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30 January 2010

Saturday Challenge #35


My computer and I are very close. Probably too close, in fact. I spend far more time than I should tapping its keys and staring at its screen, searching through websites and uploading photos and checking emails. The time I spend - waste - glued to this little chunk of wires, lights, and buttons is ridiculous! Last week, I took a day to rest my eyes and my mind and my fingers, and I turned the computer off. It took some strength, but the calmness and clarity of mind I felt as the day wore on was amazing.

This week, I challenge you to unplug, even if just for one day. Turn off the television, turn off the computer, and turn off your mobile phone (if you can). Instead, go outside, paint, write a letter, spend time with family, play a board game, read a book, or cook a meal - rediscover the world around you without distraction!

Every week, Ingrid posts a new Saturday Challenge. View past challenges here, or upload a photo to the Flickr group; if you have an idea for a challenge send an email to mypeacetree2 (at) gmail (dot) com!

29 January 2010

Be Proud of Yourself


How perfectly lovely to check my email this morning and read such wonderful, happy, sweet comments on my last few posts! Ladies, thank you so very much for taking the time to read my blog, leave your thoughts, and walk this journey with me. I appreciate your kindnesses so very much.

The little art journal I began at the beginning of this week has already been filled - and how proud I am of it! It was the perfect size for me, as I struggle hugely with filling and finishing large journals. I had quite a bit of fun with this one, finally starting to let go of my fears and inhibitions and let my heart lead me. At one point I accidentally did a page upside down; I decided to finish half of the journal that way, so now both covers are the front!

Take a peek at a few of my favorite spreads below. The first image is of the middle of the journal, where upside down meets right side up. You can view the entire Flickr set here.


Last night I made several new blank journals to put into my Etsy shop. I've been pretty lazy with Etsy recently and have decided to renew my efforts and make mine a shop worth browsing. The journals are being pressed right now (the pages insisted on curling in when I made them!) and I have yet to take photos, but keep an eye out in the next week for an Etsy update.

With love,

27 January 2010

The Joy of Snail Mail

I was going to wait until tomorrow to post this, but I'm just too excited.

Oh, I'm a happy girl today! Over the past week or two I've gotten some really lovely things in the mail - and I'm still expecting a few more things to arrive within the next few days. I absolutely love snail mail. Isn't it wonderful to have something to look forward to, and something to open like a child on his birthday - or is that just me?

Let me share with you a few of the things that appeared in my mailbox recently:


A few days ago I received two boxes of organic tea from a really interesting company in London which has combined inspiration and England's favorite drink. I have yet to taste it, but when I opened (tore) open the box the teas arrived in, a sense of recognition came over me. When I was living in England two years ago, I copied down the entire front of the Love Love tea, word for word, into my quote journal.

Here's part of what is written on the front of the box: "Think truly, deeply and madly about love. How love is so simple, yet we search so hard for it. How love doesn't happen to us, it's already there, and it's endless. Remind yourself how unique and perfect you really are. Be kind with yourself. For without being generous to ourselves we can't be generous with our love for others. Love as you want to be loved. It's your gift to give. It's our lifeforce." What loveliness! Each kind of tea, and they have several, has a different inspirational message.


My dear blogger friend Erica suggested an ATC swap at the beginning of January. I'm so happy she did! I had such fun making my cards, and was delighted to see hers when they arrived a little bit ago. She was inspired by our blogs - My Peacetree is represented on the left, and her blog A Sea of No Care on the right. Clever, no? And gorgeous, too! Thanks again, my friend.


And today I received these beautiful
prints from KristyBee on Etsy. I'm in love. Her photos are so airy and dreamy and sweet! Do go and check out her shop - you can browse her Flickr, too, as she's very happy to do custom orders. There's a 2 for 1 sale going on til the end of January, too (only five days left, including today)!

Oh, and the same day my tea arrived, a little gift for my boyfriend arrived, too. I can't tell you what it is, though, because he chances over here every once and a while. Secrets, secrets!

26 January 2010

Outside the Box

After I writing the last Saturday Challenge, I decided to make a new, small art journal. It is made of stiff brown paper - the kind that paper bags are made of - and has twelve pages sewn together completely imperfectly. I love it. Because it is not neat and tidy and beautiful, I am not afraid to splash color onto its pages and even "mess up" an entire page or two or three; it is mine to beautify or to destroy, and I have been having quite a bit of fun experimenting with it! I'm excited to show you some of the pages when I am certain that they are finished.


When I made this little book, I made a second even smaller one for my mama. She is an artist, though she is very shy to admit it, and like many of us is afraid to let her creative spirit free. She tells me that since she does not have a space where she has abundant art supplies to reach for on a whim, she cannot create as she'd like - but, dearests, you do not have to have art supplies in order to make art!

It may sound silly at first, I know. But I ask you: what do you believe a "true" artist possesses - a rainbow of paints, perhaps? Many brushes of different sizes and shapes? Pens and pencils and papers and stickers which can magically come together to create the perfect piece? See if you can create with those things that are all around you in your home: newspaper, magic marker, a pencil, color from tea or berries, yarn or string, junk mail, house paint or spray paint, old receipts, your own handwriting, images from catalogues, crayons, post-it notes, lined paper, found objects... the possibilities are endless!

True creativity comes from dancing on your toes and dreaming up new ways to solve a given problem; here one of the definitions of "create" is 'to produce through imaginative skill'! What sorts of things can you create through imaginative, innovative thinking?

24 January 2010

Saturday Challenge #34

Photos from my art journal.

Oh, my! I do apologize for the lateness of this Saturday Challenge - it's been a very busy weekend! I arrived home from the farm just a little bit ago and am looking forward to a cozy, sleepy, drizzly Sunday evening.

A little while ago, a sweet woman named Lianne commented on a post I wrote over at Mission: One Oh One. One of my goals for the Day Zero Project is to complete an art journal. Lianne wrote, "The art journal is on my list too, but I'm actually scared to begin. I'm really insecure when it comes to drawing, painting and other creative things.. " I am very sure that this sums up a fear that so very many of us share. (Can I tell you a secret? I rarely create finished pieces; I want my art to look like other artists' art and am disappointed when I am left with my own version which "doesn't look as good". This post is a bit of self-encouragement, too!)

To Lianne, and every other artist and creative individual (no matter how much or often you create, no matter how "good" or "bad" you believe your art to be, no matter who said what about your artistic skill once upon a time): I challenge you to take that first step, as scary as it is, and begin. Start an art journal!

The journal itself can be anything: a child's board book, an old encyclopedia, a brand new blank journal, a spiral bound notebook, or a collection of many different papers. It can be as big, wide, old, tall, square, messy, thin, plain, or tiny as you like. Once you find the perfect book, summon up your courage and paint, write, draw, scribble, doodle, stamp, glue, tape, press, spill, and/or scratch - put any mark on the paper. An art journal is the playground for creativity. Experiment. Discover. Have fun. You have absolute freedom within its pages and you do not have to share the art journal with anyone if you do not want to - what possibility there is!

One of my favorite quotes regarding art journalling is "... If you make a page you don’t like, you can turn the page and start over. Nobody needs to know. Just keep turning the page!" (The Quote is by iHanna. Read the whole post for lots of good inspiration on overcoming fear of a blank page!) I use this mantra often; it encourages me to move past a page I find ugly and to not be disheartened or to let my inner critic take over. The key is to just keep creating and to accept the bad with the good.

I believe that every single individual on this planet is capable of creating beautiful things. You have an artistic vision all your own, and it wants to be given a chance to shine! Forget what others expect of you and what you expect from yourself, and give your inner artist the freedom to play, learn, express, and grow. Woohoo! Happy creating!

Every week, Ingrid posts a new Saturday Challenge. View past challenges here, or upload a photo to the Flickr group; if you have an idea for a challenge send an email to mypeacetree2 (at) gmail (dot) com!

A Short Note

This week's Saturday Challenge will be posted later today. It's a good one - please check back soon!

Much love to each and every single one of you; you all inspire me more than you could ever imagine!

22 January 2010

Hope for Haiti


The amazing, selfless kindness of millions of people around the world moves me to tears and gives me so much hope in our future together on this earth. I urge you to help your fellow human beings - donate to those who are still so desperately in need.

Visit www.HopeForHaitiNow.org to give or call 1-877-99-HAITI ; you can also text "give" to the number 50555 and ten dollars will be added to your phone bill. Let's make the world a more beautiful and love-filled place.

Hugs,

Farm Life

This weekend, I am house-sitting for some friends of my family. They own a huge property in the country that provides plenty of space to breathe, dream, meditate, and create.

There is good organic food -

Plenty of fresh eggs -

And fifteen chickens, one cow, one guinea pig, a sweet cuddly dog and an energetic puppy (not to mention the swans and ducks that occupy the pond). Oh, what a life this is!

18 January 2010

Words Are Complicated




View my Flickr photostream.

I found my desk for free - an old drafting table worth little to its previous owner. It is rusted and a bit shaky and streaked with paint (and its surface is forever hidden by papers and knick-knacks and found objects), but it is also loved, and without it I could not bring to life the colorful, creative things I dream of.

16 January 2010

Saturday Challenge #33


Hello, and happy Saturday!

Recently I began doing Morning Pages, a project thought up by artist Julia Cameron. Every morning, I write three full pages by hand without stopping. If I have nothing to write, my page may look like this: "Dunno what to say dunno what to say blah blah blah blah". Punctuation doesn't matter and neither does spelling; the purpose of Morning Pages is to clear one's mind of all the fluff that may be floating around up there before the day begins.

Recently I have noticed that, even though I am writing freely, I am continually censoring my words and blocking out dark or upsetting thoughts - things like "what happens if.." or "what would I do if.." or "I know I'm not good enough because..". I am afraid to put them on paper - to do so turns them into readable, tangible reality, something I will end up dwelling upon and worrying about further.

While I think it is important to focus on the positive things in one's life, I also realise that it is also quite unhealthy to bottle up unpleasant feelings. So, today I challenge you to write down those fears and worries and self-criticisms that weigh you down; then, I challenge you to destroy it - tear it up, burn it, bury it, or seal it into an envelope in your art journal. In this way we can acknowledge these feelings and thoughts while refusing to hold on to them, instead choosing positivity and light.

~~~~~~~~~~

Nearly every Saturday, I post a new Challenge. Ranging from artistic prompts to self discovery exercises to ideas for living a wholesome, beautiful life, every Challenge seeks to inspire growth, love, creativity, and a more full life!

You can view and participate in past challenges here, and remember that you can share photos in the (rather neglected) Flickr group. If you have a suggestion for a challenge, please leave a comment or write me an email at mypeacetree2 (at) gmail (dot) com.

15 January 2010

Say Yes

Massachusetts, taken in summer 2009

If you have been waiting for a sign, this is it. Take that leap; say yes; follow your heart. It will be amazing!

Happy weekend, my dear ones!

13 January 2010

Star Light, Star Bright

The last streaks of red and golden yellow fade into the west and the deep blues of the night sky blanket the earth. The stars, one by one, twinkle and wink from their celestial homes, cheerfully singing 'hello' to us from immeasurable distances. The world beneath them stills, quiets, and seems to exhale at long last; all of the stress and bustle and worry of the day disappear, if only for a few hours, and all is at peace.

There is such comfort in the night. The presence of the Universe embraces us and the moon bathes everything in her dewy silver light. Cosy in our beds, we drift off to other magical places; we breathe slowly, deeply, softly, resting our tired bodies. The stars - those magical, beautiful beings of light! - chant softly from far above our heads: "Dream sweet dreams, beloveds."


"The night was clear and frosty, all ebony of shadow and silver of snowy slope; big stars were shining over the silent fields; here and there the dark pointed firs stood up with snow powdering their branches and the wind whistling through them."

from
Anne of Green Gables
by L. M. Montgomery

12 January 2010

Mid-Winter Blues

Oh, my. It's only the second week in January, and already I'm longing for spring! Recently I've been restless and itching for change, though I'm not quite sure where to find it. During these moments, I have to be careful not to be rash - though I have been considering dying my hair just to experience something new!

I'd love to create effortlessly and endlessly, but, like my words, I am having difficulty with expression and instead stare frustratedly at an empty page. My sleeps are interrupted by continual coughing and a runny nose. My camera lies mostly unused due to the cold weather. I'm a bit grumpy and would like to whine rather than trying to solve problems, thankyouverymuch.

Though my paintbrush hasn't been used very recently, I have been dabbling in the creative world in other ways, like looking through the art journal pool on Flickr. I find so much color and inspiration in the journal pages that others are sharing! I've found a few new blogs, too, that you may enjoy:
I've been thinking of making a 30-day journal and doing my own Journaling Month, even if it means starting in the middle of January; perhaps creative juices would come more easily if I made a daily practise of them? Also, my 101 in 1001 project is going to be reorganized soon; you can read a bit more about my thoughts behind that here.

Hope that your creative ideas are flowing freely and that these cold days are treating you well!

10 January 2010

I Promise Me

Stones on the beach, Massachusetts, summer '09

When the calendar turned to January and the new year began, I chose a word which would guide me through the next three hundred and sixty five days: emerge. Personally, 2009 was a year of shame, procrastination, and fear, and this year I am determined to turn that around and build something good in my life. To emerge is to "appear, bud, come forth, materialize, start"; for me, it means rising from fear, from self-doubt, from excuses and negativity and distraction and becoming something far more beautiful and strong.

Part of this process means sorting out those things that are important from those that are not. What have I been focusing on that doesn't deserve my attention? To which things do I need to shift my energy? What qualities and values do I want to make an unchanging part of my life?

Perseverance, belief in myself and my dreams, trust, movement, leaps of faith - these are the things that I know I want to hold onto tightly. I want to risk more and fear less. I want to jump into the future and not look back, facing and overcoming each obstacle one at a time.

Every long journey begins with a single step. Today, I need to make choices, however small, that reflect the new life I have chosen. I need to make decisions as they come and try to not get stuck in a panic over whether I have made the right one. In each moment I resolve to do my best to create a life of which I am proud, and I will try my damnedest to neither compromise for others nor to make excuses.

Whew! I'm terrified. Now, where can I begin?

Saturday Challenge #32

Nearly every Saturday, I post a new Challenge. Ranging from artistic prompts to self discovery exercises to ideas for living a wholesome, beautiful life, every Challenge seeks to inspire growth, love, creativity, and a more full life!

Dear Friends,

I have changed my mind yet
again: for the time being, I will continue to do Saturday Challenges as they have always been done. Should I have any brilliant ideas about a new, improved, updated version, you will be the first to know!

Today, I challenge you to write a story. Start by finding an image of a face, or by painting one. What is this person's name? What is their favorite food, their favorite pastime? Who are their friends? What is their deepest secret? Where do they live? Write their story and help them to become real - give them emotion, personality, and individuality.

I wish you a beautiful afternoon filled with sunshine! Be radiant, be happy, be daring and adventurous!

Love,

You can view and participate in past challenges here, and remember that you can share photos in the (rather neglected) Flickr group. If you have a suggestion for a challenge, please leave a comment or write me an email at mypeacetree2 (at) gmail (dot) com.

07 January 2010

The November Art Swap: A Story

Click on any of these photos for a larger view.

A few months ago (or was it more?), I signed up for Swap-Bot, a website dedicated to artists' exchanges. I simply love the idea of giving and receiving art simply for the sake of celebrating creativity, and I am like a child at Christmas when it comes to getting things in the mail.

The first swap I signed up for was a simple one - a letter exchange. My letter was sent off, I received a lovely card covered in roses, and I was thrilled with the whole thing. In November, I signed up for a swap which required more involvement, in which each participant sent a surprise homemade gift.


I put together my parcel: an unlined leather journal, bound by me (above); a few ATCs; a letter of introduction; a ribbon hair bow or two; and a little art doll who reminded me of Buddha (he can be seen in the far left of the first photo in this post). Then off it went to Canada.

A short time later, a package arrived for me. I tore it open giddily and found a beautiful butterfly pin (below), glittery card, and yummy sweets from Viola in the Netherlands*. Oh, joys!


The dear woman to whom I sent my things wrote to me and asked if she might send me a small gift in thanks; on the 24th of December I opened two beautifully wrapped pieces of jewelry, a beaded ring and a necklace (see the first photo of this post).

How wonderful it is, giving and receiving! If you are looking for a way in which to reach out to other artists around the globe, I sincerely suggest trying out a swap or two. You'll be inspired and enchanted and impressed, and are sure to connect with many creative people.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

*Swap-Bot's one-to-one swaps do not mean "I send something to you, and you send something to me"; they mean, "You will send to me and I will send to someone else and that person will send to another someone else." This confuses me every time.

Late Night Musings

Storm drain; taken in December 09

Many times, negatives seem to outweigh the positives, if only in imagination. We are bombarded left and right with expectations of how we should look and behave, of how we should feel, of what we should accomplish. And when we fall outside of these "normals", often - so often! - we berate ourselves for not being good enough.

What silliness!

We are individuals, with individual desires and needs and hopes and dreams! We cannot be sorted or molded or expected to perfectly fit into a box with the other six billion individuals on the planet. It is our differences that make us so exceptionally precious.

Do not consider yourself flawed because your idea of success does not match up with others', and do not feel alone because your dreams lead your down far different paths than your friends or family. You are a shining, magnificent soul and you do hold within you the power to be and to do - well, anything!

06 January 2010

The Sleeping World


Some weeks, words don't flow easily. My mind is quiet and still, and no matter how I search for the right phrases or the right ideas, the page (or screen) in front of me remains empty.

This corner of the world remains frigid, and winds bluster through the bare branches of the trees. This time of year, I think, is meant to be spent curled up under a blanket with a cat and a cup of tea and a loved book - wouldn't three or four months spent in hibernation be delicious?

I braved the cold air today and snapped a few photos in the garden. Everything is barren now, and brown, and will remain so for many months. I often find it difficult to find energy in such an empty, still world. How do you find inspiration in the dark months of winter?



02 January 2010

Saturday Challenge #31

Daily art cards from 2009. View the Flickr set here!

Hullo, darlings, and welcome to 2010! I hope that you are well and happy and that these first days of the new year have been treating you splendidly.

I have been posting a weekly challenge since the very beginning of My Peacetree. Recently, thoughts have begun swirling in my mind about a new sort of weekly challenge. I have not formed a complete plan yet and so cannot introduce anything certain at the moment, but keep an eye out for some change in the next couple of weeks!

In the meantime, I challenge you to take care of your health. Drink plenty of tea, bundle up warmly when you go out in this frigid January air, and if you get sick, make sure to call me so I can bring you some hot soup!

PS. The new word of the month is "emerge". What does this mean to you?

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