Arting It Up with 29 Faces!

29 faces

In September, I decided to participate in the 29 Faces Challenge by Ayala Art!

It was so awesome. The amount of growth from drawing one or two faces a day was really amazing! I made a Flipagram showing my progress:

(omg, who just inserted a video into a blog post? this girl!)

I had such a wonderful time that I’ve decided to make it a part of my daily art practice. YAY!

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I’ve also decided to participate in Art Every Day Month by the awesome Leah at Creative Every Day during the month of November. Super excited!

I’ve always loved making things, especially messes! This new focus on creativity has really helped me through some tough issues we’re facing. Being creative, making art (and messes), brings me such a unique type of joy.

I’d love to know what is bringing you joy!

Our Darkest Day

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Today is the anniversary of our darkest day.

Today is the day, on October 1, 2010, that we lost our dear baby Hope.

We went to the doctor excited to see our baby on the big fancy ultra sound machine.
14 weeks of bliss. The best 14 weeks of our lives.

We left in tears. Completely broken.

Two words destroyed us: no heartbeat.

Years of trying and praying, 14 weeks of dreams come true, gone.

We were lost. Devastated. Angry.

Why, why, why, why!

Why would our wonderful, amazing, loving God take our precious baby?

How would I remember to breathe?

What was the point of anything if our baby could be taken away from us with two words.

We were robbed of so much more than our baby that day. So much of what I knew to be absolutely true in the world was gone. Nothing would ever be right or pure again. Not like it was before this promise was broken.

I don’t get to think that being pregnant means a baby anymore. Never.

I don’t get to think that everything will be okay ever again.

I don’t get to trust my body.

I don’t get to believe, without doubt, that it all works out in the end.

I don’t get to hold our sweet little baby. Not ever. Not once. Never.

We have healed and grown so much since the darkest times. We have managed to pull me out of the blackest darkness I’ve ever known. My husband saved me so many times. He set his own grief aside to heal mine. Our family and friends stayed by us and loved us, even though we were not even a little bit fun to be around.

We know we are blessed to have us, happy, in love, best friends forever, us. But we will always, forever, and ever miss our what could have been.

We love you baby Hope. Always.

The eyeliner incident, but not really

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Last week I cried because the wrong color eyeliner was in my box from Sephora. Cried. Ugly, Schmoopy needed to hold me cry. It was about as awful as a Dobby from HP kind of cry. My patient, kind, loving husband who doesn’t always understand but loves without judgement and so fiercely, let me thrash it out. And thank God for that man! The kicker: It wasn’t even Sephora’s fault. I ordered the wrong one. That kinda sucked, too, because I couldn’t even blame anyone but me. There was a roach at the bottom of my coffee cup only a few days later. It was like a message saying, just go with it…you will be fine. But, I wasn’t in the mood for that message. Or much of anything, really. Roller coaster emotions. I hate them

It wasn’t the eyeliner I was crying over, for real. It was so many things, huge and insignificant, that had me sobbing. I have a strange sense of unease this school year (as a teacher, my life is measured in these school years, rather than fiscal years, or calendar years, like non-teachers see the world). It is a thing that has causes and mysteries, none of which are easy to name. And these unnameable things grow even bigger and more fierce without names. Like they can roam free and do anything they like, because they have no way to be called or caught.

I am fighting this, all of it. I’m searching for these longings to be settled and an ease that just won’t come. Some of it is the societal demand of being a teacher in a time that keeps blaming and trying to fix without knowing or really supporting. Without loving. Some of it is my heart that wishes for big huge giant things that cannot be, like my Poppi, or my Yankee Jane kitty girl, or my sweet baby Hope. Some of it is that horrid stupid empty that is infertility and the feeling of powerless that wraps itself around me and squeezes, as 40 draws more near, as friends become parents time and again while still I wait. I talk & text with my dear friends and they rage with me and fuss with me and give me hugs across the miles. Even though I know they hurt with me and they would fix it, if they could. They’d kick some ass and set fires. And I love them. So freaking hard. So, so, so much.

But this still sits on my chest like a beast. Some of it is the nightmares, both tiny and raging, that keep me edgy and sleepy and up too early. Most of it is a fear of those Dark Times returning, even thought I know I’m in a better place now and I won’t fall like that again. But also knowing that I could, so quickly and easily, I could. This is an ugly temper tantrum in a crowded store. This isn’t about the eyeliner. Or the coffee roach. Or the entire blender full of green smoothie that jumped out my hands at 5:30 this morning & coated the floor, walls, and appliances with greenish blue muck. It isn’t about one thing, large or small. It is everything. And nothing.

Then tonight I went to my teacher book club. And I was tired &  grumpy. And I didn’t really want to go. But I went. And I laughed. And I laughed. Laughed. We talked about all of the awesome that happens in our classrooms and all of the awful, too. It was so right. So raw. So real. But not in a sad way. Not in a complaining way. It was just what I needed.

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When I got home it was late & I was tired. Way tired. Teacher Tired, but so much happier. I logged into my MADE course  and read this:

“I am here to remind you
your life is heartbreakingly gorgeous even when it’s heartbreakingly . . . heartbreaking.
I am here to remind you
we can speak with the Divine
even when our words come out all ugly, when we want to swear,
when we scream why,
when we have nothing left to say.
I am here to remind you
you are loved––beyond measure, beyond any boundary:
you are loved, you are loved, you are loved,
you are the child of Love
and expression of Love
and outpouring of Love.”

It was a gift. A hug. A prayer. Love.
And I knew, really knew, that I would be okay. Because of love, and laughter, and friendship. And love. So much Love.

Please say a prayer or two, offer a smile to those who need it, be kinder than necessary. Be strong for those who are weak. I am trying. Always trying.

Arting It Up: 29 Faces

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My love of Grumpy Cat & Sharknado will never fade, but I’ve also been really into making mixed media art lately. It is an extension of my love of scrapbooking, but kicked up a bunch. I can do anything with this style, no matter what I have on hand or what my mood is. It’s pretty epic stuff with a no rules/no wrong kind of awesome that makes my heart really freaking happy!

I’m a huge Effy Wild fangirl. I’m taking both her Book of Days class & her Moonshine: Mother class. So much awesome! She suggested participating in the 29 Faces Challenge & I went for it! So much win!

I’ve grown so much in such a short amount of time. Practice & surrender really help! Here are some of my faces.

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This is such a happy way to end my days! I’m sharing it with some of the monsters, too! I feel an after school art day coming on! Yay!

Today I Am…Quitting!

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Sometimes, just sometimes, being a quitter actually makes you a winner. 

It wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I realized I could quit reading a book that I hated. I mean, I even called my mom to ask permission. She laughed, like she usually does, and told me to go for it. Wow. That changed my life. I’m not a quitter. I am a finisher. But, there are times when quitting equals winning. And those times are awesome! I totally won when I quit smoking. I was a huge winner when I realized that saying NO to some things was not only possible, but pretty dang awesome.

I’ve quit a bunch of stuff lately and it has made my life a whole heck of a lot better! I’m happier. I miss some things a lot (like Diet Dr. Pepper…ugh, I dream about that fizzy DDP goodness). Other things, like the extra 23 lbs. I’ve ditched since May or some negative people that I’ve finally managed to shake, never get a second thought.

Quitting feels good! I don’t miss stressing about my dissertation, those deadlines, or the black cloud of research guilt that was always hanging over my head. Quitting that was awesome. I do miss the possibility of it all, thought. A lot. It might make me cringe every time someone I know does the thing I couldn’t do, but ultimately the (super totally majorly difficult) decision was the best thing for me, Schmoopy, and any littles that will be joining our family (sooner, rather than later, I pray-and you can too, please! No, I don’t have any news, just a lot of Hope!).

Basically, embracing my Inner Quitter is a new thing for me, but a good one. I’m spending my time and energy being the best me I can possibly be. I’m taking art classes, reading for fun, spending time with the man of my dreams and our crazy cat, and I’m totally absolutely in love with teaching again. It’s all so blissful. YAY!

Did you have to be a quitter in order to find your bliss? I’d love to hear about it!

photo credit: Jillian Corinne via photopin cc

Today I am…Going Back to School & Starting Summer Camp!

I started back to school last week. The kiddos come on Thursday and I cannot wait! I love my monsters! I will get to meet them tomorrow at open house and I’m so excited. I LOVE BEING A TEACHER! Even my worst days are better than most people’s good days.

That’s a blessing, for sure!

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I’ve also started Art Journal Summer Camp with Samie Harding. I’ve been indulging in my creative side this summer (all part of our Get Healthy, Get Baby plan) and I’m so happy! I have always loved art, but just haven’t been very creative the last few years. But now, it is so on!  Last weekend, I took two classes with Donna Downey (and fangirled the whole dang time!). I’m still doing Effy Wild’s Book of Days and loving it. I’m also in Life Book 2013 with Tam Laporte, Behind the Art with Christy Tomlinson, and I’m starting Soul Restoration with Melody Ross soon. Am I insane? Probably! But in such an amazingly awesome way! I’ve also started cross stitching–The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery has the most adorable patterns…ahhhhh!

Creative Mandee is rocking it this summer & I’ve totally found my bliss!

My wish is for all of you to find your bliss, too! 

Here are some pics of my favorite artsy creations from the summer!

The Frosted Pumpkin Cross Stitch...Love!

The Frosted Pumpkin Cross Stitch…Love! Huge learning curve going on!

 

This is where we got engaged. I love this!

This is where we got engaged. I love this!

I love Donna Downey!!

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I made this in Effy Wild's class. Love her!

I made this in Effy Wild’s class. Love her!

Arting it Up!

Look what I made!!
Tonight I took a class at Altered Angel, my ultimate fave store in the universe, with the amazing Donna Downey. It totally rocked!

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Just like Hazel

Just like Hazel’s love for An Imperial Affliction, I can’t stop reading The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I’m listening to it in the car now (I saw it at the library and grabbed it!). It is beauty and magic and perfection all at once. It leaves me, quite like Hazel’s constant state, breathless.

When one of my dear friends mom was diagnosed with the big ugly C, we watched ever cancer movie there was. It helped her cope and heal with the giant suck fest that is cancer. When my dad got a similar diagnosis some years later, our healing time was bad comedy & lame SciFi. I didn’t read cancer books or watch cancer movies. I got angry, sad, and very afraid. So, when I heard Green’s new book was, in fact, about the big C, I ditched it for a long time. I wasn’t going to read a cancer book. But, I love John Green. I love the way he makes me laugh right after he made me cry or scream eff bombs, even though I’m trying not to cuss (you can take the girl out of Jersey…). That’s pretty dang epic. So, of course, it was just a matter of time before TFiOS made its way to my reading pile. It is, like An Imperial Affliction, the book, my book. It has become part of me in a way that a tiny few books ever have or ever will.

This was me yesterday, pulled over on the side of the road, crying, & trying to breathe

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I know the story. I know what’s going to happen. It makes it worse, actually, the knowing. And I love/hate it.

What’s your book?

I’m blogging along with Effy Wild this month. Join us!
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August Blogalong with Effy Wild

So, I’ve decided to challenge myself to Effy Wild’s Blogalong.

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Effy is a super amazing & awesomely creative artist, teacher, and glitter flinger. She is totally one of my artistic heroes! I’m taking her Book of Days class now & WOW! It is so full of win!

I’m not going to make this an icky challenge with lots of rules. Zero criticism from me will be allowed…aren’t we always our worst critics! I mean unless you teach middle school, like me, then you know those monsters can be pretty honest sometimes! It’s all about the fun & happiness these days for this girl! It’s all part of my Get Healthy Get Baby lifestyle! So far, so awesome!

Yay! I’m excited to write, share, & visit with so many awesome people during this August Blogalong! Maybe I’ll even pick up some new blogging tricks!

I’d love for you to join in the fun.
xo~Mandee

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So far, so awesome!