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This is just one area of originals; I also have them hanging around my studio!

Because we are trying to declutter and pack up non-essentials for a future move and because I’ve been creating a lot more lately, I need to move out some of my inventory of originals!  So this weekend only, get 20% off original pieces of artwork in my shop using the coupon: Originals20

Go to my originals section of my shop HERE  (sale valid from now through Sunday 2/17)

You get a deal and I get to clear out some inventory; it’s a win-win situation!  Thanks for stopping by.

Silent week

Letting Go Girl

I mentioned in my previous post that I felt I needed some time away from the internet (save for my work) to clear my head, my psyche and so I wouldn’t compare myself to the success of others.  But the other reason is because I tend to get over-inspired by ideas on the internet and it can be so overwhelming that I become paralyzed to start!

So when I announced to my husband that I was going on an internet diet for a month, he kindly replied, “Why don’t you try it for a week?”  Though I wanted to do something drastic, I knew he was right and reasonable.  A week was a good start and I could always extend it out.

And so for a week I stayed away from Facebook (my personal page), Twitter, Pinterest, and other’s blogs.  I tried to stay off the Etsy forums (where I spend about an hour each day) but I was unsuccessful because it really does contain nuggets of information for micro-businesses and I learn something new nearly every day (though it can also be a major time suck so needs to be managed).  The only other time spent on the internet was to run my shops, promote my goods and purchase supplies for my business.  Nothing social, nothing recreational, nothing to waste time on.

And the results???  Major productivity!

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I made it a point to be at my painting table by 7pm every night, if not earlier, and found that I was able to create a lot of new material.  It was refreshing.

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I created new pieces, actualized old ideas and even finished up previous pieces like these square blocks that were once butterfly pieces I wasn’t crazy about that I painted/decoupaged over and made into new tea pieces:

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I only painted Mon.-Thur. as Friday was a date night for us and this past weekend we started working on house projects, but even in those 4 days I accomplished quite a bit.  We are hoping to put our house on the market in the spring, so there is lots to be done on that front to get it move-in ready and turn-key for the next residents so I won’t be able to earmark as much time for continual creating.  But the change in schedule has freed up a lot more time for me and I’m hoping to stick with it so I can tackle my to-do list and find time each week to create.

And you know what, as addictive as it can be, I’m going to stay off my personal FB page (the drama on my newsfeed just annoys me, so I’m staying off), I’ve unsubscribed from a lot of blogs and when I need inspiration, I’ll just refer to all my journals/sketchbooks which has tons of ideas waiting to be sprouted.

And it helps me to stick to my new year’s theme of decluttering; just getting rid of a lot negative space, negative energy and negativity in my life and that’s always a good thing.

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Hope you take more time to take care of your needs, block out the negatives and spend more time on what you want to be doing (instead of wasting time on the time-sucks and energy-sucks of the world!).  Wishing you all a good week.

It’s all good!

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I received several sweet comments and warm emails after my last post and so appreciate it.  But sorry for creating drama where there really was none.  I was just going through the typical self-doubt that can creep into anyone’s life, but nothing major by any means.  I know I’m on the right path, I don’t question that anymore; I just sometimes get impatient!  I know that when I read someone’s success story I have to either remember that they’ve been at it much longer than I have or when it’s someone that has been doing it the same amount of time or less than I have, that they caught a lucky break and probably worked their tail off.  I just have to keep at it and not let anyone else’s story be a measure of success for me.

And I always have to remind myself that my initial goal was to work from home doing something I love and to be able to spend more time with my husband, my dogs and enjoying the simple pleasures in life.  And by that definition, I’m extremely successful.

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I am actually finding that another reason I need to stay off the internet because I’m over-inspired!  I see so many cool things that I end up with a million ideas and never sit down to do any of them (hello Pinterest!).  So I’m going to try to go on a internet fast for a week (save for what I need to do for my shops) and I’m hoping that it will force me to sit down each night and create new paintings and collages.

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And while digital artwork is fun to do and a great option when feeling creative but not wanting to dive into 3 or so hours of creating, I’m craving the tactile experience that only paper, paint and glue can offer.  So here’s hoping for new artwork in a week!

Thanks for the love all; you are awesome cheerleaders and this girl is grateful for you all! ♥

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But meantime, I’ve enjoyed playing with some of my old photos, textures and quotes…which are kind of like mini workouts to painting marathons.

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I’m going through that introspective phase that typically happens 2 or 3 times a year for me (I swear, I’m not trying to play the dramatic artist card here!)…

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Trying to figure where I want to focus my energy and where I want to let things go…

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What people I want to focus on and what people I need to let go…

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And trying to stay away from FB, blogs and the internet save for what’s necessary for my work because it’s hard not to compare yourself to others (especially those that are very successful and not feel bad about where you are).

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So meantime, I’m sorting through my feelings through digital art (even mounted this guy on a 12×12 piece of wood).  But I can hear the decoupage calling…

It won’t be long.

Recovering from heartbreak

It has been more than 2 weeks since my last post and I’m headed toward my quietest month on my blog.  But it’s for good reason; I’m recovering from heartbroken mama syndrome.  Shortly after the new year, we had to put down our oldest dog Sierra.  We found her more than 10 years ago on “doggie death row” and though we saved her life way back then, she was the one that brought so much to our lives.  She was our first dog as a couple, our first baby.

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Sierra’s photo from the humane society

She loved the snow…I mean she really loved the snow (it was the husky part in her) and boy did she mush like a snow dog in her younger years (I’ve the scars to prove it!)

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We were warned of her small prey drive and she would spend hours in the yard and on long hikes/walks looking for little critters…

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But she also knew how to be lazy like the best of ‘em…

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She was very tolerant of this curious & mischievous pug puppy we brought in about 5 years ago…

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But she connected with Peanut most (we got them the same week 10 years ago after we first moved to Colorado) and to Peanut, Sierra was her best bud…

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But if there was one word that most described Sierra, it is “sweet” – she was just a sweet, sweet girl…

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Two years ago she was diagnosed with Cushing’s Disease which brought a host of physical problems.  I mentioned quite a few times on this blog how she was waking me anywhere from 2-6 times a night for more than a year, which was really hard on both of us.  But she was otherwise holding up well and our vet reminded us that she still had quite a bit of time left.   But in recent months her muscular atrophy was becoming apparent and when she started to have trouble with balance and falling and then her appetite fell off, we knew that she was telling us it was time.  We had planned for it for a while but nothing could prepare me for the amount of grief I would feel after saying goodbye.

So I did what most artists would do to help me cope with the grief and I got creating…

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I found it cathartic and painful all at once.  I wanted to do something to commemorate her, which felt great, but the more I looked at her pictures, the more I cried.

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Most of it was digital, but I had an idea of something I wanted to do mixing my photography with mixed media techniques.  And I finished it last night…

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I will say that I feel much, much better now.  I think I “frontloaded” my grief that first week.  The first three days I literally could not stop crying; my eyes were nearly swollen shut, my nose was rubbed raw and I think I went through 2 boxes of tissues.  The grief was profound, something I’ve never experienced, even with the loss of friends and family.  But as you know, I don’t have children, I live in a rural area, I work from home and I interact with the dogs 24 hours a day (I typically leave the house only once a week).  So the change in schedule, going through all the firsts without her, going for walks and seeing her paw prints in the snow from our last walk together was excruciating.

But after that first week, the tears stopped and I was able to think of her with smiles and laughter instead of tears and heartache.  And I even had a really sweet dream of her last week where we were in a lush, green field and she was playing fetch with the vigor and pep of a young pup.  It was really heartwarming.

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And when I think of her at the “Rainbow Bridge” – the picture above is what I envision.  And I look forward to seeing her again on the other side.

Thanks for letting me share ♥

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“There is only one success – to be able to spend your life in your own way.” – Christopher Morley (American journalist, novelist)

Ah, the new year…always feels like a new and fresh way to set your intentions, right?  And I’m no different from most people in wanting to have a vision for this upcoming year.

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As I wrote in my New Year’s post about my vision for 2011:

Instead of a New Years Resolution, I instead have a theme.  And as silly as I feel to announce it, I’m also okay with it.

And as much as people admonish it, I feel pretty confident that most people start the New Year with a vision/plan/idea of how they want their year to turn out.  So what’s yours?

Last year I didn’t create a vision or theme; I was in the throes of art licensing hell and just not in a good place to focus on the upcoming year.  I was just trying to meet deadlines and get through each day.  Last year was a blur overall trying to feel my way around but even with all the disappointment trying to expand my artwork outside of Etsy, I also learned a lot in the process.  My vision for for 2011 was “focus and organized” with regards to my online business and for the most part I feel I’ve been pretty successful with that since.  I was able to go from a shot-gun approach in 2010 down to tried and true methods and products that work.  I was able to get rid of a lot of my “junk” from my first year, all the projects I wanted to try (goodbye sewing machine!) and supplies that didn’t pan out.  I have a definite vision for each of my shops, have cut out a lot of things that either didn’t work or made me cranky working on and expansion is a term I use cautiously.  Expansion with direction and boundaries is more my thing these days.

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This year my vision, my theme, my word, per se, will not only apply to my business but my personal life.  When you’re growing a business/brand/name, it’s hard not to tie up your identity  with your work.  It never leaves.  Always on your mind, always working on it (just ask my husband!), always researching, exploring, calculating, crunching numbers.  It’s easy to get all-encompassing.  But now that I’m in my third year and all my initial groundwork has been laid, things are pretty well-oiled and I can grow in small measures without it consuming my life like it did before.

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So back to my word.  Ready for it?  It’s “decluttering” – wah, wah, I know…SO unsexy.  But let me expain how decluttering can be so much more than it relates to tangible items.

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I wrote back in 2010 about this very topic here and here and the issue has been coming to my consciousness in regular intervals lately so that tells me that I still need to work on it.  Decluttering my space, decluttering my business, decluttering my personal relationships; I felt the universe kept bringing this up for me over the last month, so I’m listening and heeding the message.  My life needs more decluttering, plain and simple.

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Now, compared to some people I see, my life is pretty chill and decluttered already.  But I also have the mindset that the more space you create in your life (by getting rid of the things that add no value or don’t bring you positive energy to your life…including people!) the more you encourage good things to come in…not material things, but good opportunities, good experiences, good people.

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So, as it relates to decluttering my space…I’m doing just that.  I’ve emptied more than 50% of the contents in my closet (gonna stop holding onto clothes that I “might” fit back into and also get rid of the items I never wear) and donating it so that someone may be able to use it now.  I also am trying to return our dining room into more of a dining space instead of en extension of my studio downstairs and to that end have added a lot of my “craft project” pile to the donate pile as well (I have to stop kidding myself that I’ll get to it when it’s been there for a couple years now!).  There’s always more that can be done on this front…

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As it relates to my business, I’m going to continue what I’ve started in 2011 and keep working on this.  I have a HUGE destash pile that I plan on listing in a new shop I’ve created just for craft supplies, or discounted/clearance items.  Those tend to do well on Etsy and since I have so much from previous business ideas that didn’t pan out, I’m going to get rid of it and try to make back some of the losses I took trying to make it work.  I’ve also stuck to the basics in my shops and cut out a lot of the extra stuff this last year and will continue to thin it out this year and only work on the things that make sense.  Sometimes less is more.

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And as for personal relationships, I’ve been doing that over the past couple of years and will continue that in the New Year.  I’ve recently ended some long relationships in my life that were draining me and only bringing negativity to my life; as painful as it is, sometimes it’s just best to wish those folks well and release the relationship.  I guess what I’m trying to say on this aspect of my life is that I’m focusing on quality not quantity and I come with the full understanding that people come and go in our lives (it’s part of the cycle and necessary as we learn lessons from everyone we meet).  But I also feel that it’s no use to hold onto something that isn’t working; life is just too short.

DSC_0070Here are some great quotes on this theme of decluttering:

“The more you have, the more you are occupied.  The less you have, the more free you are.” – Mother Teresa

“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” – Hans Hoffman

“When you have cleared all of your clutter, you can be of greater service to those around you. ” – Michael B. Kitson

And Oprah says that you should look at all aspects of your life when considering de-cluttering:

Relationship to self—good riddance to decisions that don’t support self-care, self-value, and self-worth.

Relationship to others—do the people in your life give you energy and encourage your personal growth, or block that growth with dysfunctional dynamics and outdated scripts? If they don’t support you as a loving, open, free, and spontaneous being: Goodbye!

Relationship to emotional life—out with stagnant patterns that no longer serve you.

Relationship to work—not only reducing the “clutter” of paperwork, inefficiency, and overcommunication, but also striving to create a balanced workload and make your work invigorating, inspiring, collaborative, and empowering to others.

Relationship to nature and play—seeing these as expressions of love and opportunities to fill your life with truth and joy.

To me, all of this is the real deal of de-cluttering, a process that’s ever evolving as you move closer to the self you were meant to be.

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So there it is.  Decluttering.  What’s your vision for 2013?

Whatever it is, I wish you abundance, peace and good outcomes this year.

xo Jennifer

Tranquil holidays

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While most people spend their Christmas among crazy chaos and lots of people, we go the opposite route.  Part of it is that it’s not feasible to go back home again to CT, we both have VERY small families and my parents go to Florida while my sister stays in CT and celebrates with her husband’s side of the family.  So it’s just us and the pups.  Staying at home sometimes makes me a little sad and so this year with David off from work, we decided to go away for Christmas.  It was also a make-up trip from our 10 year wedding anniversary in May (a trip that we kept having to reschedule) so it had been a full year and a half since David and I vacationed and very much needed.

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DSC_0641We chose to go to a familiar, quiet place where we know our dogs are welcome and we could cozy up near a fireplace: the Estes Park YMCA at Rocky Mountain National Park.  Every year we go we are amazed at how big this complex is getting; it’s not your typical camp – it’s a booming conference center with hundreds of cabins and lodging rooms and has a skating rink, sled runs, horse stables, indoor swimming and tons of activities.  But even with all the options, we chose to hold up in our cabin and celebrate the holidays quietly…playing rounds of Monopoly, Words with Friends and Uno…reading books aloud to each other…challenging our brains with puzzle books and taking lots of frigid walks with our pups (some days the windchill was below zero!).

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We spent some time in town as well on the charming main street visiting little shops, stopping at our favorite independent coffee shop and grabbing some local food.  And of course there is Rocky Mountain National Park (though most of it is closed, the couple miles that you can go in are still beautiful).  Good all around.  Very low key, very relaxing (when our anxious pups weren’t misbehaving), very much our style.

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And while I often wish I had this big gregarious family to go home to for the holidays, complete with cousins, aunts, uncles, lots of siblings and nieces and nephews and all the nostalgic visions that the holiday movies portray, the reality is that neither of us have that, so we have to make our own holiday tradition.  So tranquil holidays come in as a great second choice.

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Whether yours were crazy or calm, hope your holidays were enjoyable. ♥