Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Good Reads: Of Cats and Creativity and Fear

So, a few weeks past I was "cat sitting" for a friend. I was more like house-sitting though, because otherwise these cats otherwise become neurotic. (Neurotic like hiding poo in the corners of the master bedroom. Three separate piles.) I've always liked my friend's house, and she has a full studio in her basement that I was able to use for the week, so I went in telling myself that it would be a mini vacation. "Mini" because I still had go to work during the day.

Isn't she cute? ...and in my chair.
 I was more productive at her house than I have been at home in the last 3 months combined. (It's sad, but I've been out of focus lately.) A change of location really can change your attitude, your rhythm, your actions! It also helps when the borrowed studio is plastered with witty sayings, encouraging notes from friends, and clips of philosophy on creativity. Also pictures of all sorts of weird things. And not just the studio-- you can find these notes all around the house. What I've realized during this stay is that I need a better way to sustain my creativity and keep it fun. Too often I find myself wanting to escape from and not to creative outlets. It's a bit of a problem when you're trying to be a jewelry maker for a living. I bet a lot of you have similar issues, regardless of your careers.

With that in mind, I thought I'd share this site with you:  I ran across this some weeks ago and I absolutely love it. The author, Stephen McCranie, explains it's purpose best himself:
"I started this project to encourage a dialogue between artists and creative types like myself [he's a cartoonist] about what the ideal creator looks like. I feel like sometimes we are myopically focused on perfecting our craft, and forget to build a healthy lifestyle to sustain ourselves and our creativity. This blog explores not just process, but principles."

Using the comic as his medium, Stephen is able to write incredibly clever, often humorous, and surprisingly deep discussions of what it means to be a creative person. I agree whole-heartedly when he says that no one teaches us how to be artists, they only teach how to make art, but the lifestyle is very, very, very important. And I think any type of person can glean something useful from him. His blog is inspiring and uplifting. This is where I go for a kick in the pants when I need some help figuring out why I'm stuck in life. Often I'm stuck because I run into my own fear and judgment. It feels like brick wall in the gut.

I need to get over myself, and that involves dealing with fear. Do you tackle fear, try to kill it, ignore it, deny its very existence? If you've tried this, you know it's not working. You are supposed to befriend fear. ("What? Woman, are you insane?" you may ask. Not this time around, I'm not. Stephen agrees with me.)

"Be Friends with Failure" is one of my favorite reads from Doodle Alley. I think I feel a kindred spirit in the freaky kid named Failure. We had the same problem at the lunch table growing up. See?

Good points such as: "Cool starry underwear, Failure!" He's free to be himself because, well, it can't get any worse than failure; so if you keep trying, something's bound to change for the better.  If you don't try, if you let the brick wall of fear knock the wind out of you and you decide not to try to take another breath, you're done. Toast. Swimming with the fishes. And that would suck. So don't do that. Go make friends with Failure, even though you think he might have some dark magical powers to curse you. If such a scary dude is your friend, nothing else will scare you :)

Except maybe the guys on the wall of my studio.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Martinique in Minnesota

Since I've been a Minnesota girl my whole life, I have often wanted to decorate my surroundings more as if I lived in a tropical location. It's hard to get away with that here, but many people do it anyway. Why not? That's great! But somehow it's just not the same to have lime green walls in your living room when you're not residing in Martinique. You can do it, sure; just expect to get a raised eyebrow with a pointer finger over the lips on a head shaking back and forth ever-so-slightly if you do. Especially if that head is attached to a person known as a Realtor. The first thing they're going to tell you is, "Oh my Lord. That has GOT to go. Paint it something more neutral; it's not good for resale." It's true! Not many lutefisk-loving Minnesotans are going to look at your home and see past that, even when they know "It's just paint. We can paint over it." They don't want to, and they'll probably move on to the next place on their list. Not only that, but do you really want to paint over that before you move? Or change the wall color when you get sick of it, which is pretty likely to happen within a few years with super bright, saturated tropical colors like lime green? NO.
So if you see this out your window...
This probably won't fly. (BTW - what IS that on the wall near the stairs?) do you add a little Martinique when you're living in Minnesota without making too much of a statement? Easy! You start with a neutral background. That doesn't necessarily mean oatmeal carpeting and beige walls, either, although that certainly works. What about a sophisticated greige on the walls (Gray and beige mixed together into one fabulous neutral color) and a medium-dark carpeting or hardwood on the floors?
Greige walls, white and a lighter greige for main upholstery, darker wood floors -  together they create a neutral "shell".
I see greige as being a warm neutral, which is a super great thing when it's 18 below zero on a crisp winter morn. It's also not TOO warm, so it will be soothing on a 105-degree humid mid-summer day. (OK. I'm being a little sarcastic; Greige is kind of magical, though.) On top of a great wall color like this, it's also a good idea to have a contrasting neutral (lighter and/or darker tones) for your main upholstery fabric and dominating case and occasional pieces (tables, chests, cabinets). White, ivory, charcoal, chocolate brown...a lighter version of greige...all good choices!
Then...add some colorful accessories and occasional furniture pieces! See - these things can be changed up at any given time. When summer rolls around, bring out some bright, cheerful colors with throw pillows on your sofa. If you have wood floors, add a casual, coastal stripe area rug to ground your scheme. Add coordinating accessories like bowls, vases, etc. to tie it all together. In the fall, try a different color scheme...or just keep it the same all year round.

Add bright, colorful accessories, rug, and occasional furniture to add fun color to your neutral "shell"


 So, in the end your neutral room turns out looking something like this:

I figure when you have a room like this in Minnesota, instead of walking outside and seeing one of these:
You may expect to walk out and see one of these instead.

Ya, Mon!

Enjoy your stay in Martinisota!


Tuesday, July 9, 2013


Shopping My Closet

I received a compliment from a friend the other day on the outfit I was wearing.   When she asked where I got it I replied “I shopped my closet”. 

My friend asked where this shop was located and I repeated to her that what I was wearing came from my closet and that I had just “shopped my own closet”!

I explained further that I was not working much these days, basically just delivering some part time Training.  
I was transitioning into retirement mode and trying to cut back on spending and part of my restraint program involved a personal challenge to stop buying unnecessary clothing. 
I have always loved fashion and take great pleasure in shopping for clothes.  The result was a closet bulging with so many items I had a tough time finding ‘anything to wear’! 

New items would be purchased and added to the already overflowing closet and although I did on rare occasions clear out that which I didn’t fit or wear much I knew that I had more than enough to wear without buying more. 

Shopping, although fun and therapeutic at times, had become a costly habit for me! 

My closet is not large and yet it isn’t too small either but I knew it wasn’t more space I needed. 
I needed to organize the space I already had.  This would aid my motivation to ‘shop my closet’ instead of a store.  I devised a plan to clean out my closet and organize it in a way that I could clearly see and find outfits that I actually wore.  In the past I had thought about removing seasonal clothes however it seemed like too much work at the time.  In spite of this I started with the removal process and I eventually removed EVERYTHING with the intention of only putting back what I actually wore regularly!

Having freed up some space allowed me to spread out my outfits and be able to clearly see what I had available to wear.  I tried on everything and if the buttons were bulging or the waistline too tight they were sent off to the Thrift Shop.

I found things that I had forgotten I had.  I discovered ‘shamefully’, outfits I had never worn. 
I had more than enough to wear and the best things were jammed in where I couldn’t even see them!

So now that I have completed this mountainous task I can ‘shop my closet’ and revisit items that are like new.  
So take a peek in my closet and think of me the next time you say “I have nothing to wear” and consider “shopping YOUR closet”!
Author:  Trish Repay (BlackCrowCurios)
visit me at my personal blog:

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

My Daughter

My daughter was a senior this year.  It was a whole new experience.  She is my firstborn and her entire life I’ve always gotten excited about the “new” experience.

We dealt with infertility for 3 1/2 – 4 years until finally God gave us our first child through medical science. She is adorable, beautiful, lovable, kindhearted, thoughtful, smart and all things wonderful. 

But this year over and over I heard the phrase “it’s my last…” and “next year I won’t even live here and you won’t KNOW what I’m doing or where I’m going…”  It seems they grow up before you know it.  I was told this…but didn’t really believe it until this year.  I suspect on move in day for college I will be experiencing another “new”…and it will be very emotional.

As we approach the end of this journey, I ask myself, did I do all I could?  Did I do the things I should have?  Does she know what she needs to?  Will she remember the fun times?  Is it too late for a deeper relationship?  Does she know how much I love her?  Will we ever be friends?  Do I have to let her go?

Intellectually I know the answer is yes to all of them, but my heart still worries.  Sometimes I reflect on the feelings/experiences I have/had with my mother and I always think “I hope I did better.”  But honestly - my mom did a great job…I stunk/stink at being a great daughter, but it’s through no fault of her own.  I hope one day my daughter will think the same of her mother.

So today I write to tell her a few last things before her final days in our home.

Samantha, YOU are the light of my life. 

I love you with all my heart.  God gifted us with YOU because you are what blessed us and helped us grow and mature as people.  You are called by Him and He has great things ahead for you.  I am so proud of who you are.  You made a decision for college based on what God wanted for you and moved ahead against all obstacles. 

 You are kindhearted and caring – deeper than probably you realize. 

You are smart,

 funny and a great joy to be around.  



 Your friends are some of the luckiest in the world to know you. 

Your SISTER is "more" because of who you are to her!


I can’t wait (well actually I can because you are still too young yet) for you to get married and have kids.  You will be the best wife a man can ask for.  You will be a patient, fun, kind mom to your kids.

I love you so much and will be learning to live in the moment with you these final few weeks.