FREE Art Journaling Video - "The Art of Winter Optimism" {...and a free 8x10 digital download...}



I have a couple of gifts for you today...











...I created another FREE art journaling video for you - dedicated to a friend of mine.  She emailed me about a month ago, and I was so overwhelmed by the things she said, I couldn't respond "in so many words".  After reading her letter, I had to go for a walk.  I needed to pray on the things she said.

Not the least of which (out of all she said to me) was the fact that she challenged me..."called me out", was I think the way she lovingly put it, to keep making art videos.  The rest of what she said will stay between us, but suffice it to say, I have a couple of new dreams and goals as a result.  

I joked in my guest-artist video in the NEW online course by Jeanne Oliver  "Reflections - Paint Your Story" (it's never too late to sign up - here is all the information) that I was going to develop my own - my very own - online course entitled "The Art of Winter Optimism".

I meant it as a joke...mostly.  But the idea...that "art of winter optimism"...stuck with me.  As one who struggles with winter blues and blahs, I feel anything I can do to encourage those of you who know what I'm talking about - well, it would be a public service for sure.

Therefore, I decided to use the idea as my next free art journaling video.  These videos are a great deal of work for me.  I've been almost all day getting this one up for you - and working with a head cold does not help my ability to surf the dang learning curve.

This could, in fact, be a full-blown art course - and I still may build a course entitled "The Art of Winter Optimism".  Just putting that out there.  Check the date - late January 2016.  You saw it here first.  I'm overflowing with ideas for a fun, artsy course that would have to launch NEXT January.  Stay tuned.



I also want to offer you a FREE  8x10" digital download of the above image (which is also the image I created in this video).   It isn't super fancy, and it was painted in a journal, after all, but I'm partial to it, because of the message behind it.  If you feel the least bit partial too, it's yours.  Your image will be all cropped and color corrected and ready to print and frame.  Your image will NOT be watermarked.  Email me with your best email address by clicking this link. Hint:  purchase some textured printer paper, and it will print up beautifully.  Mat it and frame it inexpensively at Hobby Lobby and enjoy.

Once I receive your email address, I will send you the digital download as an attachment.  You have my permission to print it however you like - make cards or give it as a gift.  Even though it is a print of a two-page journal spread, it is textured and interesting, with all the detail of the original.  All I ask in exchange is your email address (obviously) and that, if you give this print away as a gift, that you credit yours truly as the artist.

Lastly, here is my other gift to you...the video.  Hope it encourages a few winter-weary hearts out there...




Sneak Peek Into My Part of Class {..."Reflections - Paint Your Story"...}



I am excited to give you a sneak peek into my portion of the upcoming class "Reflections - Paint Your Story".  If you don't take another art class in early 2016...take this one.  It is going to be so, so good.

There will be four other talented, beautiful presenters (read more about them here)  I won't let any kitties out of any bags, but I did want to share a preview of my contribution.

Here is an itty bitty sneak peek into my part of "Reflections - Paint Your Story"...





...when I said "itty bitty peek", I meant it.  My entire presentation is 45 minutes long, and chock-full of what I hope is incredible inspiration and a creative coaching exercise - all to help you to live a better story in the coming year.   See you there...

Instructions for sign up:

The registration price for this two week online course is $48.00. This course will begin on January 18, 2016 and you will have LIFETIME ACCESS* to the videos. 
To read more about what you will learn in the course or to register please click HERE.
If you are new to our creative network here are easy steps to get you started…
1. Register at jeanneoliver.ning.com (this is free).
2. Once your account is active you are able to take advantage of our free courses, series and even pay for courses.
3. Go to jeanneoliver.ning.com and along the top header click on “COURSES” and you will be able to view all three pages of online courses and free series.
4. To purchase a course please choose your course, click on the +join in the upper right hand corner, pay and you will be INSTANTLY in the classroom.
5. All videos can be found along the right hand side of the page under “COURSE CONTENT”.

How I Maintain My Art Journaling Practice {A Free Sample Gift-Video}

In celebration and anticipation of the upcoming class {where I am a featured artist} "Reflections : Painting Your Story", I wanted to share a FREE video with you, right here on the blog...I want you to have a small idea of my teaching style - which, I am sure, will be different from the other art teachers
in the course.

There will be such a sweet and rich diversity of gifts and teachers and techniques taught - worthy, in my mind, of celebrating.

On another note, we had a sweet, sweet Christmas here at Celidgh Cottage (it isn't only the big lofty estates that have names...we named our little house years ago.  "Celidgh" is Gaelic/Scottish for a gathering that includes great food, live music, and story telling...something that goes on here with great regularity, even with our so-called "empty nest".)

This Christmas, our youngest son, a Marine, was able to come home with his wife and stepson.  Every single grown child was with us...their spouses...their children...all FIVE g-babies were under one roof, breaking bread (literally) at the same table for the first time.  I wasn't a bit mad about that.

There wasn't a moment of any tense or unpleasant anything...there was a heck of a lot of laughter and love.  I was living a dream I had not earned and did not deserve.  Grace did in our family what the law could never...ever...do.  I'm always sorry for Christians who think grace can be cheapened...how much they miss.

I trust your Christmas was blessed.  And guess what?  It isn't over.  According to the church calendar, we celebrate until Epiphany.  I'm so down with that.

 Included here, in this free video sample (heck...I don't even ask for your email address in exchange - which makes me a trusted friend but a VERY bad marketer) are some thoughts I've been pondering this Christmas season, and I hope they are game changers for you, as much as they were for me.

The things I share with you in this art journaling video?  They rocked my world this holiday.  In all the best ways.  Enjoy.

{and head over to the link included at the top of this post to sign up for the class!}






Another {free} Online Class

In January of this year, I was asked to be a featured presenter in Jeanne Oliver Design's free online class "Becoming - The Unfolding of You". (which you can actually still join  - your membership to any of Jeanne's classes, paid or free, is lifetime membership, for as long as Jeanne Oliver Designs owns that creative community.)

 Y'all, we ended up with over six thousand in that class.  It was an incredible time, a blessing for everyone...and I am still getting emails about my part of that class.  True story.  I have cried more over some of your emails than I have over anything else in a long while.  Y'all blessed me and rocked my socks off with your feedback.

So I am over-the-moon to tell you that I'll be presenting once again, in another (FREE) class for 2016, entitled "Listening - Finding the Quiet".   And we are already sitting at well over a thousand participants, and class hasn't even started!  (This class launches January 1st, 2016)



For me, as a presenter, the best part of last year's "Becoming" class was getting to know a couple of last year's presenters (like my friend Honey Holden) and also getting to know so many of you.  I developed relationships with some of you that we are still enjoying and nurturing, to varying degrees, even now.

Yes.  I am delighted to get to pour out yet again, for this next free class.  Honestly, I prepared for hours for what some artists (no one I know) might consider a small thing...it's true - since the class is free, some artists would just toss something together, and present it only for the exposure it gives them.  I truly believe my friend Jeanne Oliver searches for artists who will contribute substantially, no matter what, as a matter of principle, and she finds them.

Or they find her.  

This class will be a life changer.  Don't let the price of admission (free) fool you.  Yes, some artists, in other venues, might not take presenting in a free class seriously.  They might throw something together.

Not me, man.  I have a tender, overly-productive conscience....especially when it comes to presenting Scripture and sharing spiritual things.  I prepare.  And I prepared for my part of this class as I would any other speaking engagement I do.  I also believe every other presenter in this upcoming class has the same ministry/work ethic.

Here is the trailer for "Listening - Finding the Quiet"



And here are your detailed (easy, free) sign up instructions:

Instructions to join class:

To join this free study you just need to be registered at jeanneoliver.ning.com (registering is free).
Once you are on the site you will find this study, free videos (business and art), my Creativity Takes Courage series and new online courses along the left hand side of the page.
You will find all of our courses/videos under the COURSES heading.
To register for Listening | Finding the Quiet
1) Go to COURSES along the left hand side of the page
2) Go to the bottom of the course and click “view all” to find Listening | Finding the Quiet
4) Click on Listening | Finding the Quiet
3) Click the +join button on the upper right hand side
4) All of the details are on the page and you are all set for the study to begin on January 1, 2016

Make sure you take just a couple of minutes, and sign up today!  Can't wait to see you there!

The Choice to Cheer Up




Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith;
or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching;
he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
 (Romans 12:6-8)

Yes, the gifts differ. Some of us teach, some of us administrate (lead, by taking care of details), some of us finance the work, some of us speak a "now" word from the Lord.

But the cheerfulness part isn't a gift - the cheerfulness part is a choice.

Here's what I've learned for sure: if you are the sort of person who can lift the atmosphere in a room, who can cheer others up and put a smile on their face, everyone who is of a negative bent unconsciously believes you are operating in some special magic they do not possess.

They believe this special "magic" you operate in must be inexhaustible...because they think it is your "gift".  No one ever stops to think that you could actually be used (and used up) by their perpetual need for your sense of humor and sunny outlook.  After all, gifts come pretty naturally.

That is like saying honesty is a gift. No. Honesty is a choice. It is a quality of character.

Our cheerful ones are at risk, friends. Not only do others believe the cheerful woman's good humor is her "gift", others also secretly sniff condescendingly at her joy.  It is a strange, convoluted tension between two extremes - negative people will privately scoff at the cheerful ones, while at the same time feeling jealous of them, while at the same time using them like a drug.

Now. In a departure from the usual, I am going to get down and dirty.

When you get all the way down to the heart of the issue, there is an unwillingness on the part of the woman who wallows in her "stuff" - an unwillingness to make the same hard choices the joyous ones have made. By default, this is a choice no different than choosing to tell a lie, or choosing to overeat, or choosing to gossip.  The woman swallowed up by her circumstances chooses not to be cheerful. The negative woman chooses to resort to her quiet drama as a means to get her needs met...and wonders why she must fake her joy, why she can't shake her despondency, or can't get out of bed.

So what does she do? She calls a Joyous One (or texts her). Every time. In fact, the Joyous One might even be on speed dial. Or live nearby. The Joyous One is asked to come over, to give her a hug, to pray for her, even to help her do life...the Joyous One is expected to listen to the latest rendition of her problems (as though the Joyous One has none of her own) and never a thought is given to the fact that a few months or years of this will put the joyous ones at risk.

Do not ask me how I know, because I just might tell you.

I read a prayer of St. Augustine the other day, and one line grabbed me in a headlock, demanding my thoughtful consideration:

"Tend your sick ones, O Lord Christ,
Rest your weary ones,
Bless your dying ones,
Soothe your suffering ones,
Pity your afflicted ones,
Shield your joyous ones,
And all for your love's sake. Amen."

I get the prayers for the sick, weary, dying, suffering and afflicted...but the joyous?

You had better believe it. They need divine protection. They can have the very life drained out of them, and then the perpetually needy will leave them in search of fresh cheery-blood.

The way I see it, this problem is solved if we each one take responsibility for our own happiness, seek the Lord diligently, and seek to increase the joy of others instead of ourselves, at all times, in all ways, at all costs. The problem is solved if we each one access the Great Grace of God. (But first you have to have a revelation of it...and that is a different post altogether.) These things are part-and-parcel of life in the body of Christ, and is part of the idea behind the words of Paul in Galatians 6, "For each one shall bear his own load."

Rejoice evermore, church.

Rejoice evermore. REJOICE evermore. Rejoice EVERMORE.

And in the meantime, we say "Yes, Lord...shield your joyous ones..."

Paint n' Dance {subtitle: The Difference Between Boys and Girls}



When my son-in-law (who lives with my daughter and their two girls across the street - and who lives next door to my other daughter and her husband and son, who live one door down from us...make sense?)

When my son-in-law sent me this video this morning, I knew I had to share.

Apparently my grandson Timothy is visiting his girl-cousins  next door at Uncle Jon's house, and he and Aidyn are in Uncle Jon's studio doing a paint-n-dance sesh.

(I live right next door and across from my identical twin daughters and their families, and I don't know half of what goes on...I am up in their business far less than people imagine...)

Watch the whole video.

(warning:  your cute-o-meter is going to peg in the red zone.  Use appropriate caution.  Yes, this is my life.  Yes, it is unbearably sweet.  Yes, it is ridiculously cute on a pretty much daily basis.  And yes, I am getting past the point of apologizing for that.  It's all sheer gift and grace, every bit of it.)

Watch my grand-girl Aidyn, and the way she dances, fierce and free.  Then watch her exuberance s-l-o-w-l-y take hold on Timothy.

Home boy starts breaking it down, in his own reserved way:


video


I'm thinking that I am going to take a page out of their playbook today.

I'm about to crank up the music and paint n' dance....

(To see what Uncle Jon has been up to, other than kid-sitting, click here)

Wear Your Praise Wednesday {...my closet makeover...}

I'm certain, when I review this past year, that I will look back on "The Great Purge of 2015" as one of the best things I ever did for myself and for my business.  

(...and I'm not done yet.  But funerals and vacation and life have taken over, as I knew they would when I first decided to purge our "stuff".  So, because I knew that ordinary life would fight against my goal, I made my intentions as firm as possible.  The result?  I got a lot more accomplished than I expected, but less than I wanted to, if that makes sense.  Which means....I succeeded.  Because all big plans turn out that way:  you split the difference between perfection and reality.

 I made a plan, and I stuck with it no matter what...within reason.  Reason says you attend funerals, and you don't forgo vacation plans with your Preacher, just to stay home and keep throwing stuff out.)


One of the areas - trust me, just one - that got purged was my walk-in closet.  And, true to the nature of purging, once I got rid of all the superfluous, and was left with this blissfully clean slate, I was then able to make over the whole space - adding back only those things that support my goals and who I am.

Yeah.  Clothes and spaces can do that.  

Clothes and spaces can absolutely help you crystallize your best intentions, and get clear on where your next glory is.  (We are all going from glory, TO glory.  Because I live in the truth of that, I am always walking the balance-beam of learning from the glory I am presently in, while finding out what my next level of glory is to be.)



I told my besties (which, by the way, I hate that word...and by the way, my besties will always and forever be my church ladies - "Shout out to my Harvest gals!") that I wanted to sell tickets and give tours of my closet.  And so, it is with great, obnoxious enthusiasm that I present you with just one of the results of "The Great Purge of 2015"...my new inspiration closet:



I truly wish I had "before" pictures.

First and most important point:  I went to a modified capsule wardrobe...



...meaning, I took every stitch of every piece of clothing I own, and pared it down to right around 50 seasonal items...including Tshirts and tanks (which are folded and tucked away in drawers).

What this means is, when I began this purge back in late summer, I chose around 50 clothing items to be in my spring/summer capsule.  (Some capsule wardrobe-ers go with 20-something, some go with 30-something.)  Every jacket, every vest, every T-shirt, every pair of jeans, every-everything counts.

I found that it helped me immensely to just go with an arbitrary number, and force myself to pare down to it.  To keep giving away or tossing clothing until I reached under 50 items, I had to go through my shirts, pants, dresses, etc. not once, not twice, but multiple times....and make hard choices.  Do I like this shirt or this shirt best?  Do these pants fit better than these?

Here is what had to go:  whatever wasn't my favorite and best fitting and most reflective of who I really am, right now this moment - which is an artist-entrepreneur...who occasionally has to dress beautifully for art shows and the random hot date.  Other than those occasions, and weddings and funerals, my wardrobe gets to be this casual, semi-bohemian mix of what I like best.



(This week or next, I will have to pull out all my fall/winter clothing, and go through the exact same process...pare it all down to my 50 or so pieces.  It won't be easy, but now that I know how transformational it is to actually have fewer but better choices...I will gladly do it.)

I added back a tiny slipper chair, on clearance at Target.  It was actually meant to be a little girl's chair.  A tiny-tot-chair.  But I've had a couple of months, now, to use it for putting on my shoes, for putting on tights (yes, our weather actually got chilly enough to do that for one, and only one night recently), and for prayer.  And I am in love with the idea of having a tiny chair in one's closet.

If you can at all fit one in your closet....do it.

I added a small sheepskin rug.  Clearanced at my local Ross for under $10.

I added a watercolor sign that spoke to my heart.


I took all my earrings out of the plastic ice trays they were in (!!) and purchased two $7 velvet compartment trays from Hobby Lobby (using my coupon).


...the tiny "Paris" tin was a gift from a dear prayer-partner friend, who just so happens to know that I dream of going to Paris, while not actually wanting to go to Paris.  Travel isn't my thing...but beautiful places are still fun to dream about.  She filled that tin with images of Paris...

...and, of course, no closet is complete without a few of the pebbles you have written on, over the years.

Last, but totally not least, I added a...

...gold-and-crystal chandelier.

Oh my dear, sweet heavenly goodness.  It was a complete splurge.

And so worth it.

When this most intimate of spaces was complete, I shut the door (said door finally has a full length mirror on it.  I had to choose between all my shoes, keeping only those that are the "hardest workers", giving away the rest - so I could ditch the behind-the-door ugly shoe rack, and replace it with a full length mirror):


...I shut this door, sat down on the tiny-tot chair...

...and cried my eyes out.

See, this closet was built just for me, way back in 2004.  We renovated our house, and I got the walk-in-closet I had always wanted.

And it took me over ten years to make it special.

And all total, I know it didn't cost me $200 to create something that will bless me every single morning and night for many years to come.  It took me ten years to decide I was worth the investment.

People.  I told you.  Self-care is not my superpower.  And that might be the understatement of 2015.

I immediately texted my daughters (don't judge...it's the new millennium, and its how everyone rolls) and admonished them, "Do as your mother says, don't do as she does.  Self care matters."

And now...as we leave my closet (where I now want to live)...the first thing you see is my inspiration wall - which is an instigator and has been a huge part of every level of glory I have hit in the last 3 years:





Wearing your praise matters.  When you are well put together, and the effort to be well put together no longer takes a ton of time, or too many decisions (we all only have so much mental bandwidth) - we are more likely to say "YES" to things that matter.

I am more likely to say "YES" to a mentoring breakfast, when I know my clothes are ready for me to jump into.

I am more likely to say "YES" to eating out with Tim at someplace besides O'Charley's, when I can take one look inside a beautiful space, and choose something a little more special to wear...and it is pressed and waiting for me.

Simple issues of self care and self respect.

And I hope you are better at all of these things than I am.  I'm still a work in progress, but I'm happy to share my reality with you.  Thanks for listening.

Is your most intimate of spaces - your closet - a special space?  Even if all you have is a tiny closet (that is all I had for almost 20 years) you can scale down and pare back and make it special.

How are you at self care?