26 June 2011

Inviting Inspiration

It's been a very long time since I've painted - I mean, really painted. Inspiration seems to have been happily vacationing for months and months, and I, trying to regain it, have attributed my creative dry spell to a number of reasons. Maybe it's a result of changes in my everyday life, I thought; or maybe it's because I need a big, beautiful watercolor journal. Whether these are truths or blatant excuses, darlings, is of no matter, for just look what can happen if you start painting anyway.

Did you notice the bit of candle wick that fell onto the page as I was adding wax?

Starting - picking up a paintbrush, a camera, a pen - can be one of the most difficult things to do in a creative's life when inspiration has vanished. If we feel we have nothing to give, our minds ask us why we should we begin at all. And so we get discouraged, believing that we have lost our gift, and sink deeper into a creative rut. Let me share a secret with you, darling, one that I must remind myself of again and again and again: often, the inspiration comes in the creating.

If you are a writer, then write. If you find that you've created three pages of gibberish, so be it; it is in the practicing, the mechanical stringing together of words, that a spark of inspiration can be born. If you are a photographer, take pictures of what is near you in this moment. The chair, the table, or the piano: the ordinary can be as incredible and breathtaking as the extraordinary.

And if you are a painter, an art journalist? Scribble on the page. Add candle wax. Glue down three dimensional objects like plastic netting or bubble wrap or sticks. Doodle. Close your eyes and add some paint. Sew with embroidery floss. Let your fingertips dance across the page, leaving swirls of color behind. Drip paint. Be unexpected: purposely use color combinations you aren't drawn to and place images where you don't think they should go - surprise yourself!

The art will come, if you only allow your creative mind the opportunity to come out to play; inspiration likes to run away, laughing, and so loves to be chased. Yes, my dear friends, begin. This is the very most difficult step, a conquering of the mind to make way for the soul. I believe with all my heart that it will open doors to a magnificently rich and colorful world that is waiting for you this very moment. I believe you have masterpieces to create.

I believe in you.

For larger images and more photos of this spread, please click here.

22 June 2011

Message to the World

A week ago I wrote about authenticity and honesty. Even after posting my thoughts, I continue to have swirling ideas and questions of what exactly it is I want to share, give, grow, and achieve at this dear space. Today I came across this lovely video, shared by a father who blogs for a living, which gifted me a much needed reminder.

What he speaks about strongly resonates with me: your most beautiful work is presented - and people are most interested in what you have to tell the world - when you share what you love. Passion speaks loudly, and beautifully, and is contagious. I have seen this again and again in my own life: posts that I write that I love and wholeheartedly believe in receive far more positive responses than those that are a result of guilt (yes, darlings, I do feel so awful when I leave this space quietly waiting for weeks!).

"Tell the world something important." Tell the world about something you love! Tell the world about something you celebrate and are excited about, something that makes you glow from the inside out, something that makes you giggle and jump and sing for joy.

This, of course, extends beyond blogging; this is a philosophy to adopt for life. Follow your passion. Listen to your heart. Share with the world something important, something only you can give: your beautiful self, your gifts, your talents and smile and your love.

And so I'm paying close attention once again to those things that light me up and bring a sparkle to my eyes. Along the way I'm playing with ideas of what might light you up, too!

What will your message to the world be?

21 June 2011

Summer is a-Comin' In

"the earth laughs in flowers." - e.e. cummings

This morning I awoke
at dawn, wanting to watch the sun rise above the world on this summer solstice morning. But from outside my window I could see an overcast sky and could hear the dripping of rain, and I slipped back into slumber.

The longest day of sunlight in the year - and the soon following Midsummer - have always been magical, exotic occasions for me. I suppose quite a bit of that stems from my love of Shakepeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream and the presence of the spirits, sprites, and fairies within the play; and on the solstice, it seems that anything is possible.

It is on days like these when I sense more than ever that the natural world is vibrantly alive, that the birds chattering outside are in fact singing sweet secrets to one another, and that the whole planet is laughing joyously at the beauty and magic it contains. While I wasn't able to watch the sun rise this morning, the skies have since cleared and the world is bathed in rich sunlight, and I dream of wearing a long flowing skirt, putting flowers in my hair, singing to the trees, and meditating with the sun. How will you celebrate?

Wishing you endless inspiration, adventure, and amazement today.
Welcome, sweet, warm, dreamy summer!

17 June 2011

Inspired by Jennifer Mercede

After stumbling across Jennifer Mercede's beautiful artwork, I was inspired to try my hand at playing with repetitive whimsical patterns and colors. My first attempt turned out to be far more about the process than the results, but that is all that art journaling is about! This spread was so much fun to create, and was a wonderful practice in playing, trusting instincts, and letting go. I'm definitely going to try this again soon.

You can find all of Jennifer's beautiful artwork at her Flickr account. Check it out!

13 June 2011

Into the Wild Blue Yonder

A few days ago I flew several thousand miles back to the United States from Germany. Leaving my Love is always incredibly difficult, as is leaving all the excitement of adventure and travel; but the three years we have been together have taught quite a bit about patience, trust, and smart ways to save money and ways to ease the long flight between continents. Today I'd like to share some of the tips and tricks I've gathered, and perhaps inspire you to do some travelling of your own!

The very most important thing about traveling internationally:

Be aware that American credit/debit cards, including Visa, do not work in either the EU or in England. Most American cards do not have the computer chip necessary to work in stores or ATMs. (See photo comparisons of the American and European.) This was a big, big surprise to me. Plan accordingly! And now, onto more good stuff.

Buying the Ticket
It is fairly common knowledge that one must shop around for airplane tickets in order to find the best price. Some companies, such as Orbitz and Expedia, are well known; however, I've found that these are often overpriced - I've found tickets for more than $200 less than they were offering! Instead, I suggest you check out Cheapoair, Kayak, Mobissimo, Travelzoo, or Vayama for better deals and to compare prices with those you find on the airline's website, Orbitz, and Expedia.

Some more tips:
  • The time when you purchase the ticket matters. Late at night, early in the morning, and on weekdays you will find better deals; weekend afternoons and evenings always display the most expensive tickets.
  • When day of the week you fly matters: Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays are the most expensive days to travel.
  • Be flexible! If you are able to, see what prices might be if you change your stay by a day or two. If you're really flexible, try a week.
  • Generally, the more in advance you buy the ticket, the cheaper it will be. However, some airlines and travel sites offer last minute deals - but don't count on these if you simply must be somewhere!
  • Always allow yourself plenty of time to check prices. Ticket costs fluctuate on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, and the more often you check, the better you can decide when is best to buy.
  • Prices drop like a stone in September and skyrocket in May. (Think of it this way: when children are out of school, prices go up.)

What to Wear When Flying
When I fly, layers of comfortable clothing are my very best friends. The departure city, airport, airplane, and arrival city are likely not all the same temperature, and wearing a tank top, long shirt, and sweatshirt help to keep warm or cool. Jeans usually become uncomfortable quickly, especially if I hope to sleep on the flight; I've taken to wearing leggings instead. Comfort is especially important if your journey is very long; usually I am on the go for about fourteen hours when traveling to see my Love.

To make the security line a little easier, wear slip-on shoes, don't wear jewelry (fingers also swell on long flights, and rings become uncomfortable, as can earrings), and avoid a belt if you can.

A few more thoughts on going through security:
  • Pack all your large bottles of liquid (lotion, shampoo, perfume, etc.) in the baggage you'll check. Use a small ziplock bag for smaller items that you want to take with you; they'll ask you to take it out at security.
  • Take out your laptop as you stand in line; you will always be asked to have it separate from your other bags!

What to Bring on the Flight
Long flights can be both boring and uncomfortable. To make them more enjoyable, take these things with you and keep them in arms' reach:
  • An empty reusable water bottle - I have this one - in your carry-on bag. While you won't be able to bring any drinks through security, you can find a water fountain at your gate and save yourself from overpriced drinks and dehydration on the plane.
  • Things to keep you entertained: books, crochet (don't bring knitting - security wouldn't like the needles), iPod, crossword puzzles, travel art journal, etc.
  • Warm socks! My feet always get cold on long flights, and often my feet swell uncomfortably in shoes.
  • An eye mask may seem to be only for the well-seasoned traveler, but is an investment that will help with passing the time and overcoming jet lag. Plus, you'll never know when it will come in handy in everyday life, like on a long car ride or in a too bright dorm or hotel room. They have stylish ones, too; I bought this for myself a few months ago.
  • Toothbrush and travel-sized toothpaste. This is a must for long overnight flights, and helps me feel both hygienic and happier than when I traveled without them. Target sells toothbrush cases and travel-sized toothpaste, both for one dollar.
  • A ziplock bag with moist baby wipes, which can help keep hands (and faces) clean and unsticky throughout the flight.

And just a few more things (my goodness, this is a long post) about traveling:
  • British Airways is one of the best airlines I have ever flown. Their staff is always courteous, accommodating, and professional, the airplanes are spacious and clean, there are far more options for films and music during the flight, and they are reliable and punctual. I highly recommend them.
  • My Love and I have different thoughts on which seat is most comfortable on a long flight. I prefer the aisle, so that I can get up easily without crawling all over someone else; he prefers to have a window seat so that he can lean against the wall to sleep. It's all a matter of preference, I suppose!
  • Always bring cash with you, at least fifty dollars or the equivalent, for just-in-case-of-an-emergency.
  • American banks will exchange money for you, but it takes a few weeks to sort it out; plan ahead! In England, post offices will change money; in Germany, a bank will do it if you know someone with an account there.
  • Companies in the airport that change currency for you take a big commission and you will lose money. One upside to changing money with Travelex is that they will give you a free debit card with the necessary computer chip.
  • When you have a layover, leave at least one hour between connecting flights on different airlines; two hours is better. This time will be spent getting through security and running from one gate to another. Keep in mind that some airports are enormous and walking time between two gates can be upwards of twenty minutes, even for the same airline. International flights also board much earlier than domestic ones, and it's far better to have too much time than too little.

Whew! And that, friends, is everything that I can think of, for the time being. I suppose this proves just how much I've learned in the past few years. I do hope this is helpful if you are planning on taking a trip in the future; please do share if you learn something yourself or have any other tips and tricks about travel!

12 June 2011

In All Honesty

My feet, waiting to find the right path.

I'm going to be honest, loves: I'm struggling.

I'm struggling with who I am in this moment and who it is that I want to be. I'm struggling with how to achieve authenticity in my life, and how to without question or fear fight for the life I most want to live. I am struggling with negotiating others' expectations of me and the dreams I have for myself.

This topic of honesty has been circulating the blogging world quite frequently as of late. Moorea wrote a beautiful post in April about being honest in loving oneself. iHanna explored the idea of authenticity in blogging. (Her blog server is currently down and therefore I'm unfortunately unable to link to the post.) Miss Dancing Mermaid wrote about this topic, too, and Kendra opened her heart to her readers and shared her difficulty in finding out what it is she has to offer the world.

When I was first introduced to the blogging world, I indulged in the writings of the creative world; I soaked up art journaling and crafting, and forged my own blog after these passions. Recently, however, I have found myself drawn to blogs very different, blogs about about family and everyday life - like those written by these two beautiful authors that I gravitate to again and again.

I am still trying to find the right words with which to describe what it is that draws me to them, but, inarticulately put, it is their possession of two simple things they have that I long for: a home, and the physical presence of those they love. My heart aches more and more for a place that belongs to me, one in which I can put up fairy lights and buy cups and bowls to fill the kitchen shelves; but more than this, I ache for a one way plane ticket to my Dearest.

I want stability and control, a life of my own. The two years of schooling that remain before me are a frustrating barrier between me and freedom to make these dreams reality; unfortunately, the degree I will receive at the end of my time at university is what will allow me more choices in creating the life I hope for.

Though I still adore drinking in the incredible creativity and inspiration I find on fellow artists' blogs, my own passion for creating has ebbed as a result, I think, of the reality I face in this moment. And it is this I am struggling with - the prospect of having to wait, simply wait, for opportunities that lie two years in the future.

And that, my sweets, is my truth, raw and imperfect in this moment.

PS. I'd be so grateful if you could answer two quick questions about my Etsy shop! Click here if you have a moment to spare - thanks!

09 June 2011

Fly Away

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Yesterday, we visited the animals at the zoo. Tomorrow, I fly back to North America. One month - poof! - gone in the blink of an eye, as it always is. It's been such a lovely, lovely trip; my heart is so full, and I will miss being here.

I've been working on several posts, but in truth have been having a great deal of difficulty finding the words to finish them. These are posts about travel and self-development and honesty, and another introduction to a wonderful artist from 21 Secrets. Soon. In the meantime, I've been soaking up the wisdom of Goddess Leonie and the sweet quietness of Erin Darcy's blog.

Sending you so much love, my beautiful friends. I'll see you on the other side of the Atlantic!


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