Friday, June 27, 2008

Pure joy.

Check out the portrait I will soon be painting for the Boston Terrier Club of America! The painting will be up for auction this coming spring to raise money for rescue efforts.

I love it.

The photo was sent to me by someone that I met at last night's dog event that I helped sponsor and, in exchange, was given a booth. It was extremely hot and I was tired and I went home feeling like it was a bit of a bust. Now that I look at this photo, however, I'm beginning to think otherwise.

Some days everything just feels like one huge gamble.

But it re-dawned on me today that if I want to be really successful at this business of painting then I need to define my desires rather than being defined by anything that is not truly my desire. In other words, if I'm able to truly give myself over to my passion in complete genuineness, then my energy will attract more energy. I've witnessed this in myself over and over and over. Even so, it is sometimes easy to get caught up in the busy-ness or worries of things and end up being limited by playing it too safe. Meg recently wrote an incredible post about this same sort of thing.

I want to write more on this subject--but it is past 1 am and (ok, ok) I need to go to bed. There are so many thoughts trying to find solid ground in my head. Today I am taking stock of where I am and what direction I want to see myself headed in. There has been so much going on for such a long time. I don't remember the last time I took a day off--really off.

And so tomorrow I am granting myself a day of pretty much nothing--a whole, entire, wonderful day.

I need a day to regroup and lay in the grass. I need a day to rest and realign. I too often forget how important this is. It takes an amazing amount of energy to live authentically. I mean, I want to live from my very truest self. And, of course, there is more to this than simply vying for commissions and worrying about what I'm accomplishing, where and how I'm marketing myself, and what project comes next (much more!). Sometimes the only way to do your truest work is to take one holy day to not do any work at all. Why is that such a hard lesson for me to learn?

Anyway...tomorrow I've decided to give myself over to going to the park, cloud gazing, and pondering Meg's question: 'what would be the biggest, bravest, boldest, greatest thing I could do next? What would be the greatest thing since sliced bread?'

And then?
I'll "just do it."


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

love lives here.

I feel like writing this morning. I don't even know what about...but I do know that my coffee tastes especially good today and the sun is shining and it is already warm out even though it is still early.

I also want to tell you that there has been some good news. My aunt was going to be sent home from the hospital, but it seems that there is a bit of a MIRACLE in progress! They did another bone biopsy and found that something good is happening with her cells. The bone marrow transplant seems to be taking hold! I don't really feel like going into a complete description of her leukemia and how it progresses or goes into remission--but the point is that something WONDERFUL is happening! And I can't help but believe that it is HER who is making it happen.


Granted, there are still a lot of unknowns and risks and dangers ahead...but, dang! Sometimes I am blown away by the power of mind/body/spirit. Miracles have the ability defy explanation. And miracles, I'm coming to believe, are little more than energy in action.

I guess that's why I came here tell you that. I'm excited by life and all that we are capable of manifesting.

These days, V. and I are waiting to see if we can get funding for a house. It's a nerve-racking experience, but I am making my best attempts at keeping my energy focused in positive directions. Yesterday, while waiting for the loan officer to call back, instead of letting anxiety tie my stomach in knots, I worked on a collage of the home that V. and I are interested in. I sang softly to myself a made-up song about our new life in that home. Louie and the cats loved it--all three of them wandered and rubbed up against my legs as I worked. Singing is breathing--and it helped immensely to calm my mind.

(click on image to enlarge)

If my aunt can will herself back into health, I see no reason that I can't will a house into our lives...or anything else for that matter. Shortly after finishing the collage the phone rang. There was a part of me that braced myself for bad news, but even though we don't have a definite answer yet, I was elated to hear that there is hope!

Who knows what will happen...all I know is that my life has involved a lot of living and breathing and painting lately. It has involved a lot of friendship and learning and inspiration.

When I imagine Vinny's and my future home, I imagine a sign above the door that says "love lives here." The sign is eclectically hand-made. Well, everything about the house is a bit eclectic. I imagine a garden with lots of vining vegetables--string beans, sweet peas, zucchini, pumpkins. I imagine tomatoe plants that grow tall and heavy with plump fruit. I imagine a secret garden where there are a plethora of ferns, moonflowers, echinacea and other flowering wonders. I imagine walking out into that yard every morning with a cup of coffee and my journal-- a place where I start my day without interruptions. I imagine an art studio tucked under the trees--that is, the sort of studio that makes me drool with happiness!

I imagine enchantment. And a family made of a husband and dogs and maybe even babies.

I imagine a place where love lives.


Saturday, June 21, 2008

the weekly report.

It's another one of those "hmmm...where do I begin?" posts. It's early, 5:30 am, to be exact. I'm not usually up this early, but I must say, it is beautiful outside. The water in the little kiddy pool out in the back yard for the dogs to cool off in is completely still--a glassy mirror of the pre-sunrise sky--beautiful enough to make tears threaten and sting my eyes (much more beautiful than my photo was able to capture). Birds chirp in a layered symphony from the still new-to-me canopy of green that creates the park in the opposite direction of the pool. Such stillness, such life. These sorts of things make my heart want to burst.

You see, there's been a lot going on in my life these days. My aunt, who has been battling leukemia since this past January, has just received news that the none of the treatments worked. She is being sent home--but going home, on these terms, is a hollow victory. This is a hard reality to swallow. Even as I write this I feel a firm belief in hope rise in my throat. I believe in miracles. And so does my aunt.

Miracles or not, this has been an intense experience--for her, for her husband and kids, for me, for all of us. Ever since hearing the news, there has been a part of me asking that old cliched question: but why her? It doesn't seem fair. I feel something akin to a pang of guilt. I mean, I've lived almost my entire life doing what I want. If I were to die tomorrow, I could honestly say that I have lived a full and deeply satisfying life. I am fully aware of the ridiculousness of this thinking, but why have I been graced with this fierce devotion to living an authentic life and not someone who deserves it as much as my aunt? It's difficult to craft a sentence that makes sense around a thought that doesn't make sense. But maybe you know what I mean? Granted, I hope to live to be 500. But, in getting sick, my aunt has come to see life in a new way. She has opened up to the notion that right now is all we have--and so we better make the best of it. She has realized her priorities...and it is not the incessant work that is so much a part of her past. Her new priorities are the sound of rain, birds, her family. I want to see her be able to live out this new vision/version of life. Whether or not she is able to, I guess the best I can do is love her and learn from her. I feel profound heartache over the matter. And a plastic pool full of water is all it seems to take to cause it all to rise to the surface.

Yesterday I ended up at the doctor's office for several hours because of a migraine. It was the worst one I've ever experienced--even so, I would not have gone in if V. wouldn't have made me. I had nausea that wouldn't quit and I think that part of my problem was that I was getting really dehydrated. I don't remember the last time I felt so miserable. I worked in the too-hot heat all day Thursday and this, compiled with too much stress (some of it from recent successes that I have yet to tell you about), was enough to temporarily do me in. I should tell you that I have a strong aversion to doctors because, in my experience, they have never done anything positive for me. I've always felt like a nuisance to them, like they were too busy for me and, more times than not, I have been sent home with nothing, feeling just as bad as when I arrived. My attitude towards doctors has become: "Why bother?"

Yesterday, however, I went to a new clinic and, there, I was taken care of by the most healing group of women that I have ever met. 1 doctor and 5 nurses, to be exact. I felt cared for. They were so kind and gentle. And they were not going to send me home until I felt better. It didn't feel like a place of "medicine"--it felt like a place of healing. They turned the lights down low and made sure I was comfortable, checking on me often. Their voices were soft as well as their touch. I am grateful for this experience because it gave me a newfound positive perspective. By the time I got home at 8pm, I was finally able to think coherently, eat something and slept deeply.

I am supposed to work again today at the garden shop (I am now working there 2 days a week and will be there for only a short time longer)...but it is going to be another atrociously hot day. I still have the remnants of a headache and I do not want to go through yesterday all over again. And so I've decided to go in as late as possible. Why go at all? Well, that is part of some good news that I have not yet had time to tell you
(I realize that this post is getting incredibly long, please bear with me)...

Lately I've been reading a lot of books about the law of attraction and wealth and, over and over, I keep reading stories about people who didn't experience success until they were forced to take the leap. These are people who lost their jobs for one reason or another. And every time I read a story like this, I kept thinking: I wish that would happen to me! Because then I wouldn't have to make the decision, it would be made for me!

You see, despite successes, there is still a very large part of me that worries that the money won't be there if I quit my job entirely. There's another part of me that feels like it is because of my job that money has lacked the flow I am wishing for. I have been hanging on to my job by a very painful thread. keep a long story short: my boss informed me a couple weeks ago that they will be CLOSING!!! The going out of business sale began this week and it has been crazy there (hence, the working too hard in the heat migraine thing).

Can you believe it?! I feel like Mother Universe is gently knocking me out of my safe little nest! In the past month I have been offered two other jobs--one as a dog walker and the other in a high end home-interior boutique. I said no thank you to both jobs because, although both would be wonderful in their own way, I know in my bones that the universe is offering me a chance to fully invest myself in Stray Dog Arts. And, for this, I am beside myself with gratitude, excitement, and (yes) even a little bit of nervousness.

To add icing to the cake, in the past week I have also been asked to be featured in an Australian publication (Urban Animal), was offered space for TWO exhibitions (when I only asked for one), was invited to be a part of a dog-lovers gourmet dining event (yes, this stuff really happens) next Wednesday (which I originally could not afford to do, but was graciously offered a huge discount just because they wanted me!), and was asked to be included in an upcoming book being published by Harper Collins (and it looks incredible!).

Needless to say, I have been fluctuating quite profoundly between deep happiness and deep sadness. Singers often strive for a broad vocal range. When I think of life in terms of a singer's voice, I feel very lucky and very much alive. I feel love, sadness, gratitude, excitement, fear, joy... and, these days, I feel it to the nth degree. I suppose it shouldn't come as any surprise to me that I should end up with one doozy of a headache.

Anyway, congratulations if you made it through this post in its entirety. I wish for you a beautiful day filled with enough love to make you feel as though you are brimming over the edges.

I am thankful for you. I am thankful for this platform, from which we are able to share our stories.

The cloud photo was taken from the parking ramp of the
hospital after visiting my aunt before she is sent home.
This is what love, sadness, life, death, and gratitude looks like.

A deep breath of infinity.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008


I just received Melba's book, Creating in the Midst, in the mail today. I am nearly giddy with joy for what she has created! Yep, that's my desk today. A pile of my life with a wonderful gift smack dab in the middle of it all. I am looking forward to blogging about the journey that will begin on July 6th. Perfect timing. I am soooo very ready for this. My life feels a bit chaotic at the moment and so I'm glad that this group will provide me a reason to open up some breathing space for myself. I'm tempted to read it this very moment! But have decided to save it for a moment when I can savor really savor it--which I've already promised myself will be tonight. I am looking forward to carving out a peaceful moment this evening to soak up Melba's book.

So much is happening on a weekly (and even daily!) basis. I remember when I used to make it a point to blog every day. Now I am just shooting for the goal of once a week! Oh, but I have much to say. Soon, I hope to catch up soon.

In the meantime, you can purchase a book of your own on Melba's Etsy here.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

this is how jessie rambles....

I'm sure that I shouldn't be on the computer right now because there is a thunderstorm outside. What is it about thunderstorms that are so conducive to blogging? Well, mostly I'm here because it has been a long several days of painting the alphabet. I've been working on a commission that I should have finished a month ago, but set the deadline back to match the delayed payment. This worked out well for me because I was able to shift my energies towards focusing on defending my thesis, the dog event, and 2 more dog commissions--but now I'm scrambling to finish in time! Hmmm...what would I do without deadlines? Well, I would probably do lots of things, but I must admit, deadlines are good medicine for pumping things into high gear.

Strangely enough, I've been enjoying this alphabet commission much more than I thought I would. To give a recap on the project, I'm doing a grid of 25 canvases that all together will measure 7 1/2 feet by 7 1/2 feet. Since it takes me nearly an entire day to paint each canvas (or more), I am realizing that I sorely undercharged for this job. For some reason I'm ok with this though (live and learn). I've been enjoying pushing richly colored paint around on the canvas so much that I tend to forget myself. Not to mention, they will soon become prints and cards.

Needless to say, I have letters and colors and words swimming around my head like there's no tomorrow. Yesterday I worked on the letter "R." According to Vinny, the letter R is the most powerful letter in spoken language (along with "O"). Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrright! I believe it. Today was the letters "B" and "E." Also powerful letters because they spell "BE." And isn't that what we're all really striving for? To BE.

It was time to come up for a breather though. I have been working so intensely that all of a sudden I found myself with a fairly deep need to connect. Painting causes me to get really introspective, but I'm beginning to find that I want/need to balance my introspection with opportunities to connect with other living, breathing beings. Sure, the dogs are good conversationalists, but uh....

Yeah, so anyway, it is storming outside. My little cat, Viscosa has her nose peeking out the window smelling the air. My other cat, dear old thing, is asleep at my feet. I've been offered another feature, this time in July's issue of Edge Life and my email's in-box is being inundated by causes/groups/clubs that are hoping for a donation as well as events that need registration. I wish I had more money, because then I could do everything. But then I remind myself that this is a process. I've started to rely on my feelings to tell me what I should do for each circumstance. I recently learned this from my good friend Kristine when we were discussing how to price art. She said: "Go with what feels right." Turns out that her advise is applicable to almost anything. What she meant by that statement was to go with a decision that leaves you feeling good about what you're doing. If you eventually feel resentment over the time and energy you put into something, then you didn't ask for enough (or gave yourself away too freely). On the other side of the coin, in my book, the only time a price is too high (when selling or working) is when you can't find anyone willing to pay what you're asking. That's not to say that I'm not concerned about pricing appropriately (I'm still only pricing at the bottom-mid range of the average). But one thing I've had ample time to think about is what my time is worth.

It makes me sad to see so many women underpricing (ie undervaluing) themselves--whether it is their art, their knowledge, their time, their work...whatever. I've been that woman most of my life and am only now starting to see how this has held me back in so many ways. I see this sense of undervaluing a lot on Etsy and it is one of the reasons it took me so long to jump on board. All I know is that I don't want to work my ass off for the rest of my life so that I can barely get by. I don't want to live that way anymore. Yes, it's another process...but I'm ready to start valuing myself more. This has taken a bit of gumption, but I'm willing to stick to my guns and wait it out if necessary. Risk number 3,789. Will there ever be an end to these risks? Ok, life might get boring without them, but I would prefer to transfer my risk taking away from financial matters and direct them instead towards, say, travel.

Speaking of Kristine, you must go check out her latest work. Holy cats, that woman's work blows me away. To infuse little pieces of metal with so much LIFE ENERGY! How does she do it? I would love to sit inside her brain while she creates and imagines the people that inhabit her sculptures. What if we all saw ourselves as beautiful as Kristine's creations? Somehow I think her work makes this world a better place.


Thursday, June 05, 2008


I've just spent the night trying to decide on what images to include for an article. Oy! This is not an easy task. Remember that interview that I mentioned? Well, it's for a full page feature article in the fall issue of Modern Dog. Someone please pinch me! Is this for real?! Ok, it's just an article, but I can't help it. I'm so excited that I am nearly jumping out of my skin! Yesterday, after I got off the phone, I took the dogs for an extra long walk down to the lake. The sun was shining and the world was even more alive and interesting than usual. I kid you not, I felt like I might smile to death!

You know, it's funny, but with every success (however big or small) I notice myself expanding my goals accordingly. It's a process though--one that won't allow me to skip over any experiences. It feels like expansion. And expansion feels like growth. And growth feels like breath. And breath feels like love. And love feels like smiling. And smiling feels like happiness. And happiness feels good.

*photo of a painting in progress in my new "outdoor studio."


Sunday, June 01, 2008

breathing space...

After a late breakfast of cheese omelets and sunshine, Vinny and I loaded up the car with dogs and maps and two mochas to go...and headed out of the city and into the country. A loooooong way into the country.

We went to go look at a house. Not just any house, mind you, but a farm house.

Can I imagine myself living in a farm house, miles and miles from the city? Well, yes, I can...but only if the beautiful shed behind that house is renovated into the most incredible studio imaginable (like the one I have perfectly designed and constructed in my mind).

The a fixer-upper (and I mean that in all sense of the word) but, oh, the potential is there.

And the sky...offers enough breathing space to last an entire lifetime.

Halfway down the driveway we stopped, turned off the car, and listened. Silence. Absolute. That is, except for the sounds of birds and the wind blowing through open windows. The air smelled sweet.

We smiled and, on the way home, imagined star-filled nights, fireflies, and happy dogs.

Remember that scene in Cast Away, you know, that movie with Tom Hanks as a FedEx employee?... well, I keep thinking of the scene at the end of the movie when he goes to deliver the unopened package to the artist who lives beyond the crossroads. In my imagination, I'm that artist, but instead of creating metal works, I get to be a pet portrait artist instead. Never mind about Tom Hanks, I just love that woman's set-up! I have no idea why any of this feels even remotely glamorous or familiar to me, but in a way it kind of does.

The sky reminds me of my old place. But everything else is like nothing I've ever quite experienced before.

Who knows. But I do like dreaming...