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Took a trip a couple hours east to the coast for the last couple days. Saw a bunch of friends and spent some quality time with my brother Aaron and his wife Lauren. Lovely time.

My first stop was catching up with Lucy, who is a month old. She was born a month early but is growing strong now.

first stop: lucia

I decided to make the trip because Beth Nicholls of Do What You Love was in Boston from England. If was wonderful to catch up with her and hear about her latest projects as we shopped Newbury Street. I had forgotten my suitcase at home (pissed me off at the time, but not really a big deal) so we had reason to shop. We then enjoyed some great pizza at Scoozi. She mentored me through the spring as I designed and launched Seek Your Course and remains a wonderful source of ideas and insight.

Impetus for the trip: Beth Nicholls; Dinner with Michele in full costume after a day of tours

I then linked up with my teacher friend Michele who is running tours on the Freedom Trail all summer. We had dinner at the Green Dragon. Lobster #1.

Then headed to the North Shore and got to spend some time on the coast.

Beach time with Lauren and Poppy pup...struck by the colors and patterns there.

Poppy loves to run up to seagulls and watch them fly away, but one seagull she found could not fly away. This seagull had a giant hook through the nose holes of its upper beak! It was so sad. Lauren held the seagull by the base of its wings while I pulled it out. We had no tools so it cut him a little to pull it out but we figured it was better than leaving him. I pray it was okay.

Even though it was only a common gull it was life and life is worth caring for. It pained me to hurt it.

It felt almost like fate to be holding another wild bird so soon after holding the hummingbird in Oregon. I felt like it was waiting for me. I felt like I had to help it. I only hope I did the right thing.

The hooked gull and the weight that was holding it down.

My friend Mary Aarons saw I was up on the North Shore and invited me up for a visit. I met Mary also at Squam Art Workshops. She does e-Marketing for Quayside Publishing and talking with her was a real encouragement. People who do the things that baffle me for a living always have a way of sparking new life in my work. We chatted a bit about my upcoming residency too. And I just loved her house!

An inspiring visit with Mary Aarons in Gloucester

Ended my time there with more lobster (#2&3) at Tides restaurant in Nahant. Whirlwind of friends and business chatting…got me set to tackle some stuff come Monday!

I know this long of a post really doesn’t count as August Break…it is supposed to be a break after all. Oh well! 🙂

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Today was a day I learned more about how truly blessed I am. This morning I finally launched my Kickstarter project and announced that I am going to Spain for an artist residency program. You can read all about my residency on my project page. My goal is to raise $2000 and today I got to 40% of that goal. I am overwhelmed with gratitude and simply in awe of the strong community I have surrounding me, even though many of us are physically far apart.

First Glimpses

So besides all the good news and love that will enable my dreams to come true, today was also awesome because Kristin and I finally got up to Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park, and Boulder. We had a lovely time hiking and eating ice cream. Yesterday was devoted to hanging out in Denver and relaxing.

Driving in CO

Hiking

Me Doing My Thing

More Hiking

Kristin on a rock island...then I climbed out too.

Estes Park and Boulder...ate at Mountain Sun Brew Pub

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Judy's Studio

Besides visiting gardens my last three days in Portland, I also visited some of the nicest artists I know. I had a lovely time seeing their studios and going out to lunch. Monday I visited Judy Wise‘s house and studio.

Walking into an artist’s studio is like walking into a room-sized embodiment of their creativity, energy and personality. It is where they pour out their soul and collect their treasures. It is a space that is truly their own. Walking into Judy’s studio I could feel her creative energy in the space. It was wonderful and made me so happy.

Judy's Studio

Lunch with Judy...really good Thai.

I also got a tour of Judy’s husband’s gardens. They were wonderful as well. So many things that grow in Oregon and do not grow (well) in the Northeast. John was working away and it was nice to finally meet him after seeing his gardens for so long on Judy’s blog.

Judy and John's Gardens

Tuesday I visited Bill and Linda Womack and their two dogs Sadie and Jack. Linda’s studio is in a converted garage behind their house. It was perfect. Linda has it set up with room for students so she can teach right in her studio. She has her work displayed along with work-in-progress and sample boards. She showed me how to crack shellac on wax, which I think is one of the last techniques in encaustics I’ve been wanting to try. Now I need to buy some shellac when I get home.

Linda's Studio

I had lunch that day with Bill, Linda, Kimberly Kent, and Judy Wise. We had a nice time catching up since our time together at the International Encaustic Conference in Massachusetts in June. We went to American Dream Pizza, which was fantastic and very cool inside. Kimberly’s grandson, Hugh, went with us.

Lunch at American Dream Pizza

So in 10 days I went roughly 600 miles, took over 1000 photographs, and doubled the weight of my baggage. I really loved my time in Oregon.

The baggage is a funny story. I spent all morning squishing all my stuff into my one suitcase and somehow I was successful. But when I got to Linda’s house I was telling her about my bags and she suggested I weigh it just to be on the safe side. Deep down I already knew I was in trouble, but how much trouble? I could barely pick up my bag to hold it on the scale. It was over 80 pounds! Oops! So Linda, being the wonderfully nice person she is, lent me a bag from their attic and I spent the next 20 minutes putting over 30 pounds into that bag. It was ridiculous, but it worked. The big bag was 50.0 pounds when I checked it! I had to laugh. Thanks, Linda!

 

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The hummingbird I rescued...a truly magical moment.

EncaustiCamp has ended and I am now back in Portland staying with friends. It was a fantastic art retreat. I learned so much and have so many new ideas. A big part of me just wants to go straight home and paint…but I have more exploring to do before then! I am in Portland for a couple more days and then onto Colorado. Excited to see the studios of two artist friends in the next two days. More on that later.

I posted about EncaustiCamp over on the SYC Blog, but I wanted to share a little more here about what I did there and what I did today.

making paper in Michelle Belto's class

hanging (encaustic on handmade paper)

I am leaving EncaustiCamp with ideas and confidence. I received a warm welcome from Trish and was invited to share with the attendees a summary of Seek Your Course on the first night. She also let me put SYC postcards in everyone’s welcome bags. It was great to start the retreat like this because it sparked a lot of conversations throughout the week and gave me plenty of opportunities to talk about Seek Your Course. I also got lots of great feedback on my work. It feels so good and right to sense things moving forward and to see opportunities emerging before my eyes.

It was really encouraging to be noticed and known. I usually feel like I know everyone but I’m not sure they know me. This time it was the other way around. Everyone knew my name and I kept forgetting some of theirs. It was different. It felt good to be known and a part of me embraces this as success. And then a part of me is very wary of playing the attention game and wanting so badly still to be “cool.” Do these feelings ever go away? The need to be accepted seems eternally strong.

So I am cherishing these encouraging experiences and sealing them inside for times of doubt. While doing this I am also trying to meditate on being strengthened and firm in my convictions, but not tainted by thoughts of superiority or popularity. I am trying to just be true to myself and the path I have before me. I am uplifted and it makes me smile.

Me and Bridgette Guerzon Mills, Instructor Extraordinaire

On my way to Portland today I stopped in Aurora, Oregon. I found some scrumptious shops including a salvage place! I walked around wide-eyed and giddy like a child.

Shopping in Aurora: Aurora Mills Architectural Salvage and Tarte!

Here at Erik and Katie’s house they have chickens and bees in their beautiful in-the-city backyard homestead. I am inspired once again!

Life with Erik and Katie: bees, chickens, dogs and a potluck

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I figured after my last post I should focus on something a little more positive. And I have plenty to be postive about right now!

My big project for the last few months has been to create an online application called Seek Your Course. I have been working with some lovely people to get it off the ground and last night we launched the Listings Manager back-end so that the database can be filled during the month of June. The public launch will be July 1! You can follow the twitter here and like the facebook page here.

Seek Your Course is a listing service for instructors and coordinators of creative ecourses and retreats/conferences. The goal is to better organize and promote all the wonderful learning opportunities out there. SYC will also include a blog that features our sponsors, people’s stories of life-changing experiences with creative learning, interviews with people living creative lives and book recommendations.

I first had the idea in January and right away emailed three people: Beth Nicholls, Dan Bercht, and Cheryl Burke. I had met Beth at Squam Art Workshops in September and she had just announced her Do What You Love site, retreat, and ecourse. Since she was focusing on creative entrepreneurship I knew she would be a great person to bounce the idea off of. She emailed back to say she would love to do some consulting via Skype as I worked on putting it together. I was thrilled! Dan Bercht is an engineering student at UMass that my dad recommended. Dan responded that he would love to work on the project. Cheryl Burke is a friend and graphic designer. She emailed back and said she would love to help with the design. Three positive responses to my three initial inquiries. I was jumping for joy and took it as a sign to go for it!

Less that five months later we launched the Listings Manager and are on track for the public launch in a month. It has been a great journey and I am looking forward to sharing the rest of our plans with you all. I just hope to inspire others in the same way that I have been inspired by all the creative people out there!

While loosely on the subject of hope, we have had fun watching the baby birds outside our door grow up and fly away. They were amazing to watch as they changed a little every day.

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1985

I spent the better part of Saturday with my mom looking through old photographs for Unraveling. I was struck by all the smiles. I guess life was good as a baby. Sometimes I wonder what happened to me. Where did the smiles go? I guess I would be more concerned if I never smiled as a baby.

Heights 1986 & 1987

I love these photos! I’ve always loved heights. It’s not that they don’t freak me out, I just love the feeling. My favorite thing to do when up high is to spread my arms out and pretend I am flying. Even as an adult I do this. I feel like I need to do it in order to be true to the spirited playful child inside (although I do make sure not many people are watching). I am not a thrill seeker…too practical for that extreme stuff. I just wish I could fly high above everything else.

I must tell you the story about the photo on the left. We were moving from Ipswich, Massachusetts so my dad was taking me around the property photographing me at various spots. And he decided that the roof of the garage would be one of those spots. So he got a small step ladder and sat me up there for this priceless shot. Me scared? Nope. Smiling and waving!

My husband, Ben, and I now live just below some beautiful cliffs. I love sitting with my legs dangling over the edge, petting the dogs and watching the cars and birds below. This gives Ben a heart attack, so its what the dogs and I do when we’re alone.

1985 - 10 months

Photos are powerful things. I am repeatedly struck by the connections to who I am now. My love of hammocks cultivated at a young age. Being up high and swinging on swings to mimic flying. My desire for beautifully crafted parties. The deeply personal connection I feel to my relatives who have passed on. My love of flowers and beaches. Curiosity and adventure. It all makes a little more sense with a look at snapshots of my past.

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I love weekends, but I do tend to work all weekend long. Working on things I love, but going back to school on Monday always feels extra hard because of it.

This weekend was wonderful. I tend to forget to list the good things, so here is a good list for a change:

This weekend was great because the sun was shining, we cleaned the kitchen, I cooked really great food today, we hung out with friends yesterday, I finally met baby Ezra on Skype, we started watching season 1 of Glee and loved it, I had a wonderful Skype meeting with Beth Nicholls to talk about my big project and I finally made headway on the design for the project. In short, I love progress, friends and sunshine!

It feels nice to have so many good things to list.

I finally have momentum again for the big project, which is called Seek Your Course. Not quite ready to announce it yet, but it’s going to rock the world! Beth has kindly agreed to meet with my over Skype to mentor me, especially regarding the business side of the project. She has been such a great help and has had wonderful feedback that has really helped me shape my plan and execution. Wish I could attend the first Do What You Love retreat next month. Maybe next year. YOU can still sign up!

Another friend, Cheryl Burke, has been helping me with the designing. She has such a great way of thinking through design and color. Finally got to start working on the stuff we went over last time we met. It’s been tough getting back into the swing of things after our trip, but this weekend was definitely a good push forward. Can’t wait to show Cheryl what I worked on today! You all will see it soon too.

first grilling of the season

I am still having a lovely time in Beth’s Do What You Love and Susannah’s Unraveling eCourses. It’s been really helpful to have so many posts urging me to examine where I come from, am now, and am heading. So many changes and things to think about. It is the perfect time for these courses and I am thankful for the beautiful people who share their lives in order to help everyone else think about life in a new way.

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