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Man is made or unmade by himself - a set of ATCs

“Man is made or unmade by himself. In the armory of thought, he forges the weapons with which he destroys himself. He also fashions the tools with which he builds... joy, strength and peace.” - James Allen in As A Man Thinketh. 

A friend of mine sent me this little book for my birthday, and I’m about halfway through it. It’s about how our thoughts shape our reality and thinking good thoughts will manifest good results. I’m trying to take it to heart and implement more positive thinking! These ATCs have one of my favorite lines from the book so far. Woot woot for fun and positive crafting :) I just sat down with my bag of scraps and threw down some paper and ink. Therapy.

 It also helps that I’ve got my medications reconfigured once again so I’m not being crushed by the weight of crippling depression and anxiety. My new attitude for stress reduction has been going fantastic. I’ve been spending a few hours outside with the boys every day that the weather has been good for the past couple of weeks. Whether it’s in the yard or at the park, it makes a big difference. For one, they don’t make messes in the house. Secondly, I get to stretch out on a blanket under the sky and do a little bit of makeshift amateur yogajunk and deep breathing. Therapy. 

I’m feeling good about taking advantage of this beautiful weather before the Alabama heat, bugs and humidity become unbearable in a month or so. Carpe diem! I’m enjoying myself. 

Giant Budgie Painting and My Birthday Reflections

I'm going to give myself credit for the things I have already accomplished, not grief for what I haven't.

This past couple of weeks has been so many things. I'll just toss some adjectives: Refreshing. Heartwarming. Contemplative. Fun. Needed.

I spent the last ten days or so down in Orlando at my sister's house along with all my immediate family plus spouses and kiddos. It was awesome. Probably one of the best birthdays I've had in a long time.

Festivities included a KIDLESS Wizarding World of Harry Potter day followed by a massive delicious Harry Potter feast and RPG prepared by my brother and his amazing wife. I also got to hang out with my sister a lot at Downtown Disney, now called Disney Springs. New name, more exciting sights and smells. I got my Disney Pin Trading fix and snagged some cute tsum tsum pins, also got to indulge at IKEA and a huge Oriental Supermarket. Also a top highlight: BLACK MARKET MINERALS. Yeah. You read that right. One of my fondest old jobs from the springtime of my youth. Visiting the Florida store was nostalgic and delightful. 

The coolest thing I got to bring home was a big canvas that everyone in the family worked on. Even the little grandbabies got to paint/scribble and contribute. We started with a yellow acrylic base and I added paint drops, swirls and extra layers and color, then everyone kept going throughout the week with doodles with markers.
By the end of the week, the canvas had an awesome multi layered look to it and we were ready to paint over top with my favorite: a Giant Budgie that I drew. Here's me and my bro starting to paint the bird.

More progress being made by my sister and me. 

I added finishing touches and a bit of a white wash in areas to make the budgie stand out just a little bit more. We got this guy home to Alabama and he now has a very prominent place in my art studio.

I love it. I love that it's special and that it'll be a memento of this awesome vacation, birthday and reunion that I got to experience.

So now I'm going to get back to that whole "contemplative" thing that I mentioned at the beginning of this post. I had a lot of time on this trip where I didn't have to be constantly paying mind to my beautiful boys. I also didn't check my phone more than 2-3 times per day. It did something for my mind that I haven't been able to achieve in uh.... almost four years, since Buddy was born. 
I had a breakthrough of sorts. Finally accepting this season of my life and being okay with it. I've always been focused and ambitious, and driven to accomplish. 

I've known somewhere in this brain of mine that for happiness, my focus needs to be on 1. self care, 2. my marriage and 3. my kids. I have been trying to convince myself that I can continue to nurse my ambitions and business goals in addition to the aforementioned big three. There just isn't enough of my attention to go around and I've been suffering for it. I haven't been happy. I haven't been functioning properly. 

So I finally made a decision. I'm throwing Etsy, YouTube Videos, FaceBook, Insta, marketing, new product creation etc. into the back seat for a couple more years and I'm not going to feel guilty about it. I'm gonna blog for fun when I feel like it. I'm going to learn new things because I want to. Just like the good old days. No more feeling bad about what I think I should be able to earn or do with my precious waking hours. No more. I'll wade a little deeper once the kids get into school.

But for now, I'm going to get my mental and physical health straight. I'm going to be present for my husband and kids and not use my phone as a form of escapism from this at-times overwhelming season. I'm going to simplify my life. I'm going to create and share for the joy of it. 

I'm going to give myself credit for the things I have already accomplished, not grief for what I haven't. 

I hope I can continue to remind myself of this decision, because it's an important one. I want to start enjoying my life every single day. I've got my eye on making my 32nd my best year yet.

Mixed Media Winged Heart and Tiny House Magnets

I'm excited to finally be able to share this project, since I've been sitting on the photos for a while.
It's a two-sided winged heart ornament for the Mixed Media Valentine Swap over on Craftster. 
 First I drew out the shape on paper, then scanned it into the computer and worked the image into a cut file. Here's a pic of the shapes being cut out on the laser out of 1/4" birch plywood. Having a laser is amazing.... I can make whatever wood shapes I want. It's easily the coolest thing I have.
The piece is 3 layers glued together, and has the lil shrine cutout in the front as well as the back. I just clamped the three pieces together with wood glue, then coated it in gesso to make sure the paint and stuff would stick and be vibrant. I guess it's like primering....It might have sucked up a lot of paint if I didn't gesso it first.
So here is the first side.... It's covered in a gelliprinted bookpage and then painted on a bit more. Then I drew the wings with paint pen and filled them in randomly with pearl pink and mint green. The middle has a quartz crystal druzy, for sparkliness...

This is the other side and it has a totally different feel.

Dot painted, with a coral and navy blue color scheme... The pendant over the shrine hole made the perfect window. I'd had that little metal thing for years in my stash and I'm glad I finally found a good use for it.

And at the end, there were little house-shaped scraps from where the shrine fronts had been cut out, so I made some wee tiny house magnets for my swap partner, and for funsies, a little altered clothespin magnet, too.

She was happy with the package! The heart was pretty tough to send away, but that's the magic of swapping: trading art and making other people smile.