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Well, I just wrapped up my first e-course, and what an adventure it has been!  I am so thankful to all the participants who joined me for the initial launch and for all the comments and feedback I have received!  I am pleased to announce that there will be another challenge in September, and this one will (hopefully!) be even better!  There will be a new format and new prompts as well as something else very special — a unique Gratitude Outside The Box themed blank journal!

If you are interested in signing up, registration will open on July 26th.  To be notified when registration is available, click on the following link to be added to an email list.  I would love to have you join me!

http://eepurl.com/X9bE1

For over a year now, I have maintained a morning spiritual ritual to help me start my day.  Part of that is that I’ve kept a gratitude journal every day since January 1, 2013.  Nothing big, just a list of 5 things every day that I am grateful for.  It sounds simple enough, so I figured it would be an easy incorporation, but I quickly found out that it wasn’t as simple as I had thought.  For the longest time, I tried to focus on big things, small every day things, and things I don’t always think of.  My goal was to come up with 5 new things every day that I hadn’t already written down.  That worked really well for a few months, but became harder as time went on.  So then I just tried to think of things that I dealt with every day to be grateful for, but even then it could be challenging, especially if I was rushed or coming off of a bad day previously or not getting enough sleep at night.  Still, the practice was important to me, and I feel that overall it has helped me to have a better outlook on life.  It’s helped me to remember to focus on the positive and to not take things for granted as much.  So I fully believe in the importance of a gratitude practice, but I can also appreciate how difficult it can be.

I’ve seen so many different suggestions — write them down in the morning to prepare for the day, or write them down at night to be in a positive frame of mind before bed and wake up the next morning feeling ready to take on the next 24 hours; focus on big things or to focus on seemingly small and insignificant things.  I’ve seen various lists, challenges, and books to help cultivate a practice.  There are lots of great ideas out there, but the truth is, there literally is no wrong way to do a gratitude practice; you just have to find what works for you and stick with it.  Still, I thought, wouldn’t it be nice to get some guidance?  Wouldn’t it be nice to have some direction, something to help you focus your thoughts, something to help you stay accountable to the commitment of this practice?  Unable to find what I was looking for and figuring that other people would feel the same way, I decided to create my own program.  With that, I am so excited to announce…….

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For more information and to sign up, please visit http://gratitudeoutsidethebox.wordpress.com.

Thank you for allowing me to share this dream with you all!  I hope that it can help you bring the practice of gratitude into your life!

So here we are again, well into the new year, and I am just now getting around to another post.  I would love to say I’ve just been so busy that I haven’t had time to sit down and post, but sadly, I just tend to forget this is here sometimes.

Life is going pretty well.  I’ve been enrolled in several online classes and groups, all of which are phenomenal.  The sisterhoods I have developed from these classes is invaluable, and I’m so grateful to be a part of these.  One of the greatest things about modern technology is the way it can bring people together from all over the globe.  As long as it doesn’t completely take the place of in-person human interactions, I see this as a great benefit.  The lessons I have learned are incredible, and the soul-shifting occurring is indescribable.  Things may be pretty constant on the outside, but inside I have been undergoing some wonderful transformations.

 

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! 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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SouLodge: entering the final two weeks, this week is the last of the medicine wheel. I had no idea what to expect when I signed up for this course, but there truly are no words for how incredible it is. If you are seeking to understand yourself better, connect with nature, explore the spiritual realm, or simply want a sanctuary away from the rigors of daily life, you need to look into this. The summer session is still a few months away, giving you plenty of time to decide. I highly recommend this to anyone and everyone who seeks a quiet spiritual place.

Abundant Wild Life started yesterday. This one promises to be more rigorous than any other class, with different prompts and exercises daily. Still, these don’t take a great deal of time, so it isn’t overwhelming by any means. The best part is that so far, the exercises have simply been about being centered and rooted, just exploring your heart and the world around you. Still too early for me to comment more, but so far it is promising to be an amazing adventure.

21 Secrets: FINALLY picked a workshop to start with. It’s been fun getting into the creative playground, getting messy, and not worrying about details or perfection. Sometimes it’s simply about the process, rather than the final product. I’m excited to continue in these workshops. For anyone interested in learning from lots of different people all in one place, this is for you. The cost is well worth it, and having so much time and the freedom to explore at your own pace is awesome.

With everything going on, my posts will likely be brief, but hopefully you can get some experience of what I am learning from all of this.

Until next time…

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I’m halfway through the spring session of SouLodge, and I’ve already signed up for the summer class. It’s been truly amazing for me, the journaling prompts, the weekly check-in worksheets, all have helped me to unravel things that I hadn’t even thought about, layers of myself that I didn’t know were hidden. The projects have been so much fun as well, but the best part about them is that they have felt therapeutic. I don’t know if it’s simply the act of making something by hand or what, but I spent most of Sunday working on my medicine pouch, and after it was completed, I just felt so much lighter and happier.

As this class wraps up, I’ll be starting the next one, and from what I can tell, this one is more geared to the art itself, to trying new techniques and discovering what your personal style is. I’m excited for that one as well, mainly to try new mediums and discover new techniques (ok, really any techniques). The two seem to be perfectly ordered, from helping me better understand myself and open up my creative channels moving directly into methods of using that creativity.

21 Secrets has officially started, and I have thrown myself head first into…well, trying to decide which class to take first! It runs through the end of the year, and everything is arranged to fit into your schedule, so I’m not in any danger of losing anything immediately, but I still need to just pick somewhere and start something. I have a feeling that once I find a place to start, it will just take off and have a life of its own. I’m spending too much time wrapped up in where to start that, if I’m not careful, I’ll run out of time and still be trying to decide where to begin. Ah, the story of my life.

And now, a product of all my hard journeys:

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I am now working through my second week of SouLodge, so forgive me for my absence. Posts will likely be a bit more spread out for awhile, for reasons which will be obvious later in this post.

I’m loving the work of SouLodge and can almost guarantee I will be in every class from this point forward. It has already brought a greater sense of self-awareness, but with that also comes the weight of what that awareness brings to light. I have frequently felt as if I have an intense wanderlust, a desire to get out in the world, go explore, do things, experience life to the fullest. At times, I am frustrated that circumstances and obligations have me “tied down,” preventing me from taking off at a moment’s notice. It wasn’t until this week that I realized this is exactly where I am supposed to be. I have felt frustrated, not because my heart is tethered, but because I have been fighting against what I am supposed to be experiencing. In other words, right now, I am being called to simply be still, to be present where I am, to recognize that everything has a time and right now is my time for rest, rejuvenation, healing, and becoming rooted to my soul. This was made even more painfully obvious after I wound up double-booking two days worth of activities and plans, after a whirlwind weekend road trip, after realizing that I haven’t taken time to simply sit back and breathe in the moment.

I am loving this work right now. I have so far done everything in the class, although it took me a bit to get started and caught up. I have been learning so many important things about myself, new things and reinforcements of old lessons. As much as I feel overwhelmed at times, this is something I will not give up. I may have to rework my schedule sometimes, but there is never an excuse to not take care of ourselves and do something that nourishes the soul.

I may be posting less frequently for a month or so, but I will try to keep up with tidbits if nothing else, just so things don’t get too boring over here. 🙂

Wow, these past weeks have been crazy! Trying to get things ready for all my upcoming projects, juggling physical therapy and acupuncture appointments, and keeping up with life about has me exhausted! So here is just a brief update with what is going on:

Inspiration Deck Card Swap: got my deck the other day. I am humbled by all the creative souls out there. It was such an amazing project and I really hope that another opportunity like that will come around again. It is incredible to be getting creative pieces and uplifting messages from people all over, strangers that you have never met — it makes the world feel a bit less intimidating.

30 Days of Lists: ends today (sort of). I definitely have not been doing a list a day, but then again that’s not required. The prompts are provided daily, but since you can download the full list at any time, there is no time requirement. So I’ll try to finish those today, but the beauty of this project is that you can do whatever whenever. In fact, if you are interested, you can still register!vi have enjoyed taking a closer look at things I don’t think about a whole lot, and it really opens up new channels. This is one I’d definitely do again.

SouLodge: starts on Monday. I have been trying to collect supplies for this. I didn’t really know what to expect going into it, but not in a bad way. The supplies list gives me a bit more of an idea but it is all still so new to me. Still, I’m so excited to be participating. Of all the classes I’ve signed up for so far, this one is probably the most personal.

21 Secrets: also starts on Monday, but runs through the end of the year. With no set time frame, this one is by far the most relaxed. This one I think will be the best overall, as it will give me something to do all year while the other classes are more of a creative jump-start.

Abundant Wild Life: starts in a few weeks. This one will begin as SouLodge is ending, with a bit of overlap, so it winds up being perfect. I got all of my supplies for this class, and I’m especially excited about this one. This will introduce me to a whole bunch of new mediums that I never really knew about or considered, and who knows what I will learn about myself! This begins April 30th, so I still have a bit of time to build up the anticipation!

In others news, I just found out this morning that something I’ve been trying to keep on the DL was announced in the newspaper yesterday. No, it’s nothing big. I agreed to do a karaoke song for a fundraiser, but because I’ve never really sung in front of people before, I’m nervous as hell. Plus, I agreed to this before my car wreck, and I’ve been so preoccupied with dealing with everything that it really snuck up on me. Oh well, I’m honestly surprised it took this long. And I’m not alone, and I’m far from the main act, which is good. Just might need a glass of wine ahead of time.

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