Thursday, December 22, 2011

A 'Happy' Christmas Miracle

Raising two kids on my own was really hard sometimes.  Not the kids themselves.  I’ve always been blessed to have them in my life; they are what kept me going, kept me sane, kept me learning and growing, kept me connected and loving.

The Christmas season of 1999 found me working full-time, but without resources.  My job meant that I was away from my kids for 12 hours each day.  Eight hours working, an hour lunch – and three hours spent traveling back and forth between home, babysitter, work; then work, babysitter, home.  I used my crockpot a lot back then, simply to insure that my kids had a decent meal instead of a quick box of macaroni for dinner.  To give me time to spend with them in the few hours we had each evening.  We were, simply, living paycheck to paycheck and there was seldom anything extra.

 As Christmas approached, I worked on making each of the kids a gift and managed to set aside a total of $30 to spend on presents.  The pictures above are of the wooden checkerboard that I made for my son - all of the small dots, the birds, even the campfire, were painted using toothpicks, lol!

My daughter had always loved snow globes.  She called them “Happys”.  And, two days before Christmas,  a nearby store had a beautiful Happy on sale.  Off to the store I went and felt so thrilled that they still had a few left!  I made my purchase and, as I walked out the door, the bag was knocked out of my hand.  That beautiful Happy fell to the pavement and broke into a dozen pieces!

I was as shattered as that precious snow globe!  I walked a few steps through the throng of last minute shoppers, braced myself against a wall, and burst into tears.  I was so devastated!

And then a man and woman approached me and asked if I was okay.  I sobbed and told them, between gulps of air, what had happened.  This wonderful woman stayed, talking to me, reassuring me, giving me the gift of her comfort and care.  The man left, but I didn’t really notice.

And then the man was back.  He held a bag out to me and insisted that I look inside.  They had replaced that beautiful Happy and gifted it to me.  And then they simply wished me a Merry Christmas and walked away.

The enormity of what they did was so much more than the cost of the Happy.  That they took the time to stop; that they cared enough to give of themselves and make a difference for a woman and a child that they didn’t know.  They blessed me in so many ways that evening!  And I have tried, since then, to always pay it forward; to see others through the eyes of love that I felt looking upon me then. 

It doesn’t take a lot to lift someone else up.  Making a difference doesn’t require a huge investment of time or money.  Sometimes the small things are huge things in disguise, a grace that makes life sparkle and shine with love and possibilities.

It’s been twelve years and the gift that those two gave to me has never left me.  Remembering, as I’m doing now, can still bring tears to my eyes.  I’ve never forgotten; never stopped feeling gratitude.  They left a legacy of love and generosity within me.  And that legacy expresses itself in my own ability to be thankful, even for the seemingly small blessings in my life, and to give of myself and my resources as and when I can.  It may be a few encouraging words, an expression of love or something more tangible - but there is always something to give.

Wishing you many blessings and miracles of your own, no matter how you celebrate the season.  And may you find grace and gratitude in each day of this coming year.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

WooHoo Wednesday!

Oops!  I know I've missed Wednesday by an hour or so (at least in my time zone) but WooHoo Thursday just doesn't do much for me, lol.  
I’ve had a wonderful response to the new ‘Toot Your Horn Tuesday’ celebration on my Creative ARTitudes Facebook page, so I’ve decided to follow up with ‘WooHoo Wednesday’ as a way of showing my appreciation – and as another way for posters on my Facebook page to share their creative magic. 
All of the links shown here will be to personal pages, blogs, shops, tutorials, giveaways, etc.  I encourage you to explore the links, visit the sites (and yup, you can leave a message saying that I sent you – I won’t mind!) and have fun making new discoveries and new friends.
I considered posting alphabetically, but will instead list everyone according to the sequence in which their posts were made on Creative Artitudes Facebook page.  
If you see a link to your page, etc and you would prefer that you not be included, simply send me a private message on Facebook ( and I’ll make the change.
And now, meet the talented people who stopped by to toot their horns yesterday!  The first link for each person will be to their Facebook page and the others will be noted as blog, shop, group, etc.
Brian Leverton  Blog  Brian's wonderful art
Jeanne Fry   Blog  Conscious Art Studio “art and music that is meant to speak to you on a visual, emotional, and consciously aware level.”
Soozii Parkes  Blog  Soozii's Artwork   a variety of wonderful art – nudes, abstract and impressionist, animals, sea and landscapes, portraits.
Carol Desjarlais  Group:  Goddesses, art, poetry, discussion   Book:  Shhhhh!! A Creation Story  The book has great reviews!
Sharon Prater Pope  Blog   Moxie Blue - Sketches From Rabbit Hop 
Jody Lebrun    Etsy  Creative Life By Design  Website  Creative Life By Design
Dena Anderson    Etsy  Tribe Zen Creations
Kelly Donovan    Etsy  Knitting and Things
Andrea Nicole Plotts  Website  Welcome to Mountain Rose  Store  Mountain Rose Store  YouTube  Mountain Rose Videos
Alan Murphy    Book  PsychoSilly Wonderful children’s book illustrated with colorful collages  
Patricia    Website    Eccentric Aesthetics   Photography, Mixed Media Art, Funky Accessories                                                                                                                                  
Donniece Smith   Blog   Thirteen Threads From the Wild Heart
Laura Attuquayefio (Lola) 
Donna Harris   Blog   My Art Journey
Boriqua Rebel   Etsy   The Black Owl Jewelry
Kelly Donovan   Blog   Knitting and Things  YouTube  Knitting and Things Video
Jozette Rodriquez   Fan Page  Angelique Awakening  Creative Divine Wisdom for Your Life    Business   Serenity Social Media
Erin Ford   Shop  Whimsy By Erin
Linda Roberts Stewart   Blog   Stewalynn Studio   Zazzle   Stewalynn Creations Ebay  Stewalynn
I'd love some feedback!  Did you visit some (or all) of the links?  Did anyone visit you?  Is WooHoo Wednesday (and it will be on Wednesdays!) something you'd like to see continue?  Hearing from you will let me know whether or not this is worth my time and effort to do on a regular basis :) 

Monday, December 5, 2011

An A-musing Tale

In 2010, when I began my ARTbundance coach training, one of the exercises I did involved meeting my muse, developing a dialog and creating a representation of her.  I really was skeptical, so you can imagine my surprise when my muse came through loud and clear!  And not only via dialog, but with a perfect picture of her in my mind.
The only collage I had done up to that time had been a vision board.  I hadn’t drawn since I was 17; had never used a paintbrush or watercolors.  I don’t think it was coincidence that, soon after meeting her I not only created collages, but also dabbled in mixed media for the first time and created a large altered art Vision window as my final project.  Over the past year I’ve been exploring mixed media and art journaling as well.
Discovering and communicating with your Muse can be life altering and liberating in so many ways!  It’s having a short cut and direct line to the wisdom we all hold within ourselves.  It acquaints us with our intuition; that deep inner knowing that so many of us have learned to ignore; in a way that is gentle, non-threatening and uplifting.  Our Muses can bypass all the conditioning and the old, worn out negative beliefs that might be chanting in our subconscious minds.
It’s been simple, for me, to connect with Calliope.  I find a place of calm within myself, focus my mind and then open the conversation.  I could do this wholly in my imagination, but find that I really prefer the written word.  I write letters, or notes, sharing my issues or questions and then wait for an answer.  I don’t judge or doubt.  I simply write down the words that come to me.  And I am always amazed at the answers!
I’d like to introduce you to her!  Her name in Latin means “beautiful voice”.  She is here to nurture my creativity, to en-courage me, to whisper ‘you can do it!’ in my ear when I’m full of doubts, to remind me to ‘keep it in kindergarten’ when I over complicate things, and to foster my ability to heal – myself and others – through my creativity.
The Calliope that you see here was created using a paper doll template and a vintage graphic.  She has affirmations written over the majority of her body.  Her dress is a combination of paper, fibers and beads.  The lace is hand colored.  She has an Angel sitting on her shoulder (as stubborn as I’ve been in discovering my creativity, she’s needed an Angel all her own!).  She has a brad on her throat (5th Chakra) symbolizing turquoise, a hand of light on her abdomen and points of light on her hands.
I later discovered that turquoise is believed to have the properties of wisdom, serenity, wholeness, self expression, creativity; symbolizes a time to be honest with yourself and is a reminder to share your vision and walk your talk!  The hand of light represented on her abdomen is said to carry energy assisting in healing and spiritual growth. Wow!!
Are you in touch with your muse?   I'd love to hear about her and how she affects your creativity, if you're willing to share in the comments!  If you haven't yet introduced yourself to your muse, is it something that you could see yourself doing - or do you think that I'm more than a little bit crazy and 'woo-woo'?  I invite you to share that too!  For now, I need to chat with Calliope about my latest project and the block that I've run into...