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A green drink every morning

My daily green drink and I'm enjoying it so much!

My daily green drink and I’m enjoying it so much!

My Facebook friends know that I recently tried a program called the 10 Day Detox Diet by Dr. Mark Hymen. As much as I dislike talking about it because it leaves me open to criticism, my weight has always been a challenge. I was a chubby baby, a chubby adolescent and then, in middle school, my mother put me on the Weight Watchers diet with her. I lost a lot of weight right about the same time I was blossoming into young adulthood, and it became almost too much to go from being the chubby girl with a pretty face to someone the boys  noticed. In high school I was on the swim team and we would work out every morning and after school. I thought I was overweight — compared to the other high school girls I was — but I had a lot of muscle mass. I realize now that I’ve been dieting since puberty, and the yo-yo of it all is what has me at this point in my life.

I decided about three years ago to just quit. Get off the stupid diet cycle and work on my internal self. Figure out a way to feel beautiful in the body I have. Last year when I went to the doctor I decided I wanted to get healthy. It was awesome for about 12 weeks and then it just became too hard again. I was following what I thought was the healthy eating plan of whole grains, low fat dairy, protein and more veggies. I lost weight but I was hungry and crabby. I gave up…again.

After coming back from a Disney cruise with my family on Spring Break, something happened during those 10 days of checking out from work completely and just being with the people I love the most in the world. I decided I feel better when I’m trying rather than when I’m giving up. My doctor recommended a book called the Blood Sugar Solution by Dr, Hymen. I went on Amazon and looked for it. That’s when I discovered his newest book the 10 Day Detox Diet. I bought it and read it. Whoa! No sugar, processed foods, gluten, dairy, coffee, alcohol, soda, legumes, whole grains for 10 days. What he promises during the time of cleaning out your body is improved health and more energy.

10daydetoxbookcover

I decided I could do anything for 10 days. Hubby got on board with me. I was so sick the first day by lunch time, I was in shock. Never had any diet hit me this hard and fast. I had awful headaches days 3 and 4. I felt like I had the flu days 5 and 6. Still, I stuck with it. I finally felt better on day 7. By day 9, I was finally in the groove, but I didn’t want to take his suggestion after day 10 of continuing for another 90 days.  I feel like I could write an entire essay on my experience of this detox, but to keep this post as short as I can, I simply want to say that I learned I can live WITHOUT sugar. I know, it sounds so “duh!” But sugar is a big purple-eyed monster to me.

I can honestly say I don’t know what’s going to happen next. I feel vulnerable even putting this out there for anyone to read because my battle with weight is obviously a public thing — you see it on me. However, I feel like I can’t not write about it either because I know there are others who share the struggle and are looking for some help… a tool, a small end of rope to hang on to.

I truly believe that help appears when you need it. However, you also have to be ready for it. My experience with the 10 Day Detox Diet came at the right time when my heart and mind were ready and open to hear it and to look at myself without judgment. It is what it is. I got here how I got here. The only thing to do now is keep going. I have strong motivation for health and well being. My kids are young. I adore my husband. I love my work as an artist and I’m passionate about teaching others cool art techniques so they, too, can stay in touch with their happy creative emotional centers.

While I’m no longer technically on the detox diet, I enjoy my healthy green drinks for breakfast every morning. I’m back to one cup of coffee in the morning with coconut milk (ahhhhhhh coffee!) and I’m staying completely away from carbs (gluten, wheat, rice, legumes), sugar and processed foods. I sincerely hope I’m not in the same place again this time next year (like I was last Spring), but if I am, well, I’ll just do it all over again. Even if I remain the chubby lady with the pretty face for the rest of my life but my insides are healthy and my heart is healthy and my mind is healthy, then heck yes! I’ll be living the life and crooning about it.

To any of you who are struggling, I hope this post helps a little. If nothing else, remember Hope is a thing with feathers. When you let it free it feels so good.

 

What do you love?

Resin Clay heart and Wirewrapping that I created for Making Metal Jewelry; How to Stamp, Form, Fold and Forge Metal Jewelry Designs

Resin Clay heart and Wirewrapping that I created for Making Metal Jewelry; How to Stamp, Form, Fold and Forge Metal Jewelry Designs (North Light Books 2013)

 

Years ago in my life before children and before art, even before marriage I once had a very intellectual collage roommate. She and I would stay up drinking red wine until the wee hours of the night and discussing random things when we should’ve been studying. I remember one conversation very clearly on a Valentine’s eve (which unfortunately coincided with the one month breakup from her boyfriend) where the topic of love naturally came up. Not love as in relationships but people using the word so casually in American society. My friend, born in Canada and raised in Israel, insisted that Americans “love” everything. I remember agreeing with her, mostly because I thought she was much more worldly and smart than I was at the time. Fast forward 20+ years to the person I am now and plunk me down in the middle of that conversation and I would have lots more to say. Since I’ve long lost touch with my collage friend, I realized today — Valentine’s Day 2014 is as good a time as any to opine on love.

The word love is a staple in my vocabulary. It’s part of my speech and my immediate thinking. It’s how I define and categorize the things I see, hear, smell, feel and listen to in my life. It’s one of the ways I incorporate my experiences into my daily life as a wife, mother, artist, instructor, business partner, writer, daughter, sister and friend. When I have a new experience, even something as simple as choosing to take a different route home from dropping my kids off at school in the sincere hopes of getting a glimpse of something new that might inspire, I tend to immediately identify in terms of clarity and contrast — love/hate or even the more benign like/dislike. Did I love it? Did that poppy colored jacket on the pedestrian walking along the street inspire me to look at a different color palette? How did the poppy look against the green of the grass behind her? How would it look if I lay on the ground and looked at the poppy against the bright blue of the sky? A three-second glimpse can turn into a full 15 minutes of questions, answers and discoveries in my mind if I allow it the time to wander.

I also love things because I’m a fairly passionate person. It’s seems easy enough to love when you find life interesting. Not that life is always rosy, because goodness knows there are hardships and heartaches at many turns and bends for everyone and everything fortunate to walk the planet today. However, I tend to think curious people are also passionate people. How can one ever be bored when there’s another question to ask and answer to uncover? I think it’s these inherent traits that makes me not just love things, but looooovvvveeee them. I bet you and I are not that much different when it comes down to it.

Here’s a quick, off-the-top-of-my-head Valentine’s Day list of things I looooovvvvveeeee. When you’ve read through these, please take a moment if you have the time to respond with an item or two of your own. I really, really want to know. What do you love???

Jen’s Hopelessly Incomplete List of Loves -

Rainstorms in the desert ◊ The shape of a house – tall ones, fat ones, skinny ones, crooked ones, anything that represents home ◊ Any color, tone or hue of blue ◊ A slice of red cutting through the cool of blue ◊ Laughter unfurled, leaving a trail of sound for others to follow ◊ Birds nesting ◊ Dogs sleeping in the sun with real smiles on their faces ◊ Imperfect physical beauty; a mark, a mole, a scar, a gap in the teeth – anything to not be Barbie beautiful ◊ Strong legs ◊ A generous spirit ◊ Kindness offered in the most difficult of circumstances when people are watching ◊ A sharp and clever wit ◊ People who know how to set and hold boundaries ◊ Double rainbows ◊ Sharing information so others can grow and I can learn ◊ The amazing feeling of love.

And just when I thought I couldn’t add one more thing to this post, I open a few days old emails and there’s this gorgeous inspiration from Design Seeds. The second I opened it (a full 2 hours after I wrote the above list), I squealed with an extreme burst of color inspiration. I just had to update so you can visualize it too.

Art Affirmation and CREATE

I leave tomorrow morning for the CREATE Chicago mixed media art retreat. I know you’ve been hearing me say that for the past week, but the time has finally come. I spent Saturday morning this past weekend having a painting playdate with my daughter and making some new samples for my Art Journal Jewelry workshop. I was recently chatting with my sister, Patti Stanley, who’s an intuitive/medium, about all the various amazing possibilities and opportunities that are happening in the universe right now. I feel so blessed that I almost want to burst wide open with happiness. She gave me a new affirmation to visualize from now until the Emmy’s. I immediately wrote it down on a sticky note, but then I decided to incorporate it into a piece of artwork to remember it more easily. Here it it:

Jen Cushman Art Journaling Painting

This is truly something I wish for all of us, and the world at large: To expand in abundance, success and love…every day..and to inspire others to do the same. I’ll be back next week with a CREATE round up. For now, here’s wishing you an amazing day.

Her own kind of beauty…

I’ve been putting off my health for past couple of years as we’ve been building the company and life ramped up to super speed. I honestly didn’t have time for doctors, dentists and eye exams.

Now in my 40s, I know my patterns well. Stress eating is one of them. Each time I grabbed cookies or chocolate, I knew it wasn’t the best choice. It was, however, the easy thing to do and lovely little sugar rushes made me happy each afternoon as I pushed through and kept working. As the weight inched upward to my pregnancy weight, I didn’t want to look at it, or discuss it or even acknowledge it. It’s just no fun to look yourself in the mirror and own up to the things you wish would just go away!

Her own Kind of Beauty by Jen Cushman

Earlier this month, I decided to use my Law of Attraction skills to put it out into the universe that I would find the perfect new doctor for me. The universe delivered. My amazing new PA asked my permission for a complete blood work and labs to check me out completely and wrote up the order to get a mammogram as well. A complete H2T (head to toe) exam. When we talked about weight loss and busy lifestyles, she told me about the Fresh 20. This is a woman I can relate to; working a busy practice, 3 kids (one with gluten allergies) and a husband who travels all the time for work!  If you are in the same boat of juggling a family, career, art, etc. and looking for a way to feed yourself and your family healthy meals, check out this online plan. I’ve only been doing it for a few weeks so I’m no expert, but it’s working for us so far. (note: the kale, corn and chicken enchilada recipe is yummy!) We print out the list on Sunday. Hubby does the shopping and I do the cooking. My son is now in charge of kitchen clean up after dinner.

My head is in the right place. I stopped eating sugary foods, joined Weight Watchers and have been eating good stuff like lots of veggies and protein and drinking my water again. I posted about joining WW on Facebook and didn’t plan to blog about this, as one’s weight and appearance is such a personal issue. My Facebook friends, many of them fellow artists/designers/authors/instructors, had so many positive comments to share and made me feel beautiful and worthy and loved, just as I am right now, that I decided to be brave and take it public.

This time, my desire to change to a more healthful lifestyle feels different. In the past whenever I’ve approached weight loss (and believe me, I have been down this road many times), it’s always come from a place of lack or frustration. Now, it’s not about what I can’t eat, or what I look like or even what I desire to look like some day. Instead, it’s about being the best authentic me that I can be.

I remember years ago when we took in my troubled nephew to live with us for a summer. He was such an insecure teenager that he would talk badly about people to make him feel better about himself. Every time he saw a teenage girl, he would judge them by two standards; hot or ugly. It would drive me crazy! I blew up at him once and told him he was never allowed to call another human being ugly in my presence ever again. The new comment for someone he wished to disparage was simply this: “She has her own kind of beauty.” Yes, I could have just said “don’t do it, don’t call anyone bad names.” However, I felt it had more power making him think about his words and then having to change them to something more positive.

Her own Kind of Beauty detail shot

Believe it or not, it worked. He’s 22 years old and when he starts his old habits during family get togethers, he looks at me slyly and repeats, “I’m sorry, Jen. She has her own kind of beauty.” I’ve come to love this, and I realize it is a positive statement. Nothing disparaging whatsoever.

As I’ve been taking these next steps in my journey, I keep thinking about how everyone has their own kind of beauty. We may not all look like Julia Roberts or Johnny Depp, but when we’re moving confidentially in the direction of our dreams, engaging in the things we love and supporting others who are authentically engaging in their dreams, we radiate joy. We beam our unique kind of beauty.

As I was looking through my photo files to find a picture to go along with this post, I came across this necklace that was just returned to me from when I sent it to Stampington almost 2 years ago. Normally the magazine never keeps my art this long, but I presume this little piece must have gotten put in a corner somewhere for possible publication and her time came and went. She never did get published, just returned to me in a box full of my other published artwork.

I made this necklace during a time in my life where I was feeling particularly vulnerable, and what came out of me was a melocholony I felt at the time but didn’t necessarily acknowledge. When I unwrapped it from the box, I was surprised to see it again since I had totally forgotten about this piece. After joining Weight Watchers this time around and looking at health in an entirely new light, I’ve titled this piece, “Her Own Kind of Beauty.”

Her own Kind of Beauty backside of necklace by Jen Cushman

Bunny mustaches

Happy Easter! Yesterday, my daughter and I spent the morning in my studio. I was working on an upcoming project for Stamptington publications and she was at my table with her paints, paper and crayons. Since its Easter weekend and my daughter has loved parties and celebrations since she came out of the womb, yesterday’s painting was all about bunnies.

She asked me to show her how to draw the Easter Bunny. As you can see by my drawing I explained it this way…A round circle for the head. two ovals for ears, two circles for eyes, a triangle for a nose and then 2 fishing hooks for a mouth. Here’s my drawing (with a few extra touches from my fellow artist)…

Bunny drawing 1

And her is my 3-year-old daughter’s bunny….

Easter Bunny with mustache

Also, here is her drawing of a little girl who is all dressed up in her Easter dress with her basket looking for eggs in the green green grass. (This is exactly how she described it with no input from me whatsoever).

Little girl with mustache drawing

I’m sure you noticed it right away; everyone is sporting mustaches. I find it fascinating that my daughter is instinctively picking up on the mustache trend happening in the crafts industry right now. I have no idea where she’s seen it. I do know that after CHA when we took the ICE Resin Creative Team out to dinner and Buco Di Beppo and all wore mustache stickers for the entire dinner, my daughter was fascinated by the pictures on my iphone. She kept looking at all of us in the pictures, laughing and calling us silly girls! Maybe these images stuck in her brain and came out as art.

I hope you all enjoyed these sweet funny paintings today as much as I did. Here’s wishing you a truly Artful Easter full of love, creativity and blessings.

New website and some thoughts on it

In case you haven’t seen it yet, I finally managed to build a brand new website. I built my first one about 4 years ago and kept it for two years. In 2010, I found a new website host with interesting templates and did another refresh. Because of all the behind-the-scenes in 2012, I knew it was time to tackle my website again for 2013. I had contacted some people I know who do websites and received quotes. However, since I had paid out of my pocket for the videos attached to my book’s QR codes, I didn’t feel like I could spend the money on it right now.

I had planned to get my new website up before my book came out early January, but with the CHA and Tucson shows, the time to do this kept getting shoved further and further down my to do list. My next self-imposed deadline was before my Breaking Out of the Mold DVD was released. I had no idea mine would come in February since there are six artists this year with DVDs from Cloth, Paper, Scissors. Yikes! I missed that deadline again.

I was starting to feel some real pressure because I knew the Designer Showcase feature for Belle Armoire Jewelry was coming out for the March 2013 issue. Since I’ve built websites before, I know that starting from scratch with a good template takes me about 2-3 days to do from start to finish. The only way to get it done was to burn the midnight oil. I snuck into my studio 3 nights in a row after my family went to sleep and worked from about 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. creating it. I still had to get up by 6:30 and get the kids ready for school and drive them, so it really did mean giving up sleep to get it done. There are still some small design changes I want to do to it, but it’s 99% complete and I’m happy to have a brand new online facelift. It was very important to me this time around to include a Flash intro because a big part of any redesign is staying current.

The reason I’m writing such a long post on this topic and giving you the background is because I get questions about marketing when I’m out and about at the art retreats and shows. Often, people say they feel dejected because they don’t have the skills or money to get their businesses up and rolling they way they want to or feel they should. Making art is one thing. Everything else that goes into getting your art seen is another. I sincerely believe time and money are as much about an individual’s priorities as they are time and money. It’s not fun eating noodles and scraping together every penny to follow one’s dream, but realizing dreams takes focus. I was pretty darn tired after the third night of staying up late to get my website done, but I really felt like I had no other choice but to follow through. I didn’t want to pay for the quotes I was given — which were exactly in line with the skills and time it takes for anyone good to build a website — and I couldn’t keep letting it slip through the cracks and missing deadlines. My old website was musty and outdated. I couldn’t back off on my other work duties, so I just had to suck it up and get ‘er done.

If you are contemplating building your website, keep in mind a few guidelines that have helped me along the way:

Keep it simple. Tell people exactly what you want them to know. If you make art, say so and please don’t feel like you have to follow any highbrow kind of language if it’s not your thing. If you enjoy writing in flowery language or an esoteric style, then by all means have at it, particularly if your collectors respond in kind. I tend to keep things pretty straight forward, but I think that comes from my type of writing background.

Put pictures of your best work out there. Your website is an advertisement for you. There are approximately 7 billion people on the planet today and lots of them are creatives and creative people tend to think along the same lines. If you are worried about people copying your work because it’s on the internet, realize there are really only two options in today’s technologically-driven world: exposure or anonymity. Please do consider watermarking your images so people are aware that you are aware of U.S. copyright laws.

Present yourself as professionally as you can. If your collage niece or nephew offers to do your website for you because you’re feeling overwhelmed by it, ensure that he or she really has the design and writing skills it takes to put your best face forward. If not, hire someone to do it for you or barter if you can. It is a tax write off for your business. A good website should help bring people and opportunities to you, which should pay for itself in the long run.

Remember that it’s OK if you don’t have all the answers. Your first attempts at websites and blogs aren’t always graceful. They’re learning experiences about your business. Each time I’ve done a refresh I’ve honed my skills and learned something. I’m sure that will never change because life changes, technology changes, social media changes and so do we!  My website is still far from perfect, and that’s really OK with me. It’s the very best I can do at this time. I teach my children to always do their best, so that’s my motto.

I hope you find bits and pieces of this advice helpful. If you get a chance, please take a look at my new website.

Here’s wishing you a truly Artful day!

She was a Peach

While I was away at the To Bead True Blue show in Tucson last week teaching workshops and having meetings related to our company, ICE Resin, I learned my neighbor Shirley Luhtala passed away at 80 (almost 81 in April). It was so non-stop busy at the show, that I didn’t have time to take it in. I got home about 1:30 a.m. on Friday and slept in as best as I could.

Shirley’s Celebration of Life was Saturday afternoon. We did not stay at the gathering long, as the kids came. A funeral home is just not a great place for children to be their normal active selves. We did watch the photo slide show that Courtney had lovingly compiled and paid our respects to her family and friends.

Shirley Luthala in her Rockford Peach outfit.

Shirley Luthala in her Battle Creek Belles outfit. She played for the Racine Belles, which later became Battle Creek Belles and also the Rockford Peaches.

Her death is finally sinking in today, and I really miss my friend and neighbor. I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted on my blog and there are many things I want to talk about, but, for today, I really want you all to know a little bit about Shirley.

My husband and I met her the day we bought our cabin in Northern Arizona. It wasn’t a happy meeting because we had a land survey done on the property and found that Shirley’s property line encroached on our land by about 12 feet, even though our cabin was built in the late 50s and her trailer was installed in the 60s. We were advised by an attorney to correct the property issue because, if we didn’t, the county could basically give her what amounted to squatter’s rights.  I was NOT looking forward to telling my new neighbor that she had inadvertently been living on our “new” property for 40 years! Yep, she was hot under the collar and it was downright uncomfortable.

We got through it with a handshake and a promise to be great neighbors. That was all she needed to move forward and forgive. Shirley lived alone and she loved it that way. When we first met her, she had a male friend (she was 70) who spent a lot of time winterizing her roof because Shirley was always worried a big snow storm would cave in her home. Spring came and I never saw the man again. I asked about it once and she told me she never married because “husband’s are just too much work.”

Since I loved to bake to keep the cabin warm and cozy and smelling great, I would invite Shirley over for a treat and a cup of tea. We would sit for an hour or more on the sofa and I would ask her questions about her life. After the third visit, she told me she liked the sweets, but would it be OK if I gave her a beer instead of tea. I almost spit out my tea when she asked.

Shirley Luhtala

I quickly learned Shirley played professional women’s baseball in the All American Girls Baseball League when the men were away at war. I’m not much of a sports person, but the movie A League of Their Own is one of my all-time favorite films. Her playing pro ball was my favorite topic of conversation, though she couldn’t quite understand my infatuation with it. And yes, she said the director did a good job with the movie portraying the sport, the girls and the era. Oh, she hated — and I mean hated — those short skirts. The absolute worst thing to be a serious athlete and have exposed flesh for no decent reason. The men would never have to do anything so ridiculous, she would rant to me when I asked.

Her favorite thing about baseball? This may not be a politically correct answer, but it’s Shirley through and through. The paychecks because baseball allowed her to save enough money to pay for her undergraduate and mater’s degrees, which allowed her to eventually become one of the first female athletic department heads at Mesa Community College. Her second favorite thing about being the first baseman for the Racine Belles and, later, Rockford Peaches; the girls and the teamwork they showed on and off the field as they cared for each other and lived like sisters.

Shirley stayed an inspiration as she aged. She was as fit as a fiddle — cross-country skiing every winter on Mogollon Rim through her 70s– until the last three years of her life. It wasn’t her body that gave out on her, but, sadly, her mind from Alzheimer’s disease. She lived in Phoenix and came to her trailer as often as she could. She kept her property spotless by spending mornings raking up every single wayward pine cone and pine needles, putting them in a giant pile for my husband to burn in our large fire pit. Oh how I despise yard work! Shirley made a deal with me. She raked my pine needles and I baked her cakes and sweet bread and pies. I still feel guilty, but she told me often how she got the best end of the deal. I can still see her sitting on her porch in the summer afternoons, feet up on her railing with a book and a beer and small slice of banana bread or cake that she kept in the freezer and pulled out one piece at a time.

I could go on, but this post is already long enough. All I really need you to know is that Shirley Luhtala was a Peach…an amazing woman, an inspiration to so many female athletes, a tireless advocate for Title IX laws that reformed women’s sports in the 70s, and the best neighbor I’ve ever had.

Sweet dreams, my dear friend. I will never forget you.

More renovation this weekend

20120415-174244.jpg

We spent another weekend cleaning our new-old family home. We filled another 3 garbage cans, the 3 recycling bins and are still not quite done.

We also rented a industrial floor scraper and my husband ripped up the old linoleum flooring from when my in-laws built a new family room on to the house in the 70s. We also pulled it from the kitchen. I’m afraid hubby is going to be quite sore tomorrow. Our son worked hard helping too, picking up all the pieces and throwing them in the trash. He’d much rather be playing video games, but as he’s living there too soon he must help as well. I think it’s teaching him important life lessons. Maybe he’ll have more enthusiasm for his chores after doing real hard labor.

As I was getting into the top cupboards wayyy up high, I found this beautiful coffee set. It was my mother-in-law’s that she bought in the 50s when she was single and attending nursing school. On Sunday afternoons, she and her best girlfriend hung out in her tiny apartment, drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes (it was the era for it) and dishing about school and boys.

I love it and am saving it for my studio. I think I will use the set with my French press and invite over my best girlfriends to make art and dish about life and children and maybe even boys.

Big Changes and New Transitions

Ivy growing up the back of the house. My mother-in-law has an incredible green thumb.

One of the things I keep writing is about following your heart and pursuing your dreams with authenticity and unrelenting determination. When you dream a bigger dream for yourself than you ever could have imagined and then physically put yourself in the direction of your dreams, you’re telling the universe what you want and are attracting it to you. Opportunities come to you. People and events line up in your life with beautiful synchronicity, which is how you know you’re on your right path and living your life’s purpose. Not the life others wish for you, but the authentic life you both desire and deserve.

There’s been so many amazing synchronicitys in my life this past year, in particular. Opportunities I could never have imagined and things I never would have dreamt that I even wanted. One of these is moving back to Phoenix, my hometown. My father-in-law passed away four years ago, meaning my mother-in-law has had to find a way to move forward and create a new life without her soul mate. The house they bought a year after they married, and remodeled a few times throughout 45 years of a life together is still in the family. She’s been slowly going through it, figuring out what to save and what to discard. It’s incredibly difficult as everything is a memory, including the most stirring reason they called it home — to be in love and raise a family.

The last of the pile for Goodwill ready to go in my sister-in-law's car.

With 5 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a huge yard and swimming pool, the house was too big for one person. She moved two years ago into a smaller condo and has been trying to decide what to do with it. The housing market in Phoenix is still at an all-time low. Despite two major remodel projects — one done in the 70s and another 15 years later, the house needs some major love and updating. It’s got great bones, but there is A LOT to do.

Enter my husband and myself and our children. Work responsibilities have been taking us back to the Valley far too often, so we made a decision with Mom’s blessing to fix up the house and move back. It sounds so simple, so easy, so wonderful and, in many ways, it is. Then there is the Yikes! factor where we look at each other and say, “Are we really doing this?”

The traditional mural that's been in the dining room since the first remodel in 1971.

We are with the help of the entire family. We spent all day Friday and Saturday cleaning and clearing. We filled 3 large garbage cans, 3 large recycling bins, a full trailer load to the dump and one more full trailer to Goodwill. We also took down wallpaper they lovingly applied over the years in nearly every room.

My mother-in-law was very quiet, but such a trooper. She’s let go, which is an incredibly difficult and brave thing to do. As I was working on the bedroom that will now be my daughter’s, I kept thinking that it was my husband’s childhood bedroom. How many nights did she spend rocking him to sleep, or holding him in her arms when he was sick? How many times did she kiss him goodnight and smile in the mornings, happy to see his face? How did she get through the teen-age years when he became insolent and asserted his independence, as all children must do in order to separate their identities from their parents?

The family room where everyone spent their time. Hard to believe a fireplace was so well-loved and often used in Phoenix. They loved their winter fires, long before burn restrictions were put into place because of the Valley's air quality issues.

Soon it will be our house and we will be making a safe haven for our children. History will repeat itself, only this time, if the walls could talk they would tell stories of my loved ones and not some unknown family or faceless generations. This is the way it used to be in America, but those days are long distant. It feels odd to be living what I consider to be a very untraditional lifestyle while embarking on a plan that is firmly rooted in history and family.

My mother-in-law has given me free rein to change the home to make it comfortable for us. We have wildly different tastes, with her being very traditional…dark woods, floral, cutesy country. My style is colorful and quirky. I like rust and raw edges. Recycled vintage paired with strong lines and…always, something completely unexpected and quirky thrown into the mix.

As I try to wrap my brain around these upcoming changes, I’m taking time to stop and smell the roses, literally, as she’s an incredible gardener. My new studio is going to be huge and comfortable. I can even hold intimate workshops in the space if I so desire. The view from my studio is all greenery and garden, a bit of life’s sweetness. Another new beginning…

Instagram tour of Historic Downtown Steamboat Springs

Bronze Ben

Ben would not approve of me spending my pennies shopping Downtown Steamboat Springs

truck full of bumper stickers

Proof that some people can't stop at just one.

beautiful cowboy boots

Dancing through the world in rose-colored cowgirl boots.

surfer dude skier

So confused...Southern California surfer dude starts skiing?

My son thought it would be funny to try on her hat and I loved the unique angle.

chinese kitty

My daughter wanted to pet the big kitty

Every snowflake is unique