November 30, 2011

*This Moment*

{this moment} - A soulemama Friday ritual (Wednesday for me). A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

November 29, 2011

Storytellers: Letting Go

I have a paradoxical relationship with control.  If I'm in control = good. Someone else = bad.  When things are out of control I get uneasy. Danger feels as though it's lurking close-by. But I'm learning to fight the panic of not knowing all the whens, wheres, whys, and hows. And when I'm struggling to let someone else lead, I think of Ginger.

Ginger was my Uncle's horse and the first one I ever rode. She was rightly named Ginger because of her rusty colored coat.  Ladylike in her calm manner and patient ways, she allowed me many rides throughout the next few years. But on one of them, she got a whim (probably due to my poor direction) to run as far and as fast as she could. And as I pulled on the reins, I realized I was out of control.

Panic hit me and I held on with all my ten year old arms could muster. Then something happened I didn't expect. I felt what must be the most beautiful feeling in all the world. I rose into the air and when I thought I should be feeling Ginger's hooves drop, I didn't. It seemed as though we hung in the air for eternity--we were flying! For a brief second she hit ground and once again, up into the air for what seemed to my ten-year-old mind to be forever. I could see my parents and uncle running towards me but I'd changed from panic to euphoria. The wind whipped through my hair making it seem completely still and all that existed was me and Ginger. I didn't want it to end.  But after a while of running, the fence grew closer and Ginger slowed.

That ride was one of the most treasured moments in my life.  Afterwards, I tried endlessly to recapture it, but to no avail.  And I don't know why not, perhaps it was just the magic of that day, or because I hadn't expected it, but that experience left a stamp on my heart.

So now when I feel panic rising in me and I want to control, I remember the wind in my hair and the feel of flying. I remind myself that sometimes being out of control can be euphoric.

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November 28, 2011

Much Love Monday: Gift Love

What I'm loving today are five of my favorite gift ideas:
  • Lady of the forest pendant
Faery Dust Art

  • Knitted slippers
denizgunes knitting

  • Mother-daughter dance.
Sadee Schilling Studio

  • Rubber ducky earrings
Oh Snuggle Me

Aren't they gorgeous?  What's on your favorites list today?

November 24, 2011

Of Noble Souls

Gratitude is the sign of noble souls. --Aesop

It's Thanksgiving here in the states and I have lots to be thankful for.  Here's a few:



(That's not me, it's my sister)



And You.

Wishing You a Happy Thanksgiving!

November 23, 2011

November 22, 2011

Young Love (for Writing)

I discovered this young author, Jenna Gustafson, on Book Dreaming and she agreed to guest post for me.  I hope you'll be encouraged by her journey!

My love for writing began with books.  I’m young enough to still remember going up to my mom, the same books as yesterday clutched in my pudgy arms, and demanding that she read to me.  Mom would give me a resigned smile and read me the stories that my brother, Jade, and I knew by heart.  I’m sure most parents out there can relate.
Books have always been my escape from the world, as they are for all book worms.  Oh the joy of diving into someone else’s life, someone else’s tale!
I loved spinning my own tales, too.  Jade and I went through a phase of putting on “plays and musicals” for mom and dad in our basement.  When I was nine, I began using journaling as my expressive outlet.  I’ve been writing ever since.
Another fun fact about me:  I have always loved creating challenges for myself, big or small. Could I ride a bike with no training wheels?  Could I be a ballerina?  Could I run over three miles?  And in seventh grade, could I publish a book successfully?
I suppose you could call my book, Saving Fort Smoky, Experiment A.   I began weaving my story in a small seventh grade English class, in a small school, in a small town.  I had a big imagination and a big, slightly crazy idea…

Of getting published.  Young.

  Thus, I hurriedly banged out a story in three weeks time and edited it for the “A” in English class.  I didn’t stop there.  Curious about the publishing world to which I was very ignorant, I spent most of my summer on the computer.   Day after day I researched publishers until my eyes fell out of my head.  Slowly, I learned the loop holes and labyrinths of getting accepted by a publisher.  I learned what publishers were scams.   I eventually found Tate Publishing.
Another key trait I developed throughout this time of research was persuasion.  Just imagine, one day your kid strolls in and declares that they are going to publish their homework into a book.  You smile and nod, knowing that this newfound determination and interest in being an author will probably fade.  Except, three months later, the passion still hasn’t died, and they present to you some publishers.  In a spreadsheet they present to you the pros and cons of each company, and more importantly, how much money each are wanting for the publishing.  Money is not to be taken lightly in this economical age, and let me tell you, it took a lot of hard work and presentations to persuade mom and dad to part with a good amount of money in honor of my dream.
At the time, that is all the published version of Saving Fort Smoky was; a dream.  Then I received a contract with Tate Publishing, a good Christian company.  We signed on with them.
The next couple of months were a blur of editing, layout, design, illustration, and web design.  I came out on the other side happy, with my new book in my hand.  It was wonderful.  I dove right into marketing with a determined and passionate mindset.
I sold, sold, sold, mainly around my community at craft shows.  Believe me, it isn’t glamorous  work, and readers didn’t beat a path to my table, but I was confident that writing, written by a kid, would be gobbled up by another kid.  The hard work is reaching your readers.
Eventually, I ran out of work in my area.  Now I’m relying on you guys to help me sell.  The Internet is a whole lot bigger than my small area in Montana, and I have no clue where to begin.  So thank you for helping me out. J
  My experiment has almost worked, and I have almost broken even.  I hope to write a real, well- written novel by the time I’m a freshman in college. 
Lastly, please remember this all came to be because I gave myself a challenge.  An experiment, to see if I could actually do what most adults only dream of.

Dear Adults,

QUIT DREAMING.  I did this “experiment” to not only prove something to myself, but to show people that accomplishments are not acquired by a magic potion,  gobs of money, or a major in persuasion.  All you have to do is try.  After all…

      “The worst thing one can do is not to try, to be aware of what one wants and not give in to it, to spend years in silent hurt wondering if something could have materialized - and never knowing” - David Viscott

Good luck to fellow authors and writers!

You can buy Jenna's book from Tate Publishing or Amazon!

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November 21, 2011

Much Love Monday: No-Bake Energy Bites

What I'm loving today:

  • No-Bake Energy Bites from Smashed Peas and Carrots. Seriously, I make these and they are gone! My family's crazy about 'em.

  • This Advent Calendar from Domestifluff. Isn't it adorable?  I love all the patterned paper and wonky numbers.

  • Braids. I've always been crazy about braids but this style (and tutorial) from A Beautiful Mess, is over-the-top AWESOME!!
  • This darling heart banner from The House Creative.  Yes, maybe it's more for Valentine's day but how cute would it be decorating a tree or window for Christmas?

  • That it's my birthday! Have a cupcake on me. :)

What are you loving this Monday?

November 18, 2011

Without Words

I love the simple beauty of a background. When I feel stuck, playing with backgrounds is my chisel. It cuts away all the voices of perfectionism and allows me to just enjoy paint on my hands (and hair--according to my daughter).  I've got an idea for words on this one, but nothing's solid.  For now, it's a wordless canvas bursting with patterned color and that's enough.

(Sorry for the poor photo quality. I'm still struggling to understand this camera. Yes, the manual would be a good place to start but, phffft, who reads that? ;)

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

November 17, 2011

Afraid to Hope

Sterile walls met me like an unwanted antagonist and I hated their familiarity.

Carrying food to a worried family, I tried to hope for them but failed. Their father teetered close to death and my previous hopes had ended in a final farewell. I attempted prayer without faith to uphold it. Dropping bags onto the waiting room table, I hugged a tearful daughter and left with a heavy heart.

I didn't want to face death again. I didn't want to see beautiful people lose someone they loved.  Emotions I'd packed neatly away fell from their high shelves and shattered. I begged. I fought. And finally in defeat, I waited for the horrid call.

A week later I got a text. He was awake, speaking. and laughing. He'd made it. Staring at my phone in disbelief, I wept for joy.  I wept for renewed hope.

November 16, 2011

Try Something New

A few weeks back, the doctor called with concerns about my health. Fortunately they were easy fixes, but it got my attention. Not long after that I found Amanda's blog challenge which encouraged me to start walking again.

Two problems:
1. It's cold outside.
2. I'm really good at making excuses.

So I tricked myself.

Instead of walking outside, I started walking inside. Not in a gym but in my house. I have a circular layout and it affords me the smallish but amiable space to circle around until my time is up. I put on my earphones and warn the kids to stay out of my path (which they're really good at). Now I have no excuses.  Rain? I can walk.  Snow? I can walk. Kids fighting too much to leave alone? I can walk. Heck, I can walk in pajamas if I want to.

I'm outsmarted.  I've set up a system without a life boat to jump ship.


And ironically walking inside has led me to notice things I'd been overlooking:
A book I'd lost sitting in the bookshelves.
Artwork from 30 years ago hanging on the walls.
The sweet faces of my children as they work close-by.

It's given me a warmth, a renewal of gratefulness for the things I love.  I finish my walk inspired for the day and ready to accomplish whatever the morning holds for me.

What about you?  Have you tried something new lately?

November 15, 2011

Interview with Photographer & Ghost Hunter: Paul Bradford

Photo Paul Bradford
When did you begin doing photography?
I've always had a creative streak, but photography really began for me in high school. I studied both Art & Design and Photography at advanced level. After leaving school I started work at a portrait study in London, however that career choice was short lived and I ended up working in retail. Photography then became more a hobby of mine.

What's the most fascinating subject you've ever shot?
I've been lucky enough to travel the world, see amazing things and experience many different cultures. While travelling I snap away, seeing beauty in the strangest of places. For me to choose one thing is very difficult, I've witnessed a rainbow at night while in New Zealand (something that is extremely rare, it is actually called a Moonbow) , in Malaysia I found some strange cocoon that was completely reflective like a mirror, so much so that I saw myself in its reflection. In Trinidad I witnessed hundreds of bats, swooping down to the water, catching small fish. There's so many other things which I've photographed and documented that I've either placed in my book "Wish you were here" or will be in the next book that I'm currently working on.

Photo Paul Bradford
You've traveled extensively, where is your favorite place?
Again, its difficult to choose one place, one of the advantages of travelling with Ghost Hunters International is that we do end up in the strangest of places, locations off the beaten track. But one place that does stand out is Belize I saw some of the most amazing things there. A Mayan Cave with fossilised skeletal remains, rock formations that have taken hundreds of years to form, a river than ran throughout, 20ft deep in some places. I think one of the real challenges was getting my camera equipment in to the cave without it getting wet and damaged. As well as the fact I was so far underground that there was no light at all, so any photography I took required a lot of creativity.

If money were no problem, where would you vacation next?
You know what, as silly as it sounds, I would just like to take my family to Orlando for the week. Visit Disney world and Universal studios. I'm hoping one day for that to happen, money is however always the deciding factor. But to see the face of my daughter when she meets Mickey mouse for the first time, see the Islands of adventure that is a picture that would put the rest of mine to shame, but one that I wouldn't want to miss for the world.

Photo Paul Bradford
Do your other interests/hobbies cross over into your photography?
I think the Ghost Hunting is probably the major crossover, I mean if not for the show I wouldn't have had the chance to visit the places I've been to, seen the sights I've seen or witnessed the wonders of the world. It truly is an amazing planet with some of the most incredible things to see.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?
I have both a book and calendar available for purchase and I'm currently working on a second book, I've a handful of signed copies of my first, which can be purchased directly from me, anyone interested can email me at the book is $25 the Calendar is $20. You can also purchase them at Changed on 11/19/22 to show correct web address)

Read about Paul's Doctor Who fascination here.

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November 14, 2011

Much Love Monday: Inspiration Wire

What I'm loving today:
  • My inspiration wire.  I've been meaning to show it to you for awhile.  It's ever changing.  Hanging on this section is a Kelly Rae Roberts magnet, a "soar"ing quote, red dress, and carefree swinging.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean symphony.  Arr, it was phenomenal!
  • The Rhythm of Family by Amanda Blake Soule with Stephen Soule.
  • That I survived my talk for the fundraiser. ;)
  • $5 Dollar Dinners.
What are you loving today?

November 10, 2011

Not Crying

Still plugging away at this one, but I haven't got it right yet.
Tonight I'll be sharing the story behind four of my paintings at a fundraiser for Food for Thought, a local group who feeds the homeless. Displaying my art is one thing, but speaking makes me nervous. And I have this annoying habit of getting teary-eyed when I'm nervous. It's not that I'm crying (no, seriously), but it looks like that. SO ANNOYING. Anyways, I hope to get past my fear and share from the heart for such a great cause.

 Wish me luck and have a wonderful weekend!

November 9, 2011

Even the Messy

When I stood at the edge of teenhood, I pined for being old enough to babysit.  Mrs. Chaney took me under her wing and instructed me in the secrets of childcare.

She knew exactly how to tend to little ones. I watched her sooth the fussiest child and put to sleep the non-sleeper. She never had favorites; they were all her favorite. She oozed love in her tender touch and lullabies.

And it didn't stop with the little ones; she loved me too.  She never raised her voice or panicked about my lack of knowledge.  She instructed gently and kindly.  She didn't humiliate me for not wanting to clean an extremely messy diaper, or wipe spit-up.  Instead, she graciously held the most difficult child and allowed me the easy ones.

Eventually, I understood what she'd shown me by example. That all children are beautiful.  All children need love.  Even the messy.  Even the difficult.  Even me.

Among the Birds

Giving thanks for many happy childhood hours spent climbing trees and sitting among the birds.

November 8, 2011

Watching Over

As I remind him to wear a coat because it's cold outside; his face falls. I've belittled him. He's eleven, not five.

It's a habit, this routine of watching over them.  Of asking if they're hungry, and are they sure.  Do they want a jacket or (heaven forbid) my wrap?

Our friends had a family emergency this week and I offered to watch their girls.  Sweet ages, nine, four and two.  So very sweet. Requiring blissful watching over. I reminded the girls to wear their coats and wipe their noses.

And I was thrilled to see my babies watch over them too.  They bounced the girls gently on the trampoline, submitted to four-year-old storylines in Barbieland, and put tiny shoes on tiny feet.  I saw what snuck up on me these past years--they've grown.  They're wiser, stronger forms of themselves. They don't need my help like they used to.  Instead, they long for respect of who they've become.

I want to give them that respect.

So next time my son heads for the chilly outdoors,
I'll attempt not to shout after him about a coat.

He's eleven after all, not five.

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November 6, 2011

Much Love Monday: Laini's Ladies

What I'm loving lately:
What are you loving today?

Much Love Monday is a weekly blog post series, intended to start off each week with some positivity instead of the typical Monday blues!  

November 4, 2011

A Room of Her Own

I painted more on Graffiti Love this week, but I had trouble capturing what I'd done in a photograph so I'm going to share my studio instead. It isn't much, but I am SO thankful for this little room of my own.

To the right of my art table is a large picture window that overlooks my porch.  To the left of the peach chair is the living room where MUCH living happens. And I'm in the big middle of it.

By day, my kids are in and out talking, asking questions, sharing together. By night, it's quiet and thought-provoking--time for me to focus.

I would love to highlight each the little thing and share what it all means to me but alas, I'm out of time.  I'll save that for another day.

Inspired by Amanda Soule's blogA Friday ritual. A few photos  - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.


November 3, 2011

A Win-Less Standoff

We stare wordless in a win-less standoff.

The angle of her brow reminds me of past years.  A vision of her five-year-old pout and unsuccessful attempts to cross her arms play across my mind.  I smile at the memory.

She raises an eyebrow quizzically. An unsure grin sneaks from the corner of her lips.

A snicker escapes mine.

Soon we're sharing our wounds from a cozier distance at the kitchen table. Apologies are made. She's my girl once again.

And I'm thankful disagreements can morph into forgiveness.