27 February 2010

Saturday Challenge #39

Photo via nori8000.

As we get older, most of us settle into routines in one way or another. We use the same shampoo, we shop at the same stores, we go about our days in ways that, we have learned, suits us well. (What sorts of things do you do consistently and routinely?)

Today, I challenge you to step outside your comfort zone! Eat a food you don't much like or one that you haven't tried before. Try a totally different style of painting. Wear outrageous clothing, or wear unremarkable clothing - whatever your usual style is not. Drive a different way to the grocery store. Say hello to strangers you might usually be intimidated to talk to!

The cliché saying "think outside of the box" is one that applies hugely to artists of any sort. Push yourself to try unusual, different, and slightly uncomfortable things, and you will learn, you will grow, and you will become an even better you! Happy stretching!

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, please send an email to mypeacetree2 (at) gmail (dot) com!

25 February 2010

Waiting Impatiently

View from the airport on my last trip to Germany.

In just a few hours, my Dear One will be on his way to the airport. He will get on an airplane and he will fly over the Atlantic Ocean, and, if all goes well - I'm a little worried about this snowstorm - at 3:35 tomorrow afternoon, he will step onto American ground and shortly thereafter will be in my arms.

Long distance relationships are not easy. Far, far from it. They take an extraordinary amount of trust, patience, love, and persistence, and at times can be frustrating and lonely and painful. But in that single moment when I lay eyes on my Love once again after three long months; when my heart nearly beats out of my chest and I fall in completely and hopelessly in love all over again; in that moment, I am certain that I would have nothing less than this beautiful, imperfect, hard wonderful relationship I share with a Really Great Man.

24 February 2010

Spiritual Matters

A few days ago, a question arrived in my Formspring inbox. 'You seem very in touch with your soul and spirit,' it read, 'What are your religious views?' This is a lovely question, and one I very much want to answer. Firstly I'd like to say that I do not affiliate myself with any one religion or belief; I am on my own journey to discover what it is that I believe - a journey that will last the length of my life. Please note that I do respect every individual's own journeys of religion and spirituality and I ask you to respect mine. You are welcome to express your own views, but rude and disrespectful comments will not be tolerated - this goes for responding to others' comments as well.

Below, I have written some things in which I strongly believe. I admit that they are more general beliefs than specific comments on religion; I do not think that this blog is the proper place to express my specific views on different faiths. I encourage you to please write to me if you have any further questions or would like clarification on any of the things I have stated here. My email address is mypeacetree2 (at) gmail (dot) com.

Above anything else, I believe that everyone on this planet deserves to be loved and respected. I think that if everyone were treated in this way, the world would be a much different place. I also believe that everyone holds within them something beautiful beyond measure, and that we all share a deep human connection regardless of our differences. I believe in love in all its forms and that it can heal great wounds.

I believe that because the earth - the trees, the mountains, the oceans - has been around for far longer than we, if we are quiet and observant we will come to learn its ancient wisdoms. I believe that all of the natural world should be treated with the utmost respect and care, and I believe that every life is a sacred, beautiful, and important.

I believe that many religions share ideals, and that we are not as different as some would have us think. I believe that when it comes to religious and spiritual matters, no one has the right to tell another that they are "wrong" or "right".

I believe that each of us can be better than we are: more kind, more good, more selfless, more loving. I believe that happiness is more important than money, and that too many people in our modern world forget what is important due to their haste. I believe in seeing the beauty in the ordinary and in having wonder and appreciation for a golden sunrise, an uncurling blossom, a hard-working ant. I believe that you reap what you sow.

And lastly - for this post, anyway - I do believe that there is Something after death; what it is, I cannot know until I leave this world and arrive there. But I do believe that it is more a more wonderful place than we could ever begin imagine.

Now, tell me, if you'd like: what religious or spiritual things have you come to believe in your life thus far? What is important to you, and what is not? And what is the truest thing you know?

23 February 2010

A Burst of Inspiration

Video by Dancing Mermaid; music by Amy Steinburg.

This makes me want to do a post on children and their unwavering belief in unlimited possibility and goodness in the world. Absolutely inspiring.

20 February 2010

Saturday Challenge #38

Detail of an art journal spread by me.

I believe, without exception, that everyone is an artist. Many I have met, however, do not agree - and it seems that the majority of those who say this are the ones who wish in their heart of hearts to be called "artist". Many compare themselves to other artists and tell themselves that they'll never be so "good" or "talented"; some continue to create, laughing at what they think is "not good enough", and some shove their art in a corner give up trying.

Today, whatever you think of your own abilities, I challenge you to create anyway. Instead of focusing on the end result, enjoy the process. Let your art turn out far differently than you expected it to - it's perfectly normal and okay if it does! If you get frustrated, turn the page or paint it over or write on top of it about how you feel. Let your inner child out to play, to splash, to color, to mess up and to create beautiful things that no one else in the world could replicate!

If you fill a sketchbook with drawings, start another, and fill that one, too. And then start another. And I promise you that your inner critic will become quieter and your inner artist will become more confident through persistence and continual practice and experimentation. And in the meantime, if you need support and a warm, gentle, welcoming place to bring out your artist self, go here. Read the guidelines. Share your art (even - especially - the art you dislike) and see what beauty others see in it that you do not. Please note that though it's "invitation only", I will welcome whomever wants to be a part; I simply want it to feel like a safe place to expose ones fears and insecurities and hopes!

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, please send an email to mypeacetree2 (at) gmail (dot) com!

19 February 2010

Breathing Life into Life

Photo by me.

What does it mean, really, be inspired by something? Is it that unnameable thing that draws us to a place or a work of art or a song, that things that makes us say, "I want to do that", or "I want to be like that"? Is it what plants ideas and excitement and dreams into our heads and hearts? Until I was challenged to really explore inspiration, I sort of assumed I knew what it meant even while not quite being able to define it. Before you read on, please take a moment and consider: what does inspiration mean to you?

Here is what Merriam-Webster has to say about it:
1 a : to influence, move, or guide by divine or supernatural inspiration b : to exert an animating, enlivening, or exalting influence on
2 a archaic : to breathe or blow into or upon b archaic : to infuse (as life) by breathing
The first definition - the second part, anyway; I'm not so sure that the first fits in this context - seems to make sense. The second definition, however, simply thrills me. "That painting inspires me - it breathes life into me." What poetry! I absolutely love the thought that the things that inspire me are the things that give me hope, that give me passion and drive and which by very definition "breathe life" into my being.

What things, ideas, and people breathe life into you? I challenged you all the way back in August to make a list of things that inspire you. Can you remember those things, and have you added to your list since? Please, share! Below is my very own lengthy and ever-growing collection of all the things - ordinary and extraordinary - that inspire me and thrill me and breathe life into my life! Are you prepared?

Here goes: bold color; twirly skirts; bare feet; the first warm day of spring; traveling; writing; other artists; lightning; wind; new projects; trees; animals - elephants and birds especially; children; flowers - peonies and roses and lilacs; the smell of oranges, freshly mown grass, and summer rain; the stars; music; languages; cameras and photography; blue skies; culture; philosophy - thoughts and questions and searching for bigger things; musicals; random acts of kindness; sweet words and compliments; belly-aching laughter; fluffy clouds; confident, strong women; the ocean; dancers; sunrises; sweet old movies; vocal jazz crooners - Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Ella Fitzgerald, and Billie Holiday; fairy lights;

Snail mail; hot showers; shooting stars; Vivaldi; beautiful quotes; sunlight; Europe; the sound of a cello; dollhouses; delicious hugs and kisses from my special someone; birds singing; new blank journals; wind chimes; handmade things; sock monkeys and other stuffed beings; vintage jewelry; bras that fit; independence; reassurances;
Waldorf things; beautiful names; mixed media paintings with lots of layers; finding cheap flights; candlelight; the month of May; down comforters; rainy days; bookstores; so very many blogs; typewriters; love, love, love!

Smile, dance, and embrace life, for it is wonderful and grand and filled with such beautiful things. Have an inspired, sparkly weekend, my dear friends!

17 February 2010

These Happily Busy Days

Detail of a page for the I Heart Project.

Recently I've been doing quite a bit of rushing around, planning, and cleaning, because - guess what? - my Dear One is visiting soon! He will arrive in just nine days, to be precise. Many things have been happening in the art world, too:

1. Do you remember the postcard swap that I took part in? Three postcards have made their way into my mailbox thus far, each so unique and fantastic and beautiful! It is so much fun to get such a lovely present every day. I am very much looking forward to what comes in the days ahead. You can look at some of the postcards being sent out from all over the world here; prepare to be amazed!

2. A little while ago I sold a journal to the lovely Erica, who requested that I add some of my art to the cover. If you are interested, I will be happy to add one-of-the-kind, original art to a medium journal (for $9 extra) or a large journal (for $10 extra). Please email or convo me first so that I can create a custom listing for you; if you do not, I won't be able to do the art for you.

3. Micaela, the author of
The Drifter and the Gypsy, had a brilliant idea for a project several months ago. She mailed off two pieces of paper to all who were interested in participating - and each recipient is to explore the prompt "What inspires you?" through any means they'd like. I've nearly finished my pages - on them, a tree stretches its branches, stars twinkle in a darkening sky, and three women in tall hats gather to share dreams and ideas. Look at a few of the pages that others have finished here. This project has caused me to think quite a bit about not just what inspires me, but what it actually means to be inspired - something I will explore more thoroughly in an upcoming post.

And how are you, my sweet readers? What have you been working on and dreaming about? Have your days been filled with smiles and love and color and magic? I do hope so!

PS. Will you - oh will you please? - will you be my friend on Facebook?

13 February 2010

Saturday Challenge #37

Quote by Samuel Lover, photo by me.

My family celebrates Valentine's Day in what I assume is different than the rest of the country. Instead of only romantic love, we celebrate universal love: the love of family and friends and strangers. We remind each other that we are loved, deeply, and that each of us is individual and unique and very much appreciated for who we are. I like our little tradition quite a bit; it brings us together instead of pushing us apart due to differences in relationship status. Love brings us together. None of us feels lonely or neglected.

This weekend I want to remind you that you are loved. Taken or single, you are loved, and you are important, and you are appreciated. This weekend, I challenge you to buy yourself flowers and go on a date with yourself if you do not have a partner. Spend time with those who love you and those you love. Give and receive hugs. Leave love notes for strangers. Pass the love on!

I wish you a Valentine's Day that is filled with wonderful things, happy moments, many smiles, good surprises, and perhaps a kiss or two!

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, please send an email to mypeacetree2 (at) gmail (dot) com!

12 February 2010

Swapping: Handmade Postcards

I came back from the Post Office
a little while ago. I sent off ten postcards to five different countries, and soon I will receive ten postcards from other corners of the world! (And all of this is due to the hard work and supreme organization of a sweet Swedish woman named Hanna - a big thank you to you, lovely!)

It was a little intimidating to sign up for something so big - there are more than a hundred people involved in this swap! - but I closed my eyes and took the leap. It feels so great to make something with your very own hands and then send it off into the big world, to be loved and appreciated by a stranger hundreds or thousands of miles away. What an amazing thing that is!

Check out all my postcards here.
PS. Did you enter this giveaway yet? This giveaway ended on 16 February.


{Updated 17 Feb.}

Dearest visitors,

Hello, hello! Thank you so very much for taking the time to take a peek into my little world here. This swap was such a wonderful experience, and I'm only just now realizing that making the postcards is only half the fun; already I've discovered many new blogs and new friends. What an incredible thing to connect with so many people around the world with something so simple as a postcard. A heartfelt thank you to everyone involved!

And now, the postcards. The first one here is my favorite - which one do you like best?

This one (above) arrived to its new home in NY today (17 Feb).

I didn't realize that this was blurry until I uploaded it - after I'd already sent it!

11 February 2010

The Sister Story

Brother's foot, taken summer 2009.

Can we have a heart-to-heart? Oh, do let's, please!

I am the eldest child of two. My brother is an intelligent, charming, mature young man who is loved by many and has huge (I mean enormous) potential. He works hard and is taking college courses as a senior in high school and bought his own car earlier this past year. It is hard not to compare myself to an eighteen-year-old who is applying to Brown and Swarthmore, is confident and unafraid and fairly certain of where he wants to be in five or ten years, and who is loved and admired by so, so many.

When I was a teenager, I was a wreck. I struggled with - and still struggle with - the effects of emotional and psychological abuse. I didn't know where I wanted to go or what I wanted to do; I didn't care for money and only dreamt of traveling the world, making art, and connecting with others on a human level. (I still do.) I struggled against my parents and I didn't have a steady job. I applied to a crappy school and had a crappy experience, and I chose to leave after just one year. And here I am three years later, still waiting for something to happen to me.

It's hard when those close to you seem to achieve and surpass dreams and expectations. It's hard when someone who should be looking up to you seems to be looking down from heights you feel you will never achieve. But - please reassure me - we all have our own paths, yes? We each must measure our own successes with our own yardsticks and rulers; we each have something unique and amazing to give to the world and we each must take our own time to figure out exactly what it is. We must never give up and we must always look ahead.

I choose Hope. Do you?

09 February 2010

Wintry Blue Giveaway!

Dear friends,

I'm nervously and excitedly hosting my very first giveaway over at Kendra's blog! Up for grabs is a crocheted pencil case, two inspirational postcards, and a sweet little index card book - all entirely handmade by me in wintry colors! Kendra is celebrating her 100th post and has three other giveaways going as well as mine. Please check them out! (Please note that by leaving a comment on this post, you are not entered into the giveaway; you must go to Kendra's blog and enter there.) The deadline is Tuesday, February 16th.

If you're interested, you can find a similar pencil case in my Etsy shop, and I'm busy making more!
Best of luck,

08 February 2010

Love Letter

In German: "My sweet treasure."

To my Dearest ~

Who is so shy about having his picture taken; who laughs with me at silly television shows and who dries my tears every time we must say good-bye; who teases and tickles, who sweeps me off my feet, who steals the last bite on my plate; whose voice is music and whose embrace is heaven ~

To the one who bears the thousands of miles and the ocean between us just because he loves me ~

Happy, happy, happy birthday. I wish you three hundred and sixty five days filled with the most wonderful, beautiful, happy things imaginable. Ich liebe dich so sehr!

07 February 2010

Six Things

From last week's secrets.

I have visited the PostSecret website every week without exception for about three years. Today, PostSecret is unable to post its weekly secrets due to a power outage in Maryland; this is only the second time since the project's birth that the secrets have not been posted! I have decided, in its honor, to share six things that you perhaps did not know about me before.
  1. I dream almost every single night, very vividly and realistically, and usually can remember three or four dreams (or parts of dreams) when I wake up. It's a quite a bit of fun.
  2. I want to visit so many places in the world: Italy, Greece, Spain, Morocco, France, Romania, Mexico, and India are some of the top ones on my list. Most of these places are in Europe, I know - but all of Africa also has a special place in my heart, and I'm not entirely sure why. Someday I'd love to visit and perhaps someday even live there for a little bit.
  3. I love to go swing dancing. I haven't gone for quite a while, but I've been somewhat involved for a few years now. I love the music and the environment and learning new steps - it's really not nearly as difficult as it might look!
  4. I have a big love affair with theater. I love watching it, acting it, analysing it, living it, and breathing it. Sadly, I haven't been in a show since 2007 - but I really hope to get involved with it again soon.
  5. I dabble a bit on the piano. I'm self-taught, but since I read music before I started playing it was much easier to pick it up. It's another way that I like to express myself.
  6. I have three grandmothers (one is a step-grandmother, but she married into my family long before I was born), and they are from Brazil, the US, and Sweden. I call each of them by the word "grandmother" in their language: vovó, grandma, and mormor.
If you like, you can read about why I love PostSecret so much, and you can find out some more about me here and here!
Have a beautiful day, friends!

{Update} The PostSecret website has been updated for this week! Go check it out.

06 February 2010

Saturday Challenge #36

Today, I challenge you to take a deep breath - inhale.. exhale. Listen. Slow down, observe the world around you. Relax. Light some candles, take a bubble bath, read. Be still. Breathe.

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, please send an email to mypeacetree2 (at) gmail (dot) com!

04 February 2010

Swapping: The Envelope Journal

Earlier in the week, I signed up for another swap on Swap-bot. It was a very last minute decision - I almost missed the deadline! - and is the most involved swap I've participated in so far. Each day for thirty one days I will write on a given topic about myself: my home town, my likes, my dislikes, my family, and so on. We were to write these in a journal that we'd made or bought; I wanted to be a little more original with mine, so I made an envelope journal!

I wrote an email to make sure that the recipient will be happy to open thirty one individually sealed envelopes (and she is!); it'd be such a shame if she were expecting a traditional book-like journal and was disappointed with what she received instead!

Each envelope has been handmade out of colorful magazine pages. I made a custom template (based on the last one on this page) and traced, cut out, and glued each one, punched holes in the bottom of each, and threaded ribbon through. For the covers I used squares cut from a cereal box and covered in German newspaper! It took a huge amount of time, but I am absolutely in love with the way that it turned out.

I won't share with you what I will put inside, as that is between me and my swap partner. But if you have the time and the patience, maybe you'd like to try to make one of these little books? You can of course make these with normal, ready-made envelopes, too - I just liked the color and shape of my hand-made ones better. You could also alternate the envelopes with normal pages! There are so many ways to play around with this idea.

I will leave you with two more photos and many wishes for a lovely Thursday evening!

03 February 2010

Beautiful Beyond Measure

This lovely image is via thelastdisco.

You should never apologize for who you are.

It can be tempting, sometimes, for whatever reason - I know. But as hard and scary as it can be, you must stand up and say "This is me, and I will not nor cannot be anyone else!" Lovely, you are beautiful inside and out, as sparkly as new snow, radiant as the sun, as deep as the ocean! And you are filled with so many complex, wonderful thoughts and ideas and dreams woven together and together and together again. There is nothing to apologize for. You are you, and you are a splendid you!

With love,

02 February 2010

Etsy Update

My dear little Etsy shop is now stocked! I've made six brown journals in three sizes - the same kind of journal I used for my last art journal except more carefully and neatly made. They are priced at $8, $6, and $4, with free shipping for those in the US! Wander over and take a peek!

01 February 2010

Shortest Month of the Year

One month ago today we were celebrating the newness of 2010, marveling at its possibility and dreaming about what the months ahead would bring. We chose words, planned goals, and made wishes with eyes closed tight - and here we are, thirty one days later! February, welcome! You bring us an appreciation of all who are dear to us, and a reminder of what love means. This chilly winter weather will continue, but each day will host a little bit more sunshine, inviting us to daydream of spring!

The new word of this month is uncluttered. Let's do a bit of early spring cleaning and clear our minds and our homes of all the mess and rubbish that hold us back from achieving all those grand, important things that we dream of completing. We should take another look at the goals we have set for this year, setting aside whatever excuses or doubts that have crept into our minds in the past month. Renew your efforts in listening to your heart and doing what it takes to make your dreams reality. Consider February a second beginning!

PS. Just a few more tidbits I'd like to share with you:
  • I have added a little widget called "Skribit" to the right side of my blog. If you have any suggestions for posts or have great ideas, please feel free to submit them there.
  • You can follow me on Facebook here - let's be the best of friends!
  • I have been answering personal questions here. If you'd like to know anything about me, you're invited to be as nosy as you like!
  • If you haven't already, come join me on Twitter! I post lots of great links there that don't make it onto the blog.
I also wanted to mention again how very much I appreciate your comments. I read each and every single one, and though I often don't know what to say except a thousand "thank yous", I am humbled and grateful for the kindness you have shown me. This journey would not be at all as wonderful as it is without every one of you.


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