Monday, September 26, 2011

moving chaos

As many of you know, we're in the process of moving BACK across Canada...from London Ontario to Abbotsford B.C. We've moved so many times...I am just excited to finally buy our first house, settle down, and not have to smell an apartment filled with cardboard boxes anymore (it really IS a unique smell, you know?!).

I am sitting here alone; the baby is asleep, the hubby's out playing basketball, and the puppy is too tired to realize that I haven't even bothered to feed her dinner yet. It's dark, because our lamps are all packed and this apartment has crappy lighting. There are piles of boxes everywhere, and our stuff is away away away. Sealed shut: away.

The internet has been my entertainment. Many would see it as a waste of time, but it's funny: I NEED TO FILL MY CREATIVE WELL RIGHT NOW. (For more on the "creative well" idea read The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron...she describes us as periodically needing filling...then we have fullness from which to overflow onto the canvas, page, blog, etc...) The internet is providing a need: I need to peruse picture after picture of beautiful art and photography. It helps me feel safe, warm, happy. I LOVE staring at other people's perfectly alphabetized pantries, spray-painted pink chandeliers, and decadently sparkled yellow cupcakes. Because, when I look up from my screen...I see chaos.

Last night we were having dinner with some dear friends (for possibly the last time...sad) and their 9 year old boy and I had a lovely conversation! He explained to me that he is definitely the most organized and "tidy" one in his family. He said he likes things "even" because when they aren't that way, he feels dizzy and his stomach hurts. WOW. THAT'S ME. I have always been this way; I need it "even"!

So, after all this internet browsing, I have decided to create some of my own order out of all this chaos. I am picking up my camera (despite the extremely low-light situation I have here) and I am going to MAKE ART out of our cardboard filled messy little bungalow.

Now, if I had only not packed the cord to upload the photos onto the computer!!! OOPS. They'll be here later, friends ;)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Photo Shoot Mini Album

Sometimes it seems that when I am MOST busy, it's then that I NEED to create something. Does that ever happen to you? It's the way I handle my stress, the way I escape, the way I cope. I don't bother with TV, so for all of you wondering, "How does she have the time?!" that's how ;) My baby is also spending a lot of time enjoying her jolly jumper...

My sister requested that I do a b&w photo shoot with her and Evalie, and I thought I would create a little keepsake of our fav photos for her (I am making myself one for my stash too...eventually...) I emailed my sister and asked what accent colour she'd like used in the book (after all, b&w's look GREAT with a colour next to them)...but after a number of days with no reply I realized that my question was probably similar to that of, "What colour should we paint the living room?" in stress levels for her. So, I opted to stick with the request she originally made: black and white all around!

Thank you to my lovely sister for letting me photograph you and Evalie together - these are photos I will treasure forever!!!

The cover is the texture.

Found this perfect ribbon with little cameras in my stash - love it!!

Kept the embellishments simple. This scrolly paper is actually from a halloween line by KI Memories; I know my sister will like it because it's irridescent.

Put all the vertical photos together in the second half of the book.

What's a mini album by Erika without transparencies??

Added little bits of the Tim Holtz vintage transparency film strips.

Used these white clips by Making Memories; my sister actually bought these for me and they're from a wedding line, but the words work perfectly for this too!

The END :) Thanks for looking!!!!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Can I...DARE I?

DARE I call myself... ARTIST?

When I was in the 5th grade, my teacher made up little pretend newspapers announcing what we would be when we grew up. Mine said that my art was proudly hanging in a gallery in Hawaii and that I enjoyed drawing and painting for a living.

But that never really happened...

I've been painting, drawing, playing with paper, making STUFF for years now. But, I never called myself an artist because, well, I just think of my art as PLAY. It's not work, it's "just for fun." I would devalue it; you know, trying to not make it a big deal. I remember one time a few years back when I was talking with a "friend" about my art. She told me that she was going to commission a painter to make a canvas for her; I said I thought that was super cool, and that I like to paint too. She said, "Oh, no she's a REAL painter. I think you just paint with your fingers, don't you? She like, REALLY paints." That stung. It stuck with me.

I am ready to shed that and let it go. I am also a REAL PAINTER!!!!! So, take that!

Yet, when I am at a party and someone asks the big question: WHAT DO YOU DO? I always say that I am a children's mental health therapist. And...I am.

Recently I have been thinking a lot about my career - what I want it to look like, where I want to work, when I want to go back to work...etc. I really don't want to do mental health work full time exclusively; my soul can't handle the stress. But, "there's no money in art," is the thing that lingers in my mind.

I think it's time for me to admit that THAT'S NOT TRUE!

I have sold a number of original paintings. I have sold dozens of handpainted journals. And, recently I sold my most expensive painting yet!!! I am THRILLED at this breakthrough in my life. YOU might not be might say, "I always have thought of you as an artist." But, for me to truly admit this, own this, identify with this - THIS IS HUGE FOR ME.

"The Gifts of Imperfection" by Brene Brown is the book that I have recently been devouring. Check out her TED talk here: (thank you Tara-Lynn for sharing this with me!) Her chapter on Cultivating Meaningful Work was enlightening for me; she discussed the concept of "slash careers." These are things like "surgeon/playwright," "accountant/cartoonist," etc.

So, I am officially a therapist/life artist. That's my new title!!! (aside from mother, of course!)
I'm owning it :)

Here are some paintings that I gave away as I was inspired to make them for specific people...

This was hanging in my first office, and then I left it for the Delta Mental Health team as an appreciation/goodbye gift. It still hangs in the office there for all to enjoy.

This pink one is for my mother and hangs in her bedroom. She loves to garden and she REALLY loves pink!

This "home" painting went to my brother in law and sister in law when they purchased their first home in Ft. MacMurray.

This one is a series of three that hangs in my sister and her hubbys romantic bedroom.

AND, this is the one that I recently sold. It will be going to a lovely lady named Linda who will be moving into our apartment when we leave it. She said that she's been viewing the apartments on our street for months trying to decide if she wants to sell her beloved house and downsize. When she saw our apartment, she fell in love with the positive energy and asked me if I would be willing to sell my painting. I told her that it would be quite expensive, but I got more than I ever dreamt I would for my art! I am thrilled that she'll love this piece of work as much as we have, and that our home will have someone wonderful living in it! Her and two friends also kept asking me if I was an interior decorator. They all said that I should be, and that they're suprized that's not my career. Hm...I see another SLASH coming on!!!! :)
(photo below c/o LTC photography, London Ontario)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Book Reviews...Let the Reading BEGIN!

I like to read. I can't say this was always the case. That's part of why I chose to be a math major in university: Math is straightforward. Reading, words, papers...well, they're not.

But, ever since I graduated, I have felt differently. Books are a source of education, information, knowledge, wisdom, guidance. These were once things I got from professors; now they're things I get from the written word.

I also have to say, I like REAL TANGIBLE BOOKS. I don't have a Kindle. I don't retain very much information when I am surfing the web. But, I LOVE the feel of a real book in my hands - the smell, the weight, the escape of a really great bit of lit. I like to highlight, underline, and fold the pages. I like to make my real books REALLY MINE.

Oh, and just so you know, I don't read very much fiction.

But before you go writing off my book reviews because they're not entertaining novels, give me a chance! I read books to get ideas, change my perspectives, and improve my life. Even though the books I read aren't mysteries, action thrillers, or romances, they're VERY inspiring, funny, and useful.

My plan is to also post a couple other book reviews about different topics - art, spirituality, and brain/psychology stuff! We'll see how it goes...Let me know what you think! And, feel free to post your favourite books on any given subject :)

I thought I would begin by sharing my top 10 books (in no particular order) about pregnancy and early infancy...seems how that's sort of what's on my mind right now. And, yes, I have read WAY more than just 10 books. But, I'll brief you on my opinion of the books, and then let YOU choose which you pick up (or give as gifts to your friends/family who are entering motherhood)...

1) The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems
Here's what I took from this book: EASY street. E=eat, A=activity, S=sleep, Y=you time. Do these things in this order and you won't set your baby up to need to eat before she sleeps. Simple. But, she didn't solve all my problems.

2) Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child
Everyone RAVES about this book! It's one of the most highly rec'd books on baby's sleep, and so many new moms sing it's praises. But, to be honest, I am not sure why. I found it very unorganized, boring, repetitive, and difficult to follow (and I read it BEFORE I was an exhausted new mom!) It has lots of science and medical info about how sleep works, which is good. But, seriously, there is no "step by step" help in this one. It's confusing, long, and I think the biggest help with sleep is that it will induce some shut eye itself!

3) Expecting 411
A fabulous reference for pregnancy. Definitely my go-to book on any questions that I had! Loved how the Q&A format makes reading the sections you actually NEED to research quick and easy. Written by doctors, which of course I am partial to ;)

4) The Happiest Baby On the Block
Another quick overview: the main part of this book is the "5-S's." Swaddle, Shhhh, Swing, Side/Stomach, and Suck. Do these 5 things in this order, with appropriate intensity, and you'll help your crying newborn calm down like a pro.
There, now you don't need to read the book.
Just it ;)

5) The Mother of All Pregnancy Books
A Canadian favourite! Funny, quick, witty, and informative. However, you then don't really need to bother with her next book, The Mother of All Baby Books, as the first half is a repeat from this book. I read both, and found the second one a waste of time. I highly rec'd this book as a great resource for pregnancy first-time moms.

6) Your Pregnancy Week By Week
Great resource, but boring and not super-well written. The Your Baby's First Year Week By Week is the same flavour: informative, but not entertaining. One of my peeves about the way that these authors write: they'll often say "from 2 to 3 weeks until 4 to 6 weeks..." Why don't you just say, "from 2 to 6 weeks"!?!?! Too much for a pregnant or new-mom brain to follow...

7) The Mother Dance
Harriet Lerner is a feminist from the 80's, and she is a well-known author with her series of "dance of..." books (ie Dance of Anger, Dance of Intimacy, etc.) I've read a few of her books, and I just LOVE to soak up her perspectives! This book was an enticing read that discussed the struggles that all mothers deal with...and how we can work through them in our society to live fulfilled motherhood lives.

8) Yummy Mummy Manifesto
Found this one on the discount table for about $5 at Chapters...hilarious, entertaining, fun, quick, easy read. Love the encouragement that this book brings to be yourself, find your own style, and love your body through all the different stages of pregnancy and early motherhood. Definitely lifted my mood to read this one!

9) The Baby Sleep Guide
This was a good overview of various sleep training suggestions. It offered a brief summary and the pros and cons of different strategies. It was well-organized, informative, and easy to read. It's a great little handbook to have around, and I appreciate how straightforward it is.

10) Lull-A-Baby Sleep Plan
This is the latest book I have read on baby's sleep (to add to the above list, I have also read the SleepEasy Solution). I really appreciate this pro-active, preventative, reasonable, balanced approach to sleep training. The only thing I can say about this one is READ IT DURING PREGNANCY OR AT THE VERY BEGINNING OF BABY'S LIFE. It's a preventative strategy that works best if you start from the very beginning; trying to play catch up later on requires a little more creativity and patience. So far, this is the best method I have found for helping Evalie sleep.

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