Monday, August 20, 2012

Obsessions, Zentangles (sort of), and Mandalas

As part of my online writing class, I have an assignment to think about my obsessions and whether they help or hinder my creative processes. I can think of lots of my obsessions: amazing music, sunny afternoon cat naps on the couch, the beautiful succession of notes on Here Comes the Sun, emotional, character driven movies and TV shows, great books, my new vegan lifestyle... and now I am worrying about how many obsessions, I was able to come up with in a few minutes.

One of the constants throughout my life has been art. I have the fondest memories of digging through boxes of Crayolas, delighting in the color names and making up my own, and of the excitement in smelling all the scents of a brand new box of Mr Sketch markers. For Christmas, my favorite gifts have always been the art sets, paints, special pens, and beautiful sketch pads. I can still get lost for hours in the aisles of an art supply store, picking out supplies and imagining what I can do with them.

When I apply paint to a page, I can imagine what it might turn into and then am always overwhelmed when it turns into something better that I never could have planned. This process gives me peace and distance from of the messier things in life. It gives me room to breathe and process. I believe it is why I've never lost my need and want to draw, paint, and imagine.

Last March, I tried a few Zentangles. I didn't take a class or read a book; I just tried it. I love the concept that there are no mistakes, only creative bursts that lead you in unexpected directions. It is meditative, calming, and a bit addicting.  I don't do it right, and I wasn't trained, but it doesn't take away any of the enjoyment or benefit.

This process reminds me of drawing and coloring mandalas (beautiful, sacred art in Buddhist and Hindu religions). They are meditative and freeing. Apparently, Carl Jung (very famous psychoanalyst) was a fan of mandalas and likened them to a "representation of the unconscious self".  He used them to work and better himself, and I feel like I've been doing the same thing. 

I spent my Sunday playing, and this is what I created:

The Sun:

The Moon:

A Tree:

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Random Photograph (+10)

I’m taking an online writing class, hoping to find a blogging groove that I’ve been missing. As an assignment, I needed to pick a photograph and write about it.

This is my Dad at the Columbus airport waiting to board the plane back to Tampa.

In 2010, I took my first trip back to Columbus, my hometown, since I was a teenager. I met my Dad and we spent a long weekend visiting with family and hanging out. It was fun to see how my brother had remodeled the old house, catch up with my sister-in-law, walk the creek with my niece Elise, and play in snow. I don’t typically spend a lot of one-on-one time with my Dad, so it proved to be a fun, bonding weekend.

On our way home, we were early to the airport, so we ate breakfast and walked through an airport history museum. He’s a pilot, so while the changing of runway patterns is fascinating to him, I was exhausted and dreaming of finding a seat in the terminal and relaxing.

I told him I wanted to sit down, but he wanted to walk around. He gave me a hard time, asking me why I wanted to spend three hours (err… like an hour) sitting at the gate when I was going to spend three hours sitting on a plane.

I suggested, probably in one of my bitchier voices, that I could go and he could find me later and then headed off towards the gate. He must have felt some parental protectiveness or responsibility because he followed me. I tried to explain that I was an adult and didn’t need a chaperone, but he sulked along behind me anyways.

Once we were through security, he made a comment about finding a bathroom and disappeared. I called my mom. I understood that it was silly aggravation rooted in both of our needs to be home and to have some personal space, so I found it humorous. My phone call interrupted him on the other line. My mom didn’t say, but I’m sure that he was explaining how stubborn I was being. No denying, it is bred in my Scottish roots.

When he reappeared, he had coffee and a newspaper and sat down beside me. He made small talk and I knew that he wasn’t mad.

Ten minutes later, he was up at the window, watching the planes and people. Too something to be able to sit still. The lighting was all messed up, but I snapped the photograph because it was so him, fidgeting in the light. The shape of him is so distinct that could be no one else. I probably shouldn’t like that we argued over silliness, but I love that the situation lead me to take one of my favorite photographs of him.

These are some more fun photos from the trip:

Now, when I go to visit, my first favorite thing to do is walk along the creek with my niece Elise. It was always my sanctuary, so I am so happy that she loves being down there as much I did. She is such a firecracker, so animated, emotional, and sweet. I love these moments when we get to walk around because she talks me, tells me about everything, and reminds of a lot of good things.

On this particular trip, I was excited because there were a few traces of snow around on the ground. By the next morning, a snow storm had completed covered the whole town. It was beautiful and magical. I even donned 18 layers of clothes and went sledding with Elise and Christopher (my nephew) on Jones's hill. Just like old times.

I can't begin to tell you the number of times on the trip that my Dad asked What the hell are you taking pictures of now? Don't you have enough already? The answer is always no. Actually, I really wish I hadn't been so shy around everyone and had taken more.

As a side note, I'm still mad at people for telling me that beret looked good, but these are great memories... driving around in a snow storm, meeting lifesized corn statues, and eating dinner at Chef-O-Nette.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Broken Mirror

A few months ago on my morning walk, I noticed that a large mirror had been shattered across the road. All superstitions aside, I was intrigued. The sky was especially blue that morning and the reflection in the mirror was incredibly beautiful. I snapped a photo.

A few days later, someone had brushed a big, intact piece of the mirror into the grass.  I enjoyed the way that the blue sky contrasted with the deep greens of the surrounding grass, so I used it to take a self portrait.

A few days ago, I noticed that the broken pieces still remained. It was harder to see because the grass and plants had started to grow up around and break the pieces apart. I liked that it has lived in that spot for so long, untouched by humans, but was starting to be pulled back into the ground by the plants.  

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Musical Memories

Earlier this year, I read and really enjoyed Rob Sheffield's song-driven autobiography Talking to Girls About Duran Duran. Reading it made me realize that over the last few years, I've used my blog to write my own autobiography. It is not surprising that my story is best told in the form of a mix tape. I associate people, moments, and feelings with music. Upon hearing a song, I am immediately full-bodied back into a moment or feeling. It is my special, sneaky way to time travel through my best memories.

Some of my favorite musical memory posts include connecting with a college friend, the reason I am so crazy about music in cars, sunny days in the grass, and breaking hearts.

With all of my life changes lately, I've been especially emotional; every song seems to flood me with memories, feelings, and nostalgia. These are some of the weirdest, worst songs, but the memories attached to them will make me love them forever.

Brownsville Station - Smokin’ in the Boys Room

Growing up, I lived next door to my grandparents and spent a lot of time with them. With my grandmother, we played games, watched Lassie, and listened to music. She was a huge fan of country music, so I was exposed to an embarrassing amount of Grand Ole Opry at a very early age.

After school, I usually spent the afternoon with my Grandmother. She had a 45 of Brownsville Station’s Smokin’ in the Boys Room tucked away. On special occasions when it was just the two of us together, I'd ask her to play the song. She would always turn the music up loud, and then together we would sing along and dance. I can attribute my unabashed car dancing and singing to those afternoons.

Vanilla Ice - Havin’ a Roni

In fifth grade, I spent tons of time hanging out with my friend Misty. She lived with her grandparents not too far away from my house, so we would walk and meet at the park between our houses or at our elementary school. Her grandparents were strict and didn’t allow music or television in their house, so I'd always bring my boombox.We watched the boys playing little league games or just hung out on the tire swing and listened to music like Salt-n-Pepa, MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice.

You won't catch me listening to Ice these days, but I remember us trying to discuss and figure out what a roni was. It still makes me laugh.

Paula Abdul - Rush Rush/ Chicago - Hard To Say I’m Sorry

During one of my middle school summers, I was inseparable with my friend Angie. We had this easy, fun friendship where we never fought and had lots of fun hanging out. The summer was filled with sleepovers and lots of music.

When we stayed at her house, we used her sister's CD player to listen to Paula Abdul’s Spellbound. We kept MTV muted in the background in case the Rush Rush video played. We totally lusted lusted after Keanu Reeves.

She also came with my family to Lake Erie on the weekends. We hung out in the park, constantly scanning for boys and trying to memorize all of the lyrics to Bel Biv Devoe’s Do Me remix. At the trailer, she brought lots of tapes and introduced me to country music (Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, and Randy Travis) and started a shared obsession with Chicago.

One Saturday, we sat on the front porch of the trailer while she taught me how to shuffle cards. The boy I adored saw us and spent the entire day hanging out. They tried to teach me to play Rummy, we listened to Chicago, and drank pop (that’s soda for all you non-Ohionans). It was a perfect day.

Beck - Loser

While visiting my sister Anissa in Pittsburgh in 1993, we visited a music store where she bought me Beck’s Loser cassingle (that’s a cassette single). We drove around those big, crazy mountainous roads listening to the song over and over again. She had a stick shift, car and I was amazed at how quickly she could shift gears on those hills (I’m still amazed actually). I don’t know if she loved the song as much as me, but we listened to it loud, screamed along the lyrics, and laughed. I think it might have been the same trip that she bought me some Zima. Just the presence of Zima alone proves it was 1993.

The Cure - Boys Don’t Cry/Faith No More - Anne's Song

I only spent a short amount of time in my high school in Columbus, but it was a great time period. My friend John was always really special to me. We hung out in the mornings and between classes, but still each day after school, we talked on the phone for hours. He was always sweet and patient, listening to my 14 year old girl dramas. I appreciated his snarky sense of humor and his ability to be honest without crushing me (I'm still such an emo).

He always teased me about my love of The Cure/Robert Smith, and thanks to him, I can’t listen to Boys Don’t Cry without singing I’m a fat and whiny guy. It still makes me laugh 16 years later. Ugh... I’m old.

One morning in the commons, John and another friend Brett (Chickenboo) approached me and started singing and acting out the lyrics to Faith No More's Anne's Song. I had no idea what it was at the time, but it made me laugh. The whole thing was maybe 30 seconds, but still, whenever I hear that song, I am back in the lunchroom with my heavy maroon book bag on my back, blushing and giggling like an idiot at those sweet boys.

The Outfield - Your Love

One of the cool things about moving to Florida was getting to hang out with my sister Amanda. She lived about 30 mintues away, so I spent countless weekends hanging out at her house. One of our favorite things to do was to go to thrift store shopping. There was a Veteran’s Administration thrift store close to her house where we always found the coolest vintage stuff; mostly, I remember buying chairs and toddler tees to show our midrifs.

One afternoon while driving home, we were listening to Outfield’s Play Deep. I had to go to the bathroom so bad, but she was torturing me by hitting the brakes hard every few feet, which then made me laugh, making it worse.

Cutting Crew - (I Just) Died In Your Arms

In high school, I bonding with Martha over our shared love of The Cure. She’ll tell you it was when I refused to share my pencils with her during the PSATs, but just ignore her.

One summer during college, I worked at the Gap and had the biggest crush on one of my coworkers. Leaving work one day, he hugged me. I was so excited and when I got into my car, I had been listening to an 80’s mix tape and Cutting Crew’s (I Just) Died In Your Arms was blaring. In my immature, crush silly brain, it felt so perfect, so I told Martha about it. To this day (aka last weekend), she still laughs at me for it .

In honor of the joke, we recorded a video of the two of us singing the song. It lived on my website for years, but somewhere in the process, I lost it. The song still reminds me of the joke.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Photo Booths

Some of my favorite photos ever were taken in photo booths. There is something about four quick shots that  keeps people from over thinking and leaves them less self conscious. The photos are usually funny and animated. It captures golden moments of people's personalities.

I'm currently taking an online writing class, which I'm using to focus on improving my blog. In some ways, I want to find my way back to those emotional, rambling, silly posts that I used to write when I started this thing. There is something irrational and lovely about writing about Pacey Witter and Fall while quoting Yates. 

Anyway, one of my first tasks was to update my About Me page. The text was easy, but I struggled over a photograph to use. I put together a collage of different photos through out my life, but it just didn't feel right right on the page.

At my friend Martha's 80's party last week, we were playing around with Incredibooth (a photo app that mimics a photobooth), which was a complete blast. I played with the app tonight, dug through some older shots I had taken, and then photochopped the following together. It was fun, and I kinda dig it on the page. What do you think?

As a side note, and the first photo is my cat Xander photobombing me. He kept putting his paw on my face, which was cracking me up. The moment was too funny, so I had to include it.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Eat To Live and a Life Overhaul

I have been MIA for the last few weeks, but I can explain.

The last few years have been the most stressful period of my life. In the span of a few months, I found out that I had high blood pressure, lost friends for various reasons, and had to take on a tremendous amount of responsibility at work. I didn't have time to think about much, so I worked hard, tried not to think about what was happening, and I ignored my instincts. Soon after, I started having panic attacks.

When the panic attacks started, I realized that things were out of control, so I worked on it. For a multitude of reasons, I became a vegetarian, but the most important was a desire to get healthier (Why I Became a Vegetarian). I had high blood pressure, borderline cholesterol, and was uncomfortably overweight. Becoming vegetarian helped me learn to eat more healthy and make things in my life more manageable; I was able to cut back on my blood pressure medication, my panic attacks eased, and I felt a lot better.

Unfortunately, a horrible, emotionally abusive person entered my life and knew exactly how to prey on my insecurities. Even though I understood that this was more of a reflection of this person, I took it very personally and I reverted to bad habits. I ate crazy amounts of sugar and processed foods, which left me constantly exhausted and grumpy. I gained a bunch of weight and had given up on myself. 

While on vacation at Universal Orlando (Universal Studios Orlando), I met a lady who told me about a book called Eat to Live . We discussed being vegetarian/vegan, and she suggested that I check out the book. I wrote it down and completely forgot about it for a few months.

At the beginning of July, while searching through my notes for a book recommendation, I happened across the book title. I checked it out on Amazon, and since the reviews were so intriguing, I bought it immediately. When I read the book, things clicked for me. For months, I had been toying with going vegan, but there was such a stigma with that word, it scared me a bit. However, the main premise of the book, which is that to be healthy, we have to eat nutrient packed foods (vegetables, fruits, and beans) and they will heal our bodies, made perfect sense to me. I pledged to start the six week program on July 3, the start of a nice long vacation.

I have sugar detoxed before, so I was prepared to feel pretty grouchy and the tired for the first few days. I timed it well and was able to sleep a lot and have some fun learning to cook in this healthy way (without oils!).

I was amazed at how quickly my body responded to the healthier food. Within the first few days, I was sleeping soundly, my breathing/allergies got remarkably better, and I wasn't hungry all of the time. I have always been self conscious about my skin, so when it not only cleared up, but it now seems to glow like when I get a perfect suntan. 

It has been four weeks, but I have hit a snag... 

I can pinpoint the time period when my weight and health issues began. I went through a horrible break up, was having a lot of trouble at work, and was extremely emotional all of the time. A couple of well-meaning friends counseled me, suggesting that I needed to toughen up a big and be less emotional. They explained that as I got older, I would grow out of those emotions. It made me mad at the time, but I listened and tried my best to keep from being emotional about everything. Unfortunately, instead of dealing with my emotions, I avoided and tried to ignore things... and I ate. So, while this detox and healthy eating have freed me in so many ways, it is also forcing me to face the emotional part of me. I'm having to deal with a lot of things that I tried hard to hide and reminding myself that feeling my emotions is a good thing. 

So aside from being a little extra emo about everything, things are going well. I feel a lot happier and am surprised to find this way of eating is even easier than just eating vegetarian. I've lost 9.5 pounds, I'm quickly weaning off of my blood pressure medication, and I haven't had a panic attack since I started. Plus, it all just feels right to me. Overall, pretty amazing results.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Bibliophilia 2012: Books 33 - 41

33: Tao of Pooh and 39: Te of Piglet

I try to read The Tao of Pooh once a year. Why? Well, it makes me laugh and think about the important things in life - a perfect combination. Benjamin Hoff is able to describe the Taoist principles in clear and entertaining examples, and the beliefs and ideas make sense to me. Plus, I love all of the Pooh characters. I read The Te of Piglet less often; it is equally interesting, but it doesn’t jump off the page quite as much as The Tao of Pooh. The books always inspire me… this time reading the books, they inspired A Walking Meditation.

34: Scar Tissue

I have always enjoyed the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but in my younger days, I absolutely loved them. I’m pretty sure that aside from my Beatles obsession, I didn’t listen to much else than Blood Sugar Sex Magik in the 8th grade. It was pre-Eddie Vedder/Pearl Jam, and I remember watching the Under the Bridge video over and over again (I had taped it – VHS style). It was different from everything I had ever heard; the music was amazing. I was completely mesmerized by Anthony Kiedis; I loved his tattoos, long hair, and the way his face looked when he was running shirtless and all funked out.

A couple of months ago, I was reading the Wikipedia page about Anthony Kiedis and was floored at his life story. I noticed that he had written an autobiography, so I bought it. For the first 25% of the book, I was pretty mad at myself for buying it; he had a severely messed up childhood, and I found his nonchalant attitude towards the crappy things he did to people really revolting. However, as the book progresses, you can tell that he went through some serious hell and he seemed to progress and grow in the book. It gave me a new respect for him and a new interest in the awesomeness of Flea.

I am a little weirded out that my favorite RHCP song, I Could Have Lied, was written about Sinead O’Connor. It is still not as weird as the Alanis Morissette/Dave Coulier bomb.

35: We Bought a Zoo

I’ve written about this book a bit (Finding some inspiration…) because I loved both the book and the movie. I like to read stories about people learning and growing, but I also learned that I really love to read stories about people’s interactions with animals. This book is sad in places, yet funny and beautiful. Although the movie’s storyline is different, I felt like Cameron Crowe did a wonderful job of transferring the story, with all of the feelings and important bits, to film. Only problem is now I really want to go to England and visit the real zoo.

36: Eat to Live

While on vacation at Universal Orlando (Universal Studios Orlando), I met a lady who told me about Eat To Live. We were discussing being vegetarian/vegan, and she suggested that I might want to check out the book. I wrote it down and completely forgot about it. 

Well, I have been eating horribly lately (eating crazy amounts of sugar and processed foods), which has made me feel awful and gain a bunch of weight. A few weeks ago, I got frustrated and happened across where I had written down the book title. As I read the book, things clicked in my head and it all started making sense; the main premise is that to be healthy we have to eat nutrient pack foods (vegetables, fruits, and beans) and it will heal our bodies. I started eating according to the plan, and only two weeks in, I’ve lost six pounds and am feeling tremendously better. I have more energy, I’m not hungry all the time, and my body is seems really happy.

37: Appetite for Reduction: 125 Fast and Filling Low-Fat Vegan Recipes

I bought this cookbook awhile back because I was interested in how a lot of vegan recipes sweeten food using fruit. Turns out that most of the food in the cookbook is perfect for my Eat to Live eating plan, so I’ve been using it for inspiration and trying all kinds of recipes. Apparently, my interest in veganism (although I kept denying it) was because I knew where I was headed.

38: Bridget Jones's Diary

I have read this book many times. It makes me laugh in that obnoxious, uncontrollable, out loud way that makes people look cross at me like I'm making fun of them. I love that Bridget is bumbling, impractical, hypersensitive, imperfect, and completely inappropriate. She is real and that’s what makes me cheer her on.

40: PS, I Love You

As with the movie version, I enjoy the concept of this book. It’s a love story, but from the opposite end of the spectrum. Usually, the story is about how people meet and finally bumble together, but this story is about saying goodbye and learning how to move on. Life is a constant up and down, so it was refreshing to read about a character who is doing her best to successfully pulling herself back together.

41: The Witches

As a child, I always loved Roald Dahl books. He was blessed because he was able to hold on his childlike imagination and relate to it. It allowed him to remember what it was like to be small and to create bizarre, oblong worlds. I remember a teacher reading us this book in class and feeling like it was so hysterical and inappropriate. It made reading fun and interesting. It is the same for all of Dahl’s books.

Monday, July 9, 2012

"Ripple in still water..." (Grateful Dead - American Beauty)

I bought American Beauty a few weeks ago. Because I had heard it was so amazing, I wanted to wait for a special time where I could listen to it without interruptions. Then, during my vacation, I watched Magic Trip, which only made me more curious about the Dead. (Also, I learned about Acid Tests, Ken Kesey, the insanity of Neal Cassidy's ups, and that my longing for a time machine back to the 60's is still alive and strong.)

Saturday night, I finally made the time and mental space for American Beauty. I was up late, working on my family tree; my house was dark and quiet, so I turned it out and turned it up. It was emotionally beautiful and serenely melodic. I was instantly in love.

Specifically, I am in love with Ripple. There is something about this song that gets into my head, mellows me out, and reminds me to be Pooh (A Walking Meditation). I want to sway to the music, close my eyes, and smile. I wish that I could bottle the warm and peaceful feeling that it puts in my heart and share it with others. Suddenly, I feel like I'm really starting to understand the Dead Heads. 

I don't normally include full lyrics, but this one is far too beautiful to not share.


If my words did glow with the gold of sunshine
And my tunes were played on the harp unstrung,
Would you hear my voice come thru the music,
Would you hold it near as it were your own?

It's a hand-me-down, the thoughts are broken,
Perhaps they're better left unsung.
I don't know, don't really care
Let there be songs to fill the air.

Ripple in still water,
When there is no pebble tossed,
Nor wind to blow.

Reach out your hand if your cup be empty,
If your cup is full may it be again,
Let it be known there is a fountain,
That was not made by the hands of men.

There is a road, no simple highway,
Between the dawn and the dark of night,
And if you go no one may follow,
That path is for your steps alone.

Ripple in still water,
When there is no pebble tossed,
Nor wind to blow.

You who choose to lead must follow
But if you fall you fall alone,
If you should stand then whos to guide you?
If I knew the way I would take you home.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Ringo Starr

Part of my love of the Beatles is rooted in the countless hours that I spent watched A Hard Day’s Night and Help!. There was one week where I watched Help! around 20 times in a row (yikes... my poor parents!). In both movies, the main story line is focused on Ringo, which has always endeared him to me. He is always sort of bubbling, adorable, and sweet.

Last Sunday, I saw him perform with his 13th All-Starr band at Ruth Eckerd Hall. It was my fourth time seeing him, and as always the concert was consistently entertaining and kind of amazing (See my previous post: With a Little Help From His Friends). Ringo is a great ringleader and does an amazing job of performing and amply sharing the spotlight with a great collection of musicians. This year’s musicians included: Steve Lukather (Toto), Gregg Rolie (Journey, Santana), Richard Page (Mr. Mister), Todd Rundgren, Mark Rivera, and Gregg Bissonette.

As always, it was a fantastic night and I had my moment when I realized that there before me was Ringo Starr, very similar to those movies that I always loved. So, because it always makes me laugh, here are a a couple of fun Ringo moments from The Beatles movies.

Friday, June 29, 2012

“My Shangri-La beneath the summer moon...”: Led Zeppelin’s Greatest

Last month when I saw Chris Cornell, he performed a cover of Led Zeppelin’s Tangerine. It was so beautiful, and I immediately asked my guitar teacher to show me how to play it. Despite a few itchy memories from a past relationship, I still love the song for its absolute heartbreaking beauty. Measuring the summer's day, only finds it slips away to grey. The hours, they bring me pain...

I have sporadically listened to Led Zeppelin. I had IV on vinyl and a cassette of Physical Graffiti. In high school, I remember hanging out with a friend in my backyard. We laid out in the sun on a blanket and played that Physical Graffiti tape on my little mini boombox. Whenever we’d get to Kashmir, we would continually Stop. Rewind. Play. Still, when I hear it, I can feel the warm sun on my face and remember that feeling of total relaxation. Oh let the sun beat down upon my face...

Lately, it feels like every time I turn on Classic Vinyl, they are playing Zeppelin, and considering that my album (part of my regretful vinyl purge - The Lost Art of Vinyl) and cassette are long gone, I’ve been looking for a good album to get me listening to Led Zeppelin again.

Every Monday as part of my Amazon MP3 addiction, I was perusing the $2.99 bin. This week, they had Mothership and a bunch of other great albums. My other picks this week were Greatful Dead's American Beauty and Let It Roll - Songs Of George Harrison.

Listening, I recognized one of the strange powers of Led Zeppelin: they can transport you away. The music is interesting, distinct, and amazing; it allows me to completely zone out and get lost in the music. I admit there were a few moments that I wished that I had my guitar handy... you know, just to pretend that I could shred that hard, but mostly, it was nice to have music that is so apt and interesting that it allows me to get out of my head for a little while and just enjoy the sounds.



Monday, June 25, 2012

Finding Some Inspiration...

I am feeling quite inspired lately. I’ve had some amazing experiences (Discovery Cove and Busch Gardens), watched a fantastic movie (Cameron Crowe’s We Bought A Zoo), read a great book (We Bought a Zoo - Benjamin Mee), and listened to one of my favorite songs on constant repeat (Simon & Garfunkel’s At The Zoo - also see Songs for Planning My Escape and From a Sad Cafe). Are you sensing a pattern yet?


I have always loved animals, so going to the zoo gives me a magical, childlike feeling. It is one of my favorite places to be. I just bought a season pass to the Lowry Park Zoo, but the crazy tropical storm has kept me away.

With my new camera and the places I’ve been in the last few months, I’ve captured some amazing photographs of the animals. When I take photos, I love to paint my favorites. In a photo, I can capture a moment and a feeling, but when I paint, I like to mess with the colors and the perspective. I started with an elephant, and then a flamingo, and I’ve just kept going from there. I’m obsessed with the birds, but I have crazy, fun ideas for the big cats.

I recognize that there is something special about my own story in all of this. It is a piece of my childhood that I still love so much. It has ignited a story in my head.

So, with my inspiration, I’m working on two of my bucket list items to write and illustrate a children’s book. It's not to sell, or morph into someone else's idea of what it should be, it is a project that has come together in a fantastic way that makes me feel excited in the most amazing way.

I am still in the initial stages, but I thought that I would share two of my first paintings:

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Walking Meditation

I have always used my daily work breaks to take walks. At first, it was because I wanted extra exercise; however, I’ve found that it also relieves stress, clears my head, wakes up my brain, and gives me 15 minutes to myself each morning. In  The Artist's Way, Julia Cameron suggests that these types of daily walks as a meditation. It feels true; when I walk, I find a special kind of inspiration and clarity.

Last week, I reread The Tao of Pooh (for about the 100th time). I have been feeling stressed and a little lost, and reading the book always grounds me in goodness. In an effort to be more Pooh-worthy, I’ve been inspired to slow down and appreciate things more.

So, while walking earlier this week, I tried to slow down my thoughts and look around. I started during my morning walks, and first thing, I really saw was all of the beautiful, old oaks trees surrounding work. Their trunks are interesting knots of branches that are topped by oblong, airy groupings of leaves. It helped me to stop and respect the moment, so I painted a few of my favorites to remember. I might have improvised on the color a bit.