Monday, November 24, 2014
It's been a very slow few weeks on the blog but a very busy few weeks in real life. I've really missed writing here, and it felt strange not to have "blog" own my daily to do list. Sometimes something just has to give, and I gave myself permission to take a short break from something I really enjoy -- but just didn't have time or energy for. BUT NOW I'M BACK!! At least for a few posts this week.
So what has kept me from blogging?
Remember those paintings I posted about a while ago? In 2006 -- my junior year of college -- I painted portraits of the Salvoradan Jesuit martyrs and their two companions. I had an art show on my college campus after I finished the paintings and did a few presentations to church and student groups, but other than that the paintings didn't get much press. Fast forward to a year and a half ago when the Ignatian Solidarity Network asked me permission to use the painting images for a poster fundraiser. I agreed, we put together a contract, and poster sales began in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Jesuits' deaths earlier this year. The sale of the poster caught the attention of various schools and churches around the country, and it recently lead to a few speaking engagements for me.
Over the past few weeks, I gave two presentations in Milwaukee and also travelled to Kansas City, Syracuse, and Washington D.C. to speak about the paintings and the story of the Jesuit martyrs. It's been such an honor and such a cool opportunity to revisit the work I did and to push myself out of my comfort zone. This whole time I've had a feeling of "who me?" You want me to fly me somewhere and pay me to speak about my painting work? Well...I'm not sure you've got the right person, but sure, why now? I trusted that I could step up to the challenge and said yes to all the requests that came in -- even though I knew it would end up being a crazy few weeks for me.
The prep work - on top of working my two current part time jobs - on top of the actual traveling lead to a crazy month. But I wouldn't trade it for anything. It's reminded me of my love of painting - and speaking (surprisingly) - and it has me inspired to make more time for art.
AND VERY EXCITINGLY -- the press around my work has lead to an invitation to be an artist in residence at Marquette University!!! In February I'll (hopefully) be spending a few days doing a painting (in the library!) and talking about my work. We've yet to finalize the contract, but it looks like we're on track for me saying to yes to another opportunity that has me asking "who me?"
More details, more artwork, and more blogging to come.
Thursday, October 30, 2014
Things have been very quiet around here lately, and I have really missed posting. I've been under the weather lately and life has consisted of working (kind of) and sleeping (a lot). I've been text complaining to my mom a lot, and to her credit she has been very patient with me. A little long distance sympathy and smily emoticons are sometimes just what the doctor ordered.
And because I don't have any good pictures or post worthy topics, here are a few fun things that have happened over the past week or so.
- Had a successful garden canning workshop. This was our second annual workshop, and it was very much enjoyed by the few of us that were there. We canned homemade apple butter, and it's been a big hit with all my friends who have tried it.
- Diego ate our camera memory card and all the canning workshop pictures that were still on it. (This is not a fun fact, just a fact.)
- I've rediscovered my love for Harry Potter. I've watched the third, fifth, and sixth movies (all the ones I own), am reading the seventh book, and listening to the sixth book on tape. I'm obsessed.
- A week after the canning workshop we cleaned up our garden plots for the season. This was my last season as the garden director, and I was really happy to have a nice event as a mini send off.
- Christmas is only 55 days away!!! I love fall, but I am so ready for Christmas time -- Christmas lights, trees, music -- can't wait!!!
Thursday, October 23, 2014
I haven't done a gratitude post in a while, and today seemed like a good day to do a "today I'm thankful for" post. Hope you have lots of things to be thankful for today.
sunshine and autumn colors
ending each day cuddling on the couch with my pups
new coworkers who already treat me life family
a successful canning workshop
discovering Doctor Who - and loving it
a small break from feeling crummy for a few weeks
inspiring work meetings
homemade vegan banana cake
the woman who gave me $.25 for my parking meter when I realized I had no change
a husband who takes public transportation so I can use our car
seeing my art featured on a cool poster
Friday, October 17, 2014
I'm a big fan of making lists. It helps me be productive and prioritize what I'd like to do. Being out of school for a few years now, having goals and check lists helps me feel like I'm accomplishing something and growing.
But sometimes, I need to put aside the to do lists. I've been reminded of that this fall when I've been pretty worn out most nights when I get home and just can't seem to check off all the things I want to do.
I've been trying to shift my focus from quantity to quality, and I received some inspiration from Peach and Humble's Autumn on Purpose at just the right time. This week's newsletter included this:
For the last several years, I have been creating seasonal bucket lists packed with things I wanted to do before the season ended. They were always fun things like "bake an apple pie" or "go the pumpkin patch" but they were a checklist of tasks, nonetheless. More things-to-do stacked on top of my already long list of things-to-do. And even though I wanted to do all of these bucket list items, I noticed I was starting to check off fewer and fewer tasks as the years went on. Then, without fail, I would feel guilty and as though we had somehow missed the season because we didn't finish our list.
I read that and had an immediate "aha" moment. I do the same thing every season and inevitably feel the same mixture of guilt and disappointment as each new season approached. The solution?? Focus on a few simple traditions that you absolutely love to keep around as your seasonal rituals.
I love taking the focus away from trying to accomplish every single thing you associate with a holiday or time of year and shifting it instead to a few simple traditions that bring you a lot of joy.
I started making a mental list of my favorite fall traditions, and I almost immediately had about ten things. And I thought -- no -- that's the opposite of what I'm supposed to be doing with this exercise! Remember -- less is more!!
After some deliberation, I narrowed my special fall traditions list to the following:
- Watch the Great Pumpkin (preferably while snuggling with beagles)
- Bake something delicious
- Enjoy the changing colors (snap pictures as desired)
- Go apple/pumpkin picking
Everything else is icing on the cake.
In summary, goals and check lists have their place, but if I really want to enjoy a season, I need to allow myself to be fully present in it. And that means not having a list of goals and expectations. Wish me luck as I try this out the rest of autumn.
P.S. It's not too late to check out Peach and Humble's Autumn on Purpose series. Sign up to receive a weekly inspirational newsletter in your inbox.
What are your favorite fall traditions?
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
Monday, October 13, 2014
It has been a long time since I went on anything that could be considered an actual hike. I forget how much I enjoy it - being in nature, getting exercise, having a chance to get away from regular city life. This weekend, Paul and I went to Devil's Lake in Baraboo, Wisconsin with some friends. The trees were at their color peak, and the weather was absolutely perfect for hiking four miles around Devil's Lake.
We started off by hiking about a half mile up a winding path of large rocks - a path that's been in place since the 1930s. It was more strenuous than I had expected, but the view at the top was totally worth the sweat I built up on the way up.
The view from the top! The rope/strings are from groups of climbers that were taking advantage of a large flat cliff face. Some other folks took advantage of the great photo opportunity and posed on the edge of the bluff. I stayed a very safe distance from the edge.
This was as close as I got to the edge. Even this had my palms sweating!!
A few dare devils at the top of Devil's Doorway. Don't worry, no one from our group was foolish enough to climb up there.
I am really excited to report that a portion of the Ice Age trail winds around Devil's Lake, so I officially crossed another goal off my 30 before 30 list!
The views were so beautiful. I felt recharged just seeing so much color and so much natural beauty.
The path gradually wound back down to water level, and my handy walking stick helped me make it all the way down without slipping once. That's pretty good for this accident prone girl.
I can't wait to go back again! Next time I might combine another favorite love of mine with the hike -- a delicious picnic. Mmmm....
What have you been finding joy in this autumn?
Friday, October 10, 2014
And we've reached the end of the Iceland vacation posts. I hoped you've enjoyed reading them - I have really liked putting together my pictures in themed posts here. You can read my other Iceland posts here: Reykjavik part 1 ... Iceland landscapes ... Golden Circle tour ... Hand Knitting Association of Iceland ... Hallgrimskirkja church ... Reykjavik art museum.
Reykjavik is one of the quaintest, coolest capitals I've been to. With a country population of just over 300,000 people, it makes sense that the capital would be low key and intimate. We spent the last full day of our trip wondering around the city, taking photos, eating delicious food, and doing a little shopping. I forgot to photograph all the cool boutiques I saw. Just trust me that there's a lot of them in Reykjavik, and they're all adorable and stylish.
In addition to stylish shops and boutiques, the city also had this interesting art installation. One person in our group was brave enough to stand next to it.
On our day in the capital we had lunch at Café Loki, a restaurant for tourists that didn't feel like a restaurant for tourists. With a view of the Hallgrimskirkja church, we sipped on Icelandic tea and coffee and had a really satisfying meal.
I had a piece of molasses bread topped with hard boiled eggs, pickled herring, and red onions. It was such an interesting combination of flavors, and I surprisingly loved it. It was about a million times better than the fermented shark.
We also had a view of this painting while eating our lunch. It tells the story of some of the Norse gods including Loki, and like most gods, they had a pretty colorful story. We eavesdropped as our waitress told another patron what each part of the painting meant. I don't remember much of it except somebody tried to build a city and failed because a god turned into a horse, another person or god turned into a fish, and a wolf ate a lot of people. I'm obviously an except on Norse mythology.
After lunch, we checked out the Reykjavik Settlement Exhibition. I learned that Iceland was one of the few places in the world that did not have any ancient inhabitants. The Vikings didn't settle in Iceland until after 800 AD. The first artifacts archaeologists have found date back to 871 AD (hence the 871 in the name of the museum). I love visiting history museums, and this was no exception. (The museum reminded me a lot of the Archeological Crypt Museum in Paris under Notre Dame. If you visited that and liked it, definitely check out this one the next time you're in Iceland :)
My friend Becca is working on her PhD in public policy and wanted to take a look at all the Reykjavik government buildings. I never pass up an opportunity for a photography tour and happily walked around with her -- we let the husbands hang out in an English styled pub to take in some local flavor.
Reykjavik City Hall.
Another shot of city hall. I loved the architecture and the creative use of natural elements.
If my friend didn't know that this was the Icelandic parliament building, I never would have guessed it was a major government building. There was absolutely no security, no guards, no high fences - we basically walked wherever we wanted around it. And I probably would have passed it right by if Becca hadn't wanted to photograph it.
I luckily found some flowers around the city during our mini tour. I think the Icelandic environment might be a little too inhospitable for too many of them to grow naturally.
And that does it for Iceland!! Thanks for taking a little virtual tour with me. Officially back to real life next week.
Hope you have a great weekend!