For gratitude

My lovely friend Beth made a post recently about what keeps her going in this crazy, beautiful, fucked up world we live in. It inspired me to list a few of my joys, just for me, but I encourage you to do the same. I originally posted this on Facebook, but thought I would expand on it better and pretty it up, just for me.

What keeps me sane?

You can’t help but smile at his face.

A man I am ridiculously in love with who loves playing barista and doesn’t mind if I steal the bowl of cereal he just made for himself. (Love you Val xo hehe)

I don’t think I would have gotten through this life without the support group that I have. With as crazy as the world is right now it is even more important. I’ve made it my mission in recent years, especially this year, to remember just how short life is and to gather my joys. That includes lifting as I climb and making room for helping good people.

Her first ever cinnamon roll. Yea, don’t get me started.

A daughter who loves looking after me, bakes like a madwoman, and loves doing giving work with me.

When my daughter was young, I remember my mother telling me not to get my hopes up that my daughter would be into the same things I was. When I was pregnant, part of my mantra was that this little gift had her own path and that I was just a guide. I’d walk it with her till she could navigate on her own, but it was hers and only hers. I was there by invitation.

Almost 16 years later she is so much like me it isn’t funny. She is very much her own person, and she puts her own signature twist on things. It’s beautiful to watch. She’s inherited the stubbornness that runs strong in our women, and that causes an issue at times, but she is unique and lovely and I love her strong will. I hope to see her hone her gifts and have them serve her well throughout her life.

Good music that I can loop till I’m sick of it.

I loop music. Mostly if I’m writing or working on something and want to tune out the world. It becomes white noise, which is helpful with a brain that never stops generating ideas. I have too many favorites to ever possibly begin naming, but don’t sell soundtracks for video games or movies short…

The soundtrack for both the Skyrim and Morrowind video games are beautiful. Assassin’s Creed as well.

Ludovico Einaudi
Adore this man. He sent me an mp3 of one of the first songs I’d ever heard of his, Primavera. I am currently working on a project involving his music and can’t wait to share it with you.

Amelie
A sample of my favorite song from the soundtrack of one of my favorite foreign films. I could and have sat and listened to this song all day…and just write and write and write.
::happy dreamy sigh::

Alternatively, I also listen to SoundCloud and things I find on YouTube like this one.

Good books and even bad ones that teach me and calm me and make me want to write.

I’ve read a lot of very different books. I’m one of those people that has a way-too-tall stack of books on their nightstand. We added three poetry books from local Kentucky authors today as well as a little Thich Nhat Hanh book on pebble meditation. I’ve updated what I am currently reading on Goodreads accordingly.

Sidenote – If anyone knows how to find your “author page ID” on Goodreads let me know. I’ve tried using my main profile ID for the WordPress widget to no avail.

Quiet moments with a deck of cards playing Solitaire to sort my thoughts…and occasionally win despite my grandmother’s rule.

I love playing cards. I grew up playing cards with my grandparents after dinner almost every night, EVERY night. We’d play Rummy to 500 points with house rules. Most times it would include my mother and I in giggle fits over her squeaky chair. Eye rolls from my grandmother would start my grandfather giggling, too, and it degraded from there. I learned to play cards really well.

My grandmother was a very serious card player. She and my grandfather ran a Thursday night poker game for eons. I started out very little, playing under the table with the chips, then progressed to her lap. From my perch on her lap, I learned to count and threw in chips for her. Older, I would help her make snack food for everyone. I remember the octagon shaped table with the green felt and cup holders on either side of the rectangular chip trays. I’d roll the table down the hall and help set it up in their dining room nook. Later, after my grandfather passed, she’d sold it. I remember how heartbroken I was. My grandmother was a very practical woman and had said I didn’t have room to keep “that old thing”, but I’d have made a dining room table of it with clear plexiglass and used it to hold mementos. I still remember the feel of the mahogany and the old hinges holding the legs on. I have their most used card decks and my grandfather’s poker chips which we now use in my own family. The sounds of the chips clicking together bring back good memories.

“He deals the cards as a meditation
And those he plays never suspect.”
– Sting, Shape of My Heart

My grandmother taught me to play Solitaire, too. Aside from cooking, I count it as one of the best lessons she taught me – stillness. To sit quietly with a problem in front of you and to know a myriad of ways to solve it, know that there was always more than one approach. Her house rule stumped me for a long time and still catches me to this day if I’m careless – you cannot leave an empty row until all the king’s are out and can only start a new row with a king.

Angry Orchard with Firefly and a room full of friends on cozy, overstuffed couches.

Running the Kentucky Browncoats is one of my passion projects and we’ve been doing episodal get-togethers. Two of our local Browncoats, lovely people with a fabulous dancers apartment, have been hosting us and it something I look forward to every month.

Friends who are as passionate and crazy as I am that give me nicknames like “Luscious” to make me smile. (I’m looking at you Jenni xxoo)

I met Jennifer in college online and we became fast friends. She’s been such an encouragement (and a kick in the ass) when I’ve needed it most. I adore the woman and she never ceases to make me laugh. I love having friends that feel like family.

Empty sketchbooks and Scrivener and waterbrushes with messy watercolor palettes.

I am constantly creating in one form or another, every new sketchbook a thrill of possibilities. I live a very digitally-analog life and blank pages in Scrivener thrill me equally. I carry my sketchbook, a mini watercolor kit, my waterbrush, and my aging iPad everywhere. Tools that fit any mood.

Teaching creative process.

Playing muse is second nature to me. I love passing on Aha! moments, tips and tricks, and seeing that light go on behind someone’s eyes. I love cheering people up and don’t believe in coincidences. I believe you are where you are meant to be when you get there and found myself in two situations recently with two different, very depressed friends. Someone telling me they are so happy they crossed paths with me makes everything worthwhile. Twice in one day and I’m over the moon.

Helping good people on their paths.

Lift as you climb. Always. There is room on this tiny spinning dot in the middle of vasty nothingness for everyone. Collect your joys, grow your dreams, and never give up.

Being myself and not giving a damn about validation from anyone.

I’m not always comfy in my own skin, but I’m too old to care anymore and there’s a freedom in that I can’t describe. I’m fiery, I’m blunt as a train wreck, and I’ll be straight up with you. If you’re one of my tribe you’ll do the same and I’ll love you for it. Life is too short to blow sunshine and I’d much rather be myself and enjoy you being yourself, too.

Be you. Love you. Live love.

Coming together

Three months ago my family and I packed up and moved from Florida to Kentucky. We needed to make major changes, get somewhere we could dig in roots a little, surround ourselves with joy and just clear out the stagnant energies in our lives. I had lived my whole life, save for two years, in Florida and I had been wanting out since I was 13 years old.

33 years later I’d had enough.

I wanted mountains, greener living options, a more creative existence, more options and chances for joy for my daughter and my husband, and A CHANGE OF SEASONS. I longed to be able to actually see a difference in my environment from month-to-month. We’ve come up to visit multiple times, and the whole landscape is lovely. I liked Berea my first visit, but I’ve fallen head over heels for her since the move. Right now we are waiting for fall and I’m about to vibrate out of my skin.

My mother was feeling the pull, too.

With the help of family still living in Florida, we moved my mother up today. I’m so grateful she had their help and I’m looking forward to spending two more days with them before they head back. I know she is going to be in her element here once she’s settled, and I know how relieved to be out of Florida she is, because I was in that same spot very recently, too. My half-brother is moving down in a few weeks as well and I feel like it’s all coming together.

Roadtrips!

One of the things that I am most looking forward to are road trips with my mother to North Carolina. I grew up with her working for the airlines and it wasn’t uncommon for us to hop a flight to NC, grab a rental car, and drive to Gatlinburg, TN and just explore. We both get wanderlust in October, which was our ritual traveling time, and this year we’ll get to act on it. We’re also looking at Chicago to meet family, the Smithsonian, Michigan, and as far north as New York to visit friends.

For now, though, potluck dinners, board game nights, and card games will be peppering our coming weeks and I’m feeling pretty blessed right now.

Felix

Today was like a second Christmas for me. My husband’s aunt sent me a lovely card from their family for my birthday with the express wish that I buy something for myself. She knows that I would have spent it all on bills, but her request allowed me to give myself permission to do something I have been wanting to do for a very long time.

I bought myself a drafting desk.

Screen Shot 2014-12-07 at 10.30.20 PM
Screen Shot 2014-12-07 at 10.34.38 PMThose of you who know me, or found this site through ArtfulLE, know my story. Most of my time is spent either in bed or in a large overstuffed chair in our living room with my feet up on a matching ottoman. Having LE is a daily challenge; even more so, not wrapping makes it mandatory for me to have my legs up when I’m not on them. This chair is where, even right now, I do most of my work. I have a desk, but I can only sit at it so long. Sitting at a 90 degree angle makes my legs worse, and I dream for some space-age looking recliner with an overhead computer to solve all my problems. Till then, I needed a desk that inspired me, that had room to spread out, but that wouldn’t become just another flat surface to set stuff on.

I brought it home a couple days ago and spent most of today putting it together. Slowly savoring it. My daughter helped get it into the studio and I just sat there, running my hand over the surface. It was really overcast today, but the little bit of light that came in from outside was all I needed. That spot will be perfect as it gets a lot of morning sun, just what I need. I may even get a plant.

Sitting there, I kept getting the urge to name it. I dismissed it at first, but this was something special: Possibility. Passion. Motivation. And for some reason it felt “male”. It’s a rustic, vintage style (faux) oak drafting desk with black metal fixtures, it’s soft, smooth, satin surface cool and comforting to the touch. It began to nag at me, though, so I finally entertained the thought.

Felix…(laugh) nah…hmm…a name, a name…Felix…that’s kind of an odd name…FElix. Hmm. FEE.LIX. Felix?

I laughed and my husband asked me what was funny. I told him that I had the urge to name it, that it was kind of nagging me (to which my daughter chimed in and told me I should then) and told him that the same name kept popping up in my head, but it was kind of a weird one compared to most of the names I typically come up with.

Val: “What name?”

Me: “Felix.”
Val: “It means happy in Latin.”

I could feel the smile creep across my face even as the tears came.

Felix it is.

 

Death means change

Yes, a rosary AND tarot.*No, nothing is wrong, outside of the normal. I pulled the Death card this morning, which would have the untrained freaking out. It doesn’t mean death though, that is usually the Tower card aka cataclysmic, not-so-happy change. But the Death card is a motivator. It means change is coming…which is why I pulled it.

I got wind of a job lead in the UK yesterday and am applying for it today. I pull the cards when I’m led and one always, quite literally, jumps out at me. Writing for gaming was one of the reasons I took the Creative Writing MFA from Full Sail. The job is a script writing position, one of two, with a game developer. I glanced over it, a pipe dream, till I read that they valued talent over experience. I’m not sure if I am talented enough in that industry, but I’m a quick study and I’m giving it a shot. It’s all a leap of faith. Let’s hope they would allow me to work remotely, otherwise it’s beg to be relocated.

“You are entering a growing phase. Acknowledgement comes slowly. No one will offer a helping hand unless you beg for it. Don’t take no for an answer. Avoid self-pity.”

The idea of moving isn’t a new one. We’ve wanted out of Florida for a long time. My health cannot take the heat or the allergies (bugs mainly) and I miss having a change of seasons, especially this time of year. We have been eyeing three places; Western North Carolina, Colorado (Denver-ish), or Eugene, OR as I have family there. We would need to be relocated via an employer to be able to afford it, so I’ve been looking. If we had to stay in Florida, Jacksonville. My dream home, though, honestly: New York.

“Get rid of some old habits. Stop doing anything that doesn’t feel right for you.”

This has been a theme for a while. I cleared my plate at the end of 2011, already a year of big changes for us with claiming our home, our wedding, and a clearing out of anything that didn’t influence us in a positive way. I took 2012 to regroup, refocus, get my Masters and complete a graduate certificate. I’ve been writing on an almost daily (more-so lately) basis and long for a job where I can use my talents. I’m focusing on the things I love that can help enrich our lives – getting my book(s) finished and uploaded to CreateSpace, designing products for Etsy, and working with hand-lettering (10.00 off a class with link) as well as an ongoing book design gig. I’m also submitting work to a couple of publications and a Christmas greeting card contest.

So we’ll see if the job and a move are in the cards for us. It is all in God’s Hands as to where He wants us, so we’ll just keep praying with an open mind and be ready for the challenge if I’m called. Speaking of motivator, time to consolidate so more and attack my studio! Artsy supply grab bags on Etsy soon…
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The tools of the trade for a Christian-based pagan, I love this little deck. The artwork is fabulous, it reminds me of an old gypsy deck.

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