celebration

Olde Pear Primitives and more news

I am delighted to share the two images below, both of which were taken by Genevieve at Olde Pear Primitives in Cape May, New Jersey this week. The first one is a watercolor seascape that I painted, which is nestled with some jewelry, and the second is a watercolor sailboat, playing nicely with some soap and bath bombs.

I am tickled every day, knowing that my artwork is available in this marvelous shop in Cape May. And, of course, I have art tambourines available at Mystic Gingery Collective in Blackwood, NJ, and also at the Grand Galleria in Williamstown, NJ.

This weekend, I will be painting murals on the walls of the main studio at Peace Love Yoga in Glassboro. Pictures to follow—though I am really glad that I’ve been promised some helpers, because I’ve been having a few joint issues lately (thanks, rheumatoid arthritis!), so I can use the assistance.

Next weekend, I will be dropping off artwork at MADE. Artisan Marketplace in Woodbury, New Jersey, which will (hopefully) be open to the public starting in May. All while making art and planning what to take with me on May 19th, when I will be at the Decompress South Jersey event at Will-Moor School of Gymnastics up in Mount Laurel.

A 5” square heart collage in spring colors.

A 5” square heart collage in spring colors.

And now, to get dressed for tonight’s seder with family. Happy Passover! And to those of you celebrating the Christian holidays, Happy Easter!

Three Ways to Celebrate Spring

Whether the weather is springlike or not, the equinox will take place tomorrow at 5:58 p.m., and Spring will officially be sprung. It’s the season of new growth, and of pollen and allergies. The season of renewal, and the season that can leave some people feeling a bit flat or stuck. Today, I’m sharing with you four ideas to take action on to celebrate spring:

First, Create Space for Abundance

Not to jump on Marie Kondo’s train (although I bet it’s a really tide, neatly-folded train), but you can start by clearing some clutter. My personal policy is (and has been for the past seven years) to “get rid of everything that does not bring pleasure, beauty, or purpose into my life”. You can read six tips on how to clear clutter here. Clearing out the stuff that you no longer like, use, or want makes space for energy to circulate inside your space! You can read more about this idea in my post from October. Once you have taken out the trash, donated the stuff you no longer care to keep, and followed the other steps in my earlier post, you can start finding good ways and places in which to store your stuff. If your clothes all have homes in closets or drawers, then they won’t be strewn about your bedroom or home. It makes it simpler to find what you want when you want it, and it also reduces the amount of visual clutter in your life. If you get totally overwhelmed or are stumped with how to start in any given room, I always recommend clearing the top of the largest flat surface in the space—doing so gives your eyes a place to rest and makes the whole room look tidier in a hurry. Don’t believe me? Go into your dining room and make sure the table is cleared of stuff that doesn’t belong there (clothing, papers, crafts, shopping bags, etc.) Or go into a bedroom and clear anything that doesn’t belong on the bed off of it and make the bed. In your kitchen, clear off the island or (if you don’t have one) the longest stretch of counter space you have. Having a place in each room where your eyes can rest and not be driven wild by clutter will make you feel more relaxed and ready for spring.

Get Out

No, not the movie.

If it’s not a blizzard, tornado warning, or thunderstorm where you are, get outside. Some things you can do while you are there:

  • Take a walk in your yard or neighborhood, and keep an eye out for signs of spring. Count how many robins you spot, or look for whatever is just starting to bloom. For some of you, that might be azaleas or even roses, for others, it might be snowdrops. But look for signs of renewed life.

  • Plant something. Doesn’t matter if it’s a full garden or a single plant or shrub. Spending time outside and digging in the garden (or cleaning it up) is valuable exercise, both physically and mentally.

  • Do a quick maintenance and upgrade assessment of your yard and building(s). Are there things that need to be repaired or replaced? Do you need to get your gutters cleaned? Does your apartment door need sprucing up? Is your garden shed in need of a new roof or a lock on the door? What about your balcony or garden area? Do you need to buy or replace pots? Remove dead stuff? Plant something new? Spring is a great time for making a list of the projects you want to get to during the warmer weather.

Spruce Up Your Art Situation

An easy way to celebrate spring is to brighten the corner where you are. (And yes, I realize there’s an old hymn by Ina D. Ogden of that name, and the pun or wordplay was intentional.) You don’t have to put ginormous bunny and egg clings on your windows (though of course you can, and if you have little kids, they may really like that); you can simply add some spring touches inside and outside your home.

Outside ideas:

  • a new welcome mat; it doesn’t have to have a spring theme, but if your old one is looking sad beyond repair, this time when all those winter boots (and salt and cinders) are done is a good one to put out something new

  • a cheerful garden flag, if that’s how you roll. Could be spring-themed, or just something new and cheery.

  • a new birdbath or bird feeder, if you like having lots of avian friends

  • a new wreath or other decoration for your door; note: it doesn’t just have to be your front door. You can also perk up your door into your garage or laundry room or a side door, if that’s what you usually use to go in and out.

Inside ideas:

  • Once you’ve tidied up your front hall or foyer or sunporch, consider adding a seasonal touch; could be a small, cheerful birdhouse or a basket of eggs; could be a new piece of artwork to sit on a table or shelf, or hang on the wall to welcome your guests.

  • Take a good look at the art and photographs in each room. Do you still like the item? Do you still like its frame? If the answer to either question is no, consider replacing what you don’t like. If the answer is yes, assess whether it needs a good dusting. Wipe the frame with a soft, dry cloth, starting at the top and working your way down the sides, finishing with the bottom. If the piece has glass over it, decide whether the glass needs cleaning. Do not spray any cleaner on the glass. Instead, lightly spray a microfiber cloth with water or an ammonia-based cleanser (if you prefer, though water usually works fine), and carefully clean the glass surface by rubbing gently in circles, then drying the glass with another section of microfiber cloth. You may want to take the art or photograph down from the wall and lay it flat to do this.

  • Consider whether you would like to swap some of your art around to offer yourself a new perspective, or whether you want or need some new art in your space to brighten things up. (And if you do, consider giving my items a look? I’ve got tambourines and collages, paintings, and greeting cards here, plus prints and other items available at Fine Art America.)

Exciting things are happening!

You guys. Exciting things are happening for my art business. Like, REALLY exciting things.

In just a few weeks' time, you will be able to purchase my greeting cards and some of my original artwork at the new location of Olde Pear Primitives in Cape May, New Jersey. To say that I'm excited is a complete understatement. Seriously. To have my work in Cape May, and at a business that supports local artists, is one of those "someday" business dreams of mine coming true.

More info to come, but in the meantime, ALL THE CONFETTI!

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Celebrating fallow periods

As I mentioned briefly in my most recent newsletter, the gap between the holidays can feel like a weird no-man’s land of time. I even shared a funny cartoon on Facebook about how from the 1st through 26th of December, people are really into the holidays, and then from the 27th to 31st, then are full of cheese and unsure what day of the week it is. Funny, but it can also be disorienting.

I find it helpful to look at these sorts of times and spaces as fallow periods. Just as many farmers rest their land from time to time by plowing their fields under and leaving them unplanted (fallow), many people run into fallow periods in life. It’s super common among writers, who are between projects, or stymied and doing no writing. It applies to other creatives as well (actors, singers, artists, etc.).

Fallow periods are terrific times to engage in nurturing acts and self-care. These include things like rest, meditation, going to the movies, reading books, visiting a museum, getting out in nature, and so forth. It’s a great time to do things that fill your inner well or feed your spirit. All those things give you something to draw from and help to sustain you when it’s time to be creative again.

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So if you are off work or school this week, or somewhat at loose ends due to travel or houseguests, and you cannot stick with your “regular routine”, my suggestion is to treat this time period as a fallow period. Take a few deep breaths and a few minutes to figure out what acts of self-care will make you feel better. If you need some suggestions past what I listed above, you can check my post from earlier this month on six ways to celebrate the little things, since many of the small celebrations double as self-care or well-filling activities.

Celebrating the New Year

In just about a week, it will be New Year’s Eve. How will you celebrate?

This is not representative of what our neighbors will shoot off, but still . . .

This is not representative of what our neighbors will shoot off, but still . . .

There are several ways of celebrating that get lots of press and publicity: pay to attend a fancy party (or a not-so-fancy one), with food and a DJ and too many drinks and free hats; go out somewhere to stand in the streets with strangers and wait for balls to drop or fireworks to explode (some of our neighbors set them off nearby, so we don’t really have to go outside—though there have been a couple times we had to wake up for them); go to or host a party in your home and watch a TV countdown with friends. Maybe it involves banging pots and pans outside at midnight, or sparklers, or waking the neighbors with your fireworks.

Then there are the quieter celebrations: out to dinner with your spouse and maybe some friends, then home before it gets too late, or a nice, quiet evening at home. Possibly with some champagne or prosecco (the leftovers are great for mimosas on New Years Day).

But what about New Year’s Day?

Well, I have a bit of a superstition. This is not a long-held superstition, nor is it one passed down by generations of family members (unlike the "shoes on a table is bad luck" thing, which is TOTALLY the result of generations of my mother's family). It's one that I developed myself over the past ten years or so, and it is a simple concept:

I believe that what you do on January 1st sets the tone for the year. Therefore, if I want to be a person who writes and paints a lot, I need to make time to do some writing and painting on January 1st. If I want to cook more, I need to cook something. ("Something" on New Year's day used to mean a pork roast and sauerkraut, based on long-held and family-bred superstitions, again from my mother's family, but may switch to ribs, since my sweetheart doesn’t eat pork — unless it’s bacon or ribs.) If I want to read more, I need to read. If I want to be a decent housekeeper, my house has to be clean by then, and I need to do a wee bit of tidying on that day as well. If I want to maintain the morning routine/ritual I’m working to establish for myself, I for sure have to practice it on New Year’s Day. That means yoga, meditation, journaling, and the aforementioned reading. If I want to spend time with my husband, I need to do that, too.

It's all very simple in theory, and not necessarily difficult in practice, but it does take being really conscious of choices on January 1st. Basically, it can make for a busy day. And, I suppose, it means being really conscious of choices on the 2nd, and 3rd, and 4th as well, though these aren’t resolutions as much as intentions. Nevertheless, come next Tuesday, my house will be clean and relatively tidy, and I will be starting my day with my morning routine and moving on from there.

Of course, come February, there will be Chinese New Year to celebrate (Year of the Pig!), and then there’s the start of the US school year in September, and the start of the new year in Judaism (Rosh Hashanah means “head of the year”, if you didn’t know that), which comes at the end of September next year. And I’m pretty sure there are some other new years in there as well, depending on your belief system.

So tell me: What will you do to celebrate the new year?

As always, if you are interested in subscribing to my weekly newsletter, which is designed to share tips on things you can do to live a more positive life, you can do that here.

Celebrating the Solstice

It’s been a busy week here. Of course, that’s largely because we had contractors in the house on Tuesday, finishing up some work in our hall bath, and I needed to spend time at the Post Office, mailing things to relatives and friends at a distance. And I’ve been busy working on a commission as well as taking a new art class and working on some new ideas.

This is from an 1851 book called “A primary astronomy”: isn’t it marvelous?

This is from an 1851 book called “A primary astronomy”: isn’t it marvelous?

And, of course, the 21st was Solstice. The shortest day of the year for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, the longest for those south of the equator. It’s lovely to me to think of welcoming the long dark of night on Solstice, and to know that we are slowly turning our way back into the Sun even as the temperatures become colder. It’s also good to light the candles or lights as a way of keeping the dark at a distance. Though with the beautiful now-full moon in the sky, there is quite a lot of light right now, even at night.

How about you? Do you celebrating the turning of the year? Maybe with some hot tea, hot chocolate, or something else you consider warming, like whiskey or wine? Do you head to the kitchen to make slow food like stew or soup or chili, or to bake things you might not bother with in sunnier months? Light a fire in the fireplace or wood stove? Do you cozy up with a cat and a lap blanket? Curl up with a good book? Pick up your knitting, quilting or other handiwork? All of these are excellent ways to honor and celebrate the season without venturing out into the cold or the wet.

Here in New Jersey, I’ve been celebrating the turning of the season with most of the things listed above, with the exception of fires (no fireplace) and quilting. And my knitting has been a bit limited by painful joints in both thumbs, compliments of my rheumatoid arthritis. But it’s meant pleasant days and nights for me lately. And it hasn’t escaped my notice that a lot of what I’m describing is related to the Danish notion of hygge, which I referenced in passing in a post I wrote last December. Expect to hear a bit more about it as we move into January.

Celebrating with a Donation

This month, I’m focusing on celebrating. I know I’ve talked about how to celebrate the small things. And I think I’ve discussed the WHY of celebrating, at least a bit, but I want to talk about that a bit more.

Why celebrate?

Well, for one thing, it is a means of being mindful. If you remember to celebrate something—whether it’s something big like a wedding anniversary, or something small like finding your favorite brand of mustard is finally back in stock (yes, actual example from my life)—you are at that moment in the moment. And if all we have is now, and now is a celebration, well, that is a good thing.

For another, it’s a means of promoting gratitude. And as I posted back in November, gratitude helps to create abundance. And abundance may just give you more to celebrate, creating a wonderful circle of positive energy swirling about in your life, and isn’t a circle of positivity something to celebrate and be grateful for? Because just as we talk about people’s lives “spiraling out of control” or “on a downward spiral”, when they are living in chaos or negativity (which is negative energy), we can put ourselves into a happier spiral of positive energy. And it doesn’t mean you have to ignore or avoid any of the “bad” things in life; it just requires you to see and acknowledge and, yes, celebrate the good.

A Celebration Donation

This morning, I celebrated selling some art and wrote out a check to them for the Jersey Shore paintings that sold during The Most Wonderful Time event that I hosted back on December 2nd, bringing my total donations to the organization (so far) from art sales to $60. I still have two pieces left, including my favorite of the entire series, Jersey Shore #7 (I love the little penciled sandpiper footprints).

The two pieces you see above are all that remains of seven pieces I did in my Jersey Shore series. I created the series last fall after spending a lovely weekend at the shore with my husband, and in order to celebrate the creation of those pieces, I promised to donate 25% of the price to Clean Ocean Action, an organization dedicated to cleaning up the beaches in New Jersey and to protecting the shoreline by opposing offshore blasting and drilling, as well as working to reduce the amount of plastic put into the waterways in the first place.

I have to tell you that I had a happy little celebration here this morning. I smiled as I wrote out the check to Clean Ocean Action, grateful for the sales, grateful that there is money in my business’s checking account that allows me to write the check, and grateful that I am able to help such a worthy cause, even if it is a rather small donation. I smiled as I wrote a note in a pretty notecard, and sealed and addressed the envelope, and said a little “thank you” to the Universe for it all.

So yes, a donation to something you support is a form of celebration. I’m sure you make donations, whether it’s to a religious organization, a charitable organization, or a political one. And I’d encourage you to think of those as a form of celebration. And to feel the joy and gratitude of being privileged to write that check, hand over some cash, or send a donation online.

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.

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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.

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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!