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.