Friday, December 22, 2017

traveling at the speed of enjoyment

in addition to thoughts on peace, other parts of wellness for me are physical in nature as well as found in changing my approach to time. 

first of all, let it be said, i work in a petrie dish of germologic proportions (elementary school).  it's not that i've never felt like i was getting sick but gratefully haven't gotten sick.  when i don't feel up to par, i check my basics:  sleep?  water?  food?  sometimes all it takes is a nap to right my outlook on life. 

when that's not enough, i reach for essential oils (clove, peppermint, eucalyptus and rosemary for wellness, lavender for relaxation, citrus for alertness).  i am completely spoiled in that i receive every-other week massage in exchange for private art lessons, but i can tell the difference that comes from regular cleansing of everyday stress and toxin buildup from my system. 

when a germ is working on me, volcano level thai chili spices usually do the trick.  then there is this little tonic i mix which tastes absolutely terrible but seems to work (apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, turmeric, cayenne pepper, ginger, black pepper and a little coconut sugar to help get it down!) plus anti-inflammatory fruits and vegetables (either my own or at vitality bowls--healthy never tasted so good). 

i've learned to let myself follow the season.  everything except for humanity hibernates at this time of year--we are the ones who push ourselves harder now than at any other time of year (silly humans!)  a body wants to move and a regular exercise routine is key (Zumba!); so also is just going along with the cold and darkness a bit by pulling in from it all.  if it's good for nature, it's probably good for me, right?

never underestimate the medicinal power of humor!  a funny movie or comedy club night of improv leaves me so relaxed and happy it's ridiculous.

and, finally, overestimating how long things will take and under-booking myself.  even just today i enjoyed the fruit of this by having time to spontaneously connect with a young man i hadn't seen since he was a child.  i wasn't too busy to have coffee with him and it was such fun to converse as adults.  i never regret being able to say, "sure, i have time..." such as the other day when a coffee time evolved into dinner or when i had allowed 2 hours for the post office line but it only took 20 minutes.  psychologically i was happier feeling like i had an "extra hour and 40 minutes".  i love being at my czech friends' home where it's ok to stay and visit, they just bring out bread and olives, look you in the eye and spend their time with you,--i love being on "czech time" because they are so very especially good at this and serve as my inspiration.   if anything, i want my "status" badge, if you will, to read "not in a hurry, has time for people." 

since life is short i also try not to do things i don't enjoy doing.  this may seem selfish, but actually ends up giving me more time to give away; being present to someone is a gift and, anymore given our times, a very special gift at that. 

going at the speed of enjoyment is sometimes fast, sometimes slow, that's the thing--it's not just about doing more or doing less--it flexes with ever-changing life, but to me it's always delightful. 

peace on earth (*and let it begin with me)

why is it that what we sing about and wish to one another (peace) sometimes feels like the furthest thing from our planet, especially at this time of year?  *this isn't meant to be prescriptive of everyone's season of life or personality, but these are some things i have noticed or experienced that are helping me sustain a deeper sense of wellbeing, the end-goal being for that to rub off on others...

-working a 4-day work week.  (i plan to continue always having meaningful work and routine both now and at age 65 and beyond) and one way to do that is to work a little less along the way.  this gives me purpose and also a day to rest and make art...a day to do life stuff (everything from laundry to oil changes)...and a day of community. 

-truly loving counsel.  we all need encouragement, but we also need the love that comes with being told how un-wonderful we can be.  the people i most admire are those who are so deeply in touch with themselves (the wonderful and the ugly) that their ego no longer needs to be front and center.  they exhude the sense of living with something bigger than themselves at the center.  this frees them to care more about others instead of being paralyzed by caring about what people think of them.  they take life seriously, but never take themselves too seriously.

-surrender.  when we have our own little kingdoms to keep intact and images to project, no wonder anxiety reigns.  the most truly peace-filled people i have met have nothing to lose.  they put energy into controlling themselves instead of circumstances and seem happier in general.  the more they learn, the more they listen. the more confident they are, the less they need to be right.  beautiful.

what have you noticed or experienced that helps true peace reign in your life?

Thursday, December 21, 2017

black's beach commission

this was an amazing commission experience!  working from a photo of black's beach, i got to paint on two 2'x3' aquaboards (from blick) which are dreamy to work on.  so dreamy, in fact, there is no going back to regular canvas. 

aquaboard can take any and all medium and allows you to layer with unprecedented depth and richness, adding and removing washes with flexibility and ease.

as a water-lover, i painted the wave first, wanting it to have energy, light, and motion.  i started with gouache watercolors for opaque texture, adding acrylic, outlining in ink, mixing iridescent medium in, and finishing with silver and gold leaf foil for shimmer.  we decided to split the picture in two, for a total finished piece of 3'x4'.

i worked in segments, anywhere from two to five hours at a time in the evenings for a total of about thirty hours of sheer enjoyment; layering and watching it gradually come to life.  i truly love making something unique for one person at a time, working with their style and personality to achieve a unique creation together.

for more about commissions and custom orders, please see the "studio lark" portion of my website and follow the email link.  i would love to design something just for you in 2018!

a very musical december

it started with the advent lessons and carols service at trinity episcopal cathedral downtown portland.  and it only got better!  next the little wedding chapel in canby hosted michael allen harrison and his soulful entourage. 

after that, a sold-out josh garrels concert opened by the sing team.  the arlene schnitzer concert hall hosted an also sold-out lindsey stirling concert with alexander jean.

then i'm looking forward to dannygirl. 

for tour dates, tickets and information:  trinity episcopal, michael allen harrison, josh garrels, the sing team, alexander jean, lindsey stirling, danny girl

what music have you most enjoyed this holiday season?

Wednesday, December 20, 2017


we interrupt this season of deep thoughts and frantic activity to bring you a word from our fashion sponsor.  today's message is brought to you by greta gerwig (actress, play write, screenwriter and director).  before she was any of those she was a girl trying to find her identity and style.  in the latest vogue edition, she writes,

"...i also knew it was about boots.  a nine-year-old has no business having boots--but i decided i had to have some.  a woman stands differently in boots.  her weight moves into the earth.  she's ready for battle.  in boots a woman is going somewhere.  she's ready to run.  she's out, she's gone."

Thursday, December 14, 2017

my year in books

it's said that we are what we eat and i would add, "we are what we read"'s my year in books, tracked courtesty of goodreads!  lanette's 2017 list of books (this link works if you are on goodreads); the graphic organizer it provides is rather fun.

according to my 2017 collection, i read 20,000 words (74 books), the shortest of which was "now" by antoinette portis and the longest being "a love song and a riddle" by my friend robin lawton.  the most popular book was "glass castle" by jeanette walls (read by 717,725 others) and the least popular being "the diary of samuel pepys" which apparently only one other person besides myself read this year (perhaps the same person who loaned it to me?)

the highest rated book on my list is "gracelaced" by ruth chou simons.

and now, to start the pile for 2018...

Monday, December 11, 2017

how to be a canadian, eh?

 i saw this book and laughed out loud, EH?  because i am canadian (at least dual citizen, my dad is the true canadian of the family). 

do we like maple syrup?  yes!  and do we love hockey?  you bet!  he and i went to the annual winterhawks teddy bear toss game and had to wait until the second period (note to all those football fans out there, in hockey it is not called quarters and there are not four of them.  i know this may be hard to compute, but there are only three periods in a hockey game, but chances are, more than one fight) in order the throw the bears. 

hockey is usually low-scoring, and this game was no exception at only 2-1 (we lost against the everett silvertips).  portland had a whopping 43 shots on goal; both goalies were just that good.

being peace-loving folks, we don't love it for the fights.  we love it for the speed, the slice of skates on ice, the lights, the crowd, the strategy.  and, in this case the charity.  when the hawks score the first goal of the game, the entire memorial coliseum throws stuffed animals onto the ice for local children's hospitals. 

rumor has it seattle is going to get an NHL team (winterhawks are junior league, just 16-20 years old).  wouldn't that be something? 

so, i will leave you with this.  how do you spell canada?  C-eh?-N-eh?-D-eh?  proud to be one.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017


this is a beautiful book on so many levels:  "gracelaced:  discovering timeless truths through seasons of the heart" by ruth chou simons.

not only do the images and paintings have an authentic hand, but the truths they are communicating are beautiful as well.

simons, with a fine arts degree and great skill in writing, found her life unfolding in ways she didn't expect when she married and had six children.  she makes time to paint and to live an intentionally creative life with her family and the results are truly filled with grace.

it inspires me to think about creating a book of hand done images, paintings, quotes, poems and photos.  stay tuned...

advanced reading copies

to think i have lived 43 years and not known about being an advanced copy reader!?  granted, i have been a staunch supporter of local libraries throughout that time.  and find it extremely important for some unknown reason to let people know that i've never had an overdue book or fine.  (not that it needs to go on my tombstone or anything, but still i'm not sure why this is so important to me, other than that i am a rule-follower and CDO, which is OCD but in alphabetical order).

i have a huge pile from the library right now and after those are renewed and tidily turned in, i shall read on to the awesome pile given to me by an advanced copy reader i know.  these, as i understand them, are book copies that are not yet for sale and are, as yet, unedited.  they are not able to be resold, but i can read them at leisure and then *give them away at will.

*this also goes against my nature because when someone loans a book to me, i am very CDO (see aforementioned) about returning it to them in the same condition it was borrowed.  so to be told i can just give the books away, well, it is fun but takes some getting used to.

now i just need to figure out how to get paid to read...

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

art *teachers (hate) glitter

*speaking strictly for myself, i'm not a big fan of glitter.  this is not to say i don't like the effects of glitter; the sparkle, the shiny, the bling, i do.  it just gets everywhere.  teaching, in part, is all about anticipating all of the possible things you have never even thought of that children will do with ordinary objects other than their intended use.  sometimes this is called genius.  other times, i call it mess.

my tune changed, however, when i had the opportunity to substitute in pre-kindergarten.  focusing on keeping these sweet little people's schedule as normal as possible, i remembered the teacher's invitation for me to come up with an art project.  so we made positive-negative space snowmen with dot paints.  we read christmas stories.  we did the pledge of allegiance (i resisted the urge to work into it a line about not using glitter). we had snacks and lined up our recess boots and changed the calendar from november to december.   and then, it came, the question i had been hoping to avoid, "mrs. art (my name from them because 'i love art so much i must have married it') when we make our ornaments, can we use...glitter?"

the face of a sweet four-year-old was looking up at me through his spectacles and i just couldn't say no.  rummaging through the supply closet, i came up with some green glitter as well as quick thoughts on containment theories.  they glued onto their christmas tree ornaments, i glittered.  we sang a little glittering song.  i started to smile, a little at first, and then broadly, as they sang, "shake shake shake the glittering tree..."

while shaking the container, i thought about how earlier in the week while doing a project (not involving glitter) a five-year-old had looked up at me and said matter-of-factly, "i am a cancer survivor."  i stopped what i was doing and knelt down to invite him to tell me more.  "well, i had cancer once, but i beat it!" he proclaimed.  "that is important," i said, "i'm so glad you beat it and thank you for telling me."

because you never know what mess a small person (or big person for that matter) might be dealing with.  surely a little extra glitter in their life couldn't hurt?

light of the world

i am so grateful that this painting and artist was shared with me, especially for advent.  "light of the world" by william holman hunt, was painted in 1854.  hunt, who loved to draw when he was a child, always wanted to be an artist.  his parents discouraged this, instead pushing him towards a "real" profession, so he took drawing lessons at night.

he was befriended by dante gabriel rossetti, a british poet, illustrator, painter and translator who founded the pre-raphaelite brotherhood in 1848 with hunt and john everett millais.

this painting immediately captivated my heart.  upon closer inspection, i notice that he is depicted as wearing two crowns, one of thorns and one representing his kingship.  His knocking upon the gate can only be responded to, as there is no handle on the side facing Jesus.  it is a liminal space (or thin space in celtic spirituality) that bears the invitation, as the stars and early sunrise show the time when night is turning to day, darkness to light.

Monday, December 4, 2017

an episode of sparrows

an episode of sparrows

dusk is more than darkness signified
it is the—hush, now—time of day
when i am surprised again
that the trees, black with sparrows, sing

so through my open window
i have pause to hear their thundering

the severely gathered chatter
slowly eases into song

then silence

and now the
night can

(this is a copy of my poem that was recently selected to be part of the Multnomah Arts 2018 collection as well as copied and available in the public poetry post)