Sunday, May 31, 2009


It is much too early to be up, but I've given up on sleep. Actually, it feels kinda good to be awake. The sky is somewhere between night and morning. The birds are just barely beginning their overload of chirping.

Vinny and I went out to our new place yesterday and it was my first time seeing it since we originally went to look at it. We brought the dogs and our first small load with us--and (holy wow) it was just as incredible as I remembered it. I've never seen Louie and Ella so happy to be somewhere. Being "city dogs," I expected them to be reluctant or nervous--nope(!), they act like they've returned to a place they've known and loved forever. Anu, my wolfie, is a country girl. No doubt she'll fit right right back into it. But the ridiculous amounts of happiness in Louie and Ella's eyes and bodies was something to be behold. Zowzers!

A lot like the dogs, I couldn't drink it in deep enough (the smells, the sky, the quiet). I am looking forward to taking daily walks in the vineyard, the habits of undisturbed painting, and stepping outside every morning to the hush of a new world.

God, I am ready for this. The best part is that this relatively unexpected turn of events feels perfectly natural. As we drove home we noted how life can take us in directions that we could never imagine until we get there. Gosh, and I feel weepy as I write this. Not weepy sad...but weepy full of life. Glass half full, glass overflowing sort of full.

Yes, it feels good to be awake and writing. I couldn't sleep because I have a whirlwind of thoughts inside of me trying to find a plan and some sense of organization within me. After returning from "the farm" (it's not a farm, we just like calling it that) I found myself persistently whining to Vinny that I wanted to go back--and when I wasn't whining this thought to him, he was whining it to me. Technically, the place is not ours for another 4-6 weeks, depending on how quickly we get our current place rented out. We've been granted permission to start moving stuff into the garage and to use the garden, but it looks like we'll be in Limbo Land for at least a few more weeks.

Once home, despite the fact that I should be doing nothing else but preparing for a big art fair next weekend, I spent several hours packing and rearranging the house in preparation for stacking boxes. Our current house has hereby taken on a very definate "temporary" feel. The living room is a stack of both empty and full boxes and the dining room is nothing more than a table pushed to the window to make room for even more boxes.

We have an incredible amount of STUFF and this, along with my many work related summer projects, is what kept me up all night. I have no idea how I am going to make everything happen. But I do know that miracles do happen on a regular basis and that it will be worth every single sleepless night.

The house we're moving into is roughly half the size of what we're living in now. I am completely unwilling to take anything with me that no longer serves me. This is a liberating feeling...if only there was more time to focus on it. I laid in bed all night chewing on these muddy, disorganized thoughts...but then I got up and, as I brewed a cup of coffee, it dawned on me that this can look any way I want it to. It's all a matter of perspective, baby.

I might not have a lot of time on my side, but what I do have is the power of intention. I can intend for this to go gracefully, smoothly, quickly. After all, I have only spent a few hours on packing so far and, except for furniture, I have nearly emptied two rooms. Of course, the junk that once inhabited those rooms is mostly in boxes piled in the basement...but who's to say those piles won't go quickly also?

My goal? My goal is to have a massive rummage sale and to have nearly everything except our furniture and clothes moved by the end of June. It makes me nervous not knowing when we have to be out of this house, but I want to be ready when the time comes. I'm perfectly happy to live like I'm camping in this house until we're actually able to legitimately move into the new place.

And I realize that this blog post is probably completely mind numbing to the world at large, but (amazingly) I'm just writing this for myself (guess you'll have to just bare with me). Once upon a time, I used my blog for this kind of writing all the time. I miss that. It feels good to finally be able to let my guard down, to ramble, and to bore my readers to death. It means that my life is finally lacking editable drama--and I like it that way.

These days I feel myself returning to my whole self. I feel myself returning to and moving towards a cumulative power of being. My writing brain is rusty, but the sun has now risen fully. A new stage of the journey...this is always the best part: the beginning.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

50 acres of wild and a whole lotta hobbit hole happiness...

Three years ago we moved into a magical little ivy-covered bungalow. It was everything we hoped for, dreamed of, and wanted. I wrote a note to the Universe detailing the specifics of my what I wanted in a home and it was delivered with shocking accuracy. Not to mention, we found it through what I can only describe as divine intervention (a story too long to tell right now, but perhaps you'll just believe me). This place has served us well. Our front door faces a 500+ acre park and our back yard overlooks the Minneapolis skyline. We're 5 minutes from down town and hardly a hop and a skip into the park. The past 3 years, in many ways, have been kind to us. This place has allowed Vinny and I to grow and change and grow some more.

But then one day we realized that this magical little home had served its purpose and that we were beginning to outgrow it. The loveliness wore off and we began to feel a bit suffocated. The ivy was torn off by hired painters, we adopted two more dogs and, well, for no particular reason at all, the place just sort of lost its sparkle for us. We became hungry, once again, for stars and wildness and privacy. We became hungry for sky and space and the kind of nature that a city park just doesn't satisfy.

And so, about a month ago, we started dreaming about the possibilities. I started journaling and list-making about what we wanted. Vinny and I spoke our far-fetched dreams out loud with each other. Then I wrote another letter to the Universe, put it in my "Wish Box" and two days later...

Oh, sweet wildness!!

We got everything we were dreaming for and WAY MORE!!!! I can't help myself...I am giddy with excitement! Today we signed a lease for 50 acres of wilderness. Would it be obvious if I told you that it was love at first sight? Oh my, such an understatement! I don't even know where to begin! (I hate being so dramatic about things, but it really is worthy of giddiness and exclamation points!!)

OK, so how 'bout I start with a description...
50 acres of wildness, 5 acres of vineyard, a pond, endless trails, sprawling hardwood forests, an old railroad bridge and views that take your breath away, a loooooong and winding driveway, compete privacy. We'll live in an earth home (our sweet lil' hobbit hole) complete with an open loft (my office), wood stove, passive solar heat (read: super energy efficient and LOTS of light), gravity fed water from the crystal clear center of the earth delivered via a working windmill....
AND last, but not least(!)...
a separate earth-home-constructed workshop/STUDIO complete with big windows, big walls, big space and running water!!! Oh, holy wonderful!!! Did I mention the big garden that's tucked behind it? Did I mention the graceful white crane, the deer, the beaver lodge and nesting geese? Did I mention the giant weeping willow, the quiet, and the happy beating of my heart?

Seriously people. The place stole our hearts and our breath.

It is in the middle of no where and, despite the remoteness of it all, there was a steady stream of lookers to see the place. 20, 30...?? What the hell? I had never seen such a turn out! We wanted it bad. And we also knew the fact that we have (not one, not two, not three, but) FIVE pets might be an issue.

Vinny and I explored the trails and vineyard and--Oh, holy beautiful!!! It was so amazing that the shine that was beaming out of me nearly dissolved my skin!

I returned to the hobbit hole (where he was already talking to the next group of people) to leave our information. By that point, I'm fairly certain that my glow was bright enough to blind just about anyone. I gave him my phone number and quietly gushed that we loved it. He got it. He picked up on it. Know what I mean? And in that moment I felt something click into place. You know that click? The one that happens when something is about to change? That good feeling know the one I'm talking about? Yes, that's the one.

It clicked.
And now, despite the crowd, despite our huge animal family, despite all the things that could have gone wrong...
the lease is signed.

I've already brought home my first load of boxes.
The packing begins!


Friday, May 15, 2009

cheap thrills...

*Late night photo shoot with a Great Dane. Laying on the ground outside with my camera. Bad photos. Inspired to do it again.

*The soft smell of lavender incense.

*ipod playing on shuffle...India rhythms getting into my bones.

*$5 rummage sale find: a little red table that will work perfectly for my booth at upcoming art fairs.

*Open windows.

*Vacuumed floors (it's shedding season!).

*A vase filled with lilacs, sitting to the left of my computer (mmmmm....drinking in the smell) some from my yard and some from the neighbor's across the alley, resulting in a perfect combination of purple.

*Drinking coffee from a perfect handmade porcelain mug purchased on Etsy from this girl.

*Meeting with friends for lunch at an inexpensive Lebanese Restaurant where people at the tables next to you treat you like family.

*And, of course, the possibilities... those endless possibilities.

Here's to noticing the little things. ;)


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Turn-around time.

I am glad to finally be really and truly out from under the black cloud that has been following me since this past January. I like to think of myself as resilient and optimistic, but the details of life have surely challenged this notion. It is a relief to finally be feeling a sense of hope and inspiration on a much more even plane--not just the stops and starts I was temporarily experiencing before.

At the moment, there is a pile of dogs at my feet. They are sharing a bone--each chewing on an end in a Zen-like snuggle. For real, where did I find such generous, gorgeous beings? So much love seems absurd and, yet, there they are laying on the floor next to me. I like the little sounds they make. They make my world feel grounded and real and complete.

Earlier today, while on our morning walk, I turned left where I normally turn right. The path took us into the woods, a place where I rarely go since adopting 2 more dogs (after all, walking 3 dogs takes considerable concentration). It felt good. Actually, it felt more than good. Having been a long time since my last visit to that wild part of the world, it felt new and unexplored. Down a trail deeper in the park, we came across enormous oak trees that had fallen in a storm and were being cut up. A bramble of fallen logs and dead fall--the spongy wet smell of freshly sawed wood was intoxicating to the dogs and myself, alike. So intoxicating that I went flying and stubbed my flip-flopped toe good. The result was bright red blood and the most concerned look from my babe, Ella, that I've ever seen. Happiness was tested: felt more love than hurt and reveled at the loveliness of the morning, despite my newly acquired hobble.

I sit here drinking a cup of freshly brewed Columbian coffee--oh, such a dusty, sweet, earthy flavor (yum!)--getting ready to take on another day. Yesterday I started a new series of paintings that feel delicious and different. I am working on sponsorship packages to pay for several thousand dollars of marketing and event costs for an upcoming exhibition. I am feeling audacious. I am feeling hopeful. I am feeling like I have something to give in return.

Finally, once again, I fit my own skin.

Who knew that these past several months would mess me up so thoroughly? Who knew it would take so long to get from one side to the other? Granted, I'm not expecting life to get "easy." After all, like usual, I've bitten off almost more than I can chew. But something tells me that I'm headed in the right direction.

There are two phrases that keep repeating themselves in my head. The first are Obama's words: "The audacity of hope." The second is: "Never give up."

Here's the deal: There is nothing about my situation that is deserving of audacity or hope. There is nothing about my situation that guarantees that persistence will ever get me anywhere. I'm broke. My bank account is dangerously close to $0. The economy is in shambles. I work out of a studio in my basement. I have no idea if anything I ever do will ever amount to anything.

And YET...I feel HOPE. There is a sense of fearlessness that outweighs my fears--maybe just barely, but barely is just enough. Bare amounts of fearlessness is enough to push past the discomfort. It is just enough to instigate bravery. It amazes me how easy it is to slip into complacency. It's easier to simply do whatever is on the to-do list than it is to stretch beyond our own self-made boxes. But that is where hope lives. It lives in the what's-just-outside-of-what-we-already-know.

Anyway, these days I am striving to paint things in ways that I am inspired to paint them. I am inspired by 6 foot paintings and 6 inch paintings. I am reawakened by the extremes and comforted by the soft breeze that blows through an open window. I am inspired by my friends. I am inspired by what I do not yet know.

Life is moving on. Sometimes the turn-around time just takes patience.

Message for the day: NEVER GIVE UP.


Saturday, May 09, 2009

sunshine inspiration.

At the moment I am burning Sunrise incense and drinking a double espresso out of a small white cup. The morning sun is spilling across the dining room table where I sit with my laptop and journal, surrounded by color.

There are paintings leaned and stacked against the walls. There are candles and books and piles of magazines. A colorful rug, a purse, plants, and pottery. To be honest, this room is in sort of a jumble right now and, yet, it feels good when washed with so much sun.

I find myself hungry for words lately. And so I find myself returning to this space more often. Good thing, because I did not enjoy the absence.

I feel life "moving on"--and I like the way that feels, immensely.

I have so much to say! So many things that I have been thinking about, pondering, discovering, wondering....

This morning the world feels full of possibility. I mean, what if it is ALL possible? What if we are capable of much more than we realize? What if we found a way to make things happen?

Because when we really, really want something, I think the rest has a way of falling into place.

Dream in action. Stretch. Believe. Be Brave.


Friday, May 08, 2009

the verdict?

We found the 80 acres magical. Unfortunately, we found the leaking ceilings, the crumbling plaster walls, the sculpted gold shag carpet, and the toilet that was about to fall through the second-story bathroom floor less than magical. Old farm houses are bound to have their drawbacks, but this one had just a few too many of them. Yes, it is unfortunate because it certainly did come close to fitting our dream criteria-- including the claw foot tub, an old country sink in the kitchen, and a studio with extra high ceilings. After all, these things were on my list of dream details (written in a list the day before...and then they showed up!). It amazes me how the things I want have a way of manifesting themselves. It doesn't always happen, but when I really, really want something with nothing but a pure heart...there it is.

Granted, the place we looked at didn't meet all of our hopes (the layout was off and so were the house's "vibes"), but it did plant a seed. We had never been to that area of the state before and, well...we fell in love with it. "Only" 45 minutes away from the city and yet an entire world away. It is a place made up entirely of rolling hills, hardwoods, pine, and a sunset that took our breathes away. There are endless bends of rivers and creeks and dirt roads. We saw horses, deer, wild turkey and pheasant. And a nearly full moon rose full and fat over all of it. Who knows what we might find one of these days when all the details of the universe fall into perfect alignment. When something is right, we know it with our whole being. That place came close, but not quite.

I will say, however, that simply the idea of it lit a whole new circle of fires within me. Sometimes I can't get this idea machine of mine to turn off--this is both a blessing and a curse. The importance and meaningfulness of these ideas come in various depths, but it's the ones that cause cellular shifts that are the most satisfying of all. Oh, Life. I am full to the brim with inspirations that fill my heart to the point of overflowing.

This evening I went to my 9 year old nephew's school play. It was a story about the moon. Being (the most amazing) Montessori students, they wrote, choreographed and visioned the entire play themselves. It was over two hours long--an amazing endeavor considering their ages (9-12 year old). The music, comprised of several variations of drums, xylophones, xylorimbas, and flutes, caused shivers to run up and down the length of my spine. The play was sweet and funny, but it was also deep and wise. It was filled with enough magic to transport me completely.

At one point they turned down the lights completely. The darkness filled with firefly light of the kids' dancing and swirling--and it awakened something inside that happens is hard to explain, but magic is a pattern that I welcome wholeheartedly. It returns in little dips and doses and, for this, I am grateful. I had been living without it for much too long.


Thursday, May 07, 2009

80 acres.

Vinny and I are going to go look at some farmland this evening.

As I write that sentence I become aware of its absurdity. Nonetheless, we are restless and curious and dreaming of a place with breathing space and enough elbow room for the dogs to run. We've been dreaming of privacy and a night sky filled with stars. We dream about things like sunsets and distant horizons. And we imagine quiet sounds replacing the constant hum of freeway traffic.

I don't know if we'll actually make the move, but I do know that both of us are ready for a change. The house sits on 80 acres (a perfect combination of woods and field) outside of a little town. The little town comes complete with a grain elevator on Main Street (you know the sort of town I'm talking about, don't you?). And all of this sits right smack dab in the middle of nowhere.

Which leads to our only hesitation: the commute. Granted, working from home makes this easier for me, but Vinny would have a long drive 5 days a week and I would still have regular photoshoots and meetings in the city. We'll see. In short, this place will have to be made of magic before we'll actually do it--but magic IS something that I believe in. I've experienced it before. And I am ready to experience it again.

I've been living in the city for the past 3 years and, to be honest, I've loved most of it. But there is a bigger part of my heart that is built out of sticks and stones, woods and sky, stars and deer... I miss these things. Lately I feel the desire to retreat into nature. My true shine desires creative space, it desires heart space. And, in the process, I want to surround myself with nature's surprises.

I want to get back to my center. I want to listen to what is whispered in the wind. I want to paint farm dogs sitting in old red trucks. I want to have horses for neighbors. I want to be inspired by the colors of fire flies or the line of a fence separating ground from sky.

I've had trust broken and ideas stolen too many times in the past several months. I'm tired of it. I'm tired of the city mentality. I'm tired of people only watching out for themselves. I'm tired of feeling like I have to constantly be protecting my heart and inspirations. When I do this I close myself off. And when I close myself off I am also closing myself off the flow of love and without the flow of love I cannot do my work because the nature of my work IS love.

Granted, moving is not going to exactly change anything. We all know that we bring ourselves where ever we go.

What can I say? The idea of life in the country returns me to a deeper part of myself. Almost 4 years ago I sold my place up north. It was made up of open sky and woods and magic. The only place I loved as much was a little village high in the Himalayas of India. I will never be able to replace either of those experiences. But I do think I am ready to bring deep connection back into my life--however that decides to manifest itself.


Saturday, May 02, 2009


At the moment I am laying in bed surrounded by dogs. Louis is curled up on a mountain of clean clothes that have been in a pile on the floor all week. I can't imagine they're even all that clean anymore, but he just looks so content there. I don't have the heart to ask him to move.

It's been a long day--one that started at the crack of dawn. Today was the day of the Animal Humane Society's Walk for Animals. A fundraising event that brought in over 8,000 people and is, if I'm not mistaken, the largest walk in the United States. Last year at this time I had just defended my thesis (after the 2 long and agonizing years it took to write it) and the very next day I jumped with both feet into my first event (last year's walk) in celebration of the public launch of Stray Dog Arts. It's amazing how much can happen in one year.

The sound of sleeping dogs makes me feel tired. I have a cup of Darjeeling tea sitting next to me and it reminds me of my time spent traveling in India and Nepal. Mostly, Darjeeling tea reminds me of Kathmandu where I stayed for over a month in a rented apartment overlooking the city. God, I miss it there. I miss it terribly.

While in Kathmandu I bought a little heating element from a cubbyhole of a shop that I used to boil water for tea. It clipped on to the side of the glass and would boil the water in a moment. I drank a lot of tea in Kathmandu. I drank tea and wrote and walked and wrote and drank tea. I woke up early every morning and sat on the roof looking out into a great expanse of more roof tops and the mountains beyond. My friend, Isabelle, rented a room across the alley. The alley was narrow enough that we were able to pass the bowl of sugar between our windows when the other ran out. I met Isabelle in Jaipur, a Belgium girl sharing the same birthday as myself. Our initial meeting came in the form a 10 day silent meditation at a Vipassana Center. When we emerged from Vipassana we ended up sharing a room in a guest house together and did not stop talking for 3 days straight. Several months later, somehow by accident, we ended up in Kathmandu at the same time. Isabel, my sister. We were so much the same.

For many years our connection never waned and we kept a steady flow of letters between us--filled with our most heart-felt thoughts. And then our lives got busy. My life got swallowed by school. Isabel now has 2 growing babes. I know her restless spirit hungers to return to Katmandu as much as my own. Some days I feel it almost like a physical ache. Darjeeling tea sparks my desire to return and fills the space of my overworked days with a certain sweetness.

I have to admit that I'm at a cross roads. I don't even know what that means right now. I have just launched a new project and am excited to see it through. I have a second project in the wings and a half dozen inspirations sitting along side that as well. But this crossroads exists on another level--one that I cannot quite makes sense of just yet.

All I know is that I'm ready for a new beginning--on a cellular level. I feel the urge to get back to my roots. And by roots I mean that something that exists way down deep in my soul.

Here's to drinking good tea.