Thursday, June 24, 2010

Finding the Sacred in the Ordinary

I have personal validation that I will never grow old! In gathering items for our three family yard sale, my sister and I combed my Mom's basement. In a box of 'garbage' I found this zip lock bag filled with 'useless' junk.

At the age of 61 I responded to that bag like an 8 yro on Christmas morning! I was so excited to open it up and see what was hiding in there. I have always been addicted to anything that can make a mark on paper. To some they are called pencils and pens but to me they are magic wands. Placing sacred lines on ordinary paper that then becomes art. So here are the results of what was hiding in that bag of useless junk.

Pens, pencils, erasers, fountain pens...Magic Wands!!

Notice the bottom one...a Bible Marker...when did you ever see one of those?

I totally LOVE nib pens and these holders are perfect for the dozens of nibs I already have!

The Esterbrooks will require some TLC but I've found a site for replacement nibs and ink sacs.

Far and away the best finds in my opinion are these marvelous vintage mechanical pencils! There are two Scripto brands for which I luckily have a box of vintage leads so these will be the "stars" of my future sketching...I'm in love...check out the logo on the best one!

I could go on and on about each of the pieces I found. They are sacred in my world and I know will add to the pleasure I find in sketching and drawing in the weeks and months ahead.
The next time you get ready to throw away some old 'junk' see if there is anything that can be re-purposed or salvaged and made sacred. In the ordinariness of our life there are pockets of the sacred that are often overlooked.
Just a last thought I wanted to share. Most of these were giveaways and are remnants of a Jersey Shore that no longer exists.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Turning Points

We all have those days when nostalgia rears up and hits us right between the eyes! Today it came to me while I was sorting through some old packing boxes that had been in my former studio. Back in the summer of 2004 I was diagnosed with breast cancer in early July. From mid-July until my mastectomy on August 23rd I spent the time packing up my studio and labeling the boxes. I was lucky enough to have the studio in my Dad's former childhood home so I just left them in storage on a back porch and walked away to deal with cancer and all of its ramifications.
The home/studio has been rented since by my youngest nephew, then my daughter and now my eldest nephew and the boxes shifted around, re-packed, etc. I realized it was finally time to confront all of the memories and junk they contained. It's been an evolutionary process.
I've found art supplies from as long ago as the mid-70's packed away with inspirational books, household supplies and your basic every day junk! I just unpacked the very last box and it contained nothing but books. Books I obviously have read over the years but never put to use in my every day life. I guess I thought that just by owning them, my life would somehow change. Here's the list of what was hiding in that last box...or at least the ones I intend to keep:

  • Wishcraft~How to Get What you REALLY Want by Barbara Sher
  • Anatomy of the Spirit~The Seven Stages of Power and Healing by Caroline Myss
  • In My Wildest Dreams~Living the Life You Long For by Gail Blanke
  • The Well of Creativity~Julia Cameron, et al
  • The Power of Your Other Hand~A course in channeling the inner wisdom of the right brain by Lucia Capacchione
  • Pricing & Promotion~A Guide for Craftspeople by Patrick McGuire
    and last but not least
  • Flatter your Figure~Transform your figure with the next garment you wear! by Jan Larkey

There were also a bunch of inspirational paperbacks with Wayne Dyer in the lead for the most popular author. And it suddenly struck me...I am no farther ahead, no closer to my goal, no happier, no richer, no thinner, no more knowledgeable than when I first bought those books.
I guess the old saying is true: If you always do what you've always done; then you'll always get what you've always gotten!
So with this posting I am turning a corner. I'm making a promise to myself and to you, my followers, that in the future these blog posts will be about helping YOU and not about trying to change myself. I am what I am and it's just going to have to be good enough for all of us! Kelly Rae's e-course is responsible for opening my eyes on that one!
So I'd like to hear suggestions from the peanut gallery on how I can help you. What would you like me to share information about? Is there anything that I've said that you'd like more information about (excluding my kids and husband :)? I'd like to be here for those of you who may have questions about getting started on your artistic career because the one thing I have never tried to change is my desire to grow as an artist. I have 40 years worth of knowledge on all types of media and experience with gallery and juried art shows. I'm a resource that is willing to be tapped so let the tap show begin.
With much love I remain your ever faithful, Carolyn, a Jersey Girl.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Authentic Self

For years I've been secretly hiding a desire to go back to batiking. I fought it because it's not a popular art least not in the rarefied circles that I inhabit :) But I'm not talking about your Indonesian batik, I'm talking about the Americanized variety that uses crayons, dyes and cloth. I practiced it 35 years ago. Had my first art show 35 years ago. Sold my first batik for $35 dollars 35 years ago. So what am I really saying here? That I want to go back to that style from the mid-seventies? The big turquoise poppies and the red calla lilies? NO! Absolutely NO! Those days are long gone and along with them an inauthenticity that even I wasn't aware of at the time.

I learned how to do American batik from a local girl who made it big. Sara Eyestone - American Artist. If you google her there are over 85,000 hits that reference her and her work. In the seventies I was young and I idolized her. I tried to be her in fact. And I failed....miserably! Even admitting that I learned the art form from her is exposing more of myself than even I am comfortable with because in doing so I must expose how negatively she impacted my life. She was my idol and my mentor. In my naiveté I believed she was also my friend. But even though that relationship ended badly for me it opened up my absolute love for Art and for 12 years gave direction for my work. Even if that direction was not my own.

Now 35 years later I'm ready to pick up the beeswax and brushes again. But this time what will emerge will be the authentic self. The real Carolyn, a Jersey Girl. The 61 year old woman who has survived breast cancer with dignity and is ready to begin again on a path of creativity that is finally my own. Where will this journey take me? Hopefully back to myself. To the real me who is scared of failing but is willing to try again despite my fears. And who is willing to say to anyone who is willing to listen...fear is our biggest stumbling block. Once we can get past our fears (of rejection, of failure, of embarrassment) the opportunities for personal growth are huge!

So tomorrow, when I would ordinarily be in church, I am going to pick up those brushes and touch them to my homemade paper and begin again. Begin something I consider sacred...rediscovering who I really am without the fear and the need for an idol or a mentor. My journey of self-rediscovery may be a bumpy ride and I may fall off the horse more than once but I hope that as I share my fears, failures and triumphs that I'll inspire others to rediscover their own dreams.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Kelly Rae Roberts and Taking Flight

For Mother's Day this year my children gave me an incredible present. An e-course that has changed my life! Kelly Rae's e-course (see the clicky button at the left side) has had a major impact on my life over the last few weeks. As has the results of my latest tests and scans...I'm FIVE years out from metastatic breast cancer and I'm loving life.

I wanted to share the letter that I posted on the group's page in it's entirety so here it is:

I haven't been keeping up with the comments OR the actual blog postings for the last two weeks. I actually got my 'money's worth' on day two!! I decided to shed my fears and take that leap. So I put away my need to 'be like everybody else' and make what is selling and to do what my heart has been urging me to do regardless of whether or not it will be financially worthwhile.

About a week into my internal dialog and constant sketching I've arrived almost full circle from where I started (media wise) but this time with my very OWN style, which was missing when I was doing this work 35 years ago. I'm going away on a personal retreat this weekend to further explore what has been sketched and journaled and I'm taking along all the weeks that I've missed reading here. It will add dimension and real world knowledge to my journey.

I've been in 'turtle' mode these last few weeks. It is what I do when I need to just shut down and listen to my heart. Most of the time my head interfered and told me that I couldn't 'afford' to do my own individual art and I HAD to follow the style that was popular and SELLING at that moment. If I were to think about it too long I might begin to regret all of those years doing inauthentic art. However, those other paths have brought me to where I am now with skill sets that are totally original. Skills I didn't have when I was involved in this particular media so long ago.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart Kelly Rae. You are the one who handed me the key to unlock those secret desires that were lurking there. Now I feel enriched, authentic and happier (art wise) than I've been in the last 25 years!!!

And one final word from this Jersey Girl...during all of my mulling over of my life's work I had to go thru a series of scans and tests. Six years ago this month I found a soft round lump in my right breast. In July of '04 I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. The first oncologist I consulted told me I had a very slim chance of surviving for more than 18 months. I immediately chanced oncologists and this past Monday I got the call I've been waiting for. I'm OFFICIALLY FIVE YEARS out from beast cancer and the future is VERY promising for leading a long, long life. A long life FINALLY doing what I know in my heart I was born to do and hopefully along the way sharing MY journey for those still struggling to put their foot on their own path.

Hugs and love to you, Kelly Rae, and to all of these brave souls flying with us. I think that this (me) is what you planned this course to accomplish. And if I can finally be at peace with where I am going creatively then there is no reason why each and every one of you can not find your own life's's all about having the faith to take that first leap.

I'll be leaving in a few hours for some time alone. Hoping that all of you have a happy, creatively healthy weekend!!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Pay It Forward

Yesterday was Freebie Friday in my Digital Collage Diva shoppe on Etsy. I gave away 17 sheets and even got a few sales. Last evening my brother-in-law commented: "The problem with freebies it that they are viewed as having no value, think about it." His comment has value but as I said to him: "for me it was a win-win because I believe in PIF. And it WAS a great day. Not only did I get to Pay It Forward by giving something to someone without any expectation of monetary reward but I had a chance to make new friends and perhaps even some new customers.

One of my new clients sent this note to me: "Thank you for the free collage sheet! I love your sheets and want to purchase more! I believe in PIF too! What goes around comes around!" Her comment really hit home.

When I was younger I never understood that 'what goes around, comes around' wasn't until I was older and understood 'karma' that I got it! I've always tried to be kind to everyone but not everyone is kind no matter what you do for them. And though I'm not vindictive I've seen that 'karma's a b*tch' thing happen even though sometimes it takes a very long time.

Here's a perfect example of what I'm talking about.

Nine years ago one of my husband's best clients (DH was an investment counselor) and a close church friend sued my husband. To do that this man had to be willing to lie about how badly my husband counseled him. Yes this man collected a substantial sum of money from my husband's insurance but the stress was overwhelming for both DH and myself. I was in the middle of my cancer treatments for breast cancer but I got on the phone to beg this friend not to sue us...that it would destroy my husband and I didn't know how I'd get through the rest of chemo with DH so depressed. This friend just laughed it off and I thought I'd 'won' him over. Two months later we got the letter that the suit had gone through. DH lost his license and his spirit was crushed. I was left to struggle through the rest of the cancer treatments without the support I needed.

Nothing happened to my ex-friend during the next few years. Life treated him well; he traveled, bought properties with his sons to 'flip', bought a new house and basically seemed to be living in luxury while we (now both unemployed) struggled to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table.

Eighteen months ago I heard that this old 'friend' had been afflicted by some mysterious illness that had the doctors puzzled. He was treated for various ailments until six months ago they found the root cause of his ailment...pancreatic cancer. I haven't seen him for years and it doesn't please me at all that he is sick but 'karma' or perhaps his own guilty conscience had finally come around all these years later.

Even if I didn't believe in karma or 'what goes around, comes around' I couldn't treat another human being with such blatant cruelty. Especially if it were for personal financial gain. I'm not angelic so yes I do lose my temper once in awhile but never at the expense of someone else.

Perhaps because of breast cancer I'm more at peace with myself and the world around me. I do continue to struggle financially but am working on manifesting a positive financial environment for myself and my family. It's tough to do at times when it seems that 'bad' gets rewarded and while 'good' gets stuck. But if Paying It Forward once in awhile can bring a smile to someone's face while putting a smile on my own I'll continue to do so. It's not making me rich but it truly enriches my life!

Friday, June 11, 2010


FREE for ALL today only 3 - 6 pm EDT on the Digital Collage Diva. Just click on the title of this post and grab yourself a free collage sheet from the three dozen or so I have there. Then put it into a cart and be sure to confirm your order. BUT DO NOT PAY...I will get your order, mark you paid and send the collage sheet to your Etsy email addy. Of course if you see an extra one you just have to have you can buy it thru Paypal but that is totally optional. There are no strings to this offer other than YOU MUST LEAVE ME POSITIVE FEEDBACK for sending you your FREE collage sheet. Now how hard can that be?

Etsy is in a lull right now and rather than let these sheets sit for another month, I'd rather clear out the present inventory instead of paying Etsy ANOTHER 20 cents to list it higher up. So consider this a PIF (pay it forward) just for my Facebook and blog readers. If you want to tell a friend, that's fine with me. I just want my shop EMPTY by 6 pm so I can put it on vacation mode. Yes, I know it doesn't have to be empty to go on vacation but what's the point of that??? I'd rather you have FUN with some new jewelry inchies or magnet twinchies or ACEO backgrounds! Happy Creating!!

Thursday, June 10, 2010


What do you do when your work isn't selling on Etsy. I guess you could sit down and bemoan your fate or perhaps like me you decide to do a PIF. Pay It Forward is basically what the movie was about. Paying it forward to my Facebook friends and Blog fans by letting everyone have at the 41 listings that I paid 20 cents a piece for ...for FREE. This free for all is Friday from 3pm to 6pm EDT...mark it down.

If shipping was involved I wouldn't be able to afford to do this at the present time. But since these are digital works all I have to do is forward for free a digital file and let the person who 'bought it' enjoy it while getting it out of inventory and adding a positive feedback to my account.

I've noticed that of the 14 sales I've had since I started the Digital Collage Diva, only 10 buyers have chosen to leave feedback. Since I'm so conscious of how important feedback is I'm always sure to immediately leave feedback when the item arrives in my mailbox or inbox. Not everyone is quite as prompt and if I ask them for feedback, many times I get a nasty reply. What's that all about??? I guess we live in a society that is so used to sitting behind a computer screen that the common courtesies of my childhood no longer exist.

That brings me to a quote that I kind of think is profound enough to be repeated here.
"The internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn't understand. The largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had. ~ Eric Schmidt"

There is a lot I have to say about the internet and the facelessness of it all but that will be for another time and blog post. For now, click on the title of this piece, pick out the collage sheet you like and tomorrow from 3pm to 6pm EDT put it in your cart but don't pay for it. I'll send it to you and mark you paid. But remember...the price is A POSITIVE FEEDBACK!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

An Inauthentic Life

I recently started an ecourse with Kelly Rae Roberts. Her suggestion was to journal about our fears as a way of removing the blocks to our authentic creative self. Before I even had a chance to read her inspiring words I journaled this post while on vacation in PA.
At 61, the whispers I've heard my whole life have turned to screams. All through life I've ignored their message because I've been in pursuit of money. Whatever I had to do to earn the dime, the quarter, the dollar, the hundreds of dollars at craft fairs, auctions, home shows, and yard sales. The money, always and in all ways it's been about the money.
First I had a father who wouldn't give me a dime that wasn't earned in some way. Then it was the husband who dragged me from one dream to another always depending on me to fill the gaps and stem the flow of cancellations, shut-offs and shortfalls with whatever art form I was involved with at the time. At no time could I afford to listen to those quiet whispers that told me to express myself creatively whether or not it brought in the money.
That's not to say that I haven't lived a creative life. I have most definitely been creative. For over 40 years I have found inspiration in many places and expressed it in a myriad of ways, all of which have brought me moderate fame and some money. BUT...all of the creativity that I have expressed has been 'borrowed' from someone else. At no time has it been authentic.
At no time has that little voice said "Oh yes, Carolyn, yes! This is what you were meant to do!" But wait...that little voice just whispered that's untrue. One time, oh yes, one time it was all about me. My authentic self was given free rein that summer of my 14th year when it was all about my love of sewing. I think of it as the summer of the Singer, the Barbie and Jake's Fabrics. Then, oh, then it was truly me being expressed through needle, thread and fiber. After that intense three months I continued on through high school with sewing and designing my own clothes. I've often wondered what might have happened when I told my parents I wanted to attend F.I.T. in NYC. What if they had said yes instead of an emphatic, NO! Would those whispers have become my authentic voice. Would I really have become the designer I longed to become? And now, 43 years later does it really matter?
I've done everything that others only dream of doing but it has always been me mimicking some other artist's work because it sold well and brought in the much needed money. But now when I listen closely the whispers still persist. Louder now because time is no longer a luxury. And they are saying ..."hurry, hurry...take the time to find your voice before it is silenced forever."