I'm not sappy but...

Today, I’m grateful for my husband.  God could not have brought me a better match.  Since I lack sap, Freddie Mercury will have to do.

Ooh, you make me live

Whatever this world can give to me

It's you you're all I see

Ooh, you make me live now honey

Ooh, you make me live

Oh, you're the best friend that I ever had

I've been with you such a long time

You're my sunshine and I want you to know

That my feelings are true

I really love you

Oh, you're my best friend

Ooh, you make me live

Ooh, I've been wandering 'round

But I still come back to you

In rain or shine

You've stood by me girl

I'm happy at home

You're my best friend

Ooh, you make me live

Whenever this world is cruel to me

I got you to help me forgive

Ooh, you make me live now honey

Ooh, you make me live

You're the first one

When things turn out bad

You know I’ll never be lonely

You’re my only one

And I love the things

I really love the things that you do

You’re my best friend

The Gratitude Groove

Kind and Generous - Natalie Merchant

Thank You - Sly & The Family Stone

Feeling Good - Nina Simone

Gratitude - Earth, Wind & Fire

Be Thankful - Natalie Cole

Look Where He Brought Me From - Blind Boys of Alabama

Everything Gonna Be Alright - Kenny Chesney

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New show...

Join me and whole lot of other people November 9 at Art St. Louis Gallery, 1223 Pine St., St. Louis, MO, 5:00-7:00. Show runs through December, in case you want to go it alone!

36X24X1/5 Brighter Days  Mixed Media

36X24X1/5 Brighter Days

Mixed Media

Busy, busy, busy...

Last week was incredibly busy. It’s good to be back in the groove. For those of you who didn’t get to hear my talk or make it to Wildwood, please come see my work on November 9th at Art St. Louis, 1223 Pine. November 9th is the show opening but work will be up through December. You can stop by anytime.

Until then, I’m back in the studio cranking out more work, trying new things, and thinking about making this blog better. As always, comments are welcome.

-with focus, trust and peace.

My Orange Playlist...what can I say? It's October.

Orange County Girl-Gwen Stefani

Orange Colored Sky-Nat King Cole

Orange Driver-J. Giles Band

Orange Blossoms-JJ Grey & Mofro

The Orange Juice Song-Deep Purple

Orange Blossom Lane-Glen Miller

Orange Ain’t My Color-Brandy Clark

The End of Summer

Morning coffee on the deck is coming to an end.  I’m not much for Winter.  Cold days and shut up windows are not my thing.  

However, I do love a fire and the warmth of a fuzzy sweater.  I love entertaining, decorating, and food.  The laugh from a good joke, a scary movie and people who go all out for Halloween.

Pumpkin soup and pumpkin pie.  Boots…of all heights and all purposes.  Scarves.  Hats and mittens.  Parkas, jackets, Carhartt overalls.  

Is this a list of my favorite things?  Or am I already counting my blessings?  A little of both.  There is always good with the bad.  Something to be grateful for in the midst of a season that’s not my thing.

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Moving into Breast Cancer Awareness month...

We’re leaving September and moving into October…Breast Cancer Awareness Month. What I have to say, Kenny Chesney and David Lee Murphy already said it better. “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright.”

She rattled the ice in my plastic cup
I said "yes m'am", fill her up
Tell me something good that I don't know
'Cause this world's been kicking my behind
Life ain't been a friend of mine
Lately I've been feeling kinda low

And she looked back over her shoulder
Pointed at the sign hanging up on the wall
It said

Everything's gonna be alright
Everything's gonna be alright
And nobody's gotta worry 'bout nothing
Don't go hittin' that panic button
It ain't worth spilling your drink
Everything's gonna be alright
Alright, alright

So I nodded my head and said, "that's for sure"
Dropped a few bucks in the mason jar
Felt those good old neon vibes on me
And whatever monkey that was on my back
He jumped off just like that
Right into the deep blue sea

And I looked back over her shoulder
Thinking 'bout the sign hanging up on the wall
That said

Everything's gonna be alright
Everything's gonna be alright
Nobody's gotta worry 'bout nothing
Don't go hitting that panic button
It ain't near as bad as you think
Everything's gonna be alright
Alright, alright

There ain't no doubt it's gonna work out
Come on, sing it with me
There ain't no doubt it's gonna work out
Come on and sing it with me

Everything's gonna be alright
Everything's gonna be alright
And nobody's gotta worry 'bout nothing
Don't go hitting that panic button
It ain't near as bad as you think
Everything's gonna be alright
Alright (is gonna be alright), alright (is gonna be alright)
Everything's gonna be alright
Alright (is gonna be alright), alright (is gonna be alright)
(Everything's gonna be alright)
(Is gonna be alright, is gonna be alright)
(Everything's gonna be alright)
(Is gonna be alright, is gonna be alright)

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Choose Time

Life is short.  For some, it’s even shorter.  No one knows when they will take their last breath.  Say their last, “Hello.”  Kiss their last kiss.  Therefore, it’s important not to waste your time.  Decide what you want in life and go after it.  Whatever it is.  Art, education, family.

You have to choose how you spend your time.  Yes.  It’s a choice.  If you are spending too much time on something, anything, anyone that is not helping you achieve your ideal life, stop.  Just stop.  I know.  I know it’s not that easy.  We all have obligations.  Whether it’s children, non-dream jobs to pay the bills, spouses that take our time.  We love them.  They need us.  We need them.  I’m not asking anyone to take time from the necessary joys.  It’s the time in between.  

Take inventory of where your time goes.  Successful people are constantly looking for ways to improve not just their businesses but their talents and selves as well.  If you like watching television, maybe you could substitute the time spent in front of the boob tube with podcasts, Ted talks, youtube videos on subjects that pertain to your goals and further your talents.  

If you can’t cut your favorite show, try pulling double duty.  Instead of zoning out, perhaps stretching during commercials.  Recently, I’ve started knitting scarves for Operation Gratitude while watching our nightly shows or weekly streamed movie.  For me, it’s a way to quiet my mind, use the time wisely, and give back to those who give to me.  Operation Gratitude is a non-profit organization that provides military soldiers with items they need.  Hand-knitted scarves and hats are just some of those items.  

Spending too much time worrying?  Get outside.  Exercise.  Learn to let go.  Is there something specific that triggers your fears?  Other people perhaps?  Stop giving them your time.  If you can’t, limit their time with you.  Have the courage to set boundaries.  You may upset a few people, but better them than you.  

Get organized.  Plan you day and stick to it.  Creatives are known to use the excuse, “I can’t force creativity.  It comes when it comes.”  I believe this to be true to a certain extent.  However, the great musicians and writers often times remove themselves from distractions for months until the next masterpiece emerges, and it does.  It always does.  We may not have months but we can set aside an hour or two a day.  If the creativity begins to flow and you don’t want to stop, that’s fine.  If you have planned accordingly, you will be able to continue for awhile longer.  

Life it too valuable to waste.  Don’t waste it on anything, or anyone. 

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Choose Winners

“Lend me an ear and I’ll sing you a song….”

Choices.  Choices.  Choices.  I think about them everyday.  Everyday.  Today, it’s about friendship.  For someone who feels as though they fit in everywhere and nowhere at all, I’ve had some pretty good people enter my life.  A whole lot of wolves in sheep’s clothing, too.  

With whom you spend your time is a choice.  An important choice.  A study in the Journal of Consumer Research found friends can bond together by providing support for good or bad.  Unconsciously, you become like them through this bond.  

Friends can encourage you to stick to your goals or they can tempt you to procrastinate, or worse.  Regardless of their reasons, the latter I wouldn’t call friends, and I’ve had a few.  Unfortunately, the determination is not always cut and dry.  It may take awhile, especially if you are too trusting.  That’s always been my downfall.

Friends should celebrate your victories, and inspire you to reach higher.  They should respect you and what you do.  They should be excited about your dreams.  They should be people you can learn from.  They should be be driven to succeed.  

There’s an old saying…If you hang out with 9 losers, you’ll become the tenth.  Choose wisely.  

“…I’ll get by with a little help from my friends.”

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Choose Expectancy...Still Learning

Recently, I read a story about a teacher who wrote down all the negative things occurring in her students’ lives.  She crumpled them up, and hung them over the door as a reminder to be kind to others for we don’t know what they are going through.  

Don’t get me wrong.  I believe in being kind.  However, all I saw was a bag of doom and gloom hanging overhead, and I thought to myself, “What a depressing way to start the day.”  A constant reminder of the negativities of life.  Do we really have to remind ourselves of others’ misfortunes to be kind?  

For every difficulty, there is something positive to be learned.  Strength, courage, opportunities come from adversity.  The old saying “Necessity is the mother of invention.” is true.  

Perhaps, if we took those negative things listed in the bag of doom and gloom and found the positive in those situations we would all be a little happier.   We would begin to expect what can be done in spite of our circumstances.  

“What you think, feel and do is what you see, hear and attract.”-James Altucher

What you believe about yourself has lasting effects on your future.  Your future and all it entails.  Your health, your income, your overall success in life, are based entirely on what you think will happen.  If we start seeing what our circumstances have to offer us, we stop the limitations.  

Start expecting more.  Expect the positive.  As an artist, though this applies to everyone, expect the day to go smoothly.  Expect the talent to come.  Expect you can.

“One will never get more than he thinks he can.”-Bruce Lee

Turn the difficulty into an opportunity.  Fill the bag with blessings and hang that overhead.  Expect to be blessed when you enter the room and blessed when you leave.  

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Choose Speech, today's that day

Here we go again.  The topic of moving to an abundant mentality and the choices you make to get there.  Have you ever heard the saying, “The words you speak become the house you live in.”?  Well, there’s truth to that.  Studies have proven that your subconscious mind interprets what it hears literally.  In other words, your mind and body will follow where your words lead.  

Being an artist, I am constantly bombarded with negativity from others.  From criticism regarding the artwork itself, to ridiculing my career choice, to all out negative judgements about my intelligence and net worth.  Just this weekend, I was subjected to: “There’s no money in that.”  “Sounds like a lot of work.  It wouldn’t be worth it.”  “That won’t sell here in St. Louis.”  Blah.  Blah.  Blah.  Of course, there were many people complementing me on my work, talent and courage, too. 

However, none of the positive complements can I quote verbatim.  That’s because positive and negative memories are handled by different parts of the brain.  Everyone’s brain.  Artist.  Accountant.  Athlete.  A negative memory takes up more space; therefore, we remember the negative more than the positive.

Knowing that our minds naturally gravitate toward the negative and that our lives will follow, it is important to combat the negative, no matter where it comes from, with positive thoughts and positive speech.  Positive language about you, your journey, your dreams help you to rise.  Rise to the challenges of life.  Rise to meet your dreams.  Just plain rise.  Negative language, as one would deduce, works exactly in the opposite way.

Since all brains work the same, the optimist has either learned positive self-talk along the way or according to some studies was born that way.  The optimist will distance herself from negative life situations and tend to congratulate herself on positive life occurrences.  Pessimists will dismiss their positive life occurrences as dumb luck, diminishing their efforts.  Pessimists love being the victim.  Optimists love being the victor.  

Self-talk, whether it comes out of your mouth or it stays in your head…affects your perspective.  Regardless of genetics, it is possible to move from being the victim to being the victor.  Positive self-speech can hep you push toward becoming the victor.  It’s a choice.  It takes work but it will be worth it.  There’s money in it. 

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Today's Playlist

Three More Days-Ray LaMontagne

The Wrong Side-JJ Grey & Mofro

Missing My Baby-G Love

Tupelo Honey-Van Morrison

Street Corner Preacher-Amos Lee

You Are The Best Thing-Ray LaMontagne

Solid Simple Thing-Tad Benoit

Had My Reasons-Anders Osborne


Thursdays.  Priority number 1.  Trap that darn cat.  Five years of Thursdays.  Roughly 260 attempts.  Ok. So, that’s a lie. Some days it’s too rainy, or too snowy, or just too cold.  Some days, he is a no show.  As of late, it’s been a constant battle with raccoons.  Yet, I swear by persistence.

Today.  I set the trap but he is wise.  He heard the rattle of the cage and fled.  He has not returned.  Yet, I sit…watching, waiting, guarding.  The last thing I want is to trap a raccoon instead of a cat.  They can be nasty.  So far, I’ve been lucky when it comes to raccoons.  They have been nothing but sweet.  Perhaps sneaky but sweet.

Once, nearly 20 years ago, a couple of friends and I spent a week camping our way up the West coast.  Day 4, we arrived at camp.  The Redwoods.  Midnight.  We unloaded; then realized, we were out of firewood.  I chose to stay behind while my friends drove back to the gate for timber.  It seemed wise at the time.

It was dark.  Really dark.  The forest was so dense that it blocked out the light of the moon.  I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face.  Litterally.  Not wanting to drain the battery from the flashlight, there I sat in the darkness.  Cross-legged.  On the picnic table.  

It’s funny what happens when you can’t see.  It’s true…your other senses do kick in.  I strongly sensed I was being watched.  I could feel it was close…whatever it was.  I listened.  I strained to hear.  Movement.  Breathing.  Anything.  I got nothing.  

I grabbed the flashlight.  My senses were correct.  There they were.  Eight sets of eyes belonging to eight raccoons.  I was completely surrounded.  All eight on their hind legs.  All about four feet away.  All about three feet tall.  Staring.  Just staring.

Not knowing if spooking them would cause them to flea or attack, I chose to turn the flashlight back off and sit.  So far, it had worked.  Seemed logical at the time.  So, there I sat.  In the dark.  Quietly.  Motionless.  After about five minutes, I checked again.  And there they were.  All eight.  Still in the same position.  Same stance.  Same stare.  Apparently, we think alike.

So, logically, I turned the flash light off again and began the wait.  Shortly thereafter, my friends returned.  

Today, I wait again.  Guarding my trap from raccoons.  Yet, this time I wait on a stray.  A very wise stray.  Persistence will pay off.  I will win.  

Who's at the Farmer's Market?

St. Louis Farmer’s Market and Art Fair

It’s Saturday.  It’s early.  8:30am.  I’m standing in line at SudAmerica waiting to order.  It’s a beautiful morning.  Lake St. Louis Farmer’s Market and Art Fair.  It’s already packed.  I grab my empanada and chicha morada, and wander through the fair.  Exploring.

Veggies.  Lots of veggies.  It is a farmer’s market after all.  Hand-made aprons.  Soaps.  Even dog treats.  I wish I had a dog.  I wish I knew a dog.

A booth of photography.  I must see.  One photo in particular catches my eye.  “Early Morning Ride.”  The vivid colors of the hot air balloon harness my attention.  Not an easy feat.  I have a hard time looking away.  (See the photo below and you’ll understand.)

I break my gaze to chat with the artist.  Kent Smith.  He, like all the vendors here, is local.  Friendly guy.  Considers his art a hobby, as he is retired.  I say my adieus.  Move on.

Grass fed beef.  I smell coffee.  As I’m still savoring my chicha mirada, I pass on the coffee.  That was quite possibly one of the best empandas I’ve ever had.  I see a sign that reads, “Organic.”  I make a quick right.  Tomatoes.  I must have some tomatoes.  Maple syrup.  Jam.  Cherry Vanilla to be exact.  All Hart Beet Farm produced.  Hart Beet Farm, outside of Eolia, Mo, doesn’t just grow organic, sustainable food but they also collect wild fruits, mushrooms and maple syrups.  Obviously, they also make their own interesting, unique flavored jams, as well.  Check out hartbeetfarm.com for more information.  

For now, I must move on.  Goose Poop.  I can’t resist.  It’s Grandpa Spencer’s Original Gourmet Mustard.  It’s a salsa.  It’s a mustard.  Kind of.  Definitely delicious.  I buy two.  And you can, too.  They are available at Ellbee’s General Store in Wentzville or on mustardking.me.  Check it out.  

From a few “doors” down, the smell of wood-fired pizza fills the air.  Too bad I had an empanada.  Nope.  That’s a lie.  I really liked that empanada.

So, let’s see.  I’ve successfully purchased 5 tomatoes, a bottle of syrup, a jar of jam, and two containers of Goose Poop.  What else?  Ooooh.  Cutting boards.  I’m not in need of any at this time.  However, these are gorgeous, and they make great gifts.  Iris Woodworks.  I grab a card.  Iris Woodworks make their cutting boards from exotic woods.  The combinations of wood grains and stains are truly beautiful.  Find them on Facebook…Iris Woodworks.

Oh, no.  I’m out of chicha morada.  I meander back to SudAmerica.  A South American, mostly Peruvian, bakery.  They’re here every week.  I’m tempted to get another empanada but I have lunch scheduled with friends at BC Kitchen.  For now, the chicha morada will suffice.  

With my chicha morada in hand, I wander back through the fair.  I hear “Celebrate” coming from my right and a little gospel music coming from my left.  It’s still early.  Still Saturday.  It’s going to be a beautiful day.

Lake St. Louis Farmer’s Market and Art Fair happens ever Saturday 8:00-12:00, approximately April through October, at the Meadows (20 Meadows Circle Dr.) in Lake St. Louis.  

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Kent Smith, KC Photography  “Early Morning Ride” Framed print 20X16”  Permission to by Kent Smith

Kent Smith, KC Photography

“Early Morning Ride” Framed print 20X16”

Permission to by Kent Smith

photo by Natalie Avondet; permission to print by Kent Smith, artist

photo by Natalie Avondet; permission to print by Kent Smith, artist

photo by Natalie Avondet

photo by Natalie Avondet

The Pulitizer Arts Foundation's New Exhibit

Striking Power: Iconoclasm in Ancient Egypt

Rarely do I pass on Egyptian exhibits.  I have no plans of missing it today.  I’m not at home; so, I journey to the Pulitzer Arts Foundation along a different path than usual.  Heading South or what I think is South on what I think is Spring St., I glance to my left.  I catch a glimpse of a shell of a church.  Interested, I round the block.  The Pulitzer can wait.  

I park.  Step out of the car, cross the road and examine this one-time church up close.  No roof.  No windows.  No doors.  All that remains are the block walls, now covered in ivy, and a sign that reads, “National Memorial Church of God in Christ.”  I wonder what happened here.  Did it crumble in decay?  Did it burn down?  Was it burned down?  The walls have been braced with steel beams.  Someone or someones care deeply about these ruins. 

Peering in, I see it has been tagged with graffiti.  Someone else’s effort to claim it as their own.  Leave their legacy.  

Master, why did you tolerate his insults? You should have challenged him to a fight? 

I must google this church when I get back home, because now, I must do what I set out to do.  

Get to the Pulitzer.  I walk around the corner and across the street.  Enter.  Claim my brochure and head down the hall.  

I see four artifacts.  No descriptions on any of them.  I realize I might want to read my brochure.  I find a seat.  I’ll paraphrase.  

“The exhibit features forty statues and reliefs…from the 25th century BCE to the first century CE…The ancient Egyptian religion taught that statues and reliefs in human form could be activated through rituals to host the spirit of a deity or a deceased person…a means for spiritual forces to act in this world.  This quality…established [the objects] as targets by those who viewed their power as a threat.”  

Power?  They held power?  Interesting.  I’m having a flashback to a Gomer Pyle episode.  Seriously, now?  Why am I thinking about Gomer Pyle.  Really?  Yes.  Really.  I’m bringing up Gomer Pyle: USMC Episode #15 in a big way.  Let me explain.  In this episode, Gomer has difficulty leading his platoon until he is given his grandpa’s lucky charm.  Unbeknownst to Gomer, during the middle of his drill, the charm falls to the ground.  He, however, continues to lead his platoon flawlessly.  In the end, Gomer learns the charm only held power because he believed it did.  The true power was in his own mind.  

Back to the brochure…Power.  Hmmm.  The things that make you go hmmm.  As I said, interesting.  “This exhibition examines specific moments when clashes between competing leaders, religions, and ideologies resulted in iconoclasm-the intentional damage to, and the destruction of sacred and political images.”

Statue #1 Hatshepsut

A former female Egyptian ruler.  Her forehead is damaged.  It once held an image of a snake that was intended to protect this monarch from her enemies.  She has been decapitated and her nose has been destroyed.  The ancient Egyptians believed that burning incense under the nose of these statues awakened the spirit inside.  Destroying the nose of the statue would prevent the spirit from breathing, and thus, awakening.

This statue was apparently destroyed by Hatshepsut’s successor.  In order to keep her spirit from returning and regaining power, her successor attacked the symbol of protection and then, suffocated the statue.  He was Egyptian and therefore, he, too, would have believed in the mystical powers of these statues.

Statue #12  Isis

A statue of the Egyptian goddess, Isis.  Per the brochure, “Christians who sought to abolish all polytheistic religions destroyed many ritual objects.”  Correct.  Christians didn’t, nor do they now, believe in multiple gods.  Quoting the brochure again…the statue’s head and feet have been removed…”signs of an attempt by Christians to render the statue powerless.”

“Christians widely attacked ancient Egyptian statues and reliefs, motivated by a deep fear of the old gods.”  Hmmm.  Interesting.  I’m reminded of Isaiah 45:18-21.  The things that make you go hmmm.  I don’t know what these early Christians were thinking.  

However, if I were in a battle with another, my first goal would be to destroy the other's source of power.  If their power was an arsenal of weapons, a cobra on the forehead or rabbit’s foot, that’s what I’d go after.  I’d cut the head off the snake.  I might fear heavy artillery but never a talisman.  The charm holds no power to the non-believer.  Then I, too, would leave it as a reminder to the believer that their power is gone.  But that’s just me.  Maybe I’m a girl who grew up watching too much Gomer Pyle and reading too much Sun Tzu.  Now, that’s something that’s really going to make you go hmmm.

If someone brings you a gift and you don’t take it, to whom does it belong?  The one who offered it, of course.

Statue #37  Fragmented Triad of Memkaura, Hathor and Nome god

“The statue was found in an area of Memkaura’s temple accessible during the Islamic Period when it may have been reduced to a rectangular shape by Muslim Egyptians.”

After Muslims conquered Egypt in the 7th Century, long after the Christian invasion, the remains of the statues and reliefs were then treated as raw materials.  They were repurposed as building blocks.  The reuse of these statues is not considered iconoclasm because the intention had nothing to do with destroying their power.  As stated, the statues and thereby their power, real or in the minds of the Egyptians, had already been destroyed.  There was no need to re-destroy it.

I end my tour, and at the conclusion of my brochure, I come to a section entitled, What are the origins of ancient Egyptian culture?  Wanting to know more, I continue to read.  Egyptians were a thriving African people who created a distinct civilization.  I’d say.  They amassed a huge wealth, built those massive pyramids, and survived over four thousand years.  “Within the relatively inclusive ancient society, being Egyptian meant practicing the culture’s religion, speaking its language, and submitting to the king.”  So, if you adopted their culture, you were considered Egyptian.  “Yet, at the same time, people from civilizations that existed outside geographical bounds of Egypt…were considered foreigners.”  Hmmm.  That makes it sound like everyone lived happily side by side.  Did they?  How did they gain their wealth?  And just how did they build those pyramids?  Things that make you go hmmm.

As I drive away, I circle back by the National Memorial Church of God in Christ.  Its remains are simply beautiful.  Perhaps even more beautiful.  Especially the way the light shines through the circular glassless window.  I recall it’s tagging.  The beat goes on, my friends.  The beat goes on.

It’s the same with envy and insults:  if you refuse to accept them, they belong to the one who offered them.

The things that make you go hmmm.  


My Day as an Artist

Coffee.  It’s 4:30am.  Coffee.  My husband is leaving at 6:00 for a golf tournament.  I get the day to myself.  A full day of uninterrupted work.  Sort of.  You’ll just see how uninterrupted my day will be.

Coffee.  My second cup.  Devotion done.  Time for meditation. Positive thoughts.  Breakfast.

5:30.  Shower.

6:00.  He’s out the door.  I’m on my own.  Do I get a third cup?  No.  Not today.  At least not now.  First things first.  Bossa Nova on the Bose.  A rough sketch.

It’s now 7:00.  Where did that hour go?  Positive thoughts.  Positive vibes.  Ahh.  “The Girl from Impanema.”  I wonder What she looked like?  Pretty sure she doesn’t look anything like this sketch ‘cause it’s a he.  

I stop to change the music.  I’m just going to hit shuffle.  Stretch my back.  Check my phone.  It’s time for Kombucha.

Should I start a load of laundry?  Sure.  Up the stairs.  Whites.  Now, down two flights.  Laundry is in.  I climb back up two flights.  

7:30.  Finally, I get to paint.

Wow.  It’s noon.  Have I really been painting that long?  What song is this?  Food.  I need food.  Laundry.  Crap.  I forgot to put it in the dryer.  Down two flights.  Dryer is on.  Up the stairs.  I grab some water, a protein shake and some strawberries.  I check my email.  Facebook.  That’s a hilarious cat video.  Social media.  Blogging.  I hate it.  I always feel misunderstood.  Nothing is ever interpreted how I mean it.  Come on.  Positive thoughts.  Take your own advice.

1:00.  Back to work.  That looks like crap.  What was I thinking with those colors?  COME ON.  Positive thoughts.  I step back.  Tilt my head.  Take a deep breath.  Start again.  Step back again.  Ugh.  Is that the door?

That’s my husband.  It’s 3:00pm.  Did I get anything done?  Sigh.  

As I wash out my brush, I come back to the positive thoughts knowing it will all come together.  It’s not where I want it to be today but tomorrow.  In the words of Nina Simone, “It’s a new dawn.  It’s a new day.”

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Choose Your Thoughts

Thoughts.  We have them all the time.  Some good.  Some bad.  For me…some just plain weird.  Seriously.  However, I’ll take weird over negative any day.  My weird thoughts always make me laugh and that’s way better.

Good thoughts.  Well.  For some, it’s just not that easy.  It takes work.  Especially, if you are unfortunate to have grown up in a negative household or facing one negative event after another.  Life can seem unfair at times. 

However, there is always a positive way of looking at something, If you can’t find a positive vantage point, you can always look at the situation as though something negative is being removed and your path is being cleared. 

If you believe in being the Devil’s Advocate, then you, by default, must believe in being an Advocate for God or good.  After all, for every force there is an equal and opposite force.  However, I believe the power of positivity is far superior than negativity.  

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Now at CAM in StL

Per usual, before I exit my car, I adjust the rearview mirror, ask myself…”Which face shall I wear today?”  Lipstick.  Today, I wear lipstick. Pink Rosette.  I apply; exit the car; and head to the museum.  The door is heavy.  I pick through the complimentary brochures, and climb the stairs.

I am alone; though, I can hear a tour guide educate his followers on the floor below.

It’s a handful of photographs by Vashon High Schoolers.  All in a row along one wall.  Beautiful souls caught by the lens of a camera.

The photography on view, this photography, is a partnership between CAM (Contemporary Art Museum) and VHS, led by St. Louis based artist, Tiffany Sutton.  According to the CAM pamphlet, the exhibit is a collection of the selfie composed of “deliberate creative choices.”  The exhibit is an exploration into the “multitude of personalities” each student, each photographer, each and every person has.  In that we can relate.  However, for me to know or compare my experiences to these souls would futile.  I don’t know.  

Yet, here I stand in front of a photo of a girl.  She wears a pinkish head wrap and a military uniform.  “Do you see the child inside?  Do you see my wild side?” I love the contrast between what I assume is her everyday attire or the attire of her heritage and the uniform of America.  Two in one.  I want to know more.  More about her and more about Vashon High School.  I’ll have to research that.  I read the card.  Her name is Kayla Green.  I want to know more about who made the creative choice in this portrait/selfie.  Was it the subject’s, Kayla’s, or the photographer’s, Nicholas Allen’s?

I move on.  It’s another image of Kayla.  Military gear sans head wrap.  The next…Kayla in street clothes only.  She had a read head scarf.  Bright almost neon orange nails.  Very long.  “A woman who hides her fears, holds in her tears?”  Both of these photos were take by Allen as well.  I want to know more of the Kayla I see.  All three of the Kaylas I see.

The next photo I see is one of Allen.  Nick in Blue.  It, however, was taken by Kayla.  The subject has become the photographer.  Nick has cleverly been divided between light and shadow, hinting at contrasting personalities. “Can you see my dreams?  Can you hear my screams?”  Was the creative play on light and dark his decision or hers?  Who chose blue?  I want to know.  

Backing up, I examine all the photos.  All are intriguing.  Creative.  Thought provoking.  I am no longer alone.  A crowd has formed.  My thoughts are now being influenced by what others say; therefore, it’s time to leave.  

I reach for the door.  It is still heavy.  I exit.  Now outside, I turn back.  “I feel as if I am on the outside, lookin in.  Look at me…who do you see?”  I check my reflection in the window.  My lipstick is gone.  “Who do you see?”

“I have many faces.”  Funny the author is unknown though the poem can be found at poetryoflife.com.

ArtReach: Vashon through a Lens, installation view. Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, May 17-August 18, 2019. Photo: Dusty Kessler.

ArtReach: Vashon through a Lens, installation view. Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, May 17-August 18, 2019. Photo: Dusty Kessler.

Jamijna Westbrook,  Donyae , 2019. Digital photograph. Courtesy the artist.

Jamijna Westbrook, Donyae, 2019. Digital photograph. Courtesy the artist.


Recently, I was watching a news anchor I really respect.  She incredibly smart.  Highly successful, and beautiful.  What I found interesting was when she said that when she is ready to turn out the lights, she chooses to do one more thing.  She stops.  Looks around.  Thinks…I’m not done.  I’ve got enough in me to do one more thing.  So, what can I do today to make tomorrow easier?  

The act of choosing.  That’s life.  A series of choices.  Deciding to get out of bed is a choice.  Hitting snooze is a choice.  Jeans or pants?  Breakfast or brunch?  Arrive early or late…Yes.  For the most part, being late is a choice.  

Every choice has a consequence.  Every choice leads to another choice, and another consequence, and eventually your circumstance.  The sooner you realize the choice-consequence-cirumstance connection, the sooner you can begin to move in the direction you want your life to go…but that, too, is a choice.  I don’t mean to sound preachy preachy but it’s true.

For me, I choose how my day will go.  I’m not always correct which then forces me to choose how to respond.  Sometimes, it’s easy.  Sometimes, it’s hard.  Sometimes, I fail.  

Choices.  Choices.  Choices.  There are choices you make without even thinking.  Here are just a few:

  1. You choose your thoughts.

  2. You choose what you say.

  3. You choose expectancy.

  4. You choose how you spend your time.

  5. You choose your friends wisely.

Give that some thought.  Better yet…choose to give that some thought.  

Today, I chose to shower.  I choose to get dressed.  I choose to work…and I feel good.  :) 


The month of April.  Yes.  The whole month of April.  I spent it packing and unpacking.  I’m living on the air in Cincinnati…WKRP.  Seriously, now.  I spent the entire month organizing.  Our place had really gotten out of hand.  After 8 years of accumulating, the house began to suffocate, especially after the last two years.  It’s not a big place to begin with.

Because we have a plan, we need to stay here hopefully only four more years.  Thus, I cannot suffocate.  It’s not good for the living and it’s not good for creativity.  I had to find room, room somewhere other than out in the open, for our stuff.  As much of our stuff as possible.

It took a lot of creativity finding storage and a whole lot of letting go.  Basically, we’ve narrowed down to necessities, sentimental items and anything and everything I can repurpose and reuse.  

It’s been packed down; packed up; and packed tight.  It’s done.  There’s room to grow.  There’s room to create.  Not much, but enough for a few more years.  I can breathe.  I like breathing.