When Your Birthday Rolls Around...

Birthdays.  As we get older, some of us love them.  Some of us dread them.  No matter how you feel about them, they are yours to celebrate as you choose.  So, from the all-out birthday bash to a quiet day at home, here are a few ideas to make your birthday planning quick and easy.    

  1. Cater your party with a food truck. Rather than picking up Subway, feed your guests outside via the good old food truck.  (Yemanja would be happy to roll on up.)

  2. Splurge on dinner out. Is there a place you’ve been holding out for? Make it a special night with your significant other or celebrate with a group of friends. (Blood & Sand and Claverach Farm are my choice for the St. Louis region.)

  3. Listen to live music. Follow dinner up with a  bluesy dive or basement bar oozing with live jazz. (Again if you are in St. Louis, Old Rock House or BB’s Jazz, Blues and Soups are my picks.)

  4. Plan a spa day.  Make it a full day of pampering or if on a budget, go for the hour-long, hot stone massage then return home to spend the rest of your day quietly relaxing. (If in St. Louis, Pure Harmony Day Spa is an excellent choice.)

  5. Go to a winery.  Sometimes getting older goes better with a little vino.  (In St. Louis region, Chandler Hill Winery.  Mid-Missouri, Les Bourgeois Winery, and in Kansas City, try Amigoni Urban Winery.)

  6. Book a night or two at a boutique hotel. Make sure it is next to the local hot spots or comes equipped with a bar, restaurant and pool. (Le Fontaine in Kansas City.  If you are really wanting something special, Casa Tua in Miami.)

  7. Buy yourself a gift. Treat yourself. Make a day of shopping the locally owned stores.  Or better yet, plan ahead and order online and have it gift wrapped and delivered on your special day.  (If in St. Louis, my new favorite store is Sammy Soap in Kirkwood, and online, here are a few of my favorite things….

Phlur not only smells great but is clean, too.  It’s free from paragons and all that other stuff we don’t want. This sampler kit allows you to try several fragrances before you commit to just one. See below for link.

Kate Spade monogram necklace   There’s no other like you.  You’re definitely one in a million and what a better way to remind yourself than this sweet necklace from Kate Spade. See below for link.

Burt’s Bees classic gift A sampler pack of non-toxic products that are within budget and a great way to save the bees. See below for link.

Spanx faux leather leggings  You’ll definitely love the way these leggings make you look.  Feel great on your special day. See below for link but be sure to check the size.

Mate tea  The best of both tea and coffee. See below for link.

Pop Top bag  A fun, unique clutch for a unique woman. See below for link.

Kimono robe  There’s no better way to spoil yourself than a beautiful robe. See below for link. Be sure to check sizing, etc.

Tealyra glass tea kettle  Keep the tea boiling all day long.  It’s stylish, unique and useful for serving one or a group. See below for link.

Sun’s tea clear glass tea/coffee set  It’s time to bring back the saucer.  See below for link.

8.  Send yourself flowers.  Or pick them up.  It’s your treat.  Make it one large bouquet or several small ones throughout the house.  Maybe even throw in a few helium balloons.

9.  Drink.  Don’t over do it but definitely say yes to the Mimosa at breakfast, wine at lunch and the 5 o’clock cocktail.  Maybe even try creating your own speciality drink for your special day.

10. Eat the cake. All of it, if you like.  Make it yourself or find a local bakery and order the cake they’re known for and enjoy it.  All of it. 

11.  Meditation Retreat.  Last but not least, take a get-away just for you.  Relax and revive with a mediation week-end.  Timber Creek Retreat House in Kansas City, MO is just the ticket.  



Colors

Slate blue and orange.  It seems lately these two colors are everywhere I turn.  Following me.  Haunting me.  They’re in every sunset.  Every sunrise.  They’re what I see when I close my eyes.  I love the cool, calmness of the blue against the vivid, confidence of orange.  Contrasting yet complementing each other.  Each providing what the other cannot, yet neither taking anything.  Are they suppose to inspire me?  Or just beautify my day?  Am I the only one who gives this thought?  

Feel free to leave your thoughts below.

Find the Good

Four surgeries in thirteen months.  Five months of doing little, very little.  Four months at half-speed.  It’s been a long, long year.  Needless to say, art production stalled.  However, in my months of downtime, I realized my dreams didn’t have to stall.  I simply had to find a way to use my time differently.  I needed to reposition myself.  Not a fun task.

Marketing.  I hadn’t focused on marketing in years but now it was time.  it was time to begin the social media ordeal.  Not a fun task but a task I could do while lying in bed.  Blogging began.  Pushing my prints began, and selling my originals online got off the ground.

Sometimes taking a break either by choice or by force to re-examine our path is the best way to proceed.  Find the good in your circumstance and grow through it.  There is blessing in the valley.

For Your Listening Pleasure

A Change is Gonna Come

Until You Come Back to Man

I Never Loved a Man the Way that I Love You

Do Right Woman Do Right Man

Dr. Feelgood

You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman

Since You’ve Been Gone

Spanish Harlem

Blue Wintery Day Playlist

Give Me My Blues-Albert Collins 

Tangled Up in Blue-Dylan

Smokin’ Gun Blues-Robert Cray 

Folsom Prison Blues-Johnny Cash

Firsco Blues-John Lee Hooker

Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue-Crystal Gayle

Brown Eyed Blues-Ben Harper

Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain-Willie Nelson

Talkin’ Blues-Bob Marley

I got the Blues-Joss Stone

My Melody Gardot Playlist

Your Heart is Black

Who Will Comfort Me

Our Love is Easy

Lover Undercover

Quiet Fire

My One and Only Thrill

Same to You

He’s a Tramp

Discipline Takes Creativity

Painted all morning.  Getting closer but the finish line keeps moving.  I’m tired.  I’m hungry.  I need a break.  But I really need to finish.  I can’t take a break.  Big sigh.

Food.  I need food.  I must have food.  My shoulder is screaming.  So, I take a break.  From painting that is.  I’ll take a working lunch.  My website needs updating.  Marketing is a must.  Photos.  Blah.  Blah.  Blah.  Ugh.  

As I walk to the kitchen, I remember the laundry and a package that needs to be mailed.  Errands.  Another big sigh.  

Discipline.  When you work out of your house, discipline is a necessity.  Most days, I have it.  I have it to spare.  Today is not most days.  

So, today, I leave.  Laptop in tow, to rid myself of distractions.  To eat.  To sit elsewhere.  Amongst people.  Human contact.  Sort of.  The introvert trying to be an extrovert.  

Bourbon salmon.  Rice.  Asparagus.  My favorite.  All prepared by my favorite cook, Brandon 3000.  My stomach takes delight.  My shoulder has quieted.  My blog is finished.  My time has been used wisely.  

Discipline.  Sometimes it, too, takes creativity.  

Fear. Faith. Trust.

Fear.  No one is without it.  Fear.  It’s instinctive.  It keeps us safe but it is also what keeps us stuck.  It’s answering the What If question without hope; without faith; without trust. 

As artists, it’s the fear of rejection.  It’s the fear of criticism.  It’s the fear of exposing ourselves.  It will happen.  Rejection and criticism come with the territory.  And exposing who we are is just part of it.  So, as I said earlier, in order to overcome the fear, you’re going to have to learn to ignore the negative.

In order to ignore and overcome, faith and trust are needed.  Faith that you have what it takes to achieve the success you have defined for yourself, and trust that you can handle the consequences until you do.  It could take time.  

Unfortunately, the timeline to success is not completely within your control.  But you can control, what you do with your time.  Begin to focus on what you do have control over…improving your skills, marketing, networking, finances.

A great technique in gaining faith and trust is the What If test.  Ask yourself what you are afraid of.  Then ask yourself what you would do should that happen?  Then repeat the process until you realize you can handle the outcome, then step out into that fear.

It’s just like anything else.  With each step you take toward that fear, your confidence grows.  Faith grows. Faith in knowing that you know what you’re doing by following your path.  Faith that you will be able to navigate that path.  Faith that you will be ok.  And with faith comes trust.  Faith will trump fear.

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. - Nelson Mandela

There's Something There

It’s 3:00am.  A full hour before my alarm is set to go off.  Sirens blare outside.  I am awake.  The coyotes begin to howl.  Not one or two, but a whole pack.  They can’t be but more than 100 feet away.  I crawl out of bed and stumble my way to the open window, hoping to catch a glimpse.

Nothing.  I see nothing.  Pure blackness.  I walk downstairs, make some coffee, and take it outside to the deck.  Still, I see nothing.  The howling has silenced. 

I hear the drip of our fountain down below and smell the night air, but I see nothing; yet, I know something is out there.  Watching me.  Waiting.  

Our raccoon population has dwindled over the past couple of weeks.  Now, I know why.  I grow concerned for our feral cats, Twigs and Flops.  They could be in trouble or in their usual spots, guarding the landing for all I know.  I can’t see the landing.  

My mind drifts.  Something is there.  I begin thinking about today, my future.  Short term.  Long term.  What am I going to write?  What am I going to paint?  I don’t know.  

Yet something is there.  I know it.  I just can't see it on the paper.  I can’t visualize it on the canvas.  I can’t see the landing.  Yet, something is there.  I know it.  I feel it.  I look up.  Day is breaking.  It’s Twigs and Flops.  They are in their usual places, guarding the landing, as if they are two sphinx guarding their pharaoh’s soul.  They were there the whole time, as was my blog.

Now, it’s time to go see what’s on that canvas.  Something’s there.

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving.  Recently, I read a story about man who decided to give thanks all day long, listing something new every time.  No repeats.  Since he was a biologist, he was able to give thanks for every bone, artery, muscle, etc.  

Giving Thanks.  Fifteen months ago, a co-worker expressed her gratitude for chemo.  She gave thanks for it as a life saver, praising its benefits, never mentioning a word about its negative side effects.  

November 22, 2018. I’m grateful for this day.  This day to give thanks.  I’m grateful for the ability to give thanks all day, and I’m grateful for the next 364 days to do it again and again.

Let's Here it for the Girls

Ain’t No Sunshine When He’s Gone-Eva Cassidy 

Misty-Sarah Vaughan

Sunday Kinda Love-Etta James

Smooth Operator-Sade

Summertime-Janis Joplin

Feeling Good-Nina Simone

Jolene-Miley Cyrus

Back to Black-Amy Winehouse

Super Duper Love-Joss Stone

Breakdown Mode-Iyeoka

Nah neh nah-Vaya Con Dias

Today, I Play...

How Jr Got HIs Head Put Out-JJ Grey and Mofro

Stripes-Brandy Clark

Two More Bottles of Wine-Delbert McClinton

Valery-Amy Winehouse

Things Have Changed-Dylan

Hippies & Cowboys-Cody Jinks

Bourbon in Your Eyes-Devil Doll

Casanova-Eric Lindell

I Ain’t Drunk-Albert Collins

La Grange-ZZ Top

Some Kind of Ride-Grace Potter

Peace, Love, and Happiness-GL Special Sauce

Girl Next Door-Brandy Clark

Random Thoughts

As I sat to write my next blog, I automatically turned on my favorite Pandora Station and instantly thought to myself, "Why music?"  If you've read my other blogs, you'll know music does move me.  I suspect it moves most in some way or another.  

But why not silence?  Silence is good.  Perhaps tomorrow I will write in silence.  Today, it's Nina Simone and a blog about random thoughts.

My Crazy Playlist

You Man Be Right. I May Be Crazy.-Billy Joel         

Same Kind Of Crazy-Delbert McClinton

Crazy He Calls Me-Billie Holiday

Crazy Ain’t Original-Sheryl Crow

World Gone Crazy-Doobie Brothers

Crazy-Patsy Cline

Miss You Like Crazy-Natalie Cole

Crazy Love-Van Morrison

99 Shades of Crazy-JJ Gray & Mofro

Still Crazy After All These Years-Paul Simon

My Kind of Crazy-Brantley Gilbert

I’ve Always Been Crazy-Waylon Jennings

JJ Grey & Mofro

Here comes the soul of artsouldblog.  Recently, my brother gifted me with a StubHub gift card that I used to see JJ Grey and Mofro.  I’ve listened to his music for some time now but for whatever the reason, never took the time to see him in person.  My mistake.  

Seeing him in person was an experience I find hard to describe.  It was an experience I wasn’t expecting.  And an experience I won't forget.  

As the crowd waited in anticipation, I fumbled through my purse, checked my iphone, laughed at a few dumb jokes my husband was cracking.  The other members of his band lightly began.  I continued fumbling.  That is, until I heard what I can only describe as a train in the distance getting closer and closer.  I looked up to see none other than JJ himself entering from backstage playing his harmonica in the most soul pressing way.  I was hooked.  Snatched up like a hobo for the next hour and a half.  I was on his journey through his swamp and loved every minute of it.  

Concerts will never be the same.  

Click on the links below to buy his music and promo items.

Follow Your Heart

It’s the road less traveled.  The road filled with more pot holes, detours, and hard lessons learned than I ever imagined.  Yet, there’s no other road I would have preferred to go down.  If you chose this road to travel, you better learn to believe in yourSelf.  Self-doubt is going to come and it’s going to be egged on by those pot holes, detours, and sometimes people you’d least expect.  

But hear this.  Know this.  All those obstacles, and naysayers are there to help.  The sooner you learn that, the sooner you can put them to use.  So, take some time to center yourSelf and turn a negative into a positive.  Meditation has been an extremely useful tool to me for doing just that.  Many books on this topic exist.  You can find them in just about everything from Eastern Philosophy to self-help psychology, and don’t forget, even Christ meditated.  

My current book of choice is Aware, by Dan Siegel.  Here’s a little info on it….

“Dan Siegel, who gave us a succinct and clear definition of mind, now explores the awareness that knows that mind. Read this book if you want true freedom and spontaneous creativity.”—Deepak Chopra, MD

About the Author

Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., is clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine, founding codirector of the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center, and executive director of the Mindsight Institute. He is also coauthor of Parenting from the Inside Out, The Whole-Brain Child, and Mindsight and the proud father of two children in their twenties.

Now, dig in; dig deep; and come out fighting with a smile.

Links to the book and meditation incense are below. Both are excellent aids to starting or furthering your mediation practice. Stop trying to figure it out on your own. Make it easy on yourself and buy the book.

Focus. Trust. Peace.

Comments are welcome.