Anniversary weekend. I only almost died once. For reals.

My amazing husband (Are you getting tired of how amazing he is? Do you think I am making him up? Do you think maybe he is really awful and I just pretend that he is amazing so that I don’t have to face the fact that I have a dreary life? I’m sorry, but he really is that awesome. And I have zero clue how I found him.) surprised me with a surprise trip. It was fantastical. And involved the ocean. And great friends. And great drinks. And romantic moments. And snorkeling. (I totally touched a sea cucumber! They are gooey! And kind of ew-y.) And gazing looks. And great food. And together with all that good food and drink, we made a baby. A food baby. And it is sitting in my stomach. All puffy and large. And as I don’t want anymore kiddies thankyouverymuch, I am gonna have to diligently exercise it off for the next few weeks. Sorry baby, mama’s pants are too tight – you are gonna have to go.

And it was awesome. Except for the part where I almost got swept out to sea while snorkeling. That is a true statement. And only slightly exaggerated. But it is late. So I will tell it tomorrow. But in the mean time, I will post pictures of my fantastical weekend provided by my amazing (stop rolling your eyes, I can totally see you) husband. Srsly, tune in tomorrow to hear how I totally almost died. Really.

I would add descriptions but it is late and I need to git. I inserted as a slide show and doesn’t allow desriptions. But just so you know I at least ordered it for you – so it starts with the drive where I had no idea where we were going and ends right after I almost got swept out to sea while snorkeling. But didn’t. Luckily. On account of that would make a very BAD one year anniversary story and I don’t have much life insurance so after paying off my car payment, student loans and paying for a super cheap burial, Kevin and the kids would get a buck fifty each. We are changing that tomorrow because I would totally want them all to be able to at least go out to a super nice dinner and toast my swept out to sea memory or something. Only being able to buy off the Taco Bell 99 cent menu in my memory just seems wrong. Tasty. But wrong.

Speaking of tasty Taco Bell – workouts resume tomorrow. I got that food baby to banish and I have no business discussing memorial beef burritos.

(Mmmmm….burritos….)

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Happy One Year Anniversary Dear Husband

Dear Husband,

Can you believe it has been a whole year since we grabbed the kids, drove to the beach and got all hitched up?? It has been an amazing year filled with love, laughter, happiness and so many life long dreams coming true for the both of us. It is amazing how life can be so very beautiful when you are paired with the right person. I love that I get to spend the rest of my life with you! I love waking up knowing you are my partner and no matter what the day may bring, you have my back and I have yours. Everything in this world is better because you are in it.

I love you so very much. Thank you for marrying me! I made a little something from the past year. I love that it truly shows how in love and happy we are. 🙂

Love,
Your Wife

PS The amazing music is by Tristan Prettyman. You can hear more of her awesome music here: http://www.tristanprettyman.com
She is coming to Atlanta November 18! woot!

The lovelies in my head….

I am working on a pet portrait and some color studies for characters for a book that I have been working on for a while now. I just adore them – they are Dog and Mouse. (I am utterly original when it comes to thinking up names, no?) I think what I am going to do is paint them out on teeny canvases on account of – SQUEAL!! – teeny tiny canvases are so, so cute! And also not overwhelming and quick. I will scan them in, keep the hi res scans and begin selling the originals on etsy. We shall see how this goes. I don’t plan on making them very expensive – I love my art being accessible to everyone. We will see how it goes. If people buy them, awesome! Money for wine art supplies! If not, lots of cute art that is so small I have plenty of places to hang them! Or I can eventually have a teeny tiny art show! With itty bitty sandwiches and itty bitty drinks a la Alice in Wonderland! Fun! See? Win, win, says I!

Here is a sneak peek of my little lovelies that whisper in my ear all day long how much they would like to come out and play. Let me know if you want them to come play with you! (excuse the iphoto quality)

How you know you are on the right path…

The past few days since having found out there is an offer on my books have been a whirlwind. I celebrated Thursday then went into mom/girl scout mode Friday. Ignoring a nagging pain in a tooth that had severely abscessed a few months back and needed a root canal,  I cooked chicken parmigiana, made a garden salad and made homemade cream puffs for 11 girl scouts. (Have I mentioned cooking is NOT my thing? Have I mentioned how charming my 12-year-old daughter was when she requested the menu?) Then I volunteered to help out with the meeting. It sounded like a good idea 2 weeks ago. Then the next morning I volunteered to help drive 3 girls to their food drive. Early. Then after dropping Sophie off at her dad’s house and came home I had to admit that something was very wrong with my tooth again. A trip to an emergency dentist and a prescription for antibiotics later, I finally got home. And slept and slept and slept.

Sunday night I was feeling better but a little bummed that I had not been able to start a pet portrait I really wanted to. I also had not been able to sit and reflect very much yet on the amazingness of my books being sold. And then tonite I received an email:

Michelle, you painted a portrait of our Cricket in early 2003-it was a Valentine’s Day gift for my husband (we were living in Atl at the time). He adopted Cricket when she was about 8 months old, in the fall of 1995 and he and I started dating in November of ’95. So, as long as there was an “us,” there was Cricket. Her health began to decline about a year ago and this weekend, we made the gut wrenching decision to have her euthanized. He and I held her today and cried together as she left this world. Cricket was 15 and we’ll celebrate our 11th anniversary this December.

I have always loved your portrait of Cricket. You captured her still-youngish spirit perfectly and it hangs in a special place in our house in Charleston. Thank you for putting your heart into the portraits you paint. Our painting of Cricket has gone from being something really cool to an absolute treasure.

Louise M.

PS-Cricket was a “lab-ish” mutt with a white star-shaped blaze on her chest. You painted her with a yellow and green striped background and it makes me happy that I can still see her portrait on your website. 🙂

And oh my goodness. I wept. And wept. I wept for the loss of a beloved pet. And I wept with such gratitude. How often do we find out that what we do makes such a difference? I have always loved the thought of my paintings being in people’s homes, being hung up, loved. I put so much of myself in every painting. I really do. I immediately knew Cricket. Cricket was one of the first commissions I had gotten – painted within my first year of painting pet portraits. That was such a wonderous year for me as an artist – to be paid for my art, my vision. It was amazing. It was life changing. It made me know that ultimately sharing my art with people was what I wanted, needed to do with my life.

And I am doing that. I am making a difference in people’s lives. Even if it is just to make them smile as they pass by a painting as they go about their day. And that? Is a gift and something I will never, ever take for granted.

Thank you for your letter Louise. It means the world to me.  I offer my sincerest sympathies for the loss of your beloved, Cricket. How lucky she was to have been so very loved.

The day I achieved my dream.

So yesterday (Thursday) I was supposed to be at home working on my art – as is defined in the part-time agreement between husband and wife – except that 4 days ago (Monday) was Labor Day. And when you are part time, you get paid hourly. As in, if you are not at work, then you do not get paid. And I may have still not worked Thursday, except that a certain shower decided to leak, and that certain shower turned into a $3000 fix and repair job, and that certain shower was supposed to be part of a remodel of a bathroom but not for 6 months, and that $3000 cost ballooned about three times in one day. So cutting back on hours is not smiled upon by our bank account. I am giving you the stink eye, certain shower.

And so, for Christmas my lovely family and friends, there will be NO presents, BUT you will be allowed to come take a lovely bath or shower in our soon to be spa-like master bath. I will provide towels, but if you want that fancy soap or scented candles, bring them yourself. You’re welcome. Merry Christmas.

Moving on.

Thursday afternoon. There I am diligently at my cube working on a surprise for my husband for our anniversary in about a week magazine layout for work when I get an email from my agent. Now if you have been reading my blog or following me on FB, then you know there is a publisher that was very interested in my book and was VERY interested if there was a companion book to go with it. And hot damn! There WAS. Except that it was all still in my head for the most part and NOT down on paper. Oops. So for the next four days solid for about 20 hours a day, I wrote and sketched and wrote and sketched and ever so politely asked the lovely Emma D. Dryden of drydenbks AT 6:30PM ON A FRIDAY NIGHT, if she might, by any chance, you know, consider dropping everything to edit my book? Cause you know, she might not be doing anything else that weekend.  Ahem.  She said yes. And I did the dance of joy. Because any of you that know Emma, know she is AMAZING at what she does.

Two weeks later. I have been waiting. And waiting. And waiting. And maybe I even just two days ago sent that dumb email you know you should NOT send to your agent saying, “Um, so…hear anything?” and that nice agent who is not busy at all takes the time to write back, “Darling, you know you would be the first to hear.” Eeep. *blush*

But Thursday morning I had a good feeling. Now, I have had these feelings before. And I have gotten ever so many lovely rejections ALL AT ONCE despite those good feelings. Clearly good feelings cannot be trusted all the time. And folks, many rejections in one day is a special kind of feeling. All that rejection. All at once. What do I do? I look at websites for inspiration! Do I want to be an accountant? I like money. Do I want to be a sonogram tech? I like babies. A dental hygienist? I…no. Not a dental hygienist. Get the picture? I try my hardest to quit being an artist. Try my damndest to quit. This…is…just…too…heartbreaking….But dammit if I don’t end up doodling some lil’ doodle that makes my heart sing and BAM. There I am with yet another painting or story stuck in my head that must be painted or written down whether anyone ever sees it or not. Sigh….

Back to the email. I ramble on, don’t I? The email subject line says: OFFER!!!!!

Oh. My. God.

WHAAAAAA?????

No.

WHAT?

OH. My. GOD.

I read fast. In my head it is something like…. offer…..good numbers…..both books…..love it…..checking with other publishing houses that have your books…..GREAT NEWS!

Hyperventilating. Nauseous. Can’t breathe. Can’t talk. Stand up. Co-workers stare. Cannot talk. One asks, “Did it happen?” I squeak out…”….yes….” Hugs, screams, a whole lot of whooping and hollering and suddenly I AM SO HAPPY that I worked on Thursday!! All these lovely people I work with surrounding me, knowing how hard I have worked, knowing what my dreams are and they got to be there for one of the biggest moments of my life. It was SO GOOD.

And then I told my husband. And then I called Emma. (who has quite a lovely voice and isn’t it funny how people never sound how you think they will and her voice just made me so, so happy and fit her so, so perfectly) And I told Emma I called her before my parents because her editing, I felt, was so very instrumental to this success. You see, my agent had been shopping my book for two years – TWO YEARS – and while I have a chest file folder full of lovely, ‘your book is very good but just not quite right for us’ rejections, it was always REJECTED. Then my amazing agent, Deborah Warren suggested me contacting Emma. And people? We finished edits in June. And um, I have an offer on both books she edited 3 months later!! Does this woman know what she is doing? I think YES. And Emma told me just wonderful things, the type of things you will remember your whole entire life that lift you off the ground and you are sure you could fly if someone asked you to and then said, “Now, hang up and call your mother!” And I did. 😀

I called my parents. I told my sisters. Then of course, I posted on Facebook. And the love that poured in from friends and family and strangers was just so, so, so….well, it filled me up with love and gratitude and SO MUCH HAPPY.

Years and years of dreaming, hard work, trying, failing, falling down, picking  myself up, trying again, tears, happiness….to attain a dream like this? To want something so very badly and finally get it? It is surreal. And I cannot wait to see where my journey takes me next, because so far it has been an incredible ride that I would not change for anything.

(Do you KNOW how much I want to go into schools and visit kids once my book is actually printed???!?!?!!? SO MUCH!)

Then my lovely husband took me out to celebrate and bought me a “Bees Knees” martini to toast to! Perfection!