30 January 2009

Wildest Dreams

"The important thing is to dare to dream big, then take action to make it come true." ~ Joe Girard

What is your wildest dream for 2009?

I have never been much of a goal oriented person.

I suppose ultimately I am rather laid back and slightly lazy. I am not a perfectionist, but yet I like to have things a certain way. And I live in organized chaos (see my earlier post). A few years ago I decided to forgo those lame New Years' resolutions that I would pledge along with millions of others...things like losing that baby fat (my baby is turning 8), reading a book a month (I am lucky if I can read two books a year) and writing letters to my friends and family once per week (I buy stationery like I will do this, but then it sits in a drawer yearning for a stamp)...and I made Life Resolutions: (1) Live a creative life; (2) Live without regrets. Every single thing I do has to come under those two. Sometimes that is easier said than done, but it is also surprising how many options exist under those two endeavors.

Last year I decided that I wanted to try to be published. I was hoping for just once. You see, I subscribe to most of the major beading publications and I buy books as if I were attempting to start my own lending library. And I always noticed the names and bios of the people therein. I wondered where they came from, how they got there, what inspired them. I secretly harbored a goal to be on the pages next to them.

So in August of 2007, just months after I started my fledgling company, my good friend and professional paper artist Lisa suggested I submit some of my designs to a brand new publication. Little did I know that this publication would come to be so very important to my development as an artist.

I took a chance. I saw that door of opportunity and I gathered my courage to walk through. Lisa told me that she had to submit her paper designs more than 20 times before one was picked up, so I shouldn't be discouraged on my first try. What did I have to lose?

Imagine my surprise when my first two submissions were accepted.

Thus began a relationship that continues to blossom and develop in so many layered ways.

I have had pieces accepted into the January/February 2008 and May/June 2008 issues. That is when the editor contacted me directly to ask for submissions for November and December.

On August 11, 2008, coincidentally my 40th birthday, Ms. Meyer emailed me to request that I consider submitting pieces for the cover contest because she really liked what I had submitted in the past. Flatter will get you everywhere. I decided that rather than pull pictures of pieces that I had made, but had not sold, I should create pieces just for the occasion. I made five. Three were accepted into the contest. Although I had dreaded that milestone birthday, I decided that 40 wouldn't be that bad after all.

At about the same time, I was having professional head shots taken, reasoning that I might have use for them in the future marketing materials. Photographer Sarah Gwidt took a gorgeous photo of me. (Really. I do not look like that every day of the year!) It was serendipitous to have them done at that time, because the following week Ms. Meyer's contacted me again. She but cracked a door of opportunity that I had no problem flinging open: Would I be interested in the chance to be the featured artist of the March 2009 issue of Bead Trends complete with bio, head shot and a ten-page spread of my best work. Would I be interested? Push me off the ledge and watch me fly.

So I started reading through my back issues looking at every detail, determined that I would submit pieces they had never had represented and that showed my unique voice as an artist. I also was noticing common names repeated in the issues and wondered which of these lucky ladies would win the cover. And exactly one week later, on September 2nd, I got my answer. Ms. Meyer emailed to let me know that I had won the contest with my vintage inspired charm bracelet titled "Stroke of Midnight." The funny thing about this piece? I almost never made it. It was an afterthought at the last minute before the deadline. Proof that you never know where your next opportunity may come from.

Here is the cover for January 2009. And the necklace "Anew Leaf" also included.

The photography in this publication is some of the best around, and they make my art look better than I could ever have thought possible. More than the thrill of seeing my wearable work of art so lovingly presented, are the words that Ms. Meyer chose to say about me in her Editor's letter. So kind.

I still have to pinch myself that it really happened.

I have so enjoyed working with every person I have "met" at through this experience, trading emails with recognizable editors and names in the beading world. And through this blog I have even made contact with other jewelry designers like Stacey at
Star Hitched Wagon, a truly gifted artist. All of this has given me the confidence to branch out and try other avenues to have my work published. If they like what they see, perhaps I am on the right path after all.

Shortly after winning the cover spot, I was contacted by the editor of
Stringing. This was one of the first publications I ever subscribed to. It seems that she had seen a picture (really bad, I might add) of a piece called "Frost Blossom" and thought it would be great for the Winter 2008 issue. Would I send it? Just tell me where. I am thrilled that I am a part of this magazine as well. And now I know that sometimes turning 40 is a good thing.

Today I found out that my necklace titled "On the Wings of Love" is featured in the Beading Daily reader's gallery theme of "Heart Felt." (Listed alphabetically, you have to scroll to the third page to find me, but it is there!) And the lovely ladies at Vintaj have asked if they may include it as part of their reader's gallery since I am using their beautiful brass filigree components. You don't even need to twist my arm.

So my wildest dream for 2008 was to be published. Just once. And thanks to the wonderful women at Bead Trends and Stringing, I made my goal five times and it looks like I will be making more friends in the publishing world in 2009. Which led me to think about wildest dreams...

A dream that is wild will not come true unless you are willing to first believe in that dream enough to roll up your sleeves and take action to make it come true.

So...what is my wildest dream for 2009?
  • To be published once per month whether in a magazine, book or online gallery.

  • To donate a work of wearable art once per month to a charitable organization I believe in.
So far, I am golden on being published through June 2009, I am closing in on July and August, and Fall '09 is mostly filled.

And I have been seeking meaningful recipients for my work. Tomorrow I will have a piece featured in the auction at ArtsBash with a goal to raise over $25,000 for the art scholarship fund for our local university. Perhaps my donation will help a talented designer pursue her passion rather than stumbling upon it when she is 40. One can only hope.

"The thing always happens that you really believe in.
And the belief in a thing makes it happen."
~Frank Lloyd Wright

What is your wildest dream for 2009?
And, more importanly, how are you going to make it happen?

Enjoy the day!

23 January 2009

Secret #2: Honoring Your Inspirations

"Inspirations are precious seedlings awaiting nurturance."

So begins Secret #2...

We each have a creative capacity of limitless proporations. We each have the tools given by God to be creative. The challenge is that we have forgotten how to access our creativity and unlock it's potential.

Everyone is creative. I won't have you tell me otherwise.

I am struck by the fact that the women in this book all have a profound sense of self that is cultivated by being receptive to the world around them. In short, they see that inspiration is everywhere. And since that is the subtitle to my own blog, I feel right at home with all of them, and all the other seekers I have encountered along the way.

Creativity is an energy, a force. It permeates our very beings. We are at our best when we allow that energy to bring us into harmony with our true selves. And when we are creative it is no wonder that it energizes us, drives us to create more. But finding that balance is a struggle for me and other women-who-do-too-much like me. (You know who you are.)

"Time is absolutely vital to the creative process. We have to figure out how to take it and give it to ourselves. Only when we realize the kind of attention we need to be creative, do we realize the value of our time." ~ Alice Aspen March

The Challenge in this chapter is about carving out time for yourself to tap those creative energies. Great idea in theory. Often unattainable in practice. I find that I don't have nearly enough time to just sit and be with me. With a full time job (in complete overdrive due to pressing deadlines right now), two kids (with a variety of activities that find me chauffeuring almost every day of the week), a husband (who passes like a ship in the night only to "collide" on the occasional Friday night), the pull of meaningful volunteer opportunities and my 9p to midnight passion to fuel...how do I carve that time for me out?

This is a particular struggle for me.

Do I work best at my art when it is late at night because I am a night owl and that is when my creativity is sparked? Or is it becasue that is the only time that I can explore when the world is hushed and my family are snug in bed? All this late night creating is endlessly tiring and doesn't do a thing for the bags under my eyes. Still, at this time that is what I can commit. Perhaps that might change in time.

"The doors of opportunity are opening around us every day. We have to have the courage to walk through them and the vision to see where they may lead us in order to take that step toward greatness." ~ Erin Prais-Hintz

That is a quote of my own that I am fond of reciting to others. It is something that I truly believe. I know that I wouldn't be where I am today, standing on the threshold of something great, if I didn't live that sentiment. Yet there is something holding me back. I am holding me back.

One of the first steps for me is to find a way to pull out of my day job. And while I have had a lot of encouragement to that end, and I am usually known to jump right into a decision without thinking the consequences through completely, this challenge is different. I have been considering this for several years. With the economy the way it is, is it really the right time to walk away from a well paying, stable position to face such uncertainty and risk? So I reason that I have to work a little harder and a little longer to make my dreams come true.

What do I need to let go of? What is keeping me on the threshold looking in?

I am afraid of what this would mean to my family. Lost income is but one of the worries. But I also consider what it would mean to me to have DAYLIGHT hours to create, to pursue other opportunities that are eluding me. There are things I cannot, will not do in the wee hours simply because they could be dangerous. Things like soldering, or working with hot tools. Not the thing one should be working with at midnight. There are publications I would like to pursue, but I don't have the time to fully investigate. There are classes and workshops and shows that I would attend and perhaps even exhibit at if I but had the time to prepare. It is sometimes hard to honor my inspirations when I am so weary. But with hope alive in my heart I know it will be the right time one day, and I know that I will be ready to step across that threshold and walk confidently into my destiny.

I talk confidently with my keyboard, but translating my words into actions terrifies me. Yet, I don't really think that anyone who knows me would be all that surprised if I did follow where this path is most certainly leading me. I feel that I may have wasted too much time already in my 40 years. I don't have time to waste another 40. My time is now.

"Creativity can be described as letting go of certainties."
~ Gail Sheehy

Honoring my inspirations, my creative visions, my artful passions all brings my "seedlings" to life. It is not work. It is not a chore. It is exploration and discovery and, yes, play. I make it up as I go. And there are no rules. Now if I can just believe what my true self is saying to me....

Enjoy the day!

17 January 2009

Secret #1: Acknowledging Your Creative Self

"Your creative self is alive and waiting for your invitation to evolve! Dare to embrace your creative self and manifest your dreams. Recognizing your creativity leads you into a life of self-expression, fulfillment, and contribution."
~ Gail McMeekin

The mothership has landed!

And I am hopping on board.

In my quest to find creative inspiration every day, I stumbled across the online book blogging club The Next Chapter. Starting on January 9th and continuing for 12 weeks, the participants (well over 100 of them) are blogging about the book The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women by Gail McMeekin. When I discovered this on January 8th I jumped in with both feet (typical), before I even had a copy of the book! So I finally received my copy, and I have read the first two chapters, taking notes and listening to the great conversation within to see where this is leading me.

Come along as I delve into Secret #1: Acknowledging Your Creative Self

"I think the creative process is not about creating something else; it's about the process itself creating who I am." ~Mayumi Oda

I feel as though I have been adrift. I have lived 40 years on this earth and have merely bobbed along in my little boat. I have gone with the flow of outside forces and obligations. I have made the best of my life, enjoying my family, friends and interests, but never really taking control of my own ship. I knew that I had that internal compass that was leading me, directing me, but I haven't honored that direction. So finding this book is inspiring me to chart my own path, take control of the ship of my life by being the captain of my dreams.

"There cannot be too many glorious women." ~Marianne Williamson

I didn't realize until this moment that I have been seeking a creative community all my life. The participants in this book blogging club have been an inspiration to me. For the past week I have read with great interest the journeys that these women have been on. I have seen myself in every post. I am excited about sharing with these glorious women and learning from them. This will be fun and that is a reward in and of itself. The 12 Secrets participants have such vast and varied life experiences but the common thread through all is their need to create.

McMeekin interviews a grand assortment of glorious women for this project. Jamie Ridler, the coordinator of The Next Chapter book club, is interviewing additional creative bloggers to add to the experience. One such voice in the wilderness is writer Samaya Roman who says,

"What you love is a sign from your higher self of what you are to do."

I was particularly struck by this quote.

Is doing what you love tapping directly into the DIVINE? And if we don't do that which the DIVINE is calling us to do, are we ignoring our SACRED CALLING?

We are designed by God to be CREATIVE BEINGS, none more so than the obvious creationary role of women. We need to honor that part of ourselves that is creative in whatever medium we choose to manifest that gift. Honoring that creative spirit is tapping into divine inspiration and taps into the energy to fully realize who we are and meant to be.

"I had to acknowledge that I was indeed an artist at heart." ~Gail McMeekin

I have always been labeled a "creative". But I had never been labeled an "artist" until most recently. And when people tell me that they are creative, they most certainly do it in the same breath that they profess their inability to be creative, as if I had been given double the gift and they had been gypped at God's banquet table.

I strongly disagree with the idea that only certain people are creative. We are each creative, called by our Creator, but we forget how to make that part of ourselves real.

Growing up I was inspired by my dear godmother. Aunt Char did everything with flair. She made the most delectible desserts, wrapped every package with great flourish, displayed her collections with the care of a museum curator, and had the most lyrical handwriting I have ever seen. Not having any children of her own, my sister and I had a special place in her heart. I count my life blessed that she was such a guiding influence on me and inspiring me to look at the world through artistic lenses.

Aunt Char made amazing things. She could sew (we had the matching sailor outfits to prove it), and craft the most ingenious projects. She made an Advent wreath with little matchboxes that contained a jewel with a magnet on the back. Each day my sister and I greatly anticipated opening each box and placing the jewel on the tree in the middle, that and the treat that was always waiting inside. My own children use that countdown calendar now and it makes me so proud to see the great care and thought that went into this piece.

Aunt Char had a love of the ocean. She and my Uncle Tom would travel to Florida each November to vacation. She would walk the beach and collect shells of all sorts. She displayed these beauties in cases throughout her home. And when she had more than she knew what to do with, she started sharing those with us in the form of a glass lamp base filled with these sea treasures. That lamp reminds me that every piece that I create should be filled with my own passions and that I need to share that love with the world. That is honoring my creative self.

I believe in angels. When my Aunt Char was alive I frequently called her my "earth angel". Her love and inspiration guided me then, and I believe that I am still guided by her hand. She was a role model for creative confidence. I think that she is smiling down on me now that I have charted my course for creating who I am meant to be.

Check it Out::http://ravenn.blogspot.com/

How do you express your creativity? Do you bake bread, paint watercolors, decorate your home, write poetry? What about finding creative ways to stretch your food dollar, giving thoughtful gifts, solving problems at work and at home? All these are creative pursuits. More importantly, we need to broaden our definition of what being creative means in order to push past road blocks.

"...we women express our creative selves with every business idea brainstormed, every garden planted, every family member or friend comforted, every outspoken word voiced, and every feminine value expressed." ~ Gail McMeekin

Enjoy the day!

07 January 2009

Light in the Darkness

"Your talent is God's gift to you;
what you do with it is your gift to God."
~Leo Buscaglia

You were blessed with a talent. You worked hard to get where you are today. You studied and saved. You learned and you prayed. You took those parts of you that make your heart sing and you turned that passion into the art of your life. You found success. You reached a wider audience. You grew. You inspired others by your zest for life and your love of all things beautiful.

And then the ugliness strikes.

My dear friend, Miss Vanessa at http://afancifultwist.typepad.com, is mad. And I don't blame her. You see, Miss Vanessa is a true talent who lives and eats and breathes her art. It is all around her, it lives through her, and we are fortunate that she shares it with the world. She writes of the most fantastical journeys through her blog A Fanciful Twist, a place that I go to visit each day for hope and inspiration. She sells her amazing artwork through Etsy. I know. I am the owner of her beautiful prints. She is the kindest and sweetest soul.

Recently she learned of an ugliness that runs rampant through the internet by stealing images of others' art and passing them off as their own. This darkness is a site called Polyvore. And they are encouraging the ripping off of artist's work without giving credit where credit is due, even congratulating each other when the heist has occurred. This is no different than if they came into Miss Vanessa's living room and took the painting right off her wall. It is wrong and it has to stop. Now Polyvore may have set their technology up to do good, to encourage sharing of links to art and images, and truthfully there are some that work that way. But that is not what is happening and it is affecting more than just my one friend. This technology has been used for nefarious purposes and that is the darkness that we need to drive out.

I know. I was aghast when she told me and sent me links to the offending representations. Perhaps I am just a bit too naive to think that there would be people out there who would think that they have the right to do that. And if I have ever seen such things, I was naive enough not to question it myself. I am so glad that she told me about this foolishness and that she took my advice to make it public and stand up to it. You should read her post about it here: http://afancifultwist.typepad.com/a_fanciful_twist/2009/01/i-rarely-get-upset-but-when-i-do.html

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that." ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

I encouraged her to take this negative and make it a positive. To turn that anger and that helplessness into power and strength. And by making it public and encouraging others to do the same, we can fight this. Together.

Whether you are an artist who willingly puts your hard-wrought art out on the web for the world to admire, or if you are just one who appreciates how art saves lives, you should know about these terrible things. I admit that I may have seen such things and not realized where the images were taken from, but I will be much more aware now. And by sharing this experience with as many as we can, perhaps we can put an end to this rampant and blatant trafficking of illegally possessed images, but more importantly to the negative spirit that would allow someone to do that.

The internet is a wonderful place. I always thought that this blog would be solely for me, but I have been pleasantly surprised that there are people in the world who feel my comments speak to their souls. Only one of my followers is someone I know personally. That is amazing!

I have recently become acquainted with a follower of my blog who lives on the other side of the world. How thrilling it is to know that my posts and my words inspire him where he lives. With this technology, the world has the potential to become a much smaller community where everyone cares for how their words and thoughts and actions make a difference. And so, in light of Miss Vanessa’s dilemma, perhaps we can all stand to be on community watch and help to safeguard all our new friends, whether they are in London, England or New London, Wisconsin.

I won’t stop believing in the basic good of people. Thank you for being my light in the darkness.
Just knowing that I have friends in all the corners of the world watching out for my happiness and success is really inspiring to me.

Know that I am watching out for you, too.

Check It Out:: http://artandghosts.typepad.com/

Now…seriously…Enjoy the day!

02 January 2009

Looking Backward...Looking Forward

"A true artist is never satisfied, he is always in the state of becoming."

~Bob Dylan

If you knew then what you know now, how would your creative endeavors have changed?

Laura Jayne's blog http://picturespoetryprose.blogspot.com is one of the highlights of my week. I have found such kindred spirits on this site who are pouring their hearts and souls into the daily writing prompts. I was tickled when my poem won a few weeks ago, but I hadn't checked the winners of late. Today I went to read through some past winning writing and was delighted to find that my post was the winner from December 23, 2008.

The prompt was to write a letter to yourself at a younger time. What I wrote is below and came straight from my old heart to my young one.

To my 16 year old self...

Dear Erin-

After four decades I feel that I have the right to say what I know you were thinking back then, but couldn't bring yourself to believe. (Quit rolling your eyes, young lady!)

You will find the love of your life, but not in some faraway place. He will be right under your nose, practically in your backyard, even though you don't believe it could be possible with all the clods you go to school with. And he will love you more completely than you could ever have thought possible. He will treat you with espect and care and will bring you much happiness.
Just be open to the possibilities all around you.

Don't let others tell you that your interests are wrong.
Go with your gut.
Take those art classes you want to take.
mp up on stage and start singing your heart out.
I know you are waiting and hoping that someone will take you by the hand and lead you there and tell you that they have been waiting for you all along to share your gifts with the world. That just ain't gonna happen, girl!
You need to believe in yourself enough to be your own best cheerleader. Don't waste another minute!

At 40, I have finally found where my path in life was leading...if I had just had the confidence at 16 that I do now, there is now telling where I would be now! But I know that there is no where else to go but up and you are laying the foundation back in 1984. Make it strong.

Trust yourself.

Believe you are made for bringing light and joy to those around you.

You are not alone, your life is not lived in vain, and there are so many people who will come to be inspired and hopeful because you are in their lives.

Believe that there is a greater calling to your life and that you are meant to live it.

This is not some hooey I am telling you, I've been there. I am living it!

Love, Me (gray hair, wrinkles and all)

I am in a constant state of evolving as a human, but now I have realized that my evolving is most complete when it is part of my creative endeavors. I don't regret that I didn't have the opportunities then that I have now, nor do I regret that it took me this long to find where my true path was leading me. Therefore I will not be satisfied to waste any more time doing that which I don't love doing nor that which does not bring beauty to this world.

What would you tell yourself at 16 about your life now?

What I have learned is that I wouldn't have changed a thing about my past because it has lead me to be where I am today, strong enough to take on the world.

Enjoy the day!


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