Video: New ACEO Artworks! Lots of Mixed Media Collages!

Hi everyone! This is just a short post to share a recent video I made showing off some of my newest ACEO art trading card artworks (both those I make and sell and those I have collected from other artists!) I love the world of miniature art and hope others get into the hobby too! It is an affordable, space-saving way to collect and display original art! Lately I’ve really been into mixed media collage artwork, which I’m sure you can tell from the video:

 

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My New Year’s Intentions for 2015

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Happy soon-to-be New Year everyone! Around this time of year, I always like to pause and assess my life. I decide what is going good, what I need to leave behind and what I might want to work on. I don’t like to make “New Year’s resolutions” because that phrasing to me seems to have guilt built into it. When people make New Year’s resolutions, they tend to feel guilty if they fail or make a mistake and eventually just give up. I like the phrase “New Year’s intentions” better because it doesn’t have that stigma to it and to me, intentions are about trying to do the right thing. Sure, we all mess up and even epically fail sometimes, but as long as we keep getting up and trying, I don’t think we truly ever lose.

So here are my three New Year’s intentions for 2015 –

1. Focus on health. I have many health problems that I can’t do anything about, however, I do have control over some of my health and unfortunately, I often ignore the importance of taking care of myself. So for 2015 I plan to try to exercise at least 3-4 times a week (even if I can only do light exercise like walking and yoga). I will not push myself too hard or make myself do things that cause real pain, but I can try to work within my physical limitations. I will also try to eat better. I won’t force myself to give up things I love (like chocolate), but I will try to consciously pick out more fruits, vegetables, lean protein and healthy grains at the grocery store (because if I buy healthier foods, I will eat healthier foods).

2. Be more social. A few years ago I had to be more social. But now that I work at home, have taken a break from fostering kids and my husband resigned from being a youth pastor, I don’t have to be social. I can hole up at home and be a hermit. To some extent I have done that. We still go to church, but now that my husband isn’t working for a church we get to pick and choose what to be involved in instead of having it decided for us – which is great, except that I have to remember to actively look for things to do and ways to serve. It is far too easy to ignore social activities because I feel that I am not socially proficient. Sometimes I get kind of depressed seeing how easy it is for others to connect with people and make friends. I just don’t have that kind of personality.

Having Asperger’s Syndrome can make socializing uncomfortable and awkward, but I still want to make a difference in people’s lives. I want to care about others and have them care in return. The only way I can do that is to make myself reach out more. So this year I hope to reach out more to others, whether it be by saying a simple “hello” and learning someone’s name or by making myself go out a little more often, even when it is easier to stay home and veg out on the couch.

3. Stop letting people hurt me. In the past few years there have been a few people who hurt me deeply. They may not even realize they hurt me (in fact some of them think I deserve to be treated badly and have said so). In most cases, they were people who never really got to know me and then misinterpreted things I said or did. Instead of approaching me and clarifying what upset them, they either shut me out entirely or told other people a lot of bad stuff about me which isn’t actually true. By the time I knew there was really an issue, damage had already been done. I tried to work things out with some of them and find out what I did to upset them, but I was either ignored or told everything was my fault.

Maybe my lack of social skills in some areas caused the problems…or maybe they never really liked me to begin with. I don’t know. What I do know is that I’ve allowed these people to make me feel bad about myself and wonder if I am unlikable. It really dealt a blow to my self-esteem in some ways. At this point, I want to build my ability to trust others again. I want to not let a little meanness or misunderstanding hold me back anymore. I have already chosen to consciously forgive, now I want to let myself learn from any mistakes that were made and move on.

So there you have it, my list of intentions for the coming year. What would you like to change or work on this year?

Video diary/blog (video 3) dream interpretation & insight

Before I share today’s video blog link, I wanted to explain that the reason I am doing so many video blogs right now is because I injured my right shoulder/arm/back and it is really hard to do much of anything with my right arm, including typing much. So I figured it would be a good time to try out a video blog and see how it works.

This new video is about dreams. I am a big believer in dreams having both psychological and possibly spiritual insight. So I explore that concept in this video by talking about a couple recent dreams and the insight I got from my interpretation of them. I have read books by professionals about dream interpretation, but I have always believed that we hold the keys to the meaning of our dreams and can interpret them better ourselves. If nothing else, you might find the trip into my dream-mind interesting 🙂

Stop the Bullying! Please!

Stop Bullying!

“Stop Bullying” mixed media ACEO art.

I hate bullying. I hated it when I was a kid and I still hate it as an adult. Over my short lifetime of 31 years, I have been bullied for many reasons, among them:

  • Physical looks (been called ugly, fat, big butt, butch, lesbian, etc)
  • Personal interests and personality (been called a nerd, geek, dork, retard, stupid, immature, crybaby, goody goody, weirdo, etc)
  • Social issues and awkwardness (probably due to my Asperger’s)
  • Being too liberal
  • Being too conservative
  • Being a Christian and believing in God
  • Not being the “right” kind of Christian or “Christian enough”
  • Being a woman who speaks her mind and is intelligent (which apparently means you are a “bitch” or are not feminine enough)

Of course, I know there is some argument about what constitutes actual bullying, but I consider bullying to be anything said or done to intentionally hurt another person or to just be plain mean.

Unfortunately, I have also been on the other side of bullying, especially when I was younger. I have called other people names, talked about them behind their back and stood by silently while others tormented a particular person. I am not proud to admit that, but it is the truth. One thing that has shocked me as I have gotten older though is how much bullying still occurs in the adult world. It happens at work, it happens in social circles, it happens in politics, it happens in tabloids and media, it even happens in churches! And of course we all know it happens on Facebook and other social media sites frequently – especially between family members.

So what can we do about the bullying plague? How do we raise kids who won’t bully when even adults act that way at 40 and 50 years old? The only true solution I can see is to change ourselves. If I stop bullying and you stop bullying and then others stop bullying…hopefully someday the problem will be eradicated…or at least greatly reduced. So think twice before you call someone a name or mock them cruelly. Maybe keep your mouth closed when you are tempted to cut someone down behind their back or spread a rumor. Stand up for someone who is being torn down for no real reason. Keep debates and arguments about the actual subject at hand and don’t start personally attacking someone just because their opinion is different than yours. If deep inside you know that you are purposefully being mean or hurting someone…just stop it. It really is that simple.

The three points of view…in spirituality?

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You probably already know that in writing and narrating there are different points of view. You might have even studied the differences between first, second and third-person point of view. But I found it interesting when I came across a magazine article stating that these points of view apply to our religious or spiritual natures as well. I wanted to share this information in a condensed, easy-to-read format for others, so following is a brief explanation of each “spiritual style”. Hopefully you will have fun reading through and deciding how you personally view things. Most of us probably lean towards one point of view, but carry aspects of the others as well. Although I myself am Christian, I tried to present the information in a way that anyone could relate to, regardless of religious beliefs. If you wish to share your own viewpoint or opinion on the matter, feel free to leave a comment!

First-person POV: Just as in writing, first-person is by far the most personal point of view. As the name implies, with the first-person spiritual POV, you tend to see God or Spirit within yourself. Eastern religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism are big on the first-person POV of God, as are many followers of Christianity, Islam and Judaism, especially the more mystical folks. People who favor the first-person POV see God living within them, whether they believe that the Spirit of God is naturally inherent in all living beings or believe that the Holy Spirit physically resides inside believers after conversion. There is often a belief in an “inner Christ”, “inner Buddha” or other spiritual presence within. Some people are really wary of the first person spiritual POV because they fear it could be seen as a type of self-worship.

Second-person POV: This POV often uses the pronoun “you” in writing. Typically in this POV you are addressing someone else. So when you think about the second-person POV in regards to spirituality, this would be the common practice of talking to God as a separate entity who is entirely outside of yourself. People who favor this POV often refer to God as “Father”, “Thee”, “Thou”, “Lord”, etc. The basis of this POV is really all about personal relationships and the need to feel connected to someone or something greater than ourselves. This is definitely the POV most used in times of emergency or hardship, when people instinctively call out for help.

Third-person POV: As in writing, the third-person POV is referring to someone or something entirely outside of yourself and normally not very intimate either. It is looking at something from a distance and being able to analyze or logically study things. Some may think that people who favor this POV aren’t spiritual at all, because they don’t necessarily “sound” spiritual or religious, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t believe in anything. These are the people who look at nature and see God or spirituality present there. They also may look at science or the arts and marvel at the wonders of design and creativity present there. Many people who crave spiritual connection but have been turned off by traditional religions tend to favor the third-person POV. Of course, even those who follow a strict religious form may still see God reflected in creation or other amazing parts of life.

So…which type do you think you favor? Personally, I think I favor the second-person POV because I crave that personal relationship with someone greater than myself. I like having someone fair, loving and all-knowing to talk to at all times. However, I do think that at least a bit of God must exist within all living beings, otherwise, they couldn’t live. I truly do believe the “breath of God” is within all that lives and that the loving Spirit of God can reside within us if we allow it. I also do see the Spirit of God reflected in creation, science and art and marvel at the creativity that exists within the creator and the creation. So as you can see, many of us are a combination of all three styles, but I still find it interesting to think about. I hope you do too.

Finding the blessings in our pain

Recently there has been quite a bit of pain introduced into my life.  Not necessarily my own, but that of my grandfather, who is dying from stage 4 lung and bone cancer, and from my new foster son who is dealing with emotional issues no one at his age should have to encounter.  Of course, I do have my own enduring pains, including the depression my entire family struggles with and the health problems that have plagued me for years, mostly due to my faulty immune system.

With all of this on my mind in recent days, I found myself in need of comfort.  While shopping the aisles of my local library, I picked up a book entitled “Why Me, Why This, Why Now”, written by Robin Norwood, a well-known therapist and author.  I could tell that Robin was approaching life from a spiritual point of view rather than a scientific one, so I was hoping I would find more than just medical jargon within the pages.  Luckily, I found more than I even expected, including the following thoughtful affirmation:

“I didn’t yet understand that God is always unknowable and that as we move closer to Him, God moves farther away, drawing us higher and higher as we seek and search and try to follow.”

I must admit the above quotation threw me a bit at first.  After all, I had always been told that when me move closer to God, he moves closer to us.  As the Bible verse says, “Draw nigh to God and he will draw nigh to you”.  However, I can see the truth in the author’s opinion.  If God always met us where we are, we would fail to advance upon our path of spiritual growth.  By being slightly elusive, God keeps us following him, thirsting for more.  In no way do I want to give the impression that God is cold and uncaring by turning his back on us and walking away.  He is more like the parent who encourages their child’s first steps by standing out of reach and then calling for their child to follow.

The other thoughts the author shared that really hit home were actually part of a list explaining the purpose and reality of human suffering.  Here is the list as Robin Norwood gave it:

1. Deep healing always involves a change of heart and therefore an expansion of consciousness.

2. The cure of a physical condition or illness does not necessarily imply that meaningful healing has taken place.

3. The continuation of a physical condition or illness, even if death eventuates, does not necessarily imply that meaningful healing has not taken place.

4. In the emotional realm, the greater the trauma, the greater the potential for meaningful healing.

5. At the level of thought, the greater the distortion in the belief system, the greater the healing, should that distortion be corrected.

6. The healing of the individual affects the healing of the entire body of humanity; the healing of the body of humanity affects the healing of the entire planet.

Although the above list is fairly self-explanatory, I can’t even begin to tell you how it freed me from untold pain and anguish.  Instead of fighting against the inevitable, making myself and everyone around me miserable in the process, I could allow life to happen, help where I can and leave the rest of it in the hands of someone who knows better than I.  I have always believed that everything, all the good, as well as the bad, happens for a reason, but when you are in the midst of turmoil, it is easy to forget what you have always known to be true.  This helpful book reaffirmed my belief in life and the purpose we are all here to fulfill.  Life is a classroom, and we are all here to learn.  So let us never forget that pain is one of our greatest teachers, and like a diamond, we will only be more beautiful and pure once we are refined.

Learning to love change

Change is a fact of life.  No matter who you are or where you live, your life is bound to go through many, many changes before you leave this earth for the next life.  Some people fight tooth and nail against each change that comes their way, but that only makes you more miserable in the long run.  After all, what is more frustrating than fighting against the inevitable?

Recently our lives have gone through ALOT of change.  Yesterday, my husband and I had a foster son who had been living with us for two and a half years go home for good.  I also have two books that are soon to be published that will bring both happy and scary changes into my life.  Plus, my husband is working towards his Master’s degree in special education so that he can get a different job.  Add to those major adjustments the daily ups and downs of life and you get quite a roller coaster ride.

Sometimes all of this upheaval can be overwhelming.  During those times, I try to find inspiration from others who have been there.  Here are a few of the quotes that have helped me keep perspective while I deal with everything going on around me.  I hope they will comfort and cheer you as well!

“For everything you have missed, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live.” – Flora Whittemore

“Sometimes it’s the smallest decisions that can change your life forever.” – Keri Russell

“There is nothing wrong with change, if it is in the right direction.” – Winston Churchill

“Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts.” – Arnold Bennett

“We cannot change our past. We can not change the fact that people act in a certain way. We can not change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude.” – Charles R. Swindoll

“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.” – Anatole France

“Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely.” – Unknown