Today was a lovely day, even though we had torrents of rain pouring down. I attended a NAWBO event that included an open house for a spa (my hands are nicely moisturized and massaged) and some yummy cupcakes. The best part was that I came away feeling supported. Networking is not my forte (it can be very hit or miss), and I didn’t have any expectations today since I’m still in a pre-start-up phase. Sometimes when you are more relaxed about something you can be pleasantly surprised.

I remembered to bring two sample cards, and when I whipped them out (it’s easiest to show: “What types of cards do you make?”) received some really nice responses. One woman said “I feel like I am holding someone else’s baby” and I really appreciated that reverence.  The scariest part about showing your work to total strangers is that they could completely reject it (friends and family always have a slight bias), but nobody did.

I was so encouraged and received lovely suggestions about resources and potential places to sell.

As much as I love the online world, I do feel that there is a need for local and interpersonal interaction as well to successfully launch a business. I draw much inspiration from other people’s blogs and their journeys and successes. Still, having someone handle your art and seeing their expression and feeling their energy when they are looking at it creates a dimension that the Internet cannot replicate entirely.

One of my wishes for this year was to have more local community, and this is happening both on a social level and a (pre-)business level. My family is scattered around the world, and for that social media has been fabulous. However, due to deadlines, class timing or locational logistics it was hard to cultivate regular in-person interactions the past few years. With the loss of coworker conversations, my life could easily become a ‘vacuum’.

Now Spring is drawing more people out for activities, I personally have more energy to go out and interact, and—whether because of my wishing or the “thoughts become things” philosophy—there is a ‘surge’ of new-to-me venues and groups just blocks away from where I’ve lived for 10 years. It is exciting to be part of newly developing social groups and to discover a vibrant local artistic community I can participate in. 

These glimpses of my new life are such a treasure. I look forward to developing these relationships further, adopting some mentors (they don’t necessarily know that they are) and eventually be an inspiration to others as well. If you need inspiration, check out this really fun list of joy-generators.

A case of the What Ifs…

“We already have all the time there is.
We can’t make more of it, we can only enjoy the time we have.”
~Paul Pearsall

So the past few days I’ve had trouble sleeping in spite of various remedies (scullcap and some other herbal sleep aids, sleepytime tea, counting backwards from 333, checking my horoscope, etc.). Periodically when the light goes out I get a severe case of the “what ifs”.

  • What if this year flies by without me accomplishing what I want to do?
  • What if my money runs out before I have a viable business set up?
  • What if my upcoming trip is a total disaster?
  • What if something happens to the home or cat while I’m away?
  • What if nobody likes my business?

In spite of watching numerous documentaries on how the Greeks overcame major disasters and humanity still lives to tell the tale, my perspective vanishes at bedtime. Somehow the inner worry-wart still seeks that certainty, the assurance that everything will be alright.

In broad daylight I know it will. I love sitting by the lake and watching its ebb and flow–the waves sometimes calm, sometimes rough–for days, seasons, years and centuries on end. I enjoy seeing the flowers emerge, and the trees come out of hibernation, slowly returning back to life after protecting themselves from a long winter. I know the lilies and birds are taken care of, and so am I.

Yet, I sometimes have fears of the good stuff too.

  • What if Greece is so much fun I won’t want to leave?
  • What if my life is changed irrevocably by the actions I am taking today?
  • What if my business ideas are so successful that I’ll be stretched in too many directions?

And yes, Kelly Rae Roberts just reminded me this week to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous (YES I AM! Even according to Fortune, I’m “basically OK” in my fear of success.)

The brain sometimes insists on going in circles in spite of myself, in spite of all the planning I have done for this particular year, in spite of knowing that things have always worked out even in unexpected circumstances, and in spite of all the inspirational quotes and stories in the world.

“Here are some bits of good news: You’re going to suffer from severe stress, never live up to your own expectations, few will live up to your expectations, you’re going to feel that life is not fair, you’ll think many others are more fortunate and happy than you are, you’ll never have enough money, you’ll get sick and die, and you’ll worry about this most of your life.

This is good news because all of these experiences mean that you are alive and fully absorbed in life. Achieving serenity is not changing any of these facts; it’s wishing for the spiritual resiliency to be able to accept life’s side effects with grace and peaceful gratitude for the gift of life.”

~ Paul Pearsall in Wishing Well

I guess the key is to go with the flow and remember that the brain’s need for security cannot be met.

“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”

~ Helen Keller in The Story of My Life


Things in progress

My embellishment drawer comes to 93 spreadsheet lines and 7,000+ items. WHEW!

Beads will be less work but I am going to hold that until after my trip.

I have watched numerous DVDs and am digging through guide books (I’ll share my favorites) and web sites to put more detail into my itinerary, yippie!

How cool is it that you can map distances on the internet without even having been to your destination yet!

I played with a card design but am not sure I like it yet.

What are you working on now that taxes are out the door?


Revisiting the Art Institute-Part II

Are your eyes and scrolling fingers ready for part II?

I was taking a breather in the grand staircase of the Art Institute.

Seeing the Corinthian styled columns (and Cristoforo Stati’s Samson and the Lion, 1604/07) I decided on a ‘scavenger hunt’ for myself: Locate Greek mythology in the other paintings of the Art Institute. I went in semi-reverse chronological order based on the room I was closest to, so my path went from impressionism to the 1500s and then into the Modern Wing. It was fun to wander ‘aimlessly’ instead of following a guide or structure. And yet the Greek thread permeated throughout the centuries.

Loosely interpreted, some ‘goddesses’ in India:

Celestial Beauty (Apsara), 12th century and Two Beauties (Surasundari) Dressing with Attendant, 10th/11th century, India, Madhya Pradesh

Ganymede 1500/03 by Giulio Campagnola (Italian)

Mars, Venus and Cupid c. 1508 by Marcantonio Raimondi (Italian)

The Incense Burner c. 1512 by Marcantonio Raimondi (Italian)

I also saw a painting by El Greco, but his had a biblical motif.

Hercules and Antaeus 1600/25 after a design by Giambologna (Flemish)

Diana and Endymion 1690/95 by Johann Michael Rottmayr (Austria)

Bust of Amphitrite by Lambert-Sigisbert Adam c. 1725 (French)

The Rape of Orithyia by Boreas c. 1745 Doccia Porcelain Manufacturay attributed to Gaspero Bruschi (Italian)

Lady Sarah Bunbury sacrificing to the Graces 1763-65 by Sir Joshua Reynolds (English)

Marble Vase 1766 by Clodion (French)

Virgil Reading the “Aeneid” to Augustus, Octavia, and Livia, 1790/93 by Jean Baptiste Joseph Wicar (French)

Head of Medusa c. 1801 by Antonio Canova (Italian)


Young Spartan Girls Challenging Boys c. 1860 by Edgar Degas (French)

Hercules and the Lernaean Hydra, 1875/76 by Gustave Moreau (French)

The Sacred Grove, Beloved of the Arts and the Muses, 1884-89 by Pierre Cécile Puvis de Chavannes (French)

Bacchus Consoling Ariadne, c. 1892 by Aimé-Jules Dalou (French)

Warriors and Philosophers, 1928 by Giorgio de Chirico (Italian, born Greece)

Venus de Milo with Drawers, 1936 by Salvador Dalí (Spanish)

I still have a 500-page book on reading and interpreting Greek Myths to crack open, so I have no ‘opinion’ on the permeation of Greek Mythology in Art. But it sure is amazing to think of how all those stories endured over the centuries.

Even the special exhibit Kings, Queens, and Courtiers: Art in Early Renaissance France featured a beautiful 1500 tapestry of Narcissus at the Fountain. This exhibit also featured gorgeous illuminated books, another fascination of mine.

Photo from the Art Institute’s web page

My Greek geekiness didn’t prevent me from marveling at Monet’s Water Lily Pond (1917-22). 🙂

The texture of brush strokes is so fascinating.

Then I noted some beautiful cabinets among the decorative arts wing  that would make lovely homes for craft supplies.

So-I encourage you to take a field trip to your local art museum. Browse their web site ahead of time to determine a starting point, and then enjoy all the surprises that await you as other amazing artifacts cross your path. My feet were slightly unhappy by the end of the day, but my brain and my soul were filled with joy and fascination.


Revisiting the Art Institute-Part I

Oops, I got a bit photo-happy on this entry so prepare to scroll! 🙂

Sometimes you can pass a place without realizing how wonderful it truly is. Maybe it was walking through a long stuffy hallway of old armor upon entering the museum, or the lack of an actual strategy when I visited it before, but I always came away feeling overwhelmed at the Art Institute of Chicago.  When I worked right next to it I missed exhibits I wanted to see because my deadlines wouldn’t allow for the excursion.

This week I wanted to make sure I saw the fiber art and narrative tapestry exhibits before their departure. My drawing teacher demonstrated how curating is an art form in itself when showing us an Evanston Art Center exhibit, so I have a deep appreciation for how museums are laid out now. The tapestries truly were a feast for the eyes (sadly my camera wasn’t allowed to experience them).

With the modern wing completed, I entered via the beautiful bridgeway I’d seen constructed through my old office window. Truly a brand-new path!

A peek at the Willis Tower.

I finally got to see Chagall’s America Windows which had eluded me in prior visits due to construction.

On my way there I was in for a surprise. Who knew that I could peruse Ancient Greek Art right in my own back yard?

I was thrilled to see samples of artifacts I’ve been reading about up close.

Female Figure, 2600/2500 B.C., early Spedos Variety

Pyxis (Container for Personal Objects), 760-735 B.C.

Kantharos (Drinking Cup) in the Shape of a Female Head, Late 6th century

Amphora (Storage Jar), 550-525 B.C.

Such artistry and inventiveness.

Pair of Griffin Protomes, Orientalizing Period, late 7th-early 6th century B.C.

Wine cup attributed to Penthesilea painter c. 470 B.C.

Lekythos (Oil Bottle), 450-440 B.C. Terracotta, white-ground technique

Tetradrachms from 485-478, 484-461 and 350 B.C.

Isn’t the detail amazing?

Greek, Attica,  Funerary Stele (Grave Marker), c. 330 B.C.

I eavesdropped on two elementary school tours passing through-although they were more fascinated with Egypt than the Greeks. Next time I’ll rent the headset for some scholarly perspective on these pieces.

After passing through the Ancient area I went to my ‘anchor point’. I always have to visit the Miniature Rooms when I go to the AI.

I lingered a bit in the grand staircase to sort out what to do next. I’ll save that for my next blog entry to give your scrolly-ness a respite too. Stay tuned…


Ribbons galore!

I’ve been collecting gift ribbons and lace over several years. There is no plan for these yet, but I ‘need’ to hold on to them. I know you crafters can relate!

114 spreadsheet lines later these are all accounted for, and a value is guesstimated.

Since 2009 I’ve been better about tracking my craft purchases before I stow them away. I also have a stash of receipts from the years prior and my (digital) photo albums help out a bit too. Still, it’s a lot of guesstimating dating back to 2003.

So if you’re thinking of starting a crafting business, I highly recommend setting up a spreadsheet now that tracks brands, SKUs, dates purchased and price. Enter everything before you throw away the packaging. It often tells you your quantities too so you don’t have to measure or count things on your own. I am learning that there are programs that can then help calculate what you use when you make something and automatically updates your inventory. How cool does that sound?

As I tucked the ribbons back into a drawer, I found some UTEE creations as well.

Good to know what I have on hand ‘in case of emergency’ 🙂

It feels good to be one drawer closer to starting my business. I ‘only’ have 6 more to go, along with 3 cabinets!

Up next is my embellishment drawer—probably full of surprises! 😉

I did take a breather Sunday (and Tuesday). That was fun! I’ll tell you about Tuesday soon.



Well as much as Spring should be here the weather hasn’t quite made up its mind yet. But my studio is filled with sunlight which has me motivated to continue the inventorying process.

I took a breather from organizing in March, and instead reviewed my life. I dug up my diaries and reread what I’ve chronicled since 1982. It’s been a fun journey and gave me some good perspective on how far I’ve come over the years. Sometimes we need to look back to get out of an ‘existentialist funk’ and appreciate all the things we accomplished that we tend to now take for granted. My 1989 self was quite wise, I have to say, and there are a few pages I’ll refer back to for some good writerly nuggets when my book begins to materialize… 🙂

This past week I perused the wide range of Angel Policies stamp companies have to ensure I’ll be using mine appropriately as I convert to ‘for business use’. Angel policies describe what crafters can and cannot do when they contemplate using craft materials for sale. A good definition is here.

If you’re unfamiliar with Angel Policies, take a peek at these links:

I own just under 700 stamps, but will have to ‘let go’ of some to be compliant with copyright requests. 🙁 In spite of some restrictions, I was happy to find that I have many I can play with. Lost Coast Design made me laugh: “Buy our stamps and use them. Make as much money as you can, and buy more stamps from us.“

As a writer, I want to make every effort to honor the copyrights of others, even if it means giving up using some of my favorite stamps when I open for business. There are some stamps whose companies are out of business, other companies I couldn’t find, and in those cases I’ll err on the side of caution and only use the stamps for personal use (or part with them when I am ready to). But guess what, I can now make a business investment in locating similar stamps (perhaps on Lost Coast Designs)! Nice excuse to go shopping, isn’t it?

I’ll also be looking into making my own stamps. Here’s a lovely link about that process.

Meanwhile, the travel plans are progressing and I am watching every DVD Netflix has about Greece. I’ve also renewed all the library books to continue brushing up on the overwhelmingly rich history I’ll be seeing in person soon!

This coming week, I’m moving on to ribbons and embellishments. Best to tackle it one trinket at a time!

I hope your arrival of Spring is as joyous as it is here, and that whatever Spring cleaning you are doing progresses swimmingly.