Is it really May... already? According to the bright yellow crop of dandelions making their appearance in my yard, I guess it is! Somehow in the rush of daily living, I lost track of February, March, and April. It's been a busy few months filled with family activities, a little quiet time for reading and reflection, and plenty of creative busy-ness.
Back in January, I started my journey through 2018 with two goals: spiritual reading and daily creativity. I have to admit that the reading goal took a hit during March, but I've managed the creative journey a little bit better, thanks to a good friend's suggestion that I join her in taking a watercolor painting class through our local community college. Talk about a humbling experience! My watercolor skills have a way to go, but the class was fun, I learned a lot, and I've already signed up for the fall semester.
In late January, I learned about a website called Skillshare from some Facebook group friends who were teaching classes on the site. I checked it out, took their classes, and decided to take the February "Teach on Skillshare" challenge just to see if I could do it. Found out that I could ... and I did!
I recently published the first two classes in a series I am calling "Printmaking Basics". As a classroom art teacher, I know how much my students loved printmaking, so I'm creating the series to encourage parents to bring this creative activity into their family time at home. The classes are perfect for beginners of any age, five to ninety-five. Supplies are minimal, the mess is worth it, and the results are amazing!
Click here to view this class and create your own colorful floral prints!
This happy green fish is from Printmaking Basics: Print with Markers. Using water based markers eliminates the potentially messy inks and makes printmaking an easy and fun activity for children as young as five years in age. Click the link and check it out!
Now that springtime and warm weather have finally arrived here in Ohio, I'll be spending more time in my favorite outdoor creative spaces, my flower gardens, the local parks, and the outdoor "studio" on my back deck. I'm working on two more classes in the Printmaking Basics series, so take a moment to sign up for my email updates and be one of the first to check them out!
Do you agree? Some days I think I do, others not at all. Maybe it depends on the why I'm creating whatever is on my easel or table top. And very likely, it also depends on what I'm planning to do with that creation.
Call it insecurity...call it fear of rejection...it's all part of that feeling of not being good enough, whatever that means. That's why I've chosen CREATIVITY , along with FAITH, as the two paths I'm determined to follow on my 365 day JOURNEY around the sun this year.
I'm setting aside every Wednesday for CREATIVITY... trying new techniques, exploring new materials, and just taking the time for PLAY!
In the coming weeks, I'll share a few of my playful journeys in creativity, both the successes and the less successful endeavors.
I am a fallen away reader...
The little girl who once loved to spend long afternoons curled up with Nancy Drew and her best friend, Bess, solving mysteries and having amazing adventures, has morphed into a grown woman with too many distractions and too little time at the end of the day to curl up with a cup of tea and a good book. It's time for a new direction!
I have declared 2018 the year for a JOURNEY...
Wishing you love, hearts, and lots of chocolate!
Do you make resolutions to begin the new year? Put away the holiday clutter and give the house a thorough cleaning? Or just move on, business as usual?
Word of the Year...2015
I first heard about the Word of the Year as we were rounding the corner into 2015. At the time, I was just beginning to explore my options for life and work after my eventual retirement after 40 years of full-time teaching.
The idea of focusing on just one idea for an entire year seemed to make sense. At the time, I was struggling to maintain a balance between my personal life and my work life. And my personal life was suffering the most.
Sometimes you just know that you need to put more effort into making time to take care of yourself...exercise, healthy meals, time with family and friends, and a decent bedtime. This was one of those times for me.
Although I wasn't totally successful, and there were periods of time when I gave up on the idea completely, I did like the idea. So when 2016 rolled around, I was ready for a fresh start.
Word of the Year... 2016
Although my closets are a little less full, my kitchen has fewer unnecessary gadgets and utensils, and I have made cooking meals easier by having a rotation of family favorites, I cannot claim to having fully embraced the idea of minimalizing or simplicity, even after two rounds of
participating in Joshua's Uncluttered course!
Word of the Year...2017...Third time's charmed?
But ENOUGH just didn't resonate with me... a bland word...a word that implies standing still...not making changes...not doing things differently. I wanted...needed... more...
Since July, I've been a member of the Sunday Society, a group of amazingly creative women in business, led by April Bowles-Olin, author of the blog Blacksburg Belle. Our end of the year challenge was to reassess our lives and businesses as we lived them in 2016 and plan ahead for success in 2017.
One of the exercises in our planner was to go through a list of words and circle the ones that resonated with us most. As I did this, the one that jumped out at me was MINDFUL. At first, I didn't circle it, but I found myself drawn back to it after several days had passed, so I knew in my heart that this was it!
In a way, mindfulness (or the lack of it!) is most likely what kept me from achieving my goals of finding BALANCE and SIMPLICITY the previous two years...my a-ha moment!
So for the next 365 days, my challenge-to-self will be to practice mindfulness in my daily life. To remain in the present instead of constantly looking backward and regretting decisions made in the past. To remain in the present a little bit longer instead of moving full speed ahead into the future before the present has been savored and lived.
What about you? What works in your life?
Are you a resolutions maker?
Or a Word of the Year fan?
I'd love to hear from you, so leave a comment!
Meanwhile, Happy New Year to you!
Holiday Trail Mix
One 16-oz. jar of dry roasted peanuts with sea salt
One 14-oz. can of salted cashew halves and pieces
One 11-oz. bag EACH of M&Ms: regular, dark chocolate, holiday mint, white peppermint
One 6-oz. box or bag of toasted coconut strips (Kroger and Trader Joe carry these.)
Two cups of dried cranberries (I buy a huge bag because I use them for many things, so I just toss in a few cups.)
Holiday Homemade Mocha Mix (serves about 8)
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder (I used Hershey's Cocoa.)
1/4 cup instant coffee (I used Folger's decaf, but regular is fine, too!)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate (I used Ghiradelli dark chocolate bits.)
To serve: Put 1/3 cup Mocha Mix in a mug.
Add 1 cup boiling water. Stir until the chocolate bits melt completely.
Garnish with mini marshmallows or a soft peppermint stick, if you like that.
Blend the following ingredients in a large mixing bowl:
1 egg white (Whole eggs are best. If you are making several batches and don't want to have a lot of
leftover yolks, you can use liquid egg whites. However, cut the amount of water in half to keep the
consistency of the mixture less watery.)
2 tbsp. + 1 tsp. water
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
Add 3 heaping cups of walnut halves.
After 15 minutes, stir the mixture to redistribute the liquid. Return the pan to the oven for another 15 minutes.
Repeat one more time, for a total baking time of 45 minutes.
Stress-LESS Packaging Tips
When it comes to colors, think beyond the traditional red and green. Try deep blue, silver, gold, or white. This year checks and plaids are prominent in the craft stores as well.
For ties, instead of ribbon consider twine, yarn, raffia, or colored string.
I like to have a theme for my packaging, and this year I've chosen to use neutrals mainly because I fell in love with the glittered cotton ball twigs in the craft store! With those "almost Christmas" coupons, my teacher discount card, and sales, I was able to purchase the twigs, snowflake ribbon and tissue, tins, jars, and the cute polka dotted gift bags all at 60-70% off at my local JoAnn Fabric and Crafts store.
Not a bad way to put together my Stress-LESS Christmas packages!
The ghosts and goblins of Halloween have barely been laid to rest when the media barrage begins.
Buy this...you NEED this...your friends NEED this...your kids NEED this...
Black Friday deals...Small Biz Saturday...and don't forget Cyber Monday!
And then it hits you...what happened to Thanksgiving? What happened to gratitude and thankfulness?
24/7 Christmas and holiday tunes, and television is pretty much a non-stop catalog of
gift-giving ideas for everyone...even the dog and the cat!
It's easy to get caught up in this frenzy of activity and if we spend any time at all on Facebook,
Instagram, Twitter, and (my person nemesis) Pinterest, it's no surprise that we begin to feel
inadequate and incomplete.
We start to ask ourselves, "Is my house clean enough?" "Are my decorations pretty enough?"
"Is this gift good enough for my friend?" and "How am I going to get this all done?"
Time out, my creative friends!
Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, or just enjoy the
colors, music, food, and celebrations of the season, December is not a
reason to become a heaping mass of stressed out humanity!
Here are my top three tips to creatively stress-LESS this holiday season, in
no particular order. I'm sure that you have a few of your own, and I'd love
to have you share your ideas here or on my Facebook page.
1. Make time to PLAY!
Meet up with some friends to take a walk in the park or a jog around the neighborhood...or go yourself if everyone else is "just too
Do you have children or grandchildren? Make a "play date" and do a craft, make ornaments, play a classic board game or card
game, read a book together while drinking hot chocolate and nibbling cookies, fill pinecones with peanut butter, roll them in
birdseed and hang them in the trees for our feathered friends.
Got snow? Build a snow family in your front yard, take a walk and leave a footprint trail, be a kid again and lie down in the snow
and make a snow angel...or do as my grandchildren do, and play snow baseball!
2. Make time to RELAX at the end of the day...
For me, it's a good book, hot herbal decaf tea, a comfy afghan, curled up in my favorite chair with soft instrumental music playing in the background.
Maybe for you it's a fragrant bubble bath with scented candles, or a quiet game of solitaire with an old deck of cards.
Whatever your preference, the key is to turn off all digital distractions...cell phones, computers, iPads, even television with its incessant commercials. If your preference is for a few episodes of Gilmore Girls or a movie, stick to Netflix or a DVD to avoid all those marketing discractions.
3. SIMPLIFY your holiday preparations...
Plan simple meals for the family. There's no reason not to have breakfast for dinner, especially if it is presented festively!
Use paper products when possible, especially if you don't have a dishwasher in your kitchen. There are plenty of biodegradable paper products available so that you can avoid styrofoam and plastics if you prefer to do that.
Keep the holiday decorations simple. Your home doesn't have to look like the local Hallmark store to be festive and bright!
Attend only the parties and events that are truly meaningful to you. It's ok to say "No, thank you", just be sure to mind your manners and RSVP when requested by the host.
Above all, remember that it's not about the gifts! Create memories instead. This is an excellent post from one of my new favorite websites with an amazing array of suggestions for creating memories instead of clutter: How to Give Experiences Instead of Gifts from the Wellness Mama blog.