Friday, May 31, 2013

today you are four.

it's so much for me to take in. i have memorized your face, your expressions, and can hear your sweet voice in my head long after you have gone to sleep. sometimes i watch you and feel as if i am seeing you for the first time. it's a strange feeling, one that is totally unique to you. i don't know what it means, but i do know that i love discovering you over and over again.

you have a deep passionate for the tiny, minuscule, and microscopic things in life. your gaze is often pointed downward, scoping out the overlooked and discarded or to the sky searching for the tiny traces of the moon in the daylight. you love collecting, twirling, and following your own path. 

you are a truly the light of my life.

Let's be real


Thursday, May 30, 2013

“In Mexico people wear hummingbird amulets around their necks to show they are searching for love. Here people pretend that they aren’t. Searching.” 
Francesca Lia Block


Why do we try to act as if we have it all together?

feeling, away


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

standing at the edge of summer, we had a lovely long weekend in Mexico. 

hope your weekend was wonderful too. xx



Sunday, May 26, 2013

"a portrait of my children's artwork, once a week, every week, in 2013."

A hike, a picnic, and some time to draw. The simple things in life.

feeling, almost summer


Friday, May 24, 2013

I am always looking for that image, quote, string of words, that takes my breath away. This Picture of a Hollywood Swimming Pool, 1964 by David Hockney does just that. Found via mnzIt's simply dreamy. 

Then there's this. Please watch and sink into the s l o w life. Think hot summer and cool clay. These Extrusion Bowls by Apparatu are stunning, but the process, that's where it's at for me. 

I love the simplicity of this summerhouse annex in Norway. Found in Thisispaper Magazine.  There is so much goodness there. 
We are headed to Mexico tomorrow for a long weekend. Looking forward to relaxing. Hope you have a lovely holiday.

Tell your story


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

It's 7:01 pm. My meeting started one minute ago. Our topic tonight is, Documenting our Legacy. I'm not ready and still not sure if I'm going to go. I am heavy on the bed listening to cnn for the first time all day. I needed a break. I hear Anderson Cooper say, "Next, a family who lost their little girl in the tornado, they want to tell her story, they want you to know who she was." I took that as a sign. I showered and drove to my meeting. 

“Above all else, it is about leaving a mark that I existed: I was here. I was hungry. I was defeated. I was happy. I was sad. I was in love. I was afraid. I was hopeful. I had an idea and I had a good purpose and that's why I made works of art. ” Felix Gonzales-Torres. 
Years ago I read that quote, it put words to a feeling that I'd had for a long time.

We exist. We have a story. Life is about figuring out how we tell it.

Everyday I encounter ordinary people, with ordinary lives. I am one of them. We're all making a living, raising a family, busy, stressed, happy, sad, with wins and losses, going about our days, generally unknown to the larger world. Striking were the times when I was wandering around a country like India or Nepal and I would see people where ordinary means you're one of a billion people, in poverty, with little room for mobility. Looking at yourself in that situation, you may wonder, how do I matter? What am I really leaving behind?

The fact is, we all have a story. And we all have a story that affects someone else. And many times, we don't see it the impact of it. We mistakenly focus on feeling less than, not so special, a small voice in a very big world. We need to try more often to see our impact, cherish our place, direct our story. 

"The majority of us lead quiet, unheralded lives as we pass through this world. There will most likely be no ticker-tape parades for us, no monuments created in our honor. But that does not lessen our possible impact, for there are scores of people waiting for someone just like us to come along; people who will appreciate our compassion, our unique talents. Someone who will live a happier life merely because we took the time to share what we had to give. Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have a potential to turn a life around. It’s overwhelming to consider the continuous opportunities there are to make our love felt." Leo Buscaglia

Life's not about being big, it's about being bold, being brave, and being real. 
It's about believing in our own person, not keeping up with someone else's. It's about touching one person at a time, starting with ourselves. 

We all have a story, and we all impact each other. We tell our story in everything we do. Our life becomes our legacy. 

Do you know you what you want your life to say about you?

a celebration


Monday, May 20, 2013

this weekend we celebrated olivia. she's turning four. the party was small, easy, and very low key. i didn't go for pinworthy details, complex menu items, or labor intensive decorations, not that i don't choose that route frequently. but sometimes, burgers, a simple craft, homemade cupcakes the kids decorate themselves, and my sanity still intact, perfectly fits the bill.

this week is a busy one. i'm wrapping up a few projects and i'm moving my blog over to wordpress. i've worked in wordpress for years and build client sites there, so it's a lot easier for me to use. i'll let you know when i make the switch. the energy and stress i saved on the party will be used up on the site design this week, i'm sure. 

hope you have a great week ahead!



Sunday, May 19, 2013

"a portrait of my children's artwork, once a week, every week, in 2013."

This is the girl's artwork from the week. Most weeks I cull through a collection about this size, saving this, tossing that. Many items are pinned to the rotating collection on our big metal board or hung on the walls. But most of it goes in big boxes that are stored in the basement. I've been wanting to create a photobook of all their artwork, but wonder even if I did, would I really be able to throw away the originals? I still have a lot of my childhood artwork and school projects, but rarely look at them. I'm not sure what the point of saving things other than the most special pieces. And those paintings I have hanging on my walls permanently. I feel like a coffee table book of their art might get the most use and enjoyment over the years. What do you do with all of your kids artwork? 

s: drawing of a house, s, heart box, watercolor leaves & trees, a card for me, a robot, a rainbow, a nature study, a rainbow. 

o:  a water color painting, an O, a heart box, a drawing of cells at the micro level, a few swishes of the brush and her name, a ladybug, scribble scrabble, two doughy treasure pancakes, painting, egg carton flowers, sticker page, drawing for nana. 



Thursday, May 16, 2013

yesterday i was cleaning my studio. i picked up a book by Louise Bourgeois and inside, written on a piece of paper i found this.

we are always waiting for the big event that will change our lives forever. not to make our lives a paradise, but to give us direction, to find our what our mission is, what is worth struggling for.

i made this note ten years ago, it's by Doug Aitken. i have been searching my whole life. it's funny to look back on things i've written ten or even thirteen years ago and think, wow, i was thinking, growing, and searching even back then. it's been a long road. 

i have conversations almost daily with people about living deeply, finding your passion, and taking steps to bring our dreams alive. much of the time it's me talking, because i by no means, have it figured out. i have been working on projects for years that are still not manifested. i am not completely where i want to be with my art. but this year i feel as if i have taken some major steps into action. it's rough, sometimes the path gets obscured, i have moments of doubt and feel like so many people are years ahead of me. but then i remember that it's not a race, it's not a destination. the big event that we are waiting for is simply clarity. clarity to give us direction, to move forward and be inspired. 

What you do best


Monday, May 13, 2013

What do you do best? What skills come easily to you? What do you enjoy?

I recently read an interview with Cheryl Sandberg in the NY Times Book Review. She was asked to recommend the best business book that she's read recently. Here's a bit of what she said.

“Now, Discover Your Strengths,” by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton. This book has been instrumental in how we think about developing talent at Facebook. Like all organizations, we have a system for giving feedback to our employees. A few years ago, Lori Goler, Facebook’s head of human resources, brought Marcus to meet with our leadership team to help us improve this system. Marcus and his colleagues surveyed employees for 25 years to figure out what factors predict extraordinary performance. They found that the most important predictor of the success of a company or division was how many people answered yes to the question “Do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day?” And this makes sense. Most performance reviews focus more on “development areas” (a k a weaknesses) than strengths. People are told to work harder and get better at those areas, but people don’t have to be good at everything. At Facebook, we try to be a strengths-based organization, which means we try to make jobs fit around people rather than make people fit around jobs. We focus on what people’s natural strengths are and spend our management time trying to find ways for them to use those strengths every day.

In addition to this review, I'm also deep into Cheryl Sandberg's book, Lean In. So far I have dogeared or underlined something on nearly every page. Not being in the corporate world, I've thought a lot about the lens through which I am reading the book and how it applies to my life as
 a work from home woman and a stay-at-home mom.

Do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day? 

Do you feel the weight of that question? That's one of those questions that makes you feel the power of seizing the moment and moving your world around to make things happen. But it's also a question that makes you think about what your strengths are and if you are owning them. 

Celebrating Mother's Day yesterday was beautiful. The girls showered me with homemade gifts in three languages, breakfast in bed, and a blissful sushi lunch. Then, I cleaned a bit of the house, supervised piano practice, broke up a few arguments, discussed Olivia's upcoming birthday party, and got everything ready for the upcoming week. You know, the typical mom stuff. The point is, we do a lot every day and it isn't always the things that we are best at or most excited to do. But the key is to try and carve out the opportunity to do what we do best everyday and apply our skills to the places that need them. 


In light of Leaning In, empowering women's voices, and myself, here is what I do best:

• I am organized. I am a great list-maker, I keep track of things that need to be done. 
• I am good at envisioning. I love ideas, the big picture, and thinking about things.
• I am disciplined.
• I am creative and I love to create. 
• I am a good teacher of things. 
• I am great expresser of love. I love life, I love my family, I love people and I express it.
• I am a great debater and discusser of ideas, stories, and topics.
• I create a great space, set a good mood, decorate a beautiful home, and host a good gathering. 
• I am a seer. I see things that are sometimes overlooked. 
• I am a strong researcher and love an assignment.
• I am good at finding someone to do that at which I am not good at doing, but want done now. 

What do you do best? How does expressing your strengths make you feel? Do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day? It's a great discussion and I would love to hear what you think!



"a portrait of my children's artwork, once a week, every week, in 2013."
s: a small canvas painted in the garden

o: not sure what this is, but i like it. my favorite part is when your name runs into your artwork you just add the last letter on to the beginning. aolivi. ah, the freedom kids have. 



Friday, May 10, 2013

I just found the beautiful work of Svenja Deininger. Along with Landon Metz, she's my latest art crush. 


This article on the Privileged Poor in an Australian publication could have been written about the US as well. I know what real poverty looks like, but also related to many of the outcries of middle class "poor" mentioned in the article. It's a confusing, pressured time that we are living in. 


Victoria Wagner's stunning painted redwood rocks. I also love her artist's statement that begins with, "I must have been around seven years old when I heard that my uncle could float." I am reminded once again about how the stories that we tell our children can shape their lives. 


I loved this post by Kristen Gregg on Marginamia, on coincidence, appropriateness, ordinary events. So beautifully felt and expressed. I know exactly what you mean.

And I woke early this morning wanting to write about this string of ordinary events, linked only by their meaning to one woman. But I didn't. I thought it better to post about something more appropriate to the reaches of this blog, to take my intense need to write this post and channel it into an appropriate subject. But I don't want to write the appropriate post. And I haven't for a while, so I end up posting nothing. writing nothing. stuck. What I want is to write this post, nonsensical and meaningless as it may be for others, indulgent as it may be for me. It's what I need to share. It's what is honest and all consuming.

A good mother's day gift for me? This Uta Barth book and this Christopher Wool book. Or maybe a trip to Sephora.

Cheers to the mothers. xx

Pieces of life


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Do you have pieces of life that you hold on to? Treasured photographs, a corporate name plaque from a former life, a stack of old date books. Last night, a new group of women, many of whom I didn't know very well, got together at my house. As a way of introducing ourselves, we brought personal objects from our lives that tell our stories. One of the things I shared was this green scrap of a sheet from the year I was living in India and volunteering in Calcutta.


Journal entry, November 2000. 
Nirmal Hriday, Mother Teresa's Home for the Dying Destitute in Calcutta, India. 

Walking into Nirmal Hrdiay each morning sunlight pours through the windows that surround the rooms. People say that the eyes are the windows to the soul and here it seems so perfect that these beautiful arched windows surround and bathe the women in their light. The day began again with feeding the women breakfast. Most of the communication between us takes place through looks and touch, you realize how little language is needed. After breakfast, we bathed the women and changed the bedding. The shower process is difficult because many of the women cannot walk, so they have to be carried, bathed, dried, clothed, and carried back. Holding a completely malnourished body is a feeling that I will never forget. 

Everything here is done by hand. There are different vats that the laundry goes into, which is stirred with long paddles and then stomped out barefoot. We all hand wring out the laundry and carry it up to the rooftop in baskets where it is laid out to dry. I have had many reflective moments on the rooftop, overlooking Calcutta, but today was the most profound. 

Since arriving, I had formed a bond with the woman in bed number 46. Each day I would feed her, massage her, and just sit with her. Over three weeks she seemed to be getting progressively worse. One morning when I came in, I looked at her and knew that today was the day that she would die. There was a difference in her eyes, in her spirit. When a person is that close to death, a volunteer will sit with them all day. Periodically the patient will look up to see if someone is still there with them. It seems like having someone there with them gives them the comfort and strength to surrender and close their eyes a final time. So I sat with this woman, comforting her and holding the space.

After some time, the head brother came up to me and asked that I go to the roof to help hang sheets because they needed someone who was tall. I really did not want to leave and offered a bit of resistance, but the brother persisted, and so I went. Once on the roof, I found myself surrounded by baskets overflowing with green sheets.  As I began to hang the sheets, I watched my thoughts rise about how I had wanted to come here to Calcutta to see and experience death and now the woman that I had most connected with was dying and I couldn’t be there. I felt as if I was missing a chance to really experience the moment of death. As I hung sheet after sheet, I couldn’t help but feel the wet texture of the sheets between my fingers as I slid them down to the edges, lining them up neatly, taking my time with each sheet. Each sheet is different from the next, a slightly different expression of green with so many subtleties. With each sheet I fell deeper and deeper into a state of relaxation and surrender. I found myself seeing such beauty in the sheets and treating them with the same presence and love that I give each woman. I realized that being here fully, hanging the sheets was the same experience as sitting beside the woman who was dying. I had said yes to what life was giving, I was not resisting it. And in that moment, it was I that was doing the dying. Dying to the need to control or expect life to look a certain way. I learned that by accepting what the moment offers and by trusting, life would guide me through the lessons that I need to learn. My time and presence are the greatest gifts that I can give. And when I approach life from the perspective of what I have to offer versus what I need, only then, am truly alive. 

Do you keep treasured pieces of your life? Are you helping your kids keep them? Do you record the stories they tell?

around the house


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

i've been just hanging around the house a lot lately. i am now well into my second cold in the last few weeks, feeling a bit run down. it's been rainy, windy, with days of gray skies. i could live in this weather forever. 

i stretched a new canvas for the living room. olivia and i are heading to the studio to paint today. there is nothing i love more than the possibilities of a new piece.

my husband's been out of town, and in the midst of a cold and solo parenting, i am hosting a dinner for twelve women tomorrow night. i think i am making this or this. looking forward to setting the table, fixing a meal, and the wonderful night of conversation that will ensue.  

the week feels slow and sometimes being sick feels right. how's your week? what are you up to?

Focus and depth


Monday, May 6, 2013

As so often happens, I sat down to do some work but just quickly clicked on a link from Bloesem that took me to the beautiful world of Amba Molly. And like that, I was lost. Drawn in by the images, the sculpture, the water, the sounds, and the whole of the exquisite world that was laid out on that table before me.

Ten minutes later, I am here writing about it. 


Whenever I am looking at something or spending my time doing something or even deciding if I should do something, I think about what the takeaway is. Because even "just being" has a takeaway you know, it's peace. You feel peaceful, you're centered and present. So, when I run down a rabbit hole online, which I do far too often, I like to take a nugget away with me that I will incorporate into my work or my life. It makes me feel productive and that's what looking at inspiring things are for right, inspiration- to transfer and then translate into something else. 

I recently did an interview over at Blue Locket. One of the questions Nadya asked was, what scares you? I answered that time scares me. Specifically, the shortness of life and the length of things I want to experience. Then I talked about the depth of living. That less measurable dimension that really brings meaning to life. 

she lived deeply, she inhabited her days.

This whole examination here, which is what I aim for in my process of writing, is bringing me to the question of focus. Time is limited, it is out of our control, but focus - where we choose to spend our time, that is completely up to us. In order to live deeply, which is what I am here to do, I must ask, what is the optimum focus that I should have in order to really live my days? 

Looking again at her work, and thinking about what it took to create it, the focus she must have had. She had an idea, she explored it, and then one by one, created each piece. This is depth. She went into the idea, into the work. You can see it and feel it. I think that is what I am aiming for. Whether it's in parenting, within my home, in relationships, in my work, when writing in this space, when thinking, and being, I want depth. I want to scratch beneath the surface, to be thoughtful. I want to think and express and have a conversation about it. I'm realizing that's where my focus needs to lie, on the depth. Not necessarily on just one thing, like painting, because that's unrealistic. But if I focus on going into the ideas that I am exploring in the moment, being present with my kids in the way they want me to be, using my relationships as a mirror to truly see myself, facing the moments of inadequacy in my art, then this is deep living.

Whew, and this is my takeaway from looking at Amba MollyIt's raining here, which is so conducive to thought, don't you think? Do you look for takeaways in places where you spend your time? I'd love to know. 

Have a great week!

18/52: Art that moves


Saturday, May 4, 2013

This week, all my mama art energy went into Olivia's class project, so that's what I'm showing here. 


Not long after I first met my husband, we went to a friend's wedding where he gifted the bride and groom an old school bed vibrator and a roll of quarters! I thought it was such a clever and fun wedding gift. This week, I found a new use for those bed vibrators we had laying around. Olivia's preschool teacher had mentioned that the kids were really interested in moving arts. So, I dug out the "magic fingers," a bag of quarters, my drill, paints, and a canvas and headed to class.

The set up was actually really easy. I simply mounted the vibrating part of the unit to the bottom of a small table and then set the canvas on top. A few kids at a time came up, excitedly dropped a quarter in, and began to paint. The project was a success and the kids loved it!

The painting came out beautifully. I am going to frame it and it will be auctioned off at the end of the year class party. The theme for the evening will be, Shake, Splatter and Roll: Art that Moves.


This week I loved the light and dark of this photo that captured little Bo marching down the hallway