Saturday, January 28, 2017

Loving-Kindness and Painting Meditations, 1.28.17

I've written about meditation before here in this space, but I've delved into it a little more deeply over the past few months, so I thought I'd share a couple of those ideas in this post.

This first one has made a huge difference for me lately. Several months ago, I began seeing a Life Balance counselor who taught me, what she called, a Loving-Kindness Meditation. It's simple to do, doesn't take much time and really does make you feel more loving and more kind. If you are having negative feelings toward any one, or about anything in particular (and I know most of can relate to that, especially this past week!), I highly suggest trying it.   Here's how it works:

First, find a nice, quiet spot with space just to sit cross-legged (or as Peanut says "criss-cross applesauce") on the floor. This is really all you need, but sometimes I like to be more ceremonial about it and light a candle and turn on some kind of meditative music. I prefer to do this in the morning, so I can feel like I started my day off on a positive note, but the time of day doesn't really matter.

Okay, first, imagine what loving kindness looks like to you- visually. Picture it in whatever way feels right to you. For me, it felt right to imagine a huge cocoon of love and light. Now, reflect on yourself being wrapped up in all of the love and light that you can imagine., inside of that cocoon. Stay with that thought for a bit.

Next, think of someone (or a group of people) who is extremely deserving of your loving kindness and picture yourself wrapping that same love and light around them.

Next,  imagine that same thing for every person in the world. I know it's kind of hard to imagine the entire world at once, but to make this easier, I pictured the Coke commercial from the 70's. ;)  (Link is below, if you are too young to remember it or you don't watch Mad Men!). But you can imagine it in any way that seems fitting to you.

After you reflect on the world being wrapped in love and light, finally, imagine sending and wrapping that same loving kindness cocoon around the person (or group of people) you believe is least deserving of it.  Simply imagining that you are wrapping someone you have issues with, in light and love, tends to soften those hard feelings and makes it easier to let go of some of the negativity surrounding them or the difficult situation.

I have done this almost every, single morning for the past several months. While it hasn't changed my current, difficult situation, it has certainly made me feel more loving and more kind to all of the people I share my life with on a daily basis. It has made me more aware of how my words and actions affect other people and how their words and actions affect me. And I am no longer willing to accept negativity being brought into my life and I won't be the cause of negativity in someone else's life. Needless to say, positive thinking is pretty powerful, right?!

The second meditation is not your typical idea of "meditation", but lately, I've been inspired by these addictive, meditative instagram videos and this post on the Cozy Things blog.  It seemed like a different, more creative approach to those adult coloring books that are so trendy right now.  So I broke out my painting box and have been keeping it next to the couch, along with some small canvas boards and scraps of watercolor paper,  so it will be easy to finish a quick painting in the amount of time it takes to watch a movie, wait for the meatloaf to bake, listen to a podcast, etc.  Sometimes I'll use a photo reference, sometimes it's just an abstract, watercolor and Sharpie piece- completely unplanned, unstructured and stress free with no expectations of the outcome.

My painting box (a gift from my step-daughter several years ago) has become one of my favorite things.

Abstract watercolor and Sharpie

Watercolor pencils and Sharpie

Bird. Acrylic paint on 5 x 7 canvas board. Two days after I posted this painting on Facebook, I read this, again on Cozy Things.  Funny! We both must have had birds on our minds that weekend.

I hope this helps someone out there deal with the stress, anger and anxiety that seems to be so prevalent lately. And, I hope you are at least trying to have a great, stress-free, weekend!  Juli

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Sharing- Part 3, 1.19.17

More sharing...

To open, here is an excerpt from my first "Sharing Post":

I realized...  how grateful I am to have access to the thoughts, stories and advice of so many wise women via the internet, networking, friends, co-workers, etc.. I feel fortunate to have been enlightened enough to absorb and reflect on what these women were sharing and to digest every little morsel of information that I could get my brain around, using it to add positivity to my life at a time when negativity was dominating (if you know me or have been following this blog for a while, you know about the conflict that has been my life lately).  Sooo... for the next few posts, I'll be sharing some of the thoughtful information that I received from these wise, wise women through their instagram feeds, blog posts, podcasts, websites, etc.  Their stories and inspirational words have helped me put one foot in front of the other and get out of bed each day for the past six months.

So, for Sharing #3, I'm going to talk yoga.

I've had several people ask me about how and why I started doing yoga in the first place, so I thought a blog post about it would be fitting. I know I may lose a few of you here. Sorry! I hope you stick with me, though, because it could really change your life if you give it a chance. I'm convinced that it has helped save my sanity through many stressful situations over these past few years. 

I think I've always been drawn to yoga (think back to PBS's Lillias, Yoga and You and the Ali McGraw videotapes!) and tried it several times when I was younger. For some reason it never really stuck, though. But, in 2009, I bought the '15 Minute Results Yoga with Rodney Yee and Mariel Hemingway' DVD and that was the game changer for me. I think the fact that each segment was so short that it didn't overwhelm me was what made it work for me. I knew I could commit to just a few times a week for 15 minutes. Well, needless to say, it snowballed from there.

Now, I do some amount of yoga every day- ranging from as little as 15 minutes to as much as 65 minutes. I don't commit to a certain amount (it's a head game I play with myself!) and tell myself if I get on that mat and don't feel like doing it, I don't have to. Honestly, though, I very rarely get up and walk away. Yoga, for me, isn't about the "workout", though. The physical part of it is really just a bonus.  It's more about the way it calms my mind. When you are doing yoga, you are forced to focus on what you are doing right then and there- breathing, stretching, balancing and moving gracefully (well, trying to, at least!), so you have no room in your brain for worrying. Sounds great, doesn't it?!

So, if you are interested, here are my go-to yogi websites:

Rodney Yee

Colleen Saidman Yee

Seane Corn

Over the past 8 years, I've accumulated quite the yoga DVD library and always come back to these three instructors. The great thing about having so many choices is that I decide before I even start what I feel like I need on that particular day and then make my choice. If I need a compassionate voice, I'll go with Rodney Yee. If I need clear direction and a soothing voice, I'll go with Colleen Saidman Yee. And if I need an empowering voice, my go-to is Seane Corn.

If you have kids at home, a group yoga class may be better for you. I remember how hard it was to get even a few minutes to myself to go to the bathroom, much less, hole myself up in a room for an hour to do yoga! Or, maybe you are just a more social person and would prefer to be with a group of people. Whatever it takes to get there, I would give it a try.  And if you do, I hope you love it as much as I do!

I've never taken a group yoga class. I guess I should try that sometime. But, really, who would want to leave this to drive to a yoga studio??! I feel VERY fortunate to have this space all to myself (empty nester, here!), as this is where I start almost every single day.  Not the greatest photo ( as we have had NO sunshine lately) but I LOVE this space.
I must give a shout out to MK Designs for several of the photos shown in this room. Love her work. It also happens to be her birthday today, so Happy Birthday, MT!

Stay tuned for Sharing #4- Meditation :)

Sunday, January 15, 2017


making: painting, printmaking, sewing, crocheting, decorating/curating. Up next- knitting (one of my unfinished/unrealized goals from 2014!)

My latest, "With What I Have"- using the leather strap from an old purse on the new one that I made.

Skinny scarf- making with the yarn purchased at PurlSoHo in New York over the summer. When I took this photo, I realized that I must be channeling the color choices of my grandma, who made this blanket (top, left corner of this photo) for me sometime in the 80's, using the same blue, gray and cream color scheme.

New sewing/stitching project in the works.

And doing a little "staging" with our new bar set and our old wine-themed wall art and wine crates. To me, the careful arrangement of things in your home is one of the best creative activities.

eating: homemade chicken noodle soup and bisquits, plain greek yogurt with a little stevia and unsweetened coconut (so good!), pistachios, Sasha's chopped veggie salad, lots of oven baked buffalo wings

drinking: martinis (lemon drop, dirty and classic- although not all in one sitting!) and this wine I bought for M. for his birthday- Hugo, Australian Shiraz - The vines were planted the year he was born and this vintage was from the year we were married. (Not how I usually pick out wine, but I couldn't resist.) The wine was very good, by the way :)

watching: The Accountant (on Vudu), The Minimalists (Netflix) , Jackie (at the Hi-Pointe Theatre) and How He Fell in Love (Netflix)

reading: getting ready to delve into these:

listening to: music from the movie How He Fell in Love by Gambles, A Beautiful Morning by the Rascals (thanks for the suggestion, Colb!) 

thinking about: my word for 2017: Truth  and how this Facebook/Instagram post only confirmed my choice, at just the right time. "THE TRUTH WILL ALWAYS REVEAL ITSELF". Yes, it will.

laughing at: but, also absolutely loving, old photos of M., like this one. A huge thank you to my step-kids and their mom, for sharing this with me :)

This has become one of my favorite photos. Love it!

loving: the fact that my favorite birthday gifts this year were the sentiments shared and not the actual gifts. You have no idea how much these words mean to me, especially this year.

spreading joy: So, my way of spreading joy for the next few posts will be to continue "Sharing" (from my last post) some of the many Bloggers, Instagrammers and Facebookers that have brought me so much insight, calm and reassurance over the last few months. This time, I'm sharing "The Brave Girls' Club". I highly recommend signing up for their daily "A Little Bird Told Me" messages via Facebook and/or Instagram. Just the right words at the right times, it seems. Here are a few that really resonated with me recently, in addition to the one mentioned above:

Let it go. Let if fall. Let it be.

Fly above it.

Also, I want to share this post by Colbey of All Good Things in Life. We had a change in traditions this Christmas, so we decided to go out and spread some joy, which, I'm hoping, will become a new tradition.

Have a great week!  Juli

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Sharing, 1.7.17

My daughter gave me the most thoughtful gift, this year, for Christmas- she printed out every single one of my 266 blog posts written between May of 2012 and November 2016. I couldn't believe she took the time and put forth the effort to do this for me (and she couldn't either, from what I understand, because she didn't realize how many blog posts I had actually written!) As I looked through the "book" (she bound them all in a navy blue, leather binder) that she created, I realized how important this blog is to me (it is a much needed outlet) and that I really need to pay more attention to it and give it more of my time.  

So, the wheels began turning. I spent days compiling a 'year-in-review' and 'hopes-for-the-new-year' post. For weeks prior to that, I had been keeping notes in my phone, notes in draft form here on blogger, notes in random notebooks around the house and notes in my school planner. There was so much information that I didn't know where to begin. But, as I sorted through the notes, I realized a common theme and that is how grateful I am to have access to the thoughts, stories and advice of so many wise women via the internet, networking, friends, co-workers, etc.. I feel fortunate to have been enlightened enough to absorb and reflect on what these women were sharing and to digest every little morsel of information that I could get my brain around, using it to add positivity to my life at a time when negativity was dominating (if you know me or have been following this blog for a while, you know about the conflict that has been my life lately).  Sooo... for the next few posts, I'll be sharing some of the thoughtful information that I received from these wise, wise women through their instagram feeds, blog posts, podcasts, websites, etc.  Their stories and inspirational words have helped me put one foot in front of the other and get out of bed each day for the past six months.

First up, I'll share this blog post by Kelly Rae Roberts and this website. I took the stories that these women shared as a sign that if I reached out, I might find some answers to this difficult situation. So, I contacted Melanie (the medium) for a reading.  Now, you have to know that I am not the sort of person to do this on a whim, because I have always pretty much been a skeptic when it comes to this sort of thing.  (Gary, aka Ruben J, was a firm believer in 'psychics' and I often laughed at him for it.) But the signs were very strong that reaching out like this would lead to some answers and, hopefully, some sort of contentment. So I paid $100.00 for an e-mail reading. I really didn't expect much, but I thought, if nothing else, it would be fun.

I e-mailed the medium in the afternoon on a Thursday and had a several page response by 4:00 the next afternoon. Before I started reading, I just assumed that she probably did a quick google search to get enough information to sound somewhat accurate. Well, let me tell you, as I started reading, I realized that too much of it was too accurate to be a "quick google search".  As I finished reading, I, literally, could not even move from my chair. One of the questions I had asked the medium was if Ruben J had any particular advice to give me about this ongoing, difficult situation, as I knew that if he were still here, he would have been able to help. The medium's response contained information that absolutely no one else could have ever known- information from private conversations that I had with Ruben J 15 years ago that I have never shared with anyone, information about the way he dressed and detailed descriptions about some of his possessions and personality traits, etc. It. Was. Crazy!

Was it real or just coincidence? Of course, I will never know for sure. But it was real enough for me to believe the advice I was given through the medium. It made everything more clear and gave me the confidence to just be patient with the situation, trust myself and wait it out, which is something I'm not good at, but have been forced to become better at. And that is a very good thing!

I know this all sounds a little "out there"! It took some serious pondering on my part to share it. But, it was such a positive experience and it happened as the result of someone else sharing their story, so I thought it was only fitting to share mine.

Art print by Kelly Rae Roberts. I have this, framed, in my living room, as a reminder ;)

Have a great weekend and stay tuned for my next "sharing" post!  Juli

**Please visit the websites and blogs mentioned here, as these women are unending sources of positivity, creativity and possibility.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Giving Tuesday, 11.29.16

In a complete clean-out of our house a couple of years ago, when we moved (and then moved back!), I got rid of lots of Christmas decorations. So much so, that it has been really hard to resist buying more. I've been pretty good, I have to admit, as last year, the only decoration I spent money on was live, cut greenery. This year, I only splurged on new stockings for the grandkids, since Target had a great sale on them after Thanksgiving. As a result, I realized that I now have six extra stockings. So... since it is Giving Tuesday today, I've decided to stuff those stockings with some handmade items that have been accumulating in my studio and distribute them tomorrow around Washington, MO as my long-overdue contribution to the Art Abandonment movement. Just "Pimpin' some Joy", you know?! You gotta do that sometimes, right?! With that in mind, I'm seriously considering some kind of "Pimpin' Joy", "Spreading Cheer", "Power of Positivity" type of challenge for the month of December. I'll be googling some things tonight, but I'm open to ideas, so if you have any that you want to share, leave a comment! 

Someone will be finding mini wall hangings, onesies and hand made washcloths in their stockings tomorrow :) If you are in WashMo, be on the lookout!

Have a great week!  Juli

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Lately, 11.23.16


Making: Painting Operation Christmas Child boxes, making stress-reducing washcloths (stress reducing to make them, not to use them!), finally using the Purl SoHo yarn I bought over the summer to make a scarf for... MYSELF :) , leaf mobiles with my Adaptive Art class (they loved this project found on ArtBar blog)

Our version of the Painted Leaf Mobiles also included leaves covered with washi tape, then laminated. Sorry for the bad lighting :(

Boxes for Operation Christmas Child

Washcloths and scarves. Love these colors :)

Drinking: the, water, coffee and tea, but really looking forward to some tawny port as the weather gets cooler.

Eating:  Whole Food take-out (highly recommend the cauliflower/almond salad and the roasted root vegetables).

Watching: Saturday Night Live (loving Alec Baldwin as Trump!) And, we broke out the holiday movies early the other night and started with National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

Reading: Still plugging away at Carry on, Warrior by Glennon  Doyle Melton. Love it. And highly recommend it.

This excerpt is a must-read for anyone dealing with new family members, whether they are in-laws, step-parents/kids, etc. Such good advice that I wish I would have read years ago.  I love how the author compares life to weaving a rug. Great analogy, I think ;)        
Be simple. Be sophisticated.

Listening to:  The Sound of Silence by Disturbed, The Story I Heard by Blind Pilot (recommended by Colbey of the All Good Things in Life blog)

Thinking about: the concept of "shifting" and a few quotes that have meaning for me lately.

Always love Elena Brower's contributions to Instagram.

from soulseed Facebook page
Laughing at: these boys!

Love how this baby boy always wants to curl up in my lap.

... or not!
And how they laugh at every single, silly little thing I  make with their  Play-Dough :)

Loving: spending time with supportive, happy people

Celebrating M.'s 65th birthday.

And receiving yet another "Thank You"- this time from a student. My job, students and co-workers have definitely been a respite for me this year and I am SO thankful to have them.

Spreading Joy: sending 'Positive Notes' home to the parents of some of my really incredible students.

With What I Have:  I just have to point out, once again, how a little rearranging of the things you already have can give a space an entirely new feel. Last week, in preparation for making space for the Christmas tree, I rearranged our living room as I cleaned. Placing old things in new positions and doing a little editing and weeding out of unnecessary items was exactly what this space needed. Now we're ready for that tree :)

I'll leave you with another song- this one isn't new to me, but the lyrics are really resonating with me lately. (It's also a suggestion from Colbey of All Good Things in Life.)

Have a great Thanksgiving!  Juli

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Times... They Are a Changin', 11.8.16

I bet you thought this post would be about politics, huh?! (It's gonna be a crazy day out there!) I guess, in a way, it is. More like family politics, though. More specifically, it's about transitioning traditions. Or, traditions, transitioning. Oh, my. However you want to put it, it's not an easy thing.

My family is currently having to make some tough decisions about longstanding traditions as this holiday season approaches.  I'm sure we are not the only family having to navigate through changes that will affect the holidays.  So many things happen to all families over time. Maybe part of the family has moved away and it is just not logistically possible to be together. Maybe a divorce upset the routine. Maybe there was a death in the family. Maybe the family just grew apart. Maybe the family grew too large and it just doesn't make sense for EVERYONE to get together for one gathering. Or maybe it grew too large and there were just too many people with differing opinions and personalities and it's just not fun to be together anymore. Maybe it was a combination of all of the above. There are SO many things that affect a family over the years. Change is, ultimately, inevitable. One lesson that experience has taught me, though, is that change is not always a bad thing. Over the past 12 years, my kids and I have had to deal with divorce, death, the kids growing up and moving away and many new family members coming into the mix. We are all too familiar with change. It's not always easy, for sure. But it definitely isn't always bad and can, in fact, be a good thing. Even, sometimes, a wonderful thing.

For us, this year, change will lead to simplicity. Ahhhhhh. Simplicity. The older I get, the more of this I want. Even though I hate it that things have to change, I'm also really looking forward to having much more simple holidays. In any case, I'm just trying to focus on the good memories that were made with my family over the years and move on to focusing on the new ones, yet to be made.

What about you? How have you or your family dealt with changing traditions? I would love to know.

I've come across a few quotes on the subject lately, which help me stay positive :)  It makes the changes a little easier. Right?!


And a link to a song that says it all, really. Way beyond just changing family traditions. Listen to it here.

Have a great week and GO VOTE today!  Juli

P.S. Happy, Happy 76th Birthday to my dad today! Love you, Dad!