rediscovery

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!

IMG_0399.jpg

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.

IMG_0819.JPG

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.

IMG_0839.JPG
IMG_0841.jpg

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!

IMG_0998.JPG

life of adventure

When we moved to Egypt in 2006, eleven years ago, I started a blog to keep family and friends up to date on our happenings.  My life now certainly isn’t as glamorous as it was when living in Egypt and Russia. However, I still have things to share – lessons learned and daily adventures.

adventures.JPG

I miss the challenges of living overseas. I miss the exotic and unique travel – seeing things in person I thought I would only see in pictures. I miss the anonymity of being in a place where I don’t always understand what’s going on. I miss the community of expats, the fast forming friendships with people who became like family.

 Egypt - December 2006

Egypt - December 2006

It’s interesting how after three years back in the States life seems rather predictable and even a little boring. Although those three years have brought some of the most challenging changes I’ve faced.

 St. Basil's, Moscow, Russia - May 2008

St. Basil's, Moscow, Russia - May 2008

I want to share some of my adventures with you – both past and present. I want to share my art, which has been so healing for me. I want to grow with you…