Of sunsets and joy.

Choose joy. It’s a little phrase my mother always says. Every time you leave she reminds you, “Choose Joy!” Though I may have rolled my eyes quite a few times in my youth, I’m sticking to those words like a bur today. I’ve had a phantasmagoria of anxiety lately. But I’m not going to dwell on the reasons. I believe positive thinking attracts good circumstances.

There are rainbows all around me as I write. Oliver made me a white paper bracelet so I can hold it up to a rainbow and it looks like I’m wearing one. On the coffee table there is a children’s book open to a page identifying flowers and a mug that I found in the fridge filled with the dregs from yesterday’s coffee…a burst of energy filled me as I added milk and exclaimed, “sweet deliverance!”

I’ve seen leaves falling like confetti from trees, sat under a big pine tree among pine cones looking up through feathery branches lit up by the sun, met many happy dogs, and delighted in the bright proud smiles on my boys’ faces after playing soccer.

I’ve had some really sweet fan mail from people whose children love to see my art, those who have been depressed and find solace in glimpses of nature, and someone actually made a cartoon portrait of me!

I have a dog who has the softest fur in all the world, who loves pets and fetch and doing tricks. I have three poppets who beg me to snuggle them every night. Who exclaim I am the best cook in the world when I make them top ramen. Who constantly need me, and isn’t it good to be needed?

My mom texts me a picture of the sunset every night. It has been a constant thing in my life for the last two years since I moved away from the sea. I asked her to send me a picture if there was a good one, and she has stayed true to her noble task. No matter what kerfuffle of shit is happening on any given day the sun will always set on it. Whether I choose joy or not. But isn’t it nice to be reminded?

 

 

 

Shark

I woke up in the middle of the night and started answering all the emails I ignored the day before.  Read, but ignored because I didn’t know what to say.  But then I couldn’t sleep because I knew they needed to be answered, and I didn’t want to go another day with them on the back of my frazzled mind. I texted my dad back about something and he wrote back, “Go back to bed!” oops! But my half asleep brain told me I had to finish.  I was in a frenzy. In my last email I felt so mean…I was a good business woman and had to say no to someone…but then I felt terrible and and couldn’t sleep some more. Beau turned over and asked, “are you alright?” I responded, “I need to be a shark.”  Screen Shot 2016-09-09 at 11.30.04 AM.png

Image by James Boswell

Yesterday I had one of those clairvoyant conversations with a friend, where you feel like every word spoken is a prophesy for your life. Insight and encouragement. And crazily enough, she said the same thing. Be a shark!

I’ve been fretting and worrying lately.  The big, scary word PRIORITIZE keeps coming up and it makes my insides turn to goop. How to say YES to the things that rush you down the river of prosperity and peace, and how to say NO to the things that keep you in the stagnant water of disillusionment and anxiety…I still haven’t figured it out. But I got some great advice yesterday.  HONESTY. I think much of my internal wrestling comes when I’m afraid to speak the truth.  If someone asks me to do something I don’t want to, but I feel bad about letting them down I seize up and don’t know what to say… the emails pile up, my heart starts hurting, and I end up finding ways to check out of my life.  If I’m bothered by things but don’t know how to say what’s on my mind I get more and more irritable until I lash out. I need to be more of a cool headed shark in relationships and professionally. If I can’t figure out how to be a good shark then I’ll just be a shark in frenzy, or worse, lurking in the dark in eternal restless, sleepless frustration.

And the end goal is to not have to be a shark at all. The end goal is to learn to be a shark when I need to be, and the rest of the time be some beautiful creature of the air, barely touching down to earthly matters for a few moments until I can rise up and start living creatively and freely again. Like an owl or a moth. My friend gave me the vision of a spider weaving magic, spirituality, and wonder. I want to be someone who knows how to be entirely honest, then moves on to the important task at hand. I have always felt a deep purpose, almost like a burden, to unveil and cast beauty in this world. I don’t have time for demons, addictions, bad juju, or not knowing how to say no. Sometimes I need to be a shark.

The Flight of Butterflies

The boys and I just watched this sweet documentary on Netflix about Fred and Norah Urquhart’s quest to find out where the monarchs were flying to. Theirs is such a sweet story of a lifetime of scientific discovery and the cinematography of the butterflies is so breathtakingly beautiful!Collages168

I’ve always wanted to go to the “secret” spot they go to hibernate. Just imagine millions of butterflies swirling around your head!  Oliver is determined to go too. He said, “we’ll catch fish at the river, so we can have some food to barbecue when we live there.” I love his little optimistic mind! I told him we’ll plant flowers butterflies like so they can come to us instead.

I painted these pieces a couple of months ago. I’m a monarch lover!

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There is nothing new under the sun

The theft of artistic expression is a common theme among artists. I’ve had conversations with many friends about what they think is and isn’t acceptable in the way of copying or plagiarism in art. One of my friends had to hire a lawyer to get someone to stop selling the exact same jewelry design. I’ve had a friend ask me what I was writing about for an article for a magazine, then miraculously write a piece with the same thesis and submit it to the same magazine, making me look like the copier. A unique friend of mine had a friend start dressing exactly like her, styling her hair in the same exact cut and color, and suddenly she no longer had a fun friend she simply had a lot in common with, but was looking in a mirror. And a florist friend creates some of the most original breathtaking floral arrangements, then gets copied by high profile artists, who then get the credit.

But the line is a blurred one, because we’ve all been living in the same world, with the same ancient poets and writers and painters. Try to create something entirely original and it’s impossible.  You’ve seen it before. Unless you lived under a rock your whole life and suddenly picked up a paintbrush there is no conceivable way you’d be able to create something new. I’ve copied the styles of my favorite artists countless times, trying to make it my own but loving a color scheme or a brush stroke that I saw worked well. And if Keats were alive and one of my friends today, I’d have a lot of explaining to do for my romanticism tendencies. Look at Arthur Rackham and Edmund Dulac. You can hardly tell their paintings apart, and during their time there was a bit of a jealous rivalry going on. Edmund on the left, Arthur on the right:Desktop59

Some things you have to just let go of.  Copying is the highest form of compliment, they say.  With Flora Forager it’s almost been like a fun workshop we’ve all been playing around in online. Floral art is new and exciting and if someone else makes something similar to me then, great, we’re having fun with the same idea.

And some things are genuinely thought of at the same time. I wrote a book a couple years ago about moth fairies who weave magic carpets.  Come to find out, there’s already been a book written with the same premise! Some of my friends say that even if someone steals an idea, no two people can write it the same way. “No one can be just like me anyway,” as Pink sings on the radio. As much as I would like to think I am the only one who comes up with something, I am proven time and time again that that is impossible.

And the copiers are also an important cog in the creative wheel…if you want to stay relevant and growing, you’re going to have to come up with new ideas.  There’s no room for stagnant water in the creative life. You gain tantalizing ideas and new expression when the zeitgeist flood rushes in. Time to reinvent, try something new, and come up with a new idea. There is nothing new under the sun, but you can learn to keep a few eggs in your basket, secret from the world until publication. I’ve sort of learned that the hard way but I truly think the copiers are a part of life. I can be aggravated by an idea being stolen, or I can say…hey! I’ve got another idea! and move on. It’s not an easy thing, but frustration can be the spark that fuels the creative force. Eventually it will become obvious who’s shining with talent, and who’s glittering with fool’s gold.

This ache is ephemeral

The sun sets across the meadow. Colors all around me saturate and mellow. Shadows turn the murky, distilled purple of the sky. The tall grasses turn to spun gold.

I absorb them. An osmosis thick and syrupy, until my heart vibrates a minor key. The witching hour is the feeling of realizing your children are getting older, of seeing the first fall crocuses, the end of what was bright and full. The end of everlasting. The diluted days of summer simmer down to sweet elixirs in our memory…far, far, fading into nothing.

The sugary pink and pond green mosaic of waves through the lily pads make me want to say pretty words and think delicious thoughts. To make something beautiful, to make it last and last and last and last.To patent it, to press it, to potion it, to put it in a frame. A perfume to keep.

But this ache is ephemeral, as all the best things are. And I am standing alone in the dark, in a field covered in lace orbs and starlit webs, bowing with the weight of their own reach.

And I bow, too.

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Flora Forager News

Want to know what’s been happening this week? Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 4.41.55 PM

*Flora Forager, a seasonal journal collected from nature, finally launched!  It skyrocketed to the top of the Amazon best seller list in Flowers, and number 2 in Journal Writing. It is currently 1,000 overall, which is actually really great! My editor let me know that they are ordering more books for Christmas, meaning there will be 25,000 copies in print. With an original goal of 10,000 in a year, that’s a big deal. My agent said, “I hope you know howremarkable that is.”

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*I landed a book deal for two more books with Sasquatch! The Art of Flora Forager and Metamorphosis…more on that in the coming months! I’m still waiting (impatiently) for someone to snatch up my floral bird book, but I did complete it and my agent has sent it off into the world! (I’ve been learning about rejection in the midst of success…haha.)

*I did a takeover of Country Living’s Instagram, am about to have a giveaway with Floret, shot a segment for a new NBC show, and sent off print samples to Anthropologie!

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*Best of all, I’ve gotten to see everyone’s reaction to my journal. From friends texting excited pictures of the journal coming in the mail, to my Facebook “moms” posting images, to comments on Instagram, to emails asking for more more more journals! It’s been so overwhelming and beautiful. I couldn’t even get out of bed on launch day because I was so nervous, then couldn’t fall asleep that night from excitement!

*I couldn’t pull myself together to plan a big launch party, so I had a tiny one with my three boys. We had cookies and lit sparklers. They love the journal, especially Oliver. I hope it’s something they are able to cherish until they’re old and gray.

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Octopus

Screen Shot 2016-07-30 at 9.38.53 AMTangled in inky shallows
a slave to mossy tides
pulling, stretching, sallow
The moon becomes a guide

snap!

a myriad of suckers break free
the blue crashes from below
To duck toward danger is key
legs pull up like a bow

release!

toward depth
toward beauty
toward the unknown

from stagnant
from stuck
from temporary home

radiating symmetry
in clouds of tiny lights
tentacles form a tree
feel, absorb, delight

In freedom