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From The Advocate by Walt Handelsman

It started to rain one Thursday afternoon and didn’t stop at all for two full days.  That’s what happened in Louisiana this month.  There has been very little national media coverage of The Great Flood of 2016.  This news has been spread via social media. Even among those who are aware,  many don’t fully understand just how that plays out for the people who experienced this 500 year flood event .  Yes, 500 year.  That’s how rare and terrible it really was.

People, who left for work one morning, were not able to get home to their families that afternoon.  Hundreds were stranded for over 30 hours on I-12 before the LA National Guard could get there to airlift them out.stats

Thirteen lives were lost in the flood waters.  Their families faced with the loss of what is most precious to all of us – a loved one.

The first shelters were provided by a private citizen.  Patrick Mulhearn opened Celtic Movie Studios to offer shelter for well over 2000 flood victims in the first few days.  Helicopters landing one after another in a grassy area near the studios, discharging people as quickly as possible and lifting off to get more in a matter of a few moments.  The call went out over social media and local news for supplies and volunteers – and they came.  Churches, private citizens, businesses, and medical professionals made their way to the studios to provide whatever they could.

Hundreds of private boat owners, we call them the Cajun Navy, launched into the flood waters to find and rescue those who were trapped by the waters.  They rescued people, horses, dogs, cats, chickens, cattle and more at significant risk to their lives.  When people refused to leave their homes, they gave them much needed supplies.  Oh, did I mention they accepted no payment.  The costs came from their pockets because that’s what neighbors do here.

The waters didn’t discriminate.  The poorest of homes to our Governor’s Mansion were flooded.  Even the dearly departed were not spared.  Caskets were pushed from their resting places and floated far and wide.  There are countless photos of caskets tied to trees, phone poles, and mailboxes to try to keep them close to where they belonged.  These were collected, prayers were offered and first responders escorted them to local funeral homes until they can be identified and returned to their families.

Roads were closed all over the state and interstate traffic re-routed to the north.  Many roads and bridges were destroyed by the flood waters.  Even those folks lucky enough to avoid the water, were unable to go very far.  Worse, supplies could not get in.  Food and fuel ran out pretty quickly.  AT&T had a main tower flood and service was lost for their subscribers throughout the area for days.  Power failed or had to be turned off  – water and electricity don’t play well together.  Water supplies were contaminated by flood waters and boil advisories were posted.  Most were not prepared for any of this – remember, it started with a summer rainstorm.  Not an event that sends people scrambling for emergency supplies.

Thousands of children are still not back in school – there is no school left for them to attend .  In my community alone, over 5000 students are displaced.  The school board has worked hard to keep the kids and teachers together from each school.  When they go back next week, it will be on a split schedule for the high school students.  Dutchtown High students will attend from 7-12 and St. Amant High students will attend from 12-5 – all of them sharing the same school campus.  Proceeds from the parish-wide jamboree football games will be donated to the St. Amant High Gators to help them rebuild, setting aside long held rivalries.

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T-Shirt design & shirts donated by Red Stick Sports being sold at tonight’s football jamboree

Estimates are 1 in 4 of those flooded was not covered by flood insurance.  How does that happen? Remember, this is a 500 year flood event.  Those areas had NEVER even come close to flooding.  They were not in flood zones and had no requirements for flood insurance.  They are also restricted in aid that can be received from FEMA to approximately $30K total because they did not have flood insurance.  Think about how far that money would go if you had to demo and rebuild/refurnish your home or business.

The Baton Rouge Food Bank was one of those organizations located on very high ground that was not high enough.  Food supplies were lost along with all their equipment in the flood waters.

So many have asked how they can help.  The heavy lifting of rebuilding has begun even as some areas are still flooded.  Food and water for those working to clean up in the oppressive LA heat is a big deal.  Help to do the work for the elderly and physically challenged who can’t demo and clean up the mess is much needed.  All kinds of supplies for cleanup – brooms, mops, rubber gloves, face masks, mold spray and storage containers.  Donations to local organizations like the Baton Rouge Area Foundation and Baton Rouge Food Bank with a long history of good stewardship of donations for this area will ensure your contribution is used efficiently.  What about those schools?  Our first lady, Donna Edwards, is partnering with LSBA to help Louisiana’s schools.  How about animals? Cara’s House is providing care and shelter to pets and livestock at Lamar-Dixon Expo Center and donations are welcome at the various animal shelters in the flooded parishes.  A local vet, Brennan Fitzgerald Lee, is caring for horses injured in the waters at her own expense, she could use some help.  There are many organizations working hard to help Louisiana recover, these are just a few I can name quickly.  There are countless family GoFundMe accounts and many organizations have Amazon wish lists published.

Louisiana has proven she can rise to the challenge in the past few weeks.  We appreciate every offer of help, support and encouragement we receive. But above all, the people of Louisiana are grateful for your prayers.

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On a personal note: We were among those few who avoided the flood waters, though it was a close call.  My grandchildren have used some of this time off from school to volunteer at the local shelter – getting a valuable life lesson in the process .  Unfortunately, my sister-in-law lost her home and it’s contents.  That home and her heart were opened to so many over the years when they needed a place to go, including my family.  Please say a little prayer for her and her husband as preparations are completed to bulldoze what was left of their home after the flood.

 

 

Austin Trip

My tile from the plane

“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” ― Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

A few weeks ago, a lovely woman recommended I watch Brené Brown’s TED talk on Vulnerability. This is powerful stuff and inspired me to purchase the audio version of The Gifts of Imperfection. So, why am I sharing this with you?  The two played a significant role in the way I chose to share myself and my art with others this week.

A couple of weeks ago, I was asked by several of my team leaders to share Zentangle with our wider group – 50+ professional colleagues.  I was excited to be asked as I feel Zentangle dovetails very well with some of our wider research on wellbeing, mindfulness and brain function.  I got all the supplies, packed up my doc camera and a few other things I use for teaching and boarded the plane for Austin – easy, peasy.  While on the plane and driving to the resort, I began listening to my audio book.  The more I listened and thought about my upcoming classes, the more I realized I would have to expose my imperfections to all my team mates to truly allow them to understand the power of Zentangle and what it does for me.  Anything less would be dishonest and completely inauthentic.  Up until this week, I’ve held much of the full story closely guarded – especially from my professional network.  The more I thought about it, the more certain and terrified I became.

So, on Tuesday of this week, I gathered my courage to tell my story three times to people I admire and respect.  I taught them the value of Zentangle and the little bit of Zen that comes from putting pen to paper and making one stroke at a time.  As always, there were wonderful surprises along the way for all of us.  The best for me was when a team mate came to me to say how much he loved the lesson but the story behind it even more.

Somehow the lesson followed me to Friday.  This time I was speaking to high school students about the dangers of distracted driving for the Sudden Impact program.  My presentation centers around my experiences as the family member trying to take care of loved ones after they are involved in an accident.  This was THE reason I started tangling, got my certification and now teach Zentangle. I’ve been speaking for this program since 2011, a few months after my family’s accident and I’ve learned to distance myself a bit as I tell the story.  Even now, the emotions can be very raw.  This time, I allowed some of that to show, bringing myself and several others to tears.  One of the state troopers told me that was by far my most powerful presentation.

Saturday morning found me in an excellent workshop by Leslie Zann.  Leslie is a powerful speaker and my Rodan+Fields team mates brought her to New Orleans to help us in our professional development.  Her message was around courage to live your best life.  Leslie shared her own story and I was struck by the parallels I saw in my own experiences over the past week.  I was now on the receiving side of another person’s willingness to be imperfect and vulnerable.  When she talked about courage, attitude, gratitude and overcoming fear, every one of us understood that she had lived it and come out the other side to help us do the same.

Think about it a bit, as will I, and step out of hiding.  Even if it’s just a tiny stretch outside your comfort zone.  None of us are alone in this life and sometimes we need to share our authentic self to remind ourselves and everyone else we are wonderful and perfect in our imperfection.

“Fear stops a lot of people. Fear of failure, of the unknown, of risk.  And it masks itself as procrastination.”  Lisa Anderson

Week 1 and 2

I’ve been absent from my blog for a very long time.  Many upheavals in our home life over the past couple of years has sidelined my “writing muse.”  To quote John Lennon “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans” I’m happy to say we have adjusted to the changes, embraced them and are looking forward to a great year ahead for our family.

Our once empty nest is now pretty full. Our two teenaged grandchildren now live with us and are thriving.  Said children come with pets, so we are now up to five dogs in the house.  Yes, five – three mini-schnauzers and two cairn terriers.  For long time followers who remember our bride, she gifted us with a new granddaughter in May!  A new baby after a 14-year gap – we are so excited.  After nearly forty years in his chosen industry, my husband found his dream job and loves what he does.

As for me, I’ve changed job titles a couple of times, but still work for the same great company.  I logged a lot of travel miles for them last year and it looks like more of the same for 2016.  I’ve been teaching around my local area. Sadly, my studio, The Wren’s Nest, was a casualty of the personal upheavals. It now shares space with my work office, but I still think of it as the Wren’s Nest.  I still speak regularly as an advocate for safe driving and spoke to my granddaughter’s classmates recently about the impacts of distracted driving.  My latest new adventure is to sign on as a consultant for Rodan+Fields.  I’ve used their skin care for quite a while and it’s the best ever for specific skin concerns and anti aging.  My face went from super dry with cystic acne breakouts to completely foundation free in about 6 months.  I’d love to have you as a preferred customer or business partner.  Take a look.

Through it all, I have been tangling – how else would I relax?  Last year, a group of CZT’s decided to select a word of the year.  The idea was to create a journal for 2015 guided by our word and the prompts posted by the group each week.  My word was and still is, FEARLESS, thus the quote for today’s post. When I saw that quote as I was trying to find my word, it resonated with me and I knew that was it.  So many times, when you really look at why you can’t seem to move forward, the very heart of the situation is fear. The journal languishes unfinished, but the word remains with me.  I would encourage you to find your own word and follow where it leads you

Thank you all for waiting out my dry spell and I hope you enjoy some of the work I’ve done while I’ve been living life outside the plan.

“Who dares to teach must never cease to learn.”

I have taken a lot of time lately to hone my Zentangle skills and will be sharing some new techniques in an upcoming workshop. This class is sponsored by the Louisiana Art and Artists Guild and will be held at their studio in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  Here are the details:

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I hope to see some of you there!

A few minutes past 8 pm on March 6, 2015 my wonderful Aunt Sue passed away.  My heart is broken for my cousins now left to mourn their mom and all the people she touched in her lifetime.  I can think of no better way to honor her than to repost my tribute to her from 2011.  Love you Aunt Sue!

Everyone should have an Aunt Sue in their life.  I have so many wonderful memories of my Aunt Sue.   She has a big heart and generous spirit that welcomes everyone she meets.  My brother and I spent many childhood summers at her house, getting into mischief with our cousins.   These were lazy times for us.  I’ll forever associate her with endless hours of Yahtzee!, Canasta and a coffee pot that never seemed to empty.  Squabbles with my cousins over dishwashing duties and who was on which team for chores and for games.  While all of these things are treasured memories associated with my favorite aunt, those that seem to capture her best for me are the times I got to watch her do the “wedding ring” trick.  This was something of a rite of passage for the females in our family, though I have no idea how it works or why only Aunt Sue could do it.  Whenever one of the girls would get pregnant, Aunt Sue would get a visit.  She would take the girl’s wedding ring and run a thread through the ring.  Then, while the girl was lying down, she would hold the ring, suspended from the thread, over her usually very pregnant belly.  The motion of the ring – either back and forth or spinning – would determine the sex of the baby.  I was so fascinated by this whole ritual though I can’t remember which means boy or girl.  I would watch so carefully to see if she did anything to influence the outcome, but she never did anything to move the ring.  In fact, she made sure it was not moving in any way when she started.  I was so excited when my turn came and remember everything about it – except what she predicted and if she was right.  Oh well, it was magic to me just the same.

This weeks Diva Challenge, and the first I have finished on schedule, brought my Aunt Sue to mind.  Interestingly, this week’s challenge was issued by Sue Jacobs, CZT – coincidence?  I think not.  Sue’s challenge was to thread a string through a round object and allow it to drop onto the tile to form a random string.  Oh my!  Just like a wedding ring and a thread. I ended up doing three of these – one of which was created using my wedding ring in honor of my Aunt Sue.  It should come as no surprise that this one turned out to be my favorite of the trio.  I just might have to name it Sue – fitting, don’t you agree?

 

The first two weeks of my Fearless Journal

The first two weeks of my Fearless Journal

“Fear stops a lot of people. Fear of failure, of the unknown, of risk.  And it masks itself as procrastination.”  Lisa Anderson

I’ve been absent from my blog for a very long time.  Many upheavals in our home life over the past 18 months have sidelined my “writing muse.”  To quote John Lennon “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans” I’m happy to say we have adjusted to the changes, embraced them and are looking forward to a great year ahead for our family.

Our once empty nest is now pretty full. Our two teenaged grandchildren now live with us and are thriving.  Said children come with pets, so we are now up to five dogs in the house.  Yes, five-three mini-schnauzers and two cairn terriers.  For long time followers who remember our bride, she is now expecting her first child!  A new grandchild after a 14-year gap – we are so excited.  After nearly forty years in his chosen industry, my husband found his dream job and loves what he does.

As for me, I’ve changed job titles a couple of times, but still work for the same great company.  I logged a lot of travel miles for them last year and it looks like more of the same for 2015.  I’ve been teaching around my local area and I’m almost done with my studio – The Wren’s Nest.  I still speak regularly as an advocate for safe driving and spoke to my granddaughter’s classmates this week about the impacts of distracted driving.  I had surgery last May, it went very well and I’m feeling great.  My latest new adventure is to sign on as a consultant for Rodan+Fields.  I’ve used their skin care for quite a while and it’s the best ever for specific skin concerns and anti aging.  I’d love to have you as a preferred customer or business partner.  Take a look.

Through it all, I have been tangling – how else would I relax?  This year, a group of CZT’s decided to select a word of the year.  We would begin a journal for 2015 guided by our word and the prompts posted by the group each week.  My word is FEARLESS, thus the quote for today’s post. When I saw that quote as I was trying to find my word, it resonated with me and I knew that was it.  So many times, when you really look at why you can’t seem to move forward, the very heart of the situation is fear.  I’m a bit behind on the prompts, but should find some time to dedicate to my journal today.  This group has reached its limit, but feel free to find your own word and follow where it leads you.  I want to recommend a great Facebook group started by fellow CZT’s, Chris Titus and Jenny Perruzzi.  They saw a lot of groups for Zentangle, but none that followed the original, purest form of Zentangle.  This would be specific to the materials – 3.5” square white paper, pencil and black ink.  Only pieces adhering to these guidelines are allowed to be posted.  They also add a “challenge” tangle once a week.  This group is so refreshing for me.  So often, we think more is better and can get away from what makes Zentangle so helpful when we really need that mindful meditation. Take a look if you are on FB and join us there if it appeals.

Thank you all for waiting out my dry spell and I hope you enjoy some of the work I’ve done while I’ve been living life outside the plan.

PS: Some images are small and little blurry – they were taken with my iPhone as many were RAZ’s left somewhere after they were completed.

 

Zentangle Inspired Chair by Blanche Nicols

Zentangle Inspired Chair by Blanche Nichols

“You can get help from teachers, but you are going to have to learn a lot by yourself, sitting alone in a room.”  Dr. Seuss

This post is a tribute to a couple of First Chair Awards.  The first is a nod to my grandson, Jack.  I’ve been pushing him to practice his trumpet more at home in the afternoons.  Since he is living with us right now, this involves the sacrifice of the entire family’s ear drums in addition to the nagging from me.  He got confirmation of the value in these solitary moments with his trumpet when he achieved First Chair status for the first time this week.  If you have ever known anyone in band, this is no small accomplishment.  Jack was absolutely beaming with excitement when he got off the bus.  Good job, my buddy!

The second First Chair Award goes to my student, Blanche Nichols.  Blanche embraced Zentangle after taking a basic class from me some time back.  She bravely decided to tangle an upholstered chair.  Blanche had sent photos early in the project and I hadn’t heard from her in several months.  I was thinking about Blanche and her chair when lo and behold, I get this note (shared with her permission):

Kathy,

Finished at last.  My son says it’s his heirloom.  I love the outcome.  I tried not to use all of my favorite zentangles more than once.  It was hard to try to use all different ones, but it pushed me to the next level.  On a whole they are all different.  

Many thanks for all the photos and tutorials from CZT’s posts.  What an inspiration when one sees all the beautiful works of their art, how they used it.  Especially when I took your class and saw the zentangled Fashionista Girl on the tote bag.  Totally hooked.

Even better, she shared some images of her very amazing First Chair project.  I hope you are inspired, as I am, by Blanche and her wonderful chair.  Enjoy!

 

One of my favorite quotes.  Work in progress or done?

One of my favorite quotes. Work in progress or done?

“The muse is not an angelic voice that sits on your shoulder and sings sweetly. The muse is the most annoying whine. The muse isn’t hard to find, just hard to like – she follows you everywhere, tapping you on the shoulder, demanding that you stop doing whatever else you might be doing and pay attention to her.”  Harlan Coben

This quote resonates with the creative side of my personality.  I would imagine it is true for most people often defined as: creative, artistic, or even right-brained.  It is a piece of who you are and not being able to express your creativity nags at your consciousness like a mosquito.  Buzzing, buzzing, buzzing – never going away and just too fast and erratic to capture.  Most recognize it as a temporary block and trust that if they can quiet themselves it will eventually return.  The elusive muse.

For others, it’s not that their muse has gone on a temporary vacation.  For these people, something often happens that destroys that muse as they know it.  It’s like they have lost something vitally important and are forever trying to find it. Over the past few months, I have had the privilege of meeting two wonderful ladies who have been struggling to find a way to express their artistic side.

I talk a lot about the benefits of Zentangle when teaching a class, sharing various anecdotes throughout the class.  I mentioned that my granddaughter’s neurosurgeon was watching me tangle over an extended period of time and we began to discuss how I started.  He told me the fact that it helped me cope after her accident was really not surprising.  He described it as a “reset” of my brain patterns – well documented with those listening to specific Baroque music.  After a class in which I shared this story, one student came to me with tears in her eyes.  She said she was a singer and had lost her ability to sing with a brain injury several years ago.  The story resonated with her.  While she was tangling, for the first time she felt that artistic “muse” she had lost so long ago.  “I think I needed that reset.  Now I have a way to be creative and express myself again.”

Work in Progress: Journal began at CZT Retreat in Dallas

Work in Progress: Journal began at CZT Retreat in Dallas

The second woman described herself as an artist at the beginning of class.  I was a little surprised to see her struggle with several of the simple beginning tangles.  Clearly getting stressed and frustrated.  We did a little “one on one” and worked through it by the time the class ended.  She was optimistic about moving forward and started looking at some examples of my work after class.  Suddenly, she exclaims “THIS IS ART!”  My student became very excited about the possibilities.  She shared with me that she was getting ready to get rid of all her art supplies.  She hadn’t done anything in years and every time she tried she was stressed and upset.  Explaining that everyone I know who practices Zentangle comes with a unique story about why they do it, her eyes filled with tears.  “Mine is Hurricane Katrina. I haven’t been the same since. But I know this; I’m NOT getting rid of my art supplies now!”

Tiny Tangles from Dallas Retreat

Tiny Tangles from Dallas Retreat

Some people wonder why I teach Zentangle.  After all, I have a very busy and demanding job, full family life and struggle with my own personal health issues.  Every student has a story, some as simple as a bonding activity for mothers and daughters or a break in the day for a new mom staying at home with her baby.  But every one of them is important to me.  Sometimes the gift of Zentangle is a small token and others it is much bigger and harder to define.  I’ve always loved to give gifts and this feeds my need to give and make a difference in my little corner of the world.

Celebration

Celebration

“Do not take anything for granted — not one smile or one person or one rainbow or one breath, or one night in your cozy bed.” ~Terri Guillemets

I am happy to be here searching for the words to share my relief and gratitude.  My biopsy results came back negative!  Upon hearing the news, my husband let out a huge breath and with a very shaky voice told me how afraid he had been, but didn’t want me to know.  What a blessing to be able to once again go about the business of living our lives though with a heightened sense of how precious it is once again.

So many of you wrote personal notes, comments and sent thoughts and prayers for me and my family as we waited for the news about how our lives would proceed.  I cannot express how grateful I am for the caring hugs from so many people who only know me through my little blog.  Thank you from the bottom of my tangled heart!

The piece I am sharing today is my Celebration piece.  It is also in response to the Diva Challenge to use something for a stencil to form your string.  I ended up using a huge eraser shield bisected with a French curve that I had forgotten about having.  Since it was so large, this piece is done on 12” x 16” Canson Mi-Teintes Pastel paper.  I added a little stain around the outside to mask my smudgies from left handedness.  You will notice a great new tangle as yet unreleased to the public – contact your local CZT to get the drop on the general public.  Other tangles are Dragonair and Mooka plus the ever-present Tipple I just love to use.

I am thinking this one will be framed and be given a place in our home as a reminder to never take anything for granted and that I am blessed to have so many wonderful, caring people in my world.

Derwent Inktense pencils were used for the color on the pearls

Derwent Inktense pencils were used for the color on the pearls

“I have never been lost, but I will admit to being confused for several weeks.” Daniel Boone

The past few weeks have found me in a bit of a fog as I deal with the uncertainty around my health.  I just can’t seem to concentrate or retain information very well no matter how hard I try.  My visit with the surgeon last week didn’t do much to alleviate my brain fog.  Even the little information he was willing to commit to was a bit fuzzy around the edges.  “Two masses that look like one… Moderately suspicious with elevated risk factors.”  There was some peace of mind to be found though.  I am scheduled for biopsies this week and should have answers early next week.  That’s good concrete information for now.

The good news is you, my faithful readers, will be the benefactors of my brain fog.  I found myself waiting for my husband to return a rental car on a very busy Saturday morning after his first week on his new job.  As time dragged on, I pulled out my portable Zentangle kit (really a portable hard drive case from Office Depot) and started a new tile.  Once I finished the string of pearls, I wanted to try the tangle Leaflet by Helen Williams. I had watched her video last week for how to draw the tangle and thought I had it down.  Ah, not so, not so.  The brain fog you see.  I realized pretty quickly things were not progressing as they should, but in true Zentangle style, I just kept going.  In the end, I like what emerged and I think it may very well be a new tangle.  In that spirit, I recorded the step-outs to share with you.  This is a tangle that looks better if it is a little “wonky.”  Spacing can vary and the curved lines in step 2 do not have to match – don’t you love one like that?  A little bit of Leaflet, a dash of Betweed and a whole lot of my brain fog went into this one.  I call it A-fog.  I hope you enjoy and I would love to see what you do with this one.

Tangle A-Fog

Tangle A-Fog

 

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