Friday, March 30, 2012

I am all these things

and so are you.

Earlier this month, Doodlebugheart held a one-night workshop for our local Newcomers group.  We had a smaller turnout that we originally expected.  My knee-jerk reaction was to be disappointed (turns out my adolescent angst is still lurking nearby: "Nobody likes me!!") but then I realized it actually gave us the opportunity to have a more intimate gathering.  We decided to hold it in my home instead of the YWCA, which not only gave it a cozy, relaxed vibe, it also gave us the option to drink ourselves silly.   Emily and I also decided to change the exercise.  The original craft we had planned would have been fun for a large group, but having only a handful of people gave us the opportunity to make it a more meaningful, individualized exercise. 

It was not the evening we had originally envisioned.  But instead of feeling like it was a failure, I ended up feeling like it was a gift.   It was an evening that was soul-filling.  Full of laughter and honesty and wine and chocolate and crazy delicious food and tears and bonding and heart.  It was absolutely special and I feel privileged to have been a part of it.

The new exercise we chose was one from our Wishing Well Weekend Workshop.  Everyone had a stack of index cards with each person's name at the top, and we asked everyone to write a minimum of 5 positive things about that person, either that we knew or intuited or observed.  Not everyone knew each other, but it's remarkable what we grasp about people at a deep level after a very brief time.  Everyone seemed to have an easy time filling their cards with statements about each person they were writing about.
Proving my own point, I had agita about the fact that you can read my cards.

After collecting all the cards with our names, we read them out loud.  We read, out loud, in front of each other, all of the beautiful, powerful things about us that are so obvious to other people.  The incredible thing is how difficult it is to do this part of the exercise.  Although we can't wait to read the cards in private, having to own up to the truth of who we are in front of others, to claim all our beauty and power, is scary and embarrassing and difficult.  Some people cried, some read quickly and with detachment, some of us laughed, all of us were moved.

Women seem to find it so easy to focus on all the ways we fail, all the ways we don't measure up, all the ways we are lacking.  We seem to find it so hard to own the truth of our own strengths and gifts and successes.  It is so easy and obvious to others, even strangers can write down amazing truths about us within minutes of meeting us.  But it is so hard for us admit to ourselves, much less to speak of publicly.

The treasure box I decorated.

The last part of the exercise was to decorate a small box we had given each person, and then to roll up your cards, tie them with a ribbon, and nestle them inside.  To create a beautiful home to store the treasure of the truth of who you really are.

I wish I had photos of all the boxes--they were sublime.

I hope you will be able to come to one of our workshops and experience this powerful exercise for yourself.  Until then, I hope you will allow yourself to see and claim the beauty and power within you a little more today.  You are all these things.  I am all these things.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Short Cuts Aren't Cheating! (right?)

Only 2 days until ArtFest. I'm working today and tomorrow: no way I can get my Artist Trading Cards done on time. arrr! Other people have, like, 100 trades to give. I don't.
ATC's to trade at ArtFest!
I have 24. And I only have that many because I took a "short cut". That's not cheating, right? I took some pages out of a small visual journal that I started ages ago, but never really took to loving. I cut up the pages and made them into cards. That's fair, isn't it?
Closer view of ATC's
Each one got individual attention, paint, sewing, some words, some drawing. And, I figure when I run out of these, (there's only 24 after all!), I'll give my business cards. It's still my art, even though it's printed by a manufacturer... that's not cheating. Is it?
Moo business cards

Friday, March 23, 2012

Popped my bubble

If you've got some, send it to me.

Having children has taught me so many things.  Say, for example, that I am incredibly easy to irritate.  My children irritate the crap out of me.

Today they both had school, and although I had a really busy day, all my activities were made miles easier without having to wrangle them in and out of the car or to corral them while simultaneously attempting to focus on my errand.  Nevertheless, I do look forward to pickup time, and that one sublime moment--when they first spot you and their faces light up, as they barrel toward you joyfully yelping "MOM!" and tackle you with a hug--that one moment makes the other 99,999 irritating ones worth it.  Pathetic from a statistical point of view, but true.

Spring bestowed a gorgeous day, sunny, about 75 degrees, and I had grand visions of us frolicking outside like a family from a granola bar commercial.  I had sidewalk chalk.  I had tricycles.  I even had a freakin' bubble machine, folks, that spewed automatic, prolific, perfect bubbles that wafted across the yard.  Only thing missing were the swelling strings in the background soundtrack that would accompany our beautiful, picturesque, Pottery-Barn-Kids-catalog Perfect Spring Day In The Backyard.

Sunshine!  Let's go outside...and be irritable!

Spoiler:  HAHAHAHAHAHAndNOit didn't go quite like that.


We started with the nifty bubble machine.  I mentally congratulated myself on the $12 genius decision to buy the automatic bubble maker instead of huffing myself red in the face with those weeny little wands that come in the bubble solution and drip all over you.  I envisioned happy smiles, joyful laughter, an extended chunk of leisurely entertainment as I relaxed on the steps watching with indulgent smugness.  Instead, there were repeated head-on collisions as they both raced around trying to catch the bubbles, resulting in crying and finger-pointing and dramatic falls to the ground and cries for ice and bandaids.  There were arguments over who got to turn the machine on and off.  There were meltdowns over who got to catch that bubble.  After a few minutes of this, I announced we were done with bubbles.  So we moved on to chalk.  Which consisted less of drawing and more of them throwing the chalk and me asking them to stop and them throwing the chalk and me saying to stop and them throwing the chalk until it splintered all over the driveway and me yelling to stop.  After a few minutes of this, I announced we were done with chalk.  So we moved on to tricycles.  Which consisted of arguing over who got which trike and then the Youngest spending the whole time crying if I didn't help her go and the Oldest being jealous of Youngest getting all the attention.

Before Chalkageddon began

About this time, I announced we were all done with outside and marched both children inside, plopped them in front of the tv, and debated about whether it was too early for a glass of wine.  (It wasn't.)

After a few deep breaths and a few deep drinks, I reflected on why my temper rose so much.  They are a 2 and 3 year old, did I really expect them to not run into each other when looking up and chasing things?  Sidewalk chalk is very cheap, we could destroy a box a day without denting our budget.  Learning a new skill, like riding a tricycle, can be scary and frustrating, so of course you would want your mom's help and attention.  And how hard is it really to run over to see whatever bug Oldest is exclaiming over so she won't feel ignored?  I basically was really mad at them for

I guess I was mad that it wasn't the picturesque, easy, clean, afternoon I had envisioned. That we weren't a perfect commercial family.  Instead, we are three people who love each other and push each other's buttons, who get mad at each other and forgive each other, and then go cuddle on the couch and watch tv while one of us regrets her irritability and drinks wine.

Sigh.  There's always tomorrow.  Of course, I will probably still be really irritated, but there's always tomorrow.

Monday, March 19, 2012

A Year of Art Prompts

It's a gorgeous, sunny 72 degrees outside: 72!! I can't sit at my computer and think and type today, really, I can't!
So I'm quickly sharing with you these super fun journal prompts I found today on Created by Belinda Spiwak & Friends, they are once-a-week ideas for you to use in your journaling. The artist that told me about them has printed them, cut them into individual strips, and put them in a jar. She's randomly pulling them out to see what she gets.
I think I'll do that too... whenever I come back inside!

A Year of Art Prompts:
**What's new?**
Doodlebugheart it moving to Larchmont, NY! Come play with us Sunday, April 29.

We're celebrating, so there will be champagne, chocolate, chips and salsa, and *free gifts*! There will be crafts available and a special give-away. Drop by and say hello!
Sunday, April 29, 2:00-5:00 
3 Highridge Road, Larchmont, NY  10538

Friday, March 16, 2012

Hope and Spring

“Hope” is the thing with feathers
By Emily Dickinson

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune--without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

Spring is inching out. A few intrepid flowers bursting forth, brazen, possibly foolhardy.
Sunshine and splashes of color help lift the spirits, as do little girls' gasps of wonder, "Mommy, the flowers! They came!"

Grudgingly, I feel hope and joy flutter in with spring. Barren winter giving way to renewal, blossoming.

Time to look past loss and embrace the new.

What brings you hope?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Out of My Comfort Zone

For 17 years, my wrist has only moved "so far". In 1994, I was in a car accident, badly smashed the beejeetles out of my wrist, and when it healed, it solidified shattered pieces and set: I could move my wrist about 40 degrees. So last November, right before Thanksgiving, I chose to have surgery to fix it.

Three months, two casts, and a whole lotta pain later, it's moving. Better every day. But every single day, it wants to stop at the old spot. I have to work it, push it, and make new muscles to force it move the whole way -- the old ones atrophied a long time ago. And my torturist physical therapist keeps saying to me, "Go out of your comfort zone!"

In art, this is my comfort zone: 9" x 12" collage:

This large 24" x 30" painting is not!

I can fill book after book with collages -- and I do! But this painting business? It's hard! I just finished a 5-week e-class with the uber creative beauty Flora Bowley and it was a struggle going out of my comfort zone. I didn't like not knowing intuitively or otherwise, how to paint. I hated having to "trust" that it would all work itself out into what it was supposed to be. I can do that in my comfort zone, easily. But out of it? Wrist and art be darned. It's hard!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Cusp:  a point that marks the beginning of a change.

I am on a cusp.  My family and I are moving, and my half of Doodlebugheart, by necessity, goes with us.  So Doodlebugheart is also on a cusp.  This is scary, albeit most likely a positive change.  Things will be different.  Things will have to change, whether we want it or not.  We teach about transitions in Doodlebugheart, so now we have to practice what we preach.  We will be evolving and growing, with all the attendant aches and pains and missteps that go along with that process.  We can promise to be honest and open about that process with you and dearly hope you will take our hand, take a deep breath, and go with us.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Freedom (just another word)

I've always cherished my freedom. Begged for it. Starved myself for it. Moved my life across oceans and countries for it. Survival Priority #1: stay free!

Then yesterday, I saw "freedom" highlighted in a new way:  as an excuse. A protection mechanism. A wall.

It's evident in the past, I have put up my wall ("I need my freedom!") in order to disengage. If I ran, I wasn't a part of the family/town/you-name-it. And better yet, if I ran in the name of "work", then I was justified in the family/town/you-name-it. But while I wasn't held accountable for myself or my actions (by running), I felt like I didn't belong.

When I worked full-time as a model, I had freedom. More freedom than I could ever imagine: I was "free" and alone on my birthday in some random city; I was "free" flying across the U.S. -- I wasn't home with family or friends, I was "free!" Later, I found as an actor in show business, freedom is praised and rewarded: "I'm free to work! I'm not married or raising a child or tied down to responsibilities! I'm free to do whatever anyone wants me to do, any time!"

My creativity, my art, and visual journaling won't allow me to do that anymore. I belong. I am a part of a community. I have an authentic voice that is heard. I have a family, a town, my very own 'you-name-it'.

Participating, showing up, being genuinely invested is connection. That's another word. One I'm striving for now.

Thursday, March 1, 2012


At the age of 4, Oldest is long past the point where she should be using a pacifier.  It is a source of parental guilt and embarrassment to me that I still allow her to have it when all the blogs and advice columns and parenting magazines admonish of the evil effects of long-term use.  I do restrict the use of the "paci" to naptime and bedtime, but I can't quite bring myself to take it away altogether.  I see what deep emotional comfort it is to her.  I see the anxiety and tension and exhaustion in her little body, and then I hand her Brown Blankie and a paci.  As soon as it is in her mouth, I see her visibly relax with relief and comfort, measurably calmer and more centered.

I wish I still had a paci.  I wish I had a Blankie and a paci that I could take and that immediately offered me a feeling of safety and comfort and contentment.  Why are we so eager to take that away from our children?  Why do we need them to "grow up" and why do we ever need to grow up so much that we aren't allowed to have items that comfort us?

I guess I do have things that comfort me.  The oh-so-cozy-but-not-exactly-sexy fleece pajamas I wear unfailingly to bed all winter.  A grande skim no-water chai tea latte from Starbucks.  Being immersed in a great book.  A Diet Coke.  My husband hugging me.  My deep, soft, warm bed.  Emily smiling at me.  A phone call from my Mom.  My kids snuggling up to me and listening quietly as we read a book.  Crafting something that pleases me.  Time alone to waste playing a game or surfing the internet or watching tv.  Mexican food.  Sharing a laugh with my husband over some endearing silliness the girls committed that day.

Simple things when I see them listed.  Nothing expensive or impressive about any of them.  Just as a paci is such a simple thing that brings such obvious immediate comfort and pleasure.  So advice be damned, I am not taking that paci away until she lets me know she is good and ready.  And don't you dare try to pry that chai tea out of my hands.  Comfort is a precious thing, and I am taking it where I can.

What comforts  you?