Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas from our hobbit castle to yours!

The Bicicletta, Italian cocktails anyone?

Charlie Brown, we love you.

A cozy snowy Christmas Eve in our hobbit castle.

with love,
The Marianiello's


Wednesday, December 09, 2009

35 :: {My Year of Relief and Happiness}

{click on images to see the oh so delicious details}

I've decided to dub this year 35th year of my life as "My Year of Relief and Happiness." And I have a feeling that there is going to be some wonderful change ahead.

I didn't start out feeling this way about turning 35. To be honest, I haven't felt much of anything about it. It's been just another blurry thought on this freight train called my life. I've been thinking about what I want this year to be about for a few days now. I started making a tradition out of this a couple years ago and didn't see any reason to stop now. However, this year, my thoughts on the topic did not start out with much optimism. I've been exhausted and should have known better than to try and define my coming year in such a state of disrepair. The only words I seemed to come up with were things like "burden" or "responsibility" or "getting by." Good god, can you say depressing?! Eeeerch! The brakes needed to be put on those thoughts. Pronto!

I firmly believe in the power of our thoughts and I am simply NOT ok with the idea of attracting a burdensome year. I'm much too good at attracting things to play around with a dangerous word like "burden." And so I did the smart thing and asked myself: What is the opposite word of burden? What came to mind was "Relief." Oh, now I like that word. I like that word a lot. It feels good. I can sink my teeth into that one. It feels like something I can believe in. It feels realistic, possible. I can wrap my head around it. For such a simple little word, it also feels immensely powerful.

My life is fully ready for a little bit of relief. But wait a minute. Relief all by itself sort of sits with a flat feeling in my mouth and limbs. I don't need all the hoopla that I was seeking at 33 and 34, but I would like to include some sunshine, sparkles and a smile that radiates from the inside out. Relief is good, but I think I'd like to top it off with a nice sized dose of happiness when all is said and done.

When I told my husband, Vinny, about this, he was a little worried that I might be asking for too much. He also believes in the power of our thoughts, but usually leaves the magic-making up to me. He also tends to be a bit conservative when it comes to reaching for the stars. Adding happiness onto a request for relief--is this asking for too much? I don't think so. After all, why limit ourselves? We are, after all, our own biggest limiting factor. I've decided to add a little bit of whipped cream to my coffee. Goodness on top of good. Why not?

Relief means quite a few things to me. It means getting my shiite in order. It means finally finishing the unpacking from our move this summer. It means having time to be human. It means limiting my workload to a manageable amount. It is relief from the endless pressure of work and bills and the toxic combination they can sometimes create. I love the work I do, inside and out, but these 12-18 hour days just can't go on forever. Period. Relief looks like a big fat fellowship and a backup plan to live sanely, whether I get the fellowship or not. Relief will include facing my fears head on. Heck, even joyously. It means breaking a few self-destructive patterns. It also means finding out what, exactly, those patterns are. I'm hereby mining them out of the naivety of my subconscious and exposing them to the light of day. It means taking a deep breath and then embarking on the necessary steps to reach my goals. One thing at a time. One action at a time. One day at a time. One thought at a time. It will be made up of knowing when to say yes--and also when to say no. It will be made up of knowing when to push--and also knowing when to relax.

Last year my words of the year were "Wild Bloom." They were inspired by a photo and a story that my coach and dear friend Jamie Ridler shared with me during a coaching session. Holy taledo, and did my year ever go WILD with BLOOM!!! Things bloomed so fast and feriously that it's a miracle I didn't spontaneously burst into flame! Of course, life never looks like we expect it to. Nope. And sometimes not even at all. Anyway, despite difficulties, 34 was a good year of blooming all to pieces. But, I'll admit: I'm exhausted. And I am really, really, really ready for some relief, topped off with just the right amount of happiness.

Today I celebrated my birthday by taking the entire day off. I can't even tell you how good it felt. To be honest, this is the best day that I've had in a really long time. I took a couple naps, read, snacked on delicious food, played in the snow and generally relaxed to the nth degree. Did I mention that we were snowed in? I also created a vision board to help guide me confidently into this 35th year. And, by gosh, I really love the way it looks.

I get the feeling that this is going to be an especially good year. In big ways--but in nice, quiet sort of ways. I can already feel my heart nestle in a little bit more comfortably in my chest and the tension in my shoulders drop down a notch. This year I have a different kind of faith. It's called: faith in myself. I also have faith in the kindness of the Universe. I have faith in love, authentic work, and gentleness. I have faith in passion--and this year I'm not afraid to adjust the flame as needed.

Today I woke up in a snow cave. After a big snow-storm, our world has turned into a surreal landscape of drifting white. It felt like someone hit the "shift" button and I'm grateful because I needed to get snowed in. I needed to relax. I needed to spend some time with my dreams and the hush quiet of this newly white blanketed world.

And so here's to Relief and Happiness. It all its strange forms--both expected and unexpected.
Here's to wishing with our whole spirit.

Hello 35.


Sunday, December 06, 2009

Random thoughts on a Sunday Morning

Sitting in front of my computer trying to get my wits about me, I figured I might as well write a blog post rather than starring like at idiot an my email, Facebook, and Twitter pages. Blarg. I'm shaking cobwebs out of my brain with a cup of coffee--or more--and then it's off to the dog painting factory. ha!

Ok, I'm just kidding about the factory comment, but today I will be mounting about 200 prints and painting 10 display frames. Stray Dog Arts has gone wholesale, baby! Not sure if it's a blessing or a curse. Well, it's definitely a blessing, but my lack of an assistant feels like a bit of a curse. Thought I had finally found someone one, but the timing (at least when I need it most) is off. (Dear Universe, please send me the right person).

The pond has hereby frozen over for good, complete with a dusty layer of snow. The sky is bright and blue, the air colder than ever. I've fallen in love with my new blue leg-warmers because they feel cozy and look good with my painting apron.

I'm going to be 35 in three days. I'm not sure what this means except that my metabolism will probably slow down. 33 and 34 were really special years for me. 34 threw enough monkey wrenches at me that I've decided that it will be ok if I somehow just simply enjoy and survive whatever the next year has to offer. I want my wild optimism back, but maybe it would be better for me to chill the hell out and just relish the small bits of life as they're offered to me.

To me, 35 feels like a big shipment from Dick Blick: daunting and full of possibility all at once. Did I mention that large UPS and FedX shipments are a new addition to my life? I've finally become like the girl in Cast Away (you know, the movie with Tom Hanks?). I even wrote a blog post about it here about a year ago and look how it's manifested itself! (please bear with the randomness of my brain) Like that girl, I'm the artist who lives beyond the crossroads and down a really long dirt driveway. I have an old garage/workshop rather than a barn, but the feeling is the same. Yes, I'm romanticizing my situation quite a bit, but this is a necessity in order to survive the otherwise endless pile of work sitting in front of me. Life is good and yet it doesn't feel like anything I was expecting.

Cup of coffee #2 required.

Signing off with peace and love,


Tuesday, December 01, 2009

December 1

It feels amazing to me that today is the first day of December. The pond has frozen over in a fragile sheath of ice for the first time this year. It's been a process of freezing, starting at the edges, and has been going on for weeks. But this morning it has finally found its way across the entire surface.

I love the pond outside our house. It reminds me of Thoreau and a favorite quote:
"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."

This is a quote that I have lived my life by. I came across it in high school and have made many decisions in its echo since.

It seems surreal to me that it's already been 4 months since we moved from the middle of a city to the almost-middle-of-nowhere. We moved at the end of July. In mid-August I got really sick with Rocky Mountain spotted fever (most definitely the strangest illness I've every acquired!). I had to drop everything for an entire month--the unpacking, painting, my work. Everything. That was difficult for me to do. I am pretty hard-driven and to be stopped in my tracks is not something I'm very good at. Not to mention, my schedule was already packed to the gills. Those lost weeks were not something I had to spare. From there it was a domino effect in trying to catch up. A big solo exhibition, many events, two major projects, and a handful of commissions we are taking our first step into December. Time is a tricky monkey. It's gone from July to December in one fell swoop. Blink! This must be how it happens, how we grow old. This is how one day we wake up and we're 90, remembering how young we felt when we were 35. All I can say is: dang. I hope I live to be a 1,000.

And so today I drink my coffee out of an especially fragile cup. Some days I prefer the thickness of hand-thrown ceramic. Other days, like today, I prefer the fragility of fine china. I think it says something about how I'm going to approach my day. Sometimes I put on my old jeans, a sweater and boots and dig into my day with a full heart. Other days I like to move more deliberately. I like paying attention to the delicate surface tension that stretches itself across the pond, a fine combination of stretched lace and glass. Who knows, by mid-afternoon I might switch to that heavy ceramic mug, but for now I am content with the subtle features of the morning.

There are so many things to share and catch up with you in the space of this blog. Photos, stories, events, paintings...they wait in files on my computer and in my head and on my camera. But, for now, here is just a little slice of one moment out of one morning. This is my life as an artist. And, this morning, it is a life lived deliberately.

Here's to a December filled with a life worth living.

Photo taken by my husband, Vinny, this past weekend. Sitting at my computer in the studio with my wolfie girl, Anu, contentedly asleep at my feet (if only she were in the photo, too!).