Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Some New and Needed Changes on the Horizon

Change is in the air.  The leaves are turning vibrant shades of orange, yellow and red.  They are starting to dance down to the ground.  Fall has officially arrived.  I do love this time of year.  The sky is such an amazing shade of blue; clouds are bright white.  It's like an amazing painting.

Not only is the season changing, but I have to start changing a few things myself.  A recent bone density test showed me that I'm already having thinning of my femur bone.  I'm only 41--this is not news I want to hear.  The doctor told me that thinning in the spine is normal, not this.  She immediately wanted to put me on Boniva, but I have heard pretty grim things about those types of "bone building" medications.  I contacted my regular doctor and she told me to trust my gut and not start this medication.  She feels we can work on this through diet and exercise, so a new chapter of my life begins.  One of really consciously exercising and eating specific bone-building foods.  I'll be honest, I'm not in love with exercising.  I do enjoy yoga, but other than that I'd rather sit and paint or read.  BUT, I don't want weak bones at the age of 41, so I have to make these changes.  Hopefully the natural changes will be good enough so I won't need the medications that have yucky side effects.

My plan is to write about these new changes here to hold myself accountable.  I have a few friends who I know will encourage me along this new journey as well.  Thank you!

The first item on my agenda is to walk as much as possible.  I started yesterday and took another long walk this morning.  Since I had foot surgery in June and was off my right foot for about 9 weeks, I feel pretty out of shape, but I'm assuming it can only get better with daily practice, right?  Aside from the walking, I plan to lift my arm weights, not sure if I should do them daily or take a break in between each day--that I will find out from the doctor.  Also, yoga stretches, which make me feel so great, I will do EVERY day.  There's no reason not to--I can do them right in my living room and they feel great, so I have no excuses not to do this.

So, here's the start of my new changes...exercising is a top priority for me starting yesterday!  So, if you have any tips on staying motivated to get my body moving daily, please share them here.  Like I said, I don't LOVE exercising, so I may need lots of help from those of you who do fit it in your daily life.

Next up, changing my way of eating...this may be even harder than daily exercising.  I love my food. Stay tuned for some new healthy food additions to my days.  I hear sardines with bones are supposed to be good bone food...good Lord.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Journal Pages - Just What I Needed to Hear

I never intended to like creating in an art journal.  I shied away from it because I thought it would be a waste of paint.  Why would I put my heart and soul and maybe even collage precious papers into a book that only I would see?  Well, I now love working in my art journal and I think of those former thoughts almost every time I pull it out to create.  When I started Mindy Lacefield's True Free Spirit e-course, she suggested we buy an art journal for one of our monthly projects.  I did and I'm hooked.  Like those who have come before me and art journal like crazy, I agree that it holds many purposes. 

1.   It's a place to mull over something bothering me.  I usually paint over any things I've written about stuff that's really bringing me down.  But just getting it down in the first place is a bit of help, even if I paint right over it.

2.  I can practice something new that I've been meaning to paint, maybe a new style of birdie that I just don't want to put to canvas yet.  Or this little fawn that I've been aching to paint.

3.  My main love of doing this is creating pieces that give me encouragement.  When I need some lifting up, I paint a message that I need to hear right at that particular moment.  I may not hear it from anyone else, so I've decided my art journal is the place where I can be encouraging to myself.  I've realized that I won't always hear what I need to hear from those I love.

Sometimes I've shared some of my encouraging journal pages online and they've spoken to others who've actually bought prints of them.  This is an added perk - taking something really just meant for my creative exploring time and also inspiring and hopefully uplifting others too!

Do you have any messages you either tell yourself daily or maybe even paint or write down that seem to help you when you need a boost?  

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Summer Highlights - It's Almost Over

Summer's not quite over yet, but when you work in a school like I do, when I head back to work, summer's pretty much over.  Since it was a different sort of summer for me, having foot surgery, I'm going to recap my "highlights" and things I've realized before I head back to a new school year.

Gosh it's even hard to say highlights because I honestly had a lot of "low" periods.  I couldn't drive for eight weeks, walk on my foot for eight weeks or get my foot wet for eight weeks.  I tried to stay positive during this pretty long time but it got hard.  Really hard especially the first three weeks.

My twelve year old daughter helped when I needed it but very often with scowl on her face.  I tried to be understanding because she's only twelve and wants summer to be fun, but she had to be her momma's helper A LOT.  My hubby works A LOT so loneliness did set in at times I'll be honest.  It was weeks before I felt good enough to paint because I typically only felt good with my foot elevated and that's not so easy to do sitting at a desk painting.  Here are a few pieces I created while I was healing...

I'm also a big reader, but I found myself getting restless doing that for sooooo many hours a day.  I really learned how hard it is to have your freedoms and self-sufficiency taken away.  I realized how much I took for granted like carrying a glass of water to the living room from the kitchen--not so easy to do while using crutches.  I truly feel so much gratitude for the little things like standing in a shower, vacuuming or getting in the car and just running to the store when I need to.

I needed the help of friends, family, neighbors and coworkers to be my drivers every single week. These people were awesome and selfless!  Aside from my neighbors, they all lived 25 - 45 minutes away and came to help around my house, bring me cookies, dinners, iced mochas, magazines and take me to my weekly doctor appointment check-ups.

A few days I was full of self-pity, for the pain my foot was in and for the frustration I felt for all the things I couldn't do.  Well, a few of my friends sort of whipped me back into shape reminding me that I am in charge of my attitude.  This was one of my big lessons during my recovery.  Thank you to those girls who helped me realize I can be happy if I want to...it's up to no one else but ME!

A special highlight that helped keep me smiling was visits with my sweet niece and going to her first birthday party. She brought joy to me even in moments that weren't so joyful.  Even when I was in the pre-op room I thought how great it would be to have sweet babies in there with the patients prior to surgery, to keep our mind off the upcoming procedure.  I think it's a great idea because they are so sweet and joyful.

I'm hoping to start the new school year with a new foot that feels better than it did last year and a new gratitude for things that often seem so basic.  I also hope I can carry that lesson over, that lesson that I am responsible for my outlook and my mood!  Did you learn any new lessons this summer like I did? I hope you have some great summer memories and the new season brings even better things!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Working on Lately...Will I Ever Finish?

Since I had foot surgery two weeks ago I've been mostly "painting" on my ipad, but just recently since I don't need my foot propped so much, I've adding lots of finishing touches to a few different paintings.

Two of them I finally finished yesterday--a sweet giraffe and a chubby elephant.  The elephant painting is titled "She's Happy" but I still need a title for the giraffe--any ideas?

But there are still quite a few I just can't seem to finish or declare that they are finished.  I wonder how many other artists out there just can't feel a piece is "ready for the world."  Is this the perfectionist in me (I don't think I'm a perfectionist) or is it worry that it's just not good enough?  The "just not good enough" is something I'm really trying to work on...as well as finishing some paintings.

Since I love love love the water, a few new pieces are of boats sailing on water.  If I had my way, we'd live on the coast somewhere, or at least on the lake that is two minutes from our house.  One of our dreams that I hope will come true someday.  Maybe painting water will bring me closer to that dream?  Do you believe in creative visualization?  Do you have a vision board with things you hope to bring into your life?  Well, on my old one from last year, there are many pictures of the calm, soothing water.  Hopefully someday these dreams that I paint will manifest and bring us a water view right from our back porch in the form of a lake or the ocean!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Grateful Today

Today is really simple:  I'm really grateful that since my early morning pain meds I've only taken two Tylenol all day! That's a great sign - I feel much better not taking strong pain pills overall...I'm thinking it's a promising healing sign. Yay!

I'm also thankful for sweet photo updates from my niece Cora's first summer up at the cabin. Isn't she sweet? She can cheer me up any day.

I'm typing this on my ipad and have no idea yet how to center pictures or change fonts, but I'm really focused on sharing what I'm thankful for each day as I recovery from my surgery.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Gratitude...I Hear it Helps

I'm sure you've all heard that practicing gratitude helps us feel better about our lives; some even believe it can actually relieve depression. In years past I've started and stopped a daily gratitude journal--not sure why I didn't keep up with it.  Maybe I took things for granted.  Well right now I'm going to give it a try again.  For a few reasons, but mostly to help me be more optimistic during recovery from my foot surgery. It can only help right?  My first week post-op has been a bit depressing to be honest and I think I want to take charge of my outlook during the next 7 weeks of no driving, no swimming....all the things that are bringing me down.

1.  My stylus and iPad I got for Mother's Day that I'm still able to "paint" with

2.  Having my sweet daughter to help feed me and keep me company everyday since it's summer break.  Even though she's not thrilled to be my caretaker, she's still making me smile.  She and her friend played Apples to Apples with me today which mad me feel like a normal person for a little while.

I'm going to try everyday during my recovery to post pics of what I'm grateful for.  Things cold be a lot worse, right? I just need to change my perspective, right? What are you thankful for today?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Spring Days, Gotta Love May!

I'm loving these amazing spring days - my lilacs are blooming and my crab apple trees are fat with blossoms and amazing scents.  These trees and bushes are past Mother's Day gifts from Bella so I see them as extra special too.

Taking bike rides and doing the mulch in our yard is almost enjoyable because of the amazing breezes from all the flowers.  I'm actually pretty obsessed with taking photos of all the new beauty around us at this time of year.  I think I don't want to forget how amazing this time of year is before the blooms fall to the ground and the real hot days set in.

When I'm not getting the yard ready for the season I've been painting some new paintings, luckily in my sunroom which makes me feel even closer to nature because of all the windows.  I've got so many dreamy quotes I want to use in new creations as well.  Here's part of a quote from Mary Oliver that I incorporated into one of my paintings recently.  I love the dreamy feeling I get reading many of her words.

Mother's Day was also a special day because I'm so blessed to be the momma of a great girl who is the light of my life.  I know it may sound corny, but she truly is.

May 20 was also our 18th wedding anniversary and it was the most amazing day in terms of weather 18 years ago...it was about 70 degrees and all the crab apple trees were in bloom.  Here is one of my favorite wedding pictures from our professional photographer.  It was taken overlooking a cliff of Lake Michigan on that amazing day.  (I took a picture of the photo with Instagram so you really can't see how beautiful blue the sky is though).

I hope you are enjoying the month of May where you live.  May is my favorite month of the year for so many reasons and I'm wondering what your favorite time of year is and why?  Do you love the new blooms as much as I do?  Or are your seasons a bit different where you live?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Images and Creations of the Past Week

I was excited and inspired while I created this inspirational piece for our choir teacher.  When she asked me to paint something for her classroom, I found four quotes about singing and she chose the one below.  It was so odd because while working on this I was painting and "collaging" almost as if I was crazy...I was so into it--almost like I had a muse over my shoulder encouraging me on.

This is a sketch from an art retreat I did a few days ago in Lake Geneva.  It was so fun sitting with some other artists learning how to draw "angelic faces."

Another session I took part in was a journaling experience with Junelle Jacobsen of Yes and Amen.  She was so fun and free as a teacher and I learned how to put my true self into my creations.  

This is the back of my head looking out into the water and at the night sky, things that really call to me.  Can you sort of tell that my hair blends into the waves?  If not, that's okay.

Here's a profile of me holding things I hold dear:  hearts that represent those I love, a bird that represents flying and trying new adventures, the sun, moon and stars that call to me daily.

A color-block journal page with colors that are "me" right now.  The flowers represent growth and I added the words acceptance, nurture and believe because they show what is prominent in my life right now.

It was a busy week but a creatively productive week too.  I met people in person that I've only talked to online and stretched myself as an artist.  It was fulfilling and uplifting!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Rituals...So Peaceful

A few months ago one of my creative friends explained how someone she knows made an intention candle to light before she creates.  She actually bought one of those really tall, skinny glass candles you can buy at the grocery store by the Mexican food area.  I loved that idea, but I keep forgetting to look for one of those candles to decorate and make it my own. However, I did decide to just buy a pretty candle with a smell I could handle and try to be consistent and consciously light it before each time I sit down to paint.  It's weird how when I just paused to light a candle and said a little something while I did it, it really calmed me.
 I've said things like:  help me create and just enjoy myself; help me create something that may bring joy to someone else; help me create just for fun without worrying if what I make will sell; help me be free and loose when I paint today...

I haven't been 100% consistent with remembering to light it or to set an intention and I plan to work on that especially after reading an article in the magazine Natural Health last night.  It says that rituals work because "they move people into mental states of surrender, gratitude and asking for help."  Rituals are seen as healing as well which I love the thought of that because of having lupus and feeling out of control with it sometimes. They are also powerful because they "rely heavily on establishing bonds" whether with a community or with a higher being someone may believe is out there helping them.  The author says there are four things that help create these meaningful rituals:

  •   have a clear intention...maybe even a question you have
  •  actually state your intention out loud--literally giving your purpose a voice involves your whole  self when said out loud
  • make it tangible for example, lighting a candle, burning a piece of paper with something you want to let go of 
  • give thanks and surrender 

I love this last one because it seems to make the ritual soothing and an attitude that things are out of my hands and what's best for me will happen.  Also, I'm learning that surrender is much better than clenching and grabbing.

So I'm going to keep lighting my candle and have an honest intention and hopefully it will help me relax and surrender some of my worries to "someone" else.

Do you have any rituals that you practice regularly?  I'd love to hear them or how they feel in your life.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Accepting what is (or at least trying to...)

I think anyone who knows me, knows that I have a hard time accepting things whether they are things I think shouldn't have happened--like getting lupus for example.  Or accepting when things I WANT to happen DON'T - like not being able to afford a vacation to somewhere warmer.  I tend to obsess about the way I THINK things should go--maybe you know what that's like?

Well a few weeks ago I was at work and one of our subs who used to teach in the district and I got to talking.  He mentioned Byron Katie.  I've heard of her before, but this time I decided to get a few of her books from my library.  I'll be honest--some of her wording is really hard to grasp, almost how I feel when reading Eckhart Tolle, but the underlying meaning is starting to really resonate with me:
When I accept things, even the "bad" things, I will be happier.  Period.  Wow.  Tough work though, really tough work.  I'm so used to thinking "why me?" or "why not me?" so this is definitely going to be a work in progress, but I'm pretty sure work worth doing.

I wonder if you have any tips or mantras that help you accept those things that either go wrong or don't happen the way you'd like them?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

February Love...Valentine's Day

I don't want to use the word "love" lightly, because I truly really love mostly people in my life, but since I am a passionate person, I guess I do "love" many things.  This month all my posts have been about people or things I love.  Since it's Valentine's Day, of course, I'm going to share a few more things I LOVE and that really give me joy.

 My sweet daughter and my funny husband...This is our past Christmas card (well one version).  We take a picture every year and I thought we needed to spice it up a bit and be a little funny.  Shane is actually wearing my mom's Christmas sweater--no he doesn't typically wear lady's clothes.  Most recipients loved it except one couple who seemed very offended...oh well...this is us most of the time, so we thought it is more fitting than just sitting there smiling nicely for the camera.

Oh, yes, I guess, that cute little lapdog Mazie I love too...most of the time!  She is high-maintenance to tell you the truth, but she has brought lots of joy to all our lives.

Aside from these two loves of my life, I have the sweetest little niece that I'm completely enamoured with---which brings me to another love--BABIES.  I am drawn to their big, smiling eyes, their chubby cheeks, chunky legs and their pure joy.  I am still sad that I could only have one baby of my own, but my little niece gets lots of love and attention by me.  How could she not?  Look at her!

In addition to these lovable people in my life, I'd like to share one more thing that brings me great joy...

PAINTING of course.  Here are a few of my favorites that I guess I do "love" either because of the intent behind them or just the feeling I get from how they turned out.

© Jill's Dream Artwork (this one is still for sale in my shop too!)

© Jill's Dream Artwork

Above, I really loved the process of making it because of the colors, the inspiring and motivational quote AND the leaves and flowers are actual pieces from a journal page I created, so there's a lot of "me" in it.  It is truly one of my favorites--it sold at a boutique I have things in and I wish I could've met the person who bought it because I like to meet the people who buy my creations.

I'm also taking an online painting class called True Free Spirit given by the wonderful Mindy Lacefield.  It's pretty much out of the zone of what I typically paint and I'm loving this class--it's whimsical, funky and teaching me to be free and child-like!  Here's a sample of a few things I've created or am still in the process of creating in this fun class.  No they aren't perfect...but I'm really having fun learning new techniques, using new supplies and expanding my horizons.

I hope you have tons of people, events, hobbies and "things" in your life that bring you joy and love.  Happy Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

February LOVE...Art Books

All my life I've been a reader...I started with the sweet Disney books that had a little record player reading the book to me and "dinging" every time I had to read the page.  My mom still has my big box of all those stories...I love looking at them.  I then worked my way up to bigger books that had no "ding" to signal the turn of the page.  Three of my favorites as a grade-schooler were The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, A Wrinkle in Time and Charlotte's Web.  As I got older I read every one of my mom's Danielle Steele books and yes, even her Jackie Collins--she could NOT have known how inappropriate the Collins' books were.  Yikes.

A few years ago I found another kind to add to my love of "regular" books...ART Books!  They're beautiful, interesting, and inspirational.  I have quite a collection growing and I love re-reading them, looking at their amazing pictures and seeing the parts I've highlighted to encourage me over and over.
Some of my favorites are...

  • Daring Adventures in Paint by Mati Rose McDonough...she seems to be drawn to vibrant colors, just like me!  

  • The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron...this is probably one of the original books that really made me realize that I NEED to create.  I have reread this book so many times.  It truly is motivating and really affirms how important honoring my creative self is.  

  • Art Saves by Jenny Doh...I was instantly intrigued by the title because I truly believe that I have been saved (emotionally and physically) when I starting committing myself to living a more creative life and taking risks by putting myself out in the world artistically like applying to juried art shows, opening an online shop and submitting my work to be licensed with some companies.  The book is great because it features many different artists and what they do to share their art with the world and how it healed them or how they help to heal others through their creations.

Now I know I said I have quite a collection growing, and I do, but I'm just going to share these three with you today.  I'm wondering, what is your favorite art book?  Maybe I already have it, and if not maybe I "need" to add it to my inspirational collection.  Thanks for visiting today.  I'm looking forward to hearing about some of your favorites.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

February Love...Giraffes

Not sure what it is about them, but giraffes are my favorite animal and I hope to travel to Africa someday to be close to them in person.  There is a resort called Giraffe Manor where the giraffes roam the property and according to the website, they even poke their heads in the building to say hello.

above photos:  Giraffe Manor website

I'll be honest, I do worry that it will be hard to accomplish financially, but I truly think it will be an amazing experience connecting with these beautiful and peaceful creatures.  Maybe this needs to be a "formal" goal in which I make a serious plan to get there by a certain date instead of assuming it won't happen!

© Jill's Dream Artwork
I've also used giraffes as a few of my painting subjects and one is actually licensed with the company Oopsy Daisy Art for Kids which is a huge honor.  Her name is "Bright Eyes" and the original is hanging in the bedroom of a sweet girl named Haley who also adores giraffes.

Lastly I have to share this goofy-looking little baby giraffe that puts a smile on my face anytime I see her.
photo source:  http://www.omgsocute.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Baby-Giraffeased.jpg
Isn't she sweet?  What would you name her if you could?

Sunday, February 3, 2013

February Love...Water

My intention to share things I love this month will help me stay grateful and positive through the rest of cold and dark February (I hope).  Today I'm sharing my love of the water, the sound, the feel of swimming in it.  I am drawn to it, especially that crystal clear water of the Caribbean Sea in Jamaica.  Which is actually very funny because growing up I was deathly afraid of drowning.  I still can only hold my breath for a few seconds without panicking.

Somehow as I got older and visited Mexico and Jamaica I became magnetized by it.  When we booked our trips I told the travel agent "it has to have that really clear water."  I know there are other people out there who feel that same pull of the water, a lake, an ocean, maybe even just a soothing soak in the tub.  My fountain in the backyard relaxes me and brings sweet birdies in to take a sip or a quick bath.
A warm summer afternoon captured last year on Instagram with my babbling fountain.

One of my original paintings with water, for a sweet girl; I love to include water in my paintings because it is so soothing and dreamy to me.

Lunch during Spring Break last year in Lake Havasu, Arizona.  Sitting by the water with the breeze blowing, enjoying a cocktail was heaven.  Life is just more carefree by the water.

Enjoying the feel of the water on my feet on Okauchee Lake while sitting on a friend's pier.

Our family trip to Mexico with my in-laws about five years ago...I love this shot of Shane and Bella enjoying the shore.

One of my favorite shots I took while on a glass-bottom boat ride in Ocho Rios, Jamaica.

The amazing, amazing view from our balcony in Jamaica--wow.  Seriously wow.

One more peek between some trees on the shore of the Caribbean Sea.  Can you guess why I am so entranced by the water?

I'll admit one of my deepest dreams is to live on the water someday.  I tell my husband I want to retire in a little cottage by the sea in Jamaica with a hammock swinging between two palm trees.  It's got to happen someday, right?  It has to.

I hope these pictures brought some peace, beauty and calm to you as it did for me reliving their memories.

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