Monday, December 31, 2007

1000 Amazing things I have seen and done

Here is my daughter Kayleigh with her heart strawberry. She finds hearts everywhere. I think it is because she looks for love wherever she goes.

I am making a list.... I thought of that movie The Bucket List. I want to see it. I started thinking of all the things I have done, ordinary and extraordinary, and thought I would make a list... 100 at a time... until I get to 1000. Then I will make another list of 1000 more things I need to do in my bucket list. I used to call it the 1000 things to do before I die list... now I call it my 1000 things to see and do while I am alive list. I don't want to even day the D word yet... I got too much stuff to do. When I start writing it all down, I have done a lot of things. I live a blessed life... I encourage you to make your own list. It doesn't have to be 1000 things... start with 100. you will be surprised at what you come up with.

1. Given birth to four beautiful healthy children
2. married my soul mate
3. attended a friends birth
4. made friends around the world
5. have 2 loving and wonderful parents
6. and now 2 stepparents as well who all get along
7. watched the sunrise on haleakala crater in Maui
8. got 5 feet away from a humpback whale
9. sat in a boat surrounded by a pod of spinner dolphins
10. slept overnight on a train
11. rode in a gondola in Venice Italy
12. Danced under the stars in San Marcos Square to an italian string quartet
13. Rode the fastest elevator in the states
14. saw the Statue of Liberty
15. Said a prayer at ground zero
16. Stayed at the Waldorf Astoria
17. Saw the Seattle Space Needle
18. Sang a love song to my husband at a black tie event on stage in front of everyone
19. had dinner at The Signature Room in Chicago's Hancock Tower
20. ate lunch at the Walnut Room in Marshall Field's in Chicago
21. Walked Chicago's Magnificent Mile
22. Sailed on Lake Michigan
23. stood under Michaelangelo's David statue
24. took forbidden photos of the sistene chapel and the Vatican guards in Vatican City
25. Saw a barefoot bride walking down the street in Assisi Italy behind two monks and a nun
26. Stood in Ceasar's Garden at the top of the island of Capri
27. waded in the mediterranean ocean
28. Visited the El Prado museum in Madrid
29. Locked a lock on the ponte vecchio and threw the key in the river for good luck in my marriage
30. Stood under Juliette's balcony where Romeo would have stood, if he were actally real.
31. Gave money to a gypsy woman who had purposley maimed herself
l31. learned to sew at the age of 5
l33. learned to cook at the age of 3
34. was my grandmothers favorite grandchild
35. watched my 7 year old daughter give a homeless man her only $5 for food,
36. watching her show compassion and thoughtfulness and awareness on her own at such a young age
37. Stood in the middle of the El Pilar cathedral in Zaragoza spain and thanked God for my husband, while he, his mother and I all cried. Love has it's own language.
38. Shopped in a Dolce and Gabbana store in Milan
39. Toured the Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona
40. Celebrate New Years in the Pyranees at a little bar inside a cave, sitting on sawed off logs for seats
41. Learned to ride a bike, and then forgot when I was older
42. learned to skate, and forgot that when I was older too
43. Walked on the Golden Gate Bridge
44. Bought crab and sourdough at Fishermeans Wharf in San Francisco and ate it on the beach
45. rode a Cable Car
46. went to Disney Land and Disney World
47. walked for miles on the beach in Aruba
48. Took a Carribbean Cruise
49. Visited the Biltmore Estate
50. Drank Champagne on Donald Trump's private beach in Palm Beach
51. Partied with Sammy Hagar at the Cabo Wabo Cantina in Cabo San Lucas
52. Met David Lee Roth and Michael Anthony backstage at a Van Halen Concert
53. Did the hula on stage at a luau with 500 people in the audience
54. toured the Vatican Museum
55. Walked around the Pompeii ruins
56. climbed the ruins in Mexico City
57. Visited a mexican graveyard
58. got my heart broken at the ripe old age of 39
59. sat next to real gypsy men at a flamenco show in Madrid
60. Ate tapas in Barcelona at 4 in the morning
61. Got married on a beach
62. Got married in a garden
63. Got married in a church twice
64. Got married in a castle
65. Body surfed at Sunset Beach on Oahu where they have world class waves and almost drown
66. had an accupuncture treatment
67. Strained my rotator cuff and spent my honeymoon in a sling
68. Stood under a fern in Fern Grotto on Kauai that was as big as me
69. watched a traditional canoe being made at the festival of canoes on Maui
70. stood up and danced out the sunroof of a car while driving down the streets of San Francisco
71. saw the naked guys walking down Telegraph in Berkeley
72. rode an elephant
73. fed a giraffe and got slobbered on
74. pet a baby white tiger
75. stood in Rockafeller Center in New York
76. Stood in the middle of times square in New York at night with a bunch of lights flashing
77. wine tasted in the Napa Valley
78. Rode a hot air balloon over the vineyards in Napa
79. Took a bath in mud on purpose
80. wrote my name in coral on the lava banks on the big Island of Hawaii
81. feel asleep with the sounds of the ocean outside my bedroom window
82. toured Alcatraz 3 times
83. sailed under the golden gate bridge
84. waded in the freezing cold water of Lake Tahoe
85. Bought Cuban cigars in Puerta Vallarta
86. revieved a card from my daughter that says I am the best mommy in the world
87. recieved another letter from another daughter that said "Dear mom, I am running away from home, love Megan, PS, please feed my fish"
88. heard my son say every time you hear an ambulance, a baby is getting born
89. created a wonderful relationship with my mother who is also my best friend
90. listened to my daughter give her friend the same advice I gave her
91. had my work published
92. wore a pizza box hat on my head at a convention
93. wore boingers on my head in public on purpose
94. line danced at a bar called the Cadillac Ranch
95. flashed my boobs at a bartender for a free drink
96. danced on a table top
97. spent the night in a haunted hotel
98. rode in a stagecoach
99. panned for gold in the Sierra Nevada mountains
100. had puppies born under the christmas tree on christmas day

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Focus on the beauty of the dream

Don't get lost in the details. Wow... those are really great words. Channeled through Yaz... AKA my mom Judi Garcia. I am spending a lot of time focusing on the beauty of my dreams. It is very easy to get lost in the details. Take Christmas for example. Every year I spend about $1,000 on gifts for my family. Buying everyone more things they really don't need. This year, I decided to make gifts for my parents and siblings, and to buy meaningful but inexpensive gifts for the kids. I found some classic first edition books for Megan, along with an original Life Magazine add of the Peter Pan movie from the 1950's at a yard sale. Kayleigh got 6 slightly used Bratz dolls all boxed up with the accessories, and some cool repurposed ornaments I made for a boutique. Zack got a photo collage of classic sports cars from the 1930's, and some boy's model car collection that he had lost interest in. Austin got one of those hair tingler things made of copper wire, and a disco ball for his room. They were all thrilled with these gifts, and all total I spend $200 on everyone. Now the really cool part... We also celebrate Spanish Christmas, January 6th when the wise men brought gifts to Baby Jesus... So now we can shop the after Christmas sales for candy and much needed clothes and get another big haul of stuff for a lot less. I have tried to teach my kids that stuff doesn't make you happy. Luckily, they are all fine with repurposed and used gifts, and appreciate them just as much as a new electronic toy that costs 10 times as much. Using sound judgement to spend their money wisely on things they really want has become a habit with them now. I am proud of them. Next year we plan on adopting a family in need. I think it is important for them to learn the gift of giving... They also learn to value the more expensive things because they take longer to get and they have to save and earn the money for them. Those I pods are much more cherished when purchased with their own hard earned cash.

As I look back on this last year... I see a lot of loss. But I see growth too. The loss was necessary to bring us to where we are now. I am holding tight to my dreams... keeping my eyes focused on the prize... the details will work themselves out... I am trusting spirit to guide me down the right paths this year. I am excited, and full of hope again. Spending 3 days in bed with the flu has helped me relax and take care of myself. I am ready for what the New Year holds... I can hardly wait!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The things we do for art....

Here I am... up at 6am to go to some garage and estate sales. Every Saturday I am up at the crack of dawn, making snacks and tea for the journey. We go all day and come home with a car packed full. My husband comes with me and keeps inventory. All of it is for an on line store we will be creating soon to sell altered art supplies. I gotta say, some of it is pretty dang cute... I was getting frustrated, because the stuff is taking over our lives... then out of the blue, the universe sends me a beautiful gift... a studio came available to me for FREE at my mom's center. I have been rearranging things so I can move all (ok SOME) of my supplies there and set up a working studio and gallery. I am so excited. Many people have stopped in to see what we are doing. It is a really nice place with great energy. Come by and have a cup of tea. Check out the bookstore. I am there most days working on the gallery and moving stuff around. I will be actively creating art there after thanksgiving, and selling some of the great swag I have collected the past few months. I hope to have old books for sale as well, but a curious problem has developed. Apparantly I have a great eye for rare books. I buy them based on how they look for an altered project... and then we get home and find they are worth between $75 and $150 each. Pascual won't let me alter them, for obvious reasons. So now Pascual has a side business as an ebay book seller as well. He is honking the horn... gotta go. Bargains await.

Friday, November 16, 2007

In Time...

I was waiting to post something until I had something profound and interesting to say... this whole blog world thing is really new for me... I was rereading over some of the things I wrote... and I have been so sad and full of angst lately... I just couldn't put a bunch of random bitchy comments out there... That little voice in my head said "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all..." But time passes.... days blur into weeks and then months, and if I wait until I am happy, the Easter Bunny will be hopping over the hill and I still won't have posted anything. So here I am, in all my empty, angst filled glory... struggling to figure it all out. Looking inside the dark corners of myself to find that sparkly place. I know it's there, it just likes to play hide and seek with me a lot.

So this is my time... I joined my Mom's mastermind group last week. An amazing group of ladies I just love and respect so much. Many I know, and some I don't. All of us struggling with the recreation of ourselves. In this group, with the love and support of each other, we are able to define who we are. What our deepest dreams and passions are, and we are working toward manifesting them in the world. I discovered the other night... "I am an artist" It was hard to say... part of me still doesn't believe it... and until I do fully believe it, it won't be true. If I am embarassed to tell people who I am in my authentic self... how will anyone ever take me seriously? Everything I do in life has to do with being artistic. I already live an artful life.. and yet I keep yammering on about needing to have more time to express myself more artistically... What the heck is that all about...? Why am I denying this part of myself? Partly because I don't believe I can make money at it... Not like I did as a loan officer... Partly because I feel so uncreative lately... that I can't even make a simple ATC without agonizing over the placement of every single object and wondering if it will be "good enough" to send in for an Art Fest ATC swap... I have to have little talks with myself... that I "Used to be somebody" in the scrapbooking world" and that many of the women I have known in the industry have all gone on to great accomplishments... product design specialists, HOF winners, book authors and professional licensed artists, teachers, editors, freelance artists. What did they do that I didn't? They promoted themselves. They took the leap of faith and put themselves out there. They networked at trade shows, got their work published, and continued to stretch and grow... I took a 3 year sabbatical and spent time recreating my family and traveling with a new husband. We took different paths. I could be there too now if I hadn't detoured... But I also wouldn't be "who" I am now if it weren't for taking that other road. The things I have to share of myself and my work are deep. The wounds and feelings I have are raw... and it isn't all pretty popsicle pages and zoo pictures tied up with grosgrain ribbon and embellished with some buttons and doodles. It is bright vibrant colors bleeding onto the page. It is soft washes of pastels like the most beautiful rainbow bending over me. It is dying plants and green swimming pools and a house so full of clutter and junk that we can barely move. It is all of these things. It is me. So waiting until the "time that I feel better" just really won't help. It is sharing the process, as my group says... that helps others. It is letting those dark, ugly thoughts out into the light, where they dissolve and become less important, that really make me feel like I am contributing something of value. It is then... that I am truly letting my authentic self shine.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

An Altered Art Project

Here is a shadowbox I made of my Grandpa Simoni. I love the photo. I took an old product box and cut a window in the lid. Then I covered it with ribbon and foil trim, painted gesso over the whole thing and stained it brown to look like carved wood. I like how it turned out. I gave it to my Dad for his birthday and he loved it. It is his father, at his christening. This hat has been worn for generations at the christening of firstborn sons in the Simoni family. It was sent to California from Italy when the first grandson was born. By the time it arrived, the baby had already been baptized, so they used it for my grandpa, the second son. I love his chubby cheeks and bright eyes. I am teaching a class soon on how to make shadowboxes. It is really easy to do, and it adds so much richness and depth to your photos. My family and friends are putting in orders for Christmas, so I better get crackin'!


I have been thinking a lot about beauty. As a culture, Americans are obsessed with it. Maybe more so here in California... but I think everywhere it is pretty prevalent. I know what people mean by physical beauty. I know some people that are truly movie star beautiful. Then I know some very physically unattractive people who have such gorgeous souls, you can't help but see their beautiful spirits. Why do people have to fixate so heavily on the physical? Pascual and I have been experiencing this our whole marriage. When he introduced me to his family (cousin's friends etc.) it was fools day in Spain. He took me around to meet everyone and introduce me as his fiancee'. They all said the same thing.. "You are joking, right?" and when he said no it was for real, they all said, "But she is so beautiful!" At first, he laughed and said, "Yes she is, I am a lucky man..." but I could tell something was bothering him. Not understanding what they were saying in Spanish, he just told me they said I was beautiful, not HOW they said it. When we got back to his parents house, he was sad. I told him I was sorry for the pain his family and friend's careless words caused him. What they were all thinking was, "How could a guy as fat and unattractive as you get a woman so beautiful to agree to marry you?" So it isn't just an American thing, this obsession with beauty and weight. It is worldwide. I am not saying I am any great prize in the beauty department. I have my moments, and I am photogenic. That helps a lot. But how can his own family and friends, people who love him and have known him all his life, be surprised that he found someone to love? Don't we all deserve it? Isn't it what we all want most in life? To find that one person who can show us all the beauty inside ourselves that no one else looked quite hard enough to find?

When I look at Pascual, I really see HIM. I see the whole package... I see a handsome man, and the beautiful soul of the man inside that I fell in love with six months before I ever laid eyes on him. He was so afraid I would reject him because of how he looks, he sent me a 6 year old photo of himself when he was younger, thinner and more tan after a summer holiday. He looked nothing like his picture. I will be honest, it was hard at first for my mind to grasp that this man I was seeing was the same man I had been talking to on the phone for so long. Sometimes I had to close my eyes and just listen to his beautiful voice and know it was him. I wrestled with this in my mind quite a bit in the beginning. God in his infinite wisdom made sure I would love the MAN he is inside first by putting obstacles in our way that prevented us from being geographically close. We spent hours on the phone and on IM getting to know each other. I will be honest and say, I probably would have turned him down flat if I had seen him first, or met him in a bar somewhere. This makes me feel ashamed. I don't like to think of myself as a shallow person. I know most people don't think of themselves as shallow, and yet they ask shallow questions... like "Is your husband a good lover?" Or the standard, "Wow, she is really beautiful." Or the other one is "He must be rich." when inside they are thinking "Why else would you marry him?" Maybe it is me... maybe it is because I love him so much... but I think everything about him is beautiful... When they talk to him for a few minutes and see how sweet he is, or when they see how really intelligent he is, their preconceived notions go out the window. Why would I NOT marry him? He is fabulous.... I get angry at the prejudice he experiences just because he has a Hispanic accent. He is a really intelligent man with a lifetime of incredible experiences to share. He is a sensitive, loving man who will do anything for his family. His capacity to love is endless. He is a man who loves kids and relates to them because he has the soul of a child. He is everything I ever wanted in a partner, and so much more.

I challenge everyone out there to look at people with new eyes today. Don't judge people by their physical appearance... Treat everyone as if they were the most gorgeous popular movie star or famous figure you could think of. I think all people deserve to be treated that way. If they were, I think the world would be a much happier place. It would certainly be more beautiful, if we could all mirror back one another's inner beauty. Packaging isn't important... some of the best things I have came in old ripped up mangled moldy boxes... Inside was a treasure beyond belief. Let's all find a way to treasure that beauty in others.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Es tu corazon una casa de puertas abiertas

I learned this in Spanish class tonight. It translates to "Your heart is a house with open doors." How beautiful is that? Spanish is such a beautiful language. Very romantic and poetic, especially when my hubby whispers something sexy in my ear. But now that I am understanding it better, he can't get away with saying food words, cause I know what they mean now... I love that I can listen to a conversation in spanish in the store and understand most of what they are saying. Although I am having trouble doing the Castillian accent with the th sound for s and z and ci.... it is tricky to lisp words on purpose, and add in the rolling r's and the hard d's and I totally screw it up... but at least I can have a basic conversation with my mother-in-law now without needing Pascual there to translate everything... and I don't sound so Tarzanish anymore when I speak. Zack is becoming quite the little spanish speaker. He is teaching me things every day when he does his homework...

I have this children's book I have been working on altering, the cover is a woman's torso, and inside are all these little pockets for mini board books. All the "Pockets in my heart" You know I love that phrase... and I found someone else who uses it too... check out her work, and her blog here: she is really amazing, and her art really touches my soul.

Back to the board book... I had this really great idea to work on it this weekend when I go to Tahoe... but I can't FIND it... it is in a box in storage, like half my life... so I will sketch it out, and hopefully still be inspired when I do find it in a few weeks... Pascual PROMISED he will help me dig out the storage next week to get ready to make a flea market run, and get my studio organized up in the garage... let's see if it actually happens...

I started off with a specific purpose, and digressed very quickly, as I am known to do... Hearts... Pockets in the heart... doors in the heart... Love the connection... I love that my little one Kayleigh's favorite shape is a heart and she always draws them for me... I gave her a chocolate covered heart cookie the other day and her face lit up like a christmas tree... Here is a photo of her kissing a piglet at Uncle Bob's house earlier this year. It is one of my favorites, and the memory is tucked in one of those pockets. I am learning to tuck little memories like these away. I am starting to look behind those doors in my heart, and let some of those beautiful things out. I think it is perfect that I heard this beautiful quote just at a time when I am really looking deep within my own heart... Best of all, I said it to Pascual when I came home tonight, and his eyes filled with tears and he hugged me tight... being able to say something beautiful and romantic to him in his own language was a really incredible feeling.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Midnight of the soul

I am going through what my mother calls "the Midnight of the soul" That dark part inside all of us where our deepest dreams and desires are hidden. The part of us that hold the key to our existance here on earth. What do I want to do? Where do I want to go? Who do I want to be? what do I want to leave behind? There is that little sparkly bit there in that dark place... that little flash of me that shines brighter each time I look at it... the me I was born to be... I just need to learn to listen to her... She knows... I just need to have the courage to sit and be quiet with her for a bit... to let her light shine on me and show me what my purpose is in this world. I am torn in two directions right now... the practical side of me says "Stick with real estate, it is what you know, and you are good at it, and the paychecks are fabulous..." but th e little sparkly bit wants more... to create beauty and peace and a place for others to create it too... She wants to inspire others, to lift them up and show them that they can do it too... she is the part of me that wants to create great things, with art, and also with the art of being human... I am also looking at putting myself out there, and taking my artistic art ideas more seriously. Creating a line of products for altered art and scrapbooking. Something I have talked about many times, and I never have the guts to pursue... That scared part is the same part of me that puts her hands over her ears and says "la la la I'm not listening" when the sparkly bit of me shines the brightest and whispers loudly in my ear... "It is time to create something new!!"

How do I let go and let that part take over? How do I stop shutting that part of myself off, and just let it flow out and be what it needs to be? I know I have the ability to do it... why am I so scared to even TRY? I think I am at the point where I HAVE to do it... I think I can't hold it inside anymore... I walk around crying all the time... feeling foggy and disconnected... I feel this brightness inside of me bursting to come out, but I am holding it inside so tightly, that I feel like I am cracking apart... I even meditated the other day and saw myself, lying suspended in the air on my back. I was in a cocoon, and it was cracked all over like a puzzle. A few pieces fell off and all I could see was the light shining out through the cracks and great beams of light shining through the bits where the cocoon had fallen away. Inside was th is incredibly being of light, trapped, and pushing at the cocoon, struggling to break free... I sat and looked at this image for a long time, like you look at a injured butterfly, and think of the beauty that it is, but that it won't ever be able to fly again and then it will just die... then I got up and started my day... Thinking on it now as I am writing... I think I am ignoring the vital part of who I am deep inside... But the complacent part of me just wants her to stay trapped in that cocoon because when she comes out, my life will never be the same... and that is a scary feeling... the not knowing... When did I get so scared to live life? When did I shut down like this? all these thing float in my mind to the point were sometimes I am numb with it... In so much pain from the thoughts that I can't even feel anything anymore...

I know there is something great out there for me... I know that I can have whatever it is in life I want, if I just focus and light it up. If it is for my higher good, it will come... I have incredible friends and family who believe in me... I am surrounded by love... and yet... I can't give it to myself... why is that??? These are the things that puzzle me, and make me a little nuts. I am ready to make changes... Ready to steer my life in new directions... Ready to break that shiny being out of the cocoon... I just need to figure out how...


I have been looking at my friendships a lot over the past few months... I have many great friends... but no one great deep friendship with anyone like I have with Pascual. When you have a wonderful, supportive partner who is there for you 100%. When you have a husband who makes you laugh, who you can share your secrets with and cry with, and experience the joys of life with, the need for deep female friendships isn't so strong. Also, when you have an incredible mother who is like your best friend, the need for female friends isn't so strong either. This is something I only discovered recently. I thought about it, and then I was sad for a bit... then I just let it go. I am content with the friendships I have. I have friends I have known since kindergarten. I love the people I know, and I always love meeting new people... Let the friendship circle grow, there is always room for more is my motto.

I think there are all kinds of friends... The ones who are there when your babies are born. The friends who hold your hair out of the toilet when you are sick after a night of partying. The ones you call with your man troubles. The other mom friends who share the same mom woes and anxieties that you have. There are the travel buddies, and the spiritual buddies, and the craft/artful friends. all of them have a place in your life. All of them have their moments of importance throughout the various phases of your life. But once you get married, your spouse fills a lot of those roles. Then your kids fill up your extra time, and the time you spend on friendships becomes less and less. Some friends are hurt by the percieved abandonment or change... Some feel they give more than they get. Some become envious of your marriage and family if they don't have one themselves. R EAL friends are the ones who hang in there through all the change. The ones who get on the roller coaster with you and ride for a while until they have to get off for themselves. They wave you off and shout, "see you next time" as you whiz away. The next time you see them, they don't lament about how long it has been between visits, or make you feel bad about never writing or calling, they just jump right in where you left off and pick up the trailing ribbons of the friendship. They enjoy being around you, and appreciate your company and the little time you are able to squeeze in together while you are with them. They pack in as much as they can into the time they have, and take those lovely memories you create together and tuck them away in a pocket of the heart...

I recently had a friend email me and tell me she "couldn't make the friendship journey with me." I was hurt, and then I just had to let go. Some people have very high expectations of their friends, but they expect them to just "know" what they need. I am psychic and very intuitive, but I can't read minds. It was the final ending of a long slow death and falling apart of a group of women who I love and really respect. Do I have hard feelings, no. Do I feel like I was owed an explanation beyond what was given, Yes... but I have also learned in my time here on earth that everyone processes things differently. What I would do isn't necessarily something that another person would do. That is why we are individuals. When we become too attached to the form of how a person should act or treat us, we set ourselves up to be disappointed. I try to treat everyone the same. I try to live in the moment with my friends when I am with them. I try to really be present in the present as I am experiencing it. I tend to hang out in the past and future a lot, and that causes problems, because you don't really experience the moments as they are happening.