Friday, January 31, 2014


Week Two is Full of......a little bit of everything!

It has been an eventful week. Last Saturday, a large log rolled off of a stack that Steve was planning on cutting up and splitting for fire wood. It pinned his leg against the sharp edged loader on the tractor. A trip to the ER resulted in six stitches but the good news that there was no serious damage to his leg. It is still badly bruised and a bit swollen but he's getting around better every day. I'm glad that he's been home all week because we've had snow three days this week. Not only did I not have to worry about him driving those curvy roads to OakRidge but, as a bit of therapy, he started going with me to feed teh horses mid-week. I tried to keep him from over doing, which is an impossible task if you knew Steve, but the extra pair of hands certainly helped.

So, it is the end of the cleanse and I've lost 6lbs!!! This was not a radical cleanse or diet. I had plenty to eat. All of the fresh vegetables I could manage and lots of lean meat, chicken breasts for us. I got really creative with the meal planning. I did a chicken fajita mix with added beans, garlic,tomatoes and hot peppers on Monday. There was enough left over for our lunch on Tuesday. We ate it on top of crisp lettuce and topped with sliced avocado. In fact, Steve requested that meal again on Tuesday night. I'd put a large family pack of chicken breasts in the crock pot at the start of the cleanse and we ate those all week along with eggs that we had both boiled and scrambled and always with some sort of green on the side, kale saute'd with garlic in a little olive oil, roasted broccoli which we even had for breakfast and even cabbage cooked with onions and garlic. We never went hungry and I didn't even miss the fruit. I'm still trying to stick to the no processed food, gluten or sugar rule but we may have a pizza (as yet, not decided we might wait and have chile instead) for Super Bowl Sunday and I'm allowing myself two pieces of fruit a day. I'm feeling much better, my face is clearing up from the rash that has plagued me for over six months and did I mention that I've lost six pounds? :)

Snow Days in East Tennessee:

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Honest Truth

Okay, I admit.....I'm not a pretty sight right now. I'm 58, overweight and basically a slug. But I'm ready to change all of that and I'll be chronicling that process, that journey on video. True, I do not have a face for the camera especially not right now but I'm all about being more honest not only with others but with myself. It's not that I've lied with intent over the past 15 years but I have been lying to myself none the less. So, here....from my messy studio, which is also a work in progress, and early on a cold, Saturday morning in January, the real me, the first video installment. I'm hoping over the next year, you will see a drastic change in not only the way I look but my entire life and lifestyle.

Friday, January 17, 2014

A New Beginning
I have a story.....why does that not surprise anyone? When I was in school there was an exhibit of modern masters that went on display at UT. The greatest artists of the last half of the 20th century were represented and it was wonderful for a small town girl who'd lived a very insular life. This was my first time being exposed to art of this caliber. I was fascinated by all of it but utterly blown away by a painting by Joseph Raffael. The colors, the mixing, the brushstroke and most of all the glorious, not by accident drips made me want to devour this painting. My eyes and mind were opened and I was so moved. My two art professors took time about going back to the gallery with me just to see my reaction.

On that day, I was introduced to a world I hadn't known existed. Flash forward and for most of my adult life, I've been able to make my living in creative fields. The only problem with that was that although creative, it wasn't really art. I worked to please the buyers, the gallery owners, the manufacturers. I worked to make money. I'm not complaining, at least I was doing something I enjoyed but I think I burnt out on it because I wasn't doing what I wanted to do and I certainly wasn't being true to myself.

For the past ten years, I've been searching creatively but the primary goal has still been making money. For the last year, I've been doing something that I dearly hate. I lost my best friend last summer. We'd been friends since we were children. As she lay dying, she asked me about what I was doing and then asked, "Do you enjoy that?" Such an odd question to ask and I answered her quickly and honestly, "No, not at all." She then asked, "Well, why are you doing it then?" That should have been enough to set me on another path but it took several other people, including strangers, asking me the exact same question before I finally realized that someone was trying to tell me something.

I decided this year that I would take that creative leap and throw myself fully into my art....and as one of my professors used to say, "Art for art's sake." I'd come to the conclusion that if I wasn't making any money doing what I hated, well why not not make any money doing something I loved, something that means something to me. Even at 58, I feel as if I'm at a beginning this year. I don't know that great art will come out of it but I do think I will be better for the attempt.

Now, for the rest of the story. A friend knew that I loved the work of Joseph Raffael and she told me that he'd put up several videos of himself working on YouTube. Of course I watched them right away and I did something that I never do, I commented. I told him about that exhibit and his specific painting that had opened up an entirely new world to me so many years ago. And here is the surprise, Mr. Raffael looked me up and wrote me back! He's written me several times since then and his words are so wise and so inspiring. It doesn't seem like a coincidence to me that the artist who caused such an epiphany to occur in my life nearly 40 years ago has reappeared now and in such a touching and personal way. I think it is that someone telling me again that I'm on the right path. And what do I intend to learn on this path? Tons of things I'm sure about technique and process but mostly, a lot about myself.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Virginia Chrisman-Jones

My mama, Virginia Chrisman-Jones
I was discussing with a friend this morning about how art is so subjective and so hard to describe in words. Many people try to describe art just as they constantly do love. With both, they can describe superficial qualities and use words to make themselves sound smarter and more sophisticated or experienced and wise but when it comes to describing the real qualities of either, words usually fail them. The true meaning of real art or real love is elusive and certainly very subjective with always a touch of mystery thrown into the mix.

When I lost my one and only pregnancy at 29, I felt as if a light went out inside my soul. I knew the moment my baby died and it felt as if part of me had died also. But something was born from that, I developed an odd ability to sooth crying babies and frightened animals. It was hard to put into words how I did this but I said something to my mom one time about what I'd learned, "Love isn't just an emotion, is it? It's an actual thing, more energy than solid but it is a real thing, not just a feeling." And my mom responded, "Oh, honey, you're just figuring that out?" with that smile of hers, full of love and I realized then that she'd been blanketing me with that real love for years. No, I can't describe it in words because like real art, it doesn't exist on that plane of understanding but it is real none the less.

Thinking about what my mom said to me reminded me of something. Mama was special and so wise. She was orphaned at 13 and had to quit school and go to work to support herself. When she came to Loudon to work in a mill her brother managed at 17, her shoes were tied together with string because the soles had come lose. She was always beautiful and loving and never resentful or spiteful....or any of the other things that people do with the excuse that they've had a hard life. She did however always feel less than other people. She felt her lack of education made her dumb. My dad made her feel worse about herself because he was an arrogant and angry man but even he couldn't break her loving spirit. I wish I'd told her how smart, how wise I thought she was. I remember an argument I had with her over her support of Ronald Reagan. I said it was idiotic to support such a phony. I made her cry. I've always regretted those words but when I said them, I never realized how deeply they would cut and how I could never take back that pain even with an apology. I've known some very educated people in my life, degrees out the yang-yang from the most prestigious schools, but none of them were as intelligent or as wise as my mom. She had a wisdom that was soul deep and her soul's depth was unfathomable. 

When she passed away nearly 24 years ago, I thought about what she'd said numerous times about her isolated life, imposed on her by my father for all of those years. When she was young, she was vibrant, full of life and so popular, people loved her. She said to me once that the only people attending her funeral would be the friends of her children. She was so wrong. The chapel was packed. Person after person came up to tell me how deeply she'd touched their lives. Many told me that the only time they'd felt loved in their entire lives was when Mama smiled at them. She had a gift, she had a wisdom for love and caring. My friends were at her funeral but they remarked on how the crowd that came to honor her spilled out into the foyer and how grown women and men were weeping openly. The minister who spoke at her funeral, spoke of her love for her children, her devotion and he too openly wept. I always knew that my mom was special, I knew that I not only loved her but that she loved me more than anyone ever would, but I realized at that moment just how lucky I'd been to have not only known someone as wonderful as her but to have her in my life. Jenny Jones, I still love you and miss you every day but the lessons you taught me are still growing inside my heart.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Day 13 of This New Year

Well, after dropping 2 pounds on Friday, I seem to have gained 4 in the ensuing two days. That doesn't seem possible but I went from being far more active than usual to sitting around like a slug because of the fall on Saturday. The good news, my arm seems to be completely healed, no stiffness or pain. That's a big yay! But now, it's Monday and I'm feeling like a tossed out banana peel. Oh well, let's see....I stayed up far too late last night so I know I need to go to bed earlier. I don't know what that reluctance is about. Laid around all weekend so that's another reason for lethargy. I need to move more, that's a given. And it is a Monday. It seems no matter how happy I try to be about the first day of a new week full of possibilities, it's still a Monday. And unless I accomplish something this week, make great strides toward my goal, I'll continue to see Monday as just a reminder of my failures not a doorway to possibility. So, to remedy that, I guess I need to get busy and accomplish something. Next post, we'll see how that's working for me. Have a great week everyone; it is full of endless possibilities.....and opportunities for failure but, as my pal, Huston, was always telling me, you can just as easily succeed as fail. Things can go right as easily as they can go wrong. So, here's a toast to a week that I hope everything goes right (for a change, lol) and I/we succeed!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

2014 Week 2
I might have to do this blog just once a week instead of daily. That goal is too lofty and I've been too busy, which I guess is a good thing. Okay, the good side of this week, started walking and doing my squats daily. I also had the extra work caused by the cold and frozen conditions we had earlier in the week. The job of caring for the horses, which usually takes 45 minutes max, took me from between 2 and a half to 3 hours twice a day. Not only did the single digits slow me down but they provided big ice cubes on the bottom of my pitchfork and the most uneven, hard ground you've ever tried to walk across. You know something though, except for the time often seemed I was getting nothing done but caring for the horses, feeding the wood stove and feeding us..... I kind of enjoyed the challenge. The extra physical activity seems to have awakened some brain cells that I thought had gone extinct from starvation...namely the ones that controlled my passion for exercise. I have felt better this week than I have in a long while but then comes yesterday when I became tangled in my own feet in the bathroom, began to fall one way nearly knocking over the rickety shelves, over corrected myself while righting the shelves and ended up falling the other direction and backwards into the wall. I hit right on my elbow which hurt like no one's business and thought I might have broken or chipped a bone. For the rest of the day, I sat and iced my elbow while watching movies and thinking how I could be out walking or playing with the horses on such a lovely day. The diet went all whacky last night too since I couldn't cook so we ordered in from Taco was delicious! haha.........So, today, I'm feeling better if extremely embarrassed for admitting on F'book what I'd done but I still haven't accomplished anything but writing in this blog and my artistic journal blog, researching my new artist of the week, Joseph Raffael (, and messaging with a few friends. Poor Steve is working on run-in for the horses trying to get it enclosed before the bad weather returns. I still need to wash my dishes so I can make chili for dinner and for eating while watching the Denver (Go Broncs and Peyton!!!) - San Diego game. So, I guess I'd better get at it. Not much else to report this week. Went to the doc on Tuesday, all good, took my friend Mary to the doc on Friday and she's a fun lady to spend time with. It was funny when she thought I'd missed the exit to the hospital. I kept telling her that I knew where I was going but she kept muttering under her breath, "I think we need to turn around. I think she took the wrong exit. I think we should have turned back there. This doesn't look familiar. She needs to turn around." I just smiled and kept driving, lol. Other than that, uneventful week and still not where I should be on the house or my artwork. Although I did sell another bracelet so that is a good thing! Wish I'd gotten a photo of the two I shipped on Saturday but I didn't. They were gorgeous if I do say so myself!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

My DHC challenge for today was to title a book about the last 12 months of your life.

I would much rather label the next 12 months of my life. That title would say some thing about hope, renewal, progress, possibilities. The past year was one of the worst of my life but I was just talking with my husband yesterday about, despite the heartache and grief, I have come out of this dark year much stronger and certainly, if not wiser, at least with my eyes wide open and aware. So, if I had to define a title for the past year, it would be something like Phoenix or Rising from the Ashes or Renewal and Finding Yourself in the Process. I've always said that while good, happy and peaceful times are essential, we still don't grow during them. Growth only comes from adversity. I know that many people have been through much harder times than I have but we each have our own experience and what goes on in the physical world is sometimes only a hint at what conflict and pain is going on inside someone. I hope that this past year has made me more aware and more sensitive to just how deep emotion and pain can go. I hope it has also taught me to forgive. Forgiveness truly is the gift we give to ourselves because the release and freedom it offers is beyond measure.

Friday, January 3, 2014

An article I just had to share:

Kick your water up a notch with these 11 homemade, natural infusions.

By: Madeline Glasser
Staying properly hydrated is important for your overall health, but let’s face it — plain water can get pretty boring. Spruce up your water to make drinking it more appealing and also to gain nutritional benefits. Add an extra punch to your water with our infusion ideas.
Establish a Routine to Get Your Water inOne of the trickiest parts of getting enough water each day is simply remembering to drink it. Set alarms on your phone to remind you, download an app to track your intake or simply pre-fill water bottles with the desired amount and drink them by the end of the day. Find a routine that works for you.
Tip: To figure out how much water you should be drinking, use our guide.
How to Infuse WaterInfuse by adding one part ingredients, two parts water and one part ice. Leave the mixture in the fridge overnight. You can also use one part ingredients and three parts ice for a slower infusion. Some tasty ingredients you can use to infuse your water include:
  • Cucumber: Adding cucumber to your water is reminiscent of spending a day at the spa.
  • Lemon: Like cucumber, adding lemon to water adds a nice citrus punch, helps energize you and can also help with bloating.
  • Strawberries: Strawberries are a delicious and sweet addition to water. They also help protect your immune system.
  • Cantaloupe or Melon: For a refreshing glass of water, add cantaloupe or melon. The riper the fruit, the sweeter the water will taste.
Tip: Be sure to wash fruits, veggies and herbs thoroughly before using them.
Get FancyAdd fresh herbs (they must be fresh) to the fruit-infused water for a hint of complexity. This is a great option for when you have a little extra time to mix and muddle. The more you muddle, the more flavorful the water will be.
Fruit and herbs go very well together, so mix and match any of these combinations:
  • Watermelon and Rosemary: This combination is especially soothing, and the rosemary is strong so it won’t need much.
  • Pineapple and Mint: This makes for a fantastic, tangy palette cleanser.
  • Blackberry and Basil: You won’t be disappointed with this delightfully complex combination. The basil is aromatic and the blackberries add just a hint of sweetness.
  • Raspberry and Lime: The tartness and acidity of the berries and lime make for a perfect post-workout refreshment.
  • Lavender and Orange: This calming combination of citrus and lavender tastes great when served at room temperature.
A Little Something Extra
  • Add Bubbles: Add some seltzer to any of the aforementioned infusions for an added kick. Drinking carbonated water is a great way to avoid drinking soda, and bubbles add a refreshing twist without the added chemicals or calories.
  • Create Infused Ice Cubes. If you want to add just a little something extra to an already existing water infusion (or even to plain water), freeze fruit and/or herbs in an ice tray. These will add a hint of flavor without having to go through the muddling or infusing.
The best way to drink infused water is after letting it set in the refrigerator for a while. The longer the add-ins are soaked in the water, the better the flavor. Get creative with recipes and find a new flavor to enjoy each week to keep it interesting!
Have you ever tried a water infusion? What’s your favorite combination? Tell us all about it in the comments section below!

An Artist Each Week!

I made a promise to share a new artist here on FB each week for this new year. I've decided to share them here on the blog also. My artist for this week is, Christy Keeney. My friend Becky Brunton introduced me to his work early this week. I'm very grateful to her because his work has inspired me to grow as an artist. I look at his work and I see my own work enhanced, expanding and extending outside the boundaries I've placed on myself and my work in the past. Because of all of that, I thought he would be the perfect artist to start off what I hope will be a year of creativity, 2014, the year of the horse and for me, the year of creative renewal! 

Irish artist Christy Keeney lives and works in County Donegal. His sculpted slab built heads and figure demonstrate a wonderful sense of draughtsmanship as details are drawn into the wet clay surfaces.
“I see my work more as 3D paintings than as sculptures or ceramics. The form is built up and sketched till almost flat, like a canvas, ready to take the drawing, which will outline the head or portrait. These flat heads represent ordinary people. They are a study of the many varied features and expressions that make up the human face. The figures usually attempt to express the human spirit in its many forms. I like to work with the clay blindly, letting the moment dictate my progress. When I see the form develop to some conclusion, then I’ll add the features.”