Friday, April 22, 2016

What helps you breathe?

What is your passion? What helps you to breathe, make it through the day? What is it that you feel is your God given talent that makes you sigh in the knowledge that it's right for you to spend time doing it?

Art and writing are my zen. Both art and writing have been with me ever since I can remember. I took art classes from a woman that taught with Leo Reynolds when I was about 6. Then, I took from Johnny Young for years. I also learned to take up for myself in this class and beat up a bully. :-) Bet you never knew violence could happen in art class! Seriously, the boy, 5 years my senior, kept hitting me in the back of my head while I was trying to concentrate on painting. I had politely asked him to stop. He didn't. I flew into him and bloodied his knees and landed a kick that sent him rolling into a fetal position. Mrs. Young told him she bet he wouldn't pick on me anymore. He didn't.

Of course, my first teacher was my mom. She used to let me paint Plein Air under our willow tree in the front yard. She would give me advice and show the utmost patience as I wasted many tubes of paint and canvas in the pursuit of my art. She also taught me how NOT to draw trees. I remember bringing her a tree I had drawn. She critiqued the hell out of it to the point I was in tears. I vowed never to draw another damn tree. I was wrong. My love for trees grew by leaps and bounds; and, I learned how to properly draw a tree. Thank you, Mom!

In high school, I enjoyed painting for 3 years with Mrs. Doris Gamble. I think I spent whole days with her my senior year enjoying the smell of oils and discussing literature. I learned perspective in her class and that I really liked to draw on BIG paper instead of small paper. She would go to the teachers' lounge and get paper for me when we were drawing hands and faces. Even then, I'd have to tape papers together or I'd draw off the sides.

I look for drawing inspiration everywhere I go. I visited a friend on his lake and took away some photos from which I painted this. This is a watercolor rendition of that beautiful, peaceful moment.

I was lucky enough to visit the UP and see an ermine...beautiful, curious creatures! I wrote and illustrated a wonderful children's story about this magnificent creature. This is one of the illustrations in pencil. Ms. Lily, the ermine, has a great appetite for trout!

This world teaches us to do what makes the most money. We should do what brings us joy. I hear way too many people sigh and say, "It brings home the bacon." They sometimes can't even remember what made them happy. We are given a purpose when we are placed on this earth. Gabe and I watched the movie "Hugo" this week. It's a beautiful flick! This young, orphaned boy says, (I will paraphrase) "I have always thought of the world as a machine; and, each of us as parts. Therefore, we must all fit somewhere. There are no surplus parts made. We all have a purpose to make the big machine work." This is true. He also points out how people smile when they are fulfilling that purpose. That seems to be most accurate.

Which brings me to my original question for my readers: What helps you breathe? What is your passion in this life? I hope it makes you smile so broadly you fill up a room with your sunshine.

Monday, April 18, 2016


How often are you discouraged? How often do you get off to a good start with a new idea and something happens to deflate your balloon. You have to pump more air into the tire to get the car rolling again; but, it doesn't even seem worth the effort.

I think many of us feel that same way. We get excited about something, fired up, then someone might say our idea sucks; and, we question ourselves. We start to have feelings of doubt. Then, just like that, we see the failures in front of us instead of the tiny steps forward. We look around and see the bad things happening instead of all the good things. We cast doubt on things that should be perceived as a learning curve.

Folks, you are not alone! As an artist, I look at my projects sometimes and think, "There's no way anyone could ever want that. It's crap!" When I write, I marvel at how anyone could want to read my words! Why in the world does someone value my thoughts enough to read them, view them, become a part of my world? But, they do! Not always, and my bank account says it's not happening near enough; but, it happens! There are some people who are reading my writings, enjoying my art, waiting for whatever thing I'll offer next.

Thank you for giving me encouragement in a world full of so much discouragement. I need it. Give encouragement to all the people in your life and around you. It might be just what someone needs to make it to tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

My Soft Underbelly

All of us have a soft underbelly. Some of us let that belly out daily for everyone to see by posting our most intimate details of life on social media. Others don't show that soft side on social media, much less in real life. I am one of those people who rarely show my vulnerable side for one reason or another.

I have no desire to air my laundry out for the whole world to see. I don't really care if everyone knows my favorite color. I let some things out, such as favorite book, author, my mad cooking skills ;-),  my love for coffee and animals. Things that, while telling of me, is only to a certain degree.

The coin flip is what I see daily with regards to social media. There are people who have to be a stalker's dream come true because they post everything about their life. They post where they are eating, what they are eating, with whom they are eating; and, they snap a selfie to prove their point. There are even teachers now posting all of their classroom activities on facebook. Do you know how vulnerable this is making the entire class of children? If someone wanted to kidnap one of the kiddos, all they have to do is wait for your field trip posting because it tells the time you will arrive, depart, what you will eat, and what you will wear. It has ALL the information that unsub could want to know without much effort on his/her part. All he has to do is wait for you! You've already created the perfect opportunity by disclosing the soft underbelly.

For people like me, I choose to show a tough exterior. One that says, I'm good, all is well in my life. I recently wrote a blog about how I am single and smiling. For the most part, that is true. At that moment in my life, I truly could not have imagined our moment any differently. However, I have to admit, the desire to have a partner is strong. (I am showing my underbelly just a little. Be kind.) At 42 flirting games are different than they were at 20something. I know how to flirt, but to what extent? My boys have forever told me of guys that have been interested in me; but, I haven't noticed. Now, I find myself wishing maybe I had paid a little more attention to someone's notice of me...Oh, is what it is. Rolling back over now to scratch my ear. Underbelly is safely under wraps again, just where I like it. Bark! Bark!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Morning Visitor


This is a neighborhood cat who has decided my yard is the place to be for bird watching. I love to watch my birds, too. Although, I am sure I will not partake of a juicy morsel of fallen baby birds as Blackie will do at the earliest opportunity.

She visits while I drink my coffee on the front steps, winding her sleek self around my legs and voicing her approval of my presence. She has green eyes that notice the mockingbirds have built a nest in my camellia. She hears the parent birds flutter in and out as they feed their babies. The mockingbirds fuss at Blackie; but, she doesn't mind. She will wait for her perfect opportunity to strike.

I love watching the birds and will be saddened by the clump of feathers I am sure to find one day when Blackie finally is served her delicacy. However, I know that it's normal for the cat to eat the birds. She doesn't eat all the birds; probably, just one or two. As Mufasa tells Simba in The Lion King, "It's the circle of life."

I say all of this because as I sit and watch the animals of the morning, I see no protest signs from the mockingbirds to disembowel the cat for her heinous act of violence. I don't see the squirrels finding lawyers to sue the tree that allowed a limb to break as they were reaching for the seed on the tiniest of branches. The critters don't even object more than a couple of squawks and chatterings  to my presence.

Maybe, we humans should take note of how the animals do. Maybe, instead of making a huge fuss over what outlandish thing we perceive our neighbor to be doing, we should just mind our own business.

Sunday, April 3, 2016


 In this photo we were in our happy place, the beach. Happy places gives us a contented sort of lazy smile that just sits there on our face as well as in our hearts. says it takes 13 muscles to smile and 33 muscles to frown. Maybe the reason people don't smile is because they are allergic to muscle use. However, I have a neighbor who works at a gym and he never smiles. Guess he is wanting to use more muscles to frown, get his face squats in!

Check out this guy's smile! This is my William. He had just finished boot camp. He was stepping out into the world and enjoying the sensations of having his own life. Lots to smile about! I was smiling on this day as well, through happy tears, of course! (I did NOT cry! Hooah!)

Some people walk around frowning at the whole world. Why? Do I frown? Yes. Sometimes, I catch myself frowning and don't even realize how I let all of those 33 muscles bench press my smile! Give that back! We're on the rowing machine...smiling!

It's even better when as I smile, I can help others to smile. One time in a long line, I started talking with my neighbors. Soon, all of us were smiling; and, I think the line started moving faster! There was one grouchy woman who told me she didn't have anything to be happy about. I pointed out the fact that she was now the first person in line. She looked around amazed at how she had moved forward in life, even if it was just a line at the courthouse.

I have been known to put a broad smile on my 90 year old neighbor's face by sharing whatever sweet I have cooked. Today, I have made brownies. My Gabe will run across the street and knock on the door. My neighbor will answer with some funny statement and an offer to visit. Gabe will give him the wrapped brownies with a declaration as to what's inside the parcel. My neighbor will smile this deep smile he's been expressing all these 90 years. He will move the toothpick in his mouth to the other corner as he shuffles forward to take the brownies from the hands of my son. He will smile with a twinkle in his clear blue eyes and tell Gabe to tell me to keep sending him good things. He will turn to his 89 year old wife and laugh at how he gets an extra sweet for the day. Makes me smile thinking about it.

I guess smiling comes from joy. Joy doesn't have to be mega millions large. Joy can come from a peaceful feeling inside our hearts; a warm cup of coffee with some squirrels; asking for help; giving assistance without any expected reward; a job well done; a kiss; a laugh. Joy can sneak up on us and cause those miraculous 13 muscles to stretch our lips into an upward curve that radiates an infection to anyone watching. Go infect someone! Smile, and help someone else to smile along with you! Soon, you might just belt out a laugh!