Dear Yesterday

Dear Yesterday,

Thank you for tea.  Thank you for time to hang with my kids.  Thank you for chocolate chip cookies. Thank you for time to plant our garden. Thank you for the tenderness with which my daughter tucked her strawberry plant and Irish moss into the soil. Thank you for not raining till evening.  Thank you for sandwiches for dinner. Thank you for a hot shower before climbing into bed with a good book.  Thank you for our library.  Thank you for starting out like any other day but then turning into the day that you were.  Thank you, Yesterday, for being kinda spectacular.

 

What was your Thursday like?  Share in the comments below (because we’d love to hear) or jot down your memories in a journal or notebook.  Sometimes it’s nice to look back as we begin to move forward.

Sending a little love your way, m

 

 

An Interview + A Giveaway {Stefanie Renee}

Today we continue our monthly interview series. A series in which I introduce you to some very special people…individuals who work equally hard at their craft and at living an intentional life. Someone new each month, sharing thoughts on creativity and discussing current work dear to his/her heart. Each individual who joins us will also generously offer some sort of giveaway. It could be a handmade item, a spot in a workshop, a collection of stones or crystals…anything that’s connected to the feature artist’s work and life. Their gift to you is of their choosing. This series will, I hope, create space to explore what creativity looks like to different people.  I hope it will also create space to spread a little love through the gifts of our guests.

Today, we’re visiting with Stefanie Renee.  I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Stefanie in person – a brief meeting, but long enough to get a hug and to feel her kindness.  She’s someone whose art practice I admire…she keeps at it, daily.  She shares her practice with family and friends (I just love her photos on Instagram when I see she’s been creating with her daughters) and, now, online (read more about that below).  She’s down-to-earth and possesses an energy that feels constant and true…like she’s always creating, but not at fevered pitch…just wonderfully steady.  I think you’re gonna like her!  Are you ready? Here we go…

Can you tell us about your creative work, and what creativity means to you? 

In 2014 I started a series called #stefscribbles which consisted of sketching and watercolors of people that I would see or interact with during the day. It started off as a way to get out of my head and off the computer, and was easy enough to keep out on my desk and to just do something quickly.  Nothing too serious …  It’s since morphed into daily color meditations that I do with mixed media in the mornings, to get my wiggles out so to speak.  I like to experiment with new materials such as weaving, sewing, playing with driftwood that I collect at beaches along the Pacific Ocean, and postcard writing.  I always fall back into photography which was, and always will be, my first love.

What creativity means to you?

Well I like to say that it keeps me sane. It’s my meditation and my go to when I’m feeling blue or when I have extra energy.  Creativity in whatever form is really my lifeline.

I love the series of watercolor people you share on Instagram with the hashtag #stefscribbles.  Could you tell us about that project and share how that project began?

Yes, it started a few years ago when I was going through a particularly dark time emotionally, I couldn’t get out of this particular funk so I picked up my paints and started sketching women — Courtney Cerruti was a big influence but I have always been drawn to people and their faces whether I was photographing or painting so they started out as a daily occurrence.  While I worked at my desk, it was easy enough to have my paints nearby to scribble, doodle and paint.  At that point I was just painting them and nothing else but then a friend started posting these “stories” about them on my Facebook page and that just lead to me naming them and creating stories about them and what they were doing or going through.  I am an avid people watcher and whether we think we know who the people are or not, it’s always fun to make up a story about someone. I started creating these watercolor people with names and stories to add to the #stefscribbles. I’ve been doing them off and on for over 3 + years and have completed over 600 of them.  It’s been a fun creative activity for me.

As a mother and artist, I’m curious how you weave your creative work into that of family and home.  Can you share how you honor your work while also being a mother?

I have my own space in our home; a small studio/office where I do my work and also my creative work.  It’s tiny but it’s all my own.  A place that can get messy and no one cares and I can leave.

When my 2 daughters were younger is when I started back with photography and I always had a camera in my hand to capture all their tiny moments of growing and once they got older and harder to capture is when I started with painting etc… So creativity has always been intertwined with my family.

My girls love to be creative too so we often do projects together and that’s always fun.  There was a time that my youngest daughter and I would draw together at night and that was a very special time together.  We often do collaborative drawings together too.  When they are in school, I try to find the time, but it’s balancing the creative work with the “paid” work that I am often challenged with.

But sometimes it’s just the stolen 5-10 minutes that keeps the creative part of my life going while also trying to manage my family.

Does being a mother inspire your art?

When I had my oldest daughter 12 years ago I remember saying that I really birthed my creativity when I birthed her. I had always been into photography but then I started a blog a few months before she was born – incorporating  photography and writings about pregnancy and life. Merging the writing and the photography together + being a first time mom really awoke something inside of me.  I’ve been on a real creative journey ever since.

Do you have any rituals surrounding your creative work?

Like I mentioned earlier I like to do a morning color meditation – where I just doodle, scribble and paint first thing in the mornings to get my juices flowing and it doesn’t have to be anything.  Otherwise I like to create something every day — I’ve been doing a 365 project for over 5 years where I either paint or photograph something every day.  It’s one of those things that just happens now, there’s rarely a day that I don’t do one of those two things.

I’d love for you to tell us about your online class Jumpstart Your Art:  Dive Deeper into Your Daily Creative PracticeWhat is the class about?  What inspired you to create this class?

I was having trouble sleeping for a while and one night I was up playing around in my studio and I got to thinking that  I wanted to create something to offer the world that I was doing at the time.

That was when I started Jumpstart Your Art – 30 Days to a Daily Creative Practice.  Something that got people creating every day. Since I knew how much it helped me to create this daily habit, I thought others would like the same. It ended up being  an email a day with creative prompts and inspirational quotes, links or stories for 30 days.

It was super fun and I had some great students who really got inspired.  That morphed into the latest “Jumpstart Your Art: A Deeper Dive into your Daily Creative Practice” which goes for 3 months.  3 emails a week with prompts etc.  Just a longer time together and more in-depth creative pursuits.  It’s a great community and we share either on Facebook or Instagram.  It’s an accountability group really – we all want to create good habits and starting a creativity habit can give you so much!  It’s really therapeutic.

***
Now some fun ones…

What’s the weather in your corner of the world today?

It’s sunny and bit windy but very lovely.  The flowers are amazing this time of year.

What makes you smile?

The flowers blooming and the smell of our orange tree in the backyard.  Seeing my girls happy and laughing together. Creating a work of art I’m really excited about.

Are you currently reading a book?  If so, what is it?

Yes, I just started reading Where did you go, Bernadette?  by Maria Semple.  I just finished her other book Today Will Be Different.  When I find an author I like, I tend to read all that they wrote!

Do you have a favorite fruit?

I love fruit but I can’t pass by really sweet strawberries, and when blueberries are in season I love love love them!

If you close your eyes right now, what word comes to mind?

Quiet and Focus

And now for the giveaway…

Stefanie is generously gifting one of you lucky readers the painting you see above. This painting is from her “color meditations” series.  It’s done with acrylics and is approximately 8 1/2 x 11″ on watercolor paper.  This series is a relatively new one for Stef, and they’re paintings she loves doing.  This one could be yours!

To enter the giveaway, here’s what you need to do:
Leave a comment below.  Say hello, maybe mention a creative project (big or small) that you’re working on (baking cookies counts!), share what you like.
Comments will close at midnight PST on Monday, May 22 , 2017. The randomly selected winner will be announced here in this post on Tuesday, May 23.
   Comments are now closed.

And the randomly selected winner is…Julie!  {Julie, an email is coming your way shortly.}  Thanks to those who played along!

And…Thank you, Stef, for being here with us.

Sending a little love your way, m

***

Stefanie Renee:  I’m a mom, scribbler, painter, photographer, project manager, assistant to women entrepreneurs, event coordinator, creative advocate and sometimes the angry life coach! (I’ve been told I can tell it like it is with little to no filter! But I say it all with love!)  When my oldest daughter was born in 2005, I also birthed my commitment to creativity. Ever since then I’ve been on a mission to make it an everyday commitment and lifestyle.

 

Here’s where you can find Stef:
Website
Instagram
Society6

Time is a Funny Thing

I am a mother and, while what I share here doesn’t focus on motherhood per se, I am forever colored by that experience.  If you’ve been with me for a while, you know this.

Having just celebrated my daughter’s twelfth birthday and my son’s sixteenth, I am shaking my head and nursing my heart at the turn of calendar pages, at the trips around the sun.  Discussions of time keep coming to me. Perhaps this shouldn’t surprise me…much of what I write/photograph points to a conscious consideration and celebration of the minutes in one’s day. And yet, I am surprised.  Messages tucked into a novel, an Instagram photo, a question posed, an overheard conversation.  Even this post, which I wrote yesterday, surprised me in its shape.

The clock is ticking.  I don’t necessarily feel pressure in that; perhaps it’s more a degree of tension.  How could I not?  How could you not?  Time shapes our days, providing framework for what needs doing and what actually gets done.  It opens space for certain activities and closes it for others.  There are only so many hours in a day, after all.

In a fairly banal manner, I will say that time is a funny thing.  When I dive to the core of it, as a mother, I will say of time (as I wrote in the post linked above):  In the middle of the night, it can seem fearfully long; on your child’s sixteenth birthday, it can seem frightfully short.

I think about the passage of time, both in a day and over the decades.  I think about the choices I make (and, as I write this, I am clear on the inherent privilege I enjoy in making choices) (indeed).  I think about the way life seems to balance itself out.  And I don’t mean balance as in a goal to achieve or a state of zen.  I mean balance as a fact of life.  Like a seesaw that constantly teeters, like the ocean’s surface that undulates in waves, like the seasons of nature cycling. Balance as movement.  Balance as gentle continuance.  Balance as stumbling and picking oneself up again.

And I want to say that I know it’s hard.  Sometimes it’s hard to make choices (even understanding the privilege of choice, it’s still hard); sometimes it’s hard to embrace the notion of time.  I want you to know that, although what I share here and on Instagram may give the appearance that I’m zen and smooth, I assure you that my feathers get ruffled.  I live by the same time constraints as you.

Yes, time is a funny thing.

Sending a little love your way, m

 

 

Unexpected Joy

Decluttering – and simplifying, in general – are hot topics right now.  With good reason and, for the record, I’m all for it.  Utilizing the KonMari method (this book, which I haven’t read) (and this one, which I have), Marie Kondo writes about letting go of things we no longer need, and goes into detail on how to organize what remains. Yes, and good.  The part I especially liked was when she talked about keeping the things that spark joy.  I didn’t like that part because I’m looking for an excuse to keep things, but because I believe things are not always black and white. Sometimes there isn’t a clear-cut answer for something’s (or someone’s) value.  It just is because it is.

Case in point:  my old, green shorts.  They’re 10+ years old and aren’t anything special; I bought them because they were cotton and they were inexpensive. They’re now frayed at the edges (I’ve trimmed the fraying threads numerous times) and the rips in the fabric are so big that the shorts are unwearable.  It seems an easy decision when cleaning out my closet.  They’ve served me well, but it’s time for them to go.

Except…they bring me joy.  I can’t explain why, but they do.  I have the same pair of shorts in khaki and dark brown; they’re shabby too.  But I don’t love them the way I love these green ones.  Maybe I’ll cut the khaki and dark brown shorts into scraps and do something creative with them (or not). But I can’t bear to cut up these green ones.  For some reason, I love them.  A lot. They spark joy for me.

So I’ve gathered needle and embroidery thread and pins and ratty shorts, and plan to do a little mending.  These shorts won’t be worn for anything other than yard work or hikes, but they’ll have a second life once I spiffy them up with some stitching.  Maybe a little sashiko is in order?  Yes, I think so.

A pair of old, frayed, ripped shorts might seem silly when considering joy. But here I am…talking shorts and joy.  I don’t know why I love them as much as I do.  All I know is that they bring me joy.  So I’m keeping them.  A few stitches (functional and decorative) and they’ll be as good as new…maybe better.

Score one in the joy department.

Sending a little love your way, m

 

 

:: Ten Things ::

Ten things.  Right now.

1.  English Breakfast tea.  With maple syrup.  And a splash of cream.
2.  Takenobu on Pandora.
3.  Birds chirping.  Two cardinals hopping in the grass.
4.  A mist hanging over the backyard.  The sky, white.
5.  The birches dressed in green.  It happened seemingly overnight.
6.  Stretchy yoga pants.  Because Pilates will happen.
7.  Vague overwhelm.  Trying to talk myself back and down.  And center.
8.  Both kids still sleeping.
9.  The quiet.  The blessed quiet.
10. Wishing that cinnamon rolls were healthy.  Also wishing I had one.

 

What’s your right now like?

Sending a little love your way, m