November Gratitude Challenge- are you up for it?

My Dear Friends,

Halloween is over and that means Thanksgiving is Close. It begs the question:

Are you feeling thankful?

My usual November MO is busy-busy-busy then at Thanksgiving we all sit down at the table and list a few things we are thankful for. This puts family and guests on the spot and gives them about two seconds to come up with something meaningful. Next, we are on to December and the onslaught of holiday marketing that shows us we are lacking and need to buy, buy, buy. That's why the holidays can often leave us feeling empty and stressed instead of full and blessed. This November I have been thinking of things I can do differently and I thought you might want to try a few new things with me.

I invite you to join with me in the November 2017 Gratitude Project!


This November I invite you to focus more love on your life and focus less worry on the things you don't want to think about - like the state of politics, the state of the world or the state of your closet. It is true that what we focus on expands. When we focus on the things we are thankful for those things expand in our lives. If we could do this the entire month of November we would be creating a habit that opens us up to a life time of goodness!

By participating in the Gratitude Project we'll go deeper than just appreciating family and friends. We'll shine a spotlight on all the little things that bring us joy.  That light will grow and grow into more things that we realize we are thankful for. When we're realizing all that untapped, potential for gratitude - what a great way to go from Thanksgiving to the holiday season - than full of real and lasting JOY! That's an easy life changing shift right to prosperity folks! 

So join me in this fun challenge!

You have to practice something for it to become habit. These practices will help us strengthen our gratitude muscle.

1. Post a picture everyday (or as many days as possible) on Instagram or FaceBook of something you are thankful for. It could be something monumental like the kidney your sister gave you or something small like your favorite, comforting coffee mug. Give us a short description of why you're thankful for it and hashtag it: #nov2017gratitudeproject. Yes, that's a cumbersome tag but it will collect all our posts in one place. I guarantee you will enjoy posting your "gratitudes" each time and you will really enjoy reading other people's too. Example below.

You get the idea, right?

You get the idea, right?

2. Keep a gratitude journal. (Oprah probably started this idea and look what it did for her) Buy a cheap notebook and use it only to write down things you are grateful for. You can list them in bullet points or write them in descriptive paragraphs. Do this first thing in the morning to get your day started off right, do it on your lunch break, in the carpool line, before bed -whenever you can make the time. Do not cheat yourself out of this! This is where the concentrated appreciation happens. This is where your life begins to shift!


3. Challenge yourself to go deeper. At least once a week during November I will be sending out a gratitude prompt. These will be exercises designed to pump that gratitude muscle and inspire you. Sign up for my blog (signup window on this page) and you will be on the list to receive these prompts.

If you accept the challenge and participate in the November 2017 Gratitude Project we'll meet back at the end of the month and see how things went for everyone.
Feel free to forward this to anyone you think might be interested in it. The more the merrier! Any questions or comments? Email me or leave them below.

So, let's go beyond scratching the surface this year! Let's feel gratitude down deep in our bones. Please join me on this potentially life changing journey.

NOW -Who's with me?




About the Process

This week I have been enjoying a little break from oil painting and making some mixed media paintings. I thought you might be interested in seeing the process.

This pair of pictures is something I have been mulling around for a while. I like to begin with 140lb water color paper. I used Modge Podge to glue some random papers down for texture and then started layering the blue acrylic paint.



After the background was painted, I cut out and glued book pages into the octopus shapes I wanted. 


After the shapes were laid out I painted them to look like the octopuses I had in mind.


To make the teapot and teacup I used a playing card and a found piece of Chinese paper.  


And for the final touches I added an outline with India ink, found green paper for eyes, some bubbles and a little more shading.


I decided to give this little guy glasses and a nice smile. 


This little octopus has a fish (from the encyclopedia) swimming by.

Hopefully you found this "step-by-step" interesting. I think the "Octopus Tea" pair would look great framed. If you are interested it will be on my ETSY page soon.. 

Thanks for reading, talk to you soon! 


Is Your Brain feeling a Little Tired?

This week my brain was tired. Do you ever feel that way? 

Believe it or not, painting is hard work. Yes, it's totally enjoyable, but it is hard work all the same. I have discovered that it takes about four straight hours of staring hard at something and trying to copy the colors and shapes before your brain starts to get tired and yell for caffeine or sugar. (Maybe that is just my brain... some brains probably yell for carrots). This week after painting so many days in a row my brain decided it needed a nap and a little switch up.

Instead of painting I decided to make stencils to use while painting. (art geek)

Everywhere you look there are patterns. Your iPhone makes it easy to record them. If you like playing around with mixed media or if you like playing around with scissors you might want to try and make your own. This would be a fun exercise to do with kids, how can you replicate the world you see around you?

I used a plastic folder with pockets (left over school supplies.) I drew the design on the folder with a sharpie then cut it out. Totally easy and now I have my own stencils.

This is only the beginning of pattern collecting. Tomorrow I'm back to painting! 


Finished stencils. 


Photographic inspiration while walking the dog. 


Balcony railings. 

Not sure what decade this is from... 

Not sure what decade this is from... 


The painted stencil. 

What?? - Its been Six months already?

It is hard for me to believe that it has been six months since we moved to Germany. Only a few years ago, living in Europe seemed like a pie-in-the-sky dream. When I try to figure out how this all fell into place, I have to give some credit to years and years of writing that goal in my journal pages. Yes, our family is here because of a work opportunity for my husband but I think you can't weigh lightly the mental work that is done to attract situations into your life. There is a magic that happens when you are completely grateful for life. Though miracles are always happening, a few specific times spring to mind.

Once after the birth of our first child, I was home on maternity leave and praying that we could afford for me to stay home permanently. I was so grateful for my time. I remember sitting at the dining room table and writing a list of all the things I was grateful for each day. I was (and still am) deeply grateful for it all. I remember giving thanks for everything from our bank account to the pencil I was writing with. That year and for many years afterward things just became more prosperous. Similarly, the past few years, I have written about my desires to travel and live overseas while also being deeply grateful for the life I was living and the routines I had established in DC. Ironically, when we moved from DC it felt like like home and was the happiest situation for us. With that said, I can only look forward to more good things!

I am still working on this idea of the good snowballing into more good when you underline it all with gratitude - so stay tuned.

But I hope you won't mind me telling you some things I have been so grateful for this past six months:
Family and Friends: Of course my nuclear group of four, but also all the friends and family who reach out and show they care and continue to miss us! I love you and miss you all.

Free Time - Though I have missed the proximty of family and friends. I have enjoyed the void in my schedule created by the lack of volunteer "opportunities". I have finally dedicated most of my days to painting and it is such a joy. I am working on an ETSY site and hope to make some art sales. 

My New House - Moving made us finally jettison a lot of our cluttery crap! I can't reccomend the "Japanese Art of Tidying Up" enough. There is a liberation of your soul when you cut the strings on physical things that tie you down. I also love my new studio space. (Plus, we all have our own bathroom - yay!)

Missing the Elections and Barrage of News - We were able to vote in the election but without live TV at home we are cut off from the constant media coverage of politics. Other than Facebook, we have to search out headlines. I have been able to avoid most of it and don't see how I am worse off for knowing less.

Travel - Traveling has only increased my wanderlust! Besides having new experiences, traveling helps me to be more in the present moment than anything else. It is also deeply eye opening to see the world and America from the perspective of not living in America. Can you hold the paradox that the world is gigantic and so small at the same time? That others have perspectives that are just as valid as ours? A good exercise for sure.

European Food - I can't lie, the food is better here. Things are fresher and cheaper. Please come visit me and I'll take you to get fresh bread and cappuccino!

If you made it through this long post, I applaud you. Thanks for reading!