Oh, my loves. What a summer it has been.
For the past ten weeks I have been moving between various friends' and family's spare rooms in cities and suburbs, depending on their kindness and love and generosity and support (for which I am deeply indebted and endlessly grateful). I've applied to scores of jobs, reached the final round of interviews for a dream job, and been ignored by many other organizations. I have given it my all – I have charged and cried and fallen and stood up and persevered. I've made some difficult decisions, and I have also felt like I had no choices to make.
And finally – finally! – an opportunity arose, and I whole-heartedly made a leap.
Just a week ago, I accepted a position as a live-in nanny with a wonderful, gracious family in Maryland. This position gives me the freedom to pursue other dreams of all sorts, to have a place of my own, and to work with two (soon-to-be-three) amazing kiddos.
I am so very, very lucky.
And while circumstances lead me away from Philadelphia, I am very, very happy.
And, my darlings, this welcome stability allows me to return to regular blogging, painting, creating, sewing, writing, and to fully enjoying life. I'm so glad to be back.
All my love,
These are photos of my friend's cat. Because of her markings, she looks angry – but she is in reality a super sweet, playful kitty. I very much enjoy her company as I job hunt from my temporary home.
My week has been a whirlwind. There was a long day driving back to my storage unit to grab important papers. There was errand-running. There was a job interview on Thursday (which turned out to be an information session for nearly ten people, including myself). And last weekend, of course, was a very old friend's wedding.
How is life treating you, sweetest?
Categories: create // photography
I stumbled across an incredible tool that I can't help but pass on. Let me say up front that I am not getting paid for this and that everything here is my own opinion; I was so amazed with the service – and such a useful one at that – that I want to share it!
Peek from UserTesting is a service that gives you insight into how a new visitor, completely unfamiliar with your website or blog, reacts to your site. What's amazing is that it's in realtime, meaning you get instant feedback and can see their process as they interact with your site. What are they most interested in? What works? What doesn't? The answers may really surprise you.
It's free and is super crazy fast; they emailed me with my three-minute video in less than two hours after I submitted my request. It's fun, too, to watch a stranger visit your page; you're seeing your own site, however familiar, through a stranger's eyes.
Here's what I learned about My Peacetree.
The positives:I've been itching to create a header that pops, so the feedback on it is something I already suspected. But the Etsy thing surprised me: if it were me, I'd head straight to "About", not "Shop". But I am glad, regardless, that readers are still interested in what I might sell. I'll either need to add a message on Etsy or change the nav bar, I think, to make things clearer.
- Purpose is fairly clear
- User would return
- Empty Etsy shop seems pointless
- Header is lacking; needs color
And once I make these changes? I'll submit another request. Peek allows up to three tests per month.
I'm grateful to this anonymous reviewer, too. He was kind, professional, and provided constructive feedback – and I can't help but like anyone who is a fellow dreamer! A shout out to you, Mr. Reviewer. Thank you for your insight!
In January, I posted a list of 20 small-ish goals I wanted to complete this year. As today is the last day of June (!) and officially marks the halfway point of 2014 (!!), I wanted to share an update on what progress I've made and thoughts about this approach to making a bucket list more manageable.
What I have completed:
- Spend a full day at the beach.
- Finish and send in book for the Sketchbook Project. (Part 1 / Part 2)
- Lose 5 pounds. (I lost 15!)
- Go on a road trip.
- Get a credit card.
- Sketch from life.
- Get a car. (It promptly died a few weeks later, but I had a car nonetheless.)
- Write 60 blog posts. (Currently: 17/60)
- Read 40 books. (Currently: 5/40)
- Go to the gym – or exercise – 30 times. (Currently: 16/30)
- Buy a new camera.
- Try getting another art journal into Stampington.
- Travel to Germany.
- Get married, or at least wear an engagement ring.
- Paint big, on canvas, with oils.
- Go ice skating.
- Go to an aquarium.
- Go to the beach in winter (again).
- Visit to NYC.
My mantra through it all has been CHARGE – it is a battle cry, a reminder to push forward no matter what and to find that which electrifies me in the best possible way. It is strength and power and persistence and determination. It doesn't escape me that it's only one letter different than "change", either! You can follow allow along with the hashtag #charge2014 on both Instagram (you will have to do this in the app; I can't link the tag from the website) and Twitter.
Tell me: have you made goals for this year? How are you doing? What do you need to give yourself to get 'r done?
In 2011, Connie invited me to teach a workshop in her unique, virtual gathering of artists that she calls 21 Secrets. This playground, now in its fifth year, is made up of twenty-one lessons taught by experienced artists and the hundreds of participants of all capabilities and levels who join them.
Starting today, I am releasing my workshop – Beautiful Radiant (originally called Beautiful You, Radiant You) – to the public! It consists of 6 videos, a full-color PDF for you to download, and the step-by-step instruction needed to create the page above. It is entirely free.
The original description was as follows:
"We spend a great deal of time focused on the external happenings of our lives, yet often neglect to explore our own dreams, needs, and souls. Join me in dedicating a few hours to amazing you - we'll investigate and celebrate all your one of a kind wonderfulness! Learn how to create mandalas, use symbolism, tuck away secrets, and employ other techniques to bring your unique self into your art journal pages. Step by step instruction, writing and artistic prompts, and a great dose of inspiration included!"Interested? Head on over and have a look!
“How strange that the nature of life is change, yet the nature of human beings is to resist change. And how ironic that the difficult times we fear might ruin us are the very ones that can break us open and help us blossom into who we were meant to be."
- Elizabeth Lesser
Eleven days ago, I put the last of my things in a five-by-ten foot storage unit, hopped on a train with nothing but a suitcase full of clothes, and landed on the doorstep of one of my oldest friends in a big city I used to call home. I feel like a nomad. And while part of me loves the possibilities that stretch before me, there is a big part of me that is paralyzed by the enormity of change: after all, I did quit my job, say goodbye to my mama, forever leave behind a beautiful farm that has been my home for the past four years, and leap into uncertainty, all within a week.
After a particularly overwhelming day of job-hunting, I found myself at an arts supply store. My entire art supply collection is packed neatly in boxes in that storage unit, several hours away; not yet knowing where I'll be in the next months, I wanted to travel light. But on the verge of tears and with tension building in my shoulders, I felt that could either spend a night sobbing and eating Ben & Jerry's out of the container or allow myself the tools to play in my art journal for the first time in months.
I bought five tubes of paint – the primaries, black, and white –, a paint brush, glue stick, and a few Caran D'ache watersoluable pastels* that I've been eyeing for some time. Then, I created this art journal page.
The symbolism that appeared without any conscious effort on my part is both surprising and appropriate. After creating the background – which could represent the green of the farm of the home I left –, I added big blocks of black paint, a nod to the efforts of city authorities to erase graffiti by painting over it. Black represents the unknown and mourning, as well as potential and possibility (think "clean slate"), according to this site, a favorite for symbol interpretation. After adding the pink and white, my friend pointed out that the shapes on the left page create a pixelized version of the Monopoly man with a top hat and monocle; very apt, as I am unemployed and worried about finances. There are elements of travel in this spread, too.
These pages captures it all: I am mourning what has been and cautiously looking forward to whatever is to come, all the while repeating positive affirmations to bolster my spirit. I so love how art both soothes the soul and reveals it.
More soon, sweet souls.
*Denotes an affiliate link.
Just one day left. One day to sort through papers and collections and clothes. One day to put my life in boxes and in storage. One more day to soak up everything that this beautiful farm is and has been, to say goodbye to pups and family and my comfort zone.
On Thursday, everything changes.
While packing, I discovered the Millennium Backstreet Boys CD that I spent a whole twenty bucks on when I was about twelve and listened to a hundred million times. (I probably still know all the lyrics.) I found notes from my very first boyfriend, transcripts from high school, a packet of British receipts from when I went on a year-long adventure there alone in 2007, and even a plane ticket from when I traveled with my family to Hawaii in 2004.
I have held onto nearly everything.
And I realized, as I smiled and reminisced and sorted these things into piles to donate or throw away, that I am not only physically releasing these things that I have kept for years and years and years; I am saying goodbye to the past –– to self-doubt, to swirling pools of depression, to completely false perceptions of who I was or had to be –– , letting go, and jumping into my future free of the burdens of years ago.
What beautiful freedom.
(But I'm keeping the CD.)