Thursday, March 22, 2018

Happy Spring???

It seems that Mother Nature is hell-bent on providing us with the most memorable March on record.  So she shoved Old Man Winter back our direction in the form of Winter Storm Toby - the FOURTH Nor'easter this month:

It started on Tuesday night (yes officially the first day of SPRING) and this was our view by 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday.  While Riley was the worst in terms of catching us unaware, leaving people stranded everywhere and lots of downed trees and wires, Toby was the one with the most significant snowfall in this area.

 And yes, the backyard neighbor put his fence back up in between storms.

 The snow collects and fills up our deck like a swimming pool.  When the storm was over, you couldn't see the bottom horizontal rail at all.
After these photos were taken, snow continued to blanket the area through the wee hours of Thursday morning.  Everything was closed on Wednesday and many places are having delayed openings today.  I was grateful to once again ride out the entire storm from the safety of my own home.

When all was said and done, we got about a foot of snow this time.  When Spring actually does put in an appearance in this little corner of the world, I think we'll see folks happy dancing in the streets!  But as you can see, it will be awhile yet before we see daffodils. 

Anything blooming in your little corner of the world?

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Happy St. Patty's Day!

March has been a little nuts in my neck of the woods - not one, not two, but THREE Nor'easter storms rolled through here in the space of eleven days.  And the weather forecasters got anticipated accumulation wrong for my home town in each instance.  Winter Storm Riley on March 2nd caught us quite by surprise.  We were supposed to get a couple of inches starting AFTER the evening commute.  Instead it started around eleven a.m. and  was coming down at the rate of 2 inches per hour.  Plus very high winds. So the area surrounding my home town experienced ice, covered by slush, covered by heavy wet snow, lots of downed wires and trees, and cars and school buses full of children stuck everywhere.  I had been at the office for a meeting.  Left before 2 p.m. and it took me two hours to get home and this is how that trip ended:

Stuck at the bottom of my own driveway!  Jay left the same area 20 minutes after me and it took him three hours to get home.  I had the driveway cleared and my car moved by the time he arrived.

The storm also knocked over our back yard neighbor's fence.  We're hoping he decides to just take it down.

In total about 8" of wet heavy snow.
 The next two storms brought LESS than was forecast for our area - Winter Storm Quinn on the 7th gave us about 6" (originally forecast to be in the 10-16" band).   Luckily, we had some warning this time and all stayed home to ride it out.  Followed by Winter Storm Skylar on the 12th which only left about 2" and instead skirted to the east and north and pounded Boston.  Now that we are days away from officially being Spring, I'm hoping this nonsense will slow down!

The weather hasn't stopped me from traveling for work, or from living my word PLAY while attempting to keep up with Life Book, FIT, and One Little Word.  My most recent creative efforts:

All watercolor, except the face.  I chose excerpts from the Desiderata for the writing exercise.  Tried to use drawing gum and a calligraphy nib as a resist technique (that was the lesson).  Failed miserably, but at least I tried!  Ended up having to go over it with a white paint pen to make it legible.

I tried to make the proportions on this face a little more realistic than my first (which were not meant to be proportional but whimsical) The eyes are still huge, but I like it for the expression.

Another Life Book exercise - my Quirky Bird - designed to showcase my own unique quirks and weirdness - like how much I enjoy singing in the car, loudly, and badly, but with complete abandon because there is nobody to hear me, shush me, or squelch my joy. - and how I am naturally clumsy and have two left feet (this poor bird's awkward feet were not an accident) - and how I have a tendency to wear my heart on my sleeve...

A 6x8" mini vision board for my FIT journey.  No explanation needed.

I joined Susannah Conway's "Your Soul Speaks" class about tuning in to your intuition.  The most recent exercise was to create a vision board of what your soul looks like right now.  This is what came out for me.

And finally, another Life Book lesson - this time an intuitive abstract painting with watercolors and acrylic.  Finished with a botanical image.  The artist teaching this lesson had beautifully drawn leaves in ink.  I practiced on scratch paper and found my freehand ink skills were akin to a toddler drawing, so went with a Posca paint pen to complete this.  I used a photo of a sunset in California as my inspiration... feel like I maybe ended up with a sunset on Mars????  So entirely different from anything I would normally do!

I'm loving the time I'm spending being creative just for me.  None of these are art works, they won't be for sale, they won't end up framed or shared anywhere but here and in the classrooms.  And yet they make me so happy.

What is making you happy these days?  How are you making time to PLAY?

Sunday, February 18, 2018

The View This Morning

This is what I awoke to today:

It was so quiet and still and beautiful outside. Today I am grateful for nature's beauty.  (*All unedited iPhone photos).

Friday, February 16, 2018

An Attitude of Gratitude

The month of February seems to have a Gratitude theme in many areas of my life. 

In Cathy Zielski's FIT class, we were asked to document 10 things we are grateful for.  This is what I came up with:

 I've been reading this list every morning just to remind myself that I have so much to be thankful for in my life!

Gratitude also came up in our Life Book class.  Here's my "Heart Full of Happiness" art:

An earlier week had us working on a project called "The Custodian" working with texture and using pastels which were totally new to me.  I struggled with it, but was satisfied with the result in the end and learned a lot about shading:

In the background texture, I've included words like "Play" "Joy" "light hearted" and "healthy" and she now gets to guard my intentions for the year.

I'm also keeping a daily log of something I'm grateful for that day.  The beautiful sunsets I got to witness thanks to traveling to California for work this month definitely made the list!

What are YOU grateful for this month???

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Hello 2018! Let's PLAY!

It has not escaped me that we are already 2 1/2 weeks into 2018.  But it has taken me a little longer to really wrap my arms about what I want and expect from this year, what my goals and dreams are and how I want to approach the year.  I'm starting to feel a little organized... not all the way yet... but getting there!

One Little Word - PLAY.  
What I know for sure is that I don't want this year to be all about work like last year was.  I'm still going to be traveling at least once a month for work, but I don't want to feel all-consumed by it. So I'm committed to MAKE time to play.  I joined Ali Edwards' One Little Word course again this year - turns out I really missed it last year although I doubt I'd have had time to keep  up anyway!
These are my initial pages for my One Little Word/ FIT album for 2018.  Not much in the way of art or decoration - I was trying to keep it simple and just get it done!

I also joined in Cathy Zielski's 2018 version of FIT again.  I'm carrying my theme of PLAY through the FIT exercises as well.  I want to approach fitness / wellness this year with a more lighthearted playful manner - just moving my body in ways that brings me joy and making healthy choices in what I feed my body and my soul!

I took photos and measurements but I'm keeping that private for now.  It's not about the numbers - it is all about how I FEEL this year!  Of course, I no sooner started tracking steps again and hitting my goal of 6000 steps per day than I somehow injured my foot and ended up with posterior tibial tendonitis.  But it is a temporary setback!  I'm still in a brace and probably won't get back to walking for a couple of weeks.  But I'm not letting that get me down.

In order to keep motivated to PLAY, I also joined Tamara Laporte's Life Book 2018 class.  Life Book is a year long mixed media art class that also incorporates bits of yoga, aromatherapy, mindfulness, and other wellness activities.  So far I'm thrilled with this course!  Here's a bit of what I've been making:
 This was our "warm up" exercise.  Which honestly took me an entire week because I wanted to do it justice.

This one was a week two "bonus" exercise.  Created while I was in Rockville for work.  I had only brought some neocolor II watercolor crayons and a couple of gel pens with me as supplies.  I bought the stamp and a super cheap black stamp pad at a craft store.  I used a coffee cup sleeve from my hotel room to stamp the texture.

This "compassion bear" was also a week two "bonus" exercise and created at the hotel room with very limited supplies.  I think I'd like a second go at this guy, but he'll have to do for now because I'm determined to keep up with the class!!!

What I really want to cultivate this year is a sense of lightheartedness, joy, freedom, space, and adventure.  I want to laugh more, move more, create more, and feel gratitude for all of life's little pleasures. I want to nurture my body, my soul, and my relationships.

I've chosen the hummingbird as my symbol for the year.  It is said to represent enjoyment of life and lightness of being.  That seems to sum up what I'm hoping for and working towards in 2018!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Goodbye 2017!

I had an unintentional seven month break from blogging.  I thought about all my blog friends - a LOT. I wrote posts in my mind.  I never quite made it back here to type them out and hit publish.  I'm hoping to do better this year.

Here's my 2017 recap:

January -   We opened a second shop in Phillipsburg NJ.  I traveled to Baltimore for the Board of Director's celebration dinner for our big merger.  I saw Menopause The Musical with my friend Rachel Riordan.  My daughter Rachel was diagnosed with a melanoma and underwent surgery to have two moles removed. One on her arm and one on her back - just above the bra line to the left of her spine.  The arm healed well.  The back did not.  The sutures ripped and the wound completely opened - a round hole about the size of a quarter.  To add insult to injury, after the surgery, Rachel was let go from her job at a real estate office - the agent decided he would rather have someone with experience than train her.  Cue drama and a new job search.   The non-healing surgical wound lead to a frustrating year of doctors visits and many different kinds of medical techniques to try to close the wound.  Not a single doctor was able to give us a reason why the wound wouldn't heal on its own as she is otherwise healthy, young, and not diabetic.

February -  Saw Postmodern Jukebox at Lehigh University with Sarah.  Travel to Rockville MD for work, followed by a three day scrapbooking trip to the shore with Sarah - I spent the whole time at the shore sick. 

March -  I attended two local day crops, attended an all day seminar at Lehigh University, but didn't travel outside PA a single day thanks to Snow Storm Stella cancelling our scheduled meetings!  Rachel got a job offer and began working at Entercom.  Jay got a job offer at RCA and gave his notice to MedDecision.  Becca got accepted into the PTA (Physical Therapy Assistant) program at Lehigh Carbon Community College.  It was a fantastic month! Good news times three!

April - On the 1st we moved Rachel to her new apartment in Manyunk.  Travel to Rockville for work meetings. Jay began his job at Recovery Centers of America. Travel to Belize with Deanna for a girls vacation.  Becca was let go from her job - the owner wanted to put his daughter in her position.  Cue more drama and another new job search.

May - Travel to Rockville & Baltimore for work. Had a bunch of doctor appointments.

June -  Sarah started seriously hunting for a house so she wouldn't have to continue renting.  We went to a few showings with her.   She also started her MBA program at Lehigh University while continuing to work full time.  Becca got a summer job nannying.  Travel to Rockville for work.

July - Travel to Rockville & Baltimore for work. Jay had surgery for melanoma on his cheek. My mother, Sandy, was diagnosed with metastatic soft tissue sarcoma that has invaded her liver.  Rare enough that they can't give her a time frame but it is terminal.  So far she is not sick and still doing well.

August - Family vacation in Ocean City, NJ.  The downtime was fantastic!  Becca started her PTA Program and got a part-time job in a PT office.  Jay finally gave up his 2003 Honda CRV with 315,901 miles and got a new car.  Travel to Rockville for work, but had to cut that trip short and fly to Memphis to deal with my sister Deanna's near-death experience after a fall from her horse.  She ruptured her spleen and had to have emergency surgery.  Spent 8 days taking care of her while trying to keep things moving at work remotely.  Flew home August 31st but thanks to weather almost didn't make it in time for ...

September -  Sarah's closing on her condo on the 1st.  There was a lot of drama with the mortgage company and appraiser in August and it almost didn't happen. But it did!  Sarah is now a homeowner.  Moved Becca into her apartment in Emmaus on the 9th.  Travel to Austin Texas for a work conference and from there straight to Hawaii, meeting up with Jay and my parents.  The trip was very enjoyable, but we had at least one snafu/mishap per day.  Kept things quite interesting.  Came home to find our cat Ashley near death with kidney failure.  Lots of vet visits, IV hydration, antibiotics, and a diet change and she is doing well again, but it was quite scary for a bit.

October -  Sarah and I attended the PA Women's Conference in Philadelphia.  Travel to Washington D.C. for the ACC Annual Meeting (days of sitting through continuing education seminars).

November - Sarah and I took my mother Sandy to New York City for a long weekend to fulfill a bucket list item.  Saw The Lion King and Book of Mormon on Broadway, took a carriage ride through Central Park, saw the 911 Memorial and Statue of Liberty.  So fun!  Rachel had skin graft surgery to close the surgical wound on her back and lived at home for a week during recovery so I could take care of her.  Travel to Rockville for work.  We celebrated  a quiet Thanksgiving here at home.

December - Lots of shopping online and prepping for Christmas. Travel to Rockville for work.  Came home and got sick.  Two days before Christmas I took myself to urgent care to deal with URI and bronchitis.  We had a wonderful Christmas at home and I took the week between Christmas and New Year's off.  As a family, went to STOMP at the Merriam Theater in Philadelphia.

If you are still reading, you can see that 2017 was a real mixed bag for us with both good news and bad and a LOT happened to my little family.  I was away from home a total of 78 days last year which is unprecedented for me!  An average of 6.5 days a month, with the fewest days in one month being 3, the most being 19.  Work was crazy busy and I had almost no time to myself or to work on any creative projects.

I'm happy to say goodbye to 2017 and see what 2018 brings! 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Checking In

Here it is, the last day of May.    How did we get here already?  This year is going by much too quickly for me.

Mail was good to me last week.

Two hand-made cards arrived to celebrate my birthday - the one in front from our very own Karen.  And the package from my sister contained a book from my Amazon wish list
along with a very sweet note!

Thanks to the Memorial Day holiday falling just right this year, I actually had my birthday off.  Sarah gave me the gift of her time and came over to help me start cleaning my craft room.  It's a big job and is going to take a lot more time than we had together, but a solid start was made that resulted in this:

  Yes, we "found" my craft table under piles of stuff!  It is now set up and ready for me to play.  Which will be my goal before the week is out.  To actually go play.  And then clean up the mess when I am done so it will be ready to play the next opportunity I get!

For those of you who have done serious craft space purging and decluttering... how do you decide what stays and what goes?  I can be ruthless with my clothing, jewelry, kitchen stuff... but when it comes to my craft supplies I freeze.  Everything has multiple potential uses.  I can't get rid of anything.  (Says the woman who before Monday had FOUR Fiskars 12" trimmers!  I did thin that down to two - gave one to Sarah and put one in the donate pile).  But I don't have room to store it all which is why so much ends up in residence on my table and then I have no space to play and create.  I seriously need an intervention!  Any thoughts????