Shame Bomber

My biggest enemy is shame. Shame is the root of probably 97% of my problems. Addiction, anger, marriage issues, eating/weight issues, parenting struggles: shame. They are all shame -based. Honestly, I can’t pinpoint where it all started, but as most emotional damage goes- I’m sure it was somewhere in early childhood.

Figuring out where it came from is helpful, but I’m really more interested in moving forward. Moving forward for me looks like tackling this big bastard and limiting it’s hold on my life.

Yesterday I went to see my therapist (who I have already blogged about because he is awesome) and we were talking about a few things that have happened recently that all had roots in shame. We discussed my reaction when I feel shame and the cycle that comes after that (which is just more and more shame).

But for your benefit, here is how shame plays out in my life: I feel shame because of imperfection. (Because perfection has been my response to try to rid myself of shame. “If I am perfect, I will not feel ashamed”.) Anyway, whether I am imperfect or someone in my life is imperfect- shame comes. Then with shame, comes a bad reaction to the person or persons involved. We’ll keep it close here and talk about my immediate family:

So Vaughn screws up. I want him to be perfect like me (ha.ha.), so I freak out over a small incident. Small incident becomes big incident, big incident becomes rage, rage makes me feel ashamed. Or this: imperfection on my part, imperfection makes me feel shame, shame makes me lash out, lashing out hurts people’s feelings, hurting people’s feelings makes me feel shame. Now, after this nasty cycle, I turn ALL THAT SHIT inwards hate myself and then hate everyone else because none of us is perfect. Shame wins (<—–NOT my next tattoo).

Chris said I’m like a Suicide Shame Bomber. I feel shame, rage on everyone, blow it all up-we all die. I can’t stop picturing it: my whole family sitting in the living room quietly and me running in with a vest full of dynamite. I open the vest ,scream a war cry and blow us all up with shame. (BTW: do yourself a favor and don’t google images for suicide bomber to try to find an appropriate picture for this post.)

The beauty of all of this shame shit is that just like the addiction cycle, I am free to stop it at anytime. Whether it is at phase 1 (“I feel shame”) or right after the bomb explodes. I can stop the whole thing and turn it around.

The new root is grace. Grace when I feel shame. Grace when I blow up. Grace when one of my kids screws up. I can show myself grace. I can show my family grace. I can show the clerk at Wal Mart grace. I am NEVER going to be perfect. Never. And neither are my kids. And neither is Andy. It seems silly to even write that out, because of course. But it’s not silly to me.

My standard has been perfection and that perfection is actually shame. So today…today I’m forgiving myself. I’m forgiving Eloise for not refilling the water dish. I’m forgiving the dog for crapping downstairs. Today I’m aware. I woke up late because I went to bed with a headache. Usually- shame would be my alarm clock and the whole entire day would go in the crapper. Today- grace. I got up to the tune of grace. Instead of flying around the house like a witch on her broom, I said, “Kids. We might be late and that is my fault. I’m sorry. I am not going to yell at you this morning, but I need you to do what I say quickly so we can try to not be late.” Teamwork. Grace.

My new mantra is this: Reasonable Best. I am going to do my reasonable best everyday. Reasonable best. Not perfect, not throw it all away because I can’t achieve perfection: reasonable best. For example, I am trying to change my eating habits and yesterday with my headache, I ate well all day, but needed a Coke: reasonable best. My reasonable best yesterday was one Coke. It wasn’t one coke and a tub of ice cream, though one day, that may be my reasonable best. Not perfection- reasonable best.

Love wins. Forgiveness wins. Grace wins.

XO,

CELINA - signature

 

Baldwin Building Adventures

There is so much happening in the world right now and so much of it is so, so heavy. I have never felt less Christmas-y- ever. People are really hurting right now. If you are friends with Amanda on Facebook, then you already know that Demetrius is going through hell in the form of a concussion followed by an extended stay at Children’s Hospital. I’ve just lost two friends to cancer, one who mentored me and changed my life and one that while I haven’t spoken to her in many years, had an impact on some of my hardest years. We have a new president in our country and no matter how people feel about him- they fall on one side of a fence that has divided us as a nation AND as Christians. People are hurting right now and it’s no fun.

But….in the midst of all that, we’ve been on a grand adventure. It started less than 6 weeks ago, when being the protective neighbor that I am, I spotted someone with no business in our neighborhood driving around aimlessly and looking at my neighbors houses. I asked if she was lost and she said, “no, I’m a realtor looking for a house.” Done being neighborly and now just being nosy I started to ask more questions.

Turns out, the house was for her and her husband and they were looking to purchase a house in our neighborhood and scrape it to turn it into a modern home.

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They had purchased two lots just a few blocks from us (closer to downtown and on a cul-de-sac and next to a stream and walking trail) and wanted to build their dream home there, but being in a historic preservation district, they could only build a Craftsman style home (or similar). Do you guys know anyone who writes on this blog who likes Craftsman style?

In a “hey, just for fun” moment, I invited the realtor to our house just to check it out, but told her the only way we would consider selling is if we could buy those lots from her, knowing the real estate market and knowing if they put them back on the market they would be gone to a cash buyer in a minute. When he got home that night, I told Andy the story of me being a nosy concerned neighbor and really played it all as just being for kicks, because we were not planning to sell our house, but when I said “craftsman home” he stopped what he was doing and said, “OK. Now I’m listening.” In inviting the realtor over to see our house, we were very much like, “whatever happens”. When I say we had no expectations, I couldn’t mean that more. So many things would have to happen for this to work, so we didn’t expect anything.

Stacy (the realtor) came over on a Saturday and within 14 days we were under contract with her. We had agreed on fair pricing- she and her husband buying our house and us buying the lots.

This has been one of those crazy rides that can only be God. As Amanda said to me, “God is giving you something you could have never been bold enough to even pray for or know you wanted.” And she’s right. This is all so far beyond my imagination and expectations…it’s mind-blowing.

After so many things falling into place for us the remaining piece was a place to live while we build our home. Last night we noticed our neighbor (5 houses down from us!!) is renting out his house. He had put up his sign no more than 2 hours before we drove by. It will be available exactly when we need it in mid-February.  He is a friend of ours – someone we have gotten to know through being neighborly, who is renting his house for way cheaper than any house I have looked at. It’s another link in the chain that we can only see as God saying: “I got this. I’m doing this!”

This morning, we closed on both properties and all four of us left the closing table happy. Stacy and Eric are getting to create their modern dream home and Andy and I are getting to create what we didn’t know we wanted.

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Buyers, sellers, buyers, sellers

Here’s the start of the plans we will be using. We’re building a duplex first and will live in half of that while we build our home on the larger lot. We are beyond excited and also beyond terrified, but just like getting married (ten years ago yesterday!!) we know it will be exciting and scary and there will be great moments and not-so-great moments. We just know it’s from Him and so we’re moving along…..and all I can say right now is “WHAT THE HECK IS HAPPENING!!????!!!!”

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Before Cancer

A long time ago, before cancer took her away today, I crossed paths with a woman who changed my life completely.

I was in my late 20’s coming off of a couple years of hell. My dad had recently died and on the heels of that I spent two years throwing away everything I knew about God one joint, drink and cigarette at a time. When the smoke cleared for me, I realized that although I had thrown God away- He hadn’t tossed me at all. In fact, His grip was even tighter and with His loving arms He led me out of my desolation and all the way to Montrose, Colorado.

I moved in with a couple I had met during more “Christian” times who welcomed me -in spite of (because of?) my brokenness. Living in their home were other broken, searching young people and her- this very small, kind, light brown woman with gray, thinning hair and a giant smile. She was related to the couple we were all living with through complicated means: she was an expat from Papua New Guinea and her two children married two of the couples children. David and Kathleen (the couple) had lived in PNG for many years with YWAM where their families crossed paths for eternity. Clara was a grandma (Bubu) to lots of grandchildren, and an Auntie to many, most not related to her by blood at all.

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Somewhere in the 4 years I lived with David and Kathleen, Clara became my “black mama”. Maybe it was the nights we spent awake praying for my (unknown) husband and maybe it was the car rides to WalMart, maybe it was the months we shared a room because the house was full: I don’t know where the shift from “someone I live with” to “someone I don’t know if I can live without” came, but it happened. She claimed me as her white daughter and I claimed her as my black mama.

My first memory of Clara is of how meek and quiet she seemed. But then I saw how I could make her laugh and I knew she wasn’t quiet at all. Clara prayed (and prayed and prayed). She prayed in the shower, she prayed when she walked and she prayed while she worked. Every single act of her hands was an act of worship. You want to see true worship? Watch Clara clean a house! You want to see true worship? Check out the plants she mothered and prayed over. I still have plants Clara tended and they are still alive! Clara seemed meek, but I assure you, she was MIGHTY.

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When she began her treatment for cancer, Clara would go to the hospital and bring joy to every nurse, doctor and patient she encountered. I knew she was sick, and I didn’t know how sick, so a few months ago when she came over to this side of the mountains to visit her (actual) daughter, I went to see her. I brought her some things to keep her warm (she was ALWAYS cold) and I just told her how much she meant to me. How much she added to my life. I felt silly, because she wasn’t “dying” sick, she seemed healthy even, but I knew the end would come at some point- it always does with cancer- and I knew I needed to tell her all the things she had added to my life. I knew I needed to wipe her feet with my tears. I didn’t literally wash her feet, but I wish I had. I washed her feet with my words. I let tears fall and I told her how special and amazing she was. And I’m glad I did because I didn’t get another chance to do that.

Like a mama, she believed in me, cared for me, cheered for me, waited for me when I needed time to learn something and she sometimes stood amazed at what I could do. And I mean simple things like drive a car or move furniture :). Clara made me feel like I was special. If I could do something she couldn’t- she cheered me. If I learned something new, she cheered me. And she did that for many. She loved and cheered and prayed.

So many of the good things about my life came from the prayers of Clara: my husband, our children- both adopted and biological, mended friendships, weight loss, healthy views of others, seeing work as worship and a deeper understanding of a God who is KIND and LOVING and LOVES to bless his children.

You know that story in the bible of the widows mite? That was Clara. When we were raising money for our adoption- she sent out of her lack, not her excess. When the plate was passed- she gave all- not some. Whether the plate was time or money, she NEVER held back from God because she understood that her all was His.

We, and I really mean a collective we- many, many people- have lost a great woman today. She loved so many, so fiercely and you don’t find that kind of person too often, so when you do, you call her Mama and you hang on until the end. Then you wash her feet and you let her go.

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Clara, I have wept all night thinking of you and what we have lost on earth because you’ve left, but then I think about the babies you lost tragically and how you’re holding them and I think about the God you KNEW and loved deeply and I know you are right where you belong. I miss you so much already and I’m so, so sad you are gone, but I am so, so happy for you. You are right where your heart was always set- with Him. You lived one life, but you changed the lives of many and I am so lucky to have been counted among them. See you in heaven, Mama.

XO,

CELINA - signature

Baldwin Bedroom Remodel: Part 1

It’s been a long time coming, but the Baldwin’s are finally doing some home updating!

When we moved into this 1950’s ranch 4 years ago, it was literally in pristine condition. Well- 1950’s pristine condition. Nothing had been updated at all. There was no dishwasher, microwave or WASHER AND DRYER! The former owners were the original owners and they did a beautiful job maintaining their home. We were honestly ecstatic to find a home in such great original condition.

Since we were new homeowners on the verge of starting a family, we didn’t do much at all. We painted and…. actually, I think that’s all we did. Painted. And for the time being it really was enough.

But now, we have 3 kids and a (very) small amount of cash so we decided it was time to update. The first intention we had was to completely redo our kitchen. I’m not talking about new cabinet faces. I’m talking about tearing down walls and moving the where the sink is-type renovate.

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But since, like I said, we only have a small amount of cash, that went by the wayside and we decided to tackle a smaller, but equally important project: the bedrooms.

Before we get into this new bedroom stuff, you must know four important things:

1. We are on a budget. Budget means- not a lot of cash and only cash, no loans of any kind are used during this process. 2. I am not a professional anything, let alone decorator or designer. I just do what I like and hope it works. Oh and I usually ask Amanda what she thinks and that’s about the extent of the professional help I am getting. 3. We are DIYing this whole shebang. If we get a professional in here at any time, I assure you it will be some kind of therapist and not a contractor. 4. Nothing is perfect and I think it will be a while until all this is done, so hang in there if this kind of stuff is your jam.

Onward—>

Here is what renovating the bedrooms in a 1950’s house looks like:

  • New wiring – including adding new outlets and making everything 3 phase wire (this basically means that the outlets have 3 holes instead of 2. Think about that time you tried to plug in your Mac somewhere and you couldn’t without an adapter. That’s the difference.)
  • New texture on all walls and ceilings
  • New paint
  • New trim
  • New windows
  • Adding lighting in closets and showers
  • New light fixtures
  • New interior doors
  • New door hardware

This is what I mean by boring. These are all actual images that Andy took during the electrical-update phase of this project.

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This is how we lived for weeks. These extension cords ran from our kitchen to the bedrooms so the kids could have lamps on. Talk about living on the edge…and I know you see that mess. It was the real deal!

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This is about what we saw of Andy for quite some time-his feet while he did electrical work in the attic. Behind him are two babies huddled up after a bath.

Unfortunately, the renovating part of this project is rather totally and completely boring and quite dusty. It was a lot of days of hours (and hours) of work (for Andy mostly) and seeing no progress. I mean switching over to 3 phase wiring is not an exciting thing at all. It means hours in the attic and pushing wires through various places and having Andy yell from the attic to the basement, “DO YOU SEE IT YET?” about the yellow wire. The most exciting part of this is new outlets; a 1950’s house has approximately 1/2 as many outlets as a modern home should have.

As unexciting as this whole first part was, it was actually kind of fun for us. I managed to keep my cool around all the dust and mess and we lived without electricity in the bedrooms and bathroom for a while. We made the most of it and basically all slept wherever we could and lived in partial darkness for so long that once we did have lighting we forgot to use it!

Our house was a total mess. New texture meant bedrooms had to be emptied of all their stuff and so almost everything was moved to the living room. This was actually great because it gave me a chance to do what I like to call Kon-Mari 2.0 : basically, get rid of more shit- and keep the shit I love and I loved it!

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Now, for the actual real exciting part of this- here are a few photos of our new doors, windows and hardware. Remember what I said earlier, though, nothing is complete yet. It’s all still in progress, so don’t ask why the trim isn’t up in the hallway. This is a sneak peek.

We opted for Craftsman Style when it came to door handles, trim and fixtures. We’re going to be adding in lots of Mid-Century touches and clean white pieces as we decorate. It’s actually a bit tough for a couple reasons: 1. money, 2. we actually have people (and children) who live here and 3. our house is not large. It’s 1200 finished square feet upstairs, so we’re having to make adjustments to our wish list. But stick with me because I think you will enjoy our before, during and after!

All of our original interior doors were hollow wood with gold handles and hardware. Now we’ve got clean, white, craftsman style, solid wood doors and handles with bronzed hardware. The difference is amazing!

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Craftsman style trim and new windows! Hello lower heating bill!!

If you want to follow me on Pinterest, I’ve got tons of inspiration boards made as we work through this project!

Stay tuned because next time I’ll share some redecorating!

 

 

Surprised by Kindness

 

Today is Avett’s 3rd birthday. I remember the day he was born clearer than I remember any day I’ve lived. I don’t tell my kids this, but the day Avett was born was the best day of my life. Avett was the biggest surprise. The kindest gift God could have given me after years of heartache.

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September 2, 2013

But aren’t surprises the best. Like real surprises?

Earlier in the week, I told Eloise that we would get donuts for Avett’s birthday from our favorite local donut place. I forgot about it, but being a donut lover- she did not and promptly reminded me when she woke up. We weren’t running late today, but we weren’t early either. Amanda told me that 2 of her 4 kids were sick, so I offered to take the two who were well to The Donut House with us. I wouldn’t have offered if they were all going to school because taking 7 kids into a 400 square foot donut store that usually has a line of people 6-12 deep is a recipe for a really bad start to the day. Anyway, I picked up two Purvis’s and we made our way to get some donuts.

Once inside, I told the kids we would have to get our donuts to go because we wouldn’t have time to sit there. We waited about 7 minutes in line and while the kids certainly didn’t misbehave, the combined force of 5 kids under 10 waiting to get donuts is not a force to reckon with. They were sitting (read: laying/bouncing lightly) on the available comfy chairs, reading books (out loud) and semi-loudly discussing whatever it is that kids age 3-10 discuss. My only correction to them was to Avett to speak a little quieter (since he was essentially yelling to Noah about fish). Overall, I was happy with how they were acting and I only felt a little self-conscious because I know some people (and maybe one of the 9 people in line behind us in the 400 square foot waiting area) think kids should not make any noise or move around at all. But I decided in the few minutes we were there that if someone didn’t like it, it was going to have to be too bad for them.

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Anyway, when it was finally our turn, I called all the kids to the donut viewing window and said, “Avett picks first since it’s his birthday!” The donut man said, “His is on the house since it’s his birthday!” (Side note- always announce your birthday because it gets you free stuff!). We each ordered our favorite and went to pay. But the guy behind me quietly stepped up and said, “I’ve got this. I’ll get your donuts.” I almost started crying and thanked him profusely. “Wow! Thanks!!” I said and started to gather up the kids to head out. As we walked through the door, I thought of the 10 lepers healed and how only one went back to say, “thanks!” and I asked Vaughn if he would run back in and thank the guy again.

The whole way to school I talked to the kids about that man’s kindness. My arms felt all goose-bumpy and an hour later I still have a lump in my throat. I didn’t need that man to buy our donuts, but I love that he did. His extension of kindness is leading me today. It’s been a long time since a stranger blessed me and if I think about it, it’s been a while since I blessed a stranger. Today is the day, though. A day full of surprises and kindness. I’m glad for the reminder to spread my share of kindness around because however long it takes to make it’s way around the world, it always comes back and there is always enough to give away.

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XO,

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Tell Us How You Really Feel

You know how when someone says exactly what they are thinking people will say in jest, “Tell us how you really feel!”. I would venture to say that has been said to me a couple hundred times in my life. Because I am one of those people who doesn’t hold back. If I have something that needs to be said, I will usually just say it- no beating around the bush. And many times it is something that other people are thinking, too, so it resonates and sometimes makes people laugh.

Anyway, in the last week or so, I’ve been feeling this rising angst. Summer is just about over and I am done.  This morning, I sent this text to my two best friends  (and I’d like to apologize in advance to my readers who don’t appreciate a good swear once in a while). The text read: Let me say this to you so I don’t say it out loud to my children I CANNOT (swear word) WAIT FOR THESE (swear word swear word) TO GO BACK TO (swear word) SCHOOL #jesustakethewheel. Maybe that resonates with you and maybe it doesn’t, but either way- I’ve just told you all how I really feel.

Don’t get me wrong, we have actually had a pretty good summer, but the time is now. Either Jesus needs to come back, or I need to be sent to a beach for 3 weeks alone or my children need to go back to school. I don’t honestly care which one. But I’m done. D.O.N.E. Done. Finished. Goodbye children. Get out and don’t let the door hit you on the way.

Today I also went to see my therapist. As soon as I sat down I started crying; I was saying something that wasn’t cry-worthy at all. So I said, “I honestly don’t know why I am crying” and tried to brush it off with a joke. Being the worth-the-money therapist that he is, he said, “Wait a minute. Let’s not pass this by. What are you feeling?”

I don’t know what the hell I am feeling which is why I said, “I don’t know why I am crying.”!! But, being the eager patient that I am, I sat there and thought about it for a minute or two and I finally said through more tears: “I am tired. So tired of my children. I want them to go back to school. I’m exhausted from trying to be a good mom and dealing all day with them. I am scared that I am going to lash out at them and destroy them if they don’t go back to school soon. I don’t want to be rude to them. I’m afraid I will be rude to them. I’m exhausted from coping instead of escaping (the main reason I am in therapy) and I’m afraid of falling backward if these kids don’t get the hell out of my house.”

In saying that and crying and getting in touch with my actual feelings- I realized something: what I said to my friends in that swear word laden text was true. Every word. But what I said to Chris was the deeper truth and the text to my friends only contained the surface truth. The surface truth was anger & frustration & a bunch of swear words. But beneath that was the deeper truth that I am afraid and tired and feeling guilty and exhausted. As I said, I have always been known as a genuine person. Authentic. Real. Honest. Raw. These words have been used to describe me more often than any other word. But. BUT it’s because I say the things other people think but don’t say. Not necessarily because I actually let people get close to the real, real me (who has these unearthed feelings that are usually covered by anger or frustration).

Not everyone sees the hurting, scared Celina who doesn’t want to kill her children (honestly, even I don’t see her. I just see the surface stuff, too). People see me as real because in a funny way I can say what people are thinking. But underneath the funny and ‘true’ is always a deeper truth and what I understood today is that if I want to live the whole-hearted life that Brene Brown talks about, if I want to be courageous and brave- I can still send the funny text and mean it, but I’ve got to get to the deeper truth. And sharing the deeper truth will cause people to see the actual REAL me and maybe in the process set people free to realize their own deeper truths. And I’m ready. I ready to be honest and raw and vulnerable and live whole-heartedly in this world. It’s all I’ve got to give- myself- and as hard and painful and uncharted as it is, I’m ready and I’m scared but I’m not going to hold back. If you thought I was real before….there may be another side of “real” that we’re about to get to.

I absolutely love the quote from Liz Gilbert that Amanda shared last week. “I trust that you understand this is a story we are living, not a story we are telling.” That’s what this blog is about for me. This is the story I am living and it may be messy, but it’s mine and I am really learning to love it.

XO,

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An invitation to create your own big magic

So, I recently read the book Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and it is for sure going to top the list of favorites this year. 51YIrJrPxXLThis book reminded me that just living is a creative endeavor and failure is only what you let it be. The creative process is about creating because it’s something you love or enjoy or just want to try; it’s not about becoming a star or an author or a famous painter. Creativity, writing and art are all about: creativity, writing and art. I loved it. I loved seeing that all that I am doing in my life is great just because I am doing it. It relieves the pressure of my business and my writing. I’m doing Shabby Alpaca and this blog because I like it! The book has some new-agey concepts that may disturb more sensitive readers, but like everything- take what you can and move on.

Here’s a summary of the book in someone else’s words:

Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work,  embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.

Along with reading the inspirational Big Magic, I’ve recently become friends with an artist. (Thank you Amanda Purvis for sharing another amazing friend with me). Jeanne Oliver is….awesome. She is so awesome that I want to live in her backyard just to get glimpses of her walking by. Ok, not really, but she really is a great person to spend time with. She is honest, kind, funny, smart, generous and super easy to talk to. TFDec2014-0391e3WEB-500x750

Jeanne is an amazing artist; she paints and designs and lives a creative life to the fullest. The best part about Jeanne’s art is that she shares it. I don’t mean you can look at her paintings, I mean she shares all of it. She shares her skills by teaching others and her home by hosting workshops and her favorite supplies by telling you what they are. She knows that sharing her skills doesn’t decrease what she has- there is no pettiness or jealousy in Jeanne- and I love that about her. She knows that if anything, sharing increases what she has.  She hosts online courses for all kinds of art, she hosts trips to beautiful places so people can create art and be taught all while hanging out in Paris or some other exotic location, and she hosts workshops at her amazing newly created studio. She’s pretty awesome and I’m so glad I know her.

I’m writing all of this not to brag on my mad reading skills or boast about my new friend (well I am writing for those reasons), but also to tell you about her courses and invite you to take one. There is a new course called Letting Go: An exploration of Abstract Painting that she is hosting along with Wendy Brightbill and bonus with that course, there’s a chance to win $250 worth of free art supplies. If you are interested in trying to win some art supplies, just click this link for a chance and use the above link to sign up for this class or any of Jeanne’s classes. I highly recommend it.

I’ll leave you with this: we’re all creative. Don’t be afraid if you’ve never picked up a paint brush (I haven’t!) just do something you love for the sake of doing it because you are curious or interested- even if it’s out of your comfort zone and even if what you produce doesn’t change the world. It may just change yours!

 

XO,

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