Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A snow day in Spring ...

Every once and a while here in New England we have a year where winter lingers and lingers and lingers ... and all the so called pretty parts of winter seem to have a long faded away. We recently had another day where I was once again stuck in the house due to snow. I started this day frustrated with everything and all together bummed out. However, for some reason during the middle of this day that began so dreary I was reminded of this quote by Albert Camus that my mother had tattooed on one of the walls in my house growing up:

In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer."
I probably read these words at least once a day since I could read and so on until a left for college. It wasn't till then that I learned that my mother was not after all the the author of this quote (though she is quite profound and must have found something poignant or inspiring about it). It was also not until I was in college that also learned that the quote continued on.
In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.
And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.
Wow,  Is there a little bird that I can hire to sing this to me on those days where nothing seems to be going right? or even better maybe I should tattoo it on my wall?

... well however it made its way back into my head on this recent day, I am so glad it did.  

So as I was saying about my recent snow day ... Maybe that is what happened when I all of a sudden was thinking about this quote. Why out of no where, on a day that seemed so dreary and nothing was going right, and everything outside my window looked ugly. Maybe this why within minutes on this day, all of this changed. The day started to brighten and I suddenly remembered that I had promised two of my students that when Easter came we would tangle some eggs. Which made me think Spring. Which made me smile. I immediately blew out some eggs and began to cover the shell with tangles. The process went so fast and the during the time spent getting lost in my tangles, my whole perspective on the day and even the Winter that has been lingering and lingering and lingering seemed to be totally different and in a way totally wonderful. Instead of looking out my window and everything looking ugly, I saw a very different picture. I was loving the warmth from my stove and looking out over the snow covered lawn and discovering beautiful patterns that the shadows of the tall trees had created. I found myself cheering for the few blades of grass trying to poke through. I began thinking that this late snow was great nourishment to my garden to be. I was feeling proud of my huge pile of compost that was thanking me for all the winter meals we enjoyed.  And so I stared back at my egg and realized that this day wasn't so bad after all.

Here are some photos of the eggs I have been working on this week:

Here are the ones my students Gywn and Rachel made, they truly are amazing:


 Here is a little family portrait ... just because they look so cute in a bunch.

This is the Albert Camus quote that my mother tattooed on the wall when I was a kid.

Happy Late Winter or Early Spring ... or whatever it is you celebrate this beautiful time of year.


PS ... The eggs used were all brown local eggs, compliments of my student Rachel's Chicken Farm. I personally blew out all the eggs and learned that if you put the blown out eggshells in the microwave for a minute or so, it strengthens the shell ... who knew? We used Pigma Microns in a variety of sizes to tangle our eggs and I then brushed on Krylon's Krystal Clear finish.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Nurture Oneself

For those of you that have spent any time on an airplane, the following statement will sound very familiar.

“In the event of an emergency, an oxygen mask will drop down. Passengers are instructed to make sure their masks are on first before assisting other passengers or children."

Last week I was lucky enough to travel down to the National Art Educators Association Conference in Forth Worth, Texas. It was such a wonderful trip. So informative and inspiring. We met awesome people and made some really great connections as well as squeezing in some time to catch up with some old friends.

Anyway ... back to the statement form the plane. As I heard the stewardess going through the normal pre-flight routine, the phrase seemed to get stuck in my head.

Of course that makes sense to assist yourself first ... so that you are properly able to help those in need. You would of course would want a strong, healthy person caring for others. But why just in the case of oxygen masks? Why not always? If we take time to take care of ourselves and nurture ourselves in both mind and body then we will all be stronger, healthier, and ultimately have more to give to others. Right? But of course this is something that many of us so easily loose sight of. It somehow became looked at as selfish when in reality the act of nurturing oneself is bold, courageous, smart, and quite the opposite of selfish.

The trip continued on and this theme of taking care of oneself and nurturing oneself again came up. At this point I am thinking, this has gotta be a sign for me to to listen. So this time, it is my Mom speaking while her and Rick are giving a workshop at the conference. This conference is attended mostly by art teachers. People you would assume love to create art, but when they asked, "how many of them were currently creating art?" the response was slim to none. What? Is this really true? But yes the reality is ... you give give give and then all of a sudden you forget what it was that brought you to this very place. Your love for art ... the power of creativity ... the rush of it all.

It is so true. It is so easy to get out of the routine, to put things on the shelf, to whip out excuses  why you are not creating ... and then before you know it ... it is gone.

I am so guilty of all of this. Zentangle has become my tool for me to keep my hand in it. It gives me a chance to be all about me ... even if it is for only 15 minutes. It gives me somewhere to start. It reminds my hand, my body, and my soul what it feels like to create and get lost in my unique marks. And it shows me that it was worth taking a little time for me ... and ultimately makes me a stronger, happier and more confident person with more passion and energy for all the people I love.

Below are two tiles done at different times during the trip to Texas without referencing the other. I was so amazed when I later looked at them together to see how they fit:

Nurture thyself ... tap back into it. Be creative, be awesome, beautiful ... whatever it is that art makes you ... and ultimately that passion and artistry will illuminate on to others.


PS ... Just loved Forth Worth ... a very sweet little city deep in the heart ..... of Texas.

Saturday, March 2, 2013


I would like to preface the following post with this statement:

I completely embrace and love many aspects of my "plugged in" life. There just comes a time when it seems to completely overwhelm our daily lives and the very thought of discussing going unplugged via the internet is a bit contradictory. I do feel that we all find our balance in different ways and that there is moderation and balance to be found in all the beautiful, interesting and indulgent things. Even this amazing digital world we live in. So ...

I had an epiphany earlier this week ... or at least what I call an epiphany. Nothing new. I have them often. Some more overwhelming than others ... just a moments of insight that change my perspective or understanding of a situation in my life. They usually occur at the peak of a stressful time ... when I have for some reason or another lost my balance for a bit ... like I think we all do from time to time.

For the most part I find these moments to be warm and wonderful.

I am a fairly busy person. I am starting to think that most of us are. It is a busy world. There is so many cool things to see and neat places to be that we are all trying to do and see it all. And then there is all the stuff that you have to do ... so it is no wonder that it all just gets busy so quickly. And then there is the constant digital feed that seems to dictate so much of how we do things. So many of us are on the phone talking and texting constantly, taking photos, posting things on our computers, our ipads, our ipods, our iwhatevers  ... just trying to stay connected. 

For the most part I really do love technology, but there comes a time, a moment when I think, I just need to disconnect for a bit. Refocus. Breath. Be here. Now. 

But I recently found that I wasn't doing that ... I had lost this balance.

For a while I had been following this routine where after dinner, after the busyness of the day was over and the kids were in bed. I would pile up all my notes and my laptop and do some work, check emails, do whatever else I could do on the internet. This is after a long day of doing just that on and off and in between everything else.  I would be tired and ready to unwind, but for some reason felt like I needed to be productive for the last wee hours I had in me. Yikes quality not quantity Molly! Where was the the down time? What happened to being here, now?

So I have a new part to my routine. I realized all my quality work could be done when the time allowed and my mind was fresh and focused. I also realized that as for my after dinner hours, I will be going unplugged. For now anyway. Now instead of opening up my laptop, I open up my Zentangle kit (which luckily does not have batteries, a USB, or a camera built in it.) And I draw.  And I sit with my husband. Sometimes my kids are still up. Sometimes we talk. Sometimes we don't. Sometimes there is a hockey game on. Sometimes I take a break form drawing and sit or read or whatever, but it is time to just be. I am rediscovering that drawing is medicine for me and sitting and enjoying that with people I love is simply the best!

Results from my new routine ...

SO here's to enjoying both the wonders of technology and also just maybe a couple of moments of being "unplugged".