Archive for the ‘INSPIRATION’ Category
I was able to head “home” for the weekend for a quick visit with my husband and all my siblings and their spouses to surprise my Dad for his birthday. It was so precious to be all together without our kids, and to reminise being kids ourselves…something that I don’t think has ever happened with all my siblings being adults.
Funny how we as adults can just go back to being kids again when we are all together. My mom bought cold cereal and ice cream like she would have while we were under her roof. It was adorable.
Reflecting on what it felt like to be a child, with all those floods of memories and funny stories, reminded me that kids are kids. And meant to be kids. Not adults-in-training. I grew up in a house full of play….and looking back…hard work and education felt like play to us. Learning how to create an awesome history project was play. Music lessons were play. Learning French was play. Even math practice was play (up to a certain point:). And our creative free time was just as much learning as play.
Being home reminded me that education and learning was such a vital part of my parents’ parenting style.. But it was hidden in a family culture of expecting excellence as well as creative play. I grew up with parents who are truly children at heart and were so curious about the world in a playful way, yet my father has degrees from Cambridge, Oxford, among others. It’s something that I want to achieve as a parent….to let them play. And to not forget that children are children and through playing and fostering curiosity, they will learn and absorb the entire world around them.
Whoever wants to understand much must play much.
- Gottfried Benn
It’s also important for me to let go of that tendency I have to feel those pressures of adult life, and remember to play myself. The mind is full of expansion when we are open and curious, always learning. The world is still my playground, and I hope to never….not ever….loose that sense of wonder.
I’ve been thinking about what my Word of the Year will be. It’s taken me a while, because last year was a challenging one for me, and I’ve felt such a fresh start to this one, and there are so many thing I’m wrapping my head around.
Life with 4 (very intensely alive and soulful) children and all that brings, striving to build my little business and see it bless my family more as well as more of the world, keeping creatively sharp and passionate despite the fullness of life, staying a good friend and staying aware of and serving the people around me, and learning to over come personal challenges all with the beauty of no sleep.
My husband found some old home videos on Christmas, and one night we pulled out the tape (yes a tape) of me and Kenneth backpacking through Europe in 2004. We’d been infertile for 3 years, and I was at my end of all the emotions that go along with that. I was tired and scared of turning into a worrisome twenty-something. I had stopped really “living.”
We had saved money for an infertility surgery that we weren’t sure if insurance would cover. And we wouldn’t find out until after the surgery. That took all my faith. And that’s another story. But in the end, insurance paid for it!
So, what did we do? Did we put it in savings? Did we put it aside?
We grabbed plane tickets and back packed through Europe for 5 weeks. We had a plan, but we left so much to chance. We had to release and relive, and that’s just what we did.
We stayed with an old Italian man we met at the train station on the Italian Coast who couldn’t speak english, but had a great view; We wandered through the sheep filled countryside in Wales and got lost until we found a bed and breakfast we could afford. We landed in a small town outside of Venice at midnight in the rain, and knocked on doors until we found an open room (that one was a little scary). We took a 3 hour train that we didn’t have tickets for (we got on the wrong train) and played cards in the dining car to avoid the ticket master (thanks Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby for that one).
All in all, I was fearless. I’d been so beaten down and disheartened from not being able to get pregnant, and I felt like I could handle anything.
Then the kids came. And we were witnessing miracles.
But something happened to my mother-heart.
I loved so much, that I started to worry just as much. I started watching every step. I would put on the alerts that only a mother can have. I would sleep with one eye and one ear open. I was always on the watch it seemed. And slowly, but surely, I’ve become just that. I’ve forgotten how to let go, and be BRAVE.
I’m not talking about the kind of BRAVE that you put on to mother children. That’s the BRAVEST of all the BRAVES!
I’m talking about the kind of BRAVE that it takes to break free from habits, try new ways, leave your comfort zone, and trust.
The kind BRAVE that makes you fearless. Willing to let go and soar.
I’ve grown up since those careless summer days in France, but I’ve also forgotten how to let go.
And that’s hard to do when you are responsible for little people.
But it’s my new goal. It’s my new road.
Sara Bareilles’ song BRAVE has been on repeat, and I’ve been pumped up ready for this new year. 2014 is my year. I feel it.
You are welcome to download this and use it for your personal use. It’s my motto this year.
**UPDATE January 2, 2014: We have been able to raise $801 for this sweet family from just these cards. Thank you SO much for all who contributed! God bless!
For many of us, this Christmas Season is full of so much love, tradition and laughter.
And for the Teemant family, that’s always been the case. But this Christmas has brought new challenges and heartache as Leo, the father of 3 sweet children (8, 6 and 3) passed away Monday the 9th of December, just 2 weeks before Christmas.
Maya, the oldest, is in my son Ian’s school class, and I’m wanting to bring some joy to their incredibly sweet family.
Leo was diagnosed with melanoma right before his wedding day 11 years ago. It was treated, and he was cancer free for over 8 years. After a successful 10 year career at Novell, he decided to finish his bachelor’s degree and took 2 years off work to do so. Living off of savings, he graduated and was ready to take on new successes. But only a few days after graduation, he was diagnosed with stage IV cancer, with no warning signs or preparation. Unable to get work because of treatments and his prognosis, their family has struggled but stayed so positive through it all. Leo was a volunteer at my son’s elementary school and their family has served so many people.
But a few weeks ago after much medical intervention, his situation took a turn for the worse, was too advanced, and he lost his battle with cancer last monday.
Needless to say, losing a father and husband is anyone’s worst nightmare. But added to that the financial burden of not having employment the past 2+ years, and depleting their savings to achieve his life long dream of getting his degree, their family could definitely use holiday cheer.
In these situations, you just want to do everything you can to help. And since I’ve been so late getting my holiday PDF cards out to you, I thought, this is the perfect thing to help out their family.
I’ve created 6 new cards for you to print and use for gift giving (or even framing!) this Christmas.
100% of the proceeds will go to the Teemant Family this Christmas.
I’ll report on the amount at the New Year.
Last year, if you remember, we raised $800 for the Sandy Hook foundation in Newton. This year I’d like to raise as much as we possibly can for this sweet family.
Tell your friends and spread the word. I hope we can make the ache a little less deep and bring a bit of cheer.
You can read more about the family and see the memorial fund set up in their name here.
When I knew I was going to be an artist, around age 6-7, I wasn’t on a quest to find my STYLE. It sounds silly. What child it on a quest to find their style? They are just interested in finding anything.
To an extent.
From an early age, I knew that if I wanted to learn how to draw a tree, first I had to sit and look at a tree. And draw it while I was looking at it.
But then I realized, that there were many ways to draw that same tree. With a painbrush. With a pen.
With short stubby lines. With long fluid ones.
Each attempt made me feel something different about that tree.
Being exposed to a lot of art as a child, I soon realized that every artist had his own voice, and I became thrilled with so many forms of art.
I get asked a lot how I found my STYLE, and while I won’t mention it all here (way too long!) I will say that I did have a very strong sense of what I liked in art and why.
I started out painting because that’s the education I had at a young age.
The above painting is a painting I did when I was 15, and I spent the summer copying lots of different artists. This is a painting of a painting, and in my early years, that’s how I taught myself.
Here’s a portrait I did of my husband when we were early married. But I realized pretty fast that I didn’t want to go into painting because it was just too time consuming and frankly, wasn’t what I wanted to SAY to the world. But because I had dabbled in lots of areas, I knew that about myself.
But while I had a traditional education in highschool, I knew that wasn’t my style. I liked it, but it wasn’t my voice. And with the hours and hours I’d spent pouring over picture book illustration, and drawing with line and wash, I really found myself drawn to a more simplistic illustration style. I marveled at how much feeling could be felt in just a few lines and a bit of color. While an oil painting could say so much, I wanted to say just as much if not more, with as little as possible. Which is so challenging. But that’s what excited me!
When I started to build my artwork professionally, I spent a lot of time surrounded by my favorite illustrators. I discovered what I loved about their work, and what I had to add to that style.
One hero of mine, Marc Simont, just died last month at the age of 97. Did you hear about that?
He taught me that so much information could be said by just ONE line. Less is more. His artwork challenged me to really be deliberate about my line work and how much art I put on a page. I adore his work!
I have so many hero’s, and I might take some time later on to go through more. And identifying the pieces that have made your voice what it is, is really lovely to identify and see. Like pieces of a puzzle. Because often, you don’t know what’s influenced your style until after the fact.
Finding your own personal style, in what ever it is you do, is a multi-layered journey. And I believe it should always be stretching and reaching for new places. My own style has changed over the years, and I love discovering where it’s leading me.
And as a side note, my friend Monica Lee, who has the super awesome site called SMART CREATIVE WOMEN with a site full of interviews from the design world’s super creative people, has just launched an online class called SMART CREATIVE STYLE. It’s an interactive online course all on developing your own personal style. I have a video interview up on her site today talking about creative process and style! The course includes my input and is full of amazing council from some real style pro’s. See her page here!
I’d love to know your thoughts on style, and what you’ve learned in your own journey. In this day and age when SO many voices are heard and seen online, knowing your own individuality is so important.
We have some new sponsors this month, and I’ll be introducing you to them one by one.
CooCubes is really an amazing brand, that needs our help to launch!
CooCubes is a new company creating custom soft blocks for your child and family, which reflect your own personal story. Inspired by her Grandparents who placed photos on wooden blocks for the children to play with, Jill at CooCubes has created the same playful heirloom in soft, easy to stack fabric blocks.
You can watch the short video here.
Like any start up with the goal to enhance and brighten your child’s surroundings, I get really passionate about making sure people like Jill at CooCubes get the chance to inspire others.
Their Indigogo site (similar to Kickstarter if you aren’t familiar) is ending in 5 days and they need your support of pre-orders to earn what they need to launch 100%
I’m due any week now with a new baby boy, and I’m just loving these sweet products. And estimated to arrive in Sept, these are a really great idea for Christmas gifts, if you are thinking ahead:)
So, give CooCubes a big welcome and shout out as the newest sponsor here in this space, and one of the newest companies to enter the children’s industry.
A LITTLE SONG OF LIFE
Glad that I live am I;
That the sky is blue;
Glad for the country lanes,
And the fall of dew.
After the sun the rain;
After the rain the sun;
This is the way of life,
Till the work be done.
All that we need to do,
Be we low or high,
Is to see that we grow
Nearer the sky.
Lizette Woodworth Reese
So, I’m curious? How many of you read your kids poetry? Not Dr. Suess or Shell Silverstein, but poetry written through the ages?
I’m not very good at it, but we have many poetry books that I try and pull out and read over a fire, or out on the lawn. Addie memorized and performed Robert Louis Stevenson’s THE SWING for her class talent show this spring. So wonderful to say out loud!
Even without pictures, my kids really love poetry! In this overly visually stimulating world, I’m amazed at how my kids will sit and listen to poetry….words that paint pictures. And when we take the time to memorize, it’s even better. I don’t know about you, but I miss poetry in the world. I miss reading it, hearing it…it almost seems like a lost artform that might just be considered a bit old fashioned, and not part of what we read to our kids all the time. Not flashy enough, maybe? Too much work to catch the meaning in the first try?
I’m going to be increasing my exposure to poetry and hopefully to my kids as well. When I was a child, I wanted to be a poet. And it’s because I was exposed to a lot of poetry. It made me want to write and write and write.
This poem came from a favorite book of mine called SILVER PENNIES. Do you know it? It’s a vintage collection of poetry for children that my mother had on her shelf, and I would read through it on rainy days. Do you have any favorite poems you read to your kids?
I’d love to know!
Happy Summer Days:)
We painted the kids rooms 4 months ago. We ripped out their floors 4 months ago. We put in one room of floors 3 months ago…but we never had time to paint and reassemble the bunk beds, or floor the second bedroom. This year, like most, has been really full. But I’m realizing (because I’m pregnant and actually on “pelvic rest”) how much Kenneth and I are a total team. We get so much done when we are working on projects together! But this year, he’s been pulling 80 hour weeks, and I’m unable to move around very well. Hmmmm. Tricky.
See, I think and feel SO much more clearly when my spaces aren’t cluttered, and the house is in order. Not perfect order. I’m NOT a neat freak by any means. But the truth is, we’ve been under a lot of clutter because I’ve had to been on “pelvic rest” and I’ve not been able to do things like assemble and paint bunk beds. And it’s something that’s obviously second to making a baby, but not having beds for your 3 children gets to you after a while! It’s something really only a woman can understand. When you have all three kids camping out in a small room with no floor space because the mattresses are sprawled out in a room the size of 3 mattresses, it’s cute for the first couple weeks. But 4 months, and pretty soon you have a bunch of kids and a mommy that just need a bit more space.
And we are starting to get there. I’m excited to show you the progress in the next few weeks. It’s been quite the transformation. And the kids are really involved with which art piece of mine they want where…and are even giving me ideas for what they want me to make next. I love hearing their ideas. So clever.
And with this new space, I’ve been inspired and will be showing you some new art prints this week as well! I can’t wait! They coordinate with my up and coming fabric line that I’ll be sharing with you at the end of this month, and I’m tickled.
Something that’s really hard to articulate, is the dilemma of the mother-artist that lives in a constant ebb and flow of creativity and order. For me, when life is out of order, I’m not very creative. But on the flip side, when I’m crazy creative, things get out of order. You’d think I’d have this all figured out by now. But something about not having order in my home these past couple months with rooms under construction, being on partial bed rest, and managing on my own most of the week, I’ve found that I’ve been less creative than I normally am. Any of you fall into this boat? And maybe it’s the nesting, or maybe it’s just me….but something about starting a room from scratch and reorganizing my home makes all the juicy creativity flow again. I could be odd, but I bet I’ll find a soul mate reading this and saying…..”Um…Yes. That’sexactly the way it is.”
But on a good note, I actually got cooperative, happy children for Easter pictures right before church. Like 3 minutes before church. Score! I haven’t always been so lucky:) Actually, I’ve never been that lucky. Happy kids. That’s what I live for. And 3 faces in focus:) Eek! Soon to be 4! I can’t wait.
But really….I’ll be posting lot of new things this week. New art, originals, sewn items, and a sale! So stay tuned:)
Lately, I’ve been thinking about creativity, ideas, and I’ve been drawn to reading and watching people I admire in the creative arts. Keeps me motivated.
I’ve shared some of these on Facebook this week, but I wanted to post them here, because they’ve affected my own creative spirits so much, and I hope they inspire some of you too!
Love this one. Oliver Jeffers is a favorite of mine. Total creative genius. Such a fun peek into his creative process.
And Rilla Alexander has been on my radar for a while. This is a must see. She is speaking at the 99 Conference (have you heard of it? 99 stands for 1% inspiration 99% perspiration) Conference about ideas, but mostly getting those ideas into ACTION.
Hope you are just as inspired as me!