Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Our Operation Christmas Child Shoe Boxes

I love giving and decided this year our family would participate in Samaritans Purse Operation Christmas Child.  Our Church LCBC encourages the congregation to fill shoe boxes, a man from Uganda came to our church and spoke about his childhood.  He told  his story of the poverty in his village where he lived, his mental state.  When he was 8 years old he was sponsored by a teenager through Compassion International, it was so amazing to hear him talk about all the ways it changed his life. While my family has not been nearly as close to poverty as this man, two years ago my husband had been laid off from his employer of seven years. Our finances took a massive hit that year and our children received some gifts from a local church at Christmas.  The congregation provided amazing gifts of toys, art supplies, coats, clothing, a beautiful handmade twin sized bed quilt and groceries, including a gift card to a local supermarket.  We were so overwhelmed by the love and generosity that year from everyone and now we are always looking for ways to help others in need.  I home school our girls and thought Operation Christmas Child would be a great learning experience for them and we prepared two shoe boxes for two little girls, age 4 years old.  I came across a wonderful blog post written by The Dohls called Unsolicitated Advice About Shoeboxes.  

First, I visited our local dollar tree and picked up basic supplies, but avoided anything too inexpensively made or easily breakable.  I spent about $20 total for two of the following: 
Toothbrush and travel case
Hand towel
Sketch pad
Hair elastics

Then, I went to Kmart, spending about $40 on two of the following:
Baby doll
My little pony
Travel soap case
LED flashlight
3 extra AAA batteries
Travel tissues
Wide tooth comb

Lastly, I stopped at Target, spending about $14 on two of the following:
Plain tank top
Lollipops (dum dums are my kids favorite)
Quality kids plate and bowl

In all I spent $74 on both boxes, thats $37 for each child.  I will also register my boxes online and pay the shipping fee of $7 per shoebox, hopefully we will receive information on where our box was delivered.  I manged to pack everything into the boxes without room to spare anywhere and used plastic shoe boxes, I rubber banded them shut and used packing tape to hold them closed around the middle.  I let the girls each decorate a card, included the sediments of One Love and our return address in hopes of receiving a letter from the children we blessed this year.  As I packed each box I talked about each item with my girls and answered questions about the child that might receive our box and watched a video about Danniellas Story.  When we finished our discussion of conditions in other countries and why we were sending these boxes off full of toys and everyday items, I could see their brains and hearts making the connection.  They were so happy and excited for this little girl receiving our box.  A perfect lesson on humanitarianism for my girls.  

One Love.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Dear Departed Drawings ~ Alice 18

It's a dreary day today, but not in my house.  I had the two most lovely souls to keep me company.  Alice has come so far since my last post here on the blog.  So many things have been going on over the last few months that have been keeping my attention.  Lots of integration with all of the inner child work I've been doing and the changes and habits I have been working on forming within myself.  Normal life happening too with its ebb and flow.  Just trying to roll with the waves and flow with the current.  Everything is in perfect timing and I trust God to carry us.  I felt it fair to only work on Alice when I am in the proper mindset and not clouded with stress, feeling overwhelmed, anxious or exhaustion.  Winter really replenishes my energy and I am looking forward to snow covered silence.  So for today I am really getting deep and working with details and shading on and around Alice.  I feel really good about them both and my progress is very satisfying.

I handed off Lucia to her family not long ago.  It was so lovely seeing them really enjoying her portrait.  I really love drawing for people.  Using my God given talent in this way makes it all feel right with the world.

If you follow me on Instagram you can see all of my progress there with my drawings, art and experiences.  Find me at heady_dreadie on Instagram if you don't want to miss all the in-between work.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Dear Departed Drawings ~ Alice 17

Worked mostly on the fine details of Vaydas hair and shading Alices fur. Fining tuning areas now that the drawing is laid out. Had to take a break from my art and let all the inner work I've been doing lately sink in fully.  Then I attended an amazing conference called the Global Leadership Summit.  I attended about five years ago and won two tickets to the summit this year.  The most inspirational conference I have attended yet.  Two days spent filling my head with ways to improve my relationships.  What it means to be a leader, how to get there, ways to maintain the momentum.  How to make it through devastating circumstances and still forge ahead.  Understanding true qualities of a leader and the hard inner work they have done to succeed.  The determination and discipline required.  Truly inspiring and much needed at this exact point in my life to cement everything I have been learning and applying in my life.

Then I had a dream. I thought I might share it here.  My husband even suggested I share my dream after I told him.  In my dream I was standing inside a catholic church with many other people, the Pope was blessing us and then cast a fistful of stones onto the floor.  Everyone scrambled for them but I found two!  I gave the woman next to me the smaller of the two stones, but she seemed ungrateful so I ended up giving her the larger stone and keeping the smaller one for myself.   The stones the Pope cast out were Staurolite, also known as Fairy stones.  Then I left the church and John Leguizamo was waiting for me outside, I told him I had something for him and pulled out a tangerine quartz and citrine from my pocket.  He told me he didn't want them.  He said that he had something to tell me and told me to turn around.  Then I woke up because the kids were awake and yelling for me. 

After consulting with two dear friends and my husband it seems clear I am ready to move on from work within the solar plexus representing the citrine crystal, essentially balance - self esteem, confidence, willpower.  The tangerine quartz represents the sacral chakra, essentially creativity - emotions, connection, pleasure.  I had been doing some work this year on finding balance and creativity within myself.  I've been told I may be ready to move on to a new level of spiritual work and connecting with spirit directly.  

From what I have been told and what I have read is that Staurolite is rare and come to those who are ready.  Staurolite comes from the Greek word Stauros, which means cross. There are numerous tales behind these stones.  One in particular I keep seeing over and over is that these stones were first formed when the fairies cried as they heard the news of Christ's death, which is why they form in a cross.  Staurolite is a strong stone to aid spiritual grounding and a stronger connection with beings in the natural world, such as devas, fairies, spirits of animals and plants.  They are known as stones that will allow you to accept more easily, the gifts that Jesus brought to the world.  An unconditional love for others and for the earth.  

And from what I gathered from others and my own intuition about the ungrateful woman and the two stones, I am generous in nature and can recognize that a small stone or big stone, the medicine is still the same. There may also be someone taking from me and not appreciating me, leaving me with the smaller of the two stones.  So I will watch out for this, I am no stranger to this type of person.  I think as a giver and creative person, takers are naturally attracted to me (at least that what it seems from my own 35 year experience on this earth).  All in all it was an amazing dream, I've never dreamed of crystals before this time.  My husband agreed I needed to find a stone like the one in my dream.  This one is the closest I could find, they are rare and there are not many listed for sale online.  I believe the one in my dream was more of a 90 degree angle, rather than 60 degree - but as stated previously "the medicine is the same."  The stone in my dream had a huge piece of mica on the side (and I found none with this particular quality) but I this stone is actually set in mica!  The photo doesn't show its immensely shimmering and sparkly background for the cross.  I've been keeping this stone very close since it arrived Friday, keeping it in my pocket, in my medicine bag or under my pillow while sleeping.  I love it.  I also finally felt like creating again last night.  So I've been busy with batik, finishing up projects promised for others and a surprise for Lucias mother.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Dear Departed Drawings ~ Alice 16

Today I worked on Vaydas hair.  Fine tuning the lines and shading.  I've been trying to get back into the groove drawing regularly.  Summer is a difficult time to keep a routine in my house.  So many spur of the moment ideas and invites to learn, explore and have fun.  We are thoroughly enjoying our summer so far.

Most recently we upgraded our 2000 Subaru Impreza to a 2005 Nissan Armada.  We also have a 2005 Subaru Outback.  The Impreza was the first car I purchased on my own.  It was also the car I learned how to drive a manual transmission.  I met my husband in 2005, the same year I purchased my Impreza.  It was the car we took to all the music festivals that we frequented in those days.  I saved ticket stubs, posters and all the fun memorabilia from those days.  So when you buy a new car, you have to clean out the old car.  My husband was going through the bag of things he collected out of the old Impreza and handed me two tarot cards.

The tarot cards were given to us at the ticketing gate when we arrived to the Stone Henge Music Festival in 2008.  I had forgotten those cards were in the glove box.  I gasped as soon as I saw my card from that year.  It was the Two of Swords.  The same card that Lucias mother, Angie pulled for me in September of 2014 (click on the link for the tarot reading) before we had been formally introduced.

Then my husband said "Yeah, that card was given to us in 2008.  It says here on the back of the card."

It took exactly one second for me to gasp again. This was also the year of Lucias death and birth.  Now you can gasp and get the goosebumps while your hair raises.

Stonehenge Festival 2008  (me in the patchy dress) Subaru Impreza too!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Dear Departed Drawings ~ Alice 15

Been getting down to business with Alice.  Really filling out the portrait and working on small details, slowly.  I am not posting every day anymore but I am up to about 20 ish hours on these two souls.  I AM posting updated pictures on Instagram when I am not posting here.  You can find me at Heady_Dreadie on Instagram.

This is by far my husbands favorite portrait I've done.  We both love how this portrait outlines the love between animals and humans.  Connections are so strong.  Many of us can attest to the relationships we have with our pets and this drawing strikes a chord with that special love.  Alice is so playful and energetic in my meditations.

Before I start drawing I meditate each time for about 10 or 15 minutes.  First I burn some white sage, then I burn sweet grass or more recently, Palo Santo.  I hold my Shattuckite stone or a Lemurian Quartz in my receiving hand (non dominate hand) and begin by picturing my safe space.  For me it is deep in the forest, surrounded by trees, lots of conifers and deciduous types, blankets of moss and ferns with a small clearing in the center.  In the center of the clearing is a giant oak tree with a break in the tree tops to see the stars in the night sky.  A narrow but joyful stream runs through the small clearing.  The clearing is covered in soft, green moss.  This is my safe place.  I picture myself here then I picture the white light descending from the heavens, entering through my crown and passing through every chakra in my body into the earth beneath my feet grounding me.  I breathe deeply pulling down this heavenly white light into my body and exhale it into the earth.  Then I call in my portrait subject, asking them to come help me complete my drawing.  Then they appear.  All have visited my meditations differently.  Kole used to come running in through the trees, Neil would come splashing down the stream laughing, Violet and Lucia are always walked in cradled in Houds arms.  Neither Leigh nor Houd visited me during my meditations while drawing that I can recall,  I experienced more of them in my actual drawing space.  Power interruptions would occur frequently while drawing Leigh and only while I was actually working on the drawing.  Houd was simply felt all around me.  I would hear footsteps and doors shutting, I knew he was actually in the room with me.  Alice comes racing in, sometimes splashing in the stream, other times through the trees.  She is so energetic and happy, jumping and licking me, other times simply sitting with me.  When I am finished drawing for the day I use Black Tourmaline or Apache Tear in my receiving hand and again I go to my safe space.  I imagine the white light coming up from the earth, through my chakras and out through my crown ascending back into the heavens.  I thank the drawing subject for their help and send back all the emotions and grief with them.  I say a prayer to God, to keep them and thank Him to finish off the meditation.  Other meditations I do are usually at night or after a particularly hard day, I will typically place a crystal on its corresponding chakra while laying down and go back to my safe space.  I will make requests or simply enjoy my safe space.  Meditation is so refreshing.  I hope you try it some time.  You Tube has some nice mediation music and a relaxing salt bath with essential oils is the ticket for healing a long, hard day.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Dear Departed Drawings ~ Trees and Tents with Lucia

I met Lucias mother, Angie,  March 8, 2014.  I attended a poetry reading and book signing at Mulberry Art Studios for To Linger on Hot Coals.  I was there for Violet and her mother, Devany who was reading her poetry and one of the authors signing books.  I went by myself, sat alone and immersed myself in the baby loss community while listening to strong women express their emotions.  It took my breath away.  After the readings, four of the poetry contributors gathered to sign books, answer questions and offer support.  I felt really awkward, it was my first time meeting Violets mother and being inside the studio.  While I was busy blending in with my surroundings I kept feeling drawn to Lucias mother, Angie, from the first minute I saw her.  I too was feeling grief and felt very at home with all these grieving families because it was six days after the first anniversary of my dear friend Houds death.  We spoke just a handful of words between us that day as she signed my book.  I could not look away from her and kept wondering about her, how mysterious.  

Later I discovered she was the owner of the Moon + Stone Healing which immediately drew my interest.   I saw on her Facebook healing page that she was offering tarot card pulls to the first 10 responders.  *hand raise*  I posted the card she pulled and her explanation on the blog that day.  After that insightful day we again crossed paths at the MUM expo a few weeks later in passing.  I began finding out all kinds of wonderful things about Angie.  I began attending classes that sparked my intrigue at Alta View Wellness Center and eventually I was added to her friends list on Facebook.   I didn't find out about Lucia until October 15th 2014 when Angie posted a photo of her altar for Dia de Los Muertos.  Which by the way I had not really seen a Day of the Dead altar prior to this.  

The day of the dead intrigues me and I love the concept.  I've always loved the skulls and beautiful decorations but after Lucias mama posted the photo I immediately started researching the history.  I love this particular sites explanation.  I then contacted Angie directly in December as Lucias birthday December 22nd approached.  She led me to her blog Still Life with Circles where I read about Lucia.  Immediately immersed with Lucia and her story.  I grieved right along with Angie.  And then I knew Lucia was to be after Kole.   I chose to draw this photo of Lucia and the clay meditation mama that Angie made because this mama was not only leaving behind her baby but the clay statue she made with all her good intentions and hopes for her daughters precious life.  She is complete and beautiful.  

Since then Angie has enriched my life far beyond what I could imagine.   I've learned so much about crystals and seen so many beautiful crystal grids that have inspired me to learn to batik.  I now make beautiful crystal grids and they are always being put to good use by Angie and Alta View!

Angie held a New Moon Circle for setting intentions and releasing things that no longer serve.  It was such a healing three months for me.  I know I still have lots of learning and healing to do with myself, but now I have some tools to help me.  She walked alongside of me through the whole journey and the other women in the circle.  She continues to amaze me.  I've picked up little tidbits of useful knowledge from her nearly everyday.  Discovering new recipes like Golden Milk, learning to de-feather a bird, how to make gem water, finding out about Ayurveda, seeing my spirit guide for the first time, showing me Visual Quest which I am promptly signing up for this year, to name just a few.  I've learned about myself, about Lucia, what its like grieving a stillborn baby.  Angie has given me a crystal healing, which connected us and was simply amazing.  She has gifted me my own set of crystals to use for my grief work and taught me how to release all those emotions, grief and loss that I pull in to channel my portrait subjects.  I am so blessed to know her and be allowed to draw Lucia for her and her family.  Thank you Angie, for inviting me in and letting me be a part of your world.  Lucia is one of the most challenging portraits I've done to date.  A real pleasure to be able to provide her family with a beautiful drawing of her divine beauty.

I've asked Angie if there is anything she has to say.....anything she wants to share....
In Angies words:

"Over six years ago, my daughter Lucia Paz, named after Light and Peace, died inside of me. Thirty-eight weeks pregnant, labor started, then stopped, and started again. Her movements slowed, and I prepared for her. I rubbed oil into my belly, and sang her songs about the Earth. I frantically cleaned, and hung a hammock from the beams in our home, to ease labor. I wrapped it around my body, and eased the pressure in my back. I don't think I ever felt more beautiful than when I was pregnant with my second daughter.

I have pictures of those days before she died. My husband making a huge big pot of French Onion soup, smiling at the camera, readying for his second daughter. My twenty-month old daughter Beatrice with my husband's stethoscope trying to find a heartbeat that already stopped, us oblivious. Me, belly out, tired and ready to be a mama again. After two days of stilted labor, she felt limp in my belly. I would lift her in my tummy, rearrange her, and she wouldn't respond. When I noticed that, we went into the hospital. They told us she died and made me stare that at the hauntingly motionless ultrasound picture. "We are sorry. She passed away." The doctor said. No heartbeat. No kicks. No daughter at Christmas.

It was Winter Solstice, and I never left the hospital. They wheeled me into the labor and delivery area where I stayed for 24 hours of heartbreakingly torturous labor, talking to a ministerial nurse who played through this new reality over and over. I told her Buddhist folktales, and we cried together often. She just abided in my grief, and stayed still, and told me that I would make meaning from this. She told me to take pictures, but I didn't realize I'd want good pictures. No one mentioned professional photographers, or the service I now recommend to everyone--Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. My husband and I snapped some strange pictures of each other crying and holding her, and others with her in a bassinet, blood still staining the blankets. She had died sometime in the days before we found out. I was too busy and contracting too much to notice her movements slowed. And anyway, I had read baby slows down before birth. (That is not true, by the way.)

When we came home, I used to look at the pictures over and over again. But my husband could not look. She was so bruised, covered with thick vernix. Her lips were bright red from the blood pooling in the head after death. And the skin on her eyelids were peeling off. To Sam, she looked too dead. To me, she looked like my family, my nose, dark skin, and wild gypsy black hair. I asked to put a photograph of her in the house, and my husband refused. It was too much, he said. And so, she became my daily secret ritual. I snuck into the office and just stared at her on the screen. I had one photograph of her in our home, a photograph of me pregnant with Lucia at 28 weeks, my husband's hands wrapped around my waist.

I began painting her and I together. Me holding her in a hospital gown. Me as the Virgin Mary holding her. Me carrying her. But it wasn't the same. I stopped looking at the pictures of her. It was part of her death that I regretted--good photographs. Last year, I met Amanda at a reading for the book To Linger on Hot Coals. Then our paths kept crossing. Finally, she asked to see a picture of Lucia. Most of my family had not seen pictures of Lucia Paz, and I couldn't decide if I should or should not share them. It felt like exposing the most tender part of myself, leaving my most vulnerable places in me open to the sky. And yet, I trusted her. She asked if she could draw Lucia. I was both terrified and honored and sad and excited. This path unfurling in front of me was one I simply had to take. I agreed.

Watching my daughter come to life has been one of the most profoundly amazing experiences of my life. Six years ago, she was taken away from me, and in a small way, I feel like Amanda gave me part of her back. Finally, I have a picture of her that looks like the baby I saw on Winter Solstice 2008. That looks like the baby I held, and the baby I see in my mind's eye. With my son's nose, and my daughter's forehead, and all the bits from both of us--Lucia Paz--this amazingly beautiful drawing is who she is. As the picture developed, it is like she was talking through Amanda, showing herself to me, popping out, "Peek-a-boo." I cried nearly every time I saw the blog pop up on my feed. It often caught me off guard, and I admit felt strange, sometimes violating, and then quickly moved to comforting.

"Here I am, Mama," my little lady bug whispered. "Always here with you."

Day one of Lucias portrait starts here

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Dear Departed Drawings ~ Alice 14

Finally back at it again!  Lucia is complete and will be revealed soon!  I've been working on Alices fur and Vaydas hair the last few days.  There is an immense amount of detail in the bright sun on them both.  I look forward to getting back into a routine with drawing again.  As of late I've decided to only post my progress every two or three days rather than every day.  My intention (or resolution as you might call it) for 2015 was balance.  I am striving to balance my time equally with my husband, children, friends, tie dye, drawing, homesteading and housework.  (Note: Housework is last on the list)  I realized that an every day post while initially was great for getting me back on track with drawing, it is now time to thin out the work load by not making a daily post.  I will still draw daily or as routinely as possible, just not post on the blog every day.

Other things I've been up to includes healing my inner child.  Three months ago I attended a New Moon Circle at Alta View Wellness Center led by Angie (Lucias mother).  We crafted Native American medicine bundles to hold and help manifest our goals and dreams using herbs, crystals and totems under the new moon.  This sacred work tested me in ways I had not dreamed. Since I was 18 years old and realized there were some things I needed to change about myself, things I did not like and did not make me feel good about myself, I set out to make changes.  I went out and made discoveries about life and relationships.  Experienced new people and places.  Soaked in wisdom from all types of people, observed behaviors and mannerisms.  Then later in life, nine years ago, I spent two years in marriage counseling with my husband and started learning about my inner child or shadow warrior.  The voice that was getting increasingly louder since the day my husband and I married.  Four years ago my first child was born and my inner child was continually getting louder and becoming increasingly protective as time passed.  At the beginning of 2015 I attended a class and meditation about healing the inner child.  It was an amazing experience where I was able to find out at what age my inner child formed and began protecting itself.  For me it was at age five.  During the meditation I was able to disconnect from past hurts, connect with my loved ones who provided me comfort and even hug myself at five years old.  I felt the warmth and love radiate from the Virgin Mary and the journey to healing myself was well underway.  Then the New Moon Circle in March kicked off intense inner work.  I was faced with all this emotion I had pushed aside and deep down inside myself was now brimming and overflowing.  I traced all this back to old fears I had developed as a child.  I released at every new moon and full moon cycle for the next three months.  And even opened my medicine bag and added to my original intention.  During these past three months I have turned very much inward to look deep into my emotions to find the source, acknowledge, thank my inner child for protecting me and tell myself I got this.  While I will be faced with these situations again in the future, I can now react with more wisdom, clarity and patience.  Last night we released our medicine bundles in the New Moon Circle.  It felt sad and happy at the same time.  This little bundle full of my intentions, herbs and crystals I had carried with me every day, slept with under my pillow every night was now finished.  I couldn't have done this serious intense inner work without help from Angie (Lucias mother), my husband and my friend Gabi.

It is so amazing to be helped and healed by the same people I am healing with my drawings.  I can honestly say every single person I've drawn a portrait for has taught me important lessons, inspired me deeply in so many ways.  I am grateful for you.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Dear Departed Drawings ~ Lucia 40

Finishing touches.  She has been unveiled in our living room for quite some time.  Soon time to spend some up close and personal space with Lucia while making final adjustments.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Dear Departed Drawings ~ Alice 13

Got a chance to work on these two last night.  They've been on my mind, just couldn't make time to draw.  Lots of sunshine in this photo, tiny hairs reflecting the sun.  I chose this photo because of the sunshine on their heads.  I imagine it was a beautiful day, the sun warming the hairs on their heads, sharing love and time.  Time is the most precious thing we can give anyone.

I've been thinking a lot about the "list"  I have for drawings.  Yes, I do have one - it's in no particular order on my Dear Departed Drawings page.  Of course I also have a list in my head.  I feel pulled in so many directions.  Recently I held a group reading in  my home, my husbands childhood friend, Joel came through.  He asked me to draw him next, drop my list and Aunt and Uncle for him.  He's right, my Aunt and Uncle were going to be "next" along with Conner.  So I'll meditate again and see what comes up.  He was always a jokester and it was no surprise.   His anniversary of departure from our earth is approaching, May 19th.  He has been on my heart and mind.   I will draw everyone on my list.  Everyone.  I can't wait to spend time with each one of my loved ones and yours too.

Dear Departed Drawings ~ Lucia 37

Diligently focused on Lucia.  Still making adjustments where ever I see them.  She is almost complete.  Comparing the photo to the drawing, I think I've done very well.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Dear Departed Drawings ~ Lucia 36

Inching along, hour by hour.  Skipped all around from corner to corner.  Deepening, darkening, lightening, blending and shading.  I defined Lucias brow to my satisfaction and adjusted the blankets and bedding.  Starting to really pop off the paper.  I feel like I can reach in and cradle her.

Yesterday was Mothers Day.  Mothers day is so overrated.  They don't even have Mothers day cards for bereaved mothers (can you believe that?!)  I have so many mother figures that only celebrating my birth mother feels silly.   I called my mother and chatted for a minute and wished her a happy mothers day, but I'd like to recognize all my mother figures today.  The day after.  Because one day isn't enough for me anyway.  My mother taught me first about nature, flowers, bugs, animals and the love of the outdoors.  She lives not too far away, attends our childrens birthdays, events, invites us over for family dinners and supports us in many ways. 

I easily recognize my aunt Cindy as a motherly presence growing up.  Years of sitting in her kitchen talking and sharing experiences while waiting for my cousin to come downstairs, words of wisdom and advice freely offered to me while at play or dinner or getting into trouble (ha!).

I learned most of my domestic skills from my Nan.  I watched her cook chicken pot pie  (Dutch/German with real homemade noodles - not an actual "pie"), ham with potatoes and green beans and make delicious peanut butter eggs.  She taught me how to use a washboard with soap and hand wringer.  I picked up her love for creating - painting, crocheting, making and crafting.

I see my fathers wife as someone who makes him happy and takes care of him.  She is wonderful with our kids, teaching, laughing and playing with them.  She takes them on outings and dotes on them as a Oma does to her grandchildren.  

My mother-in-law who shares a love for art with me, advice on housekeeping and raising children.  She teaches my kids songs,  plays games with them, encourages my spiritual faith and provides expertise on homeschooling.  I've also learned cooking skills as well as recipes for homemade laundry detergent and other cleaning tips.

My sister Pam (from another mother).  She is a bank of unconditional love.  I've learned so many attachment parenting type skills from her.  She constantly goes over and above for people and is a blessing to me in so many ways.  The sister I never had.  Always an ear to listen, food to share, advice to offer when asked and love to give freely.

Lastly but certainly NOT least, my friend Hank.  She has not only accepted me for me the instant we met, but shown me how to be kind and what it looks like.  Always a minute to listen, soup to water down to feed one more, extra sleeping bag or whatever you need - she'd give you the shirt off her back.  She has discussed the growing flowers, shapes of leaves, starting seedlings and even dug up all the dozens of varieties of perennials she owns to split the bulbs with me when we bought our first house.  I've never felt judged, slighted, unloved or unwelcome.  She watches over everyone and is always willing to lend a hand or some love to whoever needs it.

I also can't forget the strong, brave and loving mothers that have accepted my offer to draw their babies.  I admire these women.  They have each touched me in some way and inspired me to create.   Devany (Violet), Twylia (Houd), Hank (Neil), Renee (Kole) and Angie (Lucia).

Happy Mothers Day EVERY day!  I celebrate all of you as much as I can.  Thank you for contributing to me, you've all made an impact on who I am in some way.  Love you all!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Dear Departed Drawings ~ Lucia 35

Still working on adjusting Lucias bedding and other small fixes I see here and there.  Really getting close to finishing now.  So close I can hear her little baby sighs.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Dear Departed Drawings ~ Lucia 34

Shading the bedding and fading it into the background.  Defining the clay birthing mama as well.  This portrait has come such a long way, I was just scrolling back through the posts seeing the transformation from the beginning.  And remembering the first time I met Angie.  I was so curious, felt so drawn to her and here we are - our paths destined to cross.  For the good of both of us.  The light in me sees the light in you. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Dear Departed Drawings ~ Alice 12

Drawing, drawing, drawing.  Vaydas shirt, neck and little wispy hairs by her ear were the main focus.  Only about 12ish hours into the drawing and it already takes tremendous shape.  Drawing other peoples furry family members reminds me that our own kitty cats won't live forever.  I spent time with one of my own furry family members last night, grooming him and giving him lots of love.

Dear Departed Drawings ~ Lucia 33

Getting back in a routine today, hope to carry it over into the night.  Still adjusting tones, lightening and darkening as needed.  At this point the grid has blended into the background and that's okay.  I don't need it anymore.  The proportions are pretty spot on.

I was reflecting today how everyone that comes into your life is for a reason.  The timing is always perfect.  Gods timing is always perfect.  I was able to bless another mama in my Mothers of Preschoolers group with little gifts all year long who felt loved all year by someone who she'd never met, maybe she needed to feel that type of love.  My husbands job gave him a co-worker that befriended him and shares many interests and the same type of humor when he needed his faith restored in co-workers.  Lucias mother opened the world of crystals up in front of my eyes and inspired me to not only draw Lucia for her but to learn how to batik so I could make grid cloths.  My neighbor who has lived across the street from us for five years to find out how much we have in common and now confide in each other our most private emotions when we needed to share our most inner selves.  A festival we were asked to vend last May which was NOT profitable at all (we broke even) but it was the last time we talked and hugged our dear friend, my husbands childhood friend, for the last time.  A week later he died in a tragic car accident.  I thought about all my past portraits and how we crossed paths.  Our church, LCBC, is doing a series on Crucial Conversations, while I am currently doing intense inner work on myself involving anger, hurt and fear, timing perfect as usual.   I also think about my past and how it shaped me into who I am today.  I wouldn't be me if I didn't experience, sometimes even suffer my past. I am grateful for every moment.  Lessons and blessings. God always had a plan and I finally feel on board.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Dear Departed Drawings ~ Alice 11

Darkening the space between Alice and Vayda was the main focus.  I worked on Vaydas hair and the beautiful sunshine shining down on her and Alice.  I fiddled around with Alices fur, tones and getting them where I want them.  Some touch ups here and there.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Dear Departed Drawings ~ Lucia 31

More work on the blankets today.  Smoothing out lines and jagged edges, bringing up the tones to the proper shade.  The crisp smell of linens was in the air today.  I can almost hear the sweet sounds of babies sighing.  Gentle whispers of their breath.

Lately I can't shake my memories of my past, long gone but still fresh, bubbling to the surface.  The feelings I felt of despair and loneliness in my youth.  My short but educational stay in the mental health ward for four days.  The phone call, my counselor, the hospital, the patients....the straps on my bed.  I don't believe I've ever spoken a word to anyone about my experience in there.  That place.  But maybe its time I get it out.  Shed myself of it forever.  It's not a happy story, but it is part of who I am, shows how far I've come and reminds me of a place I never want to be in again.  If I can summon the courage, I will tell the story.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Dear Departed Drawings ~ Lucia 30

Darkening tones here and there.  There and here.  Adding depth, moving all around the portrait.  I can smell clean blankets, earthy clay and feel the stillness....

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Dear Departed Drawings ~ Alice 10

Last night I toiled away on Alice and Vayda.  Worked mostly on adding detail to Vaydas hair.  Started to fill in the dark space between them and adjusted some shadows on Vaydas forehead.  Feels good to get back in my groove. 

Started my first batch of Kombucha last night.  Pretty excited about it.  I found a culture at my local health food store with a baby SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast) and about a cup of tea to use as a starter.  I brewed a gallon of Oolong tea, added 2 cups of sugar, let it cool and added the culture to my glass one gallon jar.  Covered it tightly with a tight woven top and put it in my cupboard to "brew".  I will taste it in 7 days and report back.  Kombucha is going to feed my carbonated beverage addiction.  I've always had a thing for Coca Cola since I was a kid, able to make an entire 2 liter disappear in a day or a matter of hours).  I've since cut all sugar out of my diet since last summer and switched to Zevia Cola.  Zevia is sweetened with Stevia which is my sugar replacement.  And Zevia is twice as expensive as soda.  So here I am brewing my own carbonated beverage that I can flavor how ever I desire and it is very tasty.  So here goes my first fermented beverage adventure.  It's time to quit procrastinating and doubting myself.  If you can dream it, you can do it. 

Dear Departed Drawings ~ Lucia 29

Focused on adding the knit texture to Lucias hat - not sure how much of that detail will translate to visibility in the photo.  Still more shading on the hat to accomplish.  Not happy with the bedding yet.  I want to darken the tones on the clay mama as well.  Really felt pulled to get back to drawing today.  Hoping the momentum continues through the night.  I'd like to get back on track to drawing at night.  Alice is waiting for me.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Dear Departed Drawings ~ Alice 09

Today I concentrated on Alices face and brow, adjusting shadows and tones.  Still in the very beginning with this portrait, lots more love and light to embed in this portrait.

I attended my Mothers of Preschoolers group today.  So happy to have this fellowship of mothers in my life.  I am so blessed by the friends and support I have found there.  Today was extra special for me.  My group collected pajamas for Conners Comfy PJs Program through The Conner M. Holland Foundation.

"Children who receive inpatient hospital care for cancer are typically limited in their ability to play, often times spending most of their days in bed. We believe making a child comfortable during their stay is important to their overall well-being. We created the Conner’s Comfy PJs program to meet this need. Each year during the month of May, we collect new pajamas that are distributed year round to pediatric cancer units at The Penn State Hershey Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). During our first year, we collected over 700 pairs of PJs."

I was able to hear Conners story and all about the collection of PJs from his mother who was thanking our group for helping to collect the sleepwear.  As soon as she started talking I was overwhelmed with emotion and knew he would be next.  I didn't even question it or think twice, I am familiar with this feeling after a over a year.  I approached her as she was leaving and was able to talk to her about Conner and Dear Departed Drawings.   Conner will be after Lucia if she accepts.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Dear Departed Drawings ~ Lucia 28

Worked mostly on Lucias hat today.  Filling in lines, adding darker tones and figuring out the knit aspect.  I live for details.

I am so in love with this baby.  Taken with every feature on her face.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Dear Departed Drawings ~ Alice 08

Still working on Alices fur, lots of tones to get right.  Going to look funny until I bring all the shading up to where its supposed to be.  I felt Alice needed a turn in the daylight and haven't been able to make enough time for her at night yet.

I revisited my initial intentions today.  When I decided to start drawing portraits for people.  I knew it would be free.  I want people to know their loved ones aren't forgotten.  I just want to draw.  When I think of my loved ones in heaven my hearts starts to ache, my eyes water and sometimes they gush, I miss them.  I miss them so much.  So if I miss mine that much then others must miss their loved ones too, even more maybe.  That's when I decided that I could draw my loved ones anytime.  I wanted to do something for others. And I noticed others.  I noticed their stories, pictures, pouring out of emotions, even the suffering when silent.  I don't know who's next, I know the list in my head of the order I prefer - but that is not always THE PLAN executed.  I trust the timing is right and I will draw them as I am led.   I did not intend to charge for my art.  Many people have asked me how much I would charge to draw their loved one.  I didn't ever have an answer.  When I meditated and prayed I didn't really get an answer.  I do charge for prints of my drawings since there is a cost involved in getting them made.  I'd be getting prints made no matter what, otherwise I would have no record of my art.  I don't mind not being compensated for my art.  God pays me for that.  The universe sends me everything I need.  And I wouldn't have it any other way.  I don't know if I will take commissions again.  For now that avenue is closed.  Maybe it was never meant to be.  I'm okay with that.  I like this.  I like doing this for karma exchange.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Dear Departed Drawings ~ Lucia 27

Worked more on Lucias brow today.  I also worked on the bedding.  I see that the clay mama needs darker tones, bedding needs lighter tones and there is still more work to be done.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Dear Departed Drawings ~ Alice 07

Worked more on Alices ear, shading fur.  I'm really enjoying working with Alices peaceful, calming energy.  I also feel challenged as I haven't worked on fur for years.  There is so much love and sadness in this photo mixed together. 

Dear Departed Drawings ~ Lucia 26

Making minor adjustments to Lucias eyelids.  Bringing up tones on the clay birthing mama.  Lots of shadows and tones to adjust - but she is so stunning already.

Been working through a bunch of past issues that have been "bubbling up" lately.  Kind of not feeling myself, its time I dealt with my own demons.  Far too long I've ignored them.  If you want to reach the higher consciousness, you must first remove the blocks.  I participated in a Native American ritual of making medicine bags under the New Moon and setting intentions and releasing blockages in March.  Serious work.  Very serious. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Dear Departed Drawings ~ Alice 06

Decided to work on Alice and Vayda today.  I have not been able to work on Alice lately.  Getting my 4 and 2.5 year old back in their routines have not been easy.   You don't realize how much something impacts another until its gone and/or reintroduced.  So there is clearly a readjustment period.  I will say that the kids are super excited about starting preschool homeschooling!  I let Grace flip through the books when they arrived and she is full of anticipation.  Asks everyday to start learning, we already do learning around the home.  I take every opportunity to explain, teach and allow the girls to discover.  I am very pleased with the quality of curriculum, workbooks and resources included in my kit.  I chose the Horizons Preschool kit from Christianbook.com.  Really happy with the whole kit.  I feel confident in our new adventure this fall with Grace.  There is Bible reference suggestions in the teacher curriculum but its not entirely bible based (like every single workbook page or activity).  I really like that.  The kit has a clear direction but allows you to interject your own spin on activities, field trips and projects.  With my husbands 3 day, 12 hour shift work schedule we will be allowed family field trips and learning experiences together on the other three or four off days. 

So with furry family members on my mind I set to work on Alice, shading her ears a bit more.  I worked on Vaydas hair a bit too.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Dear Departed Drawings ~ Lucia 25

I adjusted shading and shadows on Lucias lips, smoothed out some tones on her brow.  I worked on the clay mama, smoothing out tones.  The portrait is coming along nicely.

As I finished my new batik crystal grids I was reminded of how that came to be in the first place.  February 2014 I was told I would be doing tie dye with spiritual symbols and even selling my wares to holistic and wellness centers.  I contemplated it but most symbols are not easily foldable or symmetrical.  Later that year I was told the symbols would be ancient and involve circles.  Again, I searched ancient symbols and nothing made sense.  I had started seeing the flower of life symbols here and there but kinda ignored it.  Seriously the flower of life started showing up everywhere, I asked my husband if he had ever seen this symbol before (and he had not previously heard about it) and I did a little research. 

Turns out the flower of life is sacred geometry.  According to Wikipedia: In algebraic geometry, the root system of the Exceptional Lie Algebra G2 forms the Flower of Life, and it is the only root system in which the angle pi / 6 appears between two roots, or 0.523598775598.  Drunvalo Melchizedek has called these figures symbols of sacred geometry, asserting that they represent ancient spiritual beliefs, and that they depict fundamental aspects of space and time.  Melchizedek claims that Metatron's Cube may be derived from the Flower of Life pattern, and that the Platonic solids within it were "thought to act as a template from which all life springs".  Melchizedek has been teaching the Flower of Life at workshops since 1985.  Again, no big deal.  Have you seen the flower of life?  That is not going to be a foldable symbol for tie dye and lots of work.  Flash forward to 2015 when I attended a few crystal workshops given by Lucias mother at Alta View and saw this flower of life symbol being used on crystal grids.  At the same time the owner of the wellness center told me she would love for me to sell tie dye in their little shop.  Then a few weeks later I noticed my trivet for hot foods.  My trivet.  The trivet I purchased from Target over 7 years ago, I absentmindedly purchased it because it wasn't a rooster or teapot shape.  Not seeing any significance until now.  My trivet is the flower of life. 

Here's your sign.  I set off to figure out how to tie dye this design.  After trial and error I finally decided to try batik.  Batik is the process of painting with wax.  Tools and supplies didn't break the bank and I really enjoyed learning to control the wax.  Essentially I was drawing with wax.  Now the possibilities are almost endless.  I've been meaning to try batik since I was in high school but was afraid to fail.  Everything happens for a reason and at the right time.  Timing is spot on.  My new crystal grids for upper chakras turned out great.  You will be seeing more of them soon, all different chakras and designs.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Dear Departed Drawings ~ Alice 05

I added more shading to Alices fur and adjusted existing shading.  Still lots of basic lines and shading to get on the paper. 

Drawing time was shorter than normal, at least its not an artists block.  Children were needing extra attention at bedtime.

Dear Departed Drawings ~ Lucia 24

Adjusted shading on Lucias face, namely around her eyes.  I also worked on the bedding, smoothing out lines and shadows.  Completion is not too far off now.  Mostly happy with Lucia, bedding and blankets need the most attention.

When I see Lucia I remember the painting I first saw of her.  I was so taken with artistic talent and the celebration of the Day of the Dead or Dia de Los Muertos.  Other religions, celebrations and history have always fascinated me.  I am sharing these snippets and photos with permission from Lucias mama, Angie.  Beautiful talent.

Angie even made sugar skulls and decorated them.  I love, love her altar.  I am a big fan of skulls and the stunning Day of the Dead skulls are soooo artistic and pretty.  I am formally attracted to skulls and skeletons.  If you know me, you know my favorite tie dye has a skeleton with a crown of roses. 

Dia de Los Muertos is so interesting.  The bloggers at Spanglishbaby.com published an informative post about the holiday. "Celebrated on November 1st and 2nd, and is a traditional Mexican holiday dedicated to the memory of the loved ones lost.  The idea is to celebrate and remember them with joy, cheerfulness and colors.  Altars are made in honor of family and friends that have passed away and are decorated with their pictures, personal objects or mementos and candles.  Their favorite food and drinks are also placed on the altar, along with a trail of marigold flowers to create a path so their soul can find its way back and join the celebration for the day. The idea is that by placing these artifacts, flowers and foods the person will be remembered and celebrated for who they were in life and this will encourage them to pay a visit.  The concept might sound spooky, but it really is celebrated with so much positiveness towards the inevitability of death, and in such a festive environment, that the feeling of being scared will rarely creep upon you."

Of course this holiday intrigues me, I love to celebrate and remember our loved ones on the other side.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Dear Departed Drawings ~ Alice 04

Slowly adding the foundation.  I prefer to work in layers, laying a base first, then slowly darkening tones and finishing off details.  The way the sun shines down in this photo on Alice and her owner Vayda is stunning and heartwarming.

We had dogs growing up.  Ours were rescues from the local Humane Society.  Unfortunately none were meant to make our home their forever home, but I haven't forgotten them.  Ginger and Peaches. 

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