Even though gallivanting takes on a connotation of ‘goofing off,’ it is also cultivating relationships, pondering my business strategies, and soaking up new information to utilize as life progresses. I am working while having fun, which is what pursuing one’s passion is all about.

One friend hosted a fabulous gratitude party for a new venture she has taken on.

Photo courtesy Valerie Beck

Photo courtesy Valerie Beck

Valerie’s book Positive Parables had its official launch at Candyality, where we enjoyed champagne, a chocolatey concoction, Swirlz lemon cupcakes and FIG Catering appetizers.

photo courtesy Women's Innovation Network

Author Valerie Beck (coral dress) with book launch partiers

Books were purchased and autographed as well.

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

The Newberry Library held its annual book sale. I could only browse for 20 minutes, but came away with some fun finds.

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

WIN Committee members explored the Lillstreet Art Center (which will participate in late September’s Ravenshood Art Walk) for a Creativity in Business Day during Small Business Week October 2.

photo courtesy Women's Innovation Network

WIN Committee in front of Jenny Learner’s encaustic pieces

During the lunch following this tour, I received some tech advice from MassUpdater’s and Network Honcho’s Erica Thomas.

My drawing class is about to come to a close, and I am happy with my progress on various levels.

photo and drawing copyright Maike's Marvels

Meanwhile my lepidopterist research continues with another fascinating lady, Margaret Fountaine.

Interlibrary Loan is a wonderful thing

There is no true summer break as an entrepreneur, but I am happy to pursue this path and allow each bend to help me grow, even if it sometimes feels like an uphill climb or a detour that slows me down. The following insight came to me the other day, and I will heed it as life keeps moving along and numerous options keep coming my way that may detract from what I think I need to focus on.

“Make today a Self-Appreciation Day.

If you were up late last night
frustrated with how much is still left on your to-do list (like me),
take a moment to reflect back on where you were January 1 this year.
I’m sure you have grown, gained experience, learned something,
loved family, been a good friend, and achieved a milestone in some way. 

Even if you’re not as far along as you were hoping you would be,
remember that you are one step and one day closer to
your very own lifetime achievement award,
and every day is part of your custom journey to the fulfillment of your dreams. 

So pat yourself on the back, you’re doing GREAT!”

photo courtesy Women's Innovation Network

Sporting sunglasses I won at the J. Crew WIN Innovation Circle’s raffle,
while modeling one of their hats and beckoning someone to enter the photo with me

Most photos in this post courtesy Women’s Innovation Network.

ADDENDUM: As of March 10, 2013, I no longer support the WIN Board and its actions. However, I do support small business, women-owned businesses, and the gracious hosts of past WIN events.

studio time and another upcoming show

I’m back in the studio again, yippie. Since taking a variety of workshops over the spring, I have not spent time making encaustic pieces.

art work and photo copyright Maike's Marvels

It doesn’t mean I haven’t created anything. I learned encaustic techniques from Bridgette Guerzon Mills, Crystal Neubauer and Shawna Moore; bound books at the Chicago Print Collaborative, had two sessions of Metal Clay classes, and started a drawing course with Lauren Levato.

art work and photo copyright Maike's Marvels

Each of these sessions has inspired me and I have lots of ideas to implement. The time to do so has been scarce, however. So spending time in the studio this week is quite exciting. I finally get to experiment with some of the techniques I learned, and also play with new photos from my recent nature excursions.

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

Meanwhile, my ‘old’ work will be on display at Bugfest on August 3. Bugfest is a two-day festival celebrating insects and other critters. My work will be up at the Kinzie Corridor Community Gallery, which provides a space for artists in the Kinzie Corridor to network, workshop, and showcase their work. They show the work of neighborhood artists as well as bring in artists from all over the Chicago area to increase exposure and opportunities for our local artists.

copyright The Arts of Life Studio

This Gallery is attached to the Arts of Life Studio, which is operated by artists with and without disabilities. Mark your calendars for two evenings of bug-appreciation. The gallery, located at 2010 W Carroll Ave; Chicago; IL 60612, will host our works through September 21.


So I went to Geneva laden with stationery to hand-write letters, drawing homework, and a small project idea. Little did I know that the minute I would step into my Herrington Spa & Inn hotel room, I would be enveloped in a cloud of relaxation, that had me forget all about work, to-do lists, and plans.

The room was fit for a queen, the view of the Fox River had me bird watching, and the bagpack remained packed. It is amazing how one can feel completely remote even just an hour outside the city.

After an afternoon wandering a very hot Fox River Trail, an evening exploring the picturesque downtown boutiques, having my muscles stretched and relaxed in the spa the next morning, and taking luxurious deep baths, I met with the early bird Ladies of WIN for a lovely welcome dinner.

The next two days were steeped in learning, connecting, and eating. The Sugar Path provided a seemingly endless supply of custom mini-cupcakes, we had a chocolate tour, and the president of the Chicago Chocolate Tours ensured an element of chocolate was provided throughout the retreat.

My belly is very round, my brain is filled with nudges and ideas, and my heart is full from the deepening friendships strengthened through this retreat.

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

Rather than jump back into the blog-journaling process, I am going to let each workshop steep for a little bit before sharing my learnings with you. I’d like the respite from hurrying and reacting to things in Geneva to linger a little longer at home, as I determine what to focus on while also attending to the items on my calendar in upcoming weeks.

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

You can view pictures of the WIN Summer Retreat on Facebook and also peruse upcoming WIN events at

Have a great week!

ADDENDUM: As of March 10, 2013, I no longer support the WIN Board and its actions. However, I do support small business, women-owned businesses, and the gracious hosts of past WIN events.


“Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, 
for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer. 
Go some distance away because then 
the work appears smaller and more of it can be taken in at a glance 
and a lack of harmony and proportion is more readily seen.”
~ Leonardo da Vinci

When I recently recapped the past few months for my family abroad, I got tired reading through my calendar of past events. Now I realize why my blog is lagging behind on my life! When you’re busy living, it takes away from the time writing.

photo and newsletter copyright Maike's Marvels

Since this week is supposed to be a retreat, I’m going to relax about my online journal and take a break from it, too. There will be strolls in parks, pampering in the spa, girly gatherings, along with business learning.

“Relaxation means releasing all concern and tension 
and letting the natural order of life flow through one’s being.”
 ~ Donald Curtis 

I may not be able to truly disconnect from the online world, but I can at least take the pressure off myself by taking a blog vacation. Many people are taking a summer break, after all.

“Happiness consists of living each day as if
it were the first day of your honeymoon and
the last day of your vacation.” 

~ not attributed 

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

See you later!

Perusing the Facemask exhibit at Zhou B. Art Center

When I visited the opening of Shawna Moore and Friends, Zhou B. Art Center also held the opening of Facemask: Exploring the “other” behind our social media face. Per the exhibit’s Facebook page:

“Facemask is not an exhibition about Facebook /Twitter or other social media. Rather, it is a self-portrait exhibition that evolves in the middle of a “social media” revolution. Facemask explores the hidden personality behind our social media face. Such personality here described as our ‘other’.“

The entire first floor was dedicated to this exhibit, with portraits ranging from paintings, prints and collages to electronic media, mixed media and sculptural works.

It redefined my concept of portraiture, with people incorporating a variety of elements to represent themselves. From traditional realistic portraits, to more abstract cheerful color combinations, to the more morbid colors and mixed-media pieces, each artist presented a reality beyond the 140-character updates we post on social media.

One laptop had a film of facial expressions as people screamed and laughed at themselves. Shovels represented another person’s masks. Some paintings incorporated a setting and relationships to other people into the theme.

One of my favorites was “Grace III” by  Corinna Button.

I also admired the wire sculpture “Searching for Gold” by Christine S. Forni.

As I walked around, the range of emotions weren’t always pleasant, but I think that is exactly the point as we compare the number of ‘friends’ and followers and the types of comments made on social media pages. For the most part, we present ourselves in the best light both online and in face-to-face conversations. In our true lives, however, we do face more than smiles and sunshine.

It’s an interesting idea to explore how one would represent oneself in self-portrait form. I’ll have to think about what would encapsulate myself visually, and whether I could represent that in 2D or 3D. It is something to ponder for a future art project.

The Facemask exhibit, Zhou B.’s 8th Annual National Self Portrait Exhibition, runs through August 11, and gallery hours are here. The Zhou B. Art Center opens from 7 to 10 pm every third Friday of the month to host exhibit openings and allow the public to peruse artist studios.

Anticipating a local getaway

“There is a sort of natural atmosphere of dolce far niente
about the whole place.”
~ 1879 Rand McNally travel booklet: “Summer Resorts of the Northwest”

Summer time is retreat time for me this year. Just after visiting my family in Texas, I’m off on another excursion. This time a short train ride will bring me to Geneva, IL with the Ladies and guests of WIN next week. The second annual Women’s Innovation Network Summer Retreat will be held from July 17 to July 19.

photo courtesy Women's Innovation Network

Geneva actually has a Dutch link, with the first cabin settled by Daniel Shaw Haight in 1833. We’ll be staying at the Herrington Inn, which is named after James and Charity Herrington who were instrumental in developing Geneva in the mid-to late 1830s.

Tuesday is arrival day, with a welcome dinner for everyone after we’ve settled in. The retreat is designed in modules, so that you can ride in for a single day, or truly get away for one or two nights.

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

Wednesday will be packed with fun activities including pilates, a business breakfast, two 45-minute morning workshops, the fabulous Geneva Chocolate tour, dinner, and a movie night with a craft project (which I am putting together).

“Laugh more than you cry.
Work hard and play hard.
Eat well and you can eat more.”

Rachael Ray

Thursday, the blend of fun and knowledge sharing continues with pilates, a business breakfast, three 45-minute business workshops, and an afternoon tea.

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

There will be ample time to take advantage of the Herrington Inn’s Spa amenities, stroll downtown for boutique shopping, or wandering off to the nature trail. I’m excited to explore the Fabyan Nature preserve.

The full workshop schedule and registration information is here, with topics covering:

  • Meaningful Marketing
  • Greening Your Business
  • Finessing Financing
  • Technology and Local Outsourcing
  • Using Attitude, Belief, and Commitment to Achieve Your Goals

“Surround yourself with people who take their work seriously,
but not themselves, those who work hard and play hard.”
~ Colin Powell 

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

PS: Could it be that Theodore Roosevelt’s quote took on a life of its own?

“When you play, play hard; when you work, don’t play at all.” 
 ~ Theodore Roosevelt

Texas bugs

I started taking a botanical drawing class with Lauren Levato (you can still sign up this week) which has me on high alert for all kinds of insects in addition to butterflies.

Photo copyright Maike's Marvels

While I was in Texas, we visited the Mercer Arboretum and Botanic Garden. Open daily from 8 am to 5 pm, the park offers a lovely outdoor mini-adventure. One side shows different types of gardens in a manicured setting. Across Aldine-Westfield, the park extends to a nature preserve with picnic areas and playgrounds.

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

An Eastern Tiger Swallowtail swooped by us on a regular basis throughout our walk, but it only settled down once at a not-so-photogenic angle.

Photo copyright Maike's Marvels

We eyed a lovely Checkerspot (I think).

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

I also spotted a hairstreak but the photo didn’t turn out too well. A grasshopper crossed our path.

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

I’m guessing this is a Pearly-Eye.

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

The name of this funny creature eludes me.

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

A Buckeye.

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

And two small ones getting it on.

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

Dragonflies also buzzed around.

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

Just as we exited the preserve, a Squash Bug swooped onto a branch (I called it a “Holy Schnickerdoodle” when I first saw it).

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

Another type of assassin bug, Zelus longpipes, wandered over my brother’s barbecue in the garden.

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

The roadside was radiant with Indian Blankets.

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

Amateur entomology is quite entertaining. I will tell you more about this extension to my lepidoptera interest later on.

Texas quirks

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

This past week I took a respite from the daily grind and visited family.

My nieces and nephew kept me company.

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

Yes, they’re furry. 🙂

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

We visited longhorns

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

 Some had interesting markings.

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

This does require the special texas perfume.

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

Chuy’s and brisket and sweet iced tea with a side of country music were on the menu.

 photo copyright Maike's Marvels

Texas quirks abound.

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

It was good to get away and not work off a to-do list for a change.

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

Critters were abundant too, about which I’ll report soon.

Roses upon roses

“As you walk down the fairway of life
you must smell the roses, for you only get to play one round.”
~ Ben Hogan

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

“How cunningly nature hides
every wrinkle of her inconceivable antiquity
under roses and violets and morning dew!”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson 

 photo copyright Maike's Marvels

“Everything’s coming up roses – for me.”
~ Ethel Merman

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

“One of the most tragic things I know about human nature
is that all of us tend to put off living.
We are all dreaming
of some magical rose garden over the horizon 
instead of enjoying the roses
that are blooming outside our windows today.”
~ Dale Carnegie 

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

“Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns;
I am thankful that thorns have roses.”  
~ Alphonse Karr

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

Photos taken at the Merrick Rose Garden in June 2012. Quotes pulled from Brainyquote

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

A few links on social media

Recently I hosted a phone conference titled “Connection: What To Post on Social Media For Your Business.”

I had overheard someone say that beyond events, they weren’t sure what to post, so I pulled some tips I had learned from various social media books.

A nice explanation of social media I read in How to make money with social media is:

  • Facebook is like a pub, casual, more personal and intimate
  • LinkedIn is like a trade show, all business
  • Twitter is like a cocktail party, fleeting and somewhat superficial
  • YouTube is like Times Square on new year’s eve, lots of links trying to get noticed

Pictorial sites such as Instagram and Pinterest are also gaining momentum, and check-in sites like Foursquare also have a purpose. Facebook can become a more business oriented tool with the introduction of business pages and subscription options for personal pages.

Each outlet serves different audiences and demographics, so you want to think about the one you want to focus on. As you become comfortable, you can experiment with other social media venues as well.

Aside from tooting your own horn by promoting your business events or sales, you can also:

  1. Position yourself as an expert by linking to news in your industry, explaining trends, sharing the history of your product or service, etc.
  2. You can present how-to’s and tips with instructions on how to make life easier, how things work, what people do.
  3. You can also show your human side and be personal. Pick something that shows your personality—a hobby, a favorite food or color—and share your observations about that topic of interest.
  4. A picture speaks a thousand words: sometimes just posting a photo will keep you active in the social media world.
  5. Share what your favorites are doing: cross-post the wisdom or news of people you like and follow, and give them a pat on the back
  6. Have fun with holiday tie-ins: does an upcoming holiday relate to your business? Do you make up holidays to help people celebrate life? You can find a list of holidays online and use the more obscure ones for fun as a promotional tie-in.

The key is to invite a dialogue with your readers/followers/likers and interact, rather than push out information. Social media has to work for you, and not be a burden.

Some links I came upon when I was researching my chat:

I still have a lot of my own notes and more articles to sift through to make my own social media strategy work better for me, but we can only take one day at a time, right?
How does social media help your venture?