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The human spirit needs places where nature has not been rearranged by the hand of man. ~Author Unknown
My husband and I found a rare intersection of opportunity and availability and were able to take a quickly scheduled vacation to Big Sky, Montana.
As Southerners, we had a little trepidation about the weather so late in the year, but were pleasantly surprised when we arrived. For the most part, a jacket and long sleeves or sweatshirt were perfect. We noticed some differences from home over the few days we were there outside the obvious swamp vs. mountain landscape. Many of the towns are very small and you drive a long time to get from place to place. There aren’t many restaurants in the area, nor are there many places to purchase the foods I usually eat (allergies to corn, eggs and gluten.) Though we did find some wonderful caramel made with tapioca syrup that was safe for me to eat – and I certainly enjoyed it! I was a little disappointed that we didn’t see a big horn sheep despite many warning signs along the road that we were in a crossing area. Oh, and cell phone coverage – forget it. This was especially frustrating since we usually rely on the GPS app on my phone. On the positive note, no one could call and bother us for most of the time we were there.
We arrived last Saturday with the idea that we would relax a day or two and then drive over to Yellowstone National Park. That plan got nixed quickly as we heard on the radio that Yellowstone would be closing for the season on Monday. We were up bright and early Sunday to spend the day at the park. Imagine our surprise when we spotted a red fox just outside our condo. I can’t describe Yellowstone, though I will share a few photos – I only took about 400. We saw bison, elk, and trumpeter swans. Steam pits, paint pots, mud volcanoes, Old Faithful and the most stunning scenery you could imagine. What you don’t see are the sounds and smells, though I wish you could. To hear the water boiling just under the ground and hot steam rising all around us was surreal. I only wish our grandchildren had been there – they would have loved it all.
We ended up cutting our trip short as the weather we had worried over was slated to arrive on our last couple of days there. They were expecting 2-3 feet of snow between Thursday and Saturday with highs in the low teens. The innkeeper warned that the mountain road would be closed to all traffic, so we decided to leave just before the storm hit. There was light snow as we drove down the mountain Thursday morning and about 12” on the ground by the time we boarded our 10 am flight. The plane had to be de-iced a couple of times, but we made it home safe and sound late Thursday afternoon.
Nature is really “in your face” there and I have great admiration for the people who live in that part of America. I’m too Southern-fried to manage the winter weather. Visiting Yellowstone was an unforgettable experience and being unplugged is something everyone should do more often – not just when we can’t get cell phone coverage.
A few days ago, I got a note from Kelley at TangleUntangled telling me she had nominated my blog for the One Lovely Blog Award. What a lovely thing to do! Kelley is a newly minted CZT and has a very lovely blog herself. A part of being nominated is to share 7 facts about myself and nominate 10 other blogs. Ten is a big number, but once I reflected on it, kind of small too. I don’t follow a ton of blogs though my list is much longer than ten. It was like choosing one child over another since I really love the blogs I do follow. So, here we go:
7 Facts about Kathy:
- I am left handed but have a thinking style that is a blend of both right and left brain. That makes me unique in the world of interior design. I have no patience for “dithering” over miniscule nuances – pick one already and move on!
- I skipped a grade in school and finished high-school at age sixteen.
- I waited until I was 32 years old to go to college for the first time because I was afraid I couldn’t do it. I earned both degrees with Summa Cum Laude honors.
- My English professor at LSU tried to get me change my major to English, but writing was pure torture for me. Getting beat up in design critiques was much easier.
- I love writing my blog because I get to choose the subject and ramble at will.
- My black Cairn terrier was my “dream dog.” He is named Howie Long, for obvious reasons. He’s a good looking hunk of a dog.
- I am an introvert working in the world of sales and cannot remember names, faces or numbers. Really.
Now for my 10 Lovely Blog nominees in alphabetical order:
- Beez in the Belfry – Sandy is the author of my favorite Zentangle book, Yoga for the Brain. Sandy writes and I read/buy. I love that her latest effort, The Tangles of Kells, is an ebook that can live on my iPad.
- Enthusiastic Artist – Margaret Bremner has a wonderful way of outlining process and helping her readers to understand how she achieves such amazing art. Her interview explaining Zentangle is a must read and I share it often.
- I am the diva – Certified Zentangle Teacher – Laura invites you into her life and manages to make sure all the tanglers out there get their weekly Diva Challenge fix. She is a truly amazing young woman and an inspiration to me every time I read her blog whether I get to the challenge or not.
- Life Imitates Doodles – Sandy Strait may not be a CZT, but believe me, she is a powerhouse for the art form. There’s always something good on her blog ranging from new tangles to meticulous product reviews.
- Open Seed Arts – I was introduced to Carole’s amazing talent when my friend, Karen, gave me her 2011 calendar as a Christmas gift. I absolutely love her drawing style – and according to Karen, she’s a rock star beader too!
- Sue’s Tangle Trips – Sue Jacobs is so inspiring and shares her knowledge freely. I have learned and grown as an artist from Sue and her blog.
- Tangled Ink Art – Sue Clark’s blog is another feast for the eyes and mind.
- TangleUntangled – Kelley’s blog is new, but I have enjoyed every post so far, plus she honored me with one of her ten nominations. Thanks Kelley.
- The Bright Owl – Erin has been rolling out Zendala Dares for quite a while. She does an amazing job of coming up with Zendala templates and shares them with her readers. Erin takes the mystery out of working in the round and offers those who struggle with strings a little break every week.
10. WeaveABead – My friend Karen is an amazing bead artist and I love seeing what she’s working on now that I don’t get to see her every day.
Now on to the one big OOPS! I was really impresses with Margaret’s post Mo’Auraknot. My wheels were turning when I saw what she did with Sandy Strait’s tangle Exinside and mixing it up with Auraknot. What I ended up with bears little resemblance to the inspiration, what I had in my head or Sandy’s tangle. I thought it was time to work on black and plunged in without ever drawing Exinside at all. First, I find drawing on black with white a real challenge, but hey, I’m pushing my limits. It was clear by step 3 that I had made a serious misjudgment on scale here. So, practicing what I preach to all my students, I kept on going. No mistakes – make the best of what you have at the moment – just like life. No do-overs. So I am sharing this OOPS that really isn’t at all. I’m pleased with the end result. Some of my best work has begun with something that went awry and I just kept on fixing it. That’s one of the most profound aspects of Zentangle. Think about it the next time you have a tile, or a life event, that you think is an OOPS!
It is only when we silent the blaring sounds of our daily existence that we can finally hear the whispers of truth that life reveals to us, as it stands knocking on the doorsteps of our hearts. ~K.T. Jong
So…the shoulder injury didn’t respond to those less aggressive treatments and surgery was in order. I could have opted for doing nothing and settled for extremely limited movement of my left arm, but since my left hand is my dominant (drawing) hand, surgery it was about four weeks ago. I am pleased to say, my surgery was a complete success. Physical therapy is ongoing, but the 3 weeks of 6-8 hours a day in a CPM machine are now over. For those unfamiliar (as I was before) your arm is strapped into this machine and is automatically stretched up and out to increasing degrees. Kind of like exaggerated waving. Not much drawing going on, lots of reading and thinking and waayy too much TV. Luckily, I was sprung about 4 days before the CZT Retreat in Providence, RI!!
There was no obvious reason for me to attend a seminar to be certified to teach Zentangle, I already have that certification. It was a question I was asked many times by the “newbies” attending the seminar. For me it was about touching base with what drew me to Zentangle. Rick, Maria and Molly are such positive and enthusiastic presenters/teachers. It was nice to be the student again. I also got to meet so many wonderful new friends (now CZT’s) from all over the world. I can’t begin to explain the energy and sense of renewal that comes with spending three full days with a group like ours. I took some moments to “pick” Rick’s brain about how he draws Assunta. I like the tangle, but I struggle with it. He shared a few subtleties that really helped – maybe I’ll use it more often than just for Diva Challenges or Maria’s birthday. Since our last day was her birthday, we gifted her with tiles using Assunta and celebrated with cupcakes.
Now that I’m back home, I have been taking time to finish all those tiles started at the seminar. There were so many with the beginnings of tangles to learn techniques, tangle combinations a little outside the box and just half completed because we were moving on to something else. Maria taught a cute little frame that I will definitely use over and over. I’m showing the tile and a digital version with my wedding pic in it. You will likely recognize a “new” friend in these tiles. Be looking for the instructions in an upcoming Zentangle newsletter or if you can’t wait, find a CZT IX and take a class. While I didn’t take very many pictures, my tiles serve as my memories for this wonderful time in Providence. I hope you enjoy…
“Recalling days of sadness, memories haunt me. Recalling days of happiness, I haunt my memories.” ~Robert Brault
My goodness! Where has the time gone? It has been too long since I last shared anything with my virtual friends. I’ve been a very busy girl as we move into 2012. Teaching, speaking, working, remembering and being interviewed today.
I am coming to the end of a series of workshops this weekend. It has been wonderful to introduce newbies to Zentangle and we’ll explore color and drawing on canvas this weekend. My husband and I celebrated after my most recent class with dinner out and have plans to do the same this weekend.
I served as “wingwoman” for my 10-year old grandson on Valentine’s Day. He wanted to make some good memories for his mom by surprising her for dinner that night. I picked him up from school and we got busy. We bought roses (yellow was his choice), a musical card, a stuffed monkey and candy. Card selection was an experience as I steered him away from “You Sexy Thing” and assorted other inappropriate choices aided by two men in their work clothes looking for the right card for their ladies. He got all spiffed up, put the cash to pay for dinner in his pocket and was his mom’s surprise blind date. She told me later he was the best date she ever had – with amazing manners. Plus, he tactfully scolded the man on his phone at the next table: “You really should put your phone away, This is supposed to be all about her tonight.” The man laughed, agreed with him and turned off his phone. Ah, the boy remembered his coaching and those etiquette lessons from good old Kacki.
In late February, I was approached by the hospital where my family was treated after their accident to speak for their Sudden Impact program. “High school sophomores get a chance to hear from troopers, trauma nurses and victims impacted by unsafe driving. The goal is to prevent kids from driving distracted, impaired or driving without a seat belt” My story resonated because they all lived because of their seat belts and also illustrates that you can do everything right but still be affected by another’s poor choice. I have spoken twice with several more dates leading up to prom season. This was so much more difficult than I anticipated, but worth it if even one kid makes the right choice when faced with a decision. This has led to my interview today for the hospital’s Wee Believe Magazine. One more piece of the silver lining from that black cloud in September 2010. You can read more about that story here.
Finally, last September and October, I promised to share bridal portraits in a Plantation, Pictures and Puddles and Wedding Day dawns. My friends, I finally have official photos to share. AND. drumroll please, an incredible teaser for the wedding video. I hope you enjoy sharing a few of our happy memories.
I want to acknowledge the wonderful professionals who helped me pull off a truly perfect wedding day for my daughter and her new husband:
Photography: Chris Genovese Photography
Video: CV Films
Flowers: Fred Heroman (Katrina’s was one of his last weddings, he retired the next week)
Rehearsal Dinner and Reception: Boudreaux’s (Jeanne was a joy to work with)
Groom’s Cake: Amazing Cakes
“It’s a great thing when you realize you still have the ability to surprise yourself. Makes you wonder what else you can do that you’ve forgotten about.” ~Alan Ball, American Beauty, 1999
Today I taught a beginning Zentangle class followed by an advanced class. I always like to start out by asking if I have any artists in the group. No hands this morning. ”How many of you can’t draw a straight line?” Thirteen hands this time. ”That’s good. You don’t need to draw a straight line.” I got some smiles and we were on our way. As we worked through the first tile, there were a few groans here and there followed by reminders from me that there are no mistakes in Zentangle. After the first tile was finished, I had everyone put their tiles together in the class mosaic. And the magic of every class was there once again. Total silence as they study what they have done. Stunned at the end result. Finally, I remind them that they told me they weren’t artists when we started. ”What else do you THINK you can’t do?”
I love teaching Zentangle and this is my favorite part of every class. That moment when my students surprise themselves with what they’ve done – and realize the possibilities.
“God is in the details.” Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
This is one of my favorite quotes, first introduced to me in design school. I often get caught up in details, but believe the extra effort always makes the difference. We are still waiting for the “official” photos from the wedding, but I thought I would share a few captured by various friends and family along with the details that contributed to an absolutely perfect wedding.
The Zentangle inspired logo I created for the couple became a theme piece used on everything from invitations, to RSVP cards, to favor boxes and the program. Favor boxes were filled with my homemade caramel and Tiger magnets (again made by me) with the couple’s name and the date. I was even able to find paper to wrap the caramel that resembled the Mooka background on the logo (I usually use clear cellophane) My candy wrappers hated the paper because it was difficult to use and hard on the fingers, but everyone agreed it was worth the end result. Extras were used to fill clear glass serving bowls at the reception. Lest you think I was the only “artist” contributing to this event, take a look at the Bride’s earrings and her sister’s Bridesmaid necklace. I have a wonderful friend, Karen Firnberg, who is a very talented bead artist. She took the belt worn with the wedding dress and designed these fabulous earrings especially for Katrina. Light as a feather despite the way they look, they were not only gorgeous, but comfortable to wear as well. Karen also made every bridesmaid necklace, Katrina’s gift to each of them and a big hit. You can see more of Karen’s artistry on her blog.
Kim and I left the next day for a much-needed vacation – even before the ecstatic couple left for their honeymoon in Jamaica. We didn’t go anywhere that exotic, but enjoyed every minute we spent in the Branson, Missouri area. We lucked out and caught the leaves at the peak of their change. The scenery was stunning. The people were all so warm and friendly. This was our first trip to the area but won’t be our last. We were surprised to meet so many Louisiana folks – they were drawn to my LSU shirts. I had to show my support since we were gearing up for the big Bama game that week. This was our de-stress trip after the weeks of wedding prep and for me, the stress of my job change. I did lots of tangling. I am near completing nine-tile, prestrung set. Just two more to go. Plus a few others.
It’s amazing the difference it makes to commit yourself turning it all off. I didn’t bring any work or even my work phone with me. I had a big meeting a couple of days after I got back. One of my new team mates was in town for the meeting and had been at the training meetings I attended just a couple of days before the wedding. When I walked in, he told me I looked like I had shed 50 lbs. of stress since the last time he saw me. I didn’t think it showed and lots of people who knew me better thought I appeared uncommonly calm in those days leading up to the wedding. All things considered, I was. But clearly the strain shows. Yet another reason to keep on tangling – I need all the help I can get as I move further into my 50′s!
I have often referred to my use of Zentangle as a favorite tool to manage stress and work my way through assorted life challenges. That has never been more true as I wrestled with a problem over the past couple of weeks. Sometimes, we find ourselves on the wrong side of shabby treatment by someone we consider a friend. These situations offer ways for us to shine along with lots of places to exhibit just how childish an adult can become. I was at one of these crossroads and needed to find a resolution that would allow me to feel good about my own conduct. I hold myself to some pretty high standards, so for the most part, I am able to rise above these situations and act graciously. Not so this time. My inner child really wanted to throw a humdinger of a tantrum in protest of the injustice.
I started the Diva Challenge early this week. The paradox of straight line string with curvy tangles and curvy strings with straight line tangles turned out to be a lot of fun. I had one of each done by Tuesday morning. By the end of the day Tuesday, I had been on the phone for eight hours straight and found myself with a huge new, rushed project on my plate that I have no idea how I will manage. And then came the call that put the cherry on that stress sundae, confirmation that I had a relationship in the ditch and headed for the bayou. Trying to shed the problems of the day, I sat in my favorite chair to relax and realized that just wasn’t going to happen. What to do?? What to do?? What to do?? I thought about starting a new tile, but just couldn’t find it in me. Then I spied the tiles I had “completed” earlier. Without really thinking, I picked up my pen and kept going. Very slowly and very deliberately, stroke by stroke. As my mind finally quieted, the path was clear and precise for me. Not easy, but the right thing to do. I took a look at the tile and realized I had thrown the Diva Challenge out the window, but that’s okay. Friendships are too valuable to squander and worth the sacrifice. There’s always another tile.
Lately, it seems I spend a great deal of my work day putting out fires. We all know the feeling. You start out with a well-organized “to-do” list and before you can finish your morning e-mails, something crosses your path that MUST be done NOW. The next thing you know, you have missed lunch, it’s 5 o’clock and you realize how little you really accomplished. Even worse, you also realize that the fire burning up your day was little more than a smoke ring. When this goes on long enough, the important things never get attention until they become the truly urgent.
This week has really brought this into focus for me. I had several meetings and phone calls that were not urgent, but very important and vice-versa. As I reflect on them, it becomes clear just how satisfying it can be to tend to the important. Putting out that fire may offer a sense of heroism – after all, I saved the day. Doing the important feeds my soul. There is little stress in tending to the important and there is a bone-deep feeling of satisfaction at the end of the day. The trick in business sometimes is sorting out the two.
A note from my daughter made me think about this as it applies my personal life. She was inviting me to attend a girls night out with her friends in a couple of weeks. Her maid of honor is visiting from California. Our Bride wants to gather all the girls together since many of her friends have never met this young woman who is so important to her. I’m not a party person, it’s a weeknight, and why in the world would the girls want “Mom” there? What is wrong with me? None of that matters. It is IMPORTANT to my daughter, SHE asked me to be there. That’s what I needed to understand, what is important to my daughter is important to me.
I have been reasonably consistent in setting aside time to tangle. I have come to understand that it is important for my well-being. It is a time of relaxation and intense focus. Somehow the answers become clearer, creativity flourishes and the important is easy to identify. Try it sometime. Invest in the important.
“Fungus: any member of a kingdom of organisms (Fungi) that lack chlorophyll, leaves, true stems, and roots, reproduce by spores, and live as saprotrophs or parasites. The group includes moulds, mildews, rusts, yeasts, and mushrooms” from World English Dictionary
“Fairy Ring: a naturally occurring ring or arc of mushrooms. Fairy rings also occupy a prominent place in European folklore as the location of gateways into elfin kingdoms, or places where elves gather and dance. According to the folklore, a fairy ring appears when a fairy, pixie, or elf appears. It will disappear without trace in less than five days, but if an observer waits for the elf to return to the ring, he may be able to capture it. ” Wikipedia
We have had a lot of rain in the past few weeks where I live. It has been welcome, as we were in a severe drought for several months. The gardens and trees love the rain and our Louisiana landscape is once again green and vibrant. One of the wonders of all this rain is the mushrooms that are popping up everywhere. Driving around on a pretty Saturday morning, I was enchanted with the patches and rings of jaunty little caps. There seems to be no rhyme or reason associated with their appearance, some quite large and elegant, other short and squatty. I was a little disappointed that my yard wasn’t blessed.
Wonder leads to curiosity and I decided to do a little research. The first thing I discovered – there is a fungus among us (sorry, I couldn’t resist.) Even further, they are closely related to mold. Not good, since I am allergic. I’m losing the magic here. Further investigation yielded the information that these are also known as fairy rings in European folklore. This is much better, I like this idea. Magic rings springing up in the wake of fairies, pixies and elves. This morning I grabbed my camera and set out to capture a few photos before my enthusiastic neighbors fired up their lawnmowers. As I strolled out of my house, I glanced over to the area between my house and my neighbors’ fence. Oh my! My yard WAS blessed! As I was snapping away, I noticed a little friend. Not a fairy, but still a cute little surprise.
My fascination with the mushrooms seems to have emerged in my last few Zentangles, with a very distinctly mushroom looking tangle finding its way onto my tiles. This is not unusual, as many tangles find their roots in nature and patterns we see around us. Usually it is more deliberate and tanglers work to distill these patterns into the fewest possible strokes while capturing the spirit of the design. Not so for these, they just sprouted up on my tiles. Like a magic fairy ring.
These words keep replaying in my mind as go about addressing the various challenges before me this week and plain old daily living. I attended a workshop at The Red Shoes presented by Linda V. Allred on the power of the subconscious mind. She is a great speaker with a passion for life and paying her own gifts forward through her work as a certified hypnotist and wellness coach for women. A philosophy closely aligned with my own decision to teach Zentangle. She shared her story and her profound belief that we have a power within us to achieve so much more – proclaiming “Don’t live small. Live big.” Wow, such a simple statement, yet very profound. I quickly jotted it down – not wanting to lose that thought.
I have been giving that short statement a lot of attention in the last few days. How do I use that to be better? Certainly, there is always room for improvement and growth. Linda also used the metaphor of driving through life with one foot on the accelerator and the other on the brake. For me lately, this has been a little niggle that hovers at the edges of my mind telling me things aren’t quite right, but I can’t define the issue. I believe happiness is a state of mind. Some people have a natural affinity for finding the positive in every situation and others have to work a bit harder and consciously choose to be happy. Even as a young girl, I recognized the power of my thoughts and regularly used positive affirmations and visualization to achieve my goals. Somehow, I misplaced those habits over the past several years. It’s time to welcome back those old habits – they were good for me. This time they will be added to my tangle time. Hopefully, the positive thoughts will guide my pen as I continue on my tangled quest for tranquility. Thanks, Linda, for the reminder to live big.