The best is yet to come

It is my Birthday Eve. And it’s not just any birthday you guys, it’s a really big one.images

Tomorrow I turn 50. What in the f’ing world is happening? Continue reading

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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

 

Time to be happy…

It’s my birthday / week / month!

bday cake

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

 

School’s out for summer…

Please tell me that you sang the title just as I did when I typed it. Here’s a link – complete with bubbles – in case it’s been a while since you’ve seen Alice Cooper on stage.

I just realized how much I can relate to Punxsutawney Phil. Peeking up from the depths of the homework hole, peering around to see if there are assignments due – or classes to attend. Is it really safe to go out and play?

Why yes, yes it is.

I am used to being in school four nights in a row, and doing homework and studying the other nights. I haven’t had to do any of that in TWO WHOLE WEEKS. What??

What in the blazes have I been doing with all of my extra time (besides not writing blog posts, obviously)?

Friends. Beach. Home projects. Netflix. Painting. Books. Did I mention friends?

I have been making up for lost time in the social arena – as in – I’ve been having a good ol’ time since classes ended. Having fun is just as I remembered it, you know, it’s FUN!

I also reached a goal this week in the Toastmaster’s Club. I delivered my 10th speech and earned the Competent Communicator award. For those who have no clue what I’m talking about, let me ‘splain, Lucy.

Toastmaster’s is an international organization that helps people conquer their fear of public speaking. Members take turns giving prepared speeches and talking extemporaneously and then giving and receiving helpful feedback from one another. It’s actually pretty cool and there are some amazing people in my club. I’m growing and improving my ability to speak (and you thought I had that down solid).

Oh, and I hung this up in my office.

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Lido Beach, Sarasota, Florida. Acrylic on canvas, 24″ x 24″

So every day I’m seeing the beach one way or another! This was my final project for my painting class, but I just can’t seem to put away my brushes. There’s another painting nearly finished on my easel and several more lined up behind it. It’s becoming almost as much fun as writing.

With summer, and this recovery of time and energy, I’m going to revisit the whole dating thing. I’ll be sure to keep you in the loop if / when it gets interesting. I am honestly not sure where I left off with my alphabet dating drama, so I may just have to start over. We’ll see…

Summer, I’m so glad you’re here. Please stay awhile – I have lots of plans for us 🙂

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

 

Me and my big/small mouth…

Do you have any idea how flipping hard it is to control your tongue? You probably know. Heck, the book of Proverbs (in the Bible) talks about this. It’s called the wisdom book for a reason, y’all. James 3:3-12 is all over the topic of taming the tongue. I think it’s in there so often because it’s applicable to all of us.

Do you have any idea how flipping hard it is to paint your own face? Maybe you do. Especially if you took a painting class and someone gave you this crazy hard assignment. I cannot imagine why you would tackle this otherwise. Maybe you’re a great artist- because I was told that every great artist does a self portrait. Or you’re into self torture. Same thing.

Last weekend was also Easter, which is the equivalent to Super Bowl Sunday in the church world. Basically we have twice as many people as usual. On top of that, we begin our day 2-3 hours earlier than normal. My church has this incredible outdoor sunrise service that is, well, frankly, just too early to be dealing with people. We gear up and plan accordingly, and smile and greet everyone. It’s really one of my favorite holidays, despite reporting for duty at dark-thirty.

I spent HOURS on my self portrait. Probably 2-3 hours on the one pose that I abandoned. (I need some gesso, obviously). I chose to paint the photo with the tricky angles (read about it here) and it was due for the final critique last week. I stayed up very late the night before finishing it. I wasn’t totally happy with it, but it was done enough. Plus, beauty sleep.

At church, I oversee several areas and the people within those areas. My teams, and more importantly, the leaders of those teams, are incredible. Most of the time I just walk around and chat and make sure everything is going well. I don’t actually have to do much of anything except put out fires or make minor corrections. Easter Sunday seems to have more pressure than normal, and I was really feeling it.

My cool hippie art professor deemed my painting “most improved since the last class”. I took that as a high complement. He commented how tricky mine was because of its perspective and lack of shadows on my face. I had captured my eyes well – which is critical. I had mimicked the background style with the highlights in my hair. One could sense that my arms were correct (even though I think they looked hairy) and overall he said I did a good job.

And then I blew it only two hours in. I overstepped my bounds in a sensitive area with a new volunteer. She left in tears, vowing to not come back. I erred, and it was on the side of judgment, not the side of grace. This was upsetting to many in this serving area, and it hung heavy like a dark cloud. Traces of it rumbled on throughout the next week.

Though I said I was done with this painting, he suggested I make one more improvement. Then he said something I’ve never heard in my life. He said my mouth was too small (could he please sign a sworn statement to this?). One of my best features was captured in the photo, but I didn’t translate it very accurately onto the canvas. My smile wasn’t quite as full and bright as the one I am known to share.

After much prayer and conversation with other leaders, the young volunteer and I made peace over coffee last week. I was grateful that she was willing to meet. We were open and honest about our Easter morning exchange. She expressed her vulnerability and ensuing hurt. I expressed my deepest and most sincere apologies, which she accepted. She extended so much grace, though I am the one who should have granted it to her in the first place. She will be back, and all is well. Forgiveness is a beautiful thing.

I am grateful that humble pie doesn’t have too many calories. I would also agree it’s best if you can eat while it’s still warm.

It’s been an interesting and learning experience with these two swirls of thought in my head over the past week. My mouth is too big. My mouth, without a filter of grace, can be so damaging. My mouth is too small. My mouth, when I’m smiling, is one of my best features.

So for today, I will be smiling more and judging less. My self portrait isn’t finished, but then, neither am I.

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

 

 

Selfie on canvas

In 2013, the word selfie was added to the Oxford Dictionary and was proclaimed “word of the year”. You would think by now that I would be good at taking one, but alas, you’re wrong.

It’s a generational thing to be sure. I know my millennial children have zero issues with taking and posting selfies all day long. Of course they are both wrinkle free and have that amazing metabolism I fondly recall having at that age. Those were the days…

That was never me. I am completely, totally, 100% NOT photogenic. I’m the reason the photographer has to take 72 group shots so that someone’s eyes aren’t closed. I don’t have a side or a smile or a pose. I scrambled to find pics to post on the dating profile.

The struggle is real.

So of course our next painting assignment is a self portrait.

I tried to negotiate my way out of it by offering to exchange the proposed self portrait for a three canvas series as my final project rather than a single piece. That’s a net gain of one entire painting. My professor declined with this inarguable comment. He challenged me with, “Every great artist does a self portrait.”

He knows me, and that I have enough ego to absorb this compliment and calling in one fell swoop. The good news is that I can use a photo – past or present. Oh good, we’ll leave off the neck wrinkles and crow’s feet and leave a young clean face to capture on the canvas.

One evening after a full week of work and school, I grabbed the box of photos and began my quest. Anything stored electronically was too recent. There were a billion pictures of my adorable children, you know, the photogenic ones? But a decent picture of yours truly in her younger days? Not so much.

Sure, there were a few, but I could not use a single one. Between the quality, the background, the lighting, the expression, and of course the closed eyes, they just weren’t quite right.

Rabbit trail: I actually shed a few tears as I reminisced over photos of my grandparents that have long been gone. And those memories of once-small children that no longer sit on my lap for bedtime stories.

Disclaimer: I may have been hormonal.

Warning: Looking at old pictures while hormonal is likely to cause uncontrollable cravings for Breyer’s Original Vanilla Bean topped with Ghirardelli Chocolate Chips and could additionally result in varying amounts of weight gain.

When my search came up empty, I surrendered to using a current selfie. After getting a friend to do some pics, and a ridiculous amount of time playing around with my camera phone, a few decent shots were captured.

The realization I had about myself, and how I feel about my image, was monumental.

In the majority of the old pictures, I did not love myself. I did not even like myself. No wonder none of those other pictures would work! I am glad I have grown and changed and embraced who I am. It’s a tough job, but it is necessary.

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Photo credit: Rita Michelle Baucom

Self love is a critical piece of life, and I finally have it! I am proceeding with this current self portrait, wrinkles and all. It’s about capturing the moment, the season of life in which I find myself.

 

Let the painting begin!

Thanks for reading, until next time…
Sherri

 

 

 

 

Handling disappointment

It’s been said, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” I beg to differ. Let me tell y’all a little sad story…

So I was all signed up for this long-awaited painting class, and since I have an entire wardrobe of church t-shirts, I thought it would be ok to sacrifice one. I’m just making wise use of my resources (sorry Pastor Larry). Now you need to understand, I started dabbling with paint on canvas 20 years ago, and every now and then I remember. I stroll galleries and think, I could paint that. Why am I not painting? I could splatter some paint and sell it for big money!

The chance to go to a real-live art class is beyond thrilling. I registered over a month ago. All $70 worth of supplies have been selected and paid for, oh and $25 for the class. The bigger sacrifice is this happens to fall in the sacred Sunday-afternoon-nap slot. That’s enough right there to prove just how excited I am about doing this.

I arrive a few minutes early. There is no one there. No instructor. No other eager students carrying in their supplies. I wait a few minutes, and then I sort-of-politely ask what’s happening. I am eventually directed to the store manager. There is no class today.

(Pause here for dramatic effect.) 

My heart sank. I wanted to cry. (This happens on other occasions when the nap is not to be had.) The manager owned it. It was her fault. The instructor no longer taught there, and somehow they overlooked this class when notifying all the students that it was not going to happen. 

She apologized twenty-seven times. She gave me a full refund without the receipt. She gave me a coupon for future purchases. She took my name, number and email. She touched my hand and looked me in the eye and apologized again. I think she wanted to cry a little bit for me.

I could not be angry with this lady. I was just disappointed. And then I was so grateful that I wasn’t the totally mean bitchy person who really wanted to flop down on the ground and have a full blown tantrum. After all, I was wearing my church t-shirt. 

There is something about wearing this that makes me a better person. Or maybe just keeps me from being a total jerk in public. I probably won’t put a church sticker on my car yet. I am not a rude driver. I just like to get where I am going. Quickly. Ok, to finish our story…

I’m still bummed that there is a bare spot on my gallery wall, waiting for a new piece of glorious art. But that spot has been there a while, and it will fill with something lovely when an instructor is ready to appear.

And really, it was okay. I salvaged the day by heading to Lido Beach for several hours. All by myself. I took a much needed nap while in the beloved beach chair, toes in sand. It was not what I had planned, but it was perfect. I’m learning to just go with it…

There are much bigger things in life to have tantrums about. Maybe that lady will take note of the fact that I didn’t throw a fit, and that I was gracious when I had every reason to be downright upset. And that maybe wearing an attitude that matched my shirt got noticed. For the right reasons. 

Thanks for reading…til next time,
Sherri