Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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A Weekend Romp In The Snow: Snowshoeing

With nearly 3 feet of snow on the ground in the last 10 days, it was finally time to dig out the snowshoes and to take a hike through the woods. And that is just what we did this weekend. The weather was crisp, the skies clear, and the sun was shining. What a great way to spend the morning.

Eric Breaks a Snowy Trail

Snow Drifts Hugged the Trees

A Little Challenge on the Trail

Thistle in Winter

A Morning Well Spent

The trail was quiet the entire time we were outside. We didn’t come across another person; no dogs or deers either. Just a few birds chirping in the trees and water babbling through open spots in the brook.

Snowshoeing on a winter morning….priceless.


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Monday Reflection: Wisdom of the Heart

The wisdom of the heart can be found in any circumstance,
on any planet, round or square.
It arises not through knowledge,
or images of perfection,
or by comparison and judgment,
but by seeing with the eyes of wisdom
and the heart of loving attention,
by touching with compassion
all that exists in our world

-Jack Kornfield


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Mini-Tutorial: Polymer Clay Drawer and Cabinet Knobs

When I shipped my final Wholesale order in 2010, I walked into my studio and removed all the remaining unfinished drawer and cabinet knobs. I had covered a few of them several years ago and then stopped. I’m not sure why it has taken me so long to cover the remaining knobs. However, doing it now gives me the opportunity to share with you my process in this mini-tutorial. Covering drawer and cabinet knobs is a great way to use your extra millefiori cane clay sheets.

 

Millefiori Cane Sheets & Drawer Knobs

Materials

  • Wooden drawer/cabinet knobs
  • White glue
  • Polymer clay: millefiori cane clay sheet

Tools

  • Pasta machine for conditioning clay
  • Cutting blade
  • Work surface
  • 2″ round cookie cutter
  • Small acrylic roller or bamboo skewer
  • Clay dedicated toaster oven or convection oven

Directions

Because we are using wood drawer knobs, you need to prep them for the polymer clay. First, put the knobs in the oven for 15 minutes at 275 degrees to remove any moisture. When cool, cover the knobs with white glue.

Assorted Wooden Drawer Knobs

Choose a millefiori cane clay sheet. If necessary, pass the clay sheet through your pasta machine a few times to warm it up. Don’t fold the sheet or you’ll lose your design! Cut out a circle of clay from the sheet with the round cookie cutter.

Place the circle of clay on top of the drawer knob, smooth with your acrylic roller or bamboo skewer, and fit to the top of the drawer knob.


Top of Drawer Knob: Covered

Cut a 3″ long by 1/2″ wide strip of clay from your millefiori cane clay sheet.

Wrap the strip around the stem of the drawer knob, match the ends of the strip, and cut to fit the stem. Use the small acrylic roller or bamboo skewer to smooth the clay and blend with the top portion of the drawer knob. Use your cutting blade to remove any excess clay that extends beyond the base of the stem.


The drawer knob is covered and ready for the oven.

Cure the covered drawer knob in your clay dedicated toaster or convection oven for 20 minutes at 275 degrees (or as recommended by the clay manufacturer.) When the drawer knob has cooled, you can sand the drawer knob with wet/dry sandpaper and buff on a buffing wheel, if desired.

Below is a sample of the many other designs that can be created for drawer and cabinet knobs.

Assorted Polymer Clay Drawer and Cabinet Knobs

A few pictures of the drawer knobs on the cabinets and drawers in my studio.

Face & Turquoise Drawer Knobs

Cane Design & Extruded Clay Drawer Knobs

Assorted Cane Designs Drawer Knobs

I hope you enjoyed this mini-tutorial. If you cover some of your drawer knobs with polymer clay, please post them and send me a link to your blog, website or Flickr page.


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When Life Tells You To Slow Down

Note: This post has been through several iterations since I started writing it last month. I alluded to my health issues in an earlier post reflecting on my 2010 word of the year. This post goes a little more in depth on how those weeks of uncertainty called me to slow down and think about the direction I want to take in life. Be forewarned that this post may contain too much information.

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It all started in November and got crazier the weekend of Thanksgiving.

Let me preface that by saying I’m a 47 year old female. I know changes lurk around the corner. You know, that time our mother’s referred to as “the change” or “the change of life.” Growing up, that phrase was sometimes followed by stories of women growing facial hair, going “nuts” and essentially turning into something that resembled Fiona Ogre in the “Shrek” movies.

I certainly hope time and attitudes have changed.

As I said, I’m 47 and moving toward menopause. I believe I’ve been experiencing subtle symptoms of perimenopause for the past few years. Some sources report that a woman can begin experiencing these changes up to 10 years before the actual onset of menopause. No wonder many women hate their 40’s. Personally, I’ve loved being in my 40’s. It has felt like the right age for me. Unfortunately, on the health front, it is in our 40’s when our bodies pay us back for the abuse we may have given it in our 20’s and 30’s, whether you’re a woman or a man.

I have herniated discs, bouts with GERD, creaking knees, and tinnitus. All manageable issues that do their best, at times, to make me feel, ahem “middle aged.”

And then there is the perimenopause.

Eight years ago, I was diagnosed with a fibroid. Fibroids are very common in women in our western culture. There is no definitive cause for fibroids. It could be estrogen overload, it could be hereditary. One statistic I read stated that up to 75% of women have fibroids. For many women, the fibroid(s) never act up or pose any problem.

And then there are the rest of us. We must be the special chosen-ones.

Everything has been manageable these last few years. My doctor and I have taken a conservative “watch and wait” approach. Then in November things got a little out of control.

There was the biopsy to rule out uterine cancer, the ultrasound to see what was going on inside, and the two sets of blood work. (Make that four blood tests throughout the month of December.)

One blood test indicated I was hypothyroid, a common diagnosis for women in perimenopause. The next blood test said my thyroid was normal but that I was anemic. By the end of the week I’d learned that the biopsy was negative (Yea!) and the ultrasound showed more fibroids.

Now the picture was getting clearer. My hormones had apparently kicked my butt, dragged me down, and shook me up.

Lucky me.

So, why would I share with you something that is rather personal? Because I believe when our bodies put us through the wringer, it is a signal that we need to slow down and regroup. You may not agree with me and I respect that. But for me, I know my body and it was definitely screaming at me.

I also share this because women often suffer in silence during this phase of life. Sure we joke with our girlfriends and cry on our sister’s shoulders. But inside many women are afraid, unsure of what is happening to their bodies. Society, and perhaps core beliefs learned when we were kids, has told us that women are to be svelte, in control, forever youthful with porcelain skin and nary a gray hair in sight. Just look at some of the “Women’s Health” magazines. We take care of others until we drop.

Menopause means we’re getting old. Things start sagging and bagging. The kids leave home. We find ourselves facing a change of roles in our life. Who are we? What do we want to do with our new self?

During these last few weeks, I found myself slowing down, not only because I felt like crap, but also because my body was telling me to do so. I returned to daily meditation and daily reading of personally uplifting passages. My dreams became more vivid and I started to analyze their personal meaning. I had my first Reiki treatment. I released myself from all structure in my schedule.

Instead of blocking out time to get this or that task done, I wrote a one page to-do list. Whatever got done, got done. If I was tired, I took a nap. If I wanted to read, I read. If I wanted to watch TV, I watched it. I wrote in my journal almost every day, sometimes three times a day. I started exercising again, even if for only 15 minutes.

And I spent a fair amount of time thinking about my business. What is important and what isn’t. What I can let go of in order to create that which is most meaningful for me.

All of this has left me feeling empowered. My health is improving, a solution has been found, and a new plan put in place for moving me forward. I feel a burden lifting and a new door opening.

This time has not been easy. I’ve had more anxiety and stress than normal. Sometimes it feels like two steps forward and 10 steps back. I keep reminding myself that I am well, that I will be well, and that all will be well.

Writing this is cathartic. I admit to having prided myself on my health; that I wasn’t experiencing this or that problem. The risk in that attitude is the shock and fear that comes when life deals you a bum card. Granted my situation is not as bad as what some other women go through. However, when you think all is “normal” and then trip on the rug, it does make you stop and re-evaluate. Writing this is also part of my process of acceptance. Acceptance of this situation. Acceptance of the challenge. Acceptance of a new road ahead.

I jokingly refer to these last few weeks as my “power surge.” You know, there seems to be a double meaning in that phrase now that I think about it. As a result of this situation, I have started to release myself from certain commitments. In turn, new opportunities are already presenting themselves to me. I am moving forward into the power that this change in life is bringing me. I slowed down and I listened.

_________________________________________________________________________________

During this time, I found the following resources to be of great value:

A GYN’s Second Opinion

Brigham & Women’s Hospital: Obstetrics & Gynecology

BWH: Center for Uterine Fibroids

Advanced Gynecological Solutions

As always, talk to your doctor. Write down your questions and write down what the doctor tells you. Don’t be afraid to get a second or third opinion. This is your body. You need to be at peace with any decision you make.


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Monday Reflection: Focus on the Best

Never mention the worst.
Drop it out of your consciousness.
This practice will bring all of your powers to focus on the attainment of the best.
It will bring the best to you.

-Norman Vincent Peale


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My 2010 Word of the Year: Soar. A Look Back

In January of last year, I chose the word SOAR as my word of the year. I chose this word because I considered it an extension of the word Momentum. Momentum was the word I almost chose. But SOAR seemed to fit me better. I liked the sound of SOARING through the year. You can read more about why I chose SOAR here.

The idea behind choosing a word for the year, as opposed to making resolutions, is that a particular word provides you with guidance all year along. I admit that sometimes I forget that. Maybe that isn’t a bad thing. If I beat myself over the head with my word of the year, I probably wouldn’t enjoy the process any more than I like making New Year’s resolutions. So I often choose my word, put it out to the Universe, and then let it go.

How did I embody the word SOAR during 2010?

I embarked on a long thought about goal and started teaching polymer clay mixed media classes. We celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary by visiting Italy. I had mixed media artwork (on canvas) published in two different books by Patti Digh. I was interviewed by our local newspaper and a local cable channel. I dove more into social networking by finally creating a Facebook personal page and a page for my art business. I also created an online studio on ArtFire.

Many of these events and other accomplishments happened rather effortlessly. For most of the year, I felt like I was soaring on thermals. Opportunities appeared and I accepted or let them go.

My full phrase for 2010 was SOAR with MOMENTUM into ABUNDANCE and have FAITH.

And in the last two months of the year, FAITH came into play. Big time.

First I received a surprising notice that one of my galleries wished to end their contract with me. The loss of a contract is not entirely new. I’ve ended them in the past and consignment shops have ended them with me. In this case, however, the loss caused me to question the value of my artwork and my self-worth as an artist. Would I be resigned to create production artwork forever?

Then came the health issues. At 47 I expect to be facing some changes as I move closer to a new phase in my biological life. However, what I did not expect was several doctor’s appointments, a biopsy, blood tests, unplanned weight loss, and an ultrasound. As a generally healthy person, to be confronted with a body in sudden revolt over a period of several weeks not only made me angry, I was scared, tired, and crying. I found myself delving deep into prayers and searching for faith in my self and my situation. Faith that I was well, that I would be well, and that all would be well.

The sketch below sums up all the feelings I experienced during those weeks.

As the year drew to a close, my health started to return to an acceptable level of normalcy. Answers were received and a solution to the situation was found. The experience caused me to think deeply about several areas of my life. This has put me on a new path for 2011 and influences the word I’m leaning toward to guide me in 2011.

In some ways SOAR in 2010 was a mixed blessing. Much like the hawks that I love to watch, SOAR carried me on the thermals of success but it also meant I had to dive deeply to find the source of myself.


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Monday Reflection-Our Thoughts

All that we are is the result of all that we have thought;
it is founded on our thoughts,
it is made up of our thoughts.
If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought,
happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him.

-The Dhammapada, verse 2


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Accomplishments in 2010

A couple of years ago I began keeping track of all my accomplishments throughout the year. I was motivated to do this by Alyson Stanfield who posed a year end question: What did you accomplish this year? Too often I would think back on the year and ask myself “What the heck did I do this year?” Seems we tend to remember those things we didn’t do or the things that went wrong instead of the things that we accomplished.

By keeping track of the big and small accomplishments, I can most assuredly say “Wow, I DID all that!”

So, as we start a new year and with that year end question in mind, here is my list of accomplishments for 2010:

  • Started teaching polymer clay classes, including a 4 week session in my studio
  • Celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary
  • Traveled to Italy
  • Featured interview: Bolton Common’s Uncommon Conversation
  • Started accountability partnership with Sarah L
  • Attended Daniel Pink book lecture, Elizabeth Gilbert book reading, & Maya Angelou lecture
  • Submitted annual sales tax payment
  • Provided polymer clay art demos
  • Attended the Synergy 2 conference in Baltimore, MD
  • Grew my customer mailing list
  • Read 6-7 books
  • Interviewed on Hudson local cable channel
  • Received new wholesale orders and wholesale re-orders
  • Ended sales contracts that were no longer in line with my goals
  • Visited the following exhibits: Tim Burton at MOMA; the Frick Collection (NY); Extraordinary: Puppet Storytelling & Spirit at New Art Center (Newton); Harry Potter at MoS; Charles LeDray: workworkwork at ICA
  • Attended FELA! The Musical (NY), Zakir Hussain concert, Pat Methany’s Orchestrion concert, Stanley Clarke w/Hiromi jazz concert, and Cirque du Soliel’s Ovo
  • Exhibitor: Fitchburg Art Museum’s 75th Regional Exhibit of Art & Craft; Paradise City Arts Festival (Marlboro); Bolton Artisans Guild 7th Annual Holiday Show; ArtSpace 10th Annual Holiday Art Show
  • Documentaries & PBS specials watched: Herb & Dorothy; This Emotional Life; Independent Lens: Young at Heart; The Buddha; The Human Spark; Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child
  • Teleseminars attended: Hiro Boga’s-Sovereignty; Follow the Yellow Brick Road; Healing Internet Hangover; Julie Stuart’s Mapping Your Business; Pam Slim & Charlie Gilkey’s Compassionate Business Review; Think Big, Act Small.
  • Sent my e-newsletter 7 out of 8 months
  • Started mentoring a fellow RBBP class member
  • Started meditating, again

You can see that, in my book, accomplishments are not all business related. There are fun and entertaining things we accomplish, appointments we keep (or finally make), books we read, people we meet, and self-care desires we complete.

What are some of the big and small things you accomplished in 2010? Will this be your year to keep track of all those wonderful, delicious, and special things you do?

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