I witnessed these connections being made throughout the evening, I realized that God knew exactly what I needed to take away from this open house.  Not big numbers of people or huge amounts of sales, but a true understanding of success.  A heart open to God.

Dreamcatcher

The dream was always running ahead of me.
To catch up, to live for a moment in unison with it,
that was the miracle.
-Anais Nin

Shechasesbutterflies

You can chase a butterfly all over the field and never catch it.
But if you sit quietly in the grass it will come and sit on your shoulder.
– Henry Thoreau

Ben&meflying(Another little peek of Ben’s Dream.)

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (KJV)

With my boy and girl settling back into the fall school routine, I was all ready to dive-into creating art and taking steps to helping my business grow.  And then, life being what it is, the whole family came-down with a cold, the toilet overflowed, and a mysterious blistering rash showed-up on my girl’s elbow, then her face, and later my boy’s butt cheek…Yeah. I know. Gross.  Along with several previously scheduled autism-related doctor’s appointments, we threw in a couple of extra trips to the pediatrician to figure-out the rash, and before you know it, two weeks passed and not much art had been made on my end.

Sensing the discouragement, the little “Brain Bully” in my head seized the moment and started whispering things like,  “This is why you’ll never reach your dreams!  Your family life is just too demanding!  Do you really want to put all that energy into something that might not even work out?”   To drive the point home, I started an online art class, and immediately felt overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work being shared by my fellow classmates on the group Facebook page…Really, do these people have families?

So, yes, I felt a little anxious, if not a bit cynical.  Still, I  picked-up my paint brush for a few hours here and there throughout the following week. I crocheted some beads one afternoon while my boy and girl played contentedly outside. I pushed-through a class project that felt foreign to me.  Gradually,  the momentum  that I feared losing started to return.  Evidence of things not seen.

I am realizing that creating art and living life are continuous acts of faith.  While I carry these visions and dreams that God has placed in my heart, with gentle hands, I must surrender the final outcome and how it will look to God.  I find such beauty and relief in knowing that it is not up to me to figure-out how long it will take or exactly how I will get there.  All God is asking me to do is to listen to his whispers and keep picking-up that paintbrush.  I think I can do that.

vintagebirdpendant

Outside of my “signature” gold hoops and a small collection of necklaces, I really am not a big jewelry wearer.  The pieces that I do wear either inspire me or hold a special significance.  Keeping simplicity, a boho style, and inspiration in mind, I have so enjoyed designing and putting together these necklaces for you!  With mostly simple beaded-crochet chains, each necklace bears a pendant either made from vintage treasures or chosen for its inspirational message (Be sure to check the back of the pewter pendants!).  The beads crocheted into the chains consist of both czech glass and semi-precious stones.  Once again, I selected the beads according to their aesthetic value or, in some cases, for their healing properties.  It is my hope that these pieces might be worn as gentle reminders that speak to your soul.

Please join me at Dandelion Studio to browse my brand new vintage and inspirational jewelry collection!

canvas5

I while back, I left you with the beginning of Ben’s Dream.  A process of expressing my emotions regarding this whole autism journey that Ben and I have been traveling together over the past 10 years.  Following my intuition, I scrawled words across the canvas, brushed sad, angry, hopeful strokes over top of my words, printed, stenciled, and collaged my way through these beginning phases.  Slowly, I started to see all of these marks begin to dance together in a sort of joyful, healing release.

With my ultimate goal being to capture a dream that my boy shared with me one morning several years ago, I knew that while that beginning phase would provide the underlying structure for this piece, Ben’s Dream, I would eventually need to paint over top of it in order to achieve a more unified background.  So, after enjoying the first dance for a few weeks, I decided it was time to move-on to “phase II” of Ben’s Dream.  I did not want to paint over all that richness.  At the same time, I have come to trust the process and believed that the movement and emotion that lie beneath the next layers would emerge again, in its own time.

Ben'sdreambackground1

 It was really hard to sit with a background that seemed “less than” at the time.  I could hardly wait to add more layers  in my next session!

Ben'sdreambackground

Those hills and sky are dancing, once again…Soon, they will be singing with the final layers of Ben’s Dream!  Here is a little peek of what will be going into those layers – Ben’s houses.

Ben'shouses

As I enter these final phases of Ben’s Dream I, too, am starting to dream along with him.  How can I support my boy’s real life dreams?  Perhaps his and mine might dance together…

 

butterflies

For a while now, I have felt restless in my role as “stay-at-home mom.”    Good or bad, having fought the infertility battle years ago in order to create our family, I probably took-on my mom role with more intensity than some .  And, when autism was added to the mix, being a mom became real “serious business.”

Our family took a pretty big hit during those early years of parenthood.  Most of our time and energy was focused on getting our boy the therapies that he needed, fulfilling basic needs and grasping for spaces of time here and there to breathe.  That said, almost 10 years later, I finally feel like all the pieces might be coming together.  With both my girl and boy in school for the past several years, I have spent a good deal of time finding myself again, pursuing my passion for creating art, allowing myself to grieve, and celebrating my boy and girl as they become more independent.

While my soul has emerged in so many ways, I feel like I have remained partially stuck inside the cocoon.  Half of me mired in the serious business of being a good mom and wife and half of me trying to figure-out how to take flight in a new form.  So, when my husband and I sat across from a family counselor a while back, it suddenly became clear to me that I had never fully shared this readiness to take flight.  I mean, I thought I had, but somehow, the message became watered-down in the process.

With this new awareness, my husband and I are discovering the healing power of learning to be assertive with our own needs, not just the kids’, and to take the time to encourage and celebrate each others’ efforts as we grow together.  Instead of simply “surviving,” as a family, we are on our way to thriving.  And it. feels. good.

As we take flight as a family, I also look forward to taking flight in my art business.  Over the summer, I devoured artist Kelly Rae Robert’s e-book:  Flying Lessons.  One piece of advice that spoke to me as I read through Kelly Rae’s book is that I need to commit to my art and my business.  Up until recently, I felt safer staying half-stuck in my cocoon, in my official “stay-at-home-mom” status, while simply treating my art as a hobby. If I really want to take flight, though, I need to allow my wings to fully develop.  I need to shed that last layer holding me back from completely emerging.

So, here I sit.  Warm mug in hand and a year full of possibilities before me.  I can’t wait to see how it feels to fly!

For as long as I can remember, vintage treasures have made my heart skip a beat.  Always on a frugal budget when my sister and I were growing-up, my mom pulled-together the rooms in our church parsonages with thrift store finds, hand-me-down treasures, and a little (or in some cases, a lot!) elbow grease.  In fact, a few of those pieces are still being used in my own home!  An old desk/table with a planked top. A trunk that my mom and I refinished together when I was in middle school. And an oak kitchen table and chairs  that my grandmother bought at an estate sale and hid in her basement to surprise my mom.  Covered with Kraft paper, that table now stands front and center in my art studio.

Now, aside from our slip-covered couch and few other pieces, I can safely say that most of our home is decorated with vintage finds and I love it that way!  The craftsmanship. The scratches and odd marks here and there.  The chippy paint.  Together, all of these characteristics make -up a sort of imperfect beauty .  They tell a story about the original owner.  They remind me of the anticipation felt while watching multiple layers of paint bubble-up before steel wool exposed the beauty of the raw wood. Or they represent the excitement of stumbling upon the perfect piece that just “makes” a room.  Perhaps it is these stories that allow to me feel so at home when I walk into a store filled with vintage findings.

everythingvintagesign

When my husband and I wandered into an obscure little shop called Everything Vintage several weekends ago, I nearly squealed with excitement over a set of vintage gym lockers standing near the entrance!  Those rusty metal gym baskets transported me right back to the middle school locker room.  My extra-small navy and yellow trimmed gym shorts (which my mom still had to take-in because I was so darn skinny!), the baby-powder smell of Tickle deodorant, and the heavy-duty combination lock hanging on my gym basket.

lockersTaking delight in the creaky old wooden floors,  great-big vintage signs, heavy wooden map drawers and bins of old photos, tin numbers and brooches,  we moved past the entrance and into a little side room filled with vintage clothing and accessories.  My husband maneuvered his way to the front display window where we spied a suitcase filled with all kinds of pink wires and cuffs:  The Relaxalator!  Those of you who watch Mad Men might be familiar with the first season’s episode where Peggy is given the job of testing and writing ad copy for  the Electrisizer. Well, The Relaxalator must have been the sister gadget to the Electrisizer!   I’m not sure how relaxing the Relaxalator was back then, but it sure did provide us with a good giggle!

relaxalatorRight next to the blue suitcase sat a hat box housing a large collection of old prescription glasses.  We unearthed a tortoise-shell pair just like the glasses that my dad used to wear!  I remember thinking that my dad looked so handsome in those glasses.stuglassesBefore leaving the shop, my eyes rested upon this vintage red and white Coca-Cola refrigerator.  Once again, memories of the little country convenience store where I spent my earliest years filled my mind.  Prying-off the metal lid on the bottle opener outside of the refrigerator.  My chubby little hands feeling the cool beads of condensation as I held the thick, green glass bottle.  And later, depositing the glass bottles at our local Safeway for a few extra cents.cocacolaFeeling all warm inside, we left Everything Vintage and made our way to a few other nearby shops. That first shop was a hard act to follow, but we did find bits of beauty along our way throughout the rest of the afternoon.  An old farmhouse storefront looked promising with its cute front-porch;  however, this spider hanging-out near the entrance caught our attention over the odds and end chairs and home-grown fruit cluttering the inside rooms. Isn’t she a beauty?spiderAfter lunch, we made one last stop before heading towards the Virginia Capital Trail, our original destination.  Charlie’s Antiques and Amazing Stones.

Charlie'sAntiquesA massive display of rocks and statues stood willy-nilly amidst the grounds and lined the long gravel driveway leading back to an old warehouse building filled with antiques from all around the world.

statuewomanloungingWe found this lovely lady lounging amidst carved stone Buddhas, fountains, large mammals and flocks of Renaissance women.

statueromanceAnd the intensity captured between these two lovers made me stop right in my tracks!  The sculptural lines are exquisite.

While my husband and I intended to punctuate our adventure with a leisurely bike ride down a portion of The Capital Trail, a flat bike tire changed the course of events…Instead, a “home-cooked” meal at Cracker Barrel provided a delicious end to a day of vintage beauty finding.  I guess we’ll just have to make another trip to complete our bike ride and maybe do a little more browsing?

 

 

My boy quietly slips into bed next to me one morning and snuggles-up close by my side.  With tears in his eyes, he whispers in my ear, “I need to tell you about a dream that I had, Mommy…”  As this sweet boy describes the scene in his dream, I can’t help but hold back my own tears. It is so beautiful!

That morning, I tucked my boy’s dream inside my heart and have carried it with me ever since, as it so aptly captures the autism journey that we have traveled together.  Having faced the hard work of  healing my own heart over the past year, I decided it is now time to make Ben’s dream come alive on the canvas. So, here begins the journey…

canvas1Facing a white canvas, with Ben’s vision in my head, I so badly want to get straight to the fun part where everything comes together;  BUT, my soul really needs to wander.  As I am learning so well, listening to my soul is always the best place to start.

canvas6I have one precious hour to work before picking-up my boy and girl from summer school.  Just enough time to allow my soul to meander around the canvas with those simple painted words and brush strokes.

canvas4During the next session, I apply the working process learned from Kelly Rae Roberts’ online “Hello Soul!” mixed-media course.  The rhythm of alternating between paint and collage is both relaxing and therapeutic for me.  Just following my urges without worrying about an end product.  Pure bliss!

canvas3When it is time to stop, I feel anxious about having to leave a particularly muddy area in it’s “ugly” state.  Suddenly, I realize that my painting is right where it needs to be.  Healing takes time!  “It is okay to sit with your bruised heart.  Give it time to heal.”  I write those words right on my canvas with a black Sharpie and walk away for the day.

canvas5A few days later, I return to the canvas with more clarity.  All those awkward, ugly marks?  They are a part of my journey.  In order to move forward, I must acknowledge the hard and the messy before I can turn them into something beautiful.  Those colors. That texture.  Those bits and pieces of collage.  They are all learning to dance together now.  In time, they will serve as the background for a lovely vision:  Ben’s Dream.

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