Love deeply. Laugh. Cry. Talk to God. Be realistic about the to-do list. Stay in touch. Hug. Dream. Smile. Break Bread often with Family. Spend Time with your Girlfriends. Shop til you Drop! Extend Grace. Be Quick to Forgive and Slow to Anger. Walk. Breathe. Sing. Dance. Read. Eat Chocolate. Savor a Good Glass of Wine. Wiggle your Toes. Sleep well. Life is Good!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

When I was a teen I had a "Vision Board" hanging in my room. When I married, we had a dream/goal notebook. You know! Where you collect pictures of things you want to accomplish or acquire (car, home, job, boat, travel). I woke up this morning thinking of all the things I'd like to accomplish. Not running marathons or becoming an artist (oops! done that one) or developing a cure for disease, but simply those things that get lodged in my mind while perusing home and garden, cooking and travel magazines, websites and blogs. Inspiration which leads to playing in the dirt, tweaking my living space, trying new recipes and planning a trip! I do not have the physical endurance to accomplish all I dream, however, I can occasionally hire someone to do the grunt work! Perhaps, these vision will allow some level of healing to my physical body. Dream it! Visualize it! Make it happen!Visiting Italy is on my bucket list!  

Eat Pray Love and Under the Tuscan Sun are two of my favorite books/movies! I'm not sure when I first felt a longing to visit Italy, but I do know these  movies ignited a deep desire!  Tuscany is the geographical centre and cultural heart of Italy.  I loved the movie.....the countryside Bramasole Villa renovations, the scenery, the gardens, the food, the "family" Frances (Diane Lane) realized she had formed from a group of eclectic friends, despite language barriers.  The same goes for Liz (Julia Roberts) in Eat, Pray, Love.  She developed "family" dining at the Italian table!  The closest I've come to Italy is our local Italian restaurants and visiting the Bellagio in Vegas! Wow! Had gelato! OMG! I can only imagine what it would taste like in Italy!

I love, love, love the simplicity of Italian food! I am a drizzler .... olive oil that is! On everything! I love sipping a glass of wine while cooking dinner. Tuscan cooking is wholesome and hearty and made from local fresh ingredients according to the seasons. Pasta is not a traditional dish, though it would be used along with wild game. Soup is a Tuscan staple, particularly rich bean soups laced with the excellent local olive oil (nearly all the wine estates also make their own extra virgin olive oil), crostini (little toasts) with liver and anchovy paste and fresh tomatoes are also popular.

Speaking of Vision Boards!  Have you visited the Pinterest  site?!!  OMG!  It's like a page-ripping magazine-aholic on crack!!!!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

I finished this piece today ...
a sign for some good friends'
"throwdown" space on the river!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

"Life can be the greatest circus on earth.
As with amusement parks,
it's good to balance out the slower rides
with the wilder ones
and the Freak Shows with a quiet moment,
sitting on a bench, watching the world go by
... cotton candy and all. 
Remember, even the merriest of merry-go-rounds
can wind down to a sad stop
...  if not given respite."

Love Pearls (messages from a mother to her daughter)
Nancy Swan Drew

Monday, June 13, 2011

Fame can never be
a bedfellow to tranquility.
~ Montaigne

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Today's Ramblings . . .

Another "draft" that was never posted. 

I preface this one with:  This was written during a very trying period.  I am proud of my both my daughters!  The oldest works hard and is a wonderful mother herself!  My youngest has travelled some tough roads this last year and is prevailing!  She's developing good work ethics and realizing life isn't about having fun all the time!  Now, if I could just get her to clean her bathroom!!

The Mother/Daughter dynamic is a very fragile thing.
Growing pains are common for both mother and child.

My daughters and I didn't always see eye-to-eye.  Imagine that!  I'm not a 'my way or the highway' mom but sometimes you've gotta force things back on track.  Sometimes parents compromise for a particular occasion or situation. Unfortunately when we do this, the kid eventually uses it against us. Believe me! They remember.  And they vocalize it ... loudly.

The battles are all the same. Perhaps the disagreement is a two year old's tantrum over a toy or not wanting to ride in car seat; a 9 year old throwing their homework all over the floor out of frustration; a battle over the 14 year old's disgusting bedroom and household chore responsibilities left undone, or the 18 year old declaring their own 'my way or I'll hit the highway' declarations that "I shouldn't have these boundaries" or "Why don't you trust me?" or "I can take care of myself...nothing's gonna happen" or "I'm gonna save up and move out just as soon as I can" etc. I've heard it all .... from my own daughters and their friends, nieces and nephews and neighbors' kids.


Screaming fits and tantrums!  Do they ever end?
You will have children of your own one day!

Along with love and laughter, often comes the other music.....doors nearly slammed off their hinges, hissy fits, rolling eyes and shouting matches ... followed by acknowledging it went too far, asking forgiveness, tears and thanking God for giving you to us. 

I often tell myself  "c'mon, you've done all this before".   There was a ten year span between my daughters.  A lot of similarities.  Lots of challenges.  Lots of growing pains ... for mother and daughter.  I had similar challenges with my own mom.  

And, to all you budding almost young adults out there ..... please keep in mind that your parents weren't born morons.  We were teens once too.  Really, we were.  Life is a continuing learning curve no matter what your age. We experience peer pressure from our friends too....really (especially in the area of parenting).  Just remember in your eagerness to leave the nest and trying to build your own, don't sever the ties with hurtful words thru your own interpretations or the influence of your friends. Regardless of the way your parents "parent" they only want the best for you and it's their responsibility to figure out the boundaries and direct you along the way to take the steps necessary to help you reach your goals and get you heading in the right direction towards being independent.  We're not here to ruin your life.  We're here to love you and to raise you to be responsible adults and all that goes with it.  As my mom told me when I called her in hysterical tears the afternoon of my oldest daughter's wedding rehearsal "that's what you raised her for!"

Livin' by my Own Convictions

This piece has been a draft on my blog for several years. 
I came across it today and decided to let it fly. 
It'll probably post as current. 

art/unknown source

I often find it difficult to express my beliefs. Call them theological, religious, spiritual beliefs. I call it faithfully living by my convictions.  Reconciling those convictions with the things I was taught growing up and scriptures and my spirit has been and continues to be difficult.

I'm gonna touch on a few things in this post that often stand out in discussions. You don't have to agree. You don't even have to keep reading!  Anyway, if I use the phrase "He told me" or "I felt Him say" or anything of that nature, well ... call it a quickening of my spirit like sudden clarification or .... simply peace or calm in the wake of a storm of sorts. It's how I know He speaks to me.

I believe God has a plan or will for each of us.  Unfortunately we often travel a different direction.  Not unlike our own children taking a path other than one we had hoped for.  Not unlike we ourselves stumbled off the path our parents hoped for.  Thus "free will" comes into play.  Sure God could exercise his power and correct us gently or harshly but wouldn't that negate "free will" entirely?  Ah, chastisement, another blog!

I believe in the power of prayer.  We each have our own way of praying....none is wrong. God knows our heart. He even knows what I mean when I look toward Heaven and nod with a thumbs up or shrug or throw my fist in the air. He loves me just as I am. He cries when I cry. He laughs when I laugh. I know he even gets a chuckle out of me when I get angry with Him. I'm human.

I struggle with prayer. Oh, I can carry on a conversation with God and have revelation often before reaching the end of my dribble. I've had lots of unanswered prayers. I still don't get why we pray and beg and believe for something .... like we're trying to convince Him .... knowing all the while we end our prayers with 'thy will be done'. To have the faith of a mustard seed, yet that loved one still dies or that storm still wreaks havoc.... can be disheartening, to say the least. My faith has never weakened in those events, though my prayers have changed. I pray for courage and strength and wisdom and guidance and discernment. I let Him know I trust Him to protect us, to provide. I don't believe fear is a sin. I don't believe the opposite of fear is faith. Fear is a human emotion. I try not to make fear based decisions.  Occasionally I fail.  I try to walk in faith.  The opposite of fear is peace .... in my humble opinion.  I'm human.  Sometimes fear dictates my actions.  Often He allows me the space to make mistakes and then I feel ... that gentle nudge.

I don't believe my mom got sick because she missed a few Sundays at church. The ones that said that to me should have considered she missed a few Sundays because she got sick. I have witnessed healing miracles of people who went for prayer for particular issues. I don't believe it is a sign of weak faith, nor a sure thing you've written yourself off by admitting you have cancer or some other awful thing going on. I believe God will get me through the situation to the other side of it. And if that 'other side' happens to be Heaven .. well, what's wrong with that?! It's rather amusing for someone to ask you what's wrong and then say "don't speak that" or "cast that out" right now. FYI: I am a child of God and nothing can indwell me other than His spirit ... unless I falter and allow it.

For Heaven's sake, we live in harsh environments (speaking of nature, not relationships, although sometimes, those can be poisonous) and behave (that "free will" thing) sometimes in ways that make us ill or up-end our lives. That, in my humble opinion, is not always a spiritual attack, but a result of bad decisions, or even disasters .... which I also do not believe are 'acts of God' but of nature.  Of course, I suppose anyone could call it a "spiritual attack" when you leave your world wide open .... come what may.

I believe He has a plan for each of our lives. Call it what you want. There's a lot of lingo out there on the matter. I dwelt on that issue for some time many years ago. The "Does that mean He knows play-by-play what we are gonna do before we do it?" or "If He knows the exact second we are gonna die, why shouldn't I live life on the edge?" questions! I dunno.  But, I stand on my belief that God doesn't play us like pieces on a chess board. I just don't believe that.  I'm not sure how to interpret those scriptures.  But to a degree, I don't believe the God I serve takes a loved one from us in a harsh way.  I don't believe His plans include babies drowning, women dieing from beatings or breast cancer, husbands being killed on the job, or children meeting their end by being kidnapped, killed and tossed aside, car wrecks, tornadoes and war.  Accidents happen.  Mistakes happen.  Free will happens. Evil happens.  Bad things happen this side of Heaven.  That "his number came up" thing?  Really?  And, may I add, telling someone "there in a better place" is NOT comforting.  Just sayin'.

I believe the "seek ye first" thing.  Why not?  Otherwise our lives get so out of balance and turned upside down with busyness and distractions.  And then what do we do?  We blame Him.  But in reality, it's ourselves that caused the chaos, either by our own decisions or allowing someone else to decide for us.

More later, until then,
Blessings and Peace!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

This Life I've Chosen ..... Part IV

Here I am again, reflecting on that part of my life where I wear an artist's hat (or apron).  The last four years of this art-venture found me a short while ago spinning my wheels.  I had taken on way too much and needed to dump some things off my plate.  Lots of prayer and many conversations later, I made a decision to move out of a few galleries and art associations.  I'd realized (after more than two years later) I couldn't continue to participate in the gallery scene and outdoor events.  Over the last couple of years I've encountered some physical challenges as well as time challenges, which, if you've followed my blog, you already know, so I'm not gonna re-cap all that.  I've met some awesome folks and made some wonderful friends along the way.  I've grown in many ways.  I've gained a wealth of knowledge.  And somewhere along the way, I slipped back into that SuperWoman cape and refused to admit I couldn't do it all .... again.  Unfortunately, it took me awhile to realize I was wearing myself out physically, mentally and emotionally. 

I still have work in four locations.  That's not too terribly bad since the previous total was ten locations all at once.  I can choose which shows to apply to and which events to submit work to.  I don't feel as much pressure to "perform" as I was feeling and I don't feel like I have to create what people expect (judging from previous work).  I admit I strongly hesitated about slowing down because I was afraid I'd be forgotten. 

Slowing down and deciding what I was most passionate about was a huge determining factor.  My current passions include getting to see my granbaby girl five days a week.  Watching her grow and develop has been a constant joy!  Not easy (especially when my back flares up), but a joy!  I don't get many painting projects started or finished, but that can wait.  Afterall, I was 47 when I started doing this art thing!  And hey!  Nobody has forgotten Elvis, have they?

I'm also enjoying reconnecting with my role as a housewife!  Really!   I love gardening and doing small projects around the house.  I love cooking.  I love reading.  And more recently, I love knitting!   I know!  Perhaps I am, as my daddy used to say, a Jack of all trades and Master of none.  I'm okay with that!  Unless my number comes up at a young age, there's always tomorrow to pursue mastering a skill.  So, for now, I'm just living life the way I want to live it!  That "glamorous" life of an artist, well, in my humble opinion, is a silly notion.  Don't get me wrong!   I find it very relaxing to chair up to my studio work table with a watercolor and inspirational music playing in the background.  And I appreciate the oooohs and ahhhhhs like the next person, the recognition of my art by others, and bringing a long, drawn out project to completion.  But, I'd rather be known for kindness, generosity, love and compassion.  Sure, you can include that in whatever you pursue, but lightening the load is slowly bringing me back to knowing who I am.

Before someone wants to slap a diagnosis of "burn out" on me, stop!  I am blessed to be able to pick and choose at this point in my life.  And if I choose dolce far niente! then so be it!  Of course, truth be known, when I practice the sweetness of doing nothing, it's often because I'm sitting with a heating pad on my back!  One never knows what tomorrow holds . . . Be happy!

"The precedent to quit doing and simply be is divine."  Eugene Peterson

Footnote:  I've already been asked since this page was posted if I'm giving up art! 
LOL! Not at all!  I'm gonna go with the flow and take it as it comes! 
Bowing out of the rat race!  I'm not cancelling outdoor shows or burning my studio! 
Just need to find a little balance between painting, planting and pain! 
So, please, don't read more into this than is written and go spreadin'
rumors around town that 'Terri Keller is throwin in the towel'! 
I'm not going away!  Just gettin' a grip and leaving guilt behind!
'Cause I can!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Summers on the Farm

Childhood Summers on the Farm

When I was in grade school (maybe even before that, but as long as I can remember), I spent every summer with my grandparents in Baker, Florida.  I'd often arrive within a week after school dismissed and return home in time to shop for school clothes for the new year.  This was back when summer vacation lasted longer than three months.  There might be an occasional visit from my parents and sisters during the stay,  stopping thru on their way back to the Interstate after a weekend visit with my other grandparents in Red Level, Alabama.  For awhile my oldest sister was part of the mix.  I remember one year my cousin, Kim, staying the summer too.  That was the summer we both became ill on macaroni and cheese (only because we begged for more until it was coming from our ears!) and it was also the summer Pa took my cut-off jean shorts and burned them.  There was lots to do all summer long: gardening, harvest, canning, freezing, gathering eggs, shelling beans, washing dishes by hand, church camp and tent revivals, pot-luck dinners, mosquitoes, kittens, Sears & Roebuck paperdolls, party-line radio and Mama's cat head biscuits! 

I learned so much during those 1/4 year long visits to Mama and Pa's.  I remember Pa plowing the side garden behind an old plow pulled by an old mule.  I remember Mama in the bean patch with that huge flour sack bonnet tied beneath her chin.  I had one too!  I remember the two acre corn field out back.  I remember china berry wars with my sisters while riding the propane tank horse in the back yard.  Gathering eggs was a favorite activity and The Price is Right was one of Mama's favorite TV shows (of course, there was no TV watching without a chore in your lap!)  Watching Mama kill a chicken after Pa caught it was not a fave.  However, sitting down to Sunday dinner of  fried chicken, butter beans, creamed corn, fresh tomatoes, fried okra, mashed potatoes and gravy, and hot biscuits, never brought to mind the early morning slaughter.  Followed by the blackberry dumplin's, who cared!  Every day of the week, Mama cooked breakfast and a big lunch dinner.  Early evening, we pulled the sheet off the table and re-heated the noon meal for dinner supper.  No microwaves then either!

We spent time in a hot kitchen a good bit of everyday ... blanching beans and peas, stewing tomatoes, cutting corn off the cob.  I still remember the box fan on the deep freezer blowing a cool breeze across a large towel spread with hot blanched beans, soon to be bagged and frozen for later meals.  We made our beds and swept the entire house and dusted every single morning.  I suppose it was necessary because there was so much food prep going on.  Mama washed her clothes with an old wringer washer until the day there was a regular washing machine delivered from Sears!  Oh yes! What a treat to go to Sears and cash in the greenstamp books!  She still always hung the clothes outside on the line to dry.  There were many runs to grab everything just before the afternoon showers came.  I remember several times Mama sniffing the air and quickly putting the dishpan of beans on the floor next to the rocker, and darting out the screen door to the clothes line, yelling behind her "Terri Lynn, come on, the rain is comin."  

My Mama, as we called her, taught me so much.  She played a large part in who I am today.  I learned to garden, to cook, to clean house, to store food, to pray, to have at least that mustard seed of faith, to be creative (she taught me how to sew on an old Singer machine, which I still have, as well as the first flour sack quilt I made with her help).  She also made me dresses from fabric the Alatex dumped.  Mama retired from the sewing factory so she knew where the good stuff was tossed!  There's no end to the things I learned during those summers.  She taught me to have a giving heart.  She was always up before sunrise, way before if there was someone in need of a meal, or grieving a loss, or sick, or in the hospital, or just needing a kind visit.  Sometimes I thought more food left that house than stayed.  They always planted more than needed just in case.  She always cooked more too ... just in case the preacher came by for a visit!

Perhaps one of my fondest memories was going to bed at dusk, two full-size beds in the room I shared with Mama.  Pa was in the next room ... only an open doorway separated us.  Except for thunderstorms, Mama slept in one bed and I in the other.  She knew it was a luxury for me, since back home I shared a bed with one sister and the room with three.  The only noise was the hum of the window fans and the occasional crickets chirping outside.  Lying there quietly, I would notice another hum ... soft voices....rising a little here and there as Mama and Pa prayed.  They prayed in unison and sometimes taking turns, one would echo a "Yes, Lord" in agreement with the other.  As I listened to the names of people they lifted to Heaven, it seemed no one was left out of their prayers for protection, peace and grace to face tomorrow.

"Mama" Eula  and "Pa" John Ward

I can only hope to be half the grandmother mine was to me.