Saturday, August 31, 2013


I wrote this post last night, and thought I hit publish...but in a sleepiness-induced haze, I apparently hit save hopefully it will still count as yesterday's post and I've got one more chance to win the class seat!  Anyway, here's the post:

This is the last post for the Blogalong with Effy.  I had a lot of...incidentals...come up, and I wasn't able to achieve all 30 posts in 30 days...BUT I did post a lot more than I would have if I hadn't committed to try.  So YAY!  I've thought about the fact that September has 30 days, so I may undertake my very own version of 30 posts in 30 days and try can only contribute to me being a little more consistent in my posting, right?  I kind of like that I live in a world of infinite do-overs...

And because I am a glutton for challenges, I am REALLY excited about this (If I did it right, you should be able to click on the picture and it will take you to the site...If I did it right...if not, I know the button in the sidebar to the right does work...):

29 faces

It combines my INTENSE OBSESSION with faces and my love of challenges I will probably fail at! (Haha!)  Seriously though, I am super excited about getting all that face practice even if I don't manage to make 29 faces, I'll still be happy I got the face practice in!  And since it happens to coincide with my do-over 30 posts in 30 days, be prepared for lots of face related art posting in September...

In the meantime, here is what I got done today:

"Perhaps that sly fox had not come to steal her heart away."

Yes, another page in Gregg...I am really liking Gregg so much...not that you can tell... *eye roll*  His beautiful journal-y self makes me ridiculously happy...  This anthropomorphic fox also makes me happy.  Big words like 'anthropomorphic' also make me happy.  Not having to work at my day job for the next three days makes me VERY happy!

I'm saying goodnight at a happiness high!  Happy squishes for you all!!!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

More Than Blue

Yikes...that's all I can say: yikes.  Sorry for me being so glum, my chums!  

I know that being sad/angry/upset/etc. is a part of life and all that, but I don't like to let myself get too far down before I try to pick myself up again.  Like I mentioned: especially not without a good reason for being that way.  

I'm feeling a lot better today/woke up on the good side of the bed this yay for that!  I don't know what happened exactly, but I've got the feeling of freedom flying around in my brain this morning...I feel weightless and sunny again.  I like these feelings much better!  

I do know that a big part of the reason I feel better was from the comments you all were loving enough to really do make me so happy...

Another part of it was identifying some of what was bothering me.  Even if the reasons I had for feeling blue were 'small' in my eyes, I much prefer those small reasons to having no reasons at all!  So long as there's a reason why, I can do something to change things!  When I don't know what's wrong, I don't know what to change...that's pretty stinky!  So I'm rather glad for reasons, even if they are small ones...  

Another part of me feeling better was doing some more work with Gregg.  (He really is like a boyfriend, Boo! Haha!)   I decided to use my 'blue' heart from yesterday, but make it be a happier thought instead of using it how I originally said:

It goes without saying...but I'm going to say it anyway, of course...that I LOVE Gregg.

This is so much happier than the idea I started out with!  And I got to use some of my happy mail stash in this spread, which just adds to the happiness of it all!  The blue doily on the left page is from lovely Laura E.  Thank you Laura!  I was so surprised and excited to receive the care package you sent!  (Big squishes for you, my friend!)

"I've come so far.  Mostly good happens.  But it's ok to have bad days, so long as you know that doesn't equal a bad life at all.  THE PLAN is to always remember that my precious heart is so much more than blue.  Three steps forward, two steps back is still moving your dance, kiddo."  I'm so happy Gregg had "THE PLAN" in him and I could leave it showing through!  I really like the white on the dark kind of reminds me of tribal tattoos...and I really like that too!!!
So, I did use my 'blue' heart, but in a way that reminds me it's not only blue.  I love that arrow washi tape!  I put it in to remind me that there are ups and downs and ins and outs, and that's what makes me know I'm alive!  

When I first started doing this spread, I was only going to have the middle writing on the blue page (THE PLAN part), but I was listening to this song when I was working:

And I got that line "I was so afraid that I'd come so far." stuck in my head, and I had to add it on the page too.  I was thinking how true it was for me.

I think, aside from all the things I mentioned before, part of my problem was that I've been looking around...and I really have come a long way.  I look back at my posts from when I was just starting to blog, not so very long ago at all, and I can see such a vast difference between where I am now and where I was then...artistically, yes...but even more so emotionally...such gigantic changes.   And that's such a good thing, I know!  But some little thing in my head looked up finally and realized...I'm in unknown territory!  As happy, happy as I am to be's a little scary too!  Sometimes I find myself thinking "that's what old you would do...what are YOU going to do?"  It's kind of a weird way to think about it, but all those same old mistakes I kept making...I knew what the results were going to be.  Now that I am not letting myself repeat old mistakes, I'm bound to make new ones...and new mistakes are bound to have surprising results!  Whatever that little thing in my head is...the one that suddenly looked up and saw that we're not in Kansas anymore...that little thing is kind of freaked out!

So to sooth the little thing in my head, I had to remind myself that this is just one big dance...three steps forward, two steps back.  I make enough progress (three steps forward) to realize that I want to make changes in another area (two steps back)...but that's still forward progress!  "Dance your dance, kiddo."  That's so that I remember all the steps, forward or back, are part of what makes my life beautiful and what makes me who I am.  After all, I can't just march across the stage...that's a little too Hitler-ish for me.

Everyday, I think of new ways to improve make changes I want to make...ones that will get me inline with my personal inner compass.  I don't know what the end destination is just yet.  I only know that when my compass says a little to the left or a little to the right, I'm going to dance in that direction...I guess I don't march to the beat of my own drummer...I groove to it!

It took a couple blue-tinged days, the help of my dear friends, and working in Gregg but I  realized that I am dancing along quite nicely, and that's exactly what I want to be doing.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

What's in My head Versus Reality

I've been thinking a little about that saying 'there's three sides to every story: your side, my side, and the truth.'  except for my brain got sidetracked.  What started out as thinking about the 'three sides to the story' thing turned into me thinking about the way I view things compared to the way things other words, what's in my head versus reality.

I'm one who has been blessed and cursed with a good imagination.  There are things that are REALLY great about it, like being able to 'see' the scenes in the books I read and being able to think up all sorts of things for my art journals.  I can imagine what color combinations will look like when I'm wanting to crochet a scarf in a certain pattern.  Creatively, my imagination has been a huge help to me.

But my imagination is also a defense mechanism.  All my life, when things are very bad, I've imagined myself out of those bad situations.  When I was a little girl, growing up with a father who was generally a terrible person, being able to pretend things were different was how I survived.  People always think of me as strong, but what they don't realize is that I've just got a very strong imagination...  When bad things were happening, I wasn't there...I was off in my brain in some other place.  I think this is part of the reason I don't have a lot of memories of my childhood...because I wasn't there to make memories.

This imagination of mine has stuck with me into adulthood as well.  When I lost someone I dearly loved to suicide, I concocted a series of stories in my mind so that I wouldn't have to deal with the loss.  He's not was all a hoax...he's in witness protection somewhere, alive and happy and missing me as much as I miss him.  And I let myself believe this story with all my heart, because it was so much easier to imagine that he was out there somewhere still getting to see and feel and live than to let myself come to terms with the fact that he was gone and that the last words I said to him were horrible and mean and the biggest lie I've ever told in my life.  But for as long as I let myself believe this imagined story, I got no closure.  I couldn't let go of him.  I kept waiting for him to come back to me.

And that's not reality.  I finally came to realize that it will never happen, no matter how badly I want it to.  All I was doing was torturing myself.  Sure, it spared me in the beginning, when it was all too much to deal with, but for two whole years, I let myself believe the story.  For 24 months, I sat and waited on someone who would never show up.  That's not took me long enough, but I figured it out...  And when I finally made myself let go of the pretend scenario I had created, I had a HUGE crash of grief.  Bone-shattering grief.

But something changed at that point.  Instead of having this open wound on my heart, it slowly started to heal.  I know I will always have a scar jaggedly running down the center of me, but I finally, finally let the wound close.  I didn't feel like all my life was slowly leaking out of me anymore.  I felt empty at tired and cold from sadness and anger and disappointment and all the feelings that come along with such a thing. But as the hole in my heart scabbed over, I could feel myself improving...slowly, a tiny bit at a time, I was getting better.  I know I will always have this mark, and honestly, it will always be my favorite scar, because I wouldn't have it if I hadn't loved so hard and been loved so sincerely in return.  All the other things that have caused me pain in my life, none of them had any love in them at all.  But this one, this most agonizing pain, was one I felt because there was so much love at the core.

You would think that I would have learned my lesson...that I would have realized that it's better to accept reality than to delude myself into believing lies.  You would think I could have put A and B together a little faster...clearly I have taken my sweet time about it.  Denial ain't just a river in Egypt, you know...

It may have taken me a while...a good long while...but I'm finally seeing that I need to stop my imaginings when it comes to daily life.  When a situation is bad, I need to do something about it, instead of just pretend it's not there.  I can't spend the rest of my life living in a world of make believe.

I'm not saying I'll never use my glorious imagination again...but I'm going to try as hard as I can to never use it as a way to escape from things that I don't want to deal with.  Instead, I need to be truly strong and actually deal with things.

In the midst of all this thinking, I threw myself a little pity party and made this:

"Your heart's a thousand colors but they're all shades of blue." -Gregory Alan Isakov 

I had planned on making it an addition to Gregg (I told you he was my knew obsession...), taping down the heart and writing the lyrics mentioned in the caption onto Gregg's actual page.  Because I was having a pity party, I thought these lyrics applied to me so well...  Everything is sad and blue and I'm such a wimp and waa waa waa....  

But that's not true...that's my mean imagination playing tricks on me.  I do feel sad that I've used my imagination to escape from life...but there are so many other things in my heart, good things that aren't shades of blue at all!  I've got love in my heart.  I've got friends that are so very dear to me.  I've got my nice imagination, the parts of it that help me be creative and the parts that help me look beyond the surface and see what could be with a little bit of elbow grease.  I've got a million other colors in my heart.  And just because some days they seem to be hit with a blue light, it doesn't really mean they ARE blue.  So just sit back and be quiet, mean imagination...because I don't need you or want you anymore.  

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Oh my dear...what a funk I got myself into yesterday!  And it started off so well!  First thing in the morning, I saw this beefy muscle-laden guy at the gas station who was very easy on the eyeballs...and beefy muscle-laden guys are not my usual pick...I enjoy scrawny little guys!  I want a guy that, if push comes to shove, I can take in a fight!  And this guy had freakishly large muscles...but I didn't see them in the stomach-turning, vomit-inducing way I normally would...OH NO!  This guy was making my morning as he bought his beef jerky (or whatever it is that people with arm canons like his buy at gas stations) and I got to nonchalantly peek at his cute booty...I thought this was gonna be an awesome day!  But, alas, after the gas station Incredible Hulk, it seemed to all go downhill...

The part that is really annoying about the downward spiral of my day is that there was no real reason why it took that turn.  I don't mind feeling angry or sad or upset if there's a reason...ok, that's not true, I never like to feel that way...but I dislike those feelings EVEN MORE when they're inexplicable!  And yesterday, I had no good reason to feel all grumpy and blue like I did!  

Ok...maybe one reason...summer.  Summer is my least favorite season.  I know that's a little weird...or at least I am constantly told by co-workers and friends that it's strange.  But it's true.  I wouldn't go so far as to say I hate summer...but...let's just say I don't like it near as much as any of the other seasons.  Sure it has it's good moments, but they just don't make up for the bad parts.

I stay hot all the time...boiling lava what hot flashes have been described to me as...THAT kind of hot.  When you yourself are boiling lava hot, and the ambient temperature is also boiling lava hot, you combine with it...this is how spontaneous human combustion happens!  All summer long, I live in fear that I am just going to suddenly burst into flame!  And I hate it!  I'm hot and sweaty and grumpy and I get headaches from being to hot...summer can be just miserable!  Sure you can do things to alleviate some of the heat, but having to be out amid people means that I can only take off so many articles of clothing without being obscene...or, more importantly, without being arrested.  

Worst of all, summer comes directly before fall.  Fall is my absolute favorite season, hands down, no question...FALL IS THE GREATEST SEASON OF ALL THE SEASONS!!!  So the fact that I hate to be sweaty and hot combined with my yearly eager anticipation of fall makes summer the pits for me.  

And now that its starting to be cool in the mornings, my anticipation for fall is getting more urgent!  I'm like a kid who knows they're going to an amusement park and is marking the days off the calendar...the closer it gets, the more excited I am...then I'm all over-stimulated from excitement and I start acting up!  It's not my fault...I'm just excited!

So, last night, instead of thinking about how a decent day went downhill faster than a Jamaican bobsled team, I did a little page in Gregg:

"Autumn is like a second spring when every leaf is a flower." - Albert Camus

Accentuate the positive, right?  Sure my day may have been a little blah, but soon enough it will be fall and then everything will be right in the world...the weather will be cooler, shadows will be longer, food will taste better, sleep will come more easily, blankets will be curled under, breath will be visible again, and I will once again smell the delicious smell of burning wood coming out of my neighbor's chimney...  I could make a list a mile long detailing the things I love about fall...

This morning, things are cheerfully rose-colored again.  Working on Gregg must have lifted my spirits back into a happy place.  Despite the fact that I have to go to work, I am going to stay in a positive frame of mind, even if it kills me...because autumn really is just around the corner and that's more than enough to keep me up and running...

Saturday, August 24, 2013

A Plan For A Book

I don't know if you are aware, but I have a love for outdated vintage things.  I just want to point out, however, that I'm not some lame hipster that "liked it before it was cool".  Although I did like vintage before it was least before the whole vintage-is-cool thing cycled back in my lifetime.  I have come to realize that ALL trends are cyclical and therefore, nobody alive now has liked anything 'before it was cool' because everything is a gigantic repeat...  So I both liked vintage before it was cool and did not like it before it was cool at the exact same time.  

Did I just blow your mind with that ramble?  Hehehe...  This is the kind of thinking that goes on in my head all day every brain is very random.  (Yes, it IS exhausting...)  But I digress...

Back to the original point, I love vintage things...of all sorts.  I really enjoy what I call "hideous 70s"...a lot of my favorite things in my house fit into this category.  I don't think they're hideous, I love them, but most people who see these things would say "Yuck!  Look at that hideous 70s *insert name of thing here* ."  I tend to grab what I like and I love that nothing I own's a big pile of random junk that all happens to make my random brain super happy. 

I also love old pictures...the candid daily life kind especially.  I like to make up funny stories about the people in the pictures and pretend that they are my eccentric extended family.  

I also LOVE books.  All books.  Every book.  Just for being a book.  Especially old books...but really all books... I JUST LOVE BOOKS!  

When I was a little girl, we used to go to the library in the town we lived in (Lisbon, Ohio), which was old and glorious, the Lepper Library (you can read a little history about the library HERE):

Yes...look at the how amazing it is!  I did a google search to see if I could find any pictures of it and I saw this one...(there are more if you want to see it during the day, just google Lepper Library Lisbon Ohio)...This picture does a great job at portraying how extremely magical this place was to me as a child...and how warm my memories of it are as an adult.  I don't have a whole heaping lot of good memories from when I was a kid, but this place is one of my precious few.  I can remember they used to have a gigantic lop-eared bunny named Bookmark that belonged to one of the librarians that stayed at the library during the day and you could pet him!  And I remember this library has THE BEST old book smell of any old book smelling place I have every smelled in my life.  

In part because of the Lepper Library, I have a huge amount of love and respect for all books.  I love them. I LOVE THEM SO MUCH.

I have wanted to make a book into an art journal for a long time now.  I've seen a lot of different versions of this all around the internet, and really like the way they look.  They are just awesome and I really wanted to start one of my own quite a lot.

So when I was visiting my brother and sister in Ohio and we went to the fabulous Roger's sale (it's a gigantic flea market that is also one of my precious few good memories from when I was a child)...the same day I got my STINKING AWESOME vintage typewriter...and I bought this old book and another one for fifty cents a piece:

I knew to look for a sewn binding and a cover that was in good condition...and so I picked this guy...for fifty cents, a total bargain!

Look at that!  I think it's so neat that people actually know how to do this...or did...I don't know if shorthand is still used in a practical way...maybe it's what court room stenographer people use?  I don't know if she can read this, but I know that my mom knows/knew how to read and write in Gregg shorthand.  I'm not gonna lie...I kind of want to learn it just to say I know how.  But then again, when I think about it, I am a pretty fast writer and my handwriting is so horrifyingly bad that it's basically illegible to others, so I must be very proficient in Sweet's shorthand...

I'm a reasonably fast typer...between 55 and 60 words a minute with 100 percent accuracy...(thank you, thank you, I will be signing autographs after the show... haha)...I value the accuracy over the speed...  at any rate, this book is saying that it wants you to shorthand 70 words per minute!  That's stinking crazy!  As you can see, there are practice letters in the book, so you can increase your speed through diligence.  The best thing is that there are pages of definitions for various industries that required one to know shorthand, including banking and law...but there were also definitions for automotive and aviation as well...just how many mechanics had secretaries taking dictation for them???

So I really love this's been sitting in my studio since I got back from Ohio...I've been looking at it everyday.  I open it up...touch the pages lovingly...stick my nose in the pages and give it a sniff (that's not weird!  I love how old book smell smells!  STOP JUDGING ME!!!)...caress the cover gently...then tenderly lay it down and say 'not today beautiful...not today...'  I just couldn't seem to make myself take action...I know, I know... I have issues...  But I just couldn't hurt the book...until today...when I finally did this:

I kind of wanted to cry when I first started ripping...there may have been a lump in my throat...  I said STOP JUDGING ME!!!  I KNOW it's weird!  I will be keeping these pages to use as well, so they're not going to waste.  I use ALL the buffalo when I kill it...I show it honor and respect in that way.

I just had to make myself do it.  I had bought Gregg, which is what I will be calling this journal from now on, with the sole intention of making him into an art journal.  That's the whole reason I got him!  I HAD TO DO IT GREGG, I'M SORRY!!!  I kind feel like Tom Hanks in "Castaway" when Wilson (the volley ball) gets lost at sea...

"GREGG!!!!  I'M SORRY, GREGG!!!"  *me sobbing hysterically*

But then it was all over and I was on a plane going back to the woman who had moved on because she thought I was dead.  ...oh wait...that was Tom Hanks...

What I did was make this page:

I tried my best to be respectful of Gregg...I am remaking the book with love.  I couldn't bear to cover over the copyright dates (1932, 1938...just think about all the people who touched Gregg in his lifetime!  AMAZING!)  on the left page, so I added in the date I started on remaking him and added my name to the copyrights as well.  In the end, he will be as much mine as he is yours, The Gregg Publishing Company, so deal with it!  I was thinking about how it would be poetic justice for this book to be worth a huge wad of cash if I hadn't started to alter would serve me right for viciously ripping out Gregg's pages...

I used a napkin given to me by my friend Cheryl to create the above page.  I do believe that this was one of the first care packages I ever received, and I hadn't used any of the neat things she sent me!  I was scared to use them because they are so special to me!  But I finally coaxed myself into doing it, realizing that Gregg had sacrificed his old life in order to make me happy, so if I could, I should show him just how much I appreciate it by using things that are special to me to decorate his pages.  Additionally, in M3, one of the Facebook groups I'm in, there's a challenge going on to use things other people have given you in a piece, so this is one of the things I worked on for that challenge.  I really wanted to keep it simple this time, I didn't do a huge amount of altering the napkin, and there's not a whole heaping lot going on...but I REALLY like how it turned looks kind of vintage still and I like that...I feel like it shows respect to Gregg's former life...all that good stuff...

And then again, completely different from the first page in the book and in keeping with my love of random randomness, I thought I would also add some things to Gregg's pages in this manner:

I went a little wild with the washi tape...but I like how this ended up looking quite a bit...She looks even better in real life!   I drew her with a black micron and colored her in with Sharpie poster paint markers...I still really like the poster paint markers much better than the regular Sharpie paint markers...I need to find a white one really badly and see if it's as awesome as the other colors... I am happy I added this gal to Gregg's pages...I believe there will be more of this type of addition in the future...  Perhaps some of my favorite ICAD cards that I don't know what else to do with...maybe a few of my lesser loved Happy Thoughts...the ones that no one shows an interest in...which I do have some more Happy Thoughts ready to be shared, I just need to change my typewriter ribbon so I can get the word parts pasted down...and then we'll have a Happy Thoughts free-for-all again!

I can't wait to put more into Gregg...I have a feeling he's going to be a much different style journal than my others...and I'm pretty excited about that!  

For a while, I was kind of concerned about finding 'my style'.  You you can look at art and just know without a doubt it's by a certain person.  For a while, I wanted that SO BAD!!!  I can't lie, I am still a little jealous of people who have found their niche.  I love to be able to go on the Facebook groups I'm in or be on a blog I love and say "Now that's a classic so-and-so beauty right there!"  But I don't think that will ever be me...and I'm ok with that.  I've come to see that I'm a random person...I like what I like and do whatever comes to mind... and my art journal pages will always probably be just as random as I am.  Maybe I'm wrong, and I do have a style...I know I do faces a lot, but I think they're always too different to be known as 'my style'...  I'm interested in what you all think about you think I have a style?  Can you identify my stuff as mine without knowing it's mine (and if so, how do you know)?  Or am I right and I'm totally random?  I'm interested in what you think about everything, so as always, any comments are appreciated and loved beyond words.    

I'm off now to go find some delicious and healthy food to eat...  Big squishes to you all!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The weekend...or Sweet's Last Hurrah

Saturday, Andy (my husband) took me on a short little road trip an hour or two away from the house to Greenville/Morristown, Tennessee  (I'm not sure where we actually ended up...but somewhere around there).  Part of his job includes making deliveries of construction supplies, so he gets to see a lot of the local area that he's missed, despite living in Tennessee for the majority of his life.  I get to reap the benefits of this because he comes home and says 'hey, I found something cool, let's go look at it sometime' and so I get to see the highlight reel of all the cool things in the area without too much personal effort...hooray!

At any rate, this weekend, we went to see this dam/waterfall:
Please overlook the overpass...I was trying to give the waterfall/dam thing a little perspective so you could see how big it is, but it didn't quite work out that way I don't think...  But it does show that you can see the waterfall/dam thing from the highway as you drive past...which is how Andy found it in the first place...
These pictures just don't show how big and LOUD this thing is!  It was really awesome to get to see...
On the other side of the waterfall/dam thing there is a building, which Andy got some good pictures of (he's taller, he always gets better shots than I do...)  ...I just totally forgot to have him send them to me.  I will make him do that and then post the pictures of the building, because it was really cool looking!
Does anyone know what kind of tree this is from?  I swear to goodness, my early onset Alzheimer's is kicking in...I know what this is, the name is on the tip of my tongue, swirling around in my brain,  and I just can not spit it out!  It's driving me crazy!
If you'll forgive the fact that I'm in the car barreling down the road at about 70 mph, you can see the beautiful countryside that exists in East Tennessee.  ( I really do need to make a concerted effort to stop and get out of the car and take some pictures for you guys!)  I love where I live and the surrounding area.  It's so green and lush from all the rain, and it's just got amazing views in unexpected places thanks to the mountains and valleys...  It's so beautiful!

When Andy and I first got married, we used to have little day trips like this all the time.  We'd hop in the car and go for a drive, just for the sake of driving...or for the sake of doing something.  After a couple years, though, we kind of fell out of the habit.  Sometimes our work schedules were conflicting and it made it hard...a lot of times it was simply because there were 'better' things to do.  But lately, we've taken up our little outings again and I'm so happy we have.  It reminds me of all the things I like about him.

I think it's easy to forget at times...especially for me...the good things about our spouses.  I am the most guilty person in the world for this.  I am one who loves change and being husband is the most resistant to change person I have ever met in my life.  It makes for some stress...Additionally, I have a hard time accepting that people love me...especially men people...  It's all too easy for me to forget that my husband loves me.  And honestly, on an emotional level, I have a hard time returning that love too...or at the very least, admitting or discussing the fact that I return the love.  My hospital stay was kind of a blessing in disguise.  (It was deep under cover, trust me...)  It did make me realize that my husband cares about me.  I know it sounds a little silly to say that, I mean, he married me and all that, but like I said, I forget that he cares.  He's not really a 'show he loves you' kind of guy.  But, when push comes to shove, when my back is against the wall and I really need someone, Andy has really been there for me.

What put me in mind of all that, is the fact that this weekend was kind of a 'last hurrah' of sorts.  I talked before about having to make some changes in my life...the physical type, I mean.  I have to start eating right, exercising, finish my 'quit smoking' goal...all that stuff is not easy for me.  It's big changes that have to happen RIGHT NOW.  It's all a little overwhelming...these habits are ones that I've had for the majority of my adult life...  They're things that I know have needed to change, that I've talked about fixing for a good long while, but could never seem to make them happen.  Now, they have to happen.

So this weekend, Andy suggested we go for a drive and on the way back we stop at the grocery store and buy the healthy food I should be eating.  He's also begun to monitor my cigarette intake with the strictness of an old-timey school teacher...ruler in hand, prepared to slap knuckles if I get out of control. (haha)  And he's even thinking of ways to get me up and moving...He especially likes the one where I cook dinner every night...instead of sitting down at the computer or at my studio desk as soon as I get home from work.  It's killing two birds with one stone, a tiny amount of exercise happens and healthy food gets made and eaten.

All this change is happening, and for a man that resists change so strongly, he's really pushing for it...and, after being married to the man for almost 10 years, I can tell you it's got a little bit of an invasion-of-the-body-snatchers feeling to it!  To me, it's showing that he cares about me more than he hates change...and the man REALLY hates he must care about me a lot.  I think I have been oblivious to just how much he does care...or, at the very least, forgotten the fact for a long time.

Now it's making me want to do things I haven't done since we first got married and I was trying to impress him with my wife keep the house clean.  It's kind of weirding me out!  Right now, I have the strongest urge to go clean out the cabinets in our kitchen...I mean pull everything out and scrub.  To give you an example of exactly how much this goes against my nature, the other day I pulled a pack of muffin mix out of the cabinet and the expiration date on it was April...of 2009.  (Not even joking...I wish I would have taken a picture as proof...) Yeah, I told you I was resistant to cleaning.  ...but now I want to go rip everything out of the cabinets and throw away all the old muffin mix (the 2009 one is in the trash already...I did not just put it back in the cabinet...I'm not THAT bad...) and bags of chips with crumbs in them (that one's on Andy, I don't eat chips) that have been in there for a million years and scrub the shelves and organize all the things that are left...and then do the same thing with all the other cabinets.  And then go find other things to scrub and organize...

Wanting to clean so badly is unusual for me.  Normally the only time I clean is when I am upset about something...SUPER upset.  Me cleaning things is how the people around me know I'm mad or on the verge of breaking down.  And now I'm wanting to do it so strongly that I can barely resist the urge to call in to work and start immediately...and I'm not having a nervous breakdown or anything!  So tonight, instead of doing art...or at least before I start doing any, I'm going to have to clean something.

I guess Andy will get to know first hand what that whole invasion-of-the-body-snatchers thing feels like...

Friday, August 16, 2013

I Must Be Heard

Before I got all sickly like, I had ordered a few things (literally a few...two crafter's workshop stencils, a mask and a set of masks from Maya Road, and a trial size bottle of Ranger's Crackle Accents) from Joann's online...probably the last crafty purchase in the foreseeable future.  But they didn't arrive till I was in the throws of sickliness, so I didn't get to play with them until I got out of the hospital...and even then it was just to spray some ink through my new stencils (mini fish scales and mini harlequin) and to use the big wing mask and see what they were like.  For the record, they are awesome...

I kept looking at the page with the stenciled ink thinking how much I really love the new toys...and all of the sudden I wanted to paint a face on...and not really my usual face...a SHINY GOLD FACE.  I don't know what it was about the page, but I wanted to just pour gold all over it...that's not like me!

So here's what I made:

See???  She's very SHINY...I used dylusions in the background, martha stewart pearl and metallic paints for the face, and perfect pearls for some highlighting (lips, eyes, and lettering).

So out came this shiny girl, who I have struggled to define...  She's got wings, but she's not a fairy...she's not an angel... all the shiny reminded me of some kind of ancient idol, but she's not that either.  I didn't really intend for her to 'be' anything, really just to paint a face...but when I was looking at her, valkyrie popped into my head.  I think because in my brain, a valkyrie denotes a powerful woman or a woman who is a protector...I then googled valkyrie, because I wanted to know what they really were supposed to be, and wikipedia had an interesting short little read about them (which you can find HERE if you would like).

I suppose it's kind of fitting, because this face spread has an interesting feature... I had originally done a face with my aquamarkers on the left page, but I didn't like it very much, so I just sprayed over it with the inks, thinking it would mostly be covered up...and it is.  You can see it in the above picture, if you look closely, but I only really saw it strongly when I was playing around with the Picsart app on my phone and used the "Invert" function:

See the ghostly image of the face that was?  I kind of REALLY LIKE TO A RIDICULOUS DEGREE that this other gal is secretly behind the main shiny gal.  I don't want to say my brain, it's more like Shiny stepped in front of the other girl...almost to protect her.  I don't know which one of them is demanding to be heard.  And I don't know if I'm the gal in the background, the one who needs protected, or if I'm the valkyrie that's doing the protecting, or if I'm both of these girls...  Yeah, kind of weird, I know, but all this stuff just popped into my brain as I was messing around with the photo app...what can I say...I've been on pain killers...they've clearly affected my mind... (haha)

When I started thinking about the picture, I realized that I've got an intense desire to be...coddled (?) right now.  This is not my usual way, let me assure you.  In my real non-internet, day-to-day life...I've always been the strong one.  I've been independent pretty much since I popped out of the womb, I think.  I've been held accountable for my actions, I've paid my dues, I've been there for those around me in every way it's been possible.  And I don't think there's anything wrong with that necessarily.  I know I can do things for myself, and that's a positive thing.  I want to help people if I can.  But every great once in a while, I need someone in my day to day life to be that person for me.  Don't get me wrong, the love and support from all my friends online is something I am extremely grateful for.  But I need that from the people who are around me on a daily basis sometimes too.  I don't need to be sick, in pain, and hospitalized and then have to deal with trivialities.  That's NOT ok.  Maybe, for once, I need to be cut a little slack.

The problem is my fault, at least partly.  I never ask for this.  I don't think I have ever in my life asked for someone to let me lean on them.  I know what my place is...I am the supporter.  I am not the one who needs support.  Since that's the way I've always been, that's the way I am basically all the relationships I have.  And it makes me...disgruntled...that no one seems to take it upon themselves to look at me in a different light.  But, people are oblivious...not out of spite or on purpose necessarily, but they are.  And it's not fair for me to expect them to be otherwise...nor is it realistic.  And so all of the angry feelings that are welling up inside of me right now... they're all misguided.  

If I am needing support, I need to ask for it.  I can't keep sitting still and waiting for change to happen, when it hasn't happened for thirty years...that's the definition of crazy!  So it's high time I ask for the things I need. If the support still doesn't come, then, yes, I am totally going to allow myself to be upset over it...and rethink my relationships.   But maybe I'll ask for it and actually receive it.  Maybe, if I speak up, I can be heard.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Inner Excavations Week Four

This week's chapter for Inner Excavations has been "I see me..." and deals with how we see ourselves verses how other people see us, as well as the whole 'body issues' thing.  

In a previous post, I showed the photo I used (of myself) as a basis for this painting, and it was fun for me to see what people's reactions were.  I've done this before in one of the Facebook groups I'm in too.  It's also happened to me at my job, where I talk to people extensively on the phone without meeting them...then when I finally do meet them, it's interesting to gauge the reactions.  I tend to get a lot of "That's not what I thought you'd look all...".  I get that one a lot when meeting the phone conversation type people from my work.  I honestly think that one's due to the fact that I have a phone voice that is what I like to call "high school cheerleader voice"...which does not really match my physical appearance so much.  It makes first meetings a little bit of a let down for the other person, if said person is interested in the ladies...  On the positive side, I could easily get a position as a phone sex operator if times got tough.  

I also get a lot of "cute" and "adorable" comments.  Which I'm totally good with...I mean, I AM cute and adorable!  :)  But it's taken me a really long time to come to terms with that.  One of the ladies I work with likes to tell me "Not every man likes a skinny takes all kinds."  Which, is true, although I think it comes with a little bit of pity/this-is-the-nice-thing-to-say attached when she says it.  There are totally guys out there who think thin girls are grody and thick girls are made for cuddling.  I'm married, so their opinions are pretty much meaningless for me either way.  But they ARE out there my single thick girls...way more than I realized when I was a single don't lose hope! 

Three years ago, when I first stared at the job I'm at now, before anybody really knew me/knew I was married, I had three separate incidences of guys being interested in me as a...'lady friend'...bow-chicka-bow-wow.  It was the craziest thing that ever happened to me.  I think mostly because I am oblivious to flirting. You basically have to honk a boob or try to suck on my tonsils before I realize you're being anything more than friendly.  So I never really think people are flirting, I just think they're being nice.  But these were pretty direct advances that even oblivious ole me could pick up on... 

I was telling my sister about my experiences right after they happened (because they kept getting progressively more...forward...and if there had been one more, he would have had to just pull out his wiener and slap me in the forehead with it for it to be any more "forward" than it was) and I remember that the thing I was most surprised about was that 'these guys don't even know me'. 

As I told my sister, I am, and have always been (except for the year and a half of being a skinny girl when I was 19/20 years old), the kind of girl that is friend first, building into more.  ALWAYS.  I mean, I'm not a hideous beast monster or anything, but I'm no prize pig either...and I tend to win dudes over with my personality.  (My personality is really sexy! haha)  I don't just catch somebody's eye when I walk past them!  I'm not that girl!  But here were three different instances in close succession which told me otherwise!  And I was kind of freaked out by it!  They were messing with my reality!  

This was part of my sister's response, directly quoted out of the email she sent me when all this happened (I keep the really important ones!  My sister is a wealth of knowledge/info/hilariousness!): "Obviously, you are not as physically ogre-like as you tell yourself because people do find you attractive even without [knowing of] your cunning, wit, and charm...not to mention your crafty skills..."

This was a big turning point for me, I think, regarding how I viewed myself.  Before this, I basically knew that people could 'get past' my physical appearance because (as previously mentioned) I have a good personality...but here was three separate evidences in short order that some people actually enjoyed my physical appearance!  That was an entirely new concept for me!  I basically learned that maybe that guy isn't looking at me because I have something stuck in my teeth...or a low hanging booger...or whatever.  Maybe that guy is looking at me because he thinks I'm hot stuff!  It was a radical concept for me...

I guess, more than thinking about how I see me vs. how others see me, I have been thinking about how I see me now compared to how I used to see me...because I didn't really have an accurate idea of what others thought of me at all.  I used to think of myself as plain...boring...annoying to others... an acquired taste...a total weirdo that was 'off-putting' to most people.  As I've gotten older (and possibly wiser), I've come to see that I was looking at things in the wrong light.  I'm not plain.  I'm cute and adorable!  In general, I'm DEFINITELY not boring...  I'm not annoying or off-putting, people like to be around me...people choose to be around me.  I might not be everybody's cup of tea, but for some, I'm their favorite flavor! 

The reason I say that this is more about how I see me than how other people do, when all the above things have to do with how people view me, is that, while I'm changing and growing as a person, I haven't completely overhauled my personality.  I've progressed, I've gotten rid of a lot of baggage, and I've matured, but for the most part, I'm still the same person.  Outwardly, I haven't changed a whole heaping huge amount.  But inwardly, the person I am now is vastly different.  I could have felt confident in myself all along, but I didn't.  I could have accepted (what I view as) my quirks and understood that those 'weird' ways are what make me interesting...but I didn't.  I wasn't at that point yet.  

I saw this quote a while ago that says "The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are."  I think that in my case, it should read 'accepting who you are'.  It's taken me thirty years, but I finally am learning that it's ok to be who exactly who I am.  Sure I have faults and flaws that I want to work on, things I want to improve about myself, and ways I still need to grow as a person...I'm sure I will continue to grow and evolve till the day I die...I hope so anyway.  But learning that, overall, at the heart of everything, who I am is just fine, that it's something to be proud of...that's been a real privilege for me.

And so here's the finished spread for Week Four of Inner Excavations: 

"I move forward.  I look at the past with love.  I will not look back with regret, because regret will only hold me back and I am determined to press on.  I am a work in progress and I am moving forward all the time.  Nothing can stop me.  I am a constant work in progress..."  The "I move forward" and the part on the left page are both stamps, the rest is just my (attempt at legible) handwriting.  The "I move forward" letters didn't show up well (there are pretty designs in the letters in the actual stamps)  so I went over and colored them in so that they would stand out.  I like that they are so BOLD! 

Thanks to Mo and Pamikins for the help with the journaling on this.  They both hit the nail on the head with their suggestions, and I really like the message combined with the painting in this.  It makes me super happy!

I did make a few changes to the face in this, including adding some shadow to the hair and changing the nose.  Thank you to Bibi for the suggestion about the nose, I think it is much improved now, and thank you to  Raine for pointing out the angles being worked out much better with that new photo as a reference for the shading.  Now I feel like I've got two new tools in my arsenal of face making skills for the future as well!!!

I had written a lot of this post before the whole hospital stay happened, but just finished it up today.  I am still pretty puny, but am feeling even better today than I did yesterday, so fingers crossed that I will continue in the upward direction!  Thanks for all the well wishes and sweet words from yesterday's post.  I promise I will get back to all the comments, it's just gonna take some time, but I don't want you to think I would forget!  I am sending squishy love in all directions to meet each of you. <3

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Please Don't Bury Me...

Hello, my darlings.  

It seems I have blamed the dentist for my pain a bit prematurely.  

Instead, I should be blaming acute pancreatitis, a fatty liver, and the overuse of ibuprofen.  And it took two trips to the ER and a nice hospital stay to come to that conclusion.  Along with several bags of fluids, morphine, and a few other drugs.  

Do these hospital bracelets make my wrist look fat?

I'm ok now, just tired and a little sore.  Feeling better a little at a time.

On the short term, I've got to take it easy for a while, eat the bland foods, take my medicine, and all that.  On the long term, it looks like I'm going to have to make some changes, and make some better choices, if I don't want to end up back in the hospital for the same thing again and again.  Be more active, watch what kinds of foods I eat, no more ibuprofen...the list goes on...

I'm a little scared/frustrated about the financial end of it.  I can't even think about it at this point.  The only thing I can say is I guess they can't take what I don't have and I'll do my best.  *sigh*  People should not have to pay money to be healthy.  Oh well, we will persevere, right? :)  It looks like no new art supplies for a while though...ha ha.

I just wanted to give you a little update, let you know I'm still kicking so far and that I hope to be back on my artsy feet soon.  And because I don't want to be all doom and gloom, I'll leave you with something funny:

Friday, August 9, 2013

Teeth Are Evil

Good day to you lovely peoples.  So my efforts at 30 posts in 30 days have been thwarted by evil teeth.  Evil, evil, evil teeth.  I hate them thoroughly at this point.  Also the pain medication is hated as well.

I had an extraction (so long last jerk wisdom tooth), got a crown and got SEVERAL fillings...and by several I mean every tooth in the lower right side of my mouth...which is the side they were working on.  Sadly, I have three more sides to go...  All that is horrible enough, right?  Well it is...the only positive thing is that hopefully that is the last extraction I will have to have and (fingers crossed) no more pain in the lower right side of my mouth.

So all that stuff was sucky, but the real sucky came from the awesome pain medication they gave me.  I don't know what the difference is this time, because I've had this exact pain medication many times before, and I was fine.  This time, however, I was nauseous, HOT (like a thousand degrees, no joke), so sleepy I literally slept 24 hours straight through (ok, one bathroom break in which I called in to work but other than that sleepy time) and then no food because of the nausea and the sleeping.  And now my stomach feels like I'm's pretty I quit taking the pain meds, because I'm not a wimp, so now my teeth hurt a little (I can deal with that, they've hurt for a LONG time) but my stomach is still giving me fits.  I honestly think the medical world is against me at this point...

In my drug induced stupor, I made this drawing of my lady tooth:

This is my evil lady husband asked me why I drew a woman with a sandwich for a's a tooth Andy!!!  But she kind of does look like a sandwich....You try drawing a lady with a tooth for a head in a drug induced's not easy!  Your tooth lady would probably look like a sandwich too...

The really stinky part of the whole thing is that I've had to use a lot of vacation days (at least I have paid vacation..) this week.  I hate to waste sick days on being sick!  Usually, I try to power through...I mean, if your going to suffer being sick, you might as well suffer in a place you suffer at anyway, right?  But there's no way I could have shown up at work and been drooling on my desk and trying to have cohesive conversations with my co-workers and done a good job at my I've called out everyday since Tuesday afternoon when I had the work done.  

The good thing about it is that the people at work KNOW I'm sick because I NEVER call in.  You guys know I'm sick because the tooth lady is the only thing I've worked on since Tuesday.  I haven't arted, I haven't blogged, I haven't worked...  I've slept, complained (sorry husband...and thank you for being so cool about my whiny ways)  and I've watched TV.  That's how my husband knows I'm really feeling bad...I've been watching TV when I wasn't sleeping.  I am not a TV watcher at all.  

Right now, I'm watching Live! with Kelly and Michael...but Kelly Ripa (I think that's her name) is not there, Nicole Richie is filling in.  I'm not  a Kelly whatever her name is fan, but I think Michael Strahan is hilarious.  Also, he has gappy teeth, which if you've read my blog for a while, you know I have gappy teeth as well.  And yes, I have a Michael Strahan level of gappy teeth.  A REAL gap, not some cute little sissy gap, a cute Michael Strahan gap!  He was talking about "preserving" his "pretty" by getting facials earlier in the show, which made me laugh and laugh...but it could be that the pain meds have not worn off completely...I don't know for sure...

At any rate, I am clearly off my game because of the TV watching and the non-arting, non-blogging ways of the past several days.  I haven't even turned on the computer to check on my internet pals!  I miss you all!!! 

But I must be starting to feel a little better because here I am today... on my husband's laptop (...don't tell him...he'll be mad...) in the living room, checking in...letting you know I'm still not dead...and apologizing for not getting back to all the comments from the past couple days...I'm going to try to get up and get moving and get on my actual computer with the mouse I can use (I hate the stupid touch mouse thing on the is my enemy...not as much as my teeth are, but it's a close race..) and the not flat keys like the laptop has (you have no idea how bad I am at typing on the flat many backspaces and deletes I've lost count...) and catch up on the comments I've missed.

That's all I can muster for now, Pals...I'm off to find something soft to eat and hopefully pass out for a while and then get back to those comments.  I miss you all!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Work in progress

First, I want to jump for joy over the fact that when I got on Blogger this morning I saw that you guys have made me hit 4,000 page views while I was not looking!!!  It was 4,046 when I looked at it!  You made my day first thing this morning!  I am trying to think of a giveaway for when I hit 5,000 and if I don't come up with something soon, I'll run out of time!  You all are making this happen REALLY fast, so THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! 

Because I'm scared I'll go to the dentist today and get all drugged up and forget to post, I figured I better do something before I head off for the day...  And since I don't have anything finished to share just yet, I thought I'd share a work in progress that I've got going on.  This is my paint over collage that we learned about in Book of Days with Effy Wild.  I am using it for my next Inner Excavations spread, so instead of a picture from a magazine, the picture I started with is one of me:

Gratuitous bathroom picture...also, I totally crocheted that cowl!  

And here's what I've got so far:

My nose is giving me fits...and the hair...I ALWAYS have trouble with hair...

I really like the face overall!  And for some reason, I am LOVING the really strong colors!  They make me super happy, and they're not colors I'd pick usually I think...especially that background color...but I like it a lot...

I'm trying to think of some kind of quote or journaling to put in the background...something about being determined maybe...I think the face looks very determined/set on a goal of some kind.  So if you have any ideas, I'd love to hear them!  

All right, now I've got to run or I'll be late...  When you hear from me again, it will be from a mouth with one less tooth and, hopefully, a mouth with 1/4 less pain than when I started!  Yay!!!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Gratuitous Cat Post

I had a little something unexpected come up today, so I got home pretty late.  When I walked in the door, I realized the cat (her name is Snick) was laying on my desk AGAIN.  I had just been talking about this with a couple of different awesome internet buddies, so I grabbed my camera to document...  Snick never gets on any other surface in the house...doesn't even attempt it, but for some reason, she thinks my studio (that's right, I call it craft room NO MORE!!!  I feel so fancy when I say my studio...) belongs to her...especially the craft desk.  Sometimes she throws up on my work...I call it constructive criticism, but honestly, she's hurt my feelings with her critique...especially because of the cleaning up part...

At any rate, I thought I would give you some insight into the mind of Snick:

*Yawn*  What a good nap I had...I feel so rested and ready for anything...I think I'll plan my day.... What to do?  What to do?  La la la...

La la la la la....I'm so comfy...Human Mom Woman is so nice to make this colorful bed for me...  I really must thank her with a nice chipmunk on the doorstep....

Huh???  What was that noise???  Oh...Human Mom Woman, it's just you!  What are you doing home from work so early...........

*SIGH/EYE ROLL*  I can never get any privacy...The Human Mom Woman acts like she owns the place or something...

At this point, I like to spray her with a water bottle to get her off the desk...just a little misting, really...  When I'm done arting for the day, I don't leave anything open that she could get poisoned or injured, but I just know one day she's going to jump on the desk while I'm in the middle of something and there will be acrylic kitty paw prints all over the house...  Usually when she sees the little mister I squirt her with she jumps down (she's a slow learner...she realizes the mister means run away, but doesn't understand that I wouldn't mist her if she didn't get on my desk...maybe one day she'll get the whole picture...).  Then she goes into what I call "KITTY ATTACK MODE" and she runs off to claw my husband.  (It's HILARIOUS!)  The funny thing is she NEVER claws me...I'm starting to think it's a dominance thing.  Since I order her off the desk, I must be her overlord...she therefore has to go assert her dominance over the lesser beings in the house...meaning my husband (and, to a lesser extent, the dog...) that she can feel good about herself...  I kind of like that idea, because by proxy it means that I am at the top of the chain at my house...I am the Queen of the castle!!!  You may all kiss my signet ring... *maniacal laughter*

I hope you enjoyed this little sneak peak into the life of my cat/the fact that I am secretly royalty... Tomorrow, your royal highness (aka me...) has to go to the dentist and have a bunch of work done, including at least one loverly extraction (so long final wisdom tooth...I'd like to say I'll miss you, but you and your siblings were a real bunch of jerks, so I'm happy to finally be rid of you all!)  I'm going to try RE-E-E-E-E-EALY HARD  to get a post in cause I haven't missed a post of the 30 in 30 yet and I really don't want to!  But we'll see where the pain meds leave me...  Therefore if tomorrow is an less-than-cohesive mess, you'll know why...

Sunday, August 4, 2013

On and on...

Words can't really express my gratitude for all the kind and beautiful comments from yesterday's post.  Every single on of them made my heart swell  with love.  You can't imagine how much you all lift me up and make me want to just give you gigantic smooches and squishes.  Thank you all so very much.

I was thinking about all the kind comments I received yesterday while I was trying to work on the spread for my BOD (Book of Days) journal.  I also had some music going on in the background, as I always do.  There was this serendipitous moment where I stopped working and looked up at the computer, still having the comments from yesterday's post on the screen, and my eyes landed on my lovely Pamikins comment where she wrote: "please understand, your legacy will live on Your art speaks volumes, it will always live on" (What a HUGE compliment!)  and the song in the background was playing and the lyrics were "She's still got infinity ahead of her".  And I stopped in my tracks, poured some gesso over the page I had originally started and began working on this:

"She's still got infinity ahead of her..."  napkin, Dylusions, stencils, die cuts, Silks acrylic glazes, glittery border stickers, Aquamarkers, and shimmery (I wanted to call it pearlescent...but spell check is telling me that's either not a word or REALLY not spelled right) acrylic paint
Also a moment of awesomeness is that I used a napkin that my darling Pamikins had sent me in a care package...I didn't realize it till after I'd glued it down, but I do believe that paisley napkin came from her!  So Paminkins, you get a whole heap of credit today!

And, to a lesser extent, this song also gets some credit:

Really, all the comments from yesterday and every day before share the credit.  I know I wouldn't be where I'm at know if it weren't for the loving and the encouragement and the keep-at-it's that folks have been kind enough to bestow on me.  I guess what I'm saying is that it takes a village to raise a Sweet Red Clover...and you all are my village.