12.29.2013

What's Your Word?



I am struggling through the end of this year trying to say goodbye to 2013. I'm holding on tight as it puts up a good fight. I'm not ready to move forward. It’s just that I am a silly sentimental fool and I have never been comfortable when I am aware of time passing. When I was a child I remember agonizing over the end of summer when Dad would cover the pool for winter, knowing that another season of my youth had zipped by me. 

That’s how I felt yesterday while putting all of the Christmas decorations away, knowing when I see them again we will all have seen another year through. In 1983 I got sad knowing I wouldn't be a kid forever, and it is only magnified a million times in 2013 when I know my boys won’t be kids forever. Yes, 2013 was a good of a year and I'm trying to drag out the final days, as slow and sweet as possible. But now we are only a couple days away from 2014 and I have a feeling if I face it with my usual “dreamer" attitude, I can make this year even sweeter.
So, before routine settles back into our daily lives and once again I forget to be melancholy about the ticking clock, I am preparing a few resolutions to ensure I am making the best of another great year. You see, I believe in these sorts of things…things that stop your life for a moment and make you evaluate if you’re giving it your best shot. I believe that every day can be a new start to the beginning of a new year, but the beginning of a new year is the perfect time to make a new start.
How do I do this in addition to my crazy monkey schedule you ask? A few years back, a creative, crafty blogger named Ali Edwards started a trend of picking one word to represent your whole year. One word to help you set goals and make improvements. One word to replace a long list of resolutions. This is my fifth year participating and I have chosen the word JOY. It may just be the perfect choice because as you can see, I let little things like the passing of time get to me.  

This is the year where one little word inspires me to live a better life; where the ticking of the clock becomes a testament of time well spent. Where instead of drudging along, I find joy in the everyday, happiness in the abundance I have and laughter in the little moments I live. This is the year I give myself permission to enjoy life, and bring more joy to the ones I love by being happy. Yes, JOY is my word for 2014. 

So, how will you start 2014?  How will you make it the best year ever? What's your word?


12.16.2013

Flowers in Winter

In between big projects I find myself boosting my creative energy by making these little oil pastel flower paintings. It's so refreshing to take a break and switch modes to a different subject or medium. Some days I even begin with oil pastel as a warm-up. What begins as a small impression of what I'm feeling can often times find itself realized as a larger painting later. What do you do to keep yourself motivated?



"Garden Hopeful I" 5"x5" oil pastel, Kellee Wynne Conrad
"Garden Hopeful II" 5"x5", oil pastel, Kellee Wynne Conrad


"Just Because" 5"x5" oil pastel, Kellee Wynne Conrad

"Fresh Picked" 5"x5" oil pastel, Kellee Wynne Conrad
"Thank You Very Much" 5"x5" oil pastel, Kellee Wynne Conrad

"First Date" 5"x5", oil pastel, Kellee Wynne Conrad

12.13.2013

Handmade for the Holidays


The world is abundant of mass produced goods and digital replicas, prepackaged meals and plastic lawn ornaments. On the back of every plate is a stamp that says made in China and cards now arrive in your inbox, not your mailbox. We are easily detached from all this manufactured stuff. Our merchandise in theft proof packaging is devoid of human contact, has traveled thousands of miles and will crowd our landfills soon enough. But there is something magical about handcrafted goods because the human factor still exists. Someone actually has to take the time and put their heart into making the very thing you will use, devour, admire or hang on your wall. It seems so simple, but these little things are the very nature of our humanity.
I am a maker of these things, so it comes as no surprise that I am building a reputation of promoting a handmade revolution. We can be real for a moment – I still shop at Target and some nights DiGiorno will do for dinner. But it is so satisfying when I can do it myself. I love to see the moment when all the ideas come together and something tangible and real has come of the time and talent well invested. Most of the online communities I frequent are full of do-it-yourself kind of people. In fact they afford me more ideas than I have time to tackle! But I know there are enough artisans making quality products that I can substitute some of the things on my big box shopping list for beautiful handmade gifts.
 Do you have projects planned, decorations to make, cards to send, and cookies to bake? There is something authentic to giving a homemade gift, but if you are not the making type, have you considered buying handmade from sites like etsy.com or renegadehandmade.com or doing a search for local shops in your area?  In an effort to keep you out of the stores on Black Friday (which now starts on Thanksgiving and lasts a whole month!!) I am hoping you will see another way to give gifts this year. Handmade is just the beginning, but certainly the most gratifying solution for my creative soul!
Shop Local! Buy Local! Celebrate Local!

12.10.2013

Winter is Coming

 


It’s 17 degrees. I miss California. Before long it will be sweltering again and I will have forgotten the icy mid-winter tundra that has settled on the Northeast. The cold blast has brought us a time to slow down, bundle up and stay warm together. It has brought a sense of home and family that only winter temperatures can bring. My toes may be frozen, but my heart is warm.

The New Year must begin in winter. We are wrapped in the comfort of our homes, making it hard to ignore the deeper workings of our hearts and minds. What better time to step back and reflect. What better time to look forward and plan. What better time to just enjoy the moment and learn to be, when there is little other choice? Enjoy the moment of quiet, for all too soon the birds and bees will be busy again and we will have work to do.


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