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A New Leaf



I have been blogging for over five years now. I was first inspired to develop my online presence after reading about altered-book art in high school and stumbling into the world of art journaling and mixed media artists' blogs. My Peacetree also began as a way for me to escape from my own insecurities and depression.

For the first year or so I wrote exclusively about the joy and beauty of life, particularly of nature. I bought a fancy shmancy Nikon camera and began taking photos of my art. I gained a following of gentle, loving dreamers who felt safe in this somewhat magical, ethereal place, where everyone arrived in their spirit or essence and not in their tangible body. I resisted, for a very long time, sharing my photo or details about myself or my own life in detail, afraid of those I knew stumbling upon my inner life and afraid to be defined by what the mirror held. I desperately needed a place of secrecy and safety where I could explore my own vulnerabilities and fragile dreams and reach out to those kindred spirits I couldn't find in my waking life. I created and tended a secret garden, if you will.

The summer of 2010 was the most successful period for My Peacetree: I was insanely inspired, I painted daily, I wrote often, and I participated in art swaps and engaged in others' blogs and online conversations and on social media. In the first two years in this garden, my following grew hugely.

And then I went back to school, and things changed.
I changed.

And I realized tonight, as I browsed Pinterest for articles on blogging, that I just don't enjoy posting about what I once did. I have felt obligated to stay true to an art/tender-soul approach, to that old version of myself that defined this blog for so long, and that the only reason I have been compelled to open my art journal has been so that I can photograph it, write about it, and share it here, because I feel like that's what's expected. I struggle to post, and when I do, I make a half-hearted attempt that ends up being a short, boring update on my life. I take little pride in what I write anymore. It was a bittersweet realization: my passions have shifted – and that's okay.

Guilt and obligation are no motivation. Pretending to be engaged is unfair to my readers and to myself, and to be truthful, I think it shows up in the quality of my writing here.

So I had an awakening: I will search for my new purpose, a passion that drives me to return with full joy and spirit, inspired to write endless material that is true to this new changed me. As this year is all about charging ahead, trying new things, practicing bravery and exercising perseverance, I think this is an excellent challenge.

My Peacetree. A tree grows. It branches. It stretches and reaches for the sky, and in autumn its leaves die and fall to make room for new growth. Perhaps My Peacetree has been dormant for a while, hidden under snowdrifts. And perhaps it is time for the spring to come.

I am excited to have you with me on this new adventure.
Stay tuned!

The Wanderer at Home


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,

Le Chat



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?

"Peek"-ing into My Peacetree



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:
  • Interesting
  • Purpose is fairly clear
  • User would return
The negatives:
  • Empty Etsy shop seems pointless
  • Header is lacking; needs color
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.

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!

Little Steps, Big Year // Update



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:
  1. Spend a full day at the beach.
  2. Finish and send in book for the Sketchbook Project. (Part 1 / Part 2)
  3. Lose 5 pounds. (I lost 15!)
  4. Go on a road trip.
  5. Move.
  6. Get a credit card.
  7. Sketch from life.
  8. Get a car. (It promptly died a few weeks later, but I had a car nonetheless.)
What is in progress:
  1. Write 60 blog posts. (Currently: 17/60)
  2. Read 40 books. (Currently: 5/40)
  3. Go to the gym – or exercise – 30 times. (Currently: 16/30)
And what I have yet to do:
  1. Buy a new camera.
  2. Try getting another art journal into Stampington.
  3. Travel to Germany.
  4. Get married, or at least wear an engagement ring.
  5. Paint big, on canvas, with oils.
  6. Go ice skating.
  7. Go to an aquarium.
  8. Go to the beach in winter (again).
  9. Visit to NYC.
Looks like I'm right on target! Having a few specific things to focus on this year has been wonderful. As you may know, it's been The Year of Change (see here, here, here); goals to cross off, even including such inevitable things as moving, helps to give it a little more stability.

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?

Free Workshop: Beautiful Radiant



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!

Growing Pains



“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.


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