A few years ago, I unearthed a travel journal from a month-long trip to Europe that I took in 2006. As I reviewed its pages, I was struck by just how many details of the trip I had completely forgotten. And if the memories of a once-in-a lifetime trip that was so impactful to me could fade away – how much of my day-to-day life is lost? Sensations, emotions, achievements, losses, experiences from the mundane to the exceptional, all transforming from that specific moment in time to become that day, that week, that year, that life…

As I get older and gain a better understanding of how fragile, how brief, and how precious life really is, it's become even more important to me to me experience it to its fullest and to try to retain all of those little moments that might otherwise get lost. It's with this idea that I started the process of recording these moments – a travel journal, of sorts.

A travel journal for life.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

PARDON ME, EXCUSE ME...

Pardon me. Excuse me. Hello? Hey. Helllloooooo....
Would you kindly get your lazy ass out of bed now?
I would like for you to give me some treats which I will quickly gobble down before I hurry back to take your spot in the covers while they are still warm.
Thanks.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

TRENDING TOWARD FATNESS, EGO DRIVEN, AND LONG IN TOOF

I've wavered between various stages of fitness and fatness throughout my life.  As of late, I'm trending more toward the fatness than the fitness.
Congratulations, self.  You are a statistic!
But I'm working really hard to put the brakes on that trend.  I've joined a new gym that I like a lot. I've mostly been working out on my own, but I've ventured into a few of the classes; sticking mostly to the strength training classes since I've been too nervous to commit to an entire class of high-intensity group work at my current level of fitness (or lack-there-of). But yesterday, I felt I'd reached a point where I could break the monotony of solo cardio and venture into group class territory.  I chose cardio tai boxing, which had great reviews from a couple of friends.  I managed to keep up and make my way through the entire class.

After its conclusion, I felt a little pooped, but full of happy exercise endorphins. And upon reflection, was likely feeling a little too big for my britches, too.  There was another class immediately following cardio tai box - Bosu Boot Camp.  I'd done the Bosu several times previously; it was primarily focused on core strength, stability, and strength training. So exercise-endorphin-fueled-me decided it would be an excellent way to round out the intense cardio workout I'd just completed.

To my dismay, I quickly learned that different instructors conduct their classes in very different ways.  This class was less "gentle strength and stability" and more "devil cousin of step aerobics." I should have hit the bricks the moment I realized we weren't picking up weights and the very second the words "alternating-turn-step-hop-overs" were uttered.

As I began quick-ball-change-burbee-jumping-jack-lunging on the devil Bosu, my body began to scream at me "WHAT-FOR-THE-LOVE-OF-ALL-THAT'S-GOOD-IN-THIS-WORLD-ARE-YOU-DOING??!!"

Every fitness instructor worth their salt and any thinking person with a grain of common sense knows to heed the mantra "listen to your body."  But my ego got the best of me and blocked that whiner right out.

"It would be far too humiliating to walk out in front of all of these people, and besides, a little extra cardio won't hurt us." my ego said.

"But you are going to die." insisted my body.

"Nah, we'll be fine." ego countered.

"Fine," said body, "you're on your own.  I'm out."

True to its word, body peaced-out and allowed the workout to be entirely fueled by ego. Only occasionally checking in to remind me "you are going to completely regret this you arrogant nitwit."  When we got home, ego was cautiously smug while body was remarkably reticent - only briefly demanding food before insisting on immediate and intense sleep.

It wasn't until this morning that body let the full extent of its wrath be known.  Initially, it didn't want us to even get out of bed and function at all, but coffee and Advil helped to win that battle. Not to be outdone, body spent the day making things difficult for all parties and being particularly ruthless to ego by making things especially difficult in the bathroom... Let's just say I was eternally grateful for the assist bars in the office handicap-accessible restrooms.

I sent a text to my husband describing my pain he responded simply with one of his favorite reminders: "It's 'cause you're long in toof."

And he's right, of course.

So, the next time I'm tempted to try a marathon cardio session, I'll try to be more mindful of what my body says.  I'll try to remember that I'm trending toward fatness, ego driven, and very simply, "long in toof."

~

Incidentally, I learned while trying to send Mike a picture of my "Der-Her, I think you are absolutely hySTERical" face in response to his "long in toof" text, that I am not very good at crossing my eyes anymore.

Likely another symptom of being long in toof...

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

BUS TALES: HOW A COMMUTING DETOUR MADE MY DAY

Yesterday morning, our bus driver missed our exit to downtown. It was the same driver that I've had almost every day and the same exit we take every single day without fail.

At first, I was confused and worried that maybe I had picked up the wrong bus, but I recognized the driver and the passengers, so I was assured that I was right. 

Port Authority Transit 5617 - 10JUN10
Then, I got very excited. I started to think that perhaps we, the passengers of the 53L were, in fact, part of a big dramatic giveaway... that our driver was actually taking us to the designated reveal location where we would all be greeted by our loved ones, balloons, confetti, and champagne. Oprah would be there, shouting that we were all now rich enough that we and our families would never have to work again, and Ellen would be passing out kittens, keys to a variety of stunning luxury vehicles and beach homes, and student loan repayment exemptions.

I was thoroughly engrossed in this daydream when I was distracted by the sound of other passengers starting to murmur and the driver suck in a sharp breath and exclaim “Oh, shit!  I can’t believe I just did that!”

“I’m so sorry, guys!” she shouted back to us, “I’ll have us right back on track, I promise!” True to her word, she took the very next exit and got the bus right back to the scheduled route and me right back to reality.

While it did keep me giggling for most of the day, this example of how I get so intensely invested in the world that goes on in my head is not really the meat of the story here…  

What happened next is what truly made my day.

Since I get off of the bus on the very last stop, and I was the last remaining passenger on the bus, the driver started a conversation with me.  Shaking her head, she said, “I just cannot believe that I did that, I’m just so embarrassed.”  She revealed to me that she didn't even have another route that goes that way or any real reason to have missed the exit other than the fact that she had just completely zoned out.  I assured her that it was no big deal, it only made a slight time difference and everyone got where they needed to be. “I was just completely lost in thought,” she continued; “this weekend, I posted a picture of my pool on Facebook.  It’s all cloudy and gross because the pump broke, and I was complaining that it was such a beautiful day, and I can’t use my pool because I can’t afford a new pump right now.”  She said she also jokingly lamented her lack of a pool-boy (a tall, dark, and handsome one preferably).

With a shaky voice, she continued her story. “Do you know that the very next day, this guy, a friend that I don’t even know that well and haven’t been in touch with for a long time, showed up on my doorstep with a pump that he offered just to give to me?  Those pumps are over $1000 new – and I mean, it was used – he said he used to have a pool but doesn't anymore – but still, I couldn’t believe it!”

“That is awesome!” I agreed.

She went on. “To top it off, he stayed and hooked it up for me and helped me clean my pool. I mean, who DOES that??  I was just so blown away – he didn't want anything in return.”  Obviously choking back tears, she added, “I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it, and that’s what I was thinking about when I missed the exit.  I didn't know that kind of kindness existed.”

A little weepy myself, I thanked her for sharing her story and told her I thought that was the best reason in the world for missing an exit.  It was an excellent reminder of how much a little act of kindness can affect someone’s life.

As I stepped off of the bus, I turned around and asked…  “I've just gotta know, was he tall, dark and handsome??.” She threw her arms up and her head back. “Yes, LORD, he was!” she shouted.

I clapped my hands and did a little dance right there on the street.

And that is the story of how a commuting detour made my day!


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

PERHAPS I AM STRONGER THAN I THINK..

Earlier this week, I wrote about the process of making ten postcards for iHanna's DIY Postcard Swap and how it takes such courage for me to cut into my beloved supplies and to re-purpose old paintings.  But I'm happy to report, that as I moved along in the project, I got bolder and I became less and less concerned with missteps or the possiblity of wasting materials. (OH, THE HORROR!)

That this project emboldened me became its theme.  There is no real visual consistency in my pieces, but they all used re-purposed materials from my stash that I had some level of reluctance or fear to use and let go of.

I started by cutting up some leather pieces and antique wallpaper and collaging them together with a little bit of light sketching on top of the paper pieces.  Then I added my sentiment about courage - because cutting up stuff you love is scary, yo.


Then I worked on a metallic series  because I had some super cool mirrored tile (don't worry, not glass; I suspect the postal service may frown on that) and some silver leaf paint that I wanted to play with on top of layered acrylic paste.  In this series, I really pushed myself because in one (the upper left) I actually cut into an old drawing to create the circular windows peaking out of the silver leaf.  Hence the sentiment tagged on these three - "Perhaps I am stronger than I think..."

Since I loved the piece with the cut up drawing so much, I decided to deconstruct a painting and reassemble it in different ways.  I really like the use of circles here, it's symbolic of the painting's continuing life-cycle!

Finally, I had two odd-balls that I just experimented with along the way.  I'm not super-crazy about the way they turned out - but they were all part of the process...

So, I'm addressing these little babies as we speak and preparing to send them out into the world.  Thanks, iHanna for organizing this - it was so much fun; a great opportunity to experiment and gain a little courage along the way!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

COURAGE IS FOUND IN UNLIKELY PLACES.



My cousin Dori recently posted on Facebook about an annual DIYpostcard swap in which she participates. I’ve been striving to get the old creative juices flowing again and I thought this would be a great project to push me a little further.  I love the premise – I love the idea of creating art that will go out into the world and find a home with someone who I don’t know and (hopefully) bring them a little joy. 

Also, having a deadline helps ensure that I will actually, you know, like – finish some stuff. 

Plus, I get to get stuff in the mail!  I’ll do pretty much anything to get fun stuff in the mail...  It's almost as though this project was made specifically for me!

Some pretty good pieces tapped for a new life.
I decided to use this project to push myself out of my comfort zone.  One of the things I struggle with in my art (and life, for that matter) is to proceed without fear.  I tend to be quite precious with my art-stuff.  I often get paintings to a certain point – that point is usually somewhere around pretty good. It’s at that point that I get paralyzed; I don’t want to keep pushing and ruin something that’s pretty good, because hey, pretty good ain’t easy to achieve.  Plus, pretty good can deteriorate into suck-fest pretty quickly and then I’d be sorry. So instead pushing past that fear of ruining pretty good, I often just settle for where I’m at and then a bunch of pretty good things get filed away and never used.

I also do this with materials.  I’ll find a gorgeous piece of embossed leather in the scrap bin, or darling mini canvases on clearance and I buy these things because I just KNOW they will be perfect for SOMETHING, SOMEDAY…  But then I get scared to use them because a more perfect opportunity to incorporate them might be right around the corner and then I will kick myself for having frivolously used them up on an experiment.  And then those materials get stored away and forgotten about along with the pretty good paintings.

Deconstruction. (Scary.)
So for this project, I made a rule that I would only use materials and paintings that I already have.  I mustered up all my courage and forced myself to deconstruct some pretty good pieces and to part with some of those precious odds-and-ends in order to breathe new life into my artwork that I will send out into the world.  

Reconstruction. (Fun!)
For me, this takes a great deal of strength and courage. When I first started this project, I was very tentative, only taking edges of paintings and cutting into my trimmings when I was certain they would work.  But each piece gets a little more daring than the next and I’m finding a lot of joy in deconstructing and reconstructing.  Also, I’m feeling stronger and I’m finding my courage.

Who would have ever thought that a little DIY postcard swap project could have become an exercise in finding one’s courage?

I guess it’s true… 

Courage is found in unlikely places.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

MY CREATIVE EXPLODED.


I’ve really been neglecting my creative/artistic side lately and that’s been bothering me.  A lot.  One of the major reasons that it’s been so neglected is that I don’t have a space to be creative in.  I’ve been meaning to create a space in the basement for as long as we’ve lived in this house – but it’s so dank and dingy down there; it’s not exactly inviting and it certainly isn’t inspiring.  Plus, if I retreat to the basement, I don’t get to talk and unwind w/my hubby in the evenings, and that’s pretty much my favorite part of the day.  So, all my beautiful papers and paints and pastes and tools continue to molder, unattended in the basement, and my creative spirit suffers a similar fate.

Several days ago, my darling friend Robb visited me for the weekend.   I love my Robbie so very much for so very many reasons – but one of the major reasons is that he is, by far, one of the most creative people I’ve ever met.  With a mind always working on overdrive; he sees infinite possibilities for beauty where most of us see none, and he has an uncanny knack for producing exquisite somethings out of nothing. He always makes me excited about making stuff, so we planned our entire weekend around being crafty.  On Saturday we visited the Society for ContemporaryCraft and Creative Reuse to get inspired and gather supplies. (Oh, and the wine and spirits shop, we mustn’t forget that integral part of the equation).  Then we moved all of my neglected supplies up from the basement to a giant table that we put in the center of my dining room and that’s where we took up residence for the remainder of the weekend.  We blasted music, we drank wine, and we created things well into the night and throughout the next day.  I felt energized and excited; I had forgotten how great it felt to push paint around and to make stuff.  One idea spawned another which created another until I was thoroughly engulfed in an avalanche of creative.  I couldn’t even keep up with myself. 

Monday was tough.  Robb went home and I went back to the daily grind.  All I could think about all day were the projects that I’d left behind on that table.  Later that evening, when Mike and I arrived home, we had to laugh at the spectacle that was our dining room. “It looks like your creative exploded.” He said.  “Well, it kinda did.” I admitted.  I sighed and moved forward to clean up the mess and move the table full of supplies back to the basement.  But before I did, I thought maybe I would just finish up that one thing…  I changed into my comfies, turned on the music, and sat down to work.  Mike and I laughed and talked back and forth as he played on his computer in the living room and I worked away.  The evening passed so quickly, it got too late to worry about packing up supplies and moving them down to the basement.  As I drifted off that evening feeling happy and content, I thought - even though it’s obtrusive, even though it’s an eyesore, perhaps the art table can stay upstairs for a while longer.  

Because really, what’s so bad about having your creative explode right in your dining room?

Friday, October 25, 2013

I WON'T QUIT MY DAY JOB.

I am a firm believer that simply everyone must experience the joy of receiving a baked good decorated by me at some point in their lives.

 My skills are truly spectacular.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

ME AND MY SPARKLY NEW AURA



·        Clean sheets
·        Clean bathroom
·        Clean hair
·        Clean underoos. 

I think we can all agree that we are (collectively) better off when certain things in our lives are clean.  But it had never before occurred to me to be concerned with the cleanliness of my aura.

I’m not fantastic at handling stress and most times when I’m under a great deal of pressure, it tends to physically manifest.  Colds, headaches, hair loss, muscle tension, etc.  The past couple of months being as they were, one can imagine, I haven’t been exceptionally delightful. Among other things, I developed an eye-twitch that lasted for three solid weeks.  My beautiful co-workers/friends took pity on me and out of the goodness of their hearts (or perhaps their will to shut me up about the damned incessant twitch) booked me a hot-stone massage.  (Ahhh, how I adore them.)

When I arrived for my massage, my masseuse seemed immediately concerned about me; my stress level was high and my aura was off, she informed me.  I nodded in agreement.

She asked if I minded if she performed some “aura-cleansing” during our session and I told her to knock herself out.  Which she very nearly did because as soon as I gave her the green light on the aura-cleanse from my comfy position underneath the blankets, she treated me to animated display of flailing hands. She spun around the room dramatically; “I’m just going to crack the door for a second to let all of the negative energy out of the room” she informed me as she whirled towards the door.  “K.” I squeaked out, wide-eyed and stifling giggles.  (I never knew you could give negative energy the bum’s rush like that.)

The remainder of the massage was a standard-issue procedure, peppered with the occasional flicking of hands close to, but not actually touching, my body.  Every time she did this, it triggered instant laughter that I had to repress because I was having a relaxing massage, after all.

After I was dressed and ready to head home, the masseuse came in with a glass of water.  She informed me that she did quite a bit of work on my aura.  “I noticed.” I said, nodding and taking a drink of water to try to stifle the laughter swelling in my throat.  She immediately brightened at my response and asked with excitement “then you can tell a difference?” “Mmmm” I said as I pressed my lips together and opened my eyes wide.  (This is the expression I make when a response is required of me but I either don’t know what to say or what I actually want to say is inappropriate.  Now you know.)  The masseuse, thankfully satisfied with my response, traced her hands around the outline of my head and shoulders and nodded “Well, your aura is in much better shape now than when you came in, that’s for sure.” I thanked her for her time and her aura-cleansing expertise and made a hasty exit to the street where I finally was able to let the laughter free.

Despite the pouring rain and the chill in the air, I indulged in my giggle-fit all the way to my car. That’s when it hit me… I haven’t laughed like that in quite some time.  And I had to wonder; was my laughter really because I’m a skeptic and I found the whole process ridiculous or might it be that giggling is the product of a clean aura?

Hmmm…  Something to consider. 

Perhaps my aura could use at least the occasional spring-clean.
Me and my sparkly new aura.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

I'M AN OFFICIAL SPANK GOODNESS FAN!

One of my most favorite things in the world is getting presents in the mail.

Another one of my most favorite things in the world is my cousin Dori.

That she sends me presents in the mail is completely unrelated to why she is one of my most favorite things in the world.

But she is and she does.

Dori (aka: Spank Goodness) skates with the Cedar Rapids Roller Girls and tonight I came home to find a present from her - my very own CR Roller Girl T - with "Spank's" name and number on the back.  Wearing it to the gym tonight, I'm pretty certain that I felt a little bit of her bad-assedness rubbing off on me.

Thanks, Spanks!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

RUBBER DUCKY. YOU'RE THE ONE.

Remember I said a giant rubber duck came to town?

Well, I've been more than a little caught up in the duck fever.  I love this giant yella-fella.

And whenever I hear the nay-sayers asking "why so much fuss over a duck?" and saying nasty things like "%@ck the duck", I scream "ARE YOU KIDDING ME??  IT'S A GIANT FRIGGIN RUBBER DUCK.  AND IT IS FLOATING IN OUR RIVER...  IT'S FLIPPING ADORABLE AND YOU HAVE NO SOUL."

At least that's what I say in my head...  In reality, I just shrug my shoulders, go look at one of the hundred pictures I've taken of him and whisper "Don't worry, Ducky. I get it. It's whimsy."

O.k. - I don't really do that either but I DO have lots of pictures.

Wanna see some?

Sure you do.

Here's the duck from far away...
And here he is up-close-and-personal...
I always feel like... Somebody's watchin' meeeee.....
And anyone who says a giant duck is frivolous, obviously has not contemplated the duck to it's fullest extent!
The duck's last day in the 'Burgh was Sunday and we made it down to the shore for one last visit.  Fare-thee-well giant ducky...  I hope you bring as much happiness in your next city as you did to me here in Pittsburgh!