Wanted: Juggling Teacher

I’m looking for help and advice. I didn’t start this blog to gain followers. I began the blog as a way to publicly blackmail myself into moving ahead with my art. (Don’t get me wrong, it is nice when you learn that someone cares to read your ramblings. In my case way too personal ramblings, but there’s no looking back, only moving forward) It worked for a year, and then I fell back into old habits and worse yet the land of self-doubt.  So here I sit getting older by the second (I think I can actually feel a wrinkle forming), and still trying to gain the confidence to succeed. Here’s where you come in, the person who has decided to take five minutes to read my thoughts. I’ve been a stay at home mom for a good portion of my life. Now the kids are gone, but I’ve spent twenty plus years living by their schedule. From school to after school activities, vacations, and bowing to (almost) their every need and whim, I think I’ve forgotten how to schedule myself. I need to structure my day, which when you work at home can be difficult. There is always a bathroom to clean, laundry to do, meals to prepare, etc. I make lists of things I want to accomplish artistically in a date book. A date book that I purchased last December that quite frankly has very little written in it. Does anyone out there work at home? How do you manage your time? How do you ignore the dirty socks and paint instead? How do you fit in time for friends, grocery shopping, and doctor’s appointments? Despite my best intentions I can’t seem to walk though my house back to my studio without stopping to clean. It isn’t that there’s a lot to do, and there are only two of us here, (well, five if you count the three cats, needless to say cat hair tumbleweeds abound). With no clock to punch, or school bell to answer I’m at a loss. I’d appreciate any advice.FullSizeRender(13)

 

Now that I’m done with my plea for advice, I’d like a little help. The help is with social media. I’m not so old that I’m computer brain dead. I have of course my blog here on WordPress, but I also have two Facebook accounts, a Twitter account, an Instagram account, a Pinterest account, and an Etsy shop. Everyone tells me that I need social media to move my art business ahead. I am a one woman glitter factory making fairies to sell, I am also a fine artist working on three pieces at the moment, and I just don’t know how to get to all of the posting, descriptive tagging, tweeting, and hash tagging required. I currently have three thousand one hundred and fifty five emails, and that’s in only two of my four email accounts. Clever me, I thought having one for business, one for personal, one for the house, and one Hotmail account (that’s from the dawn of the internet, I can’t seem to shut it down!) was a good idea. It’s not, it’s a nightmare. Facebook sends me “You haven’t posted this week and your followers want to hear from you” emails. Not to mention (but I will) all my friends and loved ones who post on Facebook that I feel obligated to “like”, and then those same people who post the same photos on Instagram. I feel a surge of Catholic guilt wash over me and must “like” again. Daily notifications from Instagram on who is now following me, and the new posts from the people I “follow”. From Etsy Success and Etsy there’s the “Here’s what you need to do in order to succeed in your shop”, or “remember you looked at this” emails, and Twitter notifications. New posts from the people here on WordPress whose work I enjoy reading, but again don’t know where to find the time. (Insert screams here) It’s never ending. I have no staff, or management, it’s me doing everything. I currently have only sixty pieces listed on Etsy. I have more than two hundred and fifty created. Why aren’t they in my shop yet? It’s because I have to write a description for each piece to try to help buyers understand my vision, and I have to tag each fairy or print with the recommended and allotted thirteen tags. I have more than two hundred pieces to list, that’s more than twenty six hundred descriptive words to come up with. Yes, I could use the same tags again and again, but I must vary them so that when potential customers search with certain key words I might be “found”. It has in fact become a dreaded chore, like the homework I once hated. To say I’m feeling overwhelmed is an understatement. HELP! How do you manage all of this? Are you scheduling time for each? I would really love to hear from anyone who can help me in this juggling act. And now the tags for this post….sigh….

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It’s Final

I wrote the following a week ago. Too much to do to sit and post, and now the time is here. As of five o’clock yesterday the house officially belongs to another family. We closed on our new home today. It was a bittersweet moment to be sure. When I heard it was official all I could do was cry.
I look to where a clock once hung; I’m reminded that the time has come. The boxes are packed, the echo of hollow walls sounds with each and every step. The day I had hoped would never come is imminent. I look wistfully out my windows to my garden, my sanctuary, and know now it will belong to someone else. The process of moving is never easy. Memories reside within these walls around me, and now they will have to live inside my mind. It has been a long and difficult road filled with job loss, fear, anxiety, and wisps of hope. I recently said to Dan that it has been like have a bandage pulled excruciating slow from a wound. There is a difference in deciding that it is time to leave your home and having to leave your home. We could have hung on, but we are tired of struggle. I remind myself that things will be better once we are settled, but I think that this wound is so deep it may never close. We are lucky, I know that. There are those who didn’t make it, who not only lost the life they were living, but the four walls that contained that life. My heart bleeds for them. We made it. Through the grace of God, through the love and support of family and friends, we had a house to sell. For that I am grateful. I look for the positive in all of this, and there is much good in this move. I, the one so intimately acquainted with orthopedic surgeons, will be moving to a one story house. I will also be moving to a house half the size of this one. Half the house means half the cleaning. There is also the challenge of a new space. I passionately devoted myself to this home for almost twelve years and it shows. I have loved design since childhood, and now I begin again. That has been the saving grace through the last few weeks. I have begun looking at colors, and redesigning spaces in my mind. I am more than anxious to get to work. The next few weeks bring a new life, lots of work, and I’m sure some nostalgic sadness as well. I haven’t been writing much, too much work to be done, and too many tears. I’m ready to go. This place that I have loved so well is no longer my home, without my things around me it has become a house for someone else. They already love the garden, and have chosen not to paint over my mural, that makes me happy. I wish them well, and hope they have as many wonderful memories here as we did.

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Riley is all set to go.

The Not So Open House

A few words from yesterday…

The “Open House” has ended, it actually never really started. No knocks on the door, or rings of the bell. Just silence. In reference to what Dan said about having a party that no one shows up to, this feels like being the jilted prom date. I worked so hard yesterday perfecting it all, I got up this morning hurting in so many places I had long forgotten, but filled with anticipation and hoping for the best. I am proud of my home and what we have accomplished. I was feeling down as the clock struck three, but then set out to amuse myself with one of my favorite things to write. That would be a reworking of The Night Before Christmas. I’ve done it in probably ten different ways along the years. I love words, and the challenge of trying to recreate within the stanzas of that poem always gives me great satisfaction. So here it is in its goofiest form yet:

‘Twas the night before the showing,
Just me and my spouse,
We were frantically De-furring
And tidying our house.

With three cats, and so much dusty desert air,
It seemed to need cleaning most everywhere!
The cats were no help, and continued to shed,
By evenings end we were ready for bed.
With both of us ready for a good long nap
We decided to call the evening a wrap.
We knew that we had completed most of what mattered
And if we didn’t rest, the next day we’d be shattered.

Into our bed we fell with a crash,

hoping tomorrow would bring a buyer with cash.

 

We slept until the sun’s earliest glow,
We made a fast list of what to do and let go.

Running out of time was our fear,

before the chime of the doorbell we’d hear.
A little more tweaking, fresh flowers might be the trick,
To make this the home that a buyer would pick.
Eleven O’clock, time to begin the waiting game
For that one special person who might want to lay claim:
We waited, and waited for a bell to answer

Waited and waited to let someone in!
No bell ring, no knock, our excitement was muted!
All that wasted work what a sin!
Not a step on the porch!

Or a telephone call!
Please pray tomorrow is a better day

What in the world happened to them all?

I know you might think there’s no reason to cry
But you must understand I try, and I try.
I think that you‘d be sad too
If you worked and you worked as hard as we do.

It really looks lovely under this roof
Look at the video to see the proof.
We set off to drive around
And sadly take today’s signs down.
Day after day of being covered in soot
To make sure everything is perfect where put
Night after night where I’d hit the sack
And lay there sleepless as I’d plan the next day’s attack.
Day after day that was truly quite scary
Of losing this home I was quite wary
Worried that we would have nowhere to go

I blogged and I blogged with tales of woe.
Then along came a job and room to breathe,
but it came with a trek long enough to make Dan seethe!
Three hours each way gritting his teeth

(and just a little cussing and yelling)
We need to move to another new dwelling!
Surely some pity I felt for myself
As I began to pack every room, every shelf.
As I filled up the boxes filled with dread
A new idea popped into my head.
A home that just might need a little rework
One filled with lots of character and quirk
Now I am anxious for this house to close
If only tomorrow’s open house has any shows.
The house is as clean as a whistle
I need a buyer! Let’s make this official!
I’m ready to move on to brand new sights
Let’s hope for tomorrow and to the right price!

 

OK, so I know it is hideously corny, but it was either that or a good cry. I opted for the horrific poem instead. It is now 12:48, Open House day number two. I’m anxious and nervous, and tired yet again. I ran through the house to touch it all up. So stay tuned later to hear what’s new…is it me or is this thing starting to rhyme?…Anyway, hopefully, hopefully, someone (Anyone? Anyone? Bueller, Bueller?) will come to see this place.

 

Reaching Out For Help

There was a not so old woman who hadn’t a clue, She was overwhelmed with packing and didn’t know what to do; She thought about spending the day in bed with the covers pulled up way over her head…   That would be me. I am overwhelmed. I fear I am attached to my “stuff”.  My brain is screaming, “Downsizing, downsizing, downsizing!”, while my heart is whispering, ” Oh, remember that?” “I love this.” “Brian/Jessica gave me this.” You can see it is an issue. There is also the stiff righteous rod up my spine that insists that I recycle. It truly is quite a conflict. I mentioned the other day that I was good at puzzles, you wouldn’t believe the vast amounts of stuff that has been stored in my studio. That’s what the other voice in my head is responsible for, the artsy one, the one who insists that I can use that scrap piece of metal/fabric/wood/paper. The thing is some of it has been lurking in the corners for years. Some of it tagged along for the ride from Chicago eleven years ago. I found a nearby home for foster children, a ranch actually, so I called them up and offered art supplies. They were more than happy to accept my offer. I believe my extra sketch pads, etc. have found a new home.

All joking aside, this is a very difficult process. We are packing, and preparing our much loved home to go to market. A troublesome process in general is exacerbated by not knowing where we go next. Time has more than run out. We can afford to live here another two months, that’s it, two months. We had hoped to start our business by now, but the situation at hand is complicating matters. We are trying desperately not to give in, or give up, but the days become increasingly more heart wrenching. I try to tell myself that there are so many people worse off than us, but the truth is that my heart doesn’t care what my head says. I heartbroken and tired. I am tired of the stress, the worry, and particularly the unknown. I am a self-admitted control freak who has landed in the middle of a personal tornado, unknown doesn’t work well for me. I need to know there is something for us somewhere.

Two months ago our daughter started a crowd funding site for us. I have mentioned it here before. Last week I paid for ads on Facebook to promote it. I also started a Twitter account starring our very own curious cat, Riley. Nothing seems to be working. A friend gave a large donation in hopes of inspiring others, but again nothing. I look every day hoping to see a change, but it isn’t happening. I suppose I sound hopeless, maybe some read my words and think I am full of self-pity. I’ll be the first to admit it, there is some self-pity going on here, but more than that there is great sadness, disillusionment, anger at what was unjustly done to my husband and his career. I love a good and decent man, I am a good and decent woman. We are kind, conscientious, nice human beings. We are lost in this nightmare. We want to believe that there is a future for us.

This is our crowd funding address: http://www.gofundme.com/8jgl04

I am offering prints of my work for larger donations. If you can find it in your heart to help, please.

Thanks for reading. No art tonight, but I will leave you with my Riley. No matter how tough things can be there are always moments, things that make us smile, Riley is one of them.

 

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Finding My Way Back

Three days since I last posted. The honest truth is that I just haven’t been feeling much in the way of creativity. Not that I need to continue to pound in just how precarious our situation here is. Speaking of pounding…I hit myself in the hand with a hammer, that doesn’t help with creativity either. We had workmen here in our garden several years ago, and to make a long story short, they messed up, we caught them, they gave us a “special” finish on the concrete paths on either side of our house as way of making amends. Now the special finish is bubbling up and chipping off. It almost feels as though you are walking on broken glass. Me, being the industrious me that I am, decided to chip it off with a chisel and a hammer just to see if I could. I can, and I can also miss the top of the chisel and hammer my hand instead. OUCH! Fortunately it was not broken, it is just very badly bruised and hurts quite a bit.

I decided tonight that I needed to be here in front of this keyboard. I haven’t been posting, and I haven’t been working. I’m in a funk, and that isn’t good. This project has helped me quite a bit in the last year. I need to keep going. I keep trying to convince myself that we don’t have it as bad as so many people, but faced with the day-to-day of watching our life fall apart somehow those sentiments don’t make much of a difference. There were times when we were younger and poorer. The key word being younger. Starting over when you are young can be exciting, starting over when you are our age is terrifying. We’ve hit a few snags on the road to the shop, but we are looking at other ways to approach the situation. There will always be unexpected challenges when opening a business, we are prepared to deal with them.

I started working late tonight. The Blackhawk’s were playing so we were out to see the game. (They won, Yea!) It was after nine when I began to paint. I mentioned a few months back that our son had moved out. I had painted an abstract for Brian, but I wanted to give him something else. This one is for him. It isn’t even halfway done, but I feel like I have a good start. Frank Zappa from the cover of a record. It doesn’t look enough like him as of yet, but I am only forty-five minutes into the painting. It’s after ten now, so Frank will have to wait until tomorrow to look more like himself.

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One more mention of our business. I’ve designed the logo. It is of Riley, the oldest of our three cats. I will also again say if you are so inclined to help us in our endeavor it would be appreciated more than I can say. Jessica started a crowd-funding option for us. Just click on the link below.

The Curious Cat Books & Bistro

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.gofundme.com/8jgl04

Some Motherly Creativity

I took a couple of days off. We are still trying to figure out what to make of our lives these days. I read daily about how politicians want to cut funding for the unemployed. I read that people assume others don’t want to work, but they’re wrong. Some of those same people who rant against those who have less are the same people who would turn my husband down for a job because he is “too old”. Emotions and stress are running high around here. I find myself in tears at the grocery store because I can’t afford to spend an extra dime. We have more than many people, but that could change at any time for any of us, and these days it feels like its right around the corner for us. We are still working towards opening a business. It seems that it will be the only way to find work. Its terrifying but it is becoming the only option. It isn’t the way I wanted to do this, but we don’t always get to choose our path.

I haven’t really felt very creative, but I did push through my secret project. It was a scrapbook for my daughter and her husband. They just celebrated their first anniversary, and I wanted to give them something special. Sometimes I sure my kids must hate me, because sometimes I enjoy myself at their expense. Not in a mean way, but just because when its your Mom it tends to be embarrassing. Last year as Jessica and John were counting down towards their wedding I got a little creative with some photos of them. It started out as baby pics, but then graduated to full-blown Hollywood hits, movie stills altered with their image. I posted one every day for a month on Facebook. My personal Facebook isn’t public, so the embarrassment was contained. I’m going to post a few tonight with permission from my victims.

 

2 Days4 days 5 days 6 Days 8 Days 16 Days

 

 

 

 

There are more, but these are my favorites. Thanks to Jess and John for being such good sports.

 

 

I hope everyone who celebrates Easter had a wonderful day, and if you don’t I hope it was a great Sunday. Easter greetings from one of my cats, Sophie. We think she might just be part rabbit.Sophie bunny

 

To Be Continued…???

I’m back. Posting just a little tonight. One of the unfortunate side effects of moving west is leaving our sports teams behind. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a big sports fan. Actually if I never watched a sporting event again it would be fine with me. I think it has something to do with my childhood. My Dad played professional soccer when I was a kid. Every weekend my Mom would dress my sisters and I in matching dresses, frilly socks, with bows in our hair, and make us sit on the sidelines watching our Dad play. The other kids would be running around enjoying themselves, not us, we were like little matching dolls all sitting in a row. These days I’m just trying to be a supportive wife. The Blackhawks are in the playoffs, and if we want to see them we have to go out, and of course they went into triple overtime. We thankfully left before they lost. So here I am writing at ten when I should be going to bed.

I did manage to eke out a watercolor this afternoon. Still working on my super secret project that I can’t unveil as of yet.  The lovely Theresa came by today and gave me some beautiful tulips. I managed to paint them right before we walked out the door. Tonight is my last night of posting retrospective work. I’m still not sure now that my year is up how I will proceed with this blog. Lots of changes ahead in my life, most of which I can’t reveal quite yet, but I missed writing when I took the night off. I can’t promise myself that I’ll write every day, but I feel like its been something to hang onto in these troubled days since Dan lost his job. I think we know what we have to do. Making the plan is the easy part, jumping into it is a whole other matter. That may seem a little cryptic, but I will explain in time. Meanwhile, the last of my favorite pieces, and the first to head into the future. As for this blog and project? The title says it all.

4 17 14  Today’s work

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

photo Riley, one of my cats in pencil.

 

 

 

 

IMG_9711  The children’s play area that we built for the children at our daughter’s wedding.

 

 

 

image  The tabletop I painted based on a vintage French powder tin that I own.

 

 

 

 

Ab aeterno (4)  Altered Art. The photo is from a gravestone in Virginia.

 

 

 

 

005  A piece I did fairly early in the project. An ode to my artistic journey.

Marker on Bristol.

 

 

5 13  My faux brick wall, made entirely from cardboard. My most often pinned pin on Pinterest.

 

 

 

image  Pastel desert scene.

 

 

 

 

 

6 3 3 6 3 (1)  The “before” and “after” of a table I bought for $5. Wood burned design painted with pearl paints.

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_0831 Theresa’s old kitchen cabinet door. Canvas cut to size to fill the center. I reproduced the business card of the restaurant where Dan and I had dinner in Paris for our 20th wedding anniversary.

 

 

 

 

12 20 Riley once again in pencil.

 

 

 

IMG_3262 The sign I made for my daughter and son-in-law for Christmas. Cardboard and burnt glue.

 

 

 

 

12 25 Custom designed Christmas fairy.

 

 

 

 

IMG_3427IMG_3430  More of the burnt paper and glue on a cardboard pencil box base.

 

 

 

 

2 7 14 (1) Polymer clay sculpting attached to a small cardboard box.

 

 

 

 

2 23 14 (2) Old window transformed into a memo station with mirror.

 

 

 

3 24 14 Another cabinet door.

 

 

 

 

4 4 14 (1) Antiqued mirror with one of my Paris photos tinted sepia.

 

 

 

 

There were a few more pieces that I love, but I’m tired. I think the triple overtime did me in.

 

 

 

 

 

Inspired Amusement

Be careful what you wish for. Well I didn’t exactly wish for it, but last night I mentioned I’ve only missed one day in the last year due to illness. At 3:30 this morning I woke with a horrific earache and sore throat. I’ve spent most of the day lying around and really thought I had jinxed myself and would miss my project tonight. A quick cat nap and dinner prepared by my wonderful husband, and I found myself able to function once again. We spent most of the day yesterday in Los Angeles. My nephew lives in Echo Park, and my sister was in for a visit. The architecture in downtown LA is amazing. As much as I’ve grown to love Temecula, I am a city girl at heart. I want to spend a day there just photographing architectural detail. There is an amazing place there called The Last Bookstore. Well worth checking out on-line just to see the incredibly clever art entirely made from books. Dan and I are both horrible book fiends, we have a shared addiction for them. I picked up two books yesterday that both focused on pen and ink. One was a book about illustrated borders. The other is a book on the amazing work of Jean-Ignace-Isidore Grandville (1803-1847). The book contains 266 illustrations from “Un Autre Monde” and “Les Animaux”. In English, “Another World”, and the other section, Les Animaux, which consists of metamorphoses of animals, giving the animals human emotions. The drawings are delightful, and I couldn’t help but be inspired by them. They made me smile. I decided to draw my own “Grandville”. One of my cats, Riley, was kind enough to pose for me (at least her head). Riley sometimes looks lost in thought and gets quite annoyed when we bother her. She is very vocal in letting her displeasure be known. Here is Riley dressed to go to town, looking very bothered my interruption.

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One For The Money

Every now and then I can pick up a small side job, or a craft show that brings a little money into our house. These days any extra cash is welcome here. I have a dear friend who has in the last few months thrown a little work my way. She has found projects around her home that she has asked me to update, or refinish. I really appreciate the business. Last year I painted a mantel shelf for her. A few weeks ago she asked me to paint a table to match. The table is my art project for today, I’ve spent the better part of today perfecting the finish. I unfortunately didn’t take a “before” photo, but if you can imagine it in its original form it was brown, non-distinctive wood. A few coats of polyurethane and it’s finished.

I haven’t really picked up my regular paintbrush in a bit. As things here at home have gotten down to the wire I’m feeling very stressed. I haven’t felt like painting. It’s honestly been a struggle to work at all in the last few days. I have so much on my mind, hesitant to hope with Dan’s job opportunity, adjusting to Brian moving out, and daily issues with my aging father. I need to figure out a way to relax and let my mind wander, and recharge my creativity. There are a few things in my life that always cheer me up. Three of them are my cats. One of them is always near getting in my way while I work. Whether its to sit on me, to sit on the paper I’m working on, or making a bed in my drop-cloth so I can’t move it, they always make me smile.

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Home

No ruby slippers to instantly transport me home, so another five-hour return drive in the car. No watercolor paintings this time. I was busy taking photographs. I began to play with my phone taking pictures as we drove through the Arizona desert. We’ve made this same journey several times before, and I have taken hundreds of photos along the way both coming and going, but I wanted to play with the filters on my iPhone. I have always loved black and white photography, and there is a filter on my phone named “transfer”, the colors were really different, very vintage looking. I went crazy for both. I shot more than five hundred photos. I couldn’t wait to get home to unload my phone to see all of them. I had been checking through them as we drove and was loving the results. Then I unloaded my phone. Not one photo appeared in my computer with the filter on it. I have been having issues with the phone, but not with the camera. I was devastated, of course me being me, I deleted all of the photos before really looking at them to see that they had unloaded without the filters. I checked with my local tech gurus (that would be Dan and Brian, husband and son respectively) but no one seemed to have an answer. I finally googled it. To my dismay it seems that there is no way to save them with the filter unless you email them to yourself. Ridiculous if you take as many photos as I do, and I had already deleted them. I called the help line (Jessica) who is always quick to help her not so tech savvy mother in a pinch. I followed her instructions and emailed myself one of my photos back out of my desk top, applied the filter and then emailed it back to myself. Success! Now I only have hundreds more to do. (Just kidding) I’ll have to take a good look before I decide which photos are filter worthy. To say I am annoyed with the entire process is a major understatement. However, I did manage to take quite a few photos today that I love, so I will be busy emailing myself for the next week. Because I have nothing better to do.

You have probably guessed by now that I am home, happily ensconced in my nest, and I am. As wonderful as new experiences can be, as lovely as visiting family can be, as intriguing as exotic destinations are, there truly is nothing like the feeling of walking in your own front door, putting up your feet, and letting out a sigh of satisfaction. Our girls, Riley, Mia, and Sophie were glad to have us back to do their bidding. Mia in particular knows exactly what she wants. She walks towards me with determination, hops onto my lap, and demands to be petted as she purrs away. I was tired today, ten hours of travel between Friday’s trip to Phoenix and the return trip today, and my usual restless hotel sleeping, I decided that tonight I would do something just for fun. A watercolor of my Mia. It’s also been quite a while since I threw in a little photography. Some desert shots, one in its original color as nature intended, a black and white, and a before and after with the filter applied (thank you Jessica!) Back to my life tomorrow, with bigger and better art to come.IMG_5105As nature intended…

IMG_4840Black and white Photo Shop

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OriginalIMG_4075

With” Transfer” filterphoto-2