34+ Things To Love

Love.

Awhile back, I wrote & posted a love list and in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I decided to do another variation of it today. I had wanted to do 101 things to love, but since it is getting late i decided to cut it for short… for now anyway.

1. butterscotch pudding, the kind you make from scratch – not some silly box. 2. thin, wispy & airy white dresses on a hot summer day. 3. that one-of-a-kind feeling you can only get when you conquer a difficult project that may have once intimidated you. 4. hardcover books without dust-jackets, lined up on shelves that could seemingly go on for miles and miles and … miles… properly sorted by color of course. 5. dry, sarcastic, almost-intelligent kind of humor you have to be carefully listening to ‘get’. 6. quiet, reflective moments all to yourself. 7. handmade lip balm. 8. sunshine. 9. watching the sunrise over the ocean 10. beautiful, old butcher block counters that contain enough stories to fill a book 11. light, fluffy icing that makes you mouth water 12. old farmhouses 13. ingenuity 14. the rush i get when browsing a favorite camera store. 15. the nostalgic feeling only polaroids can give. 16. kindness.

:: sweet love ::

17. shabby white painted wood and the occasional accent of vintage glass glitter. 18. big, sloppy, tackle-me-kinda-kisses i have to fend off from my neurotic, but sweet golden retriever. 19. a tall, ice-cold glass of water appearing just when you need it most. 20. the smell of my favorite scented candle wafting through my home. 21. a freshly cleaned house with fresh cut flowers and loads of glorious sunshine peering in. 22. a piping hot cup of earl grey tea just the way gramma used to make it with plenty of sugar and milk. 23. exploration 24. throw pillows, soft cuddly blankets, down bedding and high-thread count sheets; at a discount of course.  25. that special-sort-of-wide-eyed wonder that children, puppies and kittens have mastered. 26. word games 27. pens, markers, crayons… hell …any kind of writing instrument makes my day. 28. discovering off-the-beaten path places, movies and music. 29. a sparkling, clean kitchen sink awaiting me in the morning. 30. a good analogy that just makes something abundantly clear. 31. a long, hot shower pounding on aching muscles. 32. freedom. 33. traditions that date back long before i was born and the flood of memories that i become engulfed in when thinking of them.

34. the people in my life who love me unconditionally, make me smile, warm my heart and inspire me daily – just by being who they are.

Warning: Creating your own love list may result in stupidly-sweet-ear-to-ear-grins adorning your face throughout the day. Heart flutters, butterflies in the tummy, and giggling fits may also ensue.

I’d love to know the things that you love too, please share!

Happy Valentine’s Day,

Chrysti

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The stuff hope is made of

graffiti quote

Often it is at the most unexpected of places, in the most unexpected of moments that inspiration grabs hold of us and renders us just a bit… well, speechless … if even for just the slightest of seconds.

You see, directly across from the American Tobacco Historic District in Downtown Durham,  under what I believe is the Durham Freeway, is this makeshift sort of parking lot . You know the type: your everyday cement-slabbed-over-run-with-gravel-and-last-nights-beer-bottles sort of corner that really doesn’t strike one as anything but ordinary. In fact, ordinary is being kind – most people wouldn’t see a speck of beauty amidst the rubble.

I am sure you know the drill: as we parked the car my head was buried within my purse, gathering my essentials, prepping my camera bag, checking my phone for messages .. just lost in the boring, everday mundane details we let consume our time. Imagine my delight when I broke from that awful normal .. and looked up to discover that quote.

I stopped.

I inhaled, deeply.

I stared. Mesmerized.

I took it all in.

That perfectly imperfect, hand written, drippy, inked up blob… I found it to be an absolutely beautiful sort of mess. I found the words beautiful, the penmanship beautiful, I found the act of whomever took the time to create it there… well, beautiful. It made that dreary space.. you guessed it.. beautiful.

Here’s a close-up:

graffiti

  “At the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love.” -Che Guevara

I have always loved how words guide me.. how they ever-so-gracefully float around within my busy head and resonate deep inside of me. They give me this new sort of sight – that day in particular – because of that particular beauty – I began seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary prominently – the glorious patterns and rustic colors of the vines along the cracked pavement.. the ray of sunlight illuminating the tiniest of weeds poking through the gravel… that sight .. is nothing short of magical.

Truly, it is just that … m a g i c a l. It is the sort of thing hope is built upon.

It is the sort of thing that doesn’t cost a dime.

That perspective, that gratitude and appreciation for what we have, what is there, what surrounds us… is what I believe to be the backbone of not only creativity, but happiness.

Wow. 

Powerful.

Each of us has oh-so-many blessings and regardless of where we may be at any given moment in our lives,  beauty, inspiration and metaphors surround us.. they are plentiful… we can find and even create it in the most unexpected of places… the trick is to not get so wrapped up in the mundane details that we are blinded to it.

Where have you found your unexpected inspirations?

Chrysti

{Echo} Week 3- Abundance

 Gourds

See that photo above? Initially, I had planned to send it Susan for the prompt I chose this go round – ‘abundance’. But then, I wasn’t so sold on the toning.. and decided to go for the one you see below.

Gourds - 2

Yet, it still didn’t sit right with me. 

So I sent her a different photo all together… one that didn’t necessarily fit the literal, obvious definition of abundance.. but it was the one that rang true within my heart, the one that is a bit more connected to my life today, in this moment.. my now.  The simple shot I sent her reminds me of a few things my sweet pets give me daily… that I admittedly take for granted a bit too often.

An abundance: Of love.

An abundance: Of adoration.

An abundance: Of perseverance.

An abundance: Of hope.

Animals have so very much to teach us, if we just allow them to.

When I chose the abundance theme, I had in mind all of Autumn’s blessings – the plethora of pumpkins, gourds, striking colors and those oh-so-glorious leaves that often render me breathless. I chose it because on any given day I see an abundance of beauty.. even in unlikely places. I had even planned to use something like this as my second choice…

Pumpkins

But the universe seems to have had a different plan in mind; as the last two weeks have weighed heavily on me.  I have to make a few more of those won’t-they-just-go-away-please-stop-nagging-me sort of life changing decisions, which as we all know… is never easy. Finanically, I am more than a bit terrified (If you have ever thought of buying from me – now would be an awesome time). The issues I am facing are matters that simply do not have one designated, clear path and try as i might- wishing them away just doesn’t seem to do a darn bit of good.

“Whatever we are waiting for – peace of mind, contentment, grace, the inner awareness of simple abundance – it will surely come to us, but only when we are ready to receive it with an open and grateful heart.”
Sarah Ban Breathnach

So, I must trust both my heart and my instincts, rely on my life experiences and ultimately know that I am making choices – as right or wrong as they may turn out to be – that are made with the best of intentions.. choices I genuinely don’t think I will regret, and above all else… I am trying to act with integrity; in ways I shall be proud of years down the line. I continually try and dwell on the simple blessings that surround me, to be grateful for what I have and to show gratitude to those who are there for me in my times of need. Most of all though, I am trying not to let fear guide or take hold of me. (no pressure, right?)

 “When you are grateful fear disappears and abundance appears”
 -Anthony Robbins

“Not what we have but what we enjoy, constitutes our abundance.”
– John Petit-Senn

Throughout all of this, that word I chose – abundance – kept popping into my rambly-it-never-friggin-stops-mind – and what an incredible thing that has turned out to be. It has helped to keep my focus on the abundance of things I do have – the best of which, just aren’t tangible.  I *think* it was in Sheri Gaynor‘s book –  Creative Awakenings: Envisioning the Life of Your Dreams Through Art .. where I first read about choosing a word and living it with intention.. this experience has taught me I want to revisit and explore that concept while incorporating it into my life permanently.

After all of the back and forth.. what photo did I choose for my part?

 abundance

Much like lil’ ol’ me.. that old building has an abundance of untold stories. It has an abundance of structural problems, yet it somehow remains sound. Character? plenty of it.. I can only aspire to be that rich in it.  There is an abundance of contrasting textures that somehow unify into this captivating sight. It is fragile, tattered and torn.. shows it miles.. yet it is undeniably strong. The unique angle I see it as, the perspective.. it is how i try to see the world. The door closed and locked.. yet beginning to push open… well the abundance of metaphors contained in that one, single photo.. it is my truth, my authenticity, my present. Kinda powerful isn’t it?

Better yet – I love how the somehow busy, frantic setting contrasts with Susan’s oh-so-calming tea shot.. it fits.

It just, fits.

abundance

(click to see it larger please!)

I am so loving this project. So loving the chance to strengthen our friendship and get to know Susan better.

So loving the opportunity to reconnect with each of you.

A quick recap:

I can’t wait to see what you in have store for Week 3 of Echo – Abundance. We invite each of you to participate in the project and show us your unique vision, your voice, your echo. Remember, to share your link in the comments here so I can add it to the roundup next Wednesday.

Wishing you an abundance of all that you love and hold dearly,

Chrysti

Art: At the speed of life

art_at_the_speed_of_life_banner

“Magic has often been thought of us the art of making dreams come true; the art of realizing visions. Yet before we can bring birth to the vision we have to see it.”
-Starhawk

Recently, I got the oh-so-wonderful  news that my talented friend Pam Carriker inked her name onto a book deal – I literally squealed with delight when I heard -as I know just how much effort and heart Pam put into making her dream a reality. Artistic talent aside, what draws me to Pam is her optimism and perseverance – she doesn’t give up, and I for one am thrilled about that.  For those of you who ever fret or get discouraged over rejection – Pam is an inspiring leader, and proof positive that the dreaded ‘no’ is rarely personal and can be almost always magically transformed into the yes you desired.

“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”
-Thoreau

To make good new even better, she invited me to be a part of the experience – HELLO Cloud 9! I received my assignment a few days ago, and I can tell you – The topics she chose for me are among the top 5 questions I receive in my inbox daily – I think y’all will be thrilled. Between you & i … and from what I know of the book so far – I think it will be a refreshing viewpoint and quickly become one of the most referenced books on your bookshelf. 

As if that wasn’t enough, you can follow Pam along her journey here. If you have ever wondered what the process of writing a book was, the behind the scenes glances – this will become a must follow blog.

So thank you Pam for inviting me to be a part of this creative journey, and putting me in the midst of such wonderful company:

“Set out each day believing in your dreams. Know without a doubt that you were made for amazing things.”
Josh Hinds

Pam, once again my heartfelt congratulations – this is a much deserved milestone for you. Remember to take a few moments and savor it.

Won’t you join me in sharing her joy?

Warmly, Chrysti

Moving among mysteries

move among mysteries

“Those who are willing to be vulnerable move among mysteries.”
— Theodore Roethke

‘Move Among Mysteries’ – Christy Hydeck – 2009 -Artography
Print available here.

I feel as if life is just that these days – this amazing sort of jump from one mysterious adventure to another. My curiosity is peaked, senses are heightened & I feel like I have been bestowed with this awesome takes-the-breath-right-out-from-you-give-me-a-moment-to-take-it-all-in appreciation of all around that surrounds me. Love that.

To reach this state – and mind you, it isn’t always a high, happy place .. it takes a daily committment .. that allowing myself to be vulnerable thing. Giving myself permission to feel, to experiment, to trust and to fully immerse myself in whatever it is that is capturing me at the moment — I am willing to open my heart to the possibilities that await me.  How grand life is, when seen as an adventure.  Autumn always seems to beckon me into that glorious mindset…  exhilarating.

That new piece shown above, is a product of my renewed willingness to stretch myself, and dabble outside of my ‘normal’ — whatever that is…. and ya know what? I love it, I actually love it! I don’t often hang my own work around me, but that piece? It will adorn one of my walls sometime soon.. perhaps, you will consider allowing it to adorn yours as well. (shameless, i know..)

What do you think of it? What emotions does it evoke within you? What have you been courageous in lately?

Warmly, Chrysti

Am I good enough?

sm-cah-the_gift-closeup3-Image5

Each & every damn darn time I complete an article I get a sudden case of the dreaded ‘amigoodenoughs’. Let me reiterate:

Every.      Single.      Time.

My brain works overtime into this ri.dic.u.lous. sort of insane frenzy…  Am I good enough? Is it innovative enough? Is it clear enough? Did I forget something? Is there something new for people to learn? Is it supportive? Is it pretty? Am I sure I am done? Should I have added another piece? Did I proofread it well enough? Is it original and creative?  Is it at all inspiring? Can anyone do this? Is it too bizarre? Is it too common? Are the color palettes pleasing?  Are the pieces balanced? What will people get from it? Did I stretch my wings? Will the editors like it? Will it fit the issue they have in mind? What if it doesn’t? What if all the work was for nothing? OMG maybe I should start over. This isn’t good at all. This is the worst piece I have written. How boring am I? Am I good enough? … and it begins all over again. You know, that vicious circle thing.

Nothing is guaranteed. You may write a perfectly pleasing piece – it could be the nobel prize of art – and it just may get cut because it doesn’t fit. Granted, this has never  yet to happen to me – but I still worry it will. Financially, I have to place the majority of my time (or keep learning to) in things that I will profit from. I need to make a living.. and while rejection doesn’t bother me (much).. the idea of having wasted my time… THAT really friggin’ gets to me. Scares me. Scares the living bejesus outta me.. which triggers all the normal anxieties any one of us may have… and triggers my mood swings. Yikes. 

Earlier this year, was the first time I dropped the ball on an article. (i am still so, so, very sorry pokey) Mentally? I was in a bad, bad place. Physically? Not so good either. I was overwhelmed by life – overwhelmed by pain – overwhelmed with work – overwhelmed with home – you get the idea…  and when I couldn’t complete the task at hand, I beat myself up for it. I still do. It has and will always bother me.. that from time to time, this disease gets the best of me. I don’t want to be ‘that’ girl. Ya know? Things hit rock bottom for me this year… and I picked myself up. I have spent the year focused on getting that proverbial ‘all’ under control, while battling some life changes that would make a normal person crazy.

Still with me? I really do have a point here, I promise!

So I stopped writing, I didn’t commit to very much. I have found strength I forgot I had. I started over again, and began writing once more. When I completed my latest article, (which you should hopefully see in Somerset Studio next spring .. hello part deux) I was actually a bit surprised that my brain went right back to that way-too-friggin-rambly-insecure-mess you saw above. Talk about frustrating. Like a trooper though, I packed it up – shipped it out and hoped for the best. It is a good article, I think. Yet — is it good enough? I really get the most from inspiring someone to do something that they didn’t believe they could — I guess, like any of us… I want to know I contribute, that I have value – and that maybe, just maybe… someone else will gain something from that ‘thing’ I so loooove to do.

When the nasty lil thoughts hit me, I remembered something – a letter I received after my first article with Cloth, Paper, Scissors. It wasn’t the normal, ooo i like it… it wasn’t from someone I knew complimenting me… this was a stranger, who tracked me down.. and sent me the most touching note I have ever received about my writing. It made me cry. She gave me permission to share it years ago, and I hadn’t… but I think today I will. I would never post a private letter without permission.

I know this post is long. I know you may be sick of reading, I am asking that you continue doing sopretty please?

Chrysti,

I wanted to write to let you know how much your article in Cloth, Paper, Scissors has helped my 30 year old daughter.  She suffered an episode very similar to a stroke after the birth of her 3rd child last year and had to have surgery on her brain.  She has limited use of her right side and her speech is slowly coming back.  I have been trying to get her to play with some form of art or another (I am a cloth doll maker and jill of some trades) to help her heal and when I read your article I knew that I could get her to try her hand with this.  Her brain injury occurred on her left side and I knew that if I could show her how much fun she could have just trying some of the techniques she would find the confidence to try even more artistic endeavors.  One thing that we have been told is that the right side of the brain can compensate inadequacies (sp?) that happen to the injured left side and I knew that this was an art form that she would be able to do.

 She was a hair stylist by trade and color was her specialty yet she never felt that she was “artistic”.  Today she tried the first three steps in making a “Skinny Book” and even applied these techniques to some watercolor paper postcards.  We have taken a break until next weekend to let things dry.  I truly want to thank you for the great article with steps that made her feel like there are “no mistakes”.  She is her own worst critic and with limitations put on her now her self confidence and self esteem has been waning.  It was so fabulous to see her eyes light up as each new layer of play was completed. 

Biggest of hugs to you, my dear!

kimber

I of course, replied.. through tears.. the follow up note from her read as so…

Dearest Chrysti,

Thank you so much for writing and by all means share my note with anyone and everyone that you would like to.  You have a gift, my girl, and you were correct in saying that being “different” is one of your blessings.  Know that you touch more lives daily by creating the works that you do. 

When Morana first had her AVM episode they told us not to expect her to live.  A mother’s worst nightmare, I can assure you.  The blessings bestowed on us were many and we continue to be blessed in her healing process.  One of the many has been how you and your art have touched our lives.

When Morana was growing up she considered the art that I did daily just “something” her mom did.  When she was a little girl she drew daily but after a bad experience in school where they made her conform to what “they wanted” her to create she quit drawing, doing so only when assigned.

With this injury being on the left side of her brain I knew that if I could show her that there were no rules I could stir the right side of her brain to react positively.  I have always believed that art has healing qualities and I can already see this in her attitude and outlook about her life in general. 

Your article for Cloth Paper Scissors was just what we both needed to begin the baby steps in her art therapy.  I will be sending some pics next weekend to show you our progress. 

I will also be sharing with Cloth Paper Scissors what your article has stirred in our lives.  As “great” as it is to get “published” they (CPS) were the lucky ones in having you do such a wonderful article for them.

Biggest hugs to you, my dear!

kimber

See, this was my long-winded way of reminding you that despite our deepest reservations, despite our inner critics, despite what has seemingly become routine to us — through the good times, and the worst of times … we touch people. Our lives are all somehow connected, and each of us – has impacted someone in ways we may never know. In ways bigger than us.

Just by being who we are.

Just by sharing what we know.

So, goodbye, for now my-woefully-annoying-lil-insecurities .. I am reminded and trust that everything happens for a reason… once again. How many times will I learn this lesson in my lifetime? And Kimber? Thank you, for still being such an inspiration to me. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Chrysti

Stand Still

listen
print available here

Stand still.
The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

-David Wagoner

That? Is one of my favorite poems – it is as if it speaks directly to my heart.

Sorry to be so brief, my dad is in town visiting – and my computer time is minimal … what are your plans for this weekend? How do you intend to honor your creative side amidst the rush?

Chrysti