Thursday, February 23, 2012

To HEB and beyond!

My commuter bike, "Marina" at the grocery store. 
The place needs bicycle racks!!

When 2012 rolled around I made a few resolutions.  One of those resolutions was to get serious about commuting to work  on a bike more than I drive the car. 

This week I can honestly say I am a bicycle commuter.  As you can see in the photo at the left, I have equipped my commuter bike with a set of fenders, a rear rack and panniers (the bags on the back) to make it a more practical ride to work.

The fenders protect me from the mud and gravel that tends to spring from the tires to my clothes and you'd be amazed what I can carry in those panniers (Laptop, bottles of water, bulky purse and lots more... all at once!)

Today was my first big trip to the grocery store.  The panniers easily detach from the rear rack and have a shoulder strap so I can carry them into the grocery store and use them as shopping bags!  Pretty cool, eh?

This week I cycled into work all but one day.  The day I drove was a day I was scheduled to be at work until after 8 pm.  A good headlight for the bike is the next big ticket item on my wish lish so I can bike after dark if I want to! 

Now if I can just figure out how to dismount my bike with more grace and avoid getting my foot tangled with the items in my pannier, the world would be perfect!!  (How embarrassing!  In front of witnesses, too!)

In other news: Both my nieces, Claire and Scarlett, have recently said goodbye to training wheels!  I can't be more proud!!  The number of cyclists in my family is growing and I am eagerly awaiting the first ride with my cycling siblings, nephews and nieces!   I'm inspired to put together a cycle-themed family gathering soon!!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

"A Joyful Heart" is the latest creation to come out of my studio.   This is something I dreamed up a while back but it took awhile to make the dream a reality.  First I had to make a sketch so my husband could make the stickman.  Then I had to decide on what colors to use and make all the hollow glass hearts and then came the real challenge.... trying to figure out how to attach the hearts to the stickman! 

I entered this sculpture into a judged art show at work and while it didn't win any awards I am still proud of myself for being brave enough to enter a judged exhibit.  It's also a big deal because I've been blocked artistically for over a year and it really got bad this summer.  It's like everything just shut down and it was a tedious chore to work in the studio.  The block made it very hard to write blogs as well.

How did I get through the block, you ask?  Well I enrolled in an Artist's Way group, it's like a 12-step program for blocked creatives. The group has been a very powerful experience for me both spiritually and creatively and I am so glad I joined up. 

One morning, about three weeks into the program, I woke up and started watching YouTube videos of other lampworkers at work.  Sometime during the course of watching the videos the realization hit me that I haven't been having fun in my studio.  The few times I've sat at the torch to make something for a customer or a silent auction contribution were not fun.  I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to create the "perfect" vessel, the "perfect" bead set, the "perfect" whatever....

So I decided, as they say in "The Princess Bride," to go back to the beginning.  I started working with beginner techniques and basics and decided to just have fun with the process.  When I approached the studio I refused to put any expectations on my work.  I was there to have fun and create - nothing else.  I even used expensive glasses and tools I had been hoarding for when I got "really good."  I just had fun... and it was one of the best torching sessions I've had in my life.  Before I knew it, my kiln was full of little hollow hearts, all in bright, happy colors!

I didn't really grasp how big a deal my play session was until I overheard my husband telling my mom that my "playdate" was the first time in a long time he didn't hear curse words or sounds of frustration coming out of my studio.  I didn't even realize I had been vocal in the past!

I had been taking myself way too seriously and it was holding me back. So from here on out I promise to be nicer to myself and embrace the joy of creating instead of chasing perfection.

I truly believe that we are put on this earth to love, create and learn.... in that order.  (This is something I read recently and am fully embracing the philosophy.)  Being loving means I must be loving to myself as well as others.  I can't create if I don't come from a place of love. And I can't learn if I am not willing to make mistakes.  Powerful stuff, isn't it?