Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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New Art Friday: Two Piggys and A Chicken Walk Into A Bar

Sorry, were you expecting some crude joke about pigs and chickens? My apologies if I disappointed you.

Today I am sharing with you three new Ornimals that are variations on the Down on the Farm series.

When Pigs Fly…

When Pigs Fly… is a specially crafted Piggy Ornimal for the Merrimack Valley Artisans (MVA) Holiday show this October. This piece will be raffled at the show as part of MVA’s scholarship fundraiser. I am designing a display stand for this piece as well.

When Pigs Fly…
Amy Crawley (2012)

When Pigs Fly… measures 2 3/8″ (60mm) in diameter. She features angel wings lightly dusted with white glitter.

Piggys in Berets

This piece was inspired by the Tour de France which was playing in the background in the studio. It started out with the Piggy wearing a fashionable black beret. But when I started to paint on the features I wasn’t happy with how the beret looked on his head. So I added a red feather and red bead. It seemed to give him a certain “je ne sais quoi.”

Piggy with Beret
Amy Crawley (2012)

Chicken with Black Feathers

Chickens come in all sizes and plumage. This particular chicken was inspired by the Delaware breed which have black and white feathers.

Delaware Chicken Ornimal
Amy Crawley (2012)

September is Chicken Month!

In honor of Chicken Month I will be running a special sale on my Chicken Ornimals in September. If you love chickens, raise chickens, or know someone who does and you’d like to get the details about this special, sign up for my Free monthly art newsletter Studio Happenings. The sale is only available to my newsletter subscribers. (A portion of all Ornimal sales is donated to BayPath Humane Society, a no-kill animal shelter.)


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A Year of Mindfulness-Being Present in the Face of Death

It is the women of our families who keep the traditions, preserve the memories, and hold us close.
-Unknown

My last mindfulness blog post was nearly three weeks ago. The topic was This Person Could Die Tonight. At the time I said that this particular practice was resonating with me. It was hitting too close to home as I had three ill people in my immediate family.

Shortly after uploading that post I traveled out of town to be with two of those ill family members. Little did I know that for one family member, it would be my last visit.

On Wednesday, August 15, my Mom, Anne Butler, passed away peacefully after a short illness. It was the most heart-wrenching event I’ve experienced in some time. It was also the most spiritual.

Mom had been sick since the middle of July. Each episode that played out over those early weeks seemed to resolve and then something else would appear.  In the end she developed pneumonia that her body could no longer fight.

During the final days I spent with her I kept reminding myself to be present to the situation. To be mindful in the face of death. I was constantly reminded of my last mindfulness post. How the hell could this be happening?

They say that being present with a loved one during their final days is one of great honor. I honestly couldn’t see the honor when the process began. It was gut wrenching.

You want to respect the wishes of your loved one. You want them to be free of any pain or fear. You don’t want them to struggle. You want to help them make the transition.

You realize that you can only take them so far on this journey. At some point, you understand that your loved one must make this journey on their own. The timing, the decision, is entirely up to them and nature.

We come into this world screaming. We hope to leave this world with peace and dignity. A few days before Mom passed, I remember saying to myself that “it” was getting closer. I could feel the inevitable around the perimeter of her room. Tendrils would touch her and then pull back. It wasn’t time. But it was coming.

Later Mom rested comfortably. Her breathing was less labored. She slept deeply. Her skin was warm to the touch. During a moment when I whispered into her ear, she snored into mine. It made me laugh.

My Mom was a very good swimmer. She taught me how to float and then how to swim. One morning before she passed, I had a vision. Mom and I were in a body of water and we both wore white. This time our roles were reversed. I stood in the water with my arms outstretched. Mom lay in my arms floating on the water. I was helping her to float. No words were said between us. We simply enjoyed the coolness of the water as I gently held her.

Mom passed a few days later at 9:30am in a lovely hospice facility. She did not leave this world alone as family was with her. Each of us took part in assisting her on this final journey.

My heart has been full of sadness. I’ve literally felt it break as the anguish flowed down my arms. Yet I’ve also had a sense of internal peace and calm. I know Mom passed as she wanted. In peace and with dignity.

Mom and I (1994)

Mom (2009)

Shrine for Mom (2012)


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Solopreneur Wednesday: Who Said I Have To Be Passionate About My Work?

The topic of “follow your passion” or “being passionate” about what you do pops up every once in a while in the blogosphere. And in the past couple of weeks the topic has reared its head again.

I start to get a little, um, anxious, when this topic is discussed.

Near as I can tell this latest go-round started some time after the World Domination Summit was held in Oregon. Alyson Stanfield asked if this was good advice on the Deep Thought Thursday segment of her blog. The comments were entertaining to read.

Alyson attended WDS. Cal Newport was a speaker at WDS and he “debunked” the directive to “follow your passion.”  When Alyson said “yay” to Cal’s directive, that too generated many responses.

I did not attend WDS and did not hear Cal Newport’s presentation.

But when I read Alyson’s Deep Thought Thursday post and the accompanying comments, I couldn’t help but feel like there was something “wrong” with me. And I realized it has to do with the word “passion.”

Passion versus Making Meaning

This may be more about semantics than anything but when people talk about getting all “passionate” about what they do, I feel like an odd-ball. I start to doubt myself and ask “Am I really passionate about what I do?”

Something about that word conjures up images of people dedicating themselves to one thing for their entire lives, 24/7. They live, breathe, and eat whatever it is they are passionate about. I look at them and say “Wow. Wish I was like that.”

But I don’t think I am. At least not compared to the image that is in my head.

Now don’t get me wrong. I love what I do. But I also like to do other things. I love making my art. I love looking at art. I also love to travel, cook, spend quiet time with my hubby, play with the cats, take long walks, and so on and so forth.

I have many interests and some may rank higher than others at any given time. And I think that is where the whole “passion” thing bothers me.

It seems to conjure up this idea that to be passionate about something means that is the only thing you could be passionate about. That just doesn’t feel right to me. When I’m making my art, I’m focused and enjoying that moment. When I’m traveling, I’m enjoying that moment. When I’m eating a great meal, I’m enjoying that moment.

Instead of being passionate about something, I think I prefer to feel that what I’m doing is meaningful or that I’m at least getting something out of the experience.

And in terms of making art, this has been a biggie for me.

I’ve always had a strong desire to make meaning with my art. This is part of the reason why I got bored with production work. I couldn’t find much meaning in repetitively making wine bottle stoppers, perfume pens, or business card cases.

So I made my Spirit Messengers. These pieces held meaning through symbolism and stories. And I saw how people reacted to them when I brought them to art shows.

Darwin Explores
Amy A. Crawley (2012)

Over time I decided to focus on animal inspired art. It made sense as animals are of great interest to me. I care about their welfare. I donate a portion of sales from my art to a local no-kill animal shelter. But, as I said, it took some time to make this subject matter the focus of my art.

I think the other aspect that makes the “follow your passion” mantra difficult for me is that this art making gig is also my business. Somewhere along the way, when art becomes a business, you learn there are many more things that must be considered if you hope to have some amount of success. It becomes a balancing act to make art and run a business as an artist.

Maybe that’s why some people say “Beware of your hobby turning into business” (or something like that.)

This morning I read Alyson’s most recent blog post on why she doesn’t advise people to follow their passion. She wrote this as a follow-up to her Deep Thought Thursday post, as many people wanted to know her opinion on the discussion.

I really agree with Alyson’s opinion. What do you think?


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A Year of Mindfulness: This Person Could Die Tonight

Sniff, sniff…how did you do with last week’s practice to become aware of smells? I loved that you shared some of your favorite scents and the memories attached to them. If you continue this practice throughout the year, notice how smells change during the year. I’m thinking of wood burning in the fireplace in the winter or the scent of apple cider in the fall. Or one of my favorites, the smell of spring.

This Week’s Practice: This Person Could Die Tonight

I remember earlier in the year when I flipped through How to Train a Wild Elephant and saw the title of this week’s practice. It gave me the creeps. I knew this practice would cross my (our) path at some point. And now here it is. The appearance of this practice comes at a moment in my life when I am dealing with three ill family members. In all three cases we know that the inevitable will happen, someday. In all three cases the thought that it might happen sooner than later has also crossed my mind.

So why would we need to become mindful that any person in our life could die tonight? Certainly it causes us to consider our own mortality. Something we might tend to do anyways as we get older. Having spent several years working as a Speech-Language Pathologist in nursing homes & rehab settings, I had to accept death and my own mortality early-on. The first time you have a patient die, you tend to reexamine life.

What happens if you consider that the person you’re talking with on the phone could die tonight? Does your heart open a little more? Do you pay more attention to what they’re saying? We’re all a bit guilty of talking to people but not really listening to them.

When speaking face to face with someone, how often do you look past them or look down at something else? If you knew that person were to die tonight, would you be more inclined to look directly at them when speaking?

This week’s practice, as depressing as it sounds, helps us break through our own denial that human life is fragile and that death could come at any moment. This isn’t about filling your head with anxious thoughts about mortality. It is about improving your awareness of impermanence and cherishing the people you encounter every day.

This week, instead of talking “to” someone, bring presence to the encounter. Realize that you, too, could die tonight. Be more present and more alive in your life.

Reflection: The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time. -Mark Twain


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New Art Friday: Revisiting An Art Doll

This week I’m sharing with you an art doll I made in 2009 during my first visit to La Cascade in Dufort, France.

This is an art doll that is an example of why you must think through your design and construction process. I had only thought through part of the process back in 2009. It is a challenge to create a piece in a limited amount of time and consider all angles of the process. That’s okay. I’ve learned that it’s completely fine to walk-away with a less than perfect piece.

Back to the Beginning

The workshop in Dufort was with my friend Dayle Doroshow. You can read about it here and here.

By the time I started working on this art doll, we had visited Revel, Soreze, the Farmers Market, the vide grenier, and Albi. I was feeling inspired by all the gargoyles in the area and chose an old office rubber stamp as the base for my doll’s head. (I bought a bag of these stamps at the vide grenier with the intent of using them as art doll “heads.”) I sculpted the head onto the handle of the stamp, wrapped his “neck” around the stem of the handle, embellished and antiqued the head.

Dufort Art Doll head
Amy A. Crawley (2012)

I decided to cover an empty cardboard matchbox with polymer and incorporated it into the body of this art doll. This was something new for me as I had only made hollow-core art doll bodies up to this point. The matchbox is embellished with a piece of napkin, a small sunflower (le tournesol) and a face bead.

Dufort art doll mid-section
Amy A. Crawley (2012)

Now in between his head and his torso is a long cane-embellished snake with two little paw-like hands at either end. These became the arms for the art doll. Using a similar technique I created his long legs and feet.

Dufort art doll legs
Amy A. Crawley (2012)

So there I am with four sections, a head, arms, torso, and legs. Somewhere in the process I had decided that I was going to “string” all the parts together, kind of like a marionette. This is where the construction part became interesting.

Dayle’s lovely husband Dan found a drill at La Cascade. We measured (“eyeballed” really) the horizontal part of the stamp (where the rubber portion would have been attached) and Dan drilled two holes into the wood. Then I set about measuring some buna cord. I laid out each piece and strung the head portion to the arms and torso.

Where this got interesting was hoping I measured each piece of buna cord correctly (i.e: evenly) so that the art doll’s top portion would be balanced. It almost worked. He has a very slight unevenness in his right/left balance. But that just adds to his character.

Stringing the legs to the torso was a bit easier as the buna cord is glued into holes at the base of the torso and top of each leg. But again, I had to measure rather accurately so he wouldn’t have one leg hand lower than the other. (What is that old adage, “measure twice, cut once.”)

Back Home

My intent in creating this art doll was to have him hang on the wall. After returning home I added the feathers to his head. Then I attempted to hang him on the wall.

And his head immediately drooped over. His head was too heavy. Wah.

For whatever reason my brain insisted that the only way to mount the piece on the wall was to hang it from a nail placed under the wood stamp. And would you believe this approach stayed stuck in my head for quite some time?

I thought about creating a hook on the back. For some reason my brain got stuck on the idea that to create a hook, I’d have to drill into the back of the stamp handle.

Then finally the other day, as this art doll was resting comfortably on a work table, I picked him up, grabbed some 18g wire, and started wrapping the wire around his neck. I made a loop in the back and secured it.

Finally the Dufort Art Doll of 2009 could be hung on the wall without flopping over. Why hadn’t I thought of this earlier?

Dufort Art Doll 2009
Amy A. Crawley (2012)

As I said, had I taken more time to think about the construction of this piece, it may have turned out a little different. Had I not been so stuck on my earlier construction process, I might have completed the piece sooner. Really, all that was missing was a good way to display him on a wall.

I haven’t made anything similar since 2009, in part because of the challenge I faced in figuring out how to hang the damn thing. Now that I look at this piece, I remember how much I enjoyed creating him, especially the marionette-like aspect.

Maybe, just maybe, another one is in my future.

Have a great weekend!


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Solopreneur Wednesday: You Gotta Spend Money to Make Money and Fighting Limiting Beliefs

Do you have limiting beliefs about money?

You know what I did with mine today? I ripped them up , set them on fire, and then drowned them.

Fighting Limiting Beliefs About Money

Last week I revisited the moola making chapter in Jennifer Lee’s book, The Right Brain Business Plan. Though we’re already half way through the year, it’s never a bad time to reassess money making opportunities in your business. Of course, if you’re reassessing where you’re making money, you must give equal time to where you’re spending money.

Ick.

Money is, for many solopreneurs, a double-edged sword. You have to spend money to make money. But sometimes it is hard to spend that money if you don’t know when you’ll make back the money that you just spent.

This was the limiting belief that hit me square in the head last week. It has been following me around for quite a while too.

Limiting beliefs. Quirky little buggers. Especially when it comes to money.

Where do these beliefs come from? Some of them most likely form when we’re kids. We pick up on these beliefs from our parents or other adults in our little kid life. We observe how our parents handle money-both the saving and the spending aspects. We take a little from that time period, form our own ideas as we get older, have a good experience or a bad experience and then the whole mess gets mixed up in a great big cauldron called our mind.

Groovy.

Until it starts to bubble and froth and spews forth at any time while trying to run our small business.

Make a List. Check it Twice. Then chuck it.

I’ve been in business for several years. And my beliefs about money aren’t nearly as overbearing as they were at one time. But there are still some that rest in those dark recesses. And when it comes to looking hard at “the numbers,” guess who pops up?

Right.

Before being able to move forward with setting new money making goals, you need to understand what is holding you back. You may not know why, but at least giving those limiting beliefs a name can help.

Set aside some time to do this task. Get a pad of paper and a pen. I like to put on some instrumental music. But maybe you’d prefer something a bit more head-bangy metallic? Take a few deep breaths. Ask yourself what your limiting beliefs are about money. Ask yourself why the thought of spending money in your business gives you the heebie-jeebies. Ask why the thought of accepting money for your product or service makes you feel light-headed.

And then let ‘er rip. Write it all down. Don’t worry about good grammar or spelling. Just go with the flow. Keep writing until those negative thoughts stop or slow down to a trickle.

(If the thought of writing this down causes your brain to freeze or you draw a complete blank when you look at your sheet of paper, try doodling or making little symbols on the paper. Perhaps single words will start to trickle out and then an avalanche of words and phrases. There is no “right” or “wrong” here. I believe the act of writing can be cathartic. Something about getting your hand moving across the page. But if you prefer to type this out on your computer, that is okay too. Do what works best for you.)

When you’re done with your list, look it over. Read it. Then set it aside.

The Turn Around

Now you don’t want those limiting beliefs to sit there and stare at you. No way. Now you need to turn them around.

Yes, this can be a little tricky because you want to make a negative into a positive. (Don’t worry, no funny math or physics formulas required.) Take another deep breath, look those limiting beliefs in their beady little eyes and flip the words into a positive affirmation.

I mentioned that one of my limiting beliefs is “I’m afraid to spend money because I don’t know when I’ll make back the money that I just spent.”

My turn around for this: “I make more money than I can spend.”

Now, on a clean piece of paper, write down a positive statement for every negative, limiting belief you wrote on that other piece of paper. When you’ve written all your positive affirmations, set that piece of paper aside.

And that sheet of paper with the limiting beliefs? Get rid of it! Shred it, burn it, flush it down the toilet, or put it in the compost bin. Make a fun ritual out of it. Just don’t keep it around for long because you don’t want the negative energy from those limiting beliefs to sit and fester.

A Brand New Day

After you get rid of that negative, limiting belief sheet of paper, make sure you keep your positive affirmations in a spot where you can read them every day. Maybe you read them two or three times a day. Whatever works.

How do you feel?

Will this bring money flowing through your door immediately? Probably not. However, I do believe that great things happen unexpectedly. Putting that positive energy out into the Universe can be a good thing.

You still need to do your work, make your connections, sell your product or service.

But understanding your limiting beliefs and how to turn them around can make this solopreneur gig a lot easier.

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Leave a comment below and share how you confront limiting beliefs.

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