Six ways to celebrate the little things

Ideas for big occasions, like birthdays, anniversaries, retirements, b’nai mitzvot, graduations, and baby showers (major life events) are super well-known and well-documents. Throw a party (expected or surprise). Give gifts to the celebrants, make a toast, send a greeting card (thoughtful is best). Go out to dinner with family or friends. Make a video honoring the person or people who are being honored. Set up a powerpoint with photos. Hire a DJ or a clown. Have a barbecue or pool party.

But I’m a bit more interested in how to celebrate smaller events. And even what counts as “smaller” is a matter of interpretation. A promotion at work, or getting a new job. Making your first sale in your new business. Usually these things are marked with cheers, going out to dinner, and/or having a celebratory drink.

Celebrate Every Little Thing!-2.png


What about those still smaller events? Meeting a deadline (even a self-imposed one); finishing a project — even if it’s an intermediate goal (like finishing writing a chapter in a manuscript); sending an email or letter that was difficult for you; actually going to the gym; doing that piece of adulting that you find difficult, whatever it might be.

Now that’s what I’m talking about.

It’s far more common for us all to just turn to the next thing on our list and push ahead without marking them at all. And at the end of the day, we feel tired and depleted. But there’s another way: a way where you take a few minutes to honor your accomplishment and celebrate it.

Here are six ways you can celebrate the small things:

  1. Get yourself a cup of tea, a nice cup of coffee, a cup of cocoa, or a good piece of chocolate, and take a few minutes to savor whatever your treat might be.

  2. Reward yourself with some self-care: take salt bath; take a short walk (preferably outside).

  3. Schedule some self-care that involves others, like a massage, a haircut, etc.

  4. Go see a movie or watch something you’ve been saving on Netflix.

  5. Journal about it, so you have something in your gratitude journal for the day.

  6. Buy yourself some flowers or some ice cream or a small cake on the way home.


This month, I want to talk about celebration

I realized this evening that I said a lot of things about celebration in the newsletter that I sent out yesterday. That’s because it’s the new theme for the emails I’ll be sending out this month. And then it occurred to me that a bunch of my blog readers might not be subscribed to my newsletter. (Which you can fix right here, if you want a weekly dose of positive living.) It’s something I wanted to share with you in the meantime.

Here’s a bit of what I said:

It's December. Hanukkah started on Sunday evening, Solstice, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day and New Year's Eve are coming up. These can be the best or worst of times for many people. And I want to talk about celebration.

This has been a year, y'all. You know I mean it since I don't even say "y'all" all that often. I know I've mentioned my father having cancer, and we are moving out of 2018 hoping he's left that behind for good. That is something truly worth celebrating. But there have been other things, some of which aren't mine to tell, that linger on, and losses, like that of my husband's wonderful cousin. If you knew Selwyn, I'm pretty sure you liked and admired him, and if you didn't, then believe me when I say that you would have. It is easy to celebrate his life, even as losing him is no fun.

I want to talk about celebration as a thing we do, or maybe should do, daily, rather than on a grand scale. Ringing the bell to end chemo or radiation. Cheering for a kid whose team just won, or who competed in a debate, a recital or a concert. Raising a glass to celebrate a birthday or anniversary. Marking and honoring whatever small victory you may have experienced on any given day.

new month, new theme.png

This Friday, my sweetheart and I will be celebrating our second wedding anniversary (yes, we have an anniversary date “that will live in infamy”, since we got married on Pearl Harbor Day). And that’s one of the sorts of bigger events that folks tend to celebrate, but I’ve also been celebrating smaller things, like the success of our holiday shopping event this past weekend. Or the wee victory dance I did when I (or, uh, Morris, yeah, that’s what I meant) ordered a new pinafore apron for me as an anniversary gift.

So plan on some posts and thoughts about celebrations: what they are and can be, why we should have as many as we can, and even some ideas on how to celebrate things. Because celebration fits together really well with gratitude, and both of them lead to abundance, so if you think these things are all wrapped together, you’re right!

You guys! I just have to share the love!

I don’t want to bury the lede here, so I will come out and tell you straight away that I am giving you all a holiday present this week, and it’s kind of a big deal. (Some people might even call this “a sale”.) So if that’s what you are looking for, feel free to scroll on down to that straight away to get the details.

But first, I’ma tell you why I’m giving you all a present, and it’s because I am so so grateful for all the love and support everyone has been giving my business. Yesterday was the open studio event I created, and you guys, it was totally appropriate that it was called “A Most Wonderful Time”. It was such a treat for me to have Erin from Clove & Cedar, Lisa from Natures Energy, and Rita from Jularee here yesterday, because they are super wonderful people. And also because supporting other small businesses, other makers, other women, other local businesses . . . that is super important to me. And while these wonderful women don’t fit in ANY box, they manage to tick off all those important boxes at the same time.

 Rita from Jularee, Erin from Clove & Cedar, me, and Lisa from Natures Energy

Rita from Jularee, Erin from Clove & Cedar, me, and Lisa from Natures Energy

These women are seriously great. And we had so much fun, too!

My dining and living rooms were transformed to small shops, my studio was full of light and art, we have a kitchen full of snacks, the mulled cider was a huge hit (with or without spiced rum added in), and on top of that, we were joined by quite a number of lovely souls who came out on a grey drizzly day to support small, local woman-owned businesses. A massive thanks to EVERYONE who helped to make yesterday such a success, with a special thanks to my sweetheart, Morris, who kept an eye on the coffee pots and was super helpful all day. (He took that photo of the four of us, above.)

I know there were a lot of local folks who wanted to come, but had other things on their schedules for yesterday, just as I heard from lots of folks who don’t live anywhere near here, who wished they could make it.

So I have a gift for you all. I’m giving you 50% off all my collages and almost all of my paintings.

Starting today, and running until Thursday, December 5th, at midnight, all of my collages on my website are 50% off. In addition, nearly all my paintings are 50% off, so if you’ve been wanting one of them, now’s your chance to scoop them up at a serious discount! The only pieces on the Paintings page that are NOT on sale of the two remaining Jersey Shore pieces, which have always been value-priced at $48. Twenty-five percent of the price of each of the Jersey Shore pieces is donated to Clean Ocean Action, an organization dedicated to cleaning up the beaches in New Jersey—it’s my way of giving back to the shore, which inspired this series of seven original pieces.

I am just so thankful for all your love and support with my business, and this was the biggest present I could think of this year. No discount codes, coupons, or secret passwords needed . . . you get half off all my original collages and (most) paintings.

IMG_4064.jpg

Oh, one more thing!

A bonus gift for the first 10 customers.

The first 10 people to purchase online (whether it’s one greeting card or something more) will get one of my Christmas-themed greeting cards for free! “I saw three ships come sailing in” was inspired by a line from a Christmas carol. The original collage (available on the Collage page) features three ships, each bearing its own seasonal decoration: a wee Christmas tree, colorful shields, and a holly leaf flag.

Again, I just had to say a heartfelt THANK YOU to all of you: those who read this blog, those who came to shop yesterday, those who wanted to be here but couldn’t, those who have been cheering my small business on as it starts to get off the ground and tries to take flight. I appreciate you all so very much, and I’m so grateful!

The Most Wonderful Time: a holiday shopping party

What: A holiday shopping event that combines an open studio for my artwork with stations set up by three other vendors: Clove & Cedar, Jularee Handcrafted Jewelry, and Natures Energy. Items for sale include original artwork and greeting cards, jewelry, macramé, and pottery. And I know for a fact all four of us work to imbue our items with positive energy. (And we all accept credit cards as well as cash, by the way.)

When: Sunday, December 2nd, from 12 noon to 4 p.m.

Where: In my studio in Williamstown, NJ. Street address will be provided when you RSVP

WingedGoddess.jpg

WHY

Because that’s the important part

Why: It’s super important to me as a female business owner to support other female-owned businesses. It’s important to me as a female maker to support other female makers. It’s important to me to shop local, to shop small, and to shop handmade. And it’s important to me to draw other female makers who are entrepreneurs together.

So when I had the idea to throw my studio open for local folks to stop by and see my artwork (and hopefully buy some stuff - let’s keep it all the way real here!), I started to calculate how many other vendors I could possibly fit inside our house without people tripping over one another, and I figured I could fit a maximum of three additional vendors inside. And with it being a December event, I didn’t want to set up my tent out back. (Though heads up: when it’s nice out, I’m totally planning on doing just that so I can have more woman-owned businesses here!)

I’m being joined by

  • my friend Rita, owner of Jularee, who makes hand-crafted chakra and gemstone jewelry (including birthstone pieces), using sterling silver, copper, and even gold-filled wire.

  • my new friend Lisa, owner of Natures Energy, who makes hand-thrown pottery pieces as well as jewelry pieces enhanced with handmade copper chain and other sustainably sourced items.

  • my new friend Erin, owned of Clove & Cedar, who makes macramé pieces that include feathers and sweet rainbows, plant hangers, and wall hangings (often incorporating natural wood elements).

We are planning on filling this space with positive energy and happy shoppers. And toward that end, we are also going to have SNACKS, because snacks are good for energy, am I right? There will be coffee, tea, and mulled cider along with the tasty nibbles. I really hope you will come. Because it’s going to be The Most Wonderful Time!

On Living an Abundant Life

Does living an abundant life mean that you have great wealth? Does it mean you have nothing but good things in your life? What do you do when real life sends you something that isn’t exactly good? Just what does an abundant life look like?

I consider my current life to be an abundant one. No great wealth, not that I’m not open to that (hear that, Universe?). And I do have good things in my life: a place to live that has running water, working heat and air conditioning, a (small but) nice kitchen with working appliances, a sweet cat, an even sweeter husband (seriously, he’s such a good guy), two wonderful daughters out living their lives.

But it’s not all good stuff here. If you’re new around here, you probably don’t know that I’m disabled (two autoimmune issues that require lots of rest and have a tendency to flare up, not just when I’m stressed, but when the weather changes, or just for kicks). My family has been dealing with cancer issues this year, since my dad was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in July. My husband’s sweet and salty cousin Sel died on the 14th, not long after I posted my last blog post about choosing abundance.

Yet while we have been grieving for Sel, and I’ve been using more pain management stuff than usual (heat, salt baths, pain meds, and CBD oil on some spots), we’ve spent more time than usual with family. The funeral, shiva, and Thanksgiving found us with Sel’s wonderful family, and seriously, they are some terrific people. Also leading abundant lives, despite their own issues.

So I guess the answer to the question of what an abundant life looks like is that it looks like anyone’s life. Because the answer depends on you and your viewpoint. If you acknowledge and celebrate the good things in your life, chances are pretty good that you’re leading an abundant life. If you prefer to focus on the things you lack (whether they are objects, cash, or people), or on the things you dislike, chances are a bit higher that you’re not living in abundance.

It’s up to you to turn it around!

 Karen Salmansohn knows what’s what.

Karen Salmansohn knows what’s what.

If you are interested in more about abundance or other energy work, I hope that you will sign up for my newsletter. It goes out roughly weekly with information related to living with more positivity in your life.


Before I go, I wanted to invite you to shift your energy just a bit this holiday season by coming out to THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME: a Holiday Shopping Party, which I am hosting here in Williamstown, NJ. I am opening my studio up on Sunday, December 2nd, from 12 noon to 4 p.m., and I’ve invited three other women I know who are makers and who own their own small businesses to join me and sell their things as well. And everyone accepts cash or credit cards. So if you come out, you will not only get snacks and mix with happy people, but you’ll be shopping local, supporting woman-owned small businesses, and shopping handmade. Win-win-win!

Below is a gallery—if you click on the image below, you can cycle through and see some of the items that will be available here:

Just a hint of what you might expect to find this Sunday! If you need the street address for my studio or directions, let me know!

Choosing an Abundance Mindset

When I talk about abundance, I think of this definition of it “plentifulness of the good things of life; prosperity.” Or sometimes, I think in terms of enough-ness. Having enough good things to be in a positive state. Which can actually mean not having mad amounts of money or luxury items. It can mean having a place to live, feeling relatively safe, having food on the table, and so forth.

As you may recall from last week, my younger daughter is in the Peace Corps in Lesotho. She has to fill a five-gallon bucket at a communal tap that’s nearly a quarter mile from her house, and carry it home. That’s used for cooking, bathing, washing up, etc. And she uses a ditch latrine. For her, and for the people she lives among, running water and an actual toilet are a luxury. Yet she manages to maintain a sense of enough-ness because she has water and a private rondavel in which to live, and she always has food and clothing. Early on in her time in Lesotho, she met a volunteer who focused on the things that she didn’t like; sure enough, that volunteer opted to go home rather than finish her assignment.

Which brings me to the salient point of today’s post:

chooseabundance.png

You get to create your reality; you get to decide whether you are living an abundant life or a life of lack. To borrow a cliché, you get to say whether the glass if half full, or half empty. Choose half full. When you focus on the positive, you are far more likely to attract positive things in your life.

Choose Abundance.

Creating Space for Abundance

Here in the United States, November is almost entirely overtaken by the preparation for and celebration of Thanksgiving, which falls on the fourth Thursday of the month. Thanksgiving at its core is all about celebrating family and experiencing gratitude for having enough food to eat, though of course it has gotten a lot of other things added to it over the years — parades, football games, family squabbles, celebrations of friends, overeating and more. Usually I think of Thanksgiving as a day to recognize the abundance in our lives. And I’d like a lot more of that gratitude and abundance in my daily life.

A few months back, I shared a blog post that included Six Tips on Clearing Clutter, which you can find here. And I stand by all the things in that post, and have lots more to say about decluttering and/or downsizing, which I’ve decided to share with you because hey, who among us doesn’t have clutter that needs dealing with? (If you don’t have any clutter, please tell me how you achieved and maintain that status. Seriously.)

When I was in South Carolina for most of the month of October, I noticed two things about my mom and dad’s house: (1) That the public areas (great room with living space and dining areas) are largely tidy and clutter-free and (2) that clutter hides inside closets and drawers at their house (sorry mom & dad, but I peeked in the closet and drawers in the room I was sleeping in). I decided that when I got home, I wanted to focus on clearing clutter so we’d have a more zen space to live in, and also because decluttering is good feng shui.*

*Feng shui (pronounced fung shway) is the ancient Chinese art (some would say it’s a science) of balancing yin and yang energies within a space, with the aim of achieving “good feng shui” or energy flow to improve health, happiness, and abundance. It’s something I’ve studied and tried to practice in my own life and home for the past 13 years or so. One of the precepts is that you have to create space in your life and home in order to make room for abundance (in all forms) to join you.

As Jayme Barrett says in her book, Feng Shui Your Life, "Instead of focusing on what you are getting rid of, concentrate on moving towards your dream and goals." And the idea of clearing clutter in order to make space for abundance turns up in any book about the universal Law of Attraction as well. If you want to manifest abundance, you need to live an abundant life, which includes appreciating the things you have and not treating them poorly by allowing clutter to overtake everything. For instance, Denise Duffield-Thomas, who is a sort of mentor of mine, is dedicated to helping women find financial success. In her book, Get Rich, Lucky Bitch, she say that step one to manifesting anything is “declutter everything in your life”. (Your house, your car, your wardrobe, your email . . . everything.)

It's really helpful, as I start to slog through the everyday parts of clearing out spaces and assessing items in my house this week, to lift my head up now and then and remember why I'm doing it. The drudgery of working can sometimes obscure the happy goal I'm working toward, if I don't remind myself. Perhaps I need to put on the soundtrack to Disney’s Ever After and sing a “happy working song.” (No vermin need come to my aid. Seriously.)

Jayme Barrett’s book reminds me to keep "only those objects that encourage and inspire you", and to get rid of objects that affect thoughts and emotions in a negative way (things that are about sad subject matter, whether written or visual, or failed projects) and things that sap your energy (her examples include "photos of people who disapprove of you, gifts from a past relationship, and inherited furniture you've kept out of guilt"). 

I also really like and approve of Jayme Barrett’s rationale for getting rid of items you've been keeping "just in case":

Each item you keep "just in case" further roots you in fear and lack. Be confident that you will have everything you need and want to lead to a happy life. An effective way to start a cycle of abundance is by giving away items that no longer serve you. As you give, you receive. Create a vacuum for new and wonderful things to enter your home.


I find that when I keep these ideas in mind - that I am freeing up space for the qi energy to flow, giving to others who need something, and creating room for new and wonderful things, it is much easier and almost refreshing to let things go. (Almost. I mean, it’s still a bit of a struggle.) This of course applies to those things that are actual things, and not trash or recycling.

Getting rid of items in order to create space, whether it’s to improve abundance or get ready for a move, is good feng shui. Isn't that great? And since this blog is as much about art as it is about words, here is a painting I did entitled “Abundance”. It started with just that word painted on the canvas:

 “Abundance” 24”x36” on canvas.

“Abundance” 24”x36” on canvas.

Here’s hoping that this post supports you if you are cleaning/clearing space this month, and that the tips on how to reduce clutter help as well. And here’s to abundance! If you’d like more tips on things from reducing clutter to how to hang art to discounts on my work, I hope you will subscribe to my newsletter.

It's finally starting to feel like fall!

Probably moreso at my home in New Jersey than here in Summerville, South Carolina where I’ve been spending the last couple weeks in order to help transport my dad to his weekly chemo appointments, though even here there’s been a chill in the air for a couple nights, with more cool weather to come next week. I mean, it’s still in the 80s during the day, and I actually made it to the beach for the first time this year.

 Here’s a shot of my feet on Folly Beach last Friday.

Here’s a shot of my feet on Folly Beach last Friday.

One of my favorite poems from college was “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot, and towards the end you’ll find these lines:

I grow old ... I grow old ...
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Perhaps a little too apt, right? Here’s some of the rest

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

Here’s hoping that Eliot is wrong and that a mermaid choir shows up after all. Meanwhile, here are four pieces I still have available from my Jersey Shore series. Each of these is approximately 4”x6” in size, and is matted and ready to pop into an 8”x10” frame. They cost $48 each, plus shipping, and 25% of the purchase price goes to Clean Ocean Action, an organization dedicated to keeping the beaches and the waters off of New York and New Jersey clean.

Jersey Shore 2 and 3 are on the top row, Jersey Shore 4 and 7 are on the bottom.

Please let me know if you are interested in one of the above pieces, or in chatting about T.S. Eliot (also author of the poems that became they lyrics to most of the songs in the musical CATS). And if you are interested in signing up for my newsletter (which only goes out once every few weeks), you can do that here.

Fall Cleaning

My husband, Morris, and I spent hours together yesterday and today, cleaning out half of our garage. We have a two car garage that we keep our two cars in, along with TONS of other things stored around the edges. Our efforts resulted in giving away a five-foot tall IKEA wooden wine rack, putting an awful lot of tools and doodads away (so many loose screws, you guys — LOL), and throwing out a rather impressive amount of things. Including a dead squirrel, that apparently crawled under some shelving in our garage to die. (I am so sad for the poor wee thing—but it obviously had passed quite a long while ago.)

Earlier this week, I spent quite a lot of time cleaning half of my studio. Below is a shot of a still-needs-to-be-cleaned table, but I sort of fell in love with it anyhow.

 Feathers, oils, a crystal point, a paint carousel, a music box, some silk sunflowers, . . .

Feathers, oils, a crystal point, a paint carousel, a music box, some silk sunflowers, . . .

I’ve been diffusing some lovely combinations here in the house lately. At this moment, the house smells of Cedarwood, Wintergreen, Orange, and Bergamot, since that’s what I added to the Epsom salts in the bath I ran for my sweetheart after so much hard work today. He literally powered through SO MUCH STUFF. I spent more time in a chair or advising than actually lifting and carrying and such, though I did do a decent amount of sweeping and sorting of hardware. It’s not something I focus on, but in case you are looking for high-quality essential oils, I do sell Young Living oils (in theory — I have my distributor listing, but haven’t signed anyone up or sold any to other people in the past five years). The post being, if you’d like some, hit me up.

On Monday of this week, I started taking a new online art course, which has kept me busy this week. But I’ve also almost finished up this piece, which features an Emily Dickinson poem and will be going in my shop early next week at $100. (Holler now if it’s yours):

 Autumn—overlooked my Knitting—

Autumn—overlooked my Knitting—

Next week is for more art class, and for my IV infusion to treat my rheumatoid arthritis (hence the sitting and not lifting so much portion of fall cleaning), and for travel to South Carolina for most of October, where I hope to be of use as a chauffeur for my dad, who is doing radiation and chemotherapy for esophageal cancer. BUT! I have an event that I just got to list on my calendar for November, so that makes me happy. More in a bit, once it’s confirmed.

If you’d like to sign up for my newsletter, you can do so at my home page. I just sent one out the other day, and the next will go out sometime in October. (Hint: it will have a special sale event for subscribers!)

Falling for Autumn

When I was younger, spring was my favorite season. I loved the newness and everything bursting into bloom, the longer days. But for the last 15-20 years, fall has been my favorite and my best. (That phrase borrows from “Snow is My Favorite and My Best”, the title of a Charlie and Lola book by Lauren Child.) I love the lengthening shadows, that whisper of chill sweeping through on the breeze, the way the leaves change color and eventually fall and swish and drift.

 The setting sun on my studio the other day. I love that golden light.

The setting sun on my studio the other day. I love that golden light.

I spent the equinox yesterday at ArtWorks in Trenton, surrounded by other artists and writers at the closing of the Creative Capital program that I was lucky enough to be selected for earlier this year. It renewed my commitment to thinking and acting strategically in my arts business, and also started me thinking about the direction of my art and what I want to work on in this coming fall season. I don’t have the answer yet, but I’m listening to the whispers of the leaves, and the whispers of my heart, and I’ll keep you posted.

Whatever it is, it’s likely to be explored and begun at least partially in South Carolina, where I’ll be spending most of the month of October. My dad has begun radiation and chemotherapy for esophageal cancer, and once I’ve done my upcoming IV infusion for my own health issues (hello, rheumatoid arthritis!), I will be hitting the road and heading south so that I can help with transportation and anything else that needs helping.

Meanwhile, I’ve got two new collage pieces available just in time for Halloween decorating. The first contains an ancient Cornish litany: “From ghouls and ghosts and long-leggetty beasties and things that go bump in the night, GOOD LORD, deliver us!” The second has far less to say (“BOO!”) Both are 9”x12” mixed media collage pieces on canvas board, and they look spectacular matted and framed. They are going into my online store at $65 plus shipping for the piece alone, but will happily sell them matted and framed at $90 plus shipping!

Also available for fall are a piece with a quote from L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables about the month of October, plus an Octobers greeting card and a Poe-related Raven greeting card entitled “Nevermore”. Hope you’ll check out the shop!

Happy fall to you! Drop a comment to let me know what your favorite season is, and what plans you have for fall.

The most important thing is that you stay safe

I’ve been away on a lovely vacation with my husband, and we got back late on Sunday evening. It was a wonderful trip, starting with a stay in Rome and then a cruise of the western Mediterranean that stopped in Cannes and Corsica, France, Barcelona and Mallorca, Spain, and Sardinia, Italy. And we loved every minute we were away. The photo below is from our visit to Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, still under construction for the next 8 years or so.

 Oh, the light and air inside this space was just magical!

Oh, the light and air inside this space was just magical!

And now we are home, and preparing for the Pitman Craft Show this Saturday (assuming it takes place). But mostly, we are worrying about everyone in the path of Hurricane Florence as the storm heads toward the East Coast. Please take this storm seriously and take care of yourself, if it’s coming anywhere near you. And it seems only right to defer any further discussion of things like my vacation or the craft show, given the coming storm. Because as it says at the top of this post, the most important thing is that you stay safe.

Six Tips on Clearing Clutter

Earlier this year, we put an addition on the back of the house to serve as my studio. It is full of light and air and usually pretty high vibrational energy, though it's not always the tidiest spot in the house. 

Now, when I first started furnishing the room, it literally had my worktable and chair in the center, my teal IKEA cart with some supplies, and my easel in the corner. Everything else was boxes, baskets, and piles of jumble. Over time, my sweet Morris built me a table that I just love (and which isn't being as well-utilized as it could be, but I'll get there), and we brought in another cart and an IKEA shelf unit that had been stashed in the garage when I moved in with my sweetheart a few years ago. 

The shelf unit had it's top shelf removed to work in the garage under the electrical box, and it came in the house just that way. You can see it below on the left, in a photo taken just after I tidied it (and before too much junk got piled on the floor in front of it). But of course, we bought a bunch more canvases, and my card rack (for greeting card display) needed a home, and eventually it was all I could do to reach the shelves, I had to stand so far away from it. 

And that's just not good feng shui, y'all. Also not good housekeeping, probably. And likely unsafe, since it affect the pathway to the sliding door to the outside, the frame of which you can see to the left on both pictures.

Anyway, I spent weeks (probably months) trying to figure out better storage in the room. And one day I was meditating out on the patio, as I am wont to do, when I opened my eyes (literally and figuratively) and it occurred to me that I could add the top shelf back. In fact, I have several extra shelves and their hardware, come to that. So yesterday, I added that top shelf, and lo -- everything that had been on the floor made it up onto the shelves, and my dreaming Buddha found a perch, and the whole studio feels lighter and clearer again, because all that heavy energy that was being pulled to the floor got moving again.

I get that it doesn't  involve rocket science, but I was quite literally stumped and frustrated for quite a while before the extremely simple solution presented itself one day. And I am willing to bet that you have experienced something similar in your own space.

Which raises the question Where is your problem area? Do you have an area that is constantly cluttered? Often clutter exists because the items don't have a home anywhere. 

Here are some tips to help you with your clutter:

  • First, ask whether any of the clutter is actually trash. (This happens with me all the time - an empty envelope I don't need, receipts, etc.) If it IS, then throw it out.
  • Second, ask whether it is something you need to file in some way. If you have an envelope because you wanted to copy down a friend's address, put that address in your address book and get rid of the envelope. If it is a receipt, statement, or bill that you need to file, FILE IT. 
  • Third, ask yourself if it's there because it's broken and needs to be fixed. If so, decide right now if you really want to get it fixed or you want to throw it out. If the former, then fix it or schedule a time to take it somewhere to be repaired. If the latter, throw it out.
  • Fourth, ask yourself if it's there because you mean to donate it or otherwise give it away. If it's a gift for someone, either give it to them or find a place in your house that you want to keep gifts and store it there. If it's a donation (or you are not sure you want to keep it but haven't decided yet), put it in a donation box. You can box up all the "maybes" in one box and stick them in a closet and if you don't feel compelled to rescue them within two or three months, donate what is left in that box. 
  • Fifth, ask if the item has a place it's "supposed to" live. If it does, put it there. If it doesn't, think about where you would like it to be. Can you find a shelf or drawer that it belongs on? A box, bin, or basket to contain it with its friends? Sometimes it's just that easy. Sometimes . . . it isn't. In that case, it may take some thinking or planning, or the purchase of a storage container. But hey -- if you've gotten this far, then hopefully you don't have too many un-homed items left.

One last bit of advice

 A throwback photo from when I first moved in with Morris.

A throwback photo from when I first moved in with Morris.

Above you see the note I wrote for myself (and posted in plain sight) when I was decluttering and downsizing and moving in with my sweetheart (who is now my husband of nearly 21 months). I had one sign at my old house, and one sign here, and I still have a copy of this posted in our walk-in closet where I can see it every day. It helped for me to have guidelines or criteria with which to make decisions. A hairbrush has purpose; a piece of jewelry might bring pleasure or beauty. Some things hit the trifecta, like a beautiful flower vase. But these guidelines really helped me with the sort of clutter where I had to decide whether to keep it or get rid of it (by donation, gift, recycling, or trash). 

And invariably, getting rid of some clutter will allow energy to flow a bit better in your space, and leave room for positive things to show up.

I  hope this helps at least one reader out there. I'd love to hear what space or clutter you're working on! Oh--and if you are at all interested in getting updates in your own inbox now and then, please sign up for my email list!

Weekend Fun

This weekend (August 18-19) is the Collingswood Crafts & Fine Art Festival, and I am super delighted (can you be super delighted? I think so!) to have been selected to be one of this year's participants. It's my first juried show, and I. Am. Stoked.

 You'll find me in Booth #6, down near Powell Street (and the Devil's Creek Brewery)!

You'll find me in Booth #6, down near Powell Street (and the Devil's Creek Brewery)!

I will be taking along a bunch of work at different price points, including some new pieces: Martha's Garden (30x40), Janet's Light (16x20), A Rose by Any Other (24x30) and Muriel's Garden (24" square). All four of the pieces are super high vibe florals:

I will also be bringing some of my more spiritual work, including a set of seven chakra lotuses mounted on a wooden plank, four 12"-square Buddhas, some framed goddess pieces, plus a large Buddha head and large Winged Goddess. Plus, of course, art tambourines and original collage  pieces and greeting cards and even some bookmarks that are original art on heavy watercolor paper. Below are the five Buddha pieces I'll be bringing - the first four are 12" square ($150 each), and the last one is 24" square ($900).

I sure hope the weather holds - it looks to be super nice and not too too hot - and that lots of folks roll out for the event! If you are in the area, please stop by!

Coming soon: COLLINGSWOOD

I am so excited to have been selected as one of the participants in the Collingswood Crafts and Fine Art Festival on Saturday, August 18th, and Sunday, August 19th.

2018Postcard copy.jpg

At this precise moment, it still feels a bit surreal, since life in July threw a lot of curve balls, from the death of my wonderful Aunt Janet to my dad being hospitalized for an emergency gastric bleed and finding out he has esophageal cancer. We still don't have a prognosis (though we will get one tomorrow), and I'm still not home. But knowing that this particular light is out there, whether it's at the end of this tunnel or it's more like the Chesapeake Bay Tunnel, which alternates tunnel and surface a few times, is making things a bit more bearable. 

I'm planning on bringing along art tambourines, large canvases, smaller pieces, greeting cards, and bookmarks made from original art. 

Seven ways to clear and raise your own energy

In mid-June, just ahead of solstice, I shared a post with 5 ways to clear the energy in your home. Happy energy inside your home (or your workspace) is definitely a good thing, and helps to support positive energy for you and anyone else who lives, works, or visit there. But there are times when we all get bogged down. Maybe we are tired and hangry; maybe we've had one thing after another go wrong, or nothing is going our way; maybe we've been hanging out with people who drag us down.

I mean, all of that happens. And sometimes more than one of those things happens at once. It's easy when that occurs to lose a bit of our shine, and even to allow ourselves to wallow. After all, what can we do to change it?

Well, I'm glad I asked. Because I have some thoughts on this one. 

 Love, Breath, Air

Love, Breath, Air

First, do what you can to release any negative energy that may have attached to you (or been pushed on you) by other people or the general state of the world. Then, do what you can to raise your vibration (your own personal energy vibration) and get yourself into a better frame of mind. Here are some specific actions you can take to clear, raise, and protect your own energy levels

Salt baths: 

You could choose to literally wash away and neutralize negative energy by taking a salt bath: add two cups of Epsom salts to a warm-to-hot bath and soak for 20-30 minutes. Sea salt also works, and some folks swear by a combination of Epsom and sea salts; others add one quarter cup of baking soda to help neutralize chemicals present in the water (such as chlorine), though I'm not 100% clear on the science here. I typically add 8-10 drops of therapeutic-grade essential oils to my tub as well. Oils smell good, and they can have their own health benefits. Lavender is calming and relaxing; peppermint is invigorating and good if you have sinus issues or a headache. 

Epsom salts have all sorts of health benefits, since they are composed of magnesium sulfate: the magnesium is absorbed through the skin, and can help with migraines, digestive issues, and more. One trick is to keep your feet in the water during the bath to allow all that warmth and salt to wash around the reflexology points all over your feet. Another is to slide down and get the back of your neck into the water for a while as well, to allow the warm water to work its magic on any tension you carry there. And finally, pull the plug (or, more likely these days, flip the drain switch) while you are still in the tub and imagine any and all negativity washing away from you and down the drain. 

Happy tunes:

We all have different ones that we like, so I'm not giving you an exact playlist. But play the music that makes you smile, or makes you want to shake your groove thing. Bonus points to you if you actually shake it, since that will get the qi circulating in your body and circulating is better than stuck any day.

Go outside.

Yes. Outside is an amazing place. During the daytime there is sunshine (or the cleansing power of rain or snow), and at nighttime there are stars and the moon. Maybe you can't see them, but you can feel that they are up there. You can get some fresh air. Feel the breeze or wind (if there is any). And even in a city, you can find places where you can hear the birds as they call to one another. You can share some tree energy if you'd like (from admiring them to sitting in their cool shade to literally hugging them). But just being out in Nature is a proven energy booster. 

Exercise:

Good news! You can pair this one with being outside AND listening to happy music, for an energy-boosting trifecta! Turns out that getting a move-on, whether it's walking or running, Pilates, yoga or weight-lifting, hiking, biking, swimming, surfing, skiing, or tai chi, is not just good for your physical health; it's also good for your mental health and your energy levels. Yes, I get that you may be tired afterward and feel you have less energy than before you started, but the energy levels we're talking about are more like mood and state of mind. Those are likely to be elevated after exercise.

Meditate:

I mean, I'm sure you figured this would be on the list, right? And that's because meditation works. If you can't get around to exercising (and hey, I get that -- sometimes I am physically unable to do too much due to two chronic autoimmune conditions that cause pain and fatigue), meditation can be just as effective at helping your brain (there are studies on this) and can reduce pain, boost mood, and more. And there are some forms of exercise that marry meditation with movement, such as qigong, tai chi, or walking a labyrinth. Any form of regular meditation works to reduce stress and can improve mood and energy levels by detaching from other people (and their energy) and finding your own center. It helps to stabilize and recalibrate your own energy vibration. And it helps you remember that YOU are the one who gets to decide how to react and/or how to view things that happen in your life. When paired with any of the other energy tips in this post, you are bound to raise your own vibration.

Essential oils and crystals:

Possibly more "woo-woo" than some of the other items on the list, but so many people swear by these that I'd be remiss in not mentioning them. It turns out that essential oils each have their own energy vibrations, and those with high vibrations can raise a person's energy vibration. The same thing goes for crystals, which vibrate at their own frequencies as well. Some of them (black onyx, jet, black obsidian) are supposed to offer protection against negative energy; others such as rose quartz enhance love and reduce stress; amethyst helps to quiet the mind. I'm not going into great detail on these since there are so many oils and stones out there, but if either of those options appeals to you, by all means get in touch and I'll do what I can to point you in the right direction.

In closing

When I make my art, I first make sure that my studio is full of positive energy, often using the techniques I described in my solstice post. I also make sure that I'm in a good place energetically, and that I'm putting positive vibes into my artwork and my paint strokes or other techniques. It's my way of making art that vibrates at a high frequency.

Fireflies and Sparklers

The first lightning bugs I saw this year were just before the Solstice. I love seeing them flash by now, conjuring memories of childhood and chasing (and sometimes catching) them in the yard with my brother and our cousins. They remind me of happy, sweaty nights running around outside, of mosquito bites and popsicles, of box fans in the windows. Those flashes of light remind me, too, of the sparklers that come with the 4th of July--a holiday that is rushing at us, and will arrive in the middle of next week.

 "Soaring" An original mixed-media collage on watercolor paper, comes matted and framed. $64

"Soaring" An original mixed-media collage on watercolor paper, comes matted and framed. $64

This time of year is a good one to remember how our country became independent, and how it's up to all of us to protect our independence. It's a good time of year for sparklers (if you like them - I . . . like seeing them, but won't handle them), for paying attention to safety rules when it comes to fireworks, and to celebrating with patriotic music and red, white & blue decor. It's a good time for hotdogs and burgers, for clambakes and corn on the cob, for fresh watermelon (hopefully without seeds, though I remember with fondness my grandfather teaching us how to spit them off the porch), and for popsicles. It's a good time for "Stars and Stripes Forever", whether you sing about web-footed friends or not, and for the 1812 Overture (because CANNONS!, though the song was written in 1880 to commemorate the Russians beating back Napoléon back in 1812), and for ooh-ing and ahh-ing with neighbors when your town does its firework display.

And it's a good time to spend a day clearing out your cupboards to get rid of expired food (throw it out!) and stuff you really don't want anymore (donate it to a local food pantry- just because it's warm doesn't mean that everyone has access to food; this is especially true for families who relied on free breakfast and lunch during the school year and now have to figure things out seven days a week instead of just on the weekend, and for seniors who sometimes don't have the same programs available to them during the summer months to help them with food security). Because independence is great, and Independence Day can be awesome, but remembering that we're all inter-dependent is still a good thing, and helping your neighbors (even if you don't know them, really) is a good way to celebrate our interdependence, and to help them feel they're still independent.

Five ways to help clear the energy in your home for Summer Solstice

The Summer Solstice will occur this Thursday, June 21st. It's the day of the year with the most daylight here in the Northern Hemisphere, and for many of us there are reasons to celebrate. It's the official start of summer here in the United States, despite this week's preemptive heatwave. 

 A 6" square canvas with a mixed media sunflower.

A 6" square canvas with a mixed media sunflower.

One of the things I've been doing to prepare for the summer/solstice is to clear the energy in my house. Given the amount of disheartening news these days (which is a massive understatement, and doesn't convey how gutted I've been by recent events at the southern US border), clearing the energy and raising the vibration has merged into self-care for me, and is keeping our house a bit of a haven, even though we allow the news in daily.

5 ways to clear the energy in your home:

  • Set an intention to clear any "stuck" or negative energy
  • Open windows (if you can), turn on fans (ditto), turn on all the lights, and blare some happy music to encourage energy to start moving
  • Open the doors to any closets in the room your in, then clap your hands or, if you prefer, ring a chime or bell, into each of the corners in the room and closet so the vibrations will start to move any stuck energy
  • Light sandalwood incense or burn sage (a smudge stick) in order to burn off any negativity and encourage energy to flow. If you cannot tolerate the scent of either of those choices, light an unscented candle with the intention that it burn off any negativity.
  • Bring in houseplants to clear the air (literally) and add living energy to your space.

This Saturday, September 23rd, I'll be one of the vendors at Solstice Soul Fest at Sunset Auditorium in Pitman, New Jersey. The event will occur from 9 am to noon, and will include free yoga, live music, and a variety of vendors. Come on out and celebrate solstice!