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Posts from the ‘Kelly’ Category

Kelly: When I Grow Up, I Want To…

I was doing some major studio cleaning and reorganizing this Sunday when I came back across the cards the girls made me for Mother’s Day. I keep a box in my studio of cards they make me since, more often than not, they make them sitting right there next to me…their little fingers covered with oil pastels and markers while they say “No peeking, Mama!” But these particular cards were made at school. They were those “My Mom…..” fill-in-the-blank kinds of things, like “My Mom has blond hair and green eyes.” I mentioned my eye-opening moment those cards brought me back in this post. What was the eye opening moment?

On Sarah’s card, one particular line read, “My Mom does not like to fish.” Sure enough, I hate to fish. I have no patience for fishing. If I don’t get a nibble within the first two minutes, I’m done. On that same line, Olivia’s read, “My Mom does not like to have fun so much.” Ouch. Big ouch. Given all the special fun stuff I try to do with them, that one really hurt. When I asked Livvie what she meant, she said, “Well, you’re always working, Mama, so you don’t get to play with us as much as Daddy does.” Amazing the clarity of children. When I looked at it from her perspective, she was exactly right. I don’t get to “play” with them as much as Daddy does, at least not during the week. DH leaves the house at 6:30 am every morning, before the girls are even up, so I have the morning duty of getting everyone fed, dressed and to school and work. Guess there’s not a whole lot of “fun” in that. DH picks them up from school about 4 pm every afternoon, so when they get home, they spend about 15 minutes on homework before they get to play, take a swim in the alien pod pool, ride their bikes around the backyard, etc. I don’t get home until at least 6 pm or 6:30 pm on the nights I’m not teaching. Teaching nights, it’s closer to bedtime. But even at 6 pm or 6:30 pm, that’s just in time to get dinner on the table, review a little homework, take a bath, and then read a book before bed. That’s one thing I’m diligent about: Mama gets to read the bedtime book and put them to bed every night, and we have our little bedtime lullaby that only Mama sings.

I know this isn’t unusual for working moms, but that doesn’t make it any less painful. I’ve mentioned here before that I’ve been keeping an eye out for full-time faculty openings for a while now. A full-time faculty position (as opposed to a full-time administrative position combined with part-time teaching) would definitely give me a lot more time. There are a few positions opening up in the fall, and I submitted my application last week. Even though I know a change is needed (no news to my supervisors as I’ve already shared this news with them), I have to admit I submitted that application with mixed emotions. I enjoy teaching, I truly do. Yet I also truly enjoy my current role in Student Life and Leadership Development. I think what I’d miss most if I am able to move into a faculty position is “leading” something. I’ve been in a leadership role for so long that that would be a difficult transition for me. Interesting thing about that, though, is that I’d have no hesitation leaving the formal work force all together, with my only “leadership role” being that of full-time mom and artist, but that’s not an option for us financially.

These particular positions are also new to the college. With our change to a four-year state college, we’re now approaching college-prep classes a little differently, and that will be the focus of these positions. Whereas our “normal” faculty positions require 15 classroom hours and 15 office hours per week each fall and spring term, these positions require 16 classroom hours (since prep classes are four credit hours each) and 16 lab tutoring hours. The 30 vs. 32 hours isn’t the issue as much as the fact that with the new positions, those 16 non-classroom hours are dedicated to tutoring instead of office hours, leaving class prep and grading to whenever you can fit it in. The carrot to balance that? Summers off. My other concern is the flexibility I might lose. Currently, as an administrator, I have ample annual leave and sick leave, so when I need to take a day off to go on a field trip with the girls, visit their school for an awards program, or take a couple days off for an arts festival or retreat, that’s easily done. That’s not so easily done in a faculty position. There is no annual leave or sick leave because you have summers off. These are all things I need to figure out and all questions I’ll have to ask should I be granted an interview. While summers off would definitely be a wonderful thing, are they worth the pay cut and very little flexibility the rest of the year? All things I need to work through.

All I know for sure is that Mama definitely does like to have fun and having more time to do that would be nice. I’ve been trying to look at things objectively. Now, I work some long hours but I have a lot of flexibility. Should I make a switch, I’d have fewer work nights and work weekends away from home coupled with summers off, but less flexibility during the school year and a pay cut. I can think of a lot of things I’d like to do with summers off, like have much more time to create art and expand my Purple Cottage ideas and retreats, which could potentially make up for or even surpass filling in for the pay cut I’d be taking, yet would I then be limited to doing those types of things during the summer, particularly the retreats, because I’d lose flexibility during the fall and spring? You see my conundrum? I realize I’m putting the cart before the horse here, but for my sanity, I need to work through these things before the horse gets rigged up. So, oh wise ones out there, what’s your take? If you were in my shoes facing a decision like this, what would you want to be when you grew up, since I guess that is exactly what I’m talking about here. 🙂

[Cross-posted from Artful Happiness]

Kelly: So My Happy Spirit Can Prevail

I have been blessed with a happy spirit. Sure, everyone has her share of struggles, and I’ve had mine. My parents have had five marriages and divorces between the two of them, my mother attempted suicide and then a year later did take her own life, and I miscarried twins two days after losing her. But I’ve found that even through all that, I’ve remained a pretty happy spirit. I attribute some of it to those very events. The one lesson that has stuck with me through all of that is one that rests squarely on my shoulders: I am the only person responsible for my happiness. Just me. No one else. I believe that happiness is a choice, regardless of your circumstances.

Art Forms Emerge
When I look back over those times in my life, I realize that what kept me focused was art, in whatever form it took at the time. As a kid, I was into any craft I could get my hands on. In addition to being a wonderfully talented seamstress, my Nana was also a ceramics artist and had her own business selling her ceramics for years. She taught me to sew and she taught me to create dozens of whimsical little ceramics pieces. After my parents divorced in 1978, Mom and Nana introduced me to needlepoint. I was 12. From there I discovered cross-stitch and embroidery. And music … still yet another art form. I started playing piano then and play still today, 32 years later. I realize now that through each major event I’ve experienced in my life, another art form emerged. In high school and all through college, I wrote, pouring my experiences into long detailed essays and journal entries to get everything out. Through the power of the written word, I rid myself of any sadness I experienced so that my happy spirit could prevail. I didn’t dwell on why things happened. I accepted them for the lessons they could give me and then released them. After my mother’s death, I recorded a CD, using music as my therapy, which led me to add guitar to my artistic endeavors. To this day, I still very much have an “it is what it is” attitude. Why not just make the best of what it is, whatever “it” happens to be? I believe that life is far too important to be taken too seriously.

A Place to Create Happiness
When my twin girls were born in 2003, my artistic side really started taking center stage. I started creating jewelry, simply because I wanted a mother’s bracelet commemorating my girls’ birth. From there, I got hooked on jewelry design and Happy Shack Designs was born. Since I started my business six years ago, I’ve expanded my art to include my long-lost love of photography, and I’m now delving more and more into mixed-media art. But even before I incorporated my business, I had dreams of having a happy little shack where all sorts of creativity took place … place where people could come together to create art and share stories and make their own happiness … a place where they, too, could discover that happiness is, in fact, a choice. And from that dream, The Purple Cottage was born. I’m now combining my love for art with the experiential education skills I’ve learned in my career as the coordinator of student life and leadership development at a large four-year college here in Florida.

Helping Me Save Myself
This is where I believe art has the power to save. From my own experiences, I’ve learned that art cannot only be an escape, but it can also be the salve that heals and the glue that mends. Through the simple act of creating art, in all its many forms, I believe you can create your own happiness and build your self-confidence. Has art saved me? Honestly, I can’t really say that for sure. What I can say for certain is that art helped me save myself. My wish is to use those lessons to empower others to do the same.

As appeared at Crescendoh for Kelly’s Art Saves guest curator post. To learn more about Kelly Warren, visit happyshackdesigns.com or purplecottageretreats.blogspot.com.

Kelly: Memory Making for Mermaids

I was out for lunch today when I pulled up next to an old Ford Pinto. Wow, what memories. I couldn’t help but smile. And I also couldn’t believe that there was still a Ford Pinto on the road! When I was growing up, my mom had a red Pinto. Two particular memories jumped out at me. When I was 12 and my sister was 2, my parents divorced, and Mom, Kim, and I moved to Orange Park to be near my Nana and Granddaddy. We were driving down Blanding Blvd (which was three-lane at the time…one northbound, one southbound, and one turn lane…today it’s seven lanes), and Mom hit a dog that was following a little boy riding his bike. I remember her being devastated, far more devastated than the little boy. She stopped and picked up the dog, put it in the trunk of that Pinto and followed the little boy home on his bike. Kim and I stayed in the car when we got to the little boy’s house, so I don’t remember what happened from there, just that Mom cried for quite some time that day. She would have been 32. Years later, I learned how she felt. A few years after DH and I got married, I hit a kitten coming home from class one night, and I cried for days. I was right about 32.

The second memory was far more fun. I think I was about 13, so Kim would have been 3. Mom was trying to take me to school and Kim to Nana’s for the day so she could go to work, but the Pinto wouldn’t start. She got out of the car, beyond frustrated, and Kim and I followed. She kicked the car and said, and I remember this soooo clearly, “This f*#%ing car isn’t worth a s*^t!” Kim looked at Mom and then kicked the car and repeated word for word what she said. That was the first and last time I ever heard my mother cuss.

Isn’t it interesting what memories stick with us? I honestly don’t have a lot of early childhood memories; I wish I did. Most of the memories I do have revolve around my Nana since I spent so much time with her, like the time we visited Aunt Livy and Uncle Wilbur in Key West when I was 7 or 8 and Nana discovered that I was a sleepwalker. I went to the mall that night, sitting on the end of the bed pretending to drive and then walking down the hallway to Sears, Nana told me. (I still sleepwalk and now tend to move furniture and groceries in my sleep, go figure.) I also learned how to play penny ante poker that week. My Nana and Aunt Livy were card sharks, and I still love to play poker today. DH is a very sore loser and says Aunt Livy and I cheat. And at 88, she just grins at him and hands me a card under the table…naw….just kidding…sort of. 😉

Before my parents divorced, Mom worked all day as a nurse, and Dad often worked two jobs, one of which was at Sears selling appliances. I know they did their best, and I’m thankful for the determination and independence they created in me. I want to create determination and independence in my girls as well, and I’m hopeful that I’m also creating lots of memories for them. I want them to remember these days. Maybe that’s one of the benefits of blogging; hopefully they’ll be able to go back and read these stories and they’ll spark memories.

Right now, the girls and I are taking an online class together called Mermaid Warriors. It’s with McCabe Russell, and we’re loving it. McCabe works with young girls using art to help build self-esteem, and she’s taking us through her class with wonderful videos and a discussion blog. One of the things I want to do with the Purple Cottage is mother/daughter art retreats combined with lessons in self-knowledge, self-esteem and good citizenship, and when I stumbled across McCabe’s blog and class that teaches you how to do just that, I knew the Universe was speaking to me! (I’m slowly learning to listen to her.)

This weekend, the girls had a friend sleep over and we created our first Mermaid Warrior project together, these fun little journals out of scrapbook paper and ribbon. We had so much fun! DH even pitched in where we’d let him. It was a girls-only event after all. 😉 I took some video of the girls creating their books and talking about what they wrote in them. If I can ever figure out how to create a movie, I’ll share it with you (anyone point me to a good tutorial?). They’ve since continued to write in them and add stickers and drawings. They even created journals for their primary teacher and their art teacher and are so proud of their work. I know we’re on to something here. 🙂 More Mermaid Warrior projects coming. Don’t you just love that name? Perfect for us, don’t you think?

Cross-posted from my personal blog….

Creative Haven: Purple Cottage Retreats

If you’ve been hanging around at Studio Mothers for a while, you’re already familiar with Kelly Warren. Kelly is an inspiration, living life to the fullest with her twin daughters and husband, a fulltime job, and a busy creative life as a jewelery designer, photographer, collage artist, guitarist, singer, and active blogger. Read the Studio Mothers Breakfast interview with Kelly for details — and a guaranteed smile.

As further evidence that Kelly’s creative mojo just can’t be contained, she recently took a big step toward realizing another creative dream and launched a new venture, The Purple Cottage. The Purple Cottage offers unique creative retreats in Jacksonville, FL. The first retreat will take place May 21-23, 2010, featuring the talented Carmen Torbus — who joined us for a memorable Breakfast interview of her own. Carmen is a empowering and inspiring teacher, in addition to being a talented artist. Have a peek at Carmen’s work for yourself.

From The Purple Cottage website:

Spend the weekend constructing your personal Dream Book. Explore a mixed assortment of techniques, exercises, prompts and methods to uniquely express your thoughts, emotions and individual artistic style. Cultivate your wildest creative dreams and tuck them neatly into your Dream Book to cherish, reflect upon and nourish your soul.

Enjoy a supportive atmosphere where you can give your muse the complete freedom to play and experiment with many techniques. My demos will use paint, papers, photos, ink, collage and other media. I will toss some exercises your way to challenge you to dream bigger and expand your vision. We’ll explore words and text to create personal affirmations and find creative ways to incorporate them in our Dream Books.

At this retreat you are free to make a mess, play and let go of the need for perfection. I will gently and playfully encourage you to let loose and fully engage in the moment — creating simply for the joy of the process. Enjoy sheer artful indulgence!

Throughout the weekend, we’ll use brushes, pencils, our fingers, stamps, crayons and other tools to create texture and add color to the pages that will fill your Dream Books. We will work on several pages simultaneously, giving you complete freedom to work intuitively. Savor absolute creative abandon!

Art and Dreams ButtonIt’s hard to overestimate just how much creative excitement, learning, sharing, growing, bonding, and exploring will happen at this retreat. It sounds like a dream come true, doesn’t it? I’m still trying to figure out if I can attend this retreat myself. If I lived within a 6-hour drive of Jacksonville, it would be a no-brainer. I’m not sure my husband is still reading my blog these days, but Honey, if you are……

Kelly: The Dream Takes Shape: Part I

Happy Shacks 2Cross posted from my blog…since I think I’m the only one here not participating in NaNo! [Editor’s note: Thanks, Kelly!]

I was catching up with some Facebook friends last week and my blogging and art friend Carmen shared, “Having an article and blog feature in this issue of Artful Blogging is a dream come true! What’s on your list of dreams?” I shared with you one of my dreams in my Purple Cottage post.   Then I told you I’d be checking out a piece of property I’ve been watching for quite a while in this post. I’ve admitted here before that I haven’t totally bought into the whole “universe bringing you what you desire” concept just yet, but some little things here and there have been leading me more towards believing that, and my little visit to check out this property was a big knock on the head! I’ve known the property since college; it’s been unoccupied for at least 15 years. In that 15 years, it’s also never been for sale. So, guess what? The first time I go over to seriously take a look at it? Yep, big For Sale sign right up front.  Here are a few pictures.

Happy Shacks 1Walking around the property, I was able to really think through my dream, standing right there…right where it could actually happen. There are 10 small cottages and two small-house type structures on about 3.5 acres with 700’ waterfront footage and two docks with 16 boat slips, and then another 4 acres of undeveloped land across the street. All the structures, as well as the docks, are in good solid shape; they just need some TLC and cosmetic enhancements. So what would I do with it? The cottages would remain just as they were initially meant to be used, for lodging. They are all about efficiency size, though I’d put double queens in each for bedding to allow for more flexibility. I’d renovate one of the larger buildings into a classroom/workshop space and the other into a café/gallery space with “front office” facilities. I’d use the facility as a whole for all-inclusive art retreats, wellness retreats, and corporate team-building retreats. While the cottages are not being used for retreats, the facility would essentially be a B&B, targeting couples and/or corporate bigwigs looking for a unique, peaceful getaway.  We’d have charter fishing services available for both the retreat attendees (thinking bored husbands/boyfriends here) and B & B guests. We’d subdivide the property across the street so it remains deeded separately from the “business” property since that’s where we’d build our houses.

Happy Shacks 3I have a close friend I’ve been thinking this through with. Kath has been a high level exec with Coca-Cola since we graduated from college and is ready to escape from the corporate world. We are the perfect team for this. I have the retreat planning, leadership, team-building, and art background, and she has the wellness, business and corporate contacts background. Our husbands would handle the excursions, dining and general maintenance aspects. She also has twin boys who would grow up having the hots for my twin redheads.  🙂

Happy Shacks 4So back to Madame Universe and her connection to the property and my current employment. As I was driving over to see the property, I got the call to schedule my final interview for my position of choice. Then, boom. The next morning, there’s this big For Sale sign staring me in the face. My dream, right there ready to happen. That was a Friday; my interview was scheduled for first thing Monday morning. Interesting timing, don’t you think?   When I didn’t get the offer for the campus I wanted, that For Sale sign popped back into my head. Maybe that was part of my message that a new job was not the right thing for me right now. I’ve always been one to follow my gut, and once my top choice was off the table, I knew I needed to stay where I was.

Happy Shacks 5So what’s next? What’s next is to just keep the dream alive while we work through the possibilities. The property is currently listed for $1.6 million, but given the economy, the amount of time it’s been sitting there, the fact the most others interested in it would probably be knocking down what’s there and starting from scratch, and what I’ve learned from others who have property in the area, I think we could get them down under $1 million. So we’ll see what happens. Initially I hesitated sharing my thoughts with you here, because once you put it out there, it’s out there, right? But then I realized that if you don’t share your dreams with others, how can they help you get there? This particular piece of property may work out, and it may not, but it’s made me realize that I can do this…if not with this property, then with another. For now, though, baby steps. Still working out the details on my first baby steps, but I’ll share those with you soon! In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions on my initial plan.

Kelly: Right Where I Need to Be

Cross posted from my personal blog.

Sometimes I think it takes almost walking away from something to realize that what you currently have is truly a pretty good thing. That’s the lesson I learned last week. As I’ve shared with you guys here recently, I’d applied for a new job, still with the College but a little different focus than what I’m doing now. The process took a looooonnnnnnggggg time. However, I’m now done.  🙂  The results? I was one of two finalists for the position at the campus I was most interested in, but the Campus President there selected my competition. This Thursday, I’m scheduled to have my final interview for the position here on my campus. But I won’t be having that interview. Why? Well, since this process has taken so long, it’s given me the opportunity to really think things through, and I realized that I’ve got a darn good gig right where I am. I realized that I was far more attracted to the opportunity to once again work with a former colleague and supervisor than I was to the actual position itself, so I have officially pulled my name out of the hat.

I truly do enjoy my job (College-wide Coordinator of Student Life and Leadership Development for those of you who don’t know). Sure, there are the occasional rough spots, as all jobs have, but I know that I have a positive impact on the students that I work with, and I know that when they take the time to really listen, I’m teaching them very important life skills, while oftentimes having a darn good time in the process. More importantly, I have a heck of a lot of freedom and flexibility in my current role.  That freedom and flexibility gives me the opportunity to do what’s most important when necessary: spend time with my girls. I can go on field trips with them, visit them at school for special programs, take a day off with them when needed without the world coming to an end. Moments after I met with my Campus President to tell her my decision, I felt the weight of the world lift off my shoulders. That’s when you know you’ve done the right thing.

All that said, I received another little knock from the universe here recently that also helped steer my path. Stay tuned. I’ll tell you what that was a little later this week. So, give it some thought. Maybe you are right where you need to be at this moment too.

Kelly: Remember…and Be the Change

sthompsonCross-posted from my personal blog. Warning: This is not my usual feel good, Happy Shack post.

For the last three days, I, like probably everyone else in the Jacksonville metro area, have been overcome with the story of Somer Thompson. The story made the national news, but for those of you out of the area who’ve not heard about it, seven-year-old Somer disappeared on her way home from school last Monday afternoon. She was walking home with her twin brother and 10-year-old sister when the trio got in a little squabble and Somer ran ahead of her siblings, disappearing into the cool fall afternoon.  It was about 3pm. Her body was found in a dump in Folkston, Georgia, three days later.

Sadly, we hear more and more stories like these every day. I just learned this morning that another little girl, nine-year-old Elizabeth Olton, has been missing in Missouri since yesterday afternoon. All these cases are tragic, yet Somer’s story hit me incredibly close to home. I grew up in Orange Park, a suburb of Jacksonville, and lived less than two miles from where Somer’s family now lives. All my friends lived in that neighborhood, and we went to those neighborhood schools. One of my best friends lived on the same street as Somer’s family, and I rode my bike there several times a week. It’s unfathomable to think that a child was taken on a street that I played on many days of my young life.

The past couple of days, I’ve been talking with my girls more about stranger danger, a very important yet very difficult conversation to have with two six-year-old little girls. It’s finding that thin balance between wanting them to remain safe and make good choices while not scaring them so much that they want to turn inward and never experience the joys of childhood that all children deserve. It’s amazing how much the world has changed in the 30-35 years since I was a kid in that neighborhood. So many of us who rode the streets for hours on our bikes, staying out until dark or until Mom yelled for us to come eat dinner, now are faced with a world in which we are often afraid to let our own children do the same.

I can only imagine the devastation Somer’s family is feeling right now, particularly her mother. I’ve been on the verge of tears for her for three days, many times letting them just spill over. To bring the story even closer to home, yesterday I learned that Somer’s mother is a student right here on my campus. My students and I are working on a memorial for Somer that will take place on Monday, and I’m working with our Foundation to establish a scholarship in Somer’s name. My hope would be that the first scholarship would be awarded to Somer’s mother, and then in subsequent years, to other single mothers struggling to make ends meet while trying to make a better life for their families. If you’d like to make a donation to this scholarship once it’s established, just email me or post a comment below and I’ll send you the information as soon as it’s available.

So today, no, not my usual upbeat post. Today, I’m asking you to hug your babies, no matter how old they are. And think about our world, think about your neighborhood, think about little Somer and all the other kids out there who are missing or lost. And think about their families. Pray for them. Hope for them. And think about what little things you can do to maybe make this world a better place.

“We must be the change we wish to see in the world.” ~Mahatma Ghandi

Kelly: Love Is Time

Partially cross-posted from my personal blog

In my SLS class last night, we talked about values and time management and how our value structure plays a huge part in managing our time.  I show an inspirational video in each class, and the one I showed last night struck a chord with just about everyone in the room. Click here for the video. I showed it at the close of the class and at the end of it, I heard “awwww”s erupt from the room and then saw a few tears as they quietly filed out of the class.  It has the same effect on me every time I watch it, so I thought I’d share it with you here. It’s a good reminder that time is precious and you may never know the effect you have on another person, simply because you took an extra moment to connect. I think this rings so true to the message Brittany shared in her Creative Journey post.  Those boys will remember that day forever.

timeIt seems that we’ve all been traveling along similar paths and experiencing some of the same frustrations here lately, as evidenced by some of our posts. We all come at this combining motherhood and creativity challenge from a little different perspective, i.e. writers vs. visual artists vs. stay-at-home-moms vs. work-outside-the home moms, but as I mentioned in my rant to Cathy recently, the percentage of  stay-at-home-moms in the blogosphere seems to be very high. I’d wager that at least 80% of those who regularly subscribe to the Mom Blogger’s Club are stay-at-home-moms.

I was telling a friend of mine about my recent rant on Cathy’s post and she had an interesting perspective. She’s divorced, has no children, and is definitely not a creative type, but she most definitely never hesitates in speaking her mind. Her thoughts were that maybe instead of spending so much time on the computer blogging about how little time they have, they could be using that time to actually do something a little more productive. I know that suggestion may ruffle some feathers here, but I also know that the lesson didn’t escape me either. Regardless of where we work — in an actual office away from home or right there at home — maybe we all spend a little too much time complaining about how little time we have when we could be using that time more productively, like in my case anyway, spending more quality time with my girls. A bit reminiscent of our Someday is Today discussion, don’t you think?

Kelly: Let the Crap Go

Spill It OOlivia created this canvas with me on Saturday. I was working on my Spill It! assignment for Carmen’s class, and Livvie decided she wanted to try along with me.  (Sarah chose to paint an “Open” and “Closed” sign for their room instead.)  She was following along with me for the most part when I looked over at her and realized she was crying. Oh goodness. I immediately went over to her with my paint covered hands, tried to give her a hug without getting paint all over her, and asked her what was wrong.

“I keep messing it all up, Mama!”  Livvie is a bit of a perfectionist.  The one thing she was doing differently than me was that she was using a paintbrush, not her fingers, because she didn’t want to get paint all over her fingers (which surprised me because the child has no issue getting completely covered with mud in the back yard). But I guess—maybe because of her art resource period at school?—she thought that painting with a paint brush was the “correct” way to paint. I quickly took her over to my laptop and showed her some of the canvases our class had posted in our ning group…to show her that, like mine, none of them were “perfect.”  (No offense to my Spill It! friends!)  After that, I asked her to consider putting her paintbrush down, and I helped her smush some paint around with her fingers. Then I showed her how we could take the opposite end of her paintbrush and draw smiley faces in the wet paint.  That got her. 🙂  From there, she tried a little of the bubble wrap method and then dipped the heart shaped cookie cutter I had given her into her pink paint and added the heart you see in the middle. After the addition of the stickers, she declared it done with a quiet smile on her face, remnants of tears still on her cheeks.

I’ve been thinking about that all week, particularly in regards to the expectations we put upon our children and our selves. I didn’t have any expectations for Livvie’s painting; I just wanted her to have fun. But because of her own expectations, she wasn’t having any fun at all at first. She’s been struggling a little at school, and we’ve had to meet with her teacher.  Boy, did that break my heart. I was heartbroken for her because she was struggling, and I know that she notices that Sarah hardly ever struggles with her schoolwork, and I was heartbroken for me because she wasn’t meeting the “standards.”  Terrible of me, huh. What standards? My standards? No, I guess they weren’t my standards, they were the school’s standards, but I realized my standards when it comes to academics are probably pretty high, too. She’s in first grade, for Pete’s sake! I have to admit, I never struggled in school. Not even through grad school. School just always came easy to me. But I see that it doesn’t come easy to Livvie just yet. She’ll get there; we’re committed to helping her at her pace, in whatever way she needs, providing mountains of encouragement and positive reinforcement along the way. We’re spending more one-on-one time with the two of them while they are doing their homework, so Livvie doesn’t have that in-your-face opportunity to compare herself with her sister.

Back to my expectations of myself…  I guess because I was always good in school, I expected that I’d be able to help my girls be good in school. I’m finding that that’s going to be a big learning process for me. And then I think about my expectations in regards to all this art stuff. I’ve always played with art. But when I started playing with mixed media, I realized I was definitely going to have to lower my expectations for myself.  The first mixed media piece I created with Wyanne taught me a big lesson. Like Livvie, I too, was a perfectionist! Wy sweetly told me that I was just going to have to let that “crap” go, just play, and not worry so much about the end result. Maybe that’s a really good life lesson too.  Let the crap go…just play…and maybe everything will fall into place as it’s meant to be. That’s definitely a good lesson for me right now.

Kelly: A Girl’s Gotta Dream…

Cross-posted from my personal blog…

journal 5a

Catching my breath quite a bit here lately so I haven’t had much happening on the art front. Here’s another spread from my art journal I’ve been working on. I’ve actually even started writing in it now!!! I was in Tampa Friday and Saturday facilitating some leadership programs and came home with a nasty cold virus. Slept pretty much all day Sunday and most of the day Monday. I guess I needed some rest! Made it back into work today but still feeling way under par. When I got back in town Saturday afternoon, I picked the girls up over at the football party DH and they were attending and told DH I needed to work on simplifying my life. He quickly agreed! Trick is, how do you do that?

Over dinner one night last week, we were talking about work stuff and he asked me where I saw myself in 10 years.  I had to respond, “Like, for real or for dreaming?” Pretty telling question, huh? Where the realist in me sees me is vastly different from where the dreamer in me sees me. I’m working on coming to terms with the fact that turning your dreams into reality is one of the biggest challenges you’ll ever face….when you add in paying the mortgage; raising wonderful, caring, thoughtful children; saving for their college education; planning for retirement….all that real life stuff, the choices are hard! That’s where the simplification of life to make it all work towards that dream meets the challenges of real life! Does that make sense? For example, I have nearly 17 years in with the state of Florida retirement system. Just for giggles, I checked out the retirement calculator recently. I looked at what the state would send me per month starting at age 62 if I were to retire tomorrow. Then I looked at what the state would send me per month starting at age 62 if I worked 13 more years to earn my full 30. Boy was that a shock of realism! The stick it out for 13 more years figure was more than 30 times that of the retire tomorrow figure.

journal 5b

So, how do I answer that “Where do you see yourself in 10 years” question then? Realistically, still working for the college, preferably by that point in a somewhat lower-paying, but much more free-time friendly faculty position.  In the short run, I’m still working towards a new step up position (first interview next week!). Now the dreamer, the dreamer in me sees myself and the family in a much different position…closer to that Purple Cottage I told you about. My Purple Cottage post generated quite a bit of discussion and some great ideas surfaced, an expansion of the purple cottage so to speak. That’s the dream I’m keeping stoked (so maybe it’ll be for 13 years instead of 10..what’s three years in the big scheme of things?). There’s a piece of property I’ve been familiar with since I was in college….and it hasn’t changed since I was in college. The location shall remain right here in my little brain. 🙂  It’s on the coast and has ten little concrete bungalows on it. Those cottages could easily been renovated…a few of them for lodging, a few of them for art studios, one of them for a kids’ playroom, one of them for a kitchen and dining area. You catchin’ what I’m layin’ down here? Sounding anything like that Mothers’ Studio Miranda tossed out there? Of course, this would involve selling our house and moving to a small town, but we plan to do that in the next ten years anyways. I’ve been keeping my eye on that property. Next time I’m over in that area, I’m gonna do me a little research… A girl’s gotta dream, right?

Kelly: Weekly Challenge…What’s Next?

dog days

The dog days of summer are upon us, and the leaves of my gerbera daisies have browned along the edges, having long given up having the energy to bloom.  These dog days bring about the start of Fall term in my world, which usually brings about a renewed sense of energy for me. Yet this year, it has not.  Today is the first day of Fall term, and instead of feeling invigorated and ready for the start of a new year, I’m tired, hot, overscheduled and, as I set up a tent and lugged around 30 cases of water and drinks for Welcome Back at 7:30 this morning, sorely missing my staff person whose position was recently eliminated.

I spent a good part of the weekend doing what I so rarely do: absolutely nothing but sit on the couch and watch movies (well okay, in between six loads of laundry and a few updates on my website). I really needed that down time.  The girls lounged around with me, and DH took some good long naps, not feeling well.  Over the course of the weekend, I did a lot of thinking about what’s important and what’s not…what’s needed to keep me happy and what just weighs me down.  Being overscheduled is nothing new in my world, and as a working mother, much of it is out of my hands, but I’ve hit the point where I need to take some things back to make the required parts of the juggle a little more manageable.  I find that I probably spend a little too much time online, and while some of that is necessary to manage my online business presence and keep up with good friends who are far away, some of it is voluntary.  It’s those voluntary parts I need to let go of to make room for those more important things…like more time with my kids and more time to make art just for me and no one else, the kind of art I don’t have to worry about keeping an inventory of for the Riverside Arts Market and my juried shows…the kind of art I can make with my girls…the kind of art that just lets me play without feeling the pressure of a deadline.

One of those voluntary things I’ll be letting go of is my role as team leader for our North Florida Craft Revolution Etsy team.  I’m proud of the blog I created and manage for the team, but I’m also tired of having it all rest on me; I spend more time on the team blog than I do marketing my own work, and that seems a bit backwards, don’t you think?  Another of those things is this weekly challenge.  I’ve enjoyed keeping it going, yet submissions have dwindled without that $10 Amazon prize carrot, and it’s become a struggle to make sure there’s at least one entry each week.  I do this with a catch in my heart because I’ve gained much through this community, but my time is becoming more and more precious.  So with this, I bid you adieu, weekly challenge.  Should someone else want to take over the coordination, I’ll participate when I can.  

It’s scary to let things go sometimes, isn’t it? I know it is for me.  Since I’ve started blogging I’ve come across more and more blogs that talk about being true to your authentic self.  I have to admit, at first I thought that was a bunch of baloney.  I’m very much a “what you see is what you get” and “it is what it is” kinda girl.  Yet there are pieces of that authenticity movement, if you want to call it that, that have hit home with me.  And maybe the biggest part is taking charge of your life, doing the things that mean the most to you, letting go of the things that don’t matter, and finding that balance between managing your day-to-day real life while still reaching for your dreams.  It’s in my nature to juggle, so I know that won’t change, but I am working towards not having quite so many balls in the air at once.   

Kelly: Yep, I’m Flying Too

Okay, I’m doing it. I’ve sent in my 50% deposit. I’m looking at flights. I’m telling myself and telling myself again that it’s okay to do this thing just for me, so here I go. February 18-22, 2010, I will be participating in An Artful Journey, taking DJ Pettitt’s class. I am incredibly excited and incredibly terrified at the same time. I’ve wanted to do something like this ever since I started playing around with mixed media.  I’m very much a kinesthetic learner; I have to learn by doing. And what better way to learn by doing than to actually be there learning and doing with an incredibly talented artist and instructor? This will push me past just marking all the wonderful projects in Somerset Studio and Cloth Paper Scissors with my “I must try this soon” sticky notes. This will make me sit down with a group of other artists (I still hesitate at calling myself that) and do. This will force me to face my fears and my doubts and really put myself out there for all to see (well, at least all in the class anyway…) I talked with DJ via email earlier today and she’s incredibly gracious and incredibly encouraging and incredibly unaware of my sheer terror.  🙂 Have I said incredibly enough yet?

I actually registered for this class about two weeks ago, but I had been hesitating sending in my confirmation deposit because I was having a hard time justifying spending the money on something this self-indulgent that would take me away from my family for five days. This is definitely a “want to” do, not a “have to” do. Times are tough all around right now economically. I have friends who’ve lost their jobs, I have a husband who’s had to lay off employees and is concerned about the amount of work he has, and I have children who need school clothes and supplies. And then there’s me: full-time-working, bust-my-butting, family-care-taking wife and mom who yearns to ditch her day job and play with paint, paper and beads all day long. What pushed me to finally send in my deposit was our discussion on “fly anyway,” prompted my Miranda’s photo and comments. Thanks for that push, Brittany. “Work every day but fly when you can.” I’m working my butt off so I can fly to California in February. Maybe I’ll even work enough to bring the family along so they can walk through a giant redwood while I’m sifting through a pile of beautiful papers. Either way, California, here I come!

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