No Re-Touching Please!!!!

(How does one write about self awareness without offending or shaming the other person? I don't know!!!  So I will just write from my heart and my own experience and preface that shaming is never my intention and we all have our own journey.  My journey does not include photo editing but if yours does, more power to you.  We all have our battles with body image and I definitely do not want to add to the struggle.)

"No man tells me what to do with my body. Only women's magazines can do that."-Mindy Kaling Instagram post 11/4/2015

Recently I had my photo taken.  After he took the picture he showed me the camera screen.  I thought "WOW, he is good!"  The lighting was beautiful and I thought I made a good shirt choice.  So I was shocked when I received the image in my email.  It had been run through a photo editing program.  The person in the image was a shinier version of myself.  My husband commented that it looked like me 10 years ago.  Say WHAT!  Why would I want to erase 10 years of my life?  Maybe I am being dramatic with that statement but that is how I look at my body.  Yes my face and body shows age....because I am older. I do not want to look like I am 30 because I am not 30.  I am 43.  These last ten years have been the toughest and the most joyous of my life.  I got married.  I had my amazing son and light of my life.  I lost my father and 3 grandparents. Received my son's autism diagnosis. Friends and family diagnosed with cancer, some survived and some didn't. I traveled.  I made art. I made friends. I gained weight.  I lost weight. I gained weight back and lost some more.  Do I wish I looked differently?  Sure I do, but right now I look like this.  And I have to love this person in this skin right now.  There is a lot of self-loathing in the world.  I see it in myself and I see it in my 18 year old students.  So I know youth does not hold all of the answers.  I don't have it figured out.  I am working on it!!!!! So my choice this week is to love the unedited image: the blemishes and pimples and wrinkles.  Tomorrow I may feel differently so I will treasure this moment today.


Homemade Coconut Milk - OMG why haven't I tried this before


Tonight I tried a new recipe.  I have wanted to make my own milk for over a year.  I thought it would be a ton of work.  I thought it would be a big mess.  I thought it wouldn't taste as good as the stuff in the box.  Boy was I wrong.  I just needed the right recipe and the push to do it.  Have you heard of Periscope.  It is a new social media application.  It is fun!  It is live videos where you can interact with the presenter in real time.  Oh and yes it is a time suck!  So anyway I follow a woman/nutritionist Erin Woodbury.  She does very quick videos creating healthy recipes.  Today she made coconut milk.  

Here is the recipe: 

So I headed to the store after supper and bought 3 ingredients: unsweetened coconut flakes, dates and vanilla extract.  Blend, drain and waaalaaa!  So I made myself a cup of tea to try it out.  Soooo yummy!  I may never buy coffee creamer or milk again.  No sugar, no additives, no preservatives.  I will buy organic ingredients for the next batch.  Our local store didn't carry organic.  I could use a fresh coconut too......but that seems like too much work.  Anyone want to come over tomorrow for coffee?

Reflecting wool


I am have been writing all week.  Half of being an artist is making art, the other half is writing.  Writing grants, writing proposals for shows, journaling, responding to emails and updating websites.  And if you teach art we are writing syllabi, course projects, evaluations and assessments. I will note most people do not realize how much writing artists actually have to do.  Okay maybe some artists do not write regularly, but I do.  If you were to open my sketchbook it is mostly words.

Last week I attended an exhibition opening of my work in St. Louis.  This past week I spent hours and hours at the computer typing up my reflections and applying for grants and exhibitions.  I actually enjoy slowing down and looking at the work I just created.  I like dreaming about future projects and partnerships.  Taking a week for reflection is a luxury that doesn’t happen all the time.  I like this word “reflection”.  In academia the word assessment is used for this same process.  Assessment seems so clinical and cold.  Assessment always conjures up numbers and statistics that my mind does not process efficiently.  So I want to make a new movement or change.  I think from here on out we should call assessment, REFLECTION.

In reflection, we can think about the work created, we can think about the comments others have shared, we can think about what was successful and what we could do differently next time, we can make a plan for the future, we can look for collaborators and we can relax and enjoy our accomplishments.  Assessments are cold.  Reflections are warm.  YES from now on I will allow time for reflections after each assignment.

In The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, he suggests identifying your routine.  By identifying the routine, one can become more aware of triggers and rewards.  (I finished listening to this audiobook on one of my many drives to St. Louis this past month.)  As soon as I heard this idea, I carefully and blindly jotted a note in my sketchbook while I was driving and knew this needed to happen when I got home. My reflection this week was a type of identifying my routine.  Identifying my routine documents my work habits, my thoughts while making the work and my life. Reflecting on my life through the process of making and exhibiting this latest work is cathartic.  My life seems more balanced when I am in making art mode.  I exercise every morning, I make art and I make healthy meals.  I leave the safe haven of my home and my life turns chaotic and completely out of balance.  How do people maintain this healthy balance when they leave the house?  Sometimes my life is thrown out of balance when I drive my son to school in the morning.  Maybe everyone struggles with this? Maybe I am being too hard on myself?

So maybe I should always stay at home and never leave?!?!?!  This wouldn’t be such a bad idea, except that our air conditioning just went out and it’s flippin HOT in the house with 100 degree+ weather.  Have you ever touched itchy wool in 100 degree heat?  It’s not pretty.  So yesterday I left to watch a movie in the ice-cold movie theater.  Lucas chose the movie “Shaun the Sheep” and it is sooo relevant to my life right now.  Speaking of itchy wool, Shaun the Sheep was a wonderful claymation movie about a sheep that is tired of the daily habits of the farm.  Shaun tries to take a day off and in an attempt to change his mundane schedule creates havoc and chaos.  All of the sheep and the family dog work hard and are extremely creative to get their schedule back on track at the farm. 

I don’t live on a farm but I am more peaceful and productive when I am at home in my routine.  I have more reflection to do.  I have more bad habits to change.  I will do more reflecting and try to identify routines.  But now I need to leave this HOT house, maybe tomorrow the air conditioning will be fixed, maybe tomorrow I will get back to my healthy routine.  


Doing Our Best and Setting Boundaries!!!

What if we approached everyone as if they were doing their best. In Brene Brown's book "Rising Strong" she presents this idea. What if we did this? What change would we see in the world.

I have said or thought this statement for the past several years. "I am doing the best I can. I am doing the best I can." Sometimes my best isn't good enough as I am stretched in many different directions.. Sometimes your best isn't enough. But more times than not our best is usually amazing.

Today my son brought home his school work. Since his talent does not lie in communication I have to decipher his school day from the papers he brings home. Today he brought home a number writing assignment. It may not look that great to you but to me this is golden. I didn't know he could write numbers unassisted.  TOTAL WIN!  Just a couple of days ago I was venting/crying about how I didn't think he would ever write.  Lucas is always doing the best he can do and his potential is boundless.

Why is accepting that everyone is doing their best, so hard to comprehend?  We are always so quick to judge one another.  I will need to practice this sentiment.  Brown discusses this judgement is partly due to our failure to set boundaries or uncommunicated expectations.  

My son has an amazing skill of setting boundaries.  He is very good at telling others what he needs.  Wow I wish I had that super power.  Setting boundaries is my kryptonite.  So maybe next time I need to set up a boundary I think I will draw that person a picture. Maybe that will help me communicate just as it does for my son.

Driving, Fat Shaming and Habit Triggers......


Yesterday I drove to St. Louis to install work in an exhibition at St. Louis Community College at Meramac.  I am very excited for this exhibition as I was able to create new work this spring and summer.  I LOVE having this freedom to create work for a space.  I would love to thank Betsy Morris in believing in my art and giving me this great opportunity.  I will be posting the installation process in the next two days.

I was in the car 8 hours yesterday.  I was actually looking forward to listening to some audio books and thinking without interruption.  The first book I choose was the Mindy Kaling book, "Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?"  This is not the most intellectually stimulating book that one would expect for a person on sabbatical....but it was funny and also a bit insightful of contemporary culture in the United States.  You see, I have just binge watched the first three seasons of The Mindy Project this last week as I was weaving/sewing for this exhibition.  This TV show is hilarious and is a must watch for anyone with a sense of humor.  I find Mindy Kaling hilarious!  She is honest and real.  If we are honest with ourselves we all have a bit or a lot of Mindy inside of us.  I love in her TV show she plays the token FAT woman.  She is inundated with fat comments and shrugs each one off as she has confidence and love for her average not skinny body.  It is as if she is shining light on how these fat comments are ridiculous.  Her autobiography discussed her body image and fat shaming culture at length.  She writes that she is a size 8.  Say what?  That is not fat in any way shape or form.  And for a very brief moment I thought to myself that she doesn't have the right to talk about being fat.  But that thought quickly went away as judging someones experience isn't my business. This thought is part of the problem in our society....we are so quick to judge and dismiss someone's experience or life.  Then I thought that being a size 8 in Hollywood is humungous!  


Shortly after passing through Kansas City on was on to book number two.  I pressed play on the Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.  I thought for sure I would listen for 5 minutes and then try to find something else to listen to for the next 3 hours.  But I was wrong.....this was so interesting!  I haven't finished this book and will post an update after my drive back home.  But so far it is very interesting.  He wrote a lot about science, brain studies and how the brain harnesses habits.  I started this book in an effort to help me start to create new healthy habits but also to break my bad habits.  I kept thinking about how this book could help me in many aspects of my life.  Helping students create art making habits, like drawing everyday.  Or my son needs lots of help creating new healthy habits like eating more than 5 foods and potty training.  Duhigg wrote about needing a Trigger for every habit.  For example, if you want to create a habit for a running in the morning.  So a trigger would be to put on your running shoes as soon as you get out of bed.  This trigger will help jumpstart the habit.  It is Trigger, Habit, Reward.  So after the run the reward could be a special coffee in the afternoon, or maybe just feeling healthy and strong after the workout.  I have always known about the reward part for habits, but not the trigger.  During the school year I would come home from school and automatically change into workout clothes.  This unknowingly was my trigger.  Sometimes I would not work out until 9pm but more times than not I would work out. HMMMMM........what triggers could I make for Lucas and his eating or triggers for going to the potty.  I have always focused on the rewards and this rarely works.  Maybe I am going at this all wrong.  The motivator or the reward for Lucas always changes and are usually expensive and very rarely works.  I should turn it around and focus on the trigger.

I look forward to driving home and finishing this book.  I will definitely have more to write about.  I am off to install today!!!

Finding my Center

Finding my center is a journey of discovery, authenticity and renewal.

Somewhere as I was juggling my son with autism, my teaching, my students, my studio practice and my marriage, I lost my center. My world was full of uncertainty, unrest, continual judgment and shame.  I lost my health and sense of identity. Change needed to take place and that change needs to start with myself.

This blog will document my journey back to finding my center.  I will focus on my health as I post workouts and clean/healthy food.  I will focus on my studio practice.  I will create art that emphasizes renewal and daily meditation through the act of spinning fiber into yarn, weaving and drawing.  I will continue to reach out to underserved communities for art projects and experiences.  I will share amazing people that have influenced and added meaning to my life.