Sunday, May 15, 2011

New Challenges Force Us To Grow...

The internal soul-searching that I’ve done over the past few weeks as the book gets ready to go to press has stayed out of the blogs, which is why I’ve been quiet, until I drove myself crazy with self-doubt this past week and technology kept making things more difficult.

I have drawn by hand and taken that seriously since I was 11.  That’s now 34 years of experience feeling the pen or pencil in my hand and working digitally with a tablet still feels so different.  When I watch what some of the younger artists are capable of doing digitally with a tablet and layers in Photoshop, I feel strangely left behind.

The book cover for Emily Finds A Dragon is done after a very hectic week and I shared all the details about the process on my Doodling Dragons blog.

This is the shorter version for those of you who just wanted a quick peek at the final cover for the book.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Dragon Finds Her Voice Again...

Every now and then, milestones happen in your life that cause you to radically change the way you think, act or look at the world.

Our visit to Japan to watch 2010 become 2011 and the Year of the Rabbit begin was one of those moments.

It was an incredible journey that took our whole family halfway around the world to visit my sister and brother-in-law in Tokyo for 9 wonderful, amazing days.

We welcomed in the new year at the temple closest to their house...

We listened to the Emperor give his New Year’s Speech at the Imperial Palace...

We crossed at Shibuya...

We visited Shinjuku and Senso-ji...

Nick posed in front of the crowds at Harajuku to show how much we stood out...

We tried new foods, made new friends and fell in love with the country and the culture.  I came home, however,  profoundly changed by the public and consumeristic nature of our North American culture.  Until you get away from it, you often don’t realize how “in your face” it can be.  We tend to share everything without a filter.  We upload, download, youtube, blog, Facebook and tweet almost anything instantly.

I needed time to wrestle with that and how it affects my life, especially when I’ve been doing so much self-discovery and recovery in the past year.  Marking the 1 year anniversary of my father’s passing was more difficult that I anticipated.  Juggling 3 careers at once is a bit overwhelming sometimes and began to wonder if the private angstings of my soul had any place in a blog instead of in my own journal.  I admired the public privacy and inner stillness that so many of the people I met in Japan seemed to carry with them, even though I knew that I couldn’t suddenly transform my outgoing, talkative, extrovert self... nor did I really want to.  I am still working on finding the right balance between the private and public persona I need to maintain as an artist, but it isn’t easy.

I’m not even sure this explanation makes sense, but many of you were wondering where the dragon was and if I was OK.

The answer is a profound and joyful... YES!

Sometimes bigger things happen to put everything in perspective and give you a jolt.

Waking up on March 11th to the news of the Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan was one of the scariest moments that I’ve experienced in years!  My sister sent off an e-mail to family and friends as soon as she could so that we’d know she and Yoshi were OK...but watching the news and seeing scenes of buildings where we’d been swaying in the quake was astounding.  Watching the destruction of parts of a country we’d just visited 9 weeks earlier made our hearts ache right now for what that proud nation is going through!  Listening to the North American media sensationalize some details and cause more panic than was needed made me angry!  We aren’t seeing most of the heroic and uplifting stories... only the scary ones!

If you want to see just one astounding example of how diligent, hardworking and determined the Japanese people are,  check out the photos in this car blog.  

If you want a cartoon explanation of what is going on with the nuclear power plants, you can check out this subtitled clip on youtube.  It doesn't deny the seriousness of the event, but it does to explain it and put it in perspective...

If any nation knows how to deal with the effects of radiation, it is the country that survived having 2 nuclear bombs dropped on them, but they need our help to rebuild in the areas that are hardest hit by all these disasters.

On my Dragon Dreams website, you will find a special Dragon of Compassion to stitch up.  If you enjoy this design, I implore you make some kind of donation... even a small one... to the Red Cross in your country for Japan Relief.

Our planet has become too small for us to just ignore the cries from around the world for help.  The price of gas and groceries remind us on a daily basis that we are all interconnected and that each of us can make a difference in changing our world for the better.

While I will continue to explore some of these musings in public, I’ve also decided that some of my journey in the next few years has to be a private one.  I’d rather not muse so deeply in public anymore.  I need my blogs to be uplifting or informative rather than depressing because we can see enough of that in any media.

Dragons sometimes take a long time to think things through, so thank you for your patience.  I think now that the snow is finally melting here, it is time to crawl out of my cozy cave!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Packing is SUCH a PAIN!

Packing for a vacation is stressful, but nothing like packing for a trade show or event.  I woke bolt upright this morning thinking about the 2 things for the classes I will be teaching in Toronto that had NOT made it into my suitcase last night.  The worry that I will forget something important and have to fly by the seat of my pants makes the last 24 hours before a show really difficult for me.

It’s funny, but once  I am on the plane then I seem to relax because I know that there’s nothing I can do but go with the flow and adapt.  It is the running around before I leave, trying desperately to remember everything that I find much more challenging.

Is it easier to leave the kids behind as they get older?  It is different.

I can still remember the guilty feeling of freedom to be in my own head space that I felt that first year flying up to teach at what was then the Creative Sewing and Needlework Festival.  Time to write in my journal on the plane, no one’s food to cut, rediscovering myself as a person instead of just a Mom... those were all heady stuff.

Now my girls are both capable of getting themselves out the door in the morning to school and even helping with or making a basic supper.  While they may not need my help as much, I know that they will still miss me.  The hugs were much stronger this morning than usual.

Absence can make the heart grow fonder.  Maybe their rooms will be tidier when I get home.

Did I mention how much I hate packing? Here is another reason... stuff gets lost!

Yesterday, I did all the laundry to get ahead and wash up some of the clothes I needed for the show.  It promised to be a beautiful, sunny day with a nice breeze so despite the bitter morning cold, I put laundry out on the line.  Silly dragon!

I checked it again before I left to teach my pre-supper Weight Watcher meeting and some things were still a bit damp, so I left Nick a note to get stuff off the line when he got home.

Last night as I was packing, the only thing missing was my good dress bra.  When I asked Nick about it, he said he hadn’t seen it.

I found it this morning in my garden, covered in frost.

Needless to say... it is going in the dryer before I put that sucker on!


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Back To MUSING Out Loud!

A year ago, I hugged my father goodbye for what ended up being the last time.  His huge frame that had seemed so strong and invincible to me as a child, felt so fragile in my arms that night. 

We’ve had almost a full year of feeling fragile as a family...

From parents being sick to daughters getting injured or bullied, from braces to wisdom teeth that need to come out, from friends going through challenges to changes in all of our lives.

It has been interesting to say the least.

Most of it was just too personal to blog about.  I’ve discovered that I am a much more private extrovert that I’d ever dreamed, at least about the inner things.

Learning to let go to some things while holding on to others was an important part of my healing and my decision to narrow my blogs down to just 2.

I ask your understanding for all the silences and posts than ended up in my own journals than out here for all to read.  I needed to glue a few things back together, get a few things straightened up and out and decide what needed to be done.

This has meant a wee bit of a deadline crunch as school started back and the phone began to ring for substitute teaching work.  I’ve taught all but  4 days so far with the many overcrowded classrooms around town.  I’ve gone from Kindergarten to Grade 12 in 48 hours, taught in both languages at 5 different schools and enjoyed every minute of it.  I’ve come home to check charts for the classes I am teaching in Toronto next week, snip floss or draw the final illustrations for Emily Finds A Dragon which we are trying to get to the printers by the end of the month.

Sleep has been a slightly scarce commodity, but I am loving every minute of each of the things I am doing.

I kept thinking of all these long entries to write and post... but then would run out of energy before I had time to post them!  Now I realize that it’s not about how much you write or how often, it’s just about sharing when you can.

Welcome Back to the Dragon’s Musings. 

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father’s Day 2010

It is an odd sort of day for me... the first one I’ve ever been through were I couldn’t pick up the phone and call him.  If I am honest with myself, his death affected me far more profoundly than I’d expected, especially when Nick and I realized that our mothers and stepfathers were growing older too. It is a strange and scary thing to be hit in the face with the thought of being the “end of your line” when you still feel so young at heart inside.  Maybe that is why I hid from being out here in cyberspace for a while... 

This year it was more important than ever for both of us to thank the other Dads in our lives, the stepfathers who have been there through thick and thin, especially over the past few months.  They are more precious to Nick and I than we can sometimes put into words or find the right card for, but we really tried this year to let those wonderful men know that they were the fathers of our hearts!

There are many men in our lives who play important roles as nurturers, role models, guides along our path in life, teachers, protectors, providers and comforters.  If this is a day when we celebrate those attributes and those special people in our lives, it should also be a day where we choose to celebrate our own inner strengths as well.

Nick has been away since early Thursday morning chaperoning the grade 8 trip for his school with some other brave teachers and parents.  I have kept in touch with him by phone, but I have been the only adult in the house for 4 days now and I miss him very much.  I have had to do quite a few things out of my comfort zone from BBQ meat to check the tire pressure and inflate a tire.  Showing my girls how to pump gas or put the hubcaps back on teaches them that they can find their inner strengths too when they have to, as well as appreciate the men who so often handle those tasks.

Whether Father’s Day is a special one of joy or a sad marking of what is missing in your lives, I hope that you take the time to honour those in your life, regardless of gender, who made a difference and inspired you to greater things.  

When we remember to tell the people who matter to us most how special they are, it is always a special day.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

February Newsletter and Contest Up AT LAST!

The thing about deadlines is that sometimes, I am very, VERY bad about keeping them!  

I think it will be worth the wait...

I hope that you will adore the little 2010 Valentine Dragon Mystery chart on our website right now with the blank colour key to stitch up before March 21st, 2010.  I will share some of the best ones in April and release MY version of the colour key, but I know that all of you have incredible imaginations and lots of cool bits and pieces in your stash that are just begging to be used up.

I am working hard on my ornament for the 2010 JCS Ornament Issue and can’t decide between 2 different choices, so I’d like your input.  I’m not going to ruin the surprise by showing off both sketches, but I will ask you this one question.

How important is it to you to have a dragon or fantasy creature in there?

One of my designs has a mother and baby dragon and the other one is something really cool and Christmassy with perforated paper, but not Fantasy at all.

What do you want to see more?

Chime in, share and go check out the chart on the website’s newsletter page.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Stepping out into a New Year...

As glad as I was to see 2009 end, I’ve been tentative about posting something here to start off 2010.

You see, I’m not really sure where I am going just yet.

By 44, I certainly expected to have a clear road map of where I was headed and what was expected of me, yet so often these days, I feel as if I am just making the plan up as I move through each day.

Considering the upheaval in Haiti right now and the pain that one of Nick’s former principals is going through now that she knows her husband is dead instead of missing, maybe that isn’t such a bad way to live.

Live each day with a sense of adventure and a sense of hope.

The world is not always a safe place - the ground can shake... parents can die... economies can collapse.

Then school children donate life savings... strangers help each other... artists create wonders that stir our souls... songs move us to tears... a hug makes the day much brighter... people pull together to make things better and the path opens up again, ripe with possibilities and enticing destinations.

Don’t worry about how closely you follow the plan of where you think you should be.  Spend today appreciating where you are, finding one thing you can change for the better and take the first baby steps in that direction.

A brand new year of possibilities is waiting....