New Experiences

October 28, 2010

newexp1“New Experiences” 11×14 mixed media/acrylic

The past few weeks have been amazing. I have packed my days with all kinds of new and exciting experiences. Experiences where I have learned new creative techniques and gained new computer skills. I have had experiences that have taught me lessons, and experiences that have tested whether I have learned my lesson. I have been gifted with the experience of teaching a group of kids weekly how to have a “Champion Attitude” and instilling in them that it doesn’t have ANYTHING to do with winning.

These new experiences have made me feel like ME — WHOLE and RIGHT in every way. I am in a period of personal growth…off the charts….new territory….GROWTH…and I am learning day by day that if I CHOOSE experiences that are WHOLE, RIGHT, and AUTHENTIC…all is right with the world.

Taking A Deeper Look

September 30, 2010


I have committed to myself that I will work on one question a week from my Fit by 40 post last March. There is one question on the list that I don’t want to tackle. It makes me uncomfortable to even look at it. What I know for sure though, is that in order to go where I want to go….a WHOLE lot has “GOTTA GO” and being honest about what those things are and ACTING on them could be hard…even painful.

The question I am working on right now is: What has GOTTA GO in my life?

I am not going to answer this question on this blog, but instead in written form through a journal. There are two reasons for this. First, some of these issues pertain to people and current situations in my life…enough said. Second, by nature, I am an optimist and I believe that what you think about expands. I don’t want to EXPAND the negative for myself or for others who might read this. These are personal issues that only “I” can do something about.

I came across this picture as I am pondering and processing the truths about what has “GOTTA GO”. This flower reminds me a lot of how this process feels. In this flower there are soft edges and sharp edges and there is something beautiful in the middle (a perfect red petal). There are times right now when my heart might be too soft and times where it might be too sharp and spiky. If I balance those thoughts and feelings, I might be able to find something beautiful in the middle.


September 24, 2010

Photo by Shawn Stratmann in her office

It all started last winter when for the first time since I have owned this house, I painted a room WHITE. The room was my office, which also happens to be the room where I spend a good deal of my time. As soon as the color went on the walls, I felt as though I had been reunited with my soul mate…”where have you been my whole life?” I thought as I sat in my clear, energized office.
From there the take-down began. Room by room I have been incorporating shades of white. First my daughters bedroom. She said she wanted green, but I knew….I just knew we could give her the feeling of a “green room” even though walls were white. .
She loves it…and so do I.
After that, I added white tile to my kitchen walls….
Oh lawsy bee….how is it that I never had any white in my house????

Wanting to tie the brightness of the kitchen into the rest of the house, I was ready to tackle the the center hall foyer. Keeping with the cool tones, I added WHITE bead board with a cool dark blue on the walls. I love the connection of white and blue from the kitchen and its white subway and blue/white Portuguese tile to the foyer.
And finally, the Chicken Coop… had to be white.

I love how with white you can make a room ANY color by choosing accents and artwork. I love how no matter what time of day it is, if the sun is out, it feels bright AND I love how clean it looks.

I am thinking about finishing my “white project” with two more rooms..the dining room and the family room. I still will have several rooms with color on the walls, but that will round out the main flow of my house.

Breakdowns, Slowdowns, and HAPPINESS

September 23, 2010

“1.2.3. Spiritual Order” acrylic paint/collage by Shawn Stratmann

Sometimes it is hard to see the reasons behind life’s curve balls. Two weeks ago, in one day’s time, my computer broke down, my car broke down, we were rejected by a shelter for a new puppy because we live on a busy road, and I learned that my favorite web designer’s schedule is full until the end of the year just as I am ready to launch my next project.

On this one day, I experienced moments of frustration and probably performed more than one “poor me” speech to my friends and family. As I laid in bed that night, I started thinking about what I couldn’t do without a computer or a car. “I can’t check e-mail or write on my blog, I can’t go here or there…blah, blah, blah”. Just as I was about to close my eyes I looked over at my nightstand and caught a glimpse of the spine one of my favorite books by Byron Katie, “Loving What Is”.

Here is the thing about that moment. I don’t believe there are any accidents. I don’t think I have noticed that book in a year and there it was pulled out and calling me to “LOVE what is”. I spent a minute feeling guilty for my “poor me” attitude and not being grateful enough and then I took a deep breath, and said out loud….”Let it go!!!!” There was a reason I didn’t have a car, a puppy or a computer and I was ready to be open to why and went to sleep.

I woke up in the morning with a burst of energy that I hadn’t had in a LONG time. Wafting into my thoughts was this POST from March.

I haven’t MADE the time to ponder much of anything on this list. I think that subconsciously I have chosen not to tackle the “Fit by 40″ questions because I might FEAR the outcome of some of the answers.

The GIFT of not having a computer to sit at all day or a car to drive around or a brand new puppy nipping at my ankles was that I for the first time in months, had TIME. The list of questions popping into my head needed some attention and I now had the SPACE AND TIME to start answering and to perhaps ACT in accordance.

So here is where I started….

When do I feel the happiest?

I feel the happiest when I call myself an ARTIST. Whether that is through writing, photography, cooking, painting, or sewing….CREATING is when my heart pounds with excitement and time stands still. I am ready to embrace what it means to be an ARTIST. I will challenge myself to create and reflect my true thoughts, self, and vision through my work.

In the two weeks I was without a computer, I completed eight paintings/collage pieces. I patterned and designed two journal jackets and started a pillow set. I completed a Photoshop course at the community college (something I had wanted to do for two years since I got Photoshop) and I read three books on creativity. And finally, I dreamed. I DREAMED and sketched and mind mapped a plan for what is next. I gained some spiritual order for myself (and an inspiration for my art) and I am ready to fly!

Thank goodness for breakdowns and slowdowns. Isn’t it amazing how things happen as they should?

Updating Rooms

September 8, 2010

As fall is approaching, I have felt inspired to make a few changes inside our home knowing that our time inside will expand over the next few months. Here are few of the questions that I find myself thinking about before I make a design change:

  • Does my space/home reflect my goals, dreams, and values?
  • Is the space in my home being used to live the way we ARE living at that time?
  • Are there spaces that are not being used?
  • What has changed about…the seasons? our children? what we enjoy personally?
  • How do I feel when I am in my space/home?

Our most recent change is the room immediately to the left of our front entrance. Sometimes the room serves as a dining room, sometimes a library. The current design is a combination of both.

Here are some of the answers to the questions that inpired this new design:

SEASONS: As fall is slowing creeping in, we will be dining inside more.
VALUES: I value good intimate dinner conversation.
FEELINGS: I love being surrounded by my favorite books. I love cozy.

This new room feels very European to me. The table is pushed right to the library case and the chair at the head of the table closes in the conversation circle. I love the idea of sitting around the table with a carafe of wine and a few good friends to share it with us. I can see our family sitting at this table on Sunday nights to talk about the upcoming week and life in general. The placement of the table draws me in to reach for one of my favorite cookbooks to plan our meals for the upcoming days.

Right now in our lives, this dining room/library feels RIGHT.

Are you interested in other “nesting” inspiration. Run on over to Melissa’s Inspired Room for a ton of great ideas!


July 28, 2010


Dearest Daughter,

As I was about to leave you at your first overnight camp experience, you looked up at me with your beautiful eyes and asked, “Mom, what do you think I should sign up for while I am here”? I was filled with excitement about all of the possibilities you have at camp…horseback riding, tennis, art, drama, dance, gymnastics, sailing, archery, community service projects, etc, etc. and normally, would have been more than inclined to give you a list of exactly what I think you should sign up for while at camp. Instead, I took a deep breath and answered with a smile, “I can’t give you that answer. This experience about YOU figuring out what YOU want to do while at camp”.

When children are little, parents often try to expose children to many different activities. We sometimes fill your extra time with things WE think are important or that WE have a personal preference for instead of taking the time to watch and listen. Our nature as mothers is to want to solve your challenges, take care of your every need, and do what we think is best for you at all times.
As you are growing up and changing, I too have to change my nature a bit. I need to give you a little more space to figure things out for yourself, to solve your own challenges, and to start making choices that are best for you. You are away from me for one month and although I miss you greatly, I am mostly filled with great anticipation about learning more about YOU.
I can’t wait to hear about what YOU loved, what YOU chose to do, and what YOU learned about yourself while away from home. Daddy and I look forward to hearing about which activities you chose…did you find a brand new passion or did you continue with an existing one. Did you make a lot of friends or did you bond with a small group. We want to know if you were homesick and how you worked through those feelings. We can’t wait to hear about your tent inspections to see if you keep your tent like you keep your room (wink) and what it was like to share a room for the first time in your life.

There is so very much I will learn about YOU and what makes you so uniquely perfect and special in every way. I can’t wait!

Love, Love,



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