BOOK LAUNCH: Love Makes Room for Screwups

On SEPTEMBER 27th, my intrigue/romance novel, Love Makes Room for Screwups, will be available on Amazon for Kindle and in paperback!!!

The Kindle version is available for pre-order by following this link. 😉
If you’d prefer the paperback version, it will be available for immediate purchase on September 27th.

If you follow me on social media, you might remember I shared tiny little excerpts of the intrigue/romance novel I was writing earlier this year. Well, it’s FINALLY DONE and ready for publication! Woot!! 💥 To tempt you into buying my novel when it goes live, I’m sharing the first chapter with you here. Enjoy!

Chapter 1

Derek Case opened the door to his house, the key sticking so he had to jiggle it before the teeth caught in the gears deep in the lock.  Hearing a faint click, he turned the key and pushed the battered wood door open into the mud room.
Running a hand through his shaggy black hair, he tossed the keys into the little blue bowl sitting on the antique washstand.  They rattled as they circled the edge before dropping into the bottom.  Shrugging out of his grey windbreaker, he moved to hang it on its hook above the cedar chest.  The coat, inches from the hanger, held suspended when he paused.  Nell’s small pink princess sweater wasn’t in its usual spot, second hook from the end.  He stared at the third hook where the sweater hung instead.  Giving his head a quick shake, Derek finished putting his coat away.
“You’re crazy.  Jane is gone, in prison, not here.  I must have put it on the wrong hook last night,” he said, his voice loud in the small space.
Striding across the kitchen’s dingy yellow floor, he grabbed the tea kettle from the stove top and filled it with water at the sink.  Setting the left front burner on high, he dropped a tea bag filled with Irish Breakfast into his favorite mug, the one with “Best Dad” hand painted in blue, a Father’s Day gift from his daughter.  While he waited for the kettle to boil, he picked up the white legal pad on the counter next to the fridge, skimming down his project list to choose something he could complete for the house in the three hours he had free while Nell attended her friend’s fifth birthday party.  The landlord gave him a break on the rent for fixing the place up.  The opportunity to save any money was welcome after the financial difficulties he’d found himself in after Jane was arrested.
The shriek of the tea kettle interrupted Derek’s study of the list.  With a quick twist, he turned off the burner with the long fingers of his left hand, lifting the kettle with his right to pour the steaming contents into the mug.  Tea bag steeping in the cup, he carried it with him to the front room.  Fifteen minutes to catch up on the local news highlights wouldn’t hurt his schedule.
Derek sat back on the faded grey couch, one foot crossed over the opposite knee while the ancient TV warmed up.  The screen flickered to life, and he punched in the channel number for the local news station.  The midday anchor came on, face serious, voice stern but not stern enough to hide the tiny quaver underneath.
“Three guards are dead and a fourth in critical condition after a breakout from Smithwick Federal Penitentiary just an hour ago.  Five suspects staged the escape by starting a fight in the laundry room.  Four have been recaptured, but one remains at large,” she said, eyes bright and fearful.
“You okay?” her co-anchor asked, the quiet question picked up by the lapel microphone.
The female anchor paused before responding to her partner and the camera.  “Yes.  No.  I don’t know.  I interviewed the prisoner they haven’t recaptured yet during her trial.  She wrote to me after the story was published to tell me she didn’t like how she’d been portrayed.  She scared the crap out of me.  And now she’s out.  I don’t know.”
Derek sat up, tea cup falling to the floor, deep dark liquid splashing his boot and seeping into the worn green carpet.  He knew who the newswoman was talking about.  He knew it was Jane.  His ex-wife was supposed to be gone, locked up where she couldn’t ever hurt anyone again.  But she was devious.  And evil.  And mean.  If anyone could break out of Federal prison, it would be her.  She almost broke him during their marriage.  Breaking through walls would be easier.
A sudden thought propelled him to his feet, his tall, lanky frame quivering like a greyhound at the gate.  Nell’s sweater!
“Did you miss me?” said a voice made raspy from a 20-year pack a day cigarette habit.
Derek spun around.  Jane was leaning on the door frame to the entry hall, a hatchet swaying in her hand.
“Tell me you missed me, Derek, and this stops right here.  We’ll go get Nell and be one happy family again.  I’ll forgive you for telling the cops about that little incident with the grocery clerk.”
“You killed her!” Derek said.
“Of course I did.  She deserved it.  After months of looking down her nose at me every time I went in that store, like she thought she was better than me.  No one is better than me, especially not some prissy little clerk with an attitude problem.  Refusing to run a price check was the final straw.  That was part of her job - the customer is always right.”
“You’re insane.”
“I don’t think so.  And you still haven’t said you missed me.  Three words, Derek.  Say them.  Now,” Jane said, raising the hatchet to rest it on her shoulder.
Derek turned and ran for the kitchen, his long legs eating up the floor with gazelle-like grace.  Jane screamed behind him.  The hatchet whistled past his left shoulder and buried itself in the wall.  He kept running, adrenaline giving him speed.  He grabbed the tea kettle from the stove and threw it sidearm at Jane as she entered the room.  It fell short, scalding water leaking onto the floor.
He raced for the back door.

He never saw the butcher knife as it flew across the room, striking him at the base of his skull.

With joy and ease…

I hope you enjoyed the first chapter of Love Makes Room for Screwups. If you did, please consider pre-ordering a copy for automatic download to your Kindle on September 27, 2021. If you prefer the paperback, it will be available for purchase via Amazon on that date.

Here’s the Kindle version pre-order link again so you don’t have to scroll back to the top of this essay. 😉

Thanks for reading!

xo


Interested in my art, my writing, my poetry, or learning more about bringing consistent joy and ease into your life? Then let’s talk!

Contact me to schedule:
* A virtual coffee
* A private (virtual) art show of my art
* A commissioning conversation to discuss hiring me to create a textured fiber painting uniquely yours

If you enjoyed this essay, and it feels aligned, please share on social media or via email. If you liked it, someone you know will probably like it too!

The Real Work

What if the work you’re paid to do isn’t the real work? What if, instead, the real work is the work you do to grow and evolve, and all the rest is lesson?

That was the response I received during a recent meditation session. This essay shares my thoughts on that response.

Tree of Life…the stitching continues

Before I get into what I discovered, I want to touch on the fact that, these days, I’m artist who is rarely making art, a writer rarely writing, and a poet rarely waxing lyrical. I am still a joy and ease believer, though. That’s not ever going to change again.

After two years of self-employment, which included one year of pandemic-enforced isolation, I’m learning I don’t have as much energy at the end of the work day as I did pre-entrepreneurship. I come home from work to cook dinner. By the time we’re done with our evening meal, I’m spent. I sit to relax for a bit and find myself promptly falling asleep on the couch. This doesn’t leave a lot of room for art or word crafting. So I released my expectations for weekdays and instead, focus my attention on my art and my words on the weekends. It’s taking me much longer to create my art or revise my novel than it would if I spent a tiny bit of time on them each day. This was making me feel guilty, like I was cheating myself, because I had this image in my mind that my art and my words are what I’m meant to do.

Which is why I asked the question I asked in my meditation.

As I sit in stillness and breath to center myself for my daily meditation practice, I always ask a question, sent silently up the line to my Higher Self and my Spirit Crew. In the session I’m talking about today, my question was: What is my real work?

I asked this because of my art and word crafting expectation for myself I mentioned above. I also asked this because, while I am enjoying my return to corporate life in construction management, it has a lot of challenges. There’s a toxicity to this project I haven’t experienced in quite a while, which can make it difficult to connect to the work. I’m also missing the time when I worked for myself. These conflicts can create resentment if I allow it. As a result, I’m always consciously seeking a balance between the freedom of my dream of entrepreneurship so I can spend time with my art and my words and the freedom of a steady paycheck.

So I asked “What is my real work?” The answer I received came as a statement, not as the questions I posed at the beginning of this essay (those questions are for you to ask yourself). The download went something like this:

Your real work is the work you do ON yourself, not something you do outside yourself. The work is growth, evolution, personal expansion. It is not paycheck work, or hobby-turned-income work. Every experience you’ve had has been an opportunity for growth, to navigate challenge, to overcome hurdle, to create solution. Every experience, from childhood to adulthood presented lessons to learn so you could grow. Your job is necessary because it presents challenges that allow you to connect to yourself. Working for yourself, and releasing it, was necessary to discover you do not thrive in isolation, even as an introvert. Making your art, writing your novel, the experience of your youth – all present lessons for your growth regardless of how much time you spend with them. The real work is your work. The real work is you and the choices you make while in your human form. The real work is love and light and joy, discovering this higher energy in all things. Your real work is not the definition of work. Your real work is to evolve. Embrace every experience, the easy but especially the hard, as part of your work. Use your rest time and quiet time to process these experiences. This is where you grow. This is your work.

This message fills me with gratitude. It helps me to find balance in my feelings when they veer from one extreme to another. It helps me to better understand why my art practice has slowed down. It helps me to navigate my way through low energy environments while maintaining my own high energy view. This message helps.

Prior to returning to corporate work, my art was the way and the place I processed and learned. Over the last 5 years, I’ve created feelings out of fiber, which allowed me to better understand emotion as I turned a feeling into a tangible work of art. That work will continue but at a slower pace because I’ve entered a different learning phase. Now, I’m learning from my job how best I’m meant to grow.

That doesn’t mean I’ll quit making my art or writing my words. I’ll just do it on weekends, releasing all expectations for anything other than the joy of creating. I’m still working on my Tree of Life piece, slowly stitching to add texture to the piece. Once I’ve finished it, I’ll move on to the next textured fiber painting. Maybe, like the Tree of Life, I’ll play with paint on fabric. Maybe I’ll create another feeling. Maybe I’ll create something totally different. I’ll know what I want to create when the time comes.

Because everything I experience, from working a job to making dinner to creating art carries lessons that lead to growth. That is my real work.

What is yours?

With joy and ease…

xo


Interested in my art, my writing, my poetry, or learning more about bringing consistent joy and ease into your life? Then let’s talk!

Contact me to schedule:
* A virtual coffee
* A private (virtual) art show of my art
* A commissioning conversation to discuss hiring me to create a textured fiber painting uniquely yours

If you enjoyed this essay, and it feels aligned, please share on social media or via email. If you liked it, someone you know will probably like it too!

Protecting Energy When Things Don’t Go According to Plan

Art making is not going according to plan. And I’m working on being okay with that.

Me, working on being okay with things not going according to plan. It’s a process.

When I last wrote an essay here, it was mid-June and I finally had my studio put together. I was excited to get back into art making, to dive into the stitching phase on my Tree of Life piece I’d begun before we relocated from Florida.

I’m still excited, however, I’ve found myself having to temper that excitement so I don’t beat myself up over not meeting my own expectations for myself and my art practice.

I’d forgotten how much energy it takes to work outside the home for someone else. I’d forgotten how much energy I absorb from others after a year of pandemic-induced isolation. I’d forgotten how much stress it’s possible to feel when you’re an empath and everyone around you is stressed.

I come home each night from work, worn out, exhausted. Prepping dinner takes what little energy I have left over, leaving none for weeknight studio time.

This disappoints me. When I worked outside the home before my two years of self-employment, I always had energy when the day ended. I always took at least 15 minutes to work in my studio – because it’s amazing how much art one can make #15minutesatatime. And I was satisfied. I met my own expectations for what I wanted my art practice to look like.

Now, I’m having to redefine those expectations. We have space constraints at work. I’m in a cubicle for the first time in 20 years because of those space constraints — almost no one has an office to themselves. There’s so much noise and constant activity, I find myself frequently distracted and not nearly as productive as I’m accustomed to being. This environmental impact to my energy is fierce.

But I’m not complaining. Instead, I’m focused on ways to protect my energy while still being engaged in my work. The more I can protect my energy, the more I can conserve it, the more I’ll have left over to play with my art each evening.

One way I’m doing this is through noise cancelling ear buds. These will help to create boundaries for myself in the office. I used them over the holiday weekend at home, while stitching on my Tree of Life. When I finally removed them, I was almost startled to hear music coming from the stereo the Big Guy had turned on while he did projects around the house.

Stitching on “Tree of Life” — slow and steady with metallic thread in whatever time I have available

Another way I protect my energy is through meditation. I already meditate each morning before leaving the house for work. I’m looking into meditations suitable for driving for my commute home, something to bring me back to myself, back to my heart, so I can release whatever energy I’ve absorbed during the day, and return to my innate joy and ease. And if I can’t find a guided meditation that suits, then I’ll crank up the music and let it flow over me.

I’ve also plugged studio time into my calendar, a 15 minute appointment with myself and my art each evening after work, which allows me to reserve energy for that time. I may not make every appointment, but scheduling time into my day reminds me of the importance of engaging with my creativity. Because I keep my expectation small — #15minutesatatime — it’s easier to meet and it allows me to stick to my plan. (If you haven’t figured it out by now, the right and left sides of my brain are constantly working together. Within the structure of a plan, I have space to experiment and freely create.)

Finally, I’m reminding myself I’m made of magic, as are we all. We are magic and Spirit, choosing to live in human form to experience and learn and grow, to evolve. This current situation, where I find myself looking for ways to better protect my energy when things don’t go according to plan, is just one more lesson to learn. And maybe, as I share my own learning, you’ll find ways to evolve too.

With joy and ease…

If you’re someone like me, who finds themselves needing to protect their energy when things don’t go according to plan, what do you do to bring yourself back to yourself?

I’d love to know. Please drop a comment below or send me a DM and let’s have a conversation – together, we may find just the solution you need.

xo


Interested in my art, my writing, my poetry, or learning more about bringing consistent joy and ease into your life? Then let’s talk!

Contact me to schedule:
* A virtual coffee
* A private (virtual) art show of my art
* A commissioning conversation to discuss hiring me to create a textured fiber painting uniquely yours

If you enjoyed this essay, and it feels aligned, please share on social media or via email. If you liked it, someone you know will probably like it too!

Back to the Studio…Barely

I have a studio again!

In the month since I last wrote, we’ve unpacked the house and put everything away, with the exception of hanging art and photos on the walls. This includes getting my studio space organized and ready for art making.

But have I made any art?

Just barely.

Walk in closet studio storage! Every artist’s dream!

My art making intentions have been solid. However, the last time we moved – in March 2020 – I was working for myself so I was able to set aside my work to spend a week focused on unpacking and settling in. This go around, I’m back to work full time outside the home. That schedule really impacts the amount of time available to unpack AND make art.

I’d forgotten that bit about working for someone else. My schedule is no longer my own and this particular project requires long days. I’m not complaining – I’m truly enjoying the job. But I do miss my studio time.

Which is why I’m so pleased to have the space organized and ready to go.

Everything in its place.

Before we relocated from the East Coast to the Southwest, I’d begun work on a Tree of Life textured fiber painting, a departure from my Feelings work. I’d created the canvas, a landscape suitable for an arching tree. And that’s where I’d paused to get ready to move.

Now that all our things are put away and we’re settled into our new home, I’ve finally been able to create the time in my weekend schedule to design the tree to sweep across that canvas.

This piece took an interested twist with the tree. Following my usual design method, I laid curving strips of fabric on the canvas to create the trunk, the branches. And it didn’t look right. So I tried other strips of fabric. Then I tried ribbon and pipe cleaners and felted wool. Nothing produced the vision of the tree I had in my head.

Then I remembered I had paint, acrylic and fabric. So I took a deep breath and embraced the opportunity to experiment with painting on fabric to create my tree.

Thankfully, my experiment worked. I love how the design came out. There’s a tiny hint of it in the photo below. I’m saving the rest for when I’ve completed this art piece, so be patient please!

Hinting at the tree

The other exciting thing about being back in my studio, besides the success of my experiment, is the amount of space I have in the room. For the first time ever, I’m able to open my cutting table to it’s full length. It’s a drop leaf construction and in the almost 20 years I’ve owned this sewing furniture, I’ve only ever been able to raise one leaf. Now I can raise both and have the full 75-80” to work on! I’m ridiculously pleased. The ability to spread out all on the same surface is delightful. As shown in the photos above, I also have a walk-in closet to store my supplies.

It’s a wonderful studio and I’m grateful to have it.

Sewing cabinet, closed until I’m ready to stitch.
Ok, so I hung one thing. My studio always feels complete when my kite is hung.

With joy and ease…

I’m excited to begin stitching on my Tree of Life piece, slowly and as I create the time. I’ve accepted making 8-10 pieces a year may no longer be possible (each takes quite a while due to the dense stitching I use in my designs) so I’m embracing this opportunity to slow down my making.

If I only make a few pieces this year, I’m still creating, I’m still making art, I’m still an artist. And I believe that is what’s most important — experiencing the joy and ease that comes from being a creator.

In next month’s update, I’ll share a progress update and photos of some of the stitching. Until then, keep creating with joy and ease!

xo


Interested in my art, my writing, my poetry, or learning more about bringing consistent joy and ease into your life? Then let’s talk!

Contact me to schedule:
* A virtual coffee
* A private (virtual) art show of my art
* A commissioning conversation to discuss hiring me to create a textured fiber painting uniquely yours

If you enjoyed this essay, and it feels aligned, please share on social media or via email. If you liked it, someone you know will probably like it too!

What being an artist means to me

It took me a long time to figure it out, but being an artist means everything to me. I fought against this identity. When I finally surrendered, life got a whole lot easier.

If you’ve struggled or fought against your own creative calling, keep going to read the article. If you’re rather watch and listen, jump to the video at the end.

Image credit: Hilary Clark – detail view of “Crushed”

The journey…

Being an artist means everything to me. It’s who I am. But I didn’t always know this. In fact, I spent years actively denying it to myself.

Being an artist didn’t feel practical. It wasn’t a logical move. I questioned my ability to make an income. I wondered how I’d ever find the time to make art while working a full time job.

I came up with tons of excuses about why I couldn’t possibly be an artist. I even chose to take another career path in my obstinance, one that was just as distracting to creative thought.

Initially, I thought I’d be a writer, penning New York Times bestselling novels with ease. I’ve always loved to write, beginning with an introduction to poetry writing in the 4th grade, then creative writing classes in high school and college. I write well. I can tell a compelling story. I thought novel writing would be a breeze.

It wasn’t. I found myself resistant to writing, to putting my butt in the seat and fingers to keyboard. I’d get a good start with a plot, then it would die out for lack of imagination on where the characters might go next.

So I decided I wasn’t meant to be a writer, of fiction novels at least, because I told myself I didn’t have what it took to carry a plot line through 300 pages.

From novelist to children’s book writer…

When I gave up on writing novels, I thought, oh, I’ll write children’s books instead – they’re shorter; my imagination can carry a story line through to the end. I love fantastical creatures, so writing books to captivate children felt simple.

And I wrote one – for my niece as a gift for her 5th birthday. And I started another for my nephew that remains unfinished because he grew older and fell out of interest in superheroes.

So then I told myself I wasn’t qualified to write children’s books because I don’t have children of my own.

From writer to life coach…

I set writing aside, pretending I’d given it a good try and pretending it didn’t hurt my heart just a little bit to give up on my lifelong dream to write books. And I went on a quest to find another career.

I found life coaching. I got educated on what it means to be a life coach. I practiced and coached and tapped into all the personal growth I’d done on myself to help others. I found coaching satisfying – when the light bulb goes off for a client can be incredibly joyful.

But it wasn’t creative and it felt very much like it was in the way of what I really wanted to do.

Admitting it…

For over 20 years, I’ve been creating with my sewing machine. I started with traditional lap quilts, then began to make art quilts of my own design, and about 6 years ago, I shifted to what I call textured fiber paintings – densely stitched abstract fiber pieces.

Through my corporate career, through my exploration around being a writer, through my journey to train and practice as a coach, I continued to make my fiber pieces.

That’s all I really wanted to do. In fact, I thought becoming a coach would be the path to allow me more time to create my fiber art. But coaching didn’t. It distracted me instead.

And still I struggled and fought against calling myself an artist.

Then my partner and I moved across country in the middle of a pandemic and something shifted inside me. A door opened and through it, I saw opportunity. I saw that my struggle and fight were exhausting and it was time to surrender.

So I did. I surrendered so I could accept who I really am – an artist. I’m an artist who creates feelings out of fiber and it is everything.

A life of grace, ease, and lightness…

Eckhart Tolle wrote in The Power of Now, “To offer no resistance to life is to be in a state of grace, ease, and lightness.”

That’s what being an artist feels like to me – a life of grace, ease, and lightness.

From the moment I surrendered to my calling, that of being an artist, everything got simpler. My mind exploded with creative ideas. I began to explore other ways to make art, like drawing and painting, which had previously held little interest because I believed I wouldn’t be any good at them.

My mood shifted from a state of frequent quiet gentle melancholy to one of constant simmering joy.

Most surprising of all, the story line for a novel came to me, complete with characters, the plot path, and easy breezy writing time with my butt in my seat and my fingers on the keyboard.

Being an artist means everything to me. It’s who I am.

But I never would have found this joy if I’d continued resisting what my heart knew.

In closing…

So many of us spend some portion of our lives struggling against what our deepest inner knowing calls us to be and do. I spent most of my adult life in that struggle. And then I stopped resisting and everything became easy.

If you’ve fought and struggled against what your deepest inner knowing is calling you to be or do, especially if it’s a creative calling, I’m here to tell you it’s time to surrender. In fact, I’m here to help you get there. Part of my definition of myself as an artist includes helping others who’ve struggled to claim that same definition for themselves. I can help you release the resistance and find your state of ease.

I promise you, when you let the struggle go, it will mean everything.

P.S. If you could use help to surrender to your creative calling, get in touch and we’ll set up time to talk about what I call The Hilary Method, my process to help you become more productive and proactive so you can be more creative.

P.P.S. If you liked what you read (or watched if you chose the video), please share with the one person you absolutely know would like it too!