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31 January 2010

Inspired by...Solar System

"Silently, one by one, in the infinite meadows of heaven,
Blossomed the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels."
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Evangeline

The Solar System project is a 3rd grade right of passage around here. When Sport-o came home with the paper he announced that we needed to buy styrofoam balls. Um...no, son. If that is the example, then every kid in 3rd grade would be buying out the stock of styrofoam balls in a 50 mile radius. You will be different, I said. He railed against that, but ultimately I won{I am the mommy, after all}. We came up with the idea to use polymer clay to make the planets, complete with glow in the dark rings on Saturn and tiny silver beads strung on memory wire to simulate the stars. Now we have this project in a shoe box under his bed forever {I can't wait to bring it out to show his kids someday...or sell it on eBay for a premium!}.

So when Tiny Dancer brought the paper home, she naturally wanted to do the same as her brother. Um...no, daughter. Not only will you not get to use styrofoam balls, but you will not be using clay, either. She thought about and then her eyes lit up. "I know!" she exclaimed. "We'll make jewelry!" {I knew I raised her right *wink*}

This may be the most expensive solar system project ever. We went to Michael's and sought beads and components that were in the colors and relative sizes of the planets. Very surprising that there are all sorts of beads out there that really do mimic the pictures we have of these heavenly bodies. Of course, now I have a strand of large sponge coral Jupiteresque beads that need a home, and a great deal of rings that we didn't end up using for Saturn. But we sure had fun.

Believe it or not, Tiny Dancer did the majority of the work. Dad helped string a bit of Earth and the Sun, and I helped with the finishing,We were inspired to name our Heavenly Body Jewelry Collection by the lines of a song that played repeatedly on Sport-o's Blue's Clues boombox, by the green stripe-clad Steve. Following are the words and our inspired jewelry designs.


The Sun's a hot star

Mercury's hot, too


Venus is th
e brightest planet

Earth's home to me and you


Mars is the red one


Jupiter's most wide

Saturn's got those icy rings


Uranus spins on its side


Neptune's really windy


Pluto's really small

Well, we wanted to name the planets

And now we've named them all

~Blue's Clues boombox as sung by Steve


Since we were Inspired by... the jewels in our skies to create these works of wearable art, I thought this would be the perfect Inspired by... challenge to start out the new year, new decade.

How it works:

  • Create a piece of jewelry (earrings, necklace or bracelet) using the inspiration of the entire Universe {think planets, asteroids, comets, constellations, Milky Way, etc. Be creative!}

  • Post your picture to the Flickr account here.

  • If you are so inspired {and I hope you will be!}, feel free to create as many pieces as you like for challenge and post to the Flickr account, but your name will only be entered once. (For extra BONUS ENTRY opportunities, see below). You have until 11:59 pm CST on Sunday, February 28th (revised the date to give you more time!) to post to the Flickr account. {Since the Universe is so large, I thought that I would give you more time to create your heavenly body designs!}

  • Check back on Feburary 15th when I will announce the RANDOM winner of this Inspired by...challenge. Check back later this week for the prize...

In the description of your picture be sure to add the following:

  • Title of the piece

  • Short description of your inspiration

  • Your Name

  • Your email address

  • Your blog or website

BONUS ENTRY OPPORTUNITIES:


  • If you use an art bead in your piece {art bead is defined as a bead or component created by yourself or another artisan}, be sure to point that out in your description {with a link to the appropriate artisan’s website, shop or blog} and you will have TWO extra entries.

  • If you blog, Facebook, Twitter, sky write or take out a billboard to publicize each week’s challenge, be sure to let me know {leave a comment on that week's challenge} and your name will be in for ONE extra entry.

  • That's a total of FIVE ENTRIES!

Go and get inspired today!

Enjoy the day!




29 January 2010

RAW::Nothing Like the Sun

"My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red:

If snow be white, whey then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damask'd, red and white,

But no such roses see I in her cheeks;

And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.

I love to hear her speak, yet well I know

That music hath a far more pleasing sound:

I grant that I never saw a goddess go,
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground.

And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare."

~William Shakespeare


I heart Shakespeare.

In another lifetime, I was an English teacher {betcha didn't know that. Betcha didn't know that an English teacher would be so bold as to say 'betcha.'} {Actually, it is killing me to say that}. It was so long ago and far away that I can barely lay claim to that now. But once a teacher, always a teacher in your soul.

My first Shakespeare class in college at UW-Madison was in a lecture hall with 359 other souls and no discussion sections. We were assigned a different play to read each of the days the class met, Monday-Wednesday-Friday, and all the tests were essay. {To say that this was a nightmarish way to experience the nuances and lessons of Shakespeare is a gross understatement.} Needless to say, I flunked my midterm. I was crushed. I had the hardest time keeping up with the reading let alone understanding it all when the tweed attired prof spouted of random lines and seemed to have no logical plan, switching from one play to the next, and never taking questions from the class. So I dropped that faster than you can say 'iambic pentameter.'

I picked it up again in the summer when I was at home at UW-Stevens Point {I had to, after all, I was an English major and you can't graduate with an English major and no Shakespeare!}. This time I was in an intimate classroom with 21 other students. They all envied me my brand-spankin'-new copy of the Collected Works of Shakespeare {they all had horrible rentals}. I still have this copy of the book. It reminds me of that summer when I enjoyed each of the works thoroughly and got an -A.

While I love the plays -- the romanticism, the lessons, the humor, the settings, the angst, and the fully developed and complex characters -- I really have a soft spot for the sonnets.

My very favorite is #130.

A sonnet is comprised of 14 verses, and each verse is ten syllables. The iambic pentameter that each verse is composed in has a pattern of A,B, A, B, C, D, C, D, E, F, E, F, G, G, with the last two lines as a rhyme.

I find this poem particularly striking because at the time that Shakespeare was writing, poets spoke in flowery language idealizing the women of their dreams. It would seem that all women were in flowy dresses, with flowers strewn upon their path while they hovered slightly above the ground. Here, Shakespeare refutes that notion. The woman he loves is not as dazzling as the sun, has wires growing from her head, and has a bad case of halitosis. But yet he loves her. I find that very comforting imagery.

Since we are upon the season of mass-produced, shopping mall driven love, I think that this poem is a wonderful reminder of what love really is. Accepting the faults of the one that we hold dear is truly, madly and deeply the truth and power of love. I had a boyfriend once in high school who insisted on complimenting me every chance he could get. He seemed to think I was light itself. Ugh. It was awful! Ol' Will tells us that there is no need to place your love on a pedestal, a height that no one is able to attain or sustain. Rather it is the reality of the one that we love that keeps us bound. While we may have looked spectacular in the beginning, beauty fades and some with more fickle tastes could find their 'love' waning. But that is not true love.

What comes across as negatives really makes a positive statement in this sonnet. His love is rare, and he does not need to make overblown comparisons to appreciate her beauty.

When I was young and skinny{er} with nary a wrinkle or unruly gray strays on my head, I won over my husband. But over time I have changed {and truthfully, so has he} but we have evolved into loving the flaws and the extra baggage and the artfully colored gray. There are still loving embraces and I find them to be more tender and special than in the early days, probably because he knows all about me and loves me anyway.

I am content to be grounded because that means that I will have the chance to walk beside my love as we wade through all our lives. I feel safe in the knowledge that my husband, were he to talk in iambic pentameter, would share the same sentiment about me as Will did for his dark mistress.

And I will always think my love as rare.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Do you like the amazing art that I have shared?
This was created by my friend Kerry Bogert of KAB's Concepts. You may know her from her amazing glass creations, or her upcoming book Totally Twisted due in stores this Spring. But she also makes the most incredible mixed media paintings featuring those glass treasures. Kerry created this one especially for me in a color palette I love. I squealed when I got it and then had a good cry...there is nothing more special than having a piece of art created just for you.

Do go check out her artistry! Have her make one just for you!

----------------------------------------------------------

What do you love about the special someone in your life?
What funny quirks and endearing qualities does that someone possess?

What is your favorite piece of the Great Bard?
If you were to write a line or two in iambic pentameter about your love, what would you say?

Do tell!


Check It Out::No Fear Shakespeare
Enjoy the day!

28 January 2010

30 Words::Yummy


random bits of lovely
arrive in a manila envelope
connecting to new old friends
inviting me to cook up something new
feeding the hunger to create
Bead Soup is yummy


Join me and all my new friends as we work with our mystery ingredients to create a new recipe for Bead Soup thanks to Lori Anderson's blog Pretty Things.


Special thanks to my Bead Soup partner Emma Thomas of Fredbean's Nook for providing me with these delectible delights.


Check back on February 10th for a Bead Soup Party!
Enjoy the day!

27 January 2010

The Simple Things

"It is always the simple things that change our lives. And these things never happen when you are looking for them to happen. Life will reveal answers at the pace life wishes to do so. You feel like running, but life is on a stroll. This is how God does things."

~Donald Miller
The Simple Things that make my soul sing...
...when my children tell me they love me...
...tucking my son into bed (hopefully he will stay there and not wake up and not be worried that he will fall back to sleep - just go to sleep!)...blowing goodnight kisses to my daughter...
...connecting with other artists at Gallery Q (especially AS and JW)...
...being in a community that appreciates art in all its forms...
...getting an unexpected package of beads in the mail from Sue Beads...
...participating in the Bead Soup party with the talented Emma Thomas from FredBeansNook as my partner (will you just look at those supremely cool beaded beads she made?!)...
...connecting with my Delta sister KJ at Silver Parrot and bonding over beads and boys and bad deli counter experiences...
...reading the deep truth of MJ at Mariedodd and appreciating her thoughtful mentoring of me...
...traveling to small town 6th grade basketball tournaments...
...witnessing the freedom of movement when Tiny Dancer twirls with happiness...
...rosy cheeks after playing outside in the snow...
...a fireplace that lights at the flick of a switch...with no ashes to clean ever...
...mailing packages to beady friends across the globe...Canada, Germany, Australia...and hearing how delighted they are to receive their winning gifts....planning the next Inspired by... challenge (Stay tuned! Coming soon!)...

Jupiter's Most Wide

...working with Tiny Dancer on the solar system jewelry project (due today!)...
...Kookaboora red licorice...

...girls' weekend with my sister and 5 year old niece and my daughter...the first of many to come...

...drinking wine with my sister (mmm...merlot)...
...live theater...especially musicals...
...watching daughter discovering the treasure that is Laura Ingalls Wilder, just as I did when I was her age...
...reading the sage and soul-searing words of Danielle LaPorte at White Hot Truth (she always sets my heart on fire)...
...discovering my Style Statement...
...pesto with shrimp fettucine for dinner (I always have the ingredients for this 10 minute recipe on hand)...
...banana bread with chocolate chips (because really, everything is better with chocolate chips!)...
...fluffy snowflakes...


...toasting the New Year with my oldest and best friend...
...straight A's on 3rd grade report card (not simple at all, just fabulous!)...
...highest honors in 6th grade (definitely a lot of hard work!)...
...my handmade winter hat from recycled sweaters, with a big wool flower from artist Jeanne Weymouth, the Whimsy J...I get stopped when I am wearing it all the time...
...my handmade winter mittens from my friend Dorothy, with little leather patches on the palm so I can drive...
...anticipating Spring...
...candles burning on the altar at Church...
...celebrating 42 years (Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad!)...
...colliding with my husband for 'date night on the couch'...
...the smell of Japanese Cherry Blossom anything from Bath & Body Works...
...clean floors...
...playing Wii with my kids (particularly fishing and Speed Racer)...watching my 64 year old father try to play Wii...
...hugs...the real kind with squeezes and everything...
...being held in a loving embrace...
...letting go of those things that don't work...
...cherishing friends who understand the real me...and leaving behind those who don't "get" me...
...imagining impossibilities...
...reservations to Christian's Bistro...
...massages with Allen at Inner Element (could use one right now)...
...getting lost in a book...
...having my TiVo work again after almost two months...
...dreaming of traveling...to Paris...India...Brazil...or just Chicago...

...planning an Ikea run with my sister who has never been...
...pouring over the Bead & Button show classes...
...plotting which ones I can take that will maximize my time, talents and treasure...
...dreaming of connecting with all my new bead-y, bloggy friends there...
...working on my first gallery exhibit proposal, and having support of the other artists...
...staying in a hotel with a really great hot breakfast in the morning...
...the fact that my husband does the laundry...including the folding...
...imagining the decorating possibilities on my blank walls...
...blueberry muffins brimming with berries...
...freshly brewed coffee...
...coming home...

What are the simple things that give your heart joy?
What are the often overlooked parts of your day that really make your soul sing?

Do tell!

26 January 2010

The Simple Things in Life, redux


Sometimes it is the little things that make a big difference.

Have you thought about those little things lately?

Back in November I participated in writing a list of the simple things in life that make my soul sing. {You can read that post here.}Perhaps you have a simple list yourself. If you are so like-minded, I encourage you to join in the Simple Things blog post party on Wednesday, January 27th hosted by Christina of Soul Aperture. And here's the kicker...For every blogger that posts a Simple Things list on January 27th and links back to the Soul Aperture blog post here, Christina will donate $1.00 to the charity Doctors Without Borders for the Haiti Relief efforts. What a simple way to bring hope to the hopeless and buoy your soul at the same time.
If you would like to join in, please check it out.

See you back here on Wednesday with my {new and improved}list of Simple Things!

Enjoy the day!

21 January 2010

RAW::Walking Toward


{buy this original artwork from AQuartzyLife on Etsy}

"Knowing what we don’t want is also knowing what we do want.
Abandoning is also approaching. Walking away from things – the right things – is also walking toward who we are."

~ Aidan Donnelly Rowley


This Random Act of Wisdom was tipped off from a blog that I have been following avidly of late. Aidan Donnelly Rowley is one of the most eloquent writers I choose to read. Every thing that she says is always so full of the meaning of life, whether it is the subtle nuances of parenting or the bigger picture of what really matters. I don't know how I stumbled on her blog. But I am glad I did.


Recently she posted something that has my mind reeling.


Walking Away = Walking Toward

You know when everything that you are thinking about seems to come back to you...like when you are breaking up and every song on the radio seems like the lyrics were written just for you? This post by Aidan Donnelly Rowley is like those lyrics for me.

Since I am personally considering where I am now and all that I might walk away from, I also need to consider what I am walking toward. That shift in thinking is truly eye opening for me.

She asks the question, what is so bad about walking away?

We struggle with that, don't we? We never want to see something come to an end. We relish new beginnings, looking forward to them. But it is painful when something ends, there is a break, the thing we have relied on and lived with for so long is not the same any longer. Sometimes it feels easier to stick with the status quo than to risk jumping ship and throwing yourself to the sharks.

Or is it?

"Some choices hold you down. Some chances set you free." ~ Christine Kane

I love this quote by Christine Kane. It speaks so much of the hope that can be realized by abandoning and walking toward. It is something that speaks to me as I read it each day and let that wisdom settle in my own soul preparing me for my own chance.

My dear friend R is facing the walking away dilemma right now. I know that this decision has been a long time coming, and it took an intervention of her family to make her realize that it was time. But that doesn't make it any easier. Now is the time that the if onlys... and what ifs... start to creep in. It doesn't mean that her dream doesn't have merit ~ on the contrary. Or that there aren't those of us out here who really believe in the beauty of that dream ~ we really do. It just means that now is not the time.

It has been hard. I have watched her cycle through the spiral of this doubt and uncertainty, yet she was always buoyed by a faith that what she was doing was changing lives. I just don't think that we know yet what sort of hole will be left in our community {and in our lives} without her in it. We don't know how much we touch the lives of others and we don't appreciate things until they are gone.

She told me today that it feels like she is having to put a pet to sleep. That image tears at my heart. You don't want to lose this living, growing thing that has become so much a part of your life, yet you know that the time for the suffering has come to the end. So we go through the grieving process together and hope for the best. But there are memories that will not fade. Memories, she says, of the thousands of photos over five years of all the countless lives that have been changed, no doubt been made better by this little experiment.

R is walking away, but she is also walking toward. There is a hope and a resiliency about her that I admire so much. I know that wherever she walks that she will move confidently in the direction of her dreams, it just might take her awhile to get there.

I hope she knows that no matter where she is walking toward that I want to walk beside her the whole way. Even if it takes her halfway around the world, I know she will get to where she is mean to be. This is the chance that will set her free so that she can begin again.

"Every new beginning starts with some other beginning’s end." ~Seneca



Are you starting something new? Are you looking forward to it or dreading it? How do you feel when you get to the end?
What are you walking toward today?
Do tell!

Check It Out::Ivy League Insecurities


Enjoy the day!

20 January 2010

Advice from a Tree

"Keep a green tree in your heart and
perhaps a singing bird will come."
~ Chinese proverb



My friend Mark is an arborist. Do you know what an arborist is? If you think that arborists are people who just cut trees down, you are wrong. Arborists are protectors of forests and landscapes, perpetuators of growth, lovers of shade, and generally those who believe that protecting and encouraging the life of trees is worthwhile. My friend Mark is one such guy.

When I heard him speak today about what an arborist is at my weekly BNI (Business Networking International) meeting, he made me think that our lives are like trees. So I decided to see where that analogy would lead me and did a little research. Here is what I learned about the wisdom of trees and how it applies to me.

{Note: click on the pictures to see some amazing Etsy artists and their beautiful trees.}

Loving Your Trunk

{SEEPhotography's 'Opposites Attract'}


“Each year a tree essentially grows a new "coat of wood" over the older wood. The outside layer of the tree is dead bark which provides protection from the environment.”

There are times when my outer shell is tough and hard and weathered, when I don’t let others see what is growing within me. But sometimes there is a chink in that armor and a little bit of me peeks out. Like today, when the guy at the convenience store where I stop each Wednesday said that I seemed a bit sad. I looked at him and said, “Perhaps that is what I am really like, and you just don’t know it.” No, he said, you are not like that at all. But it got me thinking about what is on the outside that people see. What is the“coat of wood” that is masking the real you on the inside? Is that tough outer shell keeping things in or keeping things out? Is there new growth building from the inside that will work its way out? Interesting thought to ponder…

Rings Around My Heart(wood)

{Focuslineart}
“The annual rings of wood are composed of large pores that carry water up to the leaves. Each annual ring is essentially a vertical cylinder. The outer…rings (referred to as sapwood) are usually alive and light-colored. Wood in the center of a large tree (referred to as heartwood) is composed of dark-colored, dead cells used for storage. Ray cells cut across the annual rings; they distribute food to living cells.”


I know that there is growth happening when my heart feels full, as if it is busting out of me. The growth in a tree is like ripples in a pond, with each year and experience building on the last. I feel that my sapwood is a bit tender right now, and I want to keep that hard bark shielding it. But I also need to find a way to sustain that growth, feeding the need in my soul. I remember when we built our last house. We cleared the land by removing the trees (sorry Mark!). The largest one of all was, of course, smack dab in the middle of the lot and there was no way around it. When we cut through it, I spent some time on the stump and attempted to count the rings, to honor the life of that tree. I lost track at 250 with many, many more to go. There was a lot of history there. I could tell where the tree had been wounded and healed itself. Did you know that when a tree is wounded there is a natural defense response that heals it? This self-preservation shows up as little walls to compartmentalize the area affected to prevent the spread of decay organisms. The injury remains but is sealed off; however, the storage capacity and function of that injured part is lost forever. I feel a bit like that now. My heart is walling off some decaying areas in my life and my capacity to feel anything for that seems to be lost. But that also means that there is new growth coming. I can feel it. Do you ever feel as if you are moving on to new growth and walling off the old?

Branching Out

{StyleWalls}


“When branches on the main trunk that have a narrow angle increase in diameter they eventually run out of room to grow. The branch bark becomes surrounded by woody trunk and branch tissue. The bark that becomes overgrown is referred to as ‘ included’ bark. The union is weak and likely to split.”

I don’t know about you but I feel that I am constantly splitting off in new directions. Each new branch takes me in a certain direction for awhile…a day, a week, a year, a decade. Sometimes it can be a strong connection to my core, or sometimes it is not as sturdy and can run the risk of splitting. People are like that. We are attached to them, building layers of a relationship for awhile, forming those rings and protecting each other with a cozy outer bark, but then at some point we might find the direction that we are going has become overgrown, the growth stalls, or there are new branches to grow into, rendering this one hard and knotty. This defunct branch may still be a part of the whole, but it is not progressing. Maybe it is time for cutting back in order to let other branches flourish. Is there anything that needs to be pruned in your life? Things that aren’t getting the attention that they deserve? Are you at a juncture where new growth is possible? Or maybe your relationships are branching out, going in new directions, or stunted and ready to fall off?

Roots that Give You Wings


{AdamMarcinek}


“Tree roots develop and survive where there is adequate oxygen and moisture. Most active tree roots are in the top 3 feet of soil; the majority are in the top 12 inches. The more compacted or poorly drained the soil the closer the roots are to the soil surface. Roots grow most of the year, stopping only when soil temperatures are cold. Woody roots become thicker each year; absorbing roots die but are replaced by new absorbing roots. A few woody support roots grow downward and outward to anchor the tree in place. Most trees do not have a deep tap root. While a tap root may develop on trees growing in the woods in well-drained soils, they generally do not develop on trees transplanted into the landscape or on trees grown in compacted or poorly drained soil.”


Have you ever felt like your roots are shifting? Or maybe they are too close to the surface? Is it easy to ‘nick’ your roots, or do they run deep and tangled and wild? I think that our family and friends are the roots for our tree. Other times it is our jobs or hobbies that feed us. Our roots are the basis for our growth, the anchors, the lifeblood. But there is often more under the surface than meets the eye. Your root is what feeds you and gives you strength, but sometimes things come along, or develop over time where you feel that your root system is choking. Ever had a weed come in and cut off your oxygen supply? I can relate to that toxic environment. My roots should be giving me life, but right now my life landscape is seemingly more compacted and poorly drained and there is no further room for growth where I am at. New shoots are in the process of forming which should move me in new directions. Sometimes this growth hurts, feels uncomfortable, happens too fast or seems too slow. My woody roots seem to be absorbing and seeking new pathways, as if there is a blockage or a dis-ease that they need to work around. Do you have a ‘deep tap root’? One that sustains you and fills you up, yet anchors you to your core? I want to develop a deep tap root, a well within myself that I can go to when I am unsure of the direction or need a reminder of the really important things in life. I don’t think it is ever too late to grow a deep tap root, or to make yours stronger, more resilient, better able to handle all that your growth will throw at you.


Crowning Glory


{KennaFoster 'When Fall Dreams'}


"The branches and leaves together are called the crown. The trunk supports the crown and holds it up to the sunlight. Almost all leaves are green in the spring and summer. Most trees also have reds and yellows in their leaves. But the green conceals these colors. In late summer and early autumn, the chlorophyll in the leaves of many broadleaf trees breaks down. The leaves then die. But before the leaves fall, they reveal their hidden reds and yellows. After the chlorophyll breaks down, the leaves of many trees also develop scarlets and purples."


Sometimes the leaves all blend together. Other times they are blazing and full of color. The shape and the pattern of leaves is like wearing accessories, like showing the world who you want to be. I like the idea that the leaves are called the crown. The roots give support and life to the trunk, and the branches send us in new directions. But the greatest glory of the tree comes from its outward appearance. I appreciate that sometimes my true colors are hidden and it takes time and the right circumstances for them to surface. I like the idea that deep down I am developing scarlets and purples, regal colors full of pain and loss and a deep appreciation of life, that this only happens when I am constantly seeking new branches and reaching up. And then there may come a time when all the crowning glory falls away and I am left with the stark branches that remind me that it is time to rest and regroup and renew myself. I am hoping for that with this spring growing season. New buds signaling a rebirth inviting the birds to perch and sing their song of creativity in my soul.


My friend Mark, the arborist, would be proud of me for listening to him so closely, and for being inspired by his passion for trees. Like his capable staff, I need to tend to the roots as well as to the leaves. I need to know that sometimes my bark is holding things in and keeping them out. I need to accept that when branching out there is a danger of being weak, but there is also the knowledge that trying new things makes me stronger. I need to never stop growing, showing my true colors and reaching for the stars.

Check It Out::Advice From A Tree



Enjoy the day!

16 January 2010

Another way to help...

"I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do." ~Edward Everett Hale

What can you do to help the efforts in Haiti?

Aidan Donnelly Rowley at Ivy League Insecurities is an extremely interesting writer. She is about to release her first novel this spring. Not only is she gifted with words, but she has a big heart as well. Aidan will personally donate $2 for each and every comment that she receives between now and Monday, January 18th. All you need to do is write, "Help Haiti" in the comments. Go here to see how you can help.

My new blog-love, Danielle LaPorte of White Hot Truth...Because Self-Realization Rocks, mentioned that there is a movement called the Help Haiti Blog Challenge. Basically, the premise is that you offer something on your blog or website for sale and for a certain amount, and then you donate that amount to the charity of your choice. And then you also ask others to keep the chain going. i.e...Make your offer: I will donate ________ dollars to _________ on behalf of the next person who buys _________ from me. How simple is that? Click here to find out more.

If shopping is more your thing...then read on...

Indie Fixx is one of those wonderful places where all things handmade hang out. They are holding a rolling blog auction for wonderful handmade things to raise funds for the disaster relief in Haiti. Go here and see how you can help.

Etsy, my favorite place to lurk, has hundreds of sellers who are donating all or some of the sales to the relief efforts. You can find a great collection of them at Hearts for Haiti. All proceeds will be given to Doctors Without Borders. And also at Craft Hope.{Note: I plan to buy some of these things and give them away on my blog this spring.}

Just a reminder that my friend Deryn Mentock of Something Sublime is donating a piece of her jewelry to be auctioned. She has extended the deadline to bid until Monday, January 18th. If the bidding is too much for you, you can send her a donation for the established charitable organization Hope for Haiti and she has generously offered to match the donations with her own money.

I don't know yet what it will amount to, but for my part I have pledged that 100% of the profits from my jewelry sales at the Gallery Q Artist Cooperative in the month of January will be donated to Catholic Relief Services, the organization that my church supports and has sent teams of missionaries to work in Haiti in the past decade. I'll keep you posted on how that goes and if I decide to extend it or match it. It might be a little but it is something.

Thank you for doing whatever it is you can. And if you can do nothing else, please pray.


What are you doing to help? Do tell!

Check It Out::
Catholic Relief Services

Enjoy the day!

15 January 2010

RAW::So Small

What you got if you ain't got love?
The kind that you just wanna give away
It's okay to open up
Go ahead and let the light shine through

I know it's hard on a rainy day
You wanna shut the world out
And just be left alone
But don't run out on your faith

'Cause sometimes that mountain you've been climbing
Is just a grain of sand
And what you've been out there searching for forever
Is in your hands

And when you figure out
Love is all that matters after all
It sure makes everything else
Seem so small

It's so easy to get lost inside
A problem that seems so big at the time
It's like a river that's so wide
It swallows you whole

While you're sitting around thinking 'bout what you can't change
And worrying about all the wrong things
Time's flying by, moving so fast
You better make it count 'cause you can't get it back

Sometimes that mountain you've been climbing
Is just a grain of sand
And what you've been out there searching for forever
Is in your hands

Oh, and when you figure out
Love is all that matters after all
It sure makes everything else
Seem so small!

Sometimes that mountain you've been climbing
Is just a grain of sand
And what you've been out there searching for forever
Is in your hands

And then you figure out
Love is all that matters after all
It sure makes everything else
Oh, it sure makes everything else
Seem so small

This Random Act of Wisdom is brought to you by Carrie Underwood, 'So Small'
~ Songwriters: Luke Laird, Hillary Lindsey, Carrie Underwood ~

Give the gravity of the utterly unbelievable devastation in Haiti, it was with an open heart that I received the gift of this Random Act of Wisdom. Wednesday night, after all were tucka-tucked in bed, and I was down in my studio catching up on some creating. And I prayed...

I prayed for the senselessness that our lives, you and me and those halfway around the world, can change in the blink of an eye.
I prayed for the people who lost their lives, their homes, their livelihoods in that split second.
I prayed for the survivors, the ones who would have to pick up the pieces and go on.
I prayed for those who are on their way to help, that they might stay safe and strong.
I prayed that there are people in our country and around the world who will reach out with compassion to those most affected by this disaster, but not just because of this devastation.
I prayed that we will not forget to remember these Haitian people who are among the poorest in the world.
I prayed for hope to perch in the souls of each of us, no matter what darkness we are going through.
I prayed.
I am praying.

That is when the song 'So Small' showed up in the queue of my Pandora station. A true random act of wisdom that hit me squarely in the depth of my soul and gave me a kick in the pants. Exactly what I needed to hear to remind me that whatever it is that I thought was important yesterday or my wallowing in inner-angst is really so small.

And I gave it a 'thumbs up' in my queue so that it will come up again exactly when I need to hear it.

Check It Out::World Prayers

P.S. Remember that one way that you can support is to give whatever you can in these tough times to the aid. Don't get mislead by scammers who are preying upon our good impulses to help our fellow men and women. The American Red Cross is one great organization as is Hope for Haiti. Just a reminder that my friend Deryn Mentock is auctioning off one of her incredible creations to raise money. She also will match monetary donations with money from her own pocket. Hop over there before Saturday, Jan. 23 at noon, central time. Every little bit helps.

Enjoy the day!

14 January 2010

30 Words::On the Mend

{Photo Credit: Shira Sela,
find more of her beautifully haunting artwork at on Etsy}


Heavy hearted-ness
Like chains weighs down my soul
I desire to
Break free,
Rise above,
Move onward
Brighten up,
Press forward,
Build anew
Begin again
I
Resolve to smile today

13 January 2010

Hope for Haiti



In the tradition of looking UP... there is a wonderful movement afoot to help the people of Haiti rebound from the devastation that is occurring there with the recent earthquake.

Deryn Mentock of Something Sublime is auctioning off one of her amazing creations to earn money for the cause.

If you have time please go and check out her incredible offering.

If you can't afford to bid, Deryn has graciously offered to accept any donations and match them from her own pocket. Every little bit helps.

Check It Out:: Hope for Haiti

12 January 2010

UP



“Keep looking up, there’s a blessing coming down.”

While trolling the blogdom recently I was very tickled to see so many are jumping on the wagon of words for the year. My own word for 2010: INSPIRE.

But after seeing what others are doing, I though maybe I jumped too soon.

I saw that others really sat and thought about it, or it is something they need to work on, or they throw them all in a hat and pick one at random {which oddly is usually the right choice for them}, or have a criteria that the word is not an obvious choice. I think that INSPIRE is still my word {even though it is a word that chose me, is pretty obvious and is not something that I have to work at too hard}, but I want to add another one.

UP

…looking up
…picking up
…keep it up
…upwardly mobile
…up, up and away
...crack up
...laugh it up
…lock it up
…give it up
…tear it up
…first up
…bottoms up
…crop up
…heat it up
…up where we belong
…upper crust
…up and down
…up the down staircase
…pop up
…jump up
…fill ‘er up
…stand up
…listen up
…step up
…step it up
…up and at ‘em
…make up
…make it up
…get up
…surf’s up
…breaking up
…wake up
…rise up
…chin up
…stock up
…keep up
…keep it up
…grow up
…give it up
…live it up
…giddy up

You get the idea.

While it may seem that things are always rosy here in Tesori Trovati-ville that is not always true. I have bad days. I get depressed by my circumstances and the uncertainty and scariness in the world. I have a tendency to wallow in self-pity and doubt. And sometimes it is really hard for me to put on a happy face and my big girl panties and just deal with it. {Like right now in my current dead-end job situation. But I don't want to bring you all down.} I know that not every day is good for everyone, including me, but I also believe that we have a choice. I choose to find the 'something good' in every day. I choose to see the positive. I choose to be UP.

UP will be a challenge for me in 2010. I will continue my quest to inspire and be inspired but maintaining UP when all around is seemingly down…that will be my quest.

­­­---------------------------------------------------


I forgot to draw the winner of the “Power of Positive Dreams” necklace on Sunday. Oops. Sorry about that!

There were so many wonderful comments about things that you are all daring to do...things you love…know that with every single comment I receive my heart goes out to you, you are in a little prayer that I say every day and I am in your corner rooting for your success.

The random winner: BEVERLY BAIRD!

Beverly said:
“I love your work and this necklace is gorgeous. It reminds me of a dream catcher!”

And that was the exact inspiration, Miss Beverly!

Send me an email to enjoytheday@tesoritrovati.com with your mailing address and I will send it right out to you to inspire your positive dreams.

With the inaugural successes of the first round, I am planning to reveal the next installment of the Inspired by… challenges this week.
If you like to be challenged, you want to be inspired, you need a spark for your creativity...Stay tuned!

Check It Out::The Bright Side Project

Enjoy the day!

08 January 2010

RAW::Just Think...

{Photo credit: david.nikonvscanon}


Just think,


you're here not by chance,


but by God's choosing.


His hand formed you


and made you


the person you are.


He compares you to no one else -


you are one of a kind.


You lack nothing


that His grace can't give you.


He has allowed you to be here


at this place in history


to fulfill His special purpose


for this generation.




{Encouragement found on the cardboard insert in my new DaySpring calendar, written by co-founder Roy Lessin. For a free print of this message, please visit www.dayspring.com/free}




I went searching for a new calendar over the weekend. I always ask for a new one for Christmas, I have been stuck on the Mary Engelbreit ones for her whimsy and color, but this year I didn't get what I asked for. So on January 3rd I found myself at Walmart {not something I am fond of, but was a time saver} since I had to not only do grocery shopping, but find all sorts of things for my home, like 101 plastic bumpers to replace the ones on my existing kitchen cabinets or risk going deaf from the hollow thud with each door slam. I was hoping that maybe there was a sale on calendars {it was, after all, January 3rd}, but there was no such luck. I also hoped that there would be a larger display of them than the one little rack by the cards.




I chose one with a huge calendar grid and a close-up of a flower. Not the most visually stimulating, but certainly useful since our color-coded Sharpie marker rainbow schedule is starting to take up more room to be legible than was available on my previous artsy-fartsy calendars.




When I ripped off the plastic, out tumbled this printed cardboard. I was surprised to find this lovely sentiment.




It gave me pause.


I stopped to think.


I like the reminder that I am one of a kind, unique in all the world.


I reveled in the fact that despite the day to day drudgery that life can sometimes become, that there is a special purpose to all of that. And I need to rise above that and find the meaning to my everyday existence.


I enjoyed the thought that my talents, my strengths and even my weaknesses {that which is your greatest strength can also be your greatest weakness...more on that another time} are a gift to me.


A gift.


What I choose to do with that gift is my way of honoring my Creator.




When I thought about these Random Acts of Wisdom, it made me realize that I was meant to find that. That this message, while printed for millions, was a message that I needed to hear.




That is what RAW is all about.




Check It Out::Positively Present


P.S. Head to my post Dare To...Do What You Love to enter the giveaway! You have until Sunday, January 10th to enter!

Enjoy the day!

07 January 2010

30 Words::Universe



{Photo credit: Sonic Julez}



Third grade science project:

solar system

all planets, ordered, labeled {no more Pluto}

Size matters {relatively speaking}.

Her idea? Jewelry symbolizing each Heavenly body.

[Good girl :-]

The Universe is waiting.





{Stay tuned....}

P.S. Head to my post Dare To...Do What You Love to enter the giveaway! You have until Sunday, January 10th to enter!

Enjoy the day!

05 January 2010

Dare to...Do What You Love

"Don't aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally." ~David Frost

Last summer I started a series based on Meiji Stewart's popular ABC writings. I got through A-B-C and then....nothing. Actually, I think subconsciously I was saving up the letter D. You see, the letter D stands for "Dare to...Do What You Love."

If you know me at all, you know that this whole creative journey... including creating for publications, blogging, commenting on blogs {it is like crack, this addiction I have to connecting to the plethora of blogs I am following every day and making sure that I leave a meaningful comment!}, creating new pieces for clients and the Gallery Q, revamping my website, starting the planning stages for an online selling presence {Etsy...here I come!}, and just making pretty little things is my 9pm-midnight endeavor. And I can't even do it every day, what with Mastermind group and dance lessons and basketball tournaments... I hesitate to call this a job. That would imply that it is some sort of drudgery to be loathed {ask me about my day job...}. And I don't. I rather like this, I do my best at night. I like that the house is quiet, I have my Pandora channel "Nighttime in the Studio" playing, the children are breathing softly, my husband has cocooned himself in the covers so that when I get there I will have to fight for what I get, and I have these wee hours, these little wonders awaiting me.

But I digress {I do that a lot. But, then again, you probably knew that}.

So...back to the alphabetical wisdom.

"Do What You Love"

That sounds so very simple.

Just do it.

That thing you love. {And the money will follow, right?}

But is it really that simple?

If it were than why did Robin Roberts {doesn't she wear the best jewelry? I wonder if people like me send it to her and she gets to wear something new every day... hmmm... that could be a goal of mine... send Robin Roberts a piece of jewelry and see if it shows up!} report today on Good Morning America that just 45% of Americans are satisfied with their jobs. They jokingly indicated that they were all happy in their professions, and wondered absently why it would possibly be so low. {Perhaps they cannot see that they have landed their dream?} I snorted at that. You see, I am in that 65%. There are perks to being in a majority, but this is not one of them as far as I can see.

I know that each time I open that door of opportunity and stand with my tentative toes on the threshold of the Next Big Thing, I am looking down a corridor filled with many more doors to choose from. And each time I take that leap and walk on through that door, I know that I am one step closer to being able to flip my daytime job and my nighttime creative endeavor around.

One.
Step.
Closer.


"The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers. But above all, the world needs dreamers who do." ~Sarah Ban Breathnach




Today I can let you in on a little secret. A door of opportunity that opened for me recently...


Back in September 2009 I received three emails from three artists I admire greatly {they know who they are and they know that I am ever grateful for their presence in my life} in the span of three days. I am not superstitious, but I paid attention to the Rule of Three. These three all said essentially the same thing... I heard about this opportunity and I immediately thought of you.

Wow. Humbled, truly.

So... I took their advice. I prepared 'audition' pieces. I wrote the instructions. I packaged these babies off. I waited for news. In October I found out that I made it into Round One with 24 other hopefuls. I was given a special assignment. I completed it and waited some more. Then right before Christmas I got a gift in the form of a Fed Ex box.

I am delighted to announce that I have been selected as one of 10 jewelry designers for a new Creative Artist Team (CAT) for the company EK Success, parent of such brands as Wilton, K & Company, Martha Stewart Crafts and the brand that I will be representing ~ Jolee's Jewels.

Over the next twelve months I will be creating jewelry using the wonderful crystal components from Jolee's Jewels that can be found at AC Moore, Joann's, Hobby Lobby, and Michaels, to name a few. I will have the chance to write {one of my greatest desires}. You will see me on the new crafting community Spotted Canary, where we can chat, upload our favorite projects, share ideas and be inspired. I hope you will join me there.




And there is the possibility for more to come.


So... I may not be Doing What I Love full-time. But I am loving what I am doing {well, at least from 9pm to midnight!}. And I am ever hopeful that this threshold will open door after door after door.


What do you do that you truly love?

Is there some secret desire that you are harboring?

What steps are you taking to living the life you imagined?

Do tell!

To celebrate this accomplishment, I would like to propose a giveaway! I will be giving away the following piece using Jolee's Jewels components that was one of my two audition pieces for the Creative Artist Team. It is entitled "Power of Positive Dreams." {And yes, that symbolism is not lost on me!}

{Power of Positive Dreams, by Erin Prais-Hintz}


I want to share the love and make it easy to enter. To get one entry, just leave me a comment on this post answering the question(s) above. {Feel free to Tweet, Facebook or blog about this, but since that is just too hard for me to follow, only do it if you want to share the love with others.}

Would you like a bonus entry? How about 3 bonus entries {the Rule of Three, you know!}? Go to http://www.spottedcanary.com/ and sign up with a profile. Then come back here and leave a separate comment with your new Spotted Canary nickname {so that I can select you as a new friend in that community!}. Oh... and my SC 'handle' is TesoriTrovati, in case you were wondering!

I will select a winner at random on Sunday, January 10th.

Check It Out::Spotted Canary
Enjoy the day!

01 January 2010

RAW::Someday...

{Photo Credit: Theresa Thompson}


Found on a blackboard at my favorite local coffeeshop, Emy J's, quote of the week:


"The hardest thing to realize is that your 'someday' is RIGHT NOW!" ~ Unknown


We are all working for that golden some-day...

...when we will be discovered by a talent agent as we pump gas into our car

...when our pants will suddenly be three sizes too big and we can buy a new wardrobe

...when all the stories in our journals will reach the breaking point and be bound into the next great American novel

....when Oprah will come knocking to spread my message as her guest.

When I saw this quote I admit that I was a bit put off. Is it saying that I should just forget my dreams and give into the notion that it can't get any better than it is right now? I realized that while it is great to dream big and have pie-in-the-sky ideas of grandeur, or fixing our gaze on a horizon line that may be more fictitious than fact, we can lose site of the 'someday' that is right in front of our noses...the little victories that might get overlooked in our quest for bigger and better...the opportunities that make today a day to remember...

All those things I mentioned can happen, I don't mean to rain on your parade and say that they are all illusions, but they can't happen without a plan and a great deal of elbow grease.

There might not be talent agents roaming through downtown Stevens Point, Wisconsin, but if I haven't developed a talent to begin with, all the wishing in the world will not make my big break happen. I need to focus on what my talents are and find ways to expand them.

Losing weight is a lofty goal {and one that I aspire to}, but won't begin until I commit to it. And stick to it. I need to make my health a priority and change my behavior myself. But that also means that I won't hold back to enjoy things because of this...like people waiting to get a massage until they lose some weight. What? Go do something good for yourself today, instead of waiting until your meet some goal you haven't committed to fully.

My great ideas for a book deal are only that - ideas - until I put a proposal together and stump it around to venues and work really really hard to make it happen. I need to organize my ideas, yes, but I also need to make connections with people who are in a position to make that goal a reality. And I need to be willing to accept constructive criticism if it will make my idea stronger.

And as for Oprah...well, I think it is all about who you know with her. And with her show coming to an end, it doesn't look so good for me to get my shot at a piece of her national spotlight pie. {But you never know...}

This past week I put out a press release about my 2nd place win in the Bead Star contest. It's only local, but every little bit counts. My press release resulted in an article in the Portage County Gazette weekly paper, an invitation to be a guest on the local morning show Wake Up Wisconsin on 12.24 {see the link to the right}, a half page on the back page of the daily Stevens Point Journal with full color picture of the piece, and an interview with a local reporter in the Gallery Q where I sell my work this past Monday 12.28.

You might think that all of that 'publicity' is making my head so big it can't fit through any doors, but that is not true. I see these as opportunities to put me one step closer to making my dream a reality but also something that can clarify my vision and give me a direction. If I only thought of my 'someday' in the future I might overlook the chance right in front of me. All of that makes my 'someday' happen right now, but it was not without a bit of planning and hard work on my part. And now I need to find a way to make that 'someday' keep going and make it my 'every day'.


What about you? What is the 'someday' that is waiting for you RIGHT NOW? What are so busy chasing that you might be missing the opportunities in front of you? Do tell!


Check It Out::Wonder Thinking


Enjoy the day!

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