Friday, March 25, 2011

Inspiration: Sarah Kay

If you are wondering why I post what I post on this blog... well, I am on a never ending search for purpose and inspiration and artistic expression. I am a "Certified Zentangle Teacher" - but that's not who I am. I have studied Egyptology, art therapy, illustration, writing... I have traveled to Japan, the middle east, Europe, Egypt (a few times), Mexico, and lots of the US, including Alaska. I started out in Guam... I have survived a tumor that was so rare, only three people had it (at the time) and got me featured in JAMA (Journal of American Medical Association) at age 12. I have been radiated, biopsy-ed, sliced/diced, and medicated... I have owned my own businesses from the age of 8 or so (rock painting, face-painting, t-shirt printing, window painting, rubber stamp design, furniture painting, freelance illustration, store owner, teacher, author)... I have developed film (yes, there was life before digital cameras) in total darkness, with no running water...I have failed big time... and had some of my impossible dreams come true (good and bad)... and there is just so much more ( we haven't even mentioned my kids!) ;-D

I think most of you, dear readers, are the same (but completely different, of course!!) There is just so... MUCH!

I struggle all the time with words. I wish I could say exactly what I picture in my head. Or I wish I could come up with the perfect smart-ass thing to say to resuscitate my confidence. Or the right words to comfort a friend. I never have those words... Or something brilliant to say to my favorite author at a book signing - "I -I -I loved your book!" I try to be more fearless when blogging, but it is a bit easier when you can take your time with the words. I think of who I would like to be in reality, in the mirror. I never could picture her, until now. I want to be like Sarah Kay.

If you have never heard of the TED conferences, take a look at their site. Pure inspiration. Their slogan is "Ideas Worth Spreading". I'm all about ideas. Watch this video of Sarah Kay. She is a performance poet (and SO much more!) She is so young (22), and began at age 14! and she admits to being terrified, and yet... she is everything I have ever wanted to be. She gets her thoughts across so well. The first poem is called "If I Should Have a Daughter". She doesn't have a daughter, and yet she expresses everything I wish I could tell my daughter (and son!) but could never find the words. And, if you are a teacher, this would be a great video to play for your students. In school, we get a warped image of what poetry must look like. THIS is cool. And we ALL need more positive role models. Sarah is now one of mine.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Dragon Snow Pies

Pessimist: It snowed, again, today. Covered up the daffodil pips.

Optimist: Can't see the dirty, old snow any more!

My dragon (what?! You don't have a dragon?!) greeted us with fresh snow pies when we got home this evening!

Yet Another Sad Goodbye

Disclaimer: At the risk of seeming bi-polar (Chim-chim-cherree one day and funerals the next) this is probably going to be a sad post, so my feelings won't be hurt if you delete it without reading it, but please don't get annoyed and hit "unsubscribe"! I promise I will cheer up soon and start posting art and Zentangles again, OK?

I just came back from a funeral in Massachusetts for a classmate from high school. Needless to say - I have an awful lot on my mind. And since I started blogging a few years ago as a way to get "stuff" out of my head... I hope you will bear with me as I dump it and try to start unraveling it all.

One end of the raveled string leads to an online class I recently took with Marissa Haedike called "Life in the Fish Bowl". It was for artists who blog and how to promote oneself online, drawing lines for privacy, all that good stuff. It was very helpful and made me think about what exactly is OK to discuss on a blog (and I am probably going to violate most of it now). And Facebook. Supposedly these are our "friends" who are reading our posts and they care about us, right? And, yet, I kind of hate Facebook. I can't keep up with it all, Twitter too. And I hate feeling like I am being left out. When local "friends" post about parties that I was not invited to... how is that fun? After seeing "Social Network" I vowed to disconnect from FB. But, on the other hand, as an introvert, I don't think I would have any connection or have a clue with what my own family is up to if I didn't check FB every once in a while. Today I am imagining FB like a giant Magic 8-Ball for the Universe. No, I have not been drinking! (I would love a Margarita - though it would probably make my head hurt even more). Magic 8-Ball. Here's an example... I don't check FB every day, but Friday morning I did. A friend from high school (Chris) had posted the funeral info for another one of my HS classmates (Doug) - who was also his brother-in-law. I would never have known he had died. On the drive home today, I kept thinking about how there were so many people there, but no one from our HS class - at least no one I noticed and recognized. (We only had 35 in our class, but it has been over 20 years...) And Doug had been one of the popular kids. I just couldn't understand that, until I realized... maybe no one knew? Another horrifying thought. I guess privacy can backfire too?

Years ago, when Jim Mitchell died here in Warner (he was a radio personality and owned the local bookshop), the town hall was filled to overflowing with people come to pay respects and remember how wonderful he was. I remember vowing to myself that, when I died, I wanted to be MISSED! And, of course, it follows that I needed to do lots of really, really good things with my life. Kind of a tall order, but it is good to have a goal.

This morning, as I drove down to MA, I could not stop thinking about suicide. I know there are a lot of different reasons why a person might take their own life... but the type where people say "This was so unexpected. We never really imagined... But he had everything to live for..." That kind. I understand THAT kind. That's the kind that is almost unpreventable. And leaves the family feeling pummeled by guilt and confusion. Here's the best way I can think to explain it... imagine you wake up to find a small fire burning on your skin. You snuff it out in a panic and hide the burn marks so you don't scare anyone. The marks hurt, but you carry on. But, one day, you wake up to find your entire body is aflame. The pain is unbearable! There is a bucket of water in the room and you know it will get rid of the flames and the pain, but you can only use it once, and then it is all over. You can hear voices in the next room and you could scream for help. But you know that anyone who gets near you will immediately burst into flames too. You love those voices more than anything. What would you choose?

Honestly, the reasons NOT to make that choice, seem kind of selfish and silly. But I will share with you all my reasons for NOT choosing "the bucket".
1. I am too responsible and trustworthy. (Kind of sucks- see "Ella" below)
2. My parents spent way too much time and money trying to keep me alive as a teen (radiation, etc.) it would be incredibly ungrateful of me.
3. I really, really love my kids and would rather live with them resenting me, for being alive, than resenting me, for being dead.
4. I couldn't bear people "consoling" my ex for his "loss". As if.
5. I survived my "expiration" date set by my doctors and truly feel, there must be a reason.
6. There are just so many freaking amazing things to DO!!!!! (And places to go, and books to read...)

So... Magic 8-Ball... why did I happen to see that post on Facebook? Why did I feel I HAD to go to the funeral? There has to be a reason. I was sitting there thinking about this kid I knew 20 years ago and hearing about his life as an adult. Suffering from depression and migraines is plenty bad, but hurricane Katrina literally swept away his life.  I understood, and forgave him his decision to choose "the bucket". But then, when the kids started to sob ... I would have done just about anything to bring him back. Anything.

... At the other end of the string is "obligation"... have you seen "Ella Enchanted"? I love Anne Hathaway, she is one of my heros, and she is just so funny. But that movie made me cry (and laugh). She's blessed/cursed as a baby by a well-meaning fairy who gives her the gift of "obedience".  "Stop crying" and she does. What mom wouldn't want that for her child? But she HAS to do what anyone tells her. And that leads to all kinds of hysterically funny dilemmas... and horrifying ones too. She has to break the curse by following her own heart and it is not an easy curse to break.  Feeling obligated is a curse. But feeling obligated to someone who doesn't love you is worse than death.

Once, as I contemplated yet another possible career change as an antidote to depression and angst.. my ex told me that he didn't think I would ever be happy. I know he is wrong - I have been deliriously happy many times. But, in some ways, he may be right. It's just that we get the reasons for happiness wrong. You think that if you get more money, you'll be happy. Or if you could just pass that test... you'll be happy. Or find the right mate... you'll be happy. And you can't really plan it, either. It just happens and you have to be paying attention and appreciate it for what it is. But when I think back to the things that truly have made me happy... they usually involve laughter and are often couched in some very sad events. For example, when my grandmother died a few years ago (I still miss her every day!) - we were standing around a small hole in the ground on the empty edge of an unremarkable graveyard. The minister signaled to my mom to put the urn into the ground. She walked forward with the tote bag the funeral home had given her with the urn and put the whole thing - bag too! - into the ground. My brother, sister and I all started laughing hysterically! My grandmother would have laughed too! It still makes me happy thinking about it now. Why? My brother lives in LA and I never see him. My sister lives in Bar Harbor, Maine and I don't see her much either. But we all make fun of my mom for being a pack rat. She NEVER parts with anything - she hoards tote bags from conventions... But she parted with THIS tote bag. She buried the bag with the urn. Who DOES that? Our mom. For one moment we were all in the same place - we all got the joke. No one else did. Just us siblings. We were connected. We were happy.

So what in the world do all these tangled bits mean!? Perhaps it just reaffirms my feeling that I am, like Gonzo (the Muppet), an alien from another planet! :-) Maybe it means, I should stop caring what everybody thinks. Stop trying to solve everyone else's problems? Stop answering "Fine." when asked "How are you doing?" I should laugh at the stuff I think is funny - even if no one else is laughing? Dress how I want? Don't smile if I don't feel it? Hug my kids even if it embarrasses and annoys them? Ignore my ex and stop worrying about him ever getting a clue? (that's a toughy!) Write more books, make more art, travel more, find someone new to love (anyone know someone sweet, single and who looks like Aidan Quinn?), more more more....   and since I know you are wondering, and I AM baring my soul here... NO, getting a book published does not make me "happy". What does? Being asked to write a book, coming up with exciting ideas, creating something new out of nothing, being told by Shelley "I never imagined I'd be in a book!" and then coming up with the next idea.... rinse and repeat. Just keep moving, keep trying, keep laughing... As Hannah Montana said "It's the climb."

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Anything Can Happen... if You Let It

Alex, my mom and I went to Boston yesterday to see Mary Poppins at the Boston Opera House. My son saw it a few years ago on Broadway with his grandparents. He had told me so many amazing things about it that I HAD to see it! For example: the house set is like a giant paper dollhouse that opens, then unfolds! It is truly magical. Our performance was the debut for the two kid actors who played Jane and Michael Banks. They were incredible too.

Speaking of "magical"... everyone knows how Mary Poppins pulls plants and a hat stand, etc. out of her carpet bag, right? Well, the Boston Opera House must be made of the same magical material! Look at it... It's teeny - where in the world do they fit the theatre? ;-)
The stage and seats fill an enormous space with lots of froo-froo gold and a painted sky ceiling. We had seats in the Dress Circle, so Mary Poppins flew right over our heads!  And Bert danced on the ceiling of the stage! Ah!

Anyway - so there was this song near the end that was called "Anything Can Happen" and there were stars flying around and singing and dancing... but the words seemed very appropriate to my mental state and they keep going around and around. Here they are:

(written by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe)

Anything can happen if you let it 
sometimes things are difficult
but you can bet it 

doesn't have to be so
Changes can be made
You can move a mountain if you use a larger spade

Anything can happen it's a marvel
You can be a butterfly
Or just stay larval

Stretch your mind beyond fantastic 

dreams are made of strong elastic
Take some sound advice and don't forget it
Anything Can Happen if you let it
i wonder.....
Anything can happen if you let it
You Won't know a challenge until you've met it
No-one does it for you
No-One but yourself 

vacillating violets get left up on the shelf 
anything can happen just imagine!

That should be my epitaph 

I wear the badge in honour of this world's free thinkers
Those who see beyond their blinkers

Jelly isn't jelly

Till you set it 

anything can happen if you let it

Anything can happen if you let it 

what good is a whistle
Unless you whet it

Broaden Your Horizon

Open different doors
You may find a you there that you never knew was yours

Anything can happen

Raise the curtain 

things you thought impossible
Will soon seem certain 

though at first it may sound clownish 
see the world more upside-downish 
turn it on its head then pirouette it
Anything can happen if you let it

If you reach for the stars all you get are the stars

but we've found a whole new spin 

if you reach for the heavens
You get the stars thrown in 

if you reach for the stars all you get are the stars 
but we've found a whole new spin 
if you reach for the heavens 
you get the stars thrown in
Anthing can happen if you let it 

life out there is waiting
so go and get it 

grab it by the collar 
seize it by the scruff 
once you've started living life you just can't get enough
Anything can happen 

it's official 
you can choose the super or the superficial 
sally forth the way we're steering 
obstacles start disappearing 
go and chase your dreams you won't regret it
Anything can happen Anything can happen
Anything can happen
If you let it

 I just REALLY love the lines:
If you reach for the stars all you get are the stars...
If you reach for the heavens
You get the stars thrown in!

I found the song on YouTube if you want to hear it. It might seem corny, but it definitely puts one in a more positive state of mind. I don't know about you, but I find that I keep shooting myself in the foot, so to speak. The key words in this song are "if you let it" - it's time we get out of our own way and let wonderful things happen. Don't kill the good ideas and don't stomp on your kids' fancies. It's OK to be happy. It's OK to be successful. It's OK to have your dreams come true!!
 Mary Poppins SAYS SO!
(And if you see her anywhere, please send her over to my house. Thanks)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Oy - What a Day!

Last night - the Book Signing Party for Yoga for Your Brain was GREAT!! So much fun. Totally exhausting. Really yummy food. I am very grateful to my friends and groupies who came and filled up the store and kept me from the nightmare of "what if no one shows up!?" And it was also really wonderful to meet some new people who told me heart-warming stories of how Zentangle has changed their lives - or their kids' lives. That is so cool. And I think I will never get used to signing books - I still blush - but I am very willing to keep practicing! I snitched these shots from Wingdoodle's Facebook page. SherRee took the pictures (thanks SherRee!!) -she said I could borrow a few. Laurie also took pictures - I'll get her to upload some of hers too. Go look at the gallery of pics - the little girl in the pink shirt with the Panda bear is my daughter Lilah. She was very excited to come to "mommy's party". My son, on the other hand never showed. ;-( He told me later, he thought it would be boring. Boring!? Wha... what planet does he think I am from?!

Posed. A boring, normal mom a kid could be proud of.


Posed. Kayla, Krystin, and Jen. Kayla made all the yummy and beautiful food.
Reality. My quirky minions. And, yes, those ARE chocolate covered strawberries!
So, speaking of boring - I was going to be mean and say that I had to go to his concert tonight (Friday) so he should have come to my shindig too. Yes, I can be obnoxious when pressed (I am a middle child!). ;-D But his concert wasn't boring either, as it turned out...

This morning - I felt like I had an enormous hangover (social hangover!) I was cranky and exhausted and my daughter didn't sleep AGAIN last night. And a package to Australia had disappeared - I hate customers being unhappy! And one to Buenos Aires, too. Post office said - "not our problem." I accidentally listened to the news for a second and heard about the nuclear reactors in Japan. I learned some really sad news about a classmate, on Facebook. I pissed off my mom by admitting my inadequacies... Then I told her to (please) pick up my kid from daycare 'cause I was giving up and running away (to Borders).

I gave myself plenty of time to get to my son's concert. It was a big deal after all - it had lots of letters in its title - NHME... something- something. Anyway - it was a NH music ensemble thingy and he was honored to be picked to play there (only 2 kids from his school). I had the instructions they'd sent and it was only a couple of exits up from Concord. Well, every single step of the directions were WRONG!! I was bumping down a dirt road into a pasture at 7pm - as the concert was starting and I was very, very close to tears! I had no idea where this high school was! Aaagh! I still feel like screaming, even now.

And, yes, my new iPhone was at home. Forgotten in the charger. sigh. Oy - what a day. I shoulda' stayed in bed! Luckily, I am a total tech-nerd and I had my iPad (to play Angry Birds at Borders, right?) and finally tracked down the teeny town and the school - it totally wasn't where the directions said! (A few more !!!!! - that's better). Breathe. I had to park at the back of the school and I RAN around to the front because all the other doors were locked, paid my five bucks admission and stood in the back of the filled auditorium as my son's saxophone ensemble FINISHED their set. Agh. It was a very good Duke Ellington. But I was trying hard not to cry by then. Frazzled. Yep. They had switched his group to play first. What luck. I snuck back out and found him in the cafetaria. He took one look at me and said "you look really sad and depressed." Yeh. Another set of parents walked in - they had gone to southern NH looking for the school. I guess I am not the only incompetent parent after all. One of the kids made me feel better when he said the buses had all gotten lost that morning trying to find the school too. They had ended up on some crazy bumpy dirt road out in a cow pasture. "Hey, I was there too!" Then, my totally awesome son... he really is!... convinced the conductor/maestro and the remaining sax players to perform for us - despondent parents- right there in the cafetaria! They piled chairs on the table to form music stands and we had a private concert. These kids are really talented! Later my son told me hilarious stories about all his teachers at school - all the way home - and I was crying with laughter this time! Oy, what a DAY!

Clever and musical. (Alex is on the right, in back)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Zentangle Classes for Spring 2011

Finally! I haven't taught a class since January, but I think I am recovered enough to get back in the swing of things. The hardest part is choosing days without other commitments... so, we'll see how this goes. To download a PDF of the class schedule, click here to go to my website.

If you would like a class and none of these dates and times work for you, email me with dates and times that DO work for you. To schedule your own classes you need four people minimum. If you have lots of friends (lucky you!) you might like to host a class/party and get free stuff (yes, like a Tupperware party!)

You can now sign up for classes using PayPal. There is a Shopping Cart button on the upper right margin of the blog. If you are reading this post in an email, you will need to click through to the blog page.

And lastly, if you were signed up for my classes at Art & Soul in Virginia, in April - those classes will be taught by Suzanne McNeill. I had to back out due to problems from the eye surgery - I could go into detail if you really want to know! But Suzanne was kind enough (brave?) to offer to do the classes. If you don't know her - she is my publisher at Design Originals and she teaches all over the country. She's from Texas, too. Y'all will be talkin' tangles with a twang by the time class is over!

Tech-free Part Two

On Sunday, we toured a Sugar Shack with the Sunday School crowd, got to dunk home-made donuts into fresh maple syrup, and narrowly missed a terrifying encounter with a HUGE mud puddle! Then, while Lilah played Barbies with Abby, I took my son, Alex, and my mom to the Currier Gallery in Manchester for "Tea".

I have had a membership to this great Art Museum for years, but I hardly ever find the chance to go visit. But this year, I learned that they serve high tea on Sunday afternoons! My son was really excited to sample the little sandwiches and desserts - and I was thrilled to have an excuse to go somewhere art-y. The tea is served in the enclosed courtyard so it is bright and cheerful (even though it is cold and gloomy outside!) and feels like you are in Europe somewhere. The sandwiches are adorable and delicious and the scones, lemon curd, clotted cream AND desert.... sigh. Yum. (We spent almost as long perusing the museum bookstore!)

2011- searching for his own niche
2009 - Integrated with the art!

On the way out to the parking lot, we reminisced about visiting the museum a few years before with his little sister and the funny photo I had taken of them. To humor his mom, Alex crammed himself into the huge, metal sculpture. (He had to turn himself sideways!)

2009 -This one makes me think of The Beatles album cover...

Tech-free Weekend

What started out as a punishment for my son... turned into a really fun weekend. My son has a lot of really amazing projects that he is working on, unfortunately, most involve the computer. Garage Band, Google, his blog, a million things to research. But when he is ordered to bed at 9-something (OK, maybe it was 10-something!?) and he "suddenly" remembers homework that is due the next morning....argh!! GROUNDED!! Tech-wise, that is.

But then I started realizing that I am just as bad. Yes, most of my work, my livelihood, is online. But I seem to spend all my other (free?) time online as well. And no real artwork gets created. And I get cranky. And frustrated. And sad. So, Saturday morning I said, "No computers this weekend!" There was a lot of whining, but once I agreed that pajamas could be worn, and no showers were necessary, things started looking up.

My friend Abby had just built this great table for me for my, yes, MY, Legos. My son and I are both Lego (and organization) freaks. Most of my Lego collection is housed in my treehouse in my studio. But I want to clean it out and use it as a quiet, meditation place. And the treehouse is in total disarray after some kids somehow found their way up there and... well, it was horrible. (shiver)

The table had spent the week in the middle of my mudroom and I decided to paint it and get it DONE with. I set my daughter up with some art supplies in the Playroom and started masking the edges of the table. Before I was even finished with that task, she was begging me to let her "help". After the initial panic attack, I realized that smearing black paint all over a piece of furniture might actually appear to be fun to a four year old! And the grounded 13 year old joined us as well. So they painted black areas, I painted the stones, and "Fantasia" played on the TV in the background. My son identified instruments for his sister and they both gave their critiques of the "Nutcracker" arrangements and the variety of fairy fashions displayed. And no paint got on the rug or the pajamas. Amazing!

I just realized that this photo shows a lot more than just the kids working. Besides one ear of our cat Lilo, and the leg of Lilah's high chair that I painted (lower right), you can see part of a mural I painted on the coat closet in the background. We have a very... odd... mudroom! It was originally part of my studio and where I made rubber stamps. The room in the background was my art studio. Now we don't know what to call it - the Art Room/Music Room/Playroom? We've always been a bit ahead of architectural fashions. But someday, everyone will have a room with drafting tables, musical instruments, Lego tables and a Wii. ("Family Room" just doesn't quite fit.)

Lilah painted portraits of "ME" and then filled them in with paint. When Alex joined us, she become more competitive about filling more space than he did with paint. But I let her use my good brush and taught her not to "scrub." Life is good!

I am told that this is still in progress. Diagon Alley will be set up below.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Creativity General Store: Book Signing Party Raffle

 Ooooh! This is very cool! If you weren't sure about coming to the book signing party next week - take a look at Wingdoodle's blog to see the cool raffle prizes:

The Creativity General Store: Book Signing Party Raffle: "We are finishing up the plans for Sandy's Book Signing Party and it is going to be so much fun. We will be doing 2 raffles..."

I SO want to go... oh, right. Ahem.

Anyway, rumor is the food gets the big demo table, the demos get a big table in front, and the author gets a little table tucked away somewhere. I think signing books is just an excuse for a great party - what do you think?

I showed SherRee and Adele how to make buttons (pins) today and they looked very excited. Just about ANYTHING looks amazing when it is button-ized. At the party, you can draw a Zentangle (or something else, there is no arm twisting here) on a circle of paper and then YOU get to pull the handle on the machine and turn it into a button. Yes - FREE! I know, right? And you don't even have to buy a book! Life is good.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Book Signing Party on March 17th!

You are cordially invited to attend a party at Wingdoodle in celebration of my new book: Yoga for Your Brain.

Here are the details (I copied them from Wingdoodle's blog, SherRee wrote this):

We have Sandy's new book, YOGA for your BRAIN, and we will celebrate with a book signing party on St. Patrick's Day, Thursday, March 17th from 5pm - 7pm.  Everyone is invited to stop by, meet Sandy and have her sign your book.  We will also have a demo table so that you can do a tangle or show us one of your tangles.  My daughter Kayla will be providing the food, and if you came to the Christmas party you know her food is really good.  We will also be sampling new teas from The REPUBLIC of TEA. Everyone at Wingdoodle is very excited about the party and we all hope to see you there.

Please RSVP by
March 12th so Kayla knows how much food to prepare. 
(You can come, even if you don't RSVP - you just won't get a cupcake - tee hee!)

Here are a few shots from the last book signing... just in case you need visual persuasion...

Did we mention Kayla's food is really, really good?

Oh, yes, and I'll be there too.
Signing books.

And I'll let you play with my button machine.
Yes! You can make your own Zentangle button (pin?)
I'm not kidding. (It's really fun!)

PaintWorks Review & CPS eBook

Susan Mynyk from PaintWorks Magazine wrote to let me know that they had reviewed Totally Tangled in the February 2011 issue! Very nice!
Click to enlarge

Also, my article that was published in Cloth Paper Scissors Magazine... two years ago (!? is that possible!?) is now available as part of a free downloadable e-book from CPS, "5 Art Journal Techniques". My article is #5.


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