domenica, aprile 23, 2006


The Dancing Queen!
Art Squared is having its weekly theme week, and the theme is Dance! I had so much fun with this piece, The Dancing Queen! She is actually in one piece (ha!) and she is biggish - just over 10" square. I painted her shoes with nail polish! This girl is PARTYING! : )
I don't have much time to write today. It is Sunday, so that means - yep, Big Love at Jenna's. Last week was Easter at the inlaws' so I missed that episode - so I have to catch up (thank goodness for TiVo!). I am bringing earring making supplies again this week, so hopefully I'll have some of those to show off later this week.

Meanwhile, RJ got in on the Dancing fun this week too! Here's his silly offering -

And, I have good news today, too. My friends who were not getting along, are speaking again. There is not much in this world as beautiful as the miracle of forgiveness. It offers so much to everyone involved. I think that God offers us a big ol sip from the cup of salvation when we drink in forgiveness, of ourselves and one another. (Well, and don't the two go hand in hand?) So, I am happy. I am pondering forgiveness, dance, and miracless. So I will end with this quote by Martha Graham!

The next time you look into the mirror, just look at the way the ears rest next to the head; look at the way the hairline grows; think of all the little bones in your wrist. It is a miracle. And the dance is a celebration of that miracle.
xoxo - Chel

sabato, aprile 15, 2006

Hope Begins

I made the earrings at Jenna's house last weekend, and made the Art Squared (3" square) collage holder today. I thought it might make a cute Mother's Day gift for someone. I've been thinking a lot about mothers lately.

Actually, I am thinking about hope today. I am thinking about hope, and Anne Lamott, and motherhood. Of all things.

Of course, anyone who has ever read Anne Lamott will know immediately that there is a connection. But for the rest of you all I can say is - get one of her books and read it now!! There are authors I really like (Anne Tyler, Joyce Carol Oates, Sue Monk Kidd, David Sedaris) and authors I love (Wally Lamb, Augusten Burroughs, Jennifer Lauck) but never has any come close to Anne Lamott.

When I was pregnant, ten years ago, my good friend Carla - who has known me since the thrid grade (!) (aren't old friends the best) gave me Anne Lamott's incredible memoir - Operating Instructions. I can honestly say that book, and the books I read by her to follow, including Bird by Bird, Traveling Mercies, and eventually her fiction too - changed my life. Ann Lamott's outlook on grace and hope and love and spirituality and children and humanity is so utterly human and hearteningly imperfect and beautiful, that IT is grace in and unto itself. Her call to writing, I believe, is a calling from God - and I thank the heavens that she followed that calling and that publishers have the good sense to publish her - for needy readers like myself. Of course she is not only a devout Christian, but also an extremely liberal, addict in recovery, single mom, with an attitude and a sense of humor that could save lost souls all by itself. Though I'd never dare claim her wit or her calling, I will admit that the fact that we have/had a wee bit in common may count for something, in my eyes. I don't know. You do the math. : )

So. Motherhood. Let's get this out of the way. I am thinking of my own mother today. Here is a picture of my mother that I have framed and keep out. This picture was taken in November of 1949 - and my mother is right around 2 years old. I like this picture a lot. She looks so cute, and her little yellow dress is adorable. I suspect my grandmother may have made it for her. But there is something else I love about this picture. The family resemblance between her and my own son, RJ - is startling in this picture. I don't know if you could see it. I tried to find a picture of RJ when he was the same age, and I came up with this one:

We took this picture of RJ in 1999. We were in Athens, Greece at the time. Not that you could tell by the lovely cement parking lot background! For a while, I'd been looking at my son and marveling at how beautiful he was (well, all mothers do that) and too... how much he looked like my mother. Of course he has his father's blond hair - but he has my mother's brown eyes. He shared the same pug nose that she had as a child. The same fine straight hair. Her face shape. There it was. Right in front of me. In my son.

My mother was still alive of course. RJ was 4 years old when she died. But we weren't in contact, and hadn't been for many years, my mother and I. Not for the majority of my adult life. Oh, that of course is a long story and I won't go into it here. Time or place type thing. But I can tell you this, as most people who have lost their parents (either lives, or relationships) probably knows: it is not an easily settled thing. You can not easily move on or away from parental ties - and the pain and pull are constant. Before my own child was born, I had gotten fairly proficient at distance, distraction, detraction, denial ... whatever it took to get through the day with that unsettled pain and pull constantly there. But when motherhood hit - I could no longer look away. Because IT was looking right back at me.

It took me a long long time, till after her death in fact, for me to realize that my son looks like my mother, because he looks like ME. Before my mother died, I was not an artist. I was not a writer. I looked nothing like my mother. I couldn't allow anything of her in me, because that would open up that pain. It never occurred to me that motherhood might do the same.

But motherhood, miracle of all miracles, has done something else too. It has tendered forgiveness, too.

So. Yep. I am thinking about my mom. This month. This week... Two days from now it will be exactly four years to the day since my mother died. The aniversary always hits me hard - and harder than I expect. How do you plan for grief to hit you anew?

Me? I begin to begin to slow down. Not in that good ... you know, be-easy-on-yourself way - but instead, in that broken hearted life-comes-to-a-halt way. Somehow, I have managed to accomplish about 1/10th of what I do in a typical week. I just want there to be a closet or table nearby at all times as of late. Just in case I need to crawl into or under it!

But I hang on to something that reminds me that this too shall pass. That forgiveness - of myself and of others - also comes anew and provides new healing. That life offers up joy tenfold for every grief you live through. And, if I am not mistaken, I believe that this is hope. What more can I ask for?

I'll end with a picture, a quote from Anne Lamott, and a poem by Mary Oliver that Anne Lamott has referenced in her writing.

The picture is of me, nearly a decade ago - hanging on tight to another reminder of constant love, and miracles - my baby boy and darling joy:

"Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don't give up."

- Anne Lamott

Everything I have ever learned in my lifetime leads back to this:

the fires and the black river of loss whose other side is salvation whose meaning none of us will ever know.

To live in this world you must be able to do three things:

to love what is mortal;

to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it;

and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go.

- Mary Oliver

So I wish for you all today, that you may hold tight when it is right to do so, and that you may let go, when it is time - with grace, and neverending hope.

xxoo - Chel

giovedì, aprile 13, 2006

A Bird in Hand...

~ A Bird In Hand is Better
than Two in the Bush ~

I've been feeling a bit down lately, so I decided to create some cheery art. I've been inspired by the many vintage calling cards in The ZNE Store, and decided to create my own modern take, in the form of ATCs. I made six last night while watching one of my favorite TV shows (I sheepishly admit!) Top Chef.

They are listed today, along with several other pieces. The earring ATCs that I listed, I made while at my best friend's house over the weekend. I am feeling SO APPRECIATIVE of her and her wonderful family. Some of what has me down right now is the fact that a few of my fabulous wonderful most favorite friends have had a falling out of sorts, and it has made me grieve over the frailty of friendships. I think that rather than write too much, I'll just post my calling card ATC's, and some favorite quotes. Sigh.

Humanity is never so beautiful as when praying for forgiveness, or else forgiving another.

- Jean Paul Richter

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes.
Art is knowing which ones to keep'.
- Scott Adams

Grace isn't a little prayer you chant before receiving a meal. It's a way to live.

-Jackie Windspear

"A friend loves at all times."

- The Bible: Proverbs 17, 17.

And finally, if you are wondering - why count your blessings? Why forgive? Why live in grace? Why hold tight to friends through times of sorrow, misunderstanding, and grief? Or even just, why give in to that impulse to work through and with your grief by creating?

Why do it? I think Ani Difranco sums up my philosophy, perfectly:

I do it for the joy it brings, cause I'm a joyful girl.

'Cause the world owes us nothing, we owe eachother the world.

- Ani Difranco

And so, I leave you with the wish that you may find grace in every minute, in every corner, in every life, today.

xo - Chel

mercoledì, aprile 05, 2006

Wings and Things!

It's the week of ZNE Theme week! And the theme is "wings." Once again, Abigail and I hunkered down over the weekend and had fun with scissors, glue, and stuff... Here's her fabulous flying entry (on the right):

She named this fairy "Melissa." I'm not sure why, but naming art can be like that. Abs cut the wings out of a blue vellum. She was quite pleased with herself. I think it is a pretty fun piece myself.

My art (at top) is named Winky Pinkaling (why, the fairy with one blue wing, of course)! I had fun with her too. Especially the polkadots. I think if I could get away with painting polkadots all over the walls, I'd do it!

This week seems to be flying by. I am busy, as always, shipping, listing, with Zine production, and I have a few newsletters and web pages to work on. Alas, all in a days work.

Oh! Time for another ZNE Store Fun Find. I'll say! Here it is:

The ZNE Store has lots of these fabulous genuine vintage pharmaceutical labels. We have lots of different colors, styles, and "meds". Check 'em out. And if you purchase one and mention "ZNE Fun Find" when asking for an invoice - you'll receive 10% off your entire order. That's right, even the non-fun find items - so long as they are part of the same invoice!

Here's to hoping that all of you take heed when you see the word "POISON." And, that your art takes you places where you sprout creative wings of your own!

xo - Chel