Recalculating…

Can I just confess that I have had a crush on Kevin Arnold for decades now? Surely you can relate to this adorable guy from the Wonder Years. It’s my favorite background noise while I’m painting, and the timing of last night’s episode was profound.

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As luck would have it, a clothing store in the next town was holding a huge clearance sale. As good wives and mothers do, Norma convinces her hubby Jack to take their growing 14 year old Kevin to purchase a new suit. The two wisely obey. They proceed to get lost and refuse to stop for directions (why?). They also get a flat tire. They struggle the whole way. They never get the suit. But of course it ends up being worth it because they make memories and grow closer. What a beautifully scripted happy ending.

Real life is rarely like that. What happens now?  We ask Siri to guide us to our destination. We call AAA to change the tire. Actually we just order the suit online and never leave our couch in the first place.

And families have their own issues, as does the one portrayed in this Netflix series. No one individual is perfect, yet they are held together by love and commitment. You can’t choose your family, but you can choose your friends. These are your chosen family if your given one doesn’t work so well.

Good people – both friends and family – will be honest and they will care. They won’t make assumptions or demands. They will understand when plans change or when life takes over for a spell. They will do and say just the right thing at just the right time because they choose to do so. In tangible ways, good people honor who you are and respect the bounds of the relationship.

How do you know if a relationship is good? Take an honest evaluation. How do you feel when you’re around this person? Is it energizing or is it draining? How do you feel after having spent time with them? Are you sad when they have to leave – or are you relieved that you can breathe again?

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A healthy relationship allows for you to easily be yourself. If a relationship requires more energy than you’re willing to give, then don’t be in it. Sometimes it’s a seasonal hiccup, or sometimes they change, or you change, and you have to let them go. No matter how long they’ve been around, it’s okay to evaluate and make adjustments as needed.

After spending the past few weeks with the tall, dark and handsome man, I realized I hadn’t been honoring myself. Initially when something didn’t sit well, I spoke up, but then I found it harder to do so. There were minor things that I overlooked without protest. As of late, I was finding more energy going out than I was willing to give.

When some miscommunications happened, and hurtful words were directed my way, I chose to completely disengage. I had hoped to have a “farewell” conversation in person, but took the chicken route and sent an email. Spending the energy to sort through it all seemed pointless, given the realization that it needed to end anyway.

Even the best breakups are painful. However, the more painful thing is to allow relationships to continue when they aren’t working. It’s like driving down the road when you know you are heading in the wrong direction. Which, in my case, I guess I didn’t know where I wanted to go in the first place.

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One could call it a directional miscalculation. I knew going in – as did he – that neither of us were really in a place to invest in a relationship. It was just going to be fun, until it wasn’t. I am a firm believer in finding the lesson in everything, and I definitely learned some important ones:

  • Be honest with yourself about how this person makes you feel.
  • Be ready to speak up when something doesn’t sit well.
  • Be willing to sacrifice to make room for this person.
  • Be realistic about how much you can invest (time and energy) in this relationship.
  • Be aware of getting too close too quickly – emotionally or physically or both.

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It’s clear I have some work to do, so I’m not playing the dating game for a while (sorry, alphabet fans). For now, I’ll be painting and basking in the final week of my summer break. I’ll have a heavy class load soon enough. Hopefully the lessons ahead will be easier than this one.

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

 

A very fun six weeks…

For the past few weeks, I’ve been loading up my canvas, brushes, and paints and driving around the corner. There’s a cute little Italian restaurant that has live artists working, and I had the honor of being one of them.

It’s not that I’m all that talented. I mean, I think my work is okay, but it’s not like I studied art or even really have that much experience. I took one class and totally loved it (and okay, I got an A). Largely I believe I was there painting because I pestered followed up with the manager a few times. Moxie for the win! Also, it was summer, I was available, and they had room on their schedule for me.

And then last week, it came to an end. Summer is about over. School is about to resume, and it was time for me to exit stage right.

Which is sad, because I enjoyed it so much.

But it’s also good. And here is why.

I am in a constant state of learning and growing. I now have paintings that are for sale, and I am searching out new avenues in which to sell them. I am launching even further outside of my comfort zone to do this. Oh, have I mentioned that there are a bazillion other artists in Sarasota? And there are packed galleries everywhere? A girl like me could get really insecure, really fast with those kinds of stats.

I could wallow. I could feel sad. I could believe selling art is too hard. I could decide that I am not a good enough artist and that my work is not worthy. But according to Brene Brown, the antidote to scarcity is gratitude.

Fortunately, I happen to be well versed in the practice of gratitude.

For the past six weeks, I spent time next to amazing artists (like Tom, Dante, Karen,  LaShawn, and others). I made friends with the adorable bartender (as one does). I learned a lot about painting and pricing. I even learned how to graciously handle inappropriate suggestions of what I should add to a beach scene I was working on one night. I enjoyed delicious food, a cool atmosphere, and basked in the glow of the whole experience while it was happening.

I didn’t take one moment of it for granted.

I can appreciate the season for what it was, who I met, what I learned, and how it allowed me to grow. Both as an artist and as a person.

With that, I will be keeping my Art page here up to date on works that are for sale. And if you’re not in a big rush, I can take work on commission too. And if you have any great suggestions for me, send them along.

It is my joy to paint, and I will not worry or fret about whether any of it sells. I have found a creative outlet that delights my heart, and that is a valuable thing.

Thanks so much for reading, until next time!
Sherri

 

Virginia Slims and Refrigerators

I love beginning new projects. I love kicking around ideas for what I will begin next week or next month. But working on something midway through? Or just doing that final little thing to check it off the list? Nahhh.

What’s even worse is when it’s just something that is never ever done. You know, like laundry or cleaning the house. Maintenance is just not exciting enough. Why clean up in 10 minutes what can accumulate? Let it become a big project with clearly visible results. Wow, great job! It was such a mess and now it’s perfect. But keeping it that way? Picking up a little bit daily? Weekly even?

Not so much.

I am however, learning the value of better habits. In many ways I have incorporated great practices, like yoga every morning and flossing every night. Yes, I even start and finish the laundry (finish, as in, it’s put away and hung up and everything) in the very same day. I don’t let my car get too messy and my paperwork piles are smaller than they’ve ever been.

virginia slim

Please don’t think I advocate for smoking. I just like the slogan.

Today, however, I had to own the fact that while I’m winning in those areas, I have work to do. Confession alert: I am a terrible food manager.

For whatever stupid-ass reason, I don’t like spending time evaluating what IS in my frig and freezer and pantry. I would rather just go to the store and buy more stuff. Then, I can take all the stuff I bought last week (that is now fuzzy, slimy or otherwise gross) and throw it out to make room for the new stuff. I’ve come to think of it as an expensive, wasteful, food rotation hobby.

Ridiculous? Yes. Correctable? Also yes, I hope.

So this morning, I did a little refrigerator cleaning. You know, before I go to the store to buy more food. As this was a big neglected task, I would get some satisfaction (it was actually satisfying embarrassing, so much so that I had to share it with you).

Apparently, I like to collect condiments. They are the obvious winners of the frig longevity game. They are clearly unlike grapes or romaine when expired. These bottles and jars require serious effort. You’ve actually got to find the “best used by date” (often requiring reading glasses) and then realize that mustard from April of 2016 must go. Which is sad because I moved in June of 2016 and that mustard should not have been hauled here in the first place.

I did not count how many bottles I rinsed and recycled, but it was a pathetic amount. This isn’t even all of them.

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I did count three bottles of soy sauce which I condensed into one. There is so much sodium in that stuff it will never go bad. I nearly choked when I dumped the outdated Sriracha out. And why do I have Miracle Whip? I hate that stuff. Oh yeah, I bought it for my brother when he was here in March. Out with it.

Please tell me I’m not the only one who is afflicted with this terrible practice (seriously, comment and tell me I am not alone).

My budget and waistline demand that I do a better job in this arena. I think I will just walk to the grocery store. I can only purchase what I can literally carry. That should certainly help me make better decisions about what I buy.

Each week, from now until forever more, I will clean out my refrigerator and evaluate my food plan carefully. And I have all of you to hold me accountable.

Thanks for reading, until next time!
Sherri

 

 

 

Fifty words about my first Wild Goose Festival

I have heard about this for years now. I have read through every piece of info out there – including blogs of previous attendees. I have spent significant time with those who organize this whole crazy thing. I attended an official One Day Wild Goose – Intersections – in Jacksonville, FL earlier this year. Heck, I even helped put an “unofficial” Wild Goose event together (Hawkins Road Festival) at my home church this past February.

But none of that quite prepared me for this amazing experience last week in Hot Springs, NC. It’s hard to form complete thoughts and sentences (I’m still absorbing and processing), so I’ll just give you these fifty words…

authenticity
people
laughter
mud
funnel cakes
spiders
children
tapestries
thoughts
coffee
music
trees
friends
oatmeal
trinkets
rocks
sweat
stories
glitter
love
rain
Jesus
yoga
inclusion
veggie things
hammocks
books
river noise
freedom
hard cider
conversations
dancing
puddles
fireflies
beer and hymns
port-a-potties
smiles
walking
acceptance
picnic tables
cicadas
prayers
cool mornings
energy
barefoot
art
grace
challenge
dragonflies
community

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And it just so happens that tickets for next year are available if you’d like to join me. Then we’ll see what kinds of sentences you can form at the end. 🙂

Thanks for reading, until next time!
Sherri

 

Stranger things…

The world is a strange place these days. It’s probably always been like this. It’s that now we are aware of it on a global scale. It used to be that only the people who lived on the corner were oddballs.  Now we know about oddballs worldwide thanks to the interwebs.

I’ve got a couple of strangers to tell ya about…

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At the end of it all…

I could be obsessed with time… seasons, schedules and how to pack it all in. I mean, I think about time a lot. Not like the lady in Chinatown who has nine different Rolexes up her sleeve. She’s just trying to make a buck off of unsuspecting tourists.

My one handed watch was gifted to me a couple of Christmases ago. It’s from Switzerland – not the lady in Chinatown – and it was not “a special low price for you today”.

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Time to be happy…

It’s my birthday / week / month!

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It’s always a good time to reflect. I’ve been thinking about where I’ve been each decade and I’ve noticed some things. This year is different in the best possible way.

Stroll down memory lane for a moment with me and you’ll see what I mean.

Age 9 which was (gasp!) 40 years ago. It was not a memorable birthday because kids didn’t get birthday palooza back then. We maybe got a cake and some new sneakers. If we were really lucky we had a friend sleep overnight. We definitely didn’t rent bounce houses and give goodie bags to our guests. There were no caterers or clowns or custom printed invitations for crying out loud.

(Honestly, the best thing I remember about my birthday is that strawberries were in season and we usually had strawberry shortcake instead of birthday cake. And that was just fine with me.)

Age 19. This one I remember for sure. My mom was away at her 20th High School Reunion. My Dad and I were just supposed to sit around quietly and celebrate Father’s Day and my birthday. Once I confirmed that I would be buying the beer, he agreed to the insanity that took over the machine shed and our 3 acre lawn. It’s a bit hazy now, but I remember at least 3 kegs, a live band and 200 of our closest friends. It still holds high status among the “parties to remember”.

Age 29. I was pregnant with my second child. I was in an extremely dysfunctional marriage but convinced that another baby would be the answer. Though she is a joy, she was not the answer. Before she was out of diapers, we were separated for good.

Age 39. I was 5 days away from getting married to husband #2. I was tired of raising the girls on my own and sleeping alone. I was convinced that a new husband would be the answer. He was not. After years of counseling, our last and final separation was 3 years ago.

So at age 19, I couldn’t wait to party it up. I wasn’t 21 yet, and surely being older would bring me happiness.
At age 29, I couldn’t wait for child #2 – who would surely save my failing marriage and that would bring me happiness.
At age 39, I was trying it again – because surely being married to the “right” guy would make my life better and bring me happiness.

But this year – age 49 – is SO very different! I am content and not pushing for the next thing. Finally.

I am content with where my life is. I love what I am doing, where I am doing it, and with whom I am doing it. I am not holding out for the next thing, the next person, the next circumstance. RIGHT NOW I truly have happiness, and it isn’t based on something or someone around the corner.

And that, my friends, is worth celebrating!

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So what did I actually do on my birthday? I painted. At a really cool restaurant where they have amazingly talented artists doing art while people eat dinner. Oh, and the people BUY the art. If it’s not sold by the time you finish it, the restaurant hangs it up and sells it for you. How amazing is this!? And they invited ME to come and paint with them.

So I did.

And they fed me and also gave me a glass of wine since it was my birthday. Also, there were 8 different people that came in to say hi and eat dinner because I was there. I felt  like a celebrity. But really, I am just a happy girl celebrating her birthday, doing what she loves to do.

It’s pretty cool when that happens, isn’t it?

I agree.

Plus I got to do some other fun things like kayaking and eating at fancy restaurants and have more planned with friends later this week. I am already happy, and those things will just add to it, not create it.

I am in charge of my own damned happiness, and I’m pretty happy about that.

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

 

 

I won’t get that hour back…

Or that other one either.

I think dating is kind of like parenting. Once you figure out how to do it well, you’re probably done. Success = finishing = you don’t need to do it anymore. I think we have the equivalent of a second grader. Which if I lost you just now, it means we have a ways to go.

Screening from one stage to the next is so effing hard. How long do you text before you talk? How long do you talk before you meet? There are dangers in letting it all be virtual for too long. But boy howdy, I gotta stop meeting in real life with some of these guys. My last two in person encounters were lackluster. I realize this is a learning and growing opportunity, but alright already.

Letter K – we met for a quick happy hour and enjoyed a beverage and a small pizza. I had movie plans with my girlfriend for later (Wonder Woman – yes it’s amazing – yes you need to see it). Having an after-plan gave us a definite ending point. This is a good practice for a couple of reasons. If it’s a terrible date, you see the light at the end of the tunnel (it’s okay to bail early if it is REALLY terrible). But also, if it’s good, it’s okay to give yourself some space for reflection. And, it leaves them wanting more, right? Well, let’s just say K fell into the former, not the latter. In fact, I enjoyed my conversation with the bartender and the manager more than with K. Which I took as a clear sign, but he did not.

He texted me before I even left the parking lot to ask for a “real” date. I had to tell him I just didn’t see it happening. He didn’t hold my attention and a nice guy like him deserves a girl who is into him. Honesty and integrity…those are the goals. I can be snarky here with you great people, but I don’t need to crush anyone. Besides, we know how fragile the male species can be, right?

One hour I’ll never get back, but hey, it’s a gamble. Onward we go…

After work one day this week, I met letter L. I knew before I left that it was not likely going to be a good connection. Why I didn’t cancel is the thing I need to figure out. It was just coffee, and I didn’t go too far out of my way to meet him. I did give up something that I would have preferred doing though. Like, anything else. Maybe even cleaning the bathroom. Some people enjoy this chore, but it’s not among my favorites.

I know you’re wondering why. Of course I’ll tell you! For starters, he had soft hands and a soft handshake. I can’t handle either one in a man. And, have you ever had conversation with someone who likes to finish your sentences? But they don’t know you very well so they finish them poorly? That was L. Plus, he was ex military and reminded me too much of a drill sergeant guy who used to be my boss. Which is not a complement. Nice enough guy, but not for me. He also texted me soon after to ask for a second date. Again, I let him down gently and kindly.

So two hours down the tubes…

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What in the name of all that is holy am I even doing wasting time? I’ve been super creative and super social with friends –  and I’m working on a huge article for the little magazine to which I contribute. And I’m painting like it’s my new job (but it’s totally not, I’m still working the full time one that I have). I only have about 9 weeks of “no school” to live it up! And even though it’s just an hour here and there, I cannot waste it drinking coffee or wine with someone that I’m not excited to see.

I’m almost halfway through the alphabet. I won’t bother giving anyone a letter unless I meet them. There are a few possibilities in the “chat” stage, so potentially I could have another date or two before the month is over. But only if there’s real potential. A free beverage is not free if it’s costing me something more – which is my most valuable, most highly regarded, most precious time.

In your wait for the next letters of the Dating Hell Alphabet, feel free to check out the art I’ve been doing. In fact I added a page here just to show them off to you. More about that soon…

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

 

This one is too….???

Ahh…fairy tales. Cinderella, Snow White and Ariel and all the other princesses are not  the best role models when it comes to romance. But Goldilocks? She’s not a princess at all. She’s a simple girl looking for simple comforts. She isn’t searching for a prince or a castle. She is strolling in the woods and seeking the basics. This is a girl after my own heart.

Okay, she happens to be guilty of breaking and entering along with destruction of property, but let’s not focus on this. She is discovering what works for her. I am now claiming Goldilocks as my hero and aspire to be more like her in my dating adventures.

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What would Goldilocks do (WWGD)? How does this taste? How does this feel? Is this comfortable for me? After some sampling, she knew what was just right.

With my hiatus from school, I thought I would jump back in and begin a little summer sampling myself.

Letter “I” is the next on the list (I had to go back to look – it had been so long). After some solid text conversations, we met last week for a walk on the beach. It sounds totally cliche, but it happens to be a carefree way to connect. And hello, it’s a beautiful setting.

We chatted non stop, but it was relaxed and easy. There were several points of mutual harmony – including religion, politics and other points – no small feat there. We agreed it was a successful first date, and made plans to connect over the weekend.

Saturday “I” and I went kayaking and it was comfortable and fun. Our hope was that – barring anyone tipping anyone else overboard – that we would have a bite together after. We remained upright and dry, and thus continued with lunch. Kayaking is one of my “most wanted” activities ever, and the chosen cafe is among my personal favorites. The day was scripted to be incredible.

Overall, the time spent with “I” wasn’t too cold, it wasn’t too hot, but it wasn’t just right. It was more… lukewarm. Which is fine, but with the setting and the activity, I expected it to be more. It was perhaps a little too calm and flat. Maybe we would have been better off with some tipping? head_up_anim

I’m not sure I will see him again. The script is really secondary if the characters are hitting it off.  I don’t want to waste his time or mine if there’s not a spark – the elusive “just right”.

Chemistry has been present in my (crazy) previous relationships, so I cannot trust it to be the sole guide. But I can’t quite discount it either. How long does it take to discover? Can it be developed or is it just there? I don’t really know…

So onward to letter “J”. We made plans to have lunch on Sunday – coincidentally at the same restaurant. (I know, back to back dates. What can I say, it’s a holiday weekend and I had extra time. Plus, their beet salad.) We preemptively packed beach gear in anticipation of lunch going well. It did, so we headed west for an afternoon of sun and surf. “J-man” planned well with a cooler of beverages, complete with Tervis and ice. It was a chamber of commerce day and y’all know how I feel about my toes in the sand. Another perfect script waiting for the characters to connect.

Much like “I”, my time with “J” was filled with non stop conversation but with much intensity. He has a big personality and even bigger adventurous tales. I felt like a one woman audience as he held center stage to dazzle and entertain.

While I felt energized and enjoyed his stories, I was ready to head home after a while. It was more choppy than calm. I’m not sure he’s “just right” either. Maybe it was the undoubted excitement of meeting me? Like a new puppy when you first get home from work? A second date may reveal more. We’ll see if he calls.

cropped-10393-img_2953It was not this hard for my girl Goldie. She had three options, and it was clear which was the best. My options seem endless, and they are not as easy to read as a fairy tale.

I am grateful that I am not on a time frame. I have no agenda for how this ends. I am enjoying the adventure one date at a time. Nothing is at stake. Oh, and my tan is coming along nicely.

Thanks for reading, until next time!
Sherri

Everyone’s got one…

You know what I’m talking about. Opinions – and assholes.

Everybody’s got one. Lately it seems like everyone likes to show theirs off.

There was an article recently about a church in the UK that had a discussion about what kinds of activities to host in their building. And in this discussion, it was proposed that yoga should be banned from their facilities. Their reason? Yoga is a “non-Christian activity”.

People freaked out. It’s been all over the news. The discussion flowed right down into our office after someone heard it on the radio last week. Which, in case you missed it, I work for a church. It’s seldom good when a church is mentioned in the news, am I right?

What is wrong with “those church people”? What are they afraid of? Why are they so narrow minded? Yoga is good exercise. What difference does it make if they say Namaste or Amen when they finish? Who cares if the origins of yoga are found in Hinduism? Weren’t Christmas trees used to celebrate pagan gods and yet we find them in churches each December?

Those are good questions. But they are the wrong questions.

Churches – and the folks that run them – get to decide what kinds of events they want on their own property. This is totally and completely within their right to do so. We don’t get angry with Jewish Synagogues when they opt out of pulled pork dinners. And you may decide against hosting silly string wars for the high school football team in your house. (Or maybe you would be okay with it? I’m sure the team would be thrilled to know this).

But what if the Church and its people – the ones who claim to follow Jesus – considered these questions instead:

What can we do that draws people closer to God?
How can we build relationships with people who don’t come to church here?
How can we leverage our resources to help people in the community feel more connected?
What needs are in our community and how can we help meet those needs?

And then the ultimate question, what would Jesus do?

From what I know of him, Jesus is okay with people doing whatever they can to SHOW LOVE in real and practical ways. Like sharing resources and not judging. Loving your neighbor as yourself. Doing all you can to be in harmony and peace with those around you.
cool jesus
My guess, to which I am entitled, as you are to yours, is that Jesus is probably okay with a yoga class.

You know what he is not okay with? People getting hostile with each other. People judging each other. People wasting precious time and energy on things over which we have no control.

Some don’t want yoga, which is within their right, and then others condemn them for it. Pot, the kettle is calling for you!

How are we showing love when we criticize others? How are we extending grace when we are judging and condemning those who think differently than we think? Isn’t grace for all of us?

It’s likely that I will not change the stance of the folks in this little church in the UK. And that is okay. Where IS my influence today? Who around me needs grace? Perhaps I can dismiss maddening conversations as soon as they erupt. Perhaps I choose something positive and encouraging to share in my circles, rather than continuing to repeat negativity.

What could this achieve? A few less opinions (and assholes) and a lot more grace.

I’m so glad.

Thanks for reading, until next time!
Sherri

PS. If you are looking for an amazing online yoga instructor who doesn’t care what you believe, is positive, encouraging, wacky and fun, check out my girl Adriene. She leads me each and every morning in my home practice. Namaste and Amen!