Monday, September 29, 2008

the art of being a stray dog.

It's sunny out this morning and, judging by the way the leaves on the big old tree outside my window are moving, there must be a breeze. My old cat, Moonshadow, is laying on a blanket in front of the window. He looks content, like he probably won't be moving from that spot for the rest of the day. I have another cat curled up behind me. This causes me to sit on the edge of my chair, which I always do, just for her. The dogs have fallen back to sleep on the couch and my husband is getting ready to leave for work. He hates leaving for work and I can't say that I blame him.

Every morning I find myself in a place of extreme gratitude for the fact that I don't have to "go to work." That is, I don't have to go somewhere that I don't like and tough out the work day, the work week. I prefer my animal kingdom and staying in my pj's and having options. I remember listening to one of Marisa's podcasts this past winter and day dreaming about what it must be like to be a full time artist who gets to work from home or a studio. I've come to the conclusion that it is just as enjoyable as I imagined it would be. Maybe even more so since I had no idea my life would become so interesting and multi-faceted.

One thing I know about myself is that I get bored when things get too monotonous. Well, the work I'm doing is anything but monotonous! Sometimes I paint, sometimes I do photo shoots, sometimes I do computer work, sometimes I meet with people, sometimes I get to help with rescue missions, sometimes I go for coffee or lunch or dinner, sometimes I design things, sometimes I run errands to the art store or post office or bank, sometimes...lots of stuff. So much stuff, in fact, that I find myself needing to take special care to keep track of my life and find a balance. Making time to actually paint is often my biggest hurdle of all.

Somehow, in my mind, I find myself thinking that getting moved into the studio space will make time management so much easier. At least, it will make painting easier. Oh, big beautiful space! The hardest part is waiting until November 1st--when they will be finished with the renovation. In the meantime, I enjoy daydreaming about that space--profusely. Between now and then I have a mountain of painting to do...and I can't even tell you how much I am looking forward to getting started with my next project: an exhibition of ALL rescue dogs.

Speaking of rescue expected, Gunnar and Sam stole my heart. I want to tell you their stories, but today I find myself capable only of carrying their sweetness in my heart. Instead or stories, I will share a few photos. I think you'll be able to see for yourself just how wonderful they are.

Gunnar--the sweetest lab in the world. A family dog, to be sure.

Sam--sweet boy, he loved having his back touched.
He also loves cheese. And running. And being talked to.

Gunnar--in the car on his last leg of the trip to Minnesota.
Gunnar loves kisses. And taking naps. And having his paw held.

How is it possible that both of these dogs were going to be euthanized? How is it possible that anyone would have wanted to give them up in the first place? All I can say is that it was a pleasure making their acquaintance...and I truly hope they find incredible new homes. I do not doubt that they will.

Well, one thing is for sure. There is always....

I love my job.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

writing my journey...

The sun is just now thinking about rising. I've gotten up early to join M. in transporting 2 dogs on the last leg of their trip from Iowa to Minneapolis. One is a brindle named Sam. If it wasn't for this trip, he would be euthanized because he might be part pit bull. The operative word here is "might." Since there is a total ban on pit bulls in Sioux City, Iowa--he's been marked with the scarlet letter. Today Sam is escaping his own death.

The other dog is a yellow lab named Gunnar. Gunnar is coming from the same high-kill shelter and was also going to be euthanized because he has a heart murmur. They don't put animals with health conditions up for adoption. Lucky for Gunnar, someone at the shelter cared enough about him to send out a plea for help. Because of that woman, Gunnar is escaping his death today, too.

A couple days ago I decided that I wanted to get back to blogging. Life has gotten busy and I've had to set this space aside more than I would like to. I was thinking that I would like to return to blogging every day. I don't know if that's possible, but I am going to make an attempt to show up more often. You see, what I realized the other day is that I am in the midst of a journey. Lately I've had the sense that this particular part of the journey holds tremendous weight for me. I don't know why I feel the pull to write my thoughts and experiences down as I live them and I most certainly don't know why I feel the pull to write about it here. But I do.

This time in my life feels very significant to me. As I live from the middle of it, I cannot yet understand why. There is a single bird chirping in the half-light outside my window. It makes me think of my aunt. I feel her presence--a bittersweet sensation of loss and nearness, causing a sting of tears each time I think of her. I also hear geese flying south on a regular basis. The geese, they stop me in my tracks every time. They are a powerful reminder of home. Their migration tugs at me with same instinctual pull that they must feel. My whole life has led me to this very the peacefulness of this morning where I sit at my desk in the glow of lamplight...wondering where this day will lead me next.

* * *

Saturday, September 20, 2008

this morning's random thoughts...

I got up much earlier than a person should ever get up on a weekend morning. I couldn't sleep due to all the thoughts swimming around in my brain. Despite lack of sleep, I'm feeling inspired. It is one of those mornings that makes me want to accomplish everything...right this very second! I woke up thinking about how to build out and design the warehouse space. Presently, it is under renovation and is made up entirely of open space (oh, sweet open space!). We'll be building out temporary walls to create privacy for M's office and my studio, yet somehow retain the feeling of openness. I woke up thinking about paint colors, storage, doors, sinks, gallery lighting, chairs, sunlight... And, I admit, I love thinking about this kind of stuff. It makes me wish I didn't have anything else to do so that I could just go look for more ideas.

Later today I am meeting with my biz partner and a web designer. Oh, holy excitement! :) I love my website and I love my husband for helping me create it, but as we venture into the next stage, it is now time to re-create my look. I've been thinking about how to describe myself and what I want my website to reflect. I'm realizing that a lot of the words I'm drawn to are quite contradictory. I've come to the conclusion that I have a strong desire to reflect the broadest spectrum of myself. This, of course, is a tall order. Luckily, we've found an INCREDIBLE young woman to do the work for us. To be honest, her talent blows me away and I'm looking forward to seeing what she comes up with.

Let's see...I've also been obsessed with coming up with workshop ideas, the need to write letters, an attempt to get organized, and brewing up plans for the paintings I want to create. I also have a fairly large project that I need to wrap up the planning of. This is going to require some pre-organization and about 100 emails. Seriously, am I capable? :)-

The most peaceful thing in my life right now is the puppy who is asleep at my feet (always at my feet) and the cat who is laying in the window, purring. My mind is sifting through an overload of inspiration, ideas, and information. Sometimes I feel like I might explode with enthusiasm--oh, the possibilities! I get so excited that I lose focus. There's so much to think about all at once! But I'll tell you....I would not trade this in for anything. This is life lived at full capacity.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

dream space: attained.

Several months ago I put in a request to the Universe for my dream studio to manifest itself in my life. At the time, I can't even tell you how far of a stretch it was to think that it might actually happen.

Well, my friends, I'm happy to say that it really is possible for dreams to come true. Granted, I'm still standing here blinking my eyes in shock...but you can bet that I'm smiling like a maniac at the same time!

But I need to back up a second because there's more...

A few weeks ago I was offered a business proposal. As you might be guessing...I accepted.

Yesterday we signed a lease agreement for a 2,200 square foot renovated warehouse space in the NE Arts District of Minneapolis. And let me just say: IT IS BEAUTIFUL!!!

I met my new business partner on Monday, July 21st--the first day of relaunching the Be Brave Project. I will always remember that date because it was when my life took a huge and positive turn. Of course, at the time, I didn't know how my life would change. I didn't know that she would become such an incredible friend and I certainly didn't know we would go into business together! All I knew was that I felt the shift, the sensation of transformation taking place. The feeling can only be explained as molecular, but I recognized it as the same physical/mental/whole-being response I felt that day while shoveling snow.

This new studio space has absolutely everything I wished for and more. Huge south and east facing windows, exposed brick, towering ceilings, timber beams, a view of downtown...there's even railroad tracks outside our window! And, you know, I have an affinity for trains ever since my old train hopping days...but that's probably another story.

I feel very grateful to share a very deep connection with the woman I'm going into partnership with. She will be teaching motivational workshops for corporate clients and leading travel adventure groups for the purpose of helping animals in need, both nationally and abroad. Together, we are forming an unstoppable force and will be doing work that is deeply meaningful to both of us--each in our own way. I am Stray Dog Arts. My new business partner is about to become Stray Dog Adventures. And TOGETHER we are Stray Dog Arts and Adventures! I have to admit, I feel a bit like the Wonder Twins, but I have to say, we really are that good together! :)

Needless to say, I have just entered a whole new stage of my life. I am no longer just "me" painting dogs because I love them. That is the foundation of what I will continue to do...but this is also my opportunity to make my life look any way I want. The universe has granted me an astounding gift in leading me to this friendship and partnership. It has given me a huge gift in giving me such an incredible space from which to work from--to paint, to lead workshops, to hold photo shoots, to host events, to fund raise, to sell my art, to write, to simply breathe.

This, my friends, blows my wildest dreams out of the water. I can't really describe why or how, but my life, and the experiences I'm capable of having, have only recently opened up in so many ways. I mean, with my very own gallery space?!?! Running self-created workshops?! Creating in a studio space that will take people's breath away?! And a huge potential for travel and animal rescue?! {still blinking...}

My focus right now is to build a business and partnership that is wildly successful. One that is built of connection and heart. I want my life to be big. I want it to be bold. And I want my business to make a difference--in the lives of animals and people. Our lives are so full of possibility. Each and everyone of us has such a deep pool of potential. The trick is not only in recognizing it, but trusting it. I am still learning this--an endless process? I have no idea how I got to this moment and, yet, I know that everything has led to this.

All I know is that I feel like the luckiest person in the world.
(Thank you, Universe.)

Looks like "mondo-beyondo" isn't so far out of reach after all.
{mind you, I'm still in awe!!}


Friday, September 12, 2008

Guess what today is!


smiling, giddy, huge, pumping, pitter-patter heart...

Today is the day I have been waiting for!!!!

No offense to the garden shop. It has served me well and it has pushed me forward. I will FOREVER be thankful for what happened for me in that space of my life.

But today is the day I take the real, live, wonderful

Want to celebrate with me?
Oh, joy!
Oh, happiness!
Oh, long awaited day!

I love the way bravery feels. Big, wonderful, extraordinary life. Bravery makes everything so much better. I can't wait to tell you what's next! :) ...that post is coming soon. ;)

Today is a direct result of this quote:
~Eleanore Roosevelt

Thank you, Be Brave Project!

*image borrowed from here.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

rainy morning.

It is a cloudy morning and I am sitting here at my desk with a luscious piece of turquoise fabric drawn across the window. I am enjoying the warmth of my puppy's breath on my foot. It rained last night causing me to wake up thinking that the ceiling fan had been turned on. Such a steady rhythm, the rain. For some reason, I moved to the couch and, shortly after, was covered by dogs. I slept hard, but woke up with a headache that is threatening a migraine. For some reason, I don't even mind. There has been so much excitement in my world these past several days that I think my body was simply being kind enough to give me an excuse to keep the blinds down and curtains drawn. I ate a banana, took something for my head, and enjoyed a double espresso (my morning vice love). I am already feeling better, but am still soaking in the nested feeling of darkness and the warm glow of the lamp on my desk.

Today I am honoring my self, my body, and my work. I am honoring the fact that I need today to be quiet and to paint without interruption. I am honoring my need to shut down just for a little while in order to regroup and refill myself. I am honoring my need to dream and to listen to the rain.

This week my wildest dreams are in the process of becoming a reality. There is so much to make sense of. There is so much to figure out, to learn, to be grateful for.

My last post contains a tinge of something that I want to move away from. Maybe to call it a tinge is an understatement. It's more like a heavy weight. These days I am in the process of squaring my shoulders and facing my anxieties, with the intention of overcoming my old limitations. There is the person I was. And there is the person I am now. The person I am and the person I am becoming does not benefit from those old thinking patterns. I am beginning to understand how important it is that I take stock of where I am at, exactly, right now. That means that I have to start paying closer attention to myself. That means that I need to learn a new plan. That means that I need to face my fears head on and, in the process, move beyond what was once holding me back.

Today, in the comforting corner of this lamp lit room, I am thankful to be in a position that necessitates growth--both inwardly and outwardly.


Friday, September 05, 2008

surviving survival mode.

I've come to the conclusion that these nuances of life are interesting, indeed. One day I met a woman in a coffee shop. We became friends. And, since then, my life has changed.

Yesterday we sat at my dining room table talking over cups of tea and sharing a light lunch of crackers with avocado and tomatoes. Outside, there was the coolness of autumn in the air and, inside, was a pile of sleeping dogs at our feet.

These days, I often find myself struggling for words to describe how I feel or what I see. Words sometimes become unavailable to me and this is one of those times. But, in talking, I realized something. I realized that I have been living in survival mode for so long that I am often barely able to see past it. I have this odd sensation of breaking down and breaking open all at the same time. I think this must be what growth feels like. When I think about it, I keep seeing myself as some sort of unidentifiable garden mulch...breaking down, disintegrating. The breaking open...well, that feels more like a strange new version of myself breaking out of a chrysalis. Granted, these new wings are still stuck closed to my back. I'm still forming sight. But one thing I do notice is an awful lot of light and openness surrounding me.

There are some incredible things brewing in my potential near future--things that out-do my wildest dreams. But, at the moment, I feel like I am walking the razor's edge. These words are lacking many of the details, but I am writing this here in case another artist or dreamer should stumble upon these thoughts. This is the part where I am struggling. This is the part where I'm making the transition between having a job and becoming a full-time artist. This is the part where I have no idea if the money will be there. This is the part where I am scared shitless. This is the part where I am trying to figure out how to break out of survival mode. This is the part where, if I weren't so stubborn, I would probably have considered giving up.

I am writing this in case a fellow traveler might stumble across it someday and hopefully be reminded that they are not alone. Following your dreams is scary work. The more real it gets, the more courage it takes. There's a lot at stake. I mean, let's get real. How does courage equate to paying bills? Or raising a family. Or, or, or....

I guess courage is the ability to let go of fear, to Be Brave, to keep moving in the direction that is truest, to trust that everything will fall into place.

I am writing this now so that I can go back to these words someday and see where I once was. Today I am standing in a place that feels very scary. I am also standing in a place that holds more potential than I ever imagined for myself. Or rather, I did imagine it. I put images of what I want on my vision board and in my wish box and have written about it many times here and in my journal. And now (dare I say?) it is growing well beyond the seeds I planted.

I have a lot of fear to give up. I'm writing this in my current state of uncertainty to remind myself and others why it is worth the effort.

It is a process--but one thing I know is that I want to do more than simply survive.