Monday, February 28, 2011

Modern Problems

Paint Pals
(Me and Jenn Danza experiencing "great heights" on scaffold)

Oh... riiiiiight... I'm a painter.  I almost forgot to blog about painting.  OK, enough about the romantic, creative stuff or the spiritual journey... let's come back to Earth and talk about a recent paint project.

There are some jobs that present "modern problems."  I have nicknamed them such, because architects and builders of today use very different solutions to maximize space and build profitably.  Some homes have unique wall breaks, larger rooms with different ceiling heights, random soffits here and there, open staircases, two or three storey foyers, and my personal favorite, the "main wall" that runs from the front door all the way to the kitchen in the back of the house without stopping.

Clients often call me for a solution on how to paint these "modern problems."  Where does one room end and the other begin?  What is the ceiling?  What is considered the "wall?"  The answers are as unique as the situations, and no two are alike.

One recent example was "Miss Avery's Room," a little girl's bedroom on the third floor of a home located in a beachy suburb outside of NYC.  While renovating, Miss Avery's parents maximized all available space in what was originally the third floor attic.  Miss Avery's room, as a result of this, had some really unique walls angles and slopes.  Upon my first visit, I could plainly see how the average homeowner would have no idea where the walls ended and ceilings began.

As a remedy, I suggested we paint the entire space above 30" a pale aqua blue (inspired by the world famous Tiffany box).  Blue tends to be a very transcending color.  It works well when you desire the ceiling to "disappear."  I custom made a second "off-spring" shade of blue by adding 30% Super White to the original color, thereby lightening it about 3/4 of a shade.  This was applied to the lower wall, all of the space below 30" of height.

See what I mean?

Look at this dramatic wall/ceiling slope!

I then defined the two closely related blues by creating and applying a custom cut stencil of polka dots around the circumference.  This "circular shape" border does double duty by simultaneously anchoring you in the angled room and softening the hard lines of the space.

I began the stencil on one wall (the one to the left)
where I saw a break I could work with.  I then
stayed true to that line height all around the room.

I custom cut the polka dots into a piece of 7 ml mylar
and stenciled this border to anchor the room

As a finishing touch, the very talented Jenn Danza added a hand-painted monogram-type personalization to the room with the addition of Avery's name above the crib.

The monogram is a great way to personalize a child's room
without using wall-hangings.  The idea crystalized after all
of the other elements were in place.

Jenn used a book of Font Styles to inspire the overall look.  We also used our
camera phones, an ipad and Skyped on a lap-top to communicate our ideas
and progress with Miss Avery's mom who works in Manhattan.
 Modern Problems and Modern Solutions!

The results were lovely and the clients were thrilled.  Sweet dreams, Miss Avery... may you enjoy many happy memories in your new room!


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Dreams and Visions

When I was a little girl I once saw a rainbow at night...  No one believed me.
Over the years I completely supressed this memory as an actual experience,
and always attributed it to a "dream."  I recently had a dream where I stood
with my little girl self and we witnessed the very same celestial miracle, together.
"I believe you" I said to her.
"I know, that's what I'm counting on" she replied.

(rainbows at night are commonly referred to as "moonbows", they are quite rare)

Lately, I have been experiencing intense night time dreams.  Colors are more vivid, scenarios are more realistic.  I have also been awakening in the morning quite tired, as if I hadn't slept at all.  Residual emotions experienced in these dreams are staying with me for long periods of time.  My psyche is apparently being greatly affected by what is transpiring while I slumber.

These aren't bad dreams, per se, but they are slightly disturbing.  "Disturbing" (for lack of a better word)  because these dreams are more like "experiences" and are quite different than dreams past.  These "experiences" are powerful: they are awakening long-buried memories and changing my perceptions in daily, waking life.  In fact, the line between what is real and what is a dream is getting a little blurry.

The fragments that I can remember are extremely detailed with bold imagery.  Scene after scene, I am digesting enormous amounts of information.  The best way for me to describe it is this: If my brain is an iphone "my apps" are being rapidly updated and installed at night, every night.

On the upside, as a result of this I have had pretty awesome experiences; some psychic (like blurting out information that I have absolutely no business knowing) and some cerebral (I recently skimmed and fully digested a 462 page book within 3 days).

In some dreams I'm getting the chance to revisit childhood memories (as an adult) and spend time with my little girl self.  How cool is that?!  I'm also working and creating interesting things in these dreams.  Or, should I say, un-creating.  You see, I find myself now strangely un-painting rooms.  Yes, "unpainting."  I walk into a gorgeous, finished space and step-by-step, un-paint it layer-by-layer.  These intense dreams are affording me the opportunity to now simultaneously live forward and backwards?  Time isn't linear.  In fact, time doesn't exist.

Flaming June by Lord Frederick Leighton
"Dreams are illustrations from the book your soul is writing about you." (Marsha Norman)

My body is also being affected.  I am waking up feeling "spent."  Isn't that the opposite of sleep?  I mean, come on... aren't I going to sleep so that my body and mind can rest and rejuvenate?!  Apparently not!

I had one particular dream that something physical happened to me and I woke up with an ache in that exact spot.  Did my subconscious mind build an elaborate scenario to explain or cause the ache it felt while I slept?  Or did something I did in the dream cause my physical body to manifest this pain as a result of the intense reality of the dream?  Maybe it wasn't a dream at all?  Hmmm....

Secondly, I had a few experiences where I remained conscious as I lost consciousness to sleep.  "Falling asleep" is aptly named.  The feeling as if I were falling out of my body, with a downward gravitational pull was so strong it was as if a great magnet were pulling me away.  I felt my entire body go into a deep sleep, and my mind, however relaxed, remained conscious and was only half-way there.  A few minutes later, I felt my body get very dense, heavy.  Something kept tugging at my mind... pulling... pulling... and I let go... zzzzzzz.... 

On the way back, I have also "crash-landed" a few times.  As my body began to wake up, my consciousness remained elsewhere... and bang!  I felt myself awaken with such a jerk, such a force that I swear, the bed trembled.

OK, so these are are normal and explainable patterns of sleep that all human beings will experience at one time or another... but so frequently?  All at once?  

It feels like the entire process of sleep is changing for me.  I have spoken with several close friends, all "creatives"  or "spiritual sensitives" and they too are having similar experiences.  What we have in common with one another is our "open state" and our right-brained leanings.  We all agree: maybe when our energy vibrations are raised (creativity, enlightenment) our higher level of consciousness also shifts during unconscious states?  Meaning, perhaps the dynamics of sleep, dreams and astral experiences also evolve and mature in direct relation to a person's level of spiritual development?

Or, even more interesting, perhaps humanity as a whole is being "upgraded."  Many people believe great shifts in consciousness are happening on Earth right now.  Many awesome things that could be  connected to 2012 and the Mayan calendar.  Some believe it is a time of endings... some believe it is a time of beginnings.  All who study this interconnectedness of the universe agree, something big is going to happen.  Are these sleep and dream experiences "reviews before an ending" or "preparation for a new beginning?"  I don't know.  I guess I'm going to have to sleep on it.

Life is getting richer and more mysterious by the moment...


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Decisions, Decisions...

A comforting reminder on a greeting card made by
PaPaYa!  The circle, to me, represents pure consciousness.

There is always some madness in love. But there is also always some reason in madness.
-Friedrich Nietzsche

**Are you having difficulty making a decision? If you are, here are a couple of methods that you can use that might make your task a little easier.

One of the reasons we have difficulty making a decision is because we often do what other people want us to do and not what WE truly want to do. When making a decision, try to take out all the factors that influence your decision, and then you should see more clearly what you want to do. 

This means that you need to sit down when no one is going to bother you and pretend that whatever decision you have to make will be perfectly okay with everyone else in the world.

For example, if you were trying to decide whether to separate in a marriage, imagine that if you left, your partner would be neutral about it and any kids would be perfectly fine. Relatives would agree with you. Friends would support and encourage you. There would be enough money. Fear would be non-existent because everything would turn out great. No one would say anything negative to you, only words suggesting that the decision you made was the right one.

Get yourself to the point where you feel that and then ask yourself: If everyone was okay with my decision, what would I do? This should give you a clearer answer. Taking out the mind clutter and outside influences helps you get to the bottom of what you truly desire.

I used to have a lot of difficulty making decisions for myself, and then I was given the above exercise. It made the decision-making process a lot easier. I got to the heart of what I truly wanted instead of letting myself be guided by guilt or fear. I started taking responsibility for my own actions and did not allow myself to guided by all these people who thought they knew what was best for me. I discovered that I knew what was best for me.

**She said it first and she said it best... therefore this is reprinted from an article written by Wendy Kay

(My two cents: whether this decision is big or small, life changing or life enhancing...what color to paint your kitchen or if you should cut your hair, if you should go back to school, get married, quit your job... any and all decisions should be made with your heart.  I have learned by experience these are the decisions you will never regret.)


Monday, February 14, 2011

Party Time!

There will be some serious cupcake decorating tonight!
photo credit: Mary Murphy

It's a busy, busy day here in Brooklyn.  My Little Valentine and I are hosting a party this evening!

Our V.I.G.s (Very Important Guests) are some of the most special people we know...
our fellow Single Moms and their Sons.

Oh!  And one very lucky Single Dad and his Daughter.
A fox in the chicken coop?  Hmmmm.... this is going to be interesting....

You know this is a serious party when I break out the fondue pot!
Love, like everything else, tastes better dipped in chocolate...
photo credit: Cooking Light

My wish for you dear, kindred spirits: that you see and celebrate all of the love around you today.  In the moment.  Exactly as it is.


Monday, February 7, 2011


"Think of your head as an unsafe neighborhood; don't go there alone."
-- Augusten Burroughs, Dry: A Memoir

As a creative person, I rely on a constant flow of Creative Juice to fuel my work.  And this "Juice" is intoxicating.  Luckily, I have learned over the years that the very best way to make more Juice is to use more Juice.  Yippee!  Therefore, I allow this creativity to flow into my whole world.  Creativity is best served as a lifestyle.

Creativity is a Right Brain activity, therefore, we are all born with the potential of tapping into this power.  Our "computer" came fully loaded with all the right software.  When you are fully engaged in Creative Thinking you are opening the doors to your personal, limitless power: your imagination. You are also directly connected to Source.  The universe is yours to behold.  You are "tapped" into Life Force Energy.

Creative power is available to everyone, at all times.  What makes me and other Creative People different is that we use it regularly.  Therefore, we have more.  The more you use, the more you have.  Like energy.  This is just one of the greatest mysteries of the universe.

Sometimes... seemingly out of nowhere... I feel like I've run dry.  It's as if the cord to Source has been cut off or blocked.  My tentacles are ever reaching for that elusive answer, my ideas are flat.  The world is a little less animated.  Sometimes I can feel it happening.  It feels like swimming in from the depths of the ocean.... and knowing you are approaching shallow waters.  Land ho!

When I hit the sand it's waking up from a great dream and re-entering the three dimensional world.  Everything goes grey.  Suddenly, I notice gravity. My body feels heavier and it requires more attention. I am more conscious of time (and it moves slower).  I find that I need more of everything: more sleep, more food, more entertainment, more distractions, more support, more attention from friends.  My identity becomes challenged, my perceptions shift.  I have re-entered the world of logic, numbers, rules and reality.  Suddenly, a fallen leaf is just a fallen leaf.  A cloud is just a cloud.  There's no magic.  No sparkle.  The wind isn't calling your name.  You're just.... you.

Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence,
and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content.
-- Helen Keller

Obviously, this is all an illusion... you are never "cut off" from Source... Spiritually and intellectually I know this... but my emotions and fears love the chance to come out and play, too!  And like bad party guests, they really know how to wreck the house.

When I was younger, these dry periods of dormancy, felt like a punishment.  To experience the height of Life Force Energy and Creative Output and then come back down... felt a crash.  As soon as I attached emotion to it: it became a tortured existence.  No wonder some of our greatest artists were institutionalized, cut off their body parts or ended their own lives.

During "down-times" times, I would grieve my "highly creative periods," it felt like I lost my best friend.  I used to panic, will it come back?  Negative thoughts would creep in... was I worthy of the gift in the first place?  Was it real?  And then that ubiquitous, existential monster would thump around in the closet of my mind: Who am I? Why am I here? What's it all for?  As they say, what you focus on expands... and so my twilight would then become full-fledged darkness.

Like all "immortal" young people fully engaged in harnessing their youth and vitality, I also used to add insult to injury by thinking I could "control the flow."  Like water from a faucet.  And I would attempt to push it.  This was never the right answer.  Fighting for this control, forcing the feeling often led to frustration, depression, and yes, I dare admit, even despair.

Eventually, I got tired of fighting it and I just let go.  I surrendered.  That's when two things would happen... I would sink a little deeper, hit bottom and then... a natural buoyancy would occur... pushing me back up, off from a solid base.  And I would start to ascend. Happy Days were here again... That is when I accepted the genius of "letting go."

Great lessons, I learned, open the gates for miracles to occur... I soon realized, letting go is the ultimate act of creativity.  And my whole world changed.  Releasing your intention, your consciousness, your plan, your attachment to the outcome... and surrendering to the Force... is you BEING CREATED.

The intellect has little to do on the road to discovery. There comes
a leap in consciousness, call it intuition or what you will, and the
solution comes to you, and you don’t know how or why.
- Albert Einstein
Yes!  I am not only IN a constant state of creation, I AM a constant state of creation!

As I got older, I got more comfortable embracing this new consciousness and really began to see the big picture.  I am now more accepting of these "downtimes." I know what they are.  And I welcome them.  This pattern is normal and healthy, and always serve me well.  I have learned to be kinder to my creative self in dormancy.  I let her have her rest.  She and her Source are working on something that I am not ready to see.

Some of history's greatest thinkers, the creative geniuses, the "life masters" all had their dry spells.  Now, when I stumble upon a quote from these wise, well-seasoned humans, I record it.  In case I slip, I need my sponsors.  They comfort me, as I now hopefully comfort you, that yes, this is just part of the process.  Yes, you will one day be back in the flow.  Yes, this, like everything else is temporary.  And then the cycle becomes a shared human-spiritual experience.  A bond.

Remember: let go and let a cycle complete itself.  Rest.  Know you are safe.  You have not been forgotten.  Trust.  There is a greater wisdom at work here.  Our lives are our own greatest creations; never judge a work in progress.  And regardless of what time it is, it's always happy hour, somewhere!  :)

Actually I don't remember being born,
it must have happened during one of my black outs.
-- Jim Morrison


Thursday, February 3, 2011

A 45 Day Flight Delay

This image by artist Kathleen Rossi-Howell for PaPaYa!
hangs above my studio work bench.  A powerful and
inspiring picture that reminds me what it's all for.

So, here we are just beginning the shortest and most brutal month of winter... ushered in with a big storm and some good news.  February is quite a duplicitous month.  We're still buried in snow (and ice and rain and wind), but they say we'll have an early Spring.  Well, I don't know about you... but that's good enough for me!

I'm preparing to FLY.  That means simultaneously caring for the nest and preparing to flee it.  As of today, there are 45 days to go.  And there's a lot of magic to be squeezed out of those 45 days.

I am busy making a special list.  One that includes all of the things I want to do and see, and all that needs to be done to get there.  Loose ends and new beginnings.  Completing Projects.  Planning adventures.  Taking care of business.  Looking for new opportunities.  Cleaning out the storage room.  Signing up for a new class.  Taxes.  Teeth cleaning.  New samples for my portfolio.  Tossing old products.  Jury duty.  And it goes on.

I love my lists.  They keep me organized and focused.  There is nothing quite like achieving a small project and crossing it off.  Done.  Onto the next.  It is so satisfying.  I can feel my wings stretching.

What do you need to do to FLY?

Write it down.  Writing something down brings an idea into the material world.  It is the beginning of a quest, an adventure, the genesis of a dream.  It is a powerful act of intention.  Thoughts can become heavy when unexpressed and carried around in the luggage of your mind.  Clear your brain!  Putting it on paper frees you from having to "remember."  How refreshing it is to have all that brain-space for other things!  And once you write it down a "thought" becomes a goal.

When I write things down my life definitely better, easier.  I stop living in my head and I can be in the "now."  My time is more fluid.  My sleep is deeper.  My dreams are pleasant.  My mind is sharp.  My thoughts are crystal clear.  My creative muscles are flexed.

Because I am still in the nest, small tasks that make me happy and comfortable in the moment are important too.  Another list I keep focuses on the smaller stuff; reminders to connect with friends, buy a new book, stock the pantry.  Keep extra postage stamps, batteries and lightbulbs.  Make a fresh pot of vegetable soup.  Following through item by item makes me feel loved, cared for and cozy.  I am both mama bird and the hatchling!

They say God is in the details.  Life is in the details.  The also say Love is in the little things. Think about it.  The broad vision plus the details and the little things is extraordinarily powerful. Having a larger vision is good... and backing it up with small steps is satisfying.  Cities are built brick by brick.  A life is lived moment by moment.  And who could not envision our mighty Grand Canyon?  Never forget what a tiny, continuous drop of water can do.

Write it all down and make it count... Get ready in the moment for the moment to come.  Prepare to FLY!