Sparks, Dreams and Inspiration

Today was a play day.  You could have called it a work day, but it was one of those days when I was so engaged in what I was doing that it felt more like play.  I love days like those!

I spent the day planning for our move.  I started by making a rough cardboard model of my new tiny home/studio.  I want to make sure that I can easily fit and function in a 8 x 16 foot tiny space.  Building a model allows me to play with window placement, getting an idea of where my work spaces will be to maximize natural lighting,  to plan out my custom furniture so that it will function to capacity and it allows me to better understand the tasks ahead.  There is also the added bonus that it is also a lot of fun to make your own dream house.  Can I fit a wash tub? How can I maximize storage and make my studio area optimize my time?   Having a visual object to focus on also allows me to work out potential problems and challenges.

From there, I went on to plan my materials budget, timeline, etc.  I planned out my financial needs for the time I will need to build and prepare.  I made a list of the things I can prepare ahead of time.  The fewer trips I have to make to town for supplies, the more money I can use to make my tiny home perfect for me.  Working on my budget was exciting!  I can see when I will make my final cable payment, I can see how the money for this is coming together.

Tomorrow the first small load of my belongings will be heading to the farm to wait for my arrival.  One more step towards the goal.  YAY!

But by far, the best part of my day, was getting my 17 year old son truly engaged in what we are doing.  Watching me build and plan,  pulled him into what I was doing.  It opened a dialog about dreams and how we can achieve them.  Now, not only were we working on my dreams, but he began to start setting his own goals and dreams.  If you have ever tried to teach your child to budget and save money, you know how much information gets absorbed after the eye roll.  Getting him engaged and excited about this is far more effective.

The more we talked, the more the ideas exploded!  I was able to coach him to speak as if these things are going to happen, instead of using if’s and when’s. Before I know it he is taking about the other courses he needs to take, what truck he needs, he started a list of the tools he will be buying and putting in that truck, even the safety equipment he wants to have in it.  Soon he is showing me examples of what his shop will look like and talking about where he wants to buy land to put it and why.  We begin discussing budgeting, hard work, credit, insurance,  preparation, etc.

It was AMAZING to watch as ideas “sparked” and to see the hope and inspiration that this is generating for him.  I can not wait to see my kids achieve their dreams! I can not wait to achieve more of mine.  I am truly blessed and life is INCREDIBLE!  It is all up from here.

How do you dream?  How do you plan to make those dreams come true?  Do you use visual aids to focus on those goals?  I would love to hear how you do it.

January 10 2016 Connecting the Dots


Everything happens for a reason, this is something I truly believe in.  Note; this post is not really about art, but more about sharing my journey with all of you.  It is not a “woe is me” post, I am not looking for pity, sympathy or any kind of financial assistance, I am writing this because I know I am not alone in my struggles, and if my story can resonate with even one person and help them get through a hard time, it will have been worth it.

So, let’s start way back in 2011, if you have been reading my blog, you will know that in early 2011 I expressed frustration with my health and not knowing what was going on with my body, but I knew something was not right.  I have been treated for depression for the past 17 years so I and my doctors attributed my malaise to the ongoing effects of this diagnosis.  By fall of 2013 I crashed into a very deep depression and knew I had to make some changes to my life or I was never going to feel better.  I had been dragging myself through life, only getting from one day to the next, that was the best I could manage, I was in survive and sustain mode.  I was not operating at my best at work, I could not keep up at home, and I was losing my optimism.  After some time off of work, I came to the decision that making art was where I was happiest, and sharing that creative passion made me shine from the inside out.  As I am a single mother, it was not an option at that time to just quit my job and wing it.  I asked at work if I could go from full time to 3 days per week in order to achieve more balance.  Hopefully, I would find some relief from the pressure of full-time work, pursuing my passion for making art and raising my son while feeling unwell.   I presented it in a way that would be a win for everyone and it worked!  They said yes.

It was an adjustment, my household income dropped by almost 50% but I was selling enough art locally at that time to make up a bit of the difference.  And in September of 2014, I went part-time at work.  Awesome!  Except, then the local economy tanked, and a mass exodus from the wonderful community I live in happened.  The oil and gas market dropped out, the Canadian dollar fell to crazy lows, inflation was up, food, fuel and all of my living expenses skyrocket and our one-resource town took a nosedive.  Nobody was buying art, the people who stayed were not spending any money they did not have to.

Still, we were managing, but my health was still deteriorating.  In August our old Ford Explorer kicked the bucket.  (I really miss that Grape Ape) In September, on the way back from my son’s yearly Ameloblastoma check up in Fort St John,  the motor went in my van,  2 and a half hours out of town.   It sucked, but such is life, and you trudge on anyhow.

Finally, in October of 2015, after being on day 13 of a migraine headache and months of feeling unwell, I was once again visiting my doctor.  This time, I told him “I don’t understand how this can be depression, I am tired and achy and sick all the time  but I don’t feel hopeless and in despair?”.  My doctor then proceeded to check my blood pressure.  It was through the roof and the warning bells were finally loud enough to see.  So I went once again for blood work and this time, my Doctor called me personally at home the next day and urged me to get in to see him NOW!

My blood work came back that I had a major infection raging through my body, but most importantly, I was diabetic.  Full blown diabetic, not just high A1C because I was fighting an infection.  I am diabetic.  Diabetes makes you more susceptible to major infections, it makes you tired, etc, etc.  Finally, after years of feeling like crap I  had a diagnosis of something!  Now we are getting somewhere, now things were starting to make sense.  I made some big lifestyle changes and I finally felt like my health was manageable, but this diagnosis was a big hit financially.  As a part-time employee, I no longer qualify for any medical benefits.

Two weeks later, my gallery show “Magic in the Moonlight” happened, and while it was a success, I was still struggling financially.  My pay was not what I was expecting and I was so busy, that I just shrugged it off to the new expenses for fresh food and medication and medical supplies, yadda, yadda, yadda.  My Maternal Grandmother passed away in early December, things were sad and hard and it was not getting better. Art sales and teaching were helping, but by the time Christmas came, we were financially in an extreme crisis.

After months of fighting and struggling through life, all I could do was give it up to the Universe and say “Something needs to change!  I am doing everything I can, but it is not working”. There are no jobs here for my son, and his future is also looking bleaker by the minute.  If he stands a chance, he needs to leave town to attend school and get the trade he wants, but I can not afford to send him away.  So I came to the decision to take my wonderful friend Tina up on her offer of letting us move out to her farm outside of Fort St John.

What do I have to loose, I am getting nowhere fast were I am.  There are no part-time jobs available for me to pick up some more slack, and I really want to be painting, not working for someone else.    After 17 years of doing this on my own, I need help.  On the farm I can raise my own food and I never have to worry about a bare cupboard again, I can cut my own wood for heat and I can paint. We can share meal prep, chores, etc.  My Dad, Step-Mother and my siblings all live just down the road from where I am moving.   My oldest son will be able to visit me much more often.  My dogs can come with me, my son has a place to stay and will be closer to school.  Win, win!  The dream I have had for a tiny home and studio on some land is right there for the taking.  Next year when I want to go for a ski, I do not have to worry about having enough gas in the truck to get there, I will just open my front door and ski away! What more do I need?  What the heck am I waiting for?  There, decision made!  Now I have something to look forward to.  A goal and a plan.

And in true “Universal Master Plan” fashion, things are quickly beginning to fall into place.  This week I discover that by technical error, I was being shorted on my pay for all of November and December.  Three weeks worth of pay over those two months!  I am feeling a whole lot less like a failure now, and as if by magic, an affordable, fuel efficient car has happened my way.    I have given my notice at work and started packing!  I can sleep again knowing that my pay will be what it is supposed to be until we leave, more of my dreams are coming true, and soon, I will not be doing it all on my own.  Yay Universe! (but seriously, does it really need to be so hard before I clue into what the “Universe” is telling me I am supposed to be doing?)

Anyhow, in not so much as a nutshell, that is how I have made it to this new path.  I am equal parts scared and excited for this new journey.  But I know in my gut and in my heart that this is where I am supposed to be going.  That it is going to be ok, that I am going to be ok, and best of all, I am going to be healthy and strong and spending as much time as my soul needs in nature, with my hands in the dirt and making art.

Thank you for joining  me on this wild adventure called my life.  There are GREAT, BIG, AMAZING things to come.  XX