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Wow, I am so delayed in writing a post.  I’ve had a lot of things going on this month, and what can I say, July ran away from me!

San Francisco:  this was such a fun trip.  I’ve found that I’m more fond of the smaller vet conferences than the large ones, even though they typically don’t have much more to offer than lectures, but the advantage of that is that we are done early.  The past two conferences I have been to I frequently got out around 7pm, sometimes even 9pm or 10pm and still walked away with about 20 hours of CE (continuing education) to claim.  However, I left the PVC with 25.5 hours and didn’t get out after 6pm any single night, and I still didn’t go to *every* lecture possible.  So not only did I get an awesome educational experience, I also had plenty of time to explore the city.  One of my friends had suggested that we go to the same conference, so I had someone to hang out with for the weekend, which was so much better than going by myself.  I think we spent most of our time down at Fisherman’s Wharf, although we did swing by Pier 39 a couple of times as well as (of course) visiting the Golden Gate Bridge and Telegraph Hill.  Funny story about the last two — there was a lot of walking involved, and not just city walking, but “San Francisco walking up 45 degree angle hills for 90% of the time” walking.  And true to my impeccable navigational skills, I managed to get us lost coming down from Telegraph Hill, winding up on the wrong side of the tower and realizing that there isn’t a straight shot walking down to the piers.  Oops.  Then the Golden Gate Bridge the next day, which was a 2 mile hike from the nearest bus stop, and that’s before you begin the ascent to the actual bridge.  Yeah, pretty sure my friend wanted to kill me for that one.  But it was an awesome time, and I got so much out of the conference that it was just an all-around win-win situation.

Next stop was a trip to Indiana to visit my mom’s side of the family.  I figured, “hey, it’s Indiana, sure it gets hot, but we are close to Lake Michigan, so it can’t be too bad, right?”  Every single day I was there it was over 100 degrees, for the first time since 1947.  Go figure.  And considering I was coming straight from SF where the temperature didn’t get above 70 (or maybe even 65), it was insanely hot.  Thankfully I got to lay in a pool most of the time and got a nice tan for the first time in, well, EVER, so there was that.  Not to mention getting to spend some quality time with my grandmother and aunts and uncles.  It’s always enjoyable going up there, even in the case of a record-breaking heat wave.

Back home now and back to work.  Trying to get the house ready for a big cookout later this week, plus a float trip with some friends over the weekend.

In other news, the final session of SouLodge for this year is open for enrollment.  I swear I’m not paid to talk about it, but it has done so much for me spiritually, mentally, and emotionally that I feel I can’t NOT talk about it.  And what has been the most amazing is that even after a session ends, the friendships don’t.  I don’t make a habit of “friending” people on Facebook that I don’t personally know, but with the amazing support and love I have found in the SouLodge community, I’ve made exceptions, mainly because even though we haven’t met face-to-face, I truly feel that they are friends.  When my friend Deb went into the hospital, I went in and asked for support and prayers, thinking that the usual would happen, a few people would respond and that would be it.  What I didn’t expect was over 100 replies throughout the whole ordeal, continuously offering prayers and good thoughts, or for people to continue to ask for updates.  These women genuinely CARED for her, even though they had no idea who she was, only that she knew a member of their community, and they adopted her into their hearts out of love.  It is an amazing community — it isn’t just a course, it’s literally a community and in some ways, a way of life, and I am only sad that I did not find them sooner.  So, if you would like to see what I find so amazing, now is the time, because starting next year the program will be different, and while I have no doubt it will be just as incredible, I have loved the sessions currently and would encourage every woman who is looking for something more, even if she doesn’t know what exactly, to check it out.  I have a link in my sidebar to take you to the website where you can read more about it and enroll if you feel so moved.

Now time for pictures, and hopefully my next update won’t be 6 weeks from now!

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Wow, what an amazing past few days!  I posted a couple of pictures from my solstice celebration on Wednesday, although the photos only hint at what really happened.  No words can describe what transpired, or what I experienced, but I can say that it was one of the most spiritually empowered experiences I’ve ever had.  It felt so good to reconnect with God on such a deep level, to acknowledge all of His creation and the presence of His spirit in every thing on earth, to express gratitude for what I have and where my life is right now, to ask for guidance and the wisdom to recognize the messages He has for me regardless of where they come from, spending some time in deep meditation and feeling His energy moving through me.  All of that, and still there are no words for the experience.  Now I am trying to continue to draw that energy and flow with daily life.  I won’t lie — it isn’t easy, but it is necessary to keep myself grounded without being buried.

I will be leaving in a few days for a business trip to San Francisco.  I’m so excited to spend time in a city I’ve never visited, hanging out with a good friend that I don’t get to see very often, and to learn a few things as well (I will always be a nerd at heart).  After that I will be traveling to visit my grandmother in Indiana and spend time with that side of my family.  I only wish I had more than a week — it never feels like enough.  But it will be wonderful, and the short vacation will be a much-needed relief.

Debra continues to improve.  I will be going to visit today (hopefully) and it will be so wonderful to see her smiling face again.  To help raise money for her medical bills, I have created an art piece and am selling prints in my Etsy shop.  They are $30 each, and all of the profit will be going to help cover her expenses.  There will only be 20 of these prints and they are selling pretty quickly, so if you would like to order one, they are listed in my Etsy shop (link on the left — it’s Mouseprints Studio).

Finally, the summer SouLodge class starts soon, and registration will be closing in the next couple of days.  Believe me when I say that this is a truly life-changing experience.  You will leave the course with a new outlook on life, with more confidence and a better understanding of yourself.  I am thoroughly enjoying the current mini-session and cannot wait to start the summer class in July.  You can find a link to the website to the left of my blog.  Trust me — if you have any doubts, just go for it. You will be so happy you did.

 

TRANSFORM: a mixed-media piece inspired by Debra’s amazing strength and courage.

Wow, what a crazy past couple of weeks!  So sorry to not have updated sooner, but life has been a whirlwind for a little bit.

First off:  I mentioned in my last post about a friend that was in need of prayer.  Here is the story on her.  On May 27th, Debra went into the hospital for an emergency c-section, during which a healthy but premature baby girl was delivered.  Debra, however, continued to bleed for 12 hours before finally being life-flighted to a hospital that could do the surgery necessary to save her life.  At one point, her heart stopped and her family was warned that she would likely be brain-damaged if she awoke.  They were also warned that she was not likely to survive the flight.  However, she overcame both of those odds, and for the next few days faced a multitude of challenges that ultimately resulted in the loss of her spleen and 90% of her intestines, something that required countless surgeries with slim survival odds.  Her entire body blood volume was replaced 12 times and her kidneys shut down.  Miraculously, she survived and is beginning to recover.  She is still on dialysis but she is eating solid foods and has been able to hold her baby.  She has also been moved out of ICU. She is an amazingly strong woman who has overcome some of the worst odds known, but the medical bills her family now faces are staggering.  As a result, I have created a piece of art inspired by her amazing fight.  Prints are available in my Etsy shop (linked on the left), and all of the profit from every print sold will be donated to her family to help offset the medical costs.

SouLodge is once again going strong.  I am currently halfway through the Summer Solstice mini-course and am preparing to celebrate the solstice tonight.  I am looking forward to spending some time meditating out in nature and sitting under the sun on the longest day of the year.  Nothing spectacular, but incredibly spiritual and I am so honored to have been brought to this tradition.  The summer class is right around the corner, so if you would like to learn more or sign up, follow the link on the left side of my page and check it out!  It is a life-changing experience, and you will not regret it.

I will do my best to update more regularly.  I head out to San Francisco next week for a veterinary conference, which is exciting in itself, but I get to spend time catching up with a dear friend.  After that I will be flying out to visit my grandmother in Indiana as well as attending another dear friend’s wedding.  So the whirlwind continues, but maybe next time I’ll have some pictures to share.

*Note: this post was written in advance, scheduled to be published today. In light of the significance of today for me, I am leaving it as it stands, but I do ask for anyone who reads this to please keep my friend Debra in your thoughts and prayers. I will write more on the subject later, but she is currently in the hospital in critical condition.

Four years ago today, my mom woke me up by saying, “Now I don’t want you to worry, but it’s raining.” The reason for any worry was that in 8 hours, I was supposed to be getting married…outdoors. And it wasn’t just a rain, it was a full “can’t-see-your-neighbors-houses” monsoon that only Oklahoma could produce.* So naturally, I did the best logical thing — looked up at the ceiling and told God that if it didn’t quit raining by the afternoon, we were having words when I got up to Heaven. Well, it worked, because it quit raining later that morning and turned into a bright, sunny afternoon. Complete with temperatures pushing 1000 degrees Kelvin** and humidity reaching a bajillion percent.*** The showers had turned the seating into a muddy mushy mess, and the arch under which we would stand was in a flooding low spot, forcing the groomsmen to go shopping for Astro-turf. The ceremony itself was beautiful, if not short, followed by the cake-cutting before the icing melted. The reception was great and fun and of course would only be interrupted by the tornado that decided to visit the next county over. Oh, and let’s not forget the bee that decided to attack my bridesmaids through the entire 10 minutes of the ceremony. (They totally get credit for not running away screaming.)

This is why my wedding is frequently cited for “reasons to not get married outdoors.”

Even with the bee and the high temperatures, it still took four years for it to click that it may not have been the best idea to get smart with a deity known for sending plagues of locusts and making people wander in the desert for 40 years.

Happy anniversary to my husband, the most amazing man who gets all the credit in the world for putting up with a woman who can make even God facepalm.

*Might be a slight exaggeration.
**Absolutely not an exaggeration.
***This either.

Wow! Such a busy two weeks for me! Balancing work, art classes, and other life, I have been running nonstop this week. SouLodge is officially over, and I could not be happier that I was a part of that. I feel so renewed, so much better than before, having a deeper understanding of self and a greater respect and appreciation for who I am right now, not who I could be, who I was, or what I am. Even though it is over for now, I am hoping to continue on the path I have set for myself and continue to use and incorporate the lessons I have learned into what lies before me.

Abundant Wild Life is in full swing. Week 2 is over, and I am loving this class! I have learned several techniques using India ink, a medium I have never experimented with before. Needless to say, I definitely have a new style that I am having so much fun with, one that will likely remain a lasting component of my artistic toolkit. I wound up a bit behind, with everything else this week, so I used part of Sunday catching up and working with the new assignments and process-builders, and I could easily see myself spending hours just playing with ink. Such a fun technique!

21 Secrets is finally starting to seem less daunting. I have completed 2 workshops and am working my way through a third. I’m sending quite a bit of time and energy on this one, Taming the Critic, since that’s one of my biggest challenges with art. So far, it has been fantastic, and this coupled with what I have learned in AWL and SouLodge, I finally feel like I am relaxing a bit, not only in art, but in life as well.

However, the biggest reason that I have been a bit behind is that one of my very best friends got married this past weekend! I was so honored to have been a part of her big day, and (no surprise) she looked absolutely stunning. It was such a beautiful day, and it was so obvious just how in love they are. I am so excited to help them start their life together and can’t wait to see where the journey takes them.

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I have to admit, I’m not much of a summer girl. I tend to overheat very easily, and with the humidity in in Oklahoma, it’s not hard to do once the temperature gets close to triple digits. Still, I love the activities that take place during the summer; the fresh produce, swimming, camping, the summer holidays, all of the things that make summer, well, summer. It’s not that I don’t enjoy participating, but I could do with a bit cooler weather (and a lot less humidity).

So, despite the fact that thermometer is pushing 80 right now and it’s not even 11am, I’m still in a fantastic mood. Why? Because today was opening day at the Farmer’s Market. Granted, ours is small compared to others, but it’s always so much fun to go and see all the yummy produce, local honey, baked goods, and artisans that set up downtown. Ironically, most of what I wind up getting is food for my guinea pigs (who get spoiled every summer with fresh veggies), but they have lots of stuff for me too. There is one lady who bakes all sorts of European breads, and I can’t walk away without getting something from her. Plus, all the locally raised beef, eggs, and others that can stock my freezer for awhile. And of course, the local artists who have taken on a more prominent role this year. My dear friend was out there with her jewelry that she makes, there was a woodwork stand, fabric goods, and lots of bath stuff (soaps, salts, potpourri) which always makes me a little weak. Plus, the locally grown honey…….I’ll admit I have a bit of an addiction to honey, especially the local stuff (seriously, you try it once you will never buy honey from the store ever again). So I was very proud of myself for only walking out with one loaf of bread, some eggs, a cinnamon roll and coffee for breakfast, a necklace and earrings from my friend, and a tote full of fresh veggies to divide between my piggies and my dad’s bunny. (Although, I would have totally walked out with some soap if I hadn’t just bought some from the gal at the Earth Day festival.) All in all, a good morning, and I still made it to work in an hour.

Now if I can just get some camping in…

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My first physical therapy appointment was yesterday. I learned that my right hip and lower spine are out of alignment, which is a big reason why the pain has kept coming back so strong. The good news is that she was able to manipulate it back into place, but now I have 6 more weeks of physical therapy in order to correct that and everything else. I’m a little bit relieved to know that there’s more going on than just a muscle spasm, but at the same time, this moves my estimated recovery time from 8 weeks pain free to 12 weeks therapy, with no estimate of when the pain will go away. Not to mention she is pretty convinced I have a deep bruise where I have been feeling the pain the most. Needless to say, I’m rather sore today.

I’ve gotten all of my art supplies for one of my workshops. I’m really excited to be learning new techniques and mediums. As of now, I’m quite partial to oil pastels and bristol, but I haven’t tried much else. I really need to learn to slow down in my art. I am so impatient that it’s hard for me to take the time to focus on details. Then again, I’m okay if the little perfect details aren’t there, I’m just in a hurry to see the final product. I want to draw or paint things that look real, like landscapes or animals, but I can’t seem to slow down enough to emphasize the nuances, such as the details of the fur, feathers, or grass or sea. I’m definitely okay with taking a more abstract approach, I just have to slow down enough to work on that as well!

The start of Daylight Savings Time has to be my least favorite day of the year. I’m not a morning person, so asking me to get up before I’m ready to is already a challenge. Still, if the sun is up, I can manage a little easier. Now, I’m having to get up before the sun, and this is a struggle. The only time that I’m a morning person is when I’m camping, and then I’m pretty much just a no-sleep person in general. When I’m in a nice comfy bed, my alarm and I become mortal enemies bent on the destruction of the other and there is pretty much no amount of coffee that will kick my butt into gear. As much as I enjoy more sunlight in the evening, I loathe getting up in the dark even more.

On a related note, I’m loving the picture circulating Facebook of a Native American with the quote “Only the government would take a foot off the top of a blanket and add it to the bottom and think that they had a longer blanket.” EXACTLY.

My back is still giving me problems. I’m having more decent days where the pain is minimal, just in time to have it flare up so bad that standing becomes a painful impossibility. I seem to cycle between periods of time where a heating pad is sufficient to days where only Lortab can bring the pain down from Defcon 3. My doctor has told me that I still need to give it time, but she is going to send me to physical therapy sometime soon so I’ll be adding that to my list of treatment regimens. It’s frustrating to think that I could be dealing with this through the first part of April even if it’s just a muscle tweak, even more so that this is all a result of something that I had no say in.

I’m hoping I don’t get way in over my head here, but I’ve signed up for yet another art class. This is an online workshop through Squam. For those who haven’t heard about it, Squam is a series of art retreats held biannually in New England. I have been trying to get out there for two years but it’s not cheap, and with travel expenses, it just hasn’t been possible. But now they have offered their first online workshop and I am so excited to be a part of this. So now I’m signed up for two art classes, one that runs 4 weeks and the other that will carry through the end of the year. The is so much more cool stuff out there than I realized and I feel I am just beginning to touch the surface of what is available. I am so excited to see what else is out there.

Updated: just added a third workshop. Maybe I’m just crazy, but I’m excited. I feel especially drawn to these, a tiny inner voice saying, “You need to sign up.” So I did. There’s a reason for all of these, and even though they overlap, somehow it just feels right.

Links to my workshops:
21 Secrets Art Journal Workshop
Abundant Wild Life Workshop
SouLodge

I finally got my new car title. Thankfully it was a lot less expensive than I was expecting. I sent of the title to my old car in almost two weeks ago, and I cried at every step, from signing the title over to mailing it at the post office. Every step felt heavier and harder to take, but lighter after moving forward. It was a bittersweet feeling, putting the new license plate on, finally solidifying this next stage of my life, but that’s what life is — a series of steps and stages, and we can either take those steps and move forward or we can stand still and watch life pass us by.

I had my second acupuncture appointment yesterday. Learned a lot at myself and about life in general. First of all, I nearly passed out again, this time 5 minutes into it. According to her, this is because my chi is moving too fast when opened up, which makes sense given my tendency to hang onto things, not let go like I need to. We don’t always think that we are affecting ourselves this much, maybe just adding a bit more stress by holding onto something that bothered us, but it’s pretty incredible the physical effects it has on our bodies. This might seem like common sense, but we don’t always recognize when we are holding onto something, and I don’t think many realize just how powerful that is. Anyway, she added a couple of different therapies. The first was infrared, which I’m not entirely sure what that is supposed to do other than accelerate healing. Then she added light therapy. The basic appearance of this looks ridiculous. To an outsider, it looks like someone shining a mini mag light through a long sci-fi style crystal dagger. It’s much more complicated, and I can’t even describe it well enough to fully allow others to appreciate its complexity. The light itself is special, and it is shined through a prism with a color associated to the pertinent chakra. The prism barely touches skin, and when it does the narrow point end is still rounded enough that it doesn’t feel sharp at all. The only thing I can say is that if you have never had this done, go try it. She used this on my back and everywhere I was having problems it felt like multiple tiny sharp pins running along my spine. Then, came the most dramatic response — I literally felt my back open. My doctor had told me I was showing signs of degeneration, specifically narrowing of disk space. I’m convinced that those areas opened up yesterday. I literally felt as if someone had gently stretched my spine and, like a bendy straw, opened up the compressed areas. She also used it on my third eye (look up chakras if you are lost), and I barely felt anything (another sign of my stubbornness and hard-headed-ness). She moved it to my throat chakra and it was better than any muscle relaxer. It sounds crazy that shining a light through a prism cold have such a profound effect, but it was truly incredible.

I’m about a third of the way through the 30 Days of Lists project. I had grand illusions of making this awesome art journal, but in the end, I’m using a Field Notes book and various pens. At least I was able to customize the notebook — it was a limited edition Dry Transfer set — but beyond that it’s pretty plain. Still, there’s no wrong way to do the project, and I’ve been having a lot of fun with it. You can still sign up if interested, and I highly recommend it.

Wow, what a busy past few days! I haven’t gotten a chance to update with all the fun things I did this weekend, so apologies for that. I’m fighting a cold on top of everything else so I’ve spent most of my free time lying on the couch.

Friday evening: NatureWorks
This is one of my favorite events of the year. Every year, Tulsa has a huge art show and sale to benefit nature projects around the city. Artists from all over the country (and Canada) come and show off their work, all devoted to nature and animals. There were close to 60 artists this year, ranging from painters to sculptors to everything in between. The open show is Saturday and Sunday, but Friday night they have an invite-only preview, typically for buyers and patrons. This year, I was able to take a few friends and it was a blast. I got to see some new artists as well as a few old favorites, and one of the sculptors I had the privilege of meeting at a prior event and it was good to talk to him again (I was surprised that he remembered me). We all went out to dinner after that at a Japanese steakhouse, and I got to eat sushi for the first time in a long time. Delicious!

Saturday: OKC museums
Saturday, my husband had a field trip for one of his classes, and I was allowed to tag along. The trip was to the Museum of Osteology in OKC, a museum dedicated solely to bones and skeletons. If you blink, you will miss it — it’s a tiny two story building — but the collection they have is impressive. They’ve got fully articulated skeletons for over 300 animals, including a humpback whale that hangs from the ceiling. They also are responsible for processing skeletons for many other museums and zoos all over the country. Definitely worth checking out. After that, we went to the OU campus to check out the Museum of Natural History. Holy cow, that was impressive! They have an exhibit documenting the Earth’s history from creation through the dinosaurs and after, and the way they have it set up is so cool! You start at the beginning and walk through a series of rooms documenting each stage of history. The only confusing part was that you don’t just walk up one side and down the other — you have to check out everything on both walls before moving forward or you will miss something. And some of the rooms have stuff in the middle or off to the side, so you’ve got to be paying attention, but still the set up is amazing. They have a couple of fully articulated dinosaur skeletons, huge ones at that. Once you get through the ancient history, they have an exhibit discussing how museums collect and preserve specimens, an exhibit showing the differ ecosystems in Oklahoma, and another documenting the different ancient people who lived in this region. The only room I was disappointed with was the one entitled “World Treasures” or something along those lines. It had a lot less than what I would have expected. Still, it was an awesome day, and the entire trip cost less than $30 for two people (excluding travel and food). So if you are ever in OKC and want something to do other than Bricktown, look these places up. You won’t be sorry.

In other news, I finally got the settlement for my car, and while it wasn’t much given the age of it, I got more than I was expecting, which was a blessing. I go back for round two of acupuncture tomorrow, and it has done wonders. I had an incredibly painful night Thursday after a big dog twisted my back, so much so that I almost couldn’t stand up, but by Friday the pain was minimal. Hopefully after a couple more treatments I will finally be over this.