Friday, July 13, 2018

Creating for Happiness....



7/13/18 Just a Note...I have had this blog written for basically 5 months, but just haven't put the art in it.  I have no idea why, but I finally did, so here you go and a friendly reminder, if you want to see a larger version of the photo, just click on it.....I hope you enjoy it :)
my small art journal where all of this took place...it's about 6 x 4 inches

I saw an evolution in my art during this...
During the month of January, I set aside at least 15 minutes to do something creative.  I thought it would be just a fun way to use some of the art supplies that I had purchased and gain some value out of them but as it progressed, it turned into something more--this is the story of how it happened ..
Signing up for Creating for Happiness was a....


Almost every Tuesday evening, you can find me at Purple Flamingo Studios, owned by my now friend Marti and run with another pal Melissa,  for open studio.  It's part art time and part time with some amazing people I have the honor to call friends.  We range in age, talent, background and almost any category you care to put us in....the one thing we have in common, we love to create.  This is a fairly new concept for me to describe myself as creative and yes, even, an artist.  The group on Tuesday gets quite upset with me when I say I'm not creative or an artist and making the switch in my mind has been a process......
this was day 2...about letting go of my fears of doing art

Near the end of December, Marti posted on Facebook that she was going to participate in something called 'Creating for Happiness' and invited everyone to join.  As I am a big fan of mini challenges and had been wanted to use my art supplies at home, or quite frankly open some of them up, I jumped at the opportunity and signed up.  It is free and is done thru a daily email and facebook.
a page about taking time for the things that matter

"Creating for Happiness is a gentle program to get you creating, build happiness and set a solid foundation to your daily creative practice.  It provides daily motivation and tips that help you build creative habits.  Just be warned - gentle does not equal easy, superficial or frivolous.  This will be a rich, deeply personal and rewarding experience."  From the guidebook for Creating for Happiness.

finding your own personal style.
As I read the rest of the guidebook, I soon realized that this was, like most things, not just about one thing.  You needed to look at why you wanted to do this, and while I'm not going to share my reason with you, let's just say it surprised me.  The reason you do anything is so important, because when your inner critic jumps up and down saying you can't do something, your reason can say, OH YES, I CAN.  Your reason will also help you eliminate all of the reasons you may not make time for creating.   Now onto the guidelines of the program.


            Number 1.  15 minutes, just start with 15 minutes.  There were some days I barely made the 15 and others I went WAY past, but having a minimal time requirement took the pressure off.
I love this quote and wanted to do a page with it...

            Number 2.  Figure out your route.  I was a bit confused by this for a moment, but quickly understood.  Eliminate the prep of gathering supplies, figuring out what you are going to work with or on, because if you have ever taken on a creative project, you know that just getting everything ready can take a while and poof your time would be up.   Have it ready so you can just start.  I chose a small art Journal and bags of my different supplies.  I chose the bags of coordinating supplies to figure out what I liked and what I didn't.  To be technical, you are supposed to only have one supply group, but when I explained to the facilitator what my goal was, she said,  go for it.
Travel as often as you can.....even within your own city

             Number 3.  The flexibility.  You got to chose when, how, and why you were doing this.  There was someone in the group that pieced together an amazing quilt, someone who drew variations of a blue bird, and someone who did a little bit of work on large painting; I could go on and on and on with how each individual approached this.  We varied in skill, artistic medium, age, nationality, and just about every other category you could find, but the one thing that we had in common, we were and still are very supportive of each other.

And that's it....for instructions at least, now it was time to start my Creating for Happiness challenge and I did.
about a week in, this literally went off in my brain...
Some days I doodled, essentially, and others were layering and playing.  Some pages took 2 days to do....
inspiration...Japanese ink drawings.

I was tired of all the senseless talk that day...
got a little braver in my drawing that day
It kept building and I got braver as I went...
This one just made me smile...

a doodle day...
we had been having winter weather and I just wanted to get outside...

my own version of something I had seen.


As I finished the first 30 days, I decided to continue on, but by practicing my Lettering/faux calligraphy and I did.  When that was done, I did something I didn't think I would ever do, sign up for a drawing class and found out something quite amazing.....I can draw.

You never know what will happen when you try new things,
I'm just happy I decided to Create for Happiness....

Melissa














Thursday, July 12, 2018

June Bug....


Please stay away from me for the rest of the summer......


Ouch...
that was my motto of June.  I got stung by a bee and a wasp and got spider bite.  NOT COOL insects of the world!!!!!!  And an added bonus for all of this, it turns out I am allergic to wasp bites, my finger where I got stung got blisters, doubled in size and ITCHED like no tomorrow, I about went cra-cra.  The test is if I ever get stung again, my doctor said I could have the same reaction or worse, I don't even want to think about worse.............

In other news, Red Butte concerts are rolling along.  In June, I worked shows for Ryan Adams, Violent Femmes, BareNaked Ladies with KT Tunsdall and Better than Ezra, and Michael Franti.  The Violent Femmes are one of my all time favorite bands and I had a job that was after the show, so I got to attend and sing along and just be a fan, but the BEST part happened after the show.  I was finished with my work and headed to the area where we check out, which is behind the stage.  Meanwhile, the band had been signing autographs after the show and were just finishing when I was done.  Can you tell what happened?  I GOT TO MEET THEM!!!!!! and have like a 5 minute conversation with The Violent Femmes!  I completely forgot to take my phone out and take a picture, but I don't care, I have the memory embedded in my brain.  They were so nice, asked if they had played my favorite song (they did and I have about 5 favorites of theirs), asked if I had ever seen them in concert before (I hadn't) and just chatted about how much they love being on the road again.   I Love when things like that happen............ The other shows have been amazing as well!  I had forgotten how many songs of Better Than Ezra I knew and the Michael Franti show was just a feel good/high energy night.

Miss Bacall wants me to tell you that she is ok but wants someone to turn down the heat.  I am vigilant about the signs of her not being ok and happy.  She is just the happiest dang soul I have ever encountered.

If you live along the Wasatch front, have you ever been to the CenterPointe Theater in Centerville?  I went for the first time in June with my mom, some aunts and a cousin.  We saw their performance of Crazy for You.  It was cute and well done!  You might want to check it out.......

Rowing is still happening, but not as much as I would love to.  The wind has been blowing here and long skinny boats do not get along with wind, plus the firefighters battling all of the fires around here would probably appreciate the wind going away.  The club cancelled 5 scheduled club rows due to wind in June.  UGH....

I know this will come as a bit of a shock, but I am still reading a lot....if you are on Facebook at all, you will have noticed that I did 10 days of my favorite books on there.  It was about the only time I have been consistent with FB in a while.   A book I read in June that  I highly recommend is "Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice by Raymond Arsenault". It's the book the PBS special was based on.  Phenomenal book!!!

I know this post was a wee bit disjointed, so I apologize for that, but writing at the end of the month and remembering what happened leads to that.

I hope your summer is going well and that you are able to stay cool!!

Hiding from all insects and bugs from here on out.....
Melissa


Wednesday, June 6, 2018

March on into April, Move on into May...

Remember how I said in January, I would do a monthly, at least, blog to let you know what was up?  BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA, the universe said....



During the past 3 months, I have had technical issues that can only be described as Murphy's law.  My old phone decided to take time off, not send texts, not receive texts and basically mess with my entire network.  Oh, and it wasn't all the time, so I would notice, it was completely random.  AARGH!

Here is my plea for understanding, if you sent me texts, emails or even called during that time and I did not respond, please forgive me.  I was not ignoring you!  I just didn't get them.....

I now have a new phone and a new cell phone network, and here is my lovely tip and money saving advice, KNOW YOUR SERVICE DATES WHEN SWITCHING PROVIDERS!  I looked at my bill and thought I had it correct, but I was off by 3 days and ended up being charged for an ENTIRE month, they do no prorate after you end your service.  I am so annoyed....but at the same time, I LOVE my new provider!

Anyhow, life went on, even with the technical issues.  I took a drawing class from an AMAZING friend and instructor and it turns out I was lying to myself when I said I couldn't draw.  The actuality was that I had never been taught how to draw.  It was definitely a process and most of it mental to get rid of the block that said I can't do this.  I know I said about a billion years ago I had an art post coming and it really is and now there might be two....

Now for a Bacall update, in early May, I thought I was going to lose her so I made an appointment with the vet for the next day but when it was time for the appointment, she was so much better, so we had an honest talk about signs to look for when it was going to be time---how many days without food, agility, neurological control.  It wasn't a fun talk, but we all agreed that she is nearing the end and we don't want to have her in pain or just miserable.  She still wags her tail ALL the time.  She still wants to go on walks, even if they are just one block and take about 45 minutes.  She still loves to go to her doggy day care once a week to be treated like the Queen she is.  And I will take and enjoy this one day at a time until she says no more......

My other big news is that I am officially back rowing on the Great Salt Lake!!!!!!  I can not even tell you how happy I was my first day back on the water.  This is the info that will make you laugh, if you know me well, I even happily get up before 9 am on a weekend to do this.

Life rolls along...
Work is good.  The summer concert season at Red Butte Gardens has already started with an amazing show with The Wood Brothers and Devil Makes Three (check them out, I love their music), so my summer evenings are filling up with volunteer shifts.  While Hamilton was in town, my mom and I had the amazing opportunity to see it (here's to season tickets, because WOW did it sell out fast).  I had been listening to the original cast recording for a month or two before the show, so I was a little concerned about it living up to the hype, but it definitely did.  I'm still knitting animals for the Cops for Kids program.  I just finished a litter of kittens, :)
two of the six kittens I knitted....

I hope all is well with you!
and I promise to be better......

Finally technologically sound again,
Melissa



Monday, March 5, 2018

Fly By February....

If I thought January went fast,  February upped the game and went warp speed.....
my view of February as it flew on by...

I kind of had a head down, nose to the grindstone attitude this month and while I did things I enjoyed, if you weren't apart of the schedule, I didn't see or talk to you...  I am very sorry about that.  In fact, in the last two days, I've had three messages or voicemails saying "Are you alive?  I haven't heard from you in a bit..."  I need to be better about the balance thing when life is busy or I get behind and am in catch up mode.

Now for the reasons why I went AWOL sorta speak...
Remember last month how I said I had a dental issue, well I had a massive infection along with it, and it has taken a bit to recover from, in terms of getting all of my energy back.  GRRRRRR.  I had to make up client visits at work and study time for my upcoming certification exam, so work has been busier than normal.  Ya and grrr.  The best part about it all, my boss has proven once again that I am working at work nirvana.

I missed a few Winter Training sessions with my Rowing club, but continued to go, even if I was the SLOWEST on the ERGs, which DROVE ME INSANE!!!  I am just about back to my normal pace, however, so it was the right decision to dial it back.  My instructor told me that 1 week of missed rowing takes a minimum of 2 weeks to get back and that's if you just missed sessions, if you were sick or injured, it takes a bit longer.  Using over a hundred muscles at an intense aerobic rate is not for wimps.......

This is how out of sorts life has been, I only read 3 books during February.  I just looked up the books I read and was shocked how low my total was.  :(  However, I did read 'The Dollmaker' by Harriette Simpson Arnow, which is a masterpiece of Appalachian storytelling.  It is, however, one of the most depressing books I have ever read, so be forewarned..

In New Year's Resolution land, I started a 10-15 minute daily practice of Hand Lettering using the template of last month's Creating for Happiness challenge that I did and it was the right decision to tackle something that quite frankly intimidated me.  I made HUGE strides in my lettering and am now really enjoying it.  I still want to take a live class to move me along, but I'm learning and having fun.   I also kept to my water challenge upping my daily goal to 60 ounces of water a day, which I met all but 2 days and even then it was still in the 48 ounces range.  My penny challenge is fun, which I never thought I say about a money goal, but it is...  Progress not Perfection is my motto these days..

I know many of you who read this blog and are in my live are big fans of Miss Bacall, my basset hound, and I wanted to give you a bit of a head's up and a warning.  My girl is getting old, in fact she is the oldest Basset Hound I have ever had and with that age comes some complications.......  She is suffering from congestive heart failure.  She has the reverse sneezing as they call it and it is getting worse.  She is still the happy-go-lucky goofball she has always been, with a bit of added sass these days, but during her fits of reverse sneezing, or wheezing as I call it, she seems a bit uncomfortable.  I'm trying not to be paranoid, but trying to be responsible if she is suffering.  The hardest part of it, knowing my time with this bundle of love wrapped in a basset body is coming to an end.........  This is the only sucky thing about dogs, they don't live as long as humans.....

I hope February found you in a calmer place than it did me.....
and if it didn't I hope you have an end to the crazy soon.
Melissa


Wednesday, February 7, 2018

First one is on the Books...



Hello,

Are you in shock that you didn't have to wait for 9 months for the next blog?  :)

I thought I would try something this year to keep the posts coming in a consistent manner, a month in review post.  It will be a book review, resolution update and life in review kind of a thing.  It sounded like a good idea in my head so I'm doing it.....

First, did January fly by really fast for you as well?????  It's like I blinked and January was over, however, I did get a lot accomplished.

I signed up thru Salt Lake School District Community Education in partnership with my Rowing Club for Winter Training.  It started on January 17th and it will run thru late March.  On Monday and Wednesday evenings, I go to West High School for ERG/rowing machine training and HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training,  or as I call it weights on speed).  It's kicking my butt in a very good way and more importantly getting me ready to hit the water in late March when the Rowing Season begins.  It's been really fun to reconnect with my rowing buds and has also reminded me how much I LOVE to row.  Resolution, Get outside more.......

In late December, a friend of mine brought to my attention a program called 'Creating for Happiness' which is a creative challenge to get you to form a daily practice.  I have a ton of supplies that I wasn't really using at home or truthfully, at all, so I initially thought this would be a great way to bring value into something I already own.  It turned into something quite a bit more and I'm going to be incredibly brave soon and do a post about my art, including pictures to share more about this 30 day challenge I did in January.   Resolution, Try Something New a Month...

I also challenged myself to drink at least 48 oz of water a day in January (I figured I would start small and set myself up for success) and did not have one day where I did not make my goal and on Rowing training days, it was WAY more.  I did two 'Something to Think About' Journal entries.  I chose them at random and they were very appropriate for the things going on in my life, so Ya a resolution that is being more than I thought it would be.  I am still on schedule for my Penny Savings Challenge, doing 1 week from January, a week from December, and two weeks from March.  Remember my plan was to be flexible on the route, but not on the destination.....  Resolutions, More water, At least 26 'Something to Think About' Journal entries,  Penny savings challenge

Now onto other things....
I read Les Miserable by Victor Hugo in January.  HUGE, HUGE book and could of used a bit of editing (I really could of done without the extensive information and history of the Paris sewers), but if you love the musical, do yourself a favor and read this book.   After that 1300 page plus book, I read a few others, but as I write this none of them are jumping out at me to say, recommend me, so I guess that's the end of that.

Work continues to be Nirvana and I am diligently studying and preparing for my new certification I am undertaking.  So WAHOO!  A happy work life!

I am in shock about the weird, warm, dry winter we are having.  It's quite honestly scaring me about our future water.  By the way, have you heard about the situation in Cape Town, South Africa?  They are running out of water!!  They actually have an end date for water.  It's scary.

I hope you have avoided the flu that has been ravaging the country!  I had a bit of a dental adventure but thanks to a very good dentist/oral surgeon I am well and good now and have avoided the flu, so I can't complain....

I hope 2018 is off to a good start for you...
Melissa


Monday, January 1, 2018

10 for 2018

Bacall Approved Resolutions!

For some reason, the past couple of years, I have had ten New Year's Resolutions and when I finished writing down my resolutions for 2018, you guessed it....

10 Resolutions!

I keep a list of my Resolutions on my phone and I have them written in a journal so they stay visible to me all year long.  I'm someone who is constantly looking for new ways to improve, expand and enjoy life and resolutions are a way for me to do these things in a concrete way.  

So without further ado, my 2018 Resolutions

1.  At least 26 'Something to Think About' Journal entries.

When the O Magazine first came out, I was a subscriber and every month there was a cardstock tear out with a journal prompt and questions on it.  I saved them every month and put them in a three ring binder thinking that I would do them someday.  I've done maybe 10 of them in the years since and I have close to a hundred.  It's time to use this easy journaling prompt.

2.  Bucket List items

I know you are in shock that this is on my Resolution list again.  Hey, I love this, so it's here to stay and I consider Bucket lists as nothing more than a Life Resolution list so why not make progress every year.  

3.  Get outdoors more!  Hiking, snowshoeing, x-country skiing, rowing, camping, etc.

I LOVE being outside!  I am not always the best at getting out there though....daily life gets in the way, so I thought if I made it more of a focus and even making it a regular part of my workout routine, I would get outside more...  Nature fulfills me in a way that I can not explain and the more the better. 

4.  See if the idea in my head really is a novel

You are either going to think I'm crazy or totally get this, but I have a few characters in my head that want to be in a story.  I've been doing research as the year has come to an end on how to start to write a novel.  I'm going to dedicate a certain amount of time each week and maybe even join a writing group and see what happens.  It may be end up being a short story or novella, but I need to do this...

5.  More water.

I had a hit and miss year with drinking the amount of water that I need.  If I am drinking water at the level my body likes a couple of things happen---1.  I don't drink carbonated drinks and 2. The weight I want to lose is easier and when I'm at a healthy weight, it's easier to maintain.  Plus it's just a healthy thing to do.

6.  Work on my lettering/calligraphy

I follow people on instagram, facebook and blogs who are AMAZING letterers!  I have been downloading practice sheets and such for about a while now, but haven't taken the time to actually start and try this.  I may suck and I may not continue but until I practice on a regular basis and maybe take a class or two, I have no idea whether I can do this or if it's just something that I appreciate.  This is the year I find out.

7.  Try something new every month....a restaurant, activity, etc.

This actually sprung from a couple resolutions of 2017 and I want to keep it going.  It keeps me out of my comfort zone, I'll learn new things and try new food, so this is just good all around.

8.  Find and maintain my Meditation Practice.

A couple of years ago, I made a resolution to meditate every day and I fell in love with meditation.  I did find out that in meditating every day, I lost the reason for it.  It became something I had to do, not needed and wanted.  In my quest last year of self-care, I gravitated to meditation often, but then would not have a formal meditation for a while.  I was massively inconsistent, that's what I want to fix.  Have a formal meditation practice that is practical in its repetition, but not a chore, yet often enough that I don't go 'Why don't I do this more?'  

9. Travel Solo

My only straight carry over from 2017.  I had ideas, but nothing ever got past that in 2017.  For 2018, I have two separate concrete plans.  If one ends up being a solo trip, the other can become a friend/family trip or maybe I'll do it twice.  It will happen this year.

10.  Penny savings challenge

This is a crazy simple savings plan.  I'm not doing this for my main savings, it's a mad money kind of a deal and at the end it's almost $700 saved.  I'm allowing myself flexibility on the schedule but not the participation.  I think the main reason I want to do this is to focus on why I spend the money I do. Intention is becoming a major thing with me and this is a way to examine it in a money sense.


Here's to another year of Resolutions!  
and if you're curious to see how my 2017 ones turned out, I updated the blog that dealt with them and you can read about it, HERE...

Melissa

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Curled up with a Good Book....


If you read this blog at all, one of the first things you soon realize is that I love to read.  I mean, I LOVE to read.  I have documented multiple reading challenges, books I have loved and books I have loathed in separate posts.  Books have had a significant profile here on my blog.  Since I didn't write much in 2017, I've missed talking about the books I have read, so I thought I would close the year out with some of my favorite books of 2017.

Just FYI, I had a record year of reading...180 books read.  Yes, 180.   I think it was my highest total ever.  Yes, I read almost everyday.  I also read fast.  I don't watch a lot of tv, so ta-da, reading time.  I will also give up sleep to read...

Without further ado, here are my favorites of 2017, 17 of them to be exact....

1.  The Emerald Mile:  The Epic Story of the Fastest Ride in History Through the Heart of the Grand Canyon by Kevin Fedarko

This book is sooooooo much more than the speed run in a wooden dory boat, it is a love story to the Grand Canyon.  It is a non fiction book that reads like fiction.  I LOVED this book.

2.  The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
     and  The Love Song of Miss Quennie Hennessy both by Rachel Joyce

These two were some of the last books I read in 2017 and I inhaled both of them.  They are books about regrets, things not said, things said, life, love, death, moving on and letting go.  They are set in England and filled with some memorable characters.

3.  Trigger Warning:  Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman

I love Neil Gaiman anyway, but this collection is just pure perfection.  Some were created for events, others in tribute to writers that influenced Neil, and others were just stories that needed to be told.  If you are already a Gaiman fan, you will love this, and if you have never read him before, this is a perfect introduction.

4.  Rising Strong by Brene Brown

Have you ever had a book come along at the exact moment you needed it?  This one whacked me upside the head, in a good way, and woke me up.  It resonated with me in how to deal with conflict, emotions and just life.  I have since chatted it up to others and some have liked it and others not so much, but this is my favorite thing about books, you never, ever know when a book will reach your soul..

5.  One Writer's Beginnings by Eudora Welty

I love this book for a couple of reasons, the first is how it came to my attention.  I was at the Mary Chapin Carpenter concert at Red Butte Garden this summer and she mentioned it multiple times as an inspiration for writing....  The second is this line found within the book..'Ever since I was first read to, then started reading to myself, there has never been a line I didn't hear'.  It summed up something I have experienced since I started reading, I hear the characters in my head.  They have distinct voices and it's why I don't always like movie adaptations.....

6.  Antigone by Sophocles

I actually read the trilogy of The Theban Plays by Sophocles this year and liked all of them, but chose Antigone for this line...
'I cannot side with hate.  My nature sides with love.'
This is an ancient play, but it travels through time so well and applies to life now.

7.  Flowers of Evil:  A Selection by Charles Baudelaire

Do not let the title deceive you, this is a beautiful selection of poetry.  I continued with my quest of reading #51-100 books and this was on it.  My favorite poem is "Get Drunk" and trust me, it's not about drinking, it's about diving fully into life.

8.  Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

You may know the author as an actor/comedian from the tv shows 'Parks & Recreation' or 'Master of None' but this is a science  and real life based look at dating and romance today told with humor.  Texting, dating sites and all of the other new ways to find love are examined and how we are kinda missing the point of it all.  Whether you are single or in a relationship, you'll find things to apply to your life.

9.  Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis

Thank you Melissa Rasmussen for telling me about this brilliant novel!  A updated take of Cupid and Psyche that is just magical.

10.  The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak

I adore this book.  Two tales are told simultaneously, one set today and the other, the tale of Rumi, the Sufi mystic.  I don't buy many books anymore, because I would have no room, but this one will have a permanent home wherever I go.

11.  Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

I'm actually recommending the entire African Trilogy, but this is the first one so I will start here.  One of my favorite things about reading is how it makes you realize how we are more alike than different. This novel is set in late 19th century in Nigeria, but it resonates today.

12. The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

This book took me completely by surprise!  I am not a graphic novel fan, so when I opened it I almost didn't continue.  I would of MISSED out!!!!

13.  Furiously Happy: A Funny Book about Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson

I find Jenny Lawson hilarious.  Others might find her a bit of a potty mouth, so this book comes with a disclaimer, if you don't like swearing--Stay away, stay far away.  I, however, now want a taxidermied raccoon named Rory thanks to this book.

14.  The Gift of Nothing by Patrick McDonnell

This is actually a children's book by the comic who draws 'Mutts' that is simply beautiful and now my favorite gift book.

15.  Some Writer!:  The Story of E.B. White by Melissa Sweet

A biography of one of my favorite author.  It's actually a young adult/child's book but adults will love it too!

16.  How to Eat
       How to Sit
       How to Love
       and the entire How to series by Thich Nhat Hanh

I have purse books now and this series is why.  They are little, both in size and length.  They are exerts of the Monk's talks, teachings and other books.  Made in snippet size and sheer perfection.

17.  West with the Night by Beryl Markham

I read a slightly biographical novel about Beryl earlier in the year and then I read her autobiography 'West with the Night' and was reminded that information may be not as polished or organized when written by the source, but the truth will shine so much brighter......

I could go on and on and on about the books I read this year, but will stop now.  My Goodreads to read list still has 175 books on it and I wouldn't have it any other way......

Curled up with a good book,
Melissa

Creating for Happiness....

7/13/18 Just a Note...I have had this blog written for basically 5 months, but just haven't put the art in it.  I ...