Unexpected blessings

I am sitting in my new living room on Saturday night. Taking a break from a painting I need to finish by Monday. Not quite believing this house is my home now. It is by far the nicest place I have lived. Since I have been on my own anyway. Since I was 17 when I last lived at home with my parents and they paid the bills. I don’t quite feel like I deserve all this. The refrigerator with the ice maker that I just heard in the huge kitchen that actually makes me want to cook in it, with so many cabinets, with so much counter space. There is a disposal in the sink. One of two sinks. I have lived in my share of, um, beginner apartments. Ones where the roaches and rats should have had to pay part of the rent as they easily could have been considered roommates. When I got pregnant I insisted on leaving that one. Despite the super cool balcony on the front of the house that seemed such a selling point in art school, it was no place for a baby. Later came the basement apartment. Which we shared with spiders and those icky science fiction crickets. That was where I was pregnant with Sophie. It was a cool part of town and it seemed pretty good except for the transvestite prostitutes that would walk through our backyard at about 7 in the morning on Sundays and say hello as they jumped the fence in their short mini skirts and stillettos. You think I kid? Nope. I mentioned I was pregnant with Sophie there? We only had a shower, no tub. No baths and pregnant. That was fun. I did get progressively better places like most people as time went on, but we never could afford a really nice place. Decent, but not nice.

The apartment I was living in the past three years was decent. Again, not amazing, but clean and in a nice neighborhood in the kids’ school district. Sure our neighbors called the police on each other more times than I would care to admit, but it was what I could afford after the divorce. I decorated it and made it home. It was mine. It was small, but cozy. I learned to move out of the way when the shower made that sound or risk getting scalded. I knew the kids could not take showers, only baths in their bathroom. They would always get scalded – at least in my shower you had a warning sound. Sophie’s door wouldn’t close all the way and you couldn’t open certain windows cause the screens had fallen out, but still, the dishwasher worked and so did the washer and dryer. And the air conditioner worked almost all the three years I was there. But it got small. A year ago I began dating a friend. And we fell in love. And last February the Best Boyfriend Ever moved in. And we were all happy, cozy, getting to know each other in that little apartment. But it was small.

So last May we decided it was time to move into a place of “our own.” And it seemed like a lot of work and in the end I think we weren’t ready or we were scared it would mess up our relationship, so we both decided it was not time. And I think we were both surprised at how easy the decision was. Because we listened to our hearts. But a few weeks ago we realized it was time. And we wanted “our place.” And we looked. And we looked. And we looked. And we just about decided that maybe we should just wait until next year. But then we found “the house.” We walked in and it felt right. It felt like somewhere I could be for a long time. But it also meant trusting a man again. Like for real, I can’t do this alone, so I need to trust you trust. And he had to trust me to. And we took a deep breath and decided it was time. And we trusted each other. And now, here we are. In a house that is amazing. Has four bedrooms and an office that I can use for a studio. The kids haven’t even seen the inside yet because we got the keys the week they were with their dad. It’s weird to be in a house, already living here and my kids have not seen it yet, don’t know which rooms are theirs yet.

There are so many things in my life that seem weird, but I am coming to realize that nothing is weird. Three years ago i certainly never thought I’d be here. Life is funny, how it works, what you expect and what actually happens. I try really hard to let go and to accept that I can’t make my life happen in the order and speed in which I want it to. And I get angry when it does not work out the way I worked so hard for it to. But then suddenly life hands you a gift that you were never expecting in a million years, not now anyway. Not without planning, it just happening. A good amazing thing happening with no planning or trying at all. And suddenly you are trying just as hard to feel like you deserve this good luck as you were at saying you didn’t deserve that other bad luck. And you realize you have two walk in closets in your bedroom with a bathroom that has a deep tub with jets for luxurious baths and you have a big backyard for your dogs and you might actually want to try cooking something other than macaroni and cheese and hot dogs. So sometimes when you least expect it, life not only goes your way, but makes you feel almost unworthy for such wonderful gifts. I am not sure what i did to deserve this, but I guess I can give life a break for not doing things my way, cause this way? It rocks. And i am not sure I have ever been happier in my life, and I certainly know I have never been more in love than i am right now with a man I will trust until the end of my days. That I have never known a sweetness and a kindness and a passion like I receive from him. And I am so lucky, blessed, whatever. And I am going to try to stop figuring out why and just be grateful that this life is mine.

Moving day.

Sorry I haven’t blogged all week. Life is hectic. We are moving today. And I need to put this computer in a box then bring the dogs to the groomers. Life is good, but moving is not fun. Well it will be fun tonite after it is all done. I have never in my life used movers before. “what? People will move heavy objects FOR you?” Oooooh, if you PAY them. Right. Which explains why, in the what seems like millions of times I have moved it has been back-breaking labor that leaves me hating furniture and aching for three days after. Luckily for me, when I said to best boyfriend ever that the couch is a b*tch to move he looked at me like I had five heads. “Um, yeah, well, it doest’t matter cause I won’t be moving it.”he said. To which I quite cleverly replied, “Oh? And are you paying the movers then, cause I won’t be paying it!” To which he responded, “I will happily pay for movers.” I rest my case. BEST BOYFRIEND EVER.

Etsy Shop Now Open!

Just in time for holiday shopping! Buy early! Be prepared! All my prints will be sold through here. These are high quality prints on archival paper with archival inks that are made from reproductions of my original art work. Email me if you don’t see the breed you are looking for. I have painted hundreds and can probably find you whatever breed you are looking for! Prints are only $15 and I will be selling cards throguh here soon as well. Keep checking back as I will be updating often to get my inventory uploaded.

Happy shopping!

new EtsyNameSpace.Mini(5305027, ‘shop’,’thumbnail’,4,2).renderIframe();

A day in the life….

Let me tell you a little story that will illustrate quite a bit about me as a person and will clearly tie together the following:
1. I am a procrastinator
2. I don’t like to cook
3. I am absentminded (which I am very grateful Best Boyfriend Ever finds endearing)
4. While I am a procrastinator, once I begin a project I become focused to the point that all else ceases to exist
5. When inspiration strikes I must sketch/write/create immediately or it is gone from my mind almost as quickly as it comes (See number 3)
6. I always have good intentions and love my family. But I am REALLY lucky they love me so much.

Ok so a little back up for the story. I have a teeny tiny itty bitty kitchen in my small three bedroom apartment, that while I claim is the reason I hate to cook, I know given a luxury gourmet kitchen to cook in, I would likely say I don’t like to cook in such an expanse of a kitchen. However you turn it, this chick does not dig cooking. I would rather throw some granola in my yogurt and consider it a “fancy dinner.” So dinners mean easy, peasy in this here abode. I used to have a large one but now use a small George Forman Grill frequently (that I LOVE and once fell from the top of my fridge and has a huge crack in it but that bad boy keeps on ticking!), I make macaroni and cheese several times a week, and to the HORROR of my best friend in Texas, I make instant mashed potatoes OFTEN. Yep that is me in the kitchen. The Cooking Network won’t be calling any time soon.

Ok a bit more background… So I have a lot of work to do in the next two weeks for a reason that will come in a later post. But I have 5 commissions, a website design to design, produce and upload, and my regular pt work. And I have my kids this week. Are you paying attention? All of this comes into play later in this enthralling story.

So lots to do plus kids this week. It’s Monday. I just got off work and just picked up my kids. My kids, either luckily for me or out of sympathy for me like simple meals. Their favorite meal is grilled chicken on the George Forman, either steamed rice or mashed potatoes, and carrots. (don’t even bother asking me if they are from a can, I bet you can guess.) So the day before Best Boyfriend Ever and I went to the grocery store to buy food for the week. Mostly because boyfriend and I eat out a lot when we don’t have the kids or eat a lot of frozen pizza or “fancy yogurt” for dinner. Um, he doesn’t like to cook either? Anyhoo, every other Monday is chicken night. With me?

Ok, so this particular Monday I am a bit stressed because of all of said work to do. Normally I catch up on work the weekends I don’t have the kids. But this past weekend we spent ‘Fall Cleaning.’ We got rid of tons and tons of stuff and cleaned like the Queen was coming. Or maybe someone that I don’t want overwhelmed by dog hair, art supplies and stacks of laundry – mostly clean. So my apartment looks sparkly clean when the kids come home, but mom has done no work and is behind. But I procrastinate anyway, so it is more a nagging little voice more that stress that I am experiencing. And my brain knows I have a bit more time before I REALLY need to get down to business and pull an all nighter. Which I know if I just did a bit of work each night all nighters would not be necessary, but try telling that to MY brain. So into my head pops a little girl. She is super cute, loves to go on adventures and simply MUST be brought to life in a sketch. So before dinner I begin to sketch her. And lordy lordy is she ever cute!! I get all excited that I got her on paper. But now it is time to help the kids do homework. So the little girl must wait. And she patiently does just that on the page of my sektchbook. But I see her looking at me…

So homework gets done, a few work emails get answered and dinner needs to be started. Boyfriend calls and says he is on his way which is my signal to get going in the kitchen. I glance at the little girl on my sketch pad and get an idea for another drawing of her. But I must wait. Chicken calls. I crank on my itunes and turn on the George Forman. I imagine the little girl impatiently tapping her foot at me. She has quite the personality and I am already getting to know her. She’s a pistol that one!

So chicken is grilling. After a few pieces are cooked and warming in the oven boyfriend calls to say he is about 10 minutes away. Cue the mashed potatoes. So they are instant right? This involves 2.5 cups of water, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and half a stick of butter to boil – yeah I have not done this TOO many times – then remove and add 2.5 cups of flakes and a half a cup of milk. And boy howdy are they yummy! Shut up! They are when you hate to cook! Ok, so I get the liquidy parts heating. But then! Inspiration! I. MUST. SKETCH. GIRL. So music is playing, water is heating, chicken is cooking and life is good. I have time to sketch a quick one. I am standing in the kitchen (this is important, I am IN the kitchen) leaning on the microwave top sketching the little girl in a beret with the cutest little dog on a leash. And ya know what she needs? To be done in ink! RIGHT now! I have the perfect pen somewhere. Let me go find it. I search a bit and can’t find it. Big surprise there. I come back and decide she needs to be reading under a tree. Yes! Perfect! How cute. So there I am in the kitchen just happy as a clam when I glance up. And smell. And hear. BOILING BUTTERY WATER pouring over the top of the pan. And smoke is BILLOWING into the living room. The kids are all ‘MOM! Something’s burning!” (But they don’t say this panicked at all, it is a more matter of fact, MOM, we know you are IN the kitchen and all, but you are currently burning something. AGAIN. kind of tone) So I go into panic mode and drop the sketch book on the counter (little girl is perturbed at the disturbance) and get the pot off the heat, turn the overhead fan on and open the door to begin fanning it out. AS I open the door a huge wall of smokes bursts outside. As I am fanning out the smoke, telling the dogs to SIT! STAY! and tell the kids it’s all fine, up the stairs walks boyfriend. “Um….Well, I burned some water. But buttery water, not JUST water. But look! Look at this cute girl I drew! What do you think her name is?” And I kid you not, this is why I know this man is perfect for me, because he ignores the chaos, does not care about the smoke surrounding us, looks at me and says ever so sweetly, ‘You are a nut.” Then names her Calliope. “She looks like a Calliope to me.” And I am stunned into silence because that IS her name. It is perfect. And then I finish making dinner and the mashed potatoes were not half bad.

Thought I was done? Not even close. So here it is Wednesday. I now am in actual crunch mode and HAVE to get this website done. So I get the kids from school and in every spare moment am making graphics and slicing and dicing graphics for html. Boyfriend calls and I inform him it is EASY dinner night. HAHAHAHA. (cause my other dinners are hard, right?) Kids are having mac and cheese and hotdogs and we are having leftovers. I tell him tonite I GOTTA work. He agrees to pick up the dog ood and coffee I forgot to get earlier and I go back to my coding. At about 6pm I decide to get the kids fed before boyfriend gets home. I put the computer down and go put some water on to boil. I go sit back down and get REALLY into the details of the site. It is really, really important to get those first template pages just right so it is easy later on. So I am REALLY concentrating. Do you see where this is going people? All of sudden smoke is everywhere. And is stinks. Remember that burned butter water? Well, I did not clean it all up apparently and it was on the burner. And well, once it heated up, it was smokesville all over. So I run into the kitchen and move the pot to a new burner, turn that burner on and the dirty one off. And run back to my computer to do something to a graphic that needs to be a specific size in the masthead. So I won’t forget of course. BUT. THEN. More smoke. WORSE fumes. What now??? I run into the kitchen to see my George Forman grill smoking and plastic burning. Now I told you people my kitchen was small. So I keep my grill on a back burner. And me, the woman that actually studied math and physics for two years before she gave a gift to the world and dropped out to go to art school turned the wrong burner on. Yeah. So I go to grab it, and hey! Did you know things that are burning are hot?? THEN I grab it with pot holders and go to put it outside. My neighbor is out there and looks at me funny as I put my smoldering George Forman on the ground. “Uh, hi! Great weather, huh?” And I turn on my heel and go inside – but have to leave the door open so we don’t all die from the now noxious smoke. “Sit, stay dogs!”

So boyfriend is not home yet, and I will have to explain the half melted appliance he will see as he walks in, but hey! The kids are fed and I can work now! But not after I documented all this for you lovely people to read!

Oh, and just so you know, I used to have this other bigger, even better George Forman! It cooked four pieces of chicken. AT ONCE! But you don’t want to ask what happened to that one…

And oh, meet Calliope! Isn’t she the cutest???

Love YOUR life!

Decide today that your life is the one you want. Don’t compare yourself to others, don’t go searching websites and blogs and then feel like everyone is better/cooler/ more clever than you. Love the the thing you do that makes you unique! It feels so much better than you think it does and then all those other things can just inspire you instead of making you feel not good enough. You are good enough right this second, right now. Believe it! And if you don’t or have already searched those sites and are crying into your cup of coffee and have decided that you are like, the world’s most unoriginal artist and that EVERYONE is more talented and creative than you and that you might as well go see if Target is hiring greeters because hell, you know you can at least say “Hello!” pretty damn good and just TRY to see who can do THAT better than you…Well, buck up little camper, cause you can change that attitude this here minute. Go find that piece of art, poem, short story, anything that you KNOW is good and remember that you ARE good. And if that does not work? There is real wisdom to the phrase “fake it till you make it.” Try it, you’ll see…

For those of you that need encouragement…

I will have prints available for sale on my site soon. In the meantime here is one to download and put as a desktop to remind yourself to move forward towards whatever goal you have. Just one foot in front of the the other, or one sentence on paper, or one sketch in the notebook, or one jog around the block, or one phone call to that special person…..

Worries no more!

Have you ever suddenly realized that you have been looking at your life wrong? Like you got into some bad zone for a while and didn’t even realize it? I think that is what happened with me lately. I am not really sure what happened, nothing in particular triggered it, but I realized I was focusing so much on my goals and what I am striving for, that all I was seeing was what ‘to do’ list didn’t get done that day, what submission did not get sent that week, what rejection i received that day, how many more commissions I needed this month… I forgot to congratulate myself on all the items i DID cross of my list that day, to really appreciate that I finished my first published book in my life which included over 40 paintings and all the text, to realize that every rejection i get is encouraging and always wishes me luck in my future, that I have lots and lots of submissions out there for so many different things and I can just let it be for a while, that I need to appreciate the commission I just got last night that was an extra large one and for a baby’s room and I adore those the most, that I have a job that is flexible and means I am writing this entry from a hotel room while I work so that I could go with my boyfriend on a business trip to Myrtle Beach. And all of that? that rocks. And I need to be more gentle with myself. My boyfriend says that he thinks I am harder on myself than anyone he knows. It is true, i have really hard standards for myself. But ya know what? i wouldn’t treat anyone in this world like I treat myself in my head. And that is wrong. It can make me miserable. I am constantly worried I am going to fail someone, yet the reality is the only one I am failing is me, in my head.

So from today on I am looking at my life differently. I am concentrating on all I have already accomplished. i am going to pat myself on the back more and be kinder to myself. And not feel guilty if I want to just sit and DO NOTHING for a night instead of work. My life is so good and I truly have nothing to complain about. I mean, nothing! And that is something to be celebrated! If I can stop being so hard on myself and looking at all the things I have left to do and instead focus on all the wonderful things I have already done, I will be smiling a lot more and worried a lot less. And for pete’s sake, I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t worried. I guess that is what happened. I made worrying a habit. And now that i don’t need to, i am not sure how to stop. Well that is not true. I am stopping now. Life is good and beautiful and I am not wasting anymore energy or focus on negatives. Back to my rose colored glasses. I took them off at some point and they got all dusty. Time to put them back on and see the world all shiny and happy again. Cause that is what my art is all about. Besides you can’t paint smiley goofy dogs with worry lines, that’s just silly!