Sunday, June 5, 2011


Life-what an interesting journey. You just never know do you? You never know what curve balls might come your way, what blessings or challenges will find you.

This year, I turn fifty and I am very well aware that regardless of the plans I MAKE, God seems to have His own ideas. I rarely understand the path, but these days I do my best to accept it. Sometimes it takes years for me to really understand “the plan”, but eventually things become downright crystal clear. So I proceed, sans the road map and trust that it will all come together.

Recently, I have begun work on a new project. It started out slow. Yet the pieces seemed to fit, but I wanted more. Before I knew it, I realized that the concept I began with merely marked the first phase of “the big plan”. Before I knew it there were multiple phases. There was a plan, a way to get to the ultimate goal and guess what? It all made sense. Scary… ME? Linear? Me? A planner? Get out of here! Guess what? There is even a business plan!

I am energized. It’s not just a new idea; it is the culmination of so much of my life experience. It pieces together so much of my life’s work and creates one viable honorable step forward in my life. I suddenly understand so much more of my life and why I have experienced the various avenues I have. This…will not be a job- it will be my vocation. It will allow me to offer the best of what I am, what I am yet to become and touch the very foundation of my dreams as well as my convictions.

If I could share any message with you- it is to seek your path, but to be patient and listen. Sometimes it takes some time to get the message right, but when it happens; it is a calm and peaceful infusion of wonder into your very core. I wish for you that you find where you are meant to be, that you follow your journey, as scary as it can be at times, and you find the courage to make your own dreams come true.

I look forward to sharing mine with you soon.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Thank you- Mrs. Prescott.

Mrs. Prescott was about the tiniest teacher I had ever known. I believe she weighed about 80lbs and perhaps stretched to about 4'10'' or so. She had big blond hair, I think she pushed it up high on her head to gain a little height. Her hands were tiny, almost doll like, I remember them moving quickly when she was demonstrating in the art room. For a little package this woman had a great deal of power. Mrs. Prescott had a thick accent. I will not insult her by venturing the origin of her home, only to say this sort of added to the mystique of this woman- a tiny little package with a big huge presence. Yep- you guessed it, I was afraid of her.

She wasn't the touchy feely type that seemed to be common with my other art teachers. She was about getting it done, holding students accountable and working on the next project. She had much to teach and only a limited time to teach it. She wanted to impart as much as possible as quickly as possible- just so we could move on to the next topic.

One of the subjects I took from Mrs. Prescott was ceramics. We were permitted to throw on the wheel as well as hand build. There were limited wheels, so I found myself really excited about hand building. This was a foundational course, however, it truly changed my life, my spirit. I owe much to Mrs. Prescott.

I was still trying to "find" myself in high school. I knew I loved art, being in the art room, music - singing especially (and guitar) and also, I enjoyed writing. Art was exciting to me, it was a way to express myself- I hadn't really developed a style as yet, but I loved playing with any media I could get my hands on. However in those days I was very much about pleasing my teachers and contemporaries. If they did not see value in what I was doing I would scrap it. I needed the constant feedback or I was pretty sure what I was doing was worthless.

Enter Mrs. Prescott. Miss- no mincing words or beating about the bush. She was direct and didn't really take time to pad her constructive criticism. She just put it all out there. Let the chips fall wherever they may. To someone like me, well, let's just say I didn't always handle that well. Typically I internalized it- but you know, it deeply affected me. Without sounding like a total wimp- I was afraid of her. I generally did what I was told and did not jump out of the box very often. (it was too scary!)

I really enjoyed hand building clay. In fact- that has been historically true throughout my entire life. It is so much more satisfying to me then throwing on a wheel. (please note the irony here as when I draw I nearly always draw inside of a circle- go figure!) It was my senior year and I was working on a few pieces for my portfolio- ( I wanted to have art as a major so I had to produce my "best" to present as sort of a final exam) when I asked the lovely Mrs. Prescott if I could make clay "balls". these were the precursor to my storybowls (tm) First, the fact that I actually asked and came up with what I thought was an original idea, was sort of stunning, secondly the hope that I anticipated that she'd think it was a great idea was perhaps naive. Mrs. Prescott stood there for a moment, with her arms crossed sort of pondering my question, and her response? "Susan, you can't do that- it won't work- it is just too difficult for you."


I was devastated. I felt like I should crawl inside my box and stay there never to show my face again.

Then... something changed, something happened- a little voice in me said, "Oh yeah? well WATCH ME!"

And for me- a little bit of a back bone started to grow.

Guess what? I not only created one, but three "clay spheres". Guess what else? Mrs. Prescott herself helped me create a glaze that would compliment and show the great detail in each of the pieces. They looked professional and down right fun, I must say. Guess what else? I went on to win some competitions with them- New York state Student art -. It was an amazing triumphant moment for me.

Thank you Mrs. Prescott- for sort of bating me into doing what you knew I could do, but didn't have the confidence to do. Thank you for making me get just a little upset with you in order to prove you wrong. Thank you for your no nonsense manner- your way of lifting me up without coddling me. You made a huge difference in my life, my art, my spirit.

Thank you.

Monday, May 16, 2011

lessons learned

I feel like we keep learning lessons until we really understand them- until we really absorb what they are meant to teach us. Well, I am here to announce that I have learned a little more of what my lessons had to teach me. It wasn't a huge revelation really, no star in the East, no billboard, but clearly it was a lesson I was meant to learn, today, right now. Maybe I am just finally ready.

I have spent quite a bit of time waiting, waiting for the time to be right for this goal or that goal. It is certainly not that I was not willing to work for it. I have spent a great deal of time working, pondering, researching, discovering and (fill in the blank) toward my goals, my dreams. I think perhaps I might have even over planned just a bit. Perhaps I was really waiting for my children to be all grown up and on their own, or to "feel" like it was the appointed time, or perhaps I really was waiting for the star in the East to show me the way. I didn't mean to self defeat, but sort of like the child who was too timid to jump in the pool for fear of the cold water, I have been a little timid when it comes to jumping into the pool of successful dreams.

Last night, I continued working on a mixed media piece. Insert background part of the story here: You see in my mind I already took a risk with this piece, I invested a full sheet of Arches 300lb watercolor paper. MY FAVORITE for nearly anything I do in the two-d world. This stuff is amazing and you can do anything on it. However, because I feel like it is so amazing, I usually am quite positive of what I am using it for when I begin the piece. I do NOT take this stuff for granted, it is for "the good stuff". When I began the piece, I hadn't worked in a long time. This tends to be an issue for me. I feel stuck- I even convince myself that I have "lost all my talent" (sorry God) (insert disclaimer here- now the image above is merely for representation purposes, I buy Arches by the sheet- the full sheet 22"x 30"- it is AMAZING!) Now Back to the thought at hand- This is a piece I began while away with my sister, and her family. We were in the Adirondack mountains. The piece sort of took on a familiar tone to the setting in which we spent that lovely chilly week. Wanting to capture that peace, that heart, I began working. My work tends to be a bit unique.... some might even say bipolar. I love loose inference, and also incredible detail. This peace as a mixed media piece, with more representational aspects. Collage, watercolor, acrylic, inks, more collage, Cran d'Ache and colored pencil all began to bring the piece alive. Last night- I worked a little more. I felt stuck, I felt frustrated, I felt talentless. I wanted the piece to shine, but instead of the spirit of the piece, I focused on my inadequacies. That was one of my biggest mistakes. Another might have been expecting more than the moment was giving. I find that when I just let it be- when I just let the art wash over me- it goes much better. I approach the piece with whatever it has to offer. I generally have no expectations, and it is exciting, enticing to experience the result. My "best" art is unselfish art. It is art that has a soul of it's own, it breathes because it is supposed to- I feel like I am merely the facilitator, nothing more.

Yesterday was different. My insecurities focused on me. It should have been the art- the process- the gift.

You know what it comes down to? fear. I stopped myself, I got in my own way. Honestly, it seems I was afraid to invest all of me because I might just get hurt. I might fall short of what was in my head. The piece I envisioned might not be the piece that was revealed. It seems in the end, I got hurt anyway.

I thought about the process all day. What I experienced, what I felt, and what I was going to do about it. I find art, and my life journey so interesting. It's not that I have only just learned that fear can be self defeating, I think I learn and relearn. Each time I relearn, I strip away another layer of fear toward the hope of more success. Beautiful art, or maybe just something good, honest and hopeful. To me, that is true success. A piece that I allow myself to be vulnerable, open, honest. A piece that reflects a moment, a feeling, a sentiment... a piece that is real-

so.... I wish you that real moment, that fearless moment, where you are vulnerable, fearless and able to take the risk.
Forgive me, but it's time to get back to work.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Treasure this moment, be here now

Okay.... so clearly I have been remiss in my blogging. The winter of my mind (and world) began too early and then kidnapped what should have been a joyful spring. In the last week or so, the ice seemed to melt away. The hope of the Easter sunrise warmed my senses and awakened my goals. So, if you have been patient with me, I have returned- and commit to writing and growing along with you. I thank you and am grateful for your patience.

Today is a new day (rain and all!) I am here, I am present, I celebrate this moment.

I think so often in life we set our goals for something far off in the future. We want a larger house, a better job, an amazing trip, a fancy car, a------------- fill in the blank. What about what we DO have? We - (and right now I am speaking of me, but somehow suspect there might be another soul or two that share my journey)- have homes, cars, stuff.... but do we appreciate what we have?

As I look out the window, it is raining, again... for what feels like the four millionth day in a row. So I ask myself... what am I grateful for? I am grateful that I have a home, to protect me from the rain, that allows me as well as my family shelter from the weather. I am grateful that the grass has turned that deep rich spring green- you know that color of hope, of promise? I am grateful that I have a job that allows me to provide my family with health insurance- (I know many cannot say they share that privilege with me.) I am grateful that my family is relatively happy, healthy and genuinely cares for one another. I am grateful that God has given me talents, talents in which I believe are the seed to possibility- it seems to be in the simple act of being grateful for those talents that I realize there is and can be more. I am grateful for my little town, for sidewalks, for community, for friendships. I am grateful for the simple things, being able to read a book, take a hot shower, and cook a meal for my family that will be appreciated (most of the time). I am really grateful (in a giddy voice) for the lovely woman who shared a 20% off coupon last night when I was buying my son a tux. See? the little things really do matter. I am grateful for the spring flowers in my garden that have been kissed by the rain, they look adorned with jewels.... for me this is a symbol of hope, of new beginnings, of the earth waking.

So- with all of my ramblings, I realize that while I have goals, wants and even needs.... for me, today it is about this moment. It is about the fact that I have much to be grateful for. It is in this gratitude that I find a wealth of energy to make the next moment a step toward my personal and professional goals. As I sit here and type this, I find myself enchanted with this feeling, and confident of the outcome.

So that said... find your gratitude.... treasure this moment, be here now.