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“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 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.
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 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.”
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!”
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.
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.