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Monday, December 27, 2010

Mind Games That Count

Every Christmas has its own set of memories. This year's Christmas, our first together as Mr and Mrs. Man (Superman) was beautiful in every way. It was peaceful, and I needed a heaping bunch of peaceful before my surgery this coming Wednesday. (BTW many of you've been asking the surgery time so you can pray, it's at 9:00 am. I have to be at the hospital at 7:30 am) Thank you in advance for this gift of prayer. You can read in the previous post about the surgery if you need details.

Here are some of the things I'll be thinking about before they knock me out for the surgery or in the next few days if I start thinking about things too much. I do that sometimes. I'm working on being here now. And yes, it's work. As a creative, I tend to be all over the map. Most times that's a good thing but in times like this when the 'what if's' pop in, I have to remember to tell them I'm receiving company.

So here's my happy thought list...

How much I love my family.

Good music.
My son, Jake, played a mini concert
for us on Christmas night.
I'll be hearing those notes
when the nurse asks me to count backward from 100.

Opie Taylor's silly faces. He is my feline Spirit guide.
Cats may actually have wings.
Four-legged angels with whiskers
Living right here on earth.
This is a watercolor and pen painting by Audrey Smart,
a talented artist, and personal friend, you can find here.
I cried when I opened the package
and saw how she captured Opie's goof ball essence perfectly.

Puppy Dog Balls
Yes, I will be giggling and recalling how
this 15 year old dog
can still jump higher than a gazelle,
hides from thunder storms
but wants to eat the mailman...whole.

Then there's the Bad Santa and Mrs. that surely
pinched Jackson... then smiled sweetly for the camera.
Just look at the positions of their pincher hands...

Little boys named Devin that are artists
and gingerbread train makers...

and of course double as Super Heroes.

And other blue eyed, red headed boys about to turn 2...
Could this little Super Hero clown be Emery??
Yes, this will make me smile
and be grateful every time I think about him.

Superman's joyful spirit and strong heart.
He loves me deeply.
See how he's smiling looking at me through his phone camera lens?
That's the iPhone cover I got him for Christmas on the back of it.
~He loved it~
~I love him~

And friends, so dear, I couldn't have made it
through life without...

My view right now...
is heavenly.
I am filled with gratitude,
over flowing
from my big red cup
that I hold like my heart
beating inside my own hands.
My life is full of family and friends'
the kind you want to tell Oprah about
because they're that incredible.

And now we are onto a brand new year. I'm ready. How about you? I'm not making any New Year's resolutions. How about you?

Have a listen to a perfect melody written by Jake. Happy New Year everyone.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Fleas On My Dog

Opie's singing his favorite Christmas song. Around here, we all join in singing this silly Christmas song. I've been known to sing it in at the check out line at a store. Seriously. Out loud. Try it when you're getting a little stressed out from all the things you still have to do before Christmas. Sing it in while you're circling the mall parking lot for the 13th time trying to find a parking space. It will make you feel happier, I promise. It's good medicine.

Repeat song as needed.

I just finished my first batch of Hope Rocks.
Read the post below this one
to get the info on what the Hope Rocks mean.

I recycled some rocks I had used in a fountain until it thaws enough outside for me to find some in the yard. These had a polished finish so I kept it simple and used metallic gold and silver markers by Pilot. On Monday I'm scheduled to get an EKG and while I'm there I plan to distribute my Hope Rocks. I have to get the EKG to make sure I'm ready for the surgery I'm having on December 29 to remove some nasty scar tissue in my abdomen that's been causing me a lot of pain and discomfort.

I'll admit it's a little scary, OK a lot scary. I had some adhesions removed during another surgery almost 2 years ago that had stuck my liver and intestines together but my doc said there's lots more, and referred me to a G.I. doctor. The G.I. guy told me when I couldn't stand the pain any more to let him know and he'd remove it. But after a recent C Scan he decided to refer me to a specialist. That specialist just happened to be the doctor that helped Christopher Reeves after his traumatic accident. I thinks it's a sign I will be in good hands seeing how he operated on Superman. But I'm still having some anxiety about it. I would certainly appreciate any prayers and good thoughts you could send my way.

My plan of attack for my anxiety is to use my Hope Rocks to help me get through it. On Monday while I'm at the hospital getting my EKG, I'll have a pocket full of Hope Rocks to leave in various places. I know there are people facing far worse situations than myself, and my hope is that they will receive the gift of hope when they find one of the Hope Rocks. I prayed for each rock as I drew Hope on them and visualized good things for the people who'll find them. I believe the Hope Rocks will manifest hope in their hearts and will be the answered prayer they'd hoped to receive. Giving to others when you are in pain or are hurting in any manner can help ease your own pain. I'll be humming Fleas on my Dog even though Christmas will be over.

I know Christmas will be beautiful this year. I'll be surrounded by people I love and they love me. I have so much to be thankful for. I just hit my 2 year mile marker for quitting smoking. I married Superman, my very own super hero, this year. I have beautiful grandchildren (Birdie loves each one of you!!) and beautiful children. I have the best family in the world and the most amazing friends. These are the things I will think about when I get scared, and of course Opie singing his favorite Christmas song.

There are several people playing along with Hope Rocks even though the official start date isn't until January 6, 2011!! How cool is that?! Thank you so much, Dee, Cowgirl Red, Sandy and Leisanne for joining me to share some Hope for the holidays. I can't wait to see your rocks and hear about where you placed them! Please leave a comment if you participated with me in the Hope Rocks play along so other people will know to go see what you did with your Hope Rocks.

I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas
From the bottom of my heart!
Happy Holidays, my dear friends!
See singing silly songs does give you peace.
Just look at Opie Taylor below.
Feliz Navidad!

Oh and in case everyone missed the winners of my Caption Contest they are;
Lily from Blahwg! Life on, and Off the Farm
Tera from Olive Hue Designs
Relyn from Come Sit By My Fire

I decided to award all 3 people who left witty captions. I wasn't feeling well for a few weeks and dropped the ball on asking for people to vote for the funniest ones. Thank you for playing along, Lily, Tera and Relyn. Your prize of my Poppy Love set of four greeting cards will be sent out as soon as I get your mailing addresses confirmed. Muahhhhs!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

O'Keeffiana Rocks and Hope Rocks

Superman and I were fortunate to be in Santa Fe during our honeymoon shortly after they opened the "O'Keeffiana Art & Materials Exhibit September 24, 2010 at the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum. I can really find no words to fully express the awe and amazement I felt to be there, in the flesh, looking at her work. In this exhibit we got to see her well loved, and well used, paint brushes, as well as, paint tubes of her favorite colors crinkled, and squeezed passionately by her own hands. Georgia hand trimmed each one of her brushes. She had a method of clipping individual hairs on her brushes that was unique to her personal tastes and style of painting. Plus, on display are the skulls, bones of animals and a variety of rocks that later became her subjects in her most famous paintings she found on her walks around her desert homes in Abiquiu, NM and the infamous Ghost Ranch. When you stand eye to eye looking at black and white photographs of her or watch the two short films depicting her painting, hiking, and selecting specific locations to paint, you get a sense of the magnitude of her greatness. The pencil sketches of her infamous landscapes before they became actual paintings complete the exhibit.

On the walk back to our hotel in historical downtown Santa Fe, I found a rock with the word HOPE painted on it. I carried it for awhile wondering who had painted it. Had someone been waiting for a bus, and accidentally dropped this simple painted rock on the ground? Maybe one of their kids made it for them. My mind raced on. Or did they place it specifically there in a bed of rocks upright for someone to find? What was their intent? Maybe they made dozens of hope rocks with the sole purpose of helping someone like myself feel hopeful. Because, indeed, it had. The tiny stone opened an inner dialog with myself I hadn't expected but dearly needed as I pondered the rock, the message and the weeks leading up to our encounter.

I spent the rest of the walk recalling all the times in the last 2 years I wondered if I'd ever drive on an open highway again without experiencing extreme fear. I thought back to the day we headed to Sedona less than 2 weeks before I found the hope rock. I'd gotten so overwhelmed leaving Phoenix during heavy traffic I started hyperventilating. Before I knew it, I was in a full on, warp speed panic attack. My mind raced with negative thoughts so intense I wanted to pull over and literally spew the fear out like vomit.

"Why now on my trip to marry my beloved Superman!?! I'm going to be a wreck before we even get married! I'll ruin everything feeling, and behaving, this way!" I put my head down on the console dividing the front seats, and cried softly, hoping to be heard. "Please, I just want to be me again... Please." My head spun with the all the times in the past I'd been completely shut down due to being in a car driving anywhere. My dream trip, with my dream man, and I was about to make it less than memorable by being consumed with fear from the PTSD I'd developed after the accident.

It was then I remembered who I was before the auto accident. I was the girl-woman who drove across the United States all be herself several times. Fear had never stopped 'her'! She had traveled and driven all over the United States by herself. She loved to drive. She was the girl who stood up to rejection after rejection before getting her first band together or recording her first albums. Her dreams of singing were bigger than the no's she heard many times before achieving her goals of being a singer. She was so brave, so strong. She had always fought back when life tried to keep her down. She was fearless. She had an endless supply of hope.

I wanted so much to 'be' her again. But where was she? Where was the girl who knew no fear? I needed her more than anything in that moment. I looked out the car window observing the splendid cactus and quietly recalled all the various trips she had made on the very same highway. Thinking about her began to soothe my nerves. I could sense her nearby as if in a long ago dream. Her care free laughter played in my head like a radio.

By the time we got out of the city limits above Phoenix on HWY 17N to Flagstaff, I'd finally calmed down. It was then a thought came to me. "What if I drove the car rather than be a passenger like I'd been the day of the accident? I never liked being a passenger in life before the accident so why had I now permanently designated myself to ride in the passenger seat... for the rest of my life? What if I took a chance and drove the car myself? That girl I longed to be again would have driven in this situation rather than remain a passive passenger.

Then I thought how it would give me so much pleasure having Superman sit in the passenger seat so he could see the beauty of the countryside for the very first time. I'd already seen these wondrous sights before and he never had. He was the one who should be looking out the window instead of me. It was MY turn to take the wheel as the tour guide instead of remaining the 'guided' one. Before I chickened out I found myself asking Superman if I could drive. And drive I did. Perhaps I was more of a hazard driving than I was being a gasping, crying, cowering passenger but I did it. I did it!

NOTE: For some strange reason, I have dealt with more rounds of anxiety since we got back about being in a car and I will dive into that with Dr. Ed after New Year's. But I have at least made a giant step forward. Gigantic!

Now there I was in Santa Fe, some 14 days after we left Phoenix, holding a rock with the word hope written on it. I realized I had just driven us every mile on our trip except the last 40 into Santa Fe when we hit heavy traffic during rush hour. Prior to this trip, I'd hoped one day I would find that girl again, and I did one scary afternoon, when I allowed hope to drive me one mile, then two miles, and so on, and so on...

I got a message about hope loud and clear that afternoon in Santa Fe. Hope is always waiting around the next corner for us to find it when we least expect it. It's there, waiting patiently for you to discover its virtues. It's the ribbon on the gift of a lifelong dream finally coming true right before your eyes... Hope is the job offer being better than you ever imagined landing in your lap right before the emergency funds have run out... Hope is the angel that found George Bailey standing on a bridge about to end his life in the movie classic, "It's A Wonderful Life"... Hope is the voice on the other end of the phone telling you they found your wallet and everything is still in it... It's hope that every person has had of being able to do something as magnificent as Georgia O'Keeffe did with her life...

I wonder who found the hope rock next. I left that rock on the bus bench hoping someone like me who needed a message of restored hope would find it. I visualized another deserving person rounding the corner, sitting on that bench and experiencing the gift of hope written on a rock just like it had mine. Did you notice I wrote 'another deserving person'? Sometimes I think we miss finding hope because we don't think we deserve it. But we all deserve second, third and multiple chances to find hope, don't you agree? Think about a time in your life when hope found you when you least expected it. Hold onto that thought for a moment. Feel the smile beginning to grow in your heart? Hope just rocked out in your heart. You can give that feeling of hope to another person, too.

If you feel so inclined, grab some rocks in the next few days and paint, or write, the word hope on them. Make it simple or make it totally a piece of art. There are many people who could use hope especially this time of year. Then distribute them in random places during the holiday season. You could be the one who changes a life by leaving a rock with H O P E written on it for someone to find. This could truly become the most meaningful gift you could give someone including your family. Or yourself. Why not make one for yourself? I'm making one for myself. I'm facing surgery on December 29. I need a reminder that I will be OK. I'm going to ask Superman to hide my hope rock so I can find it over and over again.

Then, on Thursday January 6, 2010, I will be starting an official Hope Rocks weekly play along that you may link back to me here with pictures, videos or articles you write about your own Hope Rocks experiences. Take pictures of the Hope Rocks you paint or decorate, and pics where you leave them. Make a few rocks each week if you join that week's play along and have fun putting them out there for others to find. I'll be posting a Hope Rocks button you can put on your blogs to encourage others to join in spreading hope to the world. I'll post details and examples as we approach the kick off date.

I truly believe we can spread a little or a lot of hope to the world in this very simple way. If you have run out of hope, perhaps giving hope to others may very well lead you to find hope restored in your own life again. Don't you just love the word, Hope?

~Hopy Holidays, everyone~
Yes, I actually wrote 'hopy'...don't you just love it???

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tuesday Through The Winter Window (3)

When I found my beloved bed frames at a
yard sale I immediately saw them
in my yard--not the bedroom.
Add some snow and you have winter lace.

The shapes I see out my window
this brisk morning in northern OH
fluctuate with movement
and rigid form.

Soft, and fluffy as cotton balls,
stacked like pancakes atop
a sleeping Shepherd's hook,
snow waits for a thaw or
a subtle wind to blow it
onward, upward or out of sight.
Today out my winter window
I hope it stays awhile.
It truly makes me smile.

Every window frames the splendor of winter.
Even where Opie Taylor, my sweet kitty, dines.
My studio is directly to the left of Opie's dining room.

Window treatments borrowed from nature
and neighbor's yards create an airy view.
This is decorating magic at its finest~

Winter bonnets on bird feeders
and slumbering bird baths
make me believe for a moment
that I'm at Disneyland.
Or in Sweden.
Or tucked inside a storybook
in a magical place only the wee ones get to see.

This morning's window brought me to a place
of gratefulness of being able to behold
the hands of God at work.
Or maybe it's play....
Yes, I'm quite certain it's play.

To see more of Tuesdays Through The Winter Window
visit Julie at The Swedish House.

Julie was in London this morning and I was surprised
to see what she saw when she woke up today.

Also, I want to encourage you to check out Creative Every Day. My dear friend, Leah Piken Kolidas, owner of Blue Tree Art Gallery, and founder of CED, is the lovely host. Leah invites everyone to come along for the journey of learning how to become creative doing every day things, in every day ways. You'll love the weekly themes she creates to help you look outside the box of limitations you may place on your creative mind. This week's theme is air. You could simply sit and mediate this week and practice being mindful of the way you're breathing. Or you could go all out and find ways to dry food in your oven. There is no pressure or demands, only encouragement from an amazing woman who loves to teach. Plus, you'll meet lots of inspirational people in the group who'll teach you ways to grow creatively, and help you see creativity is inside everyone--not just artists. It's just waiting for you to invite it to come out and play!

Join me, Leah, and hundreds of other people seeking to find ways to color their worlds with fun, with passionate joy, and with or without a paintbrush. This will be my third year to participate in CED, Creative Every Day. Come on! Before you know it you'll even find ways to bring creativity into the work place, the commute and especially the every day moments of living. Learn how to make your day a creative one, inside and out~

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

PTSD & Creativity for Healing Part Two

"Surrounded by Angels" by Lille Diane
Watercolor 11 x 14

Here's the final excerpt of my story PTSD & Creativity for Healing Part Two about how I'm using art to heal from post traumatic stress disorder I got after a bad auto accident. The story is featured on Michele Rosenthal's blog, "Heal My PTSD". Please feel free to share these links with others who may need a healing, helping hand to overcome PTSD, anxiety disorders or stress related illness. Just click on the picture. It will take you there.

(Here's the link for Part One if you missed it. Click Here.)

PTSD is not a disease that happens just to people in the armed forces, or police officers, or fire fighters. It happens to everyday people like you or myself who have experienced trauma of any kind. If you continue to isolate, or experience fears and/or anxiety about life or situations you feel are out of your control, please seek help. Michelle offers one on one counseling, support and has lots of free help for you or your loved ones. Her blog is a goldmine of resources for people seeking to heal from PTSD, depression, anxiety and stress related diseases. Her site is a safe place to begin the first steps to heal. You are not alone~

I'd love to hear your feedback on art, music, writing or any creative tools you've found that make your walk with life easier and how it's helped you. Your insights will help me & Michelle better help others. Leave me a message here or there. Thank you~


I've included some useful links in Part Two
to help you get started in using art to heal.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tuesday Through The Winter Window (2)

Out my studio window this morning.
The snow continues to fall sweetly, silently and softly.
Mr. Cardinal says, "Hello, World!"
What does it look like outside your window?
Play along with Julie at The Swedish House and me.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Joy & Peace of Cooking

You will always find this can of Love sitting in my kitchen. I have had it for nearly 25 years. The kids in our old neighborhood where my son grew up always loved coming to our house when I was baking or drying apples for Christmas treats. I'd let them help me, and before anything went in the oven, it was sprinkled with as much love as their little hands could shake out of that can. The smiles on their faces as they shook the Love can always made my heart smile. Love never dries up unless you let it. Love never runs out even if someone turns their back on it. Love waits for your to pour it on life as freely as you wish.

I am realizing more and more each day how time spent in my kitchen is good for my soul. It's good for my mind because it gives me an escape from negative thoughts I may be having due to life or an onslaught of anxiety caused by PTSD. I was told by a dear hippie friend in the early 70's the importance of cooking with love, and focusing on how the food will bless those who eat it. It made sense to me and I've never forgotten it. I do not cook when I'm angry. I can't. I grew up to become a hippie, too. I always cook with Love.

If you're having a rough time finding joy this holiday season, try making a batch of cookies for a group home or a shelter. Sprinkle the ingredients with mental love. Try this with everything you cook or bake even if it's just some scrambled eggs for yourself. You will taste the love and your body will feel the love, too.

Here's a quick and easy main dish that looks festive and tastes great!! It's a Woodstock Lily original.

Happy Apples and Sausage

Slice up a package of smoked sausage, 1 large sweet onion, 2-3 apples [don't peel but remove seeds], and 1 large red pepper. You may also add chopped yams or sweet potatoes. I prefer yams because they have more nutritional value than a sweet potato does. Drizzle the mixture with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Add some fresh oregano and a sprig of rosemary if you have it and bake at 350 degrees until nicely browned. Stir occasionally while baking. You may also add a nice touch of color and flavor the last 5 minutes with some dried cranberries. The options are endless with a dish like this. Be brave. Cooking is an adventure. Sprinkle it with LOVE and enjoy!

Next time you're preparing a meal, put the tea kettle on.
Make a nice cup of Black Cherry Tea and think of me.
I'll be smiling and sending you some love.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

PTSD & Creativity for Healing Part One

'Love Grows Here' page in my Moleskine art journal.
Ink & Prisma Pencil

I'm excited to be a guest contributor at Michele Rosenthal's, Heal My PTSD website this week. My article "PTSD & Creativity for Healing - Part One" is featured on her blog today. Click on my article title to direct you straight to the story. Part Two will post next week.

Art is without a doubt healing lives everywhere. I'm seeing the theme of art healing lives everywhere I go. I am healing, too, because I found refuge in some paints, some paper, a empty journal book, a canvas, a pencil, a paint brush and a whole lot of freedom in expressing myself in a medium that has been an outlet since the cave man roamed the earth. Art tells a story. Art is meditation. Art helps a heart want to live again. Art is soul candy. Art opens dialogs that may otherwise be hard to talk about. Art can help set the captive mind free. Art has given me, and countless others, wings to fly above problems, confusion and fears.

Michele Rosenthal has been my friend, and treasured mentor, for almost 2 years. She is changing lives and opening the eyes of the world to learn how PTSD can strike anyone, anywhere and at any time. She's been there and she understands the pain being misdiagnosed. Her story is one of hope, and how she persevered by knocking on doors until she got answers, found help and finally, became healed. PTSD can be healed. Just ask Michelle. She is shouting from the roof tops, "There is HOPE! There are TOOLS! There is HEALING from PTSD!"

I encourage all of you who've been reading my blog who may be working through depression, anxiety, fear or PTSD to tune into Michele's blog. Heal My PTSD has free tools, and help for those struggling with PTSD and for people who have family members dealing with PTSD.

This next year I'm launching some art videos to help people work through anxiety by using simple art techniques that have helped me tremendously. The new videos will also help people with day to day stress find ways to unwind creatively. Stress is the number one cause of so many deadly diseases. In the meantime, please go read my guest post. Click HERE. I'm tickled beyond measure to be Michele's guest. Thanks, Michele, and all of you who have watched me heal one day at a time. By this time tomorrow I'll be healed. This I know for sure~

Tuesday Through The Winter Window (1)

Out my studio window today.
I fed the birds, squirrels & critters my leftover pumpkins.

I'm participating in a fun, three week blog photo hop showing the views out our windows on Tuesdays during this special time before Christmas. Julie, at Swedish House, has titled this fun photo op, Tuesdays Through My Winter Window. You can take a shot of your world out any window of your house, barn, garage, shed, etc., then post a link back to her blog so we can see the beauty from other people's windows worldwide. It's only 3 weeks & easy peasy. Besides... it will no doubt fill your heart with lots of winter beauty, holiday cheer and joy as you breathe in all the beauty that surrounds us.

Let me know if you decide to do this so I can see your wonderful pics!


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