Selway Studios... what's in the name?

with Dad on farm.jpg

My childhood was spent on a farm in Paradise, PA. Perhaps this will sound over the top, but for the most part, it was idyllic. Pretty sure my mom would have argued with that when I was a kid and teen and she had to tell me I had to do some work for my dad on the farm… and come to think of it, I would have too! Now, when I look back on this experience, I have the best memories… including the yucky ones.

The farm was called Selway Farms. My dad and uncle ran it under the partnership, Rohrer Bros. Many years ago, I thought if I ever made some kind of business with my art, I would call it Selway Studios. I even made that my email address. However, when the time came to decide on my website address, I couldn’t decide if I would use that or my name. For a variety of reasons, Selway Studios won out.

Selway Farms sign.JPG

The farm is so much a part of who I am… it’s in my blood. It’s hard to describe being a farmer’s daughter. As I write this, I’m sitting here with my heart bursting with pride and gratitude. Yes, it makes sense that I would keep a part of it with me always, even if it’s just the name.

The name Selway came from a hunting trip my dad took to the Selway Bitterroot area in Idaho and Montana. It’s a gorgeous area and made such an impression on my dad that he decided to use that as a prefix when naming the cows. Yes, we had dairy cows. Each one would be named with Selway first and then their name. For example, Selway Lizzy or Selway Alice.

As kids, my sisters and I had to help with various jobs on the farm. Our least favorite was gathering eggs, even though we were paid to do the job… 5 cents a flat! That doesn’t seem like much, but it does add up. (Insert a little smile here as I remember…) Each flat held 30 eggs. My memory is hazy here, but I know we filled those carts with stacks of flats! I know they have automated egg gathering now, but we sure didn’t. We pushed carts with our hips and filled the flats by hand. It was pretty exciting when our hands were big enough to hold three or even four eggs!

Don’t let this fool you… I only did 4H once and this was it! Glad I had the experience though.

Don’t let this fool you… I only did 4H once and this was it! Glad I had the experience though.

We also helped with milking and field work. Dad and my uncle had 70 head of milking cows. Every other Sunday would be Dad’s Sunday to work. Cows don’t take days off… We usually helped on those Sundays and occasionally other times as well.

Our favorite job was helping in the fields. I remember helping to throw bales of hay off the wagon on to a hay elevator. The hay would then make its way into the hay mow to be stacked and used later. Of course, driving a tractor was the BEST, but then, Dad and my uncle preferred that too, so I don’t remember getting to drive tractor very often.

The job I remember most was gathering eggs… probably because I disliked it so much! My sisters and I were laughing about some of the crazy stuff we did on the farm growing up. One of those was throwing eggs at each other. Ummmm… gross! But really, how many kids get to do that?!

Proud to be a Farmer’s Daughter!

Proud to be a Farmer’s Daughter!

And then there was… falling through hay holes (a hole in the barn floor to throw bales of hay down to be used), falling off of a roof while painting, backing over expensive rye seed and then scrambling to gather it all up somehow (for the record, rye seed is REALLY small!!!), and throwing a piece of wood through a back window of a pickup truck while loading wood.

The crazy thing is I don’t remember a lot of details about my childhood. I just have a warm and fuzzy feeling when I remember it. I feel content and so freaking blessed I got to grow up the way I did.


Click on the image to enlarge it so you can find the hearts!

Not long ago I took a photo of some clouds… I had seen a heart. I put it on my stories on Instagram and asked others if they saw the heart. The replies got me thinking because different people saw different hearts! When I look back now, I actually see four hearts. Depending on how creative you are with your hearts, there may even be more.

Life resembles my experience with that photo. I may look at a situation and see only one thing and it is soooooo big I can’t see past it… especially the difficult times. They have a tendency to take over our thoughts and become all consuming. Depending on the situation, it may be difficult to see or think about or feel anything else.

Here’s where I believe perspective comes in.

I can see the heeeuge thing and dwell on it, blocking everything else out. Or I can see, feel, and live that negative thing AND discover other things that are positive. Sometimes I have to dig for those positive things… deep, really, really deep.

Recently I’ve had to remind myself of those positive things. I’m in a holding pattern and I’m frustrated. I don’t like where I am in my life right now. I want things to happen faster or slower or something… just not what I have right now. And yet… I have so much to be thankful for.


About a month or so ago I started a gratitude journal. Each night I write at least three things I’m grateful for. Sometimes it’s difficult to come up with even one thing and then I remind myself to put it all into perspective. The list begins to grow then. My life is good… even with the yuck… it is so good.

I printed out that photo and put it up on my kitchen cabinet to remind me to keep it all in perspective. There is always, always, always something good to be grateful for.


For about sixteen years I was a professional mom and wife. Then a little over two years ago, my marriage ended. Because that involves other people beyond me I'm not going to go into details here right now. I was suddenly faced with uncertainty and a completely new and unexpected future. During my marriage I was never able to establish a career of any kind. My husband and I moved to quite a few places in the US and then overseas.

For the most part, I was ok with that. I really wanted to be there for and support my kids and husband. Of course, there were times when I felt empty and unsatisfied, but I didn't really know how to fill those spaces. I always found activities that made me happy... in New York I was a substitute teacher before the kids were born... in Michigan I did a lot of yoga... in Egypt I edited and wrote for a magazine for expats... in Russia I was involved in a Bible Study and an Icon writing class. Art was always a constant for me... I loved creating and making.

I love this pic! We had recently moved to Cairo, Egypt in 2007 and were visiting Alexandria. 

I love this pic! We had recently moved to Cairo, Egypt in 2007 and were visiting Alexandria. 

In my current situation, I knew that my kids were getting older and they would be graduating high school and moving on with their lives soon. I knew I needed to find something for me... something lasting to really focus on. 

I always, always, always try to find the blessings and the positives in a negative situation. Sometimes the bright spots are harder to find and sometimes it takes a little longer, but there are ALWAYS positive points to discover... EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. One of the positive things in my marriage ending was realizing I needed to rediscover my passions sooner rather than later. Not just to find my joy, but I also needed a way to make a living. Motherhood doesn't come with a salary or a pension plan!

I was really at a loss though. I didn't know what I wanted to do. The flexibility and the freedom a being a stay at home mom was something I knew I needed to keep if at all possible. The importance of discovering something that was just for me came rushing to the front. While my kids may say otherwise, I believe it's important to still be available for them even though one is in college and the other is a sophomore in high school. They know they can count on me being there. I know how I roll and I was terrified I would get into some kind of career and not have time for them physically or emotionally. Add to that my age... I know it's never too late to start over, but I'm turning 50 this year (holy crap!!! I'm gonna celebrate big somehow!) and found that a bit daunting.

One of my many works in progress. I started this while working with Michelle.

One of my many works in progress. I started this while working with Michelle.

After floundering around for almost a year, first recovering from the shock and pain of a marriage ending and then trying to figure out how I would pay the bills, I decided to work with a career coach. Not just any career coach, but the When I Grow Up Coach, Michelle Ward. She was instrumental in helping me define more of who I am, my passions, and what I wanted from my life. Working with Michelle helped me get back to my art and discover that I wanted to make that a true part of my life and not just an escape or hobby.

It's been almost ten months since I started working with Michelle and it hasn't always been easy. It's involved a lot of soul searching and self discovery. I think a lot of women find this happens to them as wives and mothers... we lose sight of who we are and our passions. Finding them again is work! 

Launching my website was HUGE for me... I mean GINORMOUS, EPIC, MONUMENTAL... you get the idea. However, I did it and kept moving forward. I'd like to say I've completely found my groove and am making oodles of art, blogging regularly and selling my art. I'm still figuring it all out though. I mean, life is like that anyway... we take it one step at a time and figure it out as we go along.

Recently I was talking about the steps I'm taking and how they're baby steps. My friendleague, EB Sanders, said, "baby steps are still steps!" She's so right! So that's what I'm doing... taking one baby step at a time!


discovered hearts

2013 held many stressful situations, life altering events, and loneliness... a shaky bottom at best! There were many times I felt the bottom was going to drop out from under me. I was back and forth between the States and Moscow a lot for six months of that year. Living overseas is a different kind of "normal", but that year was beyond even our "normal". 

It was after returning to Moscow that I looked down while walking to the kids' school and saw a heart in the pavement below my feet. I was so excited and overwhelmed because seeing that heart felt like a message to me. A message of LOVE. I felt like it was God telling me that He was with me and everything would be alright. Seeing that heart gave me the encouragement I needed to keep going.

My first found heart. Moscow, Russia September 11, 2013

My first found heart. Moscow, Russia September 11, 2013

Since that time I've opened my eyes to finding hearts around me. I don't alter the surroundings (ok, I admit I've moved a twig or leaf occasionally so I could see the heart better), but accept it as I find it. Oh, I've been tempted to make it look more heart-like at times. I always refrain because somehow that doesn't seem right. It's like editing a letter from a friend to make it sound more like what you want to hear... it takes the authenticity away.

Chipped paint heart. Moscow, Russia September 20, 2013

Chipped paint heart. Moscow, Russia September 20, 2013

Many of "my" hearts are discovered while walking my dog. But they are everywhere! From rocks and trees to chipped paint and flowers... even trash discarded on the street sometimes forms a heart. Each time I see one I still feel excitement and LOVE. I still smile wide and feel like a child receiving a gift. And to me they are a gift... each and every one.

Queen Anne's Lace heart. Moscow, Russia September 26, 2013

Queen Anne's Lace heart. Moscow, Russia September 26, 2013

I have pictured here some of my favorite hearts. It's interesting that all of them were taken in that first month I began discovering hearts. I do have other favorites, but somehow these stood out when choosing which ones to include. If you would like to see more of my hearts you can go to the hearts page and Instagram.

negative => positive

The feelings and emotions were coming fast and strong. They were becoming overwhelming and I had to release them. I had to express them somehow.

Journaling emotions is always an excellent way to purge them. I needed more. I needed to see them differently.

I painted a journal spread black because what I was feeling was dark and overwhelming. Then I used white pencil, pen, ink and paint to write out those crushing emotions over and over and over. It felt good to get them out, but stopping there wasn't enough.


I covered those negative words with collage and paint, brightening the pages. The goal wasn't to pretend those feelings weren't there, but to move forward and heal.


Instead of just writing random positive feelings on the white, I looked up the opposite of each lousy emotion I had written. Doing this exercise was so healing. I had only come up with a few positives on my own. By using a thesaurus I realized just how much hope there was. Yes, hope... I CAN do this!