life

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!

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.

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.

It's all about FREEDOM

I know it's not just me who gets their best ideas (or some new insight or clarity) while in the shower. This morning's "a-ha" moment for me was that so much of my art is about FREEDOM, and about FINDING PEACE.

Freedom of movement and/or freedom to travel, represented by all the sailboats and hot air balloons. Freedom of expression, represented by various styles of art as well as all those words and phrases found in my literary collages and even in some of my abstracts. Freedom to make noise and be heard in this world (tambourines, anyone?). Freedom to be my whole self, to paint with abandon, to discover new things.

Below you can see an assortment of my artwork - from large paintings like the Buddha and "Love, Breath, Air" to new hot-air balloons, sailboats, and literary collages.


What a lovely gift freedom is. And so many of the constraints I have been getting rid of or pushing past are limitations I either placed on myself or allowed others to push on me. All those "shoulds" I internalized over the decades. All those warnings meant to keep me "safe" that actually built walls and boxed me right in. 

Freedom to not take on other people's expectations. Freedom to refuse to allow others to impose boundaries or limitations. Freedom to break free of any of those boundaries I accepted or set for myself. Freedom to be seen and heard; freedom to step back from the noise and be alone, too. Freedom to not care too much whether other people will think I'm nuts if I . . . (fill in the blank). 

Freedom to find peace. Peace of mind, for sure. But also the freedom to accept myself as I am, and to be at peace with myself. At peace with my weight, my health, my emotional state. When I'm painting or working on collage, I am so in the moment, in the flow, that there is nothing but peace and the making of art. Maybe that's why so many of my larger paintings have peace built into them: Buddha, a dove, words that invoke a peaceful feeling, meditative elements meant to slow the viewer down and invoke a sense of ease and peace.

What does freedom mean to you right now? What would peace be for you? What are you ready to let go of?

It's been a busy week around here

This week was taken up with lots of construction work. As a person with a couple of autoimmune disorders, I usually sleep until about 9 a.m. most days, but that wasn't a possibility this week, as I had to be up before 8 four out of 5 days, and the fifth day, I had to be up at 8. 

But look! They framed my new studio! And put a roof on! And even managed a bit of Tyvek and an installed window (ahead of a rather wet and wild Nor'easter)!

 See my sweetheart in the grey, talking to the project manager?

See my sweetheart in the grey, talking to the project manager?

Despite all the NOISE NOISE NOISE NOISE (that's me, channeling the Grinch), I managed to get some work done.

In fact, I did so many boat collages that I can offer you a boat show!

The 8"x10" boat pieces are going to be priced at $80 and the 11"x14" ones will be $100. Holler out if you spy one that you want!

In the next blog post, expect to see the finished studio. Oh my gosh, you guys, I am so excited!

Breaking ground on my new art studio

You guys! Things are getting real around here. I woke up this morning to the sound of men's voices in my backyard. (Which was unexpected and mildly startling, but anyway . . . ) It was the contractor and the masons, here to start digging the foundation and footings for my new art studio.

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Can you see Miss Kismet in the window, supervising? 

By the end of the work day, the footings were dug and most of the dirt they removed was carted away. Next up, an inspection . . . and (if all goes as expected) the foundation will be poured on Wednesday

And, um, hey - if you have been looking at my work and would like to help me out by clearing some space before they remove those glass doors and I have to clear half of my living room, just give me a holler. You can see a lot of the available pieces here on my website - three different galleries: one for paintings, one for literary collages, and one for art tambourines.

Just in time for hygge season, it's a 25% off sale!

Hygge (pronounced hue-gah) is the Danish word for the idea of inside winter coziness - you know the sort of thing: warm socks, afghans, fires in the fireplaces, and snuggling. It's like hunkering down, but perhaps without the sort of isolated bunker-mentality that sometimes elicits. As you can see from the photo below, my cat Kismet has this down to an art form:

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Autumn - overlooked my knitting -

Speaking of art forms (were we not?), I've been making slow progress on some larger pieces as well as on a few literary collages. Above is one that I completed not long ago - it features text from an Emily Dickinson poem, "Autumn--overlooked my knitting--".  It's now available in the "Literary Collage" section on my website, if you're interested, at a cost of $150. (25% off from now until end of December.)


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Ooh!

These are actual building plans.

For a brand-new art studio here at my house.

 

 

 

 

In this season of hygge, I am about to endure weeks of daily assault on my quiet and sanity. On the plus side, in the end, I'm going to have a wonderful new art studio to work in. In the meantime, I'm going to have to move a lot of . . . STUFF . . . in our current living room in order to safeguard it from the work area. And that means I'd really, truly like to sell some finished art. Not just to make money (though who doesn't like money), but because our relatively small house is going to be really hard to navigate if I have to move all this artwork into the hallway and other rooms.

In light of the foregoing, I am offering a HUGE incentive to collectors: TWENTY-FIVE PERCENT (25%) OFF of any piece here on my website. And I'll give you free shipping to addresses in the US as well. 

Why not add to the feeling of hygge in your home by adding some new artwork, while I'm unable to enjoy much of the quite and cozy for a while?